GAME ON: Ready to Give Back in Unique Way, Put Other People’s Dreams in Spotlight

On January 24, I decided to “adopt” six people and help them mark something off their life lists. I simply wanted to give back in a new and different way, writing about the experience along the way. (Original post)

Well, I’ve chosen six people AND I’ve identified something on their lists that I feel like I can help them accomplish.

Some of these people had a Bucket List (big-ticket items they want to accomplish before they die), while others had a list of life’s simple pleasures they wanted to embrace sooner than later.

It didn’t matter to me – I just wanted to help them accomplish something that was significant to them.

NOTE: It was important to me that “helping” didn’t revolve around monetary support. Example:

LIST MAKER: “Buy a new house”

ME: “Here is a check for $300,000”

I wanted to focus on the skill sets that I could bring to the table, my connections and/or my ability to take their excuses and flush ’em down the metaphorical toilet. (Besides, I’m unemployed and poor.)

It has taken me almost a month to take the next step, because I’m being extremely deliberate in mapping out the process. I want to be able to re-create this over and over and over again.


Because I firmly believe this could turn into a global movement – encouraging people to temporarily take the emphasis off themselves and help someone else. Like I mentioned before, I feel like this is a completely unique way of giving back.

I’ll explain…..

Feeding the homeless at the shelter and mentoring at-risk kids is important, but so is putting an emphasis on someone else’s hopes and dreams.

While people sleeping on the streets is tragic, so is seeing people going through the motions and not truly living life. While it’s heartbreaking to realize there are hungry and sick people in the world, it’s just as sad to see people living in a haze of complacency and excuses.

My goal for this project is four-fold:

• Help pull people out of their ruts (before they end up in a ditch);

• Inspire others to live boldly;

• Reinforce the importance of taking the emphasis off yourself and helping others,

• And motivate people to pay it forward.

I will accomplish all of this by putting God front and center (yeah, I said it).

• • •

When I created my 101 List, I decided to dedicate it to God. I wanted to treat it like a gigantic thank you note to Him for allowing me to truly live an adventurous and amazing life.

This “adoption” project is another chapter in that thank you note. It’s about making my faith come to life.

In a recent sermon at church, the pastor stressed the importance of not just “talking at people about Jesus and the promise of God.” He encouraged members of the congregation to let their actions do the talking.

The sermon notes stated: “The way we live will show others that what we believe has life.”

Through this project, I want to inspire others to adopt this same mentality: A gigantic thank you note to God and a road map to truly live an adventurous and amazing life.

It all revolves around love and gratitude – the two things that have the power to change the world.


It’s my pleasure to introduce three of the wonderfully great people who agreed to help me launch this project. (I’ll introduce the other three in a future post.)

I wanted to share a little about them, the task I’ve chosen to help them accomplish and their insight on this wild and crazy idea.

Jason Smith
Jason is a local business associate of mine that has become a friend over the last couple/few years. He has an entrepreneurial spirit and refuses to stop looking until he finds what he’s looking for in life. (I think that’s why we’ve become fast friends.)

He’s a TCU graduate (Go Frogs!) and he was born without a right hand. The ONLY reason I bring this up is because Jason wants to meet Jim Abbott, the former baseball player (right) who overcame the same disability to pitch in the Major Leagues.

I told Jason, who played baseball at TCU, that I’m going to use my contacts and resources to make this happen. I also told him that I think this has the potential to be a wonderfully great story.

When asked about where he’s at in life, Jason said: “Confused.”

“I’ve had some great accomplishments,” he explained, “but am without a clear direction for my career.” He hopes this endeavor helps him gain some insight on what he’s supposed to do next.

“I’ll also have a cool story to tell,” he added.


Paige Rodges
Paige and I met each other when we worked together at J.O. Design. Confession: We worked together for almost 6 months before I realized how much of a kick-ass all-star she is. Smart. Funny. Tremendous perspective. Need a writer? This girl is quick, sharp and on-point. Everything she writes makes me laugh – EVERYTHING! (I’ve NEVER expressed that about ANYONE.)

I knew I had to “adopt” Paige based on her answer to this question: Are you an optimistic person?

I’ll paraphrase her answer: “Glass half full…BUT glass breaks…blood…hospital…doctor tells you that you have cancer…death.”


Optimism, realism and tragedy collide in the same metaphor. (That’s hard to accomplish…unless you have a creative mind that is spinning out of the control like hers.)

The task I want to help Paige accomplish is easy: Take her husband, Barry, on a date to a dueling piano bar.

How am I going to help her accomplish this? That’s still a secret, but it’s super simple. (Reminder: Excuses. Flush. Metaphorical toilet.)

When asked to characterize this off-the-wall endeavor, she explained where she is at in life: “I’m trying to deconstruct and rebuild my outlook,” she said.

Then she quoted the book “A Million Miles in a Thousand Years” by Donald Miller. She described the premise of the book by saying: “Set backs beat you down, and you have to regroup and decide to write a new story for yourself.”


Will Berend
Will and I went to college together. We lived across the hall from each other in the dorms and were fraternity brothers. After all these years, we’ve kept in touch, even though he’s lived in Minnesota for almost 10 years.

I think we have the power of social media to thank for that.

Will and I are a lot alike. He recently sent out this update to family and friends – see if it sounds familiar:

“I wanted to send an update about my business Open Door Consulting. Due to several circumstances Anna and I have made the decision that it is time for me to look for a job. Please know that this is not a failure as the past year has gotten me ready for a new career and has provided the opportunity to make many valuable connections. I certainly was striving to make Open Door Consulting a serious contender in the social media consulting market, but the time has come for me to return my focus on finding a job to help provide more stability in our lives.”

Will lives boldly. I applaud that and love that about him.

I also love the fact that he’s embracing this opportunity with both arms.

“Sometimes I need a push and someone outside of my every day life to help provide a little more drive to do something different,” he explained. “On top of that, the last year has been a very interesting one for my family. We’ve learned that we must follow what makes us happiest. It’s not always easy to do, but I’m going to take advantage of any opportunity that I’m presented.”

I’m actually going to help Will cross
two tasks off his life list: 

• Go on a vacation with his wife alone

• Take his wife to New York City for the holidays

My wife and I are going to babysit his sons next December so they can jet off to New York. We’re also going to utilize some airline passes that my wife has to get them there.

Easy and doable, but potentially very impactful. (Again, just helping remove excuses.)

Will’s response to our offer reminded me of the potential power of this project. He said: “First of all, we accept. I can’t believe what you’re offering and I’m very thankful for how thoughtful you all are. I never expected this. THANK YOU!”


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