Archive for November, 2010



A Church Won’t Grow When Led by a Superstar

Churches stop growing or they plateau for several reasons, too many for one blog post. So I’m tackling them in a series of posts featuring growth barriers for churches I have encountered during years of strategic consulting. I’m calling these posts “Churches Won’t Grow When.”  While some of the issues that keep churches from growing can be classified as communication barriers, in my experience, the most debilitating ones are leadership and systematic mistakes that will derail growth or even kill a congregation. Interestingly, these apply to business and ministries as well. Your church will stop growing when its leader put his or her interests before what’s best for the congregation. I call it the superstar syndrome. I have seen this one play out time and time again. These are gifted communicators who are able to draw large crowds but can never get past making personal sacrifices for the sake of…

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What If We Just Gave and Did not Take for a Day?

If we are honest with ourselves, most of our lives is a series of exchanges.  We work and we expect payment for it. We exercise and we expect better health and a stronger body. We help friends and we expect gratitude and good will back.  We even have this exchange mentality with God: we pray and ask and we expect God to deliver the blessings. Today I’m challenging  myself  to go through this day without doing the exchange game. Can I go an entire day just being completely altruistic? Probably not. The human condition is far more selfish than any of us realize, but I’m willing to try not entering into an exchange– just be a blessing to someone. Someone who might never be able to give anything back in return. Can you truly do acts of kindness without any expectations? I hope you’ll join me today and see what…

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Wearing Your Religion

He was about to give the man at the front desk a piece of his mind. He had some of the worst customer service experience in a long time, after all, these people had overcharged his credit card two months in a row. The fitness club manager was a shady character who wore warm up suits and gold chains and spoke words like “your health is the most important thing to us.”  My friend stood at the front desk getting the run around on why the charge discrepancy. As his righteous indignation grew into plain anger, and the level of his voice began to raise he suddenly stopped dead on his tracks. I stood to the side of him watching the whole exchange go down. Secretly, I was looking forward to the show down between Dickie and the smarmy manager. But it didn’t happen. Dickie, stopped talking and said, “I’ll…

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You Might Be Holding to Your Youth Too Tight If

Every good communicator has to be a student of human nature. After all you cannot connect a message with an audience you don’t understand. Some of us, myself included, have decided not to age gracefully. Heck, to some have waged full blown war on aging. But even our best attempts of staying young sometimes backfires. You might be holding on to your youth a bit too tight if: 1. You buy your clothes at the same store as your teenage children 2. You have a punch card for your Bottox treatments (13th is free!) 3. Your “maintenance plan” includes a team consisting of a cosmetic dentist, a dermatologist and homeopathic Chinese Lady with exotic herbs. 4. You crave protein bars. 5. Instead of buying hair color, you’re now buying hair. 6. You run for treats. 7. You have considered having a “six-pack abs” spray painted on your belly, several times.…

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Before You Make a Career Change

More than any other time in my career, I have had more people ask me how I started The A Group. These are entrepreneurs who for a variety of reasons find themselves in transition. Look around you. A lot of us are in transition right now. Jobs are going away or morphing into something completely different than you signed up for. Jobs that were profitable a few years ago, are disappearing today, so now you’re re-evaluating your options. If you’re considering a career change, here’s a few thoughts. Be honest with yourself. Yes, the recession has wreaked havoc in the job market, but it’s easy to blame the economy on our bad job performance or misaligned career choice. Ask yourself, “even if times were good, was that the best job for me?” A good friend came to a sober and yet liberating realization recently. He decided that his career path…

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Red Flags Your Business Relationship is in Trouble

The most important work I do as a consultant is to help my clients with strategies in communications, business systems and even creative output. A lot of very cool tools and initiatives come from the work and many of these, my company, The A Group, gets to produce.  Recently during an interview, I was asked: “in your consulting work, what are the red flags your deal is in trouble?” It’s not a hard question to answer, but it’s a painful place to be. Whether you’re a consultant, a freelancer, an employee or a partner, the following red flags could mean your deal is in jeopardy: Communication Blackout. Your emails, phone calls, text messages and even Twitter direct messages are not being answered in a timely matter or not at all. When people “go under” often means there’s trouble ahead. You better figure out what’s causing it before the deal is…

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An Intentional Love

The old man was out of control and out of order. His wife was taken to the operating room 30 minutes before she was scheduled and we were not there in time to pray with her before the surgery. Now his angry words echoed through the hospital waiting room for all to hear: “you’re the worst preacher ever. How much do we pay you anyway? Whatever it is, it’s too much.” As I was about to defend my boss and put the old man in his place, Ron reached over and waved me back. He knew that the man was in pain and that his outburst was not about us, but about his fears. A few minutes later the elderly gentleman broke down and began to cry. Ron consoled him as he asked for forgiveness almost immediately. I was 21 years old and I was in my first year of…

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Men, You Don’t Need Designer or Expensive Clothes to Look Good

Monday evening I was sitting at the City of Brentwood Planning Commission Meeting when an architect approached the podium facing the commissioners’ bench. His pants drooped down the back in large folds as if he were wearing a big diaper underneath. I tried not to pay attention but my mind kept asking the question: “Didn’t he look at his back when he bought these pants?” The answer was obviously, “no.” Today’s Friday Fashion post goes beyond labels. It’s not even about style. It’s about one of the foundations of western apparel. It’s simple and yet one of the most neglected men’s fashion rules in America. Why don’t we wear clothes that fit? I have seen people take expensive, designer clothing and make them look cheap because they were the wrong size. I have known physically fit and well-proportioned men look frumpy and disheveled because their pants, shirts or coats were…

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You Need a Heart for Business

The man to my left leaned in and with intensity in his eyes asked the question: “I’m contemplating a strategic business partnership; I want to lead my business into outliving me.” Across the table from us sat a veteran CEO with years of experience in multi-billion dollar business. The answer surprised me, but, again, it should not have. The delivery was deliberate and the words were kind but firm: “Check your heart. What kind of person do you want to entrust your clients to?” For some, this is the kind of answer you expect when one searches for a mate at a dating site. I cannot get passed that statement because it resonated with me in everything I’ve learned about business. Yes, business. A flood of thoughts with tangled emotions attached to them are still swirling around my mind as I think about the times I “checked my heart” and…

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Why I Vote Today

Today I will vote.  I haven’t been voting long, not because of my lack of interest, but because I became an American citizen in late 2004. Prior to that, I could express my opinion and comment on candidates and issues, but I could not cast my vote. Our political system is not perfect and our elected officials often disappoint, but America is still the place where the world comes to find freedom and opportunity, and I, for one, will exercise my privilege to cast my vote. Here’s why I vote today: To honor the lives of the men and women who fought for freedom. People have given everything so I could be free to cast my ballot. To preserve the opportunities that the huddled masses of immigrants like me have been given over the years. To make sure my children and their children will be able to live in the…

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