Michael Hyatt’s New Book Platform, and Why You Should Buy It Today


Happy Friday Everyone! 

Normally, I wouldn’t be pumping up a book like this, dedicating an entire post to it, but I’m just blown away by the quality of the offer and want to share it with you! I talk a lot about how we make choices, set priorities, and doing the work that matters to you, and here is a resource which can help you in the mission!

Michael Hyatt, author, speaker, podcaster, and blogger, has released his new book this week, titled Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World (affiliate link). I just bought the book myself, and am very excited to dive in. The premise is all of us need a Platform to be noticed, regardless of our calling. This is especially true for creative people, who regardless of their talent, need to have a way to get the word out on their art!

You can read more at my new site, MattRagland.com

Or, go directly to Michael Hyatt’s site and read about why he wrote Platform, and get the lowdown on 7 Free Resources worth $375.98!

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You Are A Writer – A Look at Jeff Goins Newest Ebook


Did Jeff write me a personal letter on becoming a writer? The voice he writes in rings with the experience of someone who has been through the fire, and come out with pages of knowledge he wants to share! For all the aspiring writers, bloggers, creatives in the building, let me tell you this is worth the price of admission. A short book, granted, but packed full of useful steps towards being a writer.

The most important message Jeff wants to convey is YOU ARE A WRITER (hence the title). I know have done this before, hesitated in describing myself as a writer and going public. Once you have made a commitment, everything simply comes one step at a time, and Jeff does a great job of laying those steps out.

What I appreciate most about Jeff’s writing is his honesty. I see many of my struggles in his writing, and he’s not afraid to tell the ugly parts of his story, of the self-doubt, distractions, and pain involved in being a writer. But he doesn’t stay there, laying out the steps to being successful. He admits the hard work, long hours, and a chance you may never reach the mountain top you have sighted for yourself.

The trick is though, if you love writing, if you can’t do anything else, each piece, each connection, each opportunity to share with others is your mountain top. Pursuing your passion, treating people with respect, and simply writing is what you were made to do.

Oh you want to know details? Of course, how silly of me…

5 Vitally Important Lessons from You Are A Writer

  1. The Process of Turning Pro
  2. The Secrets of Successful Writing
  3. The 3 Tools Every Writer Needs
  4. The 3 Important Relationships of a Writer
  5. Preparing & Pitching Your Writing (w/ bonus form letters!)

In keeping with his honesty, Jeff wraps up by sharing the pitfalls of success, and to remember your love for the craft. It’s all that will keep you true.

So what are you waiting for? If you are a writer, it’s money well spent.

Buy the book here and start shipping!

Get the Kindle edition

What to Look for this Week, and a Reading List


Good morning everyone, I’ve been in Chicago the past few days, enjoying deep dish pizza, dueling piano bars, and the Field Museum. Pictures to come! Ok, 1 picture now.

Cloud Gate aka "The Bean"

Here are the books, sites, and articles that have been speaking to me this week, hope you find something here that speaks to you as well. I’ll be back to regular posting on Wednesday, working on the topic of Jesus and simple living.

For today, here is what I’m reading:

The Thank You Economy: I’ve just started, but am really diving in. How we communicate with our clients and treat them as people is the most important aspect in business today. Even in a down economy, people will pay more for the same product/service if the customer care is better. I know I do. Will keep you updated.

7 Remarkably Simple Ways to Become a Stronger Runner (and maybe even enjoy it)!: I’ve been reading a lot of Matt’s work lately, during my own foray in to vegetarian and quasi-vegan eating habits. I always thought as an athlete, I need large amounts of meat to perform my best. Now, being 90% meat free for a month now, I don’t really miss it. When I do eat meat, I feel pretty bad (though it is delicious). This post isn’t about nutrition, but a good primer in kick-starting your running.

What You Need to Know Before Starting a WordPress Blog: I came across this post because I’ve been researching the transition to a self-hosted WordPress blog. This post is one of the best for quickly covering the basics of your launch.

50 Centuries of Work = 5 Important Lessons: This is really a short book review, but Dan offers us enough meat to tell 1 important fact – “Choose a career for intrinisic rewards, not the financial rewards”. This looks like a book I may be reading in the future.

Is Liberal and Conservative In Our Hard-Wiring?: Richard Rohr is always thought-provoking, and in an election year he serves up this basic question of political nature vs. nurture. A good read that takes a couple minutes.

Failure is an Option: Great advice from Vern, who speaks about failure in the context of athletics, but is applicable across many disciplines. A great quote in the article is “failure sucks but instructs.” If you are an athlete I highly recommend adding Vern to your permanent reading list.

Dating Advice from 1944 – How to Pick Your Right Girl:

Good ol’ Art of Manliness, digging through the archives and coming up with this gem. If you are a guy navigating the world of dating, give this a read, and give a lot of thought to what truly matters to you in the long run.

I’ve already found my right girl, and she’s under Marilyn Monroe’s dress…

Well that’s a good list for the week, what have you guys and gals been reading? I hope that your week is full of blessings and challenges. We need them both to stay sharp!

Why the Devil is Upset that Jason Russell Went Mad, and 7 other reading suggestions


Invisible Children is in the news again, and not just for the attention they have received for their viral video, Kony 2012. Jason Russell was arrested for indecent exposure and behavior, due to extreme exhaustion and dehydration. I don’t know the full story, and there are many different accounts. None of them are good though, the man was in a bad situation and there is going to be more backlash. But via my friends Jeremy and Jay, here is a great take on how the Devil may have responded to Russell’s breakdown and arrest. Think he was happy? Probably not.

My Dear Wormwood,

I received your letter this morning and I must say I am not the least bit pleased. You brag and gloat that you got the face of the world’s largest youth movement to go mad. To tear off his clothes and cry out to the Enemy in the streets for all the world to see. You list the lies you whispered in his ear as if it was some brilliant chess move. I understand that you think this is a huge victory, but I’m afraid you are terribly wrong. You fool. You have ruined everything. You had a perfect opportunity to inflate his pride, to make him believe it was indeed his voice and vision that woke the world up to love and justice. You could have coached him to be eloquent and poised, and in so doing, trick the world into giving him the credit. These millions of disgustingly idealistic and optimistic young people could have believed that this man is the author of these virtues. You could have distracted them completely from the very ideas of love and justice. You could have distracted them completely from The Enemy and His work in the individual hearts and minds of young people. You could have made them think ‘I’ll never be that smart, that creative, that loving, that handsome, that true, so I might as well do nothing.’

Read the rest at The Water is Black.

Now on to the rest of this week’s reading:

New book! Enjoying my read through Zorba the Greek, I will definitely have a review up in a couple weeks. Zorba came highly recommended by friends and other writers, even made its way in to the final chapters of Bird by Bird.

Empty Handed, Full Hearted – Zen Habits – Good advice for letting go of our things and being open to the present.

Creative Funk? – Jeff Goins – Who doesn’t go through this?

An old, used copy of The Copywriters Handbook (1st Ed). Yes it was published in 1990, before the internet. It also has great things to say about simply writing, getting your point across, and communicating effectively. All of which is at a premium in today’s 140 character & text message world. And it was $3.99.

How to Really Enjoy Tea – Podcast via Expert Enough, very interesting story about the process and experience of drinking tea.

Why You Should Clean Up Your Facebook Profile – Study done that suggests the way you present yourself on Facebook accurately predicts your academic and job performance. Basically, don’t be an online moron (or a face-to-face moron).

Doodlers Unite! – A fun TED talk by Sunni Brown, who uses doodles and other visual aids to increase productivity and find solutions. Her book Gamestorming just arrived, and is next on my work list after Copywriters.

What are you reading? Would love to hear your suggestions, I’m always looking for interesting reads. Have a great day!

Daily Practice: Christianity, you can’t make this stuff up


If you have been reading along with me for the past several weeks, you remember my post on the books that we received and bought over Christmas. The book that has been a daily constant so far this year is A Year with CS Lewis. I have greatly enjoyed it, the daily readings are short, and usually leave me with something good to chew on for the day. Today’s reading was particularly compelling, and I would like to share my initial thoughts on it.

The reading was titled “We Couldn’t Make It Up”. It being Christianity. Lewis points out that the tangible reality we experience is usually odd, not neat or obvious, or something you would expect. I feel that we do fantasize about reality as something that makes sense and is orderly to us, but every day our reality presents something that we did not expect. Whether it be in relationships, work, weather, or any number of things, reality behaves in ways that are not orderly to us. All of those things are just the present reality of what goes on in our own little sphere! What about the videos we watch or scientific and research journals that are available, every issue with news about something unexpected or unexplainable that has occurred! Why do we expect differently from our faith?

Lewis notes that this lack of order as one of the reasons he believes Christianity. It is a religion we would not have guessed, not something you make up.

The God figure comes down from the Heavens and lives among his creation as one of them, turning all their beliefs around. He celebrates the weak and poor, while chastising those in power. Then to round the story out, he dies for all their sins, regardless of their behavior, so they may be saved in him. He rises from that death, and calls us to repeat the process in following him.

Yeah, that’s weird. Lewis goes on to say that if the universe were something you expected, he would feel as if we were just making it up. But just like the universe is a little weird and unexplainable, so is Christianity. In way, that makes sense. That the God who created an unexplainable reality would also have an unexplainable plan for rescuing it.

For a beautiful picture of reality though, here is a picture of the rising dawn over our mountains. I know you can scientifically explain the colors, but it still leaves in awe of how it’s possible. Have a great day!

Rising Dawn at Camp Rockmont

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!

5 Christian Writers Who Break the Mold


What mold? I think the public considers a stereotypical Christian writer to be in one of these categories:

  • Fire & Brimestone.
  • Get Right or Go to Hell.
  • I’m Better Than You.
  • Your life would be better if you weren’t sinning so much. Sinner.
  • If you believe in God everything will be fixed and you’ll be rich with an attractive spouse! Oh, it’s not? Well then you’re still sinning too much.

I don’t want that to be the case for the Christian writer. Are there grains of truth in those categories? Yes. But they don’t paint a full picture of the Gospel. Of course, none of us can in our human language and minds, but here are 5 writers that are prayerfully moving towards it, paintbrush in hand.

Francis Chan

Francis has written several books, including Crazy Love, Forgotten God, and Erasing Hell. All of them have been deeply moving and convicting for me, with Crazy love topping the list. Francis write with a sincere heart, challenging questions, and biblical clarity. His books are very well researched in scriptural content, but also in the historical context of the day. You can visit his main site or his blog.

Rob Bell

Rob has caught a lot of flack from believers because of his latest book, Love Wins. I’m still formulating my own opinion of it, but like most issues, I’ll take some and leave some. I don’t think as black and white as I used to, and thus don’t need to fully dismiss a person because I don’t agree with a part of what he says. Who fully agrees with any one person anyway? I will say that Rob has written some books that have been very important for me and my walk with God, especially Velvet Elvis. His NOOMA video series is very well done and thought-provoking. As with Francis, Rob’s books are well researched, both scripturally and historically. The bottom line is that he will challenge your beliefs in a healthy way. Visit his main site or the Mars Hill Church site, and follow him on Twitter.

Donald Miller

Along with Rob, I read a few of Don’s books when I was in college and soon after. Blue Like Jazz had a big impact on me, and I saw ways that Jesus was relevant in this day and age. The story of his reverse-confession booth at Reed College, and his friend’s tithing jar are still meaningful to me today. I have also read Searching for God Knows What, and my brother Mark raves about Through Painted Deserts. Read Don’s blog here and follow him on Twitter.

Richard Rohr

Richard Rohr writes some deep, soul searching books. They have a lot of depth to them, certainly not bedtime or beach reading. You have to be ready for it. That being said, he has written a lot things that have been very meaningful to me. Rohr’s main focus is Male Spirituality, what Jesus taught, ways it showed up in mythology, and the Hero’s Journey (via Joseph Campbell). I have read a few of his books: Radical GraceWild Man to Wise Man, Adam’s Return, and Preparing for Christmas. Being a male that is still developing, and working with young men ages 6-22 at Camp Rockmont, it has been very helpful. His reflections on poverty, hitting bottom, simplicity, and daily living have also been great. Check out his work site, the new blog, and follow him on Twitter.

Shane Claiborne

Shane’s writing introduced me to possibility of living in poverty as a way of ministering and living in God’s light. Shane has done amazing work in Philadelphia’s inner city, living in a co-op called The Simple Way. He has great points on living in a Godly community, what that community looks like, God’s message to the poor, sharing resources, and communal finances. His breakthrough book was The Irresistible Revolution, and combined with his trademark dreadlocks, made him a person of interest to a Christian community desperate for someone to relate to their youth. Shane tries to shy away from Christian Rock Star status though, preferring to be in Philly. Definitely worth reading about, and following him on Twitter.

That’s my list for now, do you have anyone to add?