All posts by peter

On top of the world

The energy in the room was electric. Friends and family had come from miles to celebrate.

I had graduated from college!

When the phone rang I was standing by my fiancee, my parents, and Morrie Lanning (the mayor Moorhead at that time). It was the hiring manager from Microsoft. She was calling to offer me a job!

Out of over 2,000 resumes and hundreds of people interviewed, I was one of five people hired!

I thought that life couldn’t get any better.

Everything was falling into place.

I had it all figured out and was on my way.

Of course, as some of you know, it didn’t work out the way I planned. Fast forward 17 years later and…

  • I was fired from the job and escorted out of the building my last day.
  • The relationship with my fiancee ended.
  • A banner ad changed my life.
  • A morning of prayer put me on a new path.
  • My kidneys were failing.
  • God gave me unshakeable faith.
  • I cried (many times).
  • A leap of faith to move back to the USA.
  • I ran a family business and left it five years later (one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done).
  • I started a new business.
  • God blessed me with three girls.
  • I’ve been happily married for 13 years.
  • Many countless miracles.

If you’d like to join me on this journey, I am going to focus in the coming weeks and months to write bits of the story. It has been bubbling up the past several months and it’s time.

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Crepes

Our group was walking through the streets of Tunis. Hungry as usual. It was one of those cobblestone streets lined with trees, along a courtyard which was almost like a Spanish square, a city center. A place where people wander slowly, meandering from shop to shop on the wide boulevards, sitting at small tables drinking tea, shopping or simply passing the time.

I remember seeing a large woman sitting at the edge of an open shop, pouring liquid on to  a hot, round caste iron griddle and using this long t-shaped stick to smooth, spread and work the batter. The long end of the device was filed into a flat edge almost like a screwdriver. She would work this under the edge of the newly formed crepe andflip it over effortlessly.

I must try that, I said to myself.

We ordered crepes and sat in the shade. Taking a bite of the rich, velvety pancake-like pocket of heaven, I asked myself why I’d never had this before.

Then I thought to myself…swedish pancakes. I grew up on them.

Smaller in size, a bit thinner. We would line them with butter, sugar, lingonberries, then (for good measure) syrup.

Roll it up like a cigar then drizzle syrup and lingonberries on the top…and, because I was six, sprinkle more sugar. Do two or three in  an assembly line. Each of us had a certain way to prepare ours. I remember my grandma and my mom making big batches of them. Somethings in the morning, other times the night before and reheating for a party. Always with lingonberries. Some breakfast sausage links. Always ate one too many…never any regrets.

But today, in Tunis, crepes.

Several years later my love for crepes was consummated in the Dominican Republic. New neighbors with French and Haitian backgrounds, but in this case mainly the French side rekindles the love for crepes.

Rachelle would make a huge batch. Mixing the eggs, flour, milk…always by sight. I remember watching her take the ladle and scoop some of the batter up, pouring it back into the bowl to check consistency. She would artfully watch and mutter something in French and usually add more milk.

Colby and I would watch her make them. And, as if we were six again, try to flip or grab them before they were ready.

Sometimes we’d get away with it.

Most times Rachelle would catch us, mutter something else in French and flick our hands away. This didn’t stop us from trying again.

I make crepes at home now for my girls. In fact I just made a batch this morning.

I measure the ingredients but add more milk than the recipe calls for. I use a Calphalon crepe pan that’s been with us since we lived in the Dominican Republic.

I don’t have a fancy crepe T (not sure what it’s called, maybe a crepe spreader?) but I use a ladle to pour/spread the batter, then usually flip them with my hands.

Sometimes I fill them with eggs and bacon and/or chorizo. Other times lingonberries and the Swedish pancake routine. Sometimes just syrup.

When I lived in the Dominican Republic there was a restaurant, La Creperie. My girlfriend and I would go there often on dates. It was nestled near the river, below the main level of the plaza. Out of sight from a distance. When you walked down the steps it was like walking into someone’s garden for a party.

One time we went there for a date but before we went I insisted Julie dress up. She wasn’t having it, tired from a long week.

I insisted. She was a good sport and got dressed up.

We enjoyed a lovely meal of crepes, walked through the old city of Santo Domingo.

We stopped in a Spanish town square, Parque Colón, one of our favorite spots.

I read a poem.

I got down on one knee.

In spanish, I asked her to marry me.

She said yes.

A year later we were married.

Thirteen years and three girls later, still making crepes.

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Sticky Rice

Matthew and I were sitting in a small, roof-top restaurant somewhere in Bangkok. Only a few hours remained before a 3 am flight would set me on a 30 hour path back to the Midwest. We had been eating and talking for more than an hour, a proper Thai meal to send me on my way. He had previously suggested we stop at a British pub for a second meat and kidney pie for the day. I told Matthew, “If you think my last two meals in Thailand are going to be British meat pies, you are sadly mistaken. I’d like one last authentic Thai meal.”

Sometimes I forget that he lived in Bangkok for 18 years, and perhaps to him a kidney pie in Bangkok was more exotic. Or he missed a taste of home. Or was just a creature of habit and wanted a meat pie.

Our last meeting had been in a modern office building downtown, followed by a wrap up meeting in the ground level Starbucks. We left the building and began walking in the general direction of our hotel. I wondered what was going through his mind, having lived there for so long. How many times had he walked this street? I was playing Pokemon Go, collecting exotic electronic treasures.

We stopped at a stand, and Matthew ordered dry noodles for both of us. Sitting down, I enjoyed the bowl and appreciated the authentic food. I was informed this was just a snack before the main meal.

Welcome to Thailand.

We kept walking, suddenly turning down a side-street. A few blocks in, up a flight of stairs we sat at a table. We ate dish after dish. We talked, laughed, and reflected on the past 10 days. The music playlist for the restaurant looped through a few times, with a mix of American country, rock, folk, and other songs from across the globe.

I thought I couldn’t eat another bite, when a plate of mango sticky rice arrived.

I’d heard of it before, never ordered or felt compelled to try it.

I had been missing out. If you’ve ever eaten a really good mango, you know when you find one. They are sweet and slightly firm, with a somewhat leathery, fibrous texture. When you take a bite the flavor and aroma occupy every bit of space in your mouth. I’ve eaten many wonderful mangoes in my day. But never combined with sticky rice. In fact, come to think of it, I’d never eaten sticky rice either. This came as a surprise to me considering the amount of rice I’ve consumed having lived in the Dominican Republic.

Hold that thought, I HAVE EATEN STICKY RICE! My friend Jemima has brought it to a few of the International Potlucks and I loved it! In that context we ate it plain with a few dipping sauces.

Sticky rice takes on an almost gelatinous form. You can still identify and taste the individual grains of rice, but they form a stretchy, sticky patty that almost needs two utensils to separate. This patty is topped with mung beans that add a bit of crunch and balance to the rest of the dish.

Where did this goodness come from?

Mango sticky rice is a traditional Thai dish. It is seasonal, usually eaten in peak mango season.

Pause for a moment – I can’t think of many phrases that make me happier than “Peak mango” – ok, back to the story!

Mango sticky rice is a mixture of glutinous rice (not to worry gluten-free friends, this rice is gluten free!), coconut milk, palm sugar, mango, and salt. I haven’t made it at home although I plan on trying soon! For a potential recipe, I’d recommend checking this one out:

https://www.eatingthaifood.com/thai-mango-sticky-rice-recipe/

Sticky rice is a staple for diets across Asia, HuffPo has a great article with 9 things you should know about sticky rice. (Go on, check it out!)

Cravings across the globe

Yesterday I had a craving for sticky rice with mango. Living in Fargo, I thought my options were limited and that I perhaps wouldn’t be able to satiate this desire. Remembering the Leela Thai has a pretty good menu, I asked my good friend Google if Leela was down with the sticky rice. Turns out it was true. I brought my wife there for a wonderful Thai meal, ending with a dish of, you guessed it, sticky rice with mango.

Sitting on the opposite side of the globe, in an unassuming strip-mall in Fargo I once again crossed paths with this simple but beautiful dish. And it was every bit as wonderful as I’d remembered it in Bangkok.

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CoSchedule – the only option for your social calendar

Recently I launched a consulting business called “Sales Your Way: Tailored Coaching Strategies for the Non-Salesperson” (check it out now!)

(did you take a peek? It’s not too late)

A major component of my strategy was going to be content marketing. I had building blocks for components to a successful sales call that I wanted to deploy. Week by week, content around topics like goal-setting, mindset, time management, etc.

before you go further, take a moment and sign up for CoSchedule…trust me. Use this link to sign up.

How was I going to manage it all?

I’d used HootSuite before, because it was free.

It was ok.

I even signed up for a new account and queued up a few posts…then I thought to myself.

wait a second

there’s a cool company downtown called CoSchedule.

I even toured it once. I know a few people that work there.

The CEO follows me on Twitter and I met him at the tour.

These guys…

I should check out CoSchedule

Admittedly those aren’t the best reasons to check out a platform but it brought me to the site. I signed up and logged in.

wow

I was blown away at the tools available. First of all it was super easy to link up to my existing social profiles (although LinkedIn could step up their game on analytics for personal posts…this is NOT CoSchedule’s fault).

mailchimp ✅

twitter ✅

facebook ✅

Now to get the content up there.

it was really easy!

Almost too easy at first. I got a few things going then wanted to change them. You can add posts to multiple social streams at once, but then they are there separately. No big deal…

…unless you want to change images in the post. My one suggestion is to store the images so you can easily reuse them on different posts rather than re-uploading each time.

sidenote: I wrote an email to my friend Jeremiah who works there, he passed the request on to the product team.

one week later…

I went through the first week, really easy to upload and manage content. It even caught a newsletter I’d sent from Mailchimp and added it to the calendar.

…I discovered ReQueue

Image result for such wow

Seriously it’s amazing. I was able to look at analytics (EXCEPT FOR LINKEDIN) and take my most popular posts…

…get them setup for ReQueue. There are options to make different lists (I’m breaking mine out by topic and having a call to action list to repost my right hooks)

Speaking of analytics, they do a crazy good job of figuring out the best times, days, and types of posts for each platform. I’m learning a lot about my audience and can’t wait to see more content in there.

(Cool feature idea…Jeremiah? Would be amazing to tie this into audience demographics sometime based on engagement…)

I haven’t gotten into it much yet but I’m really excited about labels, going to use those for different content types and categories. The filters are really powerful for the calendar and I have a feeling like labels will be a big part of it.

Also they throw in three users to start. My marketing assistant can start managing posts for me.

I’m a small team (me…solopreneur) but am finding HUGE value in the platform. It will be there for me at this stage and grow with me as I grow. This platform will also play a key role in my software business, Genesis Feed Technologies when we start doing more with social marketing.

(We interrupt this review for another feature suggestion…the e-mail subject analyzer (WHICH IS AMAZING) but have it for social posts like on Twitter and LinkedIN).

Also, while we’re on the subject of LinkedIn, get them to make better analytics for individual person posts, not just company pages.

It’s a great platform, I was on the fence about signing up as a paid user when I first looked at the platform but after one day of using it I knew I would be signing up.

 

Interested? You should be!

sign up today

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The day a banner ad changed my life

I was going through a particularly tough time in my life.

That evening I decided to take a break from going out with friends, and went to check my hotmail.

What e-mail looked like in 2002

While browsing e-mail, I happened upon a banner ad. You know, those annoying things that most browsers block nowadays? It was something about a service called “MSN Chat”

This was chat

I thought to myself “Why not?” and clicked. There were a ton of different rooms, what to choose…

“20something” looked interesting. After all, I was a 20something and thought it would be fun to meet people my age. I clicked again, found myself in this virtual room with 50something 20somethings (see what I did there?)

Clicking profiles to see who was there, I noticed one from the Dominican Republic.

Hmm…

I didn’t know much about that country! I wonder what life is like there?

So I introduced myself, asked a few questions.

Julia and I started talking, had a nice conversation. Added each other to IM…thought it would be fun to talk more.

I said good bye, signed off, and went to bed. Not knowing how that evening would change my life forever.

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A bus ride

I paid my fare, collected my ticket, and sat down on the bus. Something I had done hundreds of times before to make the trip from Jarabacoa to Santo Domingo, but today was different.

It would be my last time making this trip while living in the Dominican Republic.

It was my last full day on the island.

The bus started down the winding road, passing familiar sights. My mind didn’t give them much notice, nor the Steven Seagal movie that was playing on the bus’s entertainment system. I had a book in hand, a collection of short stories by Phillip K. Dick to pass the time. I remember reading one story (I believe it was called The Golden Man) that day about a man who always saw infinite possibilities in front of him. Considering all the possibilities and unknowns that were before us, it put me deep in thought.

We were set to fly out early the next day. My wife Julia, our 9 month old daughter Lara, and our dog Nina were going to embark on a new chapter of life.

Julia and Lara’s first time in the USA. Their first time experiencing winter. In fact, I remember what Julia first said when we stepped of the plane in Minneapolis a few days later, “It feels like sticking your face in the freezer” when, in fact, the freezer is warmer than what we were experiencing in Minneapolis that day.

I had membranous glomerulonephritis. I was to be part of a trial at Mayo Clinic for treatment.

We had no health insurance. With a few thousand dollars to our name (most of which I was carrying with me in cash) and some faith (I’ll get to that later), we were taking things one day or one moment at a time.


Over the coming days/weeks/months/years I will be writing out bits and pieces of my story. I haven’t said much about it but it has been bubbling up more over the past several months through questions, conversations, and thoughts.

It’s time to write it out.

There won’t be a rhyme or reason to the order I write, it will be bits as they come up. I will try to link them together, and answer questions like:

  • How did you find out you had a kidney disease?
  • How did you meet your wife? How did she get her residency so she could travel to the USA?  You mean she couldn’t travel here without a visa?
  • What were you doing in the Dominican Republic?
  • What happened with your kidneys?
  • Why were you on a bus your last day in the country?

I’m looking forward to the journey, and honored to have you join me on it!

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Drawn and chosen by love

We all tend to aim for the goal instead of the journey itself, but spiritually speaking, how we get there is where we arrive. The journey determines our final destination. If we manipulate our way, we end up with a manipulated, self-made god. If we allow ourselves to be drawn and chosen by love, we might just end up with the real God.

Only trust . No one can say , “I have it.” It is always an invitation, just enough to draw us deeper. Just enough of God to make us want more of God, but God is always in the driver’s seat. “You have not chosen me, I am always choosing you” ( John 15 : 16 ) .

Rohr, Richard. Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent (Kindle Locations 536-539). Franciscan Media. Kindle Edition.

It’s almost 4 a.m. and I find myself awake. Oftentimes I get a shot of adrenaline somewhere around 3 a.m. and wake up left to my thoughts or worries (mostly self-inflicted or manufactured “what-ifs”).

I decided to get out of bed and do some journalling.

It helps with my thoughts, it allows me to separate my emotions from my feelings.

If we allow ourselves to be drawn and chosen by love, we might just end up with the real God…Only trust…it is always an invitation, just enough to draw us deeper…just enough of God to make us want more of God.

To be drawn and chosen by love! What a beautiful statement and promise. Like being drawn into a river’s current.

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Enjoy the journey

enjoy the journey

The universe is screaming this at me lately, so I wanted to share it here.

You see, recently I quit my job to focus on a startup that I’ve been working on for the past year with two other partners. I thought I was ready having run several businesses in the past. But this is the first time I’ve run a business without the safety net of a full time job.

I see now why many people don’t take the risk.

There is a haunting sense of freedom and responsibility when you know that each dollar, each opportunity, each step won’t happen without you making a direct effort towards it. The horizon is filled with the promise of a wealth of abundance, but there is a shadow near you that is filled with fear, uncertainty, doubt, and a mindset of scarcity.

The trick is to focus on, and enjoy, the journey.

We all tend to aim for the goal instead of the journey itself , but spiritually speaking , how we get there is where we arrive . The journey determines the final destination . If we manipulate our way , we end up with a manipulated , self – made god . If we allow ourselves to be drawn and chosen by love , we might just end up with the real God .

Rohr, Richard. Preparing for Christmas: Daily Meditations for Advent (Kindle Locations 527-529). Franciscan Media. Kindle Edition.

Townsend Wardlaw:

We’ve all heard the maxim about life being about the journey than the destination right?

As far as I’m concerned, your only destination is under six feet of dirt so you better appreciate every step of the way there!

It’s 2017 now and I made countless difficult decisions over the last year… I just can’t seem to remember many of them.

I will go so far as to say I don’t remember most of the truly difficult and gut wrenching choices I have made over the course of my life.

My reasoning is simple.

Life is about choosing what you will do next.

Yesterday never happened and tomorrow may never come.

There is only this moment and in this moment you possess the power to choose what you will do next.

how to enjoy it

Practice gratitude, be present, let go and receive what is being given freely.

Send a reply, share, or comment if this has been meaningful for you.

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The key to success

Several years ago I subscribed to Townsend Wardlaw‘s e-mail list. I don’t remember why or how I got connected, what I do know is it’s one of two subscriptions I receive where I make a point to read each one. (Contact me if you’re interested in learning about the other one!)

Here’s a response I sent him to his latest post…


I’ve been reflecting on this e-mail off and on throughout the morning.

About a month ago I quit my job to work full-time on my startup. I’ve run other businesses in the past, but this is the first time that my business is my only thing…no other safety net except for the equity payout from my last job.

That wasn’t the difficult decision that I’m replying to you about.

The difficult decision happened five years ago. I was working for a large agriculture company at a stable job with good pay. The work was easy. I kept finding myself saying each day “I’ve never been this busy and this bored”.

At the same time I was running a family ag-retail business. I’d been running it for five years but earlier that year I had the realization that it was the wrong business for me. Everything going on my life (with the exception of my family) felt like I was living someone else’s life.

I made a choice to sell out my share of the family business. By sell out I mean I basically got rid of all assets at cost, walked away with nothing. It’s difficult to put into words the pain and confusion that came as I walked through the aftermath of that decision.

I spent two years rebuilding everything – my career, finances, relationships with family members. It gave me the foundation to take my most recent leap into my startup. Thank you for your thoughts today on the journey.

I’m going through an advent study by Richard Rohr; he touched on this today as well. It’s a good reminder for me to focus on and enjoy the journey rather than the destination. Here’s a quick note from that study. It’s spiritually focused but broadly beyond just what would be traditionally called “Christian”.

We all tend to aim for the goal instead of the journey itself, but spiritually speaking, how we get there is where we arrive. The journey determines our final destination. If we manipulate our way, we end up with a manipulated, self-made god. If we allow ourselves to be drawn and chosen by love, we might just end up with the real God.


 Here is the original e-mail. If you like it please subscribe to his e-mail list here:

Some people consider me successful so I wanted to share the story of my success.

In 1991, I graduated from college and moved from Connecticut to Santa Cruz, California with $500 in my pocket. I did not have a job lined up and my only safety net was a friend who agreed to let me sleep on his couch for a month.

In 1995 I was fired from my job managing a bike shop in Boulder, Colorado. For the next year, I worked in a call center and managed a burrito shop. I was 27 years old and my W-2 for that year was $14,400.

In 1996, I got my first ‘real’ job working for a long distance reseller. This job involved making upwards of 120 cold calls per day. Luckily, the one hour commute (each way) gave me plenty of time to think about how much my life sucked.

After only three months, I talked my way into an account executive role with AT&T. As I was resigning from the job I was leaving, the branch manager told me I’d regret my decision.

After only a year with AT&T, I left to join a start-up division of a massive corporation. My manager told me I’d be branded a job hopper and never make it.

The startup was closed down after 12 months and I was reassigned to a division selling Y2K testing and validation software (it was late 1999.)

After calling the hiring manager every day for six months, I talked my way into a job with Lucent.

Within a year, my role was part of the ‘spin off’ to a new company called Avaya.

By 2001, I was married, had two young children, two car payments, and a mortgage.

Despite making more than $270,000 a year I was miserable. Every Sunday morning I woke up with a pit in my stomach dreading having to work the next day so…

I quit my job to start my own company. It was March of 2002 and the Dot Com bubble burst. Every one of my clients pulled funding for my services.

In 2005, my company reached $1M in Revenue and I paid myself for the 1st time. I couldn’t remember the last time I slept more than five hours a night.

After growing the company to 80 people, I closed the doors of my company in 2009. You can read about my failure here.

In June of that same year, I began what would be several years of an painful, ugly, and mostly self-inflicted divorce. I also declared personal bankruptcy to deal with more than $2M in personal guarantees from my failed business.

For the next year, I ended each month with less than $10 in my bank account. I struggled to pay my bills and was months behind on support payments.

In mid 2010, my divorce was finalized.

Around the same time, my lifestyle had gotten a little out of control and I was evicted from the luxury apartment I was renting in Downtown. The lawsuit alleged ‘damaging the reputation of the building.’

By 2011, I got my shit together and built up my personal consulting practice to a place where I could pay my bills.

Later that year, I realized how badly my children were struggling with the divorce.

I ‘fired’ every one of my clients because I could no longer travel and be away from my sons.

Once again, I was starting from scratch.

By the summer of 2012 I concluded an 18 month custody battle for my youngest son. The legal bills ran well into six figures.

In September of 2013, I sent my youngest son away to what I affectionately call a ‘get your shit together school.’ That was one of the hardest days of my life.

My consulting practice was thriving yet despite having what many would consider incredible income; support payments and the cost of a ‘therapeutic boarding school’ left me with almost nothing in the bank at the end of every month.

In 2016, I ended a seven year relationship with a woman I was engaged to marry. You can read my controversial article about my experience here.

Do you see a pattern here?

My success (and more importantly my happiness) has been abyproduct of difficult choices made over the course of my life.

We’ve all heard the maxim about life being about the journey than the destination right?

As far as I’m concerned, your only destination is under six feet of dirt so you better appreciate every step of the way there!

It’s 2017 now and I made countless difficult decisions over the last year… I just can’t seem to remember many of them.

I will go so far as to say I don’t remember most of the truly difficult and gut wrenching choices I have made over the course of my life.

My reasoning is simple.

Life is about choosing what you will do next.

Yesterday never happened and tomorrow may never come.

There is only this moment and in this moment you possess the power to choose what you will do next.

If you have a moment, hit reply and tell me about one of the difficult choices you have made in your lifetime.

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The art of interruption

Originally found: http://pcweenies.com/comic/we-interrupt-this-comic/

Sales calls are tough.

You’re excited! You have a great idea! It will change their business!

Why aren’t they responding to your call? Ignoring the e-mail? Saying they are busy?

Put yourself in the customer’s shoes. You’re busy each day with goals, tasks, emergencies, and anything else that comes up. When a sales call comes, no matter how great it might be, it’s still an interruption.

Recognize this and honor your customers using these tips:

Care about your customer

Know them as well as you can. What are their interests/hobbies? Do they have a preferred method of communication and time to reach out? (Hint: they do, find out what it is). What challenges are they dealing with in their business? Do you know their birthday, any food allergies, beverage preferences?

Always be adding value

Don’t reach out to your customers to “check in”. The next update meeting should be scheduled at the last call or a commitment to lock in a date. If they are using your product, find out how they are using it and provide customized feedback for them based on usage. Call them with thoughts about a new feature and solicit their input on it. Share industry articles that are relevant that don’t necessarily relate to your product.

Be creative

Send a hand-written postcard. I have a stack of “Greetings from Fargo” postcards on my desk, and buy other personalized ones from time to time to send. Hand-deliver or mail customized gifts for them. This is where knowing your customer comes in to either save the day or make you look insincere. If a customer hates coffee or doesn’t drink alcohol then those are really bad gift ideas! Do they have a particular hobby such as bike riding, or travel to Latin countries? Are they a foodie or voracious reader? Buy something and send with a hand-written card just because, with no “ask” in it.

What are your thoughts?

How do you care for your customers? What’s the most creative way someone has shown you appreciation?

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