Nick Armstrong is the Geek-in-Chief behind WTF Marketing, dad, author, Ignite, PechaKucha, Startup Week, and TEDx speaker, audio drama enthusiast, and award-winning entrepreneur.
More than anything, he loves to make people laugh.
He has co-organized community events like Fort Collins Comic Con, Startup Week Fort Collins, TEDxFoCo, Ignite Fort Collins, LaidOffCamp/CareerCamp, PodCamp Fort Collins, and more.
Nick’s local efforts landed him a prestigious spot as one of BizWest's 40 Under Forty in 2016 and the Colorado Association of Libraries’ Library Community Partnership Award in 2018.
Alongside an amazing team of 13 other super-geeks, he built out Fort Collins Comic Con to benefit the Poudre River Public Library District and has raised over $75,000 for the Library to encourage youth literacy through comics.
Nick has written three books: Psychotic Resumes, a Gen-Y resume creation and job search guide, Mess Hunter, a children's book that he also illustrated, and a cookbook called Men in Kitchens: A Good Day to Dine Hard. Nick’s marketing writing has also appeared in anthologies alongside business and marketing greats such as Seth Godin, Ash Ambirge, and Leo Babauta.
In general, I knew literally nothing about how to finish most of my writing projects when I started.
My first “published” work was a Star Trek audio drama - think old-school radio plays like The Shadow with actors and sound effects and music.
I had no idea how to write the audio drama format and even less about how to produce one. Little by little, with lots of help from the online audio drama community, I had my first script, and then a library of sound effects and some music, and a friend who helped connect me to volunteer voice actors.
If you’ve never had someone lend a voice to one of your characters, I highly recommend it - it’s one of the most amazing experiences I think any writer can have.
Like self-publishing, there are a LOT of things to learn in the production of audio drama - timing, where to place sound effects, how to balance volumes of different clips... the learning curve was extensive, but learning how to stay dedicated to a project over weeks and months was hugely important to my future success in traditional publishing.
Around the 2-year-span before and after the height of the Great Recession, I had 12 jobs and was only fired 3 times. My friends were in awe of my ability to land job after job after job with the longest gap being about 3 months (when the average job search length at the time was 12-16 months).
All the while, I started my blog Psychotic Resumes about things at each job that were either spectacular or something I wouldn’t inflict on my worst enemy - like the time I was written up for being “overly direct” about a solution that would save the company about $150K in overhead costs.
I was sitting on all this excellent content - people continued to comment on my blog even after I’d slowed down regular blogging to focus on starting my own business. In a fit of kismet, one of the graphic designers I regularly worked with asked if I knew anyone who was looking to create a Kindle book. We didn’t have much of an idea of what would be involved, but we dove in and gave it a shot. I’d write, tweak, and modify blogs into chapters and she’d do the design work.
A few months later, I had my first published book - Psychotic Resumes. I sold maybe 15 copies total and learned a significant publishing lesson: create in as many different formats as possible. My book was only available in Kindle format, and not many people had a Kindle - especially folks looking for a job. There was no easy or cost-effective way to self-publish (CreateSpace wasn’t widely available yet), and so most people passed on my book.
I put most non-blog writing on hold for a while after that. Not that I didn’t want to write, but between a new wife and growing business, there wasn’t time for much else. Adding “new father” to my title didn’t help either until we were about six months into reading piles and piles of children’s books to our son.
My wife and I read quite a few beautiful books but just as many head-scratchers (we’re prolific library patrons). It wasn’t until my artist friend created his own CreateSpace children’s book that I realized that I could write a children’s book, too. He was kind enough to help me figure out the basics of the process over the course of a coffee meeting.
I wrote out the basic storyline and decided to illustrate it myself. I’d priced out a few graphic designers to help, but the lowest at $700 for 20-ish pages didn’t seem like a wise use of money with a new kiddo in tow. Diapers are expensive, after all!
Looking back, I was supremely naive when it comes to how much work this would actually take. I learned basic character design by using Lynda, Skillshare, and 53’s Paper app, but creating every page’s illustration from scratch was hugely time-consuming. This was made worse by the fact that I hadn’t properly confirmed page sizes or minimum page count in CreateSpace before I started illustrating (the technical term for this is “whoops”).
After drawing a few more pages and segmenting the story to get to the proper minimum number of pages, I had to learn how to work InDesign - again by using Skillshare and Lynda (surprisingly enough, this was the easiest part of the whole process).
A month or so later, I had my proof in-hand. After nearly a whole year of reading other people’s books to my kiddo, I showed him a picture of himself in my book. His giggle when I said, “written and illustrated BY DADDY” was incredibly rewarding.
Even better, the skills I learned while digging into Illustrator, InDesign, and CreateSpace allowed me to apply those same skills to help my clients in my day job.
Though it took a LOT longer, learning to DIY each part that I could has helped me gain a ton of valuable skills (I even put together my friend’s first book). While the DIY-all-the-things approach isn’t for everybody, for me, it opened up the creative process to so many more applications and reduced costs significantly - allowing me to take more risks on my creative projects.
My future projects will involve science fiction - some of my favorite reads are the Magic 2.0 series by Scott Meyer, anything by Becky Chambers, and Year Zero by Rob Reid (who I’ve had the chance to meet and high-five for his fantastic work).
To get the attention necessary to become gainfully employed in a double-dip recession job market with 9%(+!) unemployment, you absolutely have to stick out - in a good way.
Honest, risky, and effective, Psychotic Resumes is the kind of advice you won’t find anywhere else. Written by Nick Armstrong, the co-founder of LaidOffCamp Fort Collins and CareerCamp Fort Collins, this isn't your typical "resume" book.
Nick's off-the-cuff sense of humor, keen mastery of four letter words, and unique look on today's job market will have you entertained, horrified, and inspired all at once.
Do you get the feeling that today's job market rules have changed, but nobody's given you the new playbook? Have you ever seen a job search technique so crazy that you're amazed it worked? Are you frustrated by your seemingly unending job search and willing to try something - anything - to land a job before you resort to a ramen-only diet?
Enter Psychotic Resumes: all the advice you never knew, but really needed to land a better job for better pay.
You’ll learn how to conduct an effective job search, write better, cleaner resumes, build amazing cover letters, ace your job interviews, negotiate your salary like a rockstar, and organize your business life so you impress on your first week at your new job.
Specifically targeted toward Gen-Y (the Millennial Generation), the advice in this book has been field tested for years, proven effective across career paths and geographies to get unemployed college grad butts off mom and dad's couch. Gen-Y doesn't get all the fun, though - Baby Boomers and Gen-X will find a lot of use from the advice in this book, too.
It’s time to stop flipping burgers and start doing meaningful work again!
Where to Buy Psychotic Resumes
I'm generally pulled in a million different directions and I wouldn't trade it for the world. Here's a glimpse of my life - hope you enjoy it! And if there's a big lapse between posts, well, that's the way life goes in Amy's world.