The Big Difference Between Apple’s Marketing and Amazon’s Marketing, and Why You Should Care

Last week, Amazon released its new entry into the tablet market with its low-priced “Fire.”

Before the release event, the name of the device, the price of the device, and most of the features of the device were leaked out.  So that before the day of the event, the story of the “Fire” had already been told by journalists and news media.  That’s one way to do it.

As you probably know, when Apple releases anything like its iPhone 5 today, there is secrecy, lawsuits, and all kinds of drama that will surround their efforts to make sure that any details about the device get out.  These are two stark and contrasting approaches to marketing or branding or mooing out loud. Why?

It’s very important that you understand that Apple’s secrecy is not about sales.   It’s not about being clandestine. It’s about the relentless commitment to tell their story first, whether it’s an iPhone, iPad, or something else.  They want to be the first in print, and on video, to be telling the story of these products.  Amazon allows others to begin to tell the story and loses impact and, I believe, longterm sales.

So which is right?  Well because Amazon is such a juggernaut, it seems as though it doesn’t matter.  But since you and I aren’t, I’ll tell you that being the first to tell your own story about your brand, your business, your product or your service is essential.  That’s why marketing, advertising, and branding are all about telling your own story: why you’re here, what you do, why what you do matters, what your perspective is, what your solutions are going to be.  It allows you to tell a compelling story and have people judge you for what you offer, not what other people have said about you.  There’s a big difference.


Your Brand May Not Be What You Think it Is

I’ve always been fascinated by the subject of branding.  Is it just a business issue only to be dealt with by those who are responsible for marketing national products with multimillion dollar budgets? Or is branding something we all need to be concerned with?

I have the firm conviction that all of us have a brand – good or bad. Some of us understand it and call it “reputation.”  Others of us ignore it and wonder why we suffer as a result.

The issue to understand about branding is not the importance of it, but how you determine what your brand already is as opposed to what you want it to be, so you can identify the distance between how you’re seen and how you prefer to be seen.  Your brand is communicated through your web site, your logo, your mantras, purpose statements, and the like.   That’s your input.  But the true importance of a brand is what other people receive and then say.

The very best way to assess the condition of your brand, personal or otherwise, is to listen to what other people say when they talk about you.  First, do they talk about you?  If they’re not talking about you, your brand doesn’t really matter then, does it? Two, if they talk about you, you want to listen to the words they use. Do they use words like helpful, cool, state-of-the-art, couldn’t live without it, best money I ever spent, great resource, a must-read.  And then do they use those words to describe your core competency? Is it a book, a service, a seminar of professional services you might render? 

So ask yourself this question. “When people talk about me, what are they saying?”  And you say, “Well, obviously, I don’t know.”  And that is the problem, isn’t it? In this world of engagement and two-way conversation you need to give people an avenue to speak to you and tell you the good, the bad, and the ugly.  The truth of the matter is, some of what you’ll hear will sting and wound you a little bit.  But even in the craziest email that you receive, or the most negative feedback that’s given, you can identify something that will help you be more focused on the task you must do.

If You Hate Your Job, Here’s What You Need to Understand

Not a week goes by that I don’t hear someone say, “I hate my job.  It’s great money, but it’s draining the life out of me. And I’m so discouraged, I don’t know what to do.”

Here’s what you need to know, if that’s where you find yourself in life.  You are going to lose this job soon.  Yeah, that’s what somebody needs to have guts enough to tell you. The fact that you hate your job isn’t a secret.  It’s showing, either in attitude or performance.  And before too long, someone will come up who loves that job, do it better and cheaper, and you’ll be on the road. So consider this your wake-up call.  Get ready, because you’re about to be unemployed.

Now, the good news is, you’re probably good enough at it that you’ve got some time to prepare to get out.  Here are some things I would suggest:

  1. If you hate your job, suck it up and do that job well.  And do that because you can, as an act of will, as a strengthening and even a demonstration of your inner character.  You’re getting paid.  You have a responsibility.  So be good at the job you hate. And when you finally get to the work you love, it will be easy to be great because you’ve already developed the discipline it takes in an environment that was less than hospitable.
  2. Begin right now to free your mind that you can do the work you love, you can find and embrace your life’s calling, and you can do the work that not only fulfills a desperate need in the world around you, but a deep need in you as well.
  3. Begin to form a one-sentence mission statement.  When Paula and I were developing Making Marriage Fun Again, the mission statement was, “Helping good people grow great marriages over time.”  Each and every word in that mission statement matters.  “Over time” isn’t an add-on, because great marriages aren’t grown overnight, but over time. When we decided to give our mission a vision, we came up with Making Marriage Fun Again.  That’s our vision, to in the next 10 years help a million couples across the U.S. make their marriage and their life fun again. Mission statements are critical.  They are at the core of what will sustain you over the long haul.
  4. Begin to inquire about people doing what you want to do.  Ask them the question that you are going to have to answer before you can begin to take your passion and calling and turn it into a profitable business and economic model.

We could add more points, but you get the idea.  The wake-up call here is, if you’re not mooing out loud because you’re in a job you’re just tolerating, you better get your “moo” on soon, because your going to be out in the field all by yourself, and you’ll need that “moo.”

The First Step in Identifying Your Brand

Branding is a popular idea today.  It pops up everywhere.  And while we understand it is important for companies, it’s also critical that you understand how to brand yourself.

Again, I’ve never met a person who didn’t want to be heard, want to make a difference, a contribution.  And yet today we have more tools to allow us to brand ourselves, and at the same time, more competition for people’s attention.

The first step in branding yourself is not finding a logo, getting a Twitter account, getting on Facebook, or having a blog or a podcast.  The first step in branding yourself so that you can be heard above the herd is to free your mind.

Yeah, way before we get into the toys, graphics, and the other cool tools available to us today, to push forward our message, we have to start with us.  If we are our own brand, we have to understand what’s going on inside of us that keeps us from becoming clear and constructive in our ability to find out what we want to do and do it with unique excellence.

There are three things going on in your head right now that you have to free yourself from.

The first is apathy.  Apathy is the lack of emotion, the inability to care about something enough to obsess over it or to suffer some inconvenience or sacrifice in the pursuit of it.  Apathy is rampant.  Look into the eyes of people you see every day. It seems as though the light is out.  Most of us start out excited, enthusiastic.  But over time, parents, friends, relatives, and teachers, beat us down.  Apathy is something you’re going to have to eradicate from your mind.

The second is the debilitating sense of insecurity.  It wraps around your brain and talks to you and asks, “Who are you to want to be heard? Who are you to dare to moo out loud?  Where did you come from?  What training have you had? What insight could you possibly offer?”  And those voices begin to dictate how you think and behave.  You’re in bondage.

Third, along with apathy and a deep sense of insecurity, comes a sense of rejection or humiliation.

How many times have I seen a gifted artist, writer, or musician in Nashville become paralyzed with the fear of rejection?  To not pitch the song, not go for the showcase, do something to sabotage because of the fear of rejection and humiliation.

If you’re going to “moo” out loud and establish your own personal brand, and make a difference that will outlive your life, you’re going to have to free yourself from apathy, insecurity, and the fear of rejection.

Artists Just Want to Get Paid?

It’s obvious even to the casual observer that the whole artist commerce world has radically changed and is continuing to change.

One of the fundamental discussions that I hardly ever hear though, is the difference between what an artist – a content creator or whatever you want to call them these days –  what they feel as opposed to what labels, publishers, and those who manage the process feel.

Bottom line is, up until this point, publishing has been a business.  It  doesn’t make it good or bad.  It simply means that the numbers have to work.  A publisher can’t afford to publish a book, market a book, distribute a book, unless they recuperate their expenses plus more to continue to do business. That’s fundamental and no one would object to that.

But now we’re in a very different world where the gatekeepers are key-less.  The gates are open and the barbarians have entered the court. By that I mean the artist now can be not only the content creator, but the publisher, the marketer, and the distributor.  And while very few artists want all of those responsibilities, their willingness to accept them is based on a very different motive than publishers and record labels.  And that’s why all the confusion and the miscommunication between them.

The bottom line is those who dare to moo out loud whether it be with music, art, audio, video, or print, simply want to be heard above everything else.  They want to be read and listened to.  They want their views to matter.  They want to feel like they’ve had an impact.  And oh yes, by the way, they’d like to make a living doing it.  But if they don’t, they’ll find a way to do it anyway.  That was the genius of how artists have always worked anyway. Writing, singing, performing have only recently been full time jobs.  They’ve been in previous generations, passions; passions that went out and found patrons or some way to subsidize their art.

I’m not saying that writers, singers, and bloggers don’t want to get paid. But first they want to be heard.  And they understand if they can be heard, and if their ideas, and views, and contributions are valuable, they will eventually get paid.

Flying the Gaga Flag

Several weeks ago, Lady Gaga released her brand new album, “Born This Way,” on the commerce engine of Amazon, the biggest online bookstore and music store in the world.

Lady Gaga is proof, like her, don’t know her, or hate her, that flying a flag is essential to being heard among the herd.

Everyone I’ve met wants to be heard.  They want to make a difference.  They want to stand out. They have a story to tell, something to offer, a song, a verse, a book, a painting, an insight, a seminar, or a service.  But how do you get noticed among the vast herd of people doing the very same thing?  You have to fly your flag.

When you think of Lady Gaga, you are very clear on who she is and what she is about.  Standing on the shoulders of Madonna, she’s learned how to craft her message and her image in such a way that there is a visceral and emotional response almost every time her name is mentioned.  That’s flying your flag.

What flag are you flying? Obviously Lady Gaga is flying the “Gaga” flag. For me, I’m flying the “Renegade for God” flag, or the “Making Marriage Fun Again” flag.  I have two flags that I’m flying. But I understand a lot of work needs to be done before I can fly that flag successfully.

Your brand is like flying a flag.  It tells who you are, what you offer, and what the distinctives are that differentiate you from the herd.  If you want to be heard, you have to be clear about what your message is and what your goals are as you fly your flag.

How to Rehabilitate Your Reputation

I’ve heard it said that your character is what you are when no one is watching, and your reputation is what other people think you are while they are listening to other people who have been watching you.

The truth is, every person I’ve ever known is going to go through a period of time when they need to rehabilitate their brand or their reputation.  I think of what’s happened in the last year to BP. And yet, I’ve heard several positive stories about how they’ve stepped up and made things right.  I never would have believed that BP and their brand could begin to rehabilitate themselves so soon.  And yet it happens all the time.

Here are some things you need to do when you need to rehabilitate your own brand.

  1. Get clear about what you stand for. Oftentimes our reputations get hurt when we get too far afield from the very things we are passionate about.  We become successful and then we think that success can be transmitted over into other areas.  And instead of fixing our focus, finding our voice, and flying our flag about a certain passionate problem, we begin to diversify and no one knows what we stand for.
  2. Gather new people around you. Often our brand is damaged when we surround ourselves with “yes” people who, long ago, stopped telling us the truth.  Maybe it’s because they fear losing an advantage, or even a paycheck, and they begin to tell us what we want to hear instead of what we need to hear.  Oftentimes new faces and fresh voices can give you clarity about going back to your main thing.
  3. Engage. When your brand has taken a big hit, one of the things you want to do is withdraw. The criticism and the negative comments can hurt, and hurt bad, particularly when those of us who “moo” out loud take very seriously the stands we have taken, the passionate problems we are pursuing, the solutions we’ve offered.  When those are rejected, criticized, or even questioned, oftentimes we recoil.  And yet, we need to do the opposite – to engage, to clarify our message, to fix our focus, to find our voice again and fly that flag without regard to the pain of the criticism.
  4. Dig deep and fix your focus even more, and become smarter so you have fresh ideas and fresh content to offer.
  5. Just simply resonate with those that you exist to serve, and continue it day in and day out. Sometimes time is your best ally.  I’ve found that critics, though scathing and painful as their voice may be, are like a little puppy chasing a toy.  Their attention span is very short and they run away to other things very quickly.

It’s people like you who want to be heard above the herd; those who take a stand. Free your mind from the limiting and critical voices. Fix your focus on the things you care about.  Find your voice that’s unique to you.  And then fly your flag that makes the world a better place.

How One Dog Can Bully Fifty Cows

One of the things I am thankful for as I reflect on my childhood are the summers spent on the farm, learning practical lessons about life.  One that has always stood out to me is how one little collie dog, a dog that I could pet, run with, and play with, could become so big and bold as to bully 50 cows and move them in the direction that the dog chose.

If you’ve never been on a working farm, and don’t understand the whole milking thing, cows need to be milked twice a day: early in the morning, and late in the afternoon.  This is a routine that isn’t broken and it goes on seven days a week, so much so that even a dumb cow can, over time, begin to move toward the barn.  Because not only is it milking time, it’s feeding time as well.

What really makes these two times of day worth watching is the work of the cow dog to go out and gather the herd and move them into the barn.  The cows can be wandering, (as cows do) heads down, eating what grass they can find and totally uninterested in the objective of the farmer.  But when the cow dog shows up and barks at  their heels, he can round them up and move them as one herd to the barn, in the barn, and into the stalls.  It’s an amazing thing to watch.

What do we learn by this?  That although humans are infinitely more intelligent, when it comes to being herded and bullied around, we’re not much different than cows.  We start out excited, bold, and daring.  But before too long, the call to conform and comply to convention is almost irresistible.

The truth is, you’re not a part of the herd, you’re an individual.  Yeah, I know we berate the individualism of America, and we should.  Because, let’s face it, none of us are an island unto ourselves.  We all need family and community.  We need other creatives to moo out loud along with us, because this world is too big, too dark, and too dangerous for just one of us to try to solve all the world’s problems.

Here is the point.  What cow dog has bullied you into the herd? What barking and sniffing at your heels has gone on in the past that gets you so afraid of being rejected or laughed at, that you’re not even willing to try to lift your head and moo?  What bondage do you live in in your mind that’s causing you to live such a small, restricted life?  What are you afraid of, being criticized? We’re going to do that anyway.  Being rejected?  We’re going to do that too.

Here is what you are afraid of: not being heard, being insignificant, living a life of pain and struggle.  And at the end of it, looking back and having achieved almost nothing that makes the world better, and you happier. This need not be.  I dare you to identify your cow dogs, and if you can’t turn them into friends, send them to the house.

You Need to Trust Your Inner “Moo”

In spite of what you’ve been told, you are creative. How do I know?  Well, basically because you were created by the most creative being in the world, God.

An yet, you know that one of the hardest things you’ll ever do is to learn to trust your inner “moo.”  You know what I am talking about; that inner voice that dares to think differently.  It’s that creative you that’s trying to get out.  But because of the labels and the categories and the warnings, we’ve learned to ignore that inner moo, that inner creativity, that inner voice.

If you are going to live the life for which you were created, if you’re going to be heard above the herd, you’re going to have to defy convention. You’re going to have to break out of the calls to conformity, and be creative.

In my world, I see other pastors stealing other pastors’ stuff.  Sometimes they move it around enough that it’s not so obvious, but it is.  Paula and I attended a church service several years ago of a nationally known pastor/teacher, I mean nationally known.  And I listened to the talk and it sounded familiar.  Afterward I went and got the manuscript of the guy I thought it belonged to, and guess what?  Word for word.  That’s plagiarism. Why? Because this is a bad guy standing in a pulpit?  No, he’s afraid.  He’s afraid that his own creativity, his own thoughts and ideas wouldn’t be strong enough or compelling enough to draw a large crowd to his church on a Sunday night.  How sad to be in that bondage.

I dare you to throw off the shackles, to stand in the sunlight, raise your head, find your own voice, your own creativity, your own verse, your own sermon, song, book; your own solution, your own company, and moo out loud.  And if you moo out loud long enough, and the moo is compelling enough, you’ll eventually gather a hearing.  That’s the glory of these days where the gatekeepers are toothless.

Take Your Stand (pt 3)

Hey.  What’s your problem? Does anybody ever ask you that?  Usually it’s something about your countenance, the way you carry yourself, or maybe even the way you are responding that gives someone who knows you a signal that something’s wrong.

Let’s take that idea a little further.  Maybe we should all be walking around with a problem. I mean a big problem; a problem that is worth our best efforts to solve; a problem that if we could make a dent in it, we could literally change the world, or at least change our world, or at least change the world of tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe millions of people.

Think about it.  Look at all the great companies that we live with today, the icons, the brands that we look up to.  How many of those businesses came into being because someone was trying to solve a problem?

I’ve been reading the autobiography of Stephen Wozniak, the co-founder of Apple.  It’s fascinating to know that when he was a young boy, his father was an engineer and had the heart of a teacher.  So he taught Steve about resistors and conductors and how electricity worked.  He taught him all the technical things so by the sixth grade Wozniak was the youngest licensed Ham operator in the United States.

What makes Steve’s story unique is not that he was a young kid with an IQ of over 200, brilliant, smart, and affable, as well as a good athlete.  But Steve had a particular attitude about his knowledge.  He says in the book that what really drove him, what became his problem was not that technology was available and exciting for the geeks, but if all the geeks did was technology for each other, what would that be worth to common man?

It was Wozniak’s passion that made the computer accessible to average people, to people who didn’t know or care to know all the technical aspects of computing.  It’s that simple idea to make the technical practical. The marriage of that simple concept is what drove the creation of Apple Computers. Add to that, the brilliance of Steve Jobs who understood the importance of not only taking a stand, but finding a unique voice and flying a unique flag.  And today you have a business valued right behind Exxon, as one of the most profitable businesses in the world.

So let me ask you again, “What’s your problem, buddy?”  For me, I’ve had two lifelong problems. One, the problem that religion and churches have hijacked God and made Him unapproachable to the common man.  Twenty-one years ago, Paula and I moved to Nashville to do something about it, and we are still at it.  What is my problem?  My problem is that religion gets in the way of true spirituality. It’s a problem I think about, I study about.  It drives me every day.  After thirty-nine years, my motivation, my engine is just as revved up as it ever was.  That’s what happens when you start your engine, when you find your problem so that you can take a stand.

Oh, there’s another stand we’ve taken.  And that is, we’re going to help good people grow great marriages, raise great kids, and produce great families; families that leave a legacy.  Our goal over the next 12 years is to train, motivate, and equip one million marriages.

You ask, “Who are you to have such a goal?”  I’m a nobody.  That’s it!  That’s it!  But I’ve got a problem.  I’ve got a big problem, a problem that causes me to pray, a problem that causes me to engage more intentionally than I ever have before; a problem that caused me to create a website called, “,” a live event called “Making Marriage Fun Again,” a weekly podcast with my wife, Paula called, “The David and Paula Show,” counseling, marrying, engaged with people every single day because I’ve got a problem.  And that is, good people lose everything in a failed marriage.  And it’s not necessary.

Oh, by the way, I have a bigger view of my problem.  When we have greater marriages, we’ll have greater kids and greater families, and we’ll have a greater country. And when there are places where broken and bruised people can gather every 7 days, be loved where they are, accepted, where they can find God simple, not church complicated, I believe the world can be changed.

So, hey buddy, what’s your problem?

Take Your Stand (part 2)

I believe it’s at the Indianapolis 500 that the race begins with, “Gentlemen, start your engines!”  That’s the signal for the roar of those powerful engines to come to life.  Horsepower idling potential linear movement, maybe glory, maybe a record, maybe even the history books.

We know that cars have engines, but people have engines too; things that wake them up.  Those who take their stand have found something that motivates them; a passion.  That’s it – a passion.  That’s what we’re told.  Find a passion.  Here is the problem when we find our passion.  We’ve found out that a lot of other people have found their passion too. And so we end up being one among many.

But you know what?  That’s true not only in the Indianapolis 500, it’s true in all open-road races, in NASCAR.  That’s true in the Boston Marathon, New York Marathon.  That’s true in life.

What really sets you apart is that, along with your passion for something, you also become angry; angry at your own stupidity, angry at the stupidity of others, angry at the price that something gone wrong is costing humanity.

When Paula and I decided that we would take our stand on the issue of marriage, we didn’t do it because we needed something else to do.  We didn’t do it because we thought it would be a great way to spend our life.  We didn’t do it so we could try to tell other people what a great marriage we have.

We did it because we just simply couldn’t stand seeing good people destroyed by a failed marriage and a brutal divorce all because they didn’t have the skill it took to stay married for a lifetime.

So what’s your problem?  Ask yourself everyday, “What’s your problem?”  And when you can answer that, you may have found your calling.

Take Your Stand

We live in a great, big, wonderful world with an endless stream of options, opinions, and choices to be made.  And therein lies most of our problem. If we’re not careful, faced with so much to do, to see, to invest our time in, we’ll end up being ten miles wide an an eighth of an inch thick.

For those who want to “moo” out loud, that is, make their mark in the world and stand out from and above the herd, that effort starts with choosing something to obsess over, to be passionate about; something so big and epic, something so moving to you and those around you that will be worth the sacrifice, commitment, and investment of your life.

I’m convinced that so many people live small, anonymous, unfulfilled lives because they really don’t know what to do.  I can say this because being the leader of spiritual communities for 39 years and dealing with literally tens of thousands of people, writing books, traveling, meeting people, going to conventions and seminars, the one constant I hear from people is, “I don’t know what I should do with my life.”

This may be ok if you’re 16, 18, 20, 22.  Hey, it’s probably ok if you’re 28.  But when you’re in your 30’s, 40’s, 50’s, even 60’s and you still haven’t launched, you still haven’t found your place of calling or significant passion?

If there’s any favor you can do yourself, find something worth taking a stand over. That’s where branding begins.  You’ve heard of that idea, right?  The thing that GE, Apple, and all the major brands do.  Well, accept the responsibility to be the manager of your own brands.  And that starts with taking a stand.

What Are You Afraid Of?

I know what you’re afraid of.  No I am not talking about, bugs, gators, snakes, spiders, all those common things we say we’re afraid of. There are as many phobias, it seems, as there are people who populate the planet.  But I know what you’re afraid of, really, really at the core, down deep inside, in the inner sanctum where only you and God reside.  It’s not the fear of dying.   It’s not the fear of poverty, or even the fear of sickness.  It’s not the fear of being hurt.  It’s not the fear of never becoming a millionaire.  It is, though, the fear that we all share.  And that is, the fear of being insignificant.

You know that fear.  It starts early in life when you wake up to realize that unlike the safe cocoon your parents have provided, the world chooses up sides.  Some people get picked, others don’t.  Some people are beautiful, others aren’t.  Some people have athletic bodies, given to them by nature; unearned but much applauded by those who look on.  The rest of us have bodies that we constantly fight just to keep in line for the rest of our lives.

And as you filter through these emotions you have when you go to school, and middle school and then on to high school, and on to college, you soon realize that your greatest fear is that you’ll be irrelevant, insignificant; that the world won’t be any different except deplenished by the little space you are taking up.

That’s why you want to be listened to.  That’s why you want to create stuff that reflects the inner you; your conviction, your knowledge, your understanding, your views of the way the world should work.  That’s why you want to create beauty.  That’s why you’re unsatisfied with the status quo. That’s why you want to change things and make them better. That’s why you come in to a room and think, “I would have chosen a different color, a different sofa.  I certainly wouldn’t have hung those pictures.”  Is that you being arrogant?  Not at all. That’s you being you.

Believe it or not, we’re all created creative; created in the image of our Maker, the ultimate, generous artist, the One Who creates ultimate beauty, the One Who can take the blackest night and turn it into the brilliance of a sunlit day.  A God Who can take broken lives and mend them and turn them into a song, in to a crescendo of praise and goodness.  That same God created you.  Stuffed inside your human body is a heart and soul, a mind, a unique combination unlike we’ve ever seen before.  And you’re dying to be heard.  You’re dying to let what you know out to inform the world and make it a better place.

The question is, why don’t you?  The answer is, you fear, by everything you’ve seen and heard, that you were one of the unlucky ones, created without significance, without gifts, without talents, without anything to crow about, without any reason to “moo” out loud.

Let’s face it.  Since you were born, you’ve been told to stand in line, behave, wear your seat belt, put on a helmet and prepare for the worst.  Thinking crazy thoughts and drawing weird paintings is ok when you’re in the first, second, or third grade.  But by the fourth grade, you’ve got to get with the program.  And what is the program?  The program to bring you into conformity and convention. Yuck. Just saying those to words leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

If you’re going to “moo” out loud, add your verse, make a difference in the world, you’re going to have to learn to defy convention and conformity. They are not your friends.

How Good is Your “Moo” and Why You Need to Lower Your Standards

Everywhere I go I meet people who have a story to tell, a song to write, a book to offer, a business to start, a risk to take.  And yet these same people will waste a lifetime worrying about the fact that they are not qualified.  No one has picked them and given them permission to “moo” out loud.

What I’ve found is that people worry about how their “moo” will sound. That of course is an analogy for how their book will be received, their song will be recorded, or how their creative efforts may or may not be applauded.  The question is, however your “moo” sounds, whatever your skill level or talent level, you should go ahead and “moo” out loud.  In some sense, you need to lower your standards.

I’ve come across literally thousands of people in my life who could have been amazing but they were waiting to perfect their talent, their skill, their manuscript, their lyrics, their melody line.  They were waiting for favorable marketing conditions and died with their music still in them.

Go ahead and “moo.” I give you permission.  I guarantee you that the “moo” you can “moo” today won’t be as great as the one you can “moo” tomorrow.  But the key is, you’ve gotta start mooing; mooing here, mooing now.  Lower your standards of perfection.  Think about this.  How about acceptable?  How about just good?  How about that? How about the best I can do with what I have, where I am, with the time I’m allotted?  There you go.  That’s the definition of excellence.  If you don’t believe me, check out my book, Accept No Mediocre Life.

How to be Heard Over the Herd

One thing that’s been true with every person I’ve ever met is that they want to be heard.  I mean really heard; not just add to the noise, not just politely stand in line to earn the right to say something.  But to be heard for who they are and the uniqueness that they bring to life.

At the same time, one of the greatest challenges is to figure out how to be heard among the herd. When I run out here in the Tennessee countryside, I pass by about four herds of cattle. The interesting thing is that in every one of these herds, they either have their heads down eating, or they are just standing there with some kind of weird, blank stare.

Day by day, I run past these herds of cows with little or no sound.  But on a brief occasion, I hear a startling sound that comes from one of those cows, daring to extend his neck and raise his head, and giving out a loud, “moo.”  Sometimes it’s a plaintive “moo.” But other times it’s attention-getting.

So here’s what I’ve learned.  It’s hard to get heard among the herd.  It’s those daring, brave souls who lift their heads, stretch their neck, and let out a loud “Moo!” that offer the world her music and reason for living.  The question about moo-ing out loud is not, “Do you have something to say?” It’s, “Do you have something worth saying?”  Are you adding to the load of cynicism, doubt, fear, hate, and trash-talk?  If that’s your “moo,” you can keep it to yourself.  But if you “moo” out loud some idea, some note of joy, some inspiration of grace; if you add to this world your music that helps us turn limping into dancing, sadness into rejoicing, then by all means “moo” out loud.

The second thing you need to “moo” out loud is not just something worth saying, but the courage to say it in your voice.  Yeah, that’s right.  You have a voice.  It’s not like mine or anyone else’s.  To you, it may sound shrill, high-pitched, and squeaky.  But to the rest of us, it might sound like a symphony.

So I dare you.  Stand up and “moo” out loud.  When you write that book, you “moo” out loud.  When you write that song, you “moo” out loud.  When you you go for another audition, you “moo” out loud.  When you refuse to work in a cubicle for slave’s pay and dare to live a life of your dreams, you “moo” out loud.  And when you “moo” out loud, that symphony gives us the courage so that just maybe we too, can rise above the herd.