Reformation Designs http://www.reformationdesigns.com In Your Face Visual Media Sun, 10 Apr 2016 04:07:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 What To Do When You Don’t Want to Do Anything http://www.reformationdesigns.com/dont-want-anything/ Tue, 01 Mar 2016 20:08:32 +0000 http://www.reformationdesigns.com/?p=4980 The post What To Do When You Don’t Want to Do Anything appeared first on Reformation Designs.

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We all have days where we just aren’t feeling like doing much of anything.

On those days I find it’s usually best to make it a point to do something fun and relaxing.

You know, instead of trying to force yourself to power through things that you’re having a really difficult time focusing on.

Don’t just sit and stare at a screen when you feel like you simply can’t write.

Don’t just stare blankly at an empty canvas and continue to get frustrated with yourself.

Change the scenery - go for a walk - do something you enjoy.

Even a fifteen minute walk could do you a world of good when you’re in a creative slump.

This is about finding inspiration in most cases.

There is a lot of research that suggests that our subconscious minds are constantly working in the background looking for solutions to problems we are facing.

Sometimes the best thing you can do to fix the problems you are facing is to take a break and remind yourself that we work to live - we don’t live to work.

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Competition Vs Collaboration: Some Thoughts http://www.reformationdesigns.com/competition-vs-collaboration/ Sun, 28 Feb 2016 22:14:39 +0000 http://www.reformationdesigns.com/?p=4990 The post Competition Vs Collaboration: Some Thoughts appeared first on Reformation Designs.

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I’ve been re-reading a book that I haven’t looked at in years. The book is called “Awareness” by Anthony DeMello.

I wanted to share some thoughts on a particular section of it.

“There’s an American doctor who wrote about the effect of competition on his life. He went to a medical school in Switzerland and there was a fairly large contingent of Americans at that school.

 

He said some of the students went into shock when they realized that there were no grades, there were no awards, there was no dean’s list, no first or second in the class at the school.

 

You either passed or you didn’t.

 

“Some of just couldn’t take it,” he said. “We thought there must be some kind of trick here.”

 

So some of them went to another school. Those who survived suddenly discovered a strange thing they never noticed at American universities:

 

[They saw] students, brilliant ones, helping others to pass, sharing notes. His son goes to medical school in the United States and he tells him that, in the lab, people often tamper with the microscope so that it’ll take the next student three or four minutes to readjust it. Competition. 

They have to succeed. They have to be perfect.

 

– Anthony DeMello, “Awareness” - pg 91-92

 

I remember reading this years ago when I was taking some classes in New York City. The concept blew my mind. Here I was in one of the most competitive, angry, bustling, overwhelming cities in the world - and I found myself wondering what this country would look like if it functioned that way.

I found myself wondering what business would look like when we functioned in a manner that was conducive to everyone’s success, not just our own.

I found myself wondering what the world would look like if we always thought of the benefit of all of us instead of just some of us.

Of course, this is what we were all taught in preschool.

You know, things like “kindness” and “sharing” and “cooperation”.

And then somewhere along the line we were taught (or we experienced things) that competition is the only way to get ahead. And in the midst of that, we were presented a world view that has people pushing one another down in order to get ahead themselves.

That’s not a world view that I adhere to.

That is not a world view that fosters human progress.

I am by no means saying I have mastered this - but I have made it my intention for quite some time now to do what I can to always help those around me - even if by traditional standards those people are my “competition”.

I believe that collaboration and cooperation will always lead to more creativity than competition.

Do you?

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Have To Vs. Want To: Thoughts After Escaping the 9-5 http://www.reformationdesigns.com/have-to-versus-want-to/ Sat, 27 Feb 2016 08:21:30 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=4498 The post Have To Vs. Want To: Thoughts After Escaping the 9-5 appeared first on Reformation Designs.

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It’s been over a year since I’ve posted on this blog - mostly due to my own decisions to pull back from some of my public writing in order to reflect.

For the entire year, there has been this nagging pressure that I “have to” keep posting more content.

I hate feeling like I “have to” do something.

It’s a mental pressure that I have wrestled with for as long as I can remember…but I know it wasn’t always that way.

I didn’t notice it getting bad until I officially left the 9-5 back in 2009.

It was around that time that I was managing a book store in Fairfield, New Jersey and hating every second of it.

I hated waking up super early and sitting in traffic just so that I could have people argue with me about why I couldn’t give them extra discounts on already low-priced items all day.

I hated the laundry list of asinine orders from the people sitting in their ivory towers atop their corporate pyramid.

It wasn’t so much the fact that they were giving us things to do - it was how disconnected from reality their requests were because it had been so long since they’d been in the trenches of retail.

If you’ve never worked retail, you wouldn’t get it.

But if you have, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

If I could sum up pretty much every corporate retail e-mail or “higher-up” request I ever received while doing my time in the 9-5, it would go something like this:

——

Hello (insert manager name here),

“Put all of these items in this exact order, in this (insanely short, unrealistic) amount of time, and do it along with the seventeen other “must-be-done” things and still run the store efficiently while you’re understaffed and everyone’s underpaid (but us at the top, of course).

We are sending out a regional manager to come verify your progress by the end of the week.

If all of this isn’t done by (insert date here), then (insert unreasonable punishment here).

Any feedback that you or your team may have is welcome (but we will completely ignore all of it and disregard any good ideas that you have because that’s how corporate do.)

Thanks for all the great work you do at (insert company here)! We really appreciate all of your hard work (without it, we wouldn’t be able to go on all these cruises or play so much golf.)

Sincerely,

A. Boss

——

See, it was this “have to” thing that really turned me off from the whole system in general.

I get that things need to be done in order for progress to be achieved - but it’s all about the way in which you go about asking someone to do something that will determine the result you’re going to get from them.

The most frustrating thing about all of it was that even if you WOULD somehow manage to hit corporate’s insane requirements, they would then raise the standards by which they treated your store every time after that.

If you’ve seen Office Space, you know the scene with Jennifer Aniston in the restaurant?

How she was doing exactly what she was told but it still was never quite good enough?

That is exactly what its like working in a typical retail management environment.

It’s no wonder turnover is so high. It isn’t the employees. It’s the (lack of) leadership.

Just look at some of the headlines lately about the minimum wage and work force in our country. The walk outs. The unions forming. The protests. Lower wages but longer hours. Working 2 and 3 jobs just to make ends meet. Many of these people have college degrees and tons of student debt, but the jobs just aren’t there that they were promised when they filled out that FAFSA.

Things have changed. Dramatically. And the powers that be want to keep things exactly as they’ve been since the Industrial Revolution - with a handful of people at the top of the pyramid calling the shots and making all the money while the peons do all the work.

It won’t last.

People are upset because they’ve realized that they are actually important elements to keeping some of these larger corporations functioning, but they now see how unfairly many of them are being treated and how underpaid they are for how hard they work.

There are people who insist that things are just fine how it is - and they’re delusional. The people who think like that are the ones who have forgotten what its like to be in the trenches of the retail and food service industry jobs that are in many ways the foundation of what keeps things moving the way they do.

And all the while, they maintain that it “has to be” this way or that way.

So for me, I started tuning it out right away.

It was one of the main reasons that my wife and I decided to go into business for ourselves in the first place - because we were tired of taking orders all day.

I was the same way in school. I LOVE to learn - and I love to create and work and build and design - but when it came down to it, if whoever was teaching me or instructing me did so in a way where there was a “do this or else” or “you have to do this!” attitude, I tuned them out.

Probably much in the same way that you do.

Being self-employed has a lot of benefits - one of the main ones being that I can decide what my schedule is and when I’m going to work on the various projects we have for our clients around the world.

But at the same time - it can also be one of the most difficult things to get a handle on.

There isn’t anyone telling us what to do when I come into my office during the day. Or the night. Or whatever time in between.

There isn’t a list of things to do other than the ones that I’ve created for myself - and figuring out how to prioritize those to-do’s is one of the biggest hurdles for any business owner.

No one told me this when I started my first business. I didn’t have a five-year plan. I didn’t have a business model that I was following. I had just been freelancing since I was 15 on various creative projects so the thought was more along the lines of, “How hard could it be?”

If you have the same question and are considering starting your own business, the answer is “Harder than you ever could possibly imagine until you’re in the situation for yourself”.

But it’s also much more rewarding than I ever thought it would be. It’s the middle of the afternoon on a Monday and I haven’t even turned my phone on yet.

Why? Because writing and creating content for our business and our brand is our priority. I have had to sever the digital leash that our technology has created for everyone - and disconnect from constantly checking e-mail to see what everyone else wanted me to be doing in that moment.

Author and speaker Brendon Burchard says it like this: “Your inbox is a convenient organizational system for other people’s agendas”.

I still wrestle with that “have to” feeling - but these days it is in noticing that I’m feeling that way that has helped me stop it in its tracks.

If you’re anything like me, it’s really easy to get in the habit of waking up first thing in the morning and checking email and social media.

Then you scroll, scroll, scroll…and an hour has passed. I never feel good about myself afterwards either - do you?

Its like this empty feeling shows up when you realize you’ve just been digitally browsing around for something more interesting than the current moment and situation in front of you - and how often do you ever find that feeling of fulfillment you’re scrolling for, anyway?

So I do my best to make it a point to read a book and write first thing in the morning. Not because I have to. But because I WANT to.

And that’s the kicker.

That’s the thing that really has helped me change habits that have been long-standing and irritating.

That is, changing my mental focus from the prevailing “have to” mentality to a “want to” mentality.

How many times have you told yourself or others that you “have to” or “should” or “need to” get to the gym?

How’s that working out for you?

I can all but guarantee that the people you know who have made the biggest positive lifestyle changes are those who got themselves out of “have to” mode and shifted into “want to” mode.

It may seem simple, but just try it.

Pay attention to how many times people tell you that they “have to” or “need to” or “should” do something.

Pay attention to how often your own subconscious thoughts sound like that - and then pay attention to how stressed out you feel over the fact that you’re not actually doing those things that you feel that you need to be doing.

Again, how’s that working out for you? (I say this as someone who struggles with it myself).

Giving in to all those “shoulds” in your life doesn’t help you. It destroys productivity. Checking social media and telling everyone what you are up to all of the time doesn’t really benefit you, does it?

It distracts you from the things that are really important to you.

I still wake up and feel that nagging, “What if I’m missing something? What if someone needs us?” feeling - but I’m learning to curb it and ignore it. Not even ignore it…but to DEFY it.

Having the freedom to defy the “have to’s” of the world and instead focus on what’s actually important to me and those that I care about?

There’s nothing like it in the world.

You should try it some time.

If you want to, that is.

😉

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Just Breathe http://www.reformationdesigns.com/just-breathe/ Tue, 13 Jan 2015 12:30:01 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3385 Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I have a hard time sticking to the schedule I have set for myself. Why? Because there’s almost always something that happens while I’m sleeping where a client needs my help or someone is asking me to call or e-mail them back right away. One of my […]

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Sometimes when I wake up in the morning, I have a hard time sticking to the schedule I have set for myself.

Why?

Because there’s almost always something that happens while I’m sleeping where a client needs my help or someone is asking me to call or e-mail them back right away.

One of my favorite quotes is from Brendon Burchard —

“Your inbox is a convenient organizing system for other people’s agendas.”

I find myself *infinitely* more productive and at peace throughout the day when I don’t check my e-mail or social media first thing in the morning.

I’ve even gone so far different times as making a custom wallpaper for my phone that says things like “READ A BOOK” or “STAY OFFLINE” to remind me that I am the one in control of my agenda and how I spend my time.

It’s not always easy, and I’m certainly not always perfect at it — but over the last year especially I have made it a point to seriously cut back on how much time I spend *responding* and *reacting* and focus instead on creating and building.

There are an infinite number of distractions flying at us every day — and that number is only increasing.

However, with the right tools, a good bit of discipline and hard work, and laser sharp focus you can cut through the BS and really make something that will leave a legacy and help a lot of people.

For me, that’s what is important. I want to create companies that help move the human race forward. I want to build businesses and organizations that empower people around the world to do what they love.

I want to help turn ideas into reality.

And for me to do that, I need to remember to just breathe when I feel my brain kicking into overdrive.

I need to sit back and stop what I’m doing when the external demands on my time and attention begin to dictate my direction.

Obi Wan said it well in Episode II:

“Patience. Use the force. Think.”

If you’re feeling stressed out about the things you feel you absolutely need to do, take a deep breath.

Slow down. And remember that only you can decide what it is that you’re going to do with your time.

And hey, if you’d like some assistance with managing your time and energy, please make sure to download a free copy of the workbook I designed to help you do just that.

 


 

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Dance in the Rain http://www.reformationdesigns.com/dance-rain/ Tue, 06 Jan 2015 19:59:53 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3338 Since I officially started my own business several years ago, I have run into more obstacles than I can even begin to count or recall. Many of those obstacles have been external - things like city regulations, figuring out taxes (still insanely confusing), budgeting, and the occasional drama with clients or prospective clients. However, if […]

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Since I officially started my own business several years ago, I have run into more obstacles than I can even begin to count or recall.

Many of those obstacles have been external - things like city regulations, figuring out taxes (still insanely confusing), budgeting, and the occasional drama with clients or prospective clients.

However, if I’m really honest with myself, the majority of the obstacles I’ve encountered have been internal.

That is, issues with my own perspectives, thought processes, or decisions that have prevented me from achieving the goals that I would like to.

Things like constantly trying to be perfect in everything I do or second guessing whether or not something is good enough.

I’ve come across a lot of great pieces of writing lately from others around the world that have helped me immensely - and if you are reading this now, allow me to sum it up for you:

Life is going to be a series of ups and downs - some that you can control, and a whole lot that you can’t.

If you are constantly waiting for some perfect moment to do that thing you’ve been wanting to do, you’re never going to do it.

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storms to pass; it is about learning to dance in the rain.”

- Unknown

To “dance in the rain” means learning to find joy in the midst of even the most trying and frustrating circumstances.

It is a choice. Not a feeling.

When you choose to change your perspective from worst-case-scenario thinking to “how could I turn this around and benefit myself and my loved ones?” - you will find magic there.

Embracing uncertainty is not something that has ever been comfortable for me…hell, I don’t think it’s ever comfortable for anyone.

But when we learn to let go of trying to control everything and ride the waves that come instead of allowing them to keep us down, the world around you starts looking a lot brighter.

There are no rainbows without those storm clouds.

Look for that silver lining and lean into it.


dance in the rain prints

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We Don’t REALLY Know Anything http://www.reformationdesigns.com/dont-really-know-anything/ Mon, 05 Jan 2015 19:30:23 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3324 I’m 31 years of age as of the moment I’m writing this. I have spent 31 years of my life trying to figure things out, attempting to understand the deep inner workings of the universe and the strange circumstances we all find ourselves in. What strange circumstances? Here’s a few off the top of my […]

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I’m 31 years of age as of the moment I’m writing this.

I have spent 31 years of my life trying to figure things out, attempting to understand the deep inner workings of the universe and the strange circumstances we all find ourselves in.

What strange circumstances?

Here’s a few off the top of my head.

We’re floating on a spinning blue rock in space.

Our minds process information at a lightning fast speed.

We can TALK. Think about that for a second. You don’t even have to think about talking. You can just do it.

That blows my mind.

Our bodies are constantly working unconsciously to keep us alive.

Almost all of us carry a computer in our pocket that is thousands and thousands of times more advanced and smaller than computers that existed just a few decades ago.

And it’s not just a computer - it’s a phone, it’s a web browser, it’s a camera, it’s a digital music or art creation device…

And most of those computers can somehow translate your finger tapping on a piece of glass or plastic as an ‘input’ and then instantaneously respond.

I mean…really.

Think about that for a second.

Think about some of the things that we just take for granted as “normal” and realize how precisely NOT “normal” they are.

When I ask someone how something works, I’m usually presented with a very matter-of-fact answer.

“Oh, the transistors process this and the electrodes process that and then our Bluetooth nodes wirelessly project blah blah blah…”

None of those types of answers actually satisfy my question of…”Yeah, but HOW?”

I suppose I’m just at a point in my life where I am attempting to recapture the child-like wonder and awe of the world around me.

The people who seem to be the power-brokers of our planet are often the ones who have created a massive illusion around them; the illusion that they have everything figured out.

At 31 years of age, I can firmly say that just about the only thing that I have figured out is how little I actually have figured out.

Sometimes I just sit and look down at my hands and move them slowly, wondering about the intricacies of how it all works.

We are very fascinating creatures and I’m at a point in my life where I have to stop pretending that I know everything.

I believe if we are all honest with ourselves that we would arrive at the same conclusion: we have the same questions deep down that every person who has come before us has had.

“Why am I here?”

“What’s all this for?”

“What do I do now?”

“Does any of it even matter?”

For me, I have had to make the decision to forgo a large number of the doctrines, mindsets and traditions that were handed to me over the years.

I have gleaned a lot of wisdom from those who have come before me, both in learning what to do and a whole lot of what NOT to do.

But at the end of the day, I’ve come to a place where instead of allowing someone else to tell me what it is that I’m “supposed to” be doing, I have chosen to take the hard road of figuring that out for myself.

It’s easy to go to a business, political or religious meeting and have some charismatic speaker tell you all of the things that you ought to be doing with your life.

Heck, I’ve been that guy different times.

It’s easy to get people to follow you when you have become a master at making it look like you’ve got all your shit together.

It is a lot harder to be vulnerable and admit how little you actually do know.

It’s much more difficult to bare your soul and your insecurities and let those around you become aware that you’re struggling to figure something (or everything) out.

But for me, I have found a strange paradoxical peace in doing so.

I no longer feel the pressure to be the go-to answer guy that I used to be.

I don’t feel like it’s my responsibility to get anyone to believe anything the way that I do.

Part of that comes from realizing that most days, I don’t even really know what I believe - let alone trying to convince someone else of it!

So that’s what I mean when I say that we don’t really know anything.

We are all in this together - and it has taken me a long while to arrive at some of these conclusions - but I do believe that great days are ahead as more and more of us recapture the wonder that we used to have about the world around us.

As far as I see it anyway, it is in the midst of that wonder and that curiosity that incredible things are discovered.

Search on, dear traveller.

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Book Review: Show Your Work by Austin Kleon http://www.reformationdesigns.com/showyourworkreview/ Sat, 27 Dec 2014 04:29:53 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3314 I decided to start sharing more of the behind-the-scenes and the things that inspire me as an artist and a business owner. Austin Kleon’s latest book, “Show Your Work!” is one that I can’t recommend highly enough. Check out the video for three of the main things I took away from this book as well […]

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I decided to start sharing more of the behind-the-scenes and the things that inspire me as an artist and a business owner.

Austin Kleon’s latest book, “Show Your Work!” is one that I can’t recommend highly enough.

Check out the video for three of the main things I took away from this book as well as some quick tips that you can apply right away.



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On Inspiration http://www.reformationdesigns.com/inspiration/ Tue, 16 Dec 2014 18:57:44 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3302 If you have been doing any type of “creative” work for awhile now, this should resonate with you. If you haven’t, allow it to enlighten you. Inspiration isn’t often something that just falls out of the sky and lands in the brain of a “creative type”. Inspiration is something that you usually have to go […]

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If you have been doing any type of “creative” work for awhile now, this should resonate with you.

If you haven’t, allow it to enlighten you.

Inspiration isn’t often something that just falls out of the sky and lands in the brain of a “creative type”.

Inspiration is something that you usually have to go find.

The “creative spark” is most times something that you’ve got to start on your own.

Even if that means going somewhere to get inspired - it still starts with you.

If there is one thing that I wish I could get people to understand, it is that you are the one who ultimately makes the choice about what you are going to do with your life.

You may have had years of conditioning that told you that your art or your music just wasn’t good enough, or that you’d never be a writer.

You may have had family and friends look down upon you for choosing to forge your own path in the world instead of following the heavily traveled ones.

But it is up to you what you are going to do from here.

If you are looking for “inspiration” to fall out of the sky and encourage you to go after what you love, then maybe this is it.

And maybe next time you’ll realize that you went and found it in the first place!


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Not All Who Wander Are Lost http://www.reformationdesigns.com/not-all-who-wander-are-lost/ Wed, 10 Dec 2014 01:22:41 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3295 Tolkien had it right when he said “Not all who wander are lost”. When you were younger, there’s a pretty good chance that you didn’t have a five-step plan for how you were going to explore your back yard. I’m willing to bet that you didn’t have spreadsheets full of data about the insects that […]

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Tolkien had it right when he said “Not all who wander are lost”.

When you were younger, there’s a pretty good chance that you didn’t have a five-step plan for how you were going to explore your back yard.

I’m willing to bet that you didn’t have spreadsheets full of data about the insects that you found under those rocks you overturned.

There’s also a very high probability that you didn’t have a list of your short, mid, and long-term goals with you as you wandered about and creatively expressed yourself.

Look, I completely understand the importance of organization, planning, focusing on achieving your goals.

I wrote a book on the topic, for goodness sakes!

However, in any creative pursuit it is important to remember the validity of wandering.

If you are struggling to complete a project or having a hard time getting the creative juices flowing, consider taking a walk outside for a bit.

Traipse about in the woods or in your garden…or if that’s not an option, try going to a new coffee shop.

Change up your routine and your scenery with no agenda.

You will be surprised at the inspiration you may find as you switch things up a bit.

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Show Up and Just Don’t Quit http://www.reformationdesigns.com/show-quit/ Wed, 03 Dec 2014 22:26:03 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3254 You never know when that “big break” is going to come. The one main thing that separates the people who end up succeeding in their pursuits and those who don’t is the resolve to keep moving forward despite the inevitable setbacks that will come. Maybe you’ve got to what feels like a few hundred networking […]

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You never know when that “big break” is going to come.

The one main thing that separates the people who end up succeeding in their pursuits and those who don’t is the resolve to keep moving forward despite the inevitable setbacks that will come.

Maybe you’ve got to what feels like a few hundred networking events trying to meet your next business partner.

Perhaps you’ve been trying for years to build a sizable following to find support for whatever cause it is that you are passionate about.

Or maybe you’ve just got a lot of hopes and aspirations that “someday” you’ll be a writer, or an artist, or a musician.

Whatever stage of life you’re at right now, know that you are ultimately the one who is responsible for how you respond to the roadblocks that arrive to impede your progress.

Your response to the events of your life will determine your results.

All of us hit low points - sometimes it can feel like that’s all that we’re experiencing.

Making a choice to be thankful for what you do have as opposed to being envious over what you do not will help you immensely if you are struggling in the pits of despair.

When you make a choice to show up and never quit…

When you decide to put in the work required to accomplish your goals no matter what happens…

When you can silence the distractions that shriek around you while the majority of your friends waste their time on frivolous pursuits and mindless television…

…that is when you will see the success that you are pursuing.

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Making This One Change to Your Routine Will Change Your Life http://www.reformationdesigns.com/routine/ Thu, 20 Nov 2014 02:19:02 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3244 When I woke up this morning, I told myself that I was going to do exactly what I’m about to share with you. I decided that I was going to push aside every other distraction and that the very first thing I was going to do was make myself a good breakfast and write. Much […]

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When I woke up this morning, I told myself that I was going to do exactly what I’m about to share with you.

I decided that I was going to push aside every other distraction and that the very first thing I was going to do was make myself a good breakfast and write.

Much like I anticipated, there were several things that occurred that began screaming for my attention.

A client showed up unannounced. I had to call our family doctor because of some bizarre issue with their system.

I got a phone call from some telemarketer in India (with a Texas phone number) who was trying to sell me a business loan.

And then three minutes later, I got a phone call from another company in Los Angeles trying to sell me some student loan program.

Shortly after that, I had some other incredibly agitating situations arise seemingly out of nowhere.

It actually felt comical after a little while.

It took me almost two hours just to blast through all the distractions that were trying to stop me from my morning routine!

And as per usual, the pressure was mounting to just say, “screw it!”, dive into my e-mail, look at all the other people whose agendas were going to demand my attention, and delay doing the very thing that I had set out to do.

You know, that thing that I don’t “have to” do - which is write these words and create.

But right now? I feel fantastic.

My phone is set to “Do not disturb” - my to-do lists are well out of sight, and I’ve got an awesome breakfast smoothie right here with me…even though it’s now approaching mid-afternoon.

And of course my cats are now *scratch, scratch, scratching* at my office door and causing a ruckus in the hallway.

But here’s the thing, dear reader:

If you want to do work that matters, you’ve got to focus on what’s important TO you BEFORE you do the stuff everyone else wants FROM you.

I’m talking about the kind of work that will leave you feeling accomplished and others feeling inspired. If we’re honest with ourselves - a lot of the things that we fill our days with is just busy work and taking orders from other people.

If you want to really get that book done that you’ve been wanting to write, or produce that album, or take that trip around the world, or get your art displayed to a wider audience…you’re going to have to settle it in your brain that those things need to be priority #1 and everything else gets to take the back seat.

Don’t devote the majority of your energy first thing in your day to checking phone calls, e-mail and social media.

You will inevitably get distracted and find that you’ve spent hours doing a bunch of busy work that never moves you closer to the realization of your goals.

Make it a point to take “me time” for at least the first hour or so of your day - you’ll be amazed at how much you can accomplish.

Do Work that matters Gumroad Banner

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Stop Wasting Time & Get This Book! http://www.reformationdesigns.com/stop-wasting-time-book/ Wed, 12 Nov 2014 21:11:16 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3232 It’s taken years to be able to actually say this…but I am happy to announce that today is the first time that you are able to purchase a book that I have written! It’s called “Stop Wasting Time & Burning Money: How to Crush Procrastination & Live the Life of Your Dreams” and we are happy to […]

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It’s taken years to be able to actually say this…but I am happy to announce that today is the first time that you are able to purchase a book that I have written!

It’s called “Stop Wasting Time & Burning Money: How to Crush Procrastination & Live the Life of Your Dreams” and we are happy to also provide you with a FREE workbook to go with it.

I worked with Lany Sullivan to bring you all a great resource for getting stuff done and blasting those procrastination monsters and dream killers to smithereens.

You can pick up the book on Amazon here or from our book’s home page at StopWastingTime.Today

Stop Wasting Time & get this today!

 

Get the FREE workbook!

 

Get the eBook on Amazon!

get my free workbook

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Why Your Thought-Life Should Be Your Primary Focus http://www.reformationdesigns.com/thought-life-primary-focus/ Tue, 04 Nov 2014 17:45:25 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3177 Every day we are bombarded with hundreds of thousands of thoughts. They can come via the endless array of advertising that we are subjected to in our daily lives. They can come from past arguments that we have had with people we care about. Or they can come from things we were told when we […]

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Every day we are bombarded with hundreds of thousands of thoughts.

They can come via the endless array of advertising that we are subjected to in our daily lives.

They can come from past arguments that we have had with people we care about.

Or they can come from things we were told when we were much, much younger.

Regardless of where those thoughts come from, it would do all of us well to realize that the things we do are a by-product of the things we think.

If you didn’t believe you could walk, you would never try.

In the same way, if you don’t think that you can accomplish whatever it is that you are attempting right now, there’s a pretty good chance that you won’t even bother moving forward with it.

Our thoughts make up the things that we do - and learning how to get rid of toxic thinking is a life-long journey that all of us can benefit from.

When those seemingly random thoughts come flying through your mind at a million miles an hour - the ones that tell you that you’ll never amount to anything and that you’re just going to be a miserable failure - that is the time to get intentional about your thinking.

That is the time to put your foot down and make an active decision to change your thought patterns.

One of the easiest ways I have found to snap out of those nasty moods is to create something. Whether that is a new piece of art, music or writing - it doesn’t matter.

The act of creativity will push aside those negative emotions and thought patterns in a relatively short period of time.

Reading also has helped me immensely to get rid of that “stinking thinking”.

Make the choice today to stay focused on what is important to you.

When those nasty thoughts show up, decide to defy the things they say to you - because you’re bigger than the sum of the bad things that have happened to you.

You do not have to let negative thoughts define who you are.


Dont let negative thoughts define you

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Using the Power of Focus to Boost Productivity http://www.reformationdesigns.com/power-focus-boost-productivity/ Mon, 03 Nov 2014 19:04:52 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3170 I’m the first to admit that I often can have a difficult time focusing on one thing at a time. If you’re at all like me, chances are that you have a million ideas running around in your head at the speed of light, all clamoring for your attention. I have found over the years […]

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The power of focus to boost productivity


I’m the first to admit that I often can have a difficult time focusing on one thing at a time.

If you’re at all like me, chances are that you have a million ideas running around in your head at the speed of light, all clamoring for your attention.

I have found over the years that it does not do me any good to multi-task.

In our hyper-connected world, we are tempted to constantly be checking our e-mail, our text messages, and all of our various social media accounts on a moment-by-moment basis.

We’ve all heard the studies that show that multi-tasking is incredibly damaging to productivity.

We know it deep down.

But man, can it be hard to do!

There are so many platforms these days to try and get your message out into the world - how do you know which one to focus on?

Over the last year especially, I have come to the conclusion that I am going to focus on creating content and keeping it on my own platform as the main area that I share things.

With all of these social media conglomerate companies popping up, using your own platform to share your message and focus your attention is the only way to really guarantee that you will have total control over the content and the delivery of it.

I get infinitely more done in the day when I pick one thing at a time to focus on.

Those “do not disturb” features on my phone and tablet come in handy more often now than ever before.

If you’re having a hard time deciding where to start on something - start small.

Pick the easiest thing to get done and turn your attention to it exclusively.

You’ll pick up momentum from there.

The old adage is true:

Follow One Course Until Successful (F.O.C.U.S.)

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The Key to the Success of Your Ideas http://www.reformationdesigns.com/key-success-ideas/ Tue, 28 Oct 2014 16:45:14 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3167 Everyone has ideas…but not everyone actually sees their ideas manifest into reality. In this 1 minute & 33 second video, I share some quick but practical tips for anyone who is wanting to unleash their own ideas into the world and wants to see any measure of success with those ideas.

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Everyone has ideas…but not everyone actually sees their ideas manifest into reality.

In this 1 minute & 33 second video, I share some quick but practical tips for anyone who is wanting to unleash their own ideas into the world and wants to see any measure of success with those ideas.

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Start Small to Gain Momentum http://www.reformationdesigns.com/start-small-gain-momentum/ Wed, 15 Oct 2014 16:45:23 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3159 We’ve all been there. You’ve got a to-do list that feels like will never end, and a large number of the things on it the types of things you’d rather do half past never. Either because they’re boring, time consuming, or just generally irritating “busy work” stuff that you wish you could just pay someone […]

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We’ve all been there.

You’ve got a to-do list that feels like will never end, and a large number of the things on it the types of things you’d rather do half past never.

Either because they’re boring, time consuming, or just generally irritating “busy work” stuff that you wish you could just pay someone to take care of for you.

Answering e-mails. Paying bills. Running errands.

You know - drudgery.

Often I find that those things end up taking up more space in my head when they’re on my to-do list than the amount of time it actually takes to just sit down and do them…which inevitably leads to you procrastinating getting the stuff done that you actually want to do.

So rather than allowing those tasks to sap you of your creative energy, try something different.

Think of it like a snowball rolling down a hill.

You’ve got to pick up some momentum.

Try picking the least time-consuming task and do that first.

Then do the next easiest one, and so on.

Before long you will find those tasks blasted into smithereens and picking up enough momentum to really get yourself “in the zone” and creating those epic masterpieces that you were born to make.


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On Patience http://www.reformationdesigns.com/patience/ Sat, 11 Oct 2014 05:26:47 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3151 Patience has never been one of my strong points. I often will joke with friends that I have the patience of a three year old in a toy store. However, as I grow in my understanding of the way the world works, I find that the really important things in my life end up coming […]

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Patience has never been one of my strong points.

I often will joke with friends that I have the patience of a three year old in a toy store.

However, as I grow in my understanding of the way the world works, I find that the really important things in my life end up coming to me after extended periods of time - almost as if there is some type of testing involved as to whether or not I really want what it is that I think I do.

There have certainly been many times throughout my life that I thought I wanted something - and I mean *really* thought I absolutely wanted it…and when I didn’t get it, I felt incredibly disappointed.

However, in retrospect - just about every one of those things ended up being something that I would have regretted having later.

Whether it was a career move, a relationship, or even some material thing, I have found consistently that there are often times when the things I think I want in a particular moment end up being things that would have prevented me from obtaining better things in the future.

I don’t always (read: never) understand why things sometimes play out the way that they do, but living my life with a quiet confidence that things will always work out for my good in the end has helped me maintain a healthy perspective.

It is a choice, really.

A choice to be content with the present moment, wherever I am and whenever I am.

A choice to focus on the here and now instead of dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.

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The Definitive Pricing Guide for Freelancers http://www.reformationdesigns.com/definitive-pricing-guide-freelancers/ Wed, 24 Sep 2014 09:19:44 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3109 I’ve been freelancing for about 10 years or so on and off - and of all of the articles out there, there’s one thing I’ve figured out for certain: Everyone has a different opinion on what works and what doesn’t. Some people insist that charging hourly is the only way to go. Others insist that […]

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I’ve been freelancing for about 10 years or so on and off - and of all of the articles out there, there’s one thing I’ve figured out for certain:

Everyone has a different opinion on what works and what doesn’t.

Some people insist that charging hourly is the only way to go.

Others insist that “value based pricing” is the absolute best way to do things.

If I’ve learned anything in the time I’ve been actually making money doing creative work, it can be broken down into 4 simple steps.

You’ve got to try a whole bunch of stuff

Fail. A lot.

Figure out what works for you.

Go from there.

There is no “one way” to do any of it.

It all just depends on what you’re willing to sacrifice, how much you’re willing to work, and how you want to go about doing it.

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Defying Your Limits http://www.reformationdesigns.com/defying-limits/ Fri, 08 Aug 2014 08:41:52 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3028 Every one of us is faced with the unfortunate reality that we can often be our own worst critics. How many times do you find yourself frustrated with the way things currently are in your life, only to allow your own perceptions of how you think things should be to cloud the joy of the […]

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Every one of us is faced with the unfortunate reality that we can often be our own worst critics.

How many times do you find yourself frustrated with the way things currently are in your life, only to allow your own perceptions of how you think things should be to cloud the joy of the present moment?

If there is one thing that I know I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember, it is learning to remain present within this moment and challenge the misconceptions I’ve believed about myself.

We can so easily feel like we’re stuck where we’re at and that we can’t ever change.

I know far too many people who believe the lie that they are “just the way they are”.

It breaks my heart to see that - because we all have such an infinite amount of potential.

One kind word to a stranger can save their lives.

One helping hand to an elderly woman can change her entire week for the better.

One phone call to let someone know you love them can be the difference between them choosing to jump off of a bridge or stay to face the issues that plague them…with a friend by their side.

The labels that we pick up come from all areas of life: work, church, school, parents, friends, enemies.

The way to break through them is to realize that we place those limits on ourselves.

We make the decision to believe in those limitations - just because someone said something about you that hurt your feelings does not make it true about you.

You are more than the sum of the things others have said of you.

I challenge you to defy the limits you’ve believed about yourself.

What are some things that you’ve believed about you that you would like to change?

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Make Time to Play http://www.reformationdesigns.com/time-play/ http://www.reformationdesigns.com/time-play/#comments Thu, 07 Aug 2014 20:20:55 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3015 Learning to play again is extremely important if you want to remain consistently creative. What were some of your favorite things to do as a kid? I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t balancing your checkbook, creating next month’s budget, or spending 40+ hours a week sitting in the same place, doing the same things. I […]

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Learning to play again is extremely important if you want to remain consistently creative.

What were some of your favorite things to do as a kid? I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t balancing your checkbook, creating next month’s budget, or spending 40+ hours a week sitting in the same place, doing the same things.

I loved building things when I was younger. Whether it was Legos, giant “waffle blocks”, or Play-Doh, I was always creating things out of nothing. Doing so is still a passion of mine today, hence why I write, draw, paint, and create many types of multimedia.

In our workaholic culture, the notion of “play” for play’s sake is about as foreign as can be. Even despite how many studies I’ve looked at and books I’ve read that prove that consistently taking time for recreation leads to a happier, more fulfilled life, it’s still a struggle for me sometimes.

I recently read a book called “Play It Away” by Charlie Hoehn that helped me immensely. Charlie worked actively alongside Tim Ferriss (author of the immensely popular book, The Four Hour Work Week) and found himself dealing with almost crippling anxiety and panic attacks as a result of the amount of time and energy he was putting into his work.

It took him awhile, but he figured out that he was dealing with a complete lack of recreation in his life. Once he re-discovered the “power of play”, his mental and physical health began to quickly turn around.

If you are the type of person who finds yourself losing sleep and your inner peace because of how much you’re obsessing about your work, I cannot recommend Charlie’s book highly enough.

There are a ton of tools, tips, and tricks in the book that will jump-start the creativity and care-free nature that we all had as children and get you enjoying your life again.

Find that thing that makes you come alive. Whether it is writing, painting, pottery, bird-watching, or heck…even if it’s building giant castles out of Legos…find that thing and carve out some time out of your insanely busy schedule to enjoy yourself.

You’ll be glad that you did.

 


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It’s good for you.

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The Grind http://www.reformationdesigns.com/grind/ Tue, 05 Aug 2014 21:19:25 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=3007 I don’t know about you, but for me? There are definitely days - and sometimes periods of weeks at a time - that I wonder if the work that I do even matters. Where I wonder if the words that I write, the images that I create, the products that I design, the videos I […]

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I don’t know about you, but for me?

There are definitely days - and sometimes periods of weeks at a time - that I wonder if the work that I do even matters.

Where I wonder if the words that I write, the images that I create, the products that I design, the videos I produce…if it’s even reaching the people that I intend it to reach or if I should just throw in the towel, bail out on the things I’m passionate about, and just go sit in a cubicle somewhere for the rest of my life.

Where I wonder if the books I’m writing are ever going to really go anywhere.

Where I wonder if the various dreams I’ve had for as long as I can remember will ever actually materialize.

I know that there’s more to life than work.

Sometimes I wonder where that life is - and as someone who firmly believes that we live the lives that we create for ourselves, it’s sometimes quite difficult when you see that life so clearly in your head…you try your damn hardest and think, “Maybe this time! Maybe this time someone will see this thing I’m working on, recognize me for it, and open doors to the success that I know is in my family’s future”.

I had a blog for several years that reached hundreds of thousands of people around the world - I made friends that have been there for my wife and I through some of the hardest times. But since I changed gears and chose to focus on building our business, I’ve noticed that I’ve gotten increasingly frustrated with the fact that it’s much more difficult nowadays to get anybody’s attention online.

Facebook changed their algorithms so that if you really want your content to reach the people who already claim to “like’ your stuff, you’d best be prepared to fork over cash to their investors.

It seems like every day there’s a new social network that comes out that is the “hot new thing” and I find myself just feeling disillusioned with all of it, trying to keep up.

I guess that’s all part of the journey…learning to change things when they’re no longer working, choosing to press on despite the set-backs and the frustrations that surely come.

I guess that’s the grind of this entrepreneur thing. Never really being sure what’s going to work, never really being sure what’s going to ‘make it’.

It comes down to a choice for me:

Will I choose to press on despite not seeing the results that I want or will I join the status quo and quit?

That question usually shakes me out of any funk I’m feeling.

Grind on.

Grind-On-Web-Version

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The Genesis of All Creativity http://www.reformationdesigns.com/genesis-creativity/ Sat, 26 Jul 2014 23:03:59 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2999 Everything starts with a blank page. Every world changing idea, every book, every poem, every new piece of artwork…it all starts at the same place. It starts at the intersection of apathy and emptiness and lies beyond that place where “the way things are” suddenly becomes “the way things were”. It starts when you decide […]

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Everything starts with a blank page.

Every world changing idea, every book, every poem, every new piece of artwork…it all starts at the same place.

It starts at the intersection of apathy and emptiness and lies beyond that place where “the way things are” suddenly becomes “the way things were”.

It starts when you decide to ignore the way things have been done before and forge a new path beyond the well-worn trails.

It all starts with a decision to put your pen to the blank page, your brush to the canvas, or when you decide to start tapping away at the keys.

The creative process is not one that just falls out of the sky and presents you with a brand new thing. It is a process by which you can strengthen yourself and sharpen your skills through repetition, practice, and more practice.

I hate this fact, personally. Growing up in a world of microwaves, TV-on-demand, and instant noodles - I have been conditioned to expect things instantaneously.

Try asking people how much they love patience and watch them cringe.

But I’m learning to appreciate the process.

I’m learning to appreciate how insanely creative all of us are and can be if we just make the choice to continue working at it.

And suddenly a page that was blank when I began no longer is - and inspiration, encouragement, and hope for the future has been created.

The next time you feel discouraged about whatever it is that you create - remember it all starts blank.

Put your pen to the paper, your fingers on the keys, your brush to the canvas, and just begin.


blank-page-web-version

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Be You. Unapologetically You. http://www.reformationdesigns.com/you-unapologetically-you/ Sat, 26 Jul 2014 00:32:21 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2990 When you set out to do anything on your own, there are an infinite number of questions, doubts, fears, and other obnoxious things that will harass you. They’ll come in the form of other people who have given up on their dreams and hopes. They’ll come in the form of family who doesn’t understand why […]

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When you set out to do anything on your own, there are an infinite number of questions, doubts, fears, and other obnoxious things that will harass you.

They’ll come in the form of other people who have given up on their dreams and hopes.

They’ll come in the form of family who doesn’t understand why you’d like to do something different than everyone else.

They will come in the form of friends who would rather get in line and hate their lives and their jobs than do the hard work of figuring out how to make it on their own.

They will come in the form of people who will try to tell you that your way is the wrong way and that their way is the right way.

The more I do this stuff…writing, creating, building my own business on my terms…the more I find that the best times I’ve had have been come when I have chosen to just be me.

When I’ve taken off the mask that our hyper-connected society tries to force on you - the one that tells you that you have to be all smiles, business cards and handshakes and spend all your time talking about shallow bullshit to get ahead.

I left the corporate scene because I was tired of how fake it all was.

Am I currently making the kind of cash that I could be if I was working for someone else?

Not even close.

But I have my soul.

See, I was tired of knowing that the people I was surrounded by were constantly just putting on a performance trying to impress each other.

I love acting and filmmaking - but I wasn’t around actors for filmmaking purposes. I was around people who had become actors because they had been conditioned to just act a certain way in the workplace.

I constantly felt like the kid in the Emperor Has No Clothes - while everyone just pretended like they didn’t know there was something off, the kid was the only one with the stones to say something about it.

It doesn’t make you popular with the people who spend their time trying to maintain the illusion.

But it does make  you some really real friends.

It brings people around you who are looking for something refreshing, something, dare I say it…”authentic”.

If you find yourself exhausted with going through all the motions, it might just be because you were never supposed to be going along with them in the first place.

So be you.

And don’t apologize for it.

You’re the only one who can be you, as cheesy as that sounds.

You’re robbing the world around you from your creative and original soul if you hide it.

You’re worth it.

Let me repeat that.

You - are - worth - it.


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The Worst Kind of Addiction http://www.reformationdesigns.com/worst-kind-addiction/ Thu, 24 Jul 2014 21:39:31 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2975 I have what some people would call an “addictive personality”. There have been times that I have struggled with a number of different addictions, but if I had to boil it all down to what the worst of all of them it would be one thing. The addiction to other people’s approval. I believe that […]

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I have what some people would call an “addictive personality”.

There have been times that I have struggled with a number of different addictions, but if I had to boil it all down to what the worst of all of them it would be one thing.

The addiction to other people’s approval.

I believe that addiction can spiral into so many other types - alcoholism, drug use, pornography, constantly checking social media and e-mail, a string of seemingly constant bad relationship decisions…

Because at the end of the day, if you’re constantly vying for the attention of and approval of other people rather than doing things that will help you, you’re robbing from yourself and even the people you want most to please.

When you focus on constantly worrying if you are pleasing other people, you self-sabotage.

You prevent yourself from creating something original.

You stop yourself from unleashing your own creativity into the world and bringing about a better future.

When you spend so much time in your head self-editing and worried about what others are going to think, you disarm your ability to create.

If the idea of saying or doing things that will offend other people terrifies you - whether it’s because you’re worried about losing your job, or a friendship, or anything else - ask yourself this:

“Are these things the kinds of things I want in my life anyway if they are built on lies?”

Do you want relationships in your life to be built on who you are, or how nicely you sit in the boat without rocking it?

How many times have you wished that you could just be open and honest about how you were thinking and feeling – knowing that there are other people in the room who feel the same - but being petrified of opening your mouth just out of fear that you’d upset the status quo?

If you feel that way - you’re not alone.

I’ve dealt with it too. A lot.

One of the ways I keep it at bay is to continue creating.

To continue putting new things out into the world.

To keep honing my craft when everything else around me is screaming to just give up on the dreams and hopes that I have.

Because I know deep down that there are people out there who have benefitted greatly from the journey that I have shared with them.

I know that there are people out there who would benefit from you sharing yours.

Do yourself and everyone else a favor - and don’t hide behind a digital mask.

Don’t waste your time or your energy trying to make everyone happy.

It will never happen.

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If You Want to Understand Success, Start Gardening http://www.reformationdesigns.com/understand-success-start-gardening/ Thu, 24 Jul 2014 05:06:50 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2969 One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Ralph Waldo Emerson: “The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.” Have you ever just held an acorn in your hand and thought to yourself, “I’m holding a potential forest right here”? It’s a powerful thing to realize that everything you do can […]

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One of my favorite quotes of all time is from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

“The creation of a thousand forests is in one acorn.”

Have you ever just held an acorn in your hand and thought to yourself, “I’m holding a potential forest right here”?

It’s a powerful thing to realize that everything you do can be likened to a seed.

When I started gardening a few years ago, I had no idea how much I would learn about the way the world works, how to see dreams of mine fulfilled, and the power of patience in doing so.

When you look at the work you do like you’re tending the garden of your future, it changes things.

Whether it’s creative work, art, writing, or something else entirely - looking at everything you do, every word you speak, and every action you take as a seed that you’re planting in the garden of tomorrow will alter your life forever.

IMG_6321 (Medium)

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Your Voice is Important http://www.reformationdesigns.com/voice-important/ Sat, 12 Jul 2014 00:58:47 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2959 One of the hardest things to believe in a day and age when we are bombarded with information is that what we have to say is actually relevant and important. We’ve all been programmed what to say, how to say it, and when to say it - but if you are reading this, I cannot […]

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One of the hardest things to believe in a day and age when we are bombarded with information is that what we have to say is actually relevant and important.

We’ve all been programmed what to say, how to say it, and when to say it - but if you are reading this, I cannot encourage you enough to speak what is in your heart and share what is on your mind with the world around you.

You’ve got to understand that inevitably there will be people who will not like what you have to say.

They may slander you, they may talk behind your back, and they may even avoid being around you at all costs - but know that is primarily because those types of people are too afraid to do the very things they complain about - namely, being unafraid to speak up.

In our hyper-connected social media world, we’ve been given the option to hide behind the digital mask that we create for ourselves online.

We’ve all played games online where you are given the option to create your own character, build a persona around it, and basically become a digital actor.

As a writer, I am intrigued by language, communication and the origin of words.

I find it interesting that the word “actor” can be traced back to the same Greek word from which we derive the word “hypocrite”…or “to play a part”.

Isn’t that what so many of us have been conditioned to do in the digital world?

To hide behind the digital masks and “play the part” of some kind of expert or guru?

I for one can’t do it. I hate pretending to be someone I’m not, and the pressure to conform to the standards that the business and social media world can put on you is just insane.

I wanted to write this today as an encouragement to you - if you have something that you believe deeply, say it.

Say it with conviction.

Say it like you mean it.

And don’t mind the haters.

They’re just jealous anyway!

your-voice-is-important

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How to Remove the WordPress Gallery Image Border http://www.reformationdesigns.com/remove-wordpress-gallery-image-border/ Mon, 12 May 2014 06:54:06 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2828 I searched for this for a long time before finally coming across this simple, but wonderful line of code. If you’re hosting your own WordPress site and can’t stand those grey borders around images in the WordPress Gallery, just insert this simple code in your custom CSS panel. Shoutout to Derry Birkett for helping me […]

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I searched for this for a long time before finally coming across this simple, but wonderful line of code.

If you’re hosting your own WordPress site and can’t stand those grey borders around images in the WordPress Gallery, just insert this simple code in your custom CSS panel.

Shoutout to Derry Birkett for helping me find this!

.gallery a img { border: 0 !important; }

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Create Something to Benefit Everyone http://www.reformationdesigns.com/create-benefit/ Sun, 27 Apr 2014 22:20:51 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2804 The way I see it, there are two types of people in the world. Those who endlessly produce new things and those who endlessly consume new things. As an artist and a writer, I do my best to stick to constantly creating new things that will benefit those who see what I have made. I […]

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create-something-websizeThe way I see it, there are two types of people in the world.

Those who endlessly produce new things and those who endlessly consume new things.

As an artist and a writer, I do my best to stick to constantly creating new things that will benefit those who see what I have made.

I don’t pay much attention to the news or popular media because, quite honestly, I feel like it dumbs me down. 

With so much fear-mongering in the popular media, I choose to keep my head clear of that garbage by putting my focus on creating new things that I believe will make the world a better place.

Whether that is inspiring art work, an encouraging piece of written material, or a video to champion those who are passionately pursuing their dreams, it doesn’t matter.

What matters to me is that I’m continually creating instead of continually consuming.

You never know how far something you have created will go…and it is one of the most encouraging feelings in the world to see someone wearing something I have designed or knowing that an inspirational quote image that we made is being seen by hundreds of thousands of people around the globe.

We didn’t get here overnight - and we’ve still got a long way to go before we’ve accomplished some of our bigger goals - but we would never have gotten anywhere if we had stayed on the bandwagon of constantly consuming all the media that is shoved in our face day in and day out.

I’m a huge fan of AdBlock Plus and various other web extensions that make my web-browsing more content driven and less ad-focused.

I sometimes forget that in a lot of ways the internet has turned into looking like a used car lot with all of the obnoxious advertisements everywhere, interrupting your web experience.

I just hope that someday those of us who are passionate about creativity and helping people will outnumber the ones that only care about making money and promoting their shady agenda.

So create something today that will make the world better!

You, and many others, will be glad that you did.


Merch Available


You can get the featured image on many types of merchandise (clothing, prints, phone cases, etc.) by clicking below.


create something tank

create something clock

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Your Perception Will Define Your Reality http://www.reformationdesigns.com/perception-define-reality/ Thu, 17 Apr 2014 00:55:25 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2777 One of the most frustrating things that you will encounter as an entrepreneur or as someone who is working towards the realization of your dreams is the inevitable failures that you’ll run into along the way. However, the way you perceive your problems will determine how you tackle them and ultimately overcome them. I’m the […]

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One of the most frustrating things that you will encounter as an entrepreneur or as someone who is working towards the realization of your dreams is the inevitable failures that you’ll run into along the way.

However, the way you perceive your problems will determine how you tackle them and ultimately overcome them.

I’m the first to admit that I like things done quickly. I envision changes in culture, businesses, and life in general quite easily and it can be easy for me to get caught up in the frustration of how long it can sometimes take to see the realization of just a single one of those changes. Let’s be honest, shall we? We all think that we know best and that if we had it our way, there’s countless things that we would change immediately!

Unfortunately (or probably in many cases, quite fortunately), that’s not how things work. Making real life changes takes work, persistence, faith, hope, and a willingness to admit error and learn from your mistakes.

Now, knowing that you will encounter obstacles is a huge advantage when you’re getting started in anything…because to be perfectly honest with you, when I got started in doing business for myself, I envisioned a smooth sailing adventure the whole way.

I was wrong. Very wrong.

This stuff is hard.

However, one of the main things that has helped my wife and I immensely has been our willingness to look past the problems that we encounter towards the future that we desire for ourselves and our family.

We have chosen to perceive our problems not as brick walls to stop us but instead as training to strengthen us. That’s not to say that there haven’t been (a lot) of times where my vision got cloudy and I felt like we would never be able to move forward and attain the dreams that we have. But as Andy Andrews writes in his Noticer novels, sometimes all you really need is a bit of healthy perspective.

Try this - think for a moment about a problem that you have been wrestling with for awhile. It could be financial woes, marital conflict, or maybe just a bad habit that you’ve been wanting to break.

Take note of how quickly feelings of despair, hopelessness, and blatant, miserable failure try to creep up on you. Now, instead of dwelling on those awful, obnoxious feelings - consciously choose to think about something you are thankful for.

It may be something as simple as being alive, having a roof over your head, or having a kitchen full of food to eat. Maybe it’s the fact that you even know how to read the words on this page.

It could be having friends and family that care about you and your well being. Maybe you got a promotion in the last six months. Or maybe you lost a job that, to be quite honest with yourself, you didn’t even like in the first place.

I have found that a great way to start changing the things that you see happen in your life is to be intentionally thankful about the good things that do happen and to keep track of them as best as you can.

Changing your perspective from worry, fear, and complaining to one of thankfulness, appreciation, and love is not always easy - but it does work wonders for your mood and overall outlook on life.

Evernote is a great program to look into if you want to start keeping an ever-growing list of things you are thankful for and appreciate. A good old fashioned journal that you keep by the side of your bed works wonders when you make a daily habit of writing down what you are thankful for when you wake up and when you go to bed at night.

Beginning and ending your day on an appreciative note will dramatically improve your outlook and perception of reality.

Have you ever been in a room and been perfectly content but also seen someone who was in the same room, experiencing the same situation, but that person was obviously quite frustrated or upset?

Was it the situation that was different or simply the other person’s perception of it?

Everyone you meet will have a different understanding of reality and the way the world works - but when you know that it is often our perceptions that define our own reality and not the outside situations themselves, it gives you an immense advantage.

You can choose to be upset over getting stuck in traffic - or you could take the time to listen to an audiobook that will help you learn and grow.

You can choose to be angry over not getting the promotion you know you deserved - or you could take the opportunity to begin looking for other work that you will enjoy more and be better appreciated in.

I have spent a lot of time over the years getting frustrated over things that I couldn’t control. I don’t want to spend the rest of my life doing that. I want to make the best of every moment.

I want to recognize opportunity in every difficulty. I want to embrace healthy changes for my life instead of getting stuck in old habits just for habit’s sake.

I don’t ever want to become like the naysayers who have squandered their talents in doubt and fear. I want to live life to the fullest and make a positive impact on this planet while I am here. Do you?


Your Perception Will Define Your Reality

 

Click here to hire us!

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How to Be Creative When You Think You Aren’t http://www.reformationdesigns.com/creative/ http://www.reformationdesigns.com/creative/#comments Sat, 12 Apr 2014 17:22:14 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2701 One of the most common things that I hear when I network with people outside my particular industry is that they “simply aren’t creative”. There are few things that make me cringe as much as that statement…for two reasons. First of all, any artist who has pursued their passion of creativity as a career will […]

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One of the most common things that I hear when I network with people outside my particular industry is that they “simply aren’t creative”.

There are few things that make me cringe as much as that statement…for two reasons.

First of all, any artist who has pursued their passion of creativity as a career will tell you that it is more work than most people can possibly imagine. It takes practice.

Lots, and lots, and lots of practice.

And secondly, because the more that people tell themselves and others that they are “simply not creative”, they will continue to believe and reaffirm that as a fact in their lives.

They’ll essentially give up on ever trying anything new that they would deem to be “out of their league” because, you know, they’re “not creative”.

In the age we live in, you can literally learn just about ANYTHING - for FREE - on the internet or in your local library. I’m just here to knock over all of your lame excuses!

Don’t know how to play guitar but want to?

Do a Google search or go on YouTube.

Don’t know how to draw comic book characters but would secretly like to?

See the above instruction.

This really isn’t rocket science!

You can call it a self-fulfilling prophecy, or negative reinforcement, or bad mantras, or psychology, or a combination of both…but the fact is that if I didn’t believe that I had the ability to create things that will impact those who see them in a positive way, I would never even bother to pick up a pen, or a stylus, or start typing on my keyboard.

I didn’t learn how to use Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator or Premiere Pro overnight.

I didn’t have a ‘natural’ ability to understand how to utilize these tools to unleash my own imagination and creative abilities. I made the decision to learn how to use them.

It took time. Lots and lots of time. And practice. Lots and lots of practice.

But before it took time, it took my willingness to even try.

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

- Pablo Picasso

When you were a kid, you had no problem drawing or painting whatever your imagination could conjure up.

You weren’t concerned about negative criticism or the fear of failure.

You were brimming with life, creativity, and passion simply because you weren’t concerned what other people were going to think of your creations and you believed you could do it.

And then you went to school and were convinced that the most important things in the world were the “non-artistic” subjects.

On top of that, your underdeveloped artistic abilities started getting letter grades slapped on them that ended up discouraging you from moving beyond what your cranky art teacher said about you.

Didn’t draw that still life in fifth grade as perfectly as that teacher wanted you to?

- You’re a failure.

Couldn’t hit that note in chorus because your vocal chords hadn’t fully developed and you were still practicing?

- You should stop singing. You don’t have the “talent”.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

I put together a simple infographic below that sums up the gist of creativity - at least as I have come to understand it in my 15 years as a graphic artist.

It’s really a lot less complicated than most people think - it takes the willingness to kill your self-doubt and TRY, and a heck of a lot of practice.

That’s it.

So what are you waiting for?

how-to-be-creative

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How to Stop Getting Ripped off by Your Clients http://www.reformationdesigns.com/stop-ripped-clients/ Thu, 27 Mar 2014 23:04:19 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2683 If you’ve been doing creative work to make a living for any length of time, you’ve inevitably run into some unfortunate and often very frustrating circumstances surrounding you getting paid what your time and skills should earn you. This three-minute video that was inspired by the art business consultant Maria Brophy will save you from […]

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If you’ve been doing creative work to make a living for any length of time, you’ve inevitably run into some unfortunate and often very frustrating circumstances surrounding you getting paid what your time and skills should earn you.

This three-minute video that was inspired by the art business consultant Maria Brophy will save you from countless future headaches and upsetting relationships with your clients…and it will help you realize how easy it is to STOP getting ripped off!

It’s really quite simple - so check out the video below and start saving yourself from those completely unnecessary frustrations.




Contact Us Today for Custom Design!


How to stop Getting Ripped off

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Hit it Til it Breaks and Just Don’t Quit http://www.reformationdesigns.com/hit-til-breaks-quit/ Mon, 17 Mar 2014 07:32:55 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2512 Picture this. You’re out in the woods and it is below freezing. The cabin that you and your loved ones are staying in suddenly lost power in the middle of a large snowstorm and there is currently no way to reach the property owner. Your family’s warmth and thus their survival is dependent on one […]

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Picture this.

You’re out in the woods and it is below freezing.

The cabin that you and your loved ones are staying in suddenly lost power in the middle of a large snowstorm and there is currently no way to reach the property owner.

Your family’s warmth and thus their survival is dependent on one simple thing: your ability to chop down a tree, bring the timber back to the cabin, and get a fire started.

Now, even though I’m not a lumberjack and I have never been in a life or death situation like this, I have chopped wood before.

And one thing I figured out very quickly when chopping wood is that it is a foolish thing to try and get the wood to split by hitting it in multiple different places.

The intelligent thing, naturally, is to keep swinging your axe in the same spot, weakening the wood until the tree comes down or the wood splits.

I use this simple illustration because it has recently occurred to me that in many ways since I started my own business I have done the equivalent of “hitting different spots”, rather than focusing on one area and “hitting it til’ it breaks”, so to speak.

But one thing that has kept me going throughout all of the ups and downs of starting and running my business has been the constant theme to just…not…quit.

My dad instilled in me from a very young age three simple words: “Never give up”.

If there are three words that could sum up everything that I have endured and experienced - from terrifying experiences to amazing opportunities - it would be those three words.

“Never give up.”

Figuring out what to focus on and how to go about achieving the success that I envision?

That’s been the hard part.

I’m going to share some of my history so you understand how I have come to this point.

I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in 2006.

Like millions of other people my age, I grew up hearing all about how important college degrees were if you wanted to have any chance of being “successful” and financially stable in “the real world”.

I also wanted to experience the freedom of not living at home anymore, so I, like many, many others, borrowed a good deal of cash to attend university.

While I learned a lot about how to run an organization from helping to start the Pittsburgh chapter of the Delta Chi fraternity (I served several terms in various capacities on the executive board), and while I met my amazing wife and best friend at school - there wasn’t really much of anything that I learned in my classes about how to run a business or be successful.

The routine was simple - get good grades, get the piece of paper, get a good job, and good luck paying back all that student loan debt.

Then things went sour in 2008 when the market took a downturn and unemployment rates started going up. It was around that time that I was working at a company doing sales merchandising in upstate New  York.

My boss had everyone join in on a conference call and informed us that they were going to be firing about half of the company because things weren’t looking so good.

Welcome to the “real world”.

Now, I had actually moved to New York away from my friends, family, and everything I knew to take this job.

I called my boss immediately after the conference call and with the limited service I had in Massena, NY (way upstate), he informed me that I wasn’t going to be let go, but that I was being offered a promotion - with one catch: I had to move to New Jersey and transfer to a different division.

I was devastated because I had just started getting involved with my local community in Syracuse and had made some really great friends - but obviously I was happy that I at least still had a job.

But this was my first real inclination that something was inherently wrong with the path that I was on and the things I had believed about the way to “make it” in the world.

I didn’t like feeling like at any moment, my financial security and well-being was in the hands of someone who hardly knew me and who, at the end of the day, really only cared about keeping their company afloat.

In a short period of time, I packed up everything and moved within 15 minutes of New York City.

I was doing sales merchandising for Toys ‘R Us - who is headquartered in New Jersey. I was excited to be living so close to one of the biggest and most influential cities in the world - but it didn’t take me long to realize that my “promotion” wasn’t much of a promotion because the cost of living was so much higher.

After some frustrating negotiations, I was able to get a higher pay rate - but it was still only about $15/hour.

Again, I started having those thoughts that something was wrong but I didn’t know what else to do.

Several months went by and I honestly couldn’t stand the job any more. I enjoyed the freedom I had (company car, they paid for my gas and travel expenses, etc.) but because I wasn’t making that much money, I had to start using the reimbursement money from my travel expenses to start paying back my student loans.

I figured out pretty quickly that going into debt was a bad decision. The hopelessness I felt at ever getting that burden off of my shoulders was like a living nightmare.

I never was really into math, but it didn’t take any kind of math genius to figure out that again, something was horribly wrong with the way this system was wired.

How could I possibly begin to think I’d ever pay off that much debt at the rate I was going?

It wasn’t long after this that I received an offer to manage a failing bookstore in Fairfield, New Jersey.

The previous manager would literally stack boxes to the ceiling and hide inside a little “box fort” and watch movies on his laptop while the employees would take money from the cash register and buy food from the McDonald’s from across the highway.

When I first saw the place I actually thought they were closing - but that was just how the store was run.

Boxes everywhere - debris, trash, and an overall sense of apathy that pervaded everything that happened in it.

“Fixer upper” was a huge understatement.

My starting salary would be about $12,000 more per year - I didn’t have any management experience, but the regional manager was desperate and anything would be better than the one they currently had.

I took the job and left my merchandising position - knowing deep down that “job security” would be much better if I was at least in some kind of leadership role.

I enjoyed the experience of helping turn things around - the store was in the bottom three of the company and within a year I had not only hired my replacement but we managed to get the store in the top ten or fifteen ranking out of over 300 stores.

I hired a new manager several months after I took the job because management is not something that I enjoy or excel at.

I’m much more the visionary type who can’t stand the rules and regulations that corporations typically put on their employees - rules and regulations that often end up stifling innovation and creativity and preventing maximum efficiency and overall success.

So after hiring a wonderful replacement - who still is running the store to this day - Laura and I got married and we drove across the country to California to begin the adventure of our lives.

You could say we were living on blind faith that things would work out - because at this point, we didn’t have any main source of income other than the support of friends and loved ones around the world and a few thousand dollars that we had received from our wedding.

After living in Northern California for a few months, we connected with some friends who lived in San Jose.

We couldn’t see much of a future for us further north and decided to move to the heart of Silicon Valley.

After a few years of non-profit work and a whole lot of blogging, I decided it was time to officially pursue something that I had been doing as a hobby since I was fifteen - graphic design.

You see, we had started a blog in 2009 shortly before leaving New Jersey - talking about our journey, our faith, and the things we were learning about life as we threw caution to the wind and decided to defy the traditions we had been handed and create a life together that was beyond the realm of predictable and comfortable.

It was not easy. At times, it was excrutiatingly difficult - truly “living by faith” - but in the end, things always worked out. The bills always got paid - oftentimes in ways that were nothing short of miraculous - and we had the privilege of connecting with and networking people from all over the globe.

The blog we built together had around half a million hits to it in just a few years.

We now have friends on every continent in the world and have been very blessed to be able to encourage and inspire so many.

I ended up taking the blog down several months ago because I felt it was time to move on from that and pursue graphic design as a career. However, little did I know at the time that all of the work I put into maintaining that website, social networking, advertising, and media production was going to be preparing me for what I’m doing now.

If it hadn’t been for all the time and energy we put into learning the art of networking and getting a message out to the world, there’s no way that I would be able to say that some of our past and current clients are among the most influential business leaders in the world.

If it hadn’t been for the raw grit that you need to achieve any kind of greatness in this world, we would have given up a long time ago.

And if it hadn’t been for the experiences that I went through that showed me how faulty “the ways of the world” are in terms of business, education, etc…I never would have considered setting out on my own to make something of value that would pay our bills and enable us to do what we love - create - for a living.

I can’t encourage you enough - find something you are passionate about. Hone it. Work at it.

Keep hitting it until it breaks - whatever it is that is holding you back.

Michael Jordan, one of the greatest basketball players of all time, is often quoted as saying, “I have failed over and over and over again in my career - and that is why I succeed”.

Macklemore, one of my favorite music artists echoes this mentality when he raps, “the greats weren’t great because at birth they could paint; the greats were great because they paint a lot” in his song “Ten Thousand Hours”.

I may not have millions of dollars in the bank (yet).

I may not have paid off my student loans (yet).

And I may not have the steady stream of clients calling my phone wanting to hire me (yet).

But I do know this for certain:

Choosing to surround myself with people who encourage my wife and I, who build us up, and who champion our willingness to risk everything in the pursuit of adventure, our passions, and meaning has been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.

Choosing to defy tradition and set out on our own to explore, to dream, to dare, to discover - that has been what has kept us going when all the odds have felt stacked against us.

Choosing to get back up when we’ve gotten knocked down and stare fear in the face and charge ahead despite the uncertainty that comes with the territory - that has made all the difference in the world.

You are capable of so much more than you yet realize.

And so am I.

Learning to enjoy the journey is just as much part of the process as choosing to stay focused, and never give up.

At the end of the day, I can sleep well knowing that we are doing what we want to be doing. We are inspiring hundreds of thousands of people around the world with our designs, our writing, and other forms of our creative work.

It didn’t start that way.

It started with one decision to just go for it. To throw caution to the wind and ignore the naysayers, the haters, and all the people who were too afraid to set out and do the same with their dreams.

This life we have chosen has been incredibly difficult at times.

But it has also been incredibly, wonderfully rewarding.

Who knows where we would be if we had chosen the safe route (which oftentimes isn’t quite so safe considering the rate of layoffs in the last few years)?

Who knows where we would be if we had decided to ignore that fire within us to set out in search of adventure and creativity?

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again:

Just go after it.

Whatever your “it” is - get off your butt, unplug your brain from mindlessly scrolling on social media, and go get it.

Where would our country be if Martin Luther King Jr. had been too afraid or apathetic to share his dream of the future?

Where would we be today if Steve Jobs hadn’t continued on despite getting fired from the company he started?

The world is waiting for you to unleash the creativity and originality that is within you.

So get up, and go do it.

Hit those obstacles until they break and experience the sweet taste of victory - of hard work that pays off with incredible dividends.

And never, never, never, ever, ever, ever give up.


Get this design on custom merch!

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To Slay a Dragon http://www.reformationdesigns.com/slay-dragon/ Tue, 04 Mar 2014 08:51:43 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2474 To create something of any type is much like the task of a brave knight that chooses to face down the dragon that stands between him and his prize. The dragon taunts our hero, whispering in a voice that only he can usually hear, and somehow…somehow…that damned dragon knows exactly what the greatest weakness of […]

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To create something of any type is much like the task of a brave knight that chooses to face down the dragon that stands between him and his prize.

The dragon taunts our hero, whispering in a voice that only he can usually hear, and somehow…somehow…that damned dragon knows exactly what the greatest weakness of the knight to be.

He uses it against him - telling him that he will never accomplish that which he has set his heart upon, or that he will never defeat this monstrosity that stands before him.

But something rises up within the very heart of the knight - he marches onward despite that resistance.

He lifts his sword in defiance of the beast before him and makes a decision that defines him.

He decides to face his greatest fear and charge to meet it head on.

He sets his heart to the task of slaying that which has rendered many before him into shadows of who they were born to be.

And as he raises his weapon of choice to end the tyranny of the creature that stands between him and victory, a million thoughts fly through his head:

“What if I don’t succeed?”

“Will I survive this encounter?”

“Where will I end up if I fail?”

“Will my loved ones be hurt if I fail?”

“What will happen to them if I succeed?”

“Am I a fool for even thinking I could accomplish this?”

“So many have tried and failed before me - who do I think I am?”

And it is that last question that makes all the difference.

In any creative endeavor, one question should permeate all that you are setting yourself out to do:

“Who do I think I am?”

The answer to that question will define the very essence of everything you create.

Do you just believe yourself to be just another average person, trying to fit in with the status quo?

Then you will never create anything beyond average.

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?

Do you see someone who is the sum total of your past failures?

Or do you see someone who has learned the art of forgiving yourself?

To create is to release into the world a reflection of who we think ourselves to be and the way that we perceive the world around us.

Whether that is a rant on social media, a beautiful piece of art, or a song that we decide to compose, these things all would not exist without the willingness of the creator to slay the dragon of uncertainty that says, “You can’t do this - who do you think you are?”

It is not an easy thing to keep releasing content out into the world these days - especially when there is so much incessant noise that is constantly clamoring for people’s attention.

The work of a content creator, a blogger, a producer, an artist…it can be mind-numbingly frustrating at times because if no one sees it, no one cares - and deep down, we all want to know that our work is appreciated.

We all want to know that what we are doing inherently matters.

We all want to be aware that the work we are doing in this world is making a difference.

We all are inherently very creative when we are younger - and as we grow older the pressure to conform and fit in often chokes the life and creativity out of us.

I’ve spent the last several years of my life just allowing myself to dream and imagine again.

To let my mind wander and imagine all of the possibilities of a life that is fulfilling, vibrant, and abundant in joy and creativity.

Picasso has often been quoted as saying “Every child is an artist - the problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

There’s that dragon again.

Will you create, despite the resistance that you will certainly face?

Will you pull out that sword, rusty though it may be, and learn to wield it well?

It will take time.

It will take a lot of practice.

And you will fail.

The question is - will you allow those failures to define you?

Or will you allow them to refine you?

You are not the sum total of your failures.

You are not the result of the mistakes you have made.

Your current circumstances may be the result of the choices you have made - but circumstances change quite quickly when you make a decision to change your outlook on those circumstances.

When you choose to recognize that failure is part of the process of success - part of the process of unlocking and unleashing your own creativity - it is much easier to move forward despite it.

When you choose to be thankful for what you have, where you are, and what you’ve accomplished so far - instead of looking for all of the reasons to be frustrated with yourself, it is much easier to continue creating and slaying that dragon.

Sometimes all you need is a little encouragement to keep moving forward.

And I hope I have done that for you today.


Photo Mar 04, 1 53 44 AM

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Unleash Your Own Creativity http://www.reformationdesigns.com/unleash-creativity/ Fri, 28 Feb 2014 21:47:48 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2418 I wish that the world was a more friendly place for fostering and encouraging creativity. Sometimes it seems like everywhere you look, there are more people trying to put more restrictions in place to prevent innovation and creativity from making the world a better place. Usually at the top of that food chain is a […]

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I wish that the world was a more friendly place for fostering and encouraging creativity.

Sometimes it seems like everywhere you look, there are more people trying to put more restrictions in place to prevent innovation and creativity from making the world a better place.

Usually at the top of that food chain is a person or small group of people who would stand to lose a lot of money if new, better technologies came out that would render their current monopolistic operation obsolete.

Take the “high speed” internet providers, for example.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable are consistently ranked as some of the worst companies in the United States - yet because they have so much power and money, anytime a competitor comes along to try and offer a better service, even one as big as Google, there is often insane amounts of politicking and bribery that goes on to try and squash forward progress.

The technology exists to provide world-class, actual high speed internet access to lots of people around the world and especially in the United States.

However, because of a handful of greedy investors and CEO’s, the innovation and creative efforts of some truly amazing people can often get hindered.

I don’t believe these things should be permitted to occur.

Call me naive, but I suppose I have a different worldview of how things ought to work.

I envision a world that celebrates creativity and innovation while frowning upon and preventing greed and corruption.

I envision a world that lifts high the people who work hard to take the risks involved in embracing their creativity and unleashing the potential that is within every one of us.

We all grew up heralding the accomplishments and efforts of people like the Wright Brothers, Martin Luther King Jr., and Mother Theresa.

We went through school studying and championing people who have endeavored to take a chance…those who deep down believed that they could make the world a better place through ideas that they birthed and worked tirelessly to implement.

And somewhere along the way, the people “in power” decided that control and money were more important than forward progress and the betterment of humanity.

I believe the only way to see those kinds of manipulative regimes come crashing down is through the unleashing of your own personal creativity.

I believe that the way forward is to make a decision to go against the grain and continue sharing your ideas with the world around you.

I believe that the only way we will see a world that embraces peace and acceptance of each other and celebrates the diversity that is within us as human beings is to be willing to admit when we are wrong, or our ideas are outdated and need to be replaced, or our technologies are in desperate need of an upgrade.

I envision a world that spends more money, time and energy working to create better solutions to the problems that we all face than it does spending money, time and energy trying to mask those problems and pretend that they don’t exist.

But that world can’t come into being without you.

That world can’t reveal itself until you decide that it’s time for you to step up to the plate and go after the passions that are within you.

Do you have an idea that could revolutionize the way that people communicate?

What are you waiting for?

Do you have a product that would fix a problem that has plagued a certain people group for centuries?

Why haven’t you pursued the release of that product?

It has often been said that it is not the fear of failure that holds most people back - it is the fear of success.

I have chosen to abandon that fear and move forward, whatever that may mean.

I don’t have all of the answers - but one thing that I know for certain is that the only way that you will see the achievement of the dreams that you have burning within you is to pursue the realization of those dreams and surround yourself with people who will encourage you in that direction.

Do not allow the negativity of those who have given up on their dreams to discourage you from realizing yours.

You’ll be amazed at how many people come alive as you unleash the life that is within you.


Photo-Feb-28,-1-42-28-PM

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Excellence is a Journey http://www.reformationdesigns.com/excellence-is-a-journey/ Wed, 26 Feb 2014 22:05:34 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2169 I would be lying if I said that any of the endeavors that I have decided to undertake have been easy. The thing is, I certainly thought that a lot of them would be easy. Do you have that happen? You get an idea in your head and it just looks so…clear…but when you set out […]

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FEAT GRAPHIC - excellence is a journey
I would be lying if I said that any of the endeavors that I have decided to undertake have been easy.

The thing is, I certainly thought that a lot of them would be easy.

Do you have that happen?

You get an idea in your head and it just looks so…clear…but when you set out to make it a reality in your life, you run into more obstacles than you ever thought you would.

What initially felt like a really great idea starts looking like climbing Mt. Everest when you’ve never learned how to mountain climb.

That has been something that I’ve struggled with for as long as I can remember - and I guess what it really boils down to is an issue of patience.

Patience for myself, patience for others, and patience for the process that it takes to accomplish just about anything.

We’ve all grown up in a world of microwaves, instant meals, instant entertainment, and on-demand everything that it can be easy to forget that doing anything worthwhile takes time.

Part of it for me has been realizing that I’m my own worst critic.

Do any of you 90’s folks remember that song by Lit - My Own Worst Enemy ?

I’ve felt like that more times than I can count.

Those close to me have been wonderful to remind me that excellence is a journey, not a destination.

I saw a great video from Ira Glass yesterday that really helped put all of this in perspective for me - you can check it out below if you like.

Ira Glass is known the world over as a radio broadcaster and show host…and he shares some really powerful, encouraging words about the creative process.




Anyway, I just wanted to encourage you today.

Wherever you are in your journey of this life that we’re all trying to figure out exactly what we’re here for, do yourself and those around you a favor.

Give yourself a break - and just breathe.

Doing anything that demonstrates excellence takes time, courage, patience, and insane amounts of practice.

Recognize that ‘success’ is something that only you can define for yourself - and that it will take time to achieve the goals that you have set.

(This is me talking to myself here)

Embracing the process is something that will help you immensely in bringing you peace.

You are incredibly creative - whether you know it or not.

Lean into it and take the time that is required to produce something that you can sit back one day and say, “Yeah…I’m proud of that.”

Merch Available


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Just Begin http://www.reformationdesigns.com/just-begin/ Tue, 25 Feb 2014 04:47:27 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2081 One of the most frustrating things about being someone who creates things for a living is that pressure to constantly be reinventing yourself and improving on your work. It is very easy to get caught up in the logistics of “What will so-and-so think?” and “will people like what I have to say?” so much […]

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Just_begin.PNG


One of the most frustrating things about being someone who creates things for a living is that pressure to constantly be reinventing yourself and improving on your work.

It is very easy to get caught up in the logistics of “What will so-and-so think?” and “will people like what I have to say?” so much that you end up doing what a large majority of people do with their time: nothing.

And as a content creator, doing nothing is the equivalent of a death sentence to your creativity.

When I find myself struggling to figure out what to do next, what I’ll often do is open up one of my sketch programs on my iPad and just start doodling.

It helps break out of that creative rut and gets me to a point where I just start doing…something.

I once heard of a research study that was done with some art school students - whether this is an actual study or not, I don’t know - but I have at least found it’s anecdotal evidence to be true in my own life.

There were supposedly a group of students and the researchers wanted to find out some things about creativity.

They separated the students into two groups.

The first group was told something akin to “We want you to paint the most perfect still life that you can within 20 minutes.”

The second was told “Paint as many different things as you can within 20 minutes.”

The result?

The first group wasted so much time over-analyzing what they were doing and trying to be perfect that many of them weren’t able to complete much of anything.

The second group, however, in many ways produced multiple stunning pieces of art - all because they got out of their own way, stopped trying to make something that was perfect, and just BEGAN.

In a lot of ways, I have found this to be incredibly helpful for my own creativity…and would encourage you who are reading this to do the same.

Do you have a book that you’ve been wanting to write?

Write it.

What about a piece of music that you’ve been wanting to record?

Record it.

And if you don’t think you’re an artist but have a desire to paint, or draw, or sculpt?

Trust me, you’re an artist.

So just start.

Believe me - if you don’t, tomorrow you’ll wish that you had begun today.

Merch Available

You can get the featured image on many types of merchandise (clothing, prints, phone cases, etc.) by clicking below.
9477057_7693340-tsrww120_l 9477196_3688301-clkfwhw_l
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Why I Can’t Stand Crowdsourced Graphic Design Sites http://www.reformationdesigns.com/why-i-cant-stand-crowdsourced-graphic-design-sites/ http://www.reformationdesigns.com/why-i-cant-stand-crowdsourced-graphic-design-sites/#comments Sat, 22 Feb 2014 02:29:41 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=2041 It sounds like a great deal, doesn’t it? You’re a business owner in need of a logo, or a website, or some other creative thing. You’re not talented or skilled enough to produce it yourself, and you’re cheap so you don’t want to pay more than a few hundred dollars for something that will surely […]

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It sounds like a great deal, doesn’t it?

You’re a business owner in need of a logo, or a website, or some other creative thing.

You’re not talented or skilled enough to produce it yourself, and you’re cheap so you don’t want to pay more than a few hundred dollars for something that will surely bring your brand awareness for years to come.

So you stumble across one of the dozens of websites where you can submit your need or your idea to a pool of desperate creative types who are trying to make a living with their talents.

You send in your idea, get a few hundred shiny logos to choose from, created by a few hundred talented people with no self-respect, and only one of them gets paid.

You marvel at the fact that - “Wow, I can spend $200 and I’ll get over 200 different logo designs to choose from? What a STEAL!”

And you’re right.

It is a steal.


why I hate crowdsourced graphic design


These sites are a complete and total theft of the hard work and talents of countless people who don’t have the self-worth or common sense to say no to these ridiculous rip-off graphic design gladiator matches.

Some of these sites have people clamoring to create logos for $5 - which actually turns out to be around $4 after the website itself takes a cut.

As a designer for the last 15 or so years, I am appalled at how much people continue to allow themselves to be taken advantage of by these shysters.

Can you imagine the medical profession being like this?

“Hey - I have about $100 that I can spend and I need open heart surgery. Everybody gets a turn and whoever I like the best, wins my $100!”

Of course not.

Why?

Because no professional in their right mind would subject themselves to doing for free what they spent years learning how to do.

And yet it happens every minute around the world with creative types and graphic artists especially.

Am I cynical about it?

Yeah, I am.

Because I think these crowd sourcing graphic & web design sites are a disgrace to my industry.

They make it incredibly difficult for people who have been designers for a very long time to be taken seriously when working with potential new clients…because, “Hey, I can get a logo here for $50 - why should I pay you anything more than that?”

Could I make extra money on those websites if I really wanted to?

Yes, I’m sure I could.

But it would feel far too much like being manipulated by people who are too cheap to pay for a quality design and the blood, sweat, and tears that goes into learning the craft.

And I don’t want to work for people like that anyway.

Is everyone who uses these sites trying to take advantage of designers?

Of course not.

But that doesn’t change the fact that that is what is happening.

/end rant

Attention Creative People

If you are a graphic artist, a web designer, or just…well…ANYONE who is trying to make a living by doing creative things…just please at least think about what I said.

Value yourself. You’re worth it.

Your time, your talent, your energy, and your ideas…are worth it.

Can you make money whoring yourself and your talents out on those crowd sourcing sites on the off-chance that someone MIGHT select you?

Maybe.

But I guarantee that you’d feel like crap every time someone else gets selected and you realize, “Dang it - I did it again…worked for NOTHING.”

And that isn’t worth it. Really.

Ditch that American Idol mentality and put the time and energy into learning your craft well - and don’t subject yourself to working with or for people who aren’t willing to place a value on the talents that you have.

Trust me - your self-esteem will improve dramatically.

And while you’re here, pick up a copy of the Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook - your future self will thank you.

Cheers.

Contact Us Today for Custom Design

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For Mobile Artistry, You Can’t Beat Tangent http://www.reformationdesigns.com/for-mobile-artistry-you-cant-beat-tangent/ Wed, 12 Feb 2014 23:05:43 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1937 As an artist, I am always looking for new ways to hone my craft. When I came across the Tangent app by Pixite several months back, I was blown away by all of the amazing things I was able to do with it and how simple it was to take basic shapes and patterns and […]

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Presenting TangentAs an artist, I am always looking for new ways to hone my craft.

When I came across the Tangent app by Pixite several months back, I was blown away by all of the amazing things I was able to do with it and how simple it was to take basic shapes and patterns and turn them into amazing works of art with simple hand motions on my iPad.

I’ve had the pleasure of knowing one of the developers, Ben Guerrette, for about a year now and it has been awesome to see the progress he has made since I’ve known him.

In this short video, I share some of the basics of the new version of Tangent.

Check it out and download it today on the App Store!



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This will have you seriously reconsider ever paying Facebook a dime for advertising http://www.reformationdesigns.com/this-will-have-you-seriously-reconsider-ever-paying-facebook-a-dime-for-advertising/ http://www.reformationdesigns.com/this-will-have-you-seriously-reconsider-ever-paying-facebook-a-dime-for-advertising/#comments Mon, 10 Feb 2014 19:59:25 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1913 I recently came across the YouTube content-creator, Veritasium. The first video that I saw of his was one where he talked about how Facebook’s business plan is essentially really crappy towards content creators. In a video just released today, he elaborates on how the problem is worse than he originally thought. As a small business […]

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Boo, hiss facebook!

I recently came across the YouTube content-creator, Veritasium.

The first video that I saw of his was one where he talked about how Facebook’s business plan is essentially really crappy towards content creators.

In a video just released today, he elaborates on how the problem is worse than he originally thought.

As a small business owner that relies heavily on using the internet to spread the word about what it is that I do and the services I offer, as well as being someone that runs several larger Facebook fan pages, this not only confirmed my suspicions but helped me understand more of what’s going on and why.

  • Have you noticed that your user engagement has significantly dropped on your Facebook pages in the last year or so?
  • Have you wondered why so few people are actually seeing anything that you posted when you compare that number to how many people have ‘liked’ your page?
  • Are you wondering why a large majority of the people who like your page have names that you probably can’t pronounce and they never bother to engage with the content you’re posting?

Veritasium explains why in this awesome video.

Check it out and please share this around - maybe the more it spreads, the more Facebook’s IPO will drop and they’ll realize that running operations with no integrity won’t fly for very long in today’s day and age.



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#iAmAHero Spotlight – Adblock Plus http://www.reformationdesigns.com/iamahero-spotlight-adblock-plus/ Wed, 05 Feb 2014 18:10:21 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1851 Today I had the great pleasure of interviewing Ben Williams, the PR manager at Adblock Plus. Based in Cologne, Germany, Adblock Plus is a phenomenal ad-blocking extension for Chrome, Safari, Android, Firefox, and yes…even Internet Explorer for the 12 people who still use it. I’ve been using their software for so long that I often […]

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Ben Williams of Adblock Plus


Today I had the great pleasure of interviewing Ben Williams, the PR manager at Adblock Plus.

Based in Cologne, Germany, Adblock Plus is a phenomenal ad-blocking extension for Chrome, Safari, Android, Firefox, and yes…even Internet Explorer for the 12 people who still use it.

I’ve been using their software for so long that I often forget that the average internet user is regularly bombarded with an onslaught of annoying and incredibly intrusive advertisements.

To be quite honest, I don’t know how long I could continue doing what I do on the internet (creating content, networking, blogging, etc.) if it wasn’t for the geniuses in the Adblock Plus community.

Check out the interview below - Ben and I talk about what we believe the future of advertising will look like, the history and future of Adblock Plus, as well as some thoughts about the state of the internet and the net neutrality/security debate.

One of the most interesting things to me about this interview was when Ben talks about their ‘approved ad’ campaign - they are walking a very fine line between the average user and also being willing to work with larger ad agencies on how to improve advertising so that it is not obnoxious, annoying, and manipulative.

I applaud their efforts in doing so and working to make the world and the internet a better place as a result.




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How to Make Epic Abstract Art in 15 Minutes http://www.reformationdesigns.com/how-to-make-epic-abstract-art-in-15-minutes/ Wed, 15 Jan 2014 10:32:42 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1653 I have really enjoyed creating artwork on my iPad. I have been a designer for a long time - I started when I was 15 - but I have never fallen in love with creating art as much as I have since I picked up this tablet and found some of the amazing apps that […]

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How to make epic abstract art


I have really enjoyed creating artwork on my iPad.

I have been a designer for a long time - I started when I was 15 - but I have never fallen in love with creating art as much as I have since I picked up this tablet and found some of the amazing apps that developers have put together for creative types such as myself.

In this video, I share how to make some epic-looking abstract art in just 15 minutes!

(It will probably take you longer if you’ve never used any of these applications - I’ve been practicing with them for awhile now…but you’ll get the idea)

The apps I use in this tutorial are listed below:

I hope you enjoy the video - if you create your own artwork, please tag me when you post them (@ReformDesigns or @iAmAHero613 on twitter) and let me know!



 

P.S. I had the privilege of interviewing one of the developers of several of the apps used in this tutorial video, Ben Guerrette, on our #iAmAHero show. You can check that video out here if you like.

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The Wisdom of Charlie Chaplin http://www.reformationdesigns.com/the-wisdom-of-charlie-chaplin/ Sun, 22 Dec 2013 23:11:37 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1624 As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is AUTHENTICITY. As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody as I try to force my desires on this person, even […]

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designed by Ryan J. Rhoades of reformationdesigns.com

designed by Ryan J. Rhoades of reformationdesigns.com

As I began to love myself I found that anguish and emotional suffering are only warning signs that I was living against my own truth. Today, I know, this is AUTHENTICITY.

As I began to love myself I understood how much it can offend somebody as I try to force my desires on this person, even though I knew the time was not right and the person was not ready for it, and even though this person was me. Today I call it RESPECT.

As I began to love myself I stopped craving for a different life, and I could see that everything that surrounded me was inviting me to grow. Today I call it MATURITY.

As I began to love myself I understood that at any circumstance, I am in the right place at the right time, and everything happens at the exactly right moment, so I could be calm. Today I call it SELF-CONFIDENCE.

As I began to love myself I quit stealing my own time, and I stopped designing huge projects for the future. Today, I only do what brings me joy and happiness, things I love to do and that make my heart cheer, and I do them in my own way and in my own rhythm. Today I call it SIMPLICITY.

As I began to love myself I freed myself of anything that is no good for my health – food, people, things, situations, and everything that drew me down and away from myself. At first I called this attitude a healthy egoism. Today I know it is LOVE OF ONESELF.

As I began to love myself I quit trying to always be right, and ever since I was wrong less of the time. Today I discovered that is MODESTY.

As I began to love myself I refused to go on living in the past and worry about the future. Now, I only live for the moment, where EVERYTHING is happening. Today I live each day, day by day, and I call it FULFILLMENT.

As I began to love myself I recognized that my mind can disturb me and it can make me sick. But as I connected it to my heart, my mind became a valuable ally. Today I call this connection WISDOM OF THE HEART.

We no longer need to fear arguments, confrontations or any kind of problems with ourselves or others. Even stars collide, and out of their crashing new worlds are born. Today I know THAT IS LIFE!

- Charlie Chaplin

(source text from here)

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#iAmAHero Spotlight: Hidden Radio and John Van Den Nieuwenhuizen http://www.reformationdesigns.com/iamahero-spotlight-hidden-radio-and-john-van-den-nieuwenhuizen/ Sat, 14 Dec 2013 01:49:42 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1565 Hey everybody! I’ve got a great video for you to check out today. For those of you who don’t know, the #iAmAHero Spotlight is a side-project of mine that I’ve been working on for about a year. I love to celebrate everyday heroes - people who, through their ingenuity, creativity, or technology have endeavored to […]

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Early prototype drawings for the HiddenRadio2

Hey everybody!

I’ve got a great video for you to check out today.

For those of you who don’t know, the #iAmAHero Spotlight is a side-project of mine that I’ve been working on for about a year.

I love to celebrate everyday heroes - people who, through their ingenuity, creativity, or technology have endeavored to make the world a better, more interesting place to live in.

When I come across folks who are doing awesome stuff, I will often reach out to them to see if they would be interested in doing an interview on our #iAmAHero Spotlight show to talk about the journey they’ve been on and the lessons they learned in the process.

Several months ago, I had the pleasure of interviewing John Van Den Nieuwenhuizen of HiddenRadio about what it was like raising money to bring his team’s idea to life.

This interview is chock full of some of the best advice that I’ve ever received, and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

John and his team successfully raised close to a million dollars to fund the creation of their HiddenRadio - when they had only projected needing $125,000 for their target goal!

Check out the video below and make sure to visit HiddenRadio’s NEW Kickstarter project for HiddenRadio 2!




Contact Us Today for Custom Design!

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Cut Through the BS and Create http://www.reformationdesigns.com/cut-the-bs/ Sat, 07 Dec 2013 22:52:45 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1484 One of the things that I’ve been working on in my own life and routine lately has been focusing on spending more time creating than I do consuming. We are so inundated with information every second of every day and it can be very easy to get sucked into the drama of all of it. […]

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One of the things that I’ve been working on in my own life and routine lately has been focusing on spending more time creating than I do consuming.

We are so inundated with information every second of every day and it can be very easy to get sucked into the drama of all of it.

Have you ever tried writing or painting or making music right after watching the news or spending an hour and a half scrolling on the news feeds of your social media networks?

It’s harder. A lot harder.

Why?

Because instead of letting the creative juices in your head flow, you’re filling it with other people’s drama, emotion, problems, and high-octane opinions.

I’m thankful that the “Black Friday” craze is just about over. I ended up unsubscribing from at least three dozen e-mail lists just over the weekend because the marketing machine turned up so loud that I couldn’t hear myself think.

“OMG THIS IS THE GREATEST SALE OF THE YEAR EVER YOU BETTER BUY ALL THIS STUFF RIGHT NOW!!!!!11” was pretty much the gist of every e-mail that I saw over the weekend.

Did your inbox look like this?

Did your inbox look like this?

It gets tiresome.

As a designer, an advertiser, and a marketing guy myself, I’m always faced with the conundrum in my head of how to advertise a product I’ve designed or a service that I offer without coming across as a manipulative ass.

If you’ve spent any amount of time in the self-help/public speaking arena, you’ll know that one of the biggest tactics that is taught, encouraged, and often used at the same time they’re teaching it to you is FEAR.

It usually goes something like this:

“This product that I’ve created is YOUR KEY TO SUCCESS - and TODAY ONLY you can get it for a price that is SO HEAVILY DISCOUNTED from what I usually sell it for that you would be an ABSOLUTE MORON to not BUY THIS PROGRAM RIGHT NOW - but ONLY THE FIRST 30 PEOPLE WHO SIGN UP GET IT!

Bullshit.

Really.

Have you ever wondered why there’s always more people at those events than the number of people who supposedly were “allowed” to sign up?

It’s a money making tactic - an incredibly manipulative one, but effective if you don’t know that you’re being sold.

I’ve spent years in sales, marketing, etc. and it is rare to come across people who actually seem to be looking out for your good when they’re up on stage pitching a product. Sure, there’s good content in a lot of the products that are being sold out there - but it boils down to one thing - they’re trying to make money and you’re their target.

If they can get you to fear that you’re missing out on something, you’re much more prone to pull out your wallet.

If the company that is sending you a dozen e-mails a week talking about the “BIGGEST SALE OF THE YEAR!!!!” and then you open the e-mail to find out that you’re going to save a whopping  15% on a bunch of stuff you don’t even really want or need, it should occur to you that something is a little bit off.

I’m not saying that I have anything against sales and marketing. I’m in this business myself.

What I do take issue with is the manipulative, fear-based sales tactics that are so common these days that people look at you strangely if you don’t use them. Many people don’t know how to react when they meet someone who is genuinely interested in their well-being and wants to see them succeed in whatever they put their minds to.

Our culture has been so saturated in greed and manipulative marketing techniques that when you propose to fellow business leaders that there’s a better way to go about things (i.e. actually having integrity), you can be looked at like you’ve got six heads.

I suppose I’ve just come to the point in my life and business where I’ve decided to just listen to my gut instinct on a lot of the business practices that I employ myself. I do my best to treat others the way that I would want to be treated.

Some call it karma, some call it the Golden Rule…but whatever you want to call it, the principle is a solid one that sums up how I endeavor to live my life.

I don’t like getting bombarded with manipulative marketing e-mails and constantly being told to buy something - so I don’t do it myself with the products and services that I offer. To be totally honest, learning the in’s and out’s of doing business has been quite a struggle for me because so many people are used to getting screwed over that nobody trusts anyone anymore.

I don’t think that you need to use fear-tactics to get people to buy from you. If you’ve got a solid product or service, it should sell itself. The age-old phrase “content is king” is a good one to stick with.

Create good content - limit your intake of the bombardment of information that is all around us - and your audience will grow organically.

If you use manipulation and fear to hide the tactics you’re trying to employ to make yourself money, your audience might grow quickly but they’ll leave as soon as they figure out what you’re doing.

…and constantly having to add shady new ways to get cash out of your audience when you’ve promoted a product as “FREE” is a sure fire way to watch the trust level of your audience drop into the toilet.

(ahem, Instagram, Facebook, and all you app-developers that design games as ‘free’ that essentially force your users to pay to continue playing, etc.)

I would certainly suggest learning all you can about marketing - but when you get that ‘check’ in your gut about something and it just doesn’t feel quite right - and if you have to ask yourself the question, “Is this manipulative?” it probably is.

I see a future where business isn’t a cutthroat thing where everyone is constantly competing for the attention and wallets of their audience. I see a future where people learn to actually do the things we learned in kindergarten and put down the animosity and work on trusting and sharing with one another.

Sounds childish, I know.

But I’d rather be seen as childish and hopeful than manipulative and greedy any day of the week.

So unsubscribe from those mailing lists that are clogging your inbox and go create something today. 

You’ll be glad that you did.

Let me know what you created below - if it’s a blog post, an art piece, a musical arrangement, a poem…whatever. Post the link in the comments.

Have a great day and as always, thanks for reading!

Contact Us Today for Custom Design!

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The Tragedy of Everyday Time Travel http://www.reformationdesigns.com/the-tragedy-of-everyday-time-travel/ http://www.reformationdesigns.com/the-tragedy-of-everyday-time-travel/#comments Wed, 04 Dec 2013 23:13:29 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1463 James Altucher has quickly become one of my new favorite writers. The author of Choose Yourself is a welcome breath of fresh air in a blogosphere that is chock full of gimmicky sales pitches and empty promises of advice that, well…doesn’t often work and aren’t usually very practical. I came across James‘ work about a […]

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Photo Dec 04, 2 26 03 PM


James Altucher has quickly become one of my new favorite writers.

The author of Choose Yourself is a welcome breath of fresh air in a blogosphere that is chock full of gimmicky sales pitches and empty promises of advice that, well…doesn’t often work and aren’t usually very practical.

I came across James‘ work about a year and a half ago through the Uncollege network on facebook. Priscilla Sanstead introduced me to his blog and I’ve been hooked ever since.

It’s not often that you come across someone who has “been there, done that, bought the t-shirt” who has been willing to be as transparent and raw as James is with his writing.

That all said, I was reading James’ book Choose Yourself this morning while feeling particularly down about a number of things that haven’t quite gone the way I’d like them to yet. It wasn’t long before I came across a single passage that snapped me out of the crappy mood I was in:

“All you have to do is stay in the present. When you catch yourself upset about the past or worried about the future, say to yourself, ‘Ah, I’m time traveling again’, then STOP. That’s what meditation is. That’s what being ‘spiritual’ means: not time traveling. Don’t believe anyone who says it isn’t.”

- James Altucher, Choose Yourself

How many of the issues that we worry about can be traced to this one thing? How much of the daily stress that we wrestle with do you think can be attributed to the fact that we can be so easily prone to, well…time traveling…in our heads?

You mentally project yourself into some bleak, awful future where Hillary Clinton is president, any dissenters are thrown into FEMA camps, and of course your electric bill is never going to get paid.

Or worse, your great-aunt Mildred is going to absolutely hate the fact that you refuse to get a ‘real job’ in the pursuit of your dreams and will undoubtedly talk badly about you behind your back.

Maybe you’re more of the type of time traveler that enjoys venturing into those dark moments of your past and wishing with all your might that you could change something in the hopes of having a better future for yourself.

A late night rendezvous with someone who ended up being so crazy that you needed a restraining order to keep them away from you.

A fight with a loved one that changed things in your relationship to the point that things just haven’t been the same since.

Or in my case, wishing I had never signed that damn student loan agreement with Satan’s mother, Sallie Mae.

If only!

If only I had done this or that or if I could have said those seventeen words to this particular person at that specific time THEN everything in my life would be fantastic!

Right?

Wrong.

You’re time traveling right now thinking about how much time traveling you’ve been doing!

Stop.

Breathe.

Live right here in the moment you are in and stop thinking so hard about the next one. You’ve waited your whole life to get here.

You can’t change the past. You can’t completely predict the future.

But what you can do is make a decision about what you’re going to do in the present…which will in turn change your future.

You can make a choice to do things differently now based on what you’ve learned from the mistakes in your past in order to assure that you don’t bring those mistakes into the future you dream of.

I am thankful that I’m starting to recognize this nasty habit of everyday time travel more when it’s happening.

Just the other day, I picked up another helpful tip from James - when those crappy thoughts come…when your mood is starting to dip at the thought of some impending awful situation that you’re inventing in your own head…I repeat to myself: “Not useful”

And then I intentionally choose to focus on something that brings me joy, or something that I’m thankful for. This isn’t some hippie new-age guru BS - it’s being proactive about taking control of that pink sponge-like substance in my head and refusing to allow it to dictate to me what I’m going to focus on.

You know as well as I do that you have a hell of a hard time being creative, loving, inspirational, or motivated when you’re stressed out. When you feel like you have to do something, how much do you procrastinate it…really?

How much better to just make a decision when you recognize what you’re doing with all of that inter-dimensional time and space bending in your head to just…stop?

How much better to take a deep breath (or ten), count your blessings, and spend your mental energy being thankful for what you do have, the people who do appreciate and love you, and how far you’ve come so far?

I’m not by any means saying that I’ve ‘arrived’.

But I am thankful that there are people like James out there who are willing to point out these everyday tragedies so that maybe, just maybe we can actually start to just live out the lives that we dream of and wish for instead of just dreaming of and wishing for them.

Thanks for what you do James - and more importantly - thanks for who you are.

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Seth Godin said NO: Why I’m Thankful Anyway http://www.reformationdesigns.com/seth-godin-said-no-thankful/ http://www.reformationdesigns.com/seth-godin-said-no-thankful/#comments Mon, 02 Dec 2013 23:16:24 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1454 Let me preface this post first by saying that I absolutely hate being told no. About anything. And as an author, as an entrepreneur, as an artist, and as a business owner, being told no isn’t just something that happens on occasion. It’s something that happens a lot. Especially when you’ve only been at it […]

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Let me preface this post first by saying that I absolutely hate being told no.

About anything.

And as an author, as an entrepreneur, as an artist, and as a business owner, being told no isn’t just something that happens on occasion.

It’s something that happens a lot.

Especially when you’ve only been at it for a handful of years.

But today I’m going to tell you why I’m actually thankful about the fact that Seth Godin turned down a business proposal that I sent him last night.

See, I read a post of Seth’s a few days ago about “what no means”.

 

This is what he had to say:

What “no” means

  • I’m too busy
  • I don’t trust you
  • This isn’t on my list
  • My boss won’t let me
  • I’m afraid of moving this forward
  • I’m not the person you think I am
  • I don’t have the resources you think I do
  • I’m not the kind of person that does things like this
  • I don’t want to open the door to a long-term engagement
  • Thinking about this will cause me to think about other things I just don’t want to deal with

What it doesn’t mean:

  • I see the world the way you do, I’ve carefully considered every element of this proposal and understand it as well as you do and I hate it and I hate you.

    (original post here)

Having read that last week really changed my perspective on being told no. It helped me realize that we are all subject to a huge number of factors that influence our decisions, whether we realize it or not.

I have struggled with overcoming feelings of personal rejection anytime someone says no to an idea of mine for as long as I can remember, but when I checked my e-mail this morning and saw a short, to the point reply from Seth letting me know that he wouldn’t be able to work with us at this point in time, I breathed a sigh of relief.

Why? Because I tried anyway.

Designed by Laura and Ryan Rhoades of reformationdesigns.com

Designed by Laura and Ryan Rhoades of reformationdesigns.com

My wife and I are designers by trade - and we had even made some custom images to send over with our proposal as examples of what we could offer Seth & his team.

We put time, energy, thought, and passion into the proposal and these images. But we were still turned down - and that’s okay.

Sure, we didn’t get a client that I would love the opportunity to work with - but I’m finally getting to a point where I am learning to take the “no’s” in stride and keep charging forward.

I have made a conscious choice to not attach myself to any specific outcomes that I see in my head (thanks Maria) - because we all know how well and how often things turn out exactly as we expect them to!

Yeah, Seth Godin turned us down. But we got two really great portfolio pieces out of it, and a blog post to encourage you to not give up when the big boys don’t want to play.

Seth’s own words on his post were what inspired me to at least give it a shot.

I can rest in the fact that at this point, he doesn’t see the world the way that I do. I can trust that he may not have carefully considered every element of the proposal I sent and might not understand exactly where I was coming from.

He may have hated the designs we sent over, but that doesn’t mean he hates us.

And you can take comfort in knowing that when someone you’re trying to reach out to with an idea, a proposal, or even a relationship tells you “no” - that you’re one step closer to that one “yes” that will turn everything around.

You’re one step closer to that “yes” that will have you doing cartwheels of joy and crying tears of laughter after all of your hard work finally pays off.

Mark down the no’s, breathe a sigh of thankfulness for the opportunity to even be told no by someone who’s insanely busier than you are, and move on to the next one.

This is a numbers game, like it or not.

When I was in sales, the training was simple: get the no’s out of the way as early as possible.

Swing for the bleachers and don’t take it personal when you miss - you never know when that next pitch will be a home-run.

Contact Us Today for Custom Design!

Created by Laura and Ryan Rhoades of reformationdesigns.com

Created by Laura and Ryan Rhoades of reformationdesigns.com

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Simple, Natural Tips for De-stressing Your Life http://www.reformationdesigns.com/simple-natural-tips-for-de-stressing-your-life/ Sun, 01 Dec 2013 01:01:28 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1402 In the hyper-connected world that we live in today, it isn’t often that you come across people who haven’t been dealing with insane amounts of stress. Our inboxes and cellphones are constantly screaming for our attention, as well as the struggle to try and keep up with our social media accounts and all of the […]

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Simple tips for stressless living

In the hyper-connected world that we live in today, it isn’t often that you come across people who haven’t been dealing with insane amounts of stress.

Our inboxes and cellphones are constantly screaming for our attention, as well as the struggle to try and keep up with our social media accounts and all of the drama that can sometimes arise from that.

It can also be a very stressful thing when you are doing everything you know to do to try and get your business or your projects off of the ground and they seem to be stuck at a standstill.

It has helped me immensely to make it a point to find things that I enjoy doing purely for enjoyment’s sake as my wife and I have continued on this journey we are on.

Check out the video below for some quick, natural tips that I’ve started doing over the last year or so that has dramatically increased my mood, my productivity, as well as the overall joy that I have in my life.




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When Resistance Screams the Loudest http://www.reformationdesigns.com/when-resistance-screams-the-loudest/ Mon, 25 Nov 2013 19:00:07 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1371 As a writer, staring down at your hands on the keyboard and not seeing them moving can be one of the most frustrating experiences that you will have. Not knowing what you’re going to write is a struggle that every author wrestles with on a regular basis. It is what you decide to do in […]

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When Resistance Screams the Loudest


As a writer, staring down at your hands on the keyboard and not seeing them moving can be one of the most frustrating experiences that you will have.

Not knowing what you’re going to write is a struggle that every author wrestles with on a regular basis.

It is what you decide to do in those moments of indecision, those moments of uncertainty, those agonizing minutes of despair and anger and fear and depression and panic…

It’s what you decide to do then that will ultimately decide whether or not you succeed or fail.

When you were learning to walk as an infant, how many times do you think you fell before you succeeded?

Even after you got it down, you still had moments of failure where your legs seemingly forgot what they were doing.

What once seemed impossible eventually becomes commonplace and easy.

We all have these moments.

In life, business, relationships, whatever.

Those moments where you question, “Does what I’m doing even matter at all? Is anyone listening? Is anyone paying attention to what I have to say?”

Some of the most ‘successful’ people in the world deal with the same fears, doubts, and uncertainties that you do - it’s just that oftentimes their worries have more zeroes attached to the end of them.

You may not ever completely get rid of that nagging uncertainty - but know this:

Everything you do matters.

Everything you say, matters.

Every act of kindness, every word of encouragement, every helping hand you extend, every listening ear…matters.

Do not stop pursuing your passions and your dreams because of that voice that tells you that you’ll never make it.

Designed by Ryan J. Rhoades of reformationdesigns.com

Designed by Ryan J. Rhoades of reformationdesigns.com

It’s the same voice that told you as an infant that you’d never walk.

It’s the same voice that told you as a toddler that you’d never read.

It’s the same voice that told you as a teenager that you’d never get your driver’s license.

It’s the same voice that told you that you’d never start your own business.

It’s the same voice that told you that the sun would not rise today and that the problems of yesterday would surely put an end to you.

That voice is a liar and it would do you well to recognize it as such.

You are infinitely capable of achieving more than you can currently imagine.

March on.

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How Artists Can Overcome Anxiety & Step Up Their Game http://www.reformationdesigns.com/how-artists-can-overcome-anxiety-step-up-their-game/ Sun, 24 Nov 2013 20:12:36 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1372 It’s a common occurrence. You’re an artist, a designer, or an entrepreneur in general and you have an opportunity in front of you to present your work to someone…but you freeze. Your palms start sweating and the well-rehearsed speech that you had put together the night before is obliterated into nothingness in your mind. What […]

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Overcoming-Artist-Anxiety

It’s a common occurrence.

You’re an artist, a designer, or an entrepreneur in general and you have an opportunity in front of you to present your work to someone…but you freeze.

Your palms start sweating and the well-rehearsed speech that you had put together the night before is obliterated into nothingness in your mind.

What do you do?

Check out this interview I did on our #iAmAHero Spotlight show with art business expert, Maria Brophy.

Maria also has a lot of great info on this topic in a recent blog post here.

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Ignore & Quickly Forgive Your Critics http://www.reformationdesigns.com/ignore-quickly-forgive-your-critics/ Sat, 23 Nov 2013 22:04:11 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1364 Seriously. Choose to forgive them and walk away from stupid arguments. I started a blog in 2009 that reached around half a million people from all over the world in the first few years of its existence. I started it as a way to share my journey and also to talk about my perspectives on […]

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You-Will-Never-Please-Everyone

Seriously.

Choose to forgive them and walk away from stupid arguments.

I started a blog in 2009 that reached around half a million people from all over the world in the first few years of its existence.

I started it as a way to share my journey and also to talk about my perspectives on faith and life as it pertained to many who were disillusioned with church in the typical sense.

As the influence we had increased, so did the criticism.

And as the criticism increased, so did my frustration with the critics.

One of the greatest lessons that I have learned (and oftentimes still have to remind myself of) is that the worst thing you can do towards your critics is to retaliate.

I spent so much time and energy trying to win the critics over to my perspective on any number of different things that, years later, I found myself wondering what I could have done with all that time and energy if I hadn’t spent it arguing with people who were committed to disagreeing with me.

You will never please everyone.

Read that again.

You will NEVER please everyone.

Okay, now go look in the mirror and say this to yourself out loud while looking in your own eyes:

“I WILL NEVER PLEASE EVERYONE.

Feels good, doesn’t it?

To finally be honest with yourself and admit that attempting to make everyone happy all the time is a futile battle to fight?

Bill Cosby is often quoted as saying that he doesn’t know the key to success, but that the key to failure is trying to please everyone.

I assure you that the satisfaction you will get from knowing you have positively impacted someone’s life is infinitely greater than the feeling you will get from winning an argument or fighting with someone who is naysaying or criticizing you and your work.

The naysayers disappear when you have achieved that which they said you could not do.

Sure, new ones will pop up and find something else to critique and project their negativity at you - but you can take comfort in knowing that you have achieved what others deemed impossible.

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Walhub: How to make an everyday item infinitely better http://www.reformationdesigns.com/walhub-interview/ Fri, 22 Nov 2013 08:12:58 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1358 Yesterday I had the pleasure of interviewing Justin Porcano from Upwell Design. Justin and his team came up with an ingenious idea for improving something you use every day but don’t even think much about - your light switch. Have you ever wanted a permanent, functional place to put your keys, wallet, or phone so […]

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Check out the interview!

Check out the interview!

Yesterday I had the pleasure of interviewing Justin Porcano from Upwell Design. Justin and his team came up with an ingenious idea for improving something you use every day but don’t even think much about - your light switch.

Have you ever wanted a permanent, functional place to put your keys, wallet, or phone so that you never forget them?

Enter Walhub - a simple invention that will get you thinking of all kinds of ways to improve other boring household objects.

I initially came across Justin and Walhub because of a viral video that they produced in IKEA.

You can check out the video below as well as the interview with Justin to find out some of the behind-the-scenes ideas and thought processes that went into the creation of a nifty little product that I’m very excited to see sweep the globe.

You can check out Walhub also on GetFresh.com



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How to appreciate your life with jellybeans http://www.reformationdesigns.com/life-and-jellybeans/ Fri, 22 Nov 2013 06:59:32 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1351 I came across this video today and it really got me thinking - we’ve all got a lot to offer and a whole lot of us are constantly bombarded with useless information that doesn’t help drive us to unleash the gifts that we have been given. So many of us are so conditioned to just […]

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Your Life in Jellybeans

I came across this video today and it really got me thinking - we’ve all got a lot to offer and a whole lot of us are constantly bombarded with useless information that doesn’t help drive us to unleash the gifts that we have been given.

So many of us are so conditioned to just go through the motions of life that we don’t think about the impact that we could have on the world if we just thought a little differently about time.

Check out this amazing video from YouTube user zefrank1 & let me know in the comments what you think!



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#iAmAHero Show – Maria Brophy on Artists Making Money http://www.reformationdesigns.com/iamahero-show-maria-brophy-on-artists-making-money/ Thu, 31 Oct 2013 17:37:56 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1334 This is the 2nd in a series of posts with interviews that I conducted with art business guru, Maria Brophy. Maria and I met randomly through a series of events on twitter and I learned so much from her blog in such a short time that I decided to ask her to do some interviews […]

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Make sure to watch the interview with Maria Brophy on our YouTube channel!

Make sure to watch the interview with Maria Brophy on our YouTube channel!

This is the 2nd in a series of posts with interviews that I conducted with art business guru, Maria Brophy.

Maria and I met randomly through a series of events on twitter and I learned so much from her blog in such a short time that I decided to ask her to do some interviews on the YouTube channel of our site project, the #iAmAHero Initiative.

At the #iAmAHero Initiative, I interview lots of authors, entrepreneurs, and everyday heroes who have made it their goal to make the world a better place by sharing their voice, their vision, and their ideas.

Check out this interview that Maria and I did on the topic of how artists can make more money!

 




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Great Tips for Artists from Maria Brophy http://www.reformationdesigns.com/tips-maria-1/ Fri, 25 Oct 2013 06:50:28 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1330 I had the pleasure of meeting Maria Brophy via a random series of events on Twitter. I reached out to her to see if she would be interested in coming on our #iAmAHero show on YouTube and to my delight she said yes! It has turned into a great relationship thus far - I have […]

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The Brophy familyI had the pleasure of meeting Maria Brophy via a random series of events on Twitter. I reached out to her to see if she would be interested in coming on our #iAmAHero show on YouTube and to my delight she said yes!

It has turned into a great relationship thus far - I have learned heaps from Maria’s experience representing her husband, surfer and artist Drew Brophy, for the last number of years.

If you are an artist, a business owner, or just someone who is looking to expand your brain with some great, practical tips, check out our first video interview here:



I will be posting the other videos periodically - but they’re all on my YouTube channel here if you’d like to skip the wait!

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Business, Relationships, and Trust http://www.reformationdesigns.com/business-relationships-and-trust/ http://www.reformationdesigns.com/business-relationships-and-trust/#comments Fri, 18 Oct 2013 16:52:00 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=1323 I wanted to take some time to write about something that I haven’t really seen much written about in the business/leadership arena…and that is the aspect of trust in the business relationship. Just so you’re aware, I have had my own businesses for a few years now and by no means would call myself a […]

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I wanted to take some time to write about something that I haven’t really seen much written about in the business/leadership arena…and that is the aspect of trust in the business relationship.

Just so you’re aware, I have had my own businesses for a few years now and by no means would call myself a wildly successful, wealthy person in the sense of having tons of extra cash to throw around…however, I’ve worked with a lot of people in a lot of different arenas, many of whom have been quite successful and I have done my best to learn all that I can from those who have gone before me.

However, one thing that I have encountered repeatedly while working with clients of mine that I wish I had not has been the times that my clients have not been nearly as communicative or trustworthy as I had hoped they would be.

When I started my business, I started it because I wanted to have a way to connect better with people who needed design services and I also wanted to do business differently than I had seen it modeled. I wanted to do business with integrity, honesty, and straightforward communication instead of all the wheeling and dealing and politicking that I had encountered in my time doing the 9-5 thing.

Unfortunately, I quickly found out that not only were people not used to the way that I was endeavoring to run my business, but many of them were also in many ways directly opposed to it. 

I had many clients who, upon me contacting them about a problem I had run into or when I had a concern about something they were doing that I felt would be negatively impacting our business relationship, they either completely avoided the questions I asked, stopped talking to me altogether, or they would just stop paying me for the work I was doing.

Now, if I was working with someone and didn’t feel that the business relationship was working out well anymore, the way that I thought to handle those situations was to directly confront them, talk it out, and if a resolution couldn’t be reached, to agree to go our separate ways.

However, what I have encountered in the few years I’ve been doing this has been that a large majority of people are absolutely terrified of confrontation of any kind. 

I’ve had clients that have received the work that I did for them in a timely manner, but when receiving the invoice I sent it took months of me sending e-mail after e-mail, voicemail after voicemail, and message after message just to get a few hundred dollars.

Obviously, everyone runs into rough spots here and there. I’m not talking about that. I’m talking about when the people you’re working for quite clearly have the financial means to do quite well for themselves, but when it comes to paying “the little guys” (oftentimes the ‘creative’ types that essentially build the visual elements of their brand), things get sticky.

I simply don’t understand it. I want to believe that deep down, everyone means well and wants the best for everyone else.

Unfortunately, based on the actions of a large number of folks that I’ve encountered in the business arena, it certainly doesn’t seem that way.

Greed, deception, and straight up lies seem to be the way that a lot of folks run their businesses.

It makes for a very frustrating situation when all you’re looking for is some honest, integrity-based business relationships that are based on trust, mutual respect, and honor for one another.

Growing up with the core values that I did, I have had a difficult time not so much with doing the actual work that is required for my business to move forward, but more in dealing with the fact that there are a lot of people out there who do not share the core values that I do.

I have had long time clients that I have trusted explicitly (and whom I had looked at as friends) end our working arrangements with one sentence e-mails or text messages. I have had clients that I have promoted endlessly turn around and betray me without so much as a second thought. I have had more clients than I care to remember who have gotten upset with the fact that I haven’t wanted to work for them for free or close to it.

Designers have bills to pay too, folks!

I’ve had a lot of people tell me “that’s just the way it is in business”. I think that’s a cop out. It’s irresponsible, it’s unprofessional, and I believe it to be one of the main reasons that things are the way that they are - because so many people think that it has to stay that way.

I don’t believe things have to stay that way. If I can run my business based on trust, integrity, and open, honest communication with my clients, then anyone can.

I’m not in any way saying that I’m perfect - but I do my best to be as up front as possible because that is how I want to be treated.

We’ve all heard “the Golden Rule” - treat others the way that you want to be treated.

If I can sum up how I endeavor to run my business, that would be it in a nutshell.

Maybe it’s a pipe dream to hope that others would do the same.

I suppose the way that I look at it is that if my actions and my perspective on life and business helps anyone else to raise the standards by which they conduct themselves in their own business dealings, then I have made a positive difference on this planet.

It isn’t fun that oftentimes the way we learn is through getting screwed over. 

It doesn’t have to be that way. That is one of the reasons that I read as much as I can on leadership and running a successful business from those who have gone before me - because I don’t want to have to make the mistakes that others have made if I can avoid them through educating myself with the wisdom of other experts!

If there’s one thing that I can suggest to those of you who read this, it is this - learn to trust your gut when dealing with people. 

If the people that you are working with seem to cut corners a lot, break promises frequently, and avoid your questions or paying you on time, those aren’t people that you want to keep around.

It isn’t worth the hassle, the money, or the stress in the long run to keep working with people who don’t fulfill their end of the deals that you work out with them.

I have made the mistake more times than I’d like to admit of ignoring my gut feelings about different clients that I’ve worked with.

If it looks like someone is only looking out for themselves, there’s a good chance that they are.

If it looks like someone only cares about the way they appear to others and they’re willing to step on other people to climb the proverbial ladder, those aren’t the kinds of people that you want to trust.

They especially aren’t the kinds of people you want to be doing business with. Those are the kinds of people who will use you until they have no use for you anymore and then move on with their lives and leave you hanging.

Watch out for people who tell you that they know that they should be paying you more but then never actually do. Watch out for people who make grand promises to you of lots of future work, or that working for them for cheap will benefit your portfolio, but then never make good on those promises.

Basically, watch out for people who just give you lip service and always make excuses for why they break their promises to you.

I wish there were more people out there who had the integrity and the backbone to just be upfront and honest - but until then, just be careful with who you decide to enter into a working relationship with.

It’s a jungle out there!

“I’d rather be a starving artist than succeed at getting f-cked.” - Macklemore in the song Jimmy Iovine

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The Thrill of Victory and the Struggle of Pain http://www.reformationdesigns.com/the-thrill-of-victory-and-the-struggle-of-pain/ Mon, 18 Jun 2012 22:41:10 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=667 I don’t like pain. In fact, I think if there was a way for me to entirely rid the world of all forms of pain, I would be the first to sign up. The problem with pain is that it’s just so…painful. We spend so much of our time and energy inventing new ways of […]

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StruggleVictory1I don’t like pain.

In fact, I think if there was a way for me to entirely rid the world of all forms of pain, I would be the first to sign up.

The problem with pain is that it’s just so…painful.

We spend so much of our time and energy inventing new ways of avoiding pain at all costs. We would much rather seek comfort than press through our circumstances to achieve whatever it is that inspires us in our dreams.

Despite all of that, there have been some things going on in my life over the last year or so that have been especially painful.
And in the midst of all of it, I have done everything I know to do in order to alleviate myself of said pain.

However, regardless of my most valiant attempts to acquire a remedy for these painful problems, I have come up discouragingly short.

Now, just to be clear, I am not speaking of physical sicknesses or anything of that sort.

I am talking about the kind of inward, mental pain that we all inevitably encounter as we grow and change.

That internal struggle of realizing that you are not measuring up to the standard that you have set for yourself (and others) and the frustration of feeling stuck in the same place for what easily begins to feel like an eternity.

We all have dreams and aspirations of things that we would like to accomplish and yet so few of us actually end up doing so.

Why?

I believe the problem inherently lies with the fact that rather than spending our time learning how to leverage our pain towards the success we so earnestly desire, we instead squander it by trying to stop the pain altogether.

I read something in a fantastic book today that has given me the perspective that I have needed to move forward.

The author shares a story of a new businessman who was close with a seasoned and wealthy CEO. The new entrepreneur was diligently working at building his business, yet continued to be plagued with financial struggles and intense amounts of frustration.

He sought out his friend, the CEO, for help.

In doing so, he asked the CEO for financial assistance, as he knew that he could spare it.

It was difficult for his friend to turn him down, as he knew all too well how painful it was to be in a situation like his young friend.

He had been there himself not a few years earlier.

When he told the young entrepreneur that he was not going to give him a hand out, he followed up his denial with the reason for doing so:

“If I take away your struggle, I will also take away your victory”.

That statement is one I have been thinking on deeply since I read it — and I realize how profound it is that the very thing that we have all spent so much time seeking to rid ourselves of is precisely what we need to gain the strength to live out what we desire.

The pain of the moment often blinds us to the power that pain is creating within us.

It is only in the struggle for freedom that the developing butterfly gains the strength that it will need to fly.

To cut open the cocoon of a struggling caterpillar is to clip the wings of and eventually murder a new butterfly.

The quest to end all of the pain in our lives is a futile one that only will result in disappointment and more frustration.

Instead, we must learn to look past the pain and towards the joy of obtaining the reward that is directly beyond it.

This is what will give us the inspiration to persevere.

The sweet taste of victory is worth too much to cheapen it by eliminating the struggle that is necessary to obtain it.

I still don’t like pain…but I am learning how foolish it is to try and eliminate entirely that which is strengthening me to carry the responsibility of the dreams that I have within.

Contact Us Today for Custom Design!


Check out Cameron C. Taylor’s book, “8 Attributes of Great Achievers” and let me know what lessons you’ve learned in the comments!

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Do You Want to Change the World? http://www.reformationdesigns.com/do-you-want-to-change-the-world/ Mon, 18 Jun 2012 20:27:43 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=660 If you want to change the world, you’ve got to start with you. The almost 900-year old anonymous quote in this graphic has so strongly resonated with me, because I have long had a vision to “change the world”. The older I get, however, the more I realize that if I really want to make […]

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If you want to change the world, you’ve got to start with you.

The almost 900-year old anonymous quote in this graphic has so strongly resonated with me, because I have long had a vision to “change the world”.

The older I get, however, the more I realize that if I really want to make any lasting change on this planet for the better, the best way to do so is to “be the change you want to see in the world” (Gandhi).

Stop focusing so much on trying to change everything else and focus on how you can change your responses to the curve ball that life throws at you.

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Be You. http://www.reformationdesigns.com/be-you/ Sun, 17 Jun 2012 19:56:41 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=656 Everything around you is competing for your attention. Be you in the midst of distractions.

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Everything around you is competing for your attention.

Be you in the midst of distractions.

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How to Become a Better Writer http://www.reformationdesigns.com/how-to-become-a-better-writer/ http://www.reformationdesigns.com/how-to-become-a-better-writer/#comments Fri, 15 Jun 2012 21:40:09 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=651 Would you like to be a better writer? Who wouldn’t? Here’s ten easy steps that you can take to improve your writing skills. Thanks to the folks at Copyblogger for this one!

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Would you like to be a better writer?

Who wouldn’t?

Here’s ten easy steps that you can take to improve your writing skills.

Thanks to the folks at Copyblogger for this one!

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Custom CSS Code for Disqus Comment System http://www.reformationdesigns.com/custom-css-code-for-disqus/ http://www.reformationdesigns.com/custom-css-code-for-disqus/#comments Thu, 07 Jun 2012 00:09:02 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=618 There are tons of bloggers around the world who make use of the Disqus Comment System. It is very easy to use and it allows users from multiple platforms (Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.) to converse all at the same time without having to register a new account. The only trouble is, getting a customized look […]

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There are tons of bloggers around the world who make use of the Disqus Comment System.

It is very easy to use and it allows users from multiple platforms (Facebook, Google, Twitter, etc.) to converse all at the same time without having to register a new account.

The only trouble is, getting a customized look for this system that works with your blog can be quite difficult for people who don’t know much about using CSS.

I am one of those people.

I found some custom code over at SiteRehab.com that seems to be a pretty popular bit of code that people use on their pages.

I messed around with that for awhile and was able to generate a CSS theme that is more minimalistic (the one you see below all of my posts) and looks good on sites with white backgrounds.

Feel free to use this on your own page as well — leave a comment if you decide to do so with the link to your site!

#dsq-comments-title h4 {
color:#333;
}

#disqus_thread {
padding:12px;
margin-bottom:-10px;
}

#disqus_thread h4 {
color:#333;

font-family: Helvetica, sans-serif;
font-size:12px;
padding-bottom:.5em;
}

#dsq-content div.dsq-options {
background:none;
padding-bottom:10px;
}

#dsq-comments li.dsq-comment {
margin-top:12px
margin-bottom:10px;
padding:5px;
background:#FFFFFF;
-moz-border-radius: 5px;
-webkit-border-radius: 5px;
border:0px solid #ccc;
}

#dsq-content div.dsq-post-area {
padding:5px;
background:#F0F0E9;
-moz-border-radius: 5px;
-webkit-border-radius: 5px;
border:1px solid #ccc;
-webkit-box-shadow: 0px 0px 10px #FFFFFF;
-moz-box-shadow: 0px 0px 10px #ECF40B;
}

#dsq-content .dsq-comment-header {
background:#F5F5F5;
-moz-border-radius: 5px;
-webkit-border-radius: 5px;
border: 1px solid #ccc;
}

.dsq-brlink {
display:none;
}

#dsq-content .dsq-comment-message {
background:#EDEDED;
padding:5px;
margin-left: 15px;
-moz-border-radius: 5px;
-webkit-border-radius: 5px;
}

#dsq-content #dsq-authenticate .dsq-login-buttons {
background:none;
background-image:none;
margin-bottom:0;
}

#dsq-content #dsq-form-area .dsq-textarea .dsq-textarea-wrapper,
#dsq-content #dsq-form-area .dsq-post-fields .dsq-input-wrapper {
border: 1px solid #ccc;
}

#dsq-new-post div.dsq-request-user-info {
background:none;
padding-bottom:0px;
}

 

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How to Break Out of a Creative Rut Infographic http://www.reformationdesigns.com/create-rut-infographic/ Wed, 06 Jun 2012 18:47:37 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=609 Ever feel like you’re stuck and can’t create? Check out this awesome infographic from the people over at Copyblogger.com for tips and tricks on how to break free of that blockage! “Think you need to be some kind of genius to be exceptionally creative? Think again. In fact, it’s a common misconception that only highly […]

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Ever feel like you’re stuck and can’t create?

Check out this awesome infographic from the people over at Copyblogger.com for tips and tricks on how to break free of that blockage!

“Think you need to be some kind of genius to be exceptionally creative?

Think again.

In fact, it’s a common misconception that only highly intelligent people are creative. Research shows that once you get beyond an I.Q. of about 120, which is just a little above average, intelligence and creativity are not related.

The truth is, we’re all inherently creative, but to varying degrees we allow that natural gift to be blocked. You’re already capable of creative thinking at all times, but to get out of a rut, you have to strip away the imaginary mental boxes that you’ve picked up along the way to wherever you are today.

Here’s a handy resource with some of our favorite way to get your creative juices flowing. Thanks once again to our friends at BlueGlass for the infographic design. Enjoy!”

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Serve Your Way to Success! http://www.reformationdesigns.com/serve-your-way-to-success/ Tue, 05 Jun 2012 23:20:25 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=607 If you’ve been in business for any length of time, there is a good chance that you have gone to any number of leadership meetings, conferences, or meet-up events. No doubt you have encountered countless people whom, upon meeting them, you walked away with little more than a business card and a really poor first […]

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If you’ve been in business for any length of time, there is a good chance that you have gone to any number of leadership meetings, conferences, or meet-up events.

No doubt you have encountered countless people whom, upon meeting them, you walked away with little more than a business card and a really poor first impression of them.

Why?

Because it is painfully obvious when people are simply in business for what they can get out of it, as opposed to what they can give.

With the innumerable amount of people who are trying to climb the ethereal ‘corporate ladder’, it can feel nearly impossible to make your voice heard, despite how good your ideas may be or how noble your intentions.

If you want to stand out, you’re going to need to go about things differently than you may have learned in school…and you will certainly have to do things differently than you probably learned in your job training.

Over the last year, I have had the privilege of being around hundreds of leaders, entrepreneurs, and some very well-paid CEO’s and book publishers. In doing so, I have made it a point to pay close attention to the way they conduct business, the way they think, and the attitudes they have towards life in general.

I have also paid attention to the kinds of people they choose to work with and why.

In doing so, I have found one very clear common denominator: people want to work with those in whom they trust.

You will trust someone that you know deep down has your best interests in mind. At the same time, you will only serve those who you truly believe in and whose best interests you have in mind.

If you want to see success that lasts and will not disappoint you in the long run (this is not the easy route!), the well-being of your clients must be in the forefront of your mind.

You must find out what the customer (or your prospective clients) care about and make it a point to alleviate their concerns.

You’ve got to be willing to (at times…especially early on) sacrifice finances for the sake of building relationships with those whom you’d like to work with.

If you want to grow your portfolio so that you have more work to show potential clients, the easiest way to do so is by offering your services at lower rates (or even free when you’re getting started) to people that you know.

I’m not talking about letting yourself become a doormat or anything like that. This is about positioning yourself in a place where you are willing to serve people for no other reason than to demonstrate kindness, trust, and quality customer service.

It builds your reputation as someone who is a trustworthy individual that is willing to go the extra mile to make sure others are taken care of.

There will come a point where you will be able to start cutting back on the free or inexpensive jobs, as your circle of influence grows and more people see the quality of work that you are generating. Don’t be afraid to start cutting back on the less expensive work once you have clients knocking on your door who are willing to pay you for what your skills are worth.

If you really have built solid relationships with those whom you have done free work for, they usually will understand and some will like your services so much that they will start paying you to keep you on board.

I have never heard a legitimate complaint about Apple’s customer service from any of my friends…why?

Apple makes it a point to serve their customers with them in mind.

They listen to the concerns and cares of their customers and have built a fantastic support team in all of their Apple stores worldwide.

I have several friends who have broken their iPhones or their computers yet Apple was more than happy to fix their devices despite the fact that my friends did not have warranties (obviously that is not guaranteed in all situations, but I have heard a surprising number of stories like this).

So what’s the point?

If you want to see real success, you’ve got to learn to SERVE!

Go the extra mile for your clients and demonstrate to them that you care by finding out what they are concerned about, and alleviating those concerns.

Be willing to ask event organizers how you can help clean up after the meeting is over and everyone else has gone home.  Arrive early and ask if there is anything you can do to help prepare for the conference. There are any number of ways that you can serve your clients. Get creative!

It does take time, but it certainly pays off!

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How to Increase Your Online Influence Infographic http://www.reformationdesigns.com/how-to-increase-your-online-influence-infographic/ http://www.reformationdesigns.com/how-to-increase-your-online-influence-infographic/#comments Tue, 08 May 2012 06:11:44 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=594 A lot of folks wonder about the basics of growing their online influence. I put together this handy infographic for your referencing pleasure.

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A lot of folks wonder about the basics of growing their online influence.

I put together this handy infographic for your referencing pleasure.


HowToIncreaseOnline

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4 Ways to Improve Morale & Inspire Change http://www.reformationdesigns.com/4ways-improve-morale-change/ http://www.reformationdesigns.com/4ways-improve-morale-change/#comments Tue, 24 Apr 2012 02:46:10 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=448 One of the most difficult things for a group of people to do is to change and move forward. You’re the kind of person that wants to see legitimate growth and advancement, but you’re probably stuck wondering how because none of those ice-breakers or programs are getting you anywhere with your team. When people have […]

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One of the most difficult things for a group of people to do is to change and move forward.

You’re the kind of person that wants to see legitimate growth and advancement, but you’re probably stuck wondering how because none of those ice-breakers or programs are getting you anywhere with your team.

When people have been thinking and doing things for a long period of time, it becomes habit and the critical thinking skills get turned off.

To start the growth process, you need to learn to cultivate those critical thinking skills in your people.

It can sure feel easy to remain the same, but the reality is that the cost of remaining the same is far more than the cost of change.

You don’t see AT&T manufacturing rotary phones anymore, do you?

We all can have the tendency to slip into the monotony of just going through the motions, but especially if you are leading a group of people, the responsibility falls on you to help get these people going!

The overall mood of a group  will drag in the mud when the routine is the same and the expectations are either too low or too high.

So how do you go about fixing this problem?

Here are four simple ways to improve the morale of your group and help them to advance forward.


 

1. Let Your Team Ask Questions & Actually Answer Them

Part of the problem that many companies and leaders run into is that they are too often run like a dictatorship, not a team. The only people building pyramids are slaves and the only ones inside of them are dead.

If you want real, healthy people on your team, you need to be able to loosen that iron grip and give your people the freedom to question everything that doesn’t directly conflict with your vision or your core values.

Encourage your people to ask good questions and demonstrate integrity by actually answering them to the best of your ability.

You do everyone a disservice by trying to answer a question you don’t really know the answer to.

If you don’t know the answer, be honest and say so. Not only will your team respect you for your honesty, but they will also view you as someone who has enough integrity to admit that they don’t know everything. Nobody likes fakery — so just be real with your team and let them poke at those well-guarded traditions of yours.

Doing this is often uncomfortable for leaders, but it is one of the most valuable and vital practices to jump start the process of legitimate growth.


 

2. Ask Them Questions & Apply Their Answers

If letting your team question you and your methods didn’t make you uncomfortable, this one almost certainly will.

One of the main issues that companies run into is that there is a glaring lack of differing perspectives.

This is often due to the fact that any kind of critical thinking is discouraged and replaced with routine and the ‘assembly line’ mentality.

You can remedy a good deal of this by letting your employees ask you questions about why you do things the way you do them, what your vision is, etc.

But more importantly, you can address even more of it by you being the one asking the questions:

“What do you think of the direction our company/group/church/business is going?”

“Have you had any ideas on how we could improve x, y, or z?”

“If you could change anything about this company/group/church/business, what would it be and why?”

“Do you actually enjoy working with this company/group/church/business? Why or why not?

“What would you like to see happen here over the next 6 months? The next year?”

Once you’ve asked your team what their thoughts are, take note of their answers and do your best to evaluate them with your leadership team.

Don’t write anything off - you never know when an off-the-wall idea from the janitor in February might save you millions in October.


 

3. Grace for Mistakes

Learning to give your people the grace to mess up is one of the most empowering and encouraging things you can do for them.

Not only will they view you as someone who is empathetic and legitimately cares for their well-being and success, but it will also help you view other situations in your life through the lens of extending people the benefit of the doubt.

As you give that grace to others, you can expect them to do the same for you.

Part of giving grace for mistakes is also giving your team a safe environment to work in.

This is absolutely vital to facilitate lasting change.

When people are in a safe environment that demonstrates forgiveness for the mistakes that will surely be made along the way, they will be more prone to think creatively and critically about how to solve problems.

Their minds will be less bogged down with fear of failure and will thrive instead as they have the freedom to experiment, grow, and learn.

Let yourself become known as someone who is well able to look past mistakes and extends a helping hand to those who need it, rather than one who condemns every slip-up and looks down upon those who aren’t measuring up.

It will dramatically improve not only morale but also the quality and quantity of the work produced.


 

4. Cast a Positive Vision and EXECUTE

Lastly, as you endeavor to bring about legitimate and lasting change for the future, you’ll need to paint a long term, positive vision to show your people where it is that you want to go. More importantly than just casting that vision, however, is taking action.

There is so much talk and hype that takes place in every sphere of society, but it is the ones who actually follow through on what they have promised that really get the job done and see legitimate change take place.

When you share your vision with your clients, your company, or your group, make sure to be as detailed as possible…paint a picture with your words and if you can, draw or design mockups of the new product you want to develop and post them up in highly visible areas as you begin the process of implementing the changes.

By putting the goal in front of you and your group in a visual way, it affords you all the opportunity to envision the success that you have planned.

It has often and rightly been said, “If you aim at nothing, you are sure to hit your mark”.

Same principle here.

Show them where you want to go, and work together with those on your team by tapping into their strengths and outsource anything that you cannot do quickly and efficiently.


Do these few things and do them well, and you are right on the road to seeing the overall morale of your team improving and the desired changes you want to bring about unfolding before your eyes!

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Q&A for the Aspiring Entrepreneur http://www.reformationdesigns.com/qa-for-aspiring-entrepreneur/ Mon, 16 Apr 2012 00:45:40 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=514 This is from an interview that I did recently with someone who was writing a paper on entrepreneurs and starting a business. The questions and answers are very basic but yet unfortunately so few people ever ask them.  I believe that one of the biggest marks of a successful entrepreneur is their willingness to ask […]

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This is from an interview that I did recently with someone who was writing a paper on entrepreneurs and starting a business.

The questions and answers are very basic but yet unfortunately so few people ever ask them. 

I believe that one of the biggest marks of a successful entrepreneur is their willingness to ask the questions that others are either too afraid or too ignorant to ask.

The problem that most people face in life and business is not that they aren’t asking questions or not learning, it is that they aren’t asking the right questions and are learning the wrong things.

I hope that you enjoy reading this this interview as much as I have enjoyed participating in it.


 

Question 1: What made you start Reformation Designs?

This is a question that only a few have really ever asked me and it is always surprising how infrequently I get asked why I decided to become an entrepreneur.

The simple answer to this question is because I wanted to

I wanted to do something that so few do because so many say it can’t be done.

I wanted to be my own boss and to not have to take orders from anybody.

I wanted to have the creative freedom to express myself however I pleased and to not have to be bound to working within a set time every single day.

Sometimes my most creative moments come at 2:30 in the morning — and if I had to be awake a few hours later and stuck in a cubicle, I’d go crazy!

I wanted to see people impacted in a way where they could look back over the course of their business career and say that they learned how to think outside the box for themselves as a result of consulting with us.

More than anything though, I did it because I have a passion to solve problems that everybody has by offering creative solutions, ideas and perspectives that they would not have seen on their own.

I created Reformation Designs because I love to serve people by helping them overcome obstacles that they may or may not even know that they have.

I created Reformation Designs because I wanted to be an example of someone who has escaped the rat-race of the 9-5 and show people that if they can learn to think outside the box then they can truly achieve the dreams and aspirations that they’ve held onto since childhood.

 

Question 2: How does Reformation Design set itself apart from similar businesses?

I certainly don’t conduct business in the ways that many others do.

I value relationship over immediate results and at times, that looks like working for free while cultivating healthy relationships with my clients.

It isn’t always easy and can lead to frustration sometimes, but I have seen the fruit of elevating good connections with people far above how much money I am making off of them.

That does not mean that I encourage people to let others walk all over them at their own expense and not drawing distinct boundaries, but it does mean that I have to be willing to invest large amounts of time in the lives of those who come to me for help.

I don’t ‘clock in or out’ like so many do. Often I have found myself so engaged in my work that hours will go by without me taking a break. I don’t advise that.

I am just as much in a learning process with this venture as anybody else who has started a business…but the main difference is that I am always trying to stay conscious of the cares and concerns of my clients as opposed to thinking of myself first.

When I started this business, I started it with others in mind, knowing that a lot of the things I have learned would be of great benefit to those who implement the suggestions I have to offer.

I suppose all that to say, that I’m not in this for the money. I’m in it to serve people.

 

Question 3: Does Reformation Design have a mission statement or core values?

I have one on our website - this is what it says currently:

1.) You will be treated like a person and not a project

2.) You will receive quality work for a reasonable cost

3.) You will meet people who are willing to serve you in other areas of your life. We are always looking to create long term friendships with our clients

In terms of my mission statement, I would reiterate what I said earlier, and that is that we exist to solve problems that everybody has by offering creative solutions, ideas and perspectives that they would not have seen on their own.

 

Question 4: What is the most difficult part of owning a business?

Time management & staying productive!

Hands down the most difficult thing of owning my own business has been simultaneously the most rewarding — having the freedom to do whatever I want, however I want it, and whenever I want to.

With all of the wonderful technologies of our day and age, we also are faced with incredible amounts of distraction. When I want to write, I use a writing program called Scrivener that eliminates my entire desktop and all I see is a blank screen and text.

Buy Scrivener

Why?

Because I have just as many, (if not more!) people clamoring for my attention as you do!

I work from a home office and the most difficult aspect of that is that it can be frustrating at times trying to prioritize your time and projects.

If I don’t focus and delegate certain blocks of time to responding to e-mails, messages, and phone calls, an entire day can be flushed down the tubes and I will not have accomplished the things I wanted to accomplish that day.

One of the simplest practices for solving this issue (that I admit I ought to employ much more) is to write down all the things I want to accomplish in a day.

Sometimes I will do this at the end of my day so I know what’s on the agenda for tomorrow, other times I do it first thing in the morning.

I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love the feeling of accomplishment that we get as we are able to cross something off of our list of things to do!

Unfortunately, for the most part, these basic, foundational practices are not what is taught in our universities and colleges around the world.

I’m still learning by studying and applying the habits of others who are much more successful than me and gleaning from the wisdom they offer on these subjects.

I have stopped trying to gain ‘expert advice’ from anyone who isn’t actually an expert in their field.

The advice I share with people comes from tried and tested practice — both of myself as well as the billionaires and millionaires of the world whom I have learned these things from.

Every one of them has said the same thing: to learn from those who have gone before you and to not heed the advice of those who haven’t done what you want to do.

You wouldn’t ask Michael Jordan for advice on how to perform brain surgery, now would you?

The people I learn the most from are those who have dared to ask the hard questions and been willing to challenge the status quo of what is considered ‘normal’.

I long to see the day when ‘normal’ looks like people taking responsibility for their own lives and success by giving back to this world with all the strength, energy, and focus that is within them.

It is much easier to rely on a weekly paycheck and someone else telling you what tasks to perform every day than it is to cultivate real relationships by creating products, services, and content that will help people take their lives and businesses to the next level.

The former requires zero creativity on our part and puts our own ability and responsibility to think into someone else’s hands.

I think this is one of the main reasons that so many people prefer their cushy 9-5’s over taking the risk of starting out on their own — because at the end of the day, they don’t really know what they would do with this kind of freedom and responsibility. 

 

Question 5: How would you define success?

I would define success as follows:

“Having the ability and freedom to do what we feel deep within ourselves that we were created to do. “

For some people, this looks like having an abundance of finances and influencing the influential through service and creative thinking.

For others, it looks like living amidst a leper colony and loving those who according to the rest of the world are the cast-aways and unlovables.

For still others, it looks like leading multitudes to get behind a good cause and bringing about lasting social change.

Everyone’s personal experience of success will be different, because it is objective based on their own core values and beliefs…but for me, it boils down to one thing — having the freedom to do what we are truly passionate about.

 

Question 6: By this definition, do you think Reformation Designs is successful?

I certainly feel more successful about it now than I did about a year ago when I started!

I have no debt as a result of starting this business, which addresses a massive misconception that people have about going into business for themselves.

You do not have to go into debt to do so! From conventional standards, I am told that for only being in business for less than a year that I am light years ahead of many others who started similarly, simply because I am in the black and not in the red financially.

I have been able to generate enough income that purchasing equipment and investing more into my business is not nearly the struggle that I thought it would be.

I am still certainly discovering what it is that I am really passionate about, but every day I feel more and more ‘successful’ in that regard because I view all of this as a journey of discovery as opposed to a destination that I am traveling to.

I don’t think I ever will say that I have ‘arrived’, so to speak…and despite how much I have learned and the successes that I have seen, there is always more room for growth and I endeavor to always keep learning and improving my skills both as a businessman and a husband.

One thing is for sure, I’ve had to grow up a lot more over this past year in this business than I ever have had to before!

 

Question 7: What are its strengths?

I am very encouraged by the kinds of people that I have been able to be around as a result of being an entrepreneur.

Living in Silicon Valley, California certainly has helped with that. I live only a few miles from the biggest tech companies in the world — Apple, Microsoft, Google, eBay, etc.

There is something that is staggeringly different about being around others with entrepreneurial mindsets than those who are still stuck in the 9-5 mentality.

I believe one of our biggest strengths here is that we are always asking questions, learning, and growing.

I spend as much time as I can gleaning from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and surrounding myself with positive people who will build me up instead of naysaying and dragging me down.

I have a passion to see others succeed and I delight in employing another one of my major strengths: being able to come up with creative and quick solutions to problems that people have struggled to overcome.

I never get tired of seeing people get better at what they are passionate about!

 

Question 8: What are its weaknesses?

If I could nail down one major weakness it would be, as said earlier, regarding time management and productivity.

I have a ton of ideas always flying through my brain at a million miles a minute, yet implementing a lot of those ideas has often been difficult in light of other things that I have needed to get done.

It has also been difficult for me to delegate responsibilities to others who have offered to help me. This is largely due to the fact that I know in my head how I want projects to turn out, but it hasn’t always been easy for me to communicate what I am picturing in my mind.

At the same time, again, I am learning from those who are good at these things so that these known weaknesses are supplemented and lessened by the wisdom of others who don’t have these problems.

_____

 

I hope this interview helps you on your own journey in life and business!

If you have any further questions or comments, feel free to let me know!

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5 Business & Life Lessons from “The Hunger Games” http://www.reformationdesigns.com/5-business-life-lessons-from-the-hunger-games/ Thu, 12 Apr 2012 01:05:50 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=506 “The Hunger Games” is one of the most compelling phenomenons that has swept through our culture in the last ten years. The success of the book series by Suzanne Collins and the recent film from Lionsgate is unprecedented and has gained a lot of attention in the media and social networks alike. The story of […]

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“The Hunger Games” is one of the most compelling phenomenons that has swept through our culture in the last ten years. The success of the book series by Suzanne Collins and the recent film from Lionsgate is unprecedented and has gained a lot of attention in the media and social networks alike.

The story of Katniss Everdeen’s fight against the manipulative powers of the ruling government of her day has inspired millions around the world — and at the same time, there are vital lessons for us as prospective business owners to glean from Collins’ series.

Be warned, there are a few plot ‘spoilers’ below so if you haven’t read the books or watched the film, you may not want to read further until you do!

1.) Work together: The odds are really not in your favor

“May the odds be ever in your favor!”

The classic line from the opening ceremony of the Hunger Games is certainly one of the most ironic and laughable statements made throughout the entire series:

24 people go into an arena, and there can only be one winner.

I think it’s safe to say that the odds really aren’t the greatest for survival in an arena that is full of competition and failure at almost every turn. The system is designed in a way to bring destruction, not victory.

Only those who truly learn how to work the system to their advantage even have a chance at survival. The odds for long term survival in the business arena aren’t much better.

The Small Business Administration of the US government reports the following regarding the survival rate of small business startups in the US:

“Seven out of 10 new employer firms survive at least 2 years, half at least 5 years, a third at least 10 years, and a quarter stay in business 15 years or more. Census data report that 69 percent of new employer establishments born to new firms in 2000 survived at least 2 years, and 51 percent survived 5 or more years.

Survival rates were similar across states and major industries. Bureau of Labor Statistics data on establishment age show that 49 percent of establishments survive 5 years or more; 34 percent survive 10 years or more; and 26 percent survive 15 years or more.

(Source: U.S. Dept. of Commerce, Census Bureau, Business Dynamics Statistics; U.S. Dept. of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics, BED.)

 

Nobody likes starting things and then not finishing them. However, one of the ways that you will have higher chances of long term success in the business arena is by working together with people of like mind and vision.

In the same way that Katniss banded together with Rue and Peeta, despite the knowledge that the rules of the arena stated there could be only one victor, it would do you well to find others who have similar goals and passions to work with as you start your business.

The rules of the game are always changing, so do yourself a favor and partner up with people who will be able to offer you ideas that you would not (or could not) have seen on your own.

When Katniss had been driven up into the tree, her competition seemingly having backed her into a corner, all it took was a different perspective from Rue to show Katniss the edge she needed to get ahead. This brings us to our next point.

 

2.) When in doubt, get another perspective.

The key to winning in your business might be right within your reach, but oftentimes we can have a hard time seeing it.  Katniss had been feeling hopeless about the possibility of her surviving much longer. The other Tributes had run her up in a tree and were prepared to just wait until she was forced to come down in order to take her out.

For all intents and purposes, it looked like her future was bleak. It wasn’t until she gained Rue’s perspective on the matter that she saw that victory really was within her reach. If she had not been willing to not only partner with someone else, but also listen to that person’s perspective, she would have spent a lot more time waiting up in that tree and very well may not have ended up winning!

If you are in a situation in your life or business and are having a hard time figuring out what to do next, ditch your pride, humble yourself, and admit that you need help. For the most part, people are good natured and will be happy to offer you their opinion on the issues you may be facing.

Just make sure that you’re not seeking the wisdom and counsel of someone who is notoriously very pessimistic and unhelpful!

That of course sounds like a no-brainer, but unfortunately many people will simply resort to complaining whenever the going gets tough—and instead of seeking for help to finding the solution, they will look for someone that they can start a griping session with! Don’t hang around negative people—their perspective is not one that you want.

The kind of counsel you want is the kind that comes from people who have achieved the kinds of things you are trying to achieve. Katniss Everdeen’s mentor, Haymitch Abernathy, was a former Hunger Games victor.  What what his advice to her for the start of the games?

Get away from the bloodshed right from the start and go find water…and that brings us to our next point.

 

3.) Direct Confrontation VS. Staying Alive

Right after the Tributes from all 12 districts were brought into the arena, many of them made the mistake of running towards the very attractive cornucopia of supplies and weaponry. It was a slaughter of massive proportions. Haymitch knew this is what usually takes place, and he also knew that Katniss had never experienced that kind of direct conflict before.

He implored her to ignore the temptation to go after the bow-and-arrow at the cornucopia and instead to let the other Tributes fight it out while she went seeking water to sustain her survival long-term.

The same goes for the business arena. Directly confronting your competition when you first start out is a bad idea. They are bigger, stronger, and more powerful than you…but you can play this to your advantage.

Focus first on establishing yourself and your brand in a safe environment away from the competition before showing up to play. Get good at learning your market environment long before going on the offensive.

As the statistics above show, it is over the long haul that most businesses end up folding in on themselves. Haymitch knew that Katniss’ only chance of winning the Hunger Games lay in teaching her to do the few things from the start that would sustain her survival throughout her entire time in the arena.

There were indeed times when direct confrontation took place and she was required to deal with her competition, but what set her apart from them was that she had established herself in the skills that would keep her going longer where others had not.

For example, eating well is a must when you go into business for yourself. You need to maintain a lot more focus and energy when you are your own boss as opposed to the typical 9-5 drudgery. Katniss was able to thrive because she not only was eating healthy but also knew HOW to get the food for her family long before she entered the Hunger Games arena. She had spent extended time honing her hunting skills because those skills led to fulfilling her and her family’s most basic needs.

Focus more on the basics than trying to be fancy. The skills you have that will bring in your food (income) are often also the same ones that, when used properly, will put you ahead of your competition.

Remember when Katniss’ bow-and-arrow skills that she had learned with years of practice in the forest were the same ones that helped her blow up the competition’s mountain of supplies? Same principle.

If you want to see success in the business arena, it is imperative that you figure out the essential survival skills for your business and market and stay in an area where they are easily accessible.

For example, if you want to learn from the best computer and technology experts in the world, you probably would want to connect with people in Silicon Valley in California long before seeking the advice of Starbucks employees on a university campus.

With that, we’re on to the next tip.

 

4.) Learn from the experts

It would be completely foolish to ask Michael Jordon for tips on how to perform brain surgery. It would be equally foolish to seek the counsel of an eye doctor for how to run for President of the United States.

In the same way, it would have been foolish for Katniss to study the methods of the losing Tributes to try and see what she should be doing to win.

You can certainly learn from the mistakes of others—but if you really want to see success, then you ought to be seeking the wisdom of those who are already successful. Haymitch spent a good deal of time instructing Katniss and Peeta on what to do and what not to do when they entered the Hunger Games. Why?

Because he was a former victor. He knew the ins and outs of how the Games worked much better than those who had never been there themselves.

Anybody can shout at their television when watching a football game when the quarterback calls a play that they don’t think they should have. But at the end of the day, the quarterback was the one on the field doing the work, and those other folks are sitting in their LA-Z-Boy armchair and are nothing but talk.

Actions speak much louder than words — and the words of those who have achieved the success that you are seeking are almost always words describing their actions.

Theodore Roosevelt said it like this:

It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.

Whatever your field, seek out mentors and counsel from those who have gone before you. That could mean reading a lot of books from successful people in your type of business, or actually seeking out face to face interaction with those experts.

Either way, make sure to ignore the arm-chair critics and listen to the ones who actually have done what you are trying to do — they’re the only folks whose advice really matters. The rest are just naysayers and haters are gonna hate!

This brings us to our final point.

 

5.) Ditch the haters, defy the odds and beat the system

Despite the foreboding rules and regulations that the Capitol had imposed on Katniss and Peeta, they still managed to believe in themselves and their vision of a better future enough to come out on top.

Where the rules explicitly stated that there could only be one victor, the two of them together were able to defy those ‘rules’ and win the hearts of the people enough to see the rules of the game change in their favor.

In the same way, as you grow and learn your market and customer base, make sure to consciously surround yourself with positive people who believe in you and will help you succeed. Don’t let the naysayers drag you down into the depression of their own boring lives.

Don’t listen to the people who say that the rules can’t be bent or broken and exercise your creativity to see things change as others eat their words.

Peeta and Katniss defied the seemingly impossible odds that a massive conglomerate system of control had imposed on them. That system was designed to break and destroy them, yet they leveraged their own passions, creativity, and wisdom from those who had gone before them to stand defiantly in victory in front of those who had insisted that they could never win.

As mentioned earlier, the odds you face are indeed stacked against you. However, that is all just a matter of perspective. Unfortunately, many business owners do not study the habits and methods of those who are successful in their fields. They do not seek the perspective of others, and often will try to directly confront their competition long before they have established their customer base.

Very few small business owners actually will endeavor to work together with another small business in the same field…and instead choose to surround themselves with people who haven’t accomplished much at all and spend most of their time complaining and naysaying.

If you apply these principles and learn the value of perseverance and believing in yourself and your vision, you will stand out from your competition from day one. The reality that you believe the most to be true will show itself in your life, in your business, and in your relationships.

Katniss and Peeta believed in something stronger than the Capitol’s petty controlling games. They believed in standing for what was right and good and demonstrated that doing so helped them to overcome the odds that were meant to break them.

You can do the same in your businesses and in your life. Some of the most successful people in the world are people who dropped out of the typical rat-race of college-education-to-try-and-get-a-good-job-and-retire-then-die and created technologies, products and services that have changed the planet forever.

The choice is yours — be a pawn in a game that is designed to break your spirits and turn you into a mindless drone working a 9-5 for someone else, or make your own rules and live your life to its fullest and demonstrate that there really is a better way to do things.

I have decided to choose the latter every time.

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Are You Struggling to Think Creatively? http://www.reformationdesigns.com/are-you-struggling-to-think-creatively/ Sat, 31 Mar 2012 18:33:21 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=494 Have you found yourself stuck with a handful of seemingly unrelated options? Are you not sure where to go next? Perhaps the issue is not so much that you don’t have the answers to your problems, but instead that you do have the answers right in front of you, and you’re just not sure how to […]

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Have you found yourself stuck with a handful of seemingly unrelated options?

Are you not sure where to go next?

Perhaps the issue is not so much that you don’t have the answers to your problems, but instead that you do have the answers right in front of you, and you’re just not sure how to recognize and use them.

Michael Michalko’s new book “Creative Thinkering” has helped me start thinking a lot more creatively.

I have posted an excerpt for you below.

_________________

“Every child is an artist.

The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

- Pablo Picasso

“We were all born spontaneous and creative.

Every one of us.

As children we accepted all things equally.

We embraced all kinds of outlandish possibilities for all kinds of things.

When we were children, we knew a box was much more than a container.

A box could be a fort, a car, a tank, a cave, a house, something to draw on, and even a space helmet.

Our imaginations were not structured according to some existing concept or category.

We did not strive to eliminate possibilities; we strove to expand them.

We were all amazingly creative and always filled with the joy of exploring different ways of thinking.

And then something happened to us: we went to school.

We were not taught how to think; we were taught to reproduce what past thinkers thought.

When confronted with a problem, we were taught to analytically select the most promising approach based on history, excluding all other approaches, and then to work logically in a carefully defined direction toward a solution.

Instead of being taught to look for possibilities, we were taught to look for ways to exclude them.

It’s as if we entered life as a question mark and graduated as a period.”

- from Michael Michalko’s new book, “Creative Thinkering


Purchase it here:


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Creating Winning Relationships: Step 4 – Undivided Attention http://www.reformationdesigns.com/undivided-attention/ Mon, 26 Mar 2012 19:04:45 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=440 Okay there, champ. This one might sting a little, especially in our hyper-connected-but-not-really-all-that-connected world. If you really want to step it up a notch in your relationship-building skills, then we’ve got to talk about undivided attention. As simple as this sounds, it is incredible how so few people actually do what I’m about to share with […]

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Okay there, champ.

This one might sting a little, especially in our hyper-connected-but-not-really-all-that-connected world.

If you really want to step it up a notch in your relationship-building skills, then we’ve got to talk about undivided attention. As simple as this sounds, it is incredible how so few people actually do what I’m about to share with you.

One of the biggest and most helpful pointers that helps cultivate healthy relationships with the people around you, and especially when you first meet new people is that you give them all of your attention and leave your cell phone off or put away!

You only have one opportunity to make a first impression with someone…

If your initial interaction with a potential client or someone you may have interest in getting to know better is laden with phone calls, text messages, and checking your social networks, it communicates one major thing to that other person: BOREDOM.

Like I said, I know this sounds incredibly simple — but the fact remains that so few people actually seem to be aware how much they are damaging the potential that their relationships have by spending so much time thinking about other things or people when they meet someone new or when there is someone right in front of them.

This principle obviously doesn’t just apply to new relationships — of course this goes for your family, your friends, and yes, even your boss and co-workers.

There are so many people who are just looking for someone to affirm that what they have to say matters — and if you can provide them with your undivided attention, it will do wonders for their self-esteem and the health of the relationship that you are building with them.

Nobody likes outright rejection - but I believe that one of the things that is worse than outright rejection is casual ignorance…and that is often what it feels like when someone is trying to talk with you and you are constantly checking your phone to see if there is something more interesting going on elsewhere.

I am learning that the people in front of me and around me are the ones that I need to be spending the majority of my time pouring into.

I certainly have been guilty of having my attention all over the place — I used to chalk it up to ADD or something, but that excuse really only goes so far, folks.

So what do you say?

Let’s all try to remember what life was like before cellphones, Facebook, and ESPN in our pockets and make a decision to pay more attention to the people who are right in front of us.

If you missed them, make sure to read step 1, step 2, and step 3

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Creating Winning Relationships: Step 3 – Treat People Like Human Beings, Not Human Doings http://www.reformationdesigns.com/creating-winning-relationships-step-3-treat-people-like-human-beings-not-human-doings/ Sun, 25 Mar 2012 04:02:15 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=424 The situation is familiar. You’re at a networking event, a bar, or a business lunch, and you meet someone new. You don’t even break a sweat because you’ve done this so many times before. It’s just like tying your shoes or driving your car. You do it without even thinking about it…and therein lies the […]

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The situation is familiar.

You’re at a networking event, a bar, or a business lunch, and you meet someone new.

You don’t even break a sweat because you’ve done this so many times before. It’s just like tying your shoes or driving your car.

You do it without even thinking about it…and therein lies the problem.

The exact flow of the conversation may as well be scripted before you even start talking:

“What’s your name?”

&

“What do you do?”

The very foundation of most of our introductions to new people have become little more than an easy, more politically correct way of saying, “What can I get out of this relationship…what can you do for me? Your identity is not based on who you are, but rather, what you do.”

Obviously that’s not what most people are thinking when they ask someone “What do you do” but ultimately that is what we are saying when that is the first or second thing we say when we meet them.

One of the fastest ways to destroy a relationship even before it starts is to make it all about you.

People are so used to being taken advantage of and only perceived as valuable because of what they can bring to the table or how they can advance someone else’s climbing of the corporate ladder.

How can you change this?

How can you rise above this plague of surface level relationships and into a more fulfilling, healthy relationship with people that you meet?

Quite easily, actually! 

You treat them like a human being, not a human doing.

You can apply this most easily at first by changing the way you speak with people when you first meet them.
One of my favorite ice-breakers in conversations with new people is to simply ask them “What do you LIKE to do?”

It is rather humorous how many people will still assume that you said “what do you do” and then proceed to tell you what kind of tragic, mind-numbing 9-5 they are currently slaving away at.

I often will have to smile and nod as they tell me where they are currently working but then I will ask the question again a second time more emphatically…

“No, I’m sorry. You misunderstood me. I did not ask you ‘what do you do?’, I asked you ‘what do you LIKE to do? “

Most people’s identities have been so defined by their work (that they often cannot stand) that they will look at you blankly when you ask them a question that forces them to think about things that they enjoy doing.

So many people have grown so accustomed to being treated like human doings instead of human beings that they have little to no grid for how to handle such a simple question.

This is what happens when people’s identities are so locked into their work. They lose their sense of purpose and vision for their future, and end up doing things just because they have been told they are the right things to do.

There is little to no joy in what they do and thus when you try to engage with them on the basis of things that bring them pleasure, they are put into a position that they are not often in — one that requires using their critical thinking skills.

If it takes your new acquaintance more than a few seconds to name some things that they like to do, engage with them further. Ask more questions about them and who they are, not merely what they do for a living (the notion of defining that boring 9-5 as a ‘living’ is something I will leave for another time).

I have had many people tell me regretfully that they couldn’t think of anything that they liked to do because so much of their time was spent working.

That is indeed one of the saddest yet most frequent responses that I have receive when asking people about things that make them happy.

I have been able to help more people go farther in their lives and businesses just by employing this simple technique and genuinely engaging with people in a caring manner.

As I ask others about who they are and what they enjoy doing, most people’s natural defenses are let down as I give them the freedom to talk about themselves and their passions, instead of just waiting for my turn to talk about me.

Allow the conversation to ebb and flow naturally instead of going into it with an agenda.

Let your only ‘agenda’ be to get to know the person and you will be astounded at how the majority of those relationships that begin to blossom and grow end up working out for the mutual benefit of both parties…and the best thing about it is when you are in it for the well-being of the relationship and not just yourself, these things happen almost effortlessly.

When you show people that you genuinely have an interest in what they are interested in, the quality of your relationship with them will improve dramatically in a very short period of time.

There is a glaring lack of real, honest, and helpful relationships in our society today.  If you want to create healthier ones, you must learn how to engage with people based on who they are rather than simply the job they are working.

I echo Brad Pitt’s character, Tyler Durden, in the David Fincher classic “Fight Club”:

“You’re not your job. You’re not how much money you have in the bank. You’re not the car you drive. You’re not the contents of your wallet. You’re not your f—ing khakis.”

The art of treating people like people and not commodities is one that takes a lifetime to master but is a daily learning process that anyone can begin right away.

Sometimes it is just as simple as asking someone about what they like to do and having a normal conversation with them instead of one that always is laced with ulterior motives of your own personal success.

Serve others and success will come to you.

If you missed them, make sure to read step 1, & step 2 before going on to step 4.

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The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword http://www.reformationdesigns.com/the-pen-is-mightier-than-the-sword/ Thu, 22 Mar 2012 22:13:13 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=420 Writing is one of the most powerful forces in the world — with the stroke of the pen, entire kingdoms and empires have been overthrown overnight.  Destructive mindsets and manipulative lies have been exposed and truth revealed as people who have dared to stand up for what is right put their pen into the inkwell […]

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Writing is one of the most powerful forces in the world — with the stroke of the pen, entire kingdoms and empires have been overthrown overnight. 

Destructive mindsets and manipulative lies have been exposed and truth revealed as people who have dared to stand up for what is right put their pen into the inkwell and defied tyranny.

The plight that many people face is the lie that so often plagues them — the notion that their voice does not matter.

How many times have you lied awake in bed, distraught with regret over not speaking up when you knew it would have been the right thing to do?

How many of your days are spent watching replays in your mind of what may have been had you opened your mouth and said what you knew in the depths of your soul needed to be said?

Moreso, how many people’s lives could improve if they knew what you know?

I appeal to you today to pick up the pen.

Begin writing, not for the sake of writing itself, but for the practice it gives you of sharing your voice.

Your message does matter.

The only reason that manipulation and tyranny so pervades our society is because those who perpetuate it are not afraid to open their mouths.

Silence is nothing more than passive acquiescence and agreement with lies.

Do not fear — speak up, and don’t back down.

Your voice matters.

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Conquer Mediocrity http://www.reformationdesigns.com/conquer-mediocrity/ http://www.reformationdesigns.com/conquer-mediocrity/#comments Mon, 09 Jan 2012 22:38:16 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=408 There exists within the heart of every man, woman and child that has ever been born a subconscious awareness that they were born to be conquerors. The world we are born into does everything that it can to suppress it — to push it down and silence the inward burning for greatness to arise. Systemized […]

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There exists within the heart of every man, woman and child that has ever been born a subconscious awareness that they were born to be conquerors.

The world we are born into does everything that it can to suppress it — to push it down and silence the inward burning for greatness to arise.

Systemized religions do all they can to dumb it down and instead create mindless drones with no vision or passion for life.

Systemized education systems are designed in such a way to produce employees who will work for the rich instead of refining and sharpening the minds of its students to create world changing products and services that will serve the masses.

The harsh reality is that most people around the world are aware of this internal fire, yet they often resort to watching television shows that temporarily excite it instead of learning to cultivate it and harness its true power and potential.

This creative power inside of us contains within itself the ability to shake nations, vanquish disease and poverty, invent new technologies, and eradicate hatred and destructive forces from the face of the earth. 

Hollywood knows about this force - it is the very reason that movies such as Gladiator, Braveheart, The Matrix, and others are so incredibly successful.

Video game companies know about it. Adventure and action games generate billions of dollars of revenue every year for CEOs around the world who have hired others to create games that appeal to this burning desire within us to be world-changers…to be someone who matters…someone who makes a difference to our communities and our planet. What is it about the notion of being a dragon slayer that appeals to so many? What is it that causes so many young people to spend what little money they have to purchase games that put them in life-threatening situations?

Fiction authors write about this constantly. They write stories that all directly appeal to the drive for excitement…the adrenaline that hits your system as you read about a warrior charging into battle despite impossible odds, the passion for justice that is lit within you when you hear that someone is victimized in a story and the protagonist stands up for what is right and true.

It is the thrill of victory, the gleam of the sword as it silences the taunt of its enemy, the excitement of conquering what all others have written off as impossible, the scattered army banding together to overcome a much tougher, more organized foe. All of this points to the reality of the existence of this inward burn for excellence and greatness in all of us.

All of those above have learned to capitalize on the very real desire within you to embrace and wield greatness. All of those above have realized the existence of this passion, this drive for success, this gift of zeal for a life that is actually worth living.

What has stopped you from realizing it, too?

What is it that has you consumed with the petty things that the world has thrown at you?

What are the relationships in your life that have hindered you from truly embracing the potential that deep down you know is there?

What have you sacrificed on the altar of people-pleasing at the expense of your own dreams and passions?

Do you even know why you have done so?

Most importantly…

What are you going to do about it?

There are so many foolish reasons that we come up with for not conquering the impossible.

The incessant excuses that pervade our minds and the fruitlessness of spending hours browsing around the internet or looking at the things that other people are doing on facebook are devastating to our own productivity.

I am convinced that one of the most prevalent and destructive forces on our planet is busyness that masquerades as forward progress.

The lack of vision and direction that so many have is by and large a product of many different circumstances and situations, but at the end of the day, we are ultimately the ones who are responsible for our own decisions.

That responsibility is not one that many like to talk about or admit, because in doing so one is forced to face the reality that we are solely those who are at fault for not following through on our decisions, our dreams, and our passions.

The desire that burns in all of us to see transformation, success, and victory in every area of our lives and in the lives of those around us is not one that can be casually ignored. It has to be intentionally and aggressively shut down and destroyed for it to ever really go away.

Nobody ever says that they want to be a tax consultant when they grow up.

What is that spark? Where does it come from and how does it so easily get snuffed out in the lives of so many? Why do so many children seem to be wired for greatness, yet end up “growing up” to be cogs in a wheel, lemmings following a system that dictates who they are, what they should do, and how they should look?

Why is it okay for a 6-year-old to say that they want to blast off to the moon, or live on an island, or invent a car that flies, yet when they “grow up”, that those things suddenly becomes pipe dreams and endeavors that only fools chase after?

What happens to our passions and dreams as we grow and mature? Why has it become the norm to stay comfortable, boring, and to not want to make a difference in the world around us?

Inspiration is fleeting and perseverance is rare.

What are you willing to do to see your dreams come alive again? Why have you allowed them to be stolen from you in the first place?

A hope, a future. This is what remains to be seen for so many- lives transformed, disease and poverty eradicated, ideas that deliver thousands from bondage, victims becoming victors.

We have seen this first hand. The thrill it brings and the satisfaction of not just a ‘job-well-done’, but a life set free from mediocrity…that. That is what makes life truly worth living. Not being willing to back down in the face of adversity, not compromising what you know to be true and right and good despite all odds.

A conquering, victorious, overcomer is who you were born to be…and you only have this life to see those things happen. We have been systematically conditioned to worry about our future and live in our past. The few who master the art of living in the present are those who accomplish great exploits, plunder the works of darkness, and thrive victorious while many around them tolerate status quo.

Change for the sake of change is not what I speak of.

Change for the sake of love, change for the sake of truth, change for the sake of believing, no, LIVING for something greater than oneself…that is what always has and what always will lead an army into enemy territory while short on ammunition and troops. That is what causes the bystander to charge into the burning building to save the life of a total stranger. That is what drives the single-mother to work three jobs so her children are able to eat at night.

Champions are those who are willing to bare all of themselves in unashamed servitude of countless others who most likely will never know the price that was truly paid for their own freedom.

All of us have been born to live a life of excellence, integrity, and greatness. That greatness, that kind of true, unbridled and unconditional love, is what drives real leaders. They live for something beyond themselves. They thrive in impossible situations because they have removed that word from their vocabulary.

They are those who have never allowed the spark to die. They are those who have fought tooth and nail to maintain hope beyond all hope. They are those who have bled, sweat, and cried to see their dreams of a better future become a reality…for not just themselves, but for those around them. They are those who have tasted defeat time and again, yet have anchored their hope in an unseen reality that cannot and will not be denied.

If you are one who has lost your hope…if you are one who has lost that childlike spark of passion and almost-absurd faith in overcoming what others have labeled as impossible, I challenge you to allow it to be kindled again.

I implore you to live with a conviction that denies and defies the status quo of what has come to be known as normal and acceptable. Abandon complacency in exchange for freedom.

Your dreams were important to you once. Once you realize that they are not just important to you, but that they are important to others, too…that is when you can truly begin to live with intention and model greatness to the world around you.

Invent that flying car. Discover that renewable energy source. Write that book that you’ve been putting off. Introduce yourself to your neighbor and actually show interest in who they are as a person.

Disconnect your television and your computer and engage your brain with reality and allow that spark of life to become the all-consuming, victorious fire that burns away all that does not truly matter.

What are you going to do to see those dreams realized, now that you have become painfully aware of the fact that the clock is ticking, and so are you?

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Creating Winning Relationships: Step 2 – Eye Contact http://www.reformationdesigns.com/creating-winning-relationships-step-2-eye-contact/ http://www.reformationdesigns.com/creating-winning-relationships-step-2-eye-contact/#comments Sat, 03 Dec 2011 01:48:55 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=346 Have you ever been in a conversation with someone when it was clear that your conversation seemed to rank in the septic tank on their importance scale? What about those conversations when the person clearly is only talking to you until something more interesting comes along and they spend most of their time looking around […]

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Have you ever been in a conversation with someone when it was clear that your conversation seemed to rank in the septic tank on their importance scale?

What about those conversations when the person clearly is only talking to you until something more interesting comes along and they spend most of their time looking around the room for someone else to talk to?

Or how about those times when the other person spent more time looking at their cell phones while you tried to engage them with what you had to say?

In the high speed, technology-driven culture that we live in today, trying to get someone’s attention is hard enough - but if you really want to see success in your communication skills and in your relationships, you need to amp it up a notch higher than just paying attention to the person who is talking to you.

A very simple, but often overlooked, and extremely under-practiced key is EYE CONTACT.

I’m not talking about the creepy puppy-eyes kind of eye contact that star-crossed lovers make at each other when they stare dreamily at each other from across a canoe.

I’m talking about engaged, focused, intentional eye contact that makes the person realize that you authentically care about what it is that they have to say.

You don’t have to spend the entire conversation staring into someone’s eyes to make a healthy amount of eye contact during a conversation…but it is important to make sure that the majority of the time that you are making a concerted effort to look directly at them.

Think for a moment about the last several conversations that you have had with people that you care about. How many of them left you feeling as if the other person was uninterested in you and what you had to say?

And how many of them left you feeling as if you were being understood and that the person listening to you cared about what you were sharing with them?

Now ponder for a minute and try to remember which of those people were making consistent (but not necessarily constant) eye contact during the conversation.

I can all but guarantee that the ones that left you feeling important, loved, cared for, and that the other person genuinely was interested in what you had to say were the ones who were looking you in the eyes as you talked.

Look, I know this isn’t rocket science and may not necessarily seem like anything incredibly life changing to read about. But think about it - if more people spent time practicing their eye contact during conversations, can you imagine how much healthier relationships would look?

Think about the people who you know who make consistent eye contact with you when you talk to them. Chances are that you enjoy talking to those people more than quite a few others. Why?

The reason is that when you are making consistent eye contact with someone during your conversations, you are connecting with them not just on an auditory level (with your speech) but also on a visual level. Most people, when they are listening to someone speak, they are looking directly at the person.Unfortunately, quite often it is the speaker who is absolutely terrible at looking back at those who are listening.

This is something that can be learned, practiced, and honed to a sharp, powerful skill that will better your relationships and overall improve the quality of the conversations that you have with others.

People want to feel understood more than almost anything, and by making sure that you are looking them in the eyes when they are speaking with you, they will feel as if you understand them.

One of the other benefits of training yourself to look people in the eyes more during your conversations with them is that you will find yourself paying better attention to what they are saying.

Your ability to retain the information from those conversations will grow stronger and you will find that your relationships with others will start strengthening as people realize that you are someone that is easy to engage with.

While this may sound simple, I challenge you to pay close attention to how much eye contact you are actually making with the people you talk to on a regular basis.

You will probably find, as I know I sure did when I started this practice, that it is often quite easier to look at the decorations on the wall of the restaurant than it is to look consistently at the person sitting directly across from you in it! Start becoming aware of the tendency that you have to drift away from looking into people’s eyes.

When you catch your gaze shifting from their eyes to something else in the room, because you’re now aware of it, it will be easier to remind yourself, “Hey! Look at them when they’re talking!”

Are you satisfied with the quality of the relationships that you have with others? Are you willing to challenge yourself to make them better? Make sure that you are consciously (not mindlessly staring) looking others in the eyes when they’re talking with you!

You’ll be surprised that it’s not as simple as you think!

If you missed the beginning of this series, make sure to read step 1 before going on to step 3.

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Creating Winning Relationships – Step 1: Acknowledge Their Potential http://www.reformationdesigns.com/6relationshipsteps-part1/ Mon, 21 Nov 2011 19:56:21 +0000 http://reformationdesigns.com/?p=325 In the game of life and especially in the business world, one thing that everyone could work on improving is the way in which they deal with people. Learning how to cultivate healthy relationships is a major key to seeing more joy and success in your life. Almost every business deal that you will make […]

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In the game of life and especially in the business world, one thing that everyone could work on improving is the way in which they deal with people. Learning how to cultivate healthy relationships is a major key to seeing more joy and success in your life.

Almost every business deal that you will make with anyone will happen as your clients learn that you are someone that they can trust and that you care about them.

The old adage certainly rings true: “Nobody cares what you know until they know that you care.”

Quite often we can tend to forget that we’re not (at least I hope you’re not!) in business simply because you’re trying to sell a product. True servant leaders are in business because they want to help people.

You will never truly attain the level of success that you might be shooting for if you don’t first learn how to become a person who knows how to create winning relationships with others.

Because of that, I am starting a series on some simple methods to seeing more life and vibrancy come into your relationships. I am going to be sharing with you 6 ways that you can actively work on employing better strategies in your dealings with people, whether they are potential clients or not.

If you do these things, you will not only see the quality of life you’re living improve, but you will also see others become who they might never be if it wasn’t for your help.

For now, I will start with what I believe to be the most important step of all.


 Step # 1: Acknowledge Their Potential

I was recently at a leadership convention with Brendon Burchard as the keynote speaker. He shared a heartfelt story of a young girl that he was coaching in public speaking. The way in which he described the situation made us all feel like we had front row seats into this time in his life. The impact that this story has had on me is largely the basis for this series and so I will do my best to retell the story as Brendon did for us.
Sarah was a very timid, very quiet individual who was able to crank out amazing outlines of her speeches, yet when the day would come for her to present, she would disappear and not show up to class. This went on throughout the whole school year until it came time for the final exam, which consisted of one last speech and an outline.

When it came time for Brendon to post the schedule for the students to speak, he intentionally left Sarah’s name off the list because she had already essentially failed the class by not showing up for the last two speeches. A day or so later, Sarah came shyly into the room and asked Brendon why her name had been left off of the list.

“Sarah, there’s nothing that you can do to pass this class! You’ve turned in amazing outlines, but then don’t show up to speak. I simply can’t pass you. I’m sorry,” Brendon had said, exasperated.

“I know I haven’t come in for the other speeches…but I really want to do this speech. I will do whatever it takes to make this happen,” Sarah replied.

Brendon reluctantly agreed, not to pass her, but to coach her anyway. The terms were that she would have to come in after school every day for several hours of intense training. Sarah did so, and thus began a several week intensive one-on-one course catered specifically towards Sarah’s needs.

On the day of the speech, however, Sarah was a ghost. The other students were up in the front of the class speaking and Brendon was trying his hardest to focus on grading their presentations, but all he could think about was the fact that Sarah was nowhere to be found!

“All of that wasted time! All of that energy and effort for nothing!” he thought.

About halfway through the class though, the door creaked open and Sarah slid into the room, relatively unnoticed. But Brendon sure did notice! He shot her a “where have you been!” look and motioned with his head for her to sit down quickly.

When it came time for Sarah to present, all eyes were fastened on her tiny frame and she timidly took her place behind the podium. She began speaking softly at first, but then seemed to gain her composure and confidence as she remembered the things she had learned in the time Brendon had coached her after school.

And then it happened: she froze. Like a deer in headlights, her eyes went wide and time seemed to stop as she realized that she was confronting her worst fear. And she was paralyzed by it.

A minute or so after the words stopped coming out, and she stood staring out into the blank faces of her classmates, the unthinkable happened.

“You’ve got this, Sarah. You’re doing great. Keep going!”

The most popular girl in the class, probably the star cheerleader, spoke up and encouraged this shy girl that hardly no one else had ever talked to. It was clear that she herself had never talked with Sarah before, but in this moment, nothing else mattered except helping someone in need. The other students soon followed suit.

“Come on, Sarah! This is good stuff!”

“We believe in you, Sarah. You can do it!”

Sarah soon shook out of the deer-in-headlights moment as she came to a very powerful, yet not often realized revelation: there was no one there who didn’t want to see her succeed. No one was waiting for her to screw up. They all just wanted the best for her.

The fear that had gripped her for so long about being rejected and laughed at by her peers was a mere illusion. She picked up where she left off and continued the speech, with more confidence than ever before as her classmates cheered her on.

At the end of the presentation, not a person was left seated. The entire class gave this shy girl who had defied the odds and beaten fear a standing ovation. Many tears were shed and in the midst of all of the excitement, Sarah had somehow ducked out of the room unnoticed!

Brendon was devastated in two ways — with joy over her overcoming her fears and devastated with despair that he had not been able to personally congratulate her before she left the classroom for the last time. It was the last day of class, after all.

After everyone left the room, Brendon lost his composure that he had held onto so well during the speech. He cried like a baby. A few minutes later, the door creaked open one last time and Sarah peeked her head in the room. Her face was just as red from her own tears as Brendon’s was from his.

She came into the room, looked Brendon squarely in the eyes and thanked him with this powerful statement:

“You’re the only person who has ever believed that I had potential.”

Sarah went on to tell Brendon that she came from a household where verbal affirmation was completely absent and no one, until Brendon, had ever showed her any kind of encouragement to do what everyone else had told her was impossible.

I tell you this story to share one simple yet profound truth: believing in people and acknowledging their potential is one of the most important and life altering things that you can do for them.

Our society is largely inundated with discouragement, fear, and professional creativity critics who do little more than tell other people how much the person they are criticizing needs to change. In a world that exalts those who cut others down, people are aching for affirmation and encouragement. Be that person who stands out from the rest as you champion people and their dreams.

It is absolutely step #1 for creating winning relationships with others. If you do none of the other five that I share, make sure that you do this one. It will not only bring life and joy to the people you believe in, but it will also bring excitement and joy into your own life as you see others blossom into who they were born to be.

Choose to believe the best in people and acknowledge their potential for greatness. You just may be the only person they’ve ever met who would dare to do so.

Stay tuned for next time where I share the next step for creating winning relationships!

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