Clay Scroggins is the best-selling author of “How To Lead When You’re Not In Charge,” “How To Lead In A World of Distraction,” and his newest book, “The Aspiring Leader’s Guide to the Future.” For over two decades he worked at North Point Ministries, starting as a facilities intern (a.k.a. vice president of nothing) and eventually becoming the lead pastor of their largest campus. Clay is now a sought-after leadership speaker, engaging audiences that include the Atlanta Hawks, Mercedes Benz, Chick-fil-A, Federal Reserve Bank, and Terminus. Clay graduated from Georgia Tech with an Industrial Engineering Degree and continued on to acquire a Masters and Doctorate from Dallas Theological Seminary. Clay and his wife, Jenny, have five children and live in Atlanta.

Clay writes, “Leadership is not what it used to be and not what it once was. Too many leaders today are calibrated for a world that no longer exists. And people are demanding something so much different in leaders of today. Like a new house outfitted with the greatest VHS system on the planet, too many leaders are addressing today’s problems with the style and substance of yesterday’s leadership.”

Clay and Stuart have an inspiring conversation regarding what it means to be a leader today and helping the next generation of leaders be leaders worth following. This is going to be a great listen!

High-profile musicians make all sorts of wild demands about their backstage set-ups at concerts: Kanye West reportedly requires a barber’s chair. Mariah Carey insists on two vases of white roses.

At first glance one particular band’s request appeared to be a crowning symbol of obnoxious rock star excess, yet a closer look reveals a deeper story about how a band used a tiny candy to alert them to major problems.

The 1970s saw the rise of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame legendary band Van Halen. Like every band, when Van Halen was hired to play a show, they provided the promoter with a contract “rider” that outlined specific things the promoter would be responsible for. Standard riders include sound and lighting requirements, instructions for the set up of the backstage area, security needs and nutritional requests for the band and crew. These details can be as critical as the precise weight of the speakers or as trivial as the specific brand of toilet paper that the band demands in their backstage washroom. It’s all in the rider.

Buried amongst dozens of points in Van Halen’s rider was an odd stipulation that there were to be no brown M&M’s candies in the backstage area. If any brown M&M’s were found backstage, the band could cancel the entire concert at the full expense of the promoter. That meant that because of a single candy, a promoter could lose millions.

For decades this stood as a humiliating act of self-indulgence, a rock band forcing someone to search through candy, removing every last brown one, for no apparent reason. Yet when lead singer David Lee Roth finally divulged the real reason for the bizarre clause, an entirely different picture was painted, one that serves as a valuable lesson for business.

In now-departed arenas such as Toronto’s Maple Leaf Gardens, the original Boston Garden and Chicago Stadium, Van Halen was loading in massive amounts of staging, sound equipment and lighting. Unfortunately, these buildings were never built to accommodate a rock band of Van Halen’s scope. Without specific guidelines, old floors could buckle and collapse, beams could rupture, and the lives of the band, their crew and fans could be at serious risk.

To ensure the promoter had read every single word in the contract, the band created the “no brown M&M’s” clause. It was a canary in a coal-mine to indicate that the promoter may have not paid attention to other more important parts of the rider, and that there could be other bigger problems at hand.

Whenever the band found brown M&M’s candies backstage, they immediately did a complete line check, inspecting every aspect of the sound, lighting and stage setup to make sure it was perfect. David Lee Roth would also trash the band’s dressing room to prove a point — reinforcing his reputation in the process.

Van Halen created a seemingly silly clause to make sure that every little detail was taken care of. It was important, both for the experience of the fans and the safety of the band, to make sure that no little problems created bigger issues.

In your own personal growth and personal development, little details matter. Your silly vanity email address that was funny when you created it in middle school? It can torpedo any chance of you getting a job interview. Get a professional looking email address, or own your own domain name.

In the business world today, the snarky comments you tweet on Tuesday can get you fired on Thursday. Understand that in the social and online environment, the things you type can outlast you. Regularly inspect every aspect of your online identity, ensuring it accurately reflects how you wish to be portrayed.

Modern HR managers seldom tolerate spelling mistakes on a resume. Don’t let a misplaced “e” before an “i” hurt your chances of a dream job. A simple professional proof read is all it takes to fix them.

These little details may seem trivial, but as Van Halen demonstrates, they can be life and death. 

Develop your own brown M&M’s system that keeps you aware of all of the little details that define you in a big way.


INFLUNSR. defines excellence as choosing to create a better future by going the extra mile. Van Halen’s deep desire for excellence resulted in placing one sentence in a rider that allowed them to be one step closer toward excellence and safety. That idea has now been replicated — and misunderstood and misused — for decades. But the reality of why changes how we view brown M&Ms. 

You and I have to be clear on what excellence looks like for each of us. 

There is a scene in the movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall where Paul Rudd’s character, Chuck, teaches Peter Bretter, played by Jason Segel, to surf. The scene creates some uncomfortable laughter for those who know the frustration of working in a job where the target keeps changing. 

With Peter lying on the surfboard on the beach, an agitated Chuck spouts out these confusing orders: “I want you to ignore your instincts. Don’t do anything. Don’t try to surf. Don’t do it. The less you do, the more you do. Let’s see you pop up. Pop up.”

Peter tries, but stands up on the surfboard too quickly.

“That’s not it at all. Do less. Get down. Try less. Do it again. Pop up.”

Peter stands up more slowly, but evidently still too fast. 

“No, too slow. Do less. Remember, don’t do anything. Pop up. Well, you… No, you gotta do more than that, cause you are just lying right now. It looks like you are boogie-boarding.”

In leadership, clarity is kindness. The leaders we are most likely to follow are the ones who paint a picture of the future that’s clear, attainable, and inspirational. Sadly, they don’t even have to be great people. Plenty of dangerous leaders have done it with great skill.

Hitler did it.

David Koresh did it.

Heck, Adam Neumann, the founder of WeWork, did it.

But have you ever noticed that some of us are comfortable being miserable?

We are comfortable doing average work.

We are more comfortable complaining instead of taking action.

We are comfortable not pursuing excellence.

We are comfortable enough to be inactive.

Comfortable is easy. Comfortable never stretches you to grow. Comfortable is rarely grateful. Comfortable is often complacent. Comfortable is the enemy that wars against your greatest potential.

There is a big difference between comfortable and content.

Contentment is peace and joy where you are now. Contentment is gratitude for what you do have. Contentment will help you attract more resources and people to help make you better. Learn to be content in all circumstances.

But avoid being comfortable. Comfort zones are wonderful things, but nothing ever grows there.

Sometimes we are miserable because we subconsciously want to be miserable. Deep down we don’t believe we deserve better. Maybe in our head we think we deserve better, but in our heart we never believe it.

You are always doing what you want to do. There is always a choice, so you are always doing what you want to do. If you wanted it as bad as you say we do, your life would look very different because you would make radically different choices every day.

Think about this verse today… How does this verse apply to your life right now?

No matter what you do, work at it with all your might. Ecclesiastes 9:10 NIVR


Journal your thoughts so we can dive into this idea in the Circle…

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