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26 02, 2023

Anger Consumed Me


A warm breeze kisses my skin as I am at last able to return to the old porch without the need for a blanket or a jacket. Brightly colored purple blossoms ignite the spring trees, and tiny buds indicate soon-to-return Texas bluebonnets that will carpet the ground in blue. Spring is here, finally. 

I’m blessed that we have a short and usually mild winter here in the center of the Lone Star State, only a couple of freezes and one massive ice storm to deal with so far. And though winter is my least favorite, I love living in a place where seasonal change occurs. Being able to open the windows and sleep with fresh air, no heat or AC, is among my favorite things.


Of course, summertime is the ultimate. So many summer memories occupy space in my gray matter. Each summer my grandparents would hop in their new Chevrolet (my grandfather traded his in every year) and we would make the full-day drive to Tennessee. They always packed a picnic, and we often stopped to visit other family members along the way.

Get in the Car Now!

At first, I was resistant when they would ask me along, because summer was a time to hang out with my best friends, to ride to the shopping center on our bikes, and to see what kind of trouble we could get into. But I had no choice in the matter. And once we got to Tennessee, I had some of the best summers of my life. 

Country Breakfast

My second cousin Larry was a year or two older, and we got to share a bed. We would stay up late talking and telling stories. I got up with him at 5 a.m. to help him work the farm. We would feed the chickens, milk the cows, clean out chicken coops (the worst job ever), and once the chores were done, we would come in for breakfast about 7. My Aunt Ruth would make fresh cornbread, fried potatoes, and fried chicken for breakfast. Her preparation included going to the yard, grabbing a chicken, and dressing it, which is a polite way of saying she cut its head off and plucked its feathers. We didn’t get to eat like that at home.

Skinny Dipping

Larry knew all the great spots, and we would hike to a giant waterfall and skinny dip in the cold rushing water, standing up with the water gushing over our heads. We would walk to neighboring farms, visit friends, make forts in the woods, and whittle. The big competition every night was to grab an apple from the tree, pull out our pocket knives, and see who could peel an apple with one continuous peel. The men would sit around on the porch telling stories while the women were making a dinner of more fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and fresh green beans and tomatoes. 

Glowing with Joy

I could not be happier. I was with my cousins, my grandparents, and my great-grandparents. Grandpa Garrett was a preacher who founded several churches, and he raised songbirds on the side to make a little extra money. My Great-Grandma was about the sweetest person I ever knew, and she was truly interested in me.

A Litter of Puppies

One summer I had the added bonus of a litter of little black puppies. I’d lay on the grass and all nine of them would lick my face. I couldn’t stop laughing. But the hardest part about going home was leaving those puppies behind. On the day we were leaving, I begged my grandparents to let me take my favorite one back with us, and somehow they must have secured permission from my parents. The dog was probably not properly weaned, and he whined and was sick most of the way home. I named him Whiny, but later we renamed him Pepper.

Boy’s Best Friend

All young kids should have a childhood companion like Pepper. He was at my side constantly except for school. He was an outside dog because my dad didn’t want a dog in the house. Yet Dad was the one to let him in on his first cold night. Pepper lived in the house from that point forward.


One day my brothers and I were out playing basketball in the driveway (required lifestyle in Indiana) when Pepper took off chasing a loud car. He had a bad habit of chasing cars that we were not able to break him of. As this car raced down the road, Pepper was on its tail and barking. Suddenly the brake lights went on, the driver swerved over, and he intentionally ran over our dog. Pepper hobbled back to the driveway and died in front of our eyes. I cried for weeks. I can remember being in 7th grade, holding back the tears. I had lost my best friend.

My oldest brother knew the driver, who was a bit of a “hood” (the negative term we used at that time), and he went to his house and confronted him. He just laughed and said it was time to teach that dog a lesson for chasing cars.

This may have been my first real dose of reality, a moment when I realized that not everybody was loving and friendly. It’s the first time I can remember being disappointed in humanity.

Time for Revenge

I had never been so angry. I just wanted to get revenge. But my grandmother sat me down and said, “You need to forgive that boy.” She said, “We don’t know why he is the way he is. We don’t know why he has so much darkness in his soul. Instead of getting revenge, you need to pray for him.” I refused. I did not want to. And I stayed angry for a long time.

But once I did forgive him, something changed inside of me. It was when I first realized that forgiveness is for our own good. And it made me want to reach out and help him.

Like you, I could fill up pages where people disappointed me, hurt me, hurt my family, and made me angry. But no matter how hard it is, I forgive them. Then I try to understand what they might be going through. What made them do what they did.

What about you? Did someone hurt you badly?

Have you forgiven them?

Anger eats away at us. I have friends who have carried grudges and anger for decades. I know families who don’t speak to one another because someone hurt someone’s feelings. Yet why would we distance ourselves from those we love most just because they said something wrong? We all have bad days. We all have a slip of the tongue. 

Jailbird Joy

For decades I hated this one kid who used to bully and beat up on me in school. He was flat-out mean, and he ended up in jail. When I first heard that, I celebrated. Yet years later, I was at an all-male event called Promise Keepers, and they asked us to think about people we held anger toward. I realized I was holding anger toward this kid for probably 30 years. I did not even realize it, but he was the first person to come to mind when they asked who we thought of.

I forgave him that day, and all that internal anger was erased. Who knows what the negative impact was on my own state of mind and health because I was holding anger?

If there was someone who wronged you, who would it be?
Who else?

Make a list.

It’s one thing to just tell yourself you’ve forgiven them, it’s another thing to bow before God and ask Him to help you forgive that person. It’s so powerful, it’s life-changing. 

Now, reverse it.

Ask yourself, “If there was someone I may have hurt, who would it be?” It’s even more powerful to realize you’ve wronged someone and need to ask for forgiveness. If you can ask them, write them, tell them, it’s healing. If you can’t, at least deal with it within yourself.

Life is a grand experiment. Maturity comes from a series of stupid mistakes that don’t get repeated.

I made some horrible and selfish decisions when I was young, when I was a young business owner who was a little too impressed with himself, and I still on occasion say or do things I regret. We have all done it. Move on. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. And ask for forgiveness.

Holding a grudge is like being chained to a prison wall. Forgiveness breaks the chain.

Now, get on with it. You may have some work to do.

Eric Rhoads

PS: It completely blows me away knowing that someone who is broken, flawed, and who has hurt others and done bad things can be completely forgiven, and once forgiven, it’s gone forever and never brought up again. This is what faith in Christ has done for me. Whenever I say something about that, people complain, some will cut me out of their lives, others will unsubscribe or unfriend me. Yet if I offered a cure for a horrible disease, people would welcome it, not reject it. The cure is in a simple prayer, which I’m happy to share privately when you reach out.

When I was a kid, I’d stay at my grandparents’ house, in the front bedroom with the fan in the window. Between the windows hung a painting that my grandmother’s sister had painted. When I learned that Aunt Ruth was an artist, it made me want to be one too. Decades later, that painting became mine. I drove to Tennessee one last time, taking my mom for a visit to see her aunt and uncle. I took that painting with me to show Aunt Ruth and to tell her how much I loved it, and I got my picture taken with her holding it. That painting is one of the most cherished paintings in my collection. I only wish I knew where all her other paintings ended up.

Whether they knew it or not, the influence of my artist aunt, and my artist mother, opened a door for me that has made me the most grateful I’ve been in my life. No one knew all the art things God would place in my lap because of the small seeds planted at a young age.

In just two weeks I’ll be hosting our fourth PleinAir Live conference online for anyone wanting to learn or get better at painting. Today, I want to dedicate it to Aunt Ruth. I think if she knew what happened as a result of that one painting hanging in the front room, and all the lives that have been touched and people taught to paint, I think she would be a little embarrassed, but pleased. Who knows, maybe this is the seed you need to explore what you can become. 

Anger Consumed Me2023-02-25T15:25:45-05:00
19 02, 2023

Accidental Dreams


A beautiful brown buck, with a giant rack atop his head, gracefully feasts on the downed tree branches left over from the big ice storm a couple of weeks back. The remaining trees sway to and fro, and dim light with a slight touch of pink fills the sky over the distant hills, which I can see even better since the storm cleared some branches out of the view. 

I sit here in this soon-to-be-warm moment reflecting on my past, deeply grateful for each experience, including those that did not work out as I had hoped. 

Reinventing Radio

In 1998 I wrote an article in Radio Ink, my radio industry trade magazine, predicting that one day consumers would get their radio and TV online. The feedback on the article was negative; in fact, I just about got laughed out of the radio industry. Yet for some reason, I had the ability to see down the road. I was so consumed by this concept that I started a radio industry conference about the future of the Internet and its impact on the industry. Though it was successful because people wanted to know more about these new things called websites, they could not buy my vision that people would listen to radio online. 

Lunch With a Soon-to-Be Billionaire

Later that year I had lunch with Mark Cuban at the Hard Rock Cafe in Las Vegas. Mark had started a company called AudioNet, and it was putting ball games online. I told him my vision that music radio would one day be online as well, and he encouraged me to “go for it.” 

A Boys Scout Is Always Prepared 

After a few weeks of refining my idea, I picked up the phone and called Tom Toy, an old Boy Scout buddy I’d heard was a venture capital guy. I knew nothing about raising money because I’d built my publishing business one sale at a time, with no borrowed money other than a small loan from my dad. 

Hold, Please

When I told Tom my idea, he said, “Hold for a second. I want to get someone else on the call.” Soon I was pitching my idea to another guy on his team. And then they said, “Can you be here Monday to do a presentation?” So I pulled out my best PowerPoint skills and built my vision for a company I called RadioCentral. My concept was to do thousands of niche radio stations for interest groups, and to do every radio format of music. 

Quickly Intimidated

I flew to San Francisco and found myself entering a big conference room with about 10 people sitting around the table. I told them that the future of radio and TV was the Internet, and that RadioCentral would be like a newsstand in audio form, with radio stations operated by people for specific interest groups. 

To my surprise, they said they had interest but wanted me to define my presentation more. “Come back next week after flushing out the financials,” they said. “Show us how you’re going to make money and create value.”

A Trip a Week for Seven Weeks

I returned the following week, and each Monday for seven weeks. Keep in mind, I was running my business while flying weekly to San Francisco from West Palm Beach.

On the seventh week they announced that they were giving me a million dollars to start, and more would come based on progress. 

Our Money, Our Town

When I said I’d get started right away, they insisted I move to the San Francisco area. “Our money, our town,” they said. I argued that I could build it in Florida and have much lower costs, but they knew I needed to be where they could coach me, have me meet with other people who could fund us further, etc.

Defying Physics

Without going into exhaustive detail, I launched the company, managed to hire a team of 50 people, and we invented something that was not physically possible. In fact, when I interviewed engineers provided by a search firm, every one of them told me that what I wanted to do couldn’t be done. One guy I interviewed, Rich Sadowsky, said, “It’s not possible to do this — but I’ll find a way.” 

I hired him, and months later we had invented a way to do the impossible. In fact, he filed a couple of patents, and we ended up with a system that everyone uses today. The impossible was possible.

Launch Finally Comes

We ended up launching dozens of radio formats, and we were doing radio for some of the biggest brands online at the time; we did branded radio for EarthLink, About.com, and several others. But I was swayed away from my idea of radio broadcasters in niche categories. Of course, years later, Apple launched podcasting, exactly what I had pitched five years earlier, though they had a better way of doing it than I had. 

Long story short, we launched, had clients, and even sold some advertising. We raised more money. And then two towers in New York were downed by aircraft, investment dried up, and the company was shut down. 

A Lost Decade

I spent years licking my wounds, looking back at what should have been and telling myself, “If only…” “If only I had been one year earlier, we would have gone public and I would have been a billionaire.” “If only” was stuck in my head, and I became risk-averse, depressed, and defeated. Sadly, it took me close to a decade to recover.

Lessons Learned

Hindsight is a beautiful thing. Once I had enough time and perspective, I realized I had learned so much, and that I went for it. The mistake I made is that I did not get back on the horse when I got knocked off. I wasted lots of good years whining about what could have been instead of moving on to the next big thing.

When have you been knocked off your horse? Have you picked yourself up or stayed stuck?

Where have you wanted to “go for it” but not taken action? When you went for it and failed, did you try, try again?

Crawling Into a Hole

Bruised egos and painful experiences sometimes make us want to just curl up into a fetal position because things that were supposed to work out did not. I’ve lived it. Thankfully, I eventually went for it again and came up with something that has given me the deepest, most rich life I could imagine.

People With Zero Vision

When I first told my industry and my friends about my plan, they told me all the reasons it was a bad idea. Had I listened, I would not have lived some of the most important lessons of my life, met some of the best people of my life, and developed technology that became a standard being used today. 

Visionary People

I did not listen because I believed in my idea. And, though my business failed, I lost a lot of other people’s money (which I felt awful about), and ultimately I did not hit it big financially, decades later I have the satisfaction of knowing I was right, that my vision has come true with things like podcasting, Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, Apple Music, and others. I’m not suggesting for a moment I invented those things, but I went to San Francisco to do similar things that no one had yet done. 

I was not alone in this vision — others started about the same time, and while some of us did not succeed, others did. I met a young man at a party who had just started this thing called YouTube. Another had started Pandora. Another had started Napster, which revolutionized the world of music. I met dozens of others, including the two founders of a startup called PayPal. I even met two 19-year-old guys who had started a company called Google. They all had  revolutionary ideas. They all went for it. Some succeeded, some became the most influential people in the world, while others failed. But everyone learned important lessons. 

Beyond Bitter

I was bitter for years, but I’m no longer bitter. Maybe I was just too early, maybe I did not work hard enough or fast enough, maybe nothing I could have done would have changed the outcome. And, in hindsight, I needed to learn some important lessons. Sometimes it’s necessary to get your teeth kicked in. There is no reason to be bitter when lessons are learned. It took me too long to realize that. And because I had failed, I stopped taking big risks and following up on other ideas. That was my biggest mistake.

When are you going to go for it? Live your dream? Follow your vision? Take a chance?

Failure is an important part of the process of going for it. The odds are stacked against you. Go for it anyway. Again and again.

Billionaire John Kluge once told me at lunch that he never made big money until after age 70. Most of his friends had retired to play golf. He kept trying. HIs best advice to me: “Keep pitching.” So if you’re thinking it’s too late, stop thinking that. And if you’re thinking you’re too young, stop thinking that. 

There is no time clock. If you’re breathing and can communicate, no matter what age, if there is an unfulfilled dream, you need to go for it. No matter how impractical, no matter how impossible. 

It’s better to try and fail than never to have tried at all. And your odds of success increase substantially when you try.

Go for it.

Eric Rhoads

And now, the rest of the story…

The morning of the 9/11 tragedy, my pregnant wife and I sat watching in disbelief, knowing that I was supposed to be in that building that morning. Had I been there, I would have missed watching triplets be born, with 11 people in the OR assisting us. I would have missed so much. 

This week Grace, Brady, and Berkeley turned 21. It’s been a tornado of activity, years of band practices and ball games and school meetings, and stress over tests, graduations, COVID, boyfriends and girlfriends, happy times and sad ones. Fears, bullying, tears, laughter, vacations, Christmases, and 21 birthday celebrations. 

I was fired from my own company, and my last day of work was the day our first child came home from the hospital. That was God’s perfect timing. I was needed at home, and I’ve worked from home every day since then so I could be there. 

I often get asked if they are the same, since they were born triplets. But they’ve revealed their own unique personalities and interests since the day they were born. The past 21 years have been the most special journey any man could ever hope for. I’ve seen more joy in my life than I ever expected, along with more pain than I ever expected. I consider myself deeply and richly blessed to have been here for this 21 years. 

These Sunday Coffees were designed to be a diary of thoughts to share with my kids when they are old enough to appreciate it. I hope they someday find it. And my advice to them … go for it. Follow your dreams. Ignore roadblocks.

On another note…

When Laurie got pregnant, she could not stand the smell of paint in the back bedroom where I painted, so I took it outdoors. Had I never been in the Bay Area for that company, I would never have discovered plein air painting, which led me to publishing PleinAir Magazine, which led me to creating conferences, videos, retreats, and so much more for artists. One of those events, PleinAir Live, an online conference about landscape painting outdoors and indoors, is a result of those early days. I’m grateful I can live the dream of helping others discover how to live their dreams. I hope to see you there this coming March. 

Never wonder what would have happened if you had taken a left turn instead of a right turn. You are where you are supposed to be, and there are lessons you are supposed to learn. Had I never gone for my dream, the dream I’m living today would never have happened. 

Accidental Dreams2023-02-17T20:23:50-05:00
12 02, 2023

Which Side of the Battery Are You?


Glowing pink is radiating up to the gray and purple morning sky, against the silhouette of distant rolling hills. The morning sun signals hope for the day. Gray-green broken branches fill the ground, in piles the size of houses, left over from last week’s ice storm. A brisk breeze shakes the trees as if to test the strength of the remaining branches.The sound of a flight to who-knows-where tumbles in the sky above for a brief moment. 

Each day when I awaken, I start with hope. I hope it’s a good day. I hope I do good work. I hope I’m productive. I hope I am a good example to others. When I open my eyes, usually at the request of the whining dog in the crate on the other side of the room, I place my bare feet on the ground and I rub them back and forth. It’s a routine I’ve done for decades, and to me it’s like revving my engine. It builds my energy and sets the tone for the day. It launches me!

Don’t Worry, Be Happy

Last week a friend commented to me, “You’re always happy. What’s your secret? Life can’t be that perfect.” It took me by surprise, because I’d never really stopped to think about it. 

What is my secret?

Bad Days Bounce off Like Bullets off Armor

The reality is that life has its challenges. And they never really stop; there is always some drama somewhere. Yet rarely, if ever, does it faze me. Though I was severely rattled when my teenage son had a heart attack and nearly died, I remained fairly composed and calm.

If I had to come up with an answer, I’d say that I’ve spent far too many days in my life worked up, worrying, stressing, and it never seemed to make a bit of difference, other than making me feel unhappy. Now my answer is, “Trust God. Everything is beyond my control.” If I can control the outcome (rarely), I take the necessary action. Otherwise, I roll with it.

A Man-to-Man Talk

Years ago, I fell in love with a girl at a different high school. She was my first love, and we were inseparable for a few years. I grew close to her family and her dad. One day, he asked me for some of my time. We sat and he challenged me. He said, “Eric, you have everything going for you. You’re likable, you’re smart, you’re creative, but I don’t think you’re very happy. In fact, I think you’re very negative.” I was shocked because I’d considered myself a positive thinker. He went on to say, “I can’t support my daughter being with you if you continue down this path. And if you continue being a negative thinker, you won’t live as long as you should, and you won’t live a happy life.”

I was stunned. 

He coached me about what he had observed and how I should consider overcoming it. He recommended that I read “The Power of Positive Thinking” and “Think and Grow Rich,” and he encouraged me to set out each day to think positively. 

Keep in mind that I grew up with a positive-thinking dad, who had taught me most of these lessons. But it took an outsider to get my attention. And, that one “little talk” changed my life forever.

Meet Mister Negative

Earlier this week I met a guy who’d wanted to talk with me. I resisted because he had been negatively badgering me online. I don’t like to be around negative people. But, I told myself that I needed to talk with him, though I did not know why. The conversation started out negative. He told me all the reasons why things were bad, why his business was bad, what things were not going well. It was hard to hear, and I wanted to jump through the phone, grab him by the shirt, shake him and say “can’t you see that your life isn’t going well because you’re not expecting it to go well.?” But I was polite, I encouraged him, gave him some ideas, and ended the call.

That’s Easy for You to Say

I used to lecture my dear old friend Chris. I liked him, but I’m not sure why, because he was like that kid in the Charlie Brown comics that always had a cloud over his head. One of the most negative people in the world. I had countless discussions with him about his negativity, and things would change if he would just think positive. But he told me “its easy for you, you’ve had a great upbringing.” His pain from his past seemed too big for him to overcome. He was stuck in negative mud.

Are you stuck in negative mud?

Pay close attention to your conversations this week. Are you talking about all the things going wrong or all the things going right? Are you whining about things you have to do or celebrating all the things you get to do.

Focus on Strength

Author John Maxwell is the guest pastor at my old Florida church sometimes. He says that having a positive outlook on life is crucial for happiness and success. He encourages people to focus on their strengths and to see the good in every situation, instead of dwelling on negativity and failures.

Thinking Calisthenics

As a recovering negative person, I know you have to retrain your brain, and it does not happen fast, and it feels uncomfortable because negativity makes negative people comfortable. They feel better about themselves when they can find problems with others. But to train your brain you have to resist negativity at all costs.

Don’t default to the grey cloud of problems. Seek the side of hope and encouragement.

Mister Spin

My friend Bob is the ultimate spin master. No matter what anyone says to him, if it’s negative and even if the negative thing you’re saying is true, he finds a way to spin it in a positive way. He’s better at this than me. And it has served him well. Everyone loves being around him.

Accepting Blame

We almost never want to accept ourselves as being our own problem. We want to blame others, blame outside influences. I get it. But it does not serve you well to do this. So listen carefully to the tone and messages of your words. Listen to your thoughts. Are you sewing with golden threads of positive or black threads of negative? The choice is yours.

Don’t Beat On Yourself

I’m a pretty positive person but even I have wallowed in self-pity and negativity when things have not gone my way in the past. But doing so only prolongs the pain. I finally learned to move on, don’t look back, don’t beat myself up, and focus on the future and the good things. 

What’s your spin?

I don’t mean to be flippant, or dismissive of your pain, your circumstances. Life is hard.

Survival Strategies

I once met an oncology doctor at a party, and I asked him the best way someone can survive cancer. I was surprised by his answer, which seems very unscientific. “The moment I reveal cancer to a patient I can tell if they will survive or not. If they have a positive attitude and say, I’ll beat this, they survive longer, and often beat it entirely. If they are negative, and immediately say they are not ready to die, they never last long.”

There are not a lot of choices in life. We can’t always choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we react and respond to them.

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” Ephesians 4:29

Eric Rhoads

PS: How did we get this far into the new year already? Time has accelerated it seems. 

I’m really jazzed that I have the opportunity to introduce people to the plein air painting (outdoor painting) lifestyle and teach them how to do it. More people painting outside is a great thing. My next live online event is called Plein Air Live, and its happening next month. Hundreds have already signed up to learn from the great masters of our time. I’m positive you won’t be negative when you attend. 🙂 www.pleinairlive.com

Which Side of the Battery Are You?2023-02-10T19:24:17-05:00
4 02, 2023

Are You a Groundhog?


Branches dipped in ice decorate this heavily treed rural property like a winter wonderland Christmas card. Tall, crystalized weeds shine like thousands of sequins on a New Year’s Eve dress. Like dancing lace, crystals reflect the dim gray light.

Sheets of ice transform my deck into a skating rink, and there are thunderous cracks as overloaded branches fall to the ground, wreaking havoc, destroying dozens of trees, and turning my yard into a war zone of fallen wooden soldiers. This freak winter ice storm will soon pass, but weeks will be needed to remove the splintered wood and thousands of downed branches.

Frozen in Time

Sometimes we, like the branches, become frozen in time, the crystals of stability and success holding us back. Then suddenly, the crack, as the weight breaks off our branches, leaving us exposed and broken.

Nature is a beautiful thing.

Stability and predictability are cozy, comfortable, and easy, but there is deep value in being broken, though we fear the unknown.

Never in our prayers for needs to be met, for life to be stable and easy, do we think about what comes next.

Rarely do we pray for discomfort, conflict, pain, or change. Yet these are the jewels of a rich life.

“Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.” (James 1:2)

The unbearable pain of a breakup, though it may feel unending, often leads to the true love of your life.

The failure of a job or a business forces a sudden left turn, taking us down a better road.

Change is usually forced upon us. Rarely do we initiate it, break what isn’t broken, or give up on something that’s producing income.

But boredom is the mother of reinvention.

Disappearing Act

A friend, a successful surgeon, tells me he once loved his job, but after decades of repeating the same routine daily, he wants to drop out and become a full-time artist. But he believes it’s irresponsible to give up his healthy income for something less secure and still unproven.

Then one of three things happens … his time runs out, and his dreams are never realized.

His job suddenly ends, and he is forced to make a decision.

Or he breaks what’s broken and reinvents, and possibly ends up happier.

Bold Moves

Another friend, also a surgeon, said, “Enough. I’m going for it.” Not clinging to his degrees, his time invested, and his massive income, he said, “I’m not guaranteed to make it to retirement. I’m doing it now.”

It took guts, but I’ve never seen anyone happier or more fulfilled. My other friend whines about being trapped, but it’s self-imprisonment.

Breaking What’s Not Broken

My friend John, a radio station owner in my hometown, had the number one-rated station in town. But his gut said changes were needed, so he changed format and became bigger than before with the change. Had he been wrong, he would have destroyed his income.

Another friend hasn’t changed a thing in two decades but wonders why things are not as good as they used to be.

The bumpy road, where you cannot see over the next hill, versus the well-paved highway. Which is for you?

Stability and security has its perks, as does venturing into the unknown. There is no right or wrong, no good or bad. Safety is a good choice, but those who skydive say they never felt so alive.

Jumping out of a plane or diving off the sides of buildings isn’t in my DNA. There is risk of life, or there is risk of discomfort. Risk of death versus risk to steady income.

A Visit from Phil

Earlier last week we speculated about whether some all-knowing animal would stick his head out of a hole, declaring whether winter would continue. I’m not big on superstitions. Why stay in your hole when you could enjoy the winter? And what if, thinking he had plenty of time left, he never came out of the hole again?

If I were to ask you… “If there was one thing you’ve always wanted to do in your life but never got done, what would it be?” The first thing that comes to mind might be worth revealing to yourself and exploring.

Time for Your Closeup, Mr. Rhoads

For me, I had a childhood dream of being a film actor. I told myself I’d start a business so I’d not have to wait tables between gigs. And I never pursued it, other than beating out 150 people for one of three roles in a student film in San Francisco.

Acting is on my list, but I’ve done nothing about it. Why?

I tell myself if it was really still important to me, I’d be working toward it. But if I ask my subconscious, “If there was a reason I’ve never pursued film acting, what would it be?” the answer I get is that I fear I won’t succeed and that I’ll embarrass myself. How silly is that? So I make excuses about not having the time, or that my odds of making it happen are impossible. Yet I don’t even need to quit my job or wait tables. The risk is actually low. So why not go for it? And what if the risk were higher?

What About the 5%?

I find myself living Groundhog Day. I love 95% of the things I do, but there are Sundays when I don’t feel like writing. There are days when I tell my wife I don’t feel like getting on an airplane and that I don’t care if I ever see another hotel room in my life after hundreds of hotel nights. I battle with “I don’t want to do this again, but if I don’t, I won’t have the income.”

The Shiny Object Guy

I think boredom and repetition are the reason I’ve started so many businesses and products. Success magazine called me the “king of shiny objects,” and I don’t think it was a compliment. Yet it’s served me well. It would probably be better for my business to focus deeply on one thing rather than doing dozens of things. But how fun would that be?

Keeping Balance

There are four groups of people in my world, plus one God. There is me, my family, customers, and my employees. If I serve just one of the five, I’m out of balance. Yet if I’m not happy, my family, customers, and employees will never be properly served. If I’m in a job I do not treasure most days, who am I serving well? Probably no one.

Risk produces fear, and fear tells you to be cautious. Caution isn’t a formula for a life of adventure and satisfaction. It’s great for some, but not great for most.

What is your Groundhog Day?
Where are you rolling your eyes and repeating something you’d rather not repeat?
What do you need to break that isn’t broken?

The ultimate clarifying question … what if you die today?
What did you miss doing?
What did you want to stop doing?
What are you wasting your days doing?
What do you really want to do?
What’s holding you back?

Chances are you’re being held back by uncertainty, by fear, by strings, by fear of loss, by fear of failure, fear of embarrassment, or fear of the unknown.

Exciting, isn’t it?

Happy belated Groundhog Day.

Eric Rhoads

PS: There was a guy who held events I always wanted to attend. They were expensive and took a big time commitment, so I always told myself, “I’ll do it someday.”

Then the unexpected happened. Rumors of his death circulated, and it turned out he had gone into hospice to die. He was there for more than a year, but instead of dying, he rebounded and came out. And after another year of recovery, he decided to start working again. But he also decided to never do the event again. All he did was consulting, which was even more expensive. `

So I waited and waited and kept telling myself, “One day I’ll do it, but I don’t have the time or money.” I realized I was doing what I’d done before. So finally I did it, and I’m glad I did. Then I asked myself, “Why did I wait? This was so worth it.”

Groundhog Day not only impacts your day-to-day, the attitude permeates everything. What are you not getting around to doing that you’ve always wanted to do?

A woman came up to me at my early-summer retreat in the Adirondacks. She said, “I’ve been wanting to come for 10 years, and I finally made it.” When I asked why she did not come sooner, she said, “There was no good reason. I just told myself I did not have time or money.” Then she said, “Then my husband died. That got my attention, and I decided I could be next and I’d better get this done.”

My team has created a tremendous number of events. They won’t last forever, or I won’t last forever, or you won’t last forever. Others also create cool things. Whatever it is you’ve been putting off, do it now. Today.

My next online event teaches about the plein air (outdoor painting) lifestyle, teaches the techniques of the great living landscape masters, and does not require travel. You can do it from home. It’s coming up in March. www.pleinairlive.com

My in-person convention in Denver does require leaving home, and it’s worth it when you find yourself outside painting with 1,000 other painters and learning from 80 top masters on five stages, and a huge Expo Hall. Don’t put it off. www.pleinairconvention.com

And my next retreat is coming up in June in the amazing Adirondack Mountains of upstate New York. I can only take 100 people and I usually sell out early. We paint for a week, we provide all your meals and lodging for one price, and it’s so much fun. www.paintadirondacks.com

This summer, in August, my online conference for pastel will be loads of fun and it’s a chance to learn about something new — or if you are into pastel, it’s a chance to get stronger and learn from top pastel masters. www.pastellive.com

Fall Color Week is about painting brilliant fall color in an incredible landscape. This year it’s returning to the Adirondacks, and we’re staying in a great classic old camp for the last time. It’s another artist retreat I do. www.fallcolorweek.com

In November, it’s Realism Live, where you learn online all about painting portraits and figures, still life and landscape, in different styles from top masters. www.realismlive.com

Yes, it’s Groundhog Day. I love doing these, but at some point, even I will move on to do something else. Take advantage of them while they are available.

Are You a Groundhog?2023-02-04T17:49:47-05:00
29 01, 2023

At Your Service


Fog and mist fill the bright, colorless morning sky and soften the edges of treetops in the distance. Softness in the air even covers the trunks of gnarled and twisted scrub oaks. The weeds and grass are glistening with water droplets, and the long deck that runs the length of the house is wet where the roof offers no cover. The red Adirondack chairs placed in a circle around the fire pit are reflecting the light from above and are glowing. As I let the dogs out this morning, they sniff in circles, tracking bustling creatures from last night.

It’s Cozy Time

Sometimes a cozy morning like this calls for a couch, a blanket, the sounds of silence, and a good book. I begin my morning routine before I dip my fingers into the cesspool of social media. A daily chapter of the old family Bible has proven to offer perspective and to impact every daily decision. Almost every day it feels like it was written just for me, addressing today’s specific issues or concerns. It eliminates my fears and anxiety and gives me wisdom.

Long Days

The past five days were 12-hour work days away from my office, prepping and hosting our annual online watercolor conference out of our Austin soundstage. It’s a massive effort involving about 30 people on my team and a full year of preparation. It’s like planning a four-day live tV show like the old Jerry Lewis telethon, combined with a four-day wedding with thousands of guests from 31 countries. I’m so proud of my team and their incredible sensitivity to our guests’ needs.

Feeling Pretty Awesome

Though I am a little worn out, I’m not exhausted — instead, I’m exhilarated. I had the pleasure of serving people who relied on us to deliver art instruction at a high level for a total of 24 hours over four days. And from what I can tell, we delivered, because the majority are returning next year.

Oh God, Please…

My prayer each night after the event? “Lord, with all this attention and praise, keep me humble and not prideful. Help me to serve these people with true humility.” Because I get more attention and feedback at my events than at any other time, and I don’t want it to go to my head. I don’t want to ever start thinking I’m special or better in any way. Having experienced an ego-driven life in my radio days, I know how seductive it can be, and how dangerous it is to lose a sense of reality.

The World’s Greatest Gig

Like a cat, I’ve lived multiple lives and careers, and none ever felt like the perfect fit till I landed here, starting art magazines, teaching and inspiring artists, and focusing on transforming lives. It took me decades to discover it’s not about me, it’s not about wealth, and that a great life is about giving and serving. 

The Cure for Depression
You can’t be depressed or think about yourself when you are a servant helping others. The world has it backwards; it’s not about getting rich so others will serve you, it’s about serving others to help them live rich lives. I don’t have most of the cool stuff I once owned because I got tired of it, or its life was over. But I never forget the people who served me decades ago.

Success Redefined

When people are giving you praise for pulling them up, encouraging them, inspiring them, teaching them so they can lift themselves up, you have reached true success, especially if you don’t take their praise as if you’re something special. When they look at you with tear-filled eyes, knowing you gave them the launch they could not see how to give themselves, you’ve reached the pinnacle. Then you can live life wearing a confident smile with a twinkle in your eye. Enjoy the moment, don’t get prideful, and move on to help others in some way. 

Giving Back

This isn’t about feeding the needy, though that is necessary and important, and we should all do what we can. It’s about turning what you do into a serving and giving machine.

It’s not even about giving everything away, which isn’t usually practical or possible. You deserve a handsome living from your toil. But life is about taking what you do every day, being the best at it, and focusing on the needs of those who need to be served, whether you are teaching school, working in a plant, driving an Uber, working on heating systems, being a student or running a business. 

It’s about delighting others at a higher level and never making it about you. And when this occurs, rewards always follow. 

A Word of Caution

Biblical stories talk about the benefits that come back to you for tithing and giving of your time. But they also talk about doing your good works in private, about not letting one hand know what the other is doing. Though I don’t want to be critical of anyone doing good works, I get turned off when ads tell me a company is giving some percentage of its profits to some charity. The only reason to tell people about it is to look good or to get them to buy more. Why not just do it quietly? 

For a brief moment I was public about what we do with the profits of our company, but the more I thought about it, the more it seemed the only reason to tell people about it was to look good to others. I decided that doing so no longer works for me. I tell our employees, because they need to know where our profits go, but we are no longer public about our giving. Being quiet keeps intent pure. If you are only giving to increase your rewards, people see through it and you’ll appear insincere.

Yesterday a friend was telling me about a company that wants to work with him, and he said, “They pretend to care about me, but really, they only care about money. Life is too short to deal with people like that.” Don’t get me wrong, I also care about making a fair living and being able to provide for my family and their future. But I don’t do what I do for that reason. I strive to do what I do because it’s what I can do well for others.

When everything you do is all about making as much money as you can, shortcuts follow, service gets reduced, quality diminishes, and people get hurt. 

The magic of having a servant’s heart is that your joy no longer comes from things, it comes from service to others.

Where are you serving others? 

Where are you finding your joy?

Is what you are doing truly satisfying?

Are you making a difference in the lives of others?

Are you pretending to care, or do you really care?
Would you still do it even if you could not make another dime?

What do you think about most?

I struggled for years, working crazy hours, trying to build something that was about me, and about money. But when I flipped that, everything changed. My acquaintance Dave Ramsey (radio and tV financial host) once told me that the minute you focus on service, everything changes. I fought it. But once I finally flipped the switch, my life changed, my success changed, my interest in serving changed. 

Seek to serve. Others need what you have to offer.

Eric Rhoads

PS: This may sound strange but sometimes selling is serving. If you have something people need that will truly make their life better but that they are resisting, they will benefit from your passion to sell them something you know will help. I sometimes promote heavily and sell hard, because I hear the stories about the things we’re doing that change lives and change the direction of people’s lives — things that build confidence, things that can build careers. For instance, I know that if I push an artist to buy my marketing book, it will help them if they take the action I suggest. If they don’t, they may struggle for decades, as most do. 

 A woman attending our Watercolor Online conference this week told me that she was reluctant to sign up because she did not think she deserved it. Because she encountered something that convinced her, she told me it was 10 times better than she expected and it was just what she needed to put her on the right track. If I didn’t push, she and thousands of others might have missed out.

I have lots of artists who read this. Your art can change lives. You can cheer people up, or place them in a certain state of mind when your work hangs in their home. My friend Charles H. White tells me the story of a cancer patient who bought his painting to transport her to a better place while recovering from chemo. She said she stared at his painting every day, and it got her through her pain. What if he had not bothered to do the work and show up at an art show where she discovered that painting? What if he had not helped her make the decision to spend a little extra to get something of quality? His painting changed her life. Your paintings can change lives too, but if you lay back and hope someone buys something, others are missing out on what you have to offer. 

Our next event is coming up in March. It’s called PleinAir Live, and it’s about teaching landscape painting online, with top landscape artists teaching. My life changed when I started going outdoors to paint, spending time in nature, and making lots of new friends. It made me a better painter — but it would never have happened had I not been motivated by someone who nudged me. I hope you’ll join us. (www.pleinairlive.com)

Note about my team: I realized something really important this week. You can’t do it alone. You need help. You need a good team. If your team is failing you, it’s not their fault, it’s your fault. You picked them, and if they’re not working out, it means you didn’t train, encourage, and nurture them. I feel like the luckiest man alive because my team at Streamline is beyond amazing. We hire slowly and carefully and work to get a cultural match in our team members, and then we get glowing reviews from the way they serve others. They truly have the spirit of serving, and they do it with grace, with love, joyfully and with excellence. In moments like this, when they have worked a year or more on planning and a couple of solid weeks on execution, including 12-hour days, long nights, and weekends, I realize just how blessed I am to have them. 

At Your Service2023-01-29T00:36:19-05:00
22 01, 2023

Nuclear Reactions


Little leaves on tiny stems sparkle like jewels as the brilliant morning light makes streaks in the sky, kissing the trees and illuminating their rough bark with a reddish orange glow. Lavenders, purples, and light blues fill the long shadows as they stretch like rubber bands pulled as far as they can go, all pointing out from the sun, inspiring what could be a painting from where I sit on the long wooden Texas porch. Feeders for the birds sway in unison, to and fro, as a light breeze tickles the leaves, and squirrels jump from branch to branch trying to get to the feeders like thieves scrambling to get into a bank vault of treasure. 

Here I’ve sat through hundreds of sunrises like a moviegoer, each screen with its own plot and colorful action. My hand rapidly scribbles thoughts or images into my sketchbook, which is my closest companion, always close by when I need a friend.

A Lifetime of Journals 

Opening the cabinet, I see them standing side by side like little soldiers, numbered and stored for years. I can return to any of the last dozen years, pick a date, and page through these journals for my notes. Unlikely to be a family heirloom when I’m gone, they contain the content of my days, my thoughts, notes from my meetings, and things I hope to remember, pages by the thousands. When I pick any random day from the past, the pages filled with stressful moments, the days I thought my world was over and things couldn’t possibly get worse, seem unusually emotional and over-reactive — things weren’t so bad after all. These moments were overblown, and they are no longer emotionally charged. Endless hours of worry, frantic meetings to solve world-ending problems, once placed in distant perspective, have lost their power over me.

Explosion Prevented

Just last week I was seething with anger and disproportionately charged over an incident with a couple of foolish errors that could have had a massive negative impact on our ability to pay our bills. All because someone didn’t measure twice and cut once, setting off a chain of events that uncovered other errors. All would never have been revealed had it not been for a caring customer who brought it to my attention with a midnight text, while other customers remained silent and simply moved on to something or someone else.

Hidden Gems

The mistake that made me want to react so negatively turned out to be a gift, because had it not been discovered, its impact would have been far-reaching and potentially very damaging. My first reaction was to throw blame, but after a lot of digging into it, my more measured response was to solve the problem and realize no one did anything wrong with bad intentions. They just needed to learn how to prevent the mistake in the future.

Unexpected Growth 

Not only were there lessons for me, there were lessons for those around me. My son, sitting beside me on the couch, right before a deadline, saw me snap into massive action, making calls, sending e-mails and texts to solve the problem before it became a deeper problem, showing that sometimes you can’t wait for morning. Though I’d rather have gone to bed and not stayed up half the night, there are times when you have to do what’s necessary.

Teaching Lessons 

It was also a chance to say … I’m angry, and my first reaction is to blame people and get rid of them. But it’s important to take a breath, put things in perspective, and realize we need to focus on solutions, not problems. 

No one died. No one got a call from their doctor announcing a threatening disease. There are bad days, but problem-solving is what we get paid to do.

Reaction is a natural force, anger follows, but time puts things into perspective. The more time passes, the better. 

Massive action may be needed to rectify a problem fast, but yelling, blaming, firing only makes everything worse. 

Growth is the gift of pain.

Past Mistakes 

Reading my journals, hundreds of moments would reveal times when I was less mature, when I’d hit the send button in anger and disrupt things and make them worse, like a bowling ball knocking down pins. Times when my ego was bruised and I felt the need to be right, not bothering to seek the other side of the story or to understand what someone might be going through that prompted their action. 

I once had an employee go off on everyone in a meeting, screaming and yelling unnecessarily. I excused myself, asked him into his office, and terminated him immediately because that behavior isn’t acceptable and it was his third strike. Little did I know — I found out months later — that there were things he was dealing with that prompted his anger, bad news of a life-threatening diagnosis. Though there’s never a good reason for bad behavior, there are reasons. Had I been more mature, maybe I would have called him into the office, told him his behavior was unacceptable, and said, “Take the rest of the day off, and we’ll chat tomorrow.” Maybe then I’d have bothered to ask what was going on. 

Explosive reactions are sometimes understandable, but they’re not helpful. Deep breath, plus time, is almost always a better answer. 

Words cut like knives and last for lives. They can’t be taken back. 

Past explosive reactions have created bigger problems for myself. So now I try to keep my mouth shut and don’t hit the send button in anger. 

Time Heals 

Two days after the big problem, things looked different. My instinct to shout would only have made things worse. Plus, it promoted new systems to prevent future problems and provided training moments, and that makes us stronger. 

When anger hits, don’t seek revenge, don’t default to harsh words or screaming. Take a deep breath, seek perspective, and when the time is right, seek understanding. 

Eric Rhoads

PS: This week was one big meeting, all day every day … I had two days with my board, which is a hard but necessary opportunity to gain the perspective and advice of others. Then two days with a couple of team members for planning and much-needed perspective, and then a day of normal meetings.

This week will be a couple of days of rehearsal and last-minute adjustments, then four days of my online training event Watercolor Live, which has a massive audience of people who want to grow as painters by watching the advice of top master artists, along with people who have decided they want to learn. There is still time for you. And if you can’t make the dates, replays are an option. www.watercolorlive.com.

Nuclear Reactions2023-01-20T18:00:16-05:00
15 01, 2023

Your Biggest Breakthrough Ever


There is no better feeling than walking outside in my fuzzy flannel PJs, feeling the texture of the wooden porch on my bare feet and not having the hair stand up on my arms from cold weather.  I squint my eyes in the brilliant orange light coming up from the purple mountain range in the distance, with pastel-like purples and greens in the sky. It’s a perfect morning.

An Unexpected Problem

When I was a kid, my dad bought his first really nice car. It was a celery-colored Lincoln Continental. My friends used to call it the Queen Mary because it was like a boat. My grandparents were upset when my dad bought it because, as they said, “We’re not showy people.” In our little town, it was the most expensive car you could buy — we certainly did not know about Mercedes or Rolls or Bentley. 

A Moment of Shame

I was in about seventh grade, and one day my mom dropped me off at Harrison Hill Elementary. She was driving the Lincoln, and when I got out of the car all the kids started mocking me. “Spoiled rich kid,” they would call me. I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide. 

From that point forward, they treated me differently. I was already bullied because I was the school fat kid, and now I was double bullied because I was fat and rich. I became very lonely and literally developed ulcers over it. 

Not Much Different, Really

In reality, we were pretty much like everyone else. We lived in the same neighborhood as most of the other kids. Our houses were all about the same. In fact, our house was a lot smaller than most. But that car somehow sent the wrong signal. 

When Success Hurts

My dad was proud of reaching this moment of success because of his hard work on his company. He grew up dirt poor, and the Lincoln was probably a signal that he

had made something of himself. It was more about feeling good than trying to pretend to be better than others. But the car changed things with our neighbors, and even my mom’s friends, because suddenly we were different. Though I did not realize it at the time, my dad was perceived as flaunting his success.

After that day at school, I did not want to be seen in that Lincoln. In fact, when my mom would drop me at school, I had her drop me off a block away to avoid being seen. 

Finding Deep Meaning

I had not thought about that car and the incident with my “friends” for decades. But I was in a class recently where we talked about our limiting beliefs. What I discovered is that most of us operate our lives through the filters of our childhood and the things that happened to us before we were 10.

And because we’re not experts at solving problems at that age, we solve them in the ways we know how, which are usually about avoiding pain.

During the event we were given an exercise to tap into our subconscious minds to try to discover our limiting beliefs, the things holding us back. 

Wanna guess what one of mine was?

Here’s a clue. It had to do with that darned Lincoln.

The Lincoln represented wealth, and being seen in it represented not being accepted by my friends. 

I discovered that too much success made me uncomfortable because I did not want to lose friends. So throughout my life, I would hit a ceiling and never get beyond it.

I found out that I was subconsciously sabotaging my own success because I do not want to be mocked or bullied. A childhood need to be liked and accepted was still impacting my behavior as an adult.

Not only was I unconsciously limiting my own success, I was apologetic for the success I had. 

Apologizing for Success

If someone would compliment me on my home, I’d tell the story of how we got a good deal on it. Why? I did not want to be different or not accepted. Yet I did not even realize I was doing it.

Though I wanted to buy a nice car, I resisted and drove the same small, crummy car for 15 years. Finally, I bought a car, but I’d keep it in the garage so my friends wouldn’t see it. And if they did see it, I made a point to tell them that I bought it used and got a great deal.

I was operating on my fearful 10-year-old brain, which was telling me to avoid success so I would be loved and appreciated.

How silly is that?

Lots of Life Wasted

I spent several decades of my life living with limiting beliefs I didn’t know I had, and only discovered them through an exercise to ask my subconscious brain what was holding me back. I knew I had a problem. I did not know the cause.

I’m sure I have other limiting beliefs that hold me back in other ways. Now I need to do more exercises with my subconscious to find out why I have nagging feelings about things.

Yes, You ARE Worthy

Our limiting beliefs are thoughts or ideas that limit our potential, holding us back. We tell ourselves things like, “I can’t do that,” “I don’t deserve that,’ “People from our background don’t do this,”  “I’m not worthy,” etc.

These beliefs are rooted in past experiences and societal influences, and are often so deeply ingrained in our subconscious mind that they impact our behavior. These beliefs are like being tied up, keeping us from our full potential. 

Make It Stop

Empowering beliefs are, of course, the opposite of limitations. But sometimes positive affirmations and positive thinking aren’t enough. I’ve done those things my whole life. And they do work. But in this case, I have to find out about my limiting belief and realize how it’s impacting my behavior. Once I’ve done this, the limiting belief will stop.

I’m told that the chains will lift more and more as days pass, but I’ve already noticed I’m doing things in some situations that I wouldn’t do before because I did not feel worthy.

Whew, this is deep stuff. Deep inside our brains.

Do you have limiting beliefs?

I’m told everyone does, and that most are not aware of them. 

It turns out that questions to your subconscious provide breakthroughs. 

Instead of “Why am I afraid to fly?” I should be asking myself, “If there was a reason I’m afraid to fly, what would it be? And how is it hurting me?” (This is a key part of tapping the subconscious.)

Failed Dreams 

My dear aunt spent her whole life wanting to go to her grandparents’ home country of Ireland. By the time she died, she’d never achieved that dream, because she was afraid to fly. She knew she was afraid and told me, but she never understood what was causing her to be afraid. It was probably related to something that happened when she was a kid. No matter how much we tried to reason with her about safety, logic could not overcome her fears.

In what ways are your beliefs stopping you from living your dreams, reaching your full potential?

It’s never too late. 

Everything in your life is filtered through your unique pair of glasses. Every choice, action, and even every buying decision. You and I do things not knowing why. 

Why does one person, like my dad, need to buy a giant expensive car?

Why do some people not want to be around certain personality types?

Why do we avoid certain things?

The reasons are deep inside your head, and the answers will come to you, once you start asking for them.

Eric Rhoads

PS: When I was almost 40 I came to the conclusion that it would be fun to learn to paint. I tried several times and failed, and ended up telling myself I did not have what it takes. I told myself that some people are born with the gift, but I wasn’t one of them. Thankfully, one man helped me see that none of that was true, and that by following a system, I — or anyone — could become proficient. 

For at least the past 20 years I’ve devoted my life to overcoming the myth that there is an artistic “gift,” and I believe we have probably taught over a million people to paint. When I tell myself I need to reach 10 million, my limiting beliefs kick in and I hear a little voice say, “Eh, not possible.” But when this happens, if you listen to what that little voice is saying, and ask yourself why it’s being said, you might tie it back to your subconscious mind. Then you can ask for answers … if I knew the answer, what would it be?

If you’re like I was, and you want to learn painting but don’t feel worthy, I give you my 100% money back guarantee that I can teach you to paint through my event this month. It’s called Watercolor Live, and if you attend the first day and don’t feel like you’re getting it, or learning, or overcoming those negative thoughts, just ask and you get your money back.

And if you want to hear about the two big lies that are holding you back, watch the brand new video I posted at www.watercolorlive.com

Your Biggest Breakthrough Ever2023-01-14T12:56:34-05:00
1 01, 2023

You Can Be Stupid Today Or You Can Make Your Dreams a Reality


Last night, as the clock struck 12, the world celebrated. We broke open the champagne, hugged our neighbors, and shouted in the new year. We stayed up, partied more than we should, headed to bed, and woke up late, perhaps with a hangover.

Is that any way to start a year?

Some may be looking back in relief that the past year is gone. Over. Finished.

Did we hate it that much? 

2022 Is So 2022

I could probably find a lot of reasons to dislike last year, but there is much to celebrate too. Each year provides lessons, chances to experience new things, meet new people, and even experience new pain or problems. I embrace it all, even the bad.

It’s Over

This day, today, will be the final day on earth for some people. And if they knew that, they would look back on the last year of their life with complete joy in spite of the bad. 

How would life be if we appreciated every day, even the bad ones?

So many of you have awakened, turned immediately to social media or your e-mail, and your pattern of life is about to repeat for another year.

What are you going to do differently this year?

What do you want to change?

What bad habits do you want to shed?

What resolutions do you want to make, then break?

Tomorrow health clubs will be inundated with new members who have vowed to change their lives, dump their fat, increase their muscle mass…

And those same people will show up a few times, then disappear, but keep their memberships alive.

Most Resolutions Are Stupid

Rarely do I make new year’s resolutions, because I rarely keep them. But if I make a resolution, I try to turn it into a real goal, with an exact outcome tied to a date. Because intent without action is folly. And action without a way to know you’ve achieved your goal is silly. Goals need to be time-bound and exact, and the steps defined.

Is this another year of dumped resolutions? For most of us, they will disappear within hours.

It’s Not Too Late

In business, I make a point to set my goals for the next year back in September. And I look at them every week and measure them against how I’m doing. Because if you don’t look at them, you’ll forget them. If you don’t define the steps, and time them with goals, the steps won’t get done and the goal will be overwhelming and too hard to do.

The best time to set goals for a new year is in the months before the new year, so that you hit the ground running with a plan.

The second best time to define them is today.

Get off the couch, put down your phone, get a pad of real paper (not your notes app), and start dreaming. Spend HOURS thinking.

Answer these questions.

What do I really love about my life that I want to see continue?

What do I really not love about my life that I want to discontinue?

If you focus on what you DON’T want, you work toward eliminating the things that don’t bring you joy.

If your job makes the “don’t want” list, then you have a choice. Change it, or live with it.

I have too many “lifer” friends in great jobs making great money, but they’re miserable. And they say, “I don’t want to spend one more day at this job, but I’ve only got to hang in there for another 10 years,” or “another five years.”

One guy I knew told me that.

I said, “What if you die between now and then? Will you be OK with that?”

He said no. But he relied on the money, and felt like he would be fine.

Did I mention that he died before he retired?

The other day I mentioned on my daily YouTube show that I had a near-death experience when my kids were about 3. 

Everything changed from that moment forward. It was too close for comfort.

So, at the advice of my friend Roy, I made my don’t list, and my want list, and I defined what I wanted my life to look like. I defined what I did not want to do, and I defined cool things I wanted to do every year. 

Then, when I looked at my list, my inner reptilian brain told me, “There is no way you can do these things.” And I got discouraged, till I decided to find a way and ignore the inner voice.

Everything on the list came true.

I shed all the bad stuff, and I managed to do the things we “couldn’t afford.” I found a way.

I had to be creative.

As life goes on, your list changes. Covid woke lots of us up, and now very few people want to go back to work in an office and deal with hours of commuting time. Some went back, others said, “never again” and quit their jobs or insisted on remote working.

You and I won’t escape death. It is lurking around every corner and will grab us the second it can. We are not assured of anything more than the breath we just took.

Every day is a gift. Every breath is a blessing, and as I said recently, if you’re breathing, God has a purpose for you.

You could take today to watch football or eat excessively. Or you could take one day of your entire life and focus on planning the life you want.

After that, it’s up to you to be disciplined enough to make it happen. 

It starts with a dream list and a “don’t want” list, prioritizing the lists, picking the things that are most important, and leaving the others for a future year (rarely do we get it all done at once). Then you figure out the steps, the way to buy your freedom, and you chip away at it a little every day.

Nothing good is ever instant.

Regular people like me and you, who have no special advantages, do have dreams, and we end up changing the world, building skyscrapers, inventing things that are impossible.

Don’t judge your lists. Get it all down, even the wild, insane stuff you don’t want anyone to see.

Then, find a way. 

You can thank me later, once you’ve built your skyscraper.

Happy New Year.

Eric Rhoads

In 2022 I set a silly goal. I wanted to hit 100,000 followers on YouTube for my Art School Live show. I tracked my progress every week or so, and by the fall, I was starting to believe it was not going to happen. But I caught myself, and I told myself that if it was a goal, I had to accomplish it by the deadline. The closer I got, the more deliberate and intentional I became, increasing my creativity. And, on December 21, at 10:50 am, I hit the goal.

I have lots of big goals that I’ll never share (though sharing goals is a good way to put yourself out there and get committed). This YouTube goal was a little ego, but it was more about increasing my reach so I can help more people learn art, knowing that the minute I hit 100,000, YouTube would push my stuff to more people. 

I think it’s important to set goals and never let yourself off the hook. You have to be determined, even to the last minute, to find a way.

Back in August I wanted to exceed the previous year’s attendance to one of our online conferences. But Covid was mostly over and people were back at work, and experts told me attendance would shrink. I was determined, but even a few weeks before, it was not looking strong. Yet determination and constant checking of progress paid off. And we exceeded the previous year’s numbers.

The same is true for Watercolor Live, our Worldwide Watercolor Summit with the finest masters on earth. As of December it was looking like it might be smaller, but because of our determination, it’s going to be the biggest online art conference in the world one more year. (You can still sign up at www.watercolorlive.com.)

People will tell you your goals are impossible. People will roadblock your success. People will be negative, not supportive. They will tell you your ideas are foolish. Don’t listen to them. Follow your heart, be determined and deliberate, and never ever give up. Never ever.

You Can Be Stupid Today Or You Can Make Your Dreams a Reality2022-12-22T17:11:12-05:00
25 12, 2022

The Purpose of Christmas


Lying in bed, fast asleep, I’m startled awake by a thump on the roof. And then I hear some distant bells. Quickly I leap out of bed and run down the hall to our family room. It’s pitch black. No one is awake. There on the family table, the cookie tray has only crumbs and the milk has been consumed. Santa was clearly here! And then a glance at the tree, a sea of wrapped presents — including a gold Schwinn bike with my name on it. I’m so excited I can hardly stand it. I want to wake everyone up, but a glance at the clock says it’s only 5 am. “My parents will kill me if I wake them up,” I’m thinking. So I go back to my bed, anxious, ready to wait it out. And I fall fast asleep again, only to be awakened by my brother, who woke up and experienced the same thing at about 7 am. So we make a lot of noise until our parents happen to wake up. And Christmas arrives.

The wonder of Christmases past will live on in my great memories forever. One of my favorite things has been the privilege of providing that same wonder to my kids. Such joy, such energy, such awe. There is simply nothing better.

Family Excitement

As I spoke to my friends and team members this past week, they were excited about seeing their families, their parents, their grandparents, nieces and nephews. The joy of family is such an exciting time, a time to generate memories, and a time to implant special lessons.

When I think back through my childhood, I remember visits to Grandma and Grandpa’s, Christmas with cousins, aunts, and uncles, opening gifts, cuddling on the couch, running up and down the stairs, singing Christmas carols, seeing family friends we don’t see any other time of the year, and meeting people my folks have invited who have nowhere to be. 

Don’t Let This Go to Waste

You’ve all heard the saying “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” uttered by some politician. I say, “Never let a good Christmas go to waste.” Though I never really stopped to think about it, this is what the elders in my family did. 

Your Role in Society

Throughout history, in most societies, the role of elders was just as important as the role of parents. Grandparents had time and patience and wisdom, while parents were working, busy, and exhausted. So it became the grandparents’ role to impart wisdom to their grandchildren, to teach them the important principles of the family. In my case it was Biblical instruction, the role of Christ in our family, the role of self-reliance, work ethic, the importance of strong ethics and principles, the importance of love and family, the role of justice, and so much more.

Voices in My Head

I spent lots of time with my grandparents growing up. I can hear the words my grandfather would say to me: “Put your back into it” when he was teaching me to paint rooms in his house, “Use a stronger sweeping motion” when I was sweeping leaves. It was my grandmother Roxie Goad who helped me understand that loving Christ was not about religions, it was about a one-on-one personal relationship with Christ, requiring no person or institution between me and my savior. She helped me see the power of His love, and that he was God, and that when we accept him, his spirit lives within us. It was never about going to church, or empowering others to rule over us. It was all about living with love, loving others more than ourselves, helping others, not judging others. 

I’m blessed with a great upbringing, wonderful memories of parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents, and in most cases, I have boxes of memories and lessons imparted to me in the precious time they spent with me. That included Christmas.

Little Sponges

Impressionable little minds soak up everything. They may be distracted wondering what’s inside that wrapped box someone brought that they can open after dinner, but they hear and take in what the adults are saying and how they are acting. It’s these times they take our cues and learn their lessons from us.

Lessons Imparted

Previously I’ve written about the importance of being deliberate about memories and lessons, and I’m reminded that Christmas, around family, is a great time to impart family history and life lessons. It can be as simple as something spoken briefly in a story.

Knowing Someone I Did Not Know

I don’t know if I ever knew my Grandpa Berry; I don’t remember ever meeting him. I remember his wife, who lived much longer. But the stories over Christmas dinners told me everything I needed to know about the way he treated others, the way he led his family, the character he had, his helping others in need, the big smile he always had on his face, his positive outlook, even though he had to bury his own son at a young age and had family members killed in the Great War. 

My dad used to tell so many stories about Grandpa Berry’s Sinclair gas station, how his customers loved him, about his pranks, his promotions, and his impact on my dad’s life. My dad mentioned that he was the first family member he could not wait to see when he got to Heaven because he missed him so much. I teared up writing this this morning, remembering how my own dad was that way to me and my kids, and how much we miss him. 

But now the role is mine as the elder in my family. No grandkids yet, still just dad, not granddad. But the stories and lessons need to continue. And one day my kids will tell stories to their kids about their grandfather, and hopefully their father.

Story Time

Our role today, when we are gathered with family, is to be storytellers, memory makers, family historians, and to make sure we impart important lessons to those around us. No lectures, no “shoulding,” just helping others see the best attributes they can find within themselves.

I’ll make a point to remember my wonderful father-in-law that the kids barely knew, and my own dad, and my grandparents and great-grandparents, telling their stories, what I learned from them.

I hope you’ll consider doing the same. Because there is no better opportunity than the celebration of Christmas. 

The First Step Before Gifts

Before we open a single gift, I’ll open the books of Luke and Matthew and ask the kids to read the Christmas story, as my parents and grandparents did with us, making sure that we don’t miss the true gift of Christmas.

Each breath we have is a gift. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I could get just one more hour with my parents or grandparents. I’m grateful for the gifts they gave me, and I know that while I’m breathing and able, it’s important to do the same for my family.

It’s my wish that you have a joy-filled Christmas.

Eric Rhoads

PS: Though I make my living by using promotion and marketing skills, I’ve never applied them to my Sunday Coffee message. This started out as a letter to my kids, so that my thoughts on life would someday be heard by them and documented once I’m gone. I told a friend about it, who asked if he could share it with a friend of his. The result has been that this weekly letter has been followed and read by a massive audience. I honestly don’t know how many, but I stopped paying attention when I heard it was going to 100,000 people every Sunday. The reason I did not want to promote it is because I wanted it to be as pure as possible, not looked upon as just some promotion, and I felt that if it was meant to be seen by others, others would forward it, and others would subscribe. 

I’ve been told that some of these have been read out loud at family tables and gatherings during holidays, and the result is a few more people subscribing every week. I’m humbled when that happens. All of this happened because someone once told me I should write down my stories.

To every person reading this, please consider writing down your stories, the things you want others to know. It’s special to me, just doing it for myself each week. But if you’re willing, let others get a glimpse of your heart. Maybe share it with a friend or family member from time to time. Not so it grows, or gets lots of followers, but because you’ll be making a difference in their lives.

I can assure you, my kids don’t read this. I’m not sure they even know about it. At 20, they have other things on their minds. I can’t be sure they will ever discover it — I’m not talking about it at home. But my hope is that one day, when I’m long gone, maybe they will Google my name and find a world of thoughts from their dad. It’s not only my gift to them, and to my friends, it’s a gift to myself, because it forces me to think about things and put them in writing. Not every week can be a gem; I’m lucky if I get one gem a year. But there is value in every word, which is why I want to encourage you.

We all need an outlet. For me, it’s writing and painting, occasional woodworking, tinkering in my shop, or learning something new. It keeps life more interesting, makes work less boring, and somehow enriches one’s life. I encourage you to find an outlet for yourself. 

Finally, you have a lot to contribute to the world. If you’re still breathing, you are here for a purpose. God isn’t done with you yet. Even if you’re retired and done with your career. God does not grant breath without purpose. Find it, use it. Explore. Your impact is important. 

The Purpose of Christmas2022-12-22T17:01:56-05:00
18 12, 2022

My Favorite Christmas Decorations


The smell of Christmas cookies is still in the air, combined with the scent of pine from our new Christmas tree. As I make my way out to the porch on this balmy Texas morning, sticky pine needles stick to my bare feet. Here I sit, staring out over a fresh morning, cuppa in hand, awaiting the last moments of peace as the hectic Christmas week is about to begin.

Big Muscles

Though I love to work, I’m looking forward to some time off. Like a muscle that is flexed constantly, your brain needs a break once in a while, a distraction, to open up to new possibilities. Christmas is the ending and the beginning. 

Year-Round Christmas

When I was a kid, my father would insist we get our Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving. He loved the feel of Christmas, and in the last two years of his life, he left his Christmas tree up the whole time because he loved it so much and it brought so many memories.\

The Old Church

My Grandmother Luella was fun to visit at Christmas because she had bubble lights on her tree, which were probably from the 1940s. They were almost like miniature lava lamps, but if you touched them, you’d get burned! She also had a little plastic church; you would wind it up, and the music box would play while the doors opened. It was a favorite of all the grandkids, and I think everyone wanted it when she passed. I’m not sure who got it; it wasn’t me.

OK, So It’s Tacky

We grow fond of decorations. They become like family heirlooms, even if some are silly and some are tacky. When the kids were little my mom sent this Christmas angel with wings that light up in multiple colors. As tacky as it is, the kids still insist we put it out, and my guess is that if we are ever blessed with grandkids, it will be the decoration they all want to inherit when we pass. 

A Song from Bing

One of my favorites is a cartoon-like Christmas caroller leaning against a lamppost, looking like Bing Crosby holding a microphone. When you press the button, it sings like Bing. Silly, tacky, but fun. Everyone groans when I push the button.

Cookie Cutters

Mom used to make Christmas cookies, pulling out these red plastic cookie cutters from the ’50s. I’m not sure what happened to them, but we bought a set at an antique store, as a reminder. Of course, they get used for making cookies.

Memory Bombs

Each time we put up the tree, the ornaments are like a time machine, stimulating memories. We have some from our childhoods, and lots our kids made when they were little. Ornaments from the kids’ band, ornaments from places we visited, ornaments from celebrations. 

I never really stopped to think about these things till now, but these heirlooms carry important family history, and they often remain when our loved ones are gone, reminding us of them.

Each family has traditions. We always set a place at the table for Jesus, and we bake a baby Jesus figure into a cake. And we read the Christmas story from the Bible before we ever open gifts, so we’re putting Christ first.

Though I’m easily annoyed by the pressure of gift buying and the overt commercialization in retail, bringing Christmas out even before Halloween, I’m grateful for the tradition and the feeling it gives us each year.

What are your family traditions?
What are your favorite memories of Christmas past?
Favorite Christmas movies?

Christmas is, in my humble opinion, Christ bringing us together, keeping families together, and helping us to remember and honor those who can’t be with us. It’s a time of joy, allowing us to perhaps forget for a brief time some of the difficult moments we face the rest of the year.

In just one week, those of us who celebrate will be gathered around a tree, creating memories and reliving memories.

May your Christmas week be filled with Joy.

Eric Rhoads

PS: If you’re not feeling in the Christmas spirit, find someplace with some Christmas music and decorations. We make a point to drive through some well-lit neighborhoods at night, and though we show up at our place of worship most Sundays, we love the Christmas music this time of year, and we’ll be there Christmas Eve. It’s a time to be part of a bigger family, where everyone is welcome. 

We have some people very close to us who will be trying to pull some joy out of their Christmas this year, because of a lost child, and a lost father and grandpa. If you’re experiencing this, you are in our thoughts and prayers. It’s hard to be filled with joy at times like this, but it’s my hope that you find some joy in the memories found in your family traditions.

My Favorite Christmas Decorations2022-12-16T16:46:48-05:00