If Our Government Was a Leader

For the past  two years I’ve spent my fair share of time around government agencies. Recently as I was traveling through rural northeast Oklahoma on work something dawned on me.

If the government was a leader instead of woefully behind the times, government agencies could develop technologies to solve their own problems. Then they could partner with businesses to offer their solutions commercially.

Did your jaw drop? So did mine. How cool would that be?!

What’s Your Job?

I’ve been giving this question much consideration over the past few weeks. When I was 18, I thought my job was to be ‘creative’. When I was 20 I thought my job was to please the client. When I was 24 I realized my job was to add value (i.e. solve problems). Today I realize my job has much more depth. If you’re considering this question, forget your title. Instead focus on what it is you do when you’re doing work. What’s important about what you do? What do you do that’s hard to live without and worth paying for? Here’s my list— this is my job (…and why I’m worth a premium):

  • I simplify complex problems.
  • I give my boss confidence.
  • I communicate a sense of harmony and clarity to others. (externally- clients, stakeholders; internally- team members, administration)
  • I execute tasks with the unusual combination of imagination and reliability.

If your only job is “showing up,”  it’s time to raise the stakes. The context, station, or perceived importance of your position doesn’t matter. You can make an impact anywhere. You’re here to give your gift to the world. Your job is to do meaningful work.

Practical Wisdom

Wise counsel comes in many forms. Today I woke up to the following quote from my friend and former employer, Cory Miller.

“Without action, it’s purely an academic pursuit”.

Six years ago Cory founded iThemes which has since become a key player in the WordPress industry providing commercial themes and plugins and has grown to employ a 20+ member team who has developed hundreds of products with thousands of customers worldwide.

They are the real deal. 

The team at iThemes strives to make people’s lives awesome and it seeps through everything they do. In a post published to Cory’s blog today, he itemizes exactly how they have positioned themselves to best serve their clients as they respond to client needs and demands. Buried in the post was the nugget of gold I quoted above.

This posture towards action has been one of the greatest gifts I’ve received from Cory. In fact, two years ago when I was starting a new project and hesitant to “hit publish” Cory showed up in the comments to encourage me. Little did I know that project from two years ago would go on to inform the meaningful work I do now in equipping twenty-somethings to take action during their decade of transition.

Today I coach, counsel, and guide individuals as they maintain forward motion in owning and operating their businesses. My areas of interest and specialty include core business models, strategic communication, and online marketing.

Week after week I engage with business owners and pass along the advice I learned from Cory– take action, hit publish, evaluate, tweak, update, love, serve, and dominate.

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, wise counsel comes in many forms. Little do the business I serve know that they are receiving counsel from Cory. I’m simply paying it forward.

 

Begin With Ten

These three words– Begin With Ten –hold the “secret” of contemporary marketing.

To begin, find ten people who:

  • trust you
  • respect you
  • listen to you

Focus this process on identifying those who need or want what you have. The goal is to shape your offering into something they’ll love… and if they love it, they’ll each find you ten more people (or a hundred or a thousand or, maybe, just three).

From here, move forward by repeating this process.

This approach will change the posture and timing of everything you do. The result?Ultimately, your idea spreads and your business grows. At first, not as fast as you want but soon enough faster than you could ever imagine.

20u Week 3 Metrics

 

I’ve been doing this with a small side project aimed at loving and serving twentysomethings during their decade of transition. It’s worked beautifully.

Here’s The Takeaway:
In today’s connection economy you can no longer market to the anonymous masses. They are not anonymous and they are no longer grouped as a public mass. Instead, you have the privilege of engaging willing participants.  For me, a focused group of ten yielded a reach of 3,000+.

The Consistent Discipline of Service

It’s easy to be a cynic, to establish dominance with a few well placed backhanded sentiments while brilliantly articulating how others waste your time. It’s not only easy, it’s (seemingly) beneficial.

On the other hand, you could choose to serve.

At the heart of service is a finely tuned focus on others for their benefit. While true service is not glamorous and requires explicit discipline it’s an empowering practice for all parties included. 

Yesterday I sat across the table from two hopeful, yet tired souls who had been a bit roughed up by life and business. As working class individuals turned business owner/operators they displayed courage in stepping foot on a university campus to seek assistance.

When they let down their defenses, I had the honor of speaking life into their business. In that moment, their faces lit up and I remembered a simple truth that I’m continuously learning, “It’s not about me.”

There is no substitute for experiencing the rush of joy that comes from an honest and appreciative reaction to a simple act of love and service. It never gets old. 

True service is not glamorous, but it is addicting.

A great way to give thanks…

A great way to give thanks for the privileges we have is to do important work.

Your job, your internet access, your education, your role in a civilized society… all are a way for you to give back and to honor those who supported you in getting to this point.

For every person reading this there are a thousand people in underprivileged nations and situations that would love to have your opportunity. Don’t waste it.

…and while your at it, do the extra work (not because you have to). It, too, is a privilege.

  • Get in early
  • Sweep the floor without being asked
  • Complete the tasks that others selfishly ignore
  • Take initiative when it will cost you greatly, but will benefit the team

Do all of this (especially when it’s not your turn) not because you want credit or reward.

The habit of doing more than is necessary is priceless and can only be learned through practice.

Do it because you can.

One Pint, Four Minutes

Today I turned 26 and, along with my wife, donated blood to the Oklahoma Blood Institute.

I managed to pump one pint of blood from my arm to the medical bag in a matter of four minutes. The phlebotomist was impressed. She indicated that most quick donors complete the process in six minutes.

Birthdays are a slightly melancholy experience for me. I personally don’t favor large celebrations and striking up the band with “He’s a Jolly Good Fellow” would certainly be off limits.

Instead I prefer to be still. I find the act of slowing down to be therapeutic.

Today was a rich blessing. My family and friends whispered, “Happy Birthday!” to me in just the right way and at just the right times and the act of donating blood was a simple reminder that it’s not about me.

2013 Year in Review

I systematically clarify my thoughts through writing. I’m odd like that.

In an attempt to govern the speed of life (2011-2013 is a smudgy blur of fragmented memories) I’m taking a more focused, intentional approach to writing and I’m kicking off this renewed focus with “2013 Year in Review.”

______________________________________

This year marked several milestones. I turned 25, married a Montana girl, clocked an entire year removed from any independent, entrepreneurial, or free market activity and continued with employment in higher education.

In any case, 2013 was a landmark year for me as I embraced a slow changing tide in my own life and began to serve those who are precisely in the same season. In many ways I’m staring at a blank canvas. It’s overwhelming and exciting. 

Here are a few things from 2013 that have forever changed my life:

1. Holy Matrimony

God blessed me with a loving wife. On August 10, 2013 in a beautiful outdoor wedding in the mountains of southwest Montana we committed to serve one another in marriage under the lordship of Christ.

It’s been a wonderful season of growth, discovery, bumps, bruises, uncertainty, and celebration.

God is good.

2. Personal Brand

For the first time in six years, my personal brand has been reduced to lumpy soup of past successes. I completely rid myself of any collateral that reflects my time as a freelance photographer, struggled through several pithy personal landing pages, and ultimately positioned this personal website as a blog (a collection of published thoughts since 2005).

It’s been odd and surprising. The processes has toyed with ideas of my self concept and identity.

3. Higher Education

I’m a state employee, working in economic development via higher education with a phenomenal boss. Weird. 

If it wasn’t for our approach, I’d struggle with this occupation. Here it is:

  1. Find talented, passionate entrepreneurs and growth companies in our community.
  2. Partner along side them to provide insight and resources to promote their growth.
  3. Deliver value in every interaction.
  4. Evaluate, refine, and repeat.

4. Coaching, Mentoring

For the first seven months of 2013 I successfully completed a year-long stint of coaching, mentoring, and championing the success of recent college graduates. As this formal occupation came to an end, I decided to continue this practice through a labor of love with the support of my wife and a few close friends.

This experience has been full of small experiments and during this time l discovered that one of my greatest strengths is helping others articulate their vision while distilling their desires into actionable plans.

I have no predictions for 2014. It’s well underway and I’m currently evaluating opportunities to leverage all of the recent life change into an existence that is pleasing to God, fulfilling for me and my wife, and geared toward creating value for others.  

The Entrepreneurial Spectrum

I work with a highly competitive breed of individuals where pride is present and ego is social currency. It’s know as entrepreneurship and, despite it’s often ugly nature, I love it.

Recently my wife and I have been watching The Bible (from The History Channel) and last night arrived at the point in the Old Testament where God establishes three primary leadership offices for the people of Israel:

  • Prophets: God’s messengers to his people
  • Priests: Mediators who approach God on behalf of his people
  • Kings: Rulers who govern God’s people

It then dawned on me that today’s entrepreneurial climate requires a similar collaborative effort.

In the New Testament, we see that Jesus perfectly fulfills each of these offices. He is our final and authoritative Prophet (John 1:1). He is our Great High Priest (1 Peter 5:4) and he is the conquering King of kings (1 Timothy 6:15).

Today many churches and ministries acknowledge the need for each of theses three offices of leadership to be exercised within their pastoral or leadership team. This could easily be aligned with contemporary business leadership thought.

It is not unlike determining one’s natural gifting and leadership style before hiring or appointing an individual to specific roles and responsibilities. Consider StrengthsFinder or Myers-Briggs for example.

All of this got me to thinking.

In a world where pride is present and ego is social currency, wouldn’t it be wise to step back and appreciate the entire spectrum of entrepreneurship?

It’s not a far stretch to consider the great need for each office of leadership.

We need discerning wisdom, selfless service, and strategic planning in successful ventures.

If product creation, business development, marketing, and selling are all truly about serving (which is my central belief) then there is no room for arrogance or inflated egos.

Instead there are countless opportunities to appreciate those who compliment and complete us as we all strive to turn passion into progress.

 

 

 

Five Thoughts on Becoming a Big Brother

In two weeks I will have been an older brother to Grant Irby  for twenty-four years. That kid has brought more joy into my life than I could express. I’m extremely proud of him. On the other hand, today I stepped foot into an elementary school and again became a big brother.This time as a part of Claremore Big Brothers Big Sisters school-based mentoring program.

Moment of truth: Elementary school was a challenge personally, socially, and academically. I didn’t hit my stride or locate confidence until well into my middle school years. This being said, it was a positive experience and I had a unbelievably wonderful childhood, but it was still a challenge.

All things considered, I realize how great an opportunity I have in speaking into this kid’s life. Meeting my new little brother for the first time was a defining moment in my life and I hope it will prove to be a defining moment for him as well. Given my (nearly life-long) experience in being an older brother, below are a few thoughts from the day.

Note to self: 

  1. Cool it with being so rational (thinking is my favorite hobby). Embrace the joy of being a kid.
  2. Look him in the eye and tell him you’re happy he is your little brother / you’re proud of him.
  3. Monkey see, monkey do — you are an example. Always be a positive role model.
  4. Create opportunities to chuckle from the gut– laughter is good medicine.
  5. Make it your agenda to learn from him every time you meet.

I couldn’t be more excited! Do you have any advice? Send it my way.

Solve A Problem

Before you take another step in your job hunt, answer this question: “What problem are you trying to solve?”

If there’s not something lacking that you are going to provide, why should an employer want to hire you?
People need to see a problem to be moved.There must be an inciting moment. For me, I saw a need to serve those around me. It was the “why” not the “what.”
Seth Godin once described the difference between marketing Aspirin and vitamins. Aspirin, he said, is much easier to sell because it solves a problem – your headache. Vitamins, on the other hand, don’t resolve an immediate, blaring problem. They’re a harder sell.
How can you reframe your application for a specific position as the solution to a problem? When you offer the solution to a problem, employers awaken to your potential.
Your skills, experience and expertise must address a problem. Every employer looking to hire has a problem. Understanding that problem and providing the solution to that problem qualifies you as the best candidate for the employer to hire.

Outdistance Yourself During Spring Break

Achieving your goals often requires you to delay pleasure. It’s difficult, but worth doing.

Now is the perfect time to attack some of the simple mechanics of a job search. You have a week free of lectures, student organization meetings and school requirements. Why not take the opportunity to break apart from the pack?

Here are five things to do instead of wasting away your break:

  1. Update your resume and develop the working structure of a cover letter.
  2. Reach out to local industry experts and set the stage for a low-risk experiment.
  3. Develop a professional online presence (LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.).
  4. Conduct a few informational and interviews and refine your sweet spot.
  5. Send a Thank You note to everyone who has helped you get to where you are today.

There you go! Five simple steps that could have huge payoffs at a later date. They wont occupy your entire break and you’ll be that much closer to your desired results.

Enjoy your break!

Get Called To The Big Leagues

Chances are if you’ve tried a few low-risk experiments, you’ve found your sweet spot and have determined the value you bring to an organization. Don’t stop here.

Keep refining, practicing and committing yourself to topping your past performance. Don’t wait to be given permission and don’t expect any favors.

When the time is right, you’ll be called to the big leagues (land a job) and when you do, return the favor by helping those around you achieve their dreams.

How Badly Do You Want Success?

Those who are hungry, driven and committed will create opportunites to improve themeselves. Success requires drive, determination, and persistance. Understanding that defeat comes far in advance of success is neccessary.

Understanding that failure isn’t final is critical. Success will come when you least expect it and only after a firm commitment to doing the work.

Low-Risk Experiments

Trying sushi, a new outfit and going on a blind date are all low-risk experiments.
So is an internship.

Chances are you’ve never experienced the practical application of your eduction. If you wait to approach a specific field or industry without experience, you might find that you have no joy in performing the tasks centered around education and expertise. Even worse, you may find your chosen field repulsing. Seeking low-risk opportunities to explore is the key for long term happiness.

Try new things, document what works and refine your focus moving forward.

Simple Doesn’t Always Mean Easy

Most everything in life can be classified into a simple process. There will always be time tested principles, today’s latest trends and a multitude of noise as you approach the beginnings of life beyond college.


Everything that is necessary to secure a job is simple. Taking action and following through is difficult. Success requires dedication, determination and the ability to be decisive.

The mechanics are simple.

Start early, build upon your past experience, and plan. Develop a killer resume, write a persuasive cover letter and wait for an employer to draw the conclusion that your the ideal candidate.

It’s not rocket science.

The razzle dazzle is in your ability to be persistent– to execute and follow through when everyone else is content to only initiate.

Gone Is The Map

If you’re waiting for a college, employer or boss to validate that you do good work, you’re handing over too much power to someone who doesn’t care nearly as much as you do.


Your passion is unmatched.

We spend a lot of time organizing, applying and hoping only to wait and wait and wait for the system to select us, approve of us and grant us permission to realize the practical application of our passion.

Now is the time to take action. Success comes to those who are knowledgeable, motivated and do well to communicate and share their passion with the world. Gone are the days where we could follow the map down the well worn path to success. Students today require a compass that must point true north.

Enormous and exciting changes will continue to redefine the entirety of industries as new industries take center stage. It’s time to navigate into the future given the multitude of available resources.

If you want to record an album, record it. If you have a book to write, write it. No need to wait for someone in a cubicle halfway across the country to decide if you’re worthy.

The truth of the matter is that you are worthy. You have the potential to achieve your innermost desires and there has never been a time where there has been less of a barrier to entry than now.

What will you share with the world?

Focus On The “Why”

I’ve struggled through college, started a small freelance business and resolved many personal toils regarding purpose and direction all with focusing on what. In fact I frequently hear my classmates and contemporaries talk about not knowing what they want to do.

The inherent problem with this way of thinking is that it dodges the heart of the matter. What we do is far less important than why we do it. What we do changes and evolves over time. On the other hand, the why of our daily routines penetrates the core of our beliefs and true purpose.

Simply put: Clarity of why helps bring clarity of what. Consistency in why helps bring consistency in what.

Why I’m writing this post is because I want more people to understand their abilities. I want my friends who are full of potential energy to burst with kinetic energy. I want more people to take note of what truly moves and inspires them and I want people to act with intent, purpose, and clarity of why in everything they do.

Do You Have A Calling?

When it comes to fulfillment in relation to work, many agree that there are three broad categories. We typically view work as a job, a career or a calling and it’s easy to confuse these categories as we navigate from college to career. Here’s my take:

  • You work a job for the money. You watch the clock and dream about the weekend.
  • You carefully prepare for a career with high goals seeking promotion, prestige and sometimes status.
  • You passionately follow your callings and continually stoke the fire within. You work because it is meaningful and intrinsically fulfilling.

What kind of work do you want to do?

I continually refine my goals in light of my calling and position myself to freely pursue that which is most meaningful to me. Currently life is in transition, but this doesn’t keep me from practicing wise habits.

The best advice I can give is to know your purpose, know your calling and make decisions that move you towards your desired reality.

A Career Is A Long Time

It’s hard to believe, but those who are sitting next to you in class will likely one day be your co-workers, competition and possibly even your boss.

Classmates can be one of your best resources as you navigate through your career. Just remember, your career will last a long time. Burn bridges now and you could be ruined for a long time to come. Add value now and you’ll be remembered as a key contributor who everyone loved to have around.
The value you add today will be multiplied in the future.

The Goal of Hiring Committees

Recruiters, selection committees and hiring managers all have one goal in mind:

To find the most qualified candidate as quickly as possible, as easily as possible and as inexpensively as possible.

This means that they heavily resort to word-of-mouth referrals and target communication within their own audience. To have the best odds at getting a job, it’s your responsibility to cultivate relationships with those who can help put your name in front of the person doing the hiring. By the time your name crosses a potential employers desk, the dedication you’ve invested into helping others, understanding your purpose and defining your strengths will have you positioned towards success.

It seems simple, right? But many miss the entire concept of networking. WHen networking there us be a mutual benefit to both you and those with whom you develop relationships. If you approach networking with a self-centered attitude, you’ll lose every time.


Start Where You Are

Last week I met one-on-one with three students to discuss where they are in life and where they are headed. The discussions were loaded and full of unpacking and processing the details that have constituted their life up until this point.

In my last post, “What’s Keeping You From Being Great?” I suggested working through a few personal details that will ultimately position you towards success. In this post I’ll walk you through the pinnacle of these details.

Knowing your purpose.

According to Napoleon Hill, there are three clear ingredients necessary for success:

  1. A defined purpose.
  2. A burning desire.
  3. A definite plan.

Most of us can define our passions- what we love doing, what inspires us and what excites us -and most of us can make plans, but we get hung up at step one. Defining our purpose.

What do you want to do? How do you want to contribute? What story do you want to tell? What legacy do you want to leave?

Defining your purpose is nowhere near as easy as it sounds. Answering these questions requires that we really know ourselves. It takes guts and unwavering courage demanding deliberate decision making. It’s risky.

But it’s worth the risk. If you move through life not knowing what you want and why you want it, you’ll never arrive at the destination you desire. Once you’re confident in what you will accomplish, nothing, absolutely nothing will stand your way.

When I chat with others about how I arrived where I am today as a student, young professional and freelance photographer I share with them how I defined my purpose.

In the winter and spring of 2009 I experienced a season of focus and self examination. This preparation, this bare bone honestly led to taking drastic steps in health, education, and personal development.

My purpose isn’t to make photographs, launch websites, design publications, send invoices or answer emails.

My purpose is to develop. My purpose is to inspire and motivate anyone and everyone who will listen to achieve their purpose. I believe I can make a difference. I believe that the only way to be truly fulfilled is to help others along the way. Once I established my purpose, I worked backwards to turn that purpose into reality.

So today, if you’re unsure of your purpose, take a step back and think about the big picture. Don’t hold back. Think big and dream even bigger.

You have the three keys to success: a defined purpose, a burning desire and a definite plan. Start with step one. The only thing holding you back is yourself. And there’s no better time than now.

What’s your purpose?

What’s keeping you from being great?

You’ve suffered through the process of deciding what field of study to pursue in college. Now you’re facing the challenge of finding a company culture where you enjoy practicing your passion.

It’s tough work. It requirers your best.

Given this, what’s holding you back? What’s keeping you from being great?

This week how about identifying your strengths? How about examining where and when you do your best work? Taking time to discern these seemingly simple details will help set yourself apart when it comes time to start talking with potential employers.

When you know who you are, the value you add to society and why you’d thrive in a certain company culture it allows employers to draw their own conclusion that you are the best candidate for the position.

Secure Your Success (In Any Field)

Success is measured by the beholder, but there are common threads that are undeniable to becoming successful. Here’s a list of ten things that you should be doing right now.

1. Do the work.
Bite your bottom lip and make stuff happen. Professionals develop, ship, send, publish, post and deliver. Amateurs sit around and wonder.

2. Educate yourself.
Education lives long past your earned degree. From experience, my greatest educational moments have been active and self directed. Don’t just seek information, knock down walls to get it.

3. Make your own rules.
If you set out to do something worthwhile there will be resistance. Don’t be afraid to forge your own path. As you do, be respectful. There will be many well intended souls who will fight for your attention and direction. Politely fend off the naysayers.

4. Iterate.
Try, try and try again. Nothing will spring from you fully formed. You must continually try and fail. Spurts of momentum often come in fragments at inopportune moments over days, weeks, months, years. Be ready at all times to “Hit Publish.”

5. Look inside.
Understand that the best way to make forward motion is to look inside yourself. The answers are within, not out there.

6. Know your craft.
Never risk vision and big-picture-thinking at the expense of understanding the fundamentals. You’ve got to know the nuts and bolts of what your doing.

7. Take a deep breath.
Life, work, job hunting and every other responsibility you have can easily lead to anxiety. We all know anxiety is counter productive. So when life is getting hairy, take a breath. Everything is going to be okay.

8. Take delight.
Everyday is a day worth living. Yes, some days are draining but your life should be fun. Strive to add elements to your life that are stimulating, positive and energizing. This season of life can be rough. Take delight in what you do, and for that matter, what others do as well. Celebrate successes- pop champagne or Diet Coke when you break through tough challenges. Stay up all night when the ideas are flowing. Enjoy the process. If you don’t take delight, your career will be short, either by choice or by fate.

9. Seek out good people.
No one is on a solo journey. Developing your work, your career, your life, will involve others. Make effort to know, connect, collaborate with, mentor under, the best people you can find.Good people tend to attract other good people. Food for thought: It’s been said that you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with. Choose your friends wisely.

10. Help others.
When chasing success it’s often too easy to focus on yourself. Most people who achieve success are concerned with helping others. Helping others cultivates understanding, humility and compassion. Don’t just reach and pull yourself up. Reach to the sides and below and do so often.

Now, put it to practice. Value elements of success that will launch you into a remarkable life.

What do you do when you don’t know the answer?

“Nothing” is the most common response.
Most of us do nothing until we know the answer. We study, practice, toil and wait for approval.
Approval is fine, but what happens most of the time?
Most of the time there’s something that needs to be done and the answer is unknon until you take action.
That’s what the world is waiting for you to do. Employers, professors, spouses and parents alike are eager for you to move forward. Fear of the unkonwn can be paralyzing, but it doesn’t have to be. Jumping from college to career is saturated with questions which have lost answers. The answers are waiting for you to find them.
Play hide and seek. Go look in the crafty, sneaky places.
Take action and don’t wait to be given permission to achieve greatness. You’re time is now. What’s holding you back? What do you need to do?

Divorce Court Is Like A Job Search

During our final stretch of winter break, I was sitting in the Owasso Public Library hustling through work for a client and completing a final push for my latest brand.

Sitting at the table next to me was a man facing a many of life’s obstacles. Rightfully so, he was droning through several loud phone calls about his recent divorce. Oddly, it was a bit captivating until he began a laundry list of why he is a victim:

  • I’m a traveling sales agent
  • We’re in a struggling economy
  • I’ve lost my confidence
  • I’m not making commissions
  • I can’t predict my income

All true, all valid (especially those tied to emotions of loss) and all are within his control.

Sometimes it feels so right to assign blame to circumstances or individuals but this will get you nowhere in the job hunt. Blaming will keep you stuck in neutral.

Unfortunately many turn to blame.

This semester commit to personal accountability. Choose to be responsible for the actions (both positive and negative) that you take. A great book to read on this subject is QBQ!: the question behind the question. It examines the nature of personal accountability and gives insight to “blame” that is spot-on.

So there you have it. The first book reccomendation of this project. There will be more to come and I’ll even review a few. What have you read that has made a lasting impact?

Welcome to the Land of Failure

Today is an exciting day – a beginning (as is everyday) of forward motion against resistance. This is the land of failed attempts and great strides along the journey towards ultimate success- Welcome!

I began this project on my personal domain neutralgoesnowhere.com as I was coming off a summer internship in Oklahoma City. It was a wonderful experience and I wanted to share all the nuggets of practical wisdom that I had distilled through the process into an approachable format that would benefit my classmates but I grew gun shy.

I finally “hit publish” and moved forward with a post about starting from where you are and completing versus perfecting. Several months later I now realize that the article is really about being decisive and committed to moving forward.

I had big dreams but didn’t accomplish my goal for the site for the Fall semester of 2011. Now I’m attacking this project. I believe in it. I’ve partnered with RSU Career Services to share with you simple thoughts and practical lessons that work. This isn’t rocket science, but it requires you to do the work.

It’s time to attack the transition from college to career.

Oh, and don’t be fooled. The lessons I share with you I must continually learn myself. The day I stop actively engaging with these lessons is the day I’ll stagnate.

Welcome to the journey. It’s about you and together there is much we can achieve!

Let your voice be heard! Follow and interact through the links below.

Pay It Forward

Thanks for coming to the Neutral Goes Nowhere site. We’ll be launching this project soon! So while you’re waiting, here is what you can expect from NGN and how it all began…

The mission of NGN is to help students and recent graduates attack the transition from college to career, make their own choices, change their lives and change the world.

The writing you’ll find here some would consider unconventional. However, I have no silver bullet and I’m not selling snake oil. These are practical thoughts and lessons learned from the past five years of daily efforts to live a remarkable life.

Background

I am a communicator, visual artist, freelance photographer, lifelong learner… and student.

I stumbled through the transition from high school to college struggling to discern purpose and direction for life. During this time I took a step away from education and began a small freelance photography business.

It was thrilling, challenging, and exhausting—all good qualities to have in an adventure, but at the time I didn’t recognize it as an adventure. Daily I faced the frustration of what seemed like failed attempts at forward motion. I was stuck.

That was until I found my way to Rogers State University in the fall of 2009. Little did I know that my time at RSU would speak volumes into the development of myself and the refinement of my personal skills.

Now it’s time that I share my experiences with you. Thanks for reading!

The Personal Power of Saying No

Over the years, I’ve learned that if something inside of me is not resounding with a passionate urge– if I feel anything less than ecstatic or amazed –I shouldn’t pursue it.

Instead, I simply say, “No.”

If you put this into practice, you make room in your life to really throw yourself completely into the rare things that provide you the most joy. For me this is helping, encouraging and supporting those who’s goal is forward motion.

We’re all busy and we’ve all taken on too much. We dilute ourselves.
Saying yes to less is the key.

Example:

This week I was heavily recruited for (what is seen by some as) a coveted leadership position. The organization has a solid set of core values and I agree with many if not most of their values. However, this was the third recruitment attempt. Honestly it was tiring and frustrating. My response was consistent with the previous attempts: “No.”

“No” is difficult to deliver, but I have learned that it is an essential part of any forward moving individual’s vocabulary. When I say, “No” I’m really saying, “I’m confident in my role and purpose. I appreciate the offer, but am better suited when I play to my strengths. Besides, if I don’t have a burning passion to lead your organization into the future, I would be doing you a diservice by taking on this responsibility, right?”

Final Thought: Don’t dilute yourself.

 

 

Hit Publish

I struggled to write this post.

After spending the last five years launching different projects and building specific brands, I was terrified about starting this one. Why? Because I wanted my first post to be top-notch.

I wanted to start with a bang. I wanted to burst out of the gates and quickly establish a degree of clout.

In other words, I wanted this post to be perfect. Continue reading…

A Reconciled Relationship

its amazing how often we know the truth, yet in reality we dont Know the truth. [my bud nathan will enjoy that]


when GOD sent his son Jesus Christ as attonement for our sin, GOD was making a way for us to have a relationship with HIM. this not the same as a “big brother” or “perverbial santa claus” figure where GOD now grants you what ever you might need.


in order to grasp the realism of the relationship i’ve been reminded of  the reality the relationship between GOD and adam and eve before the fall of man. in the begining adam and eve had everything they could ever need and a very personal relationship with GOD. after sinning and the fall, man was seperated from GOD. now that Christ has paid the price for sin and is interceeding daily for us, we can have a relationship with the great and all mighty GOD.


sounds easy right? say a prayer – go to heaven not hell.


look closer, what seperates us from the personal relation with GOD that adam and eve had?  sin. now that Christ has paid the price we can have a relationship with GOD. this being the same type of very personal relationship that adam and eve had.


had sin never entered the world our very exsistance would revolve around glorifying GOD. what now is the difference if you are a child of GOD. our purpose is still the same to glorify and enjoy GOD and all he has given us in a very personal way.


adam and eve’s very personal relationship =


what our relationship should be also.


 


how i have ever failed. to know is one thing, to Know is another.

A GOOD AND ADEQUATE TITLE should go here

i’ve found that leading a nice life requires structure.


along with, i’ve found that a structured life need not to be busy and elaborate, but simplistic in nature. so i intend to make some additions to my routine. they include:


-playing trivia games of many kinds


-becoming savvy with the hobby of puzzles


-taking in more theatre both professional and non


-re-inventing the art of snail mail


harvest the heart of a child and prioritize what it is that makes life enjoyable to you.

a slap across the face?

sometimes i must remind myself that i am going somewhere; that the dreams in my head will come true. there is a divine purpose and undoubtedly i must look through that lens. evil lurks among the good in people rich in deciet and girded with simple ambition.


dont fall victim to the plot in which you’re not destined.


it may seem silly, but i keep a file of thanks, comments and praise from people who have written it along the way for the times i get lost in that which brings me down.


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irby

i am glutton of every possible outlet

soon and very soon we are going to see the KING


[at the midnight cry]


[in the twinkling of an eye]


[like a thief in the night]


…for we know not the hour


 i have alot – too much. in fact, i am glutton of every possible outlet this world so alows. the creature comforts our generation has come to expect are frivilous to the soul purpose of life, but seem to be the extent of life and personal status.


let us not look to ourselves or one another to weigh value but to the divine word of GOD.


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irby


 

the body is a tool. ok? ok!

recently while in chicago, i attended the showing of POSIDEN on the large IMAX screen located on Navy Pier. it was mainly TITANIC minus the length and unnessisary nude-ness. it showed [graphically] dead bodies fake enough for one to draw comparision to, yet real enough to convince the point. as i began to watch i briefly thought about the purpose of the human body before i drifted asleep waking for the last forty-five seconds.


as i thought, i reasoned this:


 


-the body is used for form-


-the body physically allows for what the soul wishes to- accomplish


-a dead body is earth, so if added with water after many- decaying years, would it make mud?


 


after this, i recalled a conversation i had two days previous to this showing. it entailed death and how i and others percieved death. i am not numb or heartless to this situation but see it in light of most other worldy things in our lives. take for instance,  graduation… its just somthing you do – death its somthing you do [realize at this point death hasnt hit too terribly close to home]. its only physical now mind you and often presents momentary pain with everlasting joy.


until further experiances, death doesnt have a strong hold on any permanent emotion. the body of one who has passed is earth, they are simply the soul that used the body as a tool. after six feet of earth the body will never again see light, but the spirt of an individual will long live after their physical state departs.


live life leaving behind a legacy in spirit and strive for the excellence for which you were made. face death as a tool up and quitting, then step back to view the wonderful materpieces it helped create.


be mindful, that this was centered towards physical death, not spiritual death. spiritual death ought to be feared.


 


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i hate hypnotists

graduation – it failed to hit me until i was making my way towards the stage for the closing remarks, which i had anticipated doing in silence and as i began to walk, many began to shower me with their warm applause.


it is to them that i am thankful. i nearly wet my pants [honest to goodness] and i couldnt believe what was happening. i thank you all for the kindness, forgivness, respect and acceptance you, the class of 2006, have shown me.


i do[not] hate hypnotist – i think it was moreover the timing mood and overall situation. i do love ryon and am happy and overjoyed to see him well and back to his old sponge bob square pants – pajama bottom – wearing self.


the human mind is weak, the heart ever powerful. to be in a restful lull yet servent to a command is almost cause for fear. yet, may the mind be strong and our imagination ever stonger? i do not believe so, but i do value imagination over the blind mind of man. the order:


[1] heart


[2] imagination


[3] mind


 


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irby

i wish you could see when my heart smiles

i wish you could see when my heart smiles. in all honesty, i’ve never seen it, but bear witness to it through the passion i feel deep within.


today i arrived home after two [2] twenty-four [24] hour bus rides, five of the quickest days of my life, and a history overload that was sandwiched among many blessings.


when departing for washington d.c. one must be brought to the realization that his/her life is small in respect to their nation around them. in taking the interstate to our capitol, i began to notice all of the small towns and cities sprinkled across america. they, in and of themselves, are small worlds that i’ll never reach. they house thier own businesses, shops, high school football games and are ultimately filled with many individuals i will never come across but for nearly thirty seconds, i was amidst thier own.


the memorials were astounding- thats after the bus ride and arrivial in the district of columbia- and i could go on until near ever but i’ll spare you. in the sum of all things, we, being americans, are blessed beyond belief and come out of the womb spoiled and arrogant beyond recoginition as we take everything for granted.


at the arlington cemetary, the original thought i had on the journey up to washington [there are so many individuals i will never know] was harvested but in a much greater bulk than it was sewn, when the numerous headstones that littered the green grass with white came into view, i only thought, “i know not a soul that rests here and not one knows me.” the many stones noted the number of those who had fallen for the futhering of our nation and the freedom we that we take for granted much as we do our toilet paper.  


humbled i was and now am but within this whole adventure, i must admit that my heart smiled the most when monuments were not being viewed, streets were illuminated with light and hearts were being spilled amongst tears and broken chuckles of joy that comes directly from the Father’s hands.


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irby

there is more to this life than what is readily seen at a glance. however, the busy lifestyles we americans tend to lead only allow us a glance. it sickens me that our society is loosing class, that talent is overlooked, and the meaning of life as defined by this world has greatly changed in moral standing.


there was a time when people hunted to eat, ate to live, lived to enjoy. now we school to learn, learn to advance our position for more school, school once again at a higher price to career, career to provide ourselfs with more than we need.


CHRIST IS LIFE.


      BEAUTY IS WHEN GOD SHINES THROUGH THE      TRANPERANCIES OF YOUR BEING.*


we need reform. the simplicities of life are what truely make life rich. the laugh of a fellow friend, the hello from a perfect stranger- brown paper packages tied up with strings. self induglence is the new thing, society sees the need to gratify its lust. i could go on but its all the same- really it is. let me end with this:


i aim to mature in physical stature and mental capacity, but looking in retrospect i wish to harvest the heart of a child.**


children view this world with wonder and imagination they never fail to enjoy life. if you never come to viewing life through Christ, i hope at least you’ll view life like a child.


 


*taken from my post on Monday, November 28, 2005


**taken from my post on Saturday, December 10, 2005


 


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the seven day outlook

one week from today, those found in the faith will celebrate the resurection of CHRIST. tonight at church we had a service of praise and reflection of JESUS and HIS ministry up until HIS crusifiction. it was a candle light service and slowy the candles were blown out until the last song of praise where we all left in silence and darkness, free to meditate on the works and death of CHRIST. next Sunday will be another day of praise and celebration but in a different mannor. this was the first time my church has done a service like this- my soul enjoyed it.


 


How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr’s, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom


 


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irby

talent show success

thanks to the NHS officer, and our faculty for allowing us our final leave from the normal school day in exchange for silly routines in which we act as if we sing.


another big thanks to chad, ryon, meagan, megan, and nathan who made our act[s] possible.


[added]


today i went to RON’S hamburgers with my daddy for the third meal of the day. [with the stage set, allow me to interject] i view life in my own way unique to myself and myself alone [much like you and yourself] my parents are the extremes and i hope to sail down the middle, grasping the positives from both personalities. in public, my dad can almost air on the side of annoyance while my mother tries not to bother anyone and is at all times proper.


so we ate and since i was with my dad, i blew bubbles in the pepsi beverage nearly for a solid two minutes. it was the most fun that i’d had since i danced in a black suit and had at roughly 9:25 a.m this morning. 


 


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life as we know it has ceased

this saturday is death cab and prom along with april fools day. there after, the month is but a blink away from being nonexistent and you can practically count on all your fingers and toes how many days of may will be occupied by school. lets face it, its over.


i’ll have three months to say goodbye as june and july combine with portions of may and august. then it’ll be like starting kindergarten all over again, only this time we wont be as timid to test the waters.


if you think of it like this, i’m a c-list celebrity or so it seems. i attend school, go to class and do a few extras here and there. i’ve come to be well liked and respected by many and for not one reason that i understand. i’ve been blessed to be accepted the way i am and i hope to never take that for granted. i hope i’ve made an impact for better, not for worse and that i’ll be remebered for a kind word and not so much for taking my shirt off in front of the school. thirteen years has seen alot but never had i imagined that i’d come to be liked, the introvert would be on stage, or the hushed known to talk.


i can only hope for such things if not better to come. the realization of what i’ve accumulated over the years has recently slapped me across the face and lets just face it, i’m fixing to have to start back from square one.


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irby 


 

i wish you could see when my heart smiles. in all honesty, i’ve never seen it, but bear witness to it through the passion i feel deep within.


BIGGER AND BETTER THINGS


a friend of mine said to me, “i know your moving on to bigger and better things” in regard to my attending college next year and at that moment i finally realized why i had never percieved the idea in that mannor. i’ve been redeemed by the most Holy and i aim to bring HIM glory [though i have failed miserably]. i am in a state of finding HIS will for my life and constantly desiring HIS wisdom. though i am moving on and quite quickly, i have not the slightest clue as to how HE might use me as i enter “life.” as of now i havent applied to any colleges and am most likely will be attending TCC. i have my wants, wishes and desires but all havent been able to line up into a career. in due time it will be made known to me.


knowlege is simply an amazing aspect of life that i will always highly respect.


 


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irby

so its come and gone like a spring-time shower and i took the chance to enjoy it, to my fullest while it lingered.


thats right, the mr. owasso pagent was a blast. i hope the pom squad made some cash and that the audience enjoyed themselves just as much if not more than myself and the other contestants. as for me, i will once again be retiring to my boring ol’ routine [though i aim to break it] and will simply forget that graduation is but a hop and a skip away allowing it to suprise me.


life is centered around purpose. some, at our age have a good handle on what exactly it means to have purpose while others simply wish to live in the moment wishing to deal with life when they are “grown up.” i’ve been blessed to have been raised to realize that i, as a child of Christ, i have a purpose and that is to proclaim the gospel through any means nessisary. in fact, we’ll never grow up- seeing how a Christian is constantly in the process of sanctification and will keep growing more Christ-like until that great gettin’ up mornin’. so do i “live in the moment?” yes, i do. i enjoy myself in many facets of life because i believe God puts within us an intrest for many things for our enjoyment. this can lead to hobbies and even career choices but at the heart of the matter, we should strive continually to see God exhaulted by bringing others to know Him.


 


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irby

i’ve found my [temporary] utopia- you can join if you’d like.


[i'm not even kidding about the aforemention statement]


i’ve once again been taken aback by simplicity. by the brute strength of honestly, the bold presence of two colors that compliment one another by contrast, the stark nature of a blank paper waiting to be decorated by lines scribbles and thought, along with the warmth of a simple, “hello.”


 


_________________________________________________


[compare / contrast essay]


life revolves around interest, interest being the outcome of contrast and comparison throughout every aspect of life. interest causes the normality of life to prosper and thus opens the door to creativity. if all facets of life were in one accord, living life as we know it would become bland. interest encompasses all forms from visual and audio, to seasonal and cultural. variety sets the stage for interest and undoubtedly stirs the familiarity found within routine. music, being one of the simplest features in life, varies greatly, provoking thought and emotion through its differing styles. the natural contrast and similiarity in music allows differing genres of music to fully compliment one another.


[oh the perks of being in comp I]


 


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irby