Category Archives: motivation

Cookouts & Fireworks, Provided by Stars & Stripes

Surely this weekend you will find yourself cooking out and enjoying fireworks. Hopefully amongst your friends and family will also be a proudly flown American flag. In the middle of all the mayhem, take a moment to gaze at the Stars and Stripes, considering what they mean.

The Continental Congress approved the first flag on June 14, 1777, stating in the first Flag Act, “Resolved, That the flag of the United States be made of thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new Constellation.” 

The number 13 had to do with the 13 colonies that initially comprised the United States of America. Five more states joined the Union in 1818, so Congress passed legislation requiring Continue reading

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#GraduationAdviceIn3Words

The hashtag #GraduationAdviceIn3Words was trending on Twitter this morning and was full of sarcastic jokes. I love a good joke (and am known to be sarcastic at times) but I felt compelled to offer some actual useful advice and it just kept rolling out. Someone suggested to put them all in one place, so here they are, in no particular order: 

Lead Like Crazy Don’t complain, offer solutions—The world needs strong servant leaders & you can be one of them

Offer Wise Counsel Knowledge & wisdom are Continue reading

Christmas Commercial

Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, we can tend to over commercialize Christmas. It happens to all of us. 

Maybe it’s those cute whatevers we thoughtfully buy for our kids or friends… Or that too-good-to-pass-up Continue reading

Business (and Life) Lessons from the World Cup (and my Dad & Son)

Art Brown, captain and goalie of the West Point soccer team, in 1961.

Art Brown, my father, and captain and goalie of the West Point soccer team, in 1961.

In watching the World Cup and my son’s traveling soccer games, I’ve come to realize that a look at the basic differences between offense and defense gives insight on human behavior and personalities that we can all use in business, as well as life in general. In this exercise, players on offense might be executives, marketers, salespeople, creatives or anyone with a higher profile role and/or more extroverted personality. Players on defense might be accountants, HR staff, production, engineers, or anyone with a more back office role or more introverted personality.

As you read these simple observations, be thinking of your own behavior and how you interact with your colleagues, clients, vendors, family and friends:

  • Offense requires inventiveness whereas defense is preventive — Those traits are typically not equally strong in the same personality
  • Inventiveness in its nature is improvisational, and yet defense requires impromptu responses
  • Offense is creative and opportunistic–you only have to be “on” when you have the ball
  • Defense is high-stress and requires keen alertness at all times*
  • Offense is easily measured and recognized by what happens (goooooaaaaalllls!), so those on offense get a lot of credit and recognition
  • Defense is measured by stats such as saves, but the vast majority of people don’t look for that data
  • Offense is high-profile and every time someone scores, there is massive celebration
  • Defense is, for the most part, only noticed when they make a mistake
  • The camera always follows the ball which is 100% of the time with the offense

Offense requires inventiveness whereas defense is preventive
Those traits are typically not equally strong in the same personality

For what it’s worth, here’s some personal context. I played soccer growing up and was half-back. Kind of half offense and half defense, but colleagues of mine would probably tell you I mostly play offense. That said, I do come from a good “defense” bloodline. My dad was an all American goalkeeper and captain of the West Point team during college, and he later became a coach and the officer in charge of the West Point soccer team. So, he must have been very trained and groomed for this, right? Not. On his first day of soccer ever, when he tried out for his high school soccer team, the coach asked, “Who here plays basketball?” My dad raised his hand. Without yet seeing any athletic endeavor from my father, the coach said, “You’re goal keeper.”

So, here are some takeaways from my perspective:

  • Neither offense or defense is better than the other
  • It takes both good offense and good defense to win
  • The goalkeeper is the ultimate defender–and during the game is more important than the coach–seeing the whole game and interconnecting the team’s individual players via strategy, coordination and communication
  • Maybe we could all stand to look for and celebrate the metrics of our colleagues on defense (If a defender’s goal is to stop goals, then they “score” goals when they stop them)
  • Everybody on the team is on both offense and defense, they are just on different places of the field
  • Offense and defense are on the same team (Don’t fall into the trap of seeing someone with a different personality or role than you as your opponent)

Everybody on the team is on both offense and defense,
they are just on different places of the field

Did this help you? What insights do you have from this, or from any sport?

*Since Germany whipped Brazil 7-1, I’m mindful how german shepherds trained for protection sometimes get severe anxiety due to their feeling of responsibility to allow nothing to happen. The anxiety comes from having to be always ready, always on.

Literary Agent List

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I often get asked by new or aspiring authors at conventions or over social networks if they can submit a manuscript or proposal. Like most companies in the creative arts, we do accept submissions but only through agents and attorneys (or colleagues) with whom we already do business. This is really in the best interest of both parties, because many proposals and manuscripts may be similar to what we already have in development.

So it is a case of the old Catch-22, where a writer needs relationships but doesn’t yet have the relationships needed to break into the industry.

Well, here is a great place to start. I have listed below many of the agents and attorneys with whom I already work, along with their physical and email address.

Before you carpet bomb all of them with your big idea, be sure to first send a query letter to state who you are, why you are qualified to write, what your basic premise is and to kindly ask whether they are accepting new clients.

It is my hope that this helps launch your career, and I hope to see you and your work soon. Please use the comments field to ask any questions or make comments. Thank you.

NOTE: I am also an agent for select authors and new authors with manuscripts I believe can help change the world. So, you’ll see me listed as well.

LITERARY AGENT LIST

These are agents that focus on representing Christian authors and organizations. I also work with many entertainment and general market agents but this list is focused on Christian representation.

NOTE TO AGENTS: If you are one of the agents listed below and prefer a different contact address or to be removed entirely, please let me know by email. If you are an agent and are not listed below and would like to be added, please let me know by email.

Maurilio Amorim
Amorim Agency
112 Westwood Place Suite #110
Brentwood TN 37027
Email

Giles Anderson
Anderson Literary Agency
435 Convent Avenue Suite #5
New York, NY
E-mail

Sally Apokedak
Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency
5252 Barrett Parkway #39
Marietta, GA 30064
Email

Karen Ball
Steve Laube Agency
5025 N. Central Avenue Suite #635
Phoenix, AZ 85012–1502
Email

Bruce Barbour
Literary Management Group
P.O. Box 40965
Nashville, TN 37204
Email

Tim Beals
Credo Communications Inc.
3148 Plainfield Ave NE Suite 111
Grand Rapids, MI 49525
Email

Sandra Bishop
MacGregor Literary
2373 NW 185th Ave Suite #165
Hillsboro, OR 97124
Email

Frank Breeden
PREMIERE AUTHORS
Washington – Nashville
Email

Chip Brown
PROPER MEDIA
Contact

Jenni Burke
D.C. Jacobson & Associates
3689 Carman Drive Suite 300
Lake Oswego, Oregon 97035
Email

Terry W. Burns
Hartline Literary Agency
1414 Sunrise Drive Suite #51
Amarillo TX 79104-4332
Email

Mary Chappell
Zachary Shuster Harmsworth
535 Boylston Street Suite 1103
Boston, MA 02116
Email

Rick Christian
Alive Communications
7680 Goddard St. Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
Email

Jonathan Clements
Wheelhouse Literary Group
1007 Loxley Drive
Nashville TN 37211
Email

Chaz Corzine
The MWS Group
321 Billingsly Court, Unit 15
Franklin, TN 37067
Email

Claudia Cross
Folio Literary Management
The Film Center Building
630 9th Avenue, Ste. 1101
New York, NY 10036
Email

Blythe McIntosh Daniel
The Blythe Daniel Agency
P.O. Box 64197
Colorado Springs, CO 80962
Email

Greg Daniel
Daniel Literary Group
1701 Kingsbury Drive Suite 100
Nashville, TN 37215
Email

Jan Dennis
Dennis Literary
19350 Glen Hollow Circle
Monument, CO 80132
Email

David Dunham
The Dunham Group
63 Music Square East
Nashville, TN 37203
Email

John Eames
Eames Literary Services
4117 Hillsboro Pike, Box 103-241
Nashville, TN 37215
Email

Danielle Egan-Miller
Browne & Miller Literary Associates
410 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 460
Chicago, IL 60605
Email

Esther Fedorkevich
The Fedd Agency
606 Flamingo Blvd.
Austin, TX 78734
Email

Chris Ferebee
2834 Hamner Avenue Suite 456
Norco, California 92860
Email

Sara Fortenberry
Sara Fortenberry Literary Agency
1001 Halcyon Ave.
Nashville, TN 37204
Email

Gary Foster
Gary D Foster Consulting
733 Viginia Ave
Van Wert, OH, 45891
Email

Rachelle Gardner
Books & Such Literary Agency
52 Mission Circle, Suite 122, PMB 170
Santa Rosa, CA 95409
Email

Don Gates
The Gates Group
1403 Walnut Lane
Louisville, KY 40223
Email

Jennifer Gates
Zachary Schuster Harmsworth
1776 Broadway, Suite 1405
New York, NY 10019
Email

Joel Gotler
Intellectual Property Group
9200 Sunset Blvd. Suite 520
West Hollywood, CA 90069
Email

Steve Green
Anvil II Management
12175 Network Boulevard, Suite 150
San Antonio, TX 78249
Email

Tamela Hancock Murray
Steve Laube Agency
5025 N. Central Avenue #635
Phoenix, AZ 85012
Email

Joyce Hart
Hartline Literary
123 Queenston Drive
Pittsburgh PA 15235
Email

Andrea Heinecke
Alive Communications
7680 Goddard St., Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
Email

Kathryn Helmers
Creative Trust, Inc.
5141 Virginia Way, Suite 320
Brentwood, TN 37027
Email

Judy Hilsinger
Hilsinger-Mendelson West
8916 Ashcroft Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90048
Email

David Jacobsen
D.C. Jacobson & Associates
P.O. Box 1965
Sisters, OR 97759
Email

Don Jacobson
D.C. Jacobson & Associates
P.O. Box 1965
Sisters, Oregon 97759
Email

Tina Jacobson
B & B Media Group, Inc., The
109 S. Main Street
Corsicana, TX 75110

Email

Bill Jensen
William K. Jensen Literary Agency
119 Bampton Court
Eugene, OR 97404
Email

Nancy Jernigan
Hidden Value Group
27758 Santa Margarita Pkwy #361
Mission Viejo, CA
Email

Greg Johnson
WordServe Literary Group
10152 S. Knoll Circle
Highlands Ranch, CO 80130
Email

Natasha Kern
Natasha Kern Literary Agency
P.O. Box 1069
White Salmon, WA 98672
Email

Deidre Knight
The Knight Agency
570 East Avenue
Madison, GA 30650
Email

Janet Kobobel-Grant
Books & Such Literary Agency
52 Mission Circle, Suite 122, PMB 170
Santa Rosa, CA 95409-5370
Email

Steve Laube
The Steve Laube Agency
5025 N. Central Avenue, #635
Phoenix, AZ 85012–1502
Email

Wendy Lawton
Books & Such Literary Agency
Central Valley Office
Post Office Box 1227
Hilmar, CA 95324
Email

Shannon Litton
Amorim Agency
112 Westwood Place suite 110
Brentwood TN 37027
Email

Shannon Marven
Dupree, Miller & Associates
100 Highland Park Village, Suite 350
Dallas, TX 75205
Email

Jan Miller
Dupree, Miller & Associates
100 Highland Park Village, Suite 350
Dallas, TX 75205
Email

Tamela Hancock Murray
The Steve Laube Agency
5025 N. Central Avenue, #635
Phoenix, AZ 85012–1502
Email

Mike Nappa
Nappaland Lit Agency
367 Hawthorn Dr
Loveland, CO 80538
Email

Lynn Nesbit
Janklow & Nesbit Associates
445 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10022
Email

Bryan Norman
Alive Communications
7680 Goddard St., Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80920
Email

Bill Reeves
Working Title Agency
2948 Augusta Trace Drive
Spring Hill, TN 37174
Email

Bucky Rosenbaum
Rosenbaum & Associates Literary Agency
P.O. Box 277
Brentwood, Tennessee 37024
Email

Rebeca Seitz
Reclaim Management
1700 Hayes Street, Suite 302
Nashville, TN 37203
Email

Mary Sue Seymour, AAR
The Seymour Agency
475 Miner Street Road
Canton, New York 13617
Email

David Shepherd
The DRS Agency
317 Main Street/Suite 207
Franklin, Tennessee 37064
Email

Meredith Smith
Creative Trust, Inc.
5141 Virginia Way, Suite 320
Brentwood, TN 37027
Email

Karen Solem
P.O. Box 374
24 Park Row
Chatham, NY 12037
Email

Ann Spangler
Ann Spangler & Co.
1420 Pontiac Road SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
Email

Les Stobbe
Literary Agent
300 Doubleday Road
Tryon, NC 28782
Email

Mark Sweeney
Mark Sweeney & Associates
28540 Altessa Way, Suite 201
Bonita Springs, FL 34135
Email

David Van Diest
Van Diest Literary Agency
P.O. Box 1482
Sisters, OR 97759
Email

David Vigliano
Vigliano & Associates
405 Park Avenue, Suite 1700
New York,, NY 10022
Email

Frank Weimann
The Literary Group International
The Stanford Building
51 East 25th Street, Suite 401
New York, NY 10010
Email

Thomas J. Winters
Winters & King, Inc.
2448 East 81st Street, Suite 5900
Tulsa, OK 74137-4259
Email

Andrew Wolgemuth
Wolgemuth & Associates
8600 Crestgate Circle
Orlando, FL 32819
Email

Erik Wolgemuth
Wolgemuth & Associates
8600 Crestgate Circle
Orlando, FL 32819
Email

Robert Wolgemuth
Wolgemuth & Associates
8600 Crestgate Circle
Orlando, FL 32819
Email

Curtis Yates
Yates & Yates
1100 Town & Country Road, Suite 1300
Orange, CA 92868
Email

Matt Yates
Yates & Yates
1100 Town & Country Road, Suite 1300
Orange, CA 92868
Email

Sealy Yates
Yates & Yates
1100 Town & Country Road, Suite 1300
Orange, CA 92868
Email

Wes Yoder
Ambassador Agency
P.O. Box 50358
Nashville, TN 37205
Email

Top 3 Advice on Social Media

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I was recently encouraged to share what is working for me in social media, and I immediately thought “Me? Why?!” I am honestly just starting to feel less awkward in social media, but maybe that in and of itself might qualify me to offer some help. So, here are my three best points of advice:

1) Just do it.
(Apologies to Nike.) But seriously, just do it. You can’t learn it solely from reading a book or from sitting on the sidelines wondering how to do it. I really think the best way to get the hang of social media is to operate outside your comfort zone. You will feel stupid. You will feel insecure. You will make mistakes. But that’s no different than when you had to figure out relationships in high school or at an industry cocktail party. You have to figure out how to engage with other people and you have to figure out what you’re going to say and how you’re going to say it and what you’re going to stand for.* But if you do all that while stuck in your head, you will come to regret missing out. And besides, other people feel the same way. So, just do it.

2) Be real.
It’s what they call ‘authenticity.’ People will sniff out if you’re posing, and if sometime later you reread things you posted where you lack authenticity, you will be embarrassed about how juvenile you were. So, just be yourself, or you will regret it. But if you do accidentally ‘pose’ and come to regret it, just keep moving forward. (It still happens to me!) Don’t dwell on the past. You’re getting the hang of this. So, be real.

3) Listen, don’t just talk.
God gave you two ears and only one mouth, suggesting perhaps that you should observe and understand others twice as much as you push whatever it is you are interested in sharing. Again, think of how this works in the real world. Do you talk and not listen with your spouse or significant other? How about with your colleagues at work? If so, how’s that working out for you? So be careful to like/favorite/❤ and comment on others’ posts at least as often as you “self-actualize” or spam out your own agenda, whether it’s personal or work-related. Remember, listen, don’t just talk.

Bonus) Mix business with pleasure.
This seemed really weird to me at first. I remember seeing a business colleague sharing pictures of his kids and thinking that was unprofessional and weird. But I have come to realize that it is not. Just like I am interested in people more than their propaganda, they are also interested in me before they are interested in what I want to share. It feels weird, but go ahead and mix business with pleasure.

So that’s my top three pieces of advice on social media and one bonus item. Agree or disagree? Anything to add?

*Apologies to my editorial staff for ending a sentence with a preposition.

Learning Scalability

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This past Easter weekend I was at my in-laws, and on Saturday I woke up before the others and began making myself a cappuccino. Just as I finished my best barista prep, my wife walked into the kitchen so I gave her that one and started another for me. As I neared the completion of that one, my mother-in-law walked in and, being the giving, sacrificial kind of guy I am, I gave that one to her upon its completion and began the next one. Then my sister-in-law walked in, and I of course made a mental note that this next one would be for her and mine would wait. I also realized there were two more cappuccino-drinking adults in the house that would likely enter momentarily, and of course five thirsty, hot-chocolate-loving kids yet to show up. There was no way I was going to be able to crank out hot, fancy beverages fast enough to keep up with demand.

It reminded me of the I Love Lucy episode where Lucille Ball and her pal Ethel Mertz (played by Vivian Vance) had to keep up with wrapping the candies quickly shooting along the conveyer belt. (Here’s that video.) No matter how fast Lucy, Ethel and I can perform, demand can always outpace us. Getting good at something doesn’t address scalability.

Whenever I am in a role that requires taking things to the next level, I usually try to quickly identify unrealized leadership potential resident in the people already on staff. I think leaders in new roles sometimes too quickly assume that since they were brought in, there must not be other leadership talent already available in the organization. Usually, there is. One just has to find, coach, and encourage it. But, if there are people with innate unrealized leadership talent, you have to first help them see past their own fingertips and acknowledge that they cannot scale on their own, no matter how talented.

Here’s a silly trick I do with teams to accomplish this and to demonstrate the corporate need to scale. Pull the team together and play a quick game of Bop It, the electronic handheld game by Hasbro. Bop It is like playing hot potato with an integrated hand-eye-mind coordination and dexterity exercise. The group listens to the fun, cheesy music and game-show-like announcer voice tell you to “twist it”, “pull it” or “bop it,” (with three distinct moving parts on the game associated with each command), then “pass it” to the next person after successfully obeying the commands. Each round goes faster and faster until someone can’t keep up and then they’re out. The remaining players keep going until there’s only one person left and at some point that person also fails to keep up with the ever-faster demanding directions.

This exercise is lots of fun, creates instant community (and humility!), and causes the group to understand that we can’t do it alone, and need to work past ourselves in order to scale. All you have to do from there is identify what specific functions are limiting your scalability and what additional hires, outsourcing, partnerships or technology are necessary in order to maximize growth.

Do you have any ideas for helping teams identify organizational limitations and get past them?