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Nothing hurt me as much as when they made fun of my voice.

Junior high is not an enjoyable experience for anyone. Well, nearly anyone. My friend Josh had a great time because he was tall and tan and could play football. And he didn’t have zits. And his teeth were perfect (his mother was an orthodontist).

My experience was different than Josh’s. Mine was filled with awkward growth periods, unreturned affections, and questionable fashion choices. Maybe you can relate.

And the teasing. Did I mention the teasing? You name it, kids get teased for it. Too skinny, too fat, too tall, too short, too developed, too underdeveloped. Kids can find a reason to tease you for anything.

My cross to bear? I had an incredibly high voice all throughout junior high.

I was what you’d call a “late bloomer.” My voice didn’t change until my freshman (or was it my sophomore?) year of high school. Which, if you’re keeping score at home, means I sounded like Mickey Mouse until I was 14.


In case you were wondering, this does not bode well for a young man amongst his peers.

The teasing was what you would expect. Nothing savage, but cruel. I remember days when I wouldn’t want to speak because of it. It was easier to stay silent than to endure another “Hey, Mickey!” taunt. 

Mercifully, Mother Nature kicked in and I had my very own Peter Brady moment. I dropped down a few octaves. It didn’t exclude me from being teased anymore, but it did free me from that particular torture.

When I look back on that time frame, I realize something: We are mocked in the areas of our calling.

See, these days I do a lot of public speaking as an entrepreneur. (In fact, I’m supposed to be packing for a trip right now!) Through workshops, keynote speeches, webinars, podcasts, Periscope, interviews, and more, my voice is a huge part of how I earn a living.

Before starting my business, I was a pastor at a Christian church. I spoke nearly every week for close to three years straight. There is something about creating reality with your words that just does it for me.

I love speaking and talking and talking too much and generally having people listen to what I have to say. (HA!) And yet…for the longest time, speaking was a source of significant pain for me. Both literally and figuratively.


Different School, Same Problems

When I got to high school I was not what you’d call “athletically gifted”. I tried sports. I really did. But I was given the legs of a newborn gazelle. You think I’m joking but I’m not.

Thankfully, after trying and limping away from football, I had something significant to turn to. I had an interest I’d been fostering and a school capable of delivering.

See, our school had a radio station. It was amazing. 100 watts of POWER emanating from an old broom closet in Valley High School. I walked in one day in 1994 and hardly ever left.

I loved it. Every part of radio. I loved having a show. I loved connecting with people who listened and called in. I loved the music. I loved my fellow radio staffers. It was an activity I finally connected with.

It was the first time I remember thinking to myself, “I was made to do this!”

But high school isn’t void of bullies. Valley was no exception. Being on the radio meant you were halfway between jocks and the band folks. You weren’t super popular but you weren’t likely to get shoved into a locker.

My social status protected me from the mid-level bullies. But there was one heinous, soulless individual who had no interest in adhering to social mores. His name was Jason and I am positive he was sent from the pit of hell to torture me.

He used to come into the radio booth, swipe the microphone from my hand, and literally hit me over the head with it.

This happened on multiple occasions. He would smile and laugh and his teeth always had Cheetos stuck in between them. I think he needed to eat a big lunch in order to fuel his torture. Each time he did this it left me shaken up.

I don’t know if you’ve ever taken a Sennheiser to the dome, but let me tell you: it hurts. While the physical pain stung, the emotional pain went even deeper.

I was in the one spot I felt safe and here was this meathead bully barging in and ruining it. Bullies are bullies, and I knew that, so why did this one upset me so much? 

Because it wasn’t about the bullying. I was being mocked in my calling. That’s what went so deep. He was reaching in and taunting me in the most personal way possible.


Your Experience, Your Calling

Think of the areas in your life where you’ve been:

  • Mocked
  • Demeaned
  • Undervalued
  • Ostracized

Chances are good that you’ve found an area central to your calling.

When you look back on your life, what activities have you found the most enjoyment in? I guarantee you have likely experienced considerable pushback in those places as well.

Maybe it’s not a bully. Maybe it’s:

  • A well-meaning family member questioning your abilities
  • A friend who doesn’t “get” your calling like you do
  • A coworker or boss who dismisses the place where your true value lies

Whatever. If you are reading this and have a pulse, first of all, congrats! The areas in which you’ve been mocked are some of the most important areas of your life. I promise. They are the central parts to your story.

While navel-gazing rarely helps anyone, I want you to look back on your life and pay attention to the pain. The mocking. Listen to it, if only for a few moments.

What do you hear?

The message that comes back is the truest part about you. However faint or dulled. It’s why you were put onto this planet. Listen to it. Nurture it. Grow it.

But whatever you do, don’t let the bullies win.

When I first talked to Casey Graham on the phone I was being interviewed to pay him $10,000.

You read that right. HE was interviewing ME so I could pay HIM $10,000. I had never paid $10,000 for anything besides my car and house and my two degrees.

And yet here I was hoping he’d pick me.

If you don’t know Casey, just imagine the Tasmanian devil with a Southern drawl. He only drinks decaf coffee. I’m convinced it’s because a caffeinated Casey is similar to a black hole … no one really knows what’s on the other side.

Casey’s company is a multimillion dollar organization. They’ve been on the INC 5000 list two (maybe three?) times. He knows what he’s doing.

Well I got picked. In fact, I later learned I was the first one. (There is tremendous value in being first out the gate. It’s a life lesson. Unavoidable. Like death and taxes and gravity and losing at Monopoly.)

The $10,000 was for a two-day business-building session. And it was worth every penny.

I don’t think Casey even does these sessions anymore. And he shouldn’t. He gave me too much. He should have charged me more. I would have gladly paid it knowing what I know now.

He taught me his business model. He taught me how to sell. He taught me how to charge for my services and products. I learned it all.

Since then we’ve stayed in touch. I’ve continued to learn from him. Mostly by watching and observing and asking questions. Here are 11 lessons I learned by watching Casey build his business.

1. DO NOT OVERCOMPLICATE THINGS. Casey told me I was making my business too complicated. “I don’t understand that,” was his exact phrase. He was right. I was pleased as punch with my idea. Casey wasn’t impressed. All he cares about is, WILL IT SELL? The more simple something is, the better it will sell. 99% of the time. Do not complicate what can be (should be) simple.

2. DO NOT DO WHAT YOU CAN DELEGATE. I am constantly looking for ways to give away my daily tasks. I don’t want tasks. I want to create … jobs, content, relationships. I learned this by watching Casey. He is a master at delegating. He will routinely have Renee, his right-hand woman, lock him out of his email. This is so he will not step on the toes of the people he has trusted to take certain responsibilities.

3. DO NOT SPEAK POORLY OF OTHERS. I was genuinely shocked at how well Casey speaks of others. Doesn’t matter who. He will not talk bad about people. This is such a good lesson. So important for anyone who wants long-term success. Out of everything on the list, this stuck with me the most.

4. DO NOT WORRY ABOUT COMPLAINERS. Customers will complain. People will talk bad about you. They will call you names. As long as complaints are the exception and not the norm, you can ignore it. Customer feedback is one thing. Unhappy people seeking to make your life miserable is another. Casey doesn’t worry about those folks (and he doesn’t talk bad about them either). You shouldn’t either.

5. DO NOT WAIT FOR IT TO BE PERFECT. Perfection. What a merciless master! Perfection will never admit it, but Perfect doesn’t exist. It’s a treadmill that NEVER stops. Casey ships. He creates something of value and sends it out into the world. He does not wait. He moves. Movement is more important than perfection to Casey.

6. DO SEND LOTS OF THANK YOU NOTES. When I got to my room the night before my session with Casey, there was a big “THANK YOU” basket waiting for me. Pen, paper, candy, company swag. It was great. He sent a note to my wife as well, thanking her for letting me come. Every time I get a thank you note from someone it makes my day better. Casey knows this. Now you know it.

7. DO PAY YOUR TEAM FAIRLY. This is how you keep good people. Pay more than you are comfortable paying. Then pay some more.

8. DO HAVE A PHYSICAL LOCATION. Rocket Company didn’t have a physical building to call home until recently. They had always used co-working spots and coffee shops. I know Casey has said publicly he would have picked a permanent location much sooner. For some companies, having a physical location is necessary for building culture.

9. DO USE PERCENTAGES FOR EVERYTHING. I build all of our prices based on the profit margin I want to have. This is because of Casey. It’s one of the most important, practical lessons I learned from him.

10. DO TRY LOTS OF DIFFERENT THINGS. In the short time I have known him, Casey has tried selling through email, Facebook ads, live events, online events, webinars, livestreaming, Twitter, his blog, and podcasting. I’m sure there are others but I forget them. Point is he’s always trying something new.

11. DO NOT GIVE UP. This doesn’t fit into the rhythm of the list but whatever. When I left my session with Casey he looked me square in the eye and said, “do not let me down.” I felt like I was in trouble. The main reason Casey’s been so successful is because he flat out refused to quit. Knowing his story, there are moments where I would’ve quit. But he didn’t.

I’ve grown and gained so much traction from just watching Casey and working with him on a few occasions. I can’t imagine where I’d be without this relationship. Coaches are crucial. Success is a team sport!

In the past, my default was to do more whenever I felt overwhelmed. To react.

It’s like when you go to the doctor to get your physical; they tap your knee with a little mallet and your reflexes make your leg jump. They’re just testing to make sure everything works okay, and if all is well, that knee-jerk reaction is going to happen.  

When a business owner gets overwhelmed, the typical reflexive response is to DO. This is true for anyone who needs to produce results, not just business owners, by the way. The impulse is to just get busy. To start another project, send another email, to produce another webinar, or make another call or another sale.

My Reflex

That has always been the case for me, at least. I always thought, “Hey, I can change this situation that I’m in. I don’t like what I’m feeling right now.” So reflexively, I would just make something happen. What I’ve found most often happened was I would create half-baked products or half-baked services or half-baked blog posts. Everything that came out of that reflex was, to be blunt, complete crap.

I was in this exact situation just the other day. I created something half-baked out of that reflex and it came back to bite me. It wasn’t a good product and people were upset. They had every reason to be upset! My reflex was to make something happen, which can be a good impulse to listen to. But there was zero planning behind my reflexive action. There was no strategy.

Working with the Reflex

Now I’ve switched my impulse. When things don’t go my way and I feel that reflex to do something or  make something happen, I don’t ignore it. But I do I listen to it with intention. I let it serve as a guide on what area of the business needs attention, and then I take a step back and assess my thoughts.

I’m not always perfect at this, but funneling that feeling into reflection and strategy has produced way more for me as a person and in terms of results. Once I have pinpointed what that reflex is telling me, I determine one action I can take to get moving. From there I form a strategy from start to finish for implementing the solution.

Basically, when I feel that reflex, I take a step back, breathe, and think through it from start to finish. I will literally chart out the funnel on pen and paper and put little check boxes next to each step. I do that to make sure that the solution I implement is actually fully baked, is actually helpful, and won’t come back to bite me in the behind. Essentially, that it’s thought-through.

The Goal

Ultimately that is what I’m looking for; a well thought out strategic move based on the reflex that I’m feeling. What I want is results. What I don’t want are half-baked ideas that leave my team and customers in the lurch.

What do you do when you feel overwhelmed? If you find yourself having that proverbial knee-jerk reaction, try slowing down and reflecting on a specific solution or strategy to a specific part of your business.

Have you ever felt like you’re straddling two different markets? Are you fearful of choosing one market over another?

Basically, do you feel like if you do choose one you are going to miss out on another market?

The reality is most of us only have the ability to focus on one market at a time. One niche at a time. And if we don’t, we lose out on “old mo,” AKA momentum. Not losing out on old mo’ is something my football coach always talked about. Of course, I mostly just sat on the bench, but I still remember him saying that nonetheless. Because it so often applies to life and to business.

At Think Digital, we’ve been experiencing the tension between being in the church market and wanting to move into the entrepreneur/small business market. I used to believe that church folk would buy from business people, but business people wouldn’t buy from church folk. I no longer believe that.

As it is, we have two client bases. One is the product side, the other is the services side. The services side is where a lot of our agency work is; where we do social media management, social media content creation, blog post creation, website development, graphic design. All of the things you associate with an agency are done on the services side.

This side of the business is open to all who come! We specialize in book launches and working with publishers and also with large non-profits. It also includes small businesses, educational institutions, anybody and everybody comes through the services side.

Our other side is the product side. Our brand for churches specifically is known as Social Church. This brand was created off of the message of my book. We use that brand to serve churches specifically on the digital products side. This product side has served small businesses also, but we have reassessed.

We’ve made a decision that we are going to focus the product side of our business, the Social Church side, on churches for the rest of 2015. There is huge opportunity here because there is huge need here.

We want as much momentum in business as possible. So Think Digital is focusing on services, but digital products are being focused under Social Church. We aren’t abandoning everyone, though. We’re pulling a Taylor Swift.

How is That Like Taylor Swift?!

Taylor Swift was the belle of the country music ball. She started her career in 2006. She dominated the charts, quickly rose to fame; everybody loved T Swift. Eventually, you could not step into the country music circle and not see or hear Taylor or her influence.

She won every award that you could win, completely dominated the country music charts, and seemingly had no where else to go in country music.

And so, in 2014, she made the decision to become a crossover artist, moving completely from country to pop. She switched genres, much to the delight and to the dismay of many country music fans.

Since switching genres she has done much the same in the pop world as she did in country; dominating charts, snagging scores of raging fans (Swifties as they’re known), selling out stadiums and generally doing whatever in the world she wants to do when it comes to music.

How Crossovers Succeed

Now the switch was successful for one main reason: she had a system.

Taylor Swift had a music system that she developed in the country music world. That was, to put it in a relational metaphor, her first true love.

As is true with most first true loves, the audience was much more forgiving and open to the flaws, faults, and foibles that she brought to the table. So she could hone her craft, she could become comfortable with who she was, she could get to know her strengths and weaknesses and correct them and really put together an operating system of sorts that was untouchable in the world of music.

When she had completely exhausted what she felt was her potential in the country music world, she could have either:

  1. A) Chosen to be a big fish in a little pond.
  2. B) Taken a risk, capitalize on the momentum of her country music system, and catapult it into the much larger niche of pop music.

Obviously the latter is what she did, but it wasn’t without first perfecting her system which allowed her to get a standard set of blueprints for operation. She took what she learned in the country music world and applied it to the pop music world and the rest, as they say, is history.

Moral of the Story

Things are working for Taylor Swift. The same system that worked in country music is now working for her in the pop world. There’s a lot to learn from this.

We as a business are choosing to hone our craft in the industry that we know best: churches. Now, I firmly believe that the systems and processes and blueprints that we’re putting into place business-wise are definitely working in the church world. But I also believe that they will work in the larger niche of entrepreneurship and small businesses.

Remember, Taylor Swift did not go straight to pop. We have no way of saying what would have happened if she would have, but, I doubt she would’ve found the same success. Would she have been successful? Probably. She’s talented, she’s hungry, and people love her.

She would likely have succeeded. But I don’t think she would’ve been as successful as she is now simply because of all of the other voices and noise in pop music. She could really hone her craft in a tighter knit community that knew her and loved her and was way more forgiving than the pop world would have been.

The same holds true for us. My desire and goal is to take what we’re learning as a business and teach it to entrepreneurs of all sorts and shapes and sizes. In order to do that, first we need to ground ourselves in rock solid principles.

Because of the network and skillset and opportunities that surround us, specifically in the faith-based space, we are choosing to start there and really serve that market well. To really understand who they are and what their needs are and to develop a system specifically for them.

Then and only then, once we feel like it is not only helpful to the faith based community but can also provide value to the larger entrepreneurial community, will we make that transition.

Lesson Learned?

As you are growing your business, embrace the opportunities and the network that are sitting right in front of you.

Instead of aspiring to be something else, be who you are right now. Certainly plot a path towards your future and build yourself a roadmap. But don’t make the mistake I was in danger of making! Do not overlook the overwhelming abundance of opportunities that are staring you in the face.


Efficiency is one of the driving forces of everything we do here at Think Digital. So is quality. And so are results. Given that we are a digital communications business, that trifecta is greatly emphasized by landing pages.

When we make a landing page, it has a purpose. A specific goal that it is driving visitors towards. We don’t have time to code all of that from scratch; it’s not efficient. Especially with so many great applications out there which take that step away. We also know that those applications are frankly better at the building blocks than we are. Quality counts! Those two things roll into results, and many landing page creators come with quantifiably proven results stats. All of these are reasons why I’m so stoked on Click Funnels. Let’s dig into the various landing page options, to highlight why I’m loving what I see on this platform. Click Funnels is the best!

App Integration for Click Funnels vs. The Others

One of the first features I look for in any program I use is the ability to integrate with other business-essential applications. We’ve used LeadPages a lot as it is known for this feature. OptimizePress, on the other hand, is not as compatible at moving a page around. Unbounce allows it, but when you cancel your membership, you will lose your pages. Click Funnels does a great job of working with the applications we all know and love and rely upon. Some of the ones we have utilized most often: InfusionSoft, GoToWebinar, and PayPal; but the list is tens of times longer than our top three! The take-away? Check before you buy; what apps do you absolutely need, and what landing page resource will integrate? clickfunnelscomparison

Landing Page Customization

A favorite feature of Click Funnels would have to be their customizable templates. The other sites we have utilized have plenty of ready-made templates, which is functional to a degree. LeadPages has plenty of pre-made templates. But what if your business doesn’t fit a pre-made template mold? So many times in the past we’ve wasted time sifting through templates trying to find one that fit our unique needs. We’ve tried Unbounce, which offers a lot more flexibility (but at a pretty high price tag). OptimizePress has too steep of a learning curve to get points for efficiency. By offering the customization feature, Click Funnels saves us my favorite asset: time. Click Funnels is the best!

The Best Landing Page Value

It’s not just integration and customization that matter; we are all always thinking of the bottom line, right? This is where stacking the various landing page creators against each other gets interesting. We’ve hinted to it already, but Unbounce is the most expensive. OptimizePress is your most budget-friendly option, but for all of the extra time required, without stellar bonus features accompanying, I don’t think it’s the wisest investment. LeadPages is competitive, but again, without customization, it’s worth looking at the true worth. Click Funnels comes in at just under $100 a month you can get full functionality of this resource, so the price is perfect. Now, I’ll be perfectly honest. A huge added value of the already reasonable price would be their affiliate program. That means when people sign up using my links, I will get a commission. The same is true for you if you sign up for the affiliate membership! From a standpoint of pure logic, do it right, and your account will pay for itself.

Decision Time!

Landing pages are an integral part of online products. Creating them should be quick, should have great looking results, should work with your other apps, and should fit the budget. We’ve experimented with ‘em all, and when it comes to form, function, price, and conversion? Click Funnels is currently taking the lead at Think Digital. Click Funnels is the best!