Category Archives: Uncategorized


Mad lawyers, soldiers and why you should always pay designers.

I wrote a wide array of ridiculous things in 2014 on this blog.

Here are the most popular ones in cased you missed any!

1. What do you do when Starbucks lawyers are mad.

2. Stop believing this social media lie.

3. Why the Flappy Bird developer is taking the game down tomorrow.

4. Why is good photography expensive?

5. The Rejection Letter U2 Got

6.  4 reasons you should always pay designers and developers.

7. What a solider on a plane taught me about perspective.







4 ways to read more books in 2015.

Empty Shelf

Last January I started something called “The Empty Shelf Challenge.” The goal was simple, “Read more books in 2014 than you did in 2013.”

Instead of just casually reading, I challenged people to take a photo of their empty shelves and then add each book they finished over the year to it. There are now 4,477 photos of books people have read on the Empty Shelf Challenge Pinterest board.

I only read 12 this year. Ross, from the Twitter image above, crushed me.

Why did I read so few? Because I made four mistakes:

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I’m tired of losing the same 30 pounds over and over again.

My wife gave my parents a digital frame pre-loaded with a thousand photos of our family for Christmas.

In order to load the photos she had to spend a few days going through our digital archives. As I looked over her shoulder during the process, a pattern emerged.

Every 18 months my weight fluctuates by about 30 pounds. I know what you’re thinking, “Of course it does! You’re like Christian Bale, constantly bulking up for action movies and then going stick thin for the serious films.”

Although I appreciate your positivity, that is not the case at all. I’m not deliberately adding 30 pounds of muscle, I’m quietly adding 30 pounds of apathy, or more technically speaking what scientists call “queso.” (I completely understand that given our penchant for watching exercise shows where people lose 900 pounds, 30 doesn’t seem like a lot. Given that I weigh in the 150lb range though it represents a 5th of my body, which is significant.)

As I head into my 39th year on the planet, I have grown weary of this process. My 9 year old commented on the cycle the other day when she said, “Remember four years ago when our Christmas card was just a picture of our feet? We did that because you were fluffy.”

I tried to explain to her that we took the photo of our feet because feet were really big that year, you know “Feet were the new face,” but she wasn’t buying it.

And I’m not either anymore. Not that I have to be perfect or allow some number on scale to rule the day, but at some point “enough is enough.” It’s not even really about vanity, although given the variety of hair gels I own I am certainly vain. I don’t like the way I feel when I weigh my heaviest. I actually write less when I am at my heaviest and spend money frivolously because every section of our lives is connected. When we’re unhappy with one part of our lives the other parts get impacted too. I’m ready to change this pattern in my life.

Maybe that’s you. At this time of year, the patterns are difficult to ignore. Maybe for you it’s not your weight, it’s your job. Or your relationships or your finances.

The “fluff” in our own lives can take a million shapes. So how do you break a pattern? Here are a few things that I think you should do:

1. Find an expert.
I partnered with a trainer named Jeremy Rochford to help me get an exercise plan together. If you want to break a pattern, find an expert.

2. Go public.
Sharing what you’re working on with a community of people who can encourage you and challenge you is critical. Chasing a dream is a team sport. I joined a mastermind last year that has really helped me break some patterns. Online communities can be gigantic too. I’ve been blown away by the support and encouragement you can find in Facebook groups.

3. Start small.
Every expert I’ve studied talks about the need to take small, measurable steps. I can’t break my 18 month cycle of putting on weight by just watching what I eat one weekend. It takes steps, small ones at first that accumulate over time and create momentum.

4. Stop acting surprised by your habits.
Lately I’ve researching a lot about how powerful habits are in our lives. The problem is that most of us act surprised by them. If you’ve been repeating the same bad decisions over and over again, you’ve got bad habits. Don’t act like every time is the first time. It’s not. You’ve got a pattern and patterns were meant to be broken. If you can form a bad habit, you can also form a good habit.

I can’t control the next 18 months. I can’t control tomorrow, but I can change today.

And that is enough.


Why I’m doing something I don’t like doing today.

Today, the Acuff family will be writing thank you notes.


Because we’re an amazing family prone to doing beautiful family activities like this. We make a big bowl of popcorn, put on some positive music and then have a fancy gratitude party. We’ll probably put it on Instagram and then maybe pin it with a plucky headline like “7 ways to be grateful!”

Only, that’s not even a little true. I don’t like writing thank you notes. My kids don’t either.

I suppose there are some people out there who have naturally generous hearts. The minute they are given a gift they’ve already catalogued it and written a long, flowing thank you note. Probably in calligraphy.

I don’t personally feel that way. Life moves so quickly that I often fail to thank people along the way. I get selfish and distracted. I focus on me and miss the many wonderful things many wonderful people have done for me. I get lost in narcissism, receiving ten gifts at Christmas and writing 0 notes.

I’ve discovered something in the last few years. Gratitude is learned or lost.

As a parent you have this amazing window to teach your kids to be grateful. To get them to connect a gift they receive to gratitude they give. To strike down the roots of entitlement before they have a chance to dig too deep. Want a grateful 16 year old? Teach a 6 year old gratitude and give him 10 years to practice.

Don’t miss this moment. If you’ve got kids, have them write a few thank you notes. If you don’t, write some yourself.

I don’t like doing it. I’m not going to pretend gratitude flows naturally from my heart like some deep well. It doesn’t. It takes practice for me. Selfishness comes easily, gratitude takes practice.

Practice today.






The 4 types of non-fiction books. (And which kind to read more of in 2015.)

There are four types of non-fiction books in the world.

1. The books you buy but don’t read.

2. The books you read but don’t finish.

3. The books you finish but don’t engage with.

4. The books you engage with.

Most people are like me. They have shelves full of books they buy but don’t read and books they read but don’t finish. A lot of people actually finish reading books but they never engage with them. Why? Because the scale of difficulty increases as you go down the list.

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Finding your voice as a writer.

The only way to find your voice is to write.

Only fear doesn’t tell you that.

Fear tells you that you shouldn’t write until you have your voice figured out.

Fear tells you that other writers all know their voices perfectly. Other writers have well sculpted points of view that are honed and polished. Then and only then do they sit down to write.

That is nonsense.

Never wait until find your voice to write.

Write until you find your voice.

The only way to know who you are as a writer is to write.

If you’re stuck as a writer, or just want to be a better writer, do what I’m doing this year. Try the 10 minute challenge. You can sign up right here.