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Articles

Daniel LeMoine is a social entrepreneur, change-maker, and writer. Here he writes at the intersection of faith, work, & building a matterful career.

Filtering by Category: development

Use This Tactic To Become A More Effective Conflict Resolver

Dan LeMoine

If you’re in any form of leadership (or have any human interaction in your work or personal lives really) you’ve no doubt had to have crucial conversations or been put in situations where you’ve had to lead through icky stuff. There’s no way around it. As your organization or your team grows, and you collectively seek to solve meaningful problems you will run into times where you need to resolve and work through conflict.

On the far side of conflict can be intimacy and continuity. Conversely, there can also be destruction and disunity. A big factor in where you end up as you work through conflict and seek to resolve issues depends on your approach.

We must approach situations — whether it’s an office gossip, questionable or destructive behavior, lack of representing our brand well, irresponsibility, slipping performance, whatever it may be — with the focus on seeking the highest good for those involved.

Confront what you know, question what you suspect.

One tactic which I’ve found extremely helpful in clarifying and getting to underlying issues is: Confront what you know, question what you suspect.[1]

This approach is extremely powerful in slowing us down and to avoid jumping to conclusions, make hasty assumptions, presume that others have horrible or negative intentions, and allowing my mindset to be put into a reactive or defensive state.

By confronting what we already know, and questioning with gentleness and loose assumptions what we may suspect, we are able to navigate situations with a fresher level of empathy, compassion, pity, and mercy than if we simply assume the worst and default into ‘fight or flight’ mode in our conflict resolution.

What tactics have you used in confronting other in awkward or hard situations which you’ve found effective?


[1] Hat tip to my buddy Curtis Powell for teaching and showing me this framework.

ARTICLE NO. 75/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Structure and Discipline Equals True Freedom

Dan LeMoine

As Americans we idolize the fiercely independent-, pull yourself up by your bootstraps-, make your own way-type spirit and mentality. We love our freedom (even when we become slaves to it…but that’s a different conversation entirely).

Our natural reaction to imposed structure, routine, or authority is to resist it, to resent it, or to downright fight against it. It’s this culturally fuelledknee-jerk reaction which may be robbing us of our ability to achieve what we say we want to in work and life.

Each summer over the last several years, my wife and I have had a good amount of unstructured time during the summer which we've chosen to spend in the States with friends and family. We still have certain work responsibilities and deliverables, but these are much more fluid and doable from coffee shops, libraries, or home of family members. This gives us a ton of autonomy and freedom to do, really, whatever the heck we want.

We enter each summer with grandiose plans of hitting the gym, buying healthy food we don't often get in the D.R., spending time in the Word, catching up on sleep, putting energy into our friend/family relationships which may have atrophied slightly while living abroad, reading, resting, finally spending time on some personal passion project which may have been marginalized, and sticking to daily success habits (like this writing!).

And all of this “un-structure" leaves us no room for excuses for not executing against the things we say we want to do and be about. In theory, all of those above things should be easier to accomplish. 

Yet, unfortunately, the opposite generally occurs.

The diet slips. Workout routines go to h-e-double-hockey-sticks. The end of summer arrives and we realize we didn’t see any of the friends we dreamed of sharing time with. We let our quiet times with God get interrupted and shortened. And we too often end up longing for the routine and structure of home. 

This naturally happens without structure and the discipline of routine. This is because discipline and structure creates room for these things to flourish. And that’s true freedom.

I have a friend who has been extremely successful in his real estate business which affords him extreme flexibility in his time and finances. He told me recently, "I used to think that freedom was getting to do whatever I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to do it. But I ended up realizing that that is not freedom...I ended up being a slave to my emotions and passions." Wow.

It’s funny how a lack of to-dos, a lack of mission, a lack of routine and structure — the things we often resent or complain about — lead to a lack of discipline and thus a lack of freedom and a lack of accomplishing the things we say we want to achieve in our work and life. This fantasy of full-on autonomy with no accountability is toxic to productivity and purpose, building bulletproof habits, and building your body of work. Lack of structure sabotages success.

I’ve found that I am incredibly more creative and productive in all areas of my life when I have an appropriately full plate.

Regardless of whether you’re in a super full season, or a more unstructured season like our summers — taking a few minutes to set your daily/weekly intentions, outlining your game plan for executing on them, and scheduling your routine and habits, making sure to align them with your overall goals — is key to success. Without structure and intentional routine, we end up allowing ourselves to compromise and operate at a sub-optimal state.

Too often we hear about the athlete who retires, only to return a season later out of sheer boredom. Or the ambitious high-achiever working their whole lives for this loosely defined “retirement” only to have a feeling of purposelessness and loss of direction once they get their.

Having purpose in your days starts with structure and routine and discipline. We may say we want full un-fettered freedom and autonomy, yet deep down we all crave structure. Our independent American spirit is something we can harness for such good, but let’s not let our craving for freedom and autonomy rob us of doing what we ought, or from structuring our time and energy for optimal output in doing the work we were created for. 

Do you find yourself resenting structure or routine? Is there a way you can leverage structure and routine in your life to cultivate discipline and crush your goals? 


ARTICLE NO. 70/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Change: Why We Hate It & What To Do About It

Dan LeMoine

When asked if he was concerned that he would confuse the market when they decided to split popular check-in app Foursquare into two separate apps, founder Dennis Crowley told Inc.

“Initially, we heard a mix of complaints and praise. But 90 percent of Foursquare users adopted Swarm for check-ins within a matter of weeks, we we think we’re on strategy. On the internet people don’t like to change until they experience it.” [1]

I don’t think this is limited to user habits on the internet.

In the 4 years my wife has been in leadership at the world-changing school we help run, she often receives (as most leaders do) complaints and criticism from different stakeholders about “all the change” they’ve experienced over the years. But when asked what specific changes they’re unsettled with, rarely can they come up with specific changes they are discontent with.

It’s not because things haven’t changed. It’s just that, rationally speaking, they (read: we) love positive change (and our staffers tell us as much). Yet emotionally there is a resistance to change.

Rationally, we see the need for improvement and organization and change. Emotionally, our reaction to change (or the mere suggestion of it), at least initially, is often in opposition of it.

Change is rarely the path of least resistance, which is the path we’ve been conditioned to want and too often take. Embracing change is never a default mode in our comfort zone. Change is scary because with it comes an innate sense of ambiguity and uncertainty — two variables our control-addicted culture resists. Tolerance of these things is a feature we must cultivate and learn to love (or at least manage) if we want to grow and develop as leaders and as humans. Embracing and navigating and initiating change is a key ingredient if we’re looking to move from a fixed mindset to a growth-mindset.

Fortunately, we always have a choice when change is upon us.

We can choose to scream, cry, rage, complain, and criticize, get angry, dig our heels in, sandbag, or run away...

Or we can choose to observe the changing landscape as objectively as possible and ask ourselves: how can I use the change to benefit, grow, further our mission and further my calling?

We can choose to be paralyzed by the shifting state of affairs. Or we can choose to leverage this uncertainty and ambiguity (and the paralysis of others) to connect more, impact more, drive more value.

Tolerance of change, ambiguity, and uncertainty seems to be a common denominator of the successful and effective leaders in almost any sphere of culture. It allows our best leaders to remain relevant, connect with others, and seize opportunity. 

Questions to Push You Towards Leadership In Change

Here are a few more probing and guiding questions we can ask ourselves when we confront change:

What can I control here? 

In what ways can I be part of leading this change? How can I be proactive in the change versus being driven by it or reactive to it?

Why am I finding myself resistant? What do I feel like I’m losing by changing? Is there anyway to embrace this change while maintaining the best things from what we were doing?

Is it helpful and beneficial to complain, criticize, get angry or mad? If not, how can I take captive those emotions and harness them to my advantage?

How could this change actually spur me to grow? Is there a way I can frame this to develop more grit, resilience, perseverance, strength of character? 

Where is the opportunity here (to love, to profit, to connect, to impact, etc.)?

Does this change inhibit my ability to live out the gospel — that is to love God and love others? Or does it create more/new opportunities to shake things up and do so.


Quoted from Inc. Magazine in an article by Scott Gerber, October 2014

Further Perspective on Change

Explained: Why We Don’t Like Change, Huffington Post article by Heidi Grant Halvorson, PHd

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ARTICLE NO. 68/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

 

On Your Quest For Big You Become Bigger

Dan LeMoine

I touched on this yesterday, but we must divorce ourselves from the idea that success and scale looks like a straight line cleanly moving up and to the right.

To truly grow as leaders and grow our organizations in a healthy way, we must embrace the tension that comes with pushing your boundaries to grow while constantly battling the urge to tie our worth to how clean or successful our path looks. When we can embrace our imperfections, reframe failure as a key ingredient in growth that is when we flourish, regardless of the outcome.

The result of doing (even if it might not work)

With our identity placed in something (or Someone) other than the outcome of our efforts we are freed to be audacious. As we push into the possibility of failure in the name of curiosity, embrace the rollercoaster path, seek learning, and develop our understanding of what is possible, growth occurs.

The worst thing we can allow ourselves is to be paralyzed by fear and self-doubt. By pushing into the possibility of failure (or embarrassment or confronting past demons and failures), and embracing this truth that the path is not up-and-to-the-right, the mountain we thought we were trying to scale now seems like a mole hill. 

When we realize the journey is full of false peaks on the way to a larger destination it helps us achieve new levels of growth. And each new level of growth we achieve by ruthlessly confronting these fears with our rightly framed expectation of what the journey looks like, gives us a right perspective on our work and what we're working to achieve. It gives us a perspective we'd never even have gotten if we had never started.

In your quest for big you become bigger.
— Gary W. Keller & Jay Papasan in The One Thing

Start. Do. Fail. Grow. (Repeat)


ARTICLE NO. 67/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Is True Growth Always Up-And-To-The-Right?

Dan LeMoine

The word ’scale’ in a business context is usually synonymous with boundless growth. 

James Clear showed us that growth is hardly ever linear and often is either exponential (growth increases faster as time progresses) or logarithmic (growth slows as time progresses) depending on the area of your business or life you are trying to grow. And if we zoom in, we may also see that growth laden with valleys and false peaks and plateaus and stalls.

I have friends whose primary goal when launching their business was to hit critical mass as quickly as possible. This allowed them to establish and ‘trade’ on their company's reputation and portfolio of work rather than the connections and networks of our founding partners. They were seeking growth and scale relentlessly. They have achieved growth but if you'd ask them, they'd tell you it was anything but linear. Or where it may seem boundless and neat, that neatness came at the expense of some other area of their business or lives. 

We so badly want to make our path (in work and life) nice and neat and graph-ready. When we frame our expectations for up-and-to-the-right-type growth we are setting ourselves up for failure. What if we realize growth is more like scaling a mountain than an up-and-to-the-right linear path. What if we realize true growth comes with false peaks, detours, getting lost, being found, only to realize you were lost in the first place.

There is a lot of credence to learning from others who have gone before you; to following the path and listening to the wise sages that will help you identify and navigate the obstacles in your business and life. It’s natural to avoid hard stuff and constantly looking for the clean, easy, safe, and sanitized path that promises boundless linear growth in our careers and lives. But it may be much more effective to embrace obstacles and failures as necessary milestones to achieving lasting growth.

Want Growth? Then do, even if it might fail.

Sometimes we have to do a thing to find out the reason for it.
— John LeCarre

Part of growing is doing a thing even or especially if it may fail. We hear a lot about this in the start-up world — fail fast. fail often. Yet we still tend to avoid this in other areas of our lives we want to grow in.

So there in lies the growth. It’s not enough to just know the reason for something, we must DO. To grow we need the inquiry and learning, data-points, iteration, and intuition and intelligence which only come from doing.


ARTICLE NO. 66/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

On Humility

Dan LeMoine

‘Thank you,’ the old man said. He was too simple to wonder when he had attained humility. But he knew he had attained it and he knew it was not disgraceful and it carried no loss of true pride.

 — Santiago, the old man in The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

For the longest time I have had trouble accepting complements without squirming, or being affirmed verbally from a friend or my spouse. 

It is a skill to be able to accept help, accept a gift, accept a complement with a strong “Thank you” and without a feeling of inferiority or owing-ness or insecurity. 

Humility is not synonymous with weakness, yet can sometimes be perceived that way or feel that way. They are separate states entirely. In Proverbs — the wisdom wellspring of the b-i-b-l-e — actually humility is often associated with power, honor, wisdom, and wealth. 

Unfortunately we can too often get the whole humility thing wrong by deploying self-deprication-masked-as-humility. We deflect and downplay instead of saying, “thanks, that means a lot to hear that from you.” This of course comes out of our own insecurities. Insecurities which would likely be non-existent if we worked to root our identity and self-value in who we are in Jesus. That is — safe, forgiven, accepted unconditionally, more than conquerers, and innately valued, dignified, and deeply loved.

[Note: I’m not sure, but this may be more of a male problem — decopuling our value from what we do, or feeling squirmish when being praised or validated or affirmed. It can feel woo-woo, touchy-feely, or mushy to affirm and be affirmed verbally. To receive genuine praise or complements…or maybe it’s just me :)]

So here’s my challenge (to myself or you) to work on developing this skill of graciously and humbly accepting help and approbation or affirmation (or accepting anything, really). Whenever I find myself in a position of receiving (which is a practice in and of itself in our fiercely independent-valued culture), I will simply work to give a hearty “Thank you.” No bargaining. No trying to ‘even out’ the social debt in some other way. No downplaying. No deflecting. Simply accepting and thanking. 

Like the Old Man, who graciously accepts help from The Boy in Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea, I must remind myself there is no disgrace or loss of pride accepting help even when there is no way to repay, depending on someone, or recieving praise. 


ARTICLE NO. 65/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

The Real Casualty of Us-versus-Them (Instead of "We")

Dan LeMoine

The biggest casualty of having an attitude of 'us-versus-them' (instead of the inclusive ‘we’) is that we rob ourselves of the ability to experience the true fullness of life and the true richness of our humanity. I'm not talking about geo-politics or macro-economic policies. I'm talking about the most basic of human opportunities.

I’m ashamed to say that I was once much more an ‘us-vs.them’-type of person. By the grace of God I’ve grown tremendously in my openness to engaging with humanity — particularly the humanity that doesn’t talk like me, look like me, vote like me, laugh at the same jokes as me, believe like me, worship like me, dress like me, or smell like me. It’s not often easy. Nor is it clean and ordered, black and white. It’s messy and uncomfortable lots of the time.

If I’d continued to remain fixed in this mindset of separation and fear (that’s often what the us-them’ mindset is rooted in) — approaching those different than me with an aire of superiority and a closed mind and heart — I’m reluctant to think how shallow and less colorful my life would be.

Being driven by an us-versus-them mentality means we’d never have met our Syrian friends in a random park on the Canadian shore of Lake Ontario. I’d never have experienced the taste of their homemade grape leaves, the smell of the rich smoke from their argylle, the feel of their warm mint tea in tiny styrofoam cups, heard the pleasant sound of their Arabic and Syrian languages, or the comforting laughter we shared while sharing stories of kids and freedom and religion and life.

Old mindsets could’ve easily labeled them (<—see what I did there) as “weird,” felt superior about my clothes, my food, my skin tone, my language. Man, what an utter tragedy that would have been.

The real casualty of not having a “we”-attitude is us. When we put up walls (figurative and literal), the thing we are hurting is ourselves by choosing a safe, sterile, and hollow life. By choosing a life of fear and scarcity and segregation instead of a life abounding in love and connection, we hurt ourselves by living outside of God’s call to engage and be in community.


ARTICLE NO. 64/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Calmness as a Competitive Advantage

Dan LeMoine

The more I grow and mature, and the more messy experiences I have in life (in relationships, work, marriage, faith, etc.) the more I’m convinced remaining calm and collected under confronting circumstances is a massive variable to success.

Unfortunately, the only real way to grow this is by pushing out of your comfort zone, leading up, taking responsibility, and otherwise putting yourself into situations where chaos, uncertainty, strife, harm, sabotage and/or mass panic by others is likely.

It’s the only way to build a true tolerance to these things and grow this muscle of calmness. Fortunately these things seem to be inevitable when trying to solve matterful problems in the world, so we don’t have to try to seek these things out — as change-makers they will find us.

People will oppose us, doubt us, or try to thwart us. Broken systems and bad habits work to undermine us. Those antibodies to change will resist and sandbag. Well intentioned fools will distract us. Critics will moan and tempt us to lose focus. But if we have sangfroid, we do not react emotionally; we remain calm and have clarity in our calling and direction. 

I think this is why I find ROMWOD stretching so valuable. Not only do I end the ‘workouts’ completely relaxed and feeling totally open, but during the sessions I’m actively growing my “calmness muscle” by focusing on taming my mind and my body despite being in uncomfortable positions. Trying to remain passive, control my breathing, and accept and embrace the otherwise confronting moves and deep breaths, helps me to not only train my range of motion but my mind as well, if ever so slightly. 

“When people panic, they make mistakes. They override systems. They disregard procedures, ignore rules. They deviate from the plan. They become unresponsive and stop thinking clearly. They just react—not to what they need to react to, but to the survival hormones that are coursing through their veins. 

Welcome to the source of most of our problems down here on Earth. Everything is planned down to the letter, then something goes wrong and the first thing we do is trade in our plan for a good ol’ emotional freak-out. Some of us almost crave sounding the alarm, because it’s easier than dealing with whatever is staring us in the face.”

— Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is The Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Trials into Triumph

Calmness of mind must be trained.

Yet, this isn’t something we ever really train for. It seems our whole lives revolve around controlling and avoiding uncomfortable, chaotic, or hard situations. We rarely work to control the one thing we can fully control, our emotions. We have the choice to continually (re)focus our identity on who we are in Christ — fully safe, fully known, fully accepted as is, fully loved. Which, for me at least, does wonders in bringing perspective, defusings worry, and calming my anxieties in even the most dire of moments. But it's hard work to do this in the middle of a trying time or chaotic moment or when someone crosses you. It takes work. It takes practice. 

It's this very calmness and cool-headedness which seems to be a powerful advantage when those around us are losing it, freaking out, or being driven by in anxious, hurried, and irrational thoughts.

Next time we find ourselves in a tough spot, let’s pause, breath, and know that this is a perfect opportunity to flex and grow our calmness muscle.

How can you better prioritize self-awareness, controlling our emotions in order to stay calm under pressure?


ARTICLE NO. 60/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Simple rarely means easy...and that's okay.

Dan LeMoine

Simple and easy are not often mutually inclusive; one doesn’t always (or often) indicate the other.

This is something we tend to forget when framing our expectations or estimating our plans.

Simple does not mean easy. 

Building a business is simple (but far from easy). Allowing your faith to inform how you work and live is simple (but certainly not easy). 

Writing everyday, drawing boundaries, forging powerful habits, persevering through failure, taking beautiful photographs, living with integrity, staying fit, prioritizing your spouse, learning a new language, being compassionate, leading with empathy and justice, eating well, practicing mindfulness, cultivating rock solid relationships, being self-aware, delighting customers, building a brand, hiking a mountain, moving to a different culture, creating a bulletproof spiritual life — all relatively simple, but none easy...

…yet, nothing worth having ever is.


ARTICLE NO. 59/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

26 Game Changing Tools You Need To Be Using In Your Work & Life

Dan LeMoine

"Work smarter, not harder” is how the maxim goes. How about making it a "both/and” to help you do your best work, to help you be more decisive, serve hard, lead humbly, and to steadfastly pursue Jesus in your work and life.

Shortly, I'll create a stand-alone page with this library of tools and resources which I’ll keep updated. Until then I'll be adding to this post 5 tools each day over the next five days.

  1. NeuYear's The Week Dominator (neuyear.net)
    Did you know we are 2-3 times more likely to do something if we state our intention and when/where we’ll do a thing? Yep. And that's why I love the Week Dominator. Yes, it is analogy but it gives me the whole week beautifully laid out in a minimalistic way. Not only that, the days are not dated so you never "lose" a week while on vacation or that, so the calendar actually lasts you longer than a year.  

    What’s more, I found out about these killer productivity product(s) from a Four Hour Workweek blog post where the owner Jesse unashamedly gave Jesus full credit for the success they launching thier first product. What a stud. I’m a raving fan of NeuYear.net and thier products, many of which I use or have used. (Here is an affiliate discount link which will get you 10% off your order of calendars or planners or other productivity products)
     
  2. Evernote (evernote.com)
    If you write, compose articles, need an online notebook to capture ideas, thoughts, or things you find online (or offline), or simply need a spot to capture notes, ideas, or important documents electronically, I highly recommend Evernote. The place where I keep track of all my writing, ideas, notes, etc. It’s a wondefully robust tool to stay organized. It syncs across all devices so capturing ideas and thoughts on the fly is a breeze.
     
  3. Canva (canva.com) 
    Want to make delightfully designed digital media? Who doesn't. But not everyone is a designer who can just whip up delightfully designed media. That's where Canva comes in. Canva has truly democritized good design. In other words, anyone can produce elegant, well designed marketing collateral — from brochures, to cards, to resumés, to blog headers, you name it — with the help of their predesigned templates and drag and drop editor. No need to be a professional graphic designer to make beautiful looking media you can be proud of. No need to ever use clipart and Microsoft Word again!
     
  4. Pablo by Buffer (pablo.buffer.com)
    Similar to Canva in that it helps you create wonderfully designed and simple digital media, Pablo is a wonderful tool. It is perfect (and outperforms Canva) specifically for creating social media shareables pre-formatted for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, and/or Instagram.

    One thing I love is the ability to create a design and switch between the different optimised dimensions for sharing to different social platforms, a feature Canva does not currently have. This helps make sure your images are formatting properly and getting seen on the different platforms and not cut off. 

    For quickly and easily creating good looking marketing collateral for social media, Pablo is the way to go.
     
  5. Buffer (buffer.com) 
    For the sake of time, it is powerful to be able to batch create content and schedule it out over the course of several days, weeks, or months using Buffer's simple and easy to use dashboard. As I mentioned in yesterday's post, writing, publishing, and marketing a post or article are three very different and time consuming tasks. Buffer is super effective in helping you semi-automate the "marketing" side of your content creation by helping you schedule out where, when, your content is seen across social media platforms — a very effective way to save time while not loosing any effort in increasing your brand awareness.

    I've tried similar products like Hootsuit, but Buffer is hands down, best in class.
     
  6. Fount (fount.artequalswork.com) 
    Does a font ever catch your eye on a webpage and you wonder what font thier using? No? Welp, that’s becasue I’m a nerd I guess. But if you do appreciate web aesthetics and are constantly observing how different sites effectively delight users through design and micro engagement (like typeface and font) to make raving fans, then you'll appreciate Fount. It allows you to "identify any web font you see" on your screen with a simple click. Very handy if you'd like to identify a font and use in your own design or site.
     
  7. Boomerang for Gmail (boomeranggmail.com)
    Hands down one of the most powerful tools I use for staying on top of my inbox, following up with prospects or leads effectively, and making sure important conversations never fall through the cracks. You can "boomerang" conversations you'd like to revisit later to leave your inbox (got to maintain that inbox: zero ya know) and return on a date/time you choose. This allows you to keep your inbox super clean and avoid letting your email become your de facto to-do list.

    If you spend any amount of time in your inbox (and use Gmail), Boomerang is a must-have. 

    Another handy feature is the 'send later' feature which allows you to do exactly that — compose an email and set it to send at a later time and date. Super effective if you'd like to follow up a conversation right away but don't want to seem desperate or overeager, want to make sure your note hits their inbox at an optimal time to not get buried (like 9am or just before lunch), or make your boss think you're still hard at work at 11pm when you're actually sound asleep ;)
     
  8. Pocket (getpocket.com, iOS)
    When I come across a good article or catchy headline or someone sends me a link to read, I rarely have time in that moment to consume the information, but don't want to let forget to read it or let it get buried in my inbox. So I’ll save these article to Pocket, which syncs across all devices and internet browsers, to batch read these later while I’m at the gym or on Saturday mornings or in a plane. Super great for making sure you're still staying informed, keeping up with the blogs you follow, but without feeling the need to consume content at the very moment it hits your feed or your inbox.
     
  9. ROMWOD (romwod.com)
    ROMWOD (which stands for "Range Of Motion Workout Of the Day") is like having a personal trainer walking you through the most relaxing and loosening cool down stretch. It's kind of like a relaxation protocol for your body, soul, and mind.

    I’ve tried yoga, it’s pretty good, but almost too active — I always end up sweating profusely and I once did a traditional yoga workout called "Happy Hammies" and my hammies were anything but. Think of ROMWOD as a more relaxing, contemplative, passive approach to yoga where you end your romwod “workout” feeling completely open, limber, powerful, and peaceful. The focus is on breathing and passivlely working out the kinks. I like to spend the quite time praying and meditating while doing the routines which generally last about 10-20 minutes. "Romwod - It does the body good."
     
  10. He Reads Truth (hereadstruth.com, iOS)
    This masculine and minimalistic bible and devotional app is elegantly designed with the user in mind. It’s delightful and the devotions (which I try to do every morning) are deep, thought provoking, yet “snackable” and can be done in 15-20 minutes (sometime less). A staple part of any morning routine. It's like hipster designers made a bible app. 
     
  11. Blue Book by Jim Branch
    For many years this untitled devotional was a grassroots-y underground bestseller of sorts. It wasn't for sale, really. It was more a word of mouth movement that seemed like you had to know a guy who knows a guy in order to get this book packed with weekly devotionals which are deep, flexible, and structured in a wonderful thematic and structured way. Each day consists of opening prayer, scripture, thematic readings for reflection, song, etc. Compared to the He Reads Truth app (#10 above), the Blue Book is a slightly more more robust guided devotional time and is a great resource if you're trying to develop your spiritual life but don't feel like you can just open a bible and direct your own devotional from scratch all the time.
     
  12. TurboScan for iPhone (iOS)
    If you're ever in need of scanning and sending a document and don't happen to be within 10 feet of a scanner (or even if you are) this app allows you to use your phones camera for extremely accurate and clear scans of documents you may need to scan in a pinch. Truly a clutch tool to have in your Productivity folder on your smartphone.
     
  13. Expensify (expensify.com, iOS)
    Expensify makes tracking expenses and creating expense reports fun…well, not fun, but the funnest you’ll ever get doing somehting so mind numbing. You can enter relatively painlessly log expenses, create reports, snap receipts, and even SmartScan your receipts to automatically upload to a given report with little manual entry. If you ever have to fill out expense forms, this tool will save you significant time and headache. 
     
  14. Time Buddy for iPhone (iOS)
    Living abroad and travelling, setting up meetings and calls, etc. can get hairy with different time zones. I don't use this app everyday, but it is a huge time saver when I need to see what time it is in a particular city compared to where I happen to be. From Seattle to London, Costa Rica to Cleveland, New Orleans to Nashville this Time Buddy app is super helpful.
     
  15. Google Translate App (iOS)
    If you're learning a new language, or like me live in a culture which doesn't speak your language of origin, having a translate app is super helpful in a pinch to recall a word or look one up. I have yet to find a translate app as easy to use and reliable as this one. During worship I often come across a word which I don't recognize. My first option is to ask my wife what it means; my second is Google Translate app. 
     
  16. Unroll.me (www.unroll.me)
    Do you sign up for different newsletters, or want to follow different thought leaders from around the interwebz, or don't sign up for newsletters and digital publications for fear of crowding your already crowded inbox? Unroll.me is your answer to keeping that inbox clean and manageable. Sync unroll.me with your email client and you can quickly and easily see all the companies and people who have your email and you can quickly and easily unsubscribe from those you don't want to hear from. From those you do want to hear from you can "Roll Up" to be compiled each day into one single email which has all the publications you do want - keeping you inbox nice and clean. Trust me, it's pretty sweet solution to still hearing from those you want to hear from without the dreaded inbox overwhelm.
     
  17. Postable — "Really nice cards, mailed for you." (postable.com)
    Allows you to pick from curated collections of wonderfully designed cards, type your message, and then Postable prints, stamps & mails your cards for you. It's a HUGE time saver and the cards cost just as much (or less) that you'd pay at getting a Hallmark and buying postage. You also get the added benefit of being able to copy, paste, delete, rearrange your note without having to get a new card because you messed up or grab the white out pen (which is the biggest benefit for me as what ends up on the page often is the result of several drafts or iterations). The cards are printed in handwritten font and I often get complimented on my nice handwriting.
     
  18. Stock Photos Sites (for license-free good-looking photos you can use for whatevs)
    For a while, finding great looking, license-free stock photos that didn't look stock was hard. Then I discovered a few clutch sites which have beautiful, artistic, and well composed photos all license-free so you can modify, crop, overlay text, use for commercial use, or whatever else you want to do. Here are my top go-tos:
    + Unsplash (unsplash.com) — my top spot for finding great stock photos (including the header image on this post!).
    + The New Old Stock (nos.twnsnd.co) — interesting vintage photos from the public archives.
    + Death To The Stock Photo (deathtothestockphoto.com) — they'll send you a pack of 10 photos (usually by some theme or adventure shoot DTS has been on recently) each month. Also, they are from Columbus...reppin' the O-H-I-O!
    + The Stocks (TheStocks.im) — A repository of sorts of all the different license free stock photo sites in one place. (Usually I'll go to The Stocks if I'm not finding what I'm looking for at Unsplash or The New Old Stock sites.)
     
  19. Squarespace (squarespace.com)
    I've used everything from Strikingly, to Weebly, to Wordpress, and even have some experience with Umbraco in building out different projects on the web. If you're looking to get a beautiful and simple blog or website up and running quickly with little technical know-how (or just don't have the patience to mess with the backend stuff), Squarespace, which this site is built on, is my recommendation. 
     
  20. Wordpress (wordpress.org)
    If you do want more customizablitity and the full freedom to choose from endless themes and features, a wordpress hosted site might be your best bet. I've used Wordpress to build out several websites for our nonprofit recently, and the process isn't one I'd necessarily recommend. My saving grace with some of the technical issues I ran into with customizing our sites was being able to send "Code: RED! I broke the internet again!" messages to a junior web developer friend who'd help me get unstuck. The process learning the WP backend has been a great one. So if you're curious and have the time and energy, have a go at WP.
     
  21. Mailchimp (mailchimp.com) — "send better email"
    Mailchimp is an amazing tool for sending email newsletters. Plain and simple. I use their Free account for personal newsletters (like this blog's amazing newsletter), and I've used their full Pro account for our nonprofit and for some work with an online company I've consulted for. From their drag and drop editor to their robust features like automation and workflow, it's the best free place to start cultivating and serving your online tribe in a delightful and effective way.
     
  22. Click Funnels (clickfunnels.com) — "marketing funnels in minutes"
    If you're looking to set up a website with the sole purpose of digitally marketing a product or service online (e.g. an ebook, membership site, info product, or on-line coaching or consulting service), CF is an uber-powerful product to help you with just that. While some of the tools I mentioned above (Wordpress, Squarespace, Gumroad, Mailchimp) are my recommendation for building your brand presences and audience online and can certainly be used to frankenstein an online product sales funnel from start to finish together, CF is my recommendation if you're just looking to launch a product that sells. 
    It's a one-stop-shop for everything from email automation, sales pages, squeeze pages, shopping cart set up, tripwire and product sales, automated sales funnels, and online product delivery. It truly is "everything you need to market, sell, and deliver your products online." My work with CF has been extensive since setting up multiple sales funnels for an online membership site I've had the privilege of helping craft and create a full sales funnel (using CF) from start to finish. 
    CF isn't free though. After the 14-day free trial, it will run you between $100-$300/mo. This may seem like a lot (and it's certainly not chump change) it's actually a small price to pay considering this one product can/will replace your website, email newsletter service, analytics tools, shopping cart, and any other service you may need to build an online business. 
     
  23. Gumroad (gumroad.com) "helps creators take control of their creative career"
    Gumroad is an online marketplace where you can sell your digital products (music, ebooks, etc.). It's convenient, easy to set up, and a really solid option if your looking to sell a digital product. You only pay a small fee every time a product sells. When I wrote The Fundraising Playbook, I used (and still use) Gumroad to facilitate the sales of the book. I built a landing page on Strikingly and the checkout and product payment on Gumroad. Check out this super helpful "Gumroad QuickStart Guide" put together by the guys at Fizzle.co.
     
  24. Smallpdf.com (smallpdf.com) — "a free solution to all your PDF problems"
    The benefit is in the name — it makes your delightfully designed and content-packed PDFs which are too big to send via email or download in any short order, smaller. The cool thing is, smallpdf.com does WAY more than compress PDF files. You can rotate, split, merge, protect and unlock pdfs. You can convert PDFs to Excel docs and back again. You can make an image a PDF or a PFD an image. ¡Y más!
     
  25. Pomodoro Time App (iTunes App Store)
    Certainly, you don't need to use this app, you could just set a timer, but this little clock that sits at on my menu bar is such a nice way to set and track how many Pomodoros I complete to maximize my work time and stay productive. (If you're unfamiliar with the Pomodoro Technique you can read more about it here). "I don't always break my time into 25 minute work increments with a 5 minute break, but when I do, I use Pomodoro Time on my macbook."

ARTICLE NO. 54,55,56,57,58/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

7 Lessons Halfway Through 100 Days of Creating

Dan LeMoine

Around 50 days ago I started The 100 Day Project where I’ve been posting regularly an essay or article here daily and plan to continue doing so until I’ve hit 100…so, carry the one, I’m just over half way. The rationale behind this project is learning to show up, forging a habit of creating and to slay the perfectionism dragon. 

Being just over halfway there I thought I’d pause and reflect on lessons learned and what I’ll be doing differently since I’ve learned these things. I hope they can help you as you continue to build a body of matterful work you’re proud of.

7 Lessons Learned Consistently Showing Up:

Momentum is a mindset.

Momentum is a real thing...but not really. It’s a mindset. I can choose if I want to let a day off or a missed opportunity throw me for a loop and let me loose my mental edge and feeling of forward progress. I have a choice on whether I let a broken self commitment send me into a downward spiral or if I have a short memory and fuggedaboudit.

Space and time matter for doing matterful things.

I preach this lesson in my fundraising workshops and have written about it in The Fundraising Playbook — give your work, especially work that often gets marginalized, a space and time to breath on your calendar. 

The same principle holds true even more for creative habits like writing or working on your side hustle or developing a skill. These things areoh-so-easy to push off and never get your best attention. The difference between the amateur and the pro is that the pro shows up and shows up and shows up again. Give your thing time and space to on your calendar (preferably the same time each day) to help you show up.

My friend James Clear once told me (in an article on goals and doubling your chances of success):

Simply by writing down a plan that said exactly when and where they intended to exercise, the [study] participants [...] were much more likely to actually follow through [compared to those who did not write down their intentions]...

The researchers discovered that what pulls that desire out of you and turns it into real–world action isn’t your level of motivation, but rather your plan for implementation [...]

In fact, over 100 separate studies in a wide range of experimental situations have come to the same conclusion: people who explicitly state when and where their new behaviors are going to happen are much more likely to stick to their goals.

You're 2-3 times more likely to do a thing if you actually write down when and where you'll do it. I've found this to be true in this writing habit. When I preemptively write down in my calendar when I'll be writing and/or make a plan to do my writing in the morning and build it into my morning expectations and routine, I produce better, more consistent work.

Maximize time you do have. 

Even though space and time matter, there are just some weeks when finding time to write every day seems nearly impossible.

There have been times where I must maximize smaller chunks of time to structure my posts. While finding 20 minutes here, 20 minutes there to compose my thoughts or musings isn’t ideal, it is good practice at self discipline and the art of using your constraints to your advantage. By self-discipline I mean the discipline to get into the work quickly and cut to the chase clearly. When you have limited constraints (in this case limited time), it forces you to cut out the unnecessary and the fluffy. I don’t get to waste time looking for the perfect header picture or getting distracted on the internet while “doing research” for a post.

Things inevitably take longer than you think.

I suck at estimating how long I think something is going to take. I’m not sure if this is a human thing or just me, but every time I approach a post I have this idea that my thoughts will magically appear on the screen in a wonderful and effortless way and only take me a half hour.

In, like, 150 posts this has never been the case. Sometimes it takes me twice that long, usually 3 or 4 times that long.

Learning to reframe my expectations has been massively helpful. With appropriate expectations I can schedule accordingly so less late nights writing, and begin capturing post ideas and outlines throughout the day in Evernote. These have significantly cut down on my surprise when the genius seems to be taking longer than I think it should!

Writing and Publishing and Marketing aren’t the same thing.

One important part of The 100 Day Project is showing your work. Specifically, I’ve committed to not only writing every day but also publishing my writings publicly on this blog and sharing on Instagram each time I do. Oh yeah, and I’ve got an email newsletter which goes out about every week or so with relevant posts too.

I’ve learned that a heck of lot more goes into publishing and 'marketing' a post than just typing. Especially if I want my work to be seen and ideas to spread and connection to be made. 

For this daily habit it’s been difficult to write, format, find relevant license-free images, format for IG, write up IG caption, and post and share across platforms and email. For this project I’ll be doubling down on the habit of writing and have grown in my understanding in the time and energy necessary to truly be an effective content marketer. It takes a lot of stinking time. Plan accordingly.

I’m beginning to see where I hide.

Which is to say I am not more effective at mitigating this “hiding” to be more effective at shipping the work.

Once I can identify how/where I hide from "just shipping it" — that is, getting my work out to the world regardless of imperfection — the more effective I will be overall as a thought leader and communicator. Personally, where I tend to hide is in the formatting and the finding the right photos for posts and aesthetic things like that. I can say it’s attention to detail, but I really think it’s my subconscious hiding. In reality these things matter very little, but I tend to linger and obsess over them instead of getting my thoughts out there.

I’ve gotten much better at identifying when I’m doing this and I’ll even call it out: “Dan, quit hiding! Let’s goo!” 

Where I used to let a post sit in my “Work In Progress” notebook in Evernote, I’m finding that pushing through this perfectionism and getting my work out to the world is a muscle that needs to be exercised in order to grow. 

Editorial theme (will eventually) matter.

One of the last lessons I’m learning is that the theme and arch from post to post matter. This project, in large part, was structured to help me find my voice and identify certain themes to weave into my work going forward. Through this daily writing I’ve realized  that just writing whatever I want to, whatever is on my mind, whatever the spirit leads me to, results in less flow and continuity from post to post.  

Not that each post must be the same, but I’d like some intentional editorial focus week to week, month to month, year to year in the long run. I have yet to do anything to remedy this issue just yet, because the purpose of the 100 Day Project (for me) is to simply shut up, sit down, and type. It’s habit building. It’s putting in the reps. But I’m seeing the need and value of having a focused approach to what I publish. I recently put together an editorial calendar for our blog, social, and email communication at our nonprofit. After these 100 days, I will be building my own editorial calendar to make sure I’m effectively communicating with a continuity and clarity across all relevant platforms with a clear message.

--

Now, I'm sure there a plenty of more lessons that have and will be learned from building, but these are the one's that first came to mind. (Plus I only had like an hour before the Cavs' NBA Finals Game 7 to structure this - remember lesson 3 above :)) 

Thanks to those who’ve joined the newsletter, followed along on IG, and have been providing input and encouragement. I hope the insight you find here makes you a more courageous leader, more effective creator within your org, and challenges you to fully allow your faith to inform how you approach your everyday work.

Til tomorrow, stay gold.


ARTICLE NO. 53/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

How We Do Things Trumps What We're Doing

Dan LeMoine

(Yes, the pun was intended)

It’s safe to say that the current presidential election happenings in the United States are/have been…well, interesting to say the least. I’m just going to leave it at that.

trump.gif

Recently, I found myself in a half-heated discussion (in reality it was my counterpart who was heated, I was unflustered and staying cool, like the Fonz) about our respective voting preferences and rationale behind each preference.

My friend was arguing that his candidate's way of saying things — in a very direct, unfiltered, and un-politically correct way — offends the politically overcorrect and overly sensative. His argument was that much of what his candidate is say has merit and isn’t as device or hate-mongery or facist-y as the pundits portray.

That may be true (it also may very well not be), but I’m not going to opine on the accuracy or rightness of any particular candidate's stances in this article. But here is what my counter-argument to my friend was, which I believe is relevant to all of us as leaders...

The what we say (and don’t say) is important. But how we say things — the way in which we bring our thoughts to the world — is equally, if not more, important. The What is the vehicle for truth and justice, but How we say something creates the medium for grace and love and mercy to abound. Unfortunately, the second half of that equation is the one we often neglect. And if we desire to reflect Christ to the world (which, if you call yourself a Christian, you doctrinally do), that second part matters immensely.

How we say things matters, and the way we do says more about our heart and our intentions in advancing the common good than the What ever will. It's simply not enough to have good intention (even if we’re “right”). 

The bottom line is that each one of us must prioritize how we say things just as much as what we’re saying; the way we do things matters as much as what we’re doing. Aside from looking for this trait in our political leaders, at the individual level, each one of us can increase our own effectiveness as leaders when we prioritize this way. 

Is there any area of your leadership where you know your messaging can be improved if only you refined and developed the way in which you are doing things?

 

Act justly. Love mercy. Walk humbly.


ARTICLE NO. 51/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM AND HOW YOU CAN JOIN CHECK OUT THIS POST.

What To Do When You Lack Discipline & Don't Follow Through

Dan LeMoine

About 50 day ago I set our to write everyday for 100 days. I knew when I set this goal that it was somewhat audacious. What I also did was mentally prepare myself to fail. 

And I have failed. (I RACK DISCIPRINE!)

Right now, it’s been 2 days since my last post. I have not upheld my commitment to myself and my readers (that’s you!) to post each and every day. 

In the past this falling off the bandwagon would have thrown me into a negative self-fulfilling prophesy — a downward spiral of guilt, shame, and disappointment of sorts — resulting in a complete halt of progress and momentum. 

We do this often...

We go months without posting to our blog solely because we hadn’t posted on it in a while. 
We stop working on that passion project or side hustle because we stopped working on it. (<—seriously, this is the rationale we use)
We lose momentum in our gym routine because we feel horrible about ourselves for not having gone all week. 
We don’t call that friend because we should’ve called like 6 months ago. 
We feel guilty about having one too many cinnamon rolls so we abandon our whole healthy eating regimen.

Sound ridiculous but I’m sure you’ve got some habit or area of your life where this happens either at work or at home.

So how do we mitigate this sabotage to our forward progress? How do we marshal on even if we’ve had a hiccup or stumble? 

The worst thing we can do, is allow our stumble to stall us. We have immense control over our own mindset and how we react and respond to our own short comings. And that is all this is—mindset.

From my experience as someone who once battled with feeling down about false starts and unfulfilled self-commitments, one of the most powerful tactics I’ve learned is to give myself permission to fail.

You may think that this gives me permission to not uphold my commitment, but the opposite is in fact true. It is actually a very strategic (and realistic) move. It gives a sense of freedom and liberation from the guilt and shame we often feel when we fail to uphold the high standards we hold ourselves to.  Look, life happens and we don’t always follow through with what we say we want to do or be about in our work. So we must plan accordingly and craft a bulletproof mindset around this truth.

With that liberation we know we can stop the downward spiral and get back on the horse. We can decide to not allow the mental momentum to come to a stop.

So when we fumble or stumble...

We know we can do what we can do.
We have grace with ourselves (and others).
Instead of excuses, we make appropriate accommodations to have a short memory and start again.
We take note of what and how we chose something else over "turning pro.”

So rather than let our oversight feed into a negative identity and sabotage our focus, we take stock of what needs to be in place to better prioritize our creative habit going forward. 

If we value building bodies of work we’re proud of we need to make the appropriate sacrifices. In a busy season, maybe it means waking up 25 minutes earlier to get your writing done before the day whisks you away. Maybe it means taking a 15 minute lunch instead of a 45. 

What’s worse than not following through on your creative habit or discipline? Letting one (or two) missteps tank your project or scuttle your initiative. C’mon we’re better than that.

The moral of the story is this: Don’t beat yourself up over your lack of discipline — don’t be so hard on yourself and certainly don’t let it stop you from moving ahead — that does more harm than good. Simply re-start (or re-re-start), keep you head down, and forge on.

Keep moving,

Dan

//

Note: It’s hard to talk about this without talking about priorities. It’s a given that my writing habit should take a back seat to my relationship with God or my wife. It’s a bit less of a given if my writing should continually take the back seat to wine and cigars with a close friend, a workout with some buddies, golf with my brother-in-law, sleeping in an extra half hour, birthday parties, or house guests.

At the end of the day having a clear view of our priorities will give us a framework to help clarify our decision making in these instances, but it’s still hard. The key is to feel less guilty about hitting the pause button or saying No, even to our work, from time to time for more important things (or sometimes less important things). We just got to keep grinding, there is no room for getting down about missing a day or two.


ARTICLE NO. 49/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

A Right or a Revenue Stream? A Challenging Lesson from Richard Branson

Dan LeMoine

We believe that certain [things] should be a right, not revenue stream.
— Richard Branson [1]

This quote was from an article about Virgin hotels offering luxury amenities like free social hour drinks, resonably priced minibar and flexible check-in/out. This mindset is a huge reframe from prevailing or “old school” approach rooted in a zero-sum mindset.

If the purpose of business is to maximize profit, then the economist might say that this is imprudent. That everything from the minibar to the minibars of soap we should be looking to find opportunity to increase our margin. But, if the purpose of business goes beyond profit (of course it still includes it) and is to help people flourish, then this focus on making delightion a “right not a revenue stream” is almost inevitable. If this is our focus—to "make all boats rise”— then we will naturally find ways to provide value and delight to our customers without making it feel (or actually be) transactional.

The paradoxical thing is that this economical “imprudence” is becoming a highly effective strategy for winning and maximizing profit. Brand loyalty is a real thing that drives real dollars over the long haul.

Certainly it will look different for each organization — delight will look different given the nature of your business. What works to delight the customer of the plumber electrician looks different from what wins for the media agency, or from the educational nonprofit. 

What in your organization or business shouldyou consider shifting from a revenue stream to a “right”?


[1] Quoted in Entrepreneur Magazine, July 2015 (<-- Yeah, I was reading a SUPER old issue my buddy brought on a work retreat to Costa Rica. Don't judge!)

ARTICLE NO. 46/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

How To Be More Intentional: Balance Action & Contemplation

Dan LeMoine

One of the tensions I’ve been working to strike is the one between Action and Contemplation.

ipso’s lead partner Brent Warwick says, “If beauty and freedom and culture truly matter to us, then...well that means a lot of things, starting with taking the time to consider our purpose. Genuinely asking the question “why” until we get to the root of our underlying intentions.”

Recipe for intentionality: mix equal parts action and contemplation, splash of bitters and garnish with an orange peel.

In order to challenge the conventional understandings of the purpose of business we need more than just action. We must balance our action with contemplation, and visa versa. This Action-Contemplation balancing results is intentionality.

Thoughtless action is folly and results in risks that will eventually undermine your ability to make wise decisions and results in erosion of the ability to be effective. Yet, contemplation with no action will never results in anything meaningful because nothing is actually being done with that contemplation— no impact will be had, no matterful connection will be made, no momentum will be gained. This is why it is a creative tension we must strike, and a question to live.

We believe intentionality is closely tied to having purpose.

At ipso, our leaders have spelled out exactly what we believe about how profit, sustainability, culture, and purpose all fit together:

Profit is merely a component of a company's sustainability. And sustainability is merely a component of a company's culture. And a businesses culture is merely a component of a company's purpose. And that brings us to what we, here at ipso, believe about our purpose.

We believe that the purpose of business is to help humans flourish.

Purpose and Intention are quite synonymous. To have purpose is to have intention. Our recipe for intentional business building and human flourishing is rooted in purpose, and it takes intentionality (balancing equal parts decisive action with equal parts deep contemplation) to fulfill our purpose.

//

Originally written for ipso Creative at ipsocreative.com/musings


ARTICLE NO. 42/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

3 Lessons Learned Hunting Stag In The Scottish Highlands

Dan LeMoine

We’d just belly crawled over a small hill when Graeme finally spotted “the beasts” as he called them. There were about a dozen of them several hundred feet away and Graeme instructed me in a powerful Scottish whisper to take the fifth one from the left as he handed me the rifle.

We’d been stalking these Scottish Highlands for close to 6 hours in search of the famed Scottish red deer. At this time in my life (2009-10) I was still pursuing the pipe-dream of playing professional rugby and found myself living in Edinburgh, Scotland. It just so happened that one of my teammates was the son of a professional hunter, gamekeeper and former estate manager for some royalty or top Scottish muckity muck. Naturally, I did what any overconfident American would do…I invited myself hunting (read: I basically begged him to take me).

I’d taken a life before. My dad and I hunted pheasant when I was growing up and I used to be a crack shot with my trusty pellet gun, claiming a number of pigeons and even a squirrel once.

While shooting my first deer was by far the highlight of this day, second to only getting the blood of the animal smeared on my face, per Scottish tradition, the life and business lessons I learned from this epic trip are profound.

3 Lessons Learned Hunting Stag in Highlands of Scotland

Lesson #1: Life Is About the Hunt (Not the Hunted).

Sure, shooting the deer was cool.

But not as spectacular as walking in some of the most famed and fabled land in history. Tromping through the highlands, dawned in a tweed cap, freezing my royal nee-nees off, channeling my inner William Wallace not only increased my T-levels and helped me sprout a few more chest hairs, but it was one of the most magnificent settings I could’ve imagined.

We could have gotten a deer to come right up to us if we’d wanted to. These deer were accustomed to eating food from cattle troughs. It wasn’t about (just) getting the deer. It was about the hunt. The chase. The pursuit. About intentionally going into the wilderness to seek them. For the challenge.

In a life of comforts, I’m realizing the difficult experiences are often the things we end up most cherishing. (click to tweet)

The outcome was elusive that day. We had difficulty tracking the beasts and there was a time where I doubted I’d get my deer. 

But the experience as a whole — the cold, the mist, the tweed, the crisp air, the view, the scotch…God, the scotch! — was a great reminder that the journey is richest part. Deer or not, I’d have been delighted either way.

This is something I constantly need to remind myself of. I want it all now, and I forget that it really is the journey (as cliché as it sounds) is the reward. It’s the process, the hustle, the hunt, which we must wake up and relish. 

Focusing on the process produces patience and love for the grind and the climb; it’s “the happiness of pursuit” as Chris Guillebeau puts it (vs. the pursuit of happiness).

Don't just take my word for it. David Heinemeier Hansson of Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals) fame wrote an amazing article about reaching "The Dream" of becoming a millionaire (aptly titled "The day I became a millionaire").

"It was like I had pulled back the curtain on that millionaire’s dream and found, to my surprise, that most of the things on the other side were things I already had. Equal parts shock and awe, but ultimately deeply reassuring.

Chiefly because I couldn’t lose those things. Barring any grand calamity, I could afford to fall off the puffy pink cloud of cash, and I’d land where I started. Back in that small 450 sq feet apartment in Copenhagen. My interests and curiosity intact. My passions as fit as ever. I traveled across a broad swath of the first world spectrum of wealth, and both ends were not only livable, but enjoyable. That was a revelation." - DHH

He reminds us that getting to whatever end we're chasing won't "move the needle of deep satisfaction." He says, "We humans acclimate to our surroundings incredibly quickly. The buzz is not going to last. Until you realize the next rung of the ladder isn’t where salvation hides, the siren song will keep playing."

Life Lesson #1b: hold looseLy to expectations.

There came a moment in the early afternoon where we were thinking we may not get the deer. Which would’ve been unfortunate as it was the only day we had scheduled to be on the hunt. I was getting a bit disappointed about this could-be outcome because without a deer to show for myself all I really had then was a story of walking in some hills (or so I thought, note lesson learned above).

Yet once I came to grips with the possibility of not getting my first blood, I was free to really just enjoy my life in that moment regardless of the outcome of the day. 

This is an area of weakness that I’m still getting stronger in. Even when we say we don’t have expectations, we really do.

Happiness is often deeply tied to the gap between our expectations and reality. If I’ve learned anything it’s been this:

we often don’t realize the expectations we have until they are not met.

 

As DHH mentions in the above mentioned article, "Expectations, not outcomes, govern the happiness of your perceived reality."

The ramifications of this lesson— in marriage and family, career and business, faith and our relationship with God, diet and health—are massive. Growing in our understanding of the play between expectations, reality, and our mood will drive significant value (and gratitude) in our lives. My intuition tells me that taking the time to grow in this way will pay huge dividends in my long-term overall happiness. 

Lesson #2: It’s (More Than) Okay To Accept Help.

This was one of the more profound lesson learned, so listen up kids.

During our stalking of the beasts we were climbing our way higher up into the highlands near Invercargill and came to a small frozen creek. Graeme was first over and was offering a helping hand to his son as he crossed the creek, then to the other hunter we were accompanied by.

It was now my turn to cross. Don’t mess up now. Don’t embarrass yourself.

His hand was outstretched to me as well. Fancying myself as the spry physical specimen I was (note the lingering hubris), I ignored his outstretched hand and leapt successfully across the creek (I was at the peak of my athletic career after all).

But instead of getting along our merry way, we paused for a bit of a pow-wow. Graeme began his lesson and I got the panicky feeling I was the focal point of the lesson. Shoot. What did I do?

Apparently I was risking his life. Dang it.

He explained that I was putting all of our lives in danger by not accepting help. Sounds a bit melodramatic, right? Wrong!

He continued to explain if by chance I rolled or broke an ankle it would become very difficult for them to navigate the rough terrain carrying me out, putting at risk the safety of the others. God forbid more than one of us were injured because of a refusal to accept help we would likely die of exposure if we had to spend the night outside in the elements. 

The combination of his serious tone, full tweed outfit, rifle on shoulder, and professional hunter status commanded my immediate and future compliance of any help offered.

I think (especially as Americans) we’re out of practice receiving help, let alone asking for it. Staunch individualism is for Hollywood and Marlboro commercials, not for real life. 

One guy I look up to online, James Clear, in his 2015 annual review vulnerably reflected on this “syndrome” and how correcting it resulted in not only personal growth, but business growth as well. He notes:

Like many entrepreneurs, I repeatedly fall victim to “superhero syndrome” and attempt to do everything myself. I improved in this area in 2015 by surrounding myself with a great team. I hired an executive coach, signed with a fantastic book agent, hired a world-class book editor, and added a few assistants to take repetitive tasks off my plate. The result? Revenue tripled this year. I still have a long way to go when it comes to becoming a great team leader, but this year would not have been what it was without Charlie, Lisa, David, Peter, Susan, Walter. Thank you all!

We are called to live in community, not in isolation. Unfortunately, one of the ugly side effects of the wonderful tools and technology we have at our disposal is the ease to which we can become isolated, too self-reliant, and pridefully individualistic.

Dependence is often synonymous with weakness in our culture. Graeme  — probably one of the more manly men on the planet — taught me that this is in fact untrue. There is, in fact, immense value (implicit and explicit) in having a healthy level of dependence in your life. 

Dependence results in intimacy, trust, and strength.

Don't be afraid to ask for help if you need it, and accept help even when you think you don't. (click to tweet)

Lesson #3: Celebrate Life’s Victories (Or “Whiskey makes things wonderful.”)

After killing the beast and having its blood smeared on my face (which does wonderful things for your complexion), we commemorated the event with a strong pour of some fine single malt scotch whiskey. Let’s be honest it tasted like a bonfire in my throat but I can’t think of a more fitting ending to celebrate the day.

Author Donald Miller, in his book A Million Miles In a Thousand Years notes how in the Old Testament times, when big events happened along their many journeys, God’s people would build small alters or monuments out of rocks. He mused about how God probably isn’t that impressed by a pile of rocks. Creating these alters was a way for his people to remember and to celebrate these significant moments in their spiritual and physical history walking with Him.

If we always are rushing along from project to project, adventure to adventure, job to job, and we never stop to reflect, celebrate, and remember the victories we’ve had, then we’re robbing ourselves of experiencing the fullness of where God has assigned us. This applies equally to our day-to-day small victories and our big life milestones.

Whether this celebration is pausing for 5 minutes at the end of the day to journal what went well, reflecting on what you learned from a given experience (ergo, this post),  throwing a big dinner party, or having a dram of whiskey with some Scots, don’t forget to identify and celebrate your victories.

//

I will always appreciate Callum and his father Graeme for one of the most memorable adventures I've had the privilege to experience. Not just for the deer, or the amazing scotch, or the amazing dinners of venison medallions, qual eggs and ratatouille, but for facilitating an experience which is informing my life. 

What experience is waiting for you to reflect on, learn from, and celebrate?


ARTICLE NO. 39/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Maintain Your Creative Habit…Even When You Don’t Want To.

Dan LeMoine

Somedays you say enough is enough and hang the hat with a less than all-star performance.

Somedays you come home from work and all you do is start dinner with your wife and open a bottle of grape and try to sneak 15 minutes on the laptop to keep the habit going. 15 minutos, that's it. Because you love your wife. And wine. And your wife.

Somedays it’s 11:30p, you still haven't [insert your creative discipline here] and you’ve just committeed to doing a crossfit workout with your top dudes at 5:30a; you’ve committed to the process though, so you open that laptop. 

You shut up, sit down and type only for the mere purpose of staying in the habit by pulling on the tiniest thread you can find, even if just for a few minutes.  

It’s like the days when I’ve only got twenty minutes before the gym closes but I go anyway to stay in the rhythm of going. I don’t produce anything meaningful (and maybe a case could be made that it does more harm than good judging how my hammy is feeling right now after rushing a set of deadlifts without a warmup #Cmon! #You'reNot18NoMore!), but the habit was maintained. The momentum was kept. The mind was tricked into thinking: Yeah, I’m still in the routine. Nothing’s lost. We still got this. 

Or it's like when our kids hike the Caribbean's tallest peak. They inevitably end up dragging ass (to their credit they're lugging packs half their body weight on their backs). "Just keep moving," I say. "I don't care how slow you go, just don't stop. Keep the momentum going. It's so much harder to get moving again once you stop. Just keep cloggin'. "

When life gets in the way, when the more important “first things” must be kept from slipping into the margin, but you don’t want to lose your precious momentum, find the smallest thing you can do, the smallest ember to blow on, and keep the fire from going out. Know, that you can’t maintain and grow this fire with this minimal effort, but it’s enough to keep the ember alive until you recharge, reboot, or whatever else you need to give it the appropriate attention and resources to get that flame roaring again.

Here's to crushing it...tomorrow ;)

Dan


ARTICLE NO. 38/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

What is a "meaningful problem" anyway?

Dan LeMoine

We talk a lot about solving meaningful problems with our work. If you’re reading this you likely desire or are actively working to have purpose in your career, and make it more than a paycheck provider, and solve a problem that matters to someone.

But what makes a problem “meaningful"? How do we define meaningfulness?

Great question.

"Meaningful"

“Meaningful” means having a serious, important, or useful quality. Having a purpose. Having substance beyond the obvious, beyond face value. 

"Problem"

As for what constitutes a problem—a problem is a need being unmet, an itch being unscratched, an injustice being unresolved, an obstacle to right relationship going undestroyed.

Does a problem have meaning if it’s something it isn’t a necessity? if it's a want and not really a need, per se?

I think yes. Especially if you focus on the WAY you go about solving the problem, meeting the need, satisfying the want, or destroying the obstacle to right relationship in your work.

Uber didn't invent something completely knew in terms of transportation, but they've found a new way to solve an already met problem (getting from point A to point B via car or cab). And they found a way to do it in a seamless and delightful way—in a way the market sees as more meaningful. 

They disrupted the mediocre status quo. They democratized the private black car experience for all of us serfs—which is, arguably, slightly more transformational and slightly less transactional than hailing a cab. As a client you feel a bit less like you're buying a commodity (taxi) and more like you're part of an experience (private car). They've discovered meaningfulness in an already existent problem in the marketplace.

I can't help but think of my friends who run a boutique web agency. The quest they are on goes beyond their conquest against poorly designed websites. Their purpose and meaning goes deeper than just being able to visually and beautifully articulate a brand on the web.

They define themselves as seekers. In an email from one of their partners he said: "We seek to be on the forefront of establishing credibility in the web design & development world. We don’t just want to accomplish this for ourselves. We want to be a catalyst for raising standards in this market." 

If that's not meaning enough, they define their purpose as: to help humans flourish. You'd expect that from a charitable nonprofit or a ministry, but from a web agency?! Dang son, that's good stuff. And I can tell you from experience they truly strive to live that purpose. From the way they treat their employees, to the developing neighborhoods they choose to set up shop in, to the dreams they have for growth — these are some uncommon people finding a fresh, deep, and meaningful way to solve a common problem already being solved by others.

In the same way we can take the smallest amount of influence and create impact, we can take the tiniest unsolved problem and make it meaningful. It just takes a little intention. There's no cookie cutter answer on how to build this meaning but the recipe seems to involve delight, intentionality, doing the most human thing, and focusing on How we're solving a problem above and beyond the problem itself. 

[READ: HOW TO FIND AND FRAME YOUR DEEPER PURPOSE AS A BUSINESS]


ARTICLE NO. 25/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

Compounding What Matters (Not Just Interest)

Dan LeMoine

You'll hear about compounding interest again and again if you dive into any personal financial resource, talk with any advisor, or the watch the squawking heads on CNBC.

We're all familiar with this concept of compounding interest. It's common wisdom to be saving diligently and early to take advantage of the game-changing nature of compounding interest. The earlier you save, the faster and and faster the snowball of your nest-egg will accelerate and grow.

But why don't we hear about the other thing — arguable the more important things — we can take advantage of the compounding nature of?

Like:

  • Compounding character...
  • Compounding discipline...
  • Compounding habits of creativity...
  • Compounding humility and mercy...
  • Compounding nature of building your body of work...
  • Compounding faithfulness...
  • Compounding strength (physical, emotional, spiritual)...
  • Compounding love...
  • Compounding influence...
  • Compounding focus...
  • Compounding gratitude...
  • Compounding impact...

Let's focus on padding our nest-egg of with what matters.

What other true, honorable, just, pure, commendable, excellent and eternally-focused things we should be prioritizing in our focus? Anything I missed? 


ARTICLE NO. 23/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.

I'm a Christian. And I Cuss Sometimes...

Dan LeMoine

"I’m going to tell you three things:

  1. There are literally millions people in this world who are starving because of lack of sufficient food and nutrients right now.
  2. And I don’t think you don’t give a f*$%.
  3. Because the majority of you are more concerned about the fact that I just said the f-word than the fact that there are XX million of people dying of hunger as we speak."

My friend told me that story actually went down at the opening keynote of a Christian-themed talk or conference he was at. (Yes the speaker actually said the ef-word <gasp>) 

Pretty convicting, eh?

I drop a curse word from time to time. My old self still has some habits that flare, it seems. 

I’m not proud of it, but, if I'm honest, I’m also not losing sleep over it either. There’s uglier stuff in my life (and the world) I’ll focus on first—my pride and selfishness, my greed, my selfishness, my scarcity mindset, my selfishness…and then there’s the issues in the outside world...Sh*t, that’s overwhelming.

Not to mention when you stub your toe in the middle of the night or zap yourself with the electronic mosquito racquet there really is only one category of words your brain defaults to—the four letter category. It’s human nature! It’s science!

Not that long ago I was fired up telling my wife Danae some story about a perceived injustice or unfair-ity in my life and let an f-bomb go. She let me rant on, but I saw her walls go up. I saw her shut down. I hadn’t cussed at her or towards her, but I knew how she felt about that word in particular. 

So a bit later I revisited the crime. I found her in her craft room. “Hey I’m sorry for cussing. I need you to know I’m sorry for saying the ef word. I know it makes you feel unsafe. And I’m going to do my best to cut it out. But I also need you to know—I love Jesus, I really do. But sometimes I cuss."

It wasn’t an excuse or rationalization for my sometimes-potty mouth. It was a petition for grace and forgiveness and for her to know the state of my heart. That I am a walking contradiction, just like every disciple.

My mom always told me of her dad’s philosophy on the four-letter favorites: That using cusses reflects a lack of creativity to think of a better word. So in a spirit of growth, self-improvement, and creativity I’ve found a few alternatives.

That’s really it for this post.

I thought maybe this zesty little anecdote was relevant—not as an excuse to curse, but because, from time to time, I might let a four-letter special slip in one of my posts. Like the "F*$# Convention!" post from several weeks ago. So this post is more of a plea for grace and an opportunity to get a bit vulnerable and transparent and build some rapport with y’all.

Please just know—I love Jesus, I really do. But I cuss sometimes. Please know I’m (sorta) working on it.

Happy Sabbath,

Dan


ARTICLE NO. 22/100 OF #THE100DAYPROJECT AND MY 100 DAYS OF WRITING.

TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT THIS EXPERIMENT IN CREATIVITY, DISCIPLINE, LEADING UP, AND SLAYING PERFECTIONISM CHECK OUT THIS POST.