This weekend, we as a nation will celebrate our independence as 241 years ago, our forefathers, after much debate, signed our Declaration and declared us a free and independent nation. You may have heard of this, it’s kind of a big deal. This weekend I will celebrate my own independence as well because one year ago, I launched this website and began to take this blog seriously. While the rest of my family was enjoying our long weekend in the sun, I sat hunched over my computer stressing about what should go where and how I would phrase things. Even though I had no experience with WordPress and even less with writing code, I poured myself into creating something. From this experience, and the year that has followed, I’ve learned some things and I would love to share them with you.

Starting Is The Hardest Part

It took me literally months to get the courage to start my real website. Sure I had played with the free Google Sites websites, but this was different. This was actually making an investment in myself and my idea. It was scary and it was hard. I found every possible reason not to start: it’s expensive (it’s not), I don’t know enough, no one will read or care about what I have to say. I had thought of every reason why I shouldn’t start and those reasons paralyzed me. It was when I just started that things started coming together. It took me two days to get everything put together. It took me six months to start. This is ridiculous and has been a lesson that I keep in mind whenever I think about beginning something hard.

I Can Figure It Out

Have I mentioned that I know NOTHING about web design? I mean, I really had no experience at all about creating or designing a website. Once I decided to actually start, it became my job to figure it out. No one was going to do this for me, I had to get to work. I asked people for advice and researched endlessly. I tried, I failed and I tried again. So may times, we never even start because we have this belief that we don’t know enough, or that we don’t have the skill but in reality, just because we don’t know it today, or have the skill when we start doesn’t mean that we can’t figure it out along the way. My experience taught me that I can figure it out and if it’s true for me and WordPress, it’s true of most any other situation too.

Consistency Is Key

In the year since I’ve launched this blog, I have posted every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with a new video uploaded every Tuesday, no matter what. I have been relentless consistent and I’ve done it for a very real reason; I’m not a good writer. As you read through my posts, you will catch spelling errors, misused words, grammatical errors and other things that I’m not very proud of. I work really hard to correct them, but they’re there. What I am proud to say, is that there are a lot fewer now than there were when I started. By being consistent, I continue to improve and while I will never teach an English class, I am able to deliver my message because I work at it. Consistency really is key. It’s hard for me to believe that it’s been a year since this site launched. I know it’s still not perfect, but I keep working at it. The lessons that I have learned in this year though carry over to every other area of my life and I’m positive that if you put them into practice, you will see results too.]]>

Have you ever entered the 10th circle of Hell known as the business meeting? That place where time stands still as visions of things you could be doing dance through your mind? If you’ve been there and were lucky enough to leave, then you look upon those meetings with the amount of dread reserved for root canals and dance recitals. To put it bluntly, they suck. The reasons that meetings are so bad it that most of the time they are A. too numerous, B. too long and C. unproductive. To solve these problems, I have three questions that should be asked before every meeting that will keep them from entering the circles of hell. They are:

What’s The Desired Outcome Of This Meeting?

This is the first question I always ask before any meeting starts because this question ensures that the meeting is productive. Having an idea of why we’re meeting and what is hoped to be accomplished lets us start with the end in mind n gives us something to measure against to ensure that we are being productive. This is a small question that can yield big results as it helps to keep us focused on why we’re meeting, to begin with.

What’s My Role In This Meeting?

This is my secret “get out of meetings free” card. Whenever I’m invited to any meeting, I start by asking what my role will be and what is expected of me. This gets me out of a lot of meetings because if I’m essentially asking before it starts if I really need to be there. If after asking this question, I find out that I have a major role to play, I go and I play it. I contribute and I do my job. If I ask this question, however, and I learn that I’m not really needed, I can talk about the other important projects that I should be focusing on. Learn up front what is expected of you and you can better meet those expectations and possibly eve get out of meeting altogether.

What Is Our Time Frame?

I really hate long meetings. My favorite saying is that if a meeting lasts longer than an hour, you need two meetings. to avoid long meetings, I ask upfront how long the organizer expects the meeting to last. Doing this, without fail, makes the organizer much more cognizant of the time they spend holding the meeting. It’s almost as if they want to keep a promise they’ve made at the beginning by not going over.Want to keep your meetings shorter, get the organizer to commit at the beginning to a time frame and then watch as they hold themselves to it. Not all meetings are bad. Not all meetings are unproductive. Yet, there are enough that we should be on the lookout for Business Meeting Hell. Especially when it’s as easy to avoid as asking three very simple questions. Follow my lead and save your soul.    ]]>

  For most all of my life, I have avoided getting up early. My dad is a morning person and he gets up every day without an alarm clock between 4:30 and 5:00. My mom is night owl that uses er snooze button five times before getting up every day. You might say that I’m a product of a mixed marriage that way and as such I’m not a morning person or a night owl but more of an afternoon kind of guy, but this has changed in the last year. Now, I’m up every day at 5:00 and I’m in the barn getting an early start on the day. It hasn’t been an easy adjustment, but I am a solid member of the 5:00 club now and here’s how I did it:

I Get Better Sleep

This actually started five years ago when it was suggested that I had sleep apnea. I did and was fitted with a c-pap machine and it truly changed my life. Aside from that though, I have taken serious strides to make sure I am sleeping well. I avoid caffeine late in the day, I keep our bedroom cool and dark and I stay off of my phone for the last hour before sleep. All of this helps, but more than anything, I started journaling, getting everything that I want out of the next day out of my head and on paper. Now, I fall asleep right away and stay that way until my alarm goes off. Better sleep makes my mornings much easier.

I Made A Commitment

I’m not talking about the kind that I had made to myself for years and never kept. It easy to break that one. No, I made a commitment to my family that I would take care of the morning barn work. When I did this, I put to work one of the great human truths: People are willing to do much more for others than they are for themselves. The thought of letting others down drives me to get up. if you’re struggling with this, make a commitment to someone else and you will be surprised how easily you live up to it.

I Make Use Of The Extra Time

This may sound silly, but for years, if I could get myself up, I couldn’t figure out how to make my time productive. It wasn’t worth getting up if I didn’t have anything to do. Now, I get my barn chores done and that’s something, but I use that time to connect with my son. Time that I don’t have at night. I make my wife breakfast and sit with her while she eats it. Then I write. I get more done before seven than I used to get done my nine. Riding the momentum of getting more done every day, I put myself in a position where I have come to depend on the extra time. Because I’m using it, I want to get up, I don’t just have to get up. I still drink a lot of coffee and I still move a little slow when my feet first hit the floor, but I have successfully learned to do it. Getting better sleep, committing to getting it done and actually using my mornings have become my go to  What’s yours? ]]>

Have you ever been ripped off? Have you paid for something and didn’t get any value for your investment? if you’ve lived longer than a year on this planet I’m sure it’s happened. Sometimes it’s a mistake and other times it’s deliberate, but we have all had those experiences when someone chose to take profit before they offered value and chances are good, we never gave them the opportunity again. If it’s happened to you, it’s happened to them too. This is why I truly believe that those of us in the persuasion profession MUST focus on providing value before we think about collecting a profit. This might mean trials of our products, it might mean free educational sessions, or it could mean simply working for free, but if we establish value first, profit will follow. A couple of years ago, my parents bought our family a set of very expensive livestock scales as a Christmas gift. It was great to have them in our barn…until they stopped working. We tried to call the people that sold it with no luck. We attempted to contact the manufacturer with no luck. It looked as if we were getting ripped off. No one was happy. Because we needed the scales to work, out of desperation, I called a local vendor after seeing one of their trucks in the drive through at McDonald’s of all places. The guy I called came right over, looked at our scales and spent two hours restarting and re-calibrating them and when he was done, they worked…for now. I was over the moon with excitement. I was willing to pay him whatever he wanted for his time that day. You can imagine my surprise when he told me there was no charge. he worked for two hours on a hot day for nothing. Talk about demonstrating value. While he fixed our scales, he gave me a price on a new set and let me know that although he had fixed what we had, for now, they were eventually going to break again. When that happens, who do you think I am going to buy my next set from? There’s no question as to who will get my business: The gentleman that focused on value before profit. It was a brilliant marketing strategy because he’s thinking long term. Eventually, he will win. In keeping with lesson this taught me, let me make an offer to you. I want to coach you. I want to help you stand out and get noticed. I want to guide you to a breakthrough with your communication skills, your image, and goals. Let me demonstrate my value. For the next month, text any time (my number is 419.235.5028) and I will help you with whatever you are struggling with for free. Want to shoot a video? Cool! Let me help. Working on a big goal and need a fresh set of eyes? My attention is yours. Want you millennial son or daughter out of your basement so you need them to nail their next interview? I’m one short text away. Let me demonstrate my value and I promise you, you won’t feel ripped off.]]>

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If you aren’t using video, you’re missing out. It’s free, it’s easy and it’s effective. Text me and we’ll spend an hour together getting you ready to use it effectively to get known, liked and trusted.]]>

Summer is hard. At least it is for me. With all three kids playing ball, four nights of my week get spent at the park. With summer heat comes more barn work to keep our show cattle cool and comfortable. As soon as the calendar hits June, vacations get in the way of scheduling meetings. It gets harder and harder to keep my head in the game and I’m sure I’m not alone. If we aren’t careful we can fall into the terrible trap of the summer slide. You know what I’m talking about; the constant vacation mindset that keeps us from moving forward and has us existing rather than creating. The summer slide is a very real thing and if we aren’t careful it can kill all of the momentum we’ve been building the rest of the year. Here’s my formula for avoiding it:

Keep Writing It Down

Writing down my goals every day helps me connect what I’m doing every day with the future that I’m working for. Not everything that has to be done is always pleasant, but keeping in mind my future helps me push past the discomfort. I also find it helpful to focus on what I want every day rather than just letting things happen. To avoid the summer slide, I keep writing down my goals and I find more focus.

Keep A Schedule

Blocking out the entire day to make sure that every minute is being used for its best purpose isn’t sexy, but it’s effective. The reason it works lies in the old saying that what gets scheduled, gets done. it’s tempting to let our schedules slide and let things just happen. This is the strategy most people use on vacation, but it’s not very effective when it’s time to work. Make a schedule and stick to it, it’s a great way to avoid the summer slide.

Set Daily Targets

The reason I love daily targets is that it is a great way to keep score. You either did it or you didn’t. It is simply the most effective way to measure our effectiveness throughout the day. Every morning, after I write my goals down, I pick three big targets for the day that will move me closer to those goals. Some are easier than others, but at the end of the day, I know if I did it or not and that keeps the slide at bay.

Embrace The Season

Lastly, the best way to avoid the summer slide is to recognize that it exists and embrace the fact that things won’t be as simple as they are during the other three seasons. There are many things about life that we have the power to change, but the season isn’t one of them. Instead of looking at all of the challenges that summer creates, I find it helpful to focus on the opportunities that I have because it’s here, like watching my kids do something they enjoy. Embrace the season and avoid the summer slide. For me and many others, summer is hard. There are so many obligations, distractions, and challenges that make me yearn for October, but when I write it down, keep my schedule, hit my targets and embrace the season, I am able to, for the most part, stay off of the summer slide. Good luck avoiding it too!  ]]>

The other night, in the barn with Jack, I saw him let up. I saw him not give his best when brushing his steer. I saw him half ass it. As I watched this, words formed in my throat and came out of my mouth before my brain had even processed them and I heard a voice say “if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” I may as well have grown a beard and worn a gray sleeveless t-shirt because I realized in that moment that I have turned into my father. On Sunday, we will celebrate Father’s Day and as I look ahead to the day set aside to honor the men in our lives I have to remember some very specific lessons that I learned from my dad. He’s taught me:

Do What Has To Be Done

I grew up on a farm. There was nothing my dad would have liked to do more than farm full-time. Unfortunately, he couldn’t feed our family doing that, so he took a job in town. There were a lot of winters when I was a kid that dad would find himself laid off when construction work was slow. Those were the times I remember dad doing whatever had to be done in order to keep our family housed, clothed and fed. There were a lot of springs and a lot of falls when I wouldn’t see my dad at all because he’d work 10 hours in town and then work ground, or haul grain late into the night. There was a job that needed to be done, so he did it. This has been a guiding example in my life and I try to keep it in mind when things get hard.

You Can Be A Lot More Than You Think

The house that I grew up in was built with my dad’s own two hands. A finish carpenter by trade, I have always marveled at the things that the man could do. It seemed like if it was made of wood, he could fix it, build it or make it look prettier than it did before. As an adult, I’ve come to know that there were a lot of things that Dad didn’t know how to do when he built our home. He just trusted that he could figure it out and tried anyway. This is an important lesson for all of us. There are a lot of times when I just give up because I don’t know how to do something. In those moments, I think of dad wiring and plumbing our house. He figured it out and did it right, even though he wasn’t a plumber or electrician and I need to trust my ability to figure things out.

If A Job’s Worth Doing, It’s Worth Doing Right

This is my dad’s most famous phrase. We all know he didn’t coin it, but he’s made it his own. There were a lot of days when he would be in the field or working late and my brother and I would have to do the barn chores. When we half-assed it, we always heard him say “if a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” Today I face the temptation to mail it in. To not always give it my best and to half ass it. In those moments, I hear Dad telling me his famous phrase it turns my attitude around. There are moments when I realize that I’ve turned into my father. Because of the example that he’s set for me, I can’t think of a better man to be.]]>

You may have noticed I write about my barn a lot. Last week my brother called me obsessed and I took that as the highest compliment he could give me. I love spending time out there and I love working with our show steers. Showing cattle is fun and it’s one of the parts of my life that I really truly enjoy. To be honest, though, I’m not awesome at it. I love it, but if I had to make a living doing it, I would probably starve to death and that would be bad. Do you know what I’m really awesome at though? Demolition. I can tear things apart with the best of them. When we were remodeling our barn, the part I really excelled at was pulling nails and knocking apart walls. I’m really good at it and I kind of enjoy it but I don’t love it. Someone might pay me to do it, but it would lose its fun pretty quickly and I would grow it hate it and that too would be bad. This to me is one of the fascinating parts of life: Figuring out what we love, what we’re awesome at and what people would pay us to do. We can make a living doing virtually anything, but when we work in our sweet spot, that spot where all three of these overlap, we’re happiest, most fulfilled and make the most money. It’s the ultimate jigsaw puzzle of life to figure out. In order to get here though, we have to ask ourselves some tough questions and work really hard to find the answers. We have to stop and ask ourselves what it is that we truly love to do. What is it in life that we would be happy doing every day even if we had to do it for free? Some people can never get past this first question. They’ve never actually thought about what it is that makes them happy. If we don’t ask, we’ll never find it. We also must ask ourselves the question of what are we awesome at? If these two things are the same, you’re in really good shape! A lot of us aren’t this lucky. We have to really think about what it is that we really excel at, even if its, not something that we love doing. What is it that we do better than anyone else we know? It’s a hard question, but an important step in finding the sweet spot. Finally, we have to ask what people will pay us to do. How can we take what we love and what we’re awesome at and make a living doing it? There are people who have figured this out and they’re the rich ones. Rich in spirit, rich in happiness and rich with money. They’re living in the sweet spot. I get kind of tired of speakers telling us to do what we love. If it were that easy, we’d all be doing it. Instead, we have to labor hard and think about what we love, what we’re awesome at and what people will pay us to do. Until we get there, we have to keep looking for the sweet spot.]]>