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Do you really know?

We never see everything as it truly is. As much clarity and understanding as we think we have, we still only see the world from a limited understanding.

Human connection is probably the best example. We are a complex result of our biology, spirit, mind, and experiences. As much as we may become familiar with another human, we are only scratching the surface of who they are. Here is an example. My wife Kristine and I were celebrating our 20th anniversary a few weeks ago. We had three nights away. By the second evening, we struck up a conversation using an app that asks different, progressively deeper questions. We both learned a lot about each other even after only ten questions. Tastes, opinions, phobias, and outlooks we never knew about each other. It helped us realize how much we still had to learn.

We can’t stop looking for new perspectives on the difficult situations, problems to solve or conflicts to resolve. No, instead we work harder to understand other points of views, read history and travel to widen our perspectives. We stay curious asking the right questions.

I think humility and confidence play important roles in this quest. We need humility to realize how little we do understand. We need confidence in our abilities to learn and grow.

We may never see each other, or the world truly as it is this side of eternity, but it is sure a great experience coming as close as we can in the meantime.

The app we used is called Let’s Talk check it out and let me know what you think on Twitter.

A life of #FearHunting

I just finished the book #Fearhunters by Noah Elias. I have read many books on calling over the years and given dozens of talks on the topic. It is a great treatment on the topic as well as a deeper dive into helping people seek out what fears are keeping them from living the life they were meant to live.

After reading and reflecting on my own fears I have seen that, while I have gone after and overcome many fears in my life, there continue to be ones that emerge over time and still need attention. I used to be terrified of conflict. Another was failing. I think it is a lifelong journey, being a fear hunter. The great thing is that the more we go after them the smaller the fears become and the less hold they have on us living free and loving others.

Here is a short film Noah did as part of the project. In the film, he acts out some of his own fear hunting that got him to the successes he enjoys today. Check it out. As you watch, take an inventory of the fears that haunt you. Pay close attention to the ones that keep you isolated from others.

I have also listed a great resource on finding freedom and healing:

Restoration of the Heart Conference Recording


Extravagance says “I don’t know how to say thank you, but I am trying”.

Extravagance shows that you not only noticed, you acted.

To be extravagant is to be powerful. To succeed at it we have to notice things.

What are they interested in.
What are their current struggles, desires and dreams.

It can be as simple as a gift you find in a thrift shop that says “I know”.

One of the most extravagant gifts we can give is our time.

Here are some tips to start planning to be extravagant in your relationships.

Set up a budget for it.

Add some margin to your calendar for it.

Start today with one person.


Wildly Unprepared

This quote from an upcoming film really struck me. “I am wildly unprepared for this” -Luke Eldredge. (See the full trailer below)

We are wildly unprepared for anything worth doing in life.

I was starkly aware of this as my wife and I left our wedding reception and when I held each of my kids for the first time.

Every time I visit a new country or present to a group of investors, my mind races with how little I know of what to do next. No matter how much we prepare or have studied a map, if we are honest, we know that things will go wrong and we will encounter events we never could have imagined. Ancient sailors knew this well. That is why they placed a sea dragon on the map where no one had yet sailed.

Regrouping at the top of Engineer Pass
There are endless surprises in any endeavor. And that is exactly how it should be. It is being in the unknown and the unexpected where we grow the most and stretch beyond our own abilities. We learn to depend on others and to rely on the kindness of strangers.

Here is a question. What are you wildly unprepared for today? If you can’t think of anything then it is probably time to start dreaming.

Until your love is alive

This past summer I was driving up the west side of the Cascades on one of those great mt. pass hi-ways that just needed a good tune to match the spectacular landscape. Alive and Kicking by Simple Minds was next up on my personalized radio.

As I listened to the song I have loved for over 2 decades the lines began to sink in.

This song was about enduring love.

Today when everything is instantly gratifying or easily discarded, these words “until your love is alive” is so refreshing.

What you gonna do when things go wrong?
What you gonna do when it all cracks up?
What you gonna do when the Love burns down?
What you gonna do when the flames go up?
Who is gonna come and turn the tide?
What’s it gonna take to make a dream survive?
Who’s got the touch to calm the storm inside?
Who’s gonna save you?
Alive and Kicking
Stay until your love is, Alive and Kicking

For our kids, parents, spouse, friends, it is a commitment to stick it out, see it through, resist the pull to leave.

Here is to those brave enough to stay until the love is alive.

Does Permission Expire?

My good friend Jon Dale was writing what I was thinking early this morning so I asked him to write a guest post. And just so you don’t miss it check out the app Jon mentions. It is incredible!

In an age of permission marketing where everyone is building huge lists of people who’ve given them permission to email them, I think it’s time to examine a new question. When does permission expire?

If you’re anything like me you start every morning with a full email inbox. But only a tiny percentage of the emails are actually personal messages to you. Most of them are bulk email…not technically spam…because they’re from people that you once upon a time gave permission to.

Seth Godin talks about using permission to send messages that are anticipated, personal, and relevant. But it seems to me that most organizations that I’ve given permission to over the years are only asking one question. Do I have Jon’s email address?

You might say, “Jon, good marketers don’t send many emails.” And that’s sometimes true. Saddleback Leather is one of my favorite companies and they only send newsletters a few times a year. But the truth is I’d love to hear from them every week. At the other end of the spectrum I get daily bulk emails from Nextdraft, Fast Company and Ransomed Heart that I devour as part of my daily routine…but those guys are all sending me anticipated and relevant content I love…not self promotion.

So, I think it’s time for email marketers to ask a few questions.

If I stopped sending email would anyone contact me to ask what happened?

And does permission expire? And if so, what should you do about it?

Meanwhile…check out Until marketers figure this stuff out, unroll will give you your inbox back.

Getting Glass: A Connectors Pre-Glass Notes

A little over two months ago I received an invitation from Google to be part of the Google Glass Explorer program. Today I pick up my Google Glass at the Google Headquarters in Mt. View California.

A month and a half before that  I had entered Google’s If I Had Glass. (See the bottom of the post to see what it took to enter.)

The part I really enjoyed was making the 15 second video of how I would use Glass. The idea came to me right away. I can’t help writing and speaking about human connection and technologies role in it. I knew I would use Glass to better connect with the world around me. I got out my camera and shot the video and then edited the final version. I think the whole process took about 20 minutes.

It is estimated that Google had an estimated 145,000-200,000 entries. only 8,000 were chosen to be the first owners of Google Glass. Last year at Google I/O developers were given the opportunity to sign up. They received their Glass last month during the 2013 conference.

Thinking back now over my entry I have been trying to brainstorm how I can not just use the new tech to connect with others but how I I can use the whole experience of being a Glass Explorer as well. I remember back over my tech life to the first time I used my iPad 1 in public. It drew in conversations that started with people shyly trying to figure out what I was using. But quickly through friendly engagement that initial curiosity tuned in to a chance to connect. I would hand it over saying “have you had a chance to play with an iPad yet?”

As a technology tester and innovator I have had the opportunity to do that over and over from prototype Samsung phones to cutting edge tablets and Ultrabooks, often well before they are publicly released. I also receive a couple software beta invites from entrepreneur friends regularly. I thrive on new innovation and I love to share that experience with others.

The main reason I am into new tech is also because we are in a connection revolution where new new ways to communicate are being developed every day. Ten years ago we would never have imagined the location based services and devices that connect us today. That tech connectedness has even reached a level where it takes effort to make sure we don’t get lost and miss out on the face to face interaction  But I believe that tech like Glass, with wise use will let us see each other in a greater, clearer and deeper way. More on that soon

So as I write this aboard Virgin America flight 817, I look around and see galaxy tablets and iPhones. The seat console has ways to chat, text and communicate with the world outside the plane as well as the fellow passenger. We are meant as humans to be connected. And we are only getting started.

You can track my expereince in regular posts here as well as on Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.


To be considered entries had to have the following

Essay (Mandatory)

  1. The essay must not exceed fifty (50) words in length (or for Twitter Applications, one hundred forty (140) characters, whichever is shorter); if it exceeds this length, only the first 50 words (or for Twitter Applications, 140 characters, whichever is shorter) will be evaluated;
  2. Must contain “#ifIhadglass”;
  3. Must address the statement “What I would do if I had Glass”;
  4. Must be posted publicly (for example, Applications cannot be posted to limited circles on Google+);
  5. Must be in English.

Video (Optional)

  1. The video must not exceed fifteen (15) seconds in length. If it is longer than 15 seconds, only the first 15 seconds will be evaluated.
  2. The video must be non-commercial in subject matter (for example, the video cannot be a television commercial or an advertisement for a product or service).
  3. The video may be included via a link to a 3rd party site.

Still Photos (Optional)

  1. It cannot contain more than 5 photos. If it contains more than 5 photos, only the first 5 will be evaluated.
  2. Photos must be in .jpg, .gif, or .png format with a maximum file size of five (5) MB/each.
  3. The photos may be included via a link to a 3rd party site.

Icarus Deception and V for Vulnerable Givaway

It has been a while since I did a book giveaway and you will not want to miss this one. Last spring I backed the higher level of Seth Godin’s Kickstarter project for publishing his latest book The Icarus Deception. You can basically call it his challenge to conventional publishing. He believes that it takes a community to successfully sell a book instead of a slick publishing campaign. Seth delivered a whole slew of rewards this past week and I want to give some of it away.

Giving The Icarus Deception away without a call to action just did not seem right. I don’t have a lot but as Theodore Roosevelt said “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.”

So I thought I would share a bit about a group I am volunteering with as a writer. Two weeks ago I joined the Exodus Road as a storyteller. As part of a fleet of bloggers around the world, I will be telling stories about real life raids, those on the ground and many other interesting reports of what The Exodus Road and partners are doing to rescue women and children from sex slavery in SE Asia.

To do these efforts Exodus has to fund brothel raids. These raids require state of the art technology and support for the brave undercover operatives infiltrating locked brothels to rescue the victims. The raid funds will also pay for investigative work to document and prosecute those committing these crimes.

So here is how the giveaway works.

There will only be one person receiving the whole package that includes two copies of Icarus Deception (one to keep and hopefully one you will gift to someone has art the world needs to see), and one copy of V is for Vulnerable, a picture book written by Seth Godin and Illustrated by Hugh MacLeod.

To be entered into the contest all you have to do these two steps.

1. Share the raid funding site on the twitter using a link on Twitter, Facebook, pinterest or Google Plus. Here is the link

2. Post a comment here and make sure you leave a link where you shared it above.

(some have reported that Disqus comment system has not allowed them to comment. If that happens please send me a note at john at and I will post your entry. Make sure the subject in your email is “pick yourself”)

It is up to you whether you donate or not. But just think. What you and your community gives will free someone from slavery. Wow!

So far Exodus has had 348 teams’ Prosecutions to date, 622 victims saved By teams, 15 undercover operatives and 11 organizations supported. Now that is truly incredible.

Thanks and have fun. The contest will end Monday the 17th at midnight (Pacific Standard Time). I will then randomly pick the winner using a great unbiased third party service.  I will announce the winner on Monday the 17th. Also, I will ship free only to the continental US. If you are beyond that I will require payment to offset the cost.

Showing Up: Part 2 on how to connect with others

Chris Skaggs just being himself

I love a scene in the movie Braveheart right before the Battle of Sterling Bridge. It is a short exchange between William Wallace and his friend Stephen.

Stephen: Fine speech. Now what do we do?
William Wallace: Just be yourselves.

To be yourself, to show up in the full weight of who you really are is essential to making long lasting and powerful connections.  When that happens we offer so much. And even before we do business, become close friends or share much of anything we have given a gift of art. Seth Godin in his new book The Icarus Deception says it so well:

“Art isn’t pretty. Art isn’t painting. Art isn’t something you hang on the wall. Art is what we do when we’re truly alive.”

Here is an example. My friend Dennis Rivera is a photographer with an incredible eye for beauty. He shows up everyday on my Instagram stream with images that capture my heart and inspire me to show up in my own way. And it does not stop there. Others see his art and respond the same way. But Dennis is not just a great photographer he is also the kind of person you want running your customer engagement campaign. In his own words he is “the most vocal person arguing for the customer, the reader, the end-user”. He has the wit and charm that is needed to help others navigate customer needs. He shows up.

True connection creates art. We are meant to create it together. And it begins by showing up with yours. Others will follow in your wake.

This is a second post in a series on the basics of connecting with others. The first post was all about the fear flinch and killing it: Nine Cold Showers: The Connection Flinch

If you like this series you might also like these: Disruption and listening.

Connectedness to Spreading Ideas: Waves to Tsunamis in Film

Two months ago I watched a panel held at Sundance titled Power of Story: How Docs Changed Change. It was moderated by CNN anchor Soledad O’Brien. The panelists included Sundance Institute President and Founder Robert Redford, Sheila Nevins, president of HBO Documentary Films and Nick Fraser commissioning editor of BBC’s Storyville. I had hoped the panel would have talked more about the role of connectedness in spreading the message and discussion of the documentary subject.  It never happened.  The time was spent mainly talking about film form and such and the only mention of the viewers role in , as the panel was called, “how docs changed change” was by Fraser who was amazed at receiving a mere hundred emails from fans for one of BBC’s documentaries.  Really?  I am sure if he had the correct tools he would have seen thousands of mentions and interactions through blogs, tweets and other connecting tools.

My conclusion was that these film makers were terribly disconnected from current trends and in the end their audiences.  The change is occurring because we are becoming more connected than ever and films like the record breaking Kony 2012 film regardless of your opinion about the ethics, shows how an idea can be spread through the format.  What filmaker need to understand though is how they can best use the connected audience.

Here is the panel in it’s entirety. Your thoughts?

Watch live streaming video from sundancefest at
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