If They Can Do It, I Can Do It, and So Can You


I have read on several blogs that a great way to generate more traffic was to be active and comment on the sites and blogs of others. At first, I dismissed this, because I wanted to be known for my writing on it’s own merit. I also didn’t really believe it would help, and I was being greedy and only wanted to do take actions on tasks that would benefit me. Lately though, I have come to realize that the underlying reason behind this was that in essence, I didn’t particularly care to comment, and I was selfish. I was too busy with my own writing and life to spend time on other sites.

I now realize that is a load of crap, both my own reasoning behind it, and my greediness. What was a real kick in the teeth for me was my last week’s post, 22 People Who are Better Than Me (in a good way!). I listed 22 writers, adventurers, community leaders, and creative folks who inspire me with their work. What floored me was getting a response.

The Minimalists (Joshua & Ryan) wrote me, saying thank you for the love. They were also adamant they were not better than me.

Corbett Barr wrote, thanking me for listing him, and encouraging me not to sell myself short.

Brendan Leonard (Semi-Rad) wrote, saying he was not better than me, but that he could probably eat more waffles than I could.

Jeff Goins has responded to nearly every email I’ve written him.

All of these men have experienced far more success than I have, and have lives just as busy as I do. But they all took the time to respond to me, and encourage my writing. What a gift! So for me to be snobby about commenting on other sites is absurd, arrogant, and lazy.

By the way, I want to thank everyone who takes the time to read what I’m putting down, and commenting on it. It’s a tremendous gift to me to receive your thoughts and feedback. I apologize it took some heavy hitters to knock me out of my slumber!

I still don’t believe I’ll go around mass-commenting on posts just to drive up my own brand, but I will certainly be trying to add value or a kind word to the posts I am reading. If we take care of others, I believe we will be taken care of ourselves. Thanks again.

What Should Kids Learn These Days? My Reading for the Week


I hope everyone had a good weekend, Western North Carolina was blessed with an incredible weekend of blue skies and mild temps! On to this week’s readings…

Creative Commons via Moriza (flickr)

9 Essential Skills Kids Should Learn

I work with kids, and so I’m constantly looking around for good reading on child development and education. For all the “experts” in the field, Leo (of Zen Habits) has identified 9 skills that kids need to be able to draw from throughout their lives. The notion that we educate kids in the same way we did 50 years ago is losing traction, we are training them for the past. We can’t predict the future, and it changes rapidly. So what should be the essence of what they learn? Click to read Leo’s recommendations.

How to Speed Read like Teddy Roosevelt & Scientific Speed Reading (separate articles)

I’m always reading, but can become discouraged with how my list increases by the week. The picture of the 15 books of Christmas? I haven’t finished a single one. I used to be very snobby about speed reading, thinking I wouldn’t get anything out of the book if I sped through. I going to try and change that. Many of the books I have I don’t necessarily need to read analytically, especially some of the business books. Now there is information that is helpful in them, but there they are, resting on my shelf. I’m going to give it a shot. Do any of you speed read? What are your thoughts?

A Coaching Philosophy

Vern Gambetta is one of my favorite sport trainers and coaches working today. He really knows how to breakdown a movement in to small steps that can be improved upon, gradually improving the athlete as a whole. Also, despite being a “guru” and speaking at events around the world, he also takes time to be the strength coach for a girl’s volleyball team in Venice, FL (they’re pretty good). His posts on working with athletes and coaching styles are very thought-provoking, which you can see after the jump.

Seth Godin’s 1st Reading List of 2012

It’s Seth, ’nuff said

Speed Freak

Swiss climber Ueli Steck has ascended some of the classic alpine routes in the world in record time. It’s a fascinating read on his training, drive, and trappings of new fame he has found himself in.

Using Great Storytelling to Grow Your Business

A short read that covers 2 ways to craft your story in to a memorable one. Techniques used: LOTS and the Story Spine.

Visual Panoramic of the Sistine Chapel

Indescribably beautiful

Thanks for checking in this morning, I have a post in the hopper that will be up tomorrow. In the meantime, I would love to hear what you’ve been reading, and how it’s inspired you!

22 People Who Are Better Than Me (in a good way!)


Today I got down to thinking about what I really want to write about, and more specifically, where I would want the process to take me. I would love to be able to travel, wrote about nature, the outdoors, make short films, coach football, help those in need, go on mission trips, and work with kids. That’s all (sarcastic/hopeful tone).

Then I considered what I’ve been writing about, and my content didn’t match my hope that well. Since I’m starting out as a writer, I do believe it’s best to keep writing, and focus your voice and content as you get better. At least that’s what I’m going for right now. I have been writing a lot about writing and the creative process, and honestly it’s been easy to use that as a topic because it’s a daily part of my life. I’m basically re-packaging my own struggles and sharing them with you. Hopefully though, it helps in a small way.

One of the main challenges I face is the realization that there are so many people and services out right now who are doing what I want to do, and doing it really, really well. I’m becoming less intimidated by them, because I know that I can do great work as well. The challenge is taking the chance and putting forth the years of work necessary to get to where they are now. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither are social platforms or the permission to impact people in a busy world. I don’t know how to write great code, use sophisticated SEO tactics, or create beautiful designs. I tell stories.

Presently though, here are a list of people and sites that I read daily, or will read, watch, or listen to anything they release. I haven’t included any company sites or blogs, they’re in a different category than these 22 run by an individual or small team. They certainly have a voice in the work that I produce, and I hope you enjoy them as well!

Outdoors

Adventure Journal - Steve Casmiro (former editor of Cycling magazine and top-notch photographer) has built the premier site for all things outdoor. News, advocacy, links, photography, gear, food, they have it all. This is the main outdoor site I visit daily, the content is rich and worthwhile. I would visit simply to drool over the Weekend Cabin (which you should as well). It was also just named Outside Magazine’s #1 Outdoor site.

Check out these posts to get started:

Cold Splinters - Jeff Thrope has made the outdoors feel all 1970′s again, and I love it. The site in itself is beautifully designed and vintage, the photography syncs perfectly with the site with vintage filters, and he writes very well. Cold Splinters is where I can feel like an outdoors hipster. It’s a general outdoor site, but the Trail Mix posts are very enjoyable, along with any of the well-written posts about doing work with your hands.

Check out these posts to get started:

Semi-Rad - I really enjoy Brendan Leonard’s blog, because he is a regular guy trying to live the dream. Also, he shows up and delivers to his tribe, consistency is king! My favorite part of his blog is the About Me.

Check out these posts to get started:

Dirtbag Diaries - This is really more of a podcast, and maybe the best outdoor life podcast going today. The stories take center stage, tales of adventure and brokenness that mirror our own lives. The Diaries popularity is also helped by the music that Fitz puts together for each episode, then make available in the notes.

Check out these posts to get started:

The Gear Junkie - Stephen Regenold has put together one of the best outdoor gear review sites, and my personal favorite. If you’re like me and want to low-down on every piece of outdoor gear you purchase, the Gear Junkie is a great place to look. He’s also active on twitter, and has responded directly to a few of my gear inquiries.

Check out these posts to get started:

Sports

Smart Football - Chris Brown is a lawyer turned football analyst, and his acumen for breaking down plays, techniques, and game plans is undeniable. If I’m following twitter during a game, Smart Football is definitely on the list. I’m also convinced that a smart person with average football knowledge could turn themselves in to a decent high school football coach simply by reading Smart Football.

Check out these posts to get started:

Only Gators - I graduated from Florida, and Adam Silverstein runs the best insider blog on the interwebs right now. I’ll check in with OG on a regular basis to see what’s been happening, and daily during football season. No links to read, if you’re a Gator fan just go ahead and start following.

Dr. Saturday – This is a stretch, since Dr Saturday is the Yahoo Sports College Football blog, thus not independent. But it is the most consistent, well-written source of news and updates in college football. The previous head guy, Matt Hinton, has recently left the building, replaced by the new head lady, Graham Watson. Looking forward to the new season.

Writing, Creativity, and Business

Jeff Goins - I’ve written about Jeff a few times, mainly here. He’s actually probably getting tired of it. Jeff consistently turns out great content and advice for writers, no matter what stage of the craft you’re in. Begin reading and you won’t be disappointed.

Check out these posts to get started:

Michael Hyatt - Michael is the Chairman of Thomas Nelson Publishers, but on his blog he focuses on the topic of Intentional Leadership. He writes about other topics, but that is the main focus. I really appreciate the honesty Michael communicates with, and his willingness to share knowledge gleaned from many years in the writing business.

Check out these posts to get started:

Seth Godin - Seth is the first author I read who challenged me to think about how I worked. I am continually inspired by his work, and at the root of my amazement is his consistency! In 2009 he wrote his 3,000 daily post in a row, affirming his commitment to spreading ideas and new ways of thinking. He’s also a master at taking an idea or thought that is on the tip of your tongue, and giving it life. Check him out.

Check out these posts to get started:

Daniel Pink - Dan’s site is extremely interesting, and I’ve mentioned some of his work before. The Pomodoro technique came from Dan’s site, and his book A Whole New Mind was very important for me, especially just after graduating college. You can find a wealth of analytical information, presented in a fascinating manner, along with many other topics. One of my favorite running features is emotionally intelligent signage. Give him a look.

Check out these posts to get started:

Garr Reynolds - I read Garr’s book Presentation Zen 4 years ago, and it made me think differently about the way I speak in front of people, communicate information, and design everything. You wouldn’t think of the design and layout of power point presentations as art, but then you haven’t seen Garr’s slide decks. It changed everything for me in those areas. The design aspect spilled over in to other areas of life as well, to websites, my office, home, and really everything.

Check out these posts to get started:

Corbett Barr - Corbett runs ThinkTraffic.com, arguably the best site for bloggers looking to generate more traffic and income. It’s the only site of its kind that is currently in my rss reader, because it’s so detailed and extensive. Corbett has experience with several other successful blogs and websites, which you can find out more about by visiting his personal site.

Check out these posts to get started (on ThinkTraffic):

Christian Spirituality

Donald Miller - Donald is the author of several books, most notably Blue Like Jazz. Another important book in my life, it challenged me in my Christian faith and caused me to think about what my faith really meant to me. He is very human-story focused right now, his latest book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years covering the subject of the creative process, and being able to tell one’s story. All of this is done against the backdrop of what God has done for us and the life he’s called us to live.

Check out these posts to get started:

Richard Rohr - I almost didn’t put Fr. Rohr here, he can be so controversial. But he has also pointed me down the path of worrying about myself less (and one day not at all), helping the poor & needy, not seeking fame, and being able to embrace both my strengths and weaknesses. He’s also been significant in his writing on male development and rites of passage in the modern world, a topic that is very important in my work with young men.

Check out these posts to get started:

Ryan Taylor - Man, I really like Ryan. Never met the guy, but no worries. Ryan is the Director of Access Denver, plays basketball, and writes a solid blog. He is another leader who is challenging others to look around and see the suffering in our neighborhoods, and be the hands of God in creating change. I’ve written about him a bit more here.

Check out these posts to get started:

General Interest & Fun

The Art of Manliness - Yes, they have fun posts like How to Make a Survival ShotgunThey have informative posts like How to Carve a TurkeyThey also assemble great lists like 100 Must-Read Books: The Man’s Essential Library. But what really made me a full-fledged believer in the AoM was Brett & Sarah McKay’s research and writing about male development and being a man. Not an ultra-masculine no-nonsense man, or a soft, passive man. A Man; forged out of the experience of those before him, ready to do hard things, think of others’ before self, stand up for what’s right, and be a contributor to his community. Love it.

To get started, click on the articles above.

The Oatmeal - My interest in goofy internet comics really peaked during college, and since then I don’t go searching for such hilarity often. The Oatmeal though, really came to me. I saw the Dear Sriracha comic at Sunny Pointe Cafe, and liked it so much that I hunted down the site. Matt Inman does a wonderful job fusing humor, common sense, plain-as-day irony, and grammar checks in to his brand. Go over there and have a laugh. *FYI, not all comics are squeaky-clean, though the ones I linked are fine. 

Check out these posts to get started:

Zen Habits - Leo Babauta has curated one of the most popular blogs on the internet, and one of the most interesting. I’ve only been reading it for a couple weeks myself, but I’m blown away, definitely one that I can read for an hour and not realize it. Highly recommended.

Instead of linking a few articles, Leo has made it easy for us by creating a Start Here page.

The Minimalists - My friend Bryce told me about this site, as I was telling him about my feelings towards having fewer possessions. “You need to read what these guys are writing” he told me. So I did, and stayed up most of the night reading through their entire 21 Day Journey in to Minimalism page. It lit a fire under me, gave some substance to the conversations my wife and I had been having. Within a week, I had given away boxes of clothes, packed up extra household and kitchen products, and put the TV in the attic. I haven’t missed any of those things, because I am more than my possessions.

Check out these posts to get started:

Tim Ferriss - I have a love/hate relationship with Tim Ferriss’ writing and self-promotion. Mainly, I think he comes off as self-promoting and arrogant. I also think he is quite interesting and has many good things to say about creative ways to live and work. I can respect that. I mainly respect the effort and practice that he puts in to his craft of writing, and his personal blog. The blog is a smorgasbord of topics, enjoy picking through them.

Check out these posts to get started:

Wow, that took much longer than I had planned. When I said “today” at the beginning of the post, it was Monday. I’m publishing on Friday. I went through many temptations to cut the list, not include Get Started links, and leave out the descriptions. In other words, obey the path of least resistance. I’m glad I didn’t, and hope you agree.

Finally, this is simply my list, and it won’t be the last. People are doing incredible, creative work, and I would love to hear about the writers, bloggers, and creatives that inspire you. Leave your suggestions in the comments!

Visual Example of Generating Blog Topics


Before you is a visual example of a 30 minute process on generating subjects, themes, topics, and intentions for your blog. A big thanks to Jeff Goins for putting these lessons together (if you didn’t get on his Intentional Blogging program, bummer).

What matters to you and why are you sharing it through an online presence? There are many things for me, as you see in the subject field. This process helped me narrow the subject down to actionable steps and topics, generating a flurry of ideas for posts. I hope that seeing how I went about it helps you guys do the same. If you would like the original photo file, just let me know in the comments, but you should just be able to right click and ‘save as’. Enjoy!

Blogging Lesson #1 - Focus

5 Christian Writers Who Aren’t Famous, But Worth Reading


A couple weeks ago I posted a list of 5 Christian writers who were breaking the mold of what was expected. Thing is, those guys were pretty famous already. So I wanted to give you a list of writers who are making a difference in their communities, and have thoughts to share on it.

Ryan Taylor – Ryan is the Director of Access Denver, and has great thoughts on the gospel and what it means for us in our daily lives. In his bio, Ryan says what has been driving him the past few years:

In the past few years I’ve been inspired by modern day monastic-like thinkers such as Shane Claiborne who are rethinking the posture and practices of the church in present day culture, seeking to be like Jesus through honest confrontation of injustices, helping the poor and hungry, and doing it all together within Christ centered community.

Check out his blog and work at TallMonasticGuy.typepad.com

Shawn Marler - Shawn is a co-worker of mine, so I’m a little biased. I do believe though that Shawn has a good heart and eye for the scriptures, and is especially good at analyzing the text and being a student of it. Which is good, since he spent the last few year getting his Master’s of Divinity from Erskine. You can read his blog here.

Dave Gardner – Dave is also a friend of mine, and is currently on the 4th month of the World Race. World Race is not a game show or reality TV like The Amazing Race, but it is reality in the freshest sense, because Dave is visiting 11 countries in 11 months, doing God’s work every step of the way. He is a talented writer, interning at Yahoo Sports, writing for various online publications, and even turning down a job out of college in order to follow where God was leading him. Reading his blog of the work God has him doing around the world is inspiring. Follow his journey here.

Mike Todd – I have to admit I haven’t read a ton of Mike’s stuff, but what I have I enjoy. I found him through Ryan’s blog, and have been reading intermittently since then. What really grabbed me was this line in his bio.

What can I say? I have a story like everyone else. After a dozen years on Bay Street wearing a suit, tie and Bostonians, my wife Sue and I sold off, packed up and moved out to North Vancouver. Now the corporate uniform is fleece and hiking shoes. I split my time between Linwood House Ministries, blogging, a little construction work, and hanging out with the whatever - our little faith community where we are trying to figure out what it means to be apprentices of Jesus Christ. We’ve tried being believers, but we’re no longer convinced that’s what He had in mind.

Read more from Mike here.

Rev. Shannon Kershner – Shannon is the pastor of Black Mountain Presbyterian Church, which I have frequented on several occasions. She is a fine teacher of the gospel, and very direct in her sermons. I always feel equally affirmed, questioned, and challenged after hearing her speak the word. Sadly, she doesn’t blog yet, but you can find some of her writings and podcasts here.

Do you have any additional writers or speakers that can be added to this list? I would love to hear about them. Thanks!

Grow Your Audience: Five Ways to Get Featured on Freshly Pressed


Every day I go to the WordPress.com homepage, and think, “How did these blogs get to be featured?”

A simple google search turned up this result straight from WordPress itself. Hope you can start to apply the lessons given, and become freshly pressed yourself. Happy writing!

Five Ways to Get Featured on Freshly Pressed.

Jeff Goins: Who he is, and why you should read his blog and e-books


I have only been reading Jeff’s blog for writers and creatives for about a week now, but I can tell you, it’s fantastic. He is re-releasing his e-book “Every Writer’s Dream” today, and if you buy in the next 24 hours, using the code “stopstalling“, the price will drop from $4.99 to $2.99, and include the e-book “Before Your First Book: 5 Tips to Getting Published Now“. Check out the information here.

I highly recommend you check them out. I haven’t read them yet, but will buy today. I’ve already breezed through “The Writer’s Manifesto”, which is free if you subscribe to his newsletter.

Stop stalling, get on it!