inspiration

Opportunity in the Unexpected

During my keynote yesterday, a bee got in the room. It landed on a guy in the 3rd row who is allergic to bees.

As I was telling a story on stage, he started shouting “Bee! Bee! Bee!”, but he sat totally still.

It took me a few moments to figure out exactly what was going on. I calmly explained the situation to the 1,200 people in the audience as we waited.

The person next to him slowly pushed the bee off with the printed program.

When it flew away, I asked if he was ok. 
Then I asked the audience if they were ok. 
We all laughed together.

I invited everyone to applaud his bravery. 
They smiled & clapping.

And I finished the story.

Every day is an adventure. Nothing goes quite as expected.

Don’t worry. These unexpected moments are opportunities to help, affirm, and applaud the beautiful souls around you.

Here’s an ARTICLE about this keynote at Heidelberg University.

The Joy of the Journey

brett culp

Today is my grandmother's 91st birthday.

We spent several hours chatting at her home yesterday, just the 2 of us. We talked about family, health, joy, & pain. We shared stories & laughed a lot.

We agreed that life is pretty wonderful and that we wouldn't change a thing.

In the moment, it’s easy to lose sight of the bigger, wider picture.

Your story is the sum of a lifetime of choices, circumstances, success, and loss. Don’t get so tangled up in the struggles of the moment that you lose the joy of the journey.

One experience at a time, all of us can create a beautiful legacy.

Choose LEGACY before CURRENCY

weird al

In the 1980’s, "Weird Al" Yankovic turned down a $5 million endorsement offer from a beer company because it didn’t align with his values.

For perspective, Michael Jordan’s spokesman deal with Nike in the 80’s was $2.5 million.

In a recent interview, Al said he has no regrets about the decision.

At a time when that money would have changed his life, he valued his long-term legacy over a short-term payout.

Don’t be afraid to embrace your beliefs.

Focus on the impact you want to make over your entire lifetime above the achievement of a single moment.

Do what you think is right & have faith that it will lead to the best things for your life & for others.

The Relationship is the Mission

brettculp

I'm busy, & I travel a lot. People ask how we keep that from hurting our marriage.

My answer is authenticity & over-communication. Tricia & I are in touch everyday. We discuss nearly everything that happens & how each of us feels about it. Many of our conversations feel like therapy sessions... and that's the way we like it.

It's not perfect. Some days it borders on co-dependence. But we are committed to experiencing a shared adventure. If we can't emotionally invest in something together, I don't do it.

The relationship is more important than the mission.

Actually... the relationship IS the mission.

You've got some amazing stuff inside you

brett_culp

I made 500 terrible videos with cheap equipment before I produced anything remotely good. The process refined my talent & revealed my voice as a storyteller.

If you dream of making an impact as a filmmaker, artist, musician, or creative-type, GO MAKE SOME STUFF RIGHT NOW.

You don't need better equipment or education. Learning to uncover & express your heart is more important.

Share your creations with people. Make some mistakes. Learn from the experiences.

This process took me years & years. There were hard days, but I don't regret any of it.

You've got some amazing stuff inside you. Let us see it TODAY!

How to Start Something New

I started a video production company when I was 20-years-old. My Dad taught me how to do it.

When new entrepreneurs ask for my opinion about starting something new, here’s what I typically say. There are other ways, but this is what has worked for me:

  1. Do some great work. Even if you don’t get paid for it, you need a portfolio of work as proof that you can deliver. You cannot get any serious jobs without this.
     
  2. Create a great website. Make sure it features the very best of your work. Print some business cards that match the design of your website.
     
  3. Attend every business networking event in your city you can find. Meet lots of people. Tell them what you do & why you are special at doing it. It can be scary, but just be nice to people & remember that they don’t really know what they are doing either. Most important: Get their business cards. Give them yours, but their card is really what you want.
     
  4. The next day, send everyone you met an email that re-introduces yourself. Remind them of what you do. Then, ask: "How can I help you?" Try to move the dialogue to a phone call or a face-to-face meeting. The goal isn't to ask for their business, it's to build relationship with lots of people as quickly as possible. The help you are offering isn't necessarily available from you for free, but you are bringing a spirit of community participation rather than saying 'gimme' to a bunch of people who don't know & trust you.
     
  5. As you build relationship, ask for their input. "Who in this community needs what I do?" "Where would you look for projects?" "Who should I call? Would you be willing to introduce me?" Now, you will receive leads that are built on respect & reputation, & they will be relatively easy to close, if they are ready to move ahead with a project. No hard selling.

This approach creates more than a 'one-off', transactional business built on advertising. You are building long-term relationships.

Some of the effort is wasted, no question. Some people won't be able to help you. But this is how you can create the foundation of a career.

This is how I built my business. I believe if you commit yourself to seriously investing into this for 1 year, and you continue the process, you will probably be buried with work.

Here's how you become a filmmaker. Or pretty much anything else.

People often ask me how to become a filmmaker. I tell them: Just start making films. 

Grab a smartphone & begin. Don't worry if the films are good. Your first films will be bad no matter how much thinking & planning you do. So just begin right now. Make the mistakes, learn the lessons, & make more films. 

As you go along, you find your voice. And, one day, you make something that's pretty good. And it leads you to the next thing, which is even better. 

That's how you become a filmmaker. In fact, it's pretty much how you become anything.

There are no perfect people

I enjoy sharing and celebrating the successes with you. However, I often make messes.

There's a voice in my head that tells me I'm supposed to be perfect. But I'm not.

There are perfect meals, perfect shoes, and perfect sunsets. There are NO PERFECT PEOPLE. Not even on Facebook.

Perfection isn't how life works. Life is filled with u-turns, rough edges, and re-starts. That's normal. There is no straight line to success.

So, please stop being so hard on yourself, and just keep going. The rest of us need to see the beautiful stuff that's inside you.

Transform you Career into a Gift

brett culp

I am a filmmaker. But I'm convinced that filmmaking skills & knowledge are only about 20% of my work. 

The other 80% is building relationships, finding the best in people, offering encouragement, listening, hugging, believing in what's possible, being nice, inviting people to be heroes in their communities, staying vulnerable, focusing on the values that matter to me, & dreaming of new ways to help others.

I spend very little time thinking about whether I should buy a new camera, and more time reading books & learning how to be better at the 80% stuff.

I think this way of seeing my career has allowed me to be a person who does MORE than make films. I hope it has allowed me to make an IMPACT. And that's the legacy I want to build. 

The fine details of your craft are important. Devote yourself to being the best you can. But don't neglect the other essential skills that transform your work into a gift that makes a lasting, positive impact.

The Middle is the Hardest Part

Three years ago, I was driving through a snow storm to get to the Boston premiere of Legends of the Knight.

The process of making & sharing these films is tough. Each film is 3 years of frustration, insecurity, & confusion. It's not glamorous. It often feels lonely & exhausting.

Our next film Look to the Sky is almost finished. This week I showed my wife Tricia the rough cut of the entire film. When the closing credits started, we cried together for a while, and she said, "It's beautiful. Probably your best work. It was worth it."

In every epic journey, the middle is the hardest part. The beginning & end are filled with excitement, passion, & hope. But the middle is brutal. It's mostly just you & the struggle. It's the part that very few people know about.

But the middle is where the magic happens. It's where you discover the beautiful stuff inside of you, & your unique kind of genius emerges. It's the hard place where you find yourself.

The dark moments in the middle of the journey are the inspiration you need to uncover the light.

Some days this feels impossible. That's normal. But these are the days where you will do your most beautiful work. These are the spaces where you need to dig deep & ask for help to keep moving.

And then, one day, you find that your struggles in the middle have transformed your heart. You have become something better than you were at the beginning. And you have created something that blesses the world. And you say to yourself, "It was worth it."

If you are struggling today, you are probably in the middle of the adventure. It's hard, & it hurts. Keep going, surround yourself with support, & decide every morning to choose hope.

It will be worth it.

The Little Things Become the Big Things

dad

I travel a lot. My Dad always drives me to the airport. He drops me off for the 5am departures and picks me up even when my flight is delayed until long after midnight. Our conversations in the car are some of our best time together. 

Today, I'm headed to Green Bay, WI. When Dad dropped me off, we hugged and he said: "Go change the world!"

Please don't miss the simple moments. Make the time. Take the drive. Give the hug. Say the words. 

The little things become the big things.

Pursue your LEGACY

When Galileo died in 1642, he had already spent decades as an outcast for his theories, and he was buried in an unmarked location. 

A century later, the world had changed. The tomb behind me was erected in one of the largest basilicas in Florence, Italy to honor him. 

If your ideas are special, you will be misunderstood, criticized, and sometimes you will feel alone. But don't give up your long-term vision for short-term comfort. 

Pursue your LEGACY.

The Higher Purpose of Competition

bolt

Last night Usain Bolt was slowing down near the end of the 200m semi-final, but Canada's Andre De Grasse pushed hard, forcing Bolt to give his best all the way to the end. The two sprinters smiled as they crossed the finish line.

For me, the goal of competition is NOT to defeat you. Competition allows the excellence in you to inspire more excellence in me. Seeing your best pushes me to find strength within myself that I might never have uncovered alone.

Sometimes your success makes me mad. Not because I'm angry at you, but because you are holding up a mirror image of something I can aspire to that I haven't yet achieved. Sometimes I need to get mad before truly committing to something hard that makes me uncomfortable.

So, THANK YOU for continuing to be amazing. You are helping me reveal my finest self and stretch for bigger dreams. 

And this is actually a photo of the two of us! Look at how fast we are TOGETHER!

AIRPORTS have taught me about GRACE

I spend a lot of time in airports. I'm sitting in one as I type this. Airports have taught me so much about GRACE.

I find myself surrounded by people who have no idea what they are doing. They don't understand how to use the check-in kiosks. They get in the security line before they have a boarding pass. They leave liquids in their carry-ons & refuse to remove their shoes. They get angry about every policy they don't understand, seeking affirmation for their outrage from any stranger who will make eye contact. They wander aimlessly in crowded terminals looking for a gate that's on the other side of the airport. And they are consistently in the way & slowing down my mission. It's easy to get frustrated.

Although I am confident & knowledgeable at the airport, there are many other parts of my life where I am still figuring it out. Just like the amateur travelers, I feel confused & lost sometimes.

I don't believe I can experience GRACE for my journey if I am unwillingness to extend it to others. Every time I silently forgive their inexperience, I am giving myself permission to make mistakes & look silly as I explore new territory in my life.

I find that the more GRACE I give, the more I have for myself. Plus, it makes crazy travel days so much nicer.

There Is Light Everywhere

I disappeared for 7 days. No Internet, no emails, no social media, no phone.

I spent the week dreaming, thinking, crying, emotionally connecting to the stuff that matters. I took long walks in 3 different countries.

For me, travel is an opportunity to remove the distractions and go deeper. Into the places I am putting my faith. Into the extraordinary movements within that are so much bigger.

trip

Today, I see it more clearly, and yet I have no idea what's actually going to happen next. I make plans, but God always seems to work though wonderful people, revealing something more expansive, joyful, and beautiful than I could have envisioned. I'm never quite ready, but I will bring everything in my heart, and I know it will be enough.

Today, I have so much love for you. All the incredible goodness and mysteries, and all the times you mess things up. That huge recent achievement that you've almost forgotten, and the time you tripped on your own feet and nearly fell down the stairs.

There is light everywhere. In the world. In me. In you. When I silenced all the voices for 7 days I truly knew it.

Don't let the commentators, voices of fear, and your social media feed lie to you. Hope is real. Amazing things are coming.

And I'm happy to be home.

The World Needs a Big Mess of YOU

cyclops

My favorite scene in the new film X-Men: Apocalypse happens near the beginning. Scott Summers (AKA Cyclops) is experiencing his superpower for the first time. He can shoot lasers from his eyes, but he can’t control it. Scott is brought to see Charles Xavier, who runs a school for young people on his family estate.

When Charles asks for a demonstration, Scott shows his full power, and his blast accidently destroys a giant tree. It was a tree Charles’s father had planted as a child – the tree Charles loved most on the estate.

With regret, Scott says, “Does that mean I’m expelled?”

Charles replies, “No, it means you are enrolled.”

As awesome as you are, YOU are a mess. But, you are not alone… I’m a mess too.

LOVE is about seeing those flaws and insecurities and still choosing to embrace each other, even though we will sometimes create chaos and frustration in each other’s lives. Your messiness requires me to be more flexible and open. I must choose to see your value as more important than my personal agenda.

And I will do this because I see YOUR POWER. There is something inside of you that the world needs. You matter. I know the strength in you, and I will accept the messiness of our shared humanity so you can see your ‘superhero self’ clearly and without fear.

Blast away.

The Universe You Live In

yearbook

My son's yearbook was lost. Because of the circumstances, we were sure it had been stolen, and our whole family was sad. Logan is moving to a new program next year without any of his close friends, so this book and the signatures he collected were important to him.

Then, minutes before he left on the last day of school, a kind-hearted person saved the day and made sure the yearbook was returned!

Here's the reason this story is very good news: It means YOU live in a universe where lost yearbooks are found... where unexpected moments can change everything... where the improbable happens all the time... where a story you thought was broken can have a happy ending.

If this can happen to my son, imagine what could happen for YOU today. Or tomorrow. Or in the days ahead.

This, dear friends, is the essence of HOPE. And it's the reason we need to keep sharing beautiful stories with each other. They remind us that - in both the small things and the big things - anything is possible.