Mere Christians

William Warren and Meg Easterbrook (Founder and Director of Operations at The Sketch Effect)

Episode Summary

Loving people well through business- even when they've wronged you

Episode Notes

Jordan Raynor sits down with William Warren and Meg Easterbrook the Founder and Director of Operations at The Sketch Effect, to talk about how the gospel compels us to love people in business well—even when they’ve wronged you, the productivity systems I taught William and Meg that have helped their business scale, and how William thought about making the leap from a great job at Chick-fil-A corporate to starting his own business. This episode also includes a bonus conversation with Chris Norton, author of The Seven Longest Yards.

Links Mentioned:

Episode Transcription

[00:00:05] JR: Hey everyone, welcome to the Call to Mastery. I'm Jordan Raynor. This is a podcast for Christians who want to do their most masterful work to the glory of God and for the good of others. Each week, I’m talking to a Christian who is pursuing world-class mastery of their vocation. We talk about their path to mastery and whatever their thing is vocationally. We talk about their daily habits and we talk about how their faith impacts their work.


Today, I’m going to share a conversation I recently had with my very, very good friends William Warren and Meg Easterbrook of The Sketch Effect. The Sketch Effect is a group of illustrators that do work for some blue chip clients, like Google, Chick-fil-A, Nike, the NBA. You don’t get more blue chip than the brands that The Sketch Effect works for. If you read my book Called to Create – If you’ve read that book, you’ll recognize William’s name. I talked about William’s story in the book.


Listen, The Sketch Effect is one of my favorite businesses. If you get me one-on-one talking about business, there’s a 50% or greater chance I’m going to mention The Sketch Effect. I know the business really intimately. I actually served as an advisor to William as he was starting up the company years ago.


William is an exceptional entrepreneur, and Meg, who also joined us for this conversation is a masterful operator. She’s the director of operations at Sketch Effect. William is the founder and CEO. I thought this would be fun to bring both of them into the conversation and talk about what it looks like to master the art of entrepreneurship, which I know a lot of you guys are interested in. But also what it looks like to master just the operations of a business, and Meg is one of the best teachers I could think of to bring into that conversation.


So the three of us recently sat down. We talked about – Well, we started talking about Taylor Swift’s new album, at least Meg and I did. Went on a little tangent there. Apologies for that. We talked about how William thought about making the leap from a great job he had at Chick-fil-A corporate to taking the risk to start The Sketch Effect.


We talk about the productivity systems that I taught William and Meg very early on in the venture that have really helped The Sketch Effect scale, and we talked about how a firm like The Sketch Effect can “represent good” in the world without explicitly preaching the gospel in everything that they do.


I think you guys are really going to enjoy this conversation with me, William and Meg. Without further ado, here’s my conversation with the team over at The Sketch Effect.




[00:02:42] JR: Okay. I’m here with William and Meg of The Sketch Effect. Two of my dearest friends. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen you guys actually. William, we had dinner in Atlanta I guess a few months ago right after the baby was born, right?


[00:02:54] WW: We did, and it was a much needed escape from my newly chaotic life as a dad of two.


[00:03:01] JR: It was literally like the day after. Like two days. It was something absurd.


[00:03:04] WW: I think it was. I think it was two or three days after we got back from the hospital.


[00:03:07] JR: Yeah, how have you been?


[00:03:09] WW: I’ve been good, man. We’ve been working hard. It’s been a busy, busy, busy year, which is a good thing when you’re running your own business. If it wasn’t busy, that would be a problem. But busyness brings a lot of other problems, good problems, that we are currently dealing with. I’m sure Meg can contribute to later, things like hiring, and, staffing and scaling, and all sorts of things like that. So we’re in the think of that. But it’s good and every day is a challenge. Every day is different, and we’re having fun, man.


[00:03:39] JR: Meg, how are you my friend? I haven’t seen you in even longer.


[00:03:42] ME: I know. It’s been a long-time since I didn’t get to catch up with you when you were Atlanta last time. But life is wild. Like William mentioned, there’s a lot going on, but definitely everything is super exciting.


[00:03:55] JR: More importantly, have you listened to the new Taylor Swift album?


[00:03:58] ME: I have.


[00:03:58] JR: Ooh! Thoughts? William’s cutting down for this part of the conversation.


[00:04:04] ME: I will say – My one comment will be that I think that Taylor Swift is going back to her roots and I really appreciate that.


[00:04:12] JR: I love it. I cannot get enough of the new album. All right. William, let’s talk a little bit. Some people who are listening to the podcast read about The Sketch Effect in Called to Create. But, one, that book is – Man! Two-years-old now. So it’s been a while. For those who don’t know, what is The Sketch Effect? What does The Sketch Effect do?


[00:04:33] WW: Awesome! Yeah, first of all I appreciate you wanting to include The Sketch Effect story in Called to Create, man! That was page 53. It’s the best page of the book. Not that I have it memorized or framed.


[00:04:45] JR: Framed in the office?


[00:04:46] WW: Yeah, great question. The Sketch Effect. We are a visual communications company. We use the principles of visuals or we use visuals, whether it’s sketching, animation, whiteboard animation, illustration. We leverage visuals to help our clients communicate their ideas more effectively. Our mission is pretty simple. It’s to make ideas understandable and actionable through awesome visual communications.


What we tell people is we’re not an art company, or an illustration company, or an animation, or a sketching company. We’re an ideas company. We’re a communication company. Art is how we do it. Sketching is how we do it. But at the end of the day, we’re all about our client’s ideas and just making them more impactful, understandable and actionable.


A little bit of history. We’re just about 6-years-old as a business and every year we’ve grown. We haven’t had a down year yet and we’ve staffed up and trying to figure out how to scale, because we believe in what we do. We think we have a great product to offer and we want to take it to as many people as possible. It’s great. We’re having a fun time and get to work with Fortune 500 companies, global brands you’ve heard of, and traveled the world. We’ve now sketched in five countries, I think. The latest was the Netherlands. One of our artists just got back from Amsterdam, and it’s a lot of fun.


[00:06:06] JR: I know you and I love to travel. Amsterdam is one of my favorite cities. I love Amsterdam.


[00:06:11] WW: It’s so awesome.


[00:06:12] JR: It’s so, so, so awesome.


[00:06:13] WW: It is so cool.


[00:06:14] JR: By the way, I should have mentioned this on the front end, but I know The Sketch Effect better than almost any business that you’re going to hear on the podcast, because I was knee deep in this business with these guys for a number of years, right, when William when starting and I had my consultancy, and this is one of my favorite businesses. I love it. I’ve seen it grow from an infant with just you, William, to a pretty significant team.


Actually, I think you and I both hired Meg.


[00:06:41] WW: Yeah.


[00:06:41] JR: I remember, I interviewed Meg for her job, and we’ll talk about Meg’s story in a second. But William, tell us a little bit about your story pre-Sketch Effect. You had a great job at Chick-fil-A. That’s actually how we met. I was just recalling to my producer. So you had this great job at Chick-fil-A. Talk us through the trajectory from that to founding The Sketch Effect.


[00:07:02] WW: Yeah. I was working at Chick-fil-A corporate. A small local Georgia chicken chain. I don’t know if you listeners ever heard of Chick-fil-A.


[00:07:10] JR: Probably not. Yeah.


[00:07:12] WW: It was a great job, and I was in the marketing department and I had a great team and a great boss and just learned a ton about leadership, and branding, and business, and marketing and things like that.


At the same time, I also am a creative at heart. I grew up sketching and illustrating and doing comics and cartoons. So I was in this role that I was super grateful for, but this one piece of my soul, which is the creativity, the illustration, that part was not being fully leveraged or my gifts and my skillset was not being fully leveraged.


At the time, I would find ways to add creativity into my role. So if I was leading a team meeting, I would maybe jump upon the whiteboard and sketch out the ideas, or if I was giving a presentation, I would illustrate out my concepts and scan them in and put them in a PowerPoint deck. For me, that was just a creative outlet. That was just a way for me to kind of satisfy that part of my soul.


What I discovered is that people saw value in what I was doing. They saw value in taking ideas and then using visuals to enhance those ideas. Did a little research, looked into it a little bit and I decided to try to start doing this type of work for hire, which began as a side hustle kind of thing.


[00:08:28] JR: Yeah. So real quick. When you say this type of work. At this point, it’s graphic recording, right? Or live sketching. Can you quickly explain what that is for people who don’t know?


[00:08:36] WW: Yeah. So the industry term for what we do is called graphic recording, or live sketching is what we typically call it. It is where an artist is physically present in a meeting or a conference or an event and they are live sketching the ideas as they’re discussed. Picture a corporate board meeting. Everyone’s around the table. They’re talking about strategy. They’re talking about vision. They’re talking about whatever, and there’s an artist there and he’s got a big canvass or she’s got a big canvas and while these ideas are being chatted and discussed, they are visually documenting it in real-time.


[00:09:09] JR: So you start doing this as a side hustle while you’re still at Chick-fil-A, right? In Master of One, my next book, I talk a lot about this importance of choosing a path to commit to. This idea that we cannot master more than one thing vocationally at the same time. You made that choice. I mean, you could have kept sketching doing graphic recording as a side hustle for a long-time. Why not continue to work at Chick-fil-A and do The Sketch Effect on the side? Why did you decide to go all in on that one thing?


[00:09:38] WW: Yeah. I mean, just like you said. I’m a big believer in focusing on what you’re made to do, what you’re best at, what you enjoy. I think there’s a – You kind of hit your sweet spot when you find the inner section of what the market needs. What it’s your good at? What it’s you’re talented at, and also what you’re passionate about. If you can find something that taps in to those three areas, then, man, put all the chips on the table and go all in on that.


[00:10:05] JR: You don’t regret that. You don’t regret leaving this super cushy – I mean, you really did have a great gig.


[00:10:10] WW: I mean, I got free Chick-fil-A sandwiches anytime I wanted.


[00:10:15] JR: There’s no better benefit than that, right?


[00:10:16] WW: I can’t think of a better perk than having unlimited Chick-fil-A sauce on-hand. I don’t regret it. Not for a minute. It was a risk. It was definitely a big leap. I give a lot of credit to my wife who signed off on that and said, “Go ahead. Do it.” We actually just gotten married. It was like a few months after our honeymoon and I was like, “I think I’m going to quit my job,” which I’m sure a new bride does not want to hear necessarily. But, yeah, I just felt like there was sort of – The metaphor I’ve used is I felt there was a train kind of leaving the station and I could either choose to get on or choose to get off, or choose to get on or choose to let it go off on its own and decide to take the ride, and it’s been awesome. It’s hasn’t always been great. I mean, there are ups and downs. I mean, you know this. You’re an entrepreneur. You’ve coached entrepreneurs. You know that when you’re doing your own thing or working on something big and important, there’re ups and downs. But I wouldn’t trade it for a minute.


[00:11:11] JR: I love it. Hey, Meg. Let’s talk to Meg. Meg, you’re the director of operations at The Sketch Effect. Basically, I mean, let’s be honest. You run the business. I mean –


[00:11:21] ME: No.


[00:11:22] JR: I’m just kidding. You’re running all things operationally. So you are one of the first – William, I can’t remember this, but I think Meg may have been the first full-time hire that we made at The Sketch Effect. Is that right?


[00:11:33] WW: Meg was the second full-time hire, and we had a couple of part-time hires before that. But Meg was the most pivotal hire we could have possibly made.


[00:11:43] JR: Yeah, so I remember –


[00:11:44] ME: You’re too kind, William. Too kind.


[00:11:47] JR: William, when I was consulting at The Sketch Effect, would ask me to weigh in a new perspective hires. Part of the reason why I got so excited about Meg was just her entrepreneurial spirit. I really loved what Meg was doing prior to The Sketch Effect. Can you talk about that, Meg? What were you doing prior to coming on to the team?


[00:12:03] ME: Yeah. So before I joined The Sketch Effect team, I was working with an entrepreneur. I help start a furniture business. So previously my experience was always in ministry. So I had spent about 6 years working in ministry, and when I moved to Atlanta, I was ready to explore a new opportunity with all the experience prior within ministry. So I just said, “Hey, I’m willing. I may not be able to yet, but I’m willing to join.” So I had that awesome opportunity to help start and launch a business from the ground up. So I was a part of that for a little bit over a year prior to starting with The Sketch Effect.


[00:12:43] JR: What was that business?


[00:12:44] ME: It’s a furniture company and we really wanted to have purpose within the company. So all of the furniture was handmade within our wood shop and the men that we would employ had come out of addiction facilities. Really the heart behind it is that we want to give them an opportunity to get acclimated back into the society and give them a job that really they were able to put a lot of purpose in what they do and tangibly see the work they produce.


So during my time with that company, we employed around 5 men that were working for us within different times of the business. So it was really awesome to have that business, but also to have a purpose behind it as well. That was really the mission behind the business.


[00:13:29] JR: I love it. So you guys make a really great team. So you’re both entrepreneurial, but you have pretty different skillsets, right? I’m going to characterize you guys and you guys could tell me if you widely disagree with me. William, your skillset – You’re very much a visionary. Very much big picture planning guy for the venture and steering the vision and culture and all those good things. I would argue, those are the skillsets of like a really masterful founder. Meg, you’re much more detail-oriented than William is. You’re a masterful operator. You’re just really exceptional at running the day-to-day of the venture.


William, I guess I’ll ask you, would you agree with that characterization of you too?


[00:14:07] WW: 100%. I think that that is where our greatest strength and sometimes the greatest tension comes in, because I’ll say, “Hey, I’ve got this amazing idea. We’re going to do this new thing.” Like the other day I said, “Hey, Meg. We’re going to start sketching in virtual reality.” Then I leave the room.


So it’s her job and the team’s job to actually figure out how to do that. I think there’s a balance to the kind of, the visionary, and an operator. Theres a good balance, but I think that’s kind of tension that great businesses have. Yeah, I would concur with your assessment.


[00:14:42] JR: With my analysis? Yeah. So, William, you’re one of the most exceptional founders I’ve ever worked with, and I think a lot of that is just inspiring leadership and whatever. But I’m curious from your perspective, what do world-class founders do that they’re less masterful counterparts don’t do? What is the delta? What’s the difference between and exceptional entrepreneur and an entrepreneur who’s just good?


[00:15:05] WW: Yeah. I think it's a laser focus on purpose and vision and also culture. I think a lot of founders are really excited about product and about some of the things that are surrounding product, like marketing, and branding and all more like sexy kind of fun parts of business. But I think that exceptional founders, they’re very clear about why they're doing it and they’re very clear about what their mission is and they're very clear about the values they're trying to build and the culture they’re trying to build. Then they just stay laser-focused on that.


When things don't line up with that, they don't do it. I think a lot of the mistakes that we've made have been maybe where we’ve veered off or gotten distracted with something that didn’t lineup with our vision, mission and values and culture. Yeah, I think I'm a big believer in the start with why principle. If you don’t start with the why – I think too many founders start with the what or the how. The product and the marketing or the process and the strategy and they don't begin with the why or the heart or the purpose or the mission.


[00:16:09] JR: Hey, have you read Excellence Wins by Horst Schulze? The cofounder of Ritz Carlton?


[00:16:15] WW: I haven't read it, but I've heard him present before, and he’s remarkable. I love what he’s –


[00:16:22] JR: He’s so great. He’s in Atlanta. He’s actually in Buckhead, and I just recorded a podcast conversation with Horst that you got a listen to. It’s coming out the same time as this episode is coming out.


[00:16:33] WW: Are you equating Ritz-Carlton with The Sketch Effect in terms of brand and quality?


[00:16:41] JR: I'm not going to answer that question. But, yeah. Sure. Yes, I will. But here's where I really equate you guys, is this commitment to vision and values. Horst answered the question the same way. Like masterful founders stay obsessed with the vision, and tactics and operations might change along the way, but the founder's job is to make sure that the vision remains intact.


All right. Let me ask Meg the same question. Meg, what do world-class operators do that they’re less masterful counterparts don't?


[00:17:11] ME: This is a great question. I’m just thinking through it. I would say that something that is so important to me within operations is looking through a really broad lens. So, when we’re putting together like systems and processes and when we’re running the operation, our team is thinking through the lens of, “What works best for the business, what works best for our clients and what works best for the team?” So we really have to be students of each in these three and learn kind of what works best for each of those buckets so that we can see through a full lens before we’re kind of managing operation and the day-to-day. I would say that, that's something that's really crucial to operations.


We can't look through our lens, like I know William mentioned that sometimes there can be tension with the visionary and with operations because we have this big vision, but how are we going to do it and how are we going to do it well with excellence? So just really being a student of our audience so that we can now how we can serve best and with excellence to everyone that's involved throughout the process.


[00:18:16] JR: Yeah, that's good. William, you've been deliberate. This is one thing I really respect about you. You’ve been very deliberate and I think very humble from day one as you started the venture, your first venture to realize, “Hey, I should probably submit myself to the advice and the teachings of other masterful entrepreneurs who have gone before me.”


[00:18:33] WW: 100%.


[00:18:35] JR: You’ve done that in a couple of different ways. Can you talk about some of the ways that you've apprenticed under more experience founders?


[00:18:41] WW: Yeah. A little bit of background on me. I've never taken a business class. I don't have an MBA. I went to school [inaudible 00:18:49] something completely different than business or entrepreneurship. So everything I know I’ve learned I've had to learn on my own, and the best way that I figured to do that was to just meet with people.


When I first started the business – Well, I learned a lot when I was at Chick-fil-A before I went off on my own. But even when I was on my own, I would just make a list of people. Like smart people, talented people, people who have built businesses. I’ve actually got coffee tomorrow morning with somebody. So I'm still doing this and I would come with my notebook and a list of questions that things I want to learn and just try to soak in as much as possible. That's one, is just setting up these coffees or lunches with people and it doesn't hurt to ask. So I would just ask a lot of people and sometimes they would say, “I’m too busy,” or whatever. But most of the time people would love to chat, and you were one of those people that I originally wanted to kind of connect with or reconnect with.


Secondly, I have a board of advisors and I've had one for a long time, and they’re always a great source of ideas and wisdom and insights. Then third, I just consume a lot of content: podcasts, books, conferences. I get to go to conferences with The Sketch Effect to work at a lot of conferences. So I’m privy to a lot of that type of content. But I just think that in this world of entrepreneurship or doing your own thing, you have to be constantly growing and challenging and expanding your perspectives and learning. That's sort of what it's looked like for me.


[00:20:15] JR: Yeah. So I have this idea that I talk about in Master of One that there's basically two different forms of apprenticeship. There’s this like direct apprenticeship where you're working with the same mentors on a pretty regular basis. So that would be your board of advisors is a good example of that. They’re really getting to know you and your specific challenges and pointing them out and helping you develop. Then there's like indirect mentors, indirect apprenticeships. That's like listening to Craig Groeschel Leadership podcast.


[00:20:42] WW: I love it. That’s my favorite one.


[00:20:44] JR: I know. We talked about this on the phone a couple of weeks ago. I mean, both of those are valuable, but kind of the hypothesis I have in the book is that the direct apprenticeship is far more valuable, because these people get to really know you intimately. Would you agree or disagree with that?


[00:20:58] WW: I would totally agree. I think that life happens up close. Relationships happen up close. Probably the first four years of my business, I was in a great community group here in Atlanta through an organization called Plywood People, which is fantastic, and those were other entrepreneurs, founders, people that were in the same boat as me and we would meet once a month and just talk about what's bugging us. What's confusing us? What is exciting us? Having that direct apprenticeship was critical especially in the early stages of the business.


If your listeners take anything away from this, it's surround yourself with people. People that push you, that will grow you, that will challenge you and that can look like a direct mentor. It can look like a community group of peers. It can look like: grab a coffee once a quarter with somebody you respect. I just think that those types of conversations are invaluable.


[00:21:50] JR: Yeah. That’s good. Hey! Let's talk about routines, daily habits. This is something that like I'm obsessed with. You guys know this. I’m obsessed with productivity, productivity hacks, people's habits. Meg, let's start with you. Let's go from the moment you wake up in the morning to the moment you lay your head on the pillow at night. What is your day look like?


[00:22:09] ME: Wow! How long do you have, Jordan? What my day looks like is I always like to – I’m an early morning person, and so I've always been that way. So I’m most productive when I'm in the morning. For me, it's really important to start my day out just with doing SOAPs. I'm not sure if you're familiar with that. SOAP is just – It’s my quiet time that I have. So it stands for scripture, observation, application and prayer.


[00:22:36] JR: Wait. Let’s park here for a second. I don't know this SOAP routine. What does this look like? What did this look like today or yesterday for you?


[00:22:44] ME: Yeah. Basically, I'll always be walking through a book of the Bible. Really, like what I'm trying to focus on is maybe one chapter within Scripture so that I'm able to really absorb that Scripture without getting too overwhelmed. So I’m able to go a little bit deeper. So right now I've been walking through Ephesians. It's one of my favorite books. I love reading through Ephesians.


It would just be – I would spend time within one chapter. I normally spend like about 30 minutes in the morning. I would read one chapter. That would be the Scripture portion, and then I would jump in to an observation. Just really writing down what I'm observing is happening within the Scripture. And then just writing down an application. And then prayer. I think that it's really important to be praying Scripture like over your life. It really soaks in and seeps in. That's kind of what I start my day out with.


[00:23:40] JR: All right. What's next?


[00:23:41] ME: Yes. What’s next is I try. I will say try, because it's been pretty busy the past few months, but that's when I would go and get a workout in 30 minutes. Preferably of like doing some weights at the gym. Weights, or cardio. I would do that. Then at that point just getting ready for the day. That would kind of be how I would start every day. Then coming into the office, it’s just really – Especially with operation. Just making sure that everyone is set up for success for the day. Just making sure before the team comes in that everyone has what they need to get started on the projects that they're working on. So always just thinking high-level when I come in in the morning, and then kind of designating my task throughout the day. Doing some time blocking to make sure that I have all my time designated throughout the day, granted will we stick to that. Sometimes it doesn't happen.


[00:24:29] JR: When you do that time blocking? In the morning?


[00:24:32] ME: Yeah, first thing in the morning. I normally get into the office between 8:00 and 8:30 and that's when I spend normally that first 30 minutes of the day trying to make sure that everyone has what they need and put some time blocks on my calendar, if I haven't done that from the day before.


[00:24:49] JR: So from there your days is just nuts.


[00:24:51] ME: Wild. But it's great. Just with so many projects. I know right now we have 65 open projects that we’re working on. There's a lot of moving parts. A lot of – Projects are at different phases within the project. We’re working with a lot of different clients. So there's always a lot going on. But really just spending some intentional time within the morning really does set the day up for success. Granted, William and I both, there're times when you had your OmniFocused tasks and you had your full day time blocked out and then you get to the end of the day and you got those remaining tasks that are due and you’ve got some time blocks you got to move to another day. So sometimes this happens. I know at The Sketch Effect, we always are adaptable. That's one of our core values. I would say that that's something that is kind of at the forefront of every day.


[00:25:45] JR: What's the end of the day look like for you? You're moving projects to tomorrow. You're wrapping up things at the office. What time are you leaving then how do you spend your evening?


[00:25:54] ME: Yeah. I try and wrap up between 4:30 and 5:00 is when I try and wrap up the day, and I really like to make sure that everything – That I kind of set things up to make sure we start the day strong the next day. Kind of reviewing my tasks for the next day and also the deliverables that are going out to clients. So just getting a good idea what my day looks like tomorrow so I can kind of leave and be able to kind of leave it at work. Does that always happen? No. Because I love The Sketch Effect and I love what we get to do.


But, really, I like to organizationally be in a good place when I leave the office. Then after that, I love to be outside. To me, it's really important to spend some time outside connecting with friends. Weather that's going on a hike, or a walk, a bike ride. I just really love the opportunity to be outside. Then I have a lot of different things that I’m involved in at church and such as well that I have going on throughout the week.


[00:26:46] JR: I love it. All right. William, I'm going to ask you a slightly different question. Don't talk through your daily routine, but I'm curious about like the kind of keystone habits and routines that you’ve been doing for years. Not stuff that you’ve been experimenting with for the last three weeks, but what are the habits that make you super productive that you like absolutely swear by?


[00:27:08] WW: Yeah. In work, as a clarifying question, are you talking about work habits or life habits?


[00:27:16] JR: Hey, whatever. I'm curious about any of them.


[00:27:17] JR: Cool. Yeah. With, we’ve talked about OmniFocus. Jordan, you were instrumental in helping me get set up on OmniFocus. But one of the keystone habits that I’ve been doing for many years is the weekly review. So I track everything I work on in OmniFocus.


[00:27:37] JR: Yeah. Let me pop in here. For those who don't know, OmniFocus is the greatest piece of software ever made. If anybody – If you guys know me well, you know that my kind of almost number one – Maybe not number one, but almost number one recommended book is Getting Things Done by David Allen. It defines how I work. That and Deep Work by Cal Newport.


OmniFocus is a piece of software built for the GTD methodology, this getting things done methodology. It's how I organize every single one of my tasks, every single one of my projects. When William and I start working together, I flew to Atlanta for two days just to help him get OmniFocus set up correctly, because I really believed it was the critical foundation for the rest of the venture. Part of the GTD methodology is this weekly review. So what’s a weekly review, William?


[00:28:23] WW: Yeah. Great description of OmniFocus, and I concur. It’s kind of like an external brain. It's so it's a way to dump and document and track everything so that it doesn’t live inside your skull, which is good for me, because I can be disorganized and I can be little scattered. So it's a critical tool.


The weekly review is a designated time that happens once a week and you guard it, you protect it, you fight for it and you don't schedule meetings on top of it. What you do is you review the prior week and you see your calendar on the big calendar blocker. I block everything I work on my calendar. I review all my blocks and I want to make sure that I haven't left anything unattended. That there's no open loops. That everything is accounted for. Not that everything is accomplished, but at least I understand what still needs to be done, and then I track that somewhere.


[00:29:18] JR: In OmniFocus.


[00:29:19] WW: In OmniFocus. Yup. So I review the prior week. Then I review the next week. I look at the meetings on my calendar, the things that I have going on. I make sure that I've carved out time and documented all the things that I need to do to make sure that week is successful. If I've got a meeting, for instance, I have a coffee tomorrow morning with a business leader who I really respect and I have an OmniFocus task today to prepare some questions to ask him. Basically, do those kind of things to make sure that everything I'm committed to for the following week, I'm setting myself up for success.


Then the next part of the process is I review everything I'm working on line-by-line and I make sure that, again, there're no open loops that everything is accounted for. The final thing I do is I plan my next week. I do my weekly review on Friday afternoon, because I love to kind of feel good about how the week went and go home at the end of the day and enjoy a weekend and not have things still in my brain.


Yeah, I just block out my following week so I know when I come in Monday morning I've already gotten my week planned out. Everything I'm working on is going to be reflected on my calendar. Do I get to it all? No. I'm extremely ambitious in terms of what I think I can accomplish within my limited 40-hour work week. But at least I know what I'm working on and then I can track it and make sure it's getting done eventually. So that’s one habit.


[00:30:34] JR: Can I comment on the weekly review real quick?


[00:30:36] WW: Please.


[00:30:37] JR: If you guys are curious how I work, this is a huge component of it. The way William just described the weekly review is exactly how I do my weekly review. That's not coincidental. Friday afternoons. Weekly review is like really simple. It is: review your calendar from the past week and review your calendar for the upcoming week to spot things that you may have missed. So in the week past, I’ll almost always review a meeting and say, “Oh man! I forgot that I promised to send that person a book that I met with,” and I’ll jot it down or I’ll just do it right then. The week ahead, it's critical to know, “Hey, I'm having coffee with this person or I've got this interview coming up. I got to make sure that we’re done with it.” Man! I'm proud you, William. You like really stuck with the weekly review. I’m so impressed.


[00:31:23] WW: I’m addicted to it.


[00:31:24] JR: You're addicted to it. So I literally can't live without it. Karen knows. If I end Friday and I didn't do my weekly review she’ll like know I'm like stressed-out or on edge. She’ll be like, “Wake up at 4 o'clock tomorrow morning and please do your weekly review.”


So you are about to talk about another big keystone habit of yours. What was it, William?


[00:31:42] WW: Yeah. Outside of work, and actually I think it impacts work dramatically, is that I try to be intentional about doing things that fill my bucket or satisfy my soul or kind of satisfy those parts of who I am that I know if left unattended I will become a shriveled up shell of a human being.


For me, one of those things is running. I love going for a great run while listening to music. It's like probably the most meditative thing I do. I mean, I have a similar morning routine to Meg’s, which includes some Scripture reading and some meditation and prayer. For me, it's getting outside. It's breathing the fresh air. It's sweating. It's seeing nature. That for me fills my bucket. I can draw a correlation from the times I don't do that, those behaviors, and just how I feel, how I negatively feel.


I would recommend to all your listeners to literally take a sheet of paper and list out the 10 or so things that when you do it, you feel alive, and you feel refreshed. Then schedule that in. Put it on the calendar and make it happen.


[00:32:51] JR: You two both love this business. You also both really love Jesus deeply, which I love about you both. Meg, I’d love for you to answer this question. How does your faith influence your work at The Sketch Effect?


[00:33:02] ME: Yeah, that’s a great question. I would say that it's really the foundation of what I do. So really like having the opportunity to serve God and serve others through work. It’s just huge to me. Really, that gives me so much purpose in what I'm doing. Jordan, like you mentioned, saying that you love work. I love work too. It’s awesome to be able to look forward to coming in every day, know that there's purpose in what I'm doing and that I’m able to serve God and serve others, and do it with excellence. That’s what I'm striving to every day.


I would say it's really just the foundation of what I do, but it also is why I want to continue to grow and learn and really do things well, because I know that I've never perfected something. But I'm like striving to become better. I would say that that's really the role it plays.


One thing to mention too is that a book that I read that really was super influential in how I viewed work is well was Every Good Endeavor by Tim Keller. So that's one of my favorite books. Actually, I’m heading on vacation next week and I am going to start reading it again, because I think it's a good time to wipe some dust off and read it again, because there are so, so many great principles within that book.


[00:34:18] JR: So I said Getting Things Done was the number one book that I recommend, and I correct myself, because it's actually Every Good Endeavor. If it weren't for Every Good Endeavor, this podcast wouldn't exist. Called to Create wouldn’t exist. Master of One wouldn't exist. If you want a good, solid doctrine of vocation of why your work matters, that's the resource.


Meg, I want to follow up on something you said though. I mean, you have this deep sense of purpose in your work. But to be clear, Sketch Effect does not do overtly evangelical work. You guys work for Google, and Ernst & Young, and Chick-fil-A, and Home Depot. You view your work is eternally significant. I understand why. Help our listeners understand why.


[00:34:56] ME: Yeah. I love at The Sketch Effect that we have – We have six core values. So those are integrity, positivity, whimsy, adaptability. What am I forgetting, William?


[00:35:08] WW: Excellence and courage.


[00:35:09] ME: Yes. Excellence and courage. Really, when I'm thinking of the purpose that we do is we like are a positive representation, like a good within the world. So everyone that we get to interact with, whether it's our team or our clients, we have the opportunity to be a force for good in this world and really to bring excellence with the work that we do. So that’s where I see so much purpose within it. I think that Sketch Effect is really set apart by how we work with our clients and work with our team. We want people to become their best while giving their best as well. I know that that's something that William has been just sharing within the team. So I love that that’s kind of at the forefront of what we do.


[00:35:55] JR: It's serving others through the ministry of excellence. Just doing exceptional work. William, let me ask you. I think this a really difficult question to answer, but if you weren’t a follower of Christ, if you didn't love Jesus and you weren't aligning your life with his, what would be different about The Sketch Effect?


[00:36:15] WW: I think what will be different about The Sketch Effect is we would care less about people. I think that business kind of gets a bad rep for being all about the bottom line, all about making money, getting rich, all the things. That's not why we’re doing this. That's part of it. I think a good business is a profitable business. A good business is a scalable business. I think that a good business is all those things. That's not the ultimate for me. That's not the ultimate for Meg and for a few others on our team. I think that we really want to treat people well and it’s not just because we want to earn their business. We want to treat them well because we view people as having dignity and being worthy of respect, and even like a difficult client or maybe a difficult vendor or whatever, we want to treat everybody with respect and dignity and honor, because they are worth it and I think that that’s sometimes caused some frustration because we run into situations where we just want to scream or we want to react out of anger. But at the end of the day, we want to treat people like they're created in the image of God, which they are. I think that I'm a big believer in [inaudible 00:37:28] model that good business and kind of biblical ethics or biblical values can work together and do work together.


So my thought is, let's build the best possible business we can and let's put the most excellent product out into the world that we can and let's treat people well while we do it. I think to answer your question, if I wasn’t a Christ follower and I didn't care about that, I think that I'd have much more callous attitude about the people that I work with, and our clients, and our vendors, and our contractors and we really don't. We value the humanity of everyone we come in contact with.


[00:38:06] JR: I'm so glad that was your answer, because if it wasn't, I was going to step in and say the same thing. I remember, this is probably a year ago. So we had not had a formal working relationship for some time, but the three of us stayed in contact. You guys called me. I was leaving Threshold. I was driving home and you guys called me with a crisis that it happened at The Sketch Effect and somebody who had really done you guys wrong. But at the same time, you guys still loved this person and you guys still cared for this person as a human being even if they had no relationship with The Sketch Effect after this interaction, after this incident. I was just so impressed by that.


I remember thinking, “I don't think that would be the case if you didn't have the gospel as your source of truth,” as kind of the thing guiding your whole life. It's hard to forgive those who have harmed us without understanding the grace that Jesus has given us. I just want to commend you guys for that.


I like to ask everybody who comes on to the show three questions. I want to see if you guys can both answer these. We’ll try to make it really rapid fire. So first question, what book or books do you guys gift others the most? Which books are you buying nonstop on Amazon to give to other people?


[00:39:24] WW: I’ll go first. I'm not a very good gift giver. Meg and the team knows this. So I don't give away. I don't give books away, but I recommend books, and the book I –


[00:39:32] JR: There you go. That's good enough.


[00:39:34] WW: The book I recommend the most – I’m looking at my bookshelf right now. Would probably be The Four Disciplines of Execution it's by Stephen Covey, or it might be by his son. I'm not sure. But it's all about setting big goals. How do you track it? How you achieve it? So that's one. Then the other one that I love to recommend to people for business is The E-Myth Revisited. I'm sure many of your listeners have read that book. It's amazing. It's kind of is the Bible of entrepreneurship. So those are the two.


[00:40:08] JR: It’s so great. How about you, Meg?


[00:40:10] ME: That’s a great question. I would say that there’s not a book that I recommended on a consistent basis. It’s really depending on what people are walking through or what they're willing to learn. I would say I need some more time to think on that.


[00:40:25] JR: We’ll follow up. We’ll follow up.


[00:40:27] ME: Yes.


[00:40:29] JR: All right. Meg, what one person would you most like to hear talk about the intersection of their faith and their work maybe on this podcast?


[00:40:36] ME: That’s also another great question. Lets get Timothy Keller on here.


[00:40:43] JR: You’re the second person who’s mentioned Tim.


[00:40:46] ME: Really? Well, I mean, that would be awesome. I would love to hear him on this podcast.


[00:40:51] JR: How about you, William?


[00:40:52] JR: I’m a big Craig Groeschel fan boy and I would love to see Jordan Raynor/Craig Groeschel interview sometime in the future.


[00:41:01] JR: We’ll get it done. William, what one piece of advice would you give to somebody who like you is pursuing mastery or the craft of entrepreneurship and building a business?

[00:41:10] WW: My one bit of advice would be to write out what your priorities are and then schedule your calendar around your priorities. I think a lot of people get really excited about their business or their project or whatever they're working on and then they neglect the things that are maybe a higher priority, like their relationships, or their faith, or their health, or their fitness. I know for me I never wanted to be a slave to my work. So I very intentionally try to work a reasonable work week and unplug it in the day and unplugging the weekend, because I know what my priorities are, and work is not my top priority. It's other things. Work is a huge priority for me. I'm a big believer that work is a good thing and hard work is a good thing, but if you don't know what your priorities are, if you haven’t actually listed out and then scheduled your life in such a way that it reflects those priorities, I think a lot of people end up in that place.


[00:42:06] JR: Meg, I’m going to ask you a slightly different variation of that question. So what advice would you give to anybody who's pursuing mastery of any vocation? Whether they’re starting a business or they're going to work every day at a huge Fortune 500 company? What advice would you give to somebody who’s just pursuing world-class mastery of their career, of their vocation?


[00:42:24] ME: Absolutely. That's an awesome question. I would just say to surround yourself with leaders that are in all different points in their journey within that. I think that there're so much value not in only having someone speak into your life that’s much further down the road, but also having folks that are at different spots in the journey, because there're different blind spots that each one of those folks can kind of see and speak into your life and give you really good wisdom. That's one thing that I think that would be super valuable and I know has been super valuable for me as well.


[00:42:56] JR: That's great. Hey guys, I want to thank you two and just commend you two for how passionately you’re pursuing the ministry of excellence. You guys love your customers and your employees so extraordinarily well. I know you know this, but I brag on The Sketch Effect nonstop. Thank you for reviewing the character of our creative God. Your work is important. The work at the team at The Sketch Effect, the ever-growing team at The Sketch Effect is critically important. It’s a means of glorifying God, glorifying the first entrepreneur, loving neighbor itself. So keep fighting for excellence.


Hey, if you need help communicating big ideas, if you want somebody to come live sketch at an event, if you want amazing hand-drawn whiteboard videos, contact The Sketch Effect. Super easy to find them.


William, Meg, thanks for hanging out with me.


[00:43:46] WW: Hey! Thanks, Jordan. Appreciate the opportunity.


[00:43:48] ME: Thanks so much Jordan. It’s been a blast.




[00:43:52] JR: I love William and Meg. I'm so thankful that they were willing to come on to the show. Hey, if you're enjoying the podcast, make sure you subscribe to The Call to Mastery so you never miss an episode in the future. If you’re already subscribed, do me favor, take a couple of seconds to go review the podcast wherever you review and listen to podcasts. Before you go, I’ve get another short conversation I want to put in your ears. It sounds so odd saying that, but this is the author of a book I recently added to my personal reading list. The author's name is Chris Norton. If that name sounds familiar, you’ve likely seen the viral YouTube video of Chris walking across the stage of his college graduation only a couple years after he was told he would never walk again.


Chris was playing college football at the University of Florida and in an instant he went from college football start to quadriplegic very tragically. Told he would never walk again. As the YouTube video makes clear, he does. This is just a great story of – I talk a lot about this tension of trusting in God, but also hustling and working hard to make things happen. As Colossians 3: 23 commands us to work heartily as unto to the Lord, but also trusting in God to produce results. I think this is a pretty good representation of that. The book is called The Seven Longest Yards. It’s essentially a memoir from Chris and his wife.


I recently sat down with Chris to ask him a few questions about the book. So without further ado, here's my conversation with Chris Norton.




[00:45:24] JR: Chris Norton, thanks for hanging out with me, man.


[00:45:27] CN: Yeah, thanks for having me on, Jordan.


[00:45:29] JR: Yeah. You have a remarkable story. A remarkable story of what God's done in your life and the life of your wife. I’m really looking forward to our audience hearing part of that as we talk about your new book, The Seven Longest Yards.


I ask every guest what the book is about, but in your case, it’s really your story. So tell us your story.


[00:45:47] CN: Yeah. So just kind of in a nutshell, I was an 18-year-old college football athlete, living the dream, everything was going according to my plan. My plan was to be this all-American football player. Meet the girl of my dreams. Earn a business degree someday. Make enough money to own a lake house or even better. The girl of my dreams family already owns a lake house. On the sixth game of the season, I’m playing on all the different special-teams units. We’re making this come back. The ball is kicked. I’m sprinting downfield to make the tackle the ball carrier. He’s trying to score a touchdown. I’m going to drive my shoulder through his legs and I see this opening forming and I know he’s going to run through it. So I make this diving tackle at full speed, full force, but had mistimed my tackle. In a split second, my head crashes into his legs and I was trying to collide with my shoulder, and I tried pushing off the ground after the tackle and nothing was working.


I kept trying to move. Again, nothing was happening and I’m thinking it’s just a bad stinger. It’s temporary. It’s not a big deal, because bad things don’t happen to you, Chris. Bad things happen to other people. Don't worry about it. Then eventually I’m flown out, emergency surgery, and I suffered a severe spinal cord injury. I was given a 3% chance of ever regaining feeling or movement below the neck.


[00:47:13] JR: A lot of our listeners have seen at least part of the rest of that story, seeing the viral YouTube video of you walking across the stage at your graduation, then eventually your wedding. What did you learn about – What did those experiences do to your relationship with the Lord? What did you learn about him and his character through that process?


[00:47:36] CN: I learned, one, to depend on God. That I couldn’t just depend on myself, and when you go through something hard, you really do learn that the pendency. But also knowing too with that foundation, with that faith, is that there is light at the end of the tunnel. With your hard work and planting the seeds, that God can provide this harvest with that hard work.


It just allowed me to focus in on, “What can I do today to get a little bit better? Like, what can I do in this moment to know that I'm putting in the steps to allow God to do something special with it?” Because I know that with God, he can take my pain and turn into a purpose. It's hard to swallow that pill when you’re going through so much pain. But, again, if you can just manage the moment and take care of business one step at a time over the long run, God can provide. That's exactly what I’ve seen with, by working hard, doing the right things, been able to walk across the stage of my college graduation with the help of my now wife, Emily. Went viral. Had opportunities to share my story on a larger platform and stage and become a motivational speaker, start a foundation, wrote a book, have a documentary.


Then the wedding walk, same thing. Just seeing how many people were drawn to these walks and these acts of perseverance and just allowing people to see the strength within themselves and to know that they're capable of more. That's why I'm really motivated to share my story, because we all have stories of challenges and hardships. It doesn’t have to be as severe as mine. I mean, there are stories out there that are worse than mine, but just knowing that you are capable of more than what you think is possible. I want to show that and get that word about to people.


[00:49:25] JR: Yeah, and what I love about the story and what I loved about the book is this tension between what we call in the podcast trusting and hustling. Doing the work, hustling, working hard, doing what you believe the Lord has commanded you to do. But also recognizing that at the end, the Lord is the only one who produces results in our lives and embracing – It's not an either or thing. It's not a work or rest thing. It’s both/and. It’s resting in the tension between trust and hustling.


Chris, who is this book for?


[00:49:54] CN: It’s for anyone who wants to take a hardship, anything, any kind of challenges, anything that they want to improve in their life and turn it into something that they can use for their own good, for God's purpose to do more – That life's lowest moments can be the source for our greatest gifts. Like you said, it takes though, that trust and that hustle, and you can see that illustrated through our story. Also, then hopefully, again, they can see that within themselves and to know they’re not alone and that they can get through what they're going – The challenges they’re going through.


[00:50:29] JR: Yeah. I love that. So we've got the people listening to The Call to Mastery, this podcast, are high-achieving Christians. They’re professionals who are trying to deeply integrate their faith with their work and do really exceptional work for the glory of God and for the good of others. How will this book serve that particular audience?

[00:50:49] JR: I think, especially achievers, when you have a big goal, big dreams, it’s easy to, in stressful moments, project a worst-case scenario. To jump to a conclusion that a failed attempt means you’re a failure. A bad choice means you’re a bad person. What’s going wrong is only going to get worse. But it isn’t true. Just that when we project these worst-case scenarios, it increases our fear and our anxiety. But just know in order to get through that fear and anxiety, it’s just managing the moment and knowing what you can do right now and just taking those baby steps.


I think for this group, just understanding to manage every single moment of your life. Don't let the fear, the anxiety take away your joy, take away God's calling on your life, and just get busy doing the hustle, and then the trust, like you said.


[00:51:40] JR: Yeah, I love that. Chris, thank you so much for writing this book. Thanks for writing The Seven Longest Yards. That was a risk, right? You're taking a risk and stepping out in faith and writing down this story. Thank you for sharing a little bit about the book with our audience. I appreciate it.


[00:51:53] CN: Yeah. Thank you for having me on.




[00:51:57] JR: Again, the book is The Seven Longest Yards. If you liked that conversation with Chris, make sure to pick up a copy wherever books are sold. Listen, guys. Next week, I'm sharing a conversation with somebody. I’m not going to give away who it is yet, but I will say this guy was in my top five people when I started the podcast. Top five people I wanted to talk to and bring on to The Call to Mastery. I was so excited when he said yes. I spent hours and hours and hours prepping for this conversation. You're not going to want to miss next week's episode. If you're not already subscribed to The Call to Mastery, make sure you do it. Do it right now. Subscribe to The Call to Mastery wherever you listen to podcasts so you make sure you don't miss this great conversation that’s coming up next Wednesday.


Hey, guys. I hope you’re enjoying The Call to Mastery as much as I am enjoying putting it together. If you guys ever have feedback on the show, things you want to see me do differently, don't hesitate to reach out. You can find me any time at


Thank you guys so much for listening this week. I’ll see you next Wednesday.