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Author Archives: peter

Kintsugi (金継ぎ, “golden joinery”), also known as kintsukuroi (金繕い, “golden repair”), is the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery by mending the areas of breakage with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique.

As a philosophy, it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

I’ve been reflecting a lot on this art form over the past year with specific events during that time, and moments beyond that which make up the history of who I am.

I have a visible scar on my belly from a younger age when I let people talk me into punching out a glass window. I have scars unseen from times I’ve made or avoided decisions out of fear…experienced crisis like losing a job…not stood up for myself to others…blindly trusted people who ended up hurting me…the list could go on.

In the past I would look at those moments as mistakes. Blame myself for them and carry a sense of shame and regret for the scars…feel trapped by them like prison bars.

I’ve learned to embrace them. To let them stand out. To understand they are beautiful. They are part of my history.

I’m reminded of a quote from one of my favorite books, Stones From The River which I’ll share here:

“Carefully, the girl skimmed her fingers across her mother’s knee. It was smooth; the skin had closed across the tiny wounds like the surface of the river after you toss stones into the waves. Only you knew they were there. Unless you told.”

Now I’m not going to proclaim each of my stones and scars here. But I will acknowledge they exist and share how I’ve come to understand them. With the hope that you too can embrace yours.

The second photo is from a transformational moment in my life when I started coaching with Isabel Hundt. That journey helped me understand my essence words which I had Rachel Mayo put into word art for me.

They are a counterpoint to the scars. Not more or less beautiful, but part of the picture that I hold of myself. Both the scars and the words provide hope. They help me remember and they encourage me to move forward bravely into each unknown step. Each step that might produce another scar or another word.

It’s all art.


So the other day I went to the “Front Street Taproom” with a friend for Monday open mic. I don’t know about you, but I love live music. I especially enjoy open mic events where you never really know who is going to play. The level of talent and variety of music can both surprise and amaze you. That night was no exception.

As we were listening to the music, I would notice pizzas coming in from a local spot two doors down. It wore me down eventually so I decided to take action.

“You never really need pizza…but is there ever a bad time for it?” I asked my friend.

Walking up to the bar I inquired about how to order a pizza. He gave me the menu which had a great selection and a phone number to call in the order. I made my choice and phone call only to find out the kitchen had closed 10 minutes ago.

It was a sad moment, but for the life of me I couldn’t stop thinking about pizza.

I had the itch and determination.

At the bar was a young lady enjoying a large pizza with the bar tender. I thought to myself and to my friend, “I wonder if she would part ways with a slice if I paid her for it?” My friend offered to broker the transaction. Me, however, not being terribly shy decided to make it happen myself.

I walked over to the bar, sat down, and explained the situation to the pizza owner. She had noticed me calling earlier and figured I had been out of luck. Fortunately for me she accepted my offer and I dug in. The pizza had tater tots and jalapeños on it, which prompted a discussion about odd pizza toppings and spicy food.

I love talking about food.

My friend joined us at the bar, and several of us began talking. This continued until we were the only ones left in the bar. I had asked each of us a question:

If you could sing and perform any song flawlessly, what would you perform for open mic?

(For the record my answer was “Don’t stop me now” by Queen). We all answered, and the bartender put the songs on the speakers. We all sang, enjoyed our songs, talked about our selections, smiled and laughed. I didn’t expect to listen to a My Chemical Romance song, or learn that the bartender was a huge Dylan fan, but there we were. Laughing, singing, and connecting.

My friend smiled about the situation and thanked me for starting it. I said “can you believe this all started over a $5 slice of pizza?”

It reminded me of playing a video game where you find a random side quest and go on this unexpected adventure. And it got me thinking…how many other situations like that are there in front of us each day? Like the time I met a stranger for coffee, which led me to a design thinking event, which led me to hiring my intern.

How many situations are like that, out there, waiting for you?

Next time?

Approach the stranger and offer to buy a slice. You never know what will happen.


I was in the Vatican City. It was Jubilee, we watched the Pope perform mass in the Vatican Square. I had cut a half-mile long line to see the Sistine Chapel (but that’s a story for another day). The time and day were memorable, so I decided to send a postcard. Turns out the Vatican City is its own state so you need to buy a stamp from there to send.

I can’t remember who I sent the postcard to, maybe I have it somewhere, and if I do I will upload later. What I do remember is the act of buying, writing, and mailing the postcard. Such a simple, profound joy to connect with loved ones.

Recently places have started offering postcards to patrons to send to friends. The places I’ve been to that do this are bars, and it’s fun to send a post card to my brother or a random friend at the end of a night. I can about imagine the various drunk cards that are sent.

So when my friend Anna Andersson shared her project idea, I was delighted and couldn’t wait to participate.

I signed up and was thrilled to receive the first set of post cards. The photography is absolutely brilliant, and I’m already dreaming up ideas on how to participate in the project.

My ideas

  1. Send a postcard to each of the seven continents
  2. Write blog posts about my experiences and share the post card contents here
  3. Meet new people
  4. More to come!

Here are the first postcards…

Oh the places you’ll go!

Interested in participating?

Click the following link to sign up!


I had breakfast (waffles and coffee) with a friend of mine back in October of last year. It was the second time we’d met in the past few months at the same place. What had started as business conversations quickly turned to many other topics about life, adventure, and changes. I shared some of the things happening in my life and he said:

You’ll be alright, you always choose the brave path.”

My unnamed friend…you know who you are

I smiled and it provided some temporary reassurance. I do choose the brave path! Although when I think of the brave path, I usually think about the part at the end of the journey. After the hero has conquered the darkness, the villain, and is seen leaving the castle with treasure in hand. The hero always has this satisfied, gleaming smile. There’s usually a few people cheering the hero on as they are off to their next adventure.

It’s easy to forget that sometimes the brave path sucks.

Some days the brave path feels like this

There are times of darkness. Confusion. Loss. Doubt.

I’ve been relatively silent on social media lately because I’m on my own brave path right now. It’s not all sunshine and it’s not all darkness. In the past year I’ve been able to:

  • Grow a business with contract renewals and increased revenue.
  • Find myself and my company in the center of a showcase global marketing campaign.
  • Launched a new publication (first issue coming soon!).
  • Starting the framework for a non-profit.
  • Reconnect with people who mean the world to me.

On the flip side of that there has been much darkness. Things I am not ready to share publicly but have stretched me in ways I didn’t know was possible. I’ve cried more times than I can count as I learn to grieve. Made difficult decisions. Doubted myself time and time again. Felt lost.

You may be asking yourself why I’m writing or sharing this. To be honest, I’m asking the same question. I think I do it, in part, to let people know that it’s ok to struggle. Maybe my vulnerability will give them permission to feel their hurt and breathe through it.

Part of why I share is it helps me take the power away from the pain. When I hide my pain, I do so from a center of fear. And in that center, the pain can grow.

Lastly, it’s a reminder of this time for me. When I look back on it in the coming hours/days/weeks/months/years, I won’t always be bruised. Future Peter will read this and be grateful that I shared and that I continued to walk the brave path.

Hoping to walk alongside a few of you.


All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;

J.R.R. Tolkien

Recently I had the opportunity to travel to Frankfurt, Germany. What initially brought me there was a speaking engagement at a conference for my business. Is it happened to work out, I brought my wife with on the trip so we could tour Germany together.

I arrived on Tuesday with a +7h time difference on my hands. Arriving at 9am local time (2am back home in Fargo, ND) there was a small problem. My room wasn’t available to check in until 3pm! I was hoping to have access around noon but it wasn’t possible that day. Thus gave me an opportunity to explore Frankfurt for some time.

What seems like an exciting opportunity quickly turned into overwhelm and frustration.

Where should I go? What should I see? I only have a limited amount of time, I should take advantage of it! I poured into information on my smartphone to find spots to go. Just really to have something to check off the list.

I started to panic, second-guessing each choice. Then a thought from Derek Sivers popped into my head. His article talked about traveling without a phone…wandering…getting lost…being in the moment.

What a frightening concept!

I decided to put the phone away and just start walking. I randomly turned to the right from the hotel and reached the end of the block. There I saw a beautiful river (the “Main” river) and a foot bridge. I headed in that direction, crossed the bridge, and noticed a beautiful cathedral in the distance. It looked cool so I headed in that direction, along a footpath beside the river.

Locals were going on bikes, walking, making out, smoking, etc. Because I didn’t have my phone out I was more in tune with where I was. I knew where the hotel was and what streets I had turned from. I paused every so often to just look around…to read local interest signs, pop down a side street, to just be still.

After a bit I came across a bridge close to the cathedral. It had a multitude of locks (left there by lovers). I took time to read some of them, to look at the river, admire the city, and pause. After I crossed the bridge, I saw a few stands, heard some festive music, and smelled amazing food.

I had stumbled across the local Christmas market!

Speaking little German (seriously less than 15 words), I walked up to a stand and saw something I recognized (currywurst mit brötchen – currywurst with a bun) and ordered it. I stood next to a few locals in an eating area, enjoyed my treat, and continued walking.

I spent most of the day exploring like that. It kept me up, helped familiarize myself with the neighborhood, and most importantly, gave me a lesson on letting go and relaxing.

By wandering without a plan, I was able to see and do more than I would have by targeting a specific site. With a target or destination in mind, I would have been so focused on reaching the destination, I would have missed the side streets…missed the the little pauses…missed the still moments of rest.


I re-read Grit this morning. (Truth in advertising, I used Blinkist this time!). Here are a few quotes/highlights.

Conventional wisdom says that we should do what we love. But, more importantly, you need to stay committed to doing what you love. Giving yourself small daily chores is a good way to keep up your levels of effort. Low-level goals like these can serve as a path to meeting your goals.

This is huge for me! I build lofty dreams and ideas, but get lost in them without the day to day small actions to stay committed. There are several other books I’ve read or am reading that speak to this (7 Habits, Atomic Habits, 12 Week Year). I’m recommitting to Bullet Journalling to track this.

In the same 2011 study, the musical experts were played two recordings and told that one was a naturally talented musician, while the other represented years of hard work. While the experts had said they favored hard work, they overwhelmingly chose the naturally talented musician as being superior. But here’s the catch: the experts were played identical piano pieces by the same musician!

We have a bias toward natural talent even though we say we admire hard work. It’s easy to idolize the “over-night success” when in fact that success was years in the making. Reminding myself of this bias helps keep me grounded in the day to day when life and work are tough.

These statistics highlight a simple fact. No matter how much grit you have, if you want to stay motivated, it’s important to do something that interests you.

Finding purpose in your work is a great motivator, but finding your true calling can take time.

These quotes seem obvious but it’s good to be reminded of the obvious sometimes! Steve Jobs once said:

For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

This is a key component of grit, to keep checking in that things interest you. It’s easy to get off track.

The fact is that practicing hard can be a waste of time if you don’t practice intelligently.

It can be easy to simply put your head down, get to work and end up on autopilot with the assumption that you’ll inevitably end up reaping the rewards of your practice time. But that won’t happen until you stop and reflect on precisely what it is you need to improve and start practicing smart.

Speaking of getting off track…hard work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. If you aren’t checking the results of your efforts, you may be doing a Herculean effort in your work but not getting much done. Take time to pause, reflect, and refine your work practices.

Teachers and parents can help ensure future success by rewarding hard work more than natural talent.

This is another concept I’ve heard in other books and witnessed in my own life. If you reward the outcome you will lean toward taking shortcuts, or less risk. Reward the smart effort in yourself and those around you.

Final Review

A classic, worth reading the entire book (and check out her TED talk!)

I recently read the following post from Derek Sivers: “When in doubt, try the difference“.

One part of the article that stood out to me was:

If you’re in doubt about something that’s in your life already, get rid of it. Not just things, this goes for identities, habits, goals, relationships, technology, and anything else. Default to not having it, then see how you do without.

I realize that all the “stuff” I own stresses me out. I don’t use it. It clutters spaces, and generally leaves me feeling unhappy.

Thus I begin my quest for minimalism.

A move in the office gave me the opportunity to reconsider what I carry around. I have 25 books that move from space to space, and I don’t generally reference them on a regular basis.

There are some great books here!

My plan is to:

  • Re-read each book
  • Write a review and summary (Similar to:
  • Give each book away! (Either in-person or online).
  • If a book gives me great value, I’ll purchase a Kindle version.

Update – change of plans!

I’ve decided to donate all the books to the F5 Project. It’s run by my friend Adam Martin who is doing amazing things to help people re-integrate into society after being in prison.


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.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

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.Facebooktwitterredditlinkedinmail

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:

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.