My first job was working for my dad's cleaning business. Now emptying trash cans and scrubbing bathrooms isn't exactly a dream job, but just like any job, it's as good or as bad as you make it. We can choose to learn from experiences, or just exist during them. I recommend the former! One of my favorite quotes is one I saw almost 15 years ago. It said "A person can have 20 years of experience, or one year's experience 20 times". That's so true!

A person can have 20 years of experience, or one year's experience 20 times"Click to Tweet

Cleaning up after disgustingly filthy people sucks, but there are so many lessons that I took away from it. Here's just a few that I'm still reminded of years later.

1. The Importance of Corners

My dad once pointed out that no matter how well we clean a floor, it would still look dirty if the corners weren't clean. Details matter! In business there are so many things that don't seem all that important in comparison to our primary goals. We can deliver a great product or service, and still leave a bad impression because the receptionist was rude on the phone, or because there were misspellings in the instruction manual. While I'm not suggesting that we have to be perfect, we do have to always be striving to do things a little better each and every time!

That's my goal on every website I produce, every article I write, and every video I produce. I want each one to be a little better than anything else I've done before it. The website could load a little faster, or the underlying code that no one sees could be a little cleaner, or the lighting for the video could be arranged slightly better. Every thing we do can be improved! There will never be a point where I will feel like I've arrived! There's always some way to improve what we do, no matter how long we've been doing it, or how well we do it.

We all want to think we're doing great work, but sometimes we make excuses because of perceived limitations. We can tell ourselves, "I'd do better if I had more time or money". Or sometimes we do great work on the things people see, but ignore the corners we think no one sees. Even if we get away with it, our overall work starts to suffer because wrong attitudes eventually creep into every other area of our life!

Don't fall into the trap of only worrying about the details that you think your customers will notice. On my websites I pay attention to a hundred different details that my clients will never notice! But they do notice the better results, and the compliments from their customers! I could have made my life a whole lot easier by only worrying about the design of a site, since that's primarily what a client cares about most. But because I've focused on every detail of how it functions in addition to every detail of the design, I've become a better web developer as a result. It didn't come easy, but the benefits of being able to take on the more "complex" and interesting projects is just one of the ways that that attention to detail has paid off for me.

2. The Pride of a Clean Toilet

Cleaning a toilet is shitty work, let's face it. Even if you do it well, it's work that will never be awarded or even recognized, and within the hour will probably be just as dirty as it ever was. If there was ever a definition of pointless effort, cleaning toilets would have to be it!

Here's the lesson we can take away.  Success begins and ends with the menial, pointless tasks that we hate to do. The dream of every entrepreneur is to succeed enough to be able to hire someone to do the tasks that they hate! But there's incredible value in embracing those tasks, and doing them well.

Success begins and ends with the menial, pointless tasks that we hate to do."Click to Tweet

See we all have tendencies and preferences. We have things that come a little easier to us, or that we enjoy doing more than other tasks. But if we only do those things, we miss out on true personal development. Tons of self-help books have been written, but it's a simple fact that personal development comes from working on the things that we dislike, and the things that come difficult to us. Sure you may not dream of cleaning toilets for the rest of your life, but if you can take pride in scrubbing toilets, you can take pride in any menial task, and that's where great work starts and ends.

The question is what are your "toilet cleaning" tasks? Is it providing customer support, data entry, manual labor, answering the phone? If you're trying everything possible to get away from a particular task that you hate, then do so, but first embrace it until you've mastered it!

3. The Janitorial Services Engineer

Everyone deserves respect! I was always amazed at the attitudes of some of the factory and office workers that we came across while cleaning. While most were great, there were always a few people who made it quite obvious that they felt themselves to be far superior to the lowly janitors! Guess what? I'd much, much rather be a janitor than be a faceless employee stuck in a cubicle doing data entry work for a large corporation! At least a janitor gets to be active, and move around, and doesn't have to live for 8 hours with office politics. Heaven forbid a crisis like an un-filed TPS report wreak havoc on an unsuspecting office!

For me it highlighted how naturally we tend to find someone else to look down on. The reality is that factory floor jobs or cubicle jobs are traditionally towards the bottom of the totem pole in our society. But even in dead-end jobs like those, it's still possible to find someone else to look down on. We see it everywhere! Those with jobs look down on those lazy unemployed folks. Those with an education look down on the ignorant masses. The rich look down on the poor "who just don't want success badly enough". Those born in this country look down on "those dirty Mexicans" who "shouldn't be here". (Don't get me started on the ignorance of that one!)

Who do you look down on? Do you write off a group of people simply because you don't understand them?

We have to avoid the trap of finding a group that we're better than. It hurts us to do so, nearly as bad as it hurts the group we judge! It's an attitude of arrogance which eats at our own dignity and respect, and stifles our growth. If we choose to look down on others, then our desire for personal growth is only selfish greed, not true growth!

4. The Efficiency of Quality

Working faster on an hourly job seems like one of the dumbest thing you could do. You're either working harder for the same amount of money, or finishing the task faster for less money! It just doesn't make sense! Unless you want to ever do anything else besides your current job! Or maybe you want to develop yourself to become a more skilled person. That doesn't happen unless you're willing to put in the effort in areas that don't seem to have any immediate personal benefit.

The reality is that working as hard and fast as I could taught me a lot about the balance between quality and efficiency. I noticed that there were so many little areas that I could speed up that had no effect on quality at all. Obviously you can only sweep so fast before you create a dust cloud or make more of a mess than you started with. But I could walk faster between office spaces, and I could pay attention to details like the making sure I never had to back track because of running low on supplies, etc.

Noticing little details like that has helped me on so many other jobs, regardless of the industry. Paying attention to details, planning ahead, and optimizing the stupid simple things can have a drastic cumulative effect on efficiency. It's amazing!

The bottom line is that no matter what job you have, or how much you dislike it, you can use it to learn something. Learning opportunities surround us, it's up to us to seize them, and practice what we learn. As most people find out, if they don't learn from their current job, they'll quit in frustration eventually, and transition to another job where they're faced with the same things they hated at the last one. Moving to a job with better circumstances doesn't happen with time, it comes with improving your life and your skills until you are truly qualified to move into a better position.

So what are you learning from your current job?




This video has been months in the making. The script was written last fall, and I have put off recording it for far too long. I know that there are many people who will find it offensive, but I also know that there are a few who will be challenged by it. It is for those few that I'm publishing it. I am not targeting any one church. If these issues were with only one church, I would have directed my attention towards it exclusively. Whether these issues plague your church is for you to decide, not me. My only job is to issue a warning. What happens after that is entirely up to you.


There’s something horribly wrong with Christianity today.

I’m embarrassed to be called a Christian.

I’m not ashamed of the Gospel.

I’m not embarrassed to be known as a follower of Christ.

I’m embarrassed to be called a Christian.

As churches go about their programs and traditions, people around them live and die without the hope of Jesus Christ. It’s a hope they’ve never seen in anyone’s life. A hope they've never found in a church.

As those who call themselves Christians stand with hands raised high, singing their songs, listening to their favorite teacher, the world waits. It waits for an answer to despair, an answer to poverty, maybe even an answer to why they exist. And it’s still waiting.

As churches train their members to say a prayer and fill a seat, the world waits for a hope that changes lives.

...the world waits for a Savior who needs no interpreter..."Click to Tweet

As churches teach their members to rely on their pastors for spiritual guidance, the world waits for a Savior who needs no interpreter

As churches raise building after building, the poor around them wait for those who would show them sacrificial compassion.

How long must they wait?

Christians rally so quickly in defense of tradition and political ideas while ignoring Christ's call to serve our neighbors.

In America, Christians so readily blur the lines between conservative politics, political freedom, and the banner of Christianity. In exercising their desire to maintain the comfort of their freedoms, they fail to realize or care that their selfish cause alienates them from those Christ calls them to love.

Governments have never in history solved every social ill. And they never will. Instead of arguing about which set of policies will make our lives more comfortable, there is a higher calling for each of us who claim to be citizens of God’s kingdom.

Christ did not give each of us a purpose contingent on the good graces of our government. We simply have the luxury right now of fulfilling our purpose in comfort. If that comfort disappears, or our democracy falls, our calling doesn't change in the least. So why would we spend so much time arguing about politics? Are we exercising our rights, or chasing a distraction?

While Christ calls us to offer forgiveness to those living in the bondage of sin, we raise our banner of judgement against them. We condemn gay marriage because it makes us feel uncomfortable, while Christ tells us to offer them freedom from lust.

While Christians jump to defend their rights to use a gun to protect their things, the hopeless and abused in our society yearn for real protection and hope.

While churches argue about petty doctrines like baptism, or speaking in tongues, the world waits for a Savior to rescue them from their living death.

As I spend time in our Savior's presence, and study the Scriptures, I become more and more convinced with each passing day that the God I worship has little to do with the deity worshiped in our churches today.

Churches say all the right things, but their actions and priorities tell an entirely different story.

This is not simply another idea for us to discuss and debate. We don’t need another program to walk us through it. This is a matter of life and death! It is life and death for us, and for those around us.

Scripture tells each of us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. Yet churches tell people to say a prayer, and they’ll be safe. It frightens me to think that American churches are packed to the gills with those who've never experienced Christ, and after living the mere facade of a life, will spend eternity apart from Christ!

While churches have soul-winning classes, no one asks why we have to train people to talk about the freedom and hope that they’re supposed to have experienced! No one dares ask whether they've experienced freedom and hope in the first place!

The Apostle Peter tells us in the book of Acts that it’s not possible for a follower of Christ to hold back from telling others about Christ. Even the prophet Jeremiah describes holding back the words of life as if it were “a fire shut up inside” his bones.

So while churches teach their members the right things to say, the world waits for someone who can’t help but tell them about their own transformation!

At the end of each day, every one of us are faced with the most important question of our life: Is Christ transforming my life?

Your world waits for your answer.

Last, but certainly not least, I want to talk about something that I think is so important when we're talking about improving our lives and setting goals.

As we work on improving our lives, and becoming "better" people, balance is so very crucial. Balance isn't just about moderating our time and efforts. It's about having the right motivation. Now we talked in the last article about motivating ourselves with cost, but here I'm talking about the sort of motivation that drove us to set goals in the first place.

I can become a nicer, stronger, wealthier person, but for what? If I'm to find the motivation to remove obstacles in my life, I have to know why I need those obstacles gone!

Why does it matter? Pride is not enough to take us to the next level. Inevitably, if pride is our motivation, we look for shortcuts, and our short-lived success comes with a bitter cost.

Our greatest motivation is rooted in our life's purpose. Finding our purpose in life is perhaps the most important answer that we could ever search for.

Here's the bottom line. I believe that all of us have one single purpose. It is to honor our Creator. How we do that becomes our individual purposes, but at the end of the day there is no greater motivation in life than to live our lives serving God, and following His orders.

Thus our much less significant goals of becoming stronger, healthier, or wealthier must always contribute to our greater purpose. Without this as our guide, our life lacks balance, and we find ourselves either without the ability to reach our goals, or having reached them at too great a cost.

Our goals and dreams cannot become idols of selfishness that consume us!"Click to Tweet

Our goals and dreams cannot become idols of selfishness that consume us! Wealth, or health, must never become the end goal. We gain wealth so that we can help others more freely. Health is our goal so that we have the energy and time to invest our lives into serving others. It is only in this context that goals go from selfishness to something worthy of our efforts.

Here's the real take-away of this series, the one that really will blow you away if you let it! Our only real long-term goal is that we might gain Christ, and be found in Him!

...I count all things to be loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I suffered the loss of all things, and count them nothing but refuse, that I may gain Christ and be found in him...
- Phillipians 3:8-9

Hopefully today's post won't be nearly as long as the last two! When I told you I'd beat this topic to death, you should have taken me seriously! I said I'd give you what is perhaps the most important part of succeeding at your goal. Here it is: accountability!

Seriously, if you've read through this far, you shouldn't feel so underwhelmed! You should be used to it by now! Accountability isn't a new idea, and it's certainly not a popular one, but it's definitely important!

Accountability isn't a new idea, and it's certainly not a popular one, but it's definitely important!"Click to Tweet

When I say accountability, I'm not talking about just letting a friend know that you're going to try something new. When you fail, they'll be there to pat you on the back, and tell you it's ok. That's what friends are for, but it's not what you need to succeed!

Accountability is about cost and motivation. Failing to reach your goal should cost you something. Maybe that's pride, which is powerful motivation for some of us. That's what your run-of-the-mill accountability looks like. Tell others that you're going to climb Mt. Everest, and then move heaven and earth to get to the top so that you don't get laughed at behind your back. But pride isn't the only motivation, and it doesn't work for everyone. Maybe money motivates you. Whatever has value to you should be what you're required to give up if you fail. Being accountable for your goals means enduring a cost for failure.

If money is a motivating factor for you, then check out sites like stickk.com. These connect to your bank account or credit card and remove money if you don't reach your goal. Some sites will even let you choose to donate your money to an organization you dislike, as an extra incentive not to fail.

Maybe all you need to do is boast about your goal on facebook, or blog about it(ahem!). Own up to your goal, and post progress reports, even the bad ones.

Accountability can take a lot of different forms, but it takes goal-setting beyond the "I hope I can, I hope I can" stage, to the more serious "I will" stage.

Tomorrow I want to look at one last thing that we absolutely have to address if our goals are to truly benefit us. See you tomorrow, same great time, same great place!

In Part 1 I told you that a successful resolution starts with finding the smallest root obstacle between you and your long-term goals, and conquering it. Today I'm going to walk you through my process of finding my root obstacle. My particular obstacle will be irrelevant to you, but watching the process will help you jump start finding your own resolution!

So what are the results I'd like to see? How do I see my life changing for the better? There are so many ways! You can relate I'm sure! This is our starting point. As any successful person will tell you, unless you know where you're going, you won't get there! Here's a short list of big picture goals for myself:

  1. Lose 60 lbs
  2. Make more time for life outside of work
  3. Build physical endurance
  4. Eat healthier(home-cooked, whole foods, plant-based diet)
  5. Spend more time gardening and working outdoors
  6. Finish remodeling the house
  7. Read the Bible more consistently
  8. Become more efficient in business
  9. Eliminate clutter(2 rooms and a shed full of junk is ridiculous for one person!)
  10. Get up earlier
  11. Have a more consistent schedule every day.
  12. Make more videos
  13. Write more articles
  14. and so on and so forth!

That's my short list of things I'd like to be better at or accomplish in the next year or so. Your list might look very similar at this point! Now I could try to tackle all these things, and if I could muster up enough willpower, I'd have these whipped in no time at all. As we've already established, we just don't have enough willpower to solve all these at the same time.

Now I'm a pretty stubborn person, and I tend to accomplish what I set out to do, but I've never succeeded with tackling a list this long all at once. Neither have you I'd wager! If you have, you wouldn't be reading this article now would you? Welcome to the club!

So if I can only pick one thing to focus on, how do I decide what to tackle? First I have to figure out what the obstacles are(besides lack of willpower). Here's my very transparent list of obstacles:

  • Being a small business owner means a regular schedule is almost impossible. Workload can be so variable that I'll end up working til 2 or later in the morning to get projects done sometimes!
  • Working later means either getting up later or sleep-walking through the day(or both!)
  • Cooking is easy to do, as long as you can plan ahead to have ingredients, and set aside some time to prep, and clean up. None of which happens when you're always running at least two hours behind!
  • Getting up late just makes it harder to get to sleep on the nights I can get to bed early.
  • Ever tried writing, or making videos, or programming when you're physically drained? Zombification(it is a word!) is the anti-thesis of creativity!
  • Exercise is great, and I actually really enjoy it (especially cycling or swimming), but I almost never do it unless I can do it first thing in the morning. The same goes for reading the Bible. A highly variable work schedule tends to make consistent anything impossible unless you do it early in the day before the phone is ringing off the hook between meetings!
  • Working late contributes to business inefficiency. While working long hours can easily become a badge of honor, productivity experts tell us that the longer we work, the less we tend to get done. Thus we work longer and longer hours in a never ending cycle of trying to get caught up or get ahead. It's madness I tell you!
  • When you're chronically exhausted, and perpetually behind, making time for life outside of work, or hobbies like gardening, just go right out the door. We put those off for til the ideal, never-reached, future.

So there's my list of excusesreasons/obstacles that hold me back. So what small thing could I change that would set the stage for future successful resolutions? For me, working backwards through my obstacles, I noticed one thing. Getting up late left me tired and behind all day long, and I miss out on those quiet early morning hours that are so important for a good routine.

But just trying to get up earlier doesn't get to the root obstacle! It's easy to say "I'm going to start getting up at 5:30 every morning from now on!". But when 5:30 rolls around, I'd rather fight an starving tiger than roll out of that bed after only a few hours!

So the real obstacle for me is getting to bed early! Now I've gotten to the heart of the matter! Starting the day out right is not about the discipline of getting up early, it's about getting into bed earlier the night before!

But when 5:30 rolls around, I'd rather fight an starving tiger than roll out of that bed after only a few hours!"Click to Tweet

By now you're feeling a little let down. I get it. Of course getting to bed early is a good thing, but it's not a glamorous goal now is it? It's not the sort of thing that you want to announce to your friends when everyone's discussing their lofty New Years resolutions. But it's attainable, and it sets the perfect stage for reaching those other lofty goals once the habit's been set.

No doubt you'll find different obstacles in your own life. Mine are fairly unique to the variable life of an entrepreneur. But if you keep digging backwards from the big goals to the little things that hold you back, you'll be amazed at how tiny the real obstacles are!

For me, I know that as I set a habit of getting into bed at 10pm every night(my specific resolution), I'm not only tackling a reachable goal, but once I reach it, the next goal I set after that will take less willpower to achieve, if only because I'll be doing it more well-rested! This is why I encourage you to look for a root obstacle.

Here's a few take-away tips for you to consider when you're looking for your lowest-common obstacle:

1. When faced with the choice, go Victim-Free!

Your life is shaped by your decisions, not those around you. Resist the urge to blame your habitual mediocrity on everyone else. "Well if my boss didn't put so much stress on me." or "It's just not possible when you have little kids." have no place in an honest evaluation of your limitations. Chaotic environments are the norm, and you can rise above them. I've written before about dealing with stress, and if you feel as if stress is a limiting factor for you, go have a quick read about it, and then come on back. You can thank me later :)

2. When you feel like you've got to a root issue, keep digging

I could have so easily stopped at getting up early and had an honorable goal. Forcing yourself to go back even further is when you open yourself up to discovering something unexpected! Keep asking yourself at each stage, "What has kept me from reaching this goal in the past?". If you're like me, it's not the first time that you've tried to reach most of your goals. What were the sticking points?

3. Set very specific goals

This is fairly common advice, but it bears repeating. If I merely set a goal of getting to bed earlier it's very unlikely that I'll make any real progress. After all, getting to bed at 1am instead of 2am is technically a success, but not real progress towards my long-term goals. (Now that's not to say that setting a series of smaller, progressive goals isn't effective, just be specific about them!). For me, an attainable, measurable goal that represents real progress is getting in bed by 10pm.

4. Write things down

Things look a little different when it's staring you in the face! Write down you long-term goals, as well as your obstacles. Putting things down on paper(or on screen) can so powerfully help us organize our thoughts, and create a great balance between big picture thinking and creating a specific plan of action.

In Part 3, I'll be talking about the one thing that will make a huge difference in your chances of success now that you have a goal in mind. See you tomorrow!

As we prepare to jump headlong into 2014, I've been thinking a lot about resolutions. You probably have been too!

It's seems almost universally true that each of us yearns to be a little better of a person than we currently are. Maybe we want to be faster, more efficient, more productive, kinder, healthier, wealthier, better-looking, or more accepted. Whatever your motivations in life, you want to be a little better.

There's something about the start of a new year that makes us want to make a fresh go of it! It's a time when it's "safe" to set new goals, and try new things. Everyone's doing it, and it becomes a sort of shared experience for us. We share in goals, and even in the seemingly inevitable failures that come with those goals.

In a way, we've almost come to expect failure. Did you reach all the goals you set last January? There's probably not one in a hundred who could raise their hand and say yes! And that's what has me interested. Why do we set goals year after year, and fail so consistently? That's the topic I'm going to beat to death with a blunt sword in this riveting 4 part series. If you'll stick through to the end, it will be worth it, I promise!

I'm sure there are a hundred reasons why we fail. I know I could list a ton of reasons why I haven't reached most of the New Years goals I've set over the years. But probably the most common reason is that I set unrealistic goals.

Now I don't mean unattainable goals. I've set goals that I know how to reach, figured out the steps needed to reach them, and set out with all the energy in the world to reach them. No doubt you can relate! So what's the problem?

The problem in most cases was that I was setting the wrong kind of goals! I think of goals as falling into three categories. Long-term goals, short-term goals, and lifestyle goals. Let's look at what makes these groups unique, and how it can make a difference for us.

Long-term goals are the big picture goals that we all want. "I want to make $10k more this year.", or "I want to lose 60lbs this year". Stuff like that. It's important to have goals like these. I keep a several year plan in writing that keeps me focused on what I want to achieve, and it's great! But these aren't actionable goals. These are more statements of the results I hope to see some day.

Short-term goals are the easiest for us to reach. They're finite and achievable. "I want to run 1 mile today", or "I'm going to eat a salad for lunch". No long-term commitments, just make a single action, get your result and move on. These kind of goals are important, but they're not part of the big picture, life re-arranging stuff that we want when we set a typical New Years resolution.

Lifestyle goals are the goals that we find so tempting, but probably the most difficult to achieve. These are goals like "I'm going to run a mile every day!", or "I'm going to become vegetarian!". Noble goals to be sure, but so difficult for us fickle humans!

Psychologists tells us that the best way to understand it is to look at our willpower as a limited resource. That sort of makes sense! We have so many decisions to make each day it can become overwhelming. As life gets faster, and we succumb to stress, our ambitious lifestyle goals tend to be the first thing out the window. After all, we know we can try again later, and they're essentially what we think of as non-essential goals. It's great if we can achieve them, but the world doesn't end if we don't. Focusing on more important things like relationships and careers easily take over our supply of willpower to make good decisions!

So what's the solution? It's nothing grandiose. You won't stop reading and think "Wow, this is genius!". Well, probably not, but I wouldn't hold it against you if you do! I'll wait :)

Here it is: Find the simplest obstacle in your life, the one that makes all the other "good" goals difficult to achieve, and focus on that one. This will take some tracing back, and you might be surprised at what you find. I know I was!

Setting resolutions(lifestyle goals) that stick is all about not taking on the world, but tackling one small problem, and working on it until it's conquered and becomes a habit.

The beauty of habits are that they don't take any willpower. We do them practically in our sleep, and they're just an automatic part of our life. Once an action becomes a habit, that frees us up to tackle the next little obstacle, make a good habit out of it, and so on and so forth!

We've all heard that creating habits is all about doing something consistently at least 21 times(or so). Maybe for some people it's a month. Whatever the case, when we find that simple obstacle, and conquer it consistently, we're making lasting progress. You might even say that we're prepping ourselves to create a habit of setting successful goals!

I experienced success like this several years ago when I took up cycling to lose weight. My big goal was to lose weight, but the actual action that helped me succeed was to layout shoes, helmet, and clothes the night before! Doing that meant that I could roll out of bed, and be out on the bike before I'd even woke up enough to figure out whether I really "felt" like cycling that day!

There were so many mornings when I'd take off down the road still trying to get my eyes adjusted to the light! (Which actually sound kind of dangerous now that I say it!). Of course once I was out, I loved it, and the obstacle of(as stupid as it sounds) waking up and spending 15 minutes looking for everything I needed(how can there never be matching socks!) was eliminated. Then I wasn't getting distracted by everything else I needed to do and putting off biking till the never-ending void called "later"!

Tomorrow, in Part 2, I'm going to talk tell you about my resolution for this year. More importantly I'm going to talk about how I came to choose it, and make some suggestions on how you can choose your own perfect, life-altering, fame-and-fortune inducing resolution! (Your results may vary, try this at home at your own risk, etc.)

(P.S. It's not a goal to have 3 more posts ready in this series. They're already written and scheduled! ;)

I'm pretty sure I'm not the only person who faces opportunities for stress everyday. If you don't, this article's not for you!

For the rest of us, stress seems to constantly nip at our heels. And as the speed of life increases around the holidays, so do the opportunities to live in a state of tension!

I want to share something that helps me to deal with stress. It's a verse that I keep close by(since I'm not yet perfect ;).

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.
- Isaiah 26:3

This verse reminds me of two things.

1. Our peace isn't dependent on our environment.

You're not stressed out because of the way people treat you. You're not overwhelmed because of all the problems that life has thrown at you. We become stressed and overwhelmed when we face those problems(real or imagined) on our own. There is a better way! Which brings me to the other thing this verse tells me.

2. Our peace is entirely dependent on our Savior.

The solution isn't for me to learn patience, or to strive to deal with problems better. It's not dependent on me becoming a better person. All I have to do is let my priority, my focus, be on the Lord. When He's all I see, things don't seems so bad! Then I can see that he's in control. Then I see people through His eyes. And strangely enough, worry and stress don't control my life!

May you have happy, stress-free, Christ-filled holidays!

Here comes a shameless self-promo about a training series that I'm so excited about! (The picture above is me prepping for the tonight's session!)

Tonight kicks off a 5-week training on how to create a successful website! I'll be teaching this course, and let me tell you, we're going to cover a ton of material. This course isn't just for prospective site owners, but for anyone who's interested in taking their site to the next level!

I'm excited about this live webinar because I love seeing websites succeed!  Building a great website is only one, relatively small, part of the equation. This course, and my e-book, are the "follow-up" to getting a great tool called a website! (If you don't have one, don't worry! You'll get a bonus training showing you how to setup a site from scratch.)

How do you organize a site?

How do you get the word out about it?

What should you avoid doing online?

How do you create great content?

Who's your audience?

I'm going to answer those questions, and any other questions you might have along the way. That's the great part of doing a live webinar, you can ask questions and get them answered right then!

There's still spaces available, so it's not too late to join! Get more information at: http://trivette.me/buildasite/ See you tonight!

There are a million different business opportunities out there. The toughest early decision for an entrepreneur is choosing which one to pursue! I took a fairly big gamble on TitaniumSites.com and I thought it might be helpful to other entrepreneurs to share my decision making process.

I have a profitable web design business, and I enjoy building custom websites. So why on earth would I build a DIY service that could cannibalize my custom projects? There were so many reasons!

1. Anticipating the Future

So many industries these days have come to the brink of bankruptcy before they realized that times had changed demand, and they hadn't adapted. Shining examples of this are the newspaper industry, the music industry, and even currently the tv industry. Technology like the internet fundamentally changed consumers expectations, and yet each one of those industries kept trying to keep the old ways afloat until they finally have begun to realize that the world had left them behind. Sadly, most of those industries are now cash poor and barely able to pivot fast enough to recover. So many businesses have failed or been forced to downsize massively.

As I watched this happen, I realized that this happens over time to every industry, which required a little introspection at MY industry! Where was the trend headed? What do customers want? What do they need? How could I go beyond the current expectation and deliver more than they anticipated?

As technology gets better, and web standards mature, we'll see DIY website services begin to take a larger share of the market. There will always be room for custom website developers, but the demand will be lower than we currently enjoy. Right now it doesn't seem like that's the trend, but only because most of the current DIY services out there are so horrible. As that changes, the trend will become more obvious, and within 5 years we'll begin to see more freelance web developers bemoaning the fact that so few people are willing to pay $2,000 for a good website.

2. Providing a Better Service

A website is like a living organism. If it's not continually "nourished", it begins to decay. As soon as I build a site, if the client is unable to afford continual updates, the technology, and the features begin the inexorable move towards obsolence. This is natural! Sadly by the time most business owners get a vision for what their website can do, and allot some time to use it, their sites are operating at less than their peak!

From security, to browser compatibility, to mobile optimization, the web is a constantly changing world! I love the idea that I can focus on building and maintaining a great website "engine" that is always up-to-date. Rather than building site after site, and watching them degrade, I get to keep all the sites at their very peak every day!

For example, most of the sites I built more than 3 years ago have yet to take advantage of responsive design(mobile-friendly layouts). The only way that I can afford to offer them is if each client pays for the needed modifications! By contrast, since TitaniumSites was officially released this year, over a hundred custom updates have been pushed out, seamlessly! Clients wake up with new possibilities and easier existing features. It's almost magical how easy it is for them to run their sites!

3. A Better Business Model

There's no question that I love what I do, and that it pays very well, but let's face it, it's not the best business model in the world! Building websites on a per-contract basis epitomizes the age-old concept that self-employed is either feast or famine. Now I'm ok with that, especially since the average is much better than the average at a cubicle job, and the perks of freedom are so hard to give up! But slowly migrating my business to embrace a more recurring income model just makes good sense!

All combined, I'm thrilled with the response and how much it's helped others focus on building their online presence! It came to the point that I migrated many of my own sites, including this one, over to TitaniumSites. And I love it!

Everyone knows that the key to a profitable online presence is great ranking on search engines. Well that's the common belief at least! You can find a thousand SEO 'experts' who will tell you this all day long. I'm here to tell you that SEO should be your lowest priority when building your blog/online business, and I can back it up!

The Big Picture

Let's start with a 10,000-foot view. Why are we interested in SEO in the first place? Simple. The web is a huge mess of content, and search engines have traditionally been our go-to-route for taming the mess and finding cream-of-the-crop content. Without that ability to find great content, I think it's safe to say that the web wouldn't have enjoyed it's world-altering growth.

But the times, they're-a-changing! Search engines are no longer the only way we discover content! We discover content via social networks, bookmarking sites, and offline recommendations. We're more likely to trust content that surfaces via these other routes, because they're validated by people that we know. With a constant onslaught of content, we migrate towards the content that someone else has validated.

We also have to realize that ranking does not equal success! This is such a huge thing that we forget. Gone are the days when showing up at the top of a search engine was a guarantee of success. In the early days of the web, when the number of sites was much lower, it was possible for "overnight" successes to happen when a site ranked. It's just not true anymore! There are two reasons.

First, getting a storefront on a busy street doesn't equal success. Traffic and visibility aren't enough! Just because everyone can find you, doesn't mean that everyone will trust you. Now you're one of millions trying to get heard in the noise. Having the biggest sign on a busy street isn't the most important part of your work. Once you have people's attention, then the real work of building their trust begins.

Secondly, ranking doesn't work the same as it used to. We used to have practically nation-wide results. If you ranked high in San Francisco, then you showed up high in Miami as well. Now we live in a world of customized search results. What shows up first for you doesn't show up first for me. Results are ranked for you based on your location, previous searches, friends on social networks, and any other data Google might have about you(if you're logged in). This is great for you! Google (the only search engine that matters) is interested in giving you the best results possible, and customizing results has come such a long way in getting you exactly what you're interested in!

The downside for content creators is that your content will rank high for a smaller group of people. That's not all bad though. I'd rather show up for a 1000 interested people than 1 million who aren't interested!

Unlearning Outdated SEO

As if avoiding the traffic equals success fallacy wasn't enough, there are some huge problems with optimizing your content for search engines.

Almost every day in my line of work I hear people relying on, and passing on, outdated SEO information. Ranking algorithms change on a regular basis, and the past two years have seen some major changes come down the pipeline.

If someone tells you that keyword density or metatags are important, show them the door! In fact, some of the biggest changes that we've seen are algorithm changes that filter out "over-optimized" content! Sites with content that always has the perfect balance of keyword density and placement are considered to be coming from low quality content farms, and are ranked lower.

Here's the reality. Search engines are trying to surface the best possible content for their users. They're less concerned about keyword density, perfect html, or any of the other things that are commonly touted as keys to ranking. Take the following quote from Matt Cutts(Head of Google's Spam team, the ones who work to prevent spam in search results.)

We want people doing white hat search engine optimization (or even no search engine optimization at all) to be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling web sites."Click to Tweet

Cutts is the authority on what helps a site rank, and has been saying this for years. While many people see Google as the obstacle to ranking well, they're actually quite dedicated to helping great sites show up! Everybody wins when great content is surfaced to the top! Take their advice! When my clients follow that advice, there's never an issue with ranking. When they spend their time trying to "rig" their content to artificially rank, any gains are temporary, if they even rank at all.

Evaluating The Opportunity

Do you want to know what the biggest allure of SEO is? Free marketing! Who doesn't love the idea that with the right secret sauce, people will flock to your door for free? I know I'd love that! Now come back to the real world where there's no such thing as a free lunch!

There's an idea in business known as opportunity cost. In a nutshell, if I invest a million dollars in a project with a return of two million, I could say I made a profit of a million dollars. However, if there was another investment opportunity with equal risk with a return of 3 million, then even though I made a profit of a million dollars, I had a potential loss of a million dollars!

So how does that apply to our discussion here? Let's say that you spend an hour optimizing your content for search engines. That hour will undoubtedly increase your chances of ranking, and thus your chance of additional organic traffic. Great, right? But what's your opportunity cost? Imagine how much other work could be accomplished, and whether that other work will produce more results than SEO.

Spend your time learning new skills, enjoying new experiences, researching your content better, spending a little more purposeful time helping others on social media. These things will, in the long run, take your reputation and your blog far further than optimizing articles!

What Should You Focus On?

Ok, so we know that a lot of the recommended SEO tips aren't that effective, and SEO in general might not be the best use of our time, but then how do we get readers? We're not writing to hear ourselves type, right?

The real focus is on consistently creating quality content that offers value. Yes, you'll hear that from every content creator on earth. But it doesn't mean it's not true! Now what fills those three qualifications is a much, much bigger topic, but here are a few tips to get you started.

Consistency: Being consistent shouldn't be confused with high frequency. Creating posts on a regular basis, even if it's only once a week, or once every two weeks, is better than writing when the mood strikes. Creating on a regular basis is hard to do, which is why it's such an important signal to readers. It tells them that your blog is important to you, and that you're dedicated to your subject matter. Those are key if you want to be recognized as an authority!

Quality: This covers three important elements of your content. Grammar, spelling, and clarity are so important. It does no good to write valuable material consistently if it's difficult to understand, or rife with grammar and spelling errors! (Grammar and spelling are increasingly being used as a ranking factor as well!)

Value: We all think our content is valuable. If we didn't, we wouldn't write it. But we have to be honest with ourselves! Here's a rule of thumb. Content offers value if people would pay for it. Simple, right? If someone reads it and then it was sold for $10, would they still recommend that their friends pay to get it? Is it that good? That's the question we have to ask ourselves. Valuable content generally has actionable points, and improves the life of the reader.

Do Search Engines Matter?

Yes, but ranking is the result of a good online reputation, not the end goal itself.

Here's the cool part. When you create consistent, quality, valuable content, your articles will rank! I've seen it so many times! It's really pretty simple. Search engines want to surface quality content that people love. If you're covering a topic well, the keywords will automatically be there. Most people have to worry about getting their keywords in because they're trying to make a sale, not coherently cover a topic. Create that content, and spend some time on social media building your reputation for helping people, and your content will be the stuff that people love!

This isn't the fastest way to success. But it is the most reliable, time-tested way to succeed in your pursuits. Put others first, and don't give up before the payoff!

Title's can make or break your lovingly crafted content! Sometimes it is all a person has to go on when they make that all-important decision of whether to click through to your website. So how do you make sure people click through? For starters, forget about the click-through, and focus on communicating value. Here's 3 rules for creating great titles.

1. Be Honest

I'm all for being creative, humorous, and catchy in a title, but only if it still communicates what the article/page is all about. Don't tell me it's a product review if it's really a product promo. Don't tell me it's another freaking marketing secret(I've heard them all, and they're not secrets!). Don't give in to the temptation to create curiosity by not communicating value in your title! Creating curiosity in less than 10 words is an art form. If you aren't willing to spend at least 30 minutes on a title, then keep it simple and communicate value.

2. Avoid Buzzwords.

Secret, Huge, Limited Time, One-time offer, Explosive, Guaranteed. These are all words that should stay where they were born, in the seedy underbelly of advertisments created by greasy salesmen! Your title sets the expectations for the entire post. Your blog posts are not where you sell your services or products. They are where you communicate, not sell!

You don't create trust by trying to convince people that you have access to a secret that no one else has. You don't create value by hawking one-time offers. Save those for your sales pages! Think of your blog as dinner party conversation. Your job might come up, especially the things you're excited about, but it's in bad taste to try to sell a car before dinner! It's perfectly acceptable to talk about the fact that you're excited about a new product or service, but the focus should be on "the why's". Why are you excited? Why did this product come about? Why does it create help others? Leave the selling details, feature lists, testimonials, etc for product pages and squeeze pages.

3.  Be Short

A short title is much more effective than a long one. It takes a little more effort to communicate value in 5 words than in 10, but it's worth the effort!

Which would you rather read? "How To Write Blog Title That Are Honest, Creative, Short and Effective With Minimal Effort", or "How To Choose An Effective Title"? You just read the second one, so I think I've made my point!

If you've ever wanted to do your own translation work, you're in luck! I've used Google Translate with great success! Now by default, the results of Google Translate are good, but not perfect. If you've ever used it on a web page for instance, you've found that the results can be a little sketchy!

But there is a way you can use it with confidence in the results! Cross-check the translation! Here's my working theory. If I can translate a sentence from English to Spanish, and then translate it back into English, and the translation is accurate, then I have confidence that the sentence in the middle(the Spanish one) was accurate!

I've found that short simple sentences translate best, so if it's your own content, some editing might be recommended!

It's a little more time consuming, but with a little practice, you'll have bilingual content you can rely on!

As business people, we spend plenty of time(or at least should) on social networks. Let's look at a few things that you should stop doing immediately to improve your social media results! Sometimes the devil is in the details!

1. Don't upload your videos to Facebook

There's no substitute for posting a Youtube video! You're trying to create a brand, so why not use a video service that makes it easy for people to share on and off social networks? The reality is that not everyone is on Facebook. If someone wants to share your video with a non-fb friend, a Youtube video is just the ticket. Or what if they want to share it on Twitter? I know plenty of people who come to Facebook to catch up with friends, but spend most of their time communicating on other networks. Give them a video that is useful across all platforms and networks!

2. Don't share email campaigns directly to your networks

It's so tempting! Every popular email service like MailChimp and Aweber has an easy way for you to connect your accounts so that it can automatically post a link to a static copy of your email to your social followers. Like most automated social solutions, don't do it! For an extra minute of work you can post that same content in your email to your blog, and share that link! This way, instead of sending visitors to a dead-end page, you'll be sending them to your website, where they can look around and learn more about you. Always look beyond the immediate action and consider how you can continue the conversation with your followers. Your website is a great place to do that!

3. Turn off auto-sharing from Facebook to Twitter

And vice-versa! This is another example of where automation reduces a small amount of work and a much larger amount of your results. When you're auto-posting from Facebook to Twitter, only a 140 characters can come through, so your followers see a small snippet of your post(and no images, videos, etc.) with a link to Facebook. First, the fact is that if you don't post publicly then people will have to log in(usually on mobile if they're coming from Twitter) to see your link. Secondly, the link at the end tells your Twitter followers that you're not actually actively involved in the Twitter community, which almost eliminates any results whatsoever!

The same thing goes if you're auto-posting from Twitter to Facebook. Facebook users don't interact nearly as much on posts from Twitter because they know you aren't really actively using Facebook right now.

There is one caveat to this rule. I advise companies to auto-post from Facebook to Twitter in one condition. If you're just getting into social networking, and you're not ready to take on both, at least claim your Twitter handle, and auto-post until you personally are ready to take on that community. You won't get nearly the results that you will get from being there "live and in person", but you'll at least have a small presence on both.

4. Avoid linkless posts!

Don't just post information to your social networks. Give a little information, like a teaser, headline, or summary, and encourage people to click through the link to find out all the information.

This goes back to the core message that I try to tell my clients about social media. Your website is your home base. It's the part of the web that you control! Social networks come and go. You don't want to tie up your entire online presence into a free 3rd party service that may be gone next year! All of your online efforts start "at home" and end "at home". Go to where people already are(social networks), interact with them, help them, and then bring them home!

You can't turn around these days without smacking(or wanting to smack) someone who tells you to never lose sight of your goals. "Gotta keep your eye on the goal!" "You'll never succeed unless you stay focused on the goal!" Blah, blah, blah!

Now of course it all seems like great advice, right? And I'll be the first to say that you need to have concrete goals if you want to succeed. But I see tons of people with great goals, who give up long before they ever reach them. I could just paint with a broad brush and say it's because these people don't have what it takes or they lost sight of their goals(and for a few, that's true), but I think there's something else going on.

We know that any goals capable of any significant change are going to take some time to achieve. That's fairly obvious. Big results in life take time and effort, otherwise everyone would be millionaires on perpetual vacation, right?

So what's really going on? Us humans are entirely capable of setting long-term goals, writing them down, and visualizing them. No problem there! But we also get frustrated when we don't achieve them. We start to doubt whether the path we're on will actually reach the result we want. The setbacks along the way convince us that it's not the right time to pursue the goal. And on, and on we go. Doubt, fear, and excuses cloud our judgement along the way, and paralyze us from taking the next necessary step. We never lost sight of the goal though! We can still see it, and want it with everything we have. So what's the solution?

What we really need to focus on, instead of the end result, is the progress along the way. Instead of just setting end goals, we have to create an action plan of how we're going to get from point A to point B. I'm not just talking about a set of smaller goals(results-focused), but rather about creating a series of actions. These are actions we're going to take regardless of their results. We know when we plan that those actions will lead to our end result, but we need to have that plan in place to carry us through all the setbacks along the way.

It's no different than when I go cycling. I set a destination before I take off, and figure out what roads I'm going to take to get there. But when I'm on the road, I'm not visualizing the destination. I'm not dreaming of the triumph of reaching the top of that mountain. I'm cranking through one revolution at a time, looking for the next turn. That's it! Before I know it, I'm at my destination!

When the feelings of excitement about a goal subside, as they inevitably will, a plan will keep you putting one foot in front of the other until the feelings return, or the goal is reached. Sometimes that's all we need to focus on: putting one foot in front of the other.

As trite as it sounds, here's the bottom line. Set the goal, create the plan, and execute the plan.

It amazes me how embarrassing the average newspaper site can be. For an industry that lives and dies by their content, most seem to have no idea how to create a great experience around that content for their users. I'm picking on news sites, but really these things could apply to any content site.

So for your reading pleasure, here are a few tongue-in-cheek ways you could be doing it wrong!

1. Please, stuff more ads in your content!

And make sure they're not relevant ads either! There's nothing more wonderful than having a page load slow because of tons of worthless ads shoved in around the content. Thank goodness you've never heard of ad-blindness, otherwise you'd realize you were hurting your revenue, not helping it.

2. Don't worry about images, they're not important

Users don't care about images, so don't waste your time on getting good images to enhance your content. If you do bother attaching images, make them really small so that we can use our imagination on who's in them.

And if you do waste time with a gallery of relevant images, please, oh please load each one on it's own page so you can rack up pageviews. We just love waiting for more ads to load for your profit.

3. Be sure to use regurgitated content

Nothing's more wonderful than good content aggregation. It really personalizes things for us. All that hardlazy work pays off eventually!

4. We love paywalls!

There's nothing that says thank you for your readership like a nice paywall. It helps prevent me from making bad decisions, like sharing your content with my friends. I really do wish I could pay to see your misspellings and out-of-date material. Thank goodness there aren't any examples of business models that make a better profit than paywalls, otherwise we'd all miss out on your upbeat "Give us money to read this!" messages.

Ok, I've had my fun. In all seriousness though, I can't stress enough that putting the user before profits is a model that has been shown time and again online to bring huge returns. I'd love to work with a newspaper to create a truly compelling and profitable site!

Did you know that you are required by law to disclose when you are recommending something that you receive compensation for? This is part of the FTC's Endorsement Guide, and it applies to bloggers and online marketers as well!

But even setting aside the legal aspect of it(which is good since I'm not a lawyer!), it's just good ethics to let others know when you are making money off of a recommendation. As I talk about regularly on my podcast, trust is the most important(and most difficult) thing we can build online.

I am always disappointed when I read blog posts that end up doing nothing more than setting the stage for the affiliate link at the end. We can do better than that! Not only is it slowing down your business growth because of the people who never come back, but it hurts your reputation long-term.

I find myself much more likely to click a link if the writer has disclosed that it goes to a product that they make money off of, especially if the content provided it's own value separate from hype about the link. That tells me that you believe in the product/service enough that you believe I'll buy it even when I know all the facts. It also gives me the opportunity to support someone while purchasing something of value.

People don't need to be suckered into buying an affiliate product. They'll buy it, if they trust you.

Here are a few examples of how you could disclose your affiliate links:

1. TitaniumSites (affiliate)

2. "If you liked this article, help me continue writing by purchasing X. You'll also benefit from..."

3. "Learn how to do XYZ and support my blog at the same time!"

4. "I am proud to be an affiliate of XYZ, check out their great training on MNO here"

My heart aches for those who stand outside of the church looking in. I feel as if I stand on the edge, not quite fitting into church, and not fitting into the world. Is it possible that people transformed by the power of Christ can be so oblivious to the pain and suffering around them? I don't say that in judgement, but in sadness because I also stand looking at the church, and it makes sense. The pain and suffering is just as heavy in the church. Inside and out, people are living their lives without freedom, not knowing that there is a better way!

The reason that the average church attendee doesn't offer hope to those around them is because they've never received it themselves. How sad!

Churches and believers have to rethink how we approach teaching and evangelism. It's time to start from scratch and develop a new outlook. Especially in churches we have so many traditions that disconnect us from the rest of the world that we've become ineffective at truly reaching a lost and dying world.

We have turned real, powerful ideas into buzzwords. Churches talk incessantly about things like relationships and discipleship. But when it comes to actually putting those ideas into action it becomes painfully obvious that they either have no clue what those ideas really mean, or they don't have the courage to foster an organic idea without stifling it by trying to control it.

Discipleship is not a key part of evangelism, it is evangelism! According to Jesus, it's not our job to go to the world and enlist converts!

Go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.
- Matthew 28:19-20

It's not rocket science! We are called not just to create more ministries, but to pour our lives into others. It's the highest calling of every single believer who's been set free by the Almighty God.

What is it going to take for churches and believers to look past their organization and their comfort, and see a hurting world? I don't know. I do know that I'm not waiting for anyone else to change. God didn't tell me to go to the world as long as everyone else was going.

Who's with me?

Episode 6 | Results-Driven Advertising

I'm a huge fan of pay-per-click advertising. Never before have we had the ability to focus our advertising, and only pay for results! That's what pay-per-click advertising boils down to. When you think of pay-per-click, Google Adwords are the ones who come to mind. And for good reason! It's the largest program of it kind, and it gets great results.

I do have one reminder for you though. Don't spend a ton of money and effort driving traffic to a sub-standard site! You'll do more damage than good, and waste money along the way. This is one of the many reasons that I built TitaniumSites.com(shameless plug!). Businesses of all sizes need great sites to send traffic to!

For professional Adwords setup, I use, and highly recommend, TNPayPerClick.com

A Reason to Come!

After a short hiatus, we're back with another episode, and an all new look! This is version 1 of a new style that I'm moving towards for my videos.

In this short episode, I talk about a simple thing you can do to drive traffic to your website for your existing offline customers. Enjoy!

You are using an outdated browser. Please upgrade your browser or activate Google Chrome Frame to improve your experience.