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Author Todd Henry Speaks At Unpolished

Author Todd Henry Speaks At Unpolished

by Elizabeth BarnettDecember 14, 2013

Goals - VentureBreak.comA group of aspiring entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs, and experienced startup owners meets at Crossroads Church in Cincinnati, OH on a regular basis for professional development, networking, and to discuss the connection between spirituality and business. This group is called Unpolished. For the meeting this month Unpolished invited Todd Henry, author of The Accidental Creative: How to Be Brilliant at a Moment’s Notice and Die Empty: Unleash Your Best Work Every Day.

Todd gave a very motivational and inspirational presentation that could help any entrepreneur determine their areas for improvement as well as their strengths and to move forward to produce better work. There were two main things that resonated with me and I believe I will continue to contemplate as I move forward in my own entrepreneurial journey. They were both definitions of words that are commonplace in business discussions: mediocre and passion.


In Todd’s slideshow he breaks down the latin root of the word mediocre:

medius + ocris

medius = midle (source:

ocris = a broken, rugged, stony mountain (source:

So in other words, when your actions are mediocre it literally means you are stopping in the middle of a rugged mountain. That you have given up and basically decided that the spot you are in is good enough. You have decided to not finish your climb and to be satisfied with staying where you are.

This really stuck with me because I think when people use the term mediocre, they don’t quite realize what that means. They don’t realize they are throwing in the towel, they just believe they are content. This really put things in perspective for me.

Todd said this:

Mediocrity doesn’t just happen; it’s chosen over time.

He pointed out how important the regular tasks you do every day are. I took away from this that things like the fact that every day I wake up and I check my email for my blog is important. While it may seem like a small thing, the fact that I regularly follow up with people and communicate with those involved in projects is something that separates me from the pack. I am consistent and I dedicate myself to this. I am motivated to do it on my own accord and have made it a routine. The fact that I make this a regular priority defines my progression and in continuing to do this every day, I move forward. By choosing what tasks I engage in and prioritizing their overall value, although they all may seem like small tasks are really moving me up that mountain.

Todd shared this quote from Gretchen Rubin:

What you do every day matters more than what you do once in a while.


The other focus word of the presentation was passion. Prior to this presentation, I would have defined the word based on your level of interest in a topic. Or maybe how much time you spend working on the project.

However, Todd’s definition was quite different. He explained that passion is literally something in which you take a sacrifice. He gave the example of a very successful professional football player who played the sport as a way to get through school but when he was offered the position on an NFL team considered turning it down because he did not like the sport. The gentleman’s pastor encouraged him to take the position and use it as a platform to share his faith. He did and became one of the greatest football players of all time.

Although it was not in his area of interest, because he was willing to sacrifice himself for a greater cause he was quite successful. When I look back on my own life accomplishments, I have several examples of success where I was doing something that I didn’t necessarily have interest in but was very successful. Our society does encourage us to go after what we are interested in rather than where we might have the most impact.


So while my description of Todd Henry’s talk may not be conventional in that I did not share information about his talk in chronological order I wanted to share my perspective and the key points that I took away from it. You can view the entire presentation here. I also suggest following Todd on Twitter.

You can find Todd’s books on Amazon:

If you live in Cincinnati and are interested in the Unpolished organization, you can check it out at

About The Author
Elizabeth Barnett