Archive for February, 2011



How I keep Up with Friends and Clients With a Crazy Schedule

“I’m too busy to keep up with my friends. I just don’t have time to engage people like I want to.” I hear these words quite often these days. We are busy and some of us have families, jobs, and even school to deal with on a daily basis. Who has time to pursue or maintain any more relationships? While I’m sympathetic to such a reality, I also know that the best life has to offer, including business, is usually found in the context of relationships. I have found that using 3 simple tools has given me the chance to keep up with key relationships, some even in different continents. Text messaging. Text messages are the fastest, most dynamic way to reach someone. It’s instant and designed to be succinct. Most smart phones will accept pictures and video as well. I even use text to communicate with a group of…

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How Strategic Are Your Friendships?

It sounds self serving, but should our friendships be strategic? Somehow the words friendship and strategy should never appear together, right? Before you dismiss the concept altogether, consider that a strategy is an intentional pursuit of a goal. I have key strategic friendships in my life. These are not self-serving, one-way relationships. That’s not a friendship. But relationships that are two-way conversations. They are shared story lines that intercept in time and create a common narratives for two people. I have strategic friendships because I need the perspective, input and companionship of friends who help me grow in the areas I’m most deficient. However, I pray that I can give more to my friend than what I get from them. I have friends who challenge and guide me spiritually. I can always count on them to probe deeper and hold me accountable to my personal spiritual growth. I have friends…

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What Does the Ideal Board Member Look Like?

Board meetings can be either energizing or draining. The difference between the two lies whether the board is helping to fuel growth or managing decline. Those are two completely difference meetings; trust me, I’ve sat through both. However, good board meetings are mostly the function of choosing good board members. While that sounds so obvious, it’s harder than you think. I’ve suffered through many a bad, boring or contentious meeting because people in the room were poor choices for leaders. Here’s what I believe are the characteristics of a good board member: Understands the vision of the organization Is involved in the organization beyond board meetings. Empowers the leadership to do their jobs well Is an advocate of the staff Contributes financially (non-profits and churches) Creates opportunities Recruits Protects the vision and the staff Brings fresh perspective Too often people sitting on boards think their job is to second guess…

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Signs It’s Time to Fire an Employee

Firing people is never easy. I remember having to fire an employee a few weeks into my very first job. I was 20; he was 42. It was the right thing to do even though I felt sick to my stomach before, during and after the ordeal. Since then I have had to fire friends, foes and everything in between. I have even dismissed volunteers (yes, and that’s a subject for another post). But as I have matured over the years, I have come to the realization that sometimes letting someone go from a position they are ill-suited for is the best thing not only for the organization but for that person as well. While firing an employee is always a complex and often difficult process, there are signs that should help you decide that it is time to pull the trigger. These are some of the indicators I look…

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Today’s Communicator Must also be a Sociologist

As a marketer and communicator, I’m always looking for trends. I have noticed that my 16 year-old son hasn’t asked me to buy him songs from iTunes in a while now. I know his appetite for music has not subsided and since his allowance has been, should I say, suspended, I know he hasn’t been buying any new tunes lately. Yesterday I asked him where he and his friends are getting their music. His answer surprised me: Youtube. Interestingly, Marcus’ generation is not interested in owning their music. They’re happy to stream it from anywhere they can. That’s a major shift from the millennials. While the marketing implications of how a generation behaves is important, the entire exchange reminded me that as a marketer and communicator I must also be a sociologist. According to Wikipedia sociology is defined as: The study of society.[1] It is a social science—a term with…

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My Prayer to Become a River

People go to church for all kinds of reason. Some go to see and be seen, others go to reunite with family and friends, still others go to find their place in a community, a place they can belong. But a large part of us go to church because we want to hear from God and want to worship in the context of a community of faith. And as I thought about the times I needed God the most in my life, I was reminded of how often He used the people in the pews to speak hope to me. It’s hard for me not to think of all I want to get from God this morning as I attend church. I’m embarrassed to admit, but I mostly go to church with the expectation of being blessed. There’s nothing wrong with expecting God to show up and do something amazing…

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The Skinny Tie is Back!

The skinny tie is back. The thin, streamlined tie was popular during the 50’s and 60’s then made a brief come back during the mid 80’s in the form of the knit or sock tie. However, it’s now back and I believe it’s here to stay for a while. Justin Timberlake has been sporting one for the past couple of years now. What’s your take on the skinny tie?

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How I Get My Creativity Back

Creativity is not just for people in the arts. Creative people come up with all kinds of  solutions: from math problems, engineer dilemmas, financing options to book titles, video concepts and logo designs. Creatives make things happen when others can’t. I have made a career of helping my clients to think innovatively. But I get stuck from time to time–nothing fresh comes to mind. Sometimes nothing at all comes to mind, not even a bad idea. Here’s a few strategies I have used over the years to re-start my creativity. Leave. The longer I sit and stare or try to think harder the worse it gets. I just cannot will my mind to be creative when it’s tired or at an impasse. My best option is to leave the situation and find something else to do for a while. Sleep. I cannot tell you how refreshing a good night’s sleep…

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Your Boring Meeting Is Costing You a Lot of Money

Every meeting has costs and benefits. Successful organizations realize that while meetings are important, they can also be a waste of time and with it, a waste of money. Sometimes a lot of money. Not long ago I found myself in an all-day meeting with a group of 10 senior staff members of a church. We were together for almost 8 hours. That was not necessary. The meeting should have lasted 3 hours, and they only needed 4 of the 10 people there. Then I did something I had never done before, even in all my years of ministry. I tried to figure out just how much that meeting had cost the church in salaries alone. By my estimates those 8 hours cost around $4,000, not including my fees as well as lunch. How would we conduct meetings if we had a “money clock” running with a total cost for…

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What I Learned from Spending 4 Days with Millennials

I spent the last four days in Jacksonville, FL where I spoke at the First Baptist Church’s Pastors Conference. I have been at this conference for the past 5 years, but this year I made a point to spend more time hanging out with my friend, and conference leader, Trey Brunson and his entourage of helpers.  I didn’t know what to expect at first, but not only did I have blast with them, I also learned a lot from these guys. Trey is a bright, passionate and resourceful 26 year old who has way more responsibilities anyone his age should have but deals with it like a pro. During the conference some have jokingly commented that my time investment in my young friends was a futile attempt to hold on to my fleeting youth.  Personal aging issues aside, I want, as a communicator, to understand, relate and reach a generation…

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