It happened again — another success story.

I watched and listened attentively to the famous, quite affluent thought-leader-and-world-changer. He was brilliant. Engaging. And powerful – in a good way, because he shared his power in open, free dialogue, for others to enjoy and use. I marveled at how so much wisdom came from this kid.

I say kid because he’s young. Very young. And I’m constantly amazed at the wisdom pouring from his entire being.

I’ve watched him rise. I knew him when he was the meager 20-something pecking away at the computer keyboard in his bedroom, telling the world his story. And I wondered the BIG QUESTION, the ultimate question, burning in pulsing heat waves and dancing against the agitated flames, the blaze leaping and reaching to the ceilings of my mind:

How did this guy get to be so smart and successful?

And successful he is. He has a worldwide following of millions, book sales in the millions, and dollars in the bank in the millions. People want what he has, and (rightly so) they pay for it.

Wouldn’t you know, right then, someone asked the BIG QUESTION: “What are some of the practices that got here, to where you where you are today?”

His answers didn’t stun me. Because they were the same few answers I’ve heard over and over, from successful people making top money in their fields.

I’m going to share his top three answers here and in the next two posts, because it’s true: If you and I want to be successful like him, we need to do what he does.

So…what was his first answer?
“I read a book a month.”

Simple. Unremarkable. But think about it: What would happen if you read ONE book a month from a though-leader in your field? That’s twelve books a year, and sixty books in only five years. Now what if, on top of that, you “read” in the car, with digital or Audible books, as you traveled from point A to point B?

How good would you be? And just how just plain SMART would you become?

But more than that –
What would happen to what you create?

I’m talking your business. Your product. Let’s not even talk about the quality of your quality of relationships and interactions with others. Let’s stick with your success in your work.

Here’s a truth:
Multiplying your entrepreneurial value walks hand in hand with multiplying your own personal information and wisdom.

You’ve heard of synergy, right? It’s the potential to create more of something, because of adding two or more entities or ideas together. Well, let me say what’s obvious (but what we often simply don’t think of):

Synergy happens when you have enough in your head to stir your heart, in order to put something new together with your hands. (You can tweet that.)

Let me say it again.

Synergy only happens when you and I have enough. Enough knowledge – enough information, enough of the right ideas, all mixed up together and simmering in our minds – to put it all together into the new, groundbreaking idea – solidifying the exact thing to make your success explode.

Simmering our ideas. We know the phrase. But tell me – have we put enough ingredients into the pot, to make the best soup possible? Have we actually given ourselves enough information, enough wisdom, and enough pure-and-simple ideas to make it happen?

Perhaps one of the reasons we don’t have the groundbreaking moment is because we’re not putting enough into the pot.

Perhaps we’ve not “made it” because the wisdom, know-how, and seasoning from those before us, housed elegantly in books, hasn’t been poured into our minds and hearts.

Authors, think of the level of craft you’d reach, reading a how-to book a month.
Leaders, think of the level of wisdom you’d own, infusing the acumen of a book a month.
Whatever business idea is on your heart, think of the level of pure know-how and what-to-do-now you’d gain, with only a book a month.

It’s pretty simple.
But who of us will actually do it?

I’m pretty sure the ones who, among other things, read a book a month
will end up like the friend at the beginning of this post.


PS. Through an every-day commitment and the help of Audible, here’s what I’m reading right now…
13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, by Amy Morin
* The Way of the SEAL, by Mark Divine
* Ask, by Ryan Levesque
Sign of Chaos, by Roger Zelazny

What are you reading?

Anyone here remember the 1997 “George of the Jungle” movie
with Brendan Fraser?

Regardless of whether or not we guzzle too much coffee, if we’re not careful, our days can be java-java-java days —

Not focusing,
running cray-cray,
following every whim,
listening to what others say
(“Who me?””I mean you!””Ooh!”),
and ending the day with a general feeling of exhaustion or overwhelm.

(We all have these days.)

Daily Organization and Management 101 needs to kick in:
List the tasks.
Prioritize the tasks on time due and importance.
Do the tasks, in order.

HUGE programs are written on daily organization and management, and billions of dollars are spent every year on planners, day-timers, and fun sticky-note check-lists like this (which I own).

Because lists work.
I know you know this.
(I know this, too.)

Here’s to drinking our coffee and avoiding the java-java-java-java craziness through being attentive to simple organizational management skills.

* Thup

It’s time to talk about why nobody cares about what we write.
(Don’t get all offended. I said we.)

Really. It’s true. Most of the time,
people don’t read what you and I write.

They might skim the page. But they rarely
read the text from start to finish.

You skim, too, right?
(Thanks for being honest.)

Truth is, you and I go about writing all wrong.

We use too many words.
We think that more means better,
and that’s simply not so.

We’ve been fed a lie. We’re told to write a lot. To explain ourselves. To give example after example. To tell a story that makes our followers have warm fuzzies, so that they inhale our content like someone sitting back on the couch after an afternoon of hard work with drink in hand, focusing on our words with passionate commitment and a sweet depth of duty that leads to betrothing followership.


The Internet has drastically changed
the way we read.
 And in response, we need to
change the way we write, to connect with reality.

I’m not saying that longer articles don’t have a place.
Not at all.

What I’m saying is that as an entrepreneur and leader who owns your own business,  if you want to be heard more often — then write short. With power.

Intentionally use the five habits of strong, relevant, response-driven writers:

  1. Be Concise.
    No one has time for oodles of words. Eyes glaze over and fingers click away to the other guy’s site. In all that you write, get to the point.
  2. Assert bold ideas.
    The first line, the first paragraph, and every number in the list holds BAM ideas. They’re compact assertions. Clear. And direct. Stop taking around the bush. Compress ideas into power phrases.
  3. Be honest.
    Nobody wants to read sales BS. We want honest words with credible, non-puffed-up meanings. Use everyday language that doesn’t inflate.
  4. Keep ideas singular. 
    Give immediate take-away. Lists are great. Bullets are better. But writing the la-la-blah-blah-take-my-time text and filling five suitcases full of information makes nobody care. Write about one idea. Only one. And make it powerful.
  5. Make short visual pieces on the page.
    When readers see more than three lines (or, God forbid, whole paragraphs), brains freeze over. It’s shameful, but the truth. Look at this list. It has space, bolded words, and visual form. It’s visually organized. Do the same.

You have incredibly valuable ideas.
And people need what you have.
Isn’t it time to connect those people with your ideas?

Change your writing style.
Your ideas are worth it.


During the holidays, I find myself thinking deeply about the whole year. (You do that, too, right?) And it’s not just thinking about, where did the year go? It’s more.

It’s about about time. (Who did I spend time with?)
It’s about energy. (How did I spend my God-given energy?)
It’s about love. (How did I love?)

Sipping the cup of time is non-negotiable.The cup will empty. What’s important is this:

We choose to drink the brew of time that’s better or bitter.

Overall, as cup of the year nears empty, I’m thankful for family, for friends (you know who you are)… for opportunities enjoyed, and for the wings of adventure.

Metaphorically, what we put into our cup to drink is a choice. Smiles and laughter. Kindness and caring. Faith and truth. Humility and other-centeredness. Thoughtfulness and responsiveness. These are the active definitions of love.

I wish you all of this and more.
Merry Christmas.



Today, in the southwest corner of the Michigan-Mitten Land of Snowfall,
it’s pouring rain.

More like obsessed, forceful snare drum beats than a placid pitter-patter, the gust-driven wind-waves throw their pop and tat crescendos in sheets against the wood and tar of the roof.

Sharp lines of sound jump from the driving cadence — casting outward an energy that can only originate from the sky.

Not expected.
Amidst our tree-and-ornament preparations,
quite unexpected, just days before Christmas, this pouring rain is.
(Yoda reference intended.)
(But I digress.)

The energy and intensity of the rain causes the listener to pause. And in the pause, the intense rain holds magic.

But listener beware.
It’s not the good kind of magic.
It’s the lulling, mesmerizing kind of rain-sound that clandestinely seizes the listener, binding him or her in non-movement as a spell cast, making the mind numb, tuning the mind from much-needed forward movement
into wall-staring.

(Mellow charm has its time and place.)
(Captivating charisma can be appealing.)
(But anesthetizing enchantment of the deadening kind is never good.)

Dangerous, it is.
The rain makes us stand still, when we need to move.

Okay, wait a minute.
Before all you rain-lovers get mad at the dark declarations and utterances of doom, stay with me.
(As always, there’s a purpose.)
(Metaphor time.)

Rain = intensity in your life.
Intensity can be a busy schedule. A deadline. A list of things to do and so little time to do them in.

Intensity comes from the job. The home. Even friends, gatherings, and holiday cheer.

The intensity becomes a single-intonation blare
making you and me tune out what’s important.

Don’t let the driving intensity of the holiday
take away the truth:

Hope has come.
Joy is here.
Peace and goodwill resides under the roof, inside of us.

Let’s not let the driving beats of life mesmerize us
into not feeling, not caring, and not seeing the wonder.

Whatever your “rain” today, push it away.
Feel. Care. See.
Be fully alive.
(Regardless of the rain.)


Diverse interests (and projects) can lead to bondage.

We sometimes (many times?) believe that diversifying opens doors of freedom, because more is more, right?

Maybe not.

The bondage of chasing too many ideas (of spreading ourselves too thin) can lead us to miss the richness that only comes from the depth that single-mindedness brings.

One idea.
One focus.

Fear of losing out drives us to put hands into too many pots, to run in crazy mode, and to (eventually) become exhausted, with little to show, without a quality product.

Let go of the peripheral (the other ideas/side projects) and
acknowledge that you can’t be in all, of all, and gain all.

Single-mindedness may actually give you the biggest gain of all.

* Thup

Favorite songs are powerful.
They can pull out emotions that we didn’t even know existed.

They lift us. Drive us forward.
And embody the potential take us to the place of success.
(Faster and easier than we could have imagined)

Especially songs of hope.

If you’re short on strength today,
maybe listening to music and lyrics is in order.

Everybody falls sometimes
Gotta find the strength to rise from the ashes
and make a new beginning

We can’t deny it:
When lyrics of hope intertwine, knit, and meld with the music,
and we open ourselves to the possibilities,
something magical happens.

That moment when a doorway we didn’t know existed opens,
and we’re able to walk through.

If you’ve a looming project ahead,
maybe listening to music and lyrics is in order.

Anyone can feel the ache
You think it’s more than you can take
But you’re stronger, stronger than you know

Don’t you give up now; the sun will soon be shining
You’ve gotta fix the clouds to find the silver lining

What kind of lyrics are you listening to, today?
Do they take you to a better place?

Hope is borne across lyrical winds, and we rise on their updraft.

If you’ve lost the passion, the drive, the force behind you,
maybe listening to music and lyrics is for today.

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end, even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen
Silent prayers get answered, broken hearts become brand new

That’s what faith can do.

You see, often times,
our lyrical doorways stay shut and fullness stays away,
until the music and lyrics access the soul.

If you’re leading  — in any capacity —
What’s creating your inner energy?
Maybe listening to music and lyrics can be a part of it.

It doesn’t matter what you’ve heard
Impossible is not a word
It’s just a reason for someone not to try.

Everybody’s scared to death
when they decide to take that step out on the water,
but it will be all right.

Music + lyrics = potential power.
But it’s a power that won’t come to you. You have to go to it.
Maybe listening to music and lyrics is the right thing to do.

Life is so much more than what your eyes are seeing
You will find your way, when you keep believing

I’ve seen dreams that move the mountains
Hope that doesn’t ever end, even when the sky is falling
I’ve seen miracles just happen, silent prayers get answered
Broken hearts become brand new

That’s what faith can do.

More times than we know,
faith resides in the arts.

To rise higher, it’s imperative to step away just for a moment and
immerse yourself.
(It’s a good bet that, with the right music and lyrics,
you’ll emerge changed.)

And choose carefully.
Listen to the good ones.
The powerful ones.
The positive ones.
(Not the feeling-bad, feeling-sorry, oh-woe ones
taking you farther from your goals.)

Overcome the odds when you don’t have a chance.
When the world says you can’t,
It’ll tell you that  you can.

Even if you fall sometimes, 
You will have the strength to rise.

Music and lyrics aren’t just a spark.
They’re access to strength.


(Lyrics courtesy of Kutless, What Faith Can Do)


“To dream is to create the future.”

I don’t think so.

To do is to create the future.

I know quite a few dreamers, including myself, who have no problem finding (and exercising) the creativity
to imagine a magnificent future.

But it’s the ones…

who find the stepwise pathways,
who break the tasks down small enough,
who commit to the little steps,
who tick them off the to-do list,
who write out the “boring” schedule,
who run a calendar like a finely tuned BMW,
who return to the plan again and again,

who create the future.

Dreaming is fine. But doing is better.

* Thup

Truth can hide.

The outside can appear to be strong, but in reality it’s weak.
(Pain and uncertainty hovers beneath the cardboard exterior.)

The goal can appear to be clear, but in reality it’s undefined.
(Dreams can appear to hold flesh, but the dream’s skeleton isn’t wrapped with the muscle of action.)

The fear can appear to be monstrous, jaw-drooling, and ready to devour, but in reality it’s a miasma-filled Balrog dissipating in swift gusts when the warmth and heat of hope shines crisp on the fine lines of the future. 
(Time spent alone, in quiet thought that burns and dissipates mistruth, can redirect, redefine, and remove fraudulent, untrustworthy, counterfeit ideas that, ultimately, imprison us.)

Truth can hide.

Because you and I are used to seeing a picture of a coffee mug at the end of this blog, we can make the assumption that this blue mug holds coffee.
It doesn’t. That’s a picture of yesterday’s Chai Soy Latte.

Truth can hide.

Especially in the echo and lull of our day-to-day schedule.
Especially in the whoosh-whishing wind of our day-to-day hurry-ups.
Especially in the earthquakes of our emergencies and the spilt emotions of cracked histories.

Don’t let truth hide. Face it.

Make the weak ideas, attitudes, and beliefs strong.
Wrap dreams with action.
Spend time alone, waking up to the reality of what can be, when we embrace truth and run with it.


Okay. Deep breath.

After months of galavanting around the nation with my spirited, tireless, life-loving son on America’s Got Talent — and meeting all kinds of wonderful people with all kinds of wonderful skills and talents — I’m back. Back to doing dishes. Back to making sure kids are on top of their schoolwork. Back to writing, creating, and building worlds in books and online.

And back to raising my coffee cup to you, as we meet together.

After riding the gusty, whirlwind experiences filled with sweet relationships and delightful moments shared, it’s time for life to return to normal. Right?

Um. Not really.

Because, I ask, how do you take back all of the love and sweetness of new friends? And how do you erase the brilliance of excitement when a hundred people around you are firing on all cylinders, the lights cascade, the music pumps, and the magic electrifies even the air you breathe?

Heavens, I’d never want to take back or erase a second of it all. It’s more like, welcome to the new normal. 

Whether I like it or not, life is changed forever.

We all have unexpected experiences. Life gets splattered with them, good and bad. We hope and pray for the good while trying to avoid and slog through the bad. Most likely, the good and bad eventuate as a mixed up, haphazard, awkward savoir-faire, pouring with a splash into a concoction that reminds me of something that I did as a kid.

Whenever we had a party, we’d take out the bottles of pop (or, if you’re not from Michigan, soda), and pour together as many kinds as we could. We called it suicide. Not sure why, but the name embodied the mixture’s crazy taste.

Life is more crazy taste than anything else, isn’t it? The good and bad, all mixed up together. An insane fusion that you sometimes simply don’t even want to try to make sense of. It’s best to just drink it down, enjoy the wacky blend, and relish its reality to the fullest.

Whether you’re a man or woman, single or married, homebody or traveler, show-up-and-give-it worker or specialist-seeking entrepreneur, Everyday Joe or CEO, you know that once you’ve experienced high-level creativity, synergy, and magical moments, you can never go back.

But life isn’t about going back, is it?

I’m sitting in a coffee shop with a brand-new journal. The smell of its crisp pages waft past and mix with the cinnamon scent of my first pumpkin spice latte of the season. My hand itches, hovering, ready to script new goals… ready to sketch out the new story line with characters already chattering conversations at the bar in my head… ready to lean the binoculars against the bridge of my nose and sight the new speck on the horizon that promises to be the top of a mountain.

We can never return.
We don’t need to return.
There’s too much waiting for us.




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