The Call to Mastery with Jordan Raynor

Brett Hagler (Co-founder of New Story)

Episode Summary

A bigger story for work

Episode Notes

Jordan Raynor sits down with Brett Hagler, Co-founder of New Story, to talk about New Story’s innovative solution to preventing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis, Brett’s personal testimony about vocational mastery making the gospel winsome, and why A-players attract other A-players to your team.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Transcription

[0:00:05.3] JR: Hey everybody, welcome to the Call to Mastery. I’m Jordan Raynor. This is a podcast for Christians who want to do their most exceptional work, for the glory of God and the good of others. Each week, I’m bringing you a conversation with somebody who is following Jesus Christ and also pursuing world-class mastery of their craft. We talk about their path to mastery, their daily habits and how their faith influences their work.


Hey, in a recent survey one of you guys made fun of me for saying every episode of the podcast is my favorite, which I don’t use that term that much. Cut me some slack. Seriously, this is one of my favorite episodes we’ve recorded to date.


I am so excited to introduce you to one of my favorite entrepreneurs, Brett Hagler. He’s the Co-Founder of New Story, a non-profit who’s on a mission to end homelessness. If you’ve heard of New Story before, you either read about them in Master of One, my book, or you may have seen some videos of their remarkable innovation of developing a way to 3-D print a home that’s built to last in 24 hours and for just a few thousand dollars.


FastCompany named New Story one of the most innovative companies in the world. Just some further proof points that Brett is a masterful founder, he’s in the lump of Y Combinator, the world’s leading startup accelerator. He’s a Forbes 30 Under 30 entrepreneur, one of the 100 most intriguing most entrepreneurs as deemed by Goldman Sachs. Oh, yeah. He’s a Florida State Seminole, so of course that makes him awesome.


Brett and I recently sat down to talk about New Story’s innovative solution to preventing homelessness during the COVID-19 crisis. I went all in on this. You’re going to hear more about that in the episode. We talked about Brett’s personal testimony, about how the mastery, vocational mastery of others can make the gospel winsome to the lost. We talked about why A players on your team attract other A players to join your team. This is a phenomenal conversation. Please enjoy this episode with my friend, Brett Hagel.




[0:02:22.3] JR: Brett, it’s been a while. How are you, man?


[0:02:24.2] BH: I’m doing good, Jordan. Doing my best during this COVID-19 era. Hope you’re doing all right too.


[0:02:30.9] JR: I’m doing great. Hey, so I want to talk about the founding story of New Story in a minute. First, I want our listeners to hear your personal story as it establishes some context there. Readers of Master of One have already read some of your story. For those who haven't, talk to us about your personal story and testimony, maybe going back to your high school days in South Florida and taking us to present day.


[0:02:52.9] BH: Sure. Yeah. I grew up a really lucky kid. Was super fortunate to have amazing parents in a good house. We've made pretty good money. Man, I literally just hit the jackpot. Starting from a place of extraordinary privilege was how I entered the world. Then when I was younger, meaning like high school and college, doing any work that I'm doing today was about the last thing I thought I would do. I was fortunate to again, have amazing parents that instilled some really great values in me.


I went to a Christian middle school and high school. Some of that stuff was there, but I just thought that a lot of people being selfless and putting others first – I just thought that was pretty boring. The whole faith thing was something I thought I'd maybe figure out when I was 60 or 70. Or I remember my trick used to be, I would just figure it out right before I died, because I just always thought, why would I live for somebody else when I could live for myself? Why would I try to be part of a story when I could be the star in my own little story?


Because of that, I went out and I pursued things that I called a 3Gs. It was not God, gratitude and generosity. It was girls, gold and glory. That was pretty much what I was chasing. It turns out when those are your top priorities, it could be pretty unfulfilling. I was just in my early 20s. I went to Florida State University and –


[0:04:38.5] JR: Amen. Amen.


[0:04:40.2] BH: Yeah. [Inaudible 0:04:40.4]. I was always an ambitious guy, but had ambitions for basically the wrong reasons. I just found myself in my early 20s longing for a bigger purpose and longing for a more meaningful life. To me, that happened through and people get there in all different ways, but for me it happened through a revived Christian faith. That just changed my heart, changed my values, it changed my worldview and gave me a new perspective of what I wanted to do while – during my short time here on earth.


That ultimately led me down on a trip to Haiti. I went to Haiti a couple years after the 2010 earthquake. It was my first time ever going to the developing world. I didn't grow up going on missions trips, or really thinking about, or working with or helping the poor. For me, I was a new Christian and I was obsessed with the New Testament and reading about how Jesus treated people and said we were supposed to treat people.


It was very clear that we're supposed to obviously love everybody, but even have a heart for the poor and really help those that are in need. That just really resonated with me. After I saw the problem in Haiti, which was – I mean, there’s unfortunately a lot of problems due to extreme poverty in Haiti, but families living in tents because their homes were destroyed during the earthquake. That really struck a chord of my heart. Came back and I was still super young. I was only 24 at the time and had no experience with the non-profit world, or really no experience at all.


However, I thought that there could be a more modern version of a non-profit that was trying to tackle this problem, and so have a mantra that is to dream big, but start small. Started with trying to do this just for a couple families, trying to do for a few families what I wish I could do for all. We got underway and launched New Story in the beginning of 2015 and got lucky. One of the first non-profits to go through Y Combinator and somewhat been off to the races ever since.


[0:06:51.9] JR: Yeah, the YC part of the story is interesting to me. I mean, how many non-profits have gone through Y Combinator?


[0:06:57.8] BH: In the last couple years, I’m not positive. They usually only take I believe one or two a year now.


[0:07:02.8] JR: Yeah. Yeah. Today, New Story, tell us 30 seconds about the work you guys do right now in 2020.


[0:07:11.6] BH: Yeah. Our mission is to pioneer solutions to end global homelessness. What that means is we will design and build communities of homes, a couple hundred homes for thousands of people throughout the developing world. A big focus is organization on innovation and R&D. You have a significant R&D and innovation budget, that's a little different than most non-profits. We believe in trying to get out in front and pioneer new solutions that will not just help the families that we're working with directly, but the much bigger idea is to create innovations that can serve the whole sector.


One example of that would be 3D printing machine that we created with our partner Icon. Then we wanted to get out in front, put up R&D money, design a solution that can work in our environment, which turns out to be some of the hardest places to work really in the world. Create it and then prove it in the communities that we put ourselves, proof-of-concept. Then after that, the much bigger idea is to democratize it and to have other non-profits and governments be able to adopt the innovations that we pioneered.


That's really what we do. You could think of it more of as the R&D and innovation arm to the global social housing sector. That's what we get really excited about. That's we build our team around and that's what we've put a lot of our donors and our stakeholders around not just trying to provide money to build a house for a family, while that is extremely noble and worthwhile. We do that too, but the bigger picture is to create breakthrough solutions.


[0:08:56.0] JR: The last time we talked, I mean, we're going back, I don't know, a year, 18 months ago? You just started 3D printing houses. You guys have figured out how to do it in less than 24 hours and for a few grand. The next step was, “All right, let's print a whole community of livable houses.”


[0:09:12.7] BH: That’s right.


[0:09:13.7] JR: Where was it going to be?


[0:09:14.9] BH: Mexico. The south of Mexico.


[0:09:16.9] JR: Okay. Awesome. What's the status of that project now?


[0:09:19.8] BH: Yeah. Fortunately, we were able to take it off the end of 2019 and we started printing our first few houses down there and we've been working – it's been getting better and better every month, printing more and more homes. We obviously had to pause recently because of COVID-19. For people that are watching on April 17th, we have a documentary that will be out on the Apple TV Plus platform.


[0:09:47.9] JR: I saw that. That's amazing.


[0:09:48.7] BH: It profiles the whole story with Icon creating the machine, bringing it down to Mexico, all the challenges we faced and the crazy stories that we had to overcome and then ultimately, profiling the first family with two beautiful little kids. That will be the first family to ever live in a 3D printed home. I would just suggest people if they're interested to go to Apple TV and it should be free right now, and watch the episode.


[0:10:15.3] JR: We are definitely going to be watching that. I'm definitely going to be watching and I can't wait for this. By the way, you guys are innovating at such a rapid speed. I prepped for this episode, I don't know, let's call it a week ago. Just by happenstance, I went to the New Story website right before we got on the call. I was like, “Oh, my gosh. Of course, the whole homepage is different and you guys are launching an entirely new initiative.” What is the neighborhood?


[0:10:40.5] BH: Yeah. This is about – this is 13-days-old. This is essentially our response to COVID-19. We just try to think through how can we still be mission-aligned, even though there's a pivot maybe in where we work and how we work, but how do we still advance our mission and try to work with the most vulnerable families so that they don't become homeless? Due to a lot of reasons that we have to pause our international work, we've never worked in the US. We've always dreamed about working in the US. This presented as an opportunity to work in the US.


We've launched a new program that's called The Neighborhood, which very simply is a way for any American to help the most vulnerable families in our country pay their rent, so that they will not become homeless due to income loss during the COVID-19 era. We've identified families through some extraordinary local partners that are experts in this field, families that hadn't been working before COVID-19 happened, because of the industries that they're in, they didn't do anything wrong. It just so happened that they're not going to have income for a while.

When you're the working poor, you unfortunately don't have tens of thousands of dollars saved up for a rainy day to pay your rent for the rest of the year. What we're doing is we're providing a platform that will allow anybody in the world, but if you just want to focus on the country, any American to commit to a monthly amount, so subscribing basically, similar to how you subscribe to Spotify, or Dropbox, or Netflix, you can subscribe to helping a family stay in their home, not become homeless during this time.


A 100% of every donation that anybody signs up for will go to a family in desperate need and will keep them from becoming homeless, which really does two things from an impact standpoint; number one, which is obvious is it helps the family not fall into that cycle of homelessness and their children not fall into that cycle. Number two is because it's preventative, it helps existing homeless shelters and existing organizations in the country that focus on homelessness to not have them be overserved and have a higher volume of families coming in that need their help.


That's our hope is that we can rally thousands, then tens of thousands of monthly supporters, anybody that can give $10 a month, maybe up to $500, or a $1,000 a month which should cover a whole family every month. Then we would have a very streamlined way to allocate that to families. That's what it is. Yeah.


[0:13:28.7] JR: I love this so much. I'm personally all-in. Where do I go to donate?


[0:13:34.8] BH: Yeah. You just go to our URL, which is, we'll have most of the site that will focus on the program called The Neighborhood. There's a couple ways you can get involved. One is just you can become a member of The Neighborhood, which essentially is trying to be a good neighbor to your fellow people in your country that again, were doing all the right things and have fallen on hardship due to things out of their control. We believe as an organization, I believe from just as a Christian that it's our responsibility to help these families.


You can sign up just on the website for monthly commitments. We are asking people to do monthly, because that really helps us forecast how many families we can help in the future months, because you need to fill the backend of families that we can support. You can sign up monthly, that's one way.


Then number two is we've created a way for any leader to set up a team, or group campaign, which would essentially mean that you could say, “Hey, I want to set up a page and invite my friends, or my company, or whoever.”


[0:14:46.0] JR: Or our podcast listeners.


[0:14:47.4] BH: Correct. Or the podcast and we're all going to chip in at certain monthly amounts. Hopefully, we can get enough people to where we could cover at least one family a month.


[0:14:59.7] JR: We’re in. We’re in.


[0:15:00.7] BH: Who contributes how much and then we have the total. Then every month, you'd be able to see what family you're able to impact.


[0:15:07.1] JR: I'll set up my own link. We’ll set up my own page and we'll make sure it's right there in the notes for this episode. I love this so much. Such a practical response –


[0:15:15.5] BH: Super cool.


[0:15:16.1] JR: - to be a master of your craft. Speaking of which, we talk a lot about mastery on the Call to Mastery of course. One thing I like about your story is you didn't really want to start a non-profit, I think probably for a couple reasons. Number one, there were already so many that existed. Your realization was like, “Yeah, there's a lot, but aren't really run that well, and they don't operate with these really high standards of excellence.” I'm curious of what specific ways New Story has tried to tell a new story about excellence in the non-profit world.


[0:15:47.8] BH: Yeah. That's actually why I thought it made sense to actually start an organization, as opposed to joining one. I was pretty much inspired by Scott Harrison Charity: water.


[0:15:58.7] JR: Yeah, one of my favorite people.


[0:15:59.9] BH: Yeah. Scott has been a friend and a mentor since then, an advisor and Vik Harrison, Co-Founder of Charity: water and Scott’s wife, actually just joined our formal board of directors.


[0:16:10.5] JR: That’s awesome.


[0:16:12.1] BH: Super inspired by them and I just didn't see a lot of other organizations that were thinking that way and were acting that way. I just had such a passion for and not everybody has to think or operate this way necessarily, but for me personally, I had a passion for innovation, for calculated risk-taking, for really challenging the status quo. The more housing organizations I looked into internationally, it just seemed like everybody was doing the same thing. I don't mean this in any bad way, because we partner with these orgs. They're great, but we really wanted to come in and we saw a gap in the market and that gap was to try to bring more forward-thinking, more innovation, more software solutions, etc., to a market, into a sector that you don't really think of as having ingenuity and being innovative and trying new concepts that much.


That was the gap that I saw. Then I just saw one of our values is a humble pursuit of excellence. I just believe that as a Christian, that's what I'm called to. I think especially in the non-profit world, you owe that to the families that you're trying to work with in my opinion to do work with excellence, so that you can help more families. Again, we've got a humble pursuit of excellence, because we're always going to learn not to be perfect. We're not going to think we're perfect, right? We're going to set a high standard that we're going to try to pursue.


When you pursue that standard, what we've learned is that I think the number-one thing that attracts our top supporters, is that they recognize the standard that we have and that attracts them, because they have a similar standard.


[0:18:04.4] JR: Yeah. By the way, one of the ways in which this manifests – you and I talked about this when we had breakfast in New York a couple years ago – is in your approach to hiring. You, like me, I think like any good founders are obsessed with hiring well. I actually think a lot about something you said directly at that breakfast. You said, “For people applying to New Story, if you can't get a job at Airbnb, you can't get a job at New Story,” and I love that lens. Talk about how you think you guys have really gotten hiring right and why you're so obsessed with it.


[0:18:34.5] BH: Yeah. I mean, again, this was something from the beginning of like, at New Story, we're mostly yeah, a millennial organization, mid-20s to folks in their mid to later 30s. I just thought if you're trying to work on one of the biggest problems, how could you not try to recruit the most talented people, that if they wanted to, they could be working at the best startups, or the best companies in the world. What if you can treat a culture where you attracted those people to your organization and because they're surrounded by other people that are going to challenge them and push them and make them better and they don't feel like they're a big fish in a small pond, if you will, then you're going to retain that talent. Because they're going to be so excited about it, they're going to recruit their friends that happen to be like them.


[0:19:30.7] JR: A players recruit A players, right?


[0:19:33.4] BH: A 100%. That’s really what we've done. Then now when we bring in folks for interviews, they're sitting across from the table from people that they're going to very much respect, because one, they’ll hear their background, they’ll hear where they're from, but not everybody on our team has fancy backgrounds on paper. Some very much do. That's not the thing we’re necessarily looking for. It's more of who is the person and what personal and professional characteristics are they bringing?


We believe that you should be recruiting the absolute best talent and the best character that you can. When you focus on it that much, what we've found is that it just – that talent and character gets more people that have that talent and that character.


[0:20:20.7] JR: Yeah. One of my favorite recruiting techniques I've ever heard, I think this is an Eric Schmidt's How Google Works book, is if they've got somebody they really want to join Google and they're on the fence, they'll just slide across the table a stack of resumes. It's like, “Hey, these are the resumes that you're going to be joining.” That more often than not pushes them over the edge.


[0:20:43.0] BH: Yeah. Dude, totally. You want to attract people that want to work with and there's nothing wrong with this, right? You want to work with people that are going to push you and that are going to make you better and are striving for the best in whatever they're doing. Whether they want to be the best elementary school teacher, right? Go through Teach For America, or they want to be on the best team at a church, not necessarily measured by the production, all that stuff. I do think that's important, but just how much they care and the inputs that they're making, they're going to do the absolute best of their ability.


[0:21:19.9] JR: Yeah. Hey what does your day look like? I know you're a very disciplined, routine-driven person like myself. I'm curious what the tick-tock of your day looks like these days, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed?


[0:21:31.8] BH: Yeah, let's see. Well, COVID-19 has changed that a little bit. I'm – just for the personal side, I recently turned 30. I'm not married. I don’t have kids, so there's that.


[0:21:46.9] JR: That makes things a bit different. Yeah.


[0:21:48.8] BH: Yeah. I mean, so my priorities right now are – Since I'm not married yet, I don't have kids, they don't exist. They're not a priority right now. I mean, I am more of a routine guy. I always have been. Since we're out of college, I actually think it's been – it was a superpower during my 20s, just because how it allowed me to just to focus and clarify on the things that I say matter to me and then have a system for optimizing those.


For me, first and foremost is my faith. I created very simple systems that for example, when I wake up in the morning, I go to bed relatively early and I wake up pretty early, between 4:30 and 5:00. Well, when I go to bed, I will put my phone on airplane mode. Then I will only turn it off airplane mode after I've done my little morning routine, which is essentially simple stuff. I mean, it's reading, whether it's scripture, or praying, etc. Then I will not turn my phone on until I do that.


Small, little habits, acting like that is super important. That’s the first thing in the morning. Then I usually will look at e-mail after that, not necessarily start working, but just a quick wholesome check if there's anything I need to work on relatively sooner than later. Then will work out. Fitness has been a huge part of my life ever since high school. Then will get to the office pretty early, do my best during the day. Then will wind down usually with back in the old days, it would be dinner with friends, or I love going to restaurants and dinner. Again, I'm not very [inaudible 0:23:34.4], so that's how I spend most of my evenings. Then will try to read and maybe do a little bit of work at the in the day.


[0:23:42.3] JR: Yeah. I love the phone habit. I do that as well. I wake up at 4:45 and typically don't check my phone until 7:15, something like that. Is there another habit that you could point to, maybe even at the office that makes you particularly productive, or just present with your team?


[0:23:59.7] BH: It's good. Yeah. I mean, I like to just very much simplifying my workspace. I try to keep my phone out of reach. I try to just have in front of me what I need to work on. I'm just a believer in having a written list in front of me of just the most important things. I carry that around with me during the day. I know there's so many different ways to do it. I personally like the habit of writing down the most important things for the day. I will always plan that in the morning before I get started on my workday is just write out what are the things I must do today. Then I try to time those out as well. I do like the 25-minute Pomodoro style and go from there.


[0:24:47.9] JR: Yeah. Expound on the Pomodoro style. I think a lot of people need to hear this.


[0:24:51.6] BH: Yeah. It's a 25-minute heads down, zero distractions, you can only work on one thing. I'll put a timer on for 25 minutes. I will only work on that one thing and then I will take usually like a five-ish, maybe 10-minute break and then I'll start another Pomodoro. Beginning of the day, I will list out hey, these are the two to four things I need to work on and then I'll almost project how many Pomodoros do I think those would take? You don't have to be perfect with those, but it's just helping me visualize my day and my time. Then you just put your head down and you do it, you execute your plan.


[0:25:37.4] JR: I do the exact same thing. I do 90-minute blocks. Yeah, there was a book that really influenced me early in my career. It basically says that it takes 90 minutes to really get into the REM of work, if you will, analogous to sleep. I've often thought that those shorter bursts might be more productive in different roles, in different environments.


Today, when the majority of my work is creating content, 90 minutes makes a lot of sense. When I was running Threshold 360 day-to-day as CEO, it looked a lot more like 30, maybe 60-minute blocks. It changes based on your role.


Hey, Brett. You know I shared your story in Master of One. The part of it that was really compelling to me that I wanted to highlight was you made this transition from in high school, early college looking around, not seeing a lot of Christians who had a really humble pursuit of excellence. Part of your story and coming back to that faith was the mastery of a particular vocational craft and a mentor of yours, right? Can you talk about that?


[0:26:45.7] BH: Yeah. I mean, I've had a couple along the way, but there was a gentleman in the very early days that started a fire for me. I knew about this gentleman as a very well-respected CEO in town. Not a huge famous name, but I knew who he was, I knew people really respected him. I had a for-profit startup right out of college before New Story and we were trying to raise a little angel round.


I chased this guy down. One day, I went up to him and basically asked if we could do lunch and got on his calendar. During that lunch, I started asking leadership questions and he started asking me about – he started telling me his philosophy of servant leadership. At that point, that was not really a term I was that familiar with. If I heard it before, I probably rolled my eyes at it. He’s like, “Yeah, that’s the secret. That's how I advanced my career, blah, blah, blah, blah.” I'm like, “Where did you learn that?” Which is the biggest softball reference I’ve made.


He’s like, “Well, that’s a guy named Jesus. That was the best leader that the world has ever seen, and take some bullets.” For me, I so respected this gentleman long before I had any idea that he was a man of faith, or a man of God. Then when he told me that the reason why he was successful and told me about his family and all these things was not despite of, but a 100% because of his faith and his servant leadership style modeling after Jesus. It was just such a no-brainer. Man, I need to – I need to explore this and go from there. That’s what happened.


[0:28:40.8] JR: I'm not sure and who can know, right? I'm not sure you would have gotten there as fast as you did had he not been exceptional at what he did. The point I'm trying to make in Master of One and sharing that exact story is mastery is winsome. When we are great at what we do – I mean, we were just talking about this in hiring. A players want to work with other A players. Exceptional people want to be around exceptional people. We're just attracted to goodness, we're attracted to excellence and it can open up doors for us to serve people, which is good in and of itself. Also, it opens up opportunities to share the gospel, right?


[0:29:17.2] BH: A 100%.


[0:29:17.9] JR: Why do you think, because listen, in high school you're looking around, you're not seeing a lot of Christians with this [inaudible 0:29:22.0] in pursuit of excellence, but it's true today. I think it's probably been true forever. I think it's true of Christians and non-Christians. In the church, why do you think this problem exists?


[0:29:36.6] BH: It's a question I definitely don’t know the answer to. I think it's way too pervasive throughout the church culture. I think there's a difference in being – there’s a difference between being flashy and showy and pursuing excellence, right? I think some people get confused by people they might think are flashy, or trying to show off. Maybe there are definitely some people that do that. No, think about – I’ll use just one example I heard in a sermon the other week, they’re from Passion in Atlanta. They use example of Maya Moore, who's one of the greatest women's basketball players of all time.


She's a strong Christian. Loves Jesus. I’m like, “Dude, she has a platform and so many people will listen to her, less of because of the Christian blog she wrote as just an average basketball player, and/or becoming absolute best at what she's done.” She now as a platform. Actually, one of her shoes by Jordan came out and I believe has scripture on it, right? Things like that, where she put in the work and she earned the platform to do it.


I just think that is one of the best ways to, I don’t know, evangelize, if you will. It's less of trying to – if you’re a barber trying to put any scripture on your window and actually being the best barber in your city, right? That is going to – is whimsical and it's going to attract people.


[0:31:16.5] JR: It's this fundamental baseline ministry of excellence, right? It is good in and of itself, but also opens up other opportunities.


[0:31:24.7] BH: A 100%. Yeah.


[0:31:26.3] JR: I want to dig in here for a second. You guys at New Story are executing against this unbelievably massive goal to end homelessness, much like Scott is trying to end the water crisis around the world. Of course as Christians, we know there is coming a day that homelessness will be eradicated for good, when we dwell in the new earth with Jesus. What impact does that future hope have on your work now?


[0:31:53.7] BH: Yeah, it’s a great question. One as a starting point of not being afraid to work on the work that has no end while you're here for your short time on earth, right? I think that could be, we're going to do our best to make – to try to make the biggest dent we can, right? New Story and then Scott and Charity: water, we're working on massive, massive problems, right? I think trying to do the best we can to bring the kingdom of heaven down while we're here, which I would say I'm pretty sure in the kingdom of heaven, kids are going to have clean water, right? Kids are going to have a safe place to shelter.


I think while we're here, we can do our best to try to bring that down. Then knowing of course that there is a much brighter future coming and I think, when you have the perspective of eternity, I use this little example of if you were just like, get a piece of paper out and draw a small dot and then attach to that dot is a line with an arrow, the arrow represents the future and what's coming to eternity, right? The little dot is obviously our short period of time on this earth. When you pay more of your decisions for the line that literally never ends, as opposed to the dot, things get a lot better and I think that's a decision filter that I have during my time here.


[0:33:24.1] JR: Yeah, things get a lot better for the world. I also think they get better for us as results. I've been thinking about this problem of lack of excellence in the life of believers. I think at the end of the day, it's rooted in we're just living for two small stories. Either we believe there's no meaning and work, which is a small story. Even viewing work as ultimate sense of meaning and self-worth is a small story.


Yeah. I mean, you talk about this in your own story. You were living for the story in which Brett Hagler was the star. The bigger story, the biggest story is recognizing I am a part of a grander narrative that's been going on since Jesus was resurrected on that first Easter. That's the story.


[0:34:06.1] BH: A 100%. Exactly. Living into that, being on the other side of it as well, I have that perspective, living into that story is – I'm exaggerating – it's a trillion times bigger idea than trying to live for your little story of being one of billions that is here today, gone tomorrow. That's such small thinking, right? If you consider yourself a big idea person, a big thinker. It's like, “Well, welcome to the never-ending story, as big of an idea as you could possibly get as a human being.”


[0:34:47.0] JR: Going back to what you're saying about big, hairy, audacious goals. I know you're a big Jim Collins fan, right? This is what I'm dedicating my life to. You're dedicating your life to eradicating homelessness. I'm dedicating my life to helping the church by the grace of God alone, catch a bigger vision.


[0:35:03.9] BH: Amen. I love that.


[0:35:05.9] JR: A bigger kingdom building story. Hey, so here's the thing I love about you though, right? You’re a Christ follower, or vision for New Story is rooted in a solid theology of the kingdom. I got to imagine, a lot of the members of your team are not.


[0:35:19.9] BH: Right. That’s right.


[0:35:21.5] JR: Right. I'm curious if you've reflected any on the reality that your team, believer or not are all being used to accomplish the Lord's will in the world and bring Him glory. Have you reflected on that? If so, what are your takeaways?


[0:35:37.6] BH: Yeah. I mean, I think I’ve reflected on that in a couple different ways. I think God uses a lot of people on earth that not necessarily Jesus followers today to advance his will and the kingdom, right? I see it every day. I see it from our donors as well. Again, when I read, especially when I read the New Testament. I was reading Philippians this morning, Philippians 2 or just talks about just having humility and –


[0:36:08.8] JR: Selflessness. Yeah.


[0:36:09.7] BH: Putting others before yourself, right? A lot of people can say that, but then who are the folks that are truly doing it? I see it all the time. Many people that are just doing exactly what Jesus said and what the early church was doing. I believe that God sees that and this isn't a theological statement. That's not my expertise, but regardless of whatever their faith or not faith is, I think God sees that and he smiles. I think Jesus sees that and he smiles. It’s like, that’s right.


You were following instructions, whether you may know or not and I think it's beautiful. I think it's beautiful to have a company that is made up of all different types of backgrounds. I know that some people very much feel called and have a conviction to have a Christian only something, or something else, like that totally between you and God. I've just felt called that God wants to create a tent at New Story. Underneath that tent are people from all different backgrounds, from political side, faith side, non-faith side, different ethnicities, like everything.


[0:37:26.9] JR: Amen.


[0:37:27.6] BH: We fortunately have that both on our team and our donor base and I think it's a beautiful thing.


[0:37:33.2] JR: It's an incredibly beautiful thing. All right, three quick questions. We wrap up every conversation with number one, which books do you find yourself recommending most frequently, or gifting the most to others?


[0:37:46.1] BH: Yeah, that's great. I would say recommending more recently was on a big kick of The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry.


[0:37:56.0] JR: So good.


[0:37:57.0] BH: Yup. John Mark Comer. I think it's made its round with a lot of leaders, but I recommended that one so much. There was another one that I recommend after that that people really like The Ruthless Elimination of Hurry and it's by John Ortberg called –


[0:38:11.0] JR: Soul Keeping?


[0:38:11.7] BH: Yes. That's right.


[0:38:13.4] JR: Yeah. Great book.


[0:38:14.3] BH: Those have been couple new ones. I don’t know if [inaudible 0:38:17.5], but in February, I was on a one-month sabbatical. My favorite book out of that sabbatical was a book called The Return of the Prodigal Son by Henri Nouwen.


[0:38:31.4] JR: Oh, I love Henri Nouwen. I’ve never read that though.


[0:38:33.9] BH: Dude. I mean, it rocked me. It was so good and I highly recommend that, because it's very – we all hear the prodigal son parable. I think of the prodigal son as, oh, it's this young dude that went away and partied and scorned everything. I did that in the early 20s, but it’s actually not. We're all the prodigal when we leave the father's house in search of something else to try bring that satisfaction. That could be our work, that could be metrics, that could be etc. Ultimately, there's not any satisfaction outside of the father's house, so we need to come back.


[0:39:17.2] JR: I will definitely read that.


[0:39:18.3] BH: Yeah. It’s so good.


[0:39:19.8] JR: Have you read Prodigal God by Keller?


[0:39:21.3] BH: No, I haven’t.


[0:39:22.7] JR: Oh, dude. It’s super short. It’s Keller at his best. It is –


[0:39:27.2] BH: I’m looking at Amazon right now for that.


[0:39:29.6] JR: Yeah, yeah, yeah. It's a great, great, great book, one of my top 10 Keller books. You guys listening can find all those books at


[0:39:36.2] BH: Oh, awesome.


[0:39:37.4] JR: Brett, who would you most like to hear talk about how their faith impacts the work they do every day?


[0:39:43.9] BH: That's something maybe, because the ones that I know of, I try to already listen to and learn from them. It would have to be somebody that I don’t know is a believer.


[0:39:52.7] JR: Let me reframe the question. Who have you discussed these topics with that you think our audience should hear from?


[0:39:59.9] BH: Yeah. I am a little biased, my best friend, a New Story board member [inaudible 0:40:04.7], Mike Arrietta just started a new holding company called Garden City, which is essentially about bringing excellence to small, medium-sized service-based businesses and coming in, working with the owners, buying them out and then bringing excellence, bringing culture, bringing innovation and technology.


I just think that it's such an awesome market to help the working class and to bring a better culture, which if you have a better culture, you get two things. You get a better job and you get a better life. I highly recommend that.


[0:40:45.0] JR: Yeah, that's good. One piece of advice to leave this audience with, an audience of Christ followers, who want to do great work for the glory of God and the good of others; a lot of them, entrepreneurs, or aspiring entrepreneurs. What do you want to tell them?


[0:41:00.7] BH: I'd say two things. Number one and this would be a little bit more of the leaders, or aspiring entrepreneurs and leaders, because I’m sure you’ve – amazing people right now that's just not the season in their life, which is totally okay, right?


[0:41:14.9] JR: Yeah. Oh, yeah. It’s good.


[0:41:16.3] BH: For those I would say, especially during these times that bold ideas attract bold people. I've just seen that in my life starting New Story at 25. I am by no means anywhere close to the smartest person, or by any means most accomplished. I’m so far from that. I think one of the things that I've been lucky to do is dream big and to put out bold ideas and bold goals. That is going to attract bold resources.


That's your choice, right? You have to be smart about it. You can't just put out fairytale things. That would be it. Then the other thing that I would leave with would be to – if you're not there yet, but you want to be one day, I would just say to dream big and to start small. Starting small can mean just if you're a mother listening and you've always wanted to blog or something, like use this time during COVID-19 era and just start with your first 10 posts.


You can have a dream, you can have a vision. I think what paralyzes so many people is they just don't know how to figure out all the scalable solutions and this and that and they don't know where to start, they don’t know how to get. I'll see like, I get it. Stuff can be very overwhelming, but if you just start small, you can go from there.


[0:42:52.5] JR: Yeah. Brett, I want to commend you for the incredible, redemptive work you and your team are doing every day. Thank you for your heart for the homeless. Thank you for your testimonial, reminding us that mastery makes the gospel winsome to the world. Hey, there's two ways to engage with Brett and New Story. You could donate and I'm going to have my unique donate link for this new project here in the show notes. You can also go apply to work there. They've got some open positions at New Story right now. You can connect with Brett at Brett, thanks again for joining us.


[0:43:22.3] BH: Thanks, Jordan. That was fun.




[0:43:26.1] JR: I promised you guys that would be a great episode. I hope you enjoyed that and hey, seriously, join me right now in raising money to prevent and help alleviate some pain in people's lives related to the COVID-19 crisis; people who can't pay rent. I hope you guys will click the link here in the show notes to go join me in donating right now. Hey, I really hope you guys enjoyed this episode of the Call to Mastery. I know I did. I'll see you next week.