This Interview of Lewis Schiff and Jeff Goins Turned my World Upside Down

Business Brilliant bookA few weeks ago, I listened with interest to Jeff Goins’ interview of Lewis Schiff from Inc. Magazine. I had never heard of Lewis Schiff before.

The interview was based on Schiff’s book: Business Brilliant. I used to think radio hosts and podcasters often would interview authors “just to sell a book and make a buck.”

Let me say clearly, I have a different perspective now.

The podcast

In the interview, Jeff admitted that he questioned some of the the claims Lewis made in the book. However, Jeff did say he has bought eleven copies of the book for his mastermind group. (He’s bought so many his wife shut down his buying power for that title. No more buying the book to give away.) Even others in the group questioned claims Lewis made in the book. However, the group members were willing to adjust their thinking to accommodate the claims.

I concede, in the course of the interview they knocked over some pretty important pins in my own structure. (Let me correct and restate: I thought the pins were important.)

I noticed that this particular interview has the least number of comments from all of Jeff Goins’ podcasts. Could we conclude it didn’t resonate as much with Jeff’s tribe as some other interviews he has presented? I am beginning to conclude the podcast was presented for only me.

The effect

It is hard for me to explain how paradigm-shifting and revolutionary the message of that podcast has been for me. I listened to it four times. (You might even find me listening to it again. No promises about that.)

The main thing it did for me: it gave me understanding that spurred me to action. I got it!

I had been dialoguing with a coach to help me in my graphic design and marketing business, but had not committed to a package to proceed with his services. After Lewis Schiff’s message of Business Brilliant had registered in my core I felt an urgency deep within.

I couldn’t go to bed before had I sent the email to the coach. My wife was waiting in bed while I was in the bathroom pecking out the message on my phone.

These are the main points I needed to get off my chest:

1. I’d like for you to help me be able to afford you for coaching.

2. I listened to Jeff Goins’ interview with Lewis Schiff. Kinda shook me up. I need help to be profitable. Can you help me? I need help/accountability to execute… and get it done. I’ve made excuses for too long. Lord, please grant wisdom in Jesus’ name. I need it.

I’m simply sharing these details on my blog to share my journey. It is something that has made a difference in my world. It might make a difference in yours.

Key messages in Jeff’s podcast and in the book:

1. Imitate, don’t innovate in your business.

2. The idea that you ‘pursue your passion and the money will follow’ is false. People who Schiff has interviewed who have done well for themselves and their businesses have indeed followed their passion, but then they followed the money. (Someone might take this as greed and money hunger. Truth be told, our local grocer has no plans to hand out loaves of bread for free. He charges money for it. Neither has the coffee shop next door started giving out coffee for free. Yeah, charging for these goodies is simply good business.)

3. Having a new idea for a start-up is not that impressive. The execution of the idea is what separates the winner from the loser. (Schiff is audacious enough to title a chapter in his entrepreneurial book with this name: Mastering the Mundane. Not exactly appealing to entrepreneurs. Read it to find out how cool that really is. I’m beginning to like it.)

Action steps I took:

1. Made myself accountable. I made a list of specific projects I needed to complete with finish-by dates that I gave to my coach.

2. I began doing projects instead of putting them onto my to-do list for the umpteenth time.

How my thinking changed as a result of my coach:

1. I knew I had someone in my corner, rooting for me. It motivated me. It strengthened my resolve and my purpose.

2. This specific coach’s personality, worldview, and business operation experience and success are a right fit for me. (This is the most important one.)

3. He is able to speak the truth in love and hold my feet to the fire if needed.

That’s been a few weeks now. But after I had a break in the action, I called my coach. I was ecstatic with the unfolding of events and the changes my mindset have had on my performance.

My coach said he could hear a difference in my voice.

Let me say, I have someone in my corner. My world has changed. I’m living the difference.

For so long, I’ve wanted to take all the credit myself for my success. I wanted to be the star of my own show. Guess again. (Talking to myself now.) I need help to succeed.

I have accomplished projects in these few short weeks that have been in my cache for months.

Truth is—we’re created as social beings and we function more productively in synergy with others than alone.

Coaching that is connected to specific actions in my life. That is what made the biggest difference for me.

I now understand in a fresh way: books have the power to change lives. Let’s get the word out about good books.

My adventure continues.

Do you have a coach? Why or why not? I’d be delighted to hear from you. Thanks for reading, and please leave your thoughts below.

Lessons I Learned, People I Met in my First Year of Blogging

Today, July 30, 2014, is one year since my first post on this site. What a learning curve it has been. I shot for the moon and hit a few stars.

Three lessons I learned:

1. It’s hard work.

2. Real relationships develop.

3. Consistent writing is of utmost importance.

I have enjoyed the relationships that have developed directly related to this blog. I have had meaningful exchanges with special people. Some of the exchanges were a few words via email. In-person meetings. A phone call. Text messages. Facebook messages. A running contest. Or commenting on a blog.

Meaningful interaction simply creates satisfaction and fulfillment.

Having this site helped give me the confidence and a reason to make the connection. These special people include:

Larry Poole, Jeff Goins, Zechariah Newman, Kimanzi Constable, Shawn Smucker, Seth Godin, Joe Bunting, Jerome Nelson, Kary Oberbrunner, Dan Erickson, William Tshepo, Matthew Cordle, Alec Kreider, Micah Yongo.

Thank you, people. The adventure has just begun.

Dad Ran Away—Then We Thought He Had Died

Over the past several years my wife and I became close friends with a special couple from our church. The husband, Fredy, is Peruvian, his wife, Leona, is American.

Nearly every time we visited their house they would goad us to join them on a trip to Peru. “You should go with us,” they would encourage. And they would tell us what they experienced on previous trips. They would show us photos of their relatives in the mountains. They would tell us about the challenges they faced on previous visits.

Time went on. They would remind, “You should go with us.”

Then in late January, I got a text message from Leona, a former travel agent. “I can hardly contain myself…” She went on to tell about drastically reduced airline tickets to Lima, Peru. And she confirmed the numbers by adding, “No, this is not a typo.”

The implication: Here is your chance. You gotta do it.

The four of us had all had enough travel experience to know that deals on airline tickets are time sensitive. If we don’t take timely action the deals go away—without explanation, without apology.

My wife and I had definitely been interested to join them, but we hadn’t made a conclusive decision. Now—we were forced to decide.

We hardly even decided—we just bought the tickets.

Though we had several months to prepare, the clock began ticking. We ran a small Krispy Kreme fund-raiser through several local businesses to help pay for the car rental. That turned out well.

As time went on we sensed there was something special brewing for this trip. We decided we would share our trip plans and story with the church, but it won’t be a ploy to get funds.

Since it was becoming obvious God is very much in this trip He will also amply provide all the resources needed. We were amazed at the provision.

The day came.

We were ready.

Traveling was not new to me–this was my country Number 14. However, in spite of all my traveling, Peru had never been on my radar. Now, here I was. Lima, Peru. What a delight. Yet I felt a weight and responsibility.

We had three main objectives for the trip:
1. Meet Fredy’s father, who lived in the jungle.
2. Meet Fredy’s mother, who lived in the mountains.
3. And, deliver a specially-made recording of the gospel in Fredy’s mother’s native tongue of Quechua, provided by

Our first stop after arriving in the capital city of Lima was the jungle.

And, yes, jungle it was. We had several opportunities to get stuck with our rental vehicle, but avoided those opportunities. Mud puddles, narrow paths, dangerous drops. Finally we parked our vehicle and walked the rest of the way.

The Meeting
Fredy’s father had previously lived in the mountains many kilometers away. Then one day he ran away. Things in his life caused him to take measures that took him into the jungle where he also started a new family. Fredy, his siblings, and his mother didn’t hear from him for years. They thought he had died.

Fredy and his brother Felix had spent most of their lives away from their father. Fredy is 31 years old. About ten years ago, Fredy had met his biological father for the first time in his adult life. This trip was his second meeting.

Now, here we were.

Fredy’s half-sisters had instructed us that the house was “up there by the banana trees.”

Before we made it to real narrow and muddy walking path, Fredy’s father came down the trail to meet us. What a glad reunion moment! He gave us all a hug and a kiss. What a moment for the earth to stand still. Wow!

Peru Jungle Photo_Reunion in Peru Dad Father Reconciliation

The reunion of father and son. The moment frozen in time.

But we needed to keep moving. The daylight was dwindling away. We had business to do.

The scene at the home of Fredy’s father, was a jaw-dropper. Feast for the eyes. Far removed from other people. Remote.

We were welcomed by barking dogs.

After all these weeks of planning and imagining, now we beheld for the very first time what we never imagined.

Peru Jungle Photo_Tiger Leopard Cat Mountain La Merced Peru

This is the tigre, the mini pet leopard.

He had killed an armadillo and the shell hung over the rafter. He killed a leopard that was responsible for killing a neighbor’s calf. He showed us the pelt. They had a pet monkey and pet mini leopard (or tigre, as they called it) in their cooking shack. A pet turtle. Turkeys. Dogs. Yes, the jungle indeed.

However, the most historic part of the whole trip was still coming.

At the Table
We were ushered into the small cooking shack to a special meal of caldo de gallina, which is chicken soup. (Literally translated, the name means, broth of hen.) Accompanied by cooked yucca, or cassava. It was yummy.

It was not the food alone that made the meal so special. History was unfolding.

My job was to document the happenings of this important trip. I took a new little GoPro camera to grab footage. I couldn’t fathom the importance of the meeting, but I knew I would not be tasting any chicken soup before I had this history-making table of reconciliation well-documented.

Fredy’s first meeting with his father had been rushed, and my friend wasn’t able to ask his burning questions. Now we would not be rushed as we sat at the table. The table where all parties are vulnerable. (When are we more vulnerable than when we eat and enjoy a meal together?) Indeed, this was the table of reconciliation and reunion and peacemaking.

We enjoyed a most delightful dining experience. Friendly and hearty conversation.

What would be the first personal thing to talk about? What would Fredy or Felix ask first?

What about the direction each of their lives has taken? What would they tell? Who would take the lead? Who would initiate the hard questions?

We enjoyed the delicious food.

Then I asked through Fredy’s translation how his dad felt about our visit. That opened the way for more questions and personal conversation.

Fredy, his brother Felix, and their dad had an extended moment of honesty.

Why did you leave? Did you ever think of us after you left? Why didn’t you make contact with us?

It was a lengthy conversation. They were on a quest to know the truth. They wanted the gnawing in their minds quieted. They spoke their minds, in peace, with grace and respect.

All their questions were answered. They found peace. They found rest. After all those years of questions and wondering, they finally started to know their father.

The mental captives were set free. The bridge was built.

Peru Jungle Photo_Hospitality Reconciliation Cooking Shack La Merced Peru

The cooking shack—home to the table of reconciliation. What a special place. A history-maker.

We spent several hours around their jungle home visiting the mountain-side coffee plantation. Walking the mountain to his pasture fields. Picking guava fruit. Taking pictures while holding the stinky little tigre.

Then before we left they treated us to tasty fried plantain. We washed it down with brewed espresso raised on their own farm and roasted in their own kitchen. What delightful jungle hospitality.

Next Visit
Now weeks later, Fredy wants to go back. He did indeed meet his father. He wants to know him better.


Do you know of any similar experiences where a parent and child were separated for years and then met? What happened? Please tell us the story in the comment section below.

[This is only our first adventure on this eventful two-week trip. More adventure stories coming.]

Just Returned from Peru, South America

I just returned from a 2-week “bridge-building” trip to Peru, South America. What an amazing experience. We saw jungle, mountains, sand dunes and waded the salty Pacific Ocean. A flat tire twice. Got stuck on the road once. More coming soon.Peru Teaser photo May 21 2014

Have You Been to Prison Recently?

Alcohol. Recklessness. Death. Murder. Incarceration.

When we hear these words they make us cringe. Please don’t say these words. We see enough of them in the daily news. Newspapers are packed with these words. Then movies are made about these exact things.

Isn’t there any hope? Isn’t there some way out of all this? I am discovering a reality in the middle of violence for more people in our communities than we may be aware of.

Creative Commons - Trisha Fawver

(Creative Commons – Trisha Fawver)


In the past year I have been exposed to a wave of realities—very unfortunate realities—in too many people’s lives in our world. Acts of violence, encounters with the law, and outcomes of devastating decisions.


A young man I met through a work connection of my wife was put on house arrest. He was made responsible for missteps resulting from alcohol and also domestic violence.

After he had hit a new low he seemed to have started a new chapter. We celebrated ‘three months dry’ on Easter Sunday with his family. Life went on. We had ice cream together a few times at my favorite coffee shop. Life went on somewhat normal. He even got engaged.

But slowly alcohol had begun seeping back into the picture again. Then his fiance broke the engagement. It sent him spiraling downward again. I sent a text message to see how he was doing. He replied that he is not doing good and that he is giving up. As we continued exchanging messages he wrote that he doesn’t want to live anymore. He called crying over the phone in the middle of the night.


Last fall, I watched the YouTube video entitled ‘I Killed a Man’ presenting Matthew Cordle’s chilling confession that has been viewed nearly 2.6 million times. I was so gripped by the story.

Matthew Cordle was driving his Dodge Durango about 3:00 am on June 22, 2013 while intoxicated and went left of center along Interstate 670 circling Columbus, Ohio. He killed 61-year-old, Navy veteran, Vincent Canzani from Columbus.

After I discovered it happened only 2 hours from my house and the sentencing is still coming up I attended the sentencing. I saw the killer. He was sentenced that day to 6-1/2 years behind bars.

After the court session I met and talked briefly with Matthew’s dad. A very cordial and respectable man. Later, he sent me info to be able to make contact with Matthew while incarcerated. Matthew wrote back. He write that he is at his parent institution and will be starting a year long recovery program.


Several times over the past year and then again this past Monday I had the privilege of ministering to men at a local county jail. Men in need. Men seeking purpose. Men seeking a reason for being alive.

I am made newly aware of a different reality for many people. Far different than my own. I have a loving family. I have a wife who loves me. I am fully blessed.

One asked for prayer for his son. Another asked for prayer for his fiancé. Another has a 2-year-old daughter and another daughter due to be born in April. These men are in jail. They can’t stand with their families.

Am I willing to stand with them?


Then recently I heard the story from Manheim Township, Pennsylvania, of a neighborhood drama that occurred in 2007 in a book entitled Refuse to Drown, A Father’s Unthinkable Choice.

In a small “innocent” neighborhood three people in one family were killed in one night—in cold blood.


What on earth would consume someone to undertake such devastation?

Refuse to Drown by Tim Kreider and Shawn Smucker was released February 1, 2014.

Here’s part of my Amazon review of the book:

The question we want answered from the subtitle: ‘what was the father’s unthinkable choice’? Let’s just say, there is a reason the title is ‘Refuse to Drown’ considering the action the father needed to take. He could no longer remain in a neutral position and continue in the present façade of comfort. He needed to make a choice. Could he make an unbiased choice for the larger good? Or, would he choose comfort? He made a choice. Read the book to discover the courageous, ‘I-can’t-believe-I’m-doing-this’ steps Tim Kreider took that would hugely alter his own life and the rest of his son Alec’s life.

The book details the pain each step of the way. The emotional rollercoaster. The unexpected. The hope for best and then the outcome. Reality. Frustration. The venting in cold blood. The whole gamut of emotions.

At the end, Tim Kreider is encouraging himself and his reader—to “refuse to drown.” Tim Kreider and Shawn Smucker artfully tell the story pivoting on the drama that occurred in 2007 concerning Tim and his son Alec Kreider that shook their small “innocent” community.

(It was special to hear key parts of Tim’s shocking story firsthand a few weeks ago at Gap Community Church in Gap, PA.)

Tim’s story introduced me to another opportunity: Will I stand with the incarcerated?


Why does the writer in Hebrews 13:3 write that we should, “continue to remember those in prison as if you were together with them in prison”?

Why does Jesus say that when we minister to those in prison we have ministered to Him, according to Matthew 25:40?

Humanity left to itself turns only vile. If I do not have a solid foundation in life with meaning and connection to a higher purpose, I will only spiral downward.

However, in the middle of it all there is hope. With God’s power we can “live, and move, and have our being.”


The question lingers:

Should you be in prison sharing the hope and purpose in your life with those who have missed it somewhere?

26 Things I Would Do If I Had No Fear (the terror kind)

1. I would do exactly the work I have always wanted to do. Because I would have no fear that it would not fulfill me or be anything except profitable.

2. I would share hope freely, and without any restraint in my spirit, by how I speak, how I look, how I walk, and how I act.

3. I would give praise freely, liberally, and candidly because I have no fear of being considered a flatterer or of having motives ulterior.

4. I would produce my art prolifically—and then gregariously present my art and my vision without any fear of rejection or fear of being mocked at or scorned.

5. I would look people straight in the eyes and smile —and mean every word I say because I do not fear rejection or doubt or suspicion.

6. I would laugh freely with anyone and everyone I meet and be totally sincere with no fear of people second guessing my motives.

7. I would give money to people who ask via cardboard signs at intersections, believing they truly need what they ask for. (I will not fear but believe that their encounter with me will give a ray of hope that they could be doing something more valuable with their lives even though begging can be financially profitable and even lucrative.)

8. I would be free to believe and be believable.

9. I would give time and love to orphans, elderly, and homeless without even the slightest doubt or fear that they will think my motives are anything but sincere and pure. I would listen to their stories sincerely even if they are repeats because I am now oozing love.

10. I would share the hope for a fulfilling life, a life of possibility, and a way for struggling ones to overcome bondage and the thoughts of suicide.

11. I would give of my resources (financial, emotional, and time) to causes that are truly making a difference and providing a real solution at the root of society’s ills and making a lasting difference.

12. I would freely share my struggles because I have no fear of being rejected or thought to be anyone but who I am.

13. I would no longer be concerned about protecting my reputation, but only that heavenly love would flow from my life into every soul I encounter.

14. I would continue showing love and acceptance toward the youngster I am mentoring even though I am called a sissy or anything comparable to that. (I have experienced this one.)

15. I would continue to shovel snow along the sidewalk of my neighbor whom my other neighbor thinks is so undeserving. (I have experienced this one.)

16. I would provide lodging for the stranger whom the local church put on the street because he allegedly spoke false doctrine. (A friend of mine took in one such unfortunate soul.)

17. I would assume God hears and answers my prayers, because why would He tell me to pray without ceasing but then not answer when I pray?

18. I would continue to give love even when I am spat upon, because I am free from the fear of what people think.

19. I would reveal my raw humanness and vulnerability on my blog without fear that people may lookdown on me.

20. I would disclose new ideas and expose whatever project I am working on and whatever thoughts I am thinking to people around me and to my readers without self-consciousness for either failure or success.

21. I would ask people without delay for an interview for my blog. And even ask a second time in case the first answer is no.

22. I would travel to a nearby city and spend a day with the homeless and ask them to tell me their stories, so that I could write them and share them.

23. I would feel free to ask a master storyteller if they would give me two hours of their time in exchange for a meal or a latté, and I would drive hours for the meeting.

24. I would run in a local half marathon without the fear that I look goofy when I run or that I would come back in last.

25. I would post my writing all over Facebook and tell all my friends what I am writing if I had no fear of rejection or of my character and Godliness being judged.

26.  I would rampantly ask white collars and blue collars (who have stories we can learn from) for interviews because I would not fear looking stupid or fear my inability to complete the interviews in a timely and professional manner.

What action would you take if you were totally free from fear?

Is There A Way to Stay Free From Fear?

I had a unique experience on Saturday. It prompted me to write what I dub the Truth and Love Worldview. (For me it holds the answer on how to overcome fear. The following is a portion of it. I’d be happy to get your feedback.).

Judge not, that ye be not judged. Matthew 7:1.

Judging means I assume the authority to decide whether someone is right or wrong, and then feel, act, and think toward a person or idea as I choose based on my perception of truth.

This passage says judge not. No exception.

For starters, as an experiment, I will predecide I am not permitted or able to judge. Then I become free to love. Anyone. Everyone. It is not contingent on the recipient. It’s based on what’s in me. I will only respond. In love. It’s who I am.

Now consider… There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love. I John 4:18.

Then when love is perfected it releases me from fear.

Love. Just. May. Become perfected by not judging. How sweet is that! It frees me from fear.

What do you think?

I’m Still Alive and Well

My life is a work in progress. I felt pained that I wasn’t able to really knock it out with blogging the last few months after I launched back in July 2013.

I’ve had many experiences since then. Today, I felt I have to simply open my blog and start typing. Here goes, even though it may sound a little rambly.

In October, I hopped aboard a challenge with Kimanzi Constable, a prolific blogger from Wisconsin, to conquer 200 miles on foot in October. I wasn’t part of the original group and by the time I was on board I had only 24 days remaining. I never ran regularly in my life but I thought this would hold my feet to the fire to get it done. I accomplished it! But it took over 36 miles on the last day to pull it off. Some of it was through the rain with an umbrella.

I was hoping to blog about it but it didn’t work out. There were multiple things I learned.

I had pushed myself so much that I experienced excruciating pain in my calves starting about ten days after I finished. It lasted for about a week or two.

In November I joined Jeff Goins’ Tribe Writers course.

I’m on board with Jeff Goins and My 500 Words Facebook Group. A commitment that over 1,600 people have made to write at least 500 words every day in January 2014. What an exciting journey that has been.

In December I had the privilege of a guest post on Dan Erickson’s blog. Thanks, Dan.

I just finished listening to Malcom Gladwell’s David and Goliath via After being exposed to Gladwell’s researching and writing style anew I was encouraged in my own style. I acquired hope through it that it’s OK to produce art the way that is most comfortable for me, not what I see others doing.

I started reading the pre-release review copy of Refuse to Drown, Written by Tim Kreider with Shawn Smucker. In the past year I have come to really appreciate the work of Shawn Smucker. He helped his aunt, the one and only Auntie Anne, write her story, Twist of Faith. Other titles he wrote or co-wrote, include Dying Out Loud, How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp, Building a Life out of Words.

I’m hoping to see Mr. Smucker next month at a book launch event in Pennsylvania.


I Killed a Man: How Does Matthew Cordle’s Chilling Confession Affect You?

“I killed a man” is the line that is still reverberating around the world. A well-done YouTube video viewed several million times. Shocking. Awe-striking. Unbelievable.

What to make of it?

Is the confession impressive?

Is the video impressive?

Is this an attempt to get a shorter sentence?

One thing for sure: it got the attention of the world.

Matthew Cordle Main Photo

The man, Matthew Cordle lived about a hundred miles from my house. I was so struck by the case I drove to the courtroom where he was sentenced yesterday to see it firsthand.

That night
It happened about 3am, June 22, 2013. Mr. Cordle was drinking with friends. Then hopped in his Toyota Tundra and drove. Well, kinda.

He was on Interstate 670 near Columbus, Ohio barging into oncoming traffic until he hit. All banged up, 22-year-old Matthew Cordle was sent off to a hospital with broken ribs and a fractured skull. Later police informed him he had killed a man.

Cordle’s partying and irresponsible actions cost the life of 61-year-old Navy veteran, Vincent Canzani from Columbus, Ohio.

Franklin County Courtroom 6F
What a life-altering experience. A man is dead. Someone’s father. Someone’s husband. Someone needs to take responsibility. Someone needs to dole out the justice. Someone needs to receive the justice. A father and mother say farewell to their son as he goes off to prison. Tears of grief. Tears of devastation. Pain. Hurt.

A moment for real friends to shine.

Poster child
The Judge David Fais yesterday suggested a billboard with Matthew’s picture should be erected in the Columbus area as we move into the upcoming holidays. It should show him with the words that he killed a man and is in prison because of drinking and driving. Per an interview by Matthew is willing to be the poster boy for such a campaign.

What was his response to Judge Fais’ sentencing? “Relief”.

Matthew said he is relieved that he has been sentenced and this thing is finally over.

Vincent Canzani’s daughter Angela testified to the court saying, “My father got a death sentence and did nothing wrong.” She noted after 8-1/2 years Matthew can come out and will still have his whole life ahead of him. Her father would never get his life back.

When Matthew was asked earlier today how that statement made him feel, his response: “It’s heartbreaking, because every word she said is true.”

Matthew’s father
In yesterday’s sentencing, Matthew’s father Dave also spoke. When he started he said, “Matthew Cordle is my son.”

I was impressed with the tremendous weight and responsibility in those words. The father of the son who has killed a man. Yet here he took full responsibility. He was saying, My son killed a man. I am father of the home where this young man was raised.

I consider him a man of courage, bravery, and responsibility.

Before I left I had a chance to speak briefly with Dave. A very gentle and cordial man. I just wanted to connect with him and encourage him.

When I first saw the video earlier this month on I was awestruck. Absolutely amazed.

The video is about 3-1/2 minutes long and, as of today, has been viewed more than 2.4 million times. One of those times was in the courtroom yesterday.

I know there are varying opinions on what Matthew should have done in response to the killing but he did this. He confessed. “I killed a man.”

What caught my attention the first time I watched the video was the clear responsibility he took for his actions. He isn’t able to bring back Vincent Canzani but he was moving forward by taking responsibility.

In the video he said, “When I get charged I’ll plead guilty and take full responsibility for everything I’ve done to Vincent and his family.”

After I had watched the video I tweeted:

Twitter image @admohio

I discovered there are opposing views of what Matthew’s motives may have been for creating the video.

It is very sad indeed for the victim’s blended Oates and Canzani families who have faced the death of their loved one. Very sad.

Because I said I would
On August 9, Mr. Cordle reached out to the Facebook page named BecauseISaidIWould, asking for help. I just saw that message today. Matthew wrote: “I would like to join your dream to make the world a better place. I was responsible for a drunk driving accident that caused a fatality at 3am on June 22nd of this year. The guilt is almost insurmountable at times knowing the ripple of suffering I have caused in so many lives.”

He went on to write that he sees it as his duty to live out his life and “create a positive ripple in as many people as [he] can reach.” He was asking for help with how to do it.

After discovering this message today, it gives me even more hope regarding the sincerity of Matthew’s YouTube video confession.

Yesterday when it was Matthew’s turn to speak before he was sentenced he said, “Whatever my sentence may be there is no such thing as a fair sentence when it comes to the loss of a life. The true punishment is simply living. Living with the knowledge that I took an innocent life.”

He went on to say to the families that he is “so sorry for the pain I have caused you” and “it should have been me that night, the guilty party, instead of an innocent man” with a writhe of emotion.

He ended by saying, “I will not let Vincent’s memory fade.”

Moving forward
I believe it is totally just, fair, and appropriate for Matthew to be sentenced to 6-1/2 years or even the maximum of 8-1/2 combined years of jail and prison. But what I see is the potential for good.

Mathew is still alive. He can’t change the past. But it seems he has done the best thing that he could have done in terms of taking responsibility. I don’t know all the details of whether he has properly apologized and sought forgiveness of the families he has hurt. I don’t know all that. I’ve never even spoken to Matthew, but I have heard much from him via video and also heard him speak in the courtroom yesterday.

Actually, I’m not even taking his side. Because I believe we’re not necessarily called to take sides in these situations with people, and actions, and ideologies for their own sakes, but always for a higher good. I believe we need to stand for truth and justice. With an equal amount of grace.

Jesus had the testimony of being “full of grace and truth.” We’re called to no less.

Where is the hope in this? Where is the redemption?

I do know we cannot influence the past. We do, however, have the future.

He has an experience. He has a message. And he’s telling it.


What is the best way we can make a real difference in the lives around us and prevent these tragic scenarios from playing out? Please comment below.

I have been considering how to best utilize this blog. I wanted to find a way to tell stories and not just write about stories. I’m still finding my way, but I am going to continue to discover how to do it by doing it. By writing. By telling more stories.

A Few Observations From an Unplanned Break from Blogging

Full week

I have just come off of a loaded week directing the project of a first-time author’s first book, including coordinating the editing, and text page and cover design. Wow. What a project it has been. But it’s such a privilege helping a person with a valid message to get it out.

Because of an overloaded week I had not posted this week. The mini break has not been wasted. It’s been a time to reflect.

Since I had pulled back from posting I noticed that it’s much easier to write about something than actually take action and do it. For example, we can write about writing. Write about storytelling. Write about what it is and how to do it. But what we need is storytelling, not the dissecting thereof. (Talking to myself. :) Weighing the options. Thus I am determining where I need to go from here on this site.


I had this deal with my heart that I would write a blog post every day for a year. Jeff Goins did! He did one every day for a year then wrote 100 additional ones and it put him on the map. I listened to his story and I felt ‘I can do that.’ I didn’t want to vow to it, but I was just planning to do it.

I noticed that I need to take takeaways like that and learn from them. But they need to fit me. When the shoes fits, Arlen, wear it. But if it’s too tight, try on another one.

I felt so wrong in my heart when I missed that first day last week of not posting. But after I did it I also realized I need to make sure I have a quality message. Not just a few random words and “Publish”… just to be able to deliver on the deal of ‘one post per day.’

I believe the key thing for me is to keep moving. I notice that as I keep moving and keep doing, I get answers. I make discoveries. Then it’s another step forward.

Communicating with the world via the internet is just the most incredible medium of our day. I know we all know about it, and it’s so easy to take for granted but it is so amazing and so far out cool. We can pop a few words online and practically the whole world can read it in a matter of minutes. Sorry, that’s kinda old school. But it’s just sooo cool.

I think the online connections/relationships have also become more authentic in the last 8–10 years.

Book writing power

The author I was working with met Jonathan Cahn, author of the Harbinger and Jonathan said that if you think you have been criticized, just write a book. What he meant was that after a book is published then look out. Especially if the message is potentially controversial or when there are varying interpretations. Somehow when a communicator’s message is in print and between two covers it establishes the message in a way nothing else quite does.

The candid life of being online
Being online via blog is pretty exposing. As I write my experiences and my perspectives there is not much hiding. It seems to leak out. Somehow. Sometime.

Who someone is. What they stand for. Their worldview.

I think it is similar to being a teacher. That was something I learned when I lived in India and taught English at a Bible College. If the teacher knows or doesn’t know the subject — it can’t be hidden from the students.

How have you taken lemons and made lemonade recently? How have you taken a challenging situation and come through better? Please comment below.