10 Quick Tips for Generating Ideas

No matter what you do, it’s likely that you have to generate ideas. Pastors have to generate creative ways to preach every week. Teachers have to come up with lesson plans that will draw interest from students. If you live in the corporate or entrepreneurial world there’s always a need to generate ideas for marketing, innovating, or team-building.


Here are 10 quick ways to generate an idea:

  1. Keep your eyes open. Like the picture you see above, there is inspiration all around you. Be mindful throughout the course of each day for creativity. When you see, read, or hear something, jot it down on a piece of paper or record it on your smart phone.
  2. Read. There are ideas in blogs, books, and magazines. Read something new every day.
  3. Get outside. On the mornings I ride my bike on a tree-lined trail I see the sun rising, there is water foul and wildlife all around, and there are runners and bicyclists that join me. I’m alone with my thoughts and inspired by what I experience.
  4. Watch TV. There are stories in sporting events, documentaries on Netflix, and inspirational pieces on shows like CBS Sunday Morning.
  5. Listen to podcasts. Redeem your time in the car by learning. Some of my favorites include Michael Hyatt’s podcast, Entreleadership, and EOFire.
  6. Sit down in front of a blank screen. There’s nothing like a white screen with the curser blinking to get you thinking. (I’m a poet and I don’t even know it.)
  7. Collaborate. Other people are often willing to brainstorm with you when you need it. People love to share their particular wisdom and knowledge. They may come at it form a perspective completely different than yours.
  8. GoogleType in a few key words and see what comes up.
  9. Scroll through your Social Media feeds. There are ideas galore in Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
  10. Take a break. If you’re working hard and pressing to come up with a creative thought, sometimes a simple break to participate in something mindless is just the ticket for that next brilliant idea.

What ideas do you have for quickly generating new ideas?

Why it Takes a Village to Write a Book

I’m not a big fan of the saying: “It takes a village to raise a child.” Sometimes the “village” has values of which I am not too fond. Having said that, I’m a big fan of using a village to help write a book. My new book, Fully and Creatively Alive: How to Live a More Joyfully Fulfilling Life, was just released yesterday. You can buy it here. I couldn’t have done it without a great deal of help.


Now that my book has been published, I want to recognize the people that helped me make it happen.

  1. Allison Fallon and Author Launch. When I first had the idea to write a book, I found this platform that provides a step-by-step process to help authors write books. It’s a series of videos helping authors through each and every step of writing a book. Without this invaluable tool I wouldn’t have a book today. Author Launch has become Author Guides, and you can find it here.
  2. A team. I had four people who read the book along the way, helped with advice, promotion, minor editing, and various kinds of help. The team included Brian Fricke, Tim Wesemann, Tanner Olson, and Leah Mitchell.
  3. Creative entrepreneurs. My whole book is based on the stories of creative entrepreneurs. A good many were willing to freely give of their time for me to interview them. You’ll have to find their names and their stories in the book, but trust me when I say that they are an incredible inspiration to me and to many others. The interviews were fascinating. As I did each one of them the time flew by. This is why I’m planning on starting a podcast based on this format: interviewing creative entrepreneurs.
  4. An Editor. I am so thankful for Mark Zimmermann. He is a professional editor for Creative Communications for the Parish, for whom I have written. He was willing to help me out by being my editor. He made corrections and changes that I would have never known to make. What a valuable asset an editor is.
  5. Designers. Good designers make a book pop. They help it stand out from a distance and make it pleasant on the eyes when reading it. Megan Phillips is a fashion designer who lives in New York City and does graphic design on the side. She designed the beautiful cover of the book. Lindsay Galvin is a professional graphic and book designer who did the interior of the book. She made it look far better than I could have imagined. I can’t recommend them both highly enough.
  6. My family. My wife supported me even when I used time to write the book that could have been dedicated to her. She encouraged me every step of the way. I never felt like I was robbing her by spending time writing the book. She never made me feel guilty. She was excited for me at each milestone. In addition, both of our children, Ashlyn and Ben (and their spouse/fiancé), were so helpful in reading the book, offering feedback, and bringing support. The book would not have been published without all of them. I am eternally thankful to my family.
  7. The reader. There is no point in writing a book if nobody will read it. I am amazed at the number of people who have already expressed an interest, are already reading it, and are purchasing it on Amazon. The reader is the reason most every writer writes. Thank you for reading this. Thank you for reading the book.

When have you noticed that it takes a village to accomplish a big project?

The Steps I Took to Write and Publish a Book

Here goes: If I can write a book anyone can. No, really. You can. I know what you’re thinking: I could never write a book. Yes, you can. There’s an idea inside of you that you always wanted to get out. There’s a story you have no one else does. There’s a skill or talent you have that you can teach us. If you take it one step at a time, little by little, bit by bit, before you know it you’ll have a book for us to read.


The whole process of writing a book took me about a year-and-a-half. I could have, and should have, done it much more quickly. But it’s finished now and about to be released. The book is called Fully and Creatively Alive: How to Live a More Joyfully Fulfilling Life. It will be available on Amazon very soon. I’m excited for you to read it.

Here are the steps I took to write and publish a book.

  1. Come up with an idea. I had an idea floating around in my head for a number of years. I wanted to interview young, creative entrepreneurs and share their lessons and knowledge with the world.
  2. Interview subjects for the book. I had a blast interviewing people. I learned so much and had a great time talking with each and every person. There was no problem getting the subjects to agree to do interviews and to share their wisdom. They were happy to do it.
  3. Lay out your map. In order to write the book, I used the assistance of an online platform called Author Launch. It helped me lay out where I wanted to go, what each chapter would be about, and what the flow of the whole thing would look like.
  4. Write it. This was, by far, the most time consuming part. I would set aside time on my day off every week, as well as free evenings, to do the writing. I was able to base much of the writing on the interviews I did. It was fun to finally get something down on “paper.” I used Scrivener software to do the actual writing of the book. It’s software that allows you to move around the document without having to scroll through the entire thing. I can’t recommend it highly enough.
  5. Edit. It was my privilege to have a professional editor do the editing of the book. He was able to catch typos and grammatical errors, as well as make some structural suggestions.
  6. Get it Designed. I had two wonderful designers. Megan Phillips did the cover. Lindsay Galvin did the interior of the book. I couldn’t be happier with the job they both did.
  7. Publish the book. CreateSpace was the company I used to publish the book. It’s an affiliate of Amazon, and there is no charge to upload your interior and cover design. The beauty of CreateSpace is that they print each book as it’s ordered. You don’t have to order 1000 books and store them in your garage. They do take a cut of each book you sell on Amazon. But you can order your own physical copies to sell on your own at a very minimal price.

So there you have it. Start with an idea and work your way through the steps. I would love to help you do it. I’m always happy to guide people through this process and help along the way. If you need me, I’m here.

Why not start your own today? The world is waiting.

Appreciating the Gift of Work on Labor Day

I can’t think about Labor Day without thinking of my Grandpa Eggebrecht. Growing up in an environment of white collar workers, I wasn’t around many people who used their hands and gave their sweat to make a living. But my Grandpa Eggebrecht was different. He worked hard to provide for his family: my grandma, my dad, and my dad’s twin sister.


My dad’s family never had much money as he was growing up. But that wasn’t for my grandfather’s lack of work. Way back in the “old days” he had a coal delivery service. I have a picture of his truck above my desk with “Eggebrecht Coal and Fuel” painted on the side. He would drive around town shoveling coal into the shoots that went down into people’s basements. That coal would be burned in Milwaukee furnaces to heat homes. Can you imagine how hard that work was on those cold Milwaukee days?

He was also something of an entrepreneur. In addition to the coal business, at one time he also owned a liquor store. For a time he was a bartender. Anything to make a buck. By the time I was on the scene he was a custodian at a nice, suburban public school. My grandpa could fix anything. I don’t know where those genes went, but they sure weren’t passed down to me.

What was passed down to me were some of his tools and the knowledge that work is a good thing. Isn’t that the point of Labor Day? It’s a day to celebrate good, honest work. So many people dream of retirement when they don’t have to work anymore. But work is a good thing.

In fact, there was work in this world even before Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. Check out Genesis 2:15. Work:

  • brings purpose to life
  • creates camaraderie
  • gives direction to our days
  • makes a place for us to use gifts and talents
  • delivers a sense of accomplishment

It’s only when we work at cross purposes with our gifts and talents, or at cross purposes with other people, that our work becomes unhappy. Though people retire, it is often best for them to continue on with some kind of “work” that brings purpose and pleasure to one’s life. I can’t imagine retiring and then sitting around doing nothing. I’ll be happy to continue writing and serving in ways that help others.

So after Labor Day, let’s go back to work with a sense of appreciation and purpose. Let’s remember that work is a gift. Though there may be frustrations let’s think about the purpose it gives us, the camaraderie we share with others, the direction it gives our day, the place it provides for our gifts and talents, and the sense of accomplishment we will feel at the end of the day or a job well done.

What do you appreciate about your work?

An Interview With Former Disney Performer Turned Pastor

Disney turns out performers left and right. But I wonder how many former Disney performers have turned into pastors. Billy Brath is a friend of mine who is the pastor of the Lutheran Campus Ministry at the University of Central Florida, the second largest university in the United States. Billy worked at the creative capital of the world, and has now translated that creativity into an active ministry.


How did you become a performer at Disney?

I was a singer at the University of Florida. I moved to Orlando to audition to sing at Disney. I ended up in the entertainment department doing everything but sing. Through the process of auditions I learned how the different levels of entertainment work. I went from equity singing auditions to the general entertainment auditions and was hired into the general entertainment department which is where you find most performers at Disney. I went from Disney entertainment for a year-and-a-half and ended up dancing on stilts for Festival of the Lion King at Animal Kingdom.

What did you learn about creativity by working at Disney?

Disney’s creativity has a billion dollars behind it, which translates to dream as big as you want in order to achieve the goal. And their goal is to entertain you. And for them, the word entertainment means “to hold your attention.” Their purpose statement is to make people happy. In order to do that, they need to entertain you…”hold your attention.” So they dream “theme park big” in order to achieve their performance. So, “Don’t do anything to distract from anything that keeps people from being entertained.” You have to hold people’s attention.

How did this translate into the church?

I’m always thinking of how to hold people’s attention, i.e., “entertain” them, so I can accomplish my purpose to share Jesus and love them as a member of the body of Christ.

How is that transition difficult?

Working for a billion dollar company, the number one entertainment company of the world, and living in the shadow of that, I see the distractions in the church that exist that most of us skip over. At Disney you never see things that are intended to be back stage, like garbage or clutter. Every single day is supposed to be like your home on Christmas Eve when your family’s coming over for the perfect evening. And our churches who have the greatest “product” to deliver don’t facilitate the environment that we would expect to have at Disney. The church which is the only largest entity in the world larger than Disney, with more resources than they have, should be the best at “entertainment,” holding people’s attention, because our purpose is way more important than just making people happy.

What’s the practical application of that?

Disney isn’t great because they have billions of dollars to throw around on products. They’re great because they help you forget the “junk” of life. The church is great because it doesn’t just help you forget the junk, it removes it and frees you to live, and we need to embrace that.

What’s one thing that would surprise people about Disney if you told them?

Workers will be on break sitting in the Magic Kingdom complaining about their job like anyone else.

How has working at Disney made you a better pastor?

The ability to work with a vast array of people, both co-workers and guests. And understanding what “entertainment” really means. The true work of the church is to hold people’s attention for the sake of Jesus Christ.

What do you learn about creativity in your everyday work?

What To Do When Patience Isn’t Your Strongest Virtue

They say that patience is a virtue. But try living that out in real life. That phrase — “Patience is a virtue” — is said to have come from a fifth century poem called Psychomachia. In the poem, personified virtues go to battle with personified vices. Anger attacks Patience, but cannot defeat or even injure her; driven mad with frustration, Anger ultimately kills herself instead.


This comes to my mind because of our son, Ben. Some people would call what happened to him this past week an “overnight success.” He’s had three songs on MTV’s Teen Mom. He had a song placed on Spotify’s “Mood Booster” Playlist. It has 1.5 million followers and contains artists like Justin Bieber, Coldplay, Justin Timberlake, and Rihanna. Now it also includes My Red + Blue. Beyond that, there are some other potential exciting things that may be coming down the pike.

This was the proverbial “overnight success” that took the last seven years. Ben moved to Nashville to go to school. He started his own musical project. Relationships were built. Music was written and recorded. He worked hard. Time and effort was exerted. Seven years after he moved to Nashville he is just now beginning to see some of the fruits of his art and labors.

My wife, Tammy, is at the other end of the spectrum. At the beginning of this past summer she started her own business called Perfectly PillōShe made pillows. A web site was built. Facebook now hosts her Perfectly Pillō page. She has had some modest success, especially with custom orders. But visits to the web site, and orders there, are…shall way say…a little bit fewer and further between. But every single day she puts together a creative post for Instagram and Facebook. One step at a time. One day at a time. I have no doubt that this will end in success for her and for her business. But it will take patience.

Patience is a virtue. As the ancient poem reminds us, it drives away anger.

So what do we do when the things we expect never seem to happen?

  1. Set goals. You’ll never get somewhere if you don’t know where you’re going.
  2. Put in the time and effort. You can’t just expect what you want to happen. Think big. Start small. Keep going. Work hard with the end in mind.
  3. Establish relationships. Very few people get to where they want to be on their own. We need people to help us along the way. Help people more than you think you should. Publicly compliment those who need it and deserve it. Lean on others. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

When you have patience you will outlast those who quit along the way. So here’s some encouragement to keep going. Pursue your dream. Don’t stop. Focus (Follow One Course Until Success). You’ll be surprised at what a decent dose of patience will bring you.

What are you patiently waiting for?

What Does It Mean to Be Fully and Creatively Alive? (A Free Excerpt of My New Book)

My new book, Fully and Creatively Alive: How to Live a More Joyfully Creative Life, is in the very last stages of pre-production. Since it will be releasing very soon I want to give you a glimpse into the book itself. My hope is that the book will inspire you to live a life that makes you feel as though you are more alive than you have ever been before…


Here’s a small, free excerpt from my book:

Seth Godin’s definition of art is that it is a personal gift that changes the recipient. Adopting that definition will allow you to understand that there is always an artistic alternative in life. In its pursuit many discover a life that’s fully and creatively alive. Many also discover that they themselves have been changed.

So what does it mean to be fully and creatively alive? It means living a life that’s fulfilling, enriching, always growing, doing what you love (most of the time), while loving and helping other people get to a place where they, too, live a life that is fully and creatively alive.

Being fully and creatively alive begins with an understanding that the Creator God has created you to be creative. Don’t give me any of that “right brain” and “left brain” stuff. (There is most certainly legitimacy to it, but hang with me and see where I’m going with this…) I’ve seen engineers and mathematicians who are just as creative with their equations as a painter is with a palette.

Yes, God has created us in different and unique ways. Some are more naturally creative in the sense of being artistic in the way most of the world understands art. But when you understand that art is a personal gift that changes the recipient, think about the way in which scientists have created medications that change a hospital patient by bringing her back to health.

I had an audio technician change my life for the better. He installed speakers in the ceilings throughout our home and connected it to a whole house audio system. I was changed when I witnessed professional actors who were far better than I could ever hope to be present Shakespeare’s most gruesome play, Titus Andronicus. I grew an appreciation for Shakespearian language and Shakespearian acting.

But I wasn’t the only one who was changed in the process. Our son, Ben, was in seventh grade and happened to be the only child in the production. His life was changed when he saw two of the guys in the cast messing with their guitars backstage. It was at about the same time that he first picked up a guitar, grew to love it and is now attempting life as a professional musician. Being a part of that production also enabled Ben to find comfort in front of crowds, begin to learn the skill of acting, and pick up the discipline of learning lines, taking direction and picking up cues.

What is it that’s making you feel fully alive today?

When Was the Last Time You Solved an Interesting Problem?

Since it’s back to school time it’s also time to rethink education. Seth Godin reminds us that education needs to be completely reformed. The schooling that our nation utilizes today was invented in the industrial age when factories needed compliant workers. Sit in your seats. Follow directions. Regurgitate what you learned in the text book. But in the new connection economy, Seth says, the best thing kids can learn is how to solve an interesting problem.


Can you imagine what it would be like if kids would be disappointed with snow days?  What if children would look forward to going to school so that they could continue the work on a problem they had left behind the previous day? Instead of providing answers teachers could keep on introducing new problems. Then they would lead and guide students to make discoveries on their own.

When was the last time you intentionally solved an interesting problem? The problems adults usually face are of the more serious kind. We don’t like to introduce problems into our lives. We’d rather get rid of them. It’s rare that we see a problem as “interesting.”

But just think about what it would be like if you would seek out interesting problems. Imagine how you would feel when you come to a creative solution for something you’ve always been curious about. What if you would keep your eyes open for problems that need a solution…problems that no one else has yet figured out?

Here are some ideas:

  • How can we make health care cheaper?
  • What’s an easier way for more people to write books?
  • How can churches be more effective at outreach?
  • What’s a more effective way for people to lose weight and keep it off?
  • How can people follow through on all of their goals?
  • What’s a better way for musicians to sell their music?

A problem is not something to fear or flee. A problem should be embraced. Even if it isn’t completely solved it can lead to discoveries. It will stimulate creativity. Free time will be filled with energy toward making something new.

It’s good for kids. And it’s good for adults. 

How can you embrace more interesting problems in your life?

Why There Is Never a Reason to Be Bored

Every so often as I scroll through my Facebook feed I’ll see a statement like this: “I’m so bored. I have nothing to do.” I think to myself: How can that be? Boredom hasn’t been a part of my life in years and years. I don’t even know how it’s possible to be bored. What must you be lacking if you are bored?


But let’s just say that you find yourself bored. What would you do? Here are 25 suggestions:

*Hint: If you click on the hyperlinks you might find a few surprises…

  1. Read the Bible
  2. Set a goal.
  3. Do some research.
  4. Start a simple business.
  5. Create a blog.
  6. Write in a journal.
  7. Dive down a worm hole on the internet.
  8. Watch a movie.
  9. Go for a walk, jog, or bike ride.
  10. Write a handwritten note to someone.
  11. Get an early start on Christmas shopping.
  12. Help a friend.
  13. Get a head start on some work.
  14. Make a gourmet meal (even if you never have before).
  15. Learn Photoshop (it’s such a marketable skill these days!).
  16. Take an online class (cheap!).
  17. Volunteer at your church.
  18. Read a book.
  19. Curate a song list on Spotify.
  20. Organize your closet and donate old clothes to charity.
  21. Play a game.
  22. Create some art (poetry, painting, or drawing).
  23. Plant some flowers.
  24. Get together with a friend.
  25. Tell your mom you love her.

What would you add to this list?

No, You’re Not Too Old to Be a Colorful Creative

Spring Hills Senior Community in Lake Mary, Florida, knows creativity. Residents in their Alzheimer’s unit engage often in colorful and creative activities. In a recent newsletter article they show how much creativity keeps minds engaged. They argue that it also keeps our demeanor calm.

Colorful Creativity

You might think that people with Alzheimer’s Disease would be hard-pressed to carry out any creative activities. It is actually just the opposite. Spring Hills’ newsletter article says:

We know that for some people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia, creativity and an interest in the arts remain even after other skills and cognitive abilities are lost. Viewing art can promote relaxation, elevate mood, and encourage connecting with others socially. However, when people create the art themselves, the whole brain is stimulated. Additionally, creating art can help in recovering small motor skills. An increasingly popular art activity involves using adult coloring books.

In other words, all art is good. But making art is great. It’s good for the whole brain.

If it’s good for Alzheimer’s patients, it must be good for you, too. A great place to start is with a coloring book for adults. Here’s a really fun, cheap one.

But coloring isn’t just mindless activity. According to the newsletter article, it engages and activates your thinking:

Coloring may seem like a passive activity; the repetitive back-and-forth/up-and-down motion can be relaxing and calming, absorbing our minds and allowing us to let go of our worries. In reality, coloring is a purposeful activity. Choosing just the right color arouses the mind, as does concentrating on coloring within the lines.

There’s no need to wait until you’re older to carry out some colorful creativity. Your colorful creativity today will:

  • Engage your brain
  • Stimulate thoughts
  • Relax your body
  • Calm you down
  • Provide motivation for mundane activity
  • Provide something beautiful for the rest of us

No matter your age, take the time to make some art. It’s good for you. It’s good for your brain.

What keeps you from making (even simple) art?