S3E3 Packers vs. Lions

Are the Packers back on track?


S3E2 Packers at Vikings

We’re back for Season 3!!

We had some technical issues in week one, so we may or may not get that episode posted. But keeping pace with the season (week 2, episode 2) we bring you Two Guys in a Garage: Packers at Vikings!



First Thoughts: Beyond Racial Gridlock

This fall marks the third year of our book study for Men’s Community at Blackhawk Fitchburg. We have read books about how to be a better man, how to grow in our faith, and how to navigate the faith-work relationship. This summer I was talking with a couple of the guys and we were kicking around the idea of reading a book on race. From the beginning we knew it would be a very different approach but with the race relation issues in our country I knew that it was an issue where we needed more discussion.

We decided on Beyond Racial Gridlock by George Yancey. One of the first ground rules was that we would offer each other grace each morning. We are a group of 12–15 white guys in Madison, Wisconsin talking about race relations. Additionally we are meeting at Barriques in Fitchburg, so it’s a public venue and when the room goes quite right as someone is saying something sensitive, it’s very possible to misinterpret what is being overheard or at the least it can get awkward.

It’s important to note that not only is this topic sensitive, but the book itself is very academic, certainly the most challenging we’ve ever read. But I could not be more encouraged by the first two weeks of our book study. Conversation has been authentic. Comments and questions are thought-provoking for the group and reflective for the individual. It has filled my soul in ways I was not prepared as I read each week and discuss with these men.


So excited for the first day of school (not the way you’re thinking)

I love the first day the kids go back to school. But it’s not what you think. It’s not because “they’re back to school, we get our life and freedom back.” No, kids going back to school has always been special for me, for many families for sure.

This year Sorin starts second grade and Norah first. Last year I was able to arrange clients such that I could see them both get on the bus (together) for the first time. I couldn’t do that this year but I was there when they got off. After morning clients, I came home to get some yard work done. Yard work, you say?! Yes, as a new homeowner I am still very excited about house and yard work. We were gone last weekend so the lawn was a little longer and so cutting it felt extra rewarding. The weather was 65 degrees with a cool breeze. It was exactly the kind of weather I remember about back to school weather as a kid when we would play football in the front yard at Matt Keefe’s house.

As I’m mowing I’m thinking about what the kids are experiencing the first day of school. They have friends from last year, some in the same class but they know just about everyone in their grade at this point. Their backpacks are filled with all the school supplies we bought and labeled – easily my favorite part about back-to-school. I just feel bad that their lunch boxes aren’t nearly as cool as our were. They have a fresh start at school. Much like my yard after a week off – all things are new!

Early afternoon Katie came home from work and we were getting ready for some house guests doing a little more cleaning. We were reflecting on how much we enjoy our house, enjoy hosting, and excited for all things feeling new at the start of school. That’s good living right there! Our house is bright and full of life. Christian is running around with a neighbor friend while older brother and sister are on the bus ride home.

What will this school year bring? What new routines do the kids need to learn? How will each family member grow as an individual and how will the family grow as a unit? A lot of that is up to me. I am a significant leader in the lives of these kids and this family. Leading by example I can show them that the excitement of a new school year means things are new and possibilities are endless. We shape the next nine months and I can’t wait to get to work.


Tony Hawk 900

I’m not sure what I’ll be doing at age 48, but what I do know is that I won’t be doing this:

At age 31, Tony Hawk pulled off his first 900. As the skateboarding legend’s career has evolved, I can’t help but admire his skill, drive, and perseverance.

It is unlikely that 17 years ago Hawk said “at age 48 I want to be able to do a 900.” But at some point recently he had the thought, “hey, do you think I can still do this?” In my profession I often find myself challenging clients to ask themselves the same question: Hey, do you think I can still do this? I look at my clients ten, twenty, even thirty years into their future. As their trainer I’m challenging them to have measurements in their lives so they can keep their fitness. For example, every year make sure you can do three sets of ten push ups. Or another: always be able to get off the floor using zero or one hand.

Whether a professional athlete’s 900 or an aging adult’s level of fitness, we all need to ask ourselves where we want to be next year, in four years, in 12. Where do we want to be and what will it take to get us there. What did you think about all of Hawk’s falls in the video? I was expecting a couple but not that many! At one point when he swears after a huge fall. Later he takes an extended break between runs. Very quickly we see how difficult this challenge was, how bad he wanted it, and how determined he was to keep picking himself off the half pipe, getting back on the board, and trying again.

Then the video goes to slow motion. And all of the hard work pays off. I won’t be doing a 900 when I’m 48. But I can tell you I have my goals. Do you?


What Do You Think About Race Relations?

I was wrong about Shaun King. About two years ago he was tweeting a lot about race relations and getting very vocal in his belief that racism is not only still a thing but it’s a thing that’s actually getting worse. Mr. Middle Class White Guy (that would be me) considers himself very sympathetic to all races. I know racism exists, I hear comments from certain family and friends, but I didn’t want to hear that things are worse in 2014 than they were in decades past. This week I came across a small piece of evidence that I was correct in feeling race relations were getting better – for the last 14 years, most adults thought race relations are “generally good.” Then Michael Brown was killed. Always the optimist, American had a glimmer of hope and said “we can rise above this” (notice the up-tick); then Freddie Gray was killed. Between those “national” stories Tony Robinson was killed right here in Madison, Wisconsin. Shaun King was right: we have a problem.

Race Relations

Race Relations (source: LA Times)

Why am I writing this today? Because in the last 72 hours, I had two overt and blatant experiences with racism. Interestingly both were in the context of a white woman dating a black man. The first instance bothered me but because of the source didn’t necessarily surprise me. The second really surprised me and it came with an exclamation point when I looked to see a black man within an earshot of this person’s comment. Thankfully before I noticed the black man I had already asked this person “why does [his skin color] matter?”

Two run-ins with racism and then this article telling me that racism is getting worse?! We need to talk about this. We need to help our kids understand racism and fight against any form of it. I have given up on the older generations. By that I mean that I will speak my mind (as I did questioning a racist comment) but I won’t waste my energy trying to convince a racist that they are wrong and are hurting society. Instead I’ll spend my time helping my kids appreciate all people, regardless of their race.

Have you had blatant experiences with racism? Do you talk about it with your kids or in your family?


NBC Strong: Favorite Moment

My new favorite show has been Strong on NBC. The premise is that ten out-of-shape ladies are paired with ten of the top personal trainers in the country. Each episode has two competitions that determine which two teams go to the Elimination Tower; the loser goes home. Todd Durkin is one of the trainers, he’s part of Team Yellow with Brittany. Todd is pretty inspiring. Last December I was in San Diego with Katie on a business trip. I got to visit Fitness Quest 10, Todd’s gym (one of the top 10 gyms in the country). We worked out together and then I got to spend about 30 minutes in his office chatting about the industry and some business ideas I have. I’m very grateful for even a short time from a very busy and successful man.

My absolute favorite moment of Strong thus far happened in episode seven. Let me set it up for you. Todd and Brittney are Team Yellow. But what I haven’t told you is that both of these competitors were on other teams but were eliminated (by team Grey – remember this for later). The show had a twist. They had a competition to let eliminated trainers and trainees earn a spot back on the show. Todd and Brittany won, and they are the new Team Yellow.Durkin

In last week’s medallion challenge, Team Yellow lost and were forced to go to the Elimination Tower. The winners of the medallion challenge chose the Grey Team to go to the Tower because they hadn’t been to (the current version of) the tower. Remember the Grey team? That’s right – they had already sent Todd and Brittany home once. Could they do it a third time?

At the Elimination Tower, the Grey team went first. Wow! They set a new record of 3:24. Nicole from the Purple team says “unless Todd pulls anohter crazy stunt,” Grey team is moving on.”

Spoiler: Todd pulled another crazy stunt.

He and Brittany finished the Tower in 3:20 and the celebration began. What a win! I was shocked because they were behind by 11 seconds the entire run. Then came the moment. Team Yellow made it’s way off the tower and were standing next to the Grey team as Gabby had to say goodbye. It starts at 38:10 if you want to watch. She asked Grey team how they’re feeling and Wes, the trainer said, “We left it all out there and Todd…”. Pause. Pause. Wes is crying. He can’t finish his sentence. He collects himself. “Todd, you’re an inspiration, dude.”


A grown man fighting back tears, blown away by the inspiration of another man. I’m trying to do it justice but do yourself a favor and watch the segment.

That’s why I love sports.


teaching technology

For the past two years I developed a plant health care program at H&H Arborists. It has a certain level of complexity and organization to it (what good programs don’t!). Additionally it increases our efficiency while minimizing mistakes in the field. This week I trained a co-worker on my workflow for the plant health care program. Josh picked it up right away and was not only eager to learn but also went looking for ways to improve it. He immediately recognized why I used apps and the workflows that I did. Earlier this week I presented a new social media strategy at Pinnacle Health + Fitness. It was easy for me, was well received, and we’re seeing progress already. Yesterday one manager had already drafted his first few blog posts. This morning the owner took steps to implement his department into the strategy. 

I love coaching. I’ve become the resident expert in both of these situations and it’s easy to apply my skills and ideas to improve our business. Technology is often the common thread in my workflows. I spend a lot of time in tech and when I can apply it to business, it hardly feels like work. I’m constantly asking the question “how can we do this most efficiently.” With the plant health care, I had to think ahead to when I wouldn’t be with the company anymore. Could I put together a system that an average non-tech person could take it over? Could I create a system that minimized mistakes even with multiple employees involved? Could I create a system that would scale from $40,000 in sales or $400,000 in sales? 

Each time I build a product, strategy or even a simple workflow I gain experience for the next project that will end up on my desk. Sometimes I have to sacrifice time on the front end just to gain experience to get the project out the door. I learn from what went well and what could improve so that I’m more versatile when the next problem presents itself.


30 for Sam (Days 8,9,10 of 30)

I need to remind myself that the challenge was to do something physical for 30-whatever. Mine was run 30 days straight, and I added the blog reading and reflection. I will keep it going but I fell off the later part this weekend. I still got the miles in Prune which I’ll record today. But reading and reflecting, I’m behind. 

January 22, 2016


2 miles


God, help us celebrate small victories. Last Friday I started this little journey and I appreciate the reflection. Help Sam and Jenny celebrate the small victories, the small battles so that they can win the war. 

January 23, 2016


2 miles


God, the weather today was beautiful and it makes me think of those spring runs. The warmer air, the memories of the seasons bring joy to my heart. I pray that little victories and small blessings from you will spur me on to better runs and spur Sam on to continue his fight and muster up perseverance every single day. 

January 24, 2016


2 miles


God, it’s time to move past the first season of this challenge. The routine has worked, I’ve ran every day but 2 miles isn’t enough any more. Give us all strength to see when we need to take our efforts to the next level. Give us the vision and ability to push our limits grow stronger each season. 


30 for Sam (day 7 of 30)

Day 7 of 30
As I was saying yesterday, people in this world are hurting. One of the friends I mentioned was saying he drives past houses on his way home and knows each one has a story and probably a struggle; maybe others know about it, but most likely not to the full extent. I said to my friend that I’m going to be as active as possible in his and the other situations. In the past I would’ve said I’d pray, but the reality is if I prayed once it was quick and less sincere than I’d like to admit, and there wouldn’t be much (if any) follow up. Not anymore. 

Katie and I watched a cheesy movie on New Year’s Eve: War Room. One of the main characters is an old Christian lady who inverted a closet into a prayer room where she can go to battle with the Lord, fighting the evil in this world. Lots of cheesy parts to the movie but that approach to prayer really struck a nerve with me. 

I told my friend that I would pray for him and that he would be included in my prayer journal. While I am all digital and as paperless as I can be, I will always keep a notebook close. The front part is for day-to-day thoughts and planning; the back is for my prayers. I’ve never kept a prayer journal but from all the success stories I’ve heard, the time is now to get mine established. Sam’s in there. So are the other two friends. 


2+ miles through Oregon. Weather felt great, didn’t want to stop but today (Thursday) was my Friday since I have the kids most of the tomorrow. 

from the blog

Nice strangers (who end up sending food?!) are the best. 

YAY for good people with kind hearts spreading the love.


God, strengthen and use me to encourage my friends when they need me. Keep me humble so as to be used by You and for You, not of my own efforts and abilities but through the Spirit inside me.

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