Month: February 2014

Blood and Guns: A Man Named Ni

imagesY0KY7XVPGunfire is a common occurrence in Hollywood films, but it’s not something I had ever personally experienced before today when my grandpa took me to the shooting range. We all have images in our heads of our favorite actors looking like models as they point their guns at whoever or whatever is opposing them—people like Jennifer Lopez, Matt Damon, Sandra Bullock, George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr., and Harrison Ford. Even young, cute Chloe Grace Moretz has gotten a piece of gun action in a couple of her films.

So holding and using a gun must be really easy right?


I was really afraid to go shooting today, but I went anyway. It’s not what I thought it’d be like. The gun is heavier, louder, brighter, and more powerful than my gentle spirit was prepared for. When my grandfather (who is ex-navy and ex-army) was trying to help me shoot because I was too afraid to hold the gun on my own, he cut himself and started bleeding profusely, which, you can imagine, didn’t lessen my fear.

While my grandpa was cleaning up his gash and I was standing alone on the verge of tears (it was a lot of blood guys) the man at the counter started talking to me. I didn’t ask him any questions but he seemed to answer them anyway: Was I a total loser for being afraid to even be near a gun? Was I a complete failure for allowing my fear to get my grandfather hurt?

The man at the counter’s name was Ni. From what I can remember in my fragile state, Ni said he’d been training policemen, SWAT teams, and other law enforcement groups on how to shoot for over twenty years. At first Ni was shaking his head at us in disapproval, but then he realized I was shaken up and started to comfort me in his own way. Ni said three things that I’ll share with you:

1. If you come in here, you’ve never shot a gun before, and you’re not afraid, you’re not human.

2. Shooting is easy for me; I’m not afraid of using a gun, but I absolutely would not teach my son or anyone how to drive. I also will never jump out of an airplane because I’m afraid of heights. Guns I can do; planes and cars I cannot.

3. It’s okay to be afraid, but you come in and try it, and if you don’t like it you don’t come back. At least you tried.

I apologize if this is the lesson you learned when you were three and your mother told you to try zucchini and that if you didn’t like it, you didn’t have to eat it, but Ni was really cool and I want to recognize him. He realized that everyone is not like him and that everyone is not good at everything, and he reached out to me so that I didn’t have to feel like a failure even in failure.

Sometimes I think I need to be amazing at everything, but Ni knew the truth:

I can’t be perfect.

And that’s perfectly alright.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'”

–2 Corinthians 12:9

Who can you extend grace to today?

A link to Ni‘s shooting range:


Crushing the Little Opportunities: McBeard Media

In 2011 Alec McNayr and Alan Beard were dirt poor. Today, they run the most successful social media campaign company in the entertainment industry and they love what they do. McBeard Media has run the social media campaigns for films like American Hustle, Monsters University, Wall Street, Life of Pi, the Great Gatsby, and Avatar. You see a billboard, a poster, a Facebook page–McBeard Media is behind it. They’ve had the opportunity to pitch their ideas to a room full of the very best creative minds at Disney Pixar, and the way things are going, they will probably be running the social media campaigns for five out of the top ten films this year.

But things didn’t work out for Alan and Alec on their own. So how’d they get here?

In the talk Alan admitted that he and Alec were not  “big believers in the idea that undergraduate students come out of college knowing anything,” so I asked him in a round about way: “Are you saying I shouldn’t go to college? What’s college good for then?”

Alan reaffirmed his previous statement, but noted that college is great for learning how to communicate with people, how to lead, and how to speak in public. He also said that the contacts he made were crucial to the place he’s at in his life right now, and that without having attended Pepperdine, he and Alec would not be business partners. Simplified: In college you learn good communication and you network; your major doesn’t matter (unless you aim to be something like a doctor of course!); you will learn from actual experience working a job.

I filled more than three pages of cramped handwriting with the wisdom and advice that was pouring out of Alec and Alan’s mouths, but for now I’m just going to share one thing that Alan said that stood out to me that night: “Crush the little opportunities.” This advice is rooted in the scripture in Luke 16:10 that says “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much…” I’ve also heard it this way: “Be faithful in the little things and you will be made ruler over much.”

When Alan and Alec were given their first film–Vampires Suck–they were told to get 100,000 people to like the Facebook page. Instead of meeting this expectation, Alan and Alec exceeded it by 700,000 more likes. Seven. Hundred. Thousand.

To put it nicely, Vampires Suck is not the kind of movie that is nominated for academy awards. But Alan and Alec chose to treat it like it was the biggest movie of the year. That’s why today, Alan and Alec actually campaign for the biggest movies of the year–they crushed their little opportunities.

In my life, “crushing the little opportunities” looks like aiming to be the best Jamba Juice employee at my school. It means treating everyone I meet with respect and honor. It means going to events where I might learn something from someone cooler than me–as often as I possibly can. It means being consistent with a blog that may only be read by my mom. I do this because I know that in the long run, if I crush these small opportunities, God will give me bigger opportunities to crush.

What little opportunities can you can begin to crush this week?

In Their Footsteps: Why You’re Reading This Blog

Footprints and handprints of Hollywood legends outside of Grauman's Chinese Theatre

Hi! Welcome to Cooler Than Me Blog, which has nothing to do with the song by Mike Posner, but everything to do with genuine cool people and a series of events that I will briefly describe in a second.

Cooler Than Me Blog is where I’m going to write down the questions I ask of businessmen, celebrities, and every other kind of person who is good at what they do—in essence, this blog is all about people who are ‘cooler than me’. I aim to stretch myself and contact people it seems impossible to get a hold of, but I’m also going to write about what I learn from people you probably haven’t heard of, who are equally as cool in their respective areas of expertise.

In 2012 I attended an event called First Steps to Success, a business, communication, and life training seminar taught by multi-millionaire, Dani Johnson. It’s hard to explain exactly what Dani teaches in this seminar, but what I can tell you is that going to First Steps to Success changed my life.

Before attending First Steps to Success, I was an aspiring writer, musician, and filmmaker with absolutely no direction; I was struggling in my faith; I was a prisoner to fear; and my relationships were suffering from a seemingly impassable communication barrier. After attending First Steps to Success and continuing to plug in to the monthly events and radio shows, I now have vision and hope for my career; I have a strong faith in God; I rebuke all fear in the name of Jesus; and I have amazing relationships with people in my life I thought it would be impossible to have.

I’m the same person, with the same background and upbringing, but the course of my life is forever and remarkably changed. I am so grateful to God for his undeserved love and grace that is so obviously visible in the doors he has opened for me and in the way he has told other people in my life (usually my mom) to push me through these doors when I won’t walk through them on my own.

Becoming a part of the Dani Johnson community has led to many incredible things, one of which was beginning to read the 4-Hour Work Week, by Timothy Ferriss. In his book, Ferriss talks about his challenge to a group of Princeton students to get in contact with a number of high-profile celebrities and CEO’s, ask a question they’ve always wanted to ask, and get it answered.

This challenge, combined with something Dani Johnson frequently says: “Find someone who has what you want and do what they do,”  has led us to this point in our lives—me writing, you reading.

I hope that you will get something from this blog, that you’ll choose to take your education into your own hands, and that you’ll find yourself taking every opportunity to learn from people who are cooler than you—and follow in their footsteps.

–Always, Sara

Timothy Ferriss’s Blog:

Dani Johnson’s website:

My mom’s blog: