About refining

Don't stop yourself before you start.

I had my "why". And that was enough for me to try.

But I didn't have a vision for this blog when I launched just over six months ago. I've been testing this whole time.

What's my message?  

What's my writing style?  

Who's my audience? 

What's the best time of day to send? 

What's the best day of the week to send? 

What's sustainable moving forward?

I've learned a lot along the way. 

For one, consistency has proven to be enough to survive (50% of unique readers open this email vs. industry standards of 20%). Actually, it's been enough to grow (80% more readers since June 2016). But I don't just want growth. I want impact.

I want to build a community that empowers you to thrive. Not just inspiration. Or motivation. I want to see application. I want to see shared stories of success.

I want to see this group of seekers, leaders and influencers come to life. Here.

So, I'm back to the kitchen. And I'm cooking up a new format for this weekly email moving forward. Same food. New recipe.

In the meantime, just remember: Don't be afraid to build the plane as you fly. It's okay to shoot first, then aim. Sometimes it's only important that you try.

P.S. 

We're in London this week for another live event with Welcome to Yourself. This vision last November quickly turned into our first event in New York in December. Then D.C. in January. Now, we're here in London for two events (one with General Assembly) this February. I can't say I know exactly where this is going next. I'm just grateful for all those who have helped along the way.

If you'd like to learn more, and/or bring this live event to your city/company please feel free to connect. And if you're still wondering what it's all about, there are some helpful testimonials at the bottom of my page. 

About how to become a multi-millionaire

He was at gunpoint.

I suppose most of us would do what we’re told.

Last week I had a rare opportunity to spend the afternoon with a man who built a multi-million dollar business from scratch. You might be surprised to learn he didn't create an app. No, he sells plants. Internationally. From Haiti.

Yeah, that's the rare part.

We spent about an hour touring the production facilities in Les Cayes. His company provides 27k families with jobs. Another example of how business builds communities. At scale. So I jabbed him questions about how he reached his level of “success” exporting plants. From Haiti. Here's how it went down:

"You're the model. Nobody else has been able to meet the global demand from this country. Coffee, sugar, cocoa, etc. You name the product. For whatever reason it just hasn't worked. And it's not because Haiti doesn't have the natural resources. I know this country was once a top three global supplier. But they got shut out from trade and never regained their footing. So how have YOU done it? How have YOU been so successful? How have YOU captured 80% of the world market for this product? For vetiver?"

"Where do you live?"

"New York City..."

"You're here in Haiti? To build business? You're a smart man. If you want to be a billionaire you have to move to the jungle. What do they have in New York? People?"

"Yes. Lots."

"Well, those people buy things. You need to move to the jungle to get the products they're going to buy. So you can sell it to them. I sell to big refiners in Europe. That's where the perfume industry is. You need to give your customers what they want. Except monopoly. Don’t shut them out just because one will offer to pay you for exclusivity. And don't tell one customer what you give the other customer. I grow 16 different types of vetiver. Each plant is different for each customer. They all have different perfumes to make! You see? I give them what they want. Except monopoly. And I ALWAYS make sure it’s of the highest quality. Consistently. That's it. Give them what they want, with quality, consistently. I'll fly you to Geneva. To Paris, if you want. I'll introduce you to my contacts. For your product. Would you like to come to my house for lunch? All of you. You can meet my kids. Some have two legs. Some have four..."

"...Yes, we'd love to! It's a Sunday afternoon. We have no plans until this evening. How many kids do you have?"

"Two kids, 17 dogs."

"Wow! 17!"

"Yes, but only eight of them are here. The others are at my other homes."

"Who lives here?"

He pulled out his third cigarette in as many minutes. "Just me. And my dogs. Come, let's have lunch."

We spent the rest of the afternoon eating pizza. I spent the rest of the afternoon wondering why he didn’t answer my question. How was he able to scale a global export business? From Haiti? Nobody else has reached this type of scale from this country in the last century. Maybe longer.

So, I did my research. I read this. Someone put him under the gun. Literally.

I guess we could all use a little kick in the pants. I guess we could all use some company, too...

About insecurity

High performers and overachievers beware.

This may apply to you. I mean me.

I’ve experienced this reality.

How insecure are we?

Insecurity breeds a desire for certainty.

We want control. We want to dominate. So we say we’re “driven by performance”.

But, truthfully, we want belonging. We want to relate. So I say we’re “driven by conformance”.

At work. At home. We fight the tension between expressing ourselves and wanting to fit in.

At what point do we lose our own dreams? And opinions? And identity?

At what point do we just give in?

They say, “TJ, you ask aggressive questions!”

I say, “Aggressive? Or, honest? I wouldn’t ask if I didn’t love you. So think of them as suggestions.”

Here’s one (or three): What area of your life are you over-invested in? Who is losing out? And who do you need to let in?

P.S.

Great to see some of you last weekend, in DC. Pictures and videos to come shortly. For those of you reading from London, we're bringing you Welcome to Yourself in February.

We're looking into Chicago, or Charlotte for March. If you'd like to learn more, or be a host partner in your city, or company, please contact me.

Separately, we'll be in Haiti this week (tomorrow). It's time for a visit back to BATI. Be sure to visit our Facebook page to get the live updates. Be sure to share and send love. And know this: You're a significant part of our greater community.

About pornography

Now I’ve got your attention.

Men and women need to hear this.

Today, more than ever, it’s an all-out war to just get through a simple Google search without coming across something toxic.

But it wasn’t until recently that I discovered how rampant this quiet problem has become for men of all ages confiding in me.

“It was so unhealthy. It was lust.”

“I don’t have the heart to tell my fiancé.”

“It entered my life as a teenager. I was in a dark place. But it got worse. It turned to same sex porn.”

“I’ve been with the same woman my whole life. I couldn’t escape this feeling that I’ve never explored ‘what’s out there’…”

Men, I see you! I hear you! I feel your desire to become the man you know you can be. It’s something I can see.

But something you’ve discovered will always be more compelling than anything someone else can find.

So you need to discover the man you want to see. No, you need to discover why this version of you can no longer be.

That revelation, in a different area of my life, has allowed me to see how my unhealthy distractions aren't my only means of satisfaction.

For me, playing cards was one example of an unhealthy distraction that prevented me from a true satisfaction: perfecting my crafts in writing and speaking to reach men and women like you.

I'll reframe this way of thinking:

You’re not saying “I can’t”. You’re saying “I don’t”. To take ownership over your choice.

You’re not saying “no”. You’re saying “yes”. To the person that matters to you.

Who is the person that matters to you?

Write their name on a sheet of paper. A big sheet of paper (adds to the effect). If you don’t know them yet, then I want you to write “future wife” instead.

Speaking of a "future wife":

Women, you have a part in this too.

Men will show you your value based on how you value yourself.

How can you expect a man to show you respect if you don’t show yourself respect first?

By the way, what does self-respect look like?

Hint: You can be firm while kind, and gentle. And don't be haughty. Nobody wants to go back to the person who smacks them with an “I’m better than you” stick. Help your man! Men respond best when you kindly show them why you want what’s good for them, not just what makes them feel good.

Speaking of feeling good:

Some things feel good. But they could feel better. In a different circumstance.

One example: Observing sex is much different, and less fulfilling, than participating in sex in marriage. The disclaimer is I’m not married. Yet.

I’ve always been (what I thought) was “respectful” to women.

I was taught, by my family, to hold the door, to take the side nearest cars when we walked next to traffic, to bring flowers, and compliment her when she’s least expecting.

I was also taught, by my peers, how to treat women physically. But I've now learned those lessons were incorrect. I didn't know it until I had a woman with self-respect.

Side note: We put so much emphasis on the importance of education. On the importance of what we’ve learned. The problem is we've made the assumption that what we’ve learned is correct. In life, and in business, you will do best when you can learn what you need to un-learn.

But I’m not here to tell you what’s right or wrong.

I write because I care for you. And I want you to eat the food that makes you strong.

Speaking of food:

I’m serving more of the food you need to live life to its fullest. This weekend, in D.C.

We have a handful of tickets left.

P.S.

You're a part of this community of seekers, leaders and influencers. The ones looking for positive change. Not just more of the same.

Our reader base has grown by 76% in the last 6 months. I'm grateful for all of you. But I have a favor to ask:

If you find value out of this community, then please forward to a friend and encourage them to subscribe. If you’re a regular reader who hasn’t subscribed, then I’ll kindly ask you to join the weekly list. Simply drop your e-mail into the pop-up box on my site.

Thanks for being so great. No, thanks for being awake.

About how to make more money

I can’t put an exact number on it, but it’s likely I made between $100k - $200k more than I might have otherwise. Because of him. Because of them.

That was before I went broke.

Remember, your growth happens with a change in mind. And that doesn’t always require a change in time.

But what better time to have a refreshed state of mind?

Here we are. It’s the new year.

Let’s trim the fat.

You know what I mean. I’m not talking about your diet. I’m talking about what you eat with your eyes. And your ears.

More specifically, I’m talking about the people you let speak into your life.

Who is on your short list?

Said differently, who will take risk on your behalf, with nothing to gain?

Those are the people on your short list.

Before I left Goldman I remember a good friend of mine, and former boss, walked into the partner’s office on my behalf. He said to them, “You need to do right by TJ. It’s only right. TJ’s done right by us.”

That was just one example. But I’ve had maybe two or three more experiences like that. With people I trust. With people on my short list. And it’s made me money.

More importantly, it’s made me relationships that last.

Here’s two take-aways:

1. Who you are will take you further than what you do. Integrity > Strategy, under pressure. Always. Always. Always. The only reason someone was willing to take career risk, with nothing to gain, was because of the relationship we had developed. The trust we had established. What’s the secret? Vulnerability.

2. You need a short list. These are the 3-5 people you can trust to grab you by the neck during your darkest hours. With no judgement. They don't play a game of fairness. They don’t go for “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” That’s destined for failure. We’re human. Thus, not perfect. I won’t always be able to perform for you. The people on your short list aren’t sharks looking to make money off of you. But you do add value to their life. They’re graceful, powerful leaders. With influence. With integrity. They’re the kind of people that will insist you take a personal loan from them, with no expectation of returns, because they believe in you (not what you do). Despite the fact that you’ve gone utterly broke. :-)

Speaking of broke. Is something in your life broken? Good, me too.

But, if you’re near D.C. next weekend (Saturday, January 14th @ 10AM), then you should stop by to get some tools to start repairs.

We'll be in town for the next stop on the now international speaking series we’ve started called Welcome to Yourself. Would be good to see you there. You might catch a few fan favorites, if you’re a D.C. sports fan. More details here.

About the real question for 2017

There you are. Here I am.

It's that time of year again.

Many of us retreat to make our new list of "things to do".

That is, many of us have lost a discipline which we'd like to renew.

The easy route might be: How will I regain control over different parts of my life?

But the challenge, to me, is: What do I need to let go of? What things are giving me strife?

About your craft

You have at least one craft. Maybe two.

People might tell you your craft isn't "legitimate". That you can't use it to make money. Which may be true.

But when you listen to them you risk minimizing your craft to "just a hobby". Or dropping something you love to do.

So before you decide, just answer these three questions. From me, to you:

1. Do YOU COME ALIVE when you're working on that craft?

2. Is that craft one of your unique giftings OTHERS TELL YOU you're good at?

3. Can that craft DO GOOD for others?

If yes to all three, then I'd consider it as a part of who you're designed to be.

Said differently, I'd consider it the main focus of your ambition professionally.

Maybe you just need to look at it through a new pair of glasses, a new perspective, to see.

-- 

Wishing everyone a Merry Christmas, and happy holidays. Travel safely, and love well. 

About frame shopping

A man walks into an art professor's home.

Colorful, beautiful paintings are hung in every room.

But only one catches his eye.

He asks:

“What do you see in this particular piece? The others show life and splendor through color and people. But this --- this painting shows a cigarette butt on a black velvet couch. It feels so dark…and lifeless. Is there historical significance? Or did you just want to add a different piece to your collection?”

She replies:

“Ah, yes! I always show this one to my class. I love it! It’s not about the picture. It’s about the frame. You see the detail in the elaborate gold frame around it? That’s what makes it so beautiful. Sometimes we don’t have a great picture, so we need a better frame!”

How true.

Your frame is your perspective. And it’s the lens through which you perceive your picture of the world.

Your father has cancer. Your bank account has no money. Your career has no direction.

Your response will depend on what you choose to see.

You have hope for healing. You have hunger for possibility. You have an empty page to dream.

Easier said than done, right?

Not really.

We are what we eat.

And we eat with more than our mouths.

So we need to pay attention to what we’re being fed.

If I want my body to look better, then I need to eat better. And sometimes that means I need to educate myself on the right foods for me. Sometimes I need to try different diets.

Our minds are no different. We need better nutrition to have a better outlook. To have a better frame.

Keep the feeds, texts, videos, music, podcasts, e-mails, and conversations more positive. And, remember, what we pour in is what we’ll pour out.

It’s certain we’ll paint many pictures to tell our life story.

Sometimes we’ll find ourselves with bright, beautiful colors on our pallet.

Other times we’ll be limited by circumstances out of our control. So the picture may look a bit bleak.

It’s in those seasons we don’t need to press into our painting skills.

It’s in those seasons we should go frame shopping, instead.

P.S.
I know some of you were frame shopping, getting fresh perspective on life, at our live event in NYC last week. I'm glad you made it. We have some beautiful photos, thanks to Traditional Pattern. For those who didn't make it, our next stop is Washington, D.C. So, stay tuned.

About the value of $5

It’s not about the money, actually.

It’s just about the value.

Your value.

You’re valued. But that’s beside the point.

No, actually, that is the point.

--

I recently heard a story:

Two friends were given $5 each.

Tina had one five-dollar bill. Ted had five one-dollar bills.

They were hungry. No, starving. So they started walking to the nearest Wholesome Foods. Naturally.

Along the way they were stopped by a man selling a cigarette for exactly $1. He asked if they wanted one.

“No, thanks. I only have a five,” Tina politely declined.

“I have $1! I’ll take a cigarette!” Ted exclaimed. He thought maybe the cigarette would curb his appetite.

They kept walking.

Around the corner they saw a dollar slice pizza joint. It was right next to Wholesome Foods. And the sign read: “Pizza. Exactly $1 for exactly 1 slice.”

Ted threw his cigarette in the puddle. His eyes widened.

“We don’t have to wait for Wholesome Foods! I have $1!” he said.

“Ted! What we have is worth so much more,” Tina said. But she realized Ted didn’t see the full value of what he was given. So they went their separate ways.

Ted marched to the pizza joint to get his fill. Exactly $1 worth. But that wasn’t his last trade.

He went on to trade the rest of his money – exactly $1 for a beer (to wash down the pizza), exactly $1 for an online dating subscription (to cure his loneliness now that Tina was gone), and exactly $1 for a job listings website (to make his money back).

Now he didn’t have any money to spend at Wholesome Foods. But he went anyways. Hope dragged him in.

“I’m so hungry,” Ted complained under his breath.

As he walked through the doors his eyes widened again. The sign read: “Every item is exactly $5. Each.”

Stress, anger and frustration grew. He was so occupied in his mind that he nearly missed Tina on his way to the exit.

“Ted! I didn’t know you were coming. Meet Christian. We met in the checkout line. And, this may sound crazy, but (she whispered quietly) I think he’s the one.”

Ted didn’t know which would come first – his vomit, or his best attempt at a smile. He just wanted to get out of there. Their happiness made him sick. And all he could think about was how he was going to get his money back.

Then, in that moment, honesty took hold of his heart.

“Tina, I’m sorry. I just don’t have words. I want to be happy for you but I can’t think about anything except how empty I feel. I couldn’t resist all the distractions that took my money, my time, and my energy. None of them left me feeling satisfied. And you knew all along,” Ted grieved. He began weeping.

“Ted, it’s okay! Sometimes we don’t know what we’re hungry for. Now you see! And the good news is Christian paid for my meal. I’m full now. So you can have my $5,” Tina smiled. And she handed him the money.

“I don’t deserve this. But thank you,” Ted replied, comforted.

“Neither of us earned it in the first place,” Tina said, graciously.

--

Stories paint pictures. And pictures, like most art, convey different messages to different people. Here’s what I see:

1. We’re all given equal value. And we’re meant to save it for those things that will make us full.
2. We don’t always know what we’re hungry for.
3. It’s easy to give ourselves to distractions.
4. Women know what they want (before men).
5. Whole(some) Foods is expensive.

P.S.
Everyone has a story. A picture they paint. But sometimes we're so focused on painting that we forget about the frame. So we're going frame shopping this Saturday. In NYC. Hope to see you there. 

About setting myself on fire

I'd rather live on fire than live on ice.

Wouldn't you?

Being "chill" is no longer cool.

That's the awakening I had: What was comfortable for "them" made me uncomfortable within.

So now there's a new setting on my appearance management tools: Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, etc.

It's no longer "the life I want you to 'like'". It's, instead, "the life that brings a match to strike".

Because I can't live if I'm not lighting a flame. And this life is about my fire. It's not about my fame.

I'm an introvert, you know. I just want to make that clear. Because personality is different from passion. And your true passion has no fear.

Now, take a moment. Use a pen. And give your biggest passions their names.

Don't judge what comes. And be open-minded. Because they're only yours to claim.

--

Here's your challenge: Write down your top five passions.

Passion + Skills + Demand = Purpose

Your passions are one of three elements to your purpose. It's vital to name them, know them, and accept them, if you want to live a life to its fullest.

What are some clues?

Your passions will give you powerful, compelling, and almost uncontrollable enthusiasm. That can look different for different people. For some, enthusiasm might translate to a specific topic of choice that you would carry into any conversation. For others, enthusiasm might translate to hours of voluntary learning about a subject. Look for broad themes, and use the words, "Anything related to _____" (see my examples below).

Most importantly, your passions have nothing to do with what anyone else thinks of them. They're yours. Own them.

I'll get you started with my top five.

They're not my hobbies.

They're not my fads.

They're the fuel to my flame.

They're anything related to:
1. Growing my faith
2. Bringing ideas to life
3. Furthering positive change
4. Empowering you to succeed
5. Helping you achieve breakthrough

P.S.
We're now one week away. If you haven't already, make sure you get your ticket to our upcoming event in NYC. You have nothing to bring, except your appetite. Come hungry.

Details here.

About how quickly we forget

The bird we eat is of Mexican origin.

The pride we have for our American homeland is a result of Europeans fleeing from theirs, through globalization.

The English who landed here, instead of feasting with the natives first, actually double-crossed them during trade, and transported them, including the famed Squanto, back to Europe as slaves.

But how do we remember if we never knew in the first place?

Let’s face it. Sometimes we may not have all the facts.

The good news is we can always be grateful. For what we do have. In relationships, in freedom, in forgiveness, and choice.

Today. And every day.

About 28 ways to live life to its fullest

I don’t know you. I don’t know if I’ll ever know you. I suppose I’ll need a wife, first. God willing. If not, I know this message will do good for someone.

It’s been 28 years now. Today. A full life. And a life lived to its fullest. Most of the time.

There’s too many experiences to share. I couldn’t remember all of them if I tried. But the good news is the best things in life are worth discovering on your own. The bad news is you’ll probably want to discover everything on your own.

Uncle Rubens always reminds me to “not take the hits if you don’t have to.” He’s right. I have some scars to prove it. But you don’t need them.

So here’s my gift to you. They’re ways of thinking, speaking, behaving and relating. To help you live life to its fullest. In no particular order, except for #1:

1. You’re a gift to the world, if you believe it. You can’t always choose your circumstance. But you can choose your outlook. Free will is your greatest gift. You can use it for good or bad. There is no in-between. So pick good. Because you’re good.

2. You don’t need to know a single blood relative to have a family.

3. Humility is not found in self-deprecation. Humility is found in valuing others equally. Remember we create the inequalities everyone complains about. So lower yourself by raising others up. Say, “____ did great work.” Or give someone a hug when they least deserve it.

4. Find friends. True friends. The kind who will go to your funeral for your parents, not for you. Those friends, that type of person, will be there for you in your darkest hours. Without judgement.

5. Homeless people are not homeless because they want to be. They may have made mistakes. But who hasn’t? You don’t have the judge’s seat. Go pray with them and ask them about their stories. You may learn something. In fact, you’ll likely get more out of it than they will.

6. Make time to dance with your significant other. In privacy. And learn what it means to say, “I love you.”

7. It’s relationship, not religion. Everyone has their own way of experiencing God. But that’s their relationship. It's okay. All you need to know is God’s character is good. He will never tempt you. But He will both challenge and comfort you. And it’s always for your benefit.

8. When in doubt, pray. Prayer is just a conversation. And a great time to practice your listening skills. But don't be afraid to spill the beans.

9. Work before play. And make good habits work for you. Choices are easy when there are no choices. Brushing your teeth, exercise and breakfast aren't options. So just do what it takes to make them more convenient.

10. Spontaneity is cool, but consistency is lethal. (See #9)

11. Learn how to say “no” without feeling guilty. You can’t take care of others if you don’t take care of yourself first.

12. Read often. But, remember, just because someone took the time to write it doesn’t mean it’s worth the time to read it.

13. Learn to recognize good fruit when you see it: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. You’ll know you’re in the right place when you’re around people who produce these fruits. When you produce these fruits.

14. Appreciate people from all walks of life. You're not more important than your brothers and sisters. (See #3 and #5)

15. Always give thanks for the food before you, even if only a brief second. Even if it’s a silent “Thank you”. Everyone seeks acknowledgment. And your Great Provider is no different.

16. Thoughts become things. So dream bigger. Anything less is a slap in the face to a higher power who created our universe.

17. Beware of thieves. The worst ones aren’t human --- social media, TV, alcohol, money, etc. They're like gypsies. You won’t even know they took something until you’re looking for it --- your potential, your time, your money, your imagination. Two examples: First, alcohol was never a problem for me. But, in hindsight, that was the worst problem. I didn’t know it was limiting my potential during college. I didn’t know I could have been perfecting a craft in writing, or speaking, with the time I spent drinking. Second, I've hardly watched TV over the last 10 years. And I don't, not even once, regret that somewhat conscious decision.

18. Sex is a good thing. Just try to understand why it’s meant to be saved for marriage. I wasn’t taught this. It’s about showing respect to your significant other. It’s about showing self-control to your significant other. It’s about making a promise to show respect and self-control to your significant other. Throughout your marriage. It’s about using things for the way they’re meant to be used. You can use a toaster as a football. And you may get it down the field. But I’d be surprised if you can throw the Hail Mary.

19. Stay active, not just busy. Though busy-ness comes, it should be in seasons, and not endless. I've made this mistake often. And it hurts my relationships. Busy-ness is a thief. (See #17)

20. Everything in moderation, including moderation. I know you’ll learn the hard way sometimes. Don’t be stingy with forgiveness. Including self-forgiveness. You can thank your Uncle Ashley for that nugget.

21. Learn the fundamentals of finance, even if just an extra class or two, to understand the basics.

22. Unspoken is unresolved. Express your emotions. Try to be concise. Try to be honest. And, remember, just because you're ready to say it doesn't mean they're ready to hear it. Be mindful.

23. Fear less. But don’t be fearless. There’s only one fear in life. And it’s not death.

24. You really have purpose. And it matters. So be intentional with your resources. With your time, your money, your energy, your relationships, etc. Don’t agree with the words, “That’s just how it is”. Nobody ever changed the world with that agreement.

25. Authenticity is the secret to relationships. And a genuine, healthy relationship is the secret to a fulfilling life. Start with your relationship with God, then self, then others. In that order.

26. Everyone surrenders to something. Money, women, power, career, adventure, God. What will you surrender to? Said differently, at your last breath, what’s worth surrendering to? Follow your heart. Just know your heart will be deceitful. So get good counsel. Just know good counsel is not always the right counsel. Wait. That’s confusing. No, it’s not. Just live your conscience.

27. Accept help from others. We're not in this thing alone.

28. Take risks. Believe in yourself. And shamelessly use your story to set people free. Everyone has brokenness in their story. The greater the break, the greater the blessing. Just remember things can’t be broken unless they were whole first. So stay faithful. Have confidence in hope that things can return to the wholeness once were. And live with that confidence. Speak with that confidence. Walk with that confidence. Pursue with that confidence. You were uniquely created to change the world. If you choose to believe it.

P.S.
We all love gifts. And I know the gift is with the giver. So here's yours to receive:

We're hosting a live event in NYC, on Saturday, December 10, 2016, from 10:30am - 1:00pm. It's called, "Welcome to Yourself". I'll be talking about identity, purpose, life strategy, and tools to help you get perspective on who you were designed to be. We're touching the deep stuff. The confronting stuff. The kind that will leave with you with more questions than answers. But it's the kind that will help you live life more fully. With real tools, real frameworks, to help. Details here.

Whether it's personally, or professionally, we all know someone looking for direction. Someone looking for purpose. Someone looking for clarity, to live the life they're meant to live.

I'm on a mission to help them. And I'm inviting you to join me.

Think of a friend or colleague who should be there. Then send me a message. This is your gift to give. Your gift to receive. I'll hand out two free tickets to the two first replies.

About how to stay woke

"How can I spend my time and energy worrying about the election when I'm still trying to figure out why I don't give my wife enough hugs? Teej, we need to stay awake. We need to stay woke! It doesn't start with 'them'. It starts within. That's where we need to keep our focus."

"How can you spend your time and energy worrying about the ________ when you’re still trying to figure out why you don't give ____ enough ____? ____, we need to stay awake. We need to stay woke! It doesn't start with 'them'. It starts within. That's where we need to keep our focus."

Write down one thing you’re worried about.

Write down someone you care about.

Write down their need from you.

Be awake.

And stay woke.

About one way to thrive

Fear less.

But don't be fearless.

I thought this was everything.

Moving to New York to work for Goldman Sachs.

For someone who lived a performance-driven life, it was everything.

Sure, I was living the dream. But I wasn't in that dream. And I couldn't ignore it any longer.

It wasn't about "where" I worked. It was about the fact I was confusing "where" I worked with "who" I was.

I remember looking at myself in the mirror. I asked the confronting questions, "Who am I?", and, "What am I here to do?"

The answers seemed elusive. Especially because my mind was cultivated in the soil of logic and reasoning, so I can rationalize anything. I knew I needed frameworks, ways of thinking, to help me process these deeper questions.

I got the tools, and the answer: Surrender.

And it began to make sense. Which doesn't make sense.

I had to let go to gain more. To be propelled instead of withheld.

I was holding on to prestige, power, money and status.

And I found those things in my job. So, I quit.

(Let me be clear --- there is nothing wrong with power, money, etc. It's a good thing. But it goes bad when it's pursued in excess, or in the wrong ways. Like all good things, according to C.S. Lewis, bad things are simply good things gone bad.)

For me, leaving my job is what "letting go" looked like. It may look different for someone else. It just depends on what they're holding on to. What you're holding on to.

Be encouraged, though. You're in control. We often think we don't have freedom because something is holding on to us. But, in fact, it's the other way around. We had to grab it in the first place.

You're introspective. You think about these things, too. Just maybe not as often as I do.

It doesn't mean they're valued less. It just means you may think of your value less.

By value I mean purpose. What you were created for.

It's not about what you do. It's about why you do it.

It's about why you do anything, really.

You can survive.

But I want you to thrive.

And it starts with untangling your identity. So you can begin to live more confidently. With purpose.

Now, take a good look in the mirror. And don't be afraid. Welcome to yourself.

P.S.
Why do I write to you each week?

Because I'm here to help my generation activate their lives. With faith, and courage.

But you can only help someone who wants to be helped. So I'll ask you to meet me half-way.

Join us in New York City, on December 10, 2016. You'll spend your Saturday morning meeting new people, and getting life-changing ways of thinking.

It's for those who want to live more intentionally, and get tools to help. Make the time to invest in your future. We have a beautiful space at Drift Studio in Chelsea. And some great sponsors to boot.

Tickets are now on sale here: https://tjloeffler.com

About your qualifications

What makes you qualified to do anything?

Some say education. I'd agree. It helps.

Just don't let school get in the way.

Life will teach you, if you let it.

Let yourself make mistakes.

Then learn from them.

And keep going.

Here's inspiration, from the "Top 100 Entrepreneurs Who Made Millions Without A College Degree", as originally posted in Business Insider in January 2011:

Abraham Lincoln, lawyer, U.S. president. Finished one year of formal schooling, self-taught himself trigonometry, and read Blackstone on his own to become a lawyer.

Amadeo Peter Giannini, multimillionaire founder of Bank of America. Dropped out of high school.

Andrew Carnegie, industrialist and philanthropist, and one of the first mega-billionaires in the US. Elementary school dropout.

Andrew Jackson, U.S. president, general, attorney, judge, congressman. Home-schooled. Became a practicing attorney by the age of 35 – without a formal education.

Andrew Perlman, co-founder of GreatPoint. Dropped out of Washington University to start Cignal Global Communications, an Internet communications company, when he was only 19.

Anne Beiler, multimillionaire co-founder of Auntie Anne’s Pretzels. Dropped out of high school.

Ansel Adams, world-famous photographer. Dropped out of high school.

Ashley Qualls, founder of Whateverlife.com, left high school at the age of 15 to devote herself to building her website business.  She was more than a million dollars by 17.

Barbara Lynch, chef, owner of a group of restaurants, worth over $10 million, in Boston. Dropped out of high school.

Barry Diller, billionaire, Hollywood mogul, Internet maven, founder of Fox Broadcasting Company, chairman of IAC/InterActive Corp (owner of Ask.com),

Ben Kaufman, 21-year-old serial entrepreneur, founder of Kluster. Dropped out of college in his freshman year.

Benjamin Franklin, inventor, scientist, author, entrepreneur.  Primarily home-schooled.

Billy Joe (Red) McCombs, billionaire, founder of Clear Channel media, real estate investor. Dropped out of law school to sell cars in 1950.

Bob Proctor, motivational speaker, bestselling author, and co-founder of Life Success Publishing. Attended two months of high school.

Bram Cohen, BitTorrent developer. Attended State University of New York at Buffalo for a year.

Carl Lindner, billionaire investor, founder of United Dairy Farmers. Dropped out of high school at the age of 14.

Charles Culpeper, owner and CEO of Coca Cola. Dropped out of high school.

Christopher Columbus, explorer, discoverer of new lands. Primarily home-schooled.

Coco Chanel, founder of fashion brand Chanel. A perfume bearing her name, Chanel No. 5 kept her name famous.

Colonel Harlan Sanders, founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC). Dropped out of elementary school, later earned law degree by correspondence.

Craig McCaw, billionaire founder of McCaw Cellular. Did not complete college.

Dave Thomas, billionaire founder of Wendy’s. Dropped out of high school at 15.

David Geffen, billionaire founder of Geffen Records and co-founder of DreamWorks. Dropped out of college after completing one year.

David Green, billionaire founder of Hobby Lobby. Started the Hobby Lobby chain with only $600.  High school graduate.

David Karp, founder of Tumblr. Dropped out of school at 15, then home schooled. Did not attend college.

David Neeleman, founder of Jet Blue airlines. Dropped out of college after three years.

David Ogilvy, advertising executive and copywriter . Was expelled from Oxford University at the age of 20.

David Oreck, multimillionaire founder of The Oreck Corporation. Quit college to enlist in the Army Air Corps.

Debbi Fields, founder of Mrs. Fields Chocolate Chippery. Later renamed, franchised, then sold Mrs. Field’s Cookies.

DeWitt Wallace, founder and publisher of Reader’s Digest. Dropped out of college after one year. Went back, then dropped out again after the second year.

Dov Charney, founder of American Apparel. Started the company in high school, and never attended college.

Dustin Moskovitz, multi-millionaire co-founder of Facebook. Harvard dropout.

Frank Lloyd Wright, the most influential architect of the twentieth century. Never attended high school.

Frederick “Freddy” Laker, billionaire airline entrepreneur. High school dropout.

Frederick Henry Royce, auto designer, multimillionaire co-founder of Rolls-Royce.Dropped out of elementary school.

George Eastman, multimillionaire inventor, Kodak founder. Dropped out of high school.

George Naddaff, founder of UFood Grill and Boston Chicken. Did not attend college.

Gurbaksh Chahal, multimillionaire founder of BlueLithium and Click Again. Dropped out at 16, when he founded Click Again.

H. Wayne Huizenga, founder of WMX garbage company, helped build Blockbuster video chain. Joined the Army out of high school, and later went to college only to drop out during his first year.

Henry Ford, billionaire founder of Ford Motor Company.  Did not attend college.

Henry J. Kaiser, multimillionaire & founder of Kaiser Aluminum. Dropped out of high school.

Hyman Golden, co-founder of Snapple. Dropped out of high school.

Ingvar Kamprad, founder of IKEA, one of the richest people in the world, dyslexic.

Isaac Merrit Singer, sewing machine inventor, founder of Singer. Elementary school dropout.

Jack Crawford Taylor, founder of Enterprise Rent-a-Car. Dropped out of college to become a WWII fighter pilot in the Navy.

Jake Nickell, co-founder and CEO of Threadless.com. Did not graduate from college.

James Cameron, Oscar-winning director, screenwriter, and producer. Dropped out of college.

Jay Van Andel, billionaire co-founder of Amway. Never attended college.

Jeffrey Kalmikoff, co-founder and chief creative officer of Threadless.com. Did not graduate from college.

Jerry Yang, co-founder of Yahoo! Dropped out of PhD program.

Jimmy Dean, multimillionaire founder of Jimmy Dean Foods. Dropped out of high school at 16.

John D. Rockefeller Sr., billionaire founder of Standard Oil. Dropped out of high school just two months before graduating, though later took some courses at a local business school.

John Mackey, founder of Whole Foods. Enrolled and dropped out college six times.

John Paul DeJoria, billionaire co-founder of John Paul Mitchell Systems, founder of Patron Spirits tequilla. Joined the Navy after high school.

Joyce C. Hall, founder of Hallmark. Started selling greeting cards at the age of 18. Did not attend college.

Kemmons Wilson, multimillionaire, founder of Holiday Inn. High school dropout.

Kenneth Hendricks, billionaire founder of ABC Supply.  High school dropout.

Kenny Johnson, founder of Dial-A-Waiter restaurant delivery. College dropout.

Kevin Rose, founder of Digg.com. Dropped out of college during his second year.

Kirk Kerkorian, billionaire investor, owner of Mandalay Bay and Mirage Resorts, and MGM movie studio. Dropped out eighth-grade.

Larry Ellison, billionaire co-founder of Oracle software company. Dropped out of two different colleges.

Leandro Rizzuto, billionaire founder of Conair. Dropped out of college. Started Conair with $100 and hot-air hair roller invention.

Marc Rich, commodities investor, billionaire.  Founder of Marc Rich & Co. Did not finish college.

Marcus Loew, multimillionaire founder of Loews theaters, co-founder of MGM movie studio. Elementary school dropout.

Mark Ecko, founder of Mark Ecko Enterprises. Dropped out of college.

Mary Kay Ash, founder of Mary Kay Inc. Did not attend college.

Michael Dell, billionaire founder of Dell Computers, which started out of his college dorm room. Dropped out of college.

Michael Rubin, founder of Global Sports. Dropped out of college in his first year.

Micky Jagtiani, billionaire retailer, Landmark International. Dropped out of accounting school.

Milton Hershey, founder of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate. 4th grade education.

Pete Cashmore, founder of Mashable.com at the age of 19.

Philip Green, Topshop billionaire retail mogul. Dropped out of high school.

Rachael Ray, Food Network cooking show star, food industry entrepreneur, with no formal culinary arts training.  Never attended college.

Ray Kroc, founder of McDonald’s. Dropped out of high school.

Richard Branson, billionaire founder of Virgin Records, Virgin Atlantic Airways, Virgin Mobile, and more. Dropped out of high school at 16.

Richard DeVos, co-founder of Amway. Served in the Army and did not attend college.

Richard Schulze, Best Buy founder. Did not attend college.

Rob Kalin, founder of Etsy. Flunked out of high school, enrolled in art school for a time, faked a student ID at MIT so he could take classes. His professors subsequently helped him get into NYU, they were so impressed.

Ron Popeil, multimillionaire founder of Ronco, inventor, producer, infomercial star. Did not finish college.

Rush Limbaugh, multi-millionaire media mogul, radio talk show host. Dropped out of college.

Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam records, founder of Russell Simmons Music Group, Phat Farm fashions, bestselling author. Did not finish college.

S. Daniel Abraham, founder of Slim-Fast, billionaire. Did not attend college.

Sean John Combs, entertainer, producer, fashion designer, and entrepreneur. Never finished college.

Shawn Fanning, developer of Napster. Dropped out of college at the age of 19.

Simon Cowell, TV producer, music judge, American Idol, The X Factor, and Britain’s Got Talent.  High school dropout.

Steve Madden, shoe designer. Dropped out of college.

Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple, billionaire. Did not complete college.

Ted Murphy, founder of social media company Izea Entertainment. Dropped out of college.

Theodore Waitt, billionaire founder of Gateway Computers. Dropped out of college to start Gateway – one semester before graduating.

Thomas Edison, inventor of the light bulb, phonograph, and more. Primarily home-schooled, then joined the railroad when he was only 12.

Tom Anderson, co-founder and “friend” of MySpace. Dropped out of high school.

Ty Warner, billionaire developer of Beanie Babies, real estate investor, and hotel owner. Dropped out of college.

Vidal Sassoon, founder of Vidal Sassoon, multimillionaire. Dropped out of high school.

W. Clement Stone, multimillionaire insurance man, author, founder of Success magazine. Dropped out of elementary school. Later attended high school, graduating. Attended but did not finish college.

W.T. Grant, founder of W.T. Grant department stores, multimillionaire. Dropped out of high school.

Wally “Famous” Amos, multimillionaire entrepreneur, author, talent agent, founder of Famous Amos cookies. Left high school at 17 to join the Air Force.

Walt Disney, founder of the Walt Disney Company. Dropped out of high school at 16.

Wolfgang Puck, chef, owner of 16 restaurants and 80 bistros. Quit school at the age of 14.

Y.C. Wang, billionaire founder of Formosa Plastics. Did not attend high school.

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com/top-100-entrepreneurs-who-made-millions-without-a-college-degree-2011-1

About that compliment you didn't receive

Good job.

I'm proud of you.

I wonder why you didn't get one when you needed it most.

I wonder why you didn't give one when they needed it most.

The first begets the last. It's the broken cycle we live in.

But you can fix it. You can do something about it.

Pride is the only thing in your way.

So, go. Get up. And make someone's day.

Show them you have something nice to say.

About living with courage

You're afraid of death.

But you're given more time.

So you say, "There's still hope."

But what if time, money or talent can't help.

What's left?

Faith.

Confidence in hope.

Can you still have hope when time is up?

Hope for what? For life?

What if you were never alive to begin with?

Redefine what's living, and what's dead.

Because I've seen the living dead.

This is the folly of wisdom.

Wisdom is understanding. That we may never understand.

We all face the same mortal fate. But the living know they will die.

And the dead know nothing.

To live knowing you'll die. Now that's living with courage.

About Haiti

Disaster. Sickness. Poverty. Sorrow.

*Can the broken be restored?*

Belief is a choice. So you choose. Your choice is your reality.

I don't want to live in a reality of unbelief. That's a reality without hope.

So I change my words to change my mind.

*The broken can be restored.*

That's how we pursue the positive. And the world needs more positive.

Haiti is often associated with negative language. Hunger, poverty, disease, etc. That may be the Haiti you know. If you don't know.

But Haiti is so rich. In spirit. And strength. There are young leaders thirsty for change. Hopeful for things they've never seen.

I'm on a team that's been working in Haiti since 2010, launching BATI School. It's a K-12 school in the rural southwest part of the country. The entire project has been privately funded by the team, their families, and their friends. It's not sustainable that way. So two years ago we decided to create a business to finance school. And help revive a thirsty community. In a sustainable way.

We've been making progress, slowly. Forging school partnerships, and raising fresh capital for the business so we can get kids in the classrooms.

Then, Hurricane Matthew.

We lost connection to everyone. And the coastal towns of Tiburon and Les Anglais, two of our satellite locations with co-operatives, were in direct line of fire.

We've now heard from our team in the town of Miragone, where we have our school campus and farm. We're grateful they're safe, but the damage is severe.

Current estimated losses are $100k, and counting.

We could choose to be discouraged. Or not.

Instead, we're humbled. And hopeful. Because the broken can be restored.

We're committed to this opportunity to raise awareness for this community. For renewed support. So we can leap frog the progress we'd been making. For your part, I'll ask you to show support in whatever way you know how. Through a donation, a share, or prayer. Pursue the positive with us. And learn more here: http://relief.batischool.org/

About one expectation

Why so insecure?

Why so offendable?

It's always been personal, hasn't it?

Expectation is one reason for your offendable heart. Expectation for something. Anything.

The insecure person is offended when they give and don't get something in return. No acknowledgement.

But what were you expecting in the first place?

True love is unconditional. I will love you, under all conditions. With no conditions. Or expectation.

You have a garden of life. And the root of your insecurity is a weed waiting to be pulled. Unless you don't have one. Unless you can't see it. Until you're offended.

A very good friend of mine was recently arrested 100 yards from his home. In his suit. On his way to work. In the early afternoon.

"Sir. Sir! Let me see your license."

"Yes. Here it is. May I ask why?"

"Show me your subway card."

"Here it is. May I ask why?"

"You didn't use that one. You used the school subway card. Why do you have a school subway card?"

"I don't think I used the free pass on the school subway card. I apologize if I did. I'm happy to go swipe my other card. It has $100 balance. I carry my six year-old daughter's school subway card too. So she doesn't lose it. I'm happy to go swipe my other card again. I'm now late to a meeting."

"Where were you in December 2004? I see something on your record showing you left an unattended vehicle running, in Queens."

"I was in Boston. At college. And I have a clean record."

"That's not what I see. This isn't good. We're going to have to take you in."

Six hours later. In jail. In his suit.

"Sir. The judge is ready to see you."

"Sir. I see you're here because you left an unattended vehicle running in December 2004, in Queens. What do you have to say?"

"I was in Boston in December 2004. At college. And I have a clean record. If I knew why I was here, then we could have a conversation."

"I'm sorry. You're free to go."

A very good black friend of mine was recently arrested 100 yards from his home. In his suit. On his way to work. In the early afternoon.

He's black. Does that matter?

Do black lives matter?

All lives matter. But that's not the point. That's not the conversation.

There's an old problem deeply rooted in our communities. Blacks are being profiled. Arrested. Or murdered. And it matters.

There are other problems in our communities. Others facing the same, or similar. But that's not the point. That's not the conversation.

You don't tell me about AIDS when I'm raising awareness for cancer. It's a separate conversation.

Are you offended by the conversation starter?

I'll ask. What's your expectation?

Here's one: Love your neighbor. Unconditionally.

You don't have to understand. You do have to acknowledge.

Raise your awareness. Look them in the eyes, and say, "I want to try to understand."

Sometimes silence is the greatest violence.

So speak up. For your neighbor. It matters.