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Archive for the ‘Life Lessons’ Category

Before or after you read this post, it might be helpful to read this one to get some context about what Living for Monday was.

On Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014, I made the decision to shut down Living for Monday.

Why I made the decision does not matter, but know that many hours of careful thought and consideration went into it. We built an incredible vision for what Living for Monday could one day be, but in the end I believe Living for Monday might be better as an idea than a business.

A decision like shutting down a business can be tough for an entrepreneur. After all, the task at hand in getting a business to sustainability requires that you integrate your personal identity with the venture in many ways. Different people handle decisions like this in different ways.

This post could take many forms to announce the decision. I could go on an emotional journey, exploring all of the ways things could have been different. Or, I could blame everything on other people.

Instead, I choose to celebrate Living for Monday as a smashing success of a project that played out over the course of 2.5 years. I got to explore ideas, learn more than any institution could teach me in a classroom, work with incredible people, and understand what it takes to build a project from the ground up. Ultimately, I’m filing Living for Monday away as a great idea with powerful resonance that I explored to its fullest extent. A grand success.

Of course, in running a project over the course of 2+ years, it’s easy to learn alot. I figured I’d share as many of those lessons as possible with you and hope that you can benefit from them. It turned out that I came up with a round 50, for no particular reason than that I could think of no more lessons learned for now.

Here goes:

  1. Design matters.
  2. Content matters.
  3. Great design without great content lacks impact.
  4. Great content without great design loses part of its’ potential.
  5. The people you are surrounded by set the bar for what you expect to achieve.
  6. Being alone is not a permanent state of being. It is a temporary state that either beats us down or leads us to the sense of community we have been seeking all along.
  7. Servant leadership inspires others to serve as well.
  8. A great business does not a great idea make. Some ideas are better to remain as great ideas rather than be bastardized by turning them into business ventures.
  9. Leaving a great idea as an idea (in written, audio or video format) is sometimes, ironically, the best way for the idea to make money.
  10. Some of the best businesses are not brilliant ideas, but rather simple solutions to real problems as expressed by real people.
  11. Consistency builds trust, followership, and growth… Especially if you seek intentional growth through consistency.
  12. Any given project is just “one note in your song” as my friend Richard Boehmcke puts it. No one piece of work or art defines you. It is the body of work for which you will be remembered.
  13. You are not your work.
  14. Any person who evaluates your worth as a person should be shunned. There are too many people who will build you up to accept hurtful criticism from a person who himself is challenged with his own demons. Pray for him and move on.
  15. Any person who offers sincere and honest criticism of your work should be kept close.
  16. The number of people who are willing to offer sincere, honest, valuable criticism is small.
  17. Knowing when to quit is important.
  18. It’s easier to know when to quit by adequately defining a project to begin with. Establishing clear outcomes, timelines, and resources you’re willing to dedicate to a project will save much heartache.
  19. Decisions and deals made out of necessity are dangerous. Our immediate needs cloud our judgment, especially if those needs are financial.
  20. An investor is only valuable insomuch as she is aligned with the founder’s vision and complements the founder’s skills/knowledge/experience. A misaligned investor creates heartache, desperation, and disappointment. The corollary, of course, is that an aligned investor is an asset to be cherished and integrated into a project.
  21. Charisma and belief are necessary but not sufficient for execution. As a million people before have made clear, a great idea only matters in its execution.
  22. Metrics are meaningless unless they lead you closer to your vision and goals. A feel good metric is nothing but a distraction from the work at hand.
  23. If given the choice between recognition and doing more great work, do more great work. Whatever recognition that work deserves will come naturally. If you make the work the reward, you will be unstoppable.
  24. Earned media is more valuable than engineered media. The intersection of the two is best of all.
  25. The world (of business, of politics, of [insert anything here]) is unfair. The world is not a meritocracy. You can become cynical or you can learn the game. Learning the game can help you make your world more meritocratic.
  26. Nobody owes you anything. Not a sale, not a job, not anything. If you aren’t willing to work for the sale or deliver results in the job, you are expendable and should expect that you may find yourself without paying work at some point in life. This is harsh but true… But knowing the truth makes it actionable.
  27. People, even with big titles, often have no idea what they are doing. All people — people in the most important roles in the biggest organizations — are just trying to find their way just like you and I.
  28. Those same people are most concerned about the urgent tasks or activities that directly affect their selfish interests. Ask a business executive how they are thinking about population growth and its’ affects on our sustainable future and they will say population growth is good for business. Ask a scientist and they might disagree.
  29. Collective consciousness is a wonderful idea. I believe in it. I believe that community-driven decision making builds a sustainable future. I hope my generation will embrace that idea. But that idea does not drive decision making today.
  30. Nothing is a sure thing. Anyone who says they have a sure thing has simply not been exposed to the alternative possible outcomes. Confidence is key, but willful ignorance is dangerous.
  31. Reactionary decisions are often driven by poor reasoning. Starting a business because I was disillusioned with what I found in one small corner of corporate America does not make it a good decision to start a business.
  32. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is felt on an individual level, everyday. If basic financial needs are not met, our minds are mastered by that reality. Only once we reach a basic level of sustenance are we able to focus on higher levels of self actualization.
  33. Beyond our basic sustenance, money is not a powerful motivator. In fact, once our basic needs are met, money is only valuable in the impact it allows us to make on the things we care about, not as an end in and of itself. Money is a tool not an end.
  34. Money is not real. It is simply a means of exchanging value. Ultimately, it is not “yours” and you cannot take it with you when you die. Money helps you achieve outcomes that matter while you are here. It also help you to help others achieve outcomes while you are here.
  35. Owning a successful business does not mean you are good at doing everything that goes into operating a high performing team or organization. It means you have found a pain in the market that people were willing to pay to solve. The effectiveness of your organization is something entirely different.
  36. Shared organizational culture creates organizational effectiveness. Organizational effectiveness creates performance.
  37. Brand perception is a reflection of internal culture. A conceived or aspirational brand will crumble under poor internal culture.
  38. Every service, website, and product you use makes money, even if it is free to you. Google is not free, it is paid for by advertisers. This blog is not free, I am only able to write this blog because I make money elsewhere. Wikipedia is not free, it is supported by generous donors.
  39. Firing clients can sometimes be the quickest path to success.
  40. People will say they would buy what you’ve made because they don’t want to say no, or “call your baby ugly.” The best way to know whether you have created or are creating something of value is to ask real people to pay real money. If you ask for money before you’ve even built the thing, even better. It will save you time, money, and energy.
  41. The significance of our work is motivating. People who consistently perform at high levels draw their motivation from alignment with personal goals, alignment with personal beliefs, or inherent interest in the work itself. Any other motivators are false motivators and are not sustainable over time.
  42. Many people quit their work because of bad bosses, not because of the work itself. When we are not led, when we do not believe in our boss, when a boss is not willing to grow and learn herself, then we feel no loyalty.
  43. Our lives can be broken into seven categories of well being. 1) Spiritual. 2) Relationship. 3) Mental. 4) Physical. 5) Financial. 6) Career. 7) Adventure.
  44. Autonomy, connectdness, and growth greatly affect our sense of fulfillment in life and work. To feel a sense of autonomy in the choices we make everyday. To feel a sense of connectedness to a community. To feel an alignment between what we believe to be true about the world and the actions we take. These are the things we seek.
  45. I can hand you a specific set of directions, or I can hand you a map. I could give you directions based on my own experiences, which could have very little to do with your own experiences or starting point. The results you achieve by making use of that map depend entirely on the starting point. Your ability to understand your starting point and then apply the map to your situation will directly dictate your outcomes. Maps are more uncomfortable than directions but often more fulfilling.
  46. People would rather you do the work for them then show them how to do it themselves. Teach a man to fish, and he will eat for a lifetime is true. However, teaching requires a willingness to learn. Many people do not have that willingness. Sometimes it is driven by fear, sometimes by past experience, sometimes by the combination of the two.
  47. Growth is scary. We reach our potential when we consistently make ourselves uncomfortable. Knowing this does not make it any easier to be uncomfortable, but rather it allows us to understand what we are feeling and its value to our future.
  48. Being in relationship with other people has implied risk. The value those people provide back into our lives is worth the risk, as long as we first apply the right filters to the people we allow to influence us.
  49. Much of the marketing, advertising, and messaging we see in the world is designed to build up a sense of fear and inadequacy within us. Fear drives us to make impulse decisions. Creating a filter for what messages we subject ourselves to allows us to create a more intentional reality for our lives.
  50. Avoiding the real work does not make failure any more or less likely, it just delays the inevitable. Do the real work first and fail or succeed early. Waiting to fail does not make failure less painful.

The inevitable response to a post like this is: “So, what’s next?” To be frank, I don’t know. I never gave myself the option of a Plan B while I was running Living for Monday, and I think that was the right move. Further, I put a requirement on myself that I would spend 4-5 days feeling the emotions of ending a project.

So, today I start looking for what’s next. I have many potential options in mind, and perhaps I will share some of the process on this blog. Ironically, I’ll be taking much of my own Living for Monday advice as I search for the next exciting opportunity on my path.

If you have ideas or want to have a conversation about opportunities to work together, please send me an email at Barrettallenbrooks@gmail.com

In the meantime, let me know what I can do for you.

 

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Organizing People

This past Saturday I spent the day volunteering with Habitat for Humanity. It’s one of my favorite ways to get outside, do some service work, and feel a sense of accomplishment by getting my hands dirty. My love of Habitat started way back in middle or early high school when I first volunteered through my church with my parents. We had a great time and it’s been engrained in me ever since.

Then, last week two things happened. First, I read this post from Jeff Hilimire (CEO of Dragon Army, former President at Engauge, and fellow Villager at Atlanta Tech Village). Second, I got an email from Atlanta Habitat later in the day Monday or Tuesday saying they needed individual volunteers to help out with building on Clark Howard Way this past weekend.

My immediate response to the Habitat email was to jump on it. Add in the fact that one of my KPIs for the year is to go on a hike, adventure, or service day once a month, and it was a perfect opportunity. I wasn’t sure how I felt about Jeff’s iteration of paying it forward, but the reminder about service work clearly stuck in my subconscious mind on some level because I also invited about eight friends to join me on the build day (Habitat needed 17 individual volunteers).

It wasn’t a grand gesture, just a simple text message to friends I love spending time with. To my surprise, half said they would love to, but they already had plans for Saturday. Four others ended up saying yes, and three ended up attending the build day on Saturday.

It gave me great pleasure to do something meaningful with people I care about. I thought about how awesome it was that we were spending time outside on an beautiful day and doing some good in the community at the same time. Which got me thinking about what it means to organize people.

Sometimes I have a tendency to place such gravity on every little event I put together, and I know others experience the same thing. We put together itineraries, Facebook events, and Eventbrite registrations. We invite 100 of our friends in an impersonal way by clicking a button or two on Facebook and publishing a post on our blog. We think we’re being efficient and using technology to our advantage.

The thing is, sometimes the simplest way to rally people to a cause or instigate a great experience is simply to send a text message to a couple people you’re close to. That starts by making a decision: “I am going to do this, whether anyone comes or not.” Making a decision makes it a simple decision for others. They can think: “Barrett’s going, which means I won’t have to go by myself. Do I want to go with him?” It removes the ambiguity and allows them to simply say “Yes” or “No.”

Further, two of my three friends had never been to a Habitat build before, even though I know they’re the kind of people that would love that kind of thing. Indeed, they ended up having a great time, which made me incredibly happy. I’m 99% sure they wouldn’t have gone to a Habitat build on Saturday if I hadn’t sent them a quick message — which is not a knock on them, it’s just a fact. They weren’t on Habitat’s email list, so they couldn’t know about the build day.

I’ve rambled a bit, so I’ll wrap this up. Sometimes the easiest way to organize people is to make a decision about what you’re going to do and then send personal, simple invites to a small group of people you care about. Not everything needs an Eventbrite page, a Facebook event, and a compelling/obligatory pitch. That’s a lesson I’ll carry with me going forward.

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An Inspiring Speech

Found this two page speech in my college materials. It’s from an unknown author/speaker, but I found it inspiring and thought I would share.

“How you have prepared yourselves… in your college or university… will determine whether we have progress or chaos… whether we have peace and prosperity… or death and destruction.

Your thoughts… your actions will determine whether the battles of your generation will be fought in the halls of government… or in the jungles of Africa… or Asia… or here on our own soil.

Whether these battles will be fought by ballot… or by bullet… will be determined by your judgment… by your decisions… and by your leadership.

If your generation is like mine… you face this challenging and sometimes frightening future with a bit of anxiety. You feel some frustration… for you are driven by youth to leap into life… yet there is some uncertainty. You see the ominous shadow of the “bomb.” You see a troubled world… a war in Vietnam… political unrest and revolution in several corners of the world. And there is the paradox of poverty amid plenty.

but generally speaking… the world that beckons you… is not unlike the one that awaited my generation… or the preceding generation… nor the world that greeted Lincoln… or Jefferson.

My generation was born amid the blood and tears of World War I. We were nurtured by the hunger of the great depression… hammered by the inhumanity of World War II. Yet, we emerged with the greatest nation ever to fly its colors on the face of this globe.

This is what you inherit from us. The landmark of freedom. The symbol of human dignity.

You inherit, as well, many serious problems and threats… many tasks undone… many dreams unfulfilled.

But then, every generation since the birth of our Nation has faced problems and threats to our way of life. But each succeeding generation has found itself better equipped to meet these challenges. And each has found a way to bequeath a better life to those who follow.

The complaint of so many young people today… is that there is nothing left to do. The adventure of the old days is gone. There are no new worlds to conquer.

To this we can say that the real age of exploration still lies before us. For the greatest discoveries are yet to be made.

The leaned tell us that more progress… more inventions and discoveries… will be made in your generation… than in all the years of recorded history combined.

The whole universe awaits you. The mysteries of the heavens are yours to unravel.

And, in addition to uncharted space… three-fourths of the world’s surface remains unexplored… the are beneath the seas… an area much richer and more productive than the lands we now occupy.

BUt the greatest area for exploration is in the vast reaches of men’s minds… the total person… the heart and soul of mankind. The secrets of success…. of peace… of the brotherhood of nations still are locked within this challenging endeavor. It is an opportunity that cries for creative development. The truths of life and its purpose must bring light ot the dark doubts of ignorance and prejudice… and bring us understanding and tolerance.

What kind of world do you want? What kind of world are you willing to work for? Will you sell you right to adventure… for security on a sea of mediocracy? Or will you boldly meet the challenging opportunities of the future that await the vigorous assault of young minds and fresh thought?

I ask you these questions because the choice will be yours. And history soon will record your answers on the pages of time. The answers will be written by the way you live your lives.

Thomas Jefferson said, “Each generation has a right to choose for itself the form of government it believes the most promotive of its own happiness,” and that “nothing then is unchangeable… but the inherent and unalienable rights of man…”

Much of the machinery of government should be changed. Even some of our democratic institutions could be altered to better equip your generation to meet the demands of a rapidly evolving future.

Grasp boldly the challenges before you… but move with caution lest you destroy more than you build.

You have the talent! You have the ability! If young men like you but have the desire… you can shape the world to your own pattern! I pray that you will seize the initiative… that you will involve yourselves… in the conduct of public affairs. And that you will make government serve you… so that you will be the masters of it and not slaves to it. Make it a tool with which you can build a better nation… and thus a better world.”

I believe this was from some sort of graduation speech at the University of Georgia, perhaps from an alumnus. I found it in my college materials from an honor society. If you know who spoke these words, I would love to provide proper attribution. Otherwise, enjoy.

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If you woke up today sad, mopey, convinced the world is going to end… Get over it. Life goes on and this country is what you make of it. Just like life is what you make of it.

You want things to change? Start your bid for the next election cycle. Run for local office, start meeting the right people, find out about the issues that actually matter to people. Don’t want to run for office, or you recognize you’re not cut out for it? Fine. Then determine to campaign for a candidate you believe in next election cycle. Everyone is so frustrated because they can look back at this election cycle and see something they could have done to actually act like they have beliefs that might not fit into a democrat or republican bucket. Don’t want a label? Stick up for what you believe and go make something happen. People were undecided on election day because they were confused about the fact that neither candidate believes what they believe. Why do we not have a party that represents people’s true beliefs?

If you’re out of work right now, I’ve got news for you: it’s your fault. I was proud as hell of my girlfriend, Nicole, when she quit her job because the culture wasn’t right and then landed a new job within two weeks. Nobody did the work for her — she made it happen. If you want the job of your dreams, or you just want something to pay the bills for now… Stop making excuses and go find a job. Want help? Great. There are a million and a half resources out there. I’m building one, and you’re welcome to sign up here. But if you don’t want to face the music, don’t waste either of our time buying a product you won’t use anyways. If you need a job, there are jobs for you to have. But if you’re not going to (wo)man up and do the hard work to make something happen, you might as well sit back down on your couch. And if you’re not willing to get your hands dirty to make some money while you find something that lights your fire, then you probably won’t be willing to do the hard work to be fulfilled either. Plain and simple.

Want healthcare not to be a crippling aspect of our society? Stop complaining about politicians and start with yourself. How healthy are you and what decisions have you made over the past week that are going to cost you, me, and everyone else money when it finally catches up to you? Start with yourself and lower your healthcare costs. If you’re blaming someone else for the crippling nature of healthcare reform and you’re not treating yourself well, then I don’t want to hear it.

If you are treating yourself well and you really see a problem with the general health of our population, stop looking down on people and start helping to educate them. Most people have no clue how to eat right, buy produce, or do a simple at-home workout. If you know how to do any of those things, you can take the anxiety out of it for someone else and empower them to be healthier. Start a gym, found a bootcamp class, get certified as a personal trainer, or finally tell someone you love to get their ass in shape because you care about them. Again, if you’re not willing to take action on something that fires you up, stop talking about it and deal with the consequences.

I don’t care what the regulatory environment is, who the president is, or what you want to do with your life. If you can’t find the thing that will bring your full potential to the world, I’m asking you to create it. Stop creating excuses and start building something. Go now and take the first step to actually make a difference today. Learn a new skill, get a mentor, file your LLC with the state. Do something to stop wasting your potential on something that your parents told you to do when you grow up.

The rules are changing, safe jobs are no longer safe jobs, and you showing up to work everyday to be a drone and not solve a single problem over your fifty year career is bullshit. The world needs more from you. You have too much potential and you can have too much impact to whine about the results of our elections.

If you want something bad enough, go make it happen. And if you don’t, you’re just going to have to get over it.

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Today I completed several branding and storytelling exercises from a book titled The Story Wars by Jonah Sachs. The book is an outstanding resource for marketing and branding and today I would like to share the results of my writing. As a preface, the book refer’s often to Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey and uses the concept to drive these branding exercises. The terms ‘hero’ and ‘mentor’ are terms from The Hero’s Journey and translate to customer and business/brand respectively in this context

The first task: describe our brand hero (customer) in as much detail as possible

A hard-working, industrious individual who believes in being fulfilled in life, feels a higher calling or purpose, and ultimately wants to have a positive impact on other people… but he does not know where to start or what path to follow to find purpose, fulfillment, and impact, so he simply accepts the world as it is and does the best he can to get by.

The second task: write a letter from our brand hero (customer) to a friend, detailing the world as it is, why it no longer makes sense, and the call to adventure he feels deep inside

Dear friend,

Here I am wading through life – I’m doing well for myself by conventional standards. I am able to pay the bills, have fun, and not worry about too much. I do my job well for the most part and my boss likes me. I can’t say that I’m one of the star performers in the office, but I also know they would never lay me off. I guess I tell you all this because it just feels so off.

When I was in college and even high school, people – my relatives, teachers, guidance counselors – always encouraged me to choose a major and course of study that was practical and useful for a career. I took their advice and then when it came time to graduate, I felt this tremendous pressue to “do what I was supposed to do.” I still don’t know if I understand what that means… so I made up some criteria that seemed like they would make everyone happy. I needed to get paid well – well enough to pay the bills and live on my own at a minimum. I needed to find a job that carried some prestige with it – people needed to be able to recognize the company I went to work for or they needed to be able to understand the importance of my role. Finally, I felt like I needed to be in close proximity to home. I felt like I would let my family down if I went on some “crazy adventure” to another city, state, or country. So I followed directions and did what I was supposed to do.

Now, here I am at work and I feel like there are other things I’m supposed to do. I’m supposed to drive a nice car, and buy a house. I’m supposed to work long hours and not have much control over my work. I’m supposed to have a fancy wardrobe and work really hard to impress the right people. I’m supposed to keep my head down and not cause trouble. I get two weeks ‘vacation’ but I’m really only supposed to take one week per year and go to the beach or something.

So I guess all in all, I’ve done what I’m supposed to do and I live a pretty good life by society’s standards. I’m thankful for that.

Listen, I’m not complaining here because I’m not a big complainer. But I guess what I’m getting at is that there’s something more for me out there and I’m not exactly sure how to put my finger on what that means… but I need to try.

I’ve got all this schooling, skills, and experience and I’m supposed to just keep my head down and do my work. I’m supposed to show up, clock in, clock out, and leave my work at the office. But I imagine a life where I don’t have to separate my work and personal lives because they’re tied together. I can imagine matching my background with really big problems… personal problems that affect real people… and then having a huge impact on others by relieving their pain that’s created by those problems. I guess I just feel like I have so much talent and I want to put it to use by helping other people and having a positive impact on the world around me. I’m just not that sure how to do that. I don’t even know where to start.

Then I feel like I’m supposed to have all these things — cars, clothes, houses… just stuff. Don’t get me wrong. I like having nice things, but I always feel like I’m supposed to be buying more and more stuff and signing new car leases and buying a bigger house. Something about that seems broken to me. I mean, what if I could put my finger on the things that really matter to me – the stuff that I deem essential to living a good life and then get rid of everything else and just be happy. What if I could cherish the things I already have and build a life around those things – really use everything I have an invest in myself by doing so. For example, I’ve got 50 books on my shelves that I haven’t read and I keep buying new ones. But what if I decided to read all of them before I buy anymore. I can just imagine how fulfilling it would be to have really experienced all of the things I won. And what about my baseball card collection? What id I got rid of a bunch of crap so I can display my cards? That would make me so happy – I love my cards. But how do I even start whittling down to what I want and what I don’t? It’s so much easier to just leave it.

You know what else bothers me? I feel like somewhere along the way I picked up these less than ideal health habits. At work we wine and dine clients and potential new hires. I don’t exercise as much as I’d really like to and I don’t even really eat that well. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not way unhealthy. I stil take care of myself. But I guess I imagine so much more. I envision having a great body image, increasing my chances for living a long, healthy life, and being confident that I’m taking care of myself. I want to run around and play and eat delicious, healthy good and feel great about myself. I want to truly enjoy being ‘healthy.’ I know its possible and I know I have it in me. I believe in me, but again I don’t know where to start. I could join a gym, but I wouldn’t know what to do when I got there. I could buy pots and pans, but I wouldn’t know how to cook a darn thing.

And then there’s this whole relationship thing. Do I have friends? Yes. Am I intentional about spending quality time with them and letting them know how much they mean to me? No. It’s the same way with my family and love life. I say I care about these people (because I do)… but then I spend hours on Facebook or work too much. I want to be spending awesome time with a significant other, keeping up with family, and enjoying new hobbies with my best friends. I know I could be planning a fun date night every week… I can imagine a weekly update email to my family and asking them all to respond. What if I planned a quarterly weekend trip with my five best friends and we could serve together, learn together, play together, and develop new hobbies — man that would be awesome! These things matter to me, but it seems like all we ever do when we get together is go out for drinks or a pizza. I know I can change that and I want so much more, but I dont even know where to start, what to plan, or where to go.

This is a big problem – I make decent money, but I still live paycheck to paycheck. I’m not dying for money or anything… but I have a ton of bills… and credit card debt. I want to plan for te future, travel, take mini-retirements, grow wealth to pass to my kids someday, and pay it forward to non-profit organizations. I believe I can earn more and have a bigger impact on others at the same time if I just start tackling some of those career issues I told you about earlier. Oooh and you know what – If I simplified my life I could start spending less on things I don’t care about, get rid of my debt, save more, and then start spending more on the things I actually care about. I bet I coud even become a savvy investor if I really tried. Wow – I could paint a vivid picture of financial security. But dang, I’m in a bit of a hol right now. Where do I start? How would I even go about learning these things?

Te last thing I think is kind of screwed up is how uncomfortable I am where I live. I want to to travel and explore and all of those things, but I also want to feel like I’m coming home to where I live. I don’t have a spiritual community, I almost never volunteer time or money near where I live, I dont know what’s going on with local government, and I don’t even know the fun stuff to do around here. But I can picture exploring my hometown like it’s a foreign place. I can imagine having a spiritual home and a small group of spiritual mentors. What if I served in my community regularly? And what if I knew the local restaurant owners and I hot spots so I could host guests and have favorite places to spend time. Wow… so much to do. Ah! These are all great ideas, but I’m so overwhelmed. I guess that’s why I never get started on any of them.

I’m not sure what my goal was when I sat down to write this letter to you. But what I’ve realized is that I have all this untapped potential and I want to do great things in the world. I know I can live better and help others. There is so much opportunity. I’m pumped. I’m ready. It’s time to start living a fulfilling life that I can fall in love with.. So the question is, where do you think I should start?

-The Brand Hero

 So that’s the 1500 word letter from our Brand Hero to his friend calling out the things he sees that no longer make sense and identifying a calling to go on an adventure. He wants to explore and doesn’t know where to start.  That’s exactly where the Brand Mentor comes in (Living for Monday). We’ll pick up with the rest of the branding exercises in the next post.

PS: Gallup has identified the five core areas of well-being. They are: Career, Financial, Physical, Social, and Community. Read back through the letter again and see if you can identify how the Brand Hero is calling each of these areas out in his own life and desires more.

As you were reading, was there any point in this letter that you felt like you could have been the author? Could you picture someone you know being the author? If so, send me an email… let me know what you identified with. Barrett (at) livingformonday.com

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Wise Words from My Mom

Yesterday was my mom’s 53rd birthday. I was fortunate to get to see her in the morning and evening. In fact, I made sure that I was able to see her in the morning and evening, because there’s just something special about a birthday. No matter what anyone says, everyone loves their birthday and everyone wants to feel special on that day.

I once read/heard from someone that the only reason people say their birthday isn’t a big deal is because they’re scared people won’t remember. They’re scared their friends and relatives and close family won’t put in the effort to make it a day they want to remember. So they set themselves up to not be disappointed by saying it doesn’t matter.

Well, yesterday my mom ended up getting a ton of Facebook messages, texts, calls, and hugs from everyone she could have hoped to hear from. And you know what? She loved it.

Inspired by her birthday, experiencing the realities of aging, and spending wonderful, quality time with her immediate and extended family, Mom shared with me a quote that I loved so much I just had to pass it along.

The older we get the more we realize that time really isn’t a commodity. It is a precious thing that we must not squander. The greatest gift we receive or give is time for someone important to us.

So, who’s important to you? How will you show them that they matter? Who should you be spending time with this weekend?

I hope it’s a great weekend for you and I hope you get to spend time with someone who means the world to you.

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