Archive for 'Wrk'

Letter #5 – The truth about hard work

Posted on 15. Nov, 2011 by .


Letter #5 – The truth about hard work
From: Brett Trapp – Nov 14, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Nov 14, 2001

Dear Brett,

Well, you turn 20 in four days and I turn 30 in four days. Crazy, huh?

Last thought on work as we come down the home stretch with these letters:

You need to work really hard in your 20s.

Really hard. Exhausted-every-day hard. Collapse-on-your-bed hard. Feeling-like-you-have-no-life hard. Cross-eyed-tired hard. Think about this: If you work twice as hard in your 20s, you’ll enter your 30s with the experience of a 40 year old.

The notion of “hard work” is quite the cliché in our society. Everyone likes it as an idea but not so much in practice. Hard work can be exhausting, annoying, and stressful–a three headed beast that most kids in our generation would rather not tangle with. It also requires sacrifice, making us pass on things we really want to do. Did you get that, Brett? You won’t get to do everything you want to do. You’ll have to keep working long after everyone else stops.

I don’t mean to make it sound all bad. It certainly isn’t! If you love what you do, then hard work, though exhausting, is deeply fulfilling. One of the greatest joys of life is flexing your God-breathed gifts at work. No job is always fun–it’s still work–but work ought to fill the well of your soul, not deplete it.

Of course, as with most things, if not kept in check, working hard can quietly morph into a toxic workaholism. Big difference. There has to be balance, but I believe that if you live a little imbalanced in your 20s, you can live a lot more balanced in your 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond.

Now go get to work.

Remember, this Brett.


P.S. Hate to break it to ya but for your first job out of college, you’ll be earning $10/hour while making coffee and copies for your co-workers. They’ll laughingly call you the “mecretary.” Smile!

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Letter #12 – Brains, not couches: A lesson in investing

Posted on 07. Nov, 2011 by .


Letter #12 – Brains, not couches: A lesson in investing
From: Brett Trapp – Nov 7, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Nov 7, 2001

Dear Brett,

Investing is pretty irrelevant to you right now. You’re broke. But you’re in college so that’s okay. However, investing is important and there are a few things you need to know.

When most people graduate, money becomes the driver of life . It sits behind the wheel for most major life decisions–first job out of college, where to live, who to date, major purchases, and career path. But NASCAR money always wants to break the speed limit, causing Americans to spend more than they should. You’ve heard countless preachers warn against the dangers of materialism and getting to the end of life with a big pile of stuff that you can’t take with you. Lots of truth there.

But that’s not the point of this letter.

Brett, financial experts can teach you about portfolios and stocks and mutual funds. I can’t do that. I’m talking about a different kind of investing.

Investing in yourself.

From an early age, we were all taught to help others out. What we weren’t taught is to invest in ourselves. This can come across as a real self-serving idea, but hear me out. When most people graduate, they take the two great resources of time and money and waste them away. Time after work and weekend time is wasted in excessive couch time–TV-watching, video game playing, socializing, or beer drinking. Of course these things are harmless in moderation, but in excess they can rob life. Imagine what would happen if you invested half that time into developing yourself–reading, listening to audiobooks or lectures, learning from smart people over coffee, attending cultural events. It works the same with money. What if you took money that would be wasted on ROI-less couch time and invested in yourself–subscribing to a newspaper, going to conferences, technology that opens the world, or taking an educational course in your field. I know I sound like a total geek right now, but imagine what would happen if you did this for the next ten years. Imagine what would happen if you invested in your greatest asset–your brain. Heckuva ROI here. And you’d have quite the advantage over the couch-sitters.

Brett, invest in brains, not couches. It can make all the difference.

Remember this.


P.S. This letter is particularly relevant for single people. Gonna be relevant for you for a while :)

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Letter #16 – Always a slave

Posted on 03. Nov, 2011 by .


Letter #16 – Always a slave
From: Brett Trapp – Nov 3, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Nov 3, 2001

Dear Brett,

Can we talk about work some more? Okay.

Work is a big deal. Remember, after you graduate most of your waking hours will be spent at work. That’s a big chunk of time. Picture your waking hours after you graduate as a pie. Four of the eight pieces are represented by work. You have to eat those four pieces, so you better make them good. You don’t have a choice. Eat up.

Work to find a job you enjoy. Work to find a company that stands for something other than money. But here’s the thing that most guys your age forget. You’re not owed this. The work force is one big zoo filled with animals older, smarter, wiser than you. The market is very competitive and it’s about to get a whole lot worse. Pray that God gives you a great job. If he does, remember,

That’s the easy part.

After that comes the real business of working. Work, when done well, should be hard. It should be unpleasant, frustrating, and utterly exhausting at times. If you’re not experiencing this on a semi-regular basis, check yourself. It’s entirely possible you’re not working hard enough.

Here’s a tip: On the first day of your job go tell your boss, “I’m here to be your slave, and I exist to make you more money.”

That’s a game-changer, Brett. Now, of course, if you don’t mean it then it’s just wind through some chimes—loud and clangy, but no real substance.

A lot of guys don’t get this, Brett. A lot. They want their boss—who got there by being someone else’s slave once, FYI—to lay down the red carpet, thank them for being the employee of the year, and serve up a 50k job on a platinum platter. This is craziness, but most—not some—most people your age act this way. Everyone wants to be king. No one wants to be a slave.

When you’re willing to be a slave, your boss will treat you different. He’ll give you more responsibility. He’ll begin putting you in situations where you don’t feel like a slave. He’ll begin expecting you to do unslavelike things—kingly things, maybe. But when this happens, fight the urge to feel like a king. You’re always a slave. I’m always a slave. We’re always a slave, Brett. Remember this.



P.S. How do you spell evil? S.U.B.P.R.I.M.E.L.O.A.N.S.

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Letter #17 – Kick the door in

Posted on 02. Nov, 2011 by .


Letter #17 – Kick the door in
From: Brett Trapp – Nov 2, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Nov 2, 2001

Dear Brett,

I wrote yesterday about special work as a slow roast process. It takes a grinding endurance and commitment to the cause even when you get tired. Let me qualify that a bit.

Though success is often slow roast, that doesn’t mean you work slowly. It doesn’t mean you sit on your hands waiting for that mystical day to arrive when all your dreams come true. It doesn’t mean you cuddle up with passivity. No, no. Be a warrior. And a good warrior is defined by his courage. A good warrior doesn’t knock on the door. He kicks it in. Though mission-driven, he locks onto what he wants and seizes it.

seize – take hold of suddenly and forcibly; capture using force

That’s not a silent process. If you sit back and wait for successfulness (yep…I made that up) to come running towards you with arms outstretched, you’re going to be waiting a while. Some Christian people talk about waiting on God. They’re right, and there’s truth there. There’s a time to wait, pause, consider, deliberate . But a lot of the time, this is just a smokescreen for fear. You actually use God as an excuse, and just keep timidly knocking on a door you know you’re called to go through.

Brett, there are times when Fear seizes you. You crack the door to your heart, and he kicks it in. And once he’s there, he pitches a tent and starts roasting smores. When this happens, you become scared of taking a chance, looking like a fool, proposing a new way of doing things. When this happens, usually you blame some other external factor.

“I don’t have enough information.”

“It’s too soon. I’ll decide next week.”

“What if it doesn’t work?”

Some people are natural door kickers. You aren’t, so you’re going to have to practice. But know the heel gets stronger with each kick.

Stop knocking. Stop waiting. Kick the door in. I’m not saying be an arrogant turd. Be humble. Be a learner the whole time. But my gosh, don’t be passive.

I think most successful people have gotten there from years and years of kicking in the right doors.

Remember this.


P.S. I’m publishing these letters on my “blog.” You’ll know what that is in a few years.

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Letter #18 – Special work

Posted on 01. Nov, 2011 by .


Letter #18 – Special work
From: Brett Trapp – Nov 1, 2011
To: Brett Trapp – Nov 1, 2001

Dear Brett,

Howdy. Me again. I know you’re a couple years away, but let’s talk work. As in, what you’ll be doing for the next 50 years after college.

To understand work you’ve got to understand what’s coming. Crazy technology is on its way. Right now you’ve got high speed internet and Google and ebay and ebaumsworld (enjoy the latter now, while you can). You’re also saving files for school on floppy discs. In fact, you’ve got a backback full of those discs. Haha. You’ll laugh at this a decade from now. Technology is ramping up and so is the internet. Technology is coming that will compress the world, connecting everyone. Digital, fast, and instant is the future of everything. It’s pretty cool actually.

But there’s a problem. All this technology is fooling people. It’s causing people to think that the technology is the answer. It’s giving people a shortcut addiction. It’s immunizing them to the long, slow work of building something special. I call this special work—work that changes companies, lasts, and makes a difference. Special works requires time, collaboration, and grit.




Special work is rarely sexy, sometimes fun, always challenging. And there aren’t really shortcuts for that. Brett, you’ve got to learn now to tough it out. You’ve got to learn now to attack projects and stick with it. You think you know what hard work is, but you don’t. You give up too quick and you aren’t willing to humble yourself to learn what it takes to get it right.

Entire industries will be born around the idea of microwave success. Success is slow roast, Brett. Special work is slow roast. I still don’t have this all figured out. But I’ve figured that much out.



P.S. Sorry, no flying cars yet.

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6 Influencers you don’t know but should

Posted on 28. Oct, 2010 by .


I’m always amazed at the intersections God gives me–moments when my line of life crosses with someone else’s. Sometimes it’s just a bump, and other times it grows into a friendship. Here are some great influencers I’ve met at those intersections lately (all worth a Twitter follow FYI)…

1. Jeremie Kubicek – Jeremie is the owner of GiANT Impact, a leader development company here in Atlanta. Among many other things, they own the Catalyst Conference. I’ve known Jeremy for almost two years, and let me tell you that he is one of these rare leaders that holds world-changing confidence in one hand and humility in the other. He balances business-savvy and passion for God like none I’ve ever seen. Though he’s started, led, and sold businesses, you’d never know it. Personable and real, he’s one to keep an eye on. He’s releasing his first book this spring, True Influence. I’ve had the privilege of previewing it, and it’s a game-changer!

Jeremie blogs

2. Jason Young – Jason must be a triplet because this guy is everywhere! He’s a consultant here in Atlanta who skates in different spheres–leadership, creativity, social media, events, you name it. He’s done some big stuff with some big organizations. Jason is an uber-connector who has taken the freelance thing full-time which impresses me. Oh yeah, and he also tried to play match-maker for me at a blogger event last month (there’s a story there).

Jason blogs

Jason tweets

3. Toby Bloomberg – Met Toby through a mutual friend a few weeks ago. He described her as a “social media guru” which is a term I despise. But after spending some time with her and reading her stuff, I’ve learned that she is the real deal! I love her tweets the most. If you’re looking for second-level wisdom in social media, Toby’s content is where it’s at. (For an appetizer, check out this post I wrote after we met).

Toby blogs

Toby tweets

4. Chris Ediger – Chris also works for GiANT Impact. He was first described to me as the “digerati” of their organization. Chris is a wizard at all things web, but specializes in content and innovation. He’s one of these guys with dump trucks of knowledge and years of experience but strangely lacks the pride you see in most. We’ve been meeting monthly for quite a while now, and he is basically discipling me in all things innovation. I was recently sharing with Chris a challenge we’d been having. About a week later, he sends me web solution he custom-created! He carved time out of his schedule to help me with a problem! This is 2010: that isn’t supposed to happen.

Chris tweets

5. Holly Moore – Holly is the vice-president of Growing Leaders, a phenomenal leadership development organization here in Atlanta. Growing Leaders is fronted by Tim Elmore, but Holly plays a key role there as well. She’s been instrumental in promoting their new book, Gen iY. She has an electric joy you can feel and is always smiling! The world needs more leaders like this.

Holly tweets

6. Jon Smith – Jon leads the social media team at a $66 billion company. The name of that company is Home Depot. I worked with Jon’s brother in 2006, which somehow led to our paths crossing on Twitter earlier this year. We went out to lunch, and I quickly found out this guy is a gold mine of knowledge. His team is setting the pace in many ways in the corporate social media space.

Jon tweets

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The 7 worst words you can say to me (and thoughts for idea people)

Posted on 11. Oct, 2010 by .


I am an idea man.

I’ve always taken pride in my creative ideas. In high school I started a turkey-themed fundraiser called “Feathers for Food.” In college I started a reading program for kids called “Reading Partner Mentors” (RPM). I’m even proud of my ideas that didn’t work and those that were little more successful. I’ve never done drugs; I don’t need to….new ideas do it for me. I think God made me this way.

Thankfully, I have a job where I get to hatch and nurture new ideas. And I have a boss that encourages me to do so and an innovative company culture that would make Steve Jobs jealous.

But last week a good friend I work with said something that sat on my chest like a gorilla in a baby pool…

“You haven’t had many big ideas lately.”

Ouch. Burn.

Knife, meet back.

Mountain of dynamite, meet mountain of pride.

7 words that went kamikaze on my very identity. As a Myers-Briggs INFP, I don’t process things cerebrally as much as I feel them guturally. And I felt that.

After I had a little time to lick my wounds, I realized that he was kind of right. In the last 12 months, I haven’t thought of a ton of new, innovative ideas (compared to previous years). But I also realized that I’ve gotten to come alongside some other people with really good ideas and help execute them:

Each of these people allowed me to step into their idea and help make it become a reality. I got to help them execute their idea.

And this truly is a better way to hash out new ideas. While great ideas may be sparked in the mind of an individual, it takes a team to refine it, develop it, execute it, and launch it. The spark of an idea is worthless without the fuel of follow up and follow through.

As an ideator, I’m finally coming to value execution as highly as ideation.

In every industry, great ideas are as common as dirt. Unfortunately, most people lack the discipline and strategy to execute them well. Our society celebrates and applauds innovators. Not quite so much glam for the gritty executors who add the bite to the bark though.

I’ve had a couple good ideas in the past year, but I’m more proud that I’ve been able to invest in the great ideas of others.

I’ve learned in the past year that if all I ever do is invest in my own ideas, I’m a narcissist. If I believe that time is the most valuable asset I have–which I do–and I’m shoveling heaps of it only on my thing, then I’ve really got to question my motives. Am I building the organization, or am I just building my own creative capital?

So for all the other idea people out there who work in teams:

Learn to collaborate on someone else’s idea. Learn to develop someone else’s creation. Learn to rally the troops in your organization behind someone else’s innovation. Sure, they get all the credit, but that’s not the point.

And yeah I know we all have different talents, but I become skeptical when the only direction you seem to be able to point those talents is towards yourself.

In my own life I’m looking for the balance of ideas vs. execution. It’s definitely more art than science.

I got to spend a day with Seth Godin last week here in Atlanta. Heard him speak three times–once at a private lunch, once for an interview, and once on stage in front of 13,000 people. He’s arguably the greatest marketing mind of our generation, and no less than ten times I heard him promote…

Someone else’s idea.

It’s okay to work on your own projects, but every now and then, come up for air, look around, and find someone else’s idea to invest in.

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Grass and dirt and fence

Posted on 04. Oct, 2010 by .


“Keep your eye on the ball!”

Though it seems like the most common sense, intuitive bit of advice around, it’s pretty important to a 4 year old.

Even one playing tee ball.

A white ball sits motionless on a stick. How hard can it be? Yet still, dads and coaches from Key West to Portland have to remind the little guys…

“Keep your eye on the ball!”

We get a little older and the ball starts moving. Slung from the hand of some gangly kid on a pitcher’s mound, it is now legitimately good advice. A 3-inch diameter sphere traveling 46 feet in 360 degrees of space hurtles towards a 45 pound little boy. It becomes much more important to filter out the blur of grass and dirt and fence and focus on that white ball. Focus becomes the crucial component to success. And if the eye is locked on that one point in space, the bat swings, contact is made, and we scamper off to first base and beyond

“Keep your eye on the ball!”

But we outgrow little league and we outgrow baseball as we discover girls are much cooler. We press on through life–high school, college, first job, etc.

And we find ourselves as slightly balding, increasingly round 28-year-old men in 2010. Nearly a quarter century has passed us by and we find ourselves in grave need of some old advice. The blur of grass and dirt and fence has been replaced with the blur of Blackberries, obese social calendars, and countless priorities that stack up in one big tangled and inscrutable pile. Distractions are no longer events, they are a way of life. Just managing all our digital inboxes could be a full-time job. Twitter and Facebook and events and a gazillion relationships have made us crazy-busy. But mixed in with this fervor of busyness is tons of opportunity, and opportunity is the premium grade petrol of our American souls. After all, it was opportunity that launched Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Martin Luther King, Jr, and Rick Warren.

But the problem with that is that a landscape littered with opportunities is just that…littered. When faced with so many options, good opportunities are merely grass and dirt and fence. Good opportunities have become distractions for many of us.

Identifying the best opportunity–that has become our ball.

But even that’s only half the battle. Once we figure out the best opportunity/ies, we then must have the self-discipline to…

“Keep our eye on the ball!”

(just something I’ve been learning lately).

(what’s your ball?)

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Tribe and Council: How I’m thinking about my social network

Posted on 20. Sep, 2010 by .


I wrote a while back about living life intentionally. Radical things happen when you begin applying that principle to every area of life. This is not something I do naturally, but I’m learning.

One such way is in my relationships. I’m thinking differently about this now. I’ve been out of college for five years and my social network has morphed into a mishmash of friends from high school, college, Twitter, work, and all places in between. I feel really lucky to have so many great people in my life. I can honestly say that 99% of the time I feel that they are better friends to me than I to them. But that’s a post for another day.

I have to admit, at times I have a really hard time keeping up with everyone. Most days I feel guilty for not calling, texting, emailing, or tweeting them enough. Just when I feel good about calling that college buddy I haven’t talked to in three years, I remember six more that bounced through the cracks of my caffeinated brain. In the hustle of life and work and pursuit of my stuff, I seem to just forget about people. A lot of people put odds and ends on their shelves, but I’m ashamed to admit that I do that with friends. Terrible, isn’t it?

I’ve had a lot of guilt over this since I graduated, but I’m trying to get better about it. I realize that life pulls people apart like cotton candy in the hands of a four-year old, but still, I need to try. I need to work at it.

So here’s a little step I’ve taken to bring some clarity.

I picture my social network as a pyramid with family and really close friends at the very top. At the base are acquaintances and people I barely know. I know I’m going to keep in touch with those at the top and there’s so many at the bottom, I know it will be tough to stay connected there. I’m most concerned with those folks in the middle. I’m now thinking of my social network in terms of my tribe and my council. They hang out in the middle of the pyramid.


These are “my people.” My tribe includes anyone in my past with whom I’ve had a meaningful relationship for any decent length of time. My tribe gets me. We’ve shared common experiences. We’ve laughed together. We have mutual friends. My tribe spans all eras and epochs of my life–childhood, high school, college, and beyond. While these people may not be my best friends, I know they’ll be there if the world goes bi-polar on me. I write down the names of the people in my tribe. Why? Because they deserve it. They’re more than some kid I sat by in a Shakespeare class once. We’ve shared some little piece of life together. In the maelstrom of busyness and 60 hour workweeks, I have to keep a list. What about the people that don’t make the list? They’re awesome as well. But if everyone is special, then no one is special. There has to be a list. A list helps me remember the people who love me. It may seem cold and impersonal, but what’s the alternative? Forgetting that people I love exist? That just won’t do.

My tribe is my people. We do life together. I do what I can to serve and help them. And they do the same for them.


My council is different from my tribe. They’re on a list too, but of course they don’t know it. This idea isn’t new. Jim Collins and others have written about having a personal board of directors. But that’s a little more formal than what I’m talking about. I’m talking about the compelling people I meet who have a story. I’m talking about thought leaders, visionaries, entrepreneurs, world-changers. They form my council.

Here’s the bottom line:

Everyone has something I want.

And I’m not talking about money or social connections. I’m talking about really valuable stuff:

knowledge, wisdom, and life experience.

And people on my council LOVE sharing this stuff. Everyone’s an expert on something. What’s crazy is that other people rarely engage that expertise! Most people’s expertise sits locked up in a treasure chest surrounded by threadbare beggars who never even ask what’s inside!

I have a friend, Jim, who owns a chain of carwashes. Pretty boring industry, right? Not really. After an hour of talking to Jim, I learned the percentage of people who choose the cheapest carwash package. I learned that most carwashes use very little water because they recycle it. And I learned that Jim just launched a program that gives clean water to a person in a developing nation every time one of his customers washes their car. Are you kidding me? That’s fascinating stuff.

My council is a hodgepodge of influencers. Some of them I’ve only met once. Some of them are kinduva big deal. Most of them live normal lives. But I work to keep in touch and offer to help and serve whenever possible. I can offer most of them nothing of value, but that doesn’t stop me from offering.

Graduation from college usually signals the slow death of our learning. And sadly, the decade of the 20s is usually just one drawn out funeral. We’re content to passively absorb a nugget of truth every now and then but few of us track down wisdom like a bandit in the night and corner him, day after day after day. That’s the value of my council. They teach me things. Do I learn from everyone in my social network? Of course…in small ways. But there are certain people I know who offer something really unique. They connect me to information and other people who make my life better. That’s my council.

When all of your social connections–best friends, and clients, and roommates, and facebook friends–swim around in one big kettle in your brain, some will get lost in the soup. A little bit of intentional thought and proactive effort goes a long way.

Who’s in your tribe? Who’s in your council?

P.S. This little post is just a relationship ramble. If you want a master class in thinking intentionally about relationships, check out Keith Ferrazzi’s book called “Never Eat Alone.”

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Posted on 22. Aug, 2010 by .


365 days ago today I launched this blog. After planning (read procrastinating) for literally two years prior, I finally pulled the trigger and got the thing launched. The original intent for this blog was for it just to be a platform for my thoughts on two things: my Christian faith and business. My thinking was that you have “Christian” blogs and business blogs but rarely do you see one that has both. I wanted to be that. Of course I quickly found out that I couldn’t resist blogging about other topics, like weddings, Alabama football, and real life horror stories.

A few interesting facts from the first year of

  • I posted 98 times–or 26% of all days during a year.
  • 15,609 visits and 30,280 pageviews – Don’t be impressed. The big boys get this in a day.
  • 26% of my blog visitors come via clickthrus on Facebook. 17% come from Twitter. 6% come from Google. Great job Facebook friends.
  • Exactly 1/3 of all visits came from the fine folks in my home state of Alabama. 22% came from Georgia. 10% from Florida. To the two people in North Dakota who have visited, I love you too.
  • My most popular post? THIS ONE. Surprisingly enough, it’s also the one most scoffed at by certain people. That post had a really broad appeal and a lot of people found it through Google.
  • I’ve done two little fundraising pushes through this blog. raised $2,251 for schools in Africa and the 22in22 campaign raised $2288 for clean water in Kenya. Total between the two projects, $4,539. Awesome! I love doing little things like this to help causes I believe in. Probably won’t be the last. HUGE thanks to everyone who gave!

My posts dropped off a bit in the summer, but I’m hoping to get it cranking again this fall. Have lots of good post ideas that I’m really excited about. I’ll loosely stick the Christianity/Business thing, but I’ll deviate at times. I’ll try to be somewhat consistent but sometimes I’ll get busy and I may disappear for a while. You can understand busy, right?

Can I make one request?

Writing stuff that people may or may not read with zero financial incentive is interesting. You find yourself craving feedback. For the blogger with no paycheck, it is, in fact, the only incentive to keep writing. Knowing that someone was encouraged, inspired, pissed, or just got a laugh at something I wrote means everything. So if that’s you, do me a favor and just let me know. Or better yet, tell someone else. We tip waiters, hair stylists, and even the pizza delivery kid when they do a good job. Don’t ever be afraid to throw a digital tip–a retweet or FB post or email forward–in the direction of someone who’s created something you liked.

Okay, it took me a whole year to work up the courage to self-promote. So if you feel violated and spammed and hate me now, well…sorry.

I know some people think blogging is vain and egocentric. And maybe it is. In fact, most days I would use those two words to describe myself. I just happen to believe that every single person has something to offer and that you don’t have to be an “expert” or have 30 years experience in something to be able to write about it.

When my late dad was a young pastor in his 20’s he only had a couple hundred people in his congregation. These were people God put in his path to encourage and inspire. That’s kind of how I view this blog. If only 50 or 100 people ever read my posts and it never “grows,” I’m okay with that. For some reason, you’re reading, and that means a lot to me. I’ll do my best to add a little something valuable to your day.

Life is short. Let’s all keep trying to do it right.



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