Chaska Author Creates the Ultimate Bucket List

Chaska’s Matt Udermann wrote the book on living life to the fullest.
Matt Udermann at Don Hess’ farm in Cologne, Minn.

When Matt Udermann of Chaska sets a goal, he means business: Read the Bible
cover to cover, visit all active Major League baseball stadiums, and publish a

These are not your typical New Year’s resolutions, but then again, Udermann
is not your typical American. After all, the chances of accomplishing each of
these feats are at 0.572%, less than 0.000%, and .0463%, respectively.

And Udermann has now officially checked all three items off his list with the
recent publication of his book, One in a Million: Life to the Fullest.

“Everybody gets the same 12 months. Why do some people get more done than
others?” Udermann often wonders. This adventure-seeker’s pocket book for
inspiration is filled with statistics and ideas meant to empower readers to make
the next 12 months count and to live life to the fullest.

One in a Million is a collection of 360 adventures or life events, ranging
from eating a Juicy Lucy to having twins to running a marathon in every state,
accompanied by statistics showing how many Americans accomplished this in the
last year. (Spoiler alert: it is 1.246%, .0324%, and .0049%, respectively.)

The various adventures are arranged in order from most common to least, so it
is easy to compare and see where any given adventure ranks on that continuum. As
Udermann describes, the best feature of the book is on the bottom of each page
where it says ‘did it’ or ‘do it.’ “This is one of those books we encourage
people to write in, dog-ear the pages, share with friends,” he says. “Pick one
thing you are going to do in the next year and do it.”

Bonus: the back pages are filled with commitment worksheets to help people
plan and accomplish their goals. Of course there are financial hurdles and
logistical problems that may stand in the way, but for the most part Udermann
believes “your biggest limits are often yourself.” His hope is that his book
will be the catalyst readers need to spur them to action.

Udermann’s entrepreneurial spirit began many years ago. As a kid growing up
in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, he often came up with creative ways to make money, like
selling paper airplanes or popsicles. “He was a positive and upbeat kid with
lots of ideas and dreams,” says his older sister Katie Walter.

Of course it didn’t help that Walter was unintentionally sabotaging his
efforts of turning a profit by giving away the popsicles to neighborhood kids
for free. “I probably owe him a dollar,” she confesses.

Luckily, Udermann wasn’t easily deterred from his plans, even then, and
continued pursuing investment opportunities. He held a paper route at age 8 and
then started a lawn care company in his teens, which grew into a substantial
business of 65 lawns. “The entrepreneurial spirit has always been in me,”
Udermann says.

Today, Udermann thrives in an entrepreneurial role. He is known in the Chaska
area as the SayHey5K founder and coordinator, SayHeyPress founder, and now for
his new book. Although his resume and adventure list are quite impressive,
Walter points out that “the most inspiring thing about Matt has nothing to do
with the things he’s done, places he’s been, or the connections he has. It’s
how, throughout his whole life, he has stayed positive despite the setbacks and
amid unexpected twists.”

The story behind Udermann’s book technically began with his 2013 New Year’s
goal to publish a book, but he had no idea at that point what his book would be
about. It wasn’t until later that summer when he was relaxing with friends out
on Lake Minnetonka that the concept of the book began to form.

Linda Verkennes, a good friend who was out on the boat, recalls they were all
chatting about their next adventures and challenges in life. No one suspected
their talk would inspire something as big as a book, but a couple months later,
Udermann showed up with a rough draft in hand. “He had taken a bunch of loose
ideas and turned them in to an inspirational book,” says Verkennes.

Since Udermann is a numbers and statistics guy, he enjoyed researching every
adventure in the book, and then taught himself how to navigate the waters of
publishing within the next few months. Now that the book is available on Amazon,
he is deep into promotional work.

The best part of this whole process? “Being an example of what’s possible and
inspiring others to go do that,” Udermann says. “When you can instill confidence
in somebody and show them a path of possible, it’s really fulfilling when they
bite and actually take it up on their own and feel empowered to go do that.”

This year Udermann set himself some steep goals: to round out his ballpark
tour he began in 2013 (which he checked off in April), meet Mark Burnett,
creator of “Shark Tank,” and travel to Africa (he plans to travel to Malawi this
month). Oh, and he added a fun one that is a little closer to home—milk a
cow—which he completed for the photo shoot for this story.


Learn more about the book at