What will you forget to do before vacation?

Iphone dump July 21 2013 184


Have you ever gone on vacation and as you arrive wondered if you had locked your door?  Or even if you had closed the door?  I got from being away for the weekend a couple years ago to my front door wide open.  How embarrassing.  In my panicked frenzy to leave I forgot not just to lock the door, but to close it.  Luckily all my valuables were still intact (really just my TV and cigars).  I know vacation season has begun so I wanted to give you a gift.  Stuff to do beforehand.  You can make your own checklist but this will be a great start. Lots of credit to my mom and dad as the most prepared travelers in the world—they were big contributors on this series.

Top 3 tips for any kind of travel:

  1. Make a list! Make your list of things to do and also things to pack (included in future posts).  This will take the guessing game out of vacation/going away.  Keep it in your phone or somewhere easily accessible for the future.
  2. Buy an extra phone charger and put it in the suitcase you most frequently use. They are really cheap.
  3. Compile a complete toiletry kit with new toiletries. Don’t use any of these daily.  That way you’re not having to pack everytime you go away for the weekend, you just grab it.

5 Things to do the week before vacation or longer travel:

  1. Email your itinerary and travel plans to a trusted friend. (my parents always send my sister and I this when they travel)
  2. Let a trusted neighbor know you will be gone and to keep an eye out.
  3. Put a hold on your mail and newspaper (do people still get those?). The USPS has a place to do that online HERE.
  4. Check any bill due dates and pay them. Getting a late fee after a great vacation is like a punch in the throat.
  5. I have a rule where I don’t pack the day I’m leaving. This makes me pack the night before and gives me some time to remember things that aren’t on the list.

Next post:  10 things to do the day that you leave and in honor of our soon-coming trip to the Middle East, some international tips.


The harm that American Idol has done to young people

american idol william hung 2 american idol william hung


“My friends tell me I’m good!”

“I’m always singing for my family.”

“My mom tells me I could be the next American Idol.”


Well, your mom has lied to you my friend.

American Idol has done a lot of good and a lot of harm.  Mostly good.  The harm is this: young people are led to believe they really can be anything.  Which is not true.  I will never be a professional basketball player.  Even if that’s my dream.  Cause I’m not tall enough nor athletic enough.  I will never be an artist.  Even if that’s my dream.  Cause I can’t draw.  If I’m on your team in Pictionary and the answer is not “stick figure, house, smiley face, or sunshine”, we’re not getting that point.  We’re going to lose.  Even if I took a lot of art classes, read a lot, was tutored 1-on-1 by Van Gogh, I’m not going to make it as an artist.  Maybe I would move from a 3 rating to a 5 (out of 20).  That is what we classify as a hobby.  There is something that everyone “feels alive” when they do.  Now this can be a hobby or it can be a career.  I think that depends on if you are starting as a 3 or a 17 natural talent rating.  Then enters the role of hard work—of grinding.  Nobody can be great at anything without hard work, no matter the amount of raw talent.


Now let’s not blame this completely on American Idol.  It has a lot of contributing factors:  everyone getting a trophy, no losers, no one being said no to growing up, hearing “if you can dream it, you can do it.”  You can’t be anything you want to be.  Because you were made with certain gifts, talents, and abilities and if these don’t match your dream, you’re not going to get very far.  Just ask those terrible auditions from AI (like William Hung from the picture above).  As they say through tears: “My aunt said I was great.  My friends said I was really good.”  Well, you have terrible friends.

But you can be what you were meant to be.  And everyone is destined for greatness.

You can have any hobbies you want but to “live out your dream” and become whatever you want is actually a lie.  And pushing this ideology has done our young people a disservice.

So continue to dream big.  Pay attention to clues that show you what your dreams should be.  They can be signposts as to what you are meant to do.


5 reasons American Idol is 100x better than The Voice

American idol vs the voice 3

Don’t get me started about American Idol (AI) versus The Voice.  Can you name one artist from The Voice?  Me neither.  Can you name one hit song?  Me neither.  In comparison:  Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Daughtry, Phillip Phillips, Jennifer Hudson, David Cook, Jordin Sparks, Fantasia, Clay Aiken, Katherine McPhee, Scotty McCreery, Elliot Yamin, David Archuleta, Ruben Stoddard, Adam Lambert, and lots more hail from AI.  Here are 5 reasons why AI is 100x better than The Voice:

  1. American Idol (AI) provides contestant comic relief. The Voice has no terrible auditions.
  2. AI is about the contestants. The Voice is about the judges.
  3. AI is about discovering talent. The Voice is about producing an image.
  4. Except for the finale, the judges in the Voice have complete control over everything compared to AI where America makes the decisions.
  5. AI is about helping the contestants become great and get better at their craft. The Voice is about the judges being celebrities and who can be wittier than the others.

AI’s least successful winner (2010) Lee DeWyse sold 146,000 albums, more than 3x The Voice’s most successful winner (2011) Javier Colon, who sold 48,000.  Now I know that American Idol’s ratings have been steadily decreasing as they lose market share to The Voice, X Factor, and other similar shows.  But the Voice finale has yet to trump AI finale in ratings.  If I wanted to watch celebrities bicker and banter, I could tune into the E network.  For all its problems, American Idol is still about the contestants, and helping them become great.  And that is something I would turn my chair around for every week.

Next post:  What’s the harm that American Idol has done to our young people?



What American Idol can teach us about our own life

American-Idol Simon cowell

American Idol muppets

American Idol (AI) is one of my favorite shows of all time.  I love it.  This brings me lots of grief from my friends.  Taunting.  Rolled eyes.  But I don’t care.  With the finale looming soon I thought it would be a fitting topic.  In addition to the weird, awkward bizarre auditions, AI has discovered some of our country’s best musical talent of the last 10 years.  But there is another side of AI that is kind of like a secret weapon.  This secret side sometimes makes me cry while I’m watching it.  It is watching people find they were “born to do.”  Especially young people.  It touches me at a deep level.  One month they are working at Cookout (not that there’s anything wrong with that—the shakes are great!) or drowning in math class, and then BOOM! one month later they are a bona fide superstar, doing what they were meant to do.  The best is when the contestants don’t even know how good they are.  They are almost surprised but it’s like something’s been nagging at them, a splinter in their soul, and they knew that they were meant for something like this.  “It’s what I’m meant to do.”  I can’t get enough of that.  It’s one of my favorite things to see happen in young people’s lives.

It’s similar to one of the all-time classic movies Chariots of Fire (you’ve heard the theme song, trust me!) when Eric Liddell, Olympic runner, is talking about whether to move to China to serve the Chinese people or to run.  He is talking about his purpose in life.  And he is talking about finding out what he was meant for. (watch 1 min clip from 0:45 – 1:40 HERE)

So this makes me cry.  People finding out their purpose in life.  Everyone was meant for greatness.  Most people haven’t discovered it.  American Idol can teach us about our life as well.  Are there times recently that you have said “I was made to do this” or  “I was born for this”?  If not, why not?  What is it you were made to do?  What changes do you need to make to be able to say this with regularity?


Posts coming in the near future:

Why American Idol is 100x better than The Voice

Why American Idol has done serious damage to our young people. 


Is there life after college? Advice for grads Part 4

Star Wars graduation

New talk Bob Mitchell’s farewell address at the 1990 All Staff conference is LIVE.

Check out the first 3 “Top 7” bits of advice for entering the real world.  WEEK 1.  WEEK 2.  WEEK 3. Now here are the last 7 tips and tricks.  The theme is professionalism.  One quick word before we jump into the advice:

With James Madison University’s graduation a little over a week away, many of the soon-to-be grads I work with experience deep bittersweet emotion.  Many have a sadness starting to envelop them.  Some of this is natural as they are moving away from newly developed lifelong friends but some is from wondering if their best times of life are over.  So many adults claim your best years are in college.  This is sad.  The rest of your life is downhill?  If you get married and if you have children, that time with your family is a slow, downward spiral?  No.  This is NOT TRUE.  Every season of life brings with it an increasing capacity for joy and experience.  As you graduate and enter the “real world”, your best years are yet to come!  Onward.

  1. Be early. EVERYWHERE.  Especially to work.  This shows people you value their time (as well as your own).
  1. You go from top dog to underdog in about 2.3 seconds. We often have an unrealistic perspective when it comes to finding a career. You want the job now that you will earn in 10 years.  That’s OK.  How do you get there?  Work really, really hard, be loyal, be a go-to person, and be unselfish at work.
  1. Dress up and be well groomed. Dress how you want to get treated.  When in doubt, shave and dress up.  Don’t give people any reason to doubt you.  You don’t regret overdressing (a couple taunts) as much as underdressing (people doubting your ability).  You don’t get a 2nd chance to make a 1st impression.
    1. Purchase 2 or 3 “ballin” outfits. These are high quality, correctly fitting, great-looking whole outfits that you can wear for all kinds of different occasions. They are worth the investment.  For the fellas, this also means one really good suit and one pair of really good shoes.
  1. Ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life. We are all very busy, but hurry communicates all kinds of negative things.  Prioritizing and precision are better goals.
  1. Write compliments down, share criticism orally. “Insults should be written in the sand and praise carved in stone.”
  1. Have a professional email and a professional voicemail greeting on your phone. Your potential new boss doesn’t want to email you at youwishyouwereme@aol.com or hear freestyle rapping on your voicemail.
  1. Figure out how to manage email. One of my mentors, Michael Hyatt, has some great articles on this.  Find one HERE.  Only touch each email once and only check your email a couple times a day.  That and social media/indiscriminate web surfing are the 2 biggest time wasters of the day.  Make sure that your social media accounts portray the image you want to portray.  One that you would be comfortable with your boss seeing and reading.  Once it’s on the interweb, it’s there forever.

Remember grads, your best years are ahead of you.  Great things are in store!  Many blessings on the journey.

What advice or counsel would you suggest to a graduating senior?