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Story and choice

nature-sky-sunset-manWhat kind of story are you living? A question like that can change everything if you are honest. It changed mine.

It was the summer of 2001, and I had taken a break from “valley life”. I was running in between my job as a fisheries biologist on the Oregon coast and the evening hatch on my favorite river. My sister’s house in the mountains for much of my 20’s was a perfect launching spot for many adventures. As a new dad, I knew I needed to get out into the woods to recharge. I had a lot of demands on my life, but at that moment, I had fishing on my mind.

As I went past a coffee table, a book caught my eye. It was normal to see new books scattered about the house. Some often were yet to be published. My brother-in-law was a consultant for the publishing world and received early copies all the time. My niece was sitting there and I she saw the book I had noticed. On the cover was a man jumping between two rocks in what had to be a wilderness landscape. It was the book Wild at Heart by John Eldredge. “That could easily be you, Uncle John,” she said. I stopped for a second without picking it up and though “interesting”. It would be two years later until I read it after my mom gave it to me as a gift. I had already become hooked on Eldredge a year before after reading his book he co-authored with Brent Curtis called Sacred Romance.

Reading Eldredge’s work change my story for good for so many reasons. Most of all I started to live within a larger story, one that had an impact far beyond my trials.

So this May I am looking forward to seeing Eldredge, Dan Allender, Jon Dale and his three sons on the big screen. For one night the film they shot about their latest great adventure will be on big screens across the country.

I had a chance to ask Eldredge a few questions about the new project. You can read those on the Huffington post here.

Fire Your Boss: Go buy it, gift it

A couple of years ago my friend Aaron McHugh asked me to help him with a final edit on his ebook Fire Your Boss. I am not sure who benefited more. I think it was me. For most of my life I have been a recovering complainer. Ok, ok, a complainer. I used to use up most of the air in the room by sighing. I was nicknamed Eeyore for goodness sake (more on that here.

Aaron’s little ebook changed my thinking. It helped me take responsibility for my own job happiness and performance. It was a real eye opener. Since then I have used it in team trainings and shared many copies with anyone that will listen. I also plan to take my current team through it as well.

If you complain to your spouse every evening about your boss. If your customers drive you nuts. If you not only want to enjoy your work but DO great work, grab a copy today. It won’t take much effort to read but it will change everything. I like what Seth Godin said about it. “….This book is a whack of the truth on the side of your career.” Also check out Aaron’s podcast on work, life and play.

You can find Fire Your Boss on Kindle and paperback.

Jab It! A Review of JJJRH

I actually did say that (Jab It) to a friend recently who is building his online presence and engaging his growing tribe. Those who have read Gary Vaynerchuk’s Crush It will be very familiar with his iconic words used to remind his audience to throw their best effort in building a business, brand and influence. In other words, Crush It.

In Gary’s new book Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook (JJJRH), he has the voice of someone who has been through the startup phase, the middle of tasted success and is now on the top with a hand down to those who follow in his incredible path. In Crush It, he came at the reader with a fervor and near maniacal energy of a man on a rant. (he actually dictated the whole book!)  In JJJRH Gary has slowed down to an even pace of someone who has made many right moves but also plenty of mistakes. There is a humbleness and seasoned approach here that stands out. That is truly new. And if you have ever watched his Wine TV, you know the man has plenty to say and the energy to sustain it. And please don’t read that wrong. I attribute Crush It to being one of the main forces that got this blog through 5 years and over 200 hundred posts. It was an incredible manifesto. I have referred back to it many times.

gvpromo2013JJRH is a brilliant look at not only the uniqueness of social media and its growth to becoming a standard for any brand, but also in Gary’s call for the reader to never get too settled on any method or assumption when it comes to an audience or a tribe.

The first section dives into how JJJRH is a compilation of all things good in his first two books, Crush It and The Thank You Economy as well as new insights, mainly on how to not just survive but thrive on the leading edge of an ever changing horizon of social engagement.  For me being able to immediately apply something I gained from a book is one of the best signs of value.

I lead a team of relationship ninjas at Saddleback Leather Company. In the past year we have branched out into new social platforms. We already knew that each one needed to be approached carefully with sensitivity to how the people on those platforms speak, share and operate. Gary’s guidance on how to do that well is first class. The meat of the book dives into the biggies with dedicated chapters for Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr. There are also forward looking treatments on emerging networks as well.

A good look at JJJRH means you will have everything to plan your next move. I highly recommend it to CEOs and those in the social trenches.

Will You Be Missed?: Icarus Deception Book Review

If you have been reading my blog, you know that I have a few authors, some alive and some long gone, that have greatly influenced my life and work. One of them is Seth Godin. While all his books have resonated with me there are a few that have just stopped me in my tracks. Linchpin was one. I think I have given nearly 20 or more copies away to people all over the world . I changed my whole career after reading a sentence in his book Tribes. I refer back to Purple Cow every time I ship something new from a video game to a non-profit fundraising campaign.

So when Godin launched his Kickstarter to publish his latest book, The Icarus Deception, I partly thought “there is no way he could top what he has already written.” I was wrong. Very wrong. As a backer I received Icarus earlier in December.

I was pleasantly surprised by the main theme of the book. Seth outlines a major shift that is happening right now. We are experiencing a time in history where the connection economy is replacing the industrial economy. Connections trump all other influence.  Icarus, describes this new world where artists thrive and those willing to be vulnerable and share, change the world. Truly I could write a long review here but, I would suggest watching the official trailer instead, Brent Underwood shared with me. What you see in it gives you an accurate preview of what you will find within its binding.

As I have given these copies away I have noticed something remarkable. Each recipient has expressed what I can only describe as epiphany. They are photographers, filmmakers, non-profit evangelists, writers and other world changers. Beyond that I am excited to see where those epiphanies take them next.

If you are near Portland, Oregon I also want to invite you to the first Icarus Session Jan 2nd at 2pm. I chose to start my own in the burbs (Newberg, OR) since the Portland one has grown pretty large. You can find the details here on the meetup site.

Nine Cold Showers: The Connection Flinch

I’ve been taking cold showers for nine days in a row. No, it has nothing to do with libido. It has everything to do with flinching. I just finished Julien Smith’s book Flinch published by Project Domino. It had been sitting in my book stack for nearly a year. I could not have read it at a better time though.

As promised I have started a series of new posts on how to connect with others. You could easily argue that most of my writings in some way answer that question. What I discuss in this series is the essence behind making new and lasting connections. But we have to start someplace, and most of us flinch when it comes to being vulnerable and reaching out.

Flinch explores the phenomena behind our fears that keep us from achieving our goals. A boxer for example learns to not flinch in the face of being hit. The fighter also learns to use the opponents flinch against them by waiting to strike when it appears.

Smith takes the reader through exercises, first putting them back in touch with the flinch and then training them to use it when trying something intimidating or new.

Meeting someone for the first time has a whole set of associated dangers. Questions of inadequacy, acceptance (or worse rejection) and uncertainty come with every new introduction.

As I started the first exercise I paid close attention to what my reactions. Smith’s instructions were simple. Replace your regular comfortable warm shower every morning with icy cold ones….for five days. Not only that, skip the flinch by not letting the hesitation take hold. My first attempt was really difficult. All my muscles tensed up and I thought there was no way I could get to point of doing this without hesitation.

Around the fourth day I realized that something was beginning to shift. I was beginning to not flinch.

In another exercise Smith assigns he challenges the reader to go up to strangers and engage in any type of conversation. For me this is simple. For so many though it is worse than any possible assignment. Like the showers, the initial pain of sticking ones neck out and connecting really is small compared to the benefits of human relationships. But tell that to someone who just can’t bring themselves to actually say the first “hi”.

What I have noticed about the cold shower exercise is that it has changed something beyond my ability to dive into cold water until the pain subsides. I am becoming more deliberate in many of my actions. I am not hesitating when it comes to paying the bills or having the hardest conversations. I am learning to not let the flinch rule.

So if you are up for an assignment, here is a tweak to the one Smith gives when it comes to meeting new people. Make a list of five people you really want to connect with. They can be someone in your hometown or an influencer who lives on the other side of the world. They may be someone you have want to date or they could be a writer that has inspired you in some way. It does not matter. This next week reach out to those five. And when you are done with that list make another one. The first step in connecting with others is…. going first, even if you are facing the flinch.  I can’t wait to hear the stories that unfold.

Busy with my own world domination

This weekend I kept seeing friends post from Chris Guillebeau’s World Domination Summit here in Portland. While I felt a bit regretful for not going I had to remind myself that I really did not have the time or space right now. I am busy executing my own world changing plans as well as making new ones.  I really enjoyed seeing some of the biggest change agents today that I personally know tell their stories. What excites me the most is hearing some for probably the first time decide to step out of their comfort zones and make their own world changing plans.

So here is a shout out to good friends already out there and an even bigger one to the friends just showing up on the scene. Go make it happen. Find someone who will disrupt you daily and keep you on track. I have only come this far because of friends like that.

And if you have not read Guillebeau’s The Art of Non-Conformity, I highly recommend it. It made me mad the first time I read it, mainly because it exposed dreams I did not feel were possible. I am now doing those exact things.

Here is C.C. Chapman’s Flickr Slideshow I have been enjoying as the weekend rolled by.


Authors Engaged Online: Phil Vischer

About three months ago my friend Morgan Snyder sent me a copy of Phil Vischer‘s Me, Myself and Bob. It arrived in my mailbox at a time where I was facing many opportunities to charge the field in ministry, business and some personal pursuits like finishing my 1/2 done novel and start a book on connectors.

Morgan has been studying and holding events around the theme of  what a man goes through during his thirties decade. At forty two I have been facinated by his discoveries and how they compare to my own life. Over the last decade he has been interviewing many men in thier later years, asking them what the thirties decade was all about and what they have learned looking back.

One lesson that resonated with me is to not take on too much too early.  Just like a tree, we are meant to mature in a way that both sustains and strengthen, preparing us for greater strength in the future.

In reading Vicher’s book I found myself realizing how much we can make our plans and dreams dominate above everything else in our lives, forsaking the more important things.  The book chronicles his life up to the collapse of Big Idea Productions, his beloved company from which he built the powerful brand of entertainment the world knows as Veggie Tales.

So in the wake of Vischer’s memoir I am taking as Morgan says, the lowest seat at the table in many of my activities. I have the rest of my life to publish, lead and push. I am not saying I won’t do some of that now, but I am going to purposefully pay attention to the deeper things in my life first.

And last, I added Phil to my list of authors that engage on line both here and twitter. It is great to see him responding to fans. He has a lot of people excited about what he has to offer.

Brogan’s Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything

I have been in social business as a guide sharing what I have learned about engaging, connecting and communicating with a digital world for almost a decade now. One person I continually learn from is Chris Brogan.  I’d say his book Trust Agents, co-written with Julien Smith, has influenced not only how I do business but also how I approach much of my world in an open and involved manner. When someone asks where they should start in digital communications, I hand them a copy of Trust Agents quickly followed by either  Seth Godin’s Meatball Sundae and/or Tribes.  I don’t even know how many copies I have gifted. So when Chris Brogan published his latest I quickly added it to my book stack.

Google+ Book

This last summer I got an early invite to Google Plus. At first I was skeptical of the tool. Google Buzz was for me a competed failure.
I even deleted all my Buzz posts after my streams ended up being saturated with spam and content irrelevant to me or my community.  After exploring and seeing the sharing and content tools I started to see it as potentially changing everything.  It contained in it’s functionality all I had wanted from twitter and Facebook.   Brogan had not published his book yet so like every other early adopter I had to go about exploring on my own.  Fortunately you don’t have to.  Chris has brought his excellent business acumen and social business skills to the new platform and walks both the seasoned online user and newcomer through all the aspects of Google Plus from sharing, profile creation to making original posts.  Best of all he invited many other professionals to share their experiences on the tool as well as some early stories of success.

For me Chris’s stories are the most valuable.  Stories are still rare because Google Plus has only recently been made made public.  I expect Brogan to release a new edition as throngs of users continue to join.  I highly recommend  Google+ for Business: How Google’s Social Network Changes Everything for anyone planning to use the tool for building community and engaging with customers.  Personally I am using the book as a reference text. Others who have already established social network platforms will benefit from the same use.  Those just now engaging will find it to be a valuable tool.  Brogan presents the material in a way that is very digestible in content and his methods that are easy to implement.


40 Days Forward: Simple, digestible, doable

I have been reading Tara Rodden’s blog posts for over a year now. Each one has left me challenged to live a more balanced and productive life. But with that challenge she has also offered practical ways to achieve it. So when I was sent her new book I knew I was going to read something valuable. That assumption was confirmed. 40 Days Forward: Your Journey to a Life of Abundance and Meaning, is in it’s entirety, simple, digestible and doable. I have read many books on success, both for private and professional life. Many are good. One thing that most of them have in common is complexity to the solution they present. We all face challenges …..

And the winner is: Kindle giveaway

So we have a winner, number 26, Rocco Capra! Actually you all won. I spoke with New Leaf Publishing about offering the Kindle version to all the entrants, and I am pleased to announce you will be receiving a copy (expect an email from me with details from New Leaf in the next few days) . If you don’t have a Kindle you can get a free app from Amazon for your PC, Mac, Android, iPhone, iPad,BlackBerry or Windows 7 Phone here. I really enjoyed the stories people told and I hope to comment back to most of them this week. Here is a short screencast showing how I picked the winner. Again thanks to Scott Williams for showing me the method. Thanks again for participating and have a great New Year!

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