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

Two “Unique” Christmas Gifts

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I have two great Christmas gift ideas for this year, and you can order them in plenty of time for Christmas.  My latest book is “Unique:  Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media.”  If you’re a leader, artist, filmmaker, creative, pastor, business or nonprofit leader, you need this book on your shelf.  A number of leaders are buying multiple copies for their leadership team, communications team, and board of directors.  This is the most definitive book on

What Does Success Look Like For You?

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When I was a kid in the 60’s, success for my father was a Cadillac.  He was the pastor of a local church in Charlotte, North Carolina, but I’ll never forget his dream of one day owning a “Caddie.”  For my friend’s parents, it might be a golf club membership, summer home, or regular vacations to Florida, but in so many cases, an “object” represented that generation’s “arrival.”  Today, it’s vastly different.  Not only do I have more opportunities than my parents, but I’m far better travelled, and been exposed to so much more.  As a result, “arrival” for me isn’t a thing, it’s a state of mind.  For today’s generation, success is about

What is the Tradeoff for Success in Life?

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The highest levels of performance in sports, the workplace, school, or the nonprofit world, never happen without trade-offs and sacrifice.  The extra hour an Olympic athletic spends training is an hour less he or she can spend with their family.  The extra effort it takes to win that major client project means chipping away at your personal life.  For most people, the illusive idea of work/life balance is an illusive ideal, because

Your Great Idea Doesn’t Matter Until You Can Discover Your One Big Thing

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Ryan Mathews and Watts Wacker, authors of “What’s Your Story? Storytelling to Move Markets, Audiences, People, and Brands” made a remarkable statement:  “Lose the audience, and it really doesn’t matter how great your story is.”   In a cluttered and distracted world, it doesn’t matter how great your idea is—because if no one’s listening, you’ve failed.

It doesn’t matter that you have a brilliant strategy to solve your company’s problems, because no one has the time to look at it or hear your plan. 

It doesn’t matter than you’re producing the next Hollywood blockbuster, because you can’t get

Life’s Loaded Question: Do We Really Have a Destiny?

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The issue of destiny is loaded question. Nearly everyone wants to believe in the concept. Atheists may believe that there’s no God, no purpose, and no point to life, but it’s pretty tough living that philosophy out in the day-to-day trenches. The idea of destiny gives us a reason to go on, motivation that our lives matter beyond PTA meetings, job reviews, and visits to the local coffee shop. The Christian tradition teaches that God has a purpose and plan for our lives. Because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, we have a

Ambition and Intentional Living

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Recently, Kathleen and I visited the Huntington Library, Gardens, and Art Collection in Pasadena.  Founded by Henry and Arabella Huntington, their mansion was transformed in a museum after their death in 1927.  Among other outstanding collections, it has an incredible hall of British portraits.  As I walked through the galleries of the political, artistic, social, and military leaders featured in the portraits, I saw serious “intention” in their faces.  They lived their lives strategically and with purpose.  They didn’t leave much to chance when it came to ambition and career goals.  As I studied the paintings of military generals, writers and artists, business and government leaders, I wondered about the place of ambition in my own life.  What would have happened had I