Young Influencers List, December edition

Here you go, the December edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month's episodes here. 1. Jordan Wagner- LA based filmmaker, entrepreneur, speaker, and co-founder and CEO of Generosity.Org.

2. Jesse Draper- former Nickelodeon star, and current creator and host of the "Valley Girl Show," getting to interview tech titans like Sheryl Sandberg from Facebook, Mark Cuban, and Eric Schmidt from Google.

3. Sharon Irving- Chicago native singer, songwriter, spoken word poet, fashion curator and overall melody maker.

4. Jonathan Huang- Northern California sculptor, performance artist, and activist, creating art installations to raise awareness and support in the fight again human trafficking, and helped create My Refuge House in Cebu, Philippines.

5. Erin Bernhardt- Atlanta based former CNN staffer and humanitarian journalist and creative activist currently producing the documentary film Imba Means Sing, regarding the Grammy nominated Africa Children's Choir.

6. Jessica Medina- top notch athlete who is 2016 Olympic hopeful in USA Wrestling.

7. Brad Cooperstudent pastor at Newspring Church in Anderson, SC, and founder of FUSE Student Ministry, one of the largest youth and student ministries in the US.

17 Organizations I Recommend for a Year-End Donation

Okay, I wanted to recommend a few organizations that I think are worth a year end gift/donation. All of these organizations are ones that I'm invested in- both in terms of giving gifts and supporting them, as well as knowing the staff and the people behind these organizations. So as you think about year-end giving, I would recommend any of these organizations as a great place to invest.

1. Red Eye Inc. my friend Justin Mayo heads up this "under the radar" community of young influencers and creatives in some of the leading global cities (LA, NYC, Sydney, London) that are using their talents to make a difference in a positive way.

2. Compassionsponsor a child. I sponsor several. I've seen their work up close in Rwanda and Ecuador and Guatemala. Your money is being stewarded well.

3. Young Lifebeen involved with Young Life since college. No one creates better experiences for teenagers and introduces the Gospel in such a compelling and loving way.

4. Plywood People- great social innovation organization founded by my good friend Jeff Shinabarger. Including gathering social innovators, providing gift cards to those in need, and providing creative solutions to education and social issues. There is very little overhead and you can give a gift or a gift card to help out.

5. Convoy of Hope- focused on solving issues of hunger, and feeding children now all over the world. They've brought their trucks to Catalyst the last several years, and are the official Disaster Relief partner of Catalyst. Their disaster relief and community development is amazing. Seen it up close in Haiti where COH feeds almost 100,000 kids a day!

6. International Justice MissionGary Haugen and the team at IJM have been fighting sex trafficking and human slavery for the last 19 years. Rescuing victims as well as bringing justice to areas where no justice exists.

7. HOPE Internationalrun by good friend Peter Greer, HOPE Int provides micro-finance loans all over the world, helping give dignity and lift people out of poverty. A $100 gift goes a long way.

8. charity: waterperhaps my favorite non-profit organization in the world. Scott Harrison and team have revolutionized the concept of providing clean water globally, and are only getting started.

9. One Days WagesEugene Cho makes it easy to see the impact of giving up one day of your salary. And he leads by example.

10. First Response Team of Americagood friend Tad Agoglia and his team provide help and hope at times when communities need just that- following disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and floods.

11. Atlanta Mission- an amazing organization focused on ending homelessness in the city of Atlanta. One of the best run homeless missions in the country.

12. A21 Campaign- headed up by Nick and Christine Caine, rescuing those trapped in human trafficking and modern day slavery all around the world, their goal is to end injustice in the 21st century.

13. Word Made Flesh- I love what they do in serving the poorest of the poor around the world.

14. San Francisco City Impact- gotten to know Christian Huang and the team at SF City Impact over the past year. Love what they're doing in impacting the city of San Francisco in the Tenderloin district through a rescue mission, church, school, education and city reform.

15. Lighthouse Family Retreat- serves families with children dealing with childhood cancer, enabling families to have a week of rest, relaxation, laughter, re-engaging family relationships, and finding hope in God.

16. CURE International- healing kids in 30 countries around the world through the operation of charitable hospitals where kids receive needed surgeries and hear the story of God's love.

17. Operation Christmas Child- part of Samaritans Purse, an incredible ministry delivering boxes of joy to kids all over the world during Christmas time.

and, don't forget Your Local Church- make sure you are giving regularly to your local church body. That is the place to start!

9 Things to Consider when Hiring Someone New on Your Team

1. Hire slow and fire fast. Many organizations are just the opposite, hiring fast and firing slow. 2. Look for heart and hands, not just mind and spirit.

3. Culture is key. As the leader, do you want to hang out with them? Hire people you want to be friends with. Should they be on the bus? Not necessarily what seat yet, but just figuring out if being on the bus is a good idea.

4. Don't just interview them. "intern" them. This has been the system at Catalyst over the years.

5. Hire a doer, not just a talker. Lots of folks can wow you with their words. The question is can they wow you with their action.

6. Benchmark the Experts. Who are the best people in the world at the position you are hiring? Figure out who that is, and contact them. For advice, suggestions, and to understand why they are so good at what they do. Learn from them and build a job description for your new hire from that.

7. Be wary of the "stepping stone" mentality. If you are another stop on the journey for someone, then run. Reality is - people are transitioning all the time. But that shouldn't be their mindset going in when hiring them.

8. Get outside the box with your interview process. Don't just talk to them. Put them on a project, give them an assignment for an hour, have them do a scavenger hunt, make them pitch you on another person also interviewing, etc. Step out of your comfort zone, and make them step out as well.

9. Do your homework. Have potential team members take personality tests, talk to their references, and spend as much time as you can with them.

Young Influencers List, November edition

Here you go, the November edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month's lists here.  

1. Roberto Ortiz- product builder, director of mobile design at Yahoo, previously at Google, co-founder of ELEO Conference.

2. Clara Shih- CEO of Hearsay Social, author of The Facebook Era, and member of Starbucks board.

3. Sarah Lewis- cultural historian and speaker, author of book The Rise, and member of the White House arts policy committee.

4. Chris Brown- worship leader at Elevation Church in Charlotte. Go buy their new album Wake Up the Wonder. It's incredible.

5. Melissa Greene- singer and songwriter, staff member at GracePoint in Franklin, TN, and hope curator for Timothy's Gift

6. Cubby Graham- NYC based, community builder at charity: water, and blogger and thought leader.

7. Sadie Robertson- 17 year old star of this season's Dancing with the Stars, and daughter of Willie and Korie Robertson from Duck Dynasty.

12 Keys for Successfully Starting something New

Are you starting a new organization? A Church Planter? Entrepreneur? Involved in a small organization just getting started? Here are some tips for getting started:

1. Act like you've arrived. No one needs to know you're just starting. When you're small, act and think big. When you're big, act and think small.

2. Hire people you like. Look for chemistry first in terms of creating your initial core team.

3. If at all possible, don't work with your family. Start with competency, not relatives. And stay away from taking loans, venture capital, or seed money from family members as well.

4. Establish your values and organizational culture immediately. Build your organizational DNA early and often. And repeat.

5. Work hard, play hard. Have fun. Get things done.

6. Lean into interns. A great way to build capacity quickly. And to keep you young.

7. Establish partnerships. Look for opportunities to collaborate at every corner. Seek to build joint ventures.

8. Create benchmarks. Understand clearly who you want to be like, both personally and organizationally. Once you know, learn from them. Seek them out.

9. Celebrate constantly. Find the small wins as well as the big wins.

10. Seek feedback and accountability everywhere. Learn from everyone, and intentionally ask for input.

11. Create a board or advisory group, regardless of your corporate structure. You need this regardless of whether a church planter, entrepreneur, small business owner, or sole proprietor.

12. Dream big, but aim small. Scale your vision appropriately. Have a change the world dream and idea, but be very clear and laser focused on your target market/customer. And understand everything about that target market.

9 Things to Consider when Hiring someone New

1. Hire slow and fire fast. Many organizations are just the opposite, hiring fast and firing slow. 2. Look for heart and hands, not just mind and spirit.

3. Culture is key. As the leader, do you want to hang out with them? Hire people you want to be friends with.

4. Don't just interview them. "Intern" them. This has always been the system at Catalyst.

5. Hire a doer, not just a talker.

6. Benchmark the Experts. Who are the best people in the world at the position you are hiring? Figure out who that is, and contact them. For advice, suggestions, and to understand why they are so good at what they do. Learn from them and build a job description for your new hire from that.

7. Be wary of the "stepping stone" mentality. If you are another stop on the journey for someone, then run. Reality is - people are transitioning all the time. But that shouldn't be their mindset going in when hiring them.

8. Do your homework. Have potential team members take personality tests, and spend as much time as you can with them.

9. Talk to their former employers. Many people skip this step, but it's crucial. Talk to their references, and make sure you get a sense of how they performed in their former roles.

10 Key Leadership Lessons I've Learned over the Last Year in Handing off Catalyst

***UPDATE*** I'm a year removed from being on a strategic 4 month sabbatical. This time last year I was in the middle of it. It's been quite a year. And the last 12 months have provided some incredible learnings.

So looking back, here are 10 reflections and learnings one year later that hopefully will help you in your own leadership journey.

1. I got my smile back. Stepping away allowed me to rediscover the passion. Finding joy in the journey again. At Catalyst Atlanta the first week of October- I was in the "mosh pit" during the evening session on Thursday down on the floor in front of the stage. Matt Redman looked down and almost laughed out loud while singing because he was so surprised to see me! I’m not too cool or too old. Passion and zest for the current season.

2. What I do is not who I am. Who you are is not what you do. My identity is simply a follower of Jesus. I'm okay with that on my business card. My identity is in Jesus. I'm not the "Catalyst guy" anymore, and I thought that would be incredibly difficult. And it has been. My identity and my need to know what is next are the two most difficult things for me to deal with and work on as an ENTJ. But ultimately, I had to answer the question "Who am I, really?" I’m Brad, and I’m a follower of Jesus. Period. End of story. I'm Brad. Not Catalyst Brad. Just Brad.

3. Getting out of the way is part of my responsibility as a leader. There is tremendous power in passing on the power to the next wave of leaders behind you. Getting out of the way and letting other leaders step up is healthy. Removing myself from the equation as the organizational leader gives a chance for other leaders on your team to step up. Stepping out of the way allows others to step up. Others step up when you step out. Pass the baton. Most leaders hold on for too long. Let go before you need to or are forced to. Generation transfer- we are always replacing ourselves. Constantly. Not just when you're CEO or President or Senior Pastor or Executive Director. Great leaders model succession constantly. At every level in an organization, in every role, at every intersection.

4. Calling is demonstrated and reflected by seasons, and specific assignments within that season. Seasons of assignment gives me freedom and flexibility in how I appropriately view life. My season and assignment of leading Catalyst has ended. Been completed. Driving the Catalyst bus has ended. But that doesn't change my overall calling- to influence influencers. It just means this chapter of the book is complete. But the story continues! On to the next chapter. The book is not done, just the chapter completed. Just because you're not driving the bus doesn't mean you can't still be on the bus. I'm the kid now in the back of the bus rolling down the bus window and waving at all the people on the sidewalks walking by!

5. Margin matters. Rest and margin and space are crucial for a leader- rhythm is incredibly important. Speed kills. Change the pace. You have to slow down in order to speed up. Don’t avoid or under-estimate the value of this. You won’t realize it till it’s too late. Burnout might be right around the corner. We have to recharge as leaders. And renewed fresh vision requires a renewed fresh mind. Waiting on God is an active thing, not a passive thing. Margin allows for us to hear from God, because the distractions are removed. Many times God is speaking, we just can't hear because of the speed we're traveling and the number of songs on repeat in our earbuds that are good, but not the best. Listening intently to God requires connecting intently with God. I'm waiting on God to reveal what is next in my story that is part of His story.

6. I’m not winning if the people closest to me and working with me and for me are not fully flourishing. Wow- this one punched me right in the face. I was allowing the pursuit of the purpose to get in the way of people. The vision and goal and finish line matters, but not at the expense of leaving people in the ditch. I was not a good friend. I’m great with the wider community, but have to work really hard at making sure I’m constantly connecting and in true community with those closest to me. And the people closest to me were getting the worst of me, or none of me. And were suffering the most. While those on the outside still thought I was the cat's meow.

7. Pruning is not fun, but is required if you want to lead. Being pruned requires getting kicked in the pants, slapped across the face a bit, punched in the stomach, and patted on the back. Pruning is required if you’re going to go to the next level in your leadership and in your life, especially as a follower of Jesus. Being pruned is needed in order to move from one season to the next, as well as part of the process of discipleship of becoming more like Christ. John 15:5, a branch being pruned and cut back in order to bear more fruit in the next season. Pruning was difficult, but very needed. I was the poster boy for the theme of Known. Who you are before what you do, that ultimately will provide the legacy for what you’ll be known for. I didn’t realize I would end up walking through a transition and leadership mile marker on the life road partly due to a conference theme that I helped create!

8. My leadership was stale. I was not a good leader the last few years. I looked the part, but was decaying from the inside out. I had to step back and realize this. It’s important to step back into my true identity- the last couple of years had pushed me into being a leader that is not completely parallel to who I am. Slowly, over time, leadership had become something I was supposed to be an expert on, but not actually doing. Yikes. Dangerous place. I can be having lots of success and growing a movement and making a difference yet disregarding those closest to me. Have to lead myself first. Taking a time out and a break is imperative to be able to stop and notice that you are off course and drifting out to sea. The slow decline and slightly off course can derail you in the long term. Have to stop and look inward. And looking inward is difficult. Dying to a season is hard.

9. Good fruit is required. As a leader, what are you building, vs. who are building into? Your leadership is effective if it's producing good fruit in others around you. You can build an empire, but if it's built on sand and a house of cards then it will come crashing down at some point. Focus on good fruit. I had to realize that what I had been building the last 10 + years was stripped away from me, and what was going to last? Who I had built into- that's what would last.

10. Faithfulness and stewardship is the measure of ultimate success. Stewardship of what is put in front of me. I can let go of Catalyst now with hands open because it’s not mine anyway, and I stewarded it the best I knew how during my season of assignment. Hopefully assignment well done. Now onto the next assignment.

Not sure what that is yet, but right now I’m speaking a ton, finishing up my 2nd book, and also consulting with a handful of organizations, and still an advisor to Catalyst. I guess you could say I'm a professional friend and advisor for this season. Not sure how long it will last, but enjoying every second of it.

I'm committed to leveraging my experience and equity and wisdom for what is next. And not to settle for the easy. I'm really being challenged to do something that is outside my comfort zone.

But right now, I'm proud to look back over the last year, and see a transition that has occurred in a healthy and correct way.

I'm able to help at Catalyst and be an advisor and not in any way for that to feel weird or for me to want to jump back in and be in charge and take over. Part of the reason for I believe a fairly reasonable transition was that there was a point where I killed "Catalyst Brad." He was put out of his misery. Dying to this season means I’m giving up that title and that business card intro. A title that has been what I've done for the last 10 + years. Moving forward I have to say that I led Catalyst for 10 years and am done.

So many transitions and successions happen from one leader to the other without the outgoing leader ever truly releasing that season. So they either try and jump back in at every turn, or just spend all their time bad mouthing and sabotaging their replacement because they’re deep down concerned that someone else is going to be better at the role than they were. Hopefully I’m not doing this.

Step out before you need to. Go out on top. Hand off way before it’s time.

Now onto the next season!


Want to be a Thought Leader, Author and Expert? Great! But beware.

All of us should be striving to be experts. To be the leaders in our industries. In our organizations, our churches, our schools, our businesses, our non profits, our networks and associations. These are a few of the lessons I've learned over the years in the pursuit of being a thought leader, an expert, a leader. I haven't arrived in any way, but thought these might be helpful as we all strive to get better and continue to gain more influence.

1. Actively Build a Support Network- including those who can help you on the journey, and those who will be real with you regardless of what you become. Beware of CEO disease, the temptation to surround yourself with people who only tell you what you want to hear. Keep honest people in your life so that you can stay grounded in the reality of your experiences. Don't start to suffer from Reality Deprivation Syndrome.

2. Don't think You've Arrived- Banish the phrase, "I'm done" from your vocabulary. The best leaders never stop learning and see every opportunity, success or failure, as a learning opportunity.

3. Don't take yourself so seriously. You're not a big deal. Seriously. I don't care who you are. Humility is way more attractive than arrogance. Humor is way more attractive than hubris.

4. Celebrate Your Rivals- Jealously is natural, but how you respond to it is not. When you find yourself tempted to speak ill about a rival or secretly wrestle with jealousy, flip that emotion on its head. Find ways to celebrate your rivals and when you run into a new one, let the first question you ask yourself be, "How can I help this person win?"

5. Be Generous. Both with your time as well as your expertise and experience. Don't forget- you were once a greenhorn who didn't know anything. As soon as you are an expert or a thought leader, it's time to start passing on what you know to others younger or less experienced than you. It's NOT the time to become arrogant and protected and sheltered by an assistant or entourage.

6. Bring others with you. Take your team with you. Take your family with you. Bring as many people along on the journey as possible. Going on a trip? Take a co-worker. Traveling international? Bring your child. Business meeting in NYC? Bring your spouse. Community is paramount to longevity as a leader. Isolation is one of the most dangerous habits you can develop. True, authentic, longterm friendships are a game changer.

7. Congruence between your inner and outer worlds. Work on character as much as competency. Don't let your outer world start to outdistance and outpace and overtake the intentionality of your inner world. Heart and character and conviction and moral fiber must be maintained and developed and grown as you continue to build your competency, expertise, relational equity, networks, influence and ambition.

8. Flow between the five stages of creative development. Don't get stuck in one. Taken in concert, these five stages can be healthy, important parts of growing any creative endeavor. Isolated and obsessed on, any one of these stages can cripple your best intentions. Focus on moving between them. The key is to not just hang out in the "caretaker" stage, where you protect and defend everything you've developed, but instead keep returning to the "craft" stage, constantly creating new ideas, projects, organizations and impact.

STAGE #1- Craft – You create something out of passion for the art of it.

STAGE #2- Crowd – An audience discovers you're good at your passion.

STAGE #3- Commission – You earn money for the thing you love to do.

STAGE #4- Career – You turn a passion into your profession.

STAGE #5- Caretaker – You protect and nurture the thing you've created, and do everything you can to "defend" your turf. A dangerous phase.

Young Influencers List, October edition

Here you go, the October edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month's lists here. 1. Colony House- new rock band out of Nashville, and a strong connection to Steven Curtis Chapman!!

2. Molly Smith- movie producer, co-founder of Black Label Media, and the producer behind films like The Good Lie and Blindside.

3. Preston Miller- Chicago based hip hop choreographer, dancer and founder of United Artists Initiative.

4. Salomon Ligthelm- filmmaker, videographer, and overall talented creative designer and director, and c0-writer of the song "Oceans."

5. Francesca Battistelli- Grammy nominated singer, songwriter, and artist.

6. James Vore- Atlanta native worship leader and creative, content maven for Catalyst, marketing project manager on Catalyst Leader book, door holder and choir member for Passion.

7. Brian Kortovich- pro basketball player and NYC Rucker League standout. And founder of charity Aces in Action.

9 Keys for Conducting a Great Interview

So someone asked me recently to talk about the keys to being a great interviewer. I'm by no means an expert, but I'll try and provide some thoughts. Here you go:

1. Do your homework. You would be amazed how many people show up to do an interview and have no clue about who they are interviewing, and just try to wing it. It shows. Believe me.

2. Ask the question behind the question. Get under the surface. Dig deeper. Not to uncover gossip or something that is not relevant, but because someone has probably already asked the question you are thinking about asking. So ask a better one.

3. Shutup. No one wants to hear your answer to the question, otherwise the tables would be turned. Your job is to pull great content out of the interviewee, not to give your opinion.

4. Create a conversation, not just a serve and volley. When appropriate, give the sense to your listeners that you are sitting in a living room having coffee and catching up. Creating conversation is different than just giving your opinion or an answer to your question. Conversations require context, which means you have to have 20 or 30 questions ready to go for an interview that would usually be around 10 questions.

5. Don't interrupt unless you need to, keep your hands off the table, and save your "ums" and "uh-huhs" and "oh-yeahs" for after you're done. For audio or video purposes, your agreeing by saying something just muddies the water. It seems like the thing to do in person- giving your interviewee verbal feedback, but just stick with non-verbal. Sounds better when you don't respond. And hitting or tapping the table is picked up by microphones- seems obvious, but everyone forgets.....

6. Listen. Seems obvious, but great interviewers actually listen to an answer being given, instead of preparing for the next question and not actually hearing what the person is saying. Listening creates great follow up questions. And creates trust with the interviewee.

7. Provide your questions beforehand. Send your questions to the person you are interviewing before the interview so they can prepare.

8. Make your interviewee the hero. Your job is to bring out the best in them. To uncover greatness. To reveal the good, true and beautiful. You also want to make them relatable, personable, and human. Which means you need to be those as well. If you're relatable, it will give them permission to be.

9. Study the best. Watch Charlie Rose, Bob Costas, Barbara Walters, Oprah, etc. Learn from their style.

The Power of being Remarkable

Seth Godin recently reminded me about the idea of Being REMARKABLE. What really is Remarkable? Webster's defines remarkable as "notably or conspicuously unusual; extraordinary. Worthy of notice or attention."

It's what you remember. What you talk about. What you retweet. What you share.

Normal is normal.... Normal service. Normal restaurant. Normal concert. Normal conference. Normal phone call. Normal delivery. Normal work.

Remarkable is the add on. The extra. "But what really blew me away was _______." As Seth says, remarkable is "the extra that goes in that blank, the more than what you had to do."

Being remarkable means others talk about it. They make remarks- the remark on you, a product, a service, an experience. They remember it.

It's being exceptional. Beyond the norm. Unusual.

Remarkable may cost more, add more work to the plate, require more effort, but it's worth it.

Is your organization remarkable? Your Church? Your business? Your family? You personally?

What recently "blew you away" or was "extraordinary" or "memorable" beyond the norm? 

8 Ways to Make your Communication Stick

Whether you are a seasoned leader, college student, author, professor, CEO, politician, or pastor, we all have to learn to communicate well. Whether we are speaking to thousands, speaking to our staff, giving a report, making a speech, teaching your kids soccer team, or addressing your company, it's imperative as leaders we know how to communicate. To make our point. To deliver a message. And communicating is much easier said than done. Actually it's the saying part and the doing part that make it difficult.

So here are some tips that might make communicating a bit easier for you and a bit more enjoyable for those listening. To make it stick. 

1. Keep it Simple. Stay focused on a few key points. And use common sense. If it sounds confusing, it probably is. If it sounds cheesy, it probably is.

2. Tell great stories to validate your points. Unless you are just an amazing communicator, your points probably won't hold me. So sprinkle in some great stories, good analogies, personal connections, and current events.

3. Inspire action. Push me towards doing something, not just hearing something.

4. Know your audience. Seems simple, but many miss this one. Make constant connections to your audience. If you're talking to a group of high school students, don't use the same jokes and intro as you did with the local Lions Club mens pancake breakfast the day before.

5. Create hooks, repetitions, and memorable phrases. I won't remember all you said, but I might remember something you said. Our current culture is now built around soundbytes- status updates, tweets, texts, etc. So keep it simple, but also keep it short.

6. Connect personally. Look people in the eye. Recognize individuals in the audience and mention their name. Find people in the crowd and speak directly to them. Make eye contact with the entire room, from side to side. If your audience thinks you care about them, then they'll care about what you are saying.

7. Be authentic, vulnerable, and funny. The key is to just simply be you. Allow the audience to get to know you. Make yourself vulnerable by talking about a failure or something that gives you instant connection. Be funny and find ways to keep your content light and humorous.

8. Land the plane on time. Not just ending on time, but actually ending with the right timing. Don't keep circling above the runway- land it now.

What other tips would you add for communicating well? 

10 Ways to Create Value for Others on Social Media

If you haven't joined Twitter yet, you should. It's the best way to get the most information in a timely manner that I've found. Everyone is on Twitter these days. It's helpful, quick, informative, and aggregated in a way that is valuable to me. If you are wondering who to follow, or wondering why I follow who I follow, here are several reasons why I follow some on Twitter and not others. 

If you aren't on Twitter, I believe these points also translate for the most part to Facebook, Instagram, Google +, Linkedin, and most other social media outlets.

Ultimately, this is 10 Ways to Create Value for others on Social Media: 


1. You give me value. Maybe a great link, a quote, a stat, new website, etc.

2. You don't constantly pimp yourself. Remain humble. Make it about others.

3. You are generous. I see lots of retweets from you and notice you seem to care about otherss and are willing to talk about others and want to help them.

4. You make me think. A link to a timely article on theology, a great quote, a phrase that encourages or challenges, a Scripture verse, etc.

5. You make me laugh. I simply need some humor and you provide it.

6. You keep me informed. I want to be ahead of the crowd when it comes to news and pertinent info.

7. You tweet in moderation. No overtweeting. A nice steady stream of tweets.

8. You provide a personal connection, and because of that, I actually want to meet you in person. Whether as an individual or organization.

9. You have a picture. Without out, no follow. Your account looks fake.

10. You are a friend. I still follow many friends who are not necessarily the greatest at Twitter. But I still follow them. That's what friends are for!

Young Influencers List, September edition

Here you go, the September edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past month's editions here. 1. Journey Smollett-Bell- LA based actress, best known for playing Jess on the hit show Friday Night Lights.

2. Brian Carpenter- founder of Refuge Foundation in Billings, MT, an incredible fishing and hunting leadership ministry.

3. Trevor Knight- current quarterback of my beloved Oklahoma Sooners!

4. Jessica Honneger- founder and chief dreamer of Austin based Noonday Collection, a clothing and jewelry org that is creating economic impact for the vulnerable around the world

5. Jeremy Walls- SVP and Chief Revenue Officer for the Miami Dolphins of the NFL.

6. Noah Gundersen- Seattle based singer/songwriter.

7. Anna Carroll- abolitionist and executive director of Lightforce International, restoring hope to men and women removed from the commercial sex industry.

5 Leadership Lessons from Nehemiah

One of my favorite Old Testament leaders is Nehemiah. He was a government worker in the employment of a foreign administration. A high ranking worker no doubt. A leader. A cupbearer to the King. Trusted and respected. Then he became a building contractor, called in to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.

Through the story of the Old Testament book, we can discover a few of the leadership qualities that he possessed.

1. Compassion- when learning of the condition of the wall and of his people, Nehemiah wept.

2. Conviction- he understood that loyalty to his country and to his people in Jerusalem was paramount. He was deeply bought in and moved to action.

3. Courage- he stood alongside the builders of the wall to fight off enemies who wanted to bring them down. A shovel in one hand and a spear in the other.

4. Confrontation- Nehemiah called out those who were stealing from their brothers, and doling out debt without reason. He held them accountable, and directed them towards living right. Those whom he loved and admired he pushed towards righteous living.

5. Calling- he understood his role as the one who had been called to lead in rebuilding the wall, and correctly responded to that assignment when God prompted.

4 Ways Leaders Can Release Control, and Ultimately Thrive :: Guest Post

(from Cole NeSmith)
I love control. We love control. Control and leadership are actually very fine lines. I started writing my new book, Spiritual Innovation, in 2013 and very quickly I discovered that control is at the root of so much of what I do on a daily basis in my life and leadership. I suspect the same is true for you.
At the heart of Spiritual Innovation is the reality that God is infinite, and throughout history, He has revealed more of Himself and His activity to and through His people. God (being the same today, yesterday and forever) is still up to revealing Himself in the most unexpected ways. But the greatest enemy to joining God in what He’s doing is our own desire for control : controlling ourselves, our circumstances, those around us, and – ultimately – controlling God.
In chapter two of Spiritual Innovation, I tell this story about how the desire to control manifested in my life as a leader.
As a kid, I did chores—cleaned the toilet, mowed the yard, dusted my bedroom. The payment for chores was allowance. Each time I did a chore, I ran up to my parent’s bedroom, opened the bedside table and pulled out a white pad of paper with a long running ledger of plus and minuses, earnings and payouts. Most Sundays, I would run up to that ledger, pull it out, move the decimal point one place to the left and determine the 10% tithe I was to put in the pink envelope with my church’s logo printed on it.
So, 15 years later in life, as I was preparing to give a message about “generosity” at my church, naturally I started researching the tithe. The tithe was mentioned in the books of Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. It was an agricultural offering of one tenth of one’s grain, wine, and oil harvests. But continuing on in my preparation, it became obvious: tithe was only one example of sacrificial giving in the Bible.
In Luke 19, Zacceaus, as a result of his encounter with Jesus, gave away half of his possessions and returned four times the amount he had stolen from individuals. When Jesus encounters the Rich Young Ruler in Matthew 19, Jesus instructs him to give away everything he has and come follow him. In Acts, we see members of the Church giving away all they had and giving to others as they had need. Even Ananias and Sapphira—after selling their field—were told the money they had received was at their disposal.
So why the ten percent? I think it’s because we like control and formulas give us the illusion of control. Encouraging people into a place of freedom takes control away. As individuals, we feel at ease when we know the expectation and can, without thought, meet that expectation. We ask, “what will make God happy with me?” and work to meet the minimum requirement so we can feel at ease. Then, as leaders, if we reinforce ten percent, that gives us a common, consistent message and a sense of peace that we will receive at least that much. But no one needs to be in relationship with God to understand this ten percent rule. The tither need not listen to God for instruction on giving, and the leader need not listen for how to lead his or her people or trust in God for provision.
So here are 4 ways I explore in the book that we as leaders can release control, and become the leaders we are created to be.
1. Platform People
In our desire to control, we often leverage people to achieve our own agenda. But the true role of a leader is not to use others but to platform them into their created purpose. This means that the initiatives of our churches may change over time as the people of our churches grow, mature, come, and go. So often, we create positions and push people into the holes to fill the void. But perhaps we should be creating positions not based on our own agenda but on God’s agenda as He blesses the people of our churches with specific gifts and talents.
2. Celebrate Uniqueness 
In order to platform people into their gifts, we must first begin to value people for their uniqueness. So much of modern, American Evangelicalism is built on the concept of sameness, and often “different” scares us. But as we step into relationship with God, he doesn’t neutralize the personalities and personas of each individual. God makes us each with unique gifts and talents to contribute to the unfolding of His plan of heaven on earth. It’s the role of the leader to help uncover the uniqueness of the people around us and to encourage, challenge, and equip them to step into the fullness of who they are created to be.
3. Embrace Exploration
Too many leaders settle to recreate. Too many of us are okay with trying to replicate what we’ve seen someone else do at some other place or at some other time. But God wants to accomplish something unique to where you are. Here and now. That means we have to become people of risk. We have to be people who are willing to explore the unknown depths of God and ministry, placing our complete trust in Him. It means we have to be willing to try things that may fail. But it’s in the exploration that we discover God in more intimate ways than ever before.
4. Practice Creativity 
If you’ve ever made something, you’ve practiced creativity. If you’ve ever asked, “how could this be different” or “how could we do this better,” you’ve practiced creativity. You see, creativity is central to the Christian life. Everything we are called to involves not only seeing things as they are but as they could be. God calls us to be people of hope who see the world as He sees it. And as we release our need for control, we begin participating in making the world, not what we think it should be, but what God has always intended it to be.
Life seems so much easier when we’re in control. But when things are up to you and me, they are limited to the confines of our human capacity. And God’s dreams for the world are so much bigger than anything we could ever accomplish on our own. So today, release control, step into an expectation of innovation, and see God do things far beyond anything you’ve ever imagined!
Cole NeSmith is the Creative Director and co-pastor of City Beautiful Church in Orlando, FL. His new book, Spiritual Innovation, helps us move from the need for control to a new level of exploration, expectation, discovery, and creativity in our faith and lives. Get it here.

He also creates interactive and reflective art and worship experiences through his company, Uncover The Color.

He blogs at and is on Twitter @ColeNeSmith.

Say No to the Good, and Yes to the Best

"Learn to say no to the good so you can say yes to the best."  - John C. Maxwell I love this quote, but I struggle constantly with implementing it. It makes total sense, but as a persuader, my leadership style is to include and to invite more and more into the conversation and the huddle. I have a hard time saying no, because for me that feels like I am excluding someone. I've learned how to do this, but it still goes against my natural leadership style.

But as leaders, we have to be willing to say no in order for our time and energy to be spent on the things that only we can do, as well as the few ideas or projects that will end up being the "best."

Reality is, the more influence you gain, and the more your organization grows, the harder it is to say no to the good. And with more influence, you have more opportunities. With more and more opportunities, the more we have to make decisions on what we will focus on and where we will expend our time, energy and resources.

The key is to know what you do really well. The areas you are great. Spend your time and energy on those things. Be focused. Give up on trying to do everything. On trying to be all things to all people.

Remember, saying no doesn't mean you don't like someone or something. It's not personal. You have to be disciplined and focused on a few things to be great.

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Leaders Take the First Step in Relationships

Reach out First. Take the first step. Most of us aren't "experts" at relationships. Whether dealing with family, friends, co-workers, new acquaintances, or team members, we are all guilty of coming up short. It seems like every day I goof up in the way I relate, communicate, and lead.

I'm sure this scenario applies to you right now, or will soon. A business deal gone bad. A conversation that was really tense. A mis-spoken word or hurtful phrase- either directed towards you or from you. Gossip behind your back that you know about, and so does the person who said it. Disagreements turned into frustration and now no communication. A confrontational conversation with a close friend that leaves both hesitant to talk.

Are there folks in your life right now who you are at odds with? Here are two thoughts on how to "restore" healthy and harmonious relationships with those around us.

1. Reach out first- don't wait on someone else to move toward you. Go ahead and confess, apologize, bring it up, or start the conversation. Even if you are not at fault. You need to lean in and reach out and move across the "center aisle" and intentionally make amends.

2. Move on- Don't hang on to something just so you can hold it over someone's head. Let it go. Restore the relationship, and restart the relationship immediately.

3. Get better- continue to work on living and leading at peace with those around you. Don't let the sun go down on your anger. Establish a healthy routine of daily reaching out and daily vulnerability. Make sure you are progressing and improving and not allowing relationships to get to points where you have to be intentional about mending them.

10 mid week Thoughts for Leaders

1. Learn it, relearn it, and then learn it again. Just because you are out of school doesn't mean you quit learning. Be a lifelong learner. 2. Being an "expert" is quickly fading in the current culture. Everyone is an expert these days because of technology and connectivity. Don't put your hope in being an expert, since now more than ever there is someone else who knows way more than you do. Just constantly get better. Improve daily.

3. We have to reclaim a sense of Biblical understanding, wisdom and practice. Our Biblical illiteracy as a generation is staggering, sobering and frustrating. Gotta get back in the Word. This starts with pastors and Christian leaders embracing and constantly teaching the Scripture.

4. Humility rules.No explanation needed.

5. As always, making it happen and "shipping" as Seth Godin says is still an incredibly fashionable attribute. If you can execute on a project... if you can get things done.... if you can take an assignment and drive it to completion.... You're still valued and incredibly needed.

6. Put the Xbox up, turn off facebook, get out a book (or your iPad), and start reading. Seriously.

7. Understand what you are FOR. Don't be defined by what you are against, but instead by what you are for.

8. Embrace your role. No one said leadership is easy. Your job is to make decisions, including the difficult ones, and carry more responsibility than the rest of your team.

9. Stand on the stage, and take out the trash. Be willing to be the hero, as well as the servant.

10. Risk something today. Step out of your comfort zone, and lead with courage. Have that tough conversation, make that decision, push the team past the normal boundaries.