Episode 4: Kurt Maechner | Getting Real About Your Passion

Episode 4: Kurt Maechner | Getting Real About Your Passion

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In this episode, I talk with a good friend of mine, Kurt Maechner, of For Real Wedding Films about how to tell a great story through video, why it’s important to get your work out there, the value of working with a mentor, and what was inside a locked car with the engine running that gave him a scare.

Kurt is an English teacher, husband, father of five girls, and one who loves to tell great stories through video. You’ll benefit from his stories, tips and the key things that helped bring him to where he is today.


From the interview…

  • How Kurt surrounds himself with beautiful women every day
  • What initially got Kurt interested in video
  • Kurt’s early video and editing endeavors
  • The value of a mentor and how a special couple really gave him a boost
  • Kurt’s love for story telling, for creating something gripping, intriguing
  • The value of words and a phrase that meant a lot to him: “Kurt, you really know how to tell a story”
  • How did he turn his attention to wedding videos
  • What makes his style of videos different
  • A key partnership that helped him get his work out there and connect with clients
  • Kurt and his wife, Beth, and their passion for strengthening marriages
  • Who used the phrase “Are you for real?”
  • The importance of creating videos that capture the best part of people as they are
  • What this business has allowed him to see and experience
  • A time when things didn’t quite go according to plan
  • Some key thoughts on pricing and the value of your work

Where to find Kurt online:

Where to Subscribe and Review Stories of Starters:

iTunes | Stitcher | RSS | email

I’d love to hear from you! Leave your comment below…

Are You Wowing Your Customers?

Are You Wowing Your Customers?

One morning a few months back, I visited my favorite local doughnut shop, Spudnut Donuts (I actually contemplated whether I should purposely misspell the word “doughnut” out of deference for Spudnuts, but the writer side of me said no 🙂

Anyway, they make all their delicious doughnuts in-house, using potato flour (hence, the name), and they are… amazing!

That wasn’t my first trip to the Spudnuts rodeo, but that particular morning they did something that made me go “Wow!”

Spudnuts has been around seemingly forever and are the go-to place to get your doughnut fix.

When I visited that morning, I gave them my order and then watched as the the girl behind the counter grabbed a new box that they had just started using and proceeded to put my goodies in there.

Up until this point, they had been using regular, white cardboard boxes (that you couldn’t see into) with their label on top.

And while the doughnuts had always been stellar, I couldn’t believe how much better they looked in these new boxes!

Same product. Different packaging. Amazing difference.

Not only did it make the doughnuts that I’d already purchased seem even more enticing to me (did I buy six, or only five?), but if I was taking these somewhere where other people would be, it’s instant advertising for Spudnuts that they didn’t have before.

So, it just made me think (as I was later munching on my apple fritter) what a difference your packaging and presentation can make for your product or service.

Spudnuts already had a great product. But the feeling I got when they handed me this box of doughnuts vs the last box was striking.

Think about when you’ve bought a product that was packaged well and thought-out and how that changed your customer experience.

How did it make you feel about the product? It’s things like that that can create loyal followers and a community that shares you with others.

So, what about you?

What could you do today to enhance the experience of your customers when they interact with you.

How can you add WOW with your product or service?

And what changes might you make that can give you greater visibility to others who might benefit from what you have to offer as well?

A simple thank you note? A follow-up call? A box of doughnuts :)?

Make it a goal this week to add even one small touch that can make the difference with how your customers interact with you and your product.

And let me know about it below…

Episode 3: Alex Loos | How to Craft Your Dream Job

Episode 3: Alex Loos | How to Craft Your Dream Job

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In this episode, we talk to furniture designer Alex Loos about his company, Hans Noble Design, what it’s like to have the freedom to do what you love, and we find out what project took 800 hours to complete.


From the interview…

  • What life is like as a father and entrepreneur. And the new addition that’s coming (actually just arrived :).
  • What’s special about Cleveland and the maker scene.
  • What Alex is excited about right now. New custom podium project. The challenging projects are the most fun.
  • Hans Noble Design specializes in creating custom furniture for commercial and residential use
  • 14 foot tall copper tree
  • For 8 years, Alex was working for his dad during the day and spending hours at night creating furniture and working on his craft
  • One of his biggest challenges: Finding good workers. Starting out, he never thought he’d even be able to make a business from what he was doing, so finding good employees is a good problem to have.
  • Some stresses he faces: Getting jobs done, collecting payments. But he’s OK with these, because they’re stresses he’s created.
  • Freedom isn’t freedom from hard work. It’s freedom to pursue work that you love.
  • There’s a misconception about wanting to be done with work, instead of doing work that gives us purpose
  • When did he think he wanted to do something with his hands for a living? He grew up working with his dad. One day, saw a chair in a store and wanted to learn how to make it. Dad taught him how to weld and opened a whole new world to him.
  • Where does the name Hans Noble come from? Hans from his father and grandfather. Metalworkers. Noble from mom’s side, artist. The mix of the two creates a fictional character that personifies the work he creates.
  • Did he ever think he’d be able to have his own business doing what he’s doing? He was doubtful at times, but kept pushing through.
  • He’s thankful for the support from his wife, who urged him to step out on his own and encouraged him.
  • Has it been a challenge to be a craftsman running a business? He actually has a masters in business but still feels like he’s figuring it out as he goes.
  • Are there any jobs he’s turned down? Very few, but there are still some he turns down now and then.
  • Some of his favorite projects? Large copper tree, took 800 hours. Also loves doing custom work, podiums. He loves to see a design come to fruition.
  • If he was offered a job working for someone else, would he take it? Nope. He loves the freedom of working for himself.
  • What did it mean for Alex to be ready to launch? He put in years of work on the side, honing his craft before launching out on his own.
  • Alex’s thoughts to fellow starters: Don’t give up hope. There’s always a way.

Where to find Alex online:


Are You Making It Easy For Your Customers?

Are You Making It Easy For Your Customers?

You’ve got a great product or service. It provides value. You’re even connected with people that you can serve.

But… are you making it easy for them to buy from you?

Let’s learn a lesson from a trip to the gas station.

The other day I had just left home when the gas light lit up on my car, politely telling me it was time to fill up.

So, I did what most men would do… I kept driving.

Eventually, though, at the last possible moment, I stopped to get gas.

I was in a little bit of a hurry, but no one else was at the pumps so I picked one out and started pumping gas.

I had every intention of filling up the tank, but as I looked back up at the meter I noticed it was moving at a snail’s pace. Actually, a snail would have looked like a track star compared to this thing.

In my head, I was wondering how long this would take and if I really wanted to stick around.

Then I made a decision.

I just stopped partway into my fill-up, paid at the pump and left.

I had no issue with the product itself (gasoline from that brand of station). The price per gallon was competitive as well.

But when it came to the offering of the product, I just wasn’t willing to wait for another hour to top off my tank.

So, effectively, they lost out on money that I would have been more than willing to spend with them.

All because of a slow pump.

And I wondered how many others had gone through a similar experience there and left money on the table.

What about your customers?

As I thought about my encounter, it made me think about your customers and how we might be missing out on opportunities to serve them.

Are you making it easy for them to take advantage of all that you have to offer?

Or are they stopping short and going elsewhere?

Is your website easy to navigate?

Or is to slow, confusing, or cluttered and is driving away traffic?

Are you responsive to inquiries?

Or do you take too long to respond to questions and leave your would-be customers guessing?

Time to make it easier.

Take a step back today and look at your website, your communication, the way you and your business appear to those who visit.

Maybe ask for some feedback from some trusted friends.

Then make a tweak or two (or maybe an overhaul) that can make it easier for your customers to get what they’re looking for from you.

What are your tips for helping to make it easier for customers? Let us know below in the comments…

Episode 2: Jon Stolpe | How to Live an Extraordinary Life

Episode 2: Jon Stolpe | How to Live an Extraordinary Life

Listen here: 

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In this episode, we talk to Jon Stolpe about his new book, Rooftop Reflections, his passion for helping orphans and widows and how to live an extraordinary life.


From the interview…

  • Some of our favorite sports memories. (Jon surely has a new one to add after the recent Eagles Super Bowl victory 🙂
  • One of Jon’s current favorite books: Play the Man by Mark Batterson. He’s using it in his men’s mastermind group, the Stretched Men Group


Stretched Men Group (www.stretchedmengroup.com):

  •  Jon’s passion for helping men become better fathers, husbands and leaders
  • Why Jon decided to start a mastermind group
  • How you can get help with your own passion project at www.washburnwriter.com


About the book and Jon’s trips to Guatemala:

  • What inspired Jon to write Rooftop Reflections. His trip to Guatemala, morning time on the roof, videos, journaling
  • Why Jon turned a missions trip into a book.
  • What Jon wants readers to get out of the book. To be challenged, catch his vision for building 100 houses in Guatemala. Find out more at www.rooftopreflections.com. Wanting people to be drawn into something extraordinary
  • “Is this all there is?”
  • Jon’s early desire for missions work.
  • His wife’s illness, how it impacted their trip and changed how he viewed future missions chances.
  • How God changed that and Jon ended up in Guatemala. Blessings of giving friends and building homes.
  • Jon’s family’s adventures and love for Guatemala.
  • What it’s like there. How Jon stands out (literally).
  • Warmth of Guatemalan people.
  • Widows’ situation and hope.
  • The challenge of coming back and sharing the vision with others.
  • Jon, Bilbo, and a great quest.
  • How to live an extraordinary life.
  • Just take the next step. Start by helping people in your community. Just launch your project. Overcoming the paralysis of analysis.
  • Find someone who can share your dream. Mastermind with others.

Links mentioned in this episode:

  • Rooftop Reflections website (www.rooftopreflections.com). Find out more about Jon and his book, as well as links to get your own copy and help build houses in Guatemala.
  • Stretched Men Group website (www.stretchedmengroup.com).  If you’re a man who wants to take the next step as a husband, father or leader, you’ll benefit greatly from what Jon provides in each Stretched Men Group mastermind. Check out the website for more information and to reach out to Jon.
  • Jon Stolpe Stretched blog (www.jonstolpe.com). This is Jon’s personal blog, where he shares great thoughts on leadership, faith, family and stretching out of your comfort zone.
  • Play the Man book by Mark Batterson.

Where else to find Jon online:


[Disclaimer: some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning that, at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase]