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Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sunday, November 26, 2017

The Shroud

Shadow enveloped Stephen as he watched the movements below from his perch in the old church bell tower. His cloak danced in the breeze as a proud flag, his face enshrouded under the familiar hood. He watched the events of Ashland, Idaho with a passive interest, until he noticed someone looking at him... directly?

It had been three hundred years since anyone had seen him, really seen him. Could this Captain Ashland be one of them? A seer? Unlikely. Not many were left in the world. Although the rumors of the shadow world claimed they were on the rise, ever since the Azusa Street Revival.

Stephen moved from his perch, pacing left to right. The Captain's eyes followed him. "I must tell the others," he said. "There is an awakening..."

His form morphed into a black whisp of cloud and he floated away from the perch, into the mountains.


***

Ash noticed the figure evaporated into a cloud of smoke. He shook his head. When would these visions ever get better?



Darrell G. Wolfe

Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant | Multipotentialite

Saturday, November 25, 2017

SIN, sins, and the Promises of God

Recently, I saw this statement (as a snippet of a much larger comment). I agreed with the comment as a whole, but this portion really bothered me for a few days.

If we spoke even one word, negatively or condemning about one person, without taking care of that by repenting and clearing that up, although God desires only blessing, favor and good on our behalf, He must rule on our guilt of sin.

My Response:

SIN vs sins

Individual sins are a result of our inherited SIN nature. Jesus died to take care of SIN, not individual sins. Of course, individual sins are covered in that death, but it was the root He was after. Once you are born again, you will NEVER be ruled guilty of any individual sins, whether you remember to repent of them(it) or not. They are covered under the blood (past, present, and future). They are not irrelevant, but more on that in a moment.

Repentance

Repentance has nothing to do with saying sorry or asking for forgiveness, repentance has to do with changing your WAY of thinking to align with His. Not just replacing your thoughts with His thoughts, rather, it's replacing your WAY of thinking, receiving information and processing information to become like His.

Confession/Profession

Confession has nothing to do with claiming what you want or with confessing your sins, at least not directly. Confession/Profession means to "say the same thing as".

If God's talking to you about your sin, and you say the same thing he's saying, then this would be confession. But if God is talking to you about your Righteousness in Christ Jesus and you are talking about your sin, then you are NOT confessing. You are not saying the same thing as Him.

Likewise, when it comes to the promises, unless God has said it, you can say it all day long and it's not confession, it's wishing.

Vague Promises vs Specific Promises

Written = Vague

God's Written Word provides many promises. They are, on balance, general/vauge about most things. It says he will never leave us or forsake us, that we will live long in the land if we honor our father and mother, that God delights in the prosperity of his servants, that he has a future planned full of hope and prosperity, that if we confess with our mouths and believe in our hearts we are saved....

On balance these are specific up to a point. Nothing in the written Word of God will promise you a specific outcome for a specific set of obedience. There are general principles, rock solid Truths, but not very many situation-specific/outcome-specific promises.

Heard = Specific

For these, you must go beyond the Written Word, beyond rote learning, repetition, study... you must HEAR the voice of God speaking into your heart/situation. This gets harder. For this, you must hear. To hear, you must be listening. A myriad of things can hinder your listening/hearing.

You may be distracted by your own sins. Asking for forgiveness here could be a way to help clear your conscience and allow yourself to hear better. This does not mean that God needs you to repent in order to fulfill his promises or blessings, only that your dealing with this will help you clear your own conscience and help you hear. This mostly has to do with a need to renew your mind to His righteousness.
  • You may be dragged away by your own desires (James 1:14). You don't WANT to hear. 
  • You hear but don't like what you heard. You don't WANT to hear more. 
  • You may not have learned how to listen/hear him. Training/Practice 
  • You may have heard, but you're not sure how to know it's Him. Training/Coaching from others. 
  • Many other reasons you may not hear and/or obey what you hear, thus not receive from God... 
All of these have nothing to do with sins, directly. Sins can play a role in YOUR heart, not in God's response.


Darrell G. Wolfe



Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant | Multipotentialite

Friday, October 20, 2017

How to use Blogger.Com and Domain.Com to host your website for less than $10/Year.

A step by step guide to setting up a hosted top level domain name on Blogger. 


Wanting my own domain:


I've always wanted my own domain name. I kept thinking it would be too expensive to host a full website on my starting budget. So I settled for using Wordpress and Blogger subdomains. And that wasn't bad. But it wasn't great either.

Have you ever wanted your website, non profit website, business website, or blog to have a more professional web address or domain name? But you just don't want to pay the big bucks for a "real website". At least not yet.

Maybe when you become more successful, but you are still trying to keep the rent/mortgage paid. Therefore you must keep costs down. So you came to Blogger because you tried Wordpress.com and you got tired of them stopping you from entering your own html and affiliate links. In the end, whether you chose Wordpress or Blogger  or both, you settled for a subdomain.

So instead of getting that cool "MyAwesomenessOfASite.Com" site you wanted, you settled for "MyAwesomenessOfASite.wordpress.com" or "MyAwesomenessOfASite.blogspot.com".

But what if I told you that getting a real domain name doesn't have to mean hosting a website yourself!? That's right! Blogger will host your domain name for free, and wordpress.com, will do it for just a few dollars a year.

In fact, although this post is about using Domain.Com and Blogger.Com, you could use these instructions to understand Domain.Com better and use Wordpress.Com's instructions for their part of it, which is really the smaller part anyway. That is, if you are still using Wordpress.com... for some reason.

The only thing you will pay for, if you use Blogger, is the domain name itself. Which for most people will be about $9.99 per year. It can be less and more depending on what name you choose. More on that in a moment.

Just in case, you don't want ALL the details and blow by blow screen shots, here are the steps right up front.


The Steps:

  1. Buy a domain from Domain.Com (or you favorite place)
    1. Buy from Domain.com! 
  2. In Blogger, Settings, Basic, Publishing, +Add a domain name
    1. Type in the name you bought.
    2. Make sure to include the "www"
    3. Expect an error message. You WANT the error message.
  3. In Domain.Com set up your CNAME using the instructions Blogger gives.
    1. Enter the www and ghs.google.com as well as the 12 digit and 21digit numbers as mentioned above. 
  4. WAIT for it....WAIT for it....
    1. After an hour or two, once the system has had time to reset things for you...
  5. Go Back to Blogger and type in the new domain name.
    1. Make sure to include the www.
    2. Hit SAVE
    3. This time there should be no error! 
  6. You are basically done. 
  7. You should also, go back and set up A Name listings as well. See my whole post for more on that. 


See my WHOLE post for more tips and extra advice. Now to a blow by blow explanation!

Buy your domain name and website from two different places:


So the only cost to you is to go buy a domain name from one of the many "registrars" out there. Eventually you will probably want to get a fully hosted site, maybe. If you do here is a thought about why you do NOT want to buy your domain name from the place that you may eventually host. 

I don't know all the details exactly... but here is what my friend Mark said to me, who has run websites for his own businesses for decades. He assures me that you do not want to buy the domain name from the same place you host your site. Something about the site you host on getting mad at you and shutting your site down and locking you out and making life difficult for you and you loosing the domain name in the process.

If you buy your domain name from one service and host with a different service and the host service causes you problems, you just go to your domain registrar and point the domain name at the new service you set up with someone else.

If you were, (*just for example not saying either of these places are good or bad), but let's say you went to Go Daddy and had problems but bought your domain name from Domain.Com. Well, just go to Blue Host, set up the new site and point the domain name to Blue Host instead.

You are up and running in hours while you work out the issues with Go Daddy. Again, just examples not saying either of those is better than another. I have no idea which fully hosted site is best, obviously I still use Blogger.

What Domain name should I buy?


When choosing a domain name make sure it fits what you want. I wanted DarrellWolfe.Com because I want to operate under my own brand. But for my food reviews site I chose lifeinfortworth.com because it fit the niche market I'm looking to serve there. Because of that, as I build it, the site should start to rank higher in search hits for things around fort worth just because of the domain name I chose. The domain name actually plays a part in your search hits. 

Please check these articles out before paying for anything, check them out in this order:


I use Domain.Com

I use Domain.Com because I have had great experiences with them. Their website is clean and easy to use. They make things very simple. Really nice interface. Nothing much more complicated than that. Plus the very fact they own the rights to "Domain.Com" seems pretty sound to me. To read more "About" them click here. There is really nothing more to it than that. I like them. I've used them for several other websites for years. I will continue to use them because they make it so easy to do business. They have a host of services I haven't used yet, but probably will when I get more money coming in to do so. 

Now, as of today I am an affiliate. Which means I'll get paid if you sign up for a domain name through them by clicking the this link: Host your website with Domain.com!

But I would have written this anyway, even if I wasn't. I wrote most of this post before it occurred to me to see if they have an Affiliate Program, and they do! And it's free to join. So by the time this post goes live, I'll be a Domain.Com Affiliate. For more information about what it means to be an affiliate click here.


Setting Up Your New Domain Name:


You Will Need:

I thought it would be helpful to set you up for success. Here's what you will need to get started.

  • Internet
  • Web Browser (I use Opera)
  • Note Pad 
    • (Either real paper or electronic, doesn't matter but electronic would be easier to copy and paste).
  • Three Tabs Open
  • Chosen Domain Name(s)
    • You will have wanted to take time to consider what domain names you want to try to buy, come up with some alternatives. Choosing your domain name, depending on what you want and what's available may be the longest part of this task. 
    • It took all of ten seconds to find that DarrellWolfe.Com was available. 
    • But my LifeInFortWorth.Com was originally going to be TexasLiving.Com and it was taken. In the end I liked LifeInFortWorth.Com WAY better! Just hadn't thought of it.
      • It probably took me an hour to figure out that domain name and choose it. I was happy with the end result, and very happy that I took my time and prayed about it before locking in my choice. 



Using Domain.Com and choosing a domain name:


First go to my favorite place to buy Domains: Domain.Com. Just search for the domain you want and when you find one available buy it, on Domain.com!

Now keep this window open because you are going to do some work on Domain.Com after you have done some work with Blogger.



+Add a domain name in Blogger:


In Blogger, on the left panel, last option, click on "Settings"

Then the first option "Basic" will have several options to the page on your right. One section, seen below, is "Publishing". Simply click "+Add a custom domain..."

Screen Shot of Blogger +add domain area

You will then see the screen that has "Advanced Settings". Make sure to open the "Settings Instructions" because it gives you more details you need to do the following procedures.


Settings Instruction take you: HERE


Add in the domain name you bought. When you add the domain it must be a "Top Level" domain. Which means you must add the "www" to the front or it won't work. For example, put in "www.darrellwolfe.com" NOT "darrellwolfe.com". Now hit save and you will see an error message. This is what you want to see!

Screen Shot of Blogger +add domain area

Now that you have your error message you can do the next steps. You should see two sets of data. One will say "www" and "ghs.google.com". The next set of data will look like a complete mess of numbers and letters. The first set may be about 12 digits, the next will be about 21 digits followed by "...googlehosted.com" These are the four sets of data you need for Domain.Com.

Now the www and ghs.google.com is going to be the same for everyone. The 12 digits and 21 digits are specific to your blog. If you have used Blogger to set up 20+ blogs, for example, each of them would have different digits that pop here, specific to this particular blog.

Screen Shot of Blogger +add domain area

On Domain.Com Under DNS choose CNAME Alias


Go to your DNS section under your new domain name on Domain.Com...(*Note: NOT your nameservers, leave those alone.). There will be a drop down box next to "Modify:" Select the option that says: "CNAME Alias".

Screen Shot of Domain.Com DNS Records


Now on the CNAME Alias you will need those four pieces from Blogger.


Screen Shot of Domain.Com CNAME Alias


You will type in the www under host and ghs.google.com under points to. Then do the same for your specific info. Click "Add" and enter your 12 digit under the host section and 21digit.googlehosted.com under Point To.


Screen Shot of Domain.Com CNAME Alias


Now we wait...

...no really... we wait... You can leave these screens up if you want, but walk away, for at least an hour or two. Go watch Captain America. Or better yet go read Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World.

Once domain.com has had anywhere from 10 minutes to two hours to update, you should be able to proceed by going back to Blogger.

Note: Don't use the "Nameservers" section. Use the DNS section and choose CNAME Alias from the drop down.

Going back to Blogger you will now hit save.


If you recall we started this adventure in Blogger hitting save and getting an error message. That error message was telling us that the domain name didn't recognize Blogger. If you waited the hour I told you to, and you did the other steps right, you should NOW be able to hit save. If you closed your screens that's perfectly OK!

Just go back to settings, basic, publishing, +add a custom domain name, type in your newly set up domain "www.mynewdomain.com" and make sure you use the "www" in front. Now hit Save. it should work this time with no error message.


Screen Shot of Blogger.Com adding domain name and cname


If you did everyting right so far, you should now see under Publishing a note that mydomin.blogspot.com redirects to www.mynewdomain.com


Screen Shot of Blogger.Com Domain Added success!


If you go ahead and go back in and edit there will be a little button you can click that will tell "mynewdomain.com" (without the wwww) to forward to "www.mynewdomain.com". But only after it recognizes the top level version with the www. You will see a small check box followed be "Redirect example.com to www.example.com". Then hit save. 




There are a few other things to talk about if you want to make sure things are working to their best ability for you.


Extra Credit; things you should also do or consider. 


Set up your A Records:


You will also want to set up your A Records. This will be done back on the DNS Tab. Simple use the drop down again and click on "A Record". This ensures that if someone types in your website without the "www" in front they still get to you instead of getting to an error message.

Screen Shot of Domain.com A Record


There will already be many A records there. But you will want to set up four additional ones.

Pasted from Google Bloggers Instruction Page:
  1. Optional: You can also enter A-records, which links your naked domain (example.com) to an actual site (www.example.com). If you skip this step, visitors who leave off the "www" will see an error page.
  2. Optional continued: After completing Step 8, enter your domain name in the format example.com, and list the I.P. addresses shown below in the "A" section. You'll need to create four separate A-records which point to four different Google IPs.
    216.239.32.21
    216.239.34.21
    216.239.36.21
    216.239.38.21
    End of optional section
So, simply type in your website without the www under host. "example.com" and then paste one of the four numbers from blogger 216.239.32.21 under Point To. Repeat for each of the four, notice they are all the same except for the (32, 34, 36, 38).

Choose a personalized Email:


One last thing you could do, not required but it's worth doing, especially since you paid for the domain name. Use your personalized email. example@example.com. Me@DarrellWolfe.Com and Darrell@DarrellWolfe.Com are mine. Feel free to email me if you found this article helpful. Also comment below.

Now under the Overview Tab find the link that says Mail and click on that.

Simply click on the the Plus (+) Button on the right.

Screen Shot of Domain.com setting up your personalized new email

Click on Forward to another mailbox. Select the email you want @yourdomain.com and then what email address you have set up with one of the free providers that you want it forwarded to when someone emails you. You probably are using GMAIL because you have to have a google ID to access blogger because Blogger is a google product. Therefore, you could use that email. But you could also use your free yahoo, hotmail, live, outlook, aol, or any other such thing and no one would ever know you've been using those services because they emailed you at "Example@yourdomain.com".

Just to clarify. By doing this. It simply forwards your email. So they send an email to me@darrellwolfe.com and the email is forwarded to example@gmail.com. I still use gmail to access my emails, but I get to use a nifty email address!

Pretty neat huh?!

Screen Shot of Domain.com setting up your personalized new email



Lock Your Domain


As an added precaution it would be good to go ahead and now travel from the DNS tab to the Security tab and "Lock" your domain so that it cannot be transfered. You can undo this later if you ever need to transfer ownership of the name.

Screen Shot of Domain.com Lock Your Domain

What the?! Why did I get an error asking if this is my domain? 


Best laid plans often have set backs. I set everything up. It worked. My site said the new domain. Then an hour later I went back and it looked like this:

Screen Shot. Potential error message when setting up a new domain is normal.


Why did THAT happen? Well it takes time for the servers all over the Internet to figure out what to do with your new domain. Go to bed and figure it out tomorrow. Sure enough. I went to bed and the next morning all was well. In fact, my darrellwolfe.com without the "www" worked too, because I set up my A Records last night before going to bed!

Conclusion I now have a Top Level Domain:


Hurrah! I'm set up with a new name for an old blog. I never moved the blog, changed it, imported anything. I just gave the web address a facelift, and I only paid $9.99 for my domain name!

Review the Steps:


  1. Buy a domain from Domain.Com (or you favorite place)
    1. Host your website with Domain.com! 
  2. In Blogger, Settings, Basic, Publishing, +Add a domain name
    1. Type in the name you bought.
    2. Make sure to include the "www"
    3. Expect an error message. You WANT the error message.
  3. In Domain.Com set up your CNAME using the instructions Blogger gives.
    1. Enter the www and ghs.google.com as well as the 12 digit and 21digit numbers as mentioned above. 
  4. WAIT for it....WAIT for it....
    1. After an hour or two, once the system has had time to reset things for you...
  5. Go Back to Blogger and type in the new domain name.
    1. Make sure to include the www.
    2. Hit SAVE
    3. This time there should be no error! 
  6. You are basically done. 
  7. You should also, go back and set up A Name listings as well. See my whole post for more on that. 
If you found this to be helpful, feel free to try it yourself. Blogger is FREE and they charge nothing to host your domain name. So it's only going to cost you the going rate for a domain name at domain.com. Which can be anywhere from just a few dollars if you use a lesser used one like .info or .biz or something like that.

It may cost about $9-$15 for a more common one like .com or .org. You may even pay hundreds or thousands for popular domain names. So start with something that works well for you and doesn't cost you a bunch. After all. If you are using this method, it's because you didn't want to fork out hundreds a year for a self hosted site yet anyway... not that you won't, but you aren't ready.


Host your website with Domain.com!


Do you have any other powerful tips to help with setting up, using, or choosing a domain name? Please share by commenting below! 




Sunday, October 1, 2017

New Scene - White Noise

The following is a re-write of what I posted recently. I like this MUCH better.

***

Normally, the workshop would have his full attention. But his over-dose concoction left him more groggy than it had in days past.

After a shower, Ash opted for the front porch. He brought his coffee, thanks to the Kurieg, a Christmas gift from Sheriff Danny, and a microwaved breakfast sandwich. The wrap-around porch was situated with a view of the forest. Thanks to his family’s inheritance, he owned 100’s of acres in any direction of the house, with the exception of an easement that served as an access road for his neighbors.

The sun was still at the back of the house, which left him in relative shade. Three white-tail deer were eating berries off of the wild bushes he’d left to attract them. It was already hunting season, but they seemed to know they had sanctuary here. He’d never fired a weapon this close to the house and they seemed to know it.

The three deer each twitched their ears backward and raised their heads in unison. They looked back down the five-mile driveway. He called it a driveway, even though it was just a dirt road with rocks and a periodic plaining from Ben, the local snow plower, tow truck driver, plainer, and anything else that needed an occasional driver.

The subtle crunch of rock under boot caught Ash’s attention too. A shadowy figure was making their way down the driveway, through the trees. If they were there to hurt him, they’d be making a quieter approach; however, old training required he be cautious just in case.

The figure was still about a five minute walk away, Ash walked inside and grabbed his pistol, shoving into the holster under his flannel shirt; then took the rifle outside and laid it again the rail in front of the rocking chair before resuming his coffee and breakfast. Eventually, she came into view. A female, darker skin, crazy hair popping out the back of a bright multi-colored crocheted hat. The sun revealed a form-fitting joggers outfit, equally bright, mostly purple.

“I’m sorry to bother you,” She said with a warm voice as she approached. “… but my car broke down a few miles down the road.” She smiled with a the easy going smile of an ignorant city girl.

“You should have called a cab, before walking through the woods alone,” Ash gestured to her, “in that.”

“What’s that supposed to mean, mister? ‘In that’? What’s wrong with this?” He was about to answer, but she waived it off. “Besides, I tried to call a tow truck, but there’s no cell signal out here. It’s like I stepped back in time to the stone ages.” Her skin flushed a shade red, and bit her lip.

A lump caught his throat, as he realized he’d upset her. Ash wasn’t used to prolonged human interaction with strangers. He didn’t even sell his own goods but used the local consignment shop to sell them so he could avoid these unpleasant conversations. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to offend. It’s just that those bright colors could attract the wrong kind of attention from animals that could see you as a threat.”

She looked down at the ground, and kicked a small rock aside. “I’m sorry too. I’m working on my temper.” She looked up again, and caught his eye, and hesitated. “I mean… Let’s start over. Can I borrow your phone?”

“I would let you, except for I don’t have one.”

“You don’t have a phone? No cell, no land line, nothing?” The skin on her nose scrunched up, and her head tilted to one side. “How do you survive out here without a phone?”

“I live here to avoid civilization, I generally don’t want to be reached.”

“But what about emergencies?”

“You mean like when lost young ladies break down on the road and come wandering onto my property? That wasn’t in my original planning when I decided not to have a phone. Besides, I have a voice mail that I access only when I go into town and use the Library computer.”

“Well, I guess we’re getting a bit off track here. Can you help me find someone who does have a phone so I can call a Tow Truck?”

“Sorry, no-one for miles. I keep it that way. Let me see if I can help.” He motioned for her to follow him. She stood to the side as he grabbed his tool box and threw it in the back of the truck. He laid his rifle on the back seat and closed the door. He waived her into the passenger side as he climbed in the driver’s seat.

“I’m not sure I should be climbing into an ancient pick-up truck with a stranger.” She winked and smiled, mischievously.

“Well, you can come inside a strangers cabin and wait for no-one to show up for weeks, or you can hop in the truck.” He smiled back.

“Heard!” She hopped in, put on her seat belt, and crossed her legs. “My name’s Destiny, yours?”

“Ash.” He replied.

“Ash, as in the ash left over after a camp fire?”

“Something like that.”

The engine turned over and rumbled to life. Her white teeth, and relaxed posture put him at ease in a way he hadn’t been in a very long time. She chattered on about where she’d been, how she got onto the back roads, and where she’d come from. A reporter, following a lead about a reduction in small towns in America. Only bolstered by the fact she couldn’t even find this one. The GPS had told her to take a side road to cut-off miles of the drive down a curvy highway, only to then have her lose the GPS signal before she found the highway again.

After about 30 minutes working on the electric SUV she’d rented, Ash realized he was in far over his head. Carburetors he understood, not this new computerized junk. “Well, I give up. You need a real mechanic.”

“Well, thanks for trying.” She looked around, possibly a little concerned after his warning about wild animals.

“Don’t worry, I’m not leaving a helpless city girl alone in the woods. I’ll drive you into town and get Ed to come pick it up and bring it to his shop. There’s a small Motel in town you can stay at while he looks it over.”

“Motel?” Destiny’s head shot back, eyebrows raised. “How long is this going to take?”

“Things are pretty dead this time of year, so he can probably look at it right away. But we’re not exactly an electric car mecca, so he’ll probably have to order parts or have the rental company send a new vehicle and pick this one up. Knowing this area, you’re here until at least tomorrow.

“Well, I’m not sure this is the town I was headed for, but it sounds like the perfect town for my story. Maybe I’ll just stay around a few days after all, make the trip worth it.”

“Suit yourself,” Ash said as he pulled into town from a side road. He pointed left, and her eyes followed, then pointed right. That’s it. Welcome to Deer Ridge, Idaho. Population 420, no jokes please, we’ve heard ‘em all.”

She stifled a giggle. “OK. Fair enough.”

“Ed’s Auto is up that way, to the left. Carrie’s Ice Cream is open until Oktoberfest, so you’ll have that until then. She also serves some decent coffee. There’s a small grocery there. And the rest of the shops are closed until next spring. You can walk the bay of the lake from just over that wall there. It’s pretty any time of year.”

Ash pulled onto the only road, and stopped in front of Ed’s. After a few moments, Ed and Destiny were on their way to her car. She smiled again, and waved her fingers as they passed. His chest tightened, ears tingled, it took an extra moment to remember to breath. He hadn’t felt like this in many decades. Shrugging it off, Ash grabbed a few things from the grocery before heading back to his refuge.

***




Darrell G. Wolfe

Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant | Multipotentialite

The W Story Structure - 4 Sequence Story Structure

Out of everything I've ever read on story structure for fiction writing, the W-Story Structure makes the most sense to me. If you'd rather view these as Acts (3-Act or 4-Act) you can overlay that on this W and it still works.



Glen C. Strathy writes (in much more detail here) in his article, The W-Plot vs. The Dramatica Model of Story Structure. There are four sequences for most stories. Each of the four legs of the W is comprised of a sequence of events that lead the story along to it's natural conclusion.

  • Sequence 1: setting up the problem (creating tension)
  • Sequence 2: recovering from the problem (new ideas, positive momentum)
  • Sequence 3: deepening of the problem
  • Sequence 4: the resolution of the problem (new light or understanding)


Sequence 1: setting up the problem (creating tension)


The Inciting Event (the event that is at the heart of the reason this story happened) may have occurred before your story begins, and often does. In King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (2017), the events of his childhood were the "inciting event" that eventually led to his being king. But he doesn't really properly remember those events. He is gradually made aware of them throughout the story. The inciting event must be tied to the climax for a rewarding end; however, it need not be where the story itself starts for the reader.

In fact, if the inciting event is not tied directly to the climax in some way, the reader will often feel mislead, confused, or will wonder what the heck this story was about. At each touch point, if not in every scene, the inciting event must be secretly weaving the threads of this story behind the scenes.

The Trigger Event; however, is most likely something that occurs shortly after the story itself has begun. We meet our character in his/her real world, and then some event pushes this character to a point of no return. This trigger event is usually at the end of the first sequence. The tension builds throughout the sequence. Maybe things get worse and worse, but up until the trigger, he/she could go back to life as normal.

The trigger sets off Sequence 2.

Sequence 2: recovering from the problem (new ideas, positive momentum)


The main character (and their crew) will regroup, come up with ideas, possibly sort out their thoughts, and eventually make a decision to press on toward some kind of resolution or at least reaction to the Trigger Event.

The solution won't work though, it will be thwarted in some way. This effort on their part will fail, and ultimately lead to the second Trigger Event, often much worse than the first.

Sequence 3: deepening of the problem


As a result of this new Trigger Event, the team will experience setbacks and failures, and heartbreaks. They will want to give up by the end of this sequence.

This will lead the main character to some kind of epiphany or aide and he/she will press on with new enthusiasm and vigor. Or at least a "die trying" attitude.

Sequence 4: the resolution of the problem (new light or understanding)


As a result of this new plan, the action builds and builds to a climax.

Toward the end of this sequence, there will be a battle. The main character will gain a new light, understanding, or Aha! Moment. This new light will be the final straw they need to defeat the enemy. All could be lost until this very moment.

Wrap Up/Resolve: The last moments of this sequence are spent wrapping up loose ends, laying any groundwork for unresolved items for the next story, and laying the rest to rest.


I never really "got" Story Structure until I saw this for the first time. I hope that helps.

PS: Here's how I used that 4-Sequence Structure inside Scrivener for my up-coming White Noise novel series.

Scrivener
Scrivener



Darrell G. Wolfe

Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant | Multipotentialite

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

New Scene - White Noise

I already don't love this scene, it's going nowhere and doing nothing, but I think there's a spark of something in here. I'll have to rework it later:


***

Normally, the workshop would have his full attention. But his over-dose concoction left him more groggy than it had in days past.

After a shower, Ash opted for the front porch. He brought his coffee, thanks to the Kurieg, a Christmas gift from Sheriff Danny, and a microwaved breakfast sandwich. The wrap-around porch was situated with a view of the forest. Thanks to his family’s inheritance, he owned 100’s of acres in any direction of the house, with the exception of an easement that served as an access road for his neighbors.

The sun was still at the back of the house, which left him in relative shade. Three white-tail deer were eating berries off of the wild bushes he’d left to attract them. It was already hunting season, but they seemed to know they had sanctuary here. He’d never fired a weapon this close to the house and they seemed to know it.

The three deer each twitched their ears backward and raised their heads in unison. They looked back down the five-mile driveway. He called it a driveway, even though it was just a dirt road with rocks and a periodic planning from Ben, the local snow plower, tow truck driver, plainer, and anything else that needed an occasional driver.

Dust clouds billowed into the air about a mile down the road, the white-tail hopped off into the forest. Ash walked inside and grabbed his pistol, shoving into the holster under his flannel shirt; then took the rifle outside and laid it again the rail in front of the rocking chair before resuming his coffee and breakfast.

Eventually, a Ford Ranger pulled into the roundabout in front of the house. A rental, based on the tags. The driving style didn’t give Ash the impression that he was under attack, so he let the rifle be for now. He could make out a single occupant, female, darker skin, crazy hair popping out the back of a bright multi-colored crocheted hat. She stepped out of the vehicle revealing a form-fitting joggers outfit, equally bright, mostly purple.

“I’m sorry to bother you,” She said with a warm voice, unlike any he’d heard around these parts. “I’m a bit lost.”

“It happens, the GPS sends people here occasionally,” He looked her over before landing on her eyes. Not a bad distraction for an otherwise groggy morning. “Where are you trying to get to?”

“Some trail, called Hiawatha?”

“Well ma’am, you are quite a ways off then. I’d say you are about a two-hour drive by the time you get back to the freeway and then on to Lookout Pass.”

“Uhg,” her eyes dropped and she looked like she might cry. “Dang GPS! I’ve already driven around quite a bit to land here. I think I’ll have to make that a trip tomorrow. Is there any kind of city around here, hotel, anything really?”

“Town’s not much to see this time of year, it’s more of a summer spot for tourists. Just set the GPS for Harrison. Once you land on 97, you’ll drive right through it. Don’t blink though, or you’ll miss it. It’s only about one or two blocks long. Make sure to stop by the Ice Cream place, they should be open until Oktoberfest. That will help you forget the drive you took to get here.”

***


Darrell G. Wolfe

Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant | Multipotentialite

Transformation Ministry

Today I had the honor of meeting a group called, Heart Writers. It's a group for anyone who feels they have a book to write. There were poets, short story writers, fiction writers, memoir writers, and others.

During our talks, the leader presented the idea that all of our writing, even the seemingly random blog posts, could be a form of ministry. In my mind, writing and ministry mean theological works such as explaining the Bible. I've done plenty of that; however, that got me thinking about Ted Dekker and his teaching on writing fiction.

He said that one major key is for your character to undergo a major internal transformation.

Ted Dekker said (see more here):
What is story? Story is a series of events involving worthy characters who change (are transformed) as a result of those events.
This was a great reminder that ministry means a lot of things. As Ted's character changes, I'm going through that transformation with him/her. I'm being transformed a little in the process myself. That is Ted's Ministry to me, the reader. That is my ministry to my readers, few and far between though they may be.

Long after the average reader had forgotten all ten steps, and most of the habits, he/she will remember Frodo almost quitting and Sam coming to his aide, to push him to move on. They will feel with Captain America as he refuses to fight his best friend. They will laugh and cry with the revelation that God can be a black woman (The Shack).

Story is what God used to reach us on the Bible. There are facts, lists, but the vast majority of God's Word to Mankind was told through story. Jesus said, "greater things that I do". He was a master storyteller above all else he did. Audiences may have gotten healed when they came to him, but they stayed long enough to get healed because they were captivated by his stories.

Story is the most important ministry I can be involved in, for my skill set.

I NEED to tell a story... Maybe more than one.

Darrell G. Wolfe



Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant | Multipotentialite

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Why Storytelling?

Storytelling is the lifeblood of the human race. Sure, many have replaced books with movies or YouTube videos, but great stories transcend.

From ancient times, The Storyteller, was a guest of kings and paupers. He/She was the keeper of legacies, histories, and entertainment. Unlike the best selling "5 secrets to a better ...." or "10 things you need to know about...", type books, stories stick with you. I can't remember the 7 habits, but I remember Frodo beating all odds to get that ring to the volcano.

When you think about all the elements of your brand, story is among the most important parts. Once your brand story is simple and simply told, it informs the rest of your brand. It decides the fonts, colors, and styles you use.

Your brand story will be the the thing you use to get who you are into the mouths of your truest fans, so they can tell others who you are. Often without knowing they are telling your story.

Food for thought...

Here are some clips from great articles about using story telling in Brand Marketing:



FastCompany: Why our brains crave storytelling in marketing

When reading straight data, only the language parts of our brains work to decode the meaning. But when we read a story, not only do the language parts of our brains light up, but any other part of the brain that we would use if we were actually experiencing what we’re reading about becomes activated as well.


i-Scoop: Questions to ask yourself about your brand story


  • What is the story and narrative behind everything you do as a brand, ranging from what you stand for to the reason why you developed solution X or decided to support ‘good cause Y’? 
  • How can you get to that story that’s part of your brand and even people’s DNA instead of to just the facts? 
  • How do you actually connect with people in the language they understand best: the language they can “visualize” in a story-like context?
  • What types of stories appeal to your content marketing “personas”?
  • What about the stories your customers and ‘audiences’ are already telling? How do you listen to those and include them? 


Entrepreneur.Com: Storytelling Could Bring Your Brand to Life and Strengthen Your Marketing Impact

A brand's story is no longer limited to or controlled by the media outlets and advertising that it uses. One would even say that this has been completely reversed: the media now runs stories based on how much traction they've gained elsewhere. Your customers and advocates are now the tastemakers, giving power to the stories that resonate with them.


Forbes: 5 Secrets to Use Storytelling for Brand Marketing Success

Honesty and transparency are important in brand storytelling. Yes, you’re crafting “stories,” but they need to be rooted in the reality of your brand, products, and industry. In other words, even brand stories must adhere to the three primary steps of brand-building: consistency, persistence, and restraint.

Darrell

Topos Consulting Questionaire


If you think you'd like to have me help you tell your story, work on your website, or polish your personal or business brand, just email Me@DarrellWolfe.com and provide me the following:

Your Contact Information:

  • Your Name 
  • Your Position
  • Brand Name
  • Industry
  • Address
  • Telephone
  • Email
  • How did you hear about Topos Consulting?

The following are questions to consider. Don't worry if you don't have the answers yet, this is part of why you are using Topos Consulting. But these will get you thinking:

What is your story?

  • What product or service do you provide?
  • Why did you decide to pursue this business?
  • What makes you special, unique, or qualified to do this?
  • What is your favorite part of doing this work? 
  • Why do you find it rewarding?
  • What value do you provide?
  • What impact has it had on the people you serve?

What are your brand elements?

  • Colors (Do you have RBG, or Hexidecimal Codes?)
  • Fonts (Georgia, Times New Roman, Etc)
  • Logos (or images)
  • Do you have digital copies for any of these?

eTools: Do you already have any of the following?

  • Website
  • Domain Name
  • Facebook Account (personal not business)
  • Facebook Page (business not personal)
  • Email List Service
  • Google Place Listing

eTools: Do you already have user ID's for any of the following?

  • Wordpress.Com or Blogger
  • Domain.com
  • Facebook
  • Google Place
  • MailChimp
  • Gumroad or another way to store and deliver the PDF?

Darrell

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Book Review: Name of the Wind


So a while back, I was walking through Auntie's Bookstore, in Spokane, WA. I've read pretty much everything ever written by Ted Dekker, Bill Myers, CS Lewis, JRR Tolkien, and many others.

I told her I like the Fantasy & Science Fiction genres, and I was looking for a new author.

"I have just the one," she said. "Follow me." She came out from behind the counter and we meandered up and down a few aisles. "Here it is," She turned and handed me this book:


The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss (Affiliate Link)


"Hm. I've never heard of him," I replied.

"He's Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and Chronicles of Narnia all wrapped up into one amazing story," she was quite excited. "You'll love it!"

The woman handed me a few others to consider and then went about her duties. I took pictures but didn't have any money to spend that day.

Later, because I'd mentioned it, my boss bought it for my birthday.

I just finished all 713 pages, and I am AMAZED!

This might just be our generations, JRR Tolkien. Granted, no-one has produced a Lord of the Rings level epic, because no-one would undertake the layer upon layer approach he used to write it. However, this novel gives me all of the things I've wanted.

Without ruining too much, the story takes place in a Tolkien-like world. Horses, Swords, Mule Pulled Carts, Smith's, and Strawberry Wine blanket our landscape. The industrial age has not taken place yet. Also, this is not earth. The landscape is different, but it's still Earth-like.

The story starts out with a mysterious bartender, who's obviously more than he seems. Eventually, we are wrapped up in his own telling of his childhood and the events that led to his meteoric rise to fame; and hints at his fall. This being a trilogy, the story he tells to his listeners in the bar takes place over all three novels.

Dragons, Magic, Science, Myths Revealed as Science Misunderstood, it's everything I wanted to read since I last put down the worlds of Narnia, Hogwarts, and Middle Earth.

If you liked those, you'll love this book!

Darrell G. Wolfe

Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant | Multipotentialite

The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss (Affiliate Link)

Focus... Unfocused

There's a version of my writing that is organized, thoughtful, researched, helpful, even inspired at times... And then there's the other stuff.

The other stuff is wild, incoherent, off the cuff, straight from my mind to your eyes, unfiltered, unedited.

I've tried to separate these into different sites, combined them again, separated them again.... *sigh*

I have too many thoughts, too many opinions, I know too much to ever make any of it make coherent sense on one website.

So, here's my newest attempt to make it work... My blog, the one under my name, DarrellWolfe.com, it's for my randomness. This is where I'll post whatever I want, whatever thinking about, randomness.

I'll link out to posts at my other sites, be they few or many, and you can find the organized stuff there.

Let's see if that helps me keep some semblance of order.

Darrell Wolfe Version 1,037



Saturday, August 26, 2017

Topos Consulting

Hey, my name is Darrell Wolfe, and this is Topos Consulting.

I help individuals with passion strengthen their strategic position of opportunity and influence, so they can make a positive impact on their world.

Disclosure: I am a jack of all trades, matter of none. I am a wealth of random information.

I'm not a:
Tax Advisor
Investment Advisor
Legal Advisor
Etc....

The information here is meant to be informative, educational, and just passing along the lessons I've learned as I worked in various fields over many years.

I am a guy who's been around the block, seen and heard a lot, and knows a lot about a lot. Consider me a teacher of the things I know, but implement them at your own level of understanding and risk.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Order. Chaos. In Between... The Bible

The Dark Ages were primarily due to religion. 

Religious leaders had the audacity to claim that only they could interpret the Word of God for the simple-minded laymen. Even clergy of lower stature couldn't read the bible. This led to the strange fantasies, whimsies, and odd ideas of any number of so-called "Priests". 

Enter Martin Luther, circa 1517 A.D. He had the outrageous claim that all men were saved by Faith, and not deeds required of them by Religious Leaders. How did he get this idea? Reading the bible for himself.

The Reformation directly caused the Enlightenment.

When men were allowed to read the Bible for themselves, instead of being told what to believe by so-called leaders, they found a God of order. Therefore, the Earth created by this God would have order.

This thought led to Newtonian Physics, printed books, engines, light bulbs, Einstein's theory of relativity...

All science, medical advancements, everything you drive, see, eat...

The next time you see a car or bus, or think that you have the "right" to speak your mind without fear of being burned at the stake... You can thank the B I B L E... 

In short without men reading God's word for themselves, you'd be packing your mule cart to head to the nearest township,  paying your tax to the king, and hoping to live to 40. 

And yet, we see a world of people tearing down statues because they think they are being oppressed when really they are causing a new Dark Age. ANY TIME the bible is suppressed, men do dark deeds and put each other in bondage.

You need not want to read it yourself, but you should fight to the death for the right of others to do so, publicly. Without the Bible, you are headed to a dark age again. Freedom of Thought, Freedom of Religion, is only possible with that book openly discussed, read, and followed by teachers, lawyers, and politicians. Without it, we are in for a world of hurt.


Darrell G. Wolfe

Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant | Multipotentialite

Monday, August 21, 2017

What if....

The year is 2236.... The USSR won the cold war. They assassinated Reagan, nuked DC and New York. The government since fell, but the multiple re-incarnations of those same ideals blended with leftists in the USA have way to a one world government, blended communism/democracy.

The head of the one world government is Nikoli Peterson. He telecasts his meetings with the elected officials. However, they are just hired actors. There is no real democracy, just the appearance of it.

The people are "taken care of", sort of. They get ok food, assigned housing, assigned jobs, assigned spouses. If they attempt any real independent thinking they are dealt with.

It is against the law to think for yourself, Post anything the government is against, or have your own thoughts.

The only country not ruled by this government is the land of Australia. Freedom thinkers all emigrated there during the purge. It's impossible for any force to make it through their defenses.

Periodically, a Freeman infiltrates the Mainland. Not for resources, as Freeland has a surplus while Mainland has shortages... But for reconisance. Mainlanders are incapable of infiltration into Freeland Because they cannot duplicate FreeSpeak. They've been programmed to be unable to think.

They first tried to train people, but anyone who can think becomes a Freelander. No thinking person can stay socialist. So they gave up, and locked down.

In Freeland:

There is virtually no crime, due to the small but lethal government. There is only, ever, one national law. "Cause no harm to person or property, and do as you please." Thanks to the lack of any FDA, USDA, or any other government interference, food and stuff is plentiful.

Abortion is illegal, as it causes harm to person. But the free market ensures cheap and easily accessible prevention to anyone that wants it.

There are only three punishments available. Death, long term service, short term service. All inmates must produce their own food and clothing. Nothing is provided for them.

What about corporate greed? There are very few large companies. Innovation is so fast that smaller companies make the most money. But the CEO is directly responsible for any cooperate action. Punishments always equal the crime. If any CEO allows a product into the market that causes harm or death, that CEO ends up in one of two places. If they knew, death. If they didn't know, a minimum of 20 years internment.

There is no parole policy. Anyone escaping prison starts over from day one, plus five.

Very few CEO's would risk anything to let harm come to a customer. They bend over backwards, at their cost, to ensure products are safe.

In Mainland:
Only Alexi Washington, the Prime Minister's nephew, can make things right...

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Huh?

Ben, why are you looking at so wierd?

I broke my neck again.

Ah Ben, geez. Alex walked over to the cabinet and pulled out a new SR-91 spinal system from Championship Robotics. Turn around. Ben, out his back to Alex. Alex slowly unfastened the bolt clips along Ben's back, carefully removed the old spine, then bolted in the new one.

We're almost out, I'll stop by Wallet World and pick up a few more. But you need to be more careful.

******

There council is just maniquin robots, being controlled by the director. The people feel there is a system, but they are actually under the control of a single leader.

Alexi Slovanovic will change all of that.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Credit Building

I just met three people working at Carl's Jr. We had a great talk about income, credit, and demystifying credit.

So many people need a financial doctor and don't know it. Or they do know that they need one but don't know how easy it is to have one.

I gave them a few tips, my business card for credit, my friend Ben's business card for Insurance and Investments, and told them to come see me so we can get into more details.

They didn't realize that someone would be willing to help without having to pay a consulting fee or go or a class.

I love helping people. Love it. And as Zig Ziglar said: You can have anything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.

I don't concern myself with whose going to make me a sale, who I can get something from, etc. If I simply help everyone I can, without regards to my reward for it, the reward will come as a byproduct.

It was a great reminder that I'm on the right path.

Darrell

Credit Building

I just met three people working at Carl's Jr. We had a great talk about income, credit, and demystifying credit.

So many people need a financial doctor and don't know it. Or they do know that they need one but don't know how easy it is to have one.

I gave them a few tips, my business card for credit, my friend Ben's business card for Insurance and Investments, and told them to come see me so we can get into more details.

They didn't realize that someone would be willing to help without having to pay a consulting fee or go or a class.

I love helping people. Love it. And as Zig Ziglar said: You can have anything you want in life if you help enough other people get what they want.

I don't concern myself with whose going to make me a sale, who I can get something from, etc. If I simply help everyone I can, without regards to my reward for it, the reward will come as a byproduct.

It was a great reminder that I'm on the right path.

Darrell

Friday, July 21, 2017

White Nose | Scene 3

The Aleve took effect with the help of two breakfast whiskey sours. It had been three days since his tussle in town and he still couldn't sleep, despite the nighttime cocktail.

Beams of light broke through the trees outlining Ash's house, tucked back off of the main road by a mile long rock driveway. One such beam was tanning his pale country face as he rocked on an old wooden chair he'd carved himself. Whittling was one of his most relaxing and profitable talents.

One look in the mirror each summer reminded him that he only retained two colors, pale Irish freckle and redneck red. Ash was careful to avoid too much contact with summer's star.

Dust down the drive revealed the presence of a visitor before the sound of tires on gravel confirmed it. Ash hasn't been visited by more than three people in the eight years he'd been back in town, so he picked up the hunting rifle, just in case.

The scope showed the local sheriff, his friend Dan. He didn't usually come by unannounced. He kept the rifle on his lap, it made him feel better.

Dan pulled up followed by real other squad cars. He got out first, walked to the porch, and say down next to Ash on the other rocking chair.

"Any chance you've lost a weapon or sold one recently"

"No, can't say that I....

TBC

Darrell














Writers Block - How do you write when you don't know what to write?

So, I recently had a comment on this blog. I'm not sure if it's ligit but I think that it's a question a lot of writers ask:


"... I was curious to find out how you center yourself and cⅼear your tһoughts before writіng. I have had trouble clearing my thoughts in getting my thoughts out. I truly dߋ take pleasurе in writing, however, it just seems like the fіrѕt 10 to 15 minutes is wasted just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Appгеciate іt!" AnonymousJuly 1, 2017 at 4:31 PM


The way this is phrase means that this is either a spam comment or it's just a google translate comment. Not sure. Nevertheless, it's a good question.

Having a mind that is clear isn't necessary for writing. Writing requires thoughts. My professor once said: "Throw up on the page, we can clean it up afterward". And that's done wonders for me. If you are going to write, just start. You could end up with something so long and winding that you need to cut it into three different posts for your blog, but you'll have started.

Templates can help. Having a template with a fill in the blank header, subheader, etc, but that didn't work well for me.

Lately, I'm only writing when I feel like I need to say something.

For creative writing, I just close my eyes and watch the movie playing in my head. It may start with something as simple as "A beam of light pierced the window, revealing a dust highway as it found it's mark on the far wall..."

Then I just watch the movie in my mind and write what I see happening. I don't worry about form or format, because that can always be cleaned up later.

I wrote a whole first draft of a novel only to find out that the secondary character didn't work for this story. I cut her out, replaced her with a new character and I'm on the new draft now. The old character I cut will get her OWN novel in the next book.

I hope that helps,

Darrell G. Wolfe

Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant | Multipotentialite

Thursday, July 20, 2017

An Open Letter: John Stumpf, Wells Fargo Board, and Policy Making Departments


On 12/28/13, I wrote the following letter to the then CEO & President of Wells Fargo, John Stumpf. It was in part, a response to the LA Times Article and the poor response from Wells Fargo leadership.

I later worked for the executive office and saw how they handle these letters. They assign them to a paper-pusher who could care less. They draft a form response, and it gets tallied in the statistics.

By the time it makes it to the CEO, it's only data in a pie chart. "We had 365 complaints this month. x number of complaints about checking, y number about sales practices, Etc." They tally it up, if it's not a big enough stat, it gets zero attention. Most things that do require attention get just enough to make it go away, but never deal with the root.

I was one of many hundreds who spoke up loudly and actively for years before 2013 and years after. The news cycle of 2016 showed that it cost them $185 Million dollars to ignore the feedback their frontline Team Members tried to give them.

The final straw for me and my 11-year career with Wells Fargo came when they promoted Tim Sloan to CEO. I'd been watching Tim since he gave the official Wells Fargo response to the LA Times article about the sales goals issues. He said:

"I'm not aware of any overbearing sales culture," Chief Financial Officer Timothy Sloan said in an interview. LA Times article "Wells Fargo's pressure-cooker sales culture comes at a cost", published on 12/21/2013.

When I saw that they replaced John Stumpf with an even more willingly ignorant leader, Tim Sloan, I made my escape.

I'm happy I left the mega-bank. I hope the sales industry can do better. A true consultative approach. I help you get what you WANT and NEED and I benefit. That's true sales, which hasn't existed for a long time.

Since that period of my life is over, the results are all public now anyway, I feel free to share this letter from 2013. Maybe other CEOs or future CEOs could learn from their mistake.

I hope you enjoy:


Darrell G. Wolfe

Storyteller | Writer | Thinker | Consultant | Multipotentialite


TO: John Stumpf, Wells Fargo Board, and Policy Making Departments

FROM: Darrell G. Wolfe

WhoAmI

My name is Darrell G. Wolfe. I’ve worked for Orange Phone Banker (Consumer, Premier, and IRA), Westlake Phone Bank (Consumer, Banker Coach), Branches as personal banker (various in DFW), and Westlake Inbound Sales. I’ve taken over 95,000 phone calls for the Wells Fargo Call Center network between service and sales.
I’ve spent 8 years working for Wells Fargo in two states, two call centers, multiple positions, and several branches. I am a leader in sales and service and I provide constant value to my team, providing insight into their calls, and helping my teams succeed one customer situation at a time. I’ve been a Banker Coach, Navigator, Rising Star, MVP, and won several Service Excellence Awards.
I fully bought into the Wells Fargo Vision and Values, and I’ve lived them every day of my career. I’ve been passionate about the Wells Fargo & Co. Brand and a Wells Fargo evangelist for many years. That passion has turned to sadness as I see a company void of even pretending to live by those standards on the front lines, in all lines of business.

Wells Fargo at a Crossroads

Wells Fargo Bank has a strong reputation for being conservative, strong, and stable because we don’t lend to people we shouldn’t lend to, we keep strong reserve requirements, and we have a strong reputation… which I believe has been slowly degrading since 2008… maybe since 1998…  
Ever since the Norwest Merger Wells Fargo has slowly lost a reputation of doing what’s right for the customer at the grass roots level. You may find an article here or there by a bank-industry magazine that fluffs our image, but the street isn’t saying good things, and it’s been heading in the wrong direction ever since I came in 2006.
Sales are fine, but sales without integrity are not fine, and Wells Fargo & Co. has not demonstrated to me in my 8-year career the high level of integrity at the Community Banking or Phone Bank Level that we have in our written literature, for some time now. We may be treating our highest net worth clients well, and our business clients well, and since those relationships account for 80% of more of our profits we’ll likely be in business for some time to come.
But I am personally and professionally appalled at how we (as an institution) treat the everyday person.
Blind visits to branches by independent auditors and impartial phone call observations I believe would reveal a bank that is far more interested in selling you more things you don’t need than servicing what you have.
I actually just talked to a young lady who had been a Sales Banker for BofA for 8 years came to Wells Fargo one month ago only to discover that even though our sales “goals” are lower the pressure we put on the sales people to sell, the micromanaging, is higher. In my opinion, we don’t even know the basics of customer service. As a company, we’re so focused on sales we skip service to meet our sales goals.
In short, we’ve been on the slow road to becoming the next Bank of America: “the bank too big to care about the little guy.”

Positive Memorable Customer Experience


For years I heard the words FCR (First Call Resolution) and PME (Positive Memorable Customer Experience). I don’t hear that talked about at all anymore. When a bad experience is had by a person they are likely to share that with 10-15 people in their circle of influence. But more importantly, people don’t buy products and services. They don’t buy from companies. They pay for BRANDS they trust from PEOPLE they trust. But they don’t buy a product. They PAY for a product.
They BUY how that product or service will make them feel, they buy the experience. Think of the iPhone. Not only is it a TOP OF THE LINE product, but it comes in an amazing package, it’s stylish, it’s enviable. They aren’t buying an iPhone, they are buying connections to their friends and family (facebook/twitter apps), they are buying time savings apps (better connectivity to schedule and tasks), etc.

There are many amusement parks, but only Disney creates a magical experience, there is no other like Disney. They don’t sell rides, they sell a magical experience, and rides are weaved into that tapestry, and so our products and services and popcorn balls, and overpriced burgers… but you willingly pay more because you are there for the experience. My wife is convinced that there is no other cruise ship company worth using except Disney Cruises, and so am I. I am loyal to the brand, because they create magical experiences, they do it seamlessly, they do it consistently and they are always raising the bar for themselves, out doing themselves every time I visit a Disney facility.
Wells Fargo has turned this concept on its head. If Wells Fargo ran Disney Land we’d have cast members chasing people into the street trying to convince them to buy another lemonade when they had one in each hand already and pressuring them to buy a third “just for emergencies”. We regularly put sales ahead of customer experience. We pay very little but lip service to the customer experience. And that’s been consistent across two states, two call centers, four departments, 4 branches, and conversations with many people from other places in Wells Fargo.

Goals vs People

My experience at Wells Fargo & Co. has been that we love our goals, stats, and spread sheets. We’re more interested in meeting goals than we are interested in how those goals are affecting the Positive Memorable Customer Experiences, both with our External Customers (customers) and Internal Customers (Employees). Most goals feel as though the goals are set for the sake of the goal.
Unnecessarily overly complicated ICP/MPP systems are set up in twisting curves of “if this then that” formulas every winding into more and more metrics to keep track of, all in the name of meeting the goals. But for what? What happens over the next 20 years if we lose our loyal customers to smaller banks that can provide positive memorable customer experiences while we were trying to track our goals?
The very existing of Alabang indicates we care more about profit than customer experience. Alabang call center hardly ever meets the customers need, transfers them to sales without telling them why (or the customer understanding why). They actually speak very decent English “linguistically”, but they have very little conceptual understanding about what they are talking about. Their referrals are anything but needs-based, often reading the entire list of ECPR offers at (not to or with but at) the customer and receiving banker.

Phone Bank

Our service bankers are not looking for needs and meeting them. They are pushing whoever they can into the sales department to meet arbitrary goals created by people who, it seems, don’t live in the real world and don’t listen to these callers. The people who end up in sales are almost always the very young, very old, English-as-second-language (language barrier) people, or mentally disabled. These are the easiest to push over to sales without getting an objection, but almost none of them know where they were transferred or why.
Specifics, ask bankers on the sales floor for any phone bank sales dept and these are the referrals they get day in and day out. These examples are not the exception they are the norm. It’s actually quite rare to have a customer transferred to sales that belong in sales and knows why they were transferred to sales. At this rate there should not be two departments, let’s just make all bankers both service and sales and blend the goals, most sales bankers spend their whole day doing service requests that service didn’t complete or transferring callers to the department they should have been transferred to in the first place.
Here are examples of the calls inbound sales bankers get over and over and over:
·        Bill Pay - Elderly Lady who doesn’t own a computer
·        Bill Pay – TEEN Checking customer, the teen checking doesn’t get it for free AND they don’t have any bills!
·        Bill Pay – But Online Banking shows DISABLAED and they should have been transferred to Online not sales if they really wanted it.
·        Second Savings as ODP  - To protect the “real” savings account from overdrafts in case of fraud, the account is already covered for fraud with Zero Liability so this is a scare tactic to sell un-needed products.
·        “Online Checking” – for someone who does two online purchases or less per month, really? That was finding and meeting a need? Pay a monthly service fee for two transactions a month?
·        New Joint Checking/Savings – because they couldn’t figure out how to transfer money online between other Wells Fargo customers. But setting up an account just to do transfers once in a while will have fees associated and they don’t tell them that part.
·        Second Checking – Not based on expressed or discovered a need, but as a default referral. The customer isn’t managing the account they have, doesn’t want a second checking, cannot use a second checking, and often hangs up as soon as they are transferred.
·        Account Reviews – customers think they’re being transferred to a fraud department or aren’t given a reason for being transferred or they are told: “You’re account has been flagged, let me a get a specialist for you”. Nearly no customer is told they are being transferred to sales for a review to discuss new products and services.
·        Debit Card - They are transferred to order a debit card when it should have been replaced in service.
·        New Checking/Savings – when it should have been an account conversion in service
·        ATM Card – “As a back up in case you lose your Debit Card” when we offer temp debit cards, AND VL explicitly tells the banker NOT to refer a backup ATM card and they do it anyway.
·        New Account: Current Accounts are Negative/Charged Off/Opportunity
·        CD: service banker tells the customer to look into CD’s and transfers to sales with the promise of earning the customer more interest (or way more interest) but there was only $200 in their checking, no savings, and no money elsewhere. This is also common.
·        Online Banking: transferred to sales for online banking but the online was disabled and it has to be handled by online customer service.
·        Order a new card: when the old card should have been replaced or re-linked.
·        Just to name a few

ECPR is our enemy, not our friend.

When I was a service banker the referral would sound like this: “I see here you are using ACH to make payments. ACH can cause problems, lead to overdrafts, and you are open to the potential of merchants taking money you didn’t agree on, or other errors. To prevent that we offer our Bill Pay service. It prevents overdrafts by taking the money our first, and errors by not ever giving your account number or card number to the merchant. Do you use our online right now? Great, you’ll use the same username and password to access Bill Pay. Let me get one of my specialists on the line to activate that for you, ok?”
Now they sound like this: Banker sees Bill Pay in ECPR “I see here you’re Bill Pay hasn’t been activated yet, let me get someone to take care of that for you…”. The customer comes over and their online is disabled because they don’t use online banking and have no use for Bill Pay.
Bankers are not making needs based referrals, they just offer what it’s in ECPR because it’s there, and what’s in ECPR is almost never the right thing for the customer. They aren’t even putting basic common sense or thought into it. If ECPR is to continue, it would make sense to say “I see this customer has an offer for Bill Pay, let me ask some questions.

In short our service department lies, misrepresents, or mishandles customer more often than not. It’s not just phone bank though.

The Branch

When I did my year and a half tour at the branch I saw the same thing. Praise is given for sales credit despite how it is made. The people that broke the most rules to meet goals were promoted the ones who stayed honest and couldn’t meet goals were asked to leave. The role of the sales banker at the branch is to sell products for sale's sake, not because it’s doing what’s right for the customer.
They are so sales oriented that I think you would be hard pressed to find a customer who is enrolled in the debit card overdraft service that actually knows what it is and that they were signed up for it. Bankers are just enrolling them without telling them to meet pressure from their managers.
They open products people don’t need, when things really get tight the manager comes to you and tell you to open accounts for your friends and/or family and keep them open for 45 days and close them.
Working for Wells Fargo branches was like working for a sleazy used car dealer (I worked several branches in DFW), but it’s so hard to meet sales goals that the banker doesn’t even get the commission the used car salesman would have gotten. The managers weren’t bad or evil, the one of the district managers might have been, but the pressure to meet goals rolls downhill.
Examples of patterns (not isolated incidents) at the branches are:

·        Pushing people into the Debit Card Overdraft Service: the customer isn’t right for the debit card overdraft service, the pros and cons are not being clearly explained, the customer isn’t sure it’s right and the banker/manager gets pushy and argues with the customer that they really need it. They stop just short of demanding it. In fact, in MANY MANY cases the customer is being enrolled without even asking, or they are told in passing they are going to enroll the customer without telling them what it is.
·        Second Savings: opening a second savings for someone who can barely save in the first savings and they customer ends up with TWO savings with monthly service fees and no money in either, all under the guise of having one “real savings” and one “overdraft savings”, just to get a sale.
·        Second Checking: but the customer cannot even manage the one account they have.
·        Bankers open opportunity accounts: but doesn’t explain to the customer what that means.
·        Bankers take application: then avoid telling the customer the loan app status, lie and tell the customer that they don’t know to avoid confrontation.
·        Open New Checking: instead of just converting the account they already have, making the customer go through un-necessary changes of direct deposits and ach set up.
·        Open New Checking: Not tell the customer what the requirements or that it would be getting a MSF.


A Concerned Team Member

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