Who Exactly Is Your Audience?

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In one chapter of the fascinating new book by Frank Viola and Leonard Sweet – “Jesus: A Theography,” they raise some interesting points concerning Jesus’ audience. Even though He engaged the Rabbis on a regular basis, they make it clear His main audience wasn’t religious leaders. He wasn’t trying to persuade or convert the Jewish establishment because they didn’t respect his credentials or authority. Jesus focused on the common people. That’s why he spent so much time in villages, rather than the major towns of the region.  In fact, Viola and Sweet point out that

When it Comes to Your Career, Stop Complaining About What’s Unfair

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Over the years I’ve worked with many artists and leaders who are frustrated because of the attention someone similar to them receives. Perhaps the other person got a better book deal, or has a more successful TV show. Perhaps their nonprofit organization raises more money – even though it’s work isn’t as important. The truth is – many times these clients are right. The world isn’t fair. Books that aren’t very good often reach the bestseller lists. There are some horrible TV programs that generate a lot of support. Bad movies often do well at the box office. Whatever the case, I can sympathize with their frustration that others are doing better. My advice?

Who Are You? (In 5 Words or Less)

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Today’s personal branding challenge:  Describe yourself in five words or less.  What is it that defines you, captures your story, and makes you stand out from the pack?  Like a movie log line, being able to pitch or describe yourself in five words or less, is a valuable tool.  The next time you meet a potential funder, a producer for your project, a future boss, publisher, agent etc – you may only have a minute or two to

How to Respond to the Election Results

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I’m writing this at 9pm on election night, so I don’t know who’s going to win, but by the time you read this, you’ll probably know. I’m watching people meltdown on Twitter and Facebook, and it’s making me think about the relationship between politics and culture. No matter who wins, many of my readers will be thrilled, and just as many will be depressed. Either way, it’s worth remembering Scottish politician Andrew Fletcher’s quote:

The Secret to Discovering Your Talent

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I’m reading an outstanding book about the last years of Ernest Hemmingway’s life: “Hemingway’s Boat: Everything He Loved in Life and Lost.”  It’s a terrific read, and in the book, writer Paul Hendrickson tells a story about Hemingway mentoring a younger writer. In the middle of their exchanges, he gave the young writer some interesting advice. He told him the most important thing is to

The Medium Really Is the Message

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Regardless who you were pulling for in this year’s Vice-Presidential debate, one thing is clear: The medium is just as important as the message. In one discussion afterwards, commentator Charles Krauthammer put it best. When asked who won the debate he said it depended on how you encountered it. If you read the transcript, it was probably even. Both candidates had their facts, both had done their homework, and it was pretty evenly matched. However, if you heard it on the radio, you probably assumed

The Intolerance of Tolerance

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I received an interesting response to a Twitter post last week from a 20-something young man. He told me he had read many of my books, but regretted it now based on some of my Twitter posts. Then, making a huge leap linking me to comments from conservatives, he told me that he couldn’t follow me anymore because “conservatives don’t have any compassion.” He said they were just too intolerant. I first asked him what anything conservatives or the Republican Party says had to do with my books. (Or the Democratic Party for that matter.)  But more important, I told him he didn’t sound very

Stop Blaming Everyone Else. Your Future is In Your Hands

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I worry that we live in a culture today where growing numbers of people look outside themselves for success. And when they fail, it’s always someone else’s fault. But the government, your parents, your education, and your job aren’t the key to your success – you are.  Whenever I feel my dreams losing steam, I always think of Booker T. Washington. Born a slave in 1858, his childhood years were anything but pleasant. The family’s farm cabin had no glass windows, and any opening to let in light also let in the freezing wind in the winter. The floor of the cabin was dirt. The life of slave was

The Secret of Launching New Projects: Just Do One Thing

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Writing a new book is hard. I put it off, and put it off, to the point that sometimes I start worrying about missing deadlines. But then something magical happens. The pressure gets so great that I force myself to sit down and start. I write one page. Then, the flood begins. It’s as if just writing one page – no matter how good or bad that page is – is the key. It primes the pump and the process

What Do People Think of When They Think of You?

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In a world of unlimited choices – cable channels, books, music, movies, advertising, media, websites, social media, and more, people have more options than they know what to do with. That’s why if you’re preaching a sermon, pitching a movie, publishing a book – however you’re getting your ideas out there – the initial perception of YOU matters more than ever.  I don’t care how great your