what influenced me in 2015

There are some great lines in one of my favorite Jackson Browne songs – About My Imagination

“I kept my eyes open and tried to see
The point of what went on in front of me
I kept what moved me, forgot about the rest…”

2015, baby, YOU moved me.

It was just non-stop change, growth, failure, improvement, and success. I can barely write this – I’m still out of breath!

Time itself is a powerful force. But it’s like those moving sidewalks in the airport. When you’re walking fast on one of those, you are going places. That’s how 2015 has been for me.

This isn’t just a post about books – it’s about concerts, books, people, and songs. My sail is up for all-the-wind and so my best-of list has a little variety.

Since I opened with some Jackson Browne lines, let me just say, seeing him and his band play live at Red Rocks in Denver, Colorado in August has to take the cake for amazing experiences this year. In typical Colorado fashion, a brisk, cold rain was blowing for a couple of hours before things got started, but the stage was covered and when they pulled the tarps off the gear and hit the first notes, there was no rain, no damp, not even any air…just beautiful sounds filling a mountainside.


(This was really a high-school graduation present for my daughter, but you know, she couldn’t go alone!!)

What I love about Jackson Browne’s music, beyond the great songwriting and arranging, is his heart for people and our planet. The title track to his latest record, “Standing in the Breach” is an ode to the human spirit and the call many feel to gather strength in difficult times by working together to repair our world.

The song was written for a fundraiser for a group that had built a school in Haiti that had been damaged by an earthquake. They were raising money to return and repair it. Here’s a bit of the lyrics from the 2nd verse:

“The unpaid debts of history
The open wounds of time
The laws of human nature always tugging from behind
I want to think that the earth can heal
And that people might still learn
How to meet this world’s true challenges
And that the course we’re on could turn

And though the earth may tremble and the oceans pitch and rise
We will all assemble and we will lift our eyes
To the tasks that we know lie before us
And the power our prayers beseech
And cast our souls into the heavens, standing in the breach”

Oh Jackson, YOU moved me!!

Here’s a live clip from the same tour – a few nights before we saw him, and an amazing song, Which Side:

Speaking of moving…

scaling up

Scaling Up – Verne Harnish

…be careful what you read on your birthday. Verne Harnish’s Scaling Up moved me in the wrong direction at first, creating an existential crisis that took a few days to rise from. This is not a book to read too early in the business journey, and probably not alone. On your birthday.

Scaling Up maps the landscape of the last 15 years of business book publishing. He neatly organizes what goes where, gives it context, and then proceeds on to the next topic. You could presumably read this volume first and have a reading list with a couple dozen super impactful titles to dig into, but you probably wouldn’t make it.

All of that said, in due time, Verne’s book is a lifesaver. Leonie and I are walking through this book and implementing it a little more each quarter. The perspective and clarity it has given may have saved our business relationship, as well as helping us to set LDI up for continued growth and profitability into the future.

Very good, but seriously, don’t start here. If you do, and you call me, I’ll tell you to take two Jim Collins and call me in the morning.


Boundaries – Henry Cloud & John Townsend

Speaking of relationships, I read “Boundaries” this year. This book is golden. It does have a strong Christian bent, both in ideas and vocabulary, but I received so many recommendations for it from non-Christian sources, that it appears to have a nearly singular role in the world – explaining to people where they start and others’ stop. This is good stuff.

For some of us, boundaries are the sorts of things that would have gotten us into a lot of trouble at points in our lives, so we jettisoned them. If you struggle to take care of yourself, to prioritize your own emotional and physical health, or you find that you’re frequently unable to meet your own expectations, you *might* need this book. Okay, you probably do, I mean, I don’t want to violate your own sovereignty in making decisions, but if you’re even mildly thinking ‘that might be me’, order it now!

PicMonkey Collage

Good to Great, How The Mighty Fall, Built To Last – Jim Collins

Jim Collins – everything.he.wrote…but no, seriously, yes, everything he has written. 2015 was like one long reading and re-reading Jim Collins binge. If you’ve not read Good to Great, How The Mighty Fall or Built To Last and you are trying to build an honest-to-goodness company, these are great volumes. However, that’s a lot to lay on a person and since you may not be as wonkish as I am, just consider this – buy this one little article from the Harvard Business Review – it may be the best thing ever written on articulating company vision!!

What We Talk About When We Talk About God

What We Talk About When We Talk About God – Rob Bell

Rob Bell – Rob is a writer and speaker that moves me to the core. Re-listening toWhat We Talk About When We Talk About God was energizing and exciting. Listening to episodes of his new podcast, the RobCast, frequently left me on the edge of my seat. But none of those could compare to the three hours of watching Rob on a stage in Denver, writing on a triangle-shaped whiteboard on his “Everything is Spiritual” tour this summer.

rob bell white board

Blurring the lines that often separate faith and science, and downplaying the differences in human approaches to Spirit (“when I talk to my atheist friends and they tell me about the God they don’t believe in, I have two thoughts – one, I don’t believe in that God either, and two, their saying so is an act of emotional honesty that I deeply appreciate…”), Rob blended humor and heart to create a show that boiled down to the longest sermon you’ve ever paid to watch, and love. And the venue served beer.

Not your traditional church, but Rob isn’t a traditional pastor. Sitting in his rented one-evening church, surrounded by 500 or so similar souls, listening to him articulate his vision for what it means to be human and how we communicate and interact with Spirit, I have a different vision for how everything works, now.

It reminds me of Peter Mayer’s great song, Holy Now.

And, as a preview of 2016 – I’m fortunate to be booked at one of Rob’s 2-day Intensive events for business folk…wow…that will be cool!! I love that my job means that this is essential training and that the boss is insistent on me going! #neverleaving

Which reminds me of another thing she bossed me into doing…

big magic

Big Magic – Elizabeth Gilbert

One of my favorite episodes was Rob talking to his friend, Liz Gilbert. Not long after that I started reading Big Magic (after Leonie told me again and again to get it then just gave up on telling and sent me the book instead). Wow. Wow. Wow. Big. Magic. Ideas come for us. Fear rides with us. Make enough room for creativity and fear to ride together, but fear never gets to drive.

What else can I say?

carry on warrior
Carry on Warrior: The Power of Embracing Your Messy, Beautiful Life – Glennon Doyle Melton

I didn’t know who Glennon Doyle Melton was until Leonie forced me to listen to Carry On Warrior (anyone sensing a pattern here? I get excitable emails from her often saying “READ THIS! THIS WAS WRITTEN FOR YOU!” It’s hard to argue when she’s been right every time.) It was hard going at first, but a few chapters in, I started to get a sense of what a beautiful heart Glennon has. I love following her on social media – it’s a spark that keeps my pilot light burning even on the difficult days.

I think last on this list is Leonie.


2016 Create Your Shining Year Goals Books & Planner + their author, Leonie Dawson

I could not have imagined at the start of the year where I’d be by the end. I was focused on my own business, working hard to learn, grow, and scale. There were thoughts and flashes at times. I’d think of the seven months I took off from running my own company to run a non-profit and the joy I found in a diverse universe of the problems presented to me – people, systems, legal, technology. Watching Leonie work through some challenges with the 2014 workbook launch, I enjoyed her style and approach to problems. She seemed willing to learn and grow, do what was required, communicate, even when it was difficult.

I had worked with a lot of people in the internet space, using some of the same tools and ideas, with audiences or developing markets similar to Leonie’s but the difference I felt strongly was that she was the real thing. Other clients didn’t rise to the occasion, perhaps couldn’t, but Leonie was a real business woman with a real business and was made of structure that could handle big waves and get stronger. I was intruigued.

First it was just a casual coaching relationship – a mastermind of sorts. Meet for an hour or two a week and trade listening and advice with each other. My business began to bloom. Leonie’s was doing fine, but in our conversations it became clear her business was missing something. A role. A skillset. A person. One that happened to look an awful look like me and mine.

It was late at night for me the first time she proposed it. We both laughed and backed away quickly. Within a month or so, it was done. I was fully onboard, fulltime, and was quickly transitioning my team and projects to other businesses.

In the end, the timing was perfect and our mutual roads have been good.

For me, Leonie, and the team, this has been a great year. We’ve completed huge projects – a complete overhaul of the Academy, new shopping carts, new books, new webinars, new courses, blogs, and events.

So much of what is in my heart has a home here. I’m pretty astounded.

I’m grateful for a beautiful, healthy, and loving family, a great team and a wonderful tribe that I get to work with and for each day, and work that calls for more of me, and gives more back than I’ve ever dreamed possible.

If you are reading this, you’re part of that magic, so thank you.

Saint Anne, as some refer to Anne Lamotte, says there are three great prayers – Help. Thanks. Wow.

Here at the nearly-over end of 2015, but before 2016 and all it has in store, I’m pausing for a moment. For a word.


grant sig 2


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