Culture Shift

Years ago I heard the quote “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” The point was the culture is a much stronger force than any strategy or plans we make. So the book I just finished reading, “Culture Shift” by Wayne Cordeiro and Robert Lewis addresses this. The book takes a look at the importance of a healthy church culture and outlines different ways to intentionally develop one. It’s a good read, and I think you’ll enjoy it. Here’s synopsis taken from the book. 

Culture is the most important social reality in your church. Though invisible to the untrained eye, its power is undeniable. Culture gives color and flavor to everything your church is and does. Like a powerful current running through your church, it can move you inland or take you farther out to sea. It can prevent your church’s potential from ever being realized, or—if used by the Holy Spirit—it can draw others in and reproduce healthy spiritual life all along the way. 

Want to change the future of your church for the better? It starts with acknowledging that regardless of how your church looks now, it has billion-dollar potential. The potential is found in your culture—the real and true culture of your church, not the quick- x culture you may so often be tempted to try. When you, along with other church leaders, accept that your key role is to be a steward who releases this deep spiritual potential into the lives of your people, the culture you desire will develop. 

A church’s culture represents the intersection of three values you are to steward: God’s kingdom agenda, who you are, and your unique setting. These are the foundational elements of a church’s culture. When church leaders get in touch with God’s kingdom culture, begin to live it, and figure out how it can be expressed in their locality, then a new, rich, culture inevitably emerges. 

You’ve probably heard the saying, “Sow a thought, you’ll reap a desire. Sow that desire enough, you’ll reap an action. Sow that action enough, you’ll reap a habit. Sow a habit and you’ll reap your destiny.” It all begins with a thought: how you think about your church determines what you see and the culture you create. 

Christian shepherds with leadership gifts should be called upon to identify the primary flywheels of their church’s culture. These main gears are the ones that trigger other gears. Whatever the configuration of the secondary gears, if the main gear stops, hundreds of other gears stop. If the main gear cranks, the machine keeps moving. On the other hand, a small gear can stop or break and the others will keep cranking. Many times pastors and other church leaders put time, energy, and finances into the wrong gears and miss what the main gears are. 

Even if you have not yet identified your church’s culture, others have. Culture announces its identity through everything you do. The values of your culture—stated or unstated, thought out or unintentional—shape the feel, behavior, and attitude of a congregation more than anything else. 

How well have you identified your church’s culture? If you don’t take the time to identify its dominant values, you won’t be able to evaluate whether they are the values you really intend to express. Nor will you be able to check your alignment. For instance, how consistent are these values for yourself, for your congregation, and for all those with whom your church comes in contact? We use the term totem to help you identify your values and make them seen and heard. Silent but powerful, these values remind people in the most positive way of who they are and who they can be. 

By changing your church’s culture, you are releasing your church’s future. The rst step in the transformation is to identify your current culture. Doing so defines your starting point. We have found that four ingredients bring a church’s culture into focus: (1) leadership and values, (2) vision statement, (3) symbols, ceremonies, celebrations, and (4) you as leader. Mixed together, these ingredients produce the culture of a church. If there is commonality, they not only mix well but reinforce one another. The result is an even stronger overall influence of clarity and power. On the other hand, if these elements clash with one another in some way, the result is confusion, conflict, and a repelling influence that undermines clarity and power. 

Your church’s leadership is the personification of your church’s culture. The leaders are the living totems who influence others by demonstrating what the kingdom of God could look like as expressed through a particular church. But the Holy Spirit, who is at work in every believer, wants the rest of the church to become living totems as well. The breadth of your church depends on how many living totems you can develop and release. Great leaders have a unique ability to create many living totems who live out the values that the leaders have perceived and objectified for the congregation. 

The overall progression to lead a congregation through a culture shift looks like this: 

  1. Identify and believe God’s promises about your church’s potential.
  2. Model kingdom culture personally.
  3. Enlist allies to champion the culture shift. 
  4. Focus on “what we’re becoming.”
  5. Compare the vision of the future to present reality. 
  6. Outline a specific, doable pathway.
  7. Help it filter through the Church, and learn from feedback you receive. 
  8. Stay focused on transformed people, and on those receptive to change. 
  9. Make heroes of people who best represent the kingdom values.
  10. Celebrate every success, and give God the glory. 

The culture shift begins by believing in the potential of the people God has already given you, and then releasing the right culture through them. As the culture grows and matures, it transforms your church from the inside out. In the end, people all over town will begin to say, “Is something different about that church? Simply come across a few of its people, and you’ll know.” 

And when that happens, you will say, “Glory to God!” If the culture changes, everything changes including the future. 

Interested in reading the entire book? You can get it here:




I just finished reading the book “Preaching” by Tim Keller. He’s one of my most favorite preachers of all time, so this book was an easy read for me. I recommend you read this book if you’re interested in communicating well to our current culture. Tim Keller, in Preaching, looks at the power and importance of biblical preaching and how to do it well in today's world. Keller has a well-earned reputation for reaching modern people with good, solid preaching. Enjoy this synopsis taken right from the book. 

The difference between a bad sermon and a good sermon is largely located in the preachers—in their gifts and skills and in their preparation for any particular message. Understanding the biblical text, distilling a clear outline and theme, developing a persuasive argument, enriching it with poignant illustrations, metaphors, and cultural assumptions, making specific application to real life—all of this takes extensive labor. To prepare a sermon like this requires hours of work, and to be able to craft and present it skillfully takes years of practice. 

However, while the difference between a bad sermon and a good sermon is mainly the responsibility of the preacher, the difference between good preaching and great preaching lies mainly in the work of the Holy Spirit in the heart of the listener as well as the preacher. The message in Philippi came from Paul, but the effect of the sermon on hearts came from the Spirit. 

Preaching has two basic objects in view: The Word and the human listener. It is not enough to just harvest the wheat; it must be prepared in some edible form or it can’t nourish and delight. Sound preaching arises out of two loves—love of the Word of God and love of people—and from them both a desire to show people God’s glorious grace. And so, while only God can open hearts, the communicator must give great time and thought both to presenting the truth accurately and to bringing it home to the hearts and lives of the hearers. 

There are two basic forms of preaching: expository and topical. Throughout the centuries both have been widely used, and they must both be used. It is also worth noting that the two types of preaching are not mutually exclusive, and absolutely pure forms of either are rare. Just as throughout church history both kinds of preaching have been necessary, so Christian teachers and preachers today need to see both as legitimate forms they can skillfully use. Nevertheless, I would say that expository preaching should provide the main diet of preaching for a Christian community. 

Expository preaching enables God to set the agenda for your Christian community. Exposition is something of an adventure for the preacher. You set out into a book or a passage intent on submitting to its authority yourself and following where it may lead. Of course, you still have to choose which books and passages of the Bible to preach, and any experienced student of the Bible will know basically what is within particular parts of the Bible. However, expository preaching means you can’t completely predetermine what your people will be hearing over the next few weeks or months. As the texts are opened, questions and answers emerge that no one might have seen coming. We tend to think of the Bible as a book of answers to our questions, and it is that. However, if we really let the text speak, we may find that God will show us that we are not even asking the right questions. 

In order to understand and explain any text of the Bible, you must put it into its context, which includes fitting it into the canonical context: the message of the Bible as a whole. To show how a text fits into its whole canonical context is to show how it points to Christ and gospel salvation, the big idea of the whole Bible. Every time you expound a Bible text, you are not finished unless you demonstrate how it shows us that we cannot save ourselves and that only Jesus can. That means we must preach Christ from every text, which is the same as saying we must preach the gospel every time and not just settle for general inspiration or moralizing. 

It is fundamental to preach biblically, and to preach to cultural narratives, but these are not enough. Unless the truth is not only clear but also real to listeners, then people will still fail to obey it. Preaching cannot simply be accurate and sound. It must capture the listeners’ interest and imaginations; it must be compelling and penetrate to their hearts. It is possible to merely assert and confront and feel we have been very “valiant for truth,” but if you are dry or tedious, people will not repent and believe the right doctrine you present. We must preach so that, as in the first sermon on Pentecost, hearers are “cut to the heart” (Acts 2:37). 

If you want to preach to the heart, you need to preach from the heart. It’s got to be clear that your own heart has been reached by the truth of the text. This takes non-deliberate transparency. Heart-moving preachers (in contrast to heart- manipulating ones) reveal their own affections without really trying to. What is required is that as you speak it becomes evident in all sorts of ways that you yourself have been humbled, wounded, healed, comforted, and exalted by the truths you are presenting, and that they have genuine power in your life. 

How can affectionate preaching come naturally? I think there are basically two things needed. One is to know your material so well that you aren’t absorbed in trying to remember the next point. If your material is not at your fingertips, you will expend energy just to remember it, or else you will be simply reading from your notes. The other necessity for preaching affectionately is a deep, rich, private prayer life. If your heart isn’t regularly engaged in praise and repentance, if you aren’t constantly astonished at God’s grace in your solitude, there’s no way it can happen in public. You won’t touch hearts because your own heart isn’t touched. 

Feel overwhelmed? Me too. However, a key to developing these traits is not to directly try to have them. Instead, glory in your infirmities so his power may be made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). This is a discipline by which you constantly remind yourself of what you are under your own power. It leads to desperate dependence on the Spirit – but along with this desperation will come the joyful freedom of knowing that in the end nothing in preaching rests on your eloquence, your wisdom, or your ability. Nothing ever has! Every success and blessing and fruit you have ever borne has been from him. 

Tremendous freedom comes when we can laugh at ourselves and whisper to him, “So! It’s been you all along!” In some ways that day will be the true beginning of your career as a preacher and teacher of God’s Word. 

Interested in purchasing the book? You can get it here:



Thinking For A Change

Change your thinking and you will change your life. So says my friend John Maxwell. I’ve been working with him directly for the last 15 years, and love many of the books he’s written. I just finished re-reading, and lecturing on “Thinking for a Change.” In this book, Maxwell looks at the power and importance of how we think and gives practical steps for developing our thinking skills. It’s filled with wisdom and practical insights, I highly recommend you read the entire book yourself, but here’s a synopsis of it for you. Enjoy!

No matter how complicated life gets or how difficult problems may seem, good thinking can make a difference—if you make it a consistent part of your life. The more you engage in good thinking, the more good thoughts will come to you. Success comes to those who habitually do things that unsuccessful people don’t do. Achievement comes from the habit of good thinking. The more you engage in good thinking, the more good thoughts you will continue to think. It’s like creating a never ending army of ideas capable of achieving almost anything. As playwright Victor Hugo asserted, “An invasion of armies can be resisted, but not an invasion of ideas.”

Skill 1: Acquire the Wisdom of Big-Picture Thinking

Big-picture thinking brings wholeness, maturity and perspective to a person’s thinking. Get in the habit of bringing together diverse concepts, accepting seemingly opposite points of view at the same time, and embracing what authors James C. Collins and Jerry I. Porras call the “Genius of the AND”. In business, for example, pursue purpose AND profit, embrace a fixed core ideology AND vigorous change and innovation, be highly visionary AND execute the details well.

Skill 2: Unleash the Potential of Focused Thinking

No one achieves greatness by becoming a generalist. You don’t hone a skill by diluting your attention to its development. The only way to get to the next level is to focus. Whether your goal is to increase your level of play, sharpen your business plan, improve your bottom line, develop your subordinates, or solve personal problems, you need to focus.

Skill 3: Discover the Joy of Creative Thinking

Creative thinking works something like this: Think -> Collect -> Create -> Correct -> Connect. Once you begin to think, you are free to collect. Ask yourself, what material relates to this thought? Once you have the material, ask, what ideas can make the thought better? That question takes an idea to the next level. Then, correct or refine it by asking, what changes can make these ideas better? Finally, connect the ideas by positioning them in the right context to make the thought complete and powerful. The whole process happens more readily when you have a framework or picture of where you want to go. If you go to the ideas, soon the ideas will flow to you.

Skill 4: Recognize the Importance of Realistic Thinking

The essence of realistic thinking is discovering, picturing, and examining the worst-case scenario. If you picture the worst case and examine it honestly, then you’re ready for anything. Take the advice of Charles Hole, who advised, “Deliberate with caution, but act with decision; and yield with graciousness or oppose with firmness.”

Skill 5: Realize the Power of Strategic Thinking

When using strategic thinking to solve a problem or plan a way to meet an objective, many people make the mistake of jumping the gun by trying immediately to figure out how to accomplish it. Instead of asking how, they should first ask why. Asking why helps them think about all the reasons for decisions. It helps them open their minds to possibilities and opportunities.

Skill 6: Feel the Energy of Possibility Thinking

People who embrace possibility thinking are capable of accomplishing tasks that seem impossible because they believe in solutions. The first step in becoming a possibility thinker is to stop yourself from searching for and dwelling on what’s wrong with any given situation. When you find yourself listing all the things that can go wrong or all the reasons something can’t be done, stop and say, “Don’t go there.” Then ask, “What’s right about this?” That will help to get you started.

Skill 7: Embrace the Lesson of Reflective Thinking

Greek philosopher Socrates observed, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” For most people reflection and self examination don’t come naturally because it can be a fairly uncomfortable activity for a variety of reasons. But if you don’t carve out the time for it, you are unlikely to do any reflective thinking. As much as any other kind of thinking, reflection requires solitude. It’s not the kind of thing you can do well near a television, in a cubicle, while the phone is ringing, or with children in the same room.

Skill 8: Question the Acceptance of Popular Thinking

Many individuals follow others almost automatically. Sometimes they do so because they desire to take the path of least resistance. Other times they fear rejection, or they believe there’s wisdom in doing what everyone else does. But if you want to succeed, you need to think about what’s best, not what’s popular.

Skill 9: Encourage the Participation of Shared Thinking

Good thinkers, especially those who are also good leaders, understand the power of shared thinking. They know that when they value the thoughts and ideas of others, they accomplish more than they ever could on their own. We tend to think of great thinkers and innovators as soloists, but the truth is that the greatest innovative thinking doesn’t occur in a vacuum. Innovation results from collaboration.

Skill 10: Experience the Satisfaction of Unselfish Thinking

The spirit of generosity created by unselfish thinking gives people an appreciation for life and an understanding of its higher values. Seeing those in need and giving to meet that need puts a lot of things into perspective. It increases the quality of life for the giver and the receiver.

Skill 11: Enjoy the Return of Bottom-Line Thinking

The process of bottom-line thinking begins with knowing what you’re really going after. It can be as lofty as the big picture vision, mission, or purpose of an organization; or it can be as focused as what you want to accomplish on a particular project. What’s important is that you be as specific as possible. If your goal is for something as vague as “success,” you will have a painfully difficult time trying to harness bottom-line thinking to achieve it.

I hope you have enjoyed our journey together through the kinds of thinking that make people successful and I hope you have learned more about yourself and how you think. Your thinking, more than anything else, shapes the way you live. It’s really true that if you change your thinking, you can change your life.

Interested in purchasing this book? You can get it here:



More Than Miracles: Sons! - Guest Post by Michael Brodeur

Someone once said that the true measure of success is succession. Part of the spiritual life cycle is pouring our lives into emerging leaders in such a way that they can carry the message of the kingdom into the future. As I grow older I have an increasing desire to pour into the next generation. We need to raise up powerful sons and daughters.

Recently a friend of mine was preaching and he unintentionally used the phrase “sons and wonders.” What might have been a verbal misstep to me was a profound statement. My friend’s unintentional play on words reminded me that the work of Holy Spirit is not just visible in miracles and divine encounters. He is also visible in the spiritual sons and daughters that we raise up.

Envision No Division

One of the most profound statements of scripture is found in the final verses of the Old Testament. In Malachi 4:6 the prophet declares that in the last days God will send again the spirit of Elijah and turn the hearts of the fathers to the sons and sons to the fathers, lest God come and strike the earth with a curse.

We live in a world cursed with division and conflict. When sin first entered the world the immediate result was a separation between humanity and God. The next was a separation between man and woman, followed by brother and brother, and then finally between the generations. Sin is the source of all division and strife.

Uniting Generations

I believe the most harmful division that afflicts humanity is the division between the generations. This division hinders so much progress. Each generation seems to repeat the mistakes of the previous one. We have a not humbled ourselves to learn the lessons of our fathers and mothers.

Looking deeper into Malachi he says that as the generations are united it removes the curse from the earth. It’s important for us to remember that most of what scripture calls the curse is simply the natural consequence of violating the creative order of God. In other words, a curse is not normally a lightning bolt hurled from heaven, but more along the lines of a broken leg from falling off a ladder.

Gravity is a law. When it is violated there’s a consequence.  Generational unity and integrity is also a law, and its violation also has consequences..

To verify this look at the statistics surrounding people in prison, people who are bound by alcoholism and immoralities, people struggling with life-controlling problems. The majority of these individuals are from broken homes, raised in the absence of a loving two-parent family.

Orphan Spirit

Our world is plagued by teenage rebellion. Sons and daughters are being raised to think their parents are idiots. Every TV show and movie emphasizes the view that the only way to freedom is rejecting your parents and pursuing your own ideas. This mindset has infiltrated church culture. Many pastors and leaders have a difficult time raising their spiritual sons and daughters effectively. Some are too controlling and abusive, others abdicate and neglect. The net result in both cases is the spirit of orphanhood and abandonment. Disapproval fuels generational division.

The Good News

God is at work within biological and spiritual families to restore generational unity. He is moving the hearts of spiritual leaders around the world to pour into the next generation. Fathers and mothers are now equipping and empowering emerging leaders, then getting out of the driver seat. They are releasing emerging leaders to move us forward! They’re trustingthem with the keys and the title deed of the vehicle. Soon we’ll see spiritual sons and daughters coming to the fullness of their purpose in the Lord. Now more than ever spiritual sons and daughters are honoring fathers and mothers. They’re positioning themselves to receive all that they can from those who’ve gone before them.

Who is the number one person God is calling you to pour into right now?

Article written by Michael Brodeur

Dr. Michael Brodeur, served for over three decades as a senior pastor and ministry leader in the city of San Francisco and a ministry consultant to scores of churches around the world. In 2010, Michael turned over the leadership of his church to his associate pastor and relocated permanently to Redding CA, where he devotes himself to writing, teaching, and coaching leaders, churches and ministries.

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Who Moved My Pulpit

I just finished reading “Who Moved My Pulpit” by Thom Rainer. Wow… it’s filled with insights for anyone who needs to manage change in their church, which is what I’m currently in the trenches doing. It outlines the need for churches to change, the challenges, and the process for bringing change in a healthy way. It’s so full of good stuff! Even if you’re not currently managing change, this one you can put in your back pocket for a later day, and you’ll be glad you did. Here’s a synopsis…..Enjoy! 

You are here because you either want to lead change or be part of leading change. But there is something about people like you and me. We want to see tangible results right away. We want to be as active as possible. Leading change for us means moving forward. That might be the biggest mistake you could make. Before leading change, it is time to stop. It is time to stop and pray. 

Leading change in the church is impossible in your own power. It can be both redundant and exhausting. There will be days where you will wonder if it’s worth it. You will be worn out. You need to pray for God’s strength. 

You might have a special place you can go to be alone with God for a few days. You may not have the opportunity to leave and go somewhere, but you know whereyou can go for an hour or so a day to pray about you, your church, and the need for change. Hear me clearly. I have never seen successful and sustaining change take place in a church without prayer. Never. Not once. 

Your role as a change leader has three major components. First, you have to lead the congregation to face reality. Then you have to communicate that reality and the steps needed to move forward again and again. Finally, you must communicate with a sense of urgency. 

Numbers can be helpful for accountability and for facing reality. If your church has declined in worship attendance from 300 to 175 in ten years, something is going wrong. If your church used to reach thirty people a year with the gospel, but no one has been reached in three years, something is wrong. 

Next, find someone who has never been to your church. That’s usually a pretty easy task. Ask them to assess all of the church’s facilities, from the signage to the parking lot to the exterior to the interior, and the worship service. Ask them to take copious notes. Perhaps you can even pay them a small stipend for the effort. 

After they have looked over all of your facilities, grounds, and service, take the information and assess it yourself. Perhaps you bring in a few key leaders. It’s time to face the reality of what guests see when they come to your church. 

Take time to share the numbers. Tell the stories of those who have looked at the church’s facilities. Share the experiences of the secret guest who came to the church. Share the information clearly and factually. Hold nothing back. Share the good and the bad. 

As you lead change, you confront the realities of your church. You communicate those realities to the congregation. And you communicate them with a sense of urgency. So, what happens next? 

You repeat the process again. And again. And again. As a leader, you are constantly confronting realities, communicating realities, and communicating the urgency of the moment. You may tire of the redundancy. You may think it’s time to be quiet for a season. But it’s not. You communicate. And then communicate. And then communicate again. 

The process of building an eager coalition is vital to the change leadership, but there is no precise roadmap that describes how you move forward. There are, however, some key lessons we’ve learned from many change leaders. 

First, the process is usually informal. There is no formation of a task force or a committee. The leader typically meets with key persons over a meal, in a coffee shop, or in the office. The leader does indeed present the idea, but the process involves as much listening as it does speaking. And, as change leaders listen, they must be willing to pivot and change as they hear better ideas. 

Second, the process is individual. Perhaps there will be times when coalition building involves more than a one-on-one conversation. But they typically work better when the leader gives the person his complete attention. The one-on-one meeting communicates clearly to the church member their importance to the leader. 

Third, the process can be lengthy. It may or may not take as long as ten months, but it can seem painfully slow at times. But this phase is absolutely vital if you really desire to lead change in your church. Once you get the eager coalition gathered, it’s time to formulate and communicate the vision to the rest of the congregation. 

A healthy church has a hopeful and visionary pastor. The essence of this facet of change leadership is simple and clear: become a voice of hope and provide a clear vision for the church to move forward in a strategic fashion. Change leaders who provide hope and vision are the most successful change leaders. It’s just that basic. 

About nine out of ten churches in America have settled into dangerous complacency. Many members have dug in deeply and are headstrong to resist change. Do not enter into change leadership lightly. Do not begin the process without concerted prayer. And realize that change is all about people. If you don’t deal with people issues in leading change, you will fail. It’s just that simple. 

In his seminal work on change leadership in the secular world, Leading Change, John Kotter talks about “generating short- term wins.” He sees this as a crucial step in leading an organization toward major change. 

My thoughts are similar, but I prefer to use the metaphor of “low-hanging fruit.” It seems to paint a vivid picture of potential reality. The idea is to demonstrate from an incremental perspective how the impending change will be a positive outcome for the church. The leader seeks to find and articulate easier victories for the church that will lead to greater, and potentially more challenging, victories. 

You are the pastor. You are the church staff person. You are an elder. You are a deacon. You are a key lay leader in the church. Are you ready to make a difference in this brief life whatever the cost? There are tens of thousands of churches in need of a massive infusion of revitalization. 

God has called you to lead change for such a time as this. Be prepared. Be courageous. Be the leader of change for the glory of God. 

Interested in reading the entire book? You can purchase it here:



The New Gold Standard

I pulled out of the archives an oldie, but a goodie. I re-read “The New Gold Standard”, by Joseph A. Michelli. It’s an in-depth look at how the Ritz-Carlton hotels have developed a corporate culture that consistently delivers world-class customer service throughout the organization. It’s literally a fascinating book to me, and one worth your time if you lead anything that you want to go somewhere. Here’s a synopsis. Enjoy! 

The award-winning hotels and resorts of The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company have been consistently recognized for unwavering commitment to service excellence and unmatched quality since the original Ritz Paris Hotel was opened in 1898 by Cesar Ritz. The New Gold Standard reveals the specific leadership principles that produce the Ritz-Carlton’s exemplary corporate culture, exceptional staff empowerment, and extraordinary commitment to its customers.

PRINCIPLE 1: Communicate Core Identity

While many companies have finely worded statements of vision, purpose and values, few business leaders can rival Ritz-Carlton when it comes to keeping those roadmaps and cultural anchors at the top-of-mind of their staff. One of their most basic strategies is a trifold pocket card—identified as part of an employee’s uniform—outlining their “Gold Standard”:

- The Ritz-Carlton is a place where the genuine care and comfort of our guests is our highest mission.

- We pledge to provide the finest personal service and facilities for our guests who will always enjoy a warm, relaxed, yet refined ambience.

- The Ritz-Carlton experience enlivens the senses, instills well-being, and fulfills even the unexpected wishes and needs of our guests.

This pocket card—referred to as the Credo Card—also includes The Motto of RitzCarlton: Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.

Along with the Credo Card, Ritz-Carlton has established guidelines for providing consistent service the Ritz-Carlton way— 12 values that encourage “ways of being” as opposed to “ways of doing.” These “Service Values” enable staff members to focus on desired outcomes for individual guests rather applying a one-size-fits all script to every guest and every situation.

PRINCIPLE 2: Empower Staff through Trust

To truly understand the success of Ritz-Carlton, one must understand their approach to the staff selection process. They believe excellence occurs by starting with the right raw talent instead of attempting to manage employees to overcome talent deficits. They are looking for those with true strengths to consistently deliver luxury service—a strength being something you do well, and a true strength being something you do well and enjoy.

Respectful and genuine treatment of employees engenders a trust for leadership that is essential to move their business forward. Unless employees know that they are truly valued, they often don’t invest the extra effort needed to exceed customer expectations and arrive at innovative service solutions.

PRINCIPLE 3: Build a Business Focused on Others

In order to create a memorable experience, a service provider has to connect with a guest’s individuality and deliver service customized to that guest’s preferences. Many businesses do this using customer relationship management software as a way of tracking guest preferences, but few have used this type of technology more effectively than RitzCarlton.

The role of the senior leader is not to “lead” quality in an organization, but to help influence a “quality culture.” Leadership creates an environment for service excellence by assisting staff members to fully attend to others, to use all their senses, and ultimately to place themselves in the situations of those they serve.

PRINCIPLE 4: Deliver Wow!

Since customer engagement is linked to the customers’ wanting to “feel a rush,” Ritz-Carlton leadership calls this desired memorable and emotional connection a “Wow experience”—and encourages staff to personally affect guests to achieve this level of emotional intensity by delivering service that appeals to both the thinking and the feeling aspects of the consumer.

Ritz-Carlton uses their “Wow stories”—remarkable examples of extraordinary service exhibited by their Ladies and Gentlemen—to reinforce existing service excellence and to propel future extraordinary acts. In fact, Wow stories are one of the most important vehicles for communicating the values they see as critical to the success of the company.

PRINCIPLE 5: Leave a Lasting Footprint

In the competitive world of business today, corporate leaders are looking for opportunities to maintain the relevance of their established brands by broadening product offerings to meet the evolving needs of their customers—products that they would expect them to sell, that fit well with their brand, and are a natural extension of the expertise they already provide.

Increasingly, businesses are judged for the lasting nature of the footprint they leave on individuals, communities, and other businesses. Myopic companies focus on short-term profitability instead of ecological sustainability, or they prioritize advertising over efforts to train and grow their people. Ritz-Carlton, from its inception, wanted to be a truly great company—to be known “as a positive, supportive member of the community” and “sensitive to the environment.”

Conclusion: A Lasting Impression

Service in the Ritz-Carlton culture is little more than delivering a product the customer wants without defects, delivering the product when and how the customer wants it, and providing the product with genuine care and concern for that customer. While these three aspects of service are fairly simple and timeless, the complexity of this seemingly uncomplicated formula requires constant listening to customers and staff as well as disciplined execution.

Interested in reading the entire book? Purchase it here:



Invisible Influence

I just finished reading “Invisible Influence” by Jonah Berger. A good read, and a book that explores the different things that influence the decisions we make, especially as leaders. We like to think we make decisions purely on our preferences, but that isn't true—we are influenced by a myriad of forces, people, and trends. When we grow to understand that, social influences can enable us to both take advantage of their benefits and avoid their downsides. The reason it’s a book I recommend you read is, I think we need to understand some of the forces affecting not only ourselves, but humanity as a whole. Enjoy this synopsis.

Ninety-nine-point nine percent of all decisions we make are shaped by others. It’s hard to find a decision or behavior that isn’t affected by other people. This book is about the simple, subtle, and often surprising ways that others affect our behavior. 

CHAPTER ONE: Monkey See, Monkey Do

There are thousands of books, movies and songs vying for everyone’s attention, but no one has the time to read every book jacket or listen to every sample clip. Most people don’t have the bandwidth to check out even a small percentage of the options. So we use others as a helpful shortcut. A filter. If a book is on the bestseller list, we’re more likely to skim the description; if a song is already popular, we’re more likely to give it a listen. 

Following others saves us time and effort and (hopefully) leads us to something we’re more likely to enjoy. Social influence is effective because people mimic other people’s choices and actions. 

CHAPTER TWO: A Horse of a Different Color 

Social influence also seems to push us to distinguish ourselves from others. If anything, we would expect people to imitate others, because other people’s choices provide information. The more people who picked something, the better that thing must be, right? But sometimes people don’t want to be the same as everyone else. Sometimes people want to be different. 

People often avoid things when too many other people like them—the so-called “snob effect.” The more other people own or use something, the less interested new people are in buying or using it. Most of us don’t want to be the only one doing something, but if too many people are doing it, we do something else. When kale or quinoa becomes too trendy, there’s a backlash. 

CHAPTER THREE: Not If They’re Doing It

Like an amateur Sherlock Holmes, we try to deduce things about the people around us based on their choices. Cars and clothes serve as a silent communication system, signaling information to others. We use people’s choices as signals of who they are and what they’re like. 

We don’t just make inferences about others, we also choose things based on who they are associated with. People diverge to avoid being misidentified or communicating undesired identities. Students ate less candy when they saw an obese person eating a lot, and professionals stopped calling their children Jr. once the practice was adopted by the working class. Minivan sales tanked when they became associated with soccer moms, and tech CEOs wore hoodies rather than suits to avoid looking like, well, a suit. 

CHAPTER FOUR: Similar but Different

When something is new, we initially feel negative or neutral. Then, after repeated exposure, things become more familiar and we start to feel more positive. Eventually, after too many exposures, boredom kicks in and liking declines. Too novel and it’s unfamiliar. Too familiar and it’s boring. But in between and it’s just right. 

The right blend of familiarity and novelty drives what becomes popular. Hit fashion styles, such as skinny jeans, often take something we all know well (jeans) and add novelty (a new cut). Things that catch on, then, whether in music, fashion, or any other domain, often are similar enough to what is already out there to evoke the warm glow of familiarity, but novel enough to seem new and not just derivative of what came before. Similarity shapes popularity because it makes novel things feel familiar. 

CHAPTER FIVE: Come On Baby, Light My Fire

The mere presence of others changes performance. People tend to do better when others are around. This phenomenon has been described as social facilitation, where the presence of others leads people to perform faster and better than they would otherwise. Even if people aren’t collaborating or competing, the mere fact that others are present changes behavior. 

Interestingly though, other studies have found the opposite. That people do worse when others are present. If the task was easy, or something participants had done many times before, spectators would facilitate performance. But if the task was difficult, or involved learning something new, an audience would inhibit performance. 

Conclusion: Putting Social Influence to Work

Social influence has a huge impact on behavior, and by understanding how it works, we can harness its power. We can avoid its downsides and take advantage of its benefits. We can maintain our individuality and avoid being swept up in the crowd. By understanding when social influence is beneficial, we can decide when to resist influence and when to embrace it. Understanding these often-invisible influences can make us all better off. 

Interested in reading the entire book? You can purchase it here:



Managing the Millennials

I just finished reading “Managing the Millennials” by Chip Espinoza, Mike Ukleja, & Craig Rusch. In this book the authors identify some of the unique characteristics of this generation, which will soon be the largest in the country, and outline nine specific keys to effectively managing and leading this fascinating generation. I found this book fascinating and I think you will too! Here’s a synopsis taken right from the book, which I found very insightful and very helpful. I highly recommend it. Enjoy! 

Millennials have a different set of attitudes, values, and beliefs than do the men and women who preceded them into the workplace. You have a choice: You can villainize them and say, “They just aren’t the way we used to be.” Or you can tolerate them and say, “We have no choice. We have to let them work here.” Or you can engage them, and benefit from the contribution they will make. The ultimate question is this: How are we going to manage differently? 

We discovered that successful managers practiced a set of core competencies that are essential to effectively managing Millennial employees. The competencies fall within three behavioral categories: (1) adapting, (2) communicating, and (3) envisioning. 

Adapting is the willingness to accept that a Millennial employee does not have the same experiences, values, or frame of reference that you had when you were the same age. We refer to this as suspending the bias of your own experience. Adapting successfully may require adjustments to your management style. In some cases, it may require changes to your organization’s policies and procedures. The adapting competencies are “Flexing with the Autonomous,” “Incenting the Entitled,” and “Cultivating the Imaginative.” 

Communicating refers to the ability to make a connection at a relational level. It is the primary area where tension can escalate into emotional conflict. In the saddest cases, professional relationships deteriorated so much that we observed personal attacks. For the manager who is committed to succeeding despite relational tension, communicating is essential. It is about staying engaged even when both parties are frustrated. The communicating competencies are “Engaging the Self-Absorbed,” “Disarming the Defensive,” and “Self-Differentiating from the Abrasive.” 

Envisioning is about lifting the horizons among the unmotivated and myopic. It incorporates management practices that create both meaning and accountability for the Millennial employee. Without the Adapting and Communicating skills, it is highly unlikely that envisioning can take place. The envisioning competencies are “Broadening the Myopic,”“Directing the Unfocused,” and “Motivating the Indifferent”. 

Flexing with the Autonomous All things being equal, when there is a choice between getting your way and going their way, go their way. The idea that leaders and managers are going to change members of the current generation into what they want them to be is a strategy destined for failure. Only by flexing with the concerns of Millennials will today’s managerial leaders have opportunity to develop the trust and rapport required to lead them. 

Incenting the Entitled It can be energizing, if not fun, to pull Millennials into the design aspect of incentive programs. It is one way to know that you are incenting the right way. The entitlement attitude can be successfully addressed in three ways: (1) creating incentives that Millennials value, (2) clearly and thoroughly stating expected outcomes, and (3) constructively assessing developmental progress on a regular basis. 

Cultivating the Imaginative Millennials may not have a lot of experience, but sometimes that can work better for you when it comes to creativity. Realize that Millennials are going to get bored so be prepared with a new challenge. If you do not seriously want their input, do not ask for it. Let them know what you think about their ideas. Let them have fun. It serves an important function for allowing the imagination to work. 

Engaging the Self-Absorbed The more often that Millennial employees perceived their managers to be interested in them and in their personal development, the harder they worked for their managers. First them, then you! 

Disarming the Defensive Millennial employees’ defensiveness is tied to their desire to achieve. If you correct them in a condescending way, they will not hear you. They respond to managers who care enough to listen to them, attempt to understand them, and assure them of the relationship. Once you have had to confront, be sure to invite them to look forward to their growth by regularly recognizing their progress, providing them with support, giving them constructive feedback, and showing them that you want them to succeed. 

Self-Differentiating from the Abrasive Understanding your presence and its impact is good for managing anybody, but is exponentially important when managing and leading Millennials. A self-differentiated person can distinguish between the anxiety- filled situation and who they are as a person. This allows them to become a “non-anxious” presence in the midst of the storm. Without this awareness, it is easy to take an anxious situation and infuse more anxiety into it, thus making it worse. Self-differentiation—knowing where you end and others begin—is a key tool in managing others, but more importantly, in managing yourself. 

Broadening the Myopic The way to give Millennials the big picture is to engage in a learning process that is involving, presents complexity, and allows the learner to challenge institutional assumptions. By involving, we mean facilitation. The best managers intuitively know this and create orientations, provide training, and teach through learning activities. They see their role as key to their employees’ success. 

Directing the Unfocused Millennials welcome high direction. Clear and repetitive instruction is important. If you sense that your direct report is anxious or distant, it may be because of a lack of clarity or understanding of what is required from her or him. 

Motivating the Indifferent You have to help Millennials find a reason to care. They are the easiest of the workforce to motivate once you have helped them find meaning in what they do. You keep them motivated by letting them see how what they do matters. They thrive in an atmosphere of change—not because of change itself, but because they get to put their mark on the future. 

We hope our book helps managers feel more competent, better equipped, and more relaxed so that they can enjoy their Millennials. We believe the nine competencies will help create environments in which both managers and Millennials will thrive. Just as we wish success to each individual and organization we work with, we wish it for you and your organization. For the Millennial generation we have a special wish—make our organizations better. They are the future. They are our future. 

If you’re interested in reading the entire book? Purchase it here:



The Christian Leader

I just finished reading “The Christian Leader” by Bill Hull. It’s really good, and Bill talks about rehabilitating our addiction to secular leadership. He argues that we need to let go of some of our secular leadership models and look again at Jesus for a model of what a Christian leader should be. I found it encouraging and filled with good insights. Here’s a synopsis. Enjoy!

Most leadership literature talks about a “right kind” of leadership personality. You know the type: big-picture visionaries who serve others and get the best out of people. The question that has nagged me is this: Did Jesus fit the successful leadership profile? From everything I know about him, he didn’t, or does he intend or expect any of us to fit the profile. I am writing this book because I believe we need to change how the church views Christian leadership. I am calling for the rehabilitation of the Christian leader.

CHAPTER ONE: The Rehabilitation of Christian Leaders

Rehabilitation for Christian leaders begins with commitment to do more than acknowledge Jesus’ uniqueness; it is when they rearrange their lives around his practices. The challenge for the Christian leader is to find the same balance Jesus found. He had enough ambition to carry out his mission and enough humility to stay in submission to his Father. The determining factor is whether we model Jesus’ style of leadership. When those leaders say, “Follow me,” people will do so because they see leaders they want to follow.

CHAPTER TWO: What Makes a Leader Happy?

Jesus was happy when his followers experienced joy and meaning. Yes, we should do what we are gifted and called to do in the body of Christ, but we find the deepest level of satisfaction in ordinary service to others. The truth is that, while it is great to be well known, it is much better to be loved. A happy leader is based on a happy person. Who we are in the ordinary moments reveals whether Christ is the real thing in us. 

CHAPTER THREE: Making a Dent in the World

Jesus was most effective when he was himself in the ordinary circumstances of life. There seems to be confusion about how hard a leader ought to work, how much a leader should plan, and how thoroughly a leader should strategize. The answer is to learn about yourself and work in a way congruent with how God made you. For Christian leaders, knowing our motivation means seeking God in prayer and hearing from him at a deep level. When we hear God’s voice and do his will, Christlikeness is built in us.

CHAPTER FOUR: The Leader’s Worldview 

Jesus was effective in this world because he was guided by the reality of another world. He valued the Father’s agenda more than a hassle-free life. My favorite way to think of prayer is Jesus and me talking about what we are doing together. In this way I stay connected to the other world, the kingdom not of this world. This enables me to be a leader who is connected to my leader and to see the world the way he does.

CHAPTER FIVE: The Humble Leader

Jesus was able to serve because he had a clear understanding of whom he was dependent on and gladly acknowledged it. Humility does not come naturally to us. What’s natural is treating ourselves in the most generous way possible. Even Jesus’ disciples argued among themselves as to which one of them was the greatest. Despite our aversion to humility, there is no more important character trait for the Christian leader to develop.

CHAPTER SIX: Becoming Something Else

Jesus withheld nothing; he taught us that we must lay aside privilege and that we have great capacity to change. As leaders we must be willing to change in order to learn how to live for others. As I tell my students, if you want to become something you have never been before, you will need to do things you have never done before. Jesus is our model in this. When God became a person, he took the definitive action of emptying himself of rights and privileges in order to serve and live for others.

CHAPTER SEVEN: Leadership in Hard Times

Jesus taught us how to suffer under pressure, thrive in it, and teach others in the middle of it. Of all the leaders in America, the most important are pastors. They are the last group of cultural teachers that remain a force for good. They are not strapped with limitations of government; they still have the freedom to teach and act without restraint. It is time to step up and speak out, to commit their lives and people to a life of discipleship.

CHAPTER EIGHT: The Rewards of Leadership

Jesus was satisfied with the knowledge that he had faithfully completed his Father’s work and that he had not squandered anything his Father entrusted to him. On this side of the heavenly divide we often receive our recognition with pride. In heaven it will be with humility. The rewards God gives will survive the fire of his judgment and discerning eye. When our letters, trophies, and mementos are lost or destroyed, what God has called great and good will remain with us forever.

CHAPTER NINE: Leaders Are A Work in Progress

Jesus modeled for us that leadership is as much following, listening, and submitting as it is leading others. It calls for authentic living. It requires humility, service, vulnerability, sacrificial living, and the willingness to put up with a constant stream of abuse. The Christian leader is called to receive criticism in humility, to learn from it, to admit one’s faults, and to not seek revenge. It will involve pain and pleasure, and it will continue until we are finished with God’s work.

Interested in reading the entire book? You can purchase it here:



The Circle Maker

I just finished reading for the 4th time “The Circle Maker” by Mark Batterson, so this synopsis is one that comes easy for me, and is very refreshing. The Circle Maker, is a book on prayer. Mark challenges us to persist in praying bigger and more specific prayers. It's a book I think every leader/person should read. It's a practical book, filled with insights from someone who is a practitioner, not just a theorist. Enjoy!

Bold prayers honor God, and God honors bold prayers. God isn’t offended by your biggest dreams or boldest prayers. He is offended by anything less. If your prayers aren’t impossible to you, they are insulting to God. Why? Because they don’t require divine intervention. But ask God to part the Red Sea or make the sun stand still or float an iron ax head, and God is moved to omnipotent action. 

Drawing prayer circles starts with identifying your Jericho. You’ve got to define the promises God wants to stake claim to, the miracles God wants you to believe for, and the dreams God wants you to pursue. Then you need to keep circling until God gives you what He wants and He wills. That’s the goal. Now here’s the problem: Most of us don’t get what we want simply because we don’t know what we want. We’ve never circled any of God’s promises. We never written down a list of life goals. We’ve never defined success for ourselves. And our dreams are nebulous as cumulus clouds. Instead of circles, we draw blanks. 

Our generation desperately needs to rediscover the difference between praying for and praying through. Praying through is all about consistency. It’s circling Jericho so many times it makes you dizzy. Like the story Jesus told about the persistent widow who drove the judge crazy with her relentless requests, praying through won’t take no for an answer. Circle makers know that it’s always too soon to quit praying because you never know when the wall is about to fall. You are always only one prayer away from a miracle. 

If you’re like me, you tend to use bigger words for bigger requests. You pull out your best vocabulary words for your biggest prayers, as if God’s answer depends on the correct combination of words. Trust me, it doesn’t matter how long or how loud you pray; it comes down to your answer to the question God asks. Is there a limit to my power? With God, it’s never an issue of “Can He?” It’s only a question of “Will He?” And while you don’t always know if He will, you know He can. And because you know He can, you can pray with holy confidence. 

Sometimes when you hear answers to prayer that others have experienced, it can be discouraging instead of encouraging because you wonder why God has answered their prayers but not yours. But let me remind you that these answers have rarely happened as quickly or easily as they sound. There is usually a backstory. So we are quick to celebrate the answer to prayer, but the answer probably didn’t come quickly. I’ve never met a person who didn’t experience some big disappointments on the way to his or her big dream. 

Sometimes the power of prayer is the power to carry on. It doesn’t always change your circumstances, but it gives you the strength to walk through them. When you pray through, the burden is taken off of your shoulders and put on the shoulders of Him who carried the cross to Calvary. 

What I’m about to share has the power to revolutionize the way you pray and the way you read the Bible. We often view prayer and Scripture reading as two distinct spiritual disciplines without much overlap, but what if they were meant to be hyperlinked? What if reading became a form of praying and praying became a form of reading? 

One of the primary reasons we don’t pray through is because we run out of things to say. Our lack of persistence is really a lack of conversation pieces. Like an awkward conversation, we don’t know what to say. Or like a conversation on its last leg, we run out of things to talk about. That’s when our prayers turn into a bunch of overused and misapplied clichés. So instead of praying hard about a big dream, we’re left with small talk. Our prayers are as meaningless as a conversation about the weather. The solution? Pray through the Bible. 

Prayer was never meant to be a monologue; it was meant to be a dialogue. Think of Scripture as God’s part of the script; prayer is our part. Scripture is God’s way of initiating a conversation; prayer is our response. The paradigm shift happens when you realize that the Bible wasn’t meant to be read through; the Bible was meant to be prayed through. And if you pray through it, you’ll never run out of things to talk about. 

The Bible is a promise book and a prayer book. And while reading is reactive, prayer is proactive. Reading is the way you get through the Bible; prayer is the way you get the Bible through you. As you pray, the Holy Spirit will quicken certain promises to your spirit. It’s very difficult to predict what and when and where and how, but over time, the promises of God will become your promises. Then you need to circle those promises, both figuratively and literally. I never read without a pen so that I can underline, asterisk, and circle. I literally circle the promises in my Bible. Then I do it figuratively by circling them in prayer. 

Praying hard is hard because you can’t just pray like it depends on God; you also have to work like it depends on you. You can’t just be willing to pray about it; you also have to be willing to do something about it. And this is where many of us get stuck spiritually. We’re willing to pray right up to the point of discomfort, but no further. We’re willing to pray right up to the point of inconvenience, but no further. Praying hard is uncomfortable and inconvenient, but that is when you know you’re getting close to a miracle! 

Until recently, I wanted God to answer every prayer ASAP. That is no longer my agenda. I don’t want easy answers or quick answers because I have a tendency to mishandle the blessings that come too easily or too quickly. I take the credit or take them for granted. So now I pray that it will take long enough and be hard enough for God to receive all of the glory. I’m not looking for the path of least resistance; I’m looking for the path of greatest glory. And that requires high-degree-of- difficulty prayers and lots of circling. 

Very rarely does our first prayer request hit the bull’s-eye of God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will. Most prayer requests have to be refined. One of the reasons we get frustrated in prayer is our ASAP approach. When our prayers aren’t answered as quickly or easily as we would like, we get tired of circling. Maybe we need to change our prayer approach from as soon as possible to as long as it takes. Keep circling! 

God collects our prayers. Each one is precious to Him. Each one is sealed by God. And you never know when He’s going to uncork an answer. 

Interested in reading the entire book? You can purchase it here:




I just finished reading “Captivology” by Ben Parr. In Captivology, award-winning journalist, author, entrepreneur and investor Ben Parr (Forbes 30 Under 30) presents a new understanding of attention -- how it works, why it matters, and how we leverage psychological triggers to draw and retain attention for our passions, projects, and ideas. This book is both insightful and practical, and will change how you assign jobs to your kids or staff, craft a multi-million dollar ad campaign, deliver your next presentation, attract users to your product, or convince the world to support your cause. I really enjoyed it. Here’s a synopsis taken right from the book. Enjoy! 

A Bonfire of Attention

Captivology is an exploration of how attention works, focused on the triggers that can attract the attention of whatever audience you are targeting, in any industry or situation. It’s about using science and practical technologies to create a bonfire of attention for your message, cause, product, or idea. 

The Three Stages of Attention

To build a bonfire of attention for your message, you have to capture your audience’s immediate attention, to mesmerize their short attention, and finally to captivate their long attention. 

Automaticity Trigger

The Automaticity Trigger is our unconscious tendency to shift our attention toward the sights, sounds, and other sensory cues important to our safety and survival. We will pay attention to a lion before an antelope. We will pay attention to a gunshot over the chirps of robins. And we will usually look at red before blue, especially if romance or sex is involved. The Automaticity Trigger sparks the first stage of attention—immediate attention. It’s the jolt that forces people to turn their attention to you. 

Framing Trigger

Where we direct our attention is a choice, and our frames of reference help us make these choices based on our experiences and previously acquired knowledge. The framing effect involves the way we perceive a piece of information based on the way it is presented to us. We often make different conclusions about the same information when the explanation is changed even slightly. Is a proposed law restricting gun ownership about “gun control” or “gun safety?” 

Disruption Trigger

Disruption is about changing the status quo. People make unconscious predictions about what they expect to occur in
a specific situation. When something violates these expectations, we are forced to pay greater attention to the violation and to assign a positive or negative connotation to that violation. Skillful use of the Disruption Trigger relies on surprise. 

Reward Trigger

Extrinsic rewards are tangible rewards for accomplishing something—things like money, food, trophies, and a perfect score on a test. Intrinsic rewards are intangible rewards that provide us with feelings of internal satisfaction and accomplishment. And just like rewards, the motivations we have to achieve those rewards can also be extrinsic or intrinsic (for example, reading a book because you will be quizzed in class, or reading a book because you desire to learn). If you’re looking to capture immediate and short attention, extrinsic rewards can be extremely effective. However, if you’re looking to build loyalty and long attention, then intrinsic rewards are far more helpful. 

Reputation Trigger

A reputation is the embodiment of a person, company, or idea’s credibility and worthiness. It is this credibility and worth that determine whether something is worth our time and long-term interest. That’s why reputations are important shortcuts for quickly determining who is worthy of our attention. When simply hearing your name makes people pay attention, you have become a master of attention. 

Mystery Trigger

Mystery simply refers to something that we don’t yet understand. We are especially captivated by a mystery that’s incomplete. The compulsion for completion, driven by our need for closure and our love of puzzle solving, makes us pay attention to a mystery or an enigma until it’s resolved, which makes it a powerful tool of attention. By creating the right amount of mystery, suspense, and uncertainty, you can activate your audience’s compulsion for completion and get them to pay attention to you and your ideas right until the very end. 

Acknowledgement Trigger

The Acknowledgement Trigger is the most powerful at capturing long-lasting attention. The premise is simple: we pay attention to the people and ideas that recognize, validate, and empathize with us in some way. It’s about harnessing our audience’s fundamental desire for acceptance by offering them recognition. When people recognize you for your work, it opens the possibility for you to demonstrate that you recognize them and acknowledge your gratitude that they paid attention to you. This mutual or reciprocal attention leads to capturing people’s sustained, long attention. 

The Influence of Attention

Attention is the conduit through which we experience our world. If you don’t have somebody’s attention, no amount of effort you put into your product, music, art, lesson plan, or project will matter. 

Interested in reading the entire book? You can purchase it here:





The Ideal Team Player

I just finished reading “The Ideal Team Player” by Patrick Lencioni. He’s one of my favorites, so this was an easy read for me. In his classic book, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, Patrick Lencioni laid out a groundbreaking approach for tackling the perilous group behaviors that destroy teamwork. In this book he turns his focus to the individual, revealing the three indispensable virtues of an ideal team player. Here’s a snap-shot of the book, taken right from the book. Enjoy! 

The Three Virtues of an Ideal Team Player

For organizations seriously committed to making teamwork a cultural reality, I’m convinced that “the right people,” are the ones who have three virtues in common — humility, hunger, and people smarts.

HUMBLE — Great team players lack excessive ego or concerns about status. They are quick to point out the contributions of others and slow to seek attention for their own.They share credit, emphasize team over self, and define success collectively rather than individually.

HUNGRY — Hungry people are always looking for more. More things to do. More to learn. More responsibility to take on. Hungry people almost never have to be pushed by a manager to work harder because they are self-motivated and diligent. They are constantly thinking about the next step and the next opportunity.

SMART — In the context of a team, smart simply refers to a person’s common sense about people. Smart people are interpersonally appropriate and aware. They ask good questions, listen to what others are saying, and stay engaged in conversations intently.

Smart people have good judgment and intuition, and understand the impact of their words and actions. 

The History of the Model

Back in 1977, a group of colleagues and I started our management consulting firm, The Table Group. We asked ourselves the question, Could a person fully practice the five behaviors at the heart of teamwork if he or she didn’t buy into the idea of being humble, hungry, and smart? The answer was a resounding no.

The Ideal Team Player Model

When team members are adequately strong in these three areas, they enable teamwork and overcome the five dysfunctions of a team. That means they’ll be more likely to be vulnerable and build trust, engage in productive but uncomfortable conflict with team members, commit to group decisions even if they initially disagree, hold their peers accountable when they see performance gaps that can be addressed, and put the results of the team ahead of their own needs.

Those who don’t have all three virtues are going to require significantly more time, attention, and patience from their managers.

Application #1: HIRING

The most reliable way to ensure that teamwork takes hold in an organization would be to hire only ideal team players. The most important part of interviewing for team players is simply knowing which answers and behaviors are the best indicators of humility, hunger and people smarts and then making the interviews as revealing as possible.

Application #2: Assessing Current Employees

Another extremely important application of the ideal team player model is the assessment or evaluation of current employees. There are three outcomes—confirm the employee is ideal, help the employee improve, or decide to move the employee out.

Application #3: Developing Employees Who Lack One or More Virtue.

The most important part of the development process, and the part that is so often missing, is the leader’s commitment to constantly “reminding” an employee if she is not yet doing what is needed. Without this, improvement will not occur. Why don’t most managers do it? Because it’s uncomfortable. No one likes telling a person for the fifth week in a row that she still isn’t working hard enough or isn’t dealing with colleagues in a socially appropriate way. It’s unpleasant and it’s awkward, and yet, it’s what a manager must do.

Application#4: Embedding the Model into an Organization’s Culture

I believe that teamwork is not a virtue, but rather a choice. It’s a strategic decision and an intentional one, which means that it’s not for everyone. Leaders who believe teamwork is important and expect their people to be humble, hungry, and smart should come right out and say so. Leaders should be constantly on the lookout for any displays of those virtues and hold them up as examples for everyone to see. Whenever you see a behavior that violates one of the values, take the time to let the violator know that his behavior is out of line.

Connecting the Ideal Team Player Model with Five Dysfunctions of a Team

When team members improve their abilities to be humble, hungry, or smart, they’ll be able to make more progress in overcoming the five dysfunctions on a regular basis.

A Final Thought—Beyond Work Teams

Over the past twenty years, it has become clear to me that a humble, hungry, and smart spouse, parent, friend, or neighbor is going to be a more effective, inspiring, and attractive person—one that draws others to them and serves others better. 

Interested in reading the entire book? Purchase it here:



3 Overlooked Leadership Roles In The Church

3 Overlooked Leadership Roles

It was while leading South Melbourne Restoration Community, an inner city church committed to reaching the marginalized people of our city, that I realized something was fundamentally wrong.

We were a ragtag band of ex-druggies with a church situated in a profoundly postmodern and tribalized part of the city. The model of church we had inherited was clearly not cutting it. Scarcely anything in my training for ministry had prepared me to for this.

In this post-Christian context, we needed to be more than ministers running a church. We needed a different type of leadership.

We morphed from an institutional church into a missional one. In the years that followed, we planted five more churches among the homosexuals, prostitutes, street kids, the rave scene, blue-collar workers, Jewish people, and Gen-Xers. It was exciting, but we felt totally inadequate to the task. It forced us to a broader understanding of the church's mission, and a better grasp of what leadership involved.

While at South, I was invited to lead a revitalization movement within my denomination—the fourth largest Protestant denomination in Australia. Seeing things from this higher altitude, I recognized that South was not the only church facing a crisis. My entire denomination needed to shift toward a missional culture if it was to grow and survive. But how?

We needed a new type of leadership, one with the courage to question the status quo, to dream of new possibilities, and to innovate new ways of being the people of God in a post-Christian culture. We needed missionaries to the West, but our seminaries were not producing them. If we take the five categories of church leadership from Ephesians 4:11, they were training leaders to be teachers and pastors for established congregations, but where were the evangelists, the prophets, and the apostles to lead the mission of the gospel into the world?

Missional churches require all Five aspects of ministry Leadership on the team.

Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds, and Teachers—I refer to these together as APEST. But when I looked at my church and most others, I saw congregations dominated by leaders who were shepherds and teachers. What happened to the other leadership types?

Where have all the APEs gone?

During Christendom, the centuries when Christianity dominated the culture, the church acquired a fundamentally non-missional posture. Mission beyond the walls of the institution was downplayed because every citizen was deemed at least a nominal Christian already. What was needed were pastoral and teaching ministries to care for and instruct the congregation, and to draw underdeveloped Christians back into the church on Sunday.

So, these two functions were eventually instituted as the leadership offices in the church, and the other three roles listed in Ephesians 4 (apostles, prophets, and evangelists) faded away as largely unnecessary. The system of church leadership we inherited from Christendom heavily favors maintenance and pastoral care, thus neglecting the church's larger mission and ministry.

Consequently the A, P, and E leadership functions were marginalized from the church's leadership structure.

In my years of ministry, I've seen how many churches sideline people with more APE type gifts. Of course, this is not to say that apostolic, prophetic, and evangelistic ministries have totally disappeared. Many within the church have managed to fill these roles without necessarily being tagged "apostles" or "prophets," but, by and large, these lacked formal recognition, and they have tended to be exercised outside the context of the local church.

For example, the work of St. Patrick and the Celtic movement, that of John Wesley, William Booth, and many others is clearly of a different type than that of a shepherd-teacher. And it is not hard to see how the exiling of apostles, prophets, and evangelists gave rise to the development of para-church agencies and missionary orders, each with a somewhat atomized ministry focus.

The Navigators, for instance, arose out of a need to evangelize and disciple people outside of the church structures because the church was neither effective nor interested. Sojourners emerged to represent the social justice concerns that the church was largely ignoring, as did World Vision, the aid and development agency.

This divorce of APE from ST has been disastrous for the local church and has damaged the cause of Christ and his mission. In my opinion, this contraction of fivefold to twofold ministry is one of the main factors in the decline of evangelical Christianity in the West. If we want a vibrant missional church, we simply have to have a missional leadership structure with all five functions engaged. It's that simple!

We need more than a pastor and/or teacher leading a congregation. A missional church requires pioneering, innovative, organizationally adaptive, and externally focused leadership, and this means a five-fold understanding of ministry leadership. Let me describe each of the APEST roles, the core task of each, and the impact when one dominates or works in isolation from the others.

APOSTLES extend the gospel. As the "sent ones," they ensure that the faith is transmitted from one context to another and from one generation to the next. They are always thinking about the future, bridging barriers, establishing the church in new contexts, developing leaders, networking trans-locally. Yes, if you focus solely on initiating new ideas and rapid expansion, you can leave people and organizations wounded. The shepherding and teaching functions are needed to ensure people are cared for rather than simply used.

PROPHETS know God's will. They are particularly attuned to God and his truth for today. They bring correction and challenge the dominant assumptions we inherit from the culture. They insist that the community obey what God has commanded. They question the status quo. Without the other types of leaders in place, prophets can become belligerent activists or, paradoxically, disengage from the imperfection of reality and become other-worldly.

EVANGELISTS recruit. These infectious communicators of the gospel message recruit others to the cause. They call for a personal response to God's redemption in Christ, and also draw believers to engage the wider mission, growing the church. Evangelists can be so focused on reaching those outside the church that maturing and strengthening those inside is neglected.

SHEPHERDS nurture and protect. Caregivers of the community, they focus on the protection and spiritual maturity of God's flock, cultivating a loving and spiritually mature network of relationships, making and developing disciples. Shepherds can value stability to the detriment of the mission. They may also foster an unhealthy dependence between the church and themselves.

TEACHERS understand and explain. Communicators of God's truth and wisdom, they help others remain biblically grounded to better discern God's will, guiding others toward wisdom, helping the community remain faithful to Christ's word, and constructing a transferable doctrine. Without the input of the other functions, teachers can fall into dogmatism or dry intellectualism. They may fail to see the personal or missional aspects of the church's ministry.

When all five of these functions are present, the church operates at peak performance. To use Paul's terms, it "grows," "matures," "builds itself up," and "reaches unity in the faith.”

Sometimes it is easier for people to see the wisdom of this fivefold structure when it isn't presented in biblical language. If we apply a sociological approach to the differing ministry styles, we discover that Paul's missional ecclesiology is confirmed by the best current thinking in leadership theory and practice.

In most organizational systems, there is acknowledgement of the importance of these leadership functions:

The entrepreneur: Innovator and cultural architect who initiates a new product, or service, and develops the organization.

The questioner: Provocateur who probes awareness and fosters questioning of current programming leading to organizational learning.

The communicator: Recruiter to the organization who markets the idea or product and gains loyalty to a brand or cause.

The humanizer: People-oriented motivator who fosters a healthy relational environment through the management of meaning.

The philosopher: Systems-thinker who is able to clearly articulate the organizational ideology in a way as to advance corporate learning.

Various leadership experts use different terms for these categories, but they would all recognize the vital contributions these different types of leaders bring to an organization. Leadership theory says that the conflicting agendas and motivations of these five kinds of leaders will tend to pull them in different directions. But if these five could be properly developed, focused, and coordinated, together they would create a very potent leadership team.

Imagine a leadership system in any setting (corporate, governmental, non-profit, educational, etc.) where the entrepreneurial innovator interacts dynamically with the disturber of the status quo. Imagine that both are in active dialogue and relationship with the passionate communicator/recruiter, the infectious person who carries the message beyond organizational borders and sells the idea/s or product/s. And these in turn are in constant engagement with the emotionally intelligent humanizer (HR) and the philosopher-leader who is able to articulate core ideas and pass them on. Clearly the combination of these different leadership styles is greater than the sum of its parts.

Because of our search for a more distinctly missional leadership model at South Melbourne Restoration Community, we decided about eight years ago to implement the APEST model at our church.

The first step was restructuring the leadership so we could ensure that all five ministries were present on the team. Each member of the team would represent one aspect of the fivefold model and be responsible for heading up a team related to that area of ministry.

We appointed an apostolic leader to oversee the team focusing on the translocal, missional, strategic, and experimental issues facing the church.

The prophetic leader initiated a team focused on listening to God, discerning his will for us, being aware of social justice issues we could address, and questioning the status quo of an increasingly middle class church.

The evangelist among us developed a team to oversee and develop outreach.

The shepherd's team strengthened community, cell-groups, worship, counseling, and generally enhanced the relational capacity of the church.

The teaching team's task was to create contexts for learning and develop the love of wisdom and understanding through Bible studies and theological discussion groups.

Our structure went from a traditional Christendom hierarchy with a shepherd/teacher at the top, to a team structure with all five ministry functions playing a vital role.

Yes, we can all just get along!

Admittedly, our working within this APEST structure did create significant debate at times. This is what makes having a traditional hierarchy attractive—one person makes the final decisions. But even the debates on our leadership team were thoroughly invigorating and led directly to the church's adopting a more aggressive missional posture.

The key was learning to manage the dynamic in order to draw upon the increased energy of the team and not be torn apart by opposing opinions. We adopted the approach advocated by Richard Pascale in his book, Managing from the Edge.

Pascale suggests two polarities that, if managed well, create synergy on the leadership team. He calls them "fit—split" and "contend—transcend." The term "fit" refers to that which binds an organization together. It is the group's common ethos and purpose. "Split" happens when we intentionally allow for diversity of expression and thought on the team.

"Contend" is the permission, even encouragement, given by leadership to disagree, debate, and dialogue around core tasks. "Transcend" is the collective agreement everyone makes to overcome disagreement in order to find new solutions.

When facing any ministry issue, we begin by committing ourselves to the common mission of the group. We covenant to do whatever it takes to see our mission fulfilled. But this kind of interpersonal commitment requires a bond that goes beyond the professional relationships that exist on many church staffs.

We lived out our unity in Christ by living together, struggling together, worshiping together, praying together, and facing our problems together. It was the healthy trust developed on the team (fit) that allowed divergent opinions (split) to be expressed without fear of offending one another. It was the strong sense of commitment to one another that gave each member permission to operate out of his or her own ministry biases, and then unapologetically represent their perspectives on the issue at hand.

The apostle would press the need to galvanize the community around mission and extension. The prophet would challenge just about everything and ask probing questions about how God fit into our grand schemes. The evangelist would always emphasize the need to bring people to faith and expand the reach of the gospel. The shepherd inevitably expressed concerns about how the community could remain healthy amid change. And the teacher tried to discern the validity of any new idea from Scripture and history.

The presence of these divergent interests inevitably caused debates and arguments (contend). But we did not try to resolve disagreement too quickly—much to the discomfort of the shepherd on the team. In my experience, the greatest tension usually arose between the apostle (with the missional drive) and the shepherd (with the community health impulse), but we almost always managed to overcome conflict through dialogue and prayer (transcend).

Remember, we were committed to stay with the problem until we had assessed all options and had, through dialogue and debate, arrived at the best solution. As a result, the outcomes we reached were more full-orbed, faithful to God, sensitive to the needs of not-yet-believers, sustainable, mature, and theologically well grounded.

One of the techniques we used to help our team structure function is modeled from an idea developed by creative guru Edward DeBono.

Put on your APEST hats"Thinking Hats" is a game in which participants adopt one another's perspectives in order to solve problems. DeBono's six hats represent six different modes of thinking. Participants agree to switch hats for a period of time in order to assume an approach to a problem other than the one they are naturally inclined toward.

The key is committing to think only in accord with the hat you are wearing. The goal is for each player to achieve a broader perspective.

We adapted DeBono's method to the APEST typology. With the "A" hat on, everyone is forced to think apostolically. When the "P" hat is on, the whole group steps into the prophetic perspective, and so forth. This practice trains everyone to think more holistically on any given subject, and it also teaches the team to value one another's perspective.

I have been in local, national, and "glocal" ministry for over 18 years, and I have had many successful leaders from outside the church tell me about their desire to be in "the ministry." But when they pursued this calling, they were turned away from the church because they didn't possess the right skills or gifts, meaning, they were not shepherds or teachers. Many of these gifted people have gone on to make a significant impact (and in many cases, a lot of money) in other domains, but it's hard to calculate the loss this has meant to the church and its mission.

It is time for the church to recognize the importance of welcoming leaders with all five of the Ephesians 4 functions into the church. Every significant missional movement has in some way incorporated the five functions into its system.When apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds, and teachers are working together, a wonderful missional ecology is created. Not only is this a more biblically faithful model, it also provides a theologically rich, organically consistent, and organizationally comprehensive framework to help the church become more missionally effective and culturally agile. The time has come for the church in the West to rediscover the lost potential of biblical leadership that has been dormant for too long.

Author - Allen Hirsch

Copyright © 2008 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.



Grief And Loss

My wife (Angel Hirsch) recently faced the loss of her mother, and I’m sharing her recent writing on the topic. I pray it will help those who may be facing similar loss, and who may be going the through the grief process. She writes…..

To grieve is to pay ransom to love."  Edwin Shneidman

Grief and grieving are no easy tasks. I understand firsthand, as one acquainted with loss and death. Loss and death visit us all in one form or another. Where the loss is, grief is close by. I have learned the best way to handle grief is to deal with grief.

I have a lot of questions about grief and its process. Here are a few; Is there any value or virtue that can be found in the suffering that accompanies grief? Why is it that the grieving has to feel so bad for so long? What good does it do? Is it necessary to give in to grief and let it take us to the depths of despair?  Does it not make more sense to spend our time in more positive, less disturbing pursuits?”

Though I don't have all my questions answered, in my grief journey, I had a friend well acquainted with pain and grieving say to me, “Grief is not a problem to be solved; it is a process, a natural process.” That piece of wisdom from my friend initially stung. As it sank in, it became like a healing balm; grief is only avoidable if one has no attachments. That thought lead me to the question, ”what kind of a life would an attachment-less life be?” I conclude, though the pain of death and loss may be agonizing, I would not trade the love from and for my loved one or lost dreams for freedom from the pain that proceeds. 

I understand that grief is a reasonable emotional reaction to loss. There are no limits, boundaries, or rules regarding loss or what could be considered a loss. There are various forms of significant losses that can trigger grief responses in addition to death, such as the end of a relationship, a move to a new community, an anticipated opportunity or life goal that is no longer a possibility, or the death of a pet or someone significant to us is diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening illness.

Grief involves emotional upset that varies by individual and by loss. Grief may be especially burdensome in response to a loss that was traumatic, sudden, or severe. No matter the loss, it is necessary to grieve, even biblical. Experiencing grief is individual; no two people are likely to experience grief in the same way.

Although grief of some sort is inevitable, wearisome, time-consuming, and often unaccommodating, in all truth, it does result in good. Ultimately, one is better off for having walked through the grief, as this is the route toward healing. We all grieve and need guidance, direction, and strategies to help us cope with grief. It may take more time, love, and patience than we ever imagined, however, when we grieve we heal.

“The truth that many people never understand, until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid suffering the more you suffer because smaller and more insignificant things begin to torture you in proportion to your fear of being hurt.”  Thomas Merton

Angelia (Angel) Hirsch




The Most Excellent Way To Lead

I just finished reading “The Most Excellent Way To Lead” by Perry Noble. I know there’s been some controversy with Perry, but the leadership principles he’s shared are timeless, outstanding, biblical, and flat out good, and I’ll think you’ll be challenged in a great way. Here’s a synopsis of the book. Enjoy! 

Leadership by love doesn’t sound sexy on the surface, but it’s the most effective—and most rewarding—way to lead in the long term. When it comes down to it, people don’t need a flashy leader who can quote inspirational lines or has the most carefully constructed vision statement or has the charisma to charm a bunch of followers. They need someone who cares enough about them to come alongside them and help them become the best version of themselves they can be.

The first thing Paul said about leadership through love is that “love is patient” (1 Corinthians 13:4). If you want to accomplish the big goals that are burning in your heart, be patient with the process and embrace the responsibilities in front of you right now instead of wishing you had something better or different. And if you want people to buy into your leadership and follow you, be patient with them.

The second thing Paul says about love-based leadership is that “love is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Kindness means that we’re more concerned with who a person is becoming than what they’re doing. As leaders, we often get so hyper-focused on results that we press on at a ridiculous speed. And while we may achieve what we set out to do, we leave behind a wake of distrust because people feel used and abused rather than valued and appreciated.

The next thing Paul says about the most excellent way to lead is that “love…does not envy.” (1 Corinthians 13:4). Envy is something we need to be constantly on the lookout for and ready to yank out. If we allow it to take root in our hearts and minds it will make us—and the organizations we lead—unhealthy and unfocused.

The next excellent bit of leadership direction Paul gives is that “love…does not boast” (1 Corinthians 13:4). One of the best exercises we can do as leaders is to stop for a minute and think about how we got started. What amazing things have happened to get us to where we are? What people have taken an interest in us and given us breaks? How has God opened up doors for us to be here?

Paul’s next instruction about loving leadership is that “love…is not proud” (1 Corinthians 13:4). At a leadership talk, I once heard someone say, “One of the greatest enemies of success in our future is the success we are experiencing right now.” Pride can take root in any leader or leadership team, and if unchecked, it always leads to a downfall.

“Love…does not dishonor others” (1 Corinthians 13:4—5). If a leader doesn’t have a high regard for the people on the team, the results can be tragic. This often leads to infighting and behind-the-scenes positioning, which distracts from the goal the organization is trying to accomplish.

The next piece of leadership advice in 1 Corinthians 13 is that “love…is not self-seeking” (verses 4—5). We’re self-seeking when we pursue what’s best for us and no one else, when we lose sight of people and end up manipulating them. Leaders set the tone. And if we want honesty and transparency to dominate our culture, we have to be the ones not only to declare those things as values in our organization but also to live them out.

In his instructions on leadership, Paul says, “Love…is not easily angered” (1 Corinthians 13:4—5). Anger should not be our default emotion. Criticism is something every leader faces at some point. We can’t control what people say to us; the only thing we can control is how we will respond. The best way to prevent anger from taking over is to set up coaches in our lives, listen to what they say, and ignore everyone else.

“Love…keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:4—5). When leaders seek to tear people down rather than build them up, there’s a serious problem. A call to lead is actually a call to serve, and we don’t serve people well when we scream at them or give them the silent treatment. Real leaders seek to understand why the person on their team made a particular decision and then help them comprehend a different way of thinking, if needed.

The next item in the apostle Paul’s description of leadership is that “love does not delight in evil” (1 Corinthians 13:6). Do you delight in being right all the time? Do you delight in seeing other people fail? Do you delight in pointing out others’ failures? Begin to deal rationally with the fears that plague you and build confidence based on your identity—in who God has made you to be. Security in leadership is the result of sanity in our thinking.

One of the biggest downfalls leaders face is ignoring the truth. That’s why this topic is addressed in our leadership passage: “Love...rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6). As leaders, we can fall into the trap of viewing people who tell us the truth as the enemy. Instead of listening to them, we may seek to punish them. Excellent leaders, however, are willing to receive the truth even when hard.

Paul’s description of an excellent leader includes these words: “Love…always protects” (1 Corinthians 13:67). Average leaders work as hard as possible to make sure they’re protected and positioned to go to the next level. Excellent leaders, however, make sure their people are protected. They do whatever it takes to put them in the best position to succeed.

“Love…always trusts” (1 Corinthians 13:6—7). Excellent leaders aren’t the ones who sign off on all the decisions; they’re the ones with the responsibility to provide solid vision, set clear standards, and allow people to execute the tasks and assignments they’ve been given in the way that seems best to them.

Hope is one of the most powerful tools available to us. Hope is what keeps us going when everyone else is ready to give up. Hope is what causes us to believe that our setbacks are merely setups for greater things than we could ever imagine. Hope is what allows a leader to stand firm when everyone else is running scared. Hope is also one of the marks of an excellent leader: “Love…always hopes” (1 Corinthians 13:6—7).

It’s not that excellent leaders never experience tough times; rather, they’re able to persevere through them. Every leader will endure hardship of some variety. I believe this is why Paul includes perseverance in his list of excellent leadership qualities: “Love…always perseveres” (1 Corinthians 13:6-7).

I hope these leadership principles will sink into your heart and mind and daily habits. Instead of approaching leadership the way the world does, with a hunger for power and self-advancement and competition, may you see that the best style of leadership is through love.

Interested in learning more? Purchase the book here:



Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less

I just finished reading “Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit Of Less” by Greg McKeown. If you ever felt the urge to declutter your work life? Often find yourself stretched too thin? Simultaneously feel overworked and underutilized? Being busy but not productive? Than this book will be a great resource for you. Here’s a summary taken right from the book. 

The Essentialist — Essentialism is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at your highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential. 

CHOOSE — When we surrender our right to choose, we give others not just the power but also the explicit permission to choose for us. 

DISCERN — Many capable people are kept from getting to the next level of contribution because they can’t let go of the belief that everything is important. 

TRADE-OFF — By definition, a trade-off involves two things we want. But as much as we’d like to, we simply cannot have it all. 

ESCAPE — We need to create space to escape in order to discern the essential few from the trivial many. 

LOOK — It isn’t enough to know the who, what, when, and where; you have to understand what it means. And why it matters. 

PLAY — Studies show play has the power to significantly improve everything from personal health to relationships to education and much more. 

SLEEP — Essentialists see sleep as necessary for operating at high levels of contribution more of the time. Sleeping less does not mean achieving more. 

SELECT — If we feel total conviction to do something, then we say yes. Anything less gets a thumbs down. If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no

CLARIFY — How do we achieve clarity of purpose? Make the big decision and then all subsequent decisions come into better focus. 

DARE — We need the courage to say no to the nonessential. Why is it hard? We are unclear about what is nonessential. And we fear social awkwardness. 

UNCOMMIT — It’s natural not to want to let go of what we wasted on a bad choice, but when we don’t, we doom ourselves to keep wasting more. 

EDIT — Making the choice to eliminate something good can be painful, but it gives us room for something better. 

LIMIT — If you don’t set boundaries—there won’t be any. Boundaries protect your time from being hijacked. 

BUFFER — No one knows what will happen. Give yourself some wiggle room by building in buffers to reduce friction caused by the unexpected. 

SUBTRACT — First, be clear about your goal—your essential intent. Then identify all the obstacles standing between you and completing your goal. 

PROGRESS — When we start small and reward progress, we end up achieving more than when we set big, lofty, and often impossible goals. 

FLOW — Routine is one of the most powerful tools for removing obstacles. Without routine, the pull of nonessential distractions will overpower us. 

FOCUS — Every second spent worrying about a past or future moment distracts us from what is important in the here and now. 

BE — Whatever decision or challenge or crossroads you face in your life, simply ask yourself, “What is essential?” Eliminate everything else. 

Interested in reading the book in full? Purchase it here:



The One-Life Solution

I just finished reading “The One-Life Solution” by Dr. Henry Cloud. It's not about leadership, directly, but it's a book every leader should read. Most of Dr. Cloud’s books I would recommend. It has everything to do with our character and how that shapes our life. I found it filled with wisdom and challenging. Here’s a synopsis for you taken right from the book. I highly recommend you getting a copy yourself. It’s a keeper! 

Chapter 1: Identifying the Problem—and the Solution

This is a book about your business, your performance, your career, your passion, and your sense of well-being at work. I hope it will help you to lead better, manage better, and do what you do better—and to help integrate your life and work so you can create the life you were designed to live. 

Chapter 2: Your Vision and Your Boundaries

The irony is that most people are so caught up in trying to control the things they cannot control—other people, circumstance, or outcomes—that in the process they lose control of themselves. It is only when you do take control of yourself that you will begin to have significant influence. 

Chapter 3: Structure and Boundaries

Your boundaries allow you to experience yourself as separate and differentiated, contain harmful patterns, define yourself and know who you are, set limits when needed, possess and live out your values, and have self-control—and thereby be free and autonomous. 

Chapter 4: Reclaiming Your Power

Where, with whom, and under what circumstances do you lose your power? We all have situations and people that get to our underbelly and turn us into less than who we want to be. Knowing when you lose it is a key step in getting better. So identify the holes in your fences and own them. 

Chapter 5: The Audit

Often people feel overworked, stressed out, spread too thin, and also dissatisfied with the results of all their effort. Conducting time audits will make you aware of three important things: where you spend your time, your (dis) connections, and the personal issues that contribute to the problem. 

Chapter 6: The Law of Boundaries

The ten key laws of boundaries describe the ways that life is ordered. When we operate within them, we do well. When we try to break them, we suffer. The result of living these principles will be that your relationships will go better, you will feel better, and you will get better results. 

Chapter 7: You and Your Words

Have you noticed there are people who routinely find themselves in some situation they do not want to be in? They are usually convicted about the word “no” at a very deep level. What is missing in your life that could be present if you could say the things you need to say to bring them about? 

Chapter 8: Make the No-Choice Choices First

In life, there are activities that define the outcomes of your vision, your mission, your values, and your life itself. If you give them the first of your time and energy, you will live well and succeed. If you don’t, you won’t. Decide, proactively, to structure your life to not treat the vital as optional. 

Chapter 9: Follow the Misery and Make a Rule

When you find that something is continually happening in your life that you do not want to happen—and, some sort of misery is the result—I think you have to make rules for yourself. Where self-control is not present, misery will come unless you have some strict rules to protect yourself. 

Chapter 10: Time, Space and E-Mail

The worst part of e-mail is the implied assumption that because someone sent it to you, you should respond immediately. So, by definition, you have lost control of who you need to talk with and when. Protect your important time so that an arriving e-mail cannot get you o track or distracted. 

Chapter 11: Getting Your Balance Sheet in Order

You may be stuck because you have omitted some form of personal, spiritual, financial, relational, emotional, or vocational growth in your life that has kept you in a place where you do not want to be. Admit that you need to get stronger, and focus on enriching that part of your life first. 

Chapter 12: End Some Things Now

It is true in life and work that things end. Relationships end, projects end, careers end, and different seasons of life end. Some are planned, and some of them are forced upon us. If someone cannot end things that need to end, they will never have the one life we are talking about in this book. 

Chapter 13: Communicating Your Boundaries

You will deal with wise people who listen to feedback and respond to it—if you are clear and listen well, you will get great results. Others need consequences. The best leaders and most successful people in fulfilling the call of one life are the ones who can communicate their boundaries well. 

Conclusion: The Path Ahead

Where we end up has a lot to do with who we are. No matter what “potential” someone has, or the talents, brains, or opportunities they possess, if they do not have the personal character to bring it all to fruition, success rarely happens. Who you are really, truly matters. 

If you would like to purchase this book? Here you go:



Ted Talks

While you may never speak at an actual TED conference, if you want to succeed in business you’d better be able to deliver a TED-worthy presentation. It represents a bold, fresh, contemporary, and compelling style that will help you win over your audience. Let’s look at some of the factors that make for a powerful presentation. 

The most popular TED speakers share something in common with the most engaging communicators in any - field—a passion, an obsession they must share with others. The most popular TED speakers don’t have a “job.” They have a passion, an obsession, a vocation, but not a job. These people are called to share their ideas. The first step to inspiring others is to make sure you are inspired yourself. 

Researchers have discovered that our brains are more active when we hear stories. A wordy PowerPoint slide with bullet points activates the language-processing center of the brain, where we turn words into meaning. Stories do much more, using the whole brain and activating language, sensory, visual, and motor areas. 

A well-told story gives leaders a strong advantage in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. A powerful narrative can persuade customers, employees, investors, and stakeholders that your company, product, or idea can help them achieve the success they desire. Your delivery and gestures, mastered though hours and hours of practice, will enhance your overall message, but without passion and practice, your presence will be severely diminished. Your strength as a speaker comes from the inside. 

Your audience craves knowledge, even if they have only a mild interest in the topic. As long as you relate your topic to the audience by teaching them something new they can use in their daily lives, you’ll hook them too. Reveal information that is completely new to your audience, is packaged differently, or offers a fresh and novel way to solve an old problem. TEDX speaker and designer Oliver Uberti once said, “Every superhero has an origin story. So do you. Don’t follow someone else’s. Create your own masterpiece.” I find that most communicators are far more creative than they give themselves credit for. When they are encouraged to unleash their creativity and to take an innovative approach to presenting their ideas, they rise to the challenge. 

I call the “emotionally charged event,” or what some refer to as the wow moment, the “holy smokes moment.” It’s the one moment in a presentation when you drive your point home, your listener’s jaw drops, and she says to herself, “Holy smokes, I get it now!” It’s the first thing they remember about your presentation and the first thing they say to someone else who didn’t see it but wants to know about your presentation. A holy smokes moment need not be fancy. It might be something as simple as a short, personal story. 

Every performer has at least one jaw-dropping moment—an emotionally charged event that your audience members will be talking about the next day. Every presentation needs one. Get one and use it. Your presentation content will make a better impact if it can be stamped onto the minds of your listeners. 

Humor plays a key role in the play-books of the world’s most inspiring public speakers. It will work for you, too, but you must learn to incorporate humor creatively and naturally. Repeating tired or, worse, crass or dirty jokes won’t get you far. In fact, it might turn off your audience. The most popular TED speakers do not tell jokes! Unless you’re a professional comedian, jokes are not authentic. Think about it. When you meet a customer for the first time do you open the conversation with the latest joke you read on the Internet? No? Then why would you feel compelled to start a business presentation with one? A humorous observation, however, is perfectly appropriate and very effective. 

A long, confusing, meandering presentation forces your listener’s brain to work hard and to consume energy. Your brain cells need twice as much energy as other cells in your body. Mental glucose. That’s why an 18-minute presentation works so well. It leaves your audience with some brainpower and glucose remaining to think about your presentation, share your ideas, and act on them. Talk for too long and your audience will find ways to distract themselves from your content. 

Neuroscientists have found that the visual cortex of your brain cannot tell the difference between what’s real and what’s imagined. If you can think of something vividly—really imagine it—the same brain areas are activated as if you were actually seeing the event. That’s why metaphors, analogies, and rich imagery are powerful ways to paint a picture in a mind’s eye, in some cases even more effective than an actual image. 

The holy grail of a presentation is to transport the audience to another place. The visual display of information helps them to see it, but if the audience cannot physically touch something, how do we complete the journey? Again, think about a presentation as a Broadway play. An award-winning play has a wonderful story, intriguing characters, and relevant props. Great presentations have each of those elements, including simple props that give the audience a feel for what it’s like to be in the scene. 

Please keep this in mind. When you deliver a presentation, your goal should not be to “deliver a presentation.” It should be to inspire your audience, to move them, and to encourage them to dream bigger. You cannot move people if they don’t think you’re real. You’ll never convince your audience of anything if they don’t trust, admire, and genuinely like you. 

The next time you deliver a presentation, you’ll be compared to TED speakers. Your audience will be aware that there’s a fresh, bold style of delivering information; a style that lifts their spirits, fills their souls, and inspires them to think differently about the world and their roles in it. As you learn to do that kind of presentation, your impact will be increasingly powerful. 




Step Up: Lead In Six Moments That Matter

I just finished reading, “Step Up: Lead In Six Moments That Matter” by Henry Evan & Colm Foster. A good read & challenging for any person that oversees people. It will sharpen your axe so to speak. Here’s a synopsis taken straight from the book. Enjoy! 

A leadership moment is an instance when you must make a choice. In this book, we are going to share six critical leadership moments and what the highest-performing people—whatever their title—do when they are in one of those moments. Stepping up to exercise leadership in those moments will make the biggest difference for you in your own leadership journey. 

Use Negative Emotion Wisely

Everyone has heard that people should suppress or even completely avoid feelings such as anger or frustration in the workplace. But you can leverage your negative emotions to produce positive outcomes. Most of us operate on the principle that thinking would be better, clearer, and more efficient if we kept our feelings out of it. But our thinking is completely bound up with our feelings—rather than seeing ourselves as thinking machines that have feelings, it would be more accurate to say that we are feeling machines that are capable of thought. 

Avoid Terminal Politeness

In many organizations, authentic, robust debate and challenge have been replaced by what we call terminal politeness. There are leadership opportunities when people are being so polite that serious issues never come to the surface and they tactically dodge having the conversations they should be having. The best organizations aren’t filled with drones, but a diverse group of people who leverage their diversity in a collaborative way. They enjoy an optimal level of conflict. 

Be More Decisive

Leaders have the ability to commit to a course of action in the face of both fear and doubt. They exercise decision leadership, which we consider to be the ability to balance intuition with data and the ability to proactively take intelligent risks. When others are “stuck” or “frozen” in a state of indecision, the person who steps up and declares a decision is the leader in that moment. 

Be More Aware of Your Need to Change

Moments of leadership present themselves when the people around you are stuck in old ways of thinking and behaving. Organizations don’t change until their people change. The ability to change is the core competency required in today’s operating environment. Genuine transformation and the ability to continually learn and adapt only come when people open up to the possibility that they themselves will need to alter their attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors. Making real change in yourself is the essential first step in leading change in others. 

Leverage the Wisdom of Pessimists

You want some degree of pessimism in your meetings and should appreciate the people who consistently bring pessimism to the table. They can create real value in your organization, but not by your making them into me-too optimists. Coach them how to present their negative bias and concerns in a way that allows others to hear and value their perspective. Those same pessimists, though always appreciated, should not be in leadership roles. 

Reverse the Momentum of Negative Interactions

Organizations in which people, especially senior people, speak negatively about each other are detrimental to the environment required to develop leaders. Leaders grow best in a compassionate and nurturing environment that challenges them in a supportive way. The leaders in an organization are the people who habitually move from stating problems to finding solutions. Whenever they sense that negative momentum is building, they immediately convert it to a solution-oriented dialogue. 

Create Emotional Safety

If you are high on the organizational chart and make big decisions, you need to be the best-informed person in the room—so it’s critical that you take on the necessary role of Director of Emotional Safety. Unless you make it safe for people to bring you bad news and to honestly discuss problems and failures, you’ll get information that’s distorted by people’s fear of your reactions, especially if the news is about you. Bad news is suppressed until it has to be shared, and good news is overplayed. Unless you create emotional safety for your organization, you may be deluded about the quality of the data you’re receiving, and there may be people around you who want to keep you in that deluded state. 

If you’re interested in purchasing this book? You can get it here:



The 12 Week Year

I just finished reading “The 12 Week Year” by Brian Moran & Michael Lennington. This book is a great resource to move into an intentional year of execution as someone who wants to get things done and boost productivity like never before. I hope this synopsis taken from the book kick-starts you into something that rocks your 2017 world and beyond. Enjoy!  

Forget about planning for a year. Let’s redefine a year: A year is no longer 12 months, it is now only 12 weeks. That’s right, a year is now a 12 week period. There are no longer four periods in a year; that’s old thinking. Now, there is just a 12 Week Year, followed by the next 12 Week Year, ad infinitum. Each 12 week period stands on its own—it’s your year. 

Twelve week planning offers three distinct differences from annual planning. The first thing that is different with 12 week planning is that it is more predictable than 12-month planning. The farther you plan into the future, the less predictability you have. 

The second difference with 12 week planning is that it is more focused. Most annual plans have too many objectives, which is one of the primary reasons execution fails. The reason most plans contain so much is because you’re planning for 12 months, laying out all the things you want to achieve over the next 365 days. It’s no wonder you become disillusioned and frustrated. You end up spread too thin and diffused—not a recipe for greatness. 

The third thing that is different with 12 week plans is the structure. In our experience, most plans are written with the unspoken goal of just developing a good plan. Most often these plans are then placed in a nice binder and rarely get implemented. 

Deciding where you are going is the first step to getting there. Effective planning absolutely begins with a well-written, specific, and measurable 12 week goal—a goal that you own, that, if you hit it, creates meaningful benefits for you; a goal that makes a difference. 

The 12 week goal is the bridge between your vision and your 12 week plan. Your 12 week goal should be a realistic stretch for you. If it isn’t realistic, you will become discouraged. If it isn’t a stretch you don’t need the 12 Week Year because your current way of operating will achieve your goal. 

Now it’s time to write your first 12 week plan. The plan is the roadmap needed to reach your 12 week goals. The best plans are focused on one or two things that you want to make progress on in the next 12 weeks. The fewer goals and weekly actions there are, the easier the plan will be to execute. 

To get started, write your first 12 week goal as Goal 1. Write each additional goal separately. You may find that you have just one goal; that’s fine. Next, for each of your goals, define the highest priority daily and weekly actions that you must take to reach that goal. 

Measurement drives the execution process. It is your touchstone with reality. Truly effective measurement combines both lead and lag indicators to provide the comprehensive feedback needed for informed decision making. It is the feedback loop that lets you know if your actions are effective. 

The lag indicators are the end results, and your 12 week goals are the ultimate lag indicators. If you are tracking progress towards your goals, then you are tracking lag indicators. Lead indicators are the things that happen early in the execution process. They are the things that drive the lags. Most people are pretty good at tracking the lag indicators, but the opportunity for growth is usually the greatest with the lead indicators. 

The most effective lead indicator you can have is a measure of your weekly execution. It is critical that you measure execution. We have found that if you execute a minimum of 85 percent of the actions due in your weekly plan each week, you are very likely to hit your goals at the end of the 12 weeks. 

To achieve this level of performance will require that you carve out time for the strategic—those actions that are important, but not necessarily urgent. Strategic activities don’t typically have an immediate payback, yet they create substantial returns in the future. To stay focused on your strengths, you will need to manage your interruptions and keep the low-payoff activities to a minimum. 

Our society views accountability as consequences. Accountability is not consequences; it’s ownership. It is the realization that even though you don’t control the circumstances, you do control how you respond. It is the understanding that the quality of your choices determines the quality of your life. It is the recognition that in any situation you always, always, always have choices. The choices you have in a given situation may not be very attractive, but you still have choices, and that is an important and empowering distinction. 

At the end of every 12 Week Year, there is a 13th week. The 13th week exists as an opportunity for you to review your results from the previous 12 weeks, and to launch you into the next 12 Week Year with fresh goals and a plan to reach them. 

The 12 Week Year is a system that helps you perform better through more effective execution. We hope that you can see how the 12 Week Year is a complete system that has everything you need to dramatically improve your results in just about any area of your life. That is if you engage with it. 

The power of the 12 Week Year is only realized through application. Tens of thousands of our clients have embraced the system, have executed their plans, and achieved amazing results. It is our sincerest hope that you have big expectations for what the 12 Week Year can do for you. 

Interested in reading the whole book? You can purchase here: