How to Make Your Dreams Come True

It’s been one of those weeks. We all have them. Each day it seems the task list doesn’t end and the dishes continue to pile up in the sink.

I went to sleep last night and dreamt I walked down to the kitchen and all of the dishes were done. “Yes!” I thought, as it meant I wouldn’t have to do them this morning before work. But something strange happened when I walked into the kitchen this morning — the dishes were still piled up in the sink. Oof.

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Two Ways to Make Everyday Life Feel Like a Vacation

For the last few years, my friend Bob has hosted a retreat in Canada for his friends. The lodge where the retreat is held is 50 miles from the nearest road, outside of Vancouver, British Columbia.

To get there, you have two options: a quick seaplane flight directly to the dock, or a long couple of bus and ferry rides.

I have always taken the long way.

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Pay Attention to What Makes You Cringe

DC Talk, a band from the 90s, once sang, “Some people gotta learn the hard way. I guess I’m the kind of guy who has to find out for myself.

While this may be true for most, my approach to life has been the exact opposite. I’ve always learned quite a bit from paying attention to the mistakes of people around me.

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Pay Attention to What Makes You Come Alive

I once heard my friend Steve Moakler say, “Pay attention to the people and things that make you come alive.” He was making the point that the stuff that makes us come alive is a great way to learn what to pursue in our own lives.

This concept of chasing the things I loved was instilled in me early on, thanks to my mom. I remember her encouraging me to go wherever I wanted to go when I was looking at colleges. At the time, I wasn’t sure exactly where that was. I decided to stick around Kansas City for a couple years to think more intentionally about college, and then for my junior year, I decided to follow my love for music and give Belmont University a try.

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2014: A Year in Review

Standout Moments

January — Creating Your Life Plan

Donald Miller has developed life-planning content that has greatly impacted my personal growth over the past several years. His book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years posed the question, “Are you living a good story with your life?” I attended my first Storyline Conference in Portland in 2010 and pressed into that question for the first time. A few years later, I started working for Don, and our first project was to turn this conference into a physical book, which we released in 2012. At the start of this year, we turned the life-planning content into an online course called “Creating Your Life Plan.” From beginning to end, this way of planning life has inspired me to live a more meaningful story every day. This photo was from the video shoot for the online course.

*we are closing new registrations for this course on January 13th. If you’re looking for a resource to guide you to a new beginning in 2015, sign up today.

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February — Surprise Party for DROB

One of my best friends had a birthday in February, so we thought it’d be fun to throw a surprise party for him. After dinner, we put him in the back of my car and blindfolded him. We told him he wasn’t allowed to take off the blindfold under any circumstance. Little did we know, we’d get pulled over on the way and have to convince DROB he really needed to take off his blindfold and act normal. Fortunately, we were given a warning and drove away without a ticket. The blindfold was then reapplied as we hauled DROB to a house where a group of his closest friends were waiting. I’ll never forget that special night.

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March — Seals in La Jolla

After another successful Storyline Conference in San Diego, Katie and I ventured to La Jolla to see the seals. One of my favorite cities with my best friend, exploring.

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April — The Masters

It has always been a dream of mine to go to the Masters in Augusta, Georgia. This year, my dream came true. A friend from Augusta reached out a couple days before the practice rounds began saying she had an extra ticket for Monday if I could make it. I hopped in a car the next day, hardly able to sleep due to the excitement. I called my friend Thomas and he miraculously found a ticket as well. Here’s a photo of Thomas and me on the grandstands overlooking the 13th green (Amen Corner).

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May — My Last Show with Steve

One of the hardest decisions I had to make in 2014 was stepping away from my management role with Steve Moakler. Not only am I a huge fan of his music, I am a huge fan of him as a person. While the transition wasn’t easy, I knew taking the workload of music management off my plate was going to be a necessity in time. We had an incredible four years working together and I’m really proud of all we accomplished. I’m grateful for his friendship that remains even after his transition to another management team. This photo was taken backstage at Evanston SPACE in Evanston, Illinois during our last show as a team.

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June — Seattle/Portland

To celebrate our five year anniversary, Katie and I explored the Pacific Northwest together. She had never been in that part of the country, so I was giddy at the opportunity to show her the ropes. We started in Seattle at Pike Place Market, Top Pot Doughnuts, the Space Needle, and Canlis Restaurant. After a couple incredible days, we hopped in a car and drove to Portland. Our first stop was for coffee (of course), followed by Pine State Biscuits, the Columbia River Gorge (pictured below), and more coffee.

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July — My Own Office

We moved into a new office space this summer with Don and the team. In this new space, I was able to setup shop in my very own office. I have a putting green behind my desk and a rolling chair. Life is good.

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August — PGA Championship

My dad made the trek from Minneapolis for a weekend trip in Louisville for the PGA Championship at Valhalla. Not only were we able to be at the PGA Tour’s final major tournament of the year, we were able to get tickets for the Sunday round. I followed Phil Mickelson, Rory McIlroy, and Rickie Fowler as they duked it out for the title. What an experience!

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September — Homeowners

Katie and I bought our first house this fall. On the night of our signing, we invited some of our closest friends to our empty house to mark the moment. We stayed up late talking while sitting in lawn chairs in the breakfast nook. Celebrating is always more fun with a community of friends that love you. Moments like this remind me to be thankful.

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October — Storyline Conference

We pulled off yet another Storyline Conference with some of my favorite people (pictured below), this time in Chicago. Willow Creek was an incredible host for our team and guests all week. One of the events at the conference was an exclusive reading with Don for his new book, Scary Close which is coming out February 3, 2015. We gave attendees an advanced copy of the book, stuffed them with deep dish pizza from Lou Malnati’s, and invited them to participate in the photo booth.

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November — Thanksgiving at Our House

We hosted some of our friends for Thanksgiving dinner this year. One of our favorite parts of owning a house is the ability to host lots of people. While everyone could have been cozy around the fire, most ventured into the chilly garage for our ping pong tournament.

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December — Scott Hamilton and Friends on Ice

For the second year in a row, I went to Scott Hamilton and Friends on Ice; a skating event and fundraising dinner for Scott’s foundation, CARES. My dad has been battling cancer for the past four years, so this event is really special to me. I am always inspired being around Scott and admire his drive to help find a cure for cancer. The way he uses his platform for good is one of the reasons I look up to him so much. At the very end of the show, Scott’s son, Maxx, joined him on the ice.

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1 Second Everyday



*to make a video like this, use the app 1 Second Everyday

My Favorites of 2014

App — Mirrors

Album — Black Bear by Andrew Belle

Book — Daring Greatly by Brené Brown

Here’s to another great year!

• • •

Years Past
2013: A Year in Review
2012: A Year in Review

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?