Source of Information Versus Source of Energy

Inhaling is a key part of my meaning making mission.

I usually spend the first hour of my day scouring and
learning and reading and annotating from any number of newspapers, blogs and
online publications. By the time I’m done, my desktop is littered with new documents
and ideas and perspective and insight. And my brain is ignited and ready to engage.

I’ve been practicing this daily ritual for about a year now,
and it’s had a huge impact on me, for one simple reason:

I used to view news as
a source information, but now I view it as a source of energy.

First, for me.

Reading it excites the citizen in me because I’m engaging
with what’s going on in the world. Inhaling it expands the thinker in me
because I constantly fill my reservoir with valuable perspective. Documenting
it satisfies the artist in me because I’m making meaning through writing,
organizing and responding to smart ideas.

Then, for others.

Sharing it fulfills the human in me because I’m giving gifts
to people I care about. Discussing it energizes the extrovert in me because I
can contribute to conversations in a valuable way. Referencing it elevates me
as a resource because I can pick from my intellectual inventory at a moment’s
notice and be a resource for others.

What did you inhale today?

The Opposite Of Pulling Teeth

I like people who join people.

They’re the ones you don’t even have to ask. The ones who just
want to be part of everything. Whatever you’re doing, whatever you’re thinking,
whatever you’re feeling, they’re happy to be there. Physically, emotionally,
spiritually. On board at a moment’s notice.

It’s the opposite of pulling teeth.

Relentless affirmation. Instant encouragement. Endless participation.
Radical acceptance.

You’re never met with a tilted head.

The challenge is, you can’t really teach this. Otherliness,
aka, the willingness to join others, is more of a fundamental bent than a
learnable skill.

What you can do is notice it. And celebrate it. And
model it. And understand why it’s valuable. And give thanks to the people who
practice it. And remember what it feels like to be on the receiving end of it.

And over time, a sort of osmosis of the heart happens.

You wake up and realize you’ve become a joiner, too.

Someone who believes that saying yes to people is the ultimate love language.

Omnipotent Power Versus Organizing Principle

Everyone has religion.

Whether god is involved or not.

In fact, the world religion literally means, “to link back.”

So it’s less about an omnipotent power and more about an
organizing principle. Our religion is the one thing in our life that all the other
things in our life link back to.

Kelly Slater says surfing is his religion. Olivia Newton
John says nature is her religion. Quentin Tarentino says cinema is his
religion. Eric Maisel says creativity is his religion. Jim Gilliam says the
internet is his religion. Dalai Lama says kindness is his religion. Alexander McQueen saysfashionis his religion.

Proving, that religion doesn’t always have to be the inherently
implausible theological insurance scam we’ve been brainwashed into

It could simply be the primary venue where we choose to invest

We Take Ourselves With Us, Wherever We Go

When I was a kid, I knew I was going to be a writer.

Because I already was one.

Writing wasn’t my dream, it was my dominant reality. I can’t
remember not doing it. It was the only territory I could always go to. The only
instrument I could always just play. The one activity that, when I did it, put me back together again. If writing wasn’t the answer, I rephrased
the question.

Fortunately, that wiring never changed.

Certainly, what I
write, who I write for, how I write and where I share my writing has changed––and will continue to change
with every phase of life––but ultimately, why
I write will not change.

Because I can’t help myself. What I do is the only thing
that makes sense to me.

The point is, focus isn’t about activity, it’s about

Gaining complete clarity about who we are, refusing to be
anybody else other than ourselves, embracing our natural inclinations in every
situation and doing the only thing that feels right to us.

Focus isn’t about hammering one nail all our lives.

It’s about hammering lots of nails, one way, all our lives.

Treating Symptoms Always Feels Right, Treating Sources Always Feels Like Work

I was in college, I had lower back problems.

Which is kind of embarrassing when you’re only nineteen and everybody expects
you to be strong and flexible and resilient.

your body never bullshits you.

remember my low point. Literally and figuratively.

was the summer before junior year. Just another night at our house. One minute
I was eating dinner with my family, the next I was incapacitated on the living
room floor with horrible, shooting lumbar pains that felt like an electric

worst part was, my eighty-year old grandfather had to run to the kitchen to
fetch me an ice pack.

a sign that I needed to make a change.

mom, a personal trainer, suggested I start coming with her to the gym to
stretch, strengthen my core muscles and improve my overall posture.

Sounded like work to me. No thank you.

I opted for the deep tissue massage. Sixty bucks, sixty minutes, aromatherapy
candles, relaxing music and a cute blonde with strong hands? Felt like the
right choice to me.

And that was the problem.

the symptom always feels right. Treating the source always feels like work.

It’s no wonder my back never healed. At least, not until years later, when I
started practicing yoga.

Maybe my mom was right.

we truly want to make change that sticks, we ought to focus on the solution
that involves burning calories, not burning candles.

Did You Do This Just For Me?

Every year, our family has a gift exchange.

But it’s not the typical snow globes and picture frames
and ugly sweaters. Our tradition is, you have to make your gift. By hand. From

What’s beautiful is, every gift is amazing in its own right.
Over the years people have made leather belts, musical instruments, hot sauce
dispensers, custom designed clothing, carry on luggage, even fine art pieces.

Proving that the best way to get the best out of people is not to tell them what to do.

And there’s another lesson. One that our culture seems to
have forgotten.

Gift giving isn’t about finances, it’s about feelings.

It’s the generosity of giving yourself away to someone. It’s
the thoughtfulness of expending intellectual energy for someone. It’s the physicality
of burning real calories on someone. It’s the creativity of expressing yourself
to someone. It’s the humanity of making that gift personal for someone.

And, it’s doing all of that in a manner that’s surprising,
to the point where the recipient looks up in disbelief and wonders, did you do this just for me?

Yes I did.

The point is, people forget flowers.

If you truly want to make a meaningful deposit in someone’s
emotional bank account, you need to throw in more than a few bucks at the corner

Throw in a little elbow grease, too.

It’s Hard To Resist A Man On A Mission

Nobody cares about nametags.

But I do.

Probably more than anyone on the planet.

In fact, caring is an understatement. Nametags are an
obsession. A religion. An addiction. A pathological psychosis.

At least that’s what my therapist says.

But here’s the interesting part. A few years into my nametag
crusade, once I started caring and believing and committing to this thing that was
meaningful to me––even if it was
mundane to the rest of the world––people started listening. Oh, they could play
as tough as they wanted, but eventually, they paid attention.

And then they paid money.

Funny what happens when you refuse to go away.

Once We Have The Problems, The Real Work Can Begin

Yelp is great for reviews, but it’s gold for research.

Where else can you find such timely, honest and accurate insight
into the user experience? Where else can you gain such an intimate perspective
about what really happens in a store, at a home or on a job site?

Recommendation websites are veritable smorgasbords for
cutting straight to the heart of the many problems customers are waking up with
every morning.

I just read two pages of angry reviews from customers of a
landscaping company. Fascinating stuff. One woman said she sent five emails and
still couldn’t get through to
schedule an estimator to come to her house.

That’s huge.

Because once we have the problems, the real work can begin.

By defining the problems, we’re forcing our brains to flex the
muscle that solves them. We’re unlocking our ability to think without thinking.
It’s just how we’re wired. Humans can’t think about problems without thinking
about solutions.

Which means, we’re free to solve the problems clients can’t
see past. We can spend two hours on a review website blowing our own minds.

Because we’re not encumbered by the day to day things that create
those problems in the first place.

If I was trying to approach that industry as an innovator or
supplier or consultant or vendor, that’s where I would start.

Scott Ginsberg, “Home is the Place,” Live at The Scottany Wedding (8.30.13)

Home is the place where my soul rests

Where I am rooted and not diluted

Where I feel respect

Home where I’m met with accepting eyes

Where I am welcomed with wanting arms

Where I let the blood dry

Home is the place that remembers me

Where all the mirrors undress the fears
Where I feel pretty

Home where I’m 

Where I meet new sins

And the old ones I forget

Home is the place where my ship wrecks

Where all my bosses are not my crosses

Breathing down my neck

Home where I remember what

Who I was before you said I’m not enough

What If The Market Targeted You?

When I started my company, I didn’t have a logo.

My only priority was getting my book into people’s hands,
getting my message into people’s hearts and getting my name into people’s
heads. Everything else was secondary. Including design.

But about a year into my career, I noticed something pretty

My brand identity started
taking on a life of its own.

Any time my book title, website address, company name,
biography or surname showed up in the media, the editor would just go ahead and
throw an image of a little nametag right next to it.

The thing is, I never asked them to do that. It just

The marketplace was filling in the gaps.

They saw something that wasn’t there. Just like the human
brain makes statistical estimates to complete the visual picture, people
finished my story on their own.

Because the nametag was something that was already there.

It was the universal experience. The nametag made it easy
for people to tell themselves a particular narrative. It was the handle by which the
brand could be lifted.

So in the end, I never had
to design my logo.

Because the audience defined it for me.

And it hasn’t changed since.

What if the market targeted you?

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