The Vision Grows: Reflections on Our One-Year Anniversary


It’s been a little over a year since the release of What I Wish I Knew at 18: Life Lessons for the Road Ahead, and I have to say there’s nothing like the experience of writing and launching a book. You put your heart and soul into it, not knowing how it will be received. Your hopes are high that readers will respond enthusiastically but the fact is, until it’s out there, you just don’t know!
My anticipation was even greater as two accompanying student guides hit the market a few months later. Now, What I Wish I Knew at 18 could be employed for both personal (teens/young adults and the adults who guide them) and institutional use (schools, mentor organizations, the faith community, etc.). Unbelievable opportunities began to open up. Testimonies started to pour in. The ride had begun—and what a ride it’s proving to be!
In fact, I’ve found this past year to be one of the most amazing and transformational of my life. All of a sudden I find myself with:

  • A more purposeful life mission—what can be more fulfilling than sharing life wisdom to young people to help shape their futures? To provide resources that serve as a bridge between parents and teens, helping forge stronger relationships at this critical time of life? To support committed educators, who want to ensure kids receive the leadership and life skills needed to succeed? I find this far more impactful than managing tens of billions of dollars of assets!


  • Providential introductions to amazing servant leaders—a floodgate of new relationships has opened up with influential people and organizations who touch the lives of young people. I’ve built new friendships with incredible leaders in the educational, social service, and faith communities who are on the front lines in equipping young people for life.  I’m enjoying the goodwill of numerous ambassadors, many whom I’ve never met personally, but who have caught the vision and are helping to get the word out.


  • Unforgettable and affirming responses by readers—this is clearly the most fulfilling of all. I’ll never forget the email from a 19-year old Indonesian girl sharing her heartfelt view that ALL young people need to read this book.  Or, the story from the youth leader going through the book with a desperate, teenager with no father in his life and a severely alcoholic mother. “This book gives me a sense of what it’s like to have a dad,” the teen shared with his leader. Or, the father who shared that, through reading What I Wish I Knew at 18 with his college-bound daughter, he was having deeper, more meaningful conversations with her than ever before.

Without a doubt, though, my most memorable experience of the year was the opportunity to speak at my hometown high school in Kimberly, Wisconsin. The day began with an appearance on Green Bay TV, followed by a talk to 700 juniors and seniors. But, what really impacted me was what happened next.
I visited the classroom of a special program for high schoolers who have already experienced major life struggles. Here was my opportunity to speak life, hope, and practical wisdom to kids who arguably need it most. I’d never been in a context like this before and it was humbling, to say the least. It changed my heart toward kids who, despite some admittedly poor choices, have SO much to offer the world. These students were so engaged and had wonderful, heartfelt questions. I think of them often and hope my visit had as positive an impact on them as it did on me.

As LifeSmart Publishing starts year two, I find myself poised for what may be the most amazing opportunity of all: sharing our book and course throughout Indonesia. This country is actively seeking character-based resources to equip its young people to become leaders of strong character and integrity. To be honest, we didn’t originally envision our work going global, but it’s looking like that’s where we’re headed. Incredible!
I’ve always secretly longed to change the world if I had the opportunity.  Maybe this is my chance. However that plays out, I’m eternally grateful for this new life chapter and look forward to what’s in store in the days ahead. In the meantime, it’s humbling to see the opportunities God has given me to change lives in the course of one short year.
Thanks for helping making this a great year—here’s to many more, and to a growing vision of changing the world through empowering a new generation of honorable leaders!

Build Your Value and Win Promotions

You’ve heard the saying, “Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder.” When it comes to your career, your value is in the eyes of your employer!

I had a somewhat unique reputation during my career. I was an investment leader who knew how to market the firm to sales prospects. Consequently, while performing well on my investment job, I also helped our sales professionals land new accounts. This had a direct impact on our profits, which caught the attention of the business leaders who were my advocates during bonus time. By diversifying my skill set and helping our business, I built my value and reputation.
How highly prized you are to your employer should be a matter of ongoing importance. Among the sources of your value are:

  • Your proficiency and achievement on the job
  • Your contribution to the financial well-being of the organization
  • Your ability to develop others
  • Your ability to work successfully in teams and in projects
  • Your ability to solve problems and lead initiatives
  • Your willingness to go above and beyond the job description

In a nutshell, it’s not simply how well you’re doing your own job, but also how you’re contributing to the broader enterprise. What are the benefits of being a highly valued employee? They are many:

  • Higher compensation
  • Greater promotability and leadership potential
  • Greater job security during layoff periods
  • Opportunities to participate in high impact projects
  • Industry recognition (headhunters will call!)
  • The intrinsic value associated with being well regarded by others

As you progress in your career, always ask what you can do to become more valuable to your employer. If you can diversify your skill set to improve the financials or reputation of your employer, you’ll be that much more valuable to them and win those prized promotions along the way!
What are you doing to build your value in the eyes of your employer, both now and throughout every step of your career?  Check out our blog archive for more ideas on how to be the best and most successful YOU possible! Pass the information along to a friend or young person in your life, and share your ideas and comments below; we’d love to hear from you! 

Give Everything Your Best

“I long to accomplish great and noble tasks, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble.”

Helen Keller


Are you committed to excellence in everything you do?

Some of life’s best lessons are found in the sports world (at least I think so). I distinctly recall some years ago a professional basketball player who had an amazing year. By all accounts, he was grossly underpaid relative to his teammates. He always gave it his best and his coaches rewarded him with greater playing time. Predictably during the off-season, his agent sought to renegotiate the contract. After extensive discussions, he received a substantial increase in salary, befitting his contribution to the team.
            When we participate in anything, whether individually or as part of a team, we contribute two things: our TALENT and our ATTITUDE. In this example, the player’s talent was a constant, but his attitude was an unfortunate variable.
            When you’re competing as an individual, your own dignity and self-respect are at stake. When you’re part of a team, however, you shoulder the added responsibility of contributing to the total effort. When one person fails to hold up his (or her) end of the bargain, the whole team suffers the consequences.
            Never take lightly the responsibility of being part of a team. Whether at school or in the workplace, if you always give it your best, regardless of whether it’s a major project or minor task, you’ll be respected and admired. That’s the hallmark of a true winner. 
When it comes to working with others, do you set a high standard for your performance? Do you strive to never let your team down by your lack of effort?  Do you apply the same standards of excellence in matters big and small? Please share your comments with our online community! And “share” this pointer with a friend!

Invest in Your Spiritual Growth

Humans are, by their very nature, spiritual beings. Surveys routinely indicate that 80-90% of people believe in God and Heaven, in one way or another.
What’s involved in having a meaningful spiritual life? People of faith often describe their faith as offering:
– Comfort and hope in the midst of uncertainty and anguish
– Answers to questions of an eternal nature
– A place to turn with gratitude, praises, and needs
– A guide to daily living, a moral compass and source of accountability
– A means to cleanse the spirit through confession and repentance
– A unique community of like-minded believers
– A sense of security, purpose, and significance

While understanding that the religious beliefs of our readers vary widely, we think it’s worthwhile for all of us to reflect on the spiritual aspects of our lives. Regardless of your individual beliefs today, there is wisdom that can be gained through exploring and cultivating your spirituality as a part of your life journey. Understandably, when we are at our busiest, it seems that our spiritual life often takes a backseat. Many times, there is a “wake up call” that gets us back on track.
How you approach your spiritual life is a matter of personal choice but however you choose to handle it, that choice is an important one. People with active spiritual lives often take a holistic approach through involvement in the following areas:

  • Personal devotions, meditation, and reflection
  • Reading
  • Worship services
  • Fellowship groups
  • Classes
  • Ministerial services, mission trips, and community outreach opportunities

The bottom line is that if you have faith and desire a rich spiritual life, you have to make room for it. Otherwise, in the midst of a frenzied schedule, it’ll simply get squeezed out.
Just as you would with any other avenue of personal growth and development, it’s good to do some research into this area and develop a list of questions. Talk to people of faith and ask them to tell you about their spiritual journey. Visit a worship center with a friend who attends there. See what opportunities, groups, or clubs your school offers along these lines, and use those to make connections in the greater community.
Choose some reading material that will help you grow, whether it’s scripture reading that pertains to your faith or perhaps a book of devotions, meditations, or an inspiring biography of someone else’s faith walk.  Put it by your bed or somewhere else you’ll see it (and use it) daily. We need to take time to read as well as express our gratitude, needs, and confessions. Daily reflection time not only promotes our spiritual growth; it also provides balance and perspective. Don’t just give it your “leftovers.” Rather, consider it a gift to yourself as part of your spiritual foundation.

                                  Are you allowing room in your life for spiritual growth?

When reviewing the above list of spiritual growth avenues, are there areas that would be especially interesting or helpful to you? Share your thoughts and stories with us about how your spiritual life has made a difference to you; we’d be glad to hear from you!

Choose Reconciliation over Grudges

It’s sad to say, but most of us have been deeply wronged or hurt at some point in our lives. In some cases, we’ve been victims of others’ mistakes. In other cases, we’re victims of bad behavior or deeds by another. Or, and perhaps most commonly, we’ve been involved in relationships that dissolved or have been severely damaged.
Regardless of the source, our emotions can include anger, resentment, shame, guilt, pain, fear, and depression.
In one of my all-time favorite movies, Field of Dreams, Ray Kinsella had a detached and dysfunctional relationship with his father, now deceased. The crux of this imaginative story was a “second chance” opportunity for Ray to reconcile with his dad and release the pain he had buried inside for many years. It’s an extremely powerful movie that challenges us to reconcile while we can, if we can.
When people harbor grudges, it’s like an all-consuming cancer. It embitters us and gnaws at our insides. And, it affects our relationships and ability to trust others.
Conversely, there are remarkable stories about people who overcome tragic abuses, losses, and injustices and who go on to live amazing lives of joy and impact. Do you ever wonder how they recover and flourish while others in similar situations are consumed by bitterness and self-pity? What makes the difference? It’s the freedom of forgiveness.
Is there someone in your life who has caused pain that continues to gnaw at you? If so, consider your options to reconcile or seek help. Then do it—the sooner, the better. The resulting freedom will lift your spirits and improve your outlook on life!
How has the freedom of forgiveness changed your life? We invite you to share your comments, thoughts, and insights with our online community of parents and educators. We enjoy hearing from you! Consider sharing us with a friend!