Are You Ready to Launch in 2014?!

This time of year undoubtedly leaves you thinking, “How will I make next year the best year ever?!”

We spend time over the holidays planning, mind-mapping, strategizing, and forecasting. With your sights set on what has been and what could be – I want to (with the help of my awesome team) give you everything you need to turn your big idea – your dream – into a reality in 2014!

For the next week (and for one week ONLY) – we have opened applications for Launch, an all-inclusive branding package for those ready to take one giant leap toward making their dreams a reality.

Launch includes: In-person brand strategy workshop (travel + accommodation included for those of you in the US). Identity/logo design. Website design/development. Print design. 12-month launch plan (including 1 free hour of consultation each month in 2014!)

Launch is for aspiring entrepreneurs, hustlers, writers, nonprofit organizers, and startups. Launch is for passionate people with a dream. Launch is for those willing to do whatever it takes. Launch is for anyone fed up with the way things “have been” and is ready for everything that could be.

With your awesome idea and my team of creative bad-asses, there’s literally nothing we can’t do. Our process is kid-tested, mother-approved and 90% of the time, it works every time.

All of this awesomeness comes at the all-inclusive investment of $8,000. We understand $8,000 isn’t chump-change, but this is HEAVILY discounted from Proof’s regular rates – and it’s just that, an investment that will no doubt pay dividends (because we do it right and because, well, you’re awesome).

YOU MUST APPLY by January 3, 2014 at midnight! Our team will review the applications and will select ONLY FIVE (5) for our class of 2014.

Now is the time, my friends. If you’ve ever wanted to want to work with yours truly – if you’ve ever wanted to pay a visit to good ol’ Nashville, Tennessee – and more importantly, if you’ve ever wanted to take your brilliant idea to the next level, there’s no better time than now.

You’ve got ONE WEEK to apply! Consider this your countdown…

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The Wheels Are Spinning

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The wheels are spinning. That was my first thought as I opened my eyes around 4:30am today. A Sunday. The Sunday before Christmas. A time that I told myself would be about rest and relaxation – and yet, I find myself compelled to do something – to be productive – to get “ahead of the game”.

Getting “ahead of the game” is something I’ve been working toward for years now. And sure, while you can be more prepared for what’s ahead – while you can feel better about the direction you’re headed, you’ll never, ever truly be “ahead of the game”. So while this idea plagues me – keeps me up at night and waking early in the morning, I’m self-aware that no amount of productivity and hustle will ever pave a road without obstacle.

Instead of fighting the wheels from spinning – instead of closing my eyes and going back to bed for another hour of rest, I inevitably always find myself waking up. But it’s not the waking up that I have a problem with – it’s what I’m doing with those few early waking moments that concerns me.

As a business owner – I immediately result to a “what needs to get done” kind of attitude. My early mornings are often spent sending off emails. Catching up on projects. Writing proposals. You get the idea.

I’ve lost track of what I’d really love to spent the first part of my day doing: Reading, writing, running…simply allowing myself a little (head)space to think and find solace in creating. This is because to often I (and we) ask ourselves, “What’s the point?” – and allow the answer to stifle the wheels from spinning.

What’s the point if anyone reads this? It’s not going to make me a bestselling author. What’s the point if I run right now? I’m still going to complain about the shape I’m in tomorrow. What’s the point of reading? Is it really going to make me any smarter or more creative?

The point is – there isn’t always a clear point. The point is that there’s something about the act of simply doing – of writing, reading, creating, exercising, breathing, that inherently has an effect on everything else in your life. Your level of stress – your ability to problem-solve, your confidence…

This morning I woke up and as the wheels began to spin I found myself thinking about all the work I needed to get done over the holiday break. All the emails – all the planning – all the thank you notes to write. It took literally 30 seconds for my heart to speed up and my tension level to rise. Then I grabbed my computer and a copy of Simon Sinek’s Start With Why - a book I’ve skimmed the past several months but haven’t had the chance (ahem, made the chance) to dive into. I wrote this and when I’m done I’ll enjoy a little coffee and read 100 pages. I haven’t and I’m not going to open my email, check Twitter, Instagram, or any of my other typical morning routines.

Of course, my brain is already asking, “What about tomorrow? Can you keep this routine up? What’s the point? Are you SURE there’s not something better you can do with your time?!”

Tomorrow will no doubt be a struggle to make time for what matters – just like today – just like this very moment as I write these words. Today, though, I’m not going to focus on getting ahead – I’m not going to focus on what I COULD be doing.

Today I’ll take one small step toward the bolder leap of what I know I should be.

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A Good Old Fashioned Look at Getting Shit Done.

Maybe I’m old fashioned.

I’ve had a job since I was 15. I started down the path of earning a paycheck with a summer stint bagging groceries at the local market. And ever since, I’ve earned everything that’s come my way.

I bought my first car from my mom for Kelly Bluebook value. I’ve paid the bills – paid the rent – bought two more cars, took out a mortgage, traveled around this fine country, and started a company all with my own two hands. My determination and my willingness to work hard – something that is vastly overlooked as a true skill in today’s day and age, is what’s led me to where I find myself today.

Through my life I’ve been building and creating – and I’ve barely slowed down. Sure, at times it has been demanding, exhausting, and outright frustrating. But its also been incredibly rewarding and fulfilling to see what one person can create if he’s willing to put in the time and effort. When he’s willing to, through all obstacles, continue putting one foot in front of the other.

I’m not entirely unique in possessing this work-ethic, but I’ve found in my experience that it’s more of an asset than I realized. Many of us aren’t willing to work hard and invest ourselves fully into our work. Maybe that’s because many of us have yet to discover work that truly does “matter”. Maybe it’s because many of us have the perspective that work will always be “just a job”.

I read something the other day that said, “Work at least as hard as you party”. It struck me as incredibly poignant. You would of course be willing to work tirelessly for that something you’d consider to be a “dream job”, right?

The question is, are you willing to work tirelessly to get there? Are you willing to hustle now for the promise of a more prosperous, fulfilling future? 

Those we admire and respect (maybe even envy) who have awesome jobs and are doing brilliant, amazing work didn’t simply arrive. They hustled. They grinded. They came in early. They stayed late. They asked questions and experimented and tried and failed. And you know what? They still haven’t arrived. The work ethic they possessed to get them to where they are is still just as critical to possess once you’ve achieved the success you’ve worked for.

Ask yourself this daily: Is today worth it? 

If it isn’t, find a way to pivot your focus. If it is, you know as well as I do that nothing can stand your way. Either way, keep moving forward. Keep working.

The life you want to create for yourself is forged through the triumphs, failures, high-fives, frustrated rants, and hard work that happens along the way.

How my blog stifled my passion for writing.

Nearly five years ago I started writing. Not necessarily writing for me. Writing for you. Five years ago I bought a domain, designed a pretty WordPress theme, and started writing about what I knew people wanted to read. Some of it I wanted to read myself, but a lot of it was to gain subscribers/followers/fans and build a platform for myself that allowed me to start my own company.

And It worked. If I hadn’t ever become a content creator – if I hadn’t ever put myself and my thoughts out there for the world, I know damn well I wouldn’t be where I am today.

Eventually, though, the song and dance of getting people to read, share, like, and follow you gets old. It gets old because you find yourself lost in a place that you never really wanted to be in. Writing becomes a chore – a means to an end toward a goal of gaining readers and making sales.

I eventually found myself contributing to the noise – instead of breaking through it. I’d spend 30 minutes writing and another hour editing, looking for the perfect picture to pair with the articulate, making sure there were easily sharable quotes so my 10,000 Twitter followers would share my wisdom with the world. It was so little about the actual writing and so much about the presentation. In short, it got old and I got bored.

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The Choice of Leadership

Steal Like An Artist

Very few people have the will — the capacity — to show up and follow-through every single day.

What does it mean to be a leader? How does one lead effectively? These are questions I’m asking of myself these days — as I focus on growing my company, growing personally, and as I help others in growing their own ideas. Growth that isn’t about fame, recognition, or a huge paycheck, but rather — about purpose.

You lose sight of that purpose as you become allured by the quick fix — the easy way out — the blogs and consultants and coaches and books out there that define how to get the best results with minimal effort. The complacency of “reality” sets in, you lose focus of why you got started, and you take on the role of a wanderer as your search for answers.

It would be a helluva lot easier to grow fast. It would be easier to say “yes”. It would be easier to be the kind of leader that aligns all of the cogs to create a well oiled, efficient, money-making machine. You and I could be doing a lot less and making a lot more money, but neither of us would be nearly as happy as we could be. As we should be.

Leadership is synonymous with follow-through. Great leaders ask questions, evaluate the present, plan for the future, and navigate toward specific solutions.

Follow-through is the most valuable asset to any leader. [tweet]

Leaders confidently say yes. More importantly, leaders confidently say no. Want to earn the respect from those around you? Want to really shake things up? Try saying “no” to a seemingly obvious “yes”. Leaders understand that the right thing to do and the hard thing to do are very often the same.

Leading effectively demands accountability. Leadership is about setting clear goals, even if the path to get there isn’t completely understood. Strong leaders take ownership of their role, but welcome and facilitate ongoing collaboration. Leaders align and cultivate ideas. They question and tinker and experiment but most importantly, they follow-through. They keep showing up. Every. Single. Day.

“The world, as it is, is not a permanent reality, but is a temporary product of our choices as creators.” — Bryant McGill

As creative professionals. As leaders. As human beings. We have one power that lies within our control. That power is choice. We choose how to act. We choose what to pursue. We choose when and how to follow-through. The only question, then, is “what will you choose?”

I’m going to continue to choose to lead a life of purpose — on purpose. I’ll choose to be intentional about what I write. I’ll choose to be deliberate about who I hire. I’ll choose to let others push me. I’ll choose to ask “why”. I’ll choose to admit when I don’t know something and I’ll choose to speak up when I do. I’ll choose to confidently say “no” to work that I shouldn’t be doing. And I’ll choose to say “yes” to the good things that come my way.

Leadership isn’t something you’re given. Leadership is a choice. Whatever may lie in front of you — it only seems impossible because it hasn’t been done yet.

Choose to show up. Choose to follow-through.

The world is counting on you.