Archive | Creativity

YourPassion, Inc.: Is It Time to Go “Pro”?

Are you a writer, filmmaker, or blogger?  Maybe it’s time to go “pro.”  I went professional (so to speak) when my blog and writing activity became a company last year.  It was a good move for me financially and for my productivity.   If you’re doing similar things, it might be good for you as well.

One day last year, I spent hours and a couple hundred dollars to support the media projects I was developing: new audio equipment for film production, a couple domain names, and a new host for my website.

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Suddenly, it hit me: “I was practically running a small company.”

I had recently signed a book contract for Go and Do, my photography was being published several places, and a film of mine had circled the global in a film festival.  I was pulling it into one coherent purpose.  I hadn’t realized it before, but this was, indeed, a business.

I promptly created a business entity (I choose an LLC, or Limited Liability Company).  The next day it was approved—“Milbrandt Media, LLC” was born.

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Book Release Events in Minnesota Next Week

Lisa and I are heading back to Minnesota and South Dakota this week for events related to the release of Go and Do: Daring to Change the World One Story at a Time.

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On Monday morning, I will be speaking in chapel at Bethel University in St. Paul (my alma mater).  In the afternoon, I am speaking at a program at Bethel geared toward philosophy majors on the top of “Justice, Law, and Philosophy.”

On Tuesday, we are hosting a book release event at the Historic Dayton House in Worthington, MN, from 7-9 p.m.  Anyone is welcome.

If you are in Minnesota, it would be great to see you!

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Why I Blog

About a year ago, I began blogging more consistently.  I had a blog for several years prior, but used it sparingly–primarily for family and friends when I traveled.  Maintaining a blog any more than this felt narcissistic–and I had very little to say.  Then, I reconstructed the blog from the ground up last spring and started writing 2-3 times a week.

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So, why the abrupt change?  Three reasons.  And, I recommend that you blog too.

1) Figure out what you’re about – There are a lot of terms being thrown out there right now, such as “brand,” “platform,” and so on.  And many will tell you that all you have to  start blogging or tweeting to “build that platform.”  I’m really not a fan of all of this school of thought as I feel like it invites more people to a room where everyone is shouting.  But, I do believe we all have a message, or should have a message:  What do we want to be about?

If you’re a lawyer, you need to find a message–What is your law practice about?  Is it narrow, maybe religious asylum cases?  If it’s broad–general litigation–then why would someone want to hire you?  The same goes for if you’re a plumber, or a filmmaker, or a writer.

Starting a blog helped me narrow down what I wanted to be about.  I felt everything I was doing fell into three buckets: Global Justice (my work), Adventure (my travels), Creativity (my hobbies).  It may narrow even further.

I think we all need to narrow down what we’re about.  It helps us decide whether opportunities are core to our purpose or distractions that pull us away from what’s important.  Blogging helps.  It’s a public forum where you are forced to think about the way you want to be perceived.

2) Hone the craft of writing – Unfortunately, I don’t have many hard skills.  I can’t change the oil in a car or program a computer or build a house.  But, the one thing I’ve been doing for the past 25 years is writing.  I used to not enjoy writing, but then I started to write a lot.  And, like anything, it’s something that needs practice.

Lisa’s work and area of study–nursing–is more hands-on then my work.  She doesn’t spend 75+% of her day writing email, letters, articles, and proposals.  Last week, she asked me to help her rewrite a letter.  I sat down, spent 10 minutes with it, and gave it to her to proofread.  “You’re done already?” she asked.  She read it.  “This would have taken me an hour to write.”

If you write a lot, you develop a natural rhythm.  You can hear in your head how you want to say things.  This takes writing every single day.  You must force yourself to write.  A blog is a great way to do that.  It forces you to feel that you must write because someone could be watching.  Writing nearly every day has also created an interesting phenomenon for me: I can write, stop, and return as if I never stopped writing.  I have several large ongoing writing projects, so this is necessary to be productive.  Start a blog if only to hone your writing skills.

3) Look at life through the lens of story – Keeping a blog has also trained me to look at life through the lens of story.  I sometimes think about, “How would this make a good blog post?”  Or “What am I doing today that is interesting enough to write about?”  For example, my recent story of escaping llamas was a situation that could have been frustrating, but I kept thinking about how I couldn’t wait to blog about it.

Final thoughts – It’s not easy to keep up a blog.  You can’t let it go more than a few days without a post (which has been hard for me lately with the book release) and it can be discouraging if you’re after a readership count.  Often, we expect hundreds of followers within days or weeks.  That doesn’t happen.  If you’re after a following it could take years.

And just now, a year later, I’m starting to see some of my blog posts get picked up.  One blog entry just debuted on Catalyst this week, the llama story was covered by the Daily Globe newspaper, and a post on my international art collection was picked up by Lonely Planet.  All this work is beginning to see some returns if views are the yardstick.

I don’t think we should view blogging as narcissistic.  To me, it doesn’t matter if anyone reads it.  (Sometimes I post things and don’t tweet them so that people won’t read it).  Nonetheless, I recommend that you blog, if only for yourself.

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Go and Do on sale THIS WEEK!

My new book Go and Do: Daring to Change the World One Story at a Time goes on sale this week!

As many of you know from my previous posts, I have been writing a book for two-and-a-half years and it is finally available this week!  Go and Do will hit shelves this Thursday–ahead of original projections.

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Go and Do is a message that I needed several years ago.  I remember a series of moments during law school where I wondered what the purpose of it all was–what did I want?  I couldn’t find the answer until dared myself to join a more important adventure: Discovering what it means to respond to a hurting world.

I knew I wasn’t the only one feeling the same way.  As a student at Pepperdine, I knew dozens of my peers searching for the same answers.  They felt alienated from the heroic–the heroic ideals that drew them to a profession like law in the first place.  But, it wasn’t just law–I saw it in our undergraduate students and a growing groundswell beyond, especially in my generation.

When I started direct the Global Justice Program, I saw students light up when they imagined themselves breaking down the doors of brothels or rescuing children from prison in Africa or serving in refugee camps.  What did was all share about this experience?  I wanted to find out–I wanted to express the “why” behind this.

But, there was much more once I started to dig.  It was one thing to answer: “Why I am drawn alleviate suffering in the world?”  But it was whole other thing to actually get there.  Go and Do is in part, the “why,” but more important, the “how” and “what.”  How do I get out of my routine?  How do I pull the trigger to go somewhere or do something that scares me?  How do I tell my friends and family?  And then: What do I do once I’m there?  What if I don’t accomplish anything?  What if I have nothing to offer?

These were the questions I asked.  And I wish I had this book to answer them.  I wrote Go and Do because I know I’m not the only one who had these questions.  I wrote the book I needed to read.

If you’re asking these questions too–even sense the hint of them–I hope this might be the book for you.  Or maybe you know someone else who needs this message.  I’d be honored if you ordered it–especially now as the book rolls out to market–but, more importantly, I hope it resonates with you.  I hope it dares you to do something.

 

Pre-Order the Book Now

Go and Do will be available on April 19—pre-order the book now from these online stores or a bookstore near you.

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The Story Behind Go and Do (Part 1)

The release of my upcoming book, Go and Do, is now almost a month away. In the run-up the launch and for the months following, there will be a flurry of activity and I suspect I will be sharing quite a bit about it on the blog.

I recently wrote a blog entry entitled “Behind Everything, There’s a Story.” I love knowing the story behind songs and movies. What inspired the writer? How did it happen? I want behind the scenes access.

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So, I thought I would share a bit of the story behind Go and Do.

As some of you might know, I wrote my first book, A Twist of Innovation, in 2004. It was a long process that spanned four years. When I finished, I was not eager to start writing another book (crossed it off my life to-do list), but I also felt it wouldn’t be the last.

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Announcing my upcoming book: “Go and Do”

I am thrilled to share that I have a new book coming out this spring: Go and Do: Daring to Change the World One Story at a Time will be published in May by Tyndale House Publishers.  Inspired by all we’ve learned through the Global Justice Program, Go and Do has been a 2 1/2 year journey that is finally coming to fruition.

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Go and Do is a dare.  It’s a dare to go out into the world, witness the raw edges of humanity and respond to what you see.  We stand on the edge of a great mutual exchange where our desire for purpose matches someone else’s need for survival.  Maybe this book will find you in the same place this message found me a few years ago–wondering what I was doing here and what my purpose was.  Or maybe you’ve taken this leap of faith and you know someone who needs a change in their life as well.  I hope you’ll join me in this journey.

 

Learn more about the book on the Go and Do website.

 

Watch the Book Trailer:

 

Pre-Order the Book Now

Go and Do will be available on May 1—pre-order the book now from these online stores or a bookstore near you.

 

From the Back of the Book:

“What am I doing here?”

Ever find yourself asking that question?  Of course you do – we all do.

Well have I got a challenge for you – one that might just change your life!

I dare you to go out into the world, witness the raw edges of humanity and then do something about what you see.

I dare you to “go and do.”

As Christians, every day we are called to take a step of faith for Christ, to change our world and in doing so, to change ourselves.

Go and Do is an invitation to join in the adventure of God’s story and understand the part we are each meant to play. As we step out on this journey, we discover an incredible truth: Our need for purpose matches someone else’s need for survival.  And there is nothing more fulfilling than that.

I dare you to join us.

–Jay Milbrandt

 

How You Can Help:

  1. Naturally, I would be deeply honored if anyone I know orders the book.  It’s already available for pre-order.  True to the theme of the book, I will be giving away personal proceeds (if any!) from the book to various global justice projects featured in the stories I share.  We are currently making some strategic plans for this, which you’ll hear more about these in the upcoming months.
  2. I would love to have your help in spreading the word.  Go and Do is a great message for our time–a message that I believe desperately needs to be shared–and word-of-mouth is the best tool.
  3. Check back often for updates.  I will writing regularly as we approach the release of the book.  I’ll be organizing various events related to its release, so stay tuned!  And, if you have suggestions, I am willing to be available anytime, anywhere to promote it.
  4. Follow along on the blog over the next two weeks as I travel back to the Thai-Burma border with students from Pepperdine.  You’ll get a flavor for what “go and do” truly means.
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Behind Everything, There’s a Story

I have an insatiable curiosity to know the “Why?” of everything.  I could get lost on Wikipedia for hours looking up everyday items and respected people to know their backstory.  Or when I hear a song I enjoy, I always Google “__________ song meaning.”  For example, did you know the Beatles’ song “Hey Jude” was originally “Hey Jules” and written to comfort John Lennon’s son Julian through his parents’ divorce?  Fascinating.  And all this time I thought it was simply catchy.

What it comes down to is that there’s a story behind every single thing.  And, for the most part, we take all these stories for granted.

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This week I attended a trade show in Anaheim that displayed everything from synthetic skin tissue to wood packaging crates to rubber tubing.  Many of the items, you would in find in your house (absent synthetic skin).  I was reminded how, behind each of these products, there was probably a great story.  Many people likely invested their entire lives to bring it to reality and perfect it.  As Mitch Albom, author of Tuesdays with Morrie and Five People You Meet in Heaven, aptly wrote: “But there’s a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking.”

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Inspired by Incredible People this Week

I usually try not to go more than 3-4 without a blog entry, but this week has been an exception.  With major deadlines on several large projects, back-to-back meetings in DC, speaking engagements, and a brief stop to visit my grandparents, I found no time to write.  But now, I’m finally back in California after a whirlwind week.

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A highlight of the week: The National Prayer Breakfast in Washington D.C.

The National Prayer Breakfast is annual gathering in the spirit of Jesus that “unites individuals of various nationalities, religions, and political orientation in the power of prayer.”  It’s an ecumenical gathering of over than 3,000 guests from more than 130 nations.

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Surprising Yourself

When is the last time you surprised yourself?

I’m nearing the end of two very large creative projects.  In one project, I finally stepped back to look at it as a whole with fresh eyes.  In the second project, I emerged from a period of focused intensity to see my creation.  In both cases, I was surprised.  I was astonished to see what my hands had created as if I was seeing it anew for the first time.  I couldn’t believe it was the result of my own work.

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Gustave Moreau’s Hesiod and the Muse, 1891.

And maybe it wasn’t all the result of my own work.  To me, these moments are self-surprise are evidence of a higher power co-creating with us.  If we are made in the image of a Creator—one who we believe works through us, then it stands to reason that we not only have the ability to create, but we are also to serve as the pencil in the hand of an Ultimate Artist.

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