Burpees for Breakfast: 50 Burpees Every Single Day in 2014

If you read my post on 10 Ways to Make Your 2014 Better, you know that helping others is always a big part of any new year plans. It’s something I firmly believe in; you generate all sorts of good karma and the positivity of helping really goes far beyond the act itself.

This year, I resolved to do something a bit crazy: 50 burpees every single day for the entire year – all to raise money for NO KID HUNGRY, a great charity that provides meals and education to children in need. The fact is, 1-in-5 kids in the United States is considered hungry. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around that fact; no child should ever want for food, especially in this country! But they do, and so, I’m hoping to do something about it.


My goal is to raise $50,000 over the course of 2014. If I reach that goal, the money will provide 500,000 meals. Half a million meals for kids who are hungry! That’s substantial.

Here’s a short information video I shot talking about my plans:

I started this on January 1st and I’m thirteen days into it. We’ve already raised $1,290 dollars – enough to provide 12,900 meals – but I’m going to keep going until we blast through that $50,000 goal.

Obviously, I need your help. Donations are the best way to help – even a small amount helps. One $10 donation provides 100 meals. Please give what you can.

But I’m also trying to spread the word about this campaign. Let your newspapers, news stations, magazines, websites – everyone – know what I’m doing. It is possible to change the world in only five minutes each day – that’s about the amount of time it takes me to do the burpees – but I need your help to make this goal a reality.

You can donate by going to this page. The donations go directly to the charity itself.

The official website for Burpees for Breakfast is here and I videotape myself doing the 50 burpees every single day and post it there. Scan back for some interesting episodes! There is also a Facebook page here.

Thank you for your donations & help!

10 Ways to Make Your 2014 Better Than 2013

So, yes, I know we’re almost a week into the New Year. And yes, I know everyone has pretty much already come out with their suggestions on how to be better. I’m late, what can I say?

Seriously, though, with 2014 firmly locked in, here are my tips for making the most of it. I hope you like them, or at least they give you some ideas to think about.

1. Set Boundaries

There’s a lot of overlap in our lives – a lot more than when I was growing up. Technology has enabled parts of our lives to bleed into other areas. Out to dinner with your family? Your smart phone dings and lets you know there’s a work email waiting to be read. Getting ready to work out? Hang on, I have to check in on Facebook. Look at that! I have to Instagram that joint!

For 2014, try setting up boundaries. When you’re engaged in one activity, give it your full focus. If you’re at work, resist the urge to be distracted by emails, Facebook, Pinterest, or even the latest game app. Likewise, when you’re away from work, don’t work – play! You’ll find your focus improves and you’ll probably get more done. While splitting your attention may be necessary some times, try working on your focus when it’s not.

2. Leave the Drama Behind

We’ve all got people in our lives that we’d rather not have there. Negative Nancys, Passive Aggressive idiots. For 2014, resolve to get those people out of your life. Surround yourself with a better caliber of human beings. A rising tide floats all boats and if you are with positive and fun people, you will naturally find your attitude and outlook improving. Dump anyone who affects you negatively. This may sound harsh, but if you are interested in making your life better than last year, then you’ll need to make some cuts.

This is not to say that you should surround yourself with “yes people” who will tell you anything you want to hear. They’re actually a negative influence as well. You should find a circle of friends who are happy, positive, and accomplished – but who will also call you on your BS if need be. These people get things done and know how to have fun.

And by the way, family doesn’t get special treatment here. If you have family members who are always unsupportive of your dreams and goals, who are always negative, pessimistic, passive aggressive, or who drag you down in any way, consider parting ways with them. I’ve never understood why so many people sacrifice their happiness and put up with idiotic behavior simply because they share blood with someone. If anything, family should be held to even higher standards than your friends.

3. Do One Thing Everyday That Scares You

Eleanor Roosevelt said this and I happen to love it. And no, this does not mean you have to go tightrope walking across the Grand Canyon. It simply means that you find something everyday that challenges you in some fashion. Through continuous challenge we grow and expand our thinking. If you only ever do the same things that feel comfortable to you, you will never grow as a human being and you’ll never appreciate the richness that life has to offer. Get out of your comfort zone and explore the world around you. Try something that the old you would shake your head at.

4. Change The World In 5 Minutes Each Day

I know what you’re thinking, “that’s impossible. You can’t change the world in 5 minutes a day.”

Actually, you can. Right now, I’m doing a fundraising drive for the folks at NO KID HUNGRY, a wonderful charity that provides meals to disadvantaged children in the US. To help raise money, I’m doing 50 burpees every single day in 2014 for my BURPEES FOR BREAKFAST campaign. That works out to 18,250 burpees over the course of the year, but it also only takes me about 5 minutes (sometimes more) to do them. 5 minutes of my day devoted to helping children who don’t get enough to eat. Check out the website for more info and please be sure to donate!

And you know what? You can do something like this yourself! Imagine doing something tangible that will have a real, lasting positive effect on the world at large over the course of 2014. When you break it down into a manageable bit of time, like 5 minutes each day, then over the long run, you build up a substantial impact.

And this doesn’t work with just charity; you can set up any goal you have in this fashion. Want to write a book? Devote five minutes each day to writing and watch how fast the words add up. Want to get better at anything? Give yourself five minutes each day to practice and your skill level will improve dramatically.

5. Doodle

Buy yourself a big pad of paper with no lines. Write “2014” on the cover. Open it up to the very first page and draw something.


Why do this? We live in a world with rules, laws, and expectations about what our behavior “should” be. The simple act of drawing whatever you want to draw is incredibly liberating. You can go in any direction. You can draw whatever you want. Cartoon away. Sketch out an invention you’ve always wanted to try to build. There are no lines on the paper and there are no limits to what you could draw. Let your mind enjoy this blank canvas and play. It doesn’t matter if you think you have zero artistic ability; it only matters that you free your mind and give it permission to go anywhere.

6. Once Each Day Find Your Hara

Your “hara,” as it’s called in Japanese, is the area about two inches below your belly button. It’s also the place where babies breathe from. As we grow older, many people tend to breathe from their chests rather than their lower abdomen. But the benefits of “belly breathing” are immense. You bring more oxygen into your body this way and better fill your lungs, plus it’s incredibly relaxing. Once each day, practice taking ten deep belly breaths. Do it before you go to sleep and you may drop off sooner than you usually do. Deep belly breathing is also an excellent way to calm down if you find yourself getting tense.

Simply lie on your back, place your hands over your lower abdomen, and take a deep breath in through your nose feeling your hands lift as your abdomen expands. Bring your awareness down to where your hands are. Exhale smoothly through your nose and repeat for at least ten breaths.

7. Help Two People Every Week

Make a conscious effort to help more people this year. It can be as simple as helping them spread the word about a new project they’re working on. You might offer to pick up a friend’s child at daycare.

Why two people? Because it’s pretty easy to help one person each week, but helping two means you actually have to look for the opportunity to help someone, rather than just cruising through knowing that the universe will inevitably throw someone your way who needs a helping hand. Putting effort into finding someone who needs help – no matter how small – means you are being active about helping and doing good, rather than just passively accepting. Two people each week means you’re helping over 100 people throughout the course of the year. That’s some pretty good karma you’re generating!

8. Be A Beacon of Positive Energy

Being negative is easy. It takes very little energy to bitch about life, to complain when things don’t go your way, or even moan about the weather. Resolve to avoid doing those things. There are more than enough people out there complaining and bitching and woe-is-me’ing about life. The universe doesn’t need you joining them.

Instead, focus on the good in your life. Share something inspirational. Compliment someone in your Facebook friends list. Put forth something positive and watch the effects. This isn’t to say you need to become all rainbows and unicorns – let’s be real, here. But by consciously trying to limit the amount of negative energy you put out, you’ll be doing everyone a favor. It’s not easy being positive all the time and it does take a lot of energy, but the rewards are a lot better than just dishing out the bad juju.

9. Exercise

You need to. There’s no excuse for not doing something. You don’t have time? Everyone is busy. You don’t have the money? You don’t need to join a gym. You don’t have the willpower? Connect with friends and make it a group effort.

The simple truth is that exercise will make you feel better in so many ways, it would be impossible to list them all. Is it hard? Sometimes. But the struggle is worth it. Go for a walk. Skip rope. Do push-ups. Crank out some crunches. Think of your body like a car. If you simply leave it in the garage and never drive it anywhere, it will fall apart. The same is true of your body. Get the juices flowing. Get that engine churning. Work the pistons. Soon you’ll have a sports car instead of a broken-down jalopy.

10. Write This Stuff Down

Buy a journal, make a Google doc, video tape, or make an audio recording of all of this stuff. Especially the people you help over the course of 2014. No, you’re not jockeying to win sainthood, but having a concrete reminder of what you’ve done this year next December 31st is going to be rewarding on a number of levels. People and experiences tend to vanish from our memories and if you’re out there doing good, it’s always nice to remember what you’ve done for others – especially if the year doesn’t go quite to plan. Next December, when you’re reflecting on the previous twelve months, pull that journal out and look at everything you’ve done, and everyone you’ve helped. It may make you smile more than once!

Halloween Thriller Storybundle Featuring Ten Awesome EBooks!

If you missed my newsletter earlier today (whaaaaat???) then you haven’t heard the news that I am part of the latest Storybundle featuring ten amazing novels from some truly incredible authors. My buddy Joe Nassise and I have the novel we co-wrote THE CERBERUS PROTOCOL included in the lineup. Storybundle is great for a number of reasons:

  • Pay what you want: you can decide how much to pay for the bundle – and each one has a recommended price that gives the authors a very fair share.
  • 10% of the money earned by the bundle goes to charity: For this bundle two amazing charities are the beneficiaries.
  • The ebooks in the bundle are compatible with any e-reader or smartphone: Whatever you’ve got, the bundle works with it.
  • This is a direct-to-reader exchange: No 3rd parties involved here. We wrote these fun books and you get them direct from us in one great package.
  • All of the authors are professional storytellers: you don’t have to worry about crap reads or slipshod plotting. We know what we’re doing and how to deliver thrills a-plenty.
  • You can get the bundle right now by clicking here!

Here’s the amazing lineup:

1. THE CERBERUS PROTOCOL by Joseph Nassise and Jon F. Merz (heyyyy, I know that guy)
2. OGMIOS OMNIBUS by Steven Savile (a massive collection of three novels in this thrilling series)
3. FIRST DROP by Zoe Sharp
4. PROJECT NEMESIS by Jeremy Robinson
5. NEVERMORE by David Niall Wilson
6. BLACK by Russell Blake
7. BODY BAGS by Christopher Golden
8. LOCK & LOAD by Sean Black

Here are the covers:

And the charities being benefitted are as follows (info taken from the Storybundle website)

“Distinguished as one of the top 15 after-school arts and culture programs in the nation by The President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities, Girls Write Now is New York’s first and only organization with a writing and mentoring model exclusively for girls. From young women exploring writing to seasoned professionals practicing their craft every day, GWN is a community of women writers dedicated to providing guidance, support, and opportunities for high school girls to develop their creative, independent voices and write their way to a better future. Over the past 15 years, more than 4,500 underserved teen girls have benefitted from the GWN community and 100% of seniors in our flagship mentoring program go on to college—bringing with them portfolios, awards, scholarships, new skills, and a sense of confidence. Girls Write Now has built a record of achievement and innovation recognized twice by the White House, by The New York Times, and the MacArthur Foundation, and evidenced by the hundreds of Scholastic Art & Writing awards our girls have earned.

Mighty Writers’ mission is to teach Philadelphia kids to think and write with clarity. Our free programs combat the literacy crisis in a city where nearly half of high school students drop out and some 50% of working-age adults are functionally illiterate (can’t read bank statements, fill out job applications or easily comprehend news articles). Today, Mighty Writers offers year-round writing programs for some 1,000 kids and teens, ages seven to 17, with help from 300 volunteers. At our headquarters in one of Philadelphia’s historic neighborhoods, we offer an afterschool writing academy, themed writing workshops, one-on-one mentorships, a weekly teen lounge, SAT preparatory courses and college essay writing classes. Our programs draw students from more than 125 city schools (public, parochial, magnet, charter, cyber, home) and an array of communities.”

Seriously, how cool is this bundle? Not only do you get a wide array of thrilling reads perfect for the spooky Halloween season, but you also get a chance to help out some truly deserving folks.

Grab your bundle now by going here!


By Jon F. Merz

I am very pleased to announce that I have signed on with Worldreader.org to donate copies of THE NINJA APPRENTICE to their amazing program that brings e-readers and ebooks to children living in under-developed regions in Africa. Worldreader distributes Amazon Kindles to the children and then Amazon “pushes” the free ebooks to the kids, who get to choose books to read on them for free. It boosts literacy, aids in their education, and their ability to improve their station in life. I heard about this organization, based in Seattle and Barcelona, yesterday and knew I wanted to get involved. It took no time whatsoever, and now thousands of kids will get a chance to read about Jimmy’s wild and crazy adventures as he tries to restore his family’s honor. Worldreader has already sent 100,000 ebooks to these kids and their aiming for ONE MILLION.

Worldreader has partnered with many publishers and authors to help expand their programs in Ghana, Uganda, and Kenya and soon Rwanda. After launching, they soon found some pretty dramatic effects: “After 9 months the biggest gains were realized from the 4-5th graders; in 8 months kids were reading 50% more in volume, their rate of reading increased by 30% when measured by wpm and they were excited about great content… win win win!!! Textbooks – novels – the Atlas – all kinds of knowledge and information. ”

So awesome. And this is just one more indicator of the technological shift away from paper. This program would not have been possible using printed books. It’s only with e-readers and ebooks that such a thing is possible. I’m grateful to be able to contribute in this small way and hopefully give those kids a fun, exciting read. I don’t know how many Ninjutsu practitioners there are in Africa (outside of South Africa, which has a few dojo) but there might be several more once these kids meet Jimmy!

If you’re an author with middle grade to YA fiction and would like to help out, make sure you have the rights to your work or that your publisher is interested in participating, and then contact Michael Smith at Worldreader.org. For authors, it’s a simple, one-page contract – quick and easy. For me, it was a no-brainer to get involved and do some good. I hope my writer friends feel the same. Writer & non-writer friends can also head to the Worldreader.org website and donate money or get involved to help them send more Kindles to the kids in Africa.