Donald Miller is succinctly described by Wikipedia as an American author, public speaker and business owner. He is the CEO of Story Brand, a company that helps businesses clarify their messages and shows them how to use stories to promote their products or services.
At first glance, you might be of the view that the brand story of Donald Miller is a little vanilla. In researching for this piece there were no scandalous stories about him, no murky videos or audio either to be found anywhere. Putting Donald Miller into parenthesis along with the word scam didn’t reveal anything either. He sounds a little too good to be true.
But there is an inside story to the guy who is currently challenging business owners to review their thinking in the way they market their businesses. And the movement is gaining momentum.
WHO IS DONALD MILLER?
Jesus. The Lord.
Donald Miller, Founder of Business Made Simple has a deep relationship with God. He talks with God daily, telling him his views and seeking his guidance. In Donald Miller’s words, he believes our identity comes from outside NOT inside. It is the direction of God that influences a person’s identity. After scoring a two-book publishing deal with a book publisher Miller recited “God wants me to write”
From his book A Million Miles In A Thousand Years, Donald Miller reflects on the day he’ll meet God.
“I don’t wonder anymore what I’ll tell God when I go to heaven when we sit in the chairs under the tree, outside the city……..I’ll tell these things to God,and he’ll laugh, I think and he’ll remind me of the parts I forgot, the parts that were his favourite.
We’ll sit and remember my story together, and then he’ll stand and put his arms around me and say, “well done,” and that he liked my story”
DONALD MILLER’S GOALS – THE EARLY DAYS
Around the time he was sixteen, the Texas teenager attended a church camp during the summer break. The Pastor asked the group to write down their goals on a sheet of paper. These goals would then be shared with a member of the group, their name being pulled from a hat by the Pastor. Donald Miller wrote:
- a) Move to Oregon
Moving to Oregon is one of the goals Donald Miller wrote. At the young age of 21, he set out on a road trip that started months before. From his home in Texas, he went to Oregon.
In his first book, Prayer and the Art of Volkswagen Maintenance, he recounted his cross-country road trip at such a young age. This book garnered a little success with a small fanfare before it was republished as Through Painted Deserts in 2005.
It was also at this period when Donald Miller became an owner of the Coffee House Books, a textbook publishing company. He was also an editor for roadsearching. com, an online Christian magazine.
- b) Become a bestselling author
Donald Miller also wrote a goal for himself to become a bestselling author. In his own words, he knew that writing was what he wanted to do with his life since the age of 16.
In 2003, Donald Miller made it into becoming a best-selling author after selling more than one million copies of his book Blue Like Jazz. This achievement launched him as an inspirational speaker.
In fact, it catapulted him straight into becoming a public speaker who makes appearances at the well-known Pop Theology Conference and Catalyst Conference.
Aside from Blue Like Jazz, he also authored other books about spirituality. One of them is Searching For God Knows What, published in 2004. This book talks about the resemblance of human personality with Jesus Christ.
To Own a Dragon, is his other book that tackles his reflections about growing up without his father. It also hinted his interest of mentoring young men who also grew up without a father. This non-profit organisation he founded is called the Mentoring Project.
In 2009, Miller published another book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.
It was in 2017, when Miller published his first business book, Building a StoryBrand. This book has helped thousands of businesses clarify their message using the 7-part StoryBrand marketing framework.
Later in this blog, you will learn more about some of Donald Miller’s books.
- c) Achieve a certain financial goal
Donald Miller also includes his financial goal. He wrote it on the same piece of paper as his other goals.
He had to work hard over the years, but Donald Miller is now a billionaire.
Donald Miller is also an author, speaker and story consultant with his business named Storybrand . He helps businesses assess their marketing message along with their target audience by using stories.
- d) Marry after he was 35 years +
In some way, this defined his life. He moved to Portland at age 21 and part-owned Coffee House Books. In 2003 he became a New York Times Bestselling author with Blue Like Jazz and thus hit his financial goal.
All his goals had come true.
At the age of 42, he married Elizabeth ‘Betsy’ Miltenberger on the 30th of November 2013. The couple settled in Nashville, Tennessee with their chocolate lab named Lucy.
In 2015, Donald Miller published another book, the Scary Close, where he recounted his personal history on relationship intimacy and self-discovery.
Who Is Elizabeth Miltenberger?
Elizabeth Miltenberger, also fondly known as “Betsy,” was born on the 28th of March, 1976. She attended Northwest Christian University and graduated in English Literature. Betsy also studied at Vanderbilt Divinity School and Ashville University to get her master’s degree in theology.
Betsy Miller met Donald Miller after she moved to Portland, Oregon from Tennessee to manage a homeless shelter while working for Compassion International. She also worked as a Campus Life Coordinator for Wheaton College in Massachusetts and as outreach administrator of Baylor University in Texas before she married Donald Miller.
Besides being a devoted wife to Donald Miller, Betsy is currently serving as the HR manager of StoryBrand.
DONALD MILLER’S BOOKS
Miller’s love of words is evident in the fact he’s written several books. Here are two that give us more insight into the Donald Miller story.
Blue Like Jazz – New York Times Bestseller
Wikipedia advises that this is the second book by Donald Miller. This semi-autobiographical work, subtitled “Non-Religious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality” is a collection of essays and personal reflections chronicling the author’s growing understanding of the nature of God and Jesus, and the need and responsibility for an authentic personal response to that understanding.
Blue Like Jazz is also Donald Miller’s first bestselling book that also had a film adaptation in 2012. Justin Welborn, Marshall Allman, and Clair Holt were among the actors who starred in the film.
Much of the work centres on Miller’s experiences with friends and fellow students while auditing courses at Reed College, a liberal arts college in Portland, Oregon. The book deals with inward spiritual dealings as Don, his friends Penny, Laura and others struggle with finding meaning in life and the ultimate battle with God ending with choosing him or choosing one’s self.
In Blue Like Jazz, Miller has included an assortment of anecdotes from his life that he believes illustrate the importance of this struggle. The book also features a foreword by Eugene H. Peterson and a preface by Donald Miller’s father, J. Robert Miller.
A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Subtitled “What I Learned While Editing My Life”, is the sixth book by Donald Miller. After writing a successful book, author Donald Miller’s life stalled. Instead of enjoying the fruits of his labour, Miller had slipped into a dark point in his life. He had no desire to participate in the daily responsibility of life and found himself questioning what his purpose was.
While in this slump he was approached by two movie producers wanting to turn his book into a movie. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years centres on the realisations that Miller came to while editing his successful memoir Blue Like Jazz into a screenplay for a movie, directed by Steve Taylor
In writing the screenplay and editing the book events into proper, and interesting, movie dialogue, Miller learns a little more about the elements of the story and through those things learns more about the story that he is living as well as the story he wants to be living.
He challenges himself by putting himself in situations that require more effort and sacrifice than he would typically feel comfortable exerting. Miller goes from sleeping all day to riding his bike across America, from living in romantic daydreams to fearful encounters with love, from wasting his money to founding a non-profit with a passionate cause.
Guided by a host of outlandish but very real characters, Miller shows us how to get a second chance at life the first time around. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years is a rare celebration of the beauty of life – Wikipedia
Miller’s faith and deep introspective view of himself and life are very evident in these books and others he’s written
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DONALD MILLER’S LIFE VIEWS
These are probably best described from quotes from his books.
“If the point of life is the same as the point of a story, the point of life is character transformation. If I got any comfort as I set out on my first story, it was that in nearly every story, the protagonist is transformed.
He’s a jerk at the beginning and nice at the end, or a coward at the beginning and brave at the end. If the character doesn’t change, the story hasn’t happened yet. And if the story is derived from real life, if the story is just condensed version of life then life itself may be designed to change us so that we evolve from one kind of person to another. ” – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.
“Sometimes when I watch my dog, I think about how good life can be if we only lose ourselves in our stories. Lucy doesn’t read self-help books about how to be a dog; she just IS a dog. All she wants to do is chase ducks and sticks and do other things that make both her and me happy.
It makes me wonder if that was the intention for man, to chase sticks and ducks, to name animals, to create families, and to keep looking back at God to feed off his pleasure at our pleasure.” – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
“Fear is a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.” – A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Miller’s passion for God and his interest in life is very evident throughout his very own life. He’s taken these passions and interests and looked to serve the wider community. In 2009, Donald Miller served on the Presidential Advisory Council on Fatherhood and Healthy Families.
Again in 2015, Miller helped The Federation for Children create the Failing Our Kids campaign that lobbied state governments for school voucher programs. Miller not only thinks but takes action.
It’s very evident that Donald Miller is a man of action and faith. While he’s written several books including: Blue Like Jazz, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, Scary Close and his most recent memoir ‘Donald Miller Stripped Bare.’
He’s also had great success in the film industry as well. In fact, he’s produced films such as, ‘Blue Like Jazz” and “To Save a Life.” He’s also been featured in other films as an actor.
In addition to all of his accomplishments, Greg Trimble talks about Donald Miller on a recent episode of the Relevant Podcast. Trimble says, “Donald Miller is a creative genius.
He’s written more books than most people go to college and get their PhD in English Literature. Donald Miller is an artist at telling stories through film and writing.”
Trimble talks about how he admires how Miller has been able to write his story of faith and has been able to share his faith through writing.
He further says, “If you’re looking for a life of adventure and artistry and stories that motivate you to live like you’ve never lived before then Donald Miller is the kind of guy that will help lead the way into that place where story becomes life.
THE DONALD MILLER STORY TODAY
The colours and textures of any human life are the fabric that is woven from all our human experiences. Donald Miller has led a thoughtful life where he’s looked at his fears, questioned his vulnerability and desired to express his love for the betterment of others.
So it’s no surprise that a man who is the lover of words and a recognised bestseller would pen another iconic book in 2017 called Building A StoryBrand in which Donald Miller helps businesses clarify their marketing and messaging.
Taking the essential elements of what makes storytellers so captivating, Miller has infused this into a marketing framework that allows companies to capture and engage better with their customers.
Thus StoryBrand has been formed.
The Success of StoryBrand
Donald Miller is now the CEO and founder of StoryBrand the company that’s built around the framework of what he’s taught in Building A Storybrand.
The results have been outstanding with over 200 businesses and organizations already on their client list like: Wells Fargo, Century 21 and Chick-Fil-A and has earned them a No 1 Bestselling book both on Amazon and Apple iBooks as well as a spot on Business Week’s Bestsellers List.
Miller and his company have been able to achieve this success in part due to their dedication in providing excellent customer service and strong communication. This is evident in how they handle the StoryBrand Challenge that helps train Donald Miller’s consultancy team and future trainers.
The challenge has been taken by over 6,000 business owners, entrepreneurs and consultants to help them get on the right track in their marketing.
StoryBrand is also able to gain this kind of international success due to the amount of research that goes into Donald Miller’s teachings. And this hard work doesn’t go unnoticed as Donald Miller was awarded MO of the year in 2017 by CMO magazine.
With Donald Miller’s experience as an author, speaker and consultative partner to businesses worldwide; he has grown to be one of the most sought-after consultants for business around the world.
Donald Miller’s Other Business Books
Besides the Building a StoryBrand, Donald Miller also published other business books, some of which are co-authored with amazing authors and business experts. Some of these books are:
Marketing Made Simple
Marketing Made Simple is Donald Miller’s book whom he co-authored with Dr. J.J Peterson. Briefly, the book tries to provide a complete marketing blueprint that helps entrepreneurs succeed in business. It’s a comprehensive book that talks about how to position products and brand your website at the same time.
In addition, it also gives you insights on using content marketing to help businesses get noticed by their target customer base hence resulting in sales.
Business Made Simple
Business Made Simple is another Donald Miller’s Book that tackles everything the reader needs to know about business. Hence, readers discover the fundamentals of business from entrepreneur mindset to social media influence.
In addition, they will learn about what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur and how important innovation is for any business.
Hero on a Mission
Hero on a Mission is Donald Miller’s book that is not entirely a business book but somehow related to it, as it focuses on discovering the reader’s life purpose and meaning.
The book teaches the readers on how to create a life plan, take control of their life, and cultivate the sense of creativity.
Donald Miller: passionate, reflective, thought leader, community-focused and loving.
I wrote this post as a way to pay back the man who has given me joy and inspiration. I hope that if you’re having a bad day or just need some inspiration, Donald Miller will inspire you as well!
If you want to understand his marketing framework better so as to improve your company’s brand messaging and marketing effectiveness, chat with a Story Brand Guide, or grab a copy of the book, Building a StoryBrand.