Turn Your Mistakes into Opportunities to Get Better

While we often view past struggles as the unfortunate parts of our story, I’ve learned to see them as opportunities. I no longer get down on myself about making mistakes as long as I make things better the next time. I don’t know if it’s my optimism or some kind of lesson that’s been instilled in me, but I’ve been operating in this “just make it better the next time” mentality for a long time now.

Our staff just returned from Chicago.

We’d been hosting Storyline Conference at Willow Creek. This is now the 4th conference I’ve been able to curate alongside Don. When I started working with Don, I had never put on an event at this scale. As a retired musician and manager of a musician, I had put on concerts, though. To me, it was the same thing.

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5 Email Tactics to Get to “Inbox Zero”

For the last five years, my inbox has been a constant source of stress and anxiety. I tried so hard to stay caught up, but was always buried. Lately, I’ve implemented some tactics to stay out of the inbox hole and into a better headspace.

Until a few months ago, I was working a full time job and managing a musician on the side, which lead to an overloaded inbox. Sometimes, building a dream job requires taking on extra work for a period of time, so that’s what I was doing. I had meaningful projects to work on, but I never felt like I could get ahead. Even though I was enjoying my work, my email system had to change.

So, how did I go from a buried inbox to “Inbox Zero?”

I started reading a book called “Getting Things Done” by David Allen, which taught me a couple principles I implemented in my day-to-day systems. Since reading the book, I’ve also created a few systems of my own. If you want to get on top of your inbox, here’s what I’d recommend:

• • •

5 Email Tactics to Get to “Inbox Zero”

You’re most efficient when you read an email only once. After reading the email, you have five options:

1. Delete it or archive it

Keep your inbox clean by deleting or archiving emails that need no action.

2. Reply immediately

Reply right away as often as possible and then delete emails when they won’t need to be referenced again or archive emails when they may need to referenced in the future.

3. Create a “Waiting For” task list for sent emails

Often when I write an email, the message requires someone else’s action. Much of my stress was coming when I wondered, “Who hasn’t replied to me?” Then I would search through my “Sent” folder looking for emails that needed action. I now know what actions are pending, thanks to my “Waiting For” task list.

Here’s how it works: if I write a co-worker asking them to research flight times, I then create a task in Basecamp (my preferred To Do system) titled “Flight Research for November Trip” with a deadline a couple days out. A couple of days later, Basecamp reminds me of the task and I either ask my co-worker about the status or check it off my list.

4. Create a task list for received emails

Using an inbox as a To Do list is not an efficient system (i.e., keeping emails in your inbox until you have completed the task required by the email). Rather than leaving emails in your inbox to end up buried or lost, create a To Do list of the tasks that are required and archive the emails. I always include the sender’s email address in the task so when I’m ready to work on the task, I can search for the corresponding email in my archive folder.

5. Unsubscribe

We all get dozens of subscriber emails every day, which can be avoided completely. If you’re subscribed to a list you don’t want to be on, take the time to unsubscribe. Don’t waste your time deleting emails from the same company multiple times a week.

inbox zero

Everyone I know has a different email system. It is important to create a system for yourself based on how your brain works. You can use some of the tips above to get to “Inbox Zero” and feel the sense of relief that I have found. I leave the office at night and no longer wonder what’s buried in my inbox. The peace of mind is worth the work it takes to stay on top of my email.

What are some of your best email tactics?

You May Be Making Your Bad News Even Worse

We share a common struggle — knowing how and when to deliver bad news. My tendency is to delay the delivery, or worse, try to avoid the need for delivery by allowing time to pass. But I’ve found this only makes the inevitable harder.

So, what is the solution?

Say what you need to say as quickly as possible. Don’t wait a week to respond to that email when 5 minutes of courageous writing can resolve it. Don’t wait until the day the project is due to let your collaborator know you’re two days behind. Don’t keep dating the girl if you know it’s over. Don’t keep saying yes when you know the most honest answer is no.

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Why I’m Leaving The Music Business

I just got back home after an amazing weekend with Steve Moakler in Chicago. The sold out show at Evanston SPACE will be the last show of Steve’s I will attend as his manager.

For the last 3.5 years, Steve and I have partnered together to grow his music career in the best way we knew how. From the very beginning, it’s been focused on slow and steady growth, caring for people and relationships above all else. We’ve not let anyone else define what his career should look like, but have made decisions we knew felt right, even when everyone else thought we were crazy.

Back in February, I told Steve I needed to transition out of my role as his manager. It was a decision I wrestled with for a long while. But no matter how many times I tried to convince myself I could press through the busyness of another tour or another record, deep-down I knew it wasn’t possible for me to keep that pace long-term (considering all of the work I do across multiple projects). With Steve’s career continually on the rise, I knew the best gift I could give him was the opportunity to continue management with someone who could keep pace.

Walking away from the opportunity to work with one of the world’s greatest human beings is what has made this decision so hard. Steve has become one of my greatest friends and even though we won’t be working together everyday, I don’t see this impacting what I believe will be a lifelong friendship.

I am really excited about the next season in Steve’s career and am confident his new management team (Jeff Skaggs / Creative Nation) will continue to build on the foundation that’s been laid the last few years.

I can’t wait to see what’s next for the both of us! I truly believe the best is yet to come.



How To Know If You’re Keeping Score In Your Friendships

A little while back, I woke up at 4:07am to bring a couple of friends to the airport. They were headed to Colorado and had booked an early flight to maximize the amount of time they would spend with their family.

As they got out of the car, they thanked me for the ride as though I had done something extraordinary. Even though I went to bed early and got plenty of sleep, I could sense they felt like my gesture had probably been a burden.

I could sense a feeling of “we owe you.”

I remember wishing they didn’t feel that way. But what I sensed in that interaction wasn’t unfamiliar, by any means.

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2013: A Year in Review

Below is a list of standout events from 2013 — one of the best years of my life.

01 – January :: Thistle Stop Cafe
Thistle Farms decided to renovate part of their warehouse into a cafe. What was once a boring open room is now a beautiful, restored coffee shop. Not only can you get a great cup of coffee or tea, they’re using the space for concerts and events. This photo is of demolition day.

02 – February :: Storyline Conference in San Diego
This was my first time running the Storyline Conference. After an amazing weekend with Donald Miller, Bob Goff, Mike Foster, Caitlin Crosby, and Tom Shadyac, my wife and I celebrated with a sunset over the Pacific.

03 – March :: Indoor Mini Golf
When I play mini golf in the house with my friends, something comes alive inside of me. It’s amazing how much fun you can have building ramps and being creative.

04 – April :: Arizona Trip
My dad has a place in Arizona we try to visit every year. My sister and her family met us there, so we were able to spend a few days with our nieces. One afternoon, my dad and brother-in-law played a round of golf and were caught in 40mph+ wind gusts. I’ve not experienced anything like that before.

05 – May :: Love Does Conference
Bob Goff hosted 1,000 people in Tacoma, Washington for the first-ever Love Does Conference. It was a blast to work with Deborah and the rest of the Love Does team behind the scenes. Before heading back home, I was able to ride in a sea plane for an up-close view of Seattle.

06 – June :: Wiffle Ball
Last summer, a group of my friends started a secret Wiffle ball league. One rule was that we wouldn’t talk about it, tweet about it or post photos. That was until someone went and sang about it on his record (which I love). I guess it’s not a secret anymore! We even made Wiffle ball cards.

07 – July :: Canada
I was fortunate to go on a trip to Canada and disconnect for a few days. Without internet or cell phone service, we were able to focus more on the people around us and the beautiful view. This is where I slept every night.

08 – August :: Golf with Scott
While on my trip to Canada, I met Scott and Tracie Hamilton who are two of the world’s kindest people. When we got home to Nashville, Scott and I played a few rounds of golf together. If you aren’t already familiar with Scott, watch this video and you’ll understand why I love spending time with him.

09 – September :: Debt Free
My wife and I made our final loan payment in September and are now debt free! With the help of Dave Ramsey and Financial Peace University, our lives are forever changed. If you feel hopeless because of your debt, take this class!

10 – October :: Hometowns & Campgounds Tour
In September, Steve and Gracie Moakler left on a 40-city tour across America in their camper. With a new group of friends every night, they played music from Steve’s upcoming record (spring 2014) and introduced them to Miriam Designs. I was able to catch one of their Nashville shows and had a blast.

11 – November :: Londond/Scotland
I was able to visit London with a group of 8 friends. We spent some time with Hillsong London and then headed to Scotland for a few days. A trip I’ll always remember.

12 – December :: Ice Skating Event
Thomas Johnson is one of those secretly incredible guys. He’s never on stage or using a microphone, but chooses to love his friends behind the scenes. Thomas is who introduced me to A Million Miles, which has changed the trajectory of my life forever. When I got an invitation to Scott Hamilton and Friends on Ice in Knoxville, I asked Thomas to meet me there. It was a blast to spend the evening with one of my favorite people.

• • •


App :: 1 Second Everyday (which is how I made this video)

Book :: Start With Why by Simon Sinek

Album :: The Walking in Between by Ben Rector

Video :: I Am Second – Scott Hamilton

A Simple Way to Create Lasting Memories

I used to live in reaction to my day, but I’ve learned I have the agency to live an exciting and memory-filled life.

In July of this last year, I downloaded an app that changed my entire year. How the app works is you capture a video clip on your iPhone every day and choose 1 second to represent that day. So, at the end of a month, you have a 30 second video that summarizes how you spent your time.

Like a lot of you, I often sit in front of a computer screen at work for several hours each day. But if I made a video of 30+ computer screen clips, no one would find that interesting.

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