Great Teachers from my past

We've all had great teachers in our past, right? Teachers who inspired us, challenged us, helped us mature, and were instrumental in us becoming who we are today. Why are some teachers considered great, and others not so much? Lots of reasons.

Thinking back on my teachers, here are the ones who stand out for me:

1. Mrs. Stephens- Senior English teacher. She pushed me to be better. Constantly. She didn't let me coast. She was highly respected among the students. Not necessarily liked by everyone, but always respected. She never let us coast and never just gave us "busywork." And she made me write my senior English paper on "Machiavellian Leadership." Not your normal English paper topic....

2. Mr. Galatian- High School physics and Science. He made Physics and science and computers a ton of fun. He engaged with students constantly. He was approachable and always willing to spend extra time helping you understand what was being taught. He had lots of jokes that he rolled out on a consistent basis. He was authentic.

3. Mrs. Darrah- 5th grade teacher. She was awesome. Made our class a ton of fun. I remember hundreds and hundreds of pages of cursive writing in her class..... And the fact that she also enjoyed dipping nacho cheese doritos into the chocolate shakes in the cafeteria!!

4. Mrs. Thompson- Elementary school Librarian. She made books and stories come to life. Listening and watching her read a book was just short of experiencing the same story through film. Her storytelling was magical!

5. Mr. Lomenick - yes, my dad. He never was a classroom teacher for me, but he coached me in football, and in life. And he was and still is a constant teacher- making others better and being willing to explain things, as well as see the potential in kids. That's a huge part of being a great teacher I believe, is the vision for what a kid can be, even if they don't realize it or see it.

Here's the deal. If you can remember the great teachers in your past, don't just remember who they are, but actually send them a note, or call them, or make a visit to their classroom when you might be back in your hometown. Tell them how much they meant to you and to your development as a person and as a leader.

We need Great Teachers. and we need to acknowledge the great teachers in our lives.

You are a Leader. And you are Responsible. Deal with it.

I get asked all the time by young leaders "how do you handle the responsibility of leading something like Catalyst?" Good question. Reality is, anyone who leads a Church, leads a company, leads a community, leads a non-profit ministry, leads a team, or even a family feels and knows the pressure of responsibility. And Responsibility is part of Leadership. Always. You've heard this before....."You're responsible for what happens.....Don't screw up!" Right!!! We hear this all the time from our parents, from our boss, from our boards, from our friends, from our spouses.

So how do I correctly live with the pressure of Responsibility and Leadership? For me it always begins and ends around the issue of stewardship. The whole idea of stewardship relates back to the concept of watching over something for someone else. Taking care of something you don't own. Ultimately, stewardship begins and ends with a very clear understanding of how you view your role. Are you the owner, or simply the steward for the owner? Is this mine, or am I just taking care of it while the owner is gone? This will help you shape the framework for what correct Biblical stewardship looks like. Whether it's your role in managing your time, your role in cultivating a dream, your role in leading an organization, your role in managing your money, and more.

So here are a few thoughts on Stewardship, and how it relates to leading whatever movement, organization, community, tribe, or team that you've been currently given.

1. Hold things with an open hand, palms down. Picture that one in your mind. Versus the mindset of holding things with a closed fist, palms up.

2. You don't really own it. God does. All of it.

3. You don't deserve the credit. It's not you. God deserves the credit. All of it.

4. It's not about you. Don't be naive. You are NOT the reason for the mission and vision of the organization or community you are leading. Those who you are serving are. Those who are part of the movement and community are most important. Embrace that one.

5. You must step up when needed. It's not about you, but as the leader the buck has to stop with you. Make decisions, bring clarity, encourage communication, and don't play the blame game. Step up and lead.

6. Be generous. Be others focused. Always. And not just when it helps you. Creating wins for others is more fun, and ultimately very strategic.

7. Building a movement is not your job. That's the work of God. Your role is to be prepared to lead one if God sees fit. Thanks to my friend Perry Noble for this nugget.

8. Model the vision and mission. But don't become a barrier to get to it. Let your team carry it, and be in the limelight, and get the credit.

9. You are not the first. And you won't be the last. Others have done this before, and there will be others after you. Understand your role in the generational impact chain.

How Known are You by You?

For leaders, one of the hardest things we have to do is self-assessment. We have a much easier time giving feedback and positive criticism and providing helpful advice to those we lead, but being able to honestly assess where WE each are individually as leaders is tough. But, self-assessment is one of the most important things we can do to make sure we continue to grow and get better. A few thoughts on this:

1. You are never too good at what you do or who you are to not need honest feedback from yourself, your peers, your family, and your friends. Seek it out constantly.

2. Your ability to correctly provide a self-assessment is many times a reflection of your humility and appropriate self-confidence as a leader. The more humble you are, typically the more self-aware you are. The more arrogant you are, typically the less self-aware you are.

3. Can you and do you laugh at yourself consistently? Are you taking yourself way too seriously? If so, chill out. You're not that important and you need to relax. Sometimes the more platform and position we get, the more serious we take ourselves. Don't.

4. As a follower of Jesus, we MUST rely on the Holy Spirit for correction and discernment on areas of our lives where we need to improve and grow in maturity.

5. At the end of the day, no one really enjoys self-assessment. But you can be CONFIDENT that those around you on your team, your friends, your peers and your family are way more aware of you and your style and the things you can improve on. As a leader, you have to be willing to swallow your pride and look yourself in the mirror and correctly assess who you are. A more self-aware leader becomes a way more Confident and followable leader.

6. No one wants to work FOR or AROUND a leader who doesn't understand who they really are. Many times these leaders lack a clear sense of reality. My friend Ken Coleman calls this REALITY DEPRIVATION SYNDROME (RDS). Unfortunately, many leaders live in this world, and end up making decisions based on their false intuitions and assumptions because they don't have a clear sense of who they are and how they are viewed by their peers and what reality really looks like.

7. Know very clearly your areas of strength and areas of weakness. The more personality tests and self-assessment tests you can take, the better. Strengthsfinder, Myers-Briggs, Right Path Assessment, Personality tests, etc. All of these are helpful in giving you a perspective of the type of person you are, and the areas you need to be more aware of that can become problem areas.

8. Once you understand who you are, create a game plan for constant improvement. For example, one of my tendencies is to use cynicism as a source of gaining power and making others feel weak. I am VERY aware of this tendency I have, and have tried to create some barriers in my life that will harness this. Another example for me is that I will end up doing everything myself, instead of naturally delegating or allowing others on our team to take on responsibility. Because of this, I've had to be very intentional about making sure I don't micromanage. Another tendency I have is to be way more intense than I need to be. Because of this, I've tried to give my team permission to tell me when I'm in the "intense" zone. It's still something I find myself doing, but am very self-aware of this and work constantly to improve.

Being Great starts with you

All of us want to be great. Especially as leaders. All of us want to be part of a great team. Have a great family. A great neighborhood. A great church. A great community. A great legacy. There are lots of factors that go into being great. But ultimately, being great starts with you. And since you are your greatest coach and advocate for yourself, here are a few things to always think about when it comes to being great.

1. Be responsible.

2. Be on time.

3. Be a finisher.

4. Be a learner.

5. Be a hustler.

6. Be a role model and carrier of the organizational vision.

7. Be positive.

8. Be self aware and self regulating.

9. Be first.

10. Be someone who "leans in"

11. Be who you are. Know who you are, and lead yourself.

12. Be deeply passionate.

13. Be a courageous risk taker.

Teamwork 101

I love the book of Philippians in the New Testament. The entire book is one of Paul's greatest letters. Specifically, chapter 2 is a gem. Paul lays out some strong language regarding teamwork and working together.

Verse 2-5: "Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love, united in spirit, intent on one purpose. Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves. Do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus." (New American Standard)

These verses are not just related to your specific team, but also the "team" you work with in impacting your city, your region, and the global large C Church. So try these virtues on for size! In your organization, in your neighborhood, in your community, and across the global church.

1. Be like-minded.

2. Be loving.

3. Be united.

4. Be focused (on one purpose).

5. Be generous.

6. Be selfless.

7. Be humble.

8. Look out for others before yourself.

9. Have a great attitude.

10. Be Christ-like.

Teamwork 101.

A simple call to action from Paul but incredibly difficult to put into action.

Just Lead!, a new book for Women Leaders

A Brand New Resource for Women Leaders! I am frequently asked questions about the development of women leaders.  While the opportunities for leadership are increasing for women, the resources for development still many times seems inadequate.  That’s why I am really excited for the release of Just Lead! A No Whining, No Complaining, No Nonsense Practical Guide for Women Leaders in the Church written by my friends Jenni Catron and Sherry Surratt.

Jenni is the Executive Director of Cross Point Church in Nashville, TN, where she leads the staff and oversees the ministry of five campuses, and Sherry is the president and CEO of MOPS International.

As two experienced leaders who have served in a number of capacities in churches and organizations, Sherry and Jenni not only explore barriers – internal and external – that keep women from assuming a leadership role but also provide practical reality checks on what women can do to become effective leaders.  The book shows how to handle criticism, face indecision, and grapple with the loneliness that often comes with being in charge.  It also offers sage advice on respecting gender differences, overcoming communication barriers, leading other women, and developing a balanced team.

If you are a woman who wants to successfully navigate the transitions necessary to lead well in church and ministry settings, Just Lead! is the handbook you need.

Here are 5 Questions with Jenni & Sherry:

1. What is one leadership lesson you wish you had learned earlier in life?

We wish we had learned the significance of seizing your present sphere of influence and pouring your best into it.  We often say, “Wherever you lead, lead well.”  For those of us with the gift of leadership, we’re naturally inclined to aspire to bigger spheres of influence.  But in doing so, we often miss the leadership lessons we need to be learning in our present circumstances.  Leadership is a journey that doesn’t have a final destination.  You have to make the most of every stop along the way.

2. What three issues do you most commonly see hinder leaders from leading well?

Most of us deal with varying degrees of fear and insecurity, but a few additional issues we see leaders commonly wrestle with are indecision, criticism and communication.

  • Leaders have to be decision makers but oftentimes we become paralyzed by the complexities we face and are indecisive.
  • Criticism is constant.  It’s a natural part of leadership.  Learning to discern what to grow from and what to discard is essential.
  • Leadership rises or falls on communication.  It’s one of the greatest tools we need to develop to lead well.

3. What do men and women need to understand about leading better together?

Trust and respect each other.  Make it less about gender and more about how our gifts and abilities complement each other to do the work we’re called to do.  Seek to understand and give lots of grace!

4. What advice do you have for young leaders?

Wherever God puts you, ask Him for wisdom and a humble spirit to approach your leadership opportunities.  Bring your best game to the table with faithfulness and a willing attitude.  Be the best leader you can be, even if your leadership opportunity is small.  Seize every opportunity to grow and lead with excellence and courage.

5. What inspired you to write a book for women leaders?

Since the day we met, we have shared a deep love for encouraging other women leaders.  We both are frequently sought out for conversations about how to lead well as women.  What we discovered was that there were very few resources available for us to recommend to help women navigate some of the unique challenges they face.  This book was a way to put our stories on paper.  It’s what we would share if we could sit down one-on-one with each of them.


9 Leadership Lessons I learned from John Maxwell

I worked a couple of years with and for best-selling author and leadership guru John Maxwell. He taught me a ton about leadership, life, and overall some key principles on how to be a good employee and the keys to building a lasting organization. Here are a few of those key lessons I learned from John.

1. Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less. Everything rises and falls on leadership, and influence is parallel and equal to leadership.

2. Have a good time, and enjoy the process. John was a blast to travel with, and helped me understand that “getting there” is as much fun as arriving. We often had random stops on trips and always enjoyed the journey.

3. Surround yourself with leaders who are better at certain things than you are. You don’t have to be the best at everything. Bring in folks who are better than you.

4. Leaders are readers. Pure and simple. If you are not growing, you are not going.

5. Leaders are learners. Learn from everyone. You are never too good or too established to keep learning.

6. Put people in the right roles, and then stay out of the way. Hire the right people, and then let them run. Don’t meddle or micromanage. If you feel the need to, you probably hired the wrong person to start with.

7. A with A, not A with C. Top notch A level players don’t want to play on the same team with C or D level players. Make sure you are putting A players with A players.

8. Focus on the 7’s and up. Too many leaders spend way too much time focusing on the areas where they are 4’s and 5’s on the leadership scale from 1-10, and instead should spend time on the areas where they are 7’s and 8’s to get to being a 9 or 10.

9. Above all, get it done. Execution and making things happen is a rare commodity these days among leaders, and those who can take the ball across the finish line are much needed.

6 Ways Coaches are Great Leaders

My dad coached high school football in Bristow, Oklahoma for almost 30 years. They won three state championships, played in the state championship game another three times, won district titles basically every year, and in the 1980's were one of the winningest high school programs in the state. Growing up in Bristow meant high school football. I asked him what makes a good coach. Here were a few of his responses:

1. First and foremost, they have to be great leaders. Players and other coaches want to follow them. They will make the tough decisions, and also have no problem surrounding themselves with other coaches who are more talented than they are.

2. Ability to motivate- they have enthusiasm, and are able to pull the best out of kids. They also create great camaraderie among their staff.

3. Create a great program- great coaches carry with them a certain aura; they are incredibly competent, but also have the "IT" factor. People want to be around them. Kids want to do their best for them, parents want their kids playing for them, the school embraces them, and the community loves them. They create a winning tradition and other schools don't like to play them.

4. Competent- they know X's and O's. They are highly organized, lead well, and skilled at their profession.

5. Never complacent- great coaches don't allow for complacency to set in once they've established a winning tradition or system. And with each year they find new ways to raise the bar and make sure everyone are creating new goals and getting better constantly.

6. Teacher at their core- there really is a connection between a great coach and great teacher. Coaches love to teach- the best coaches can take a player and raise their level of skill and ability because they not only can motivate them, but also can instruct them on how to be better.

10 Challenges for your Team for 2013

Here are 10 specific challenges I would recommend you make to your team this year. To put in place and act out on a regular basis. These are based on the challenges we've instilled on our Catalyst team the last couple of years. 1. Authentic. Be Real. Human. approachable. Guard against hubris.

2. No sideways energy. Communicate. Focus. Guard against silos and wasted energy.

3. Stewardship. Each of us embracing and understanding our role in what we’ve been given and required to manage and uphold through the platform we've been given by God to steward. Not just the leader.

4. Expertise. see myself as an expert. Individual responsibility and organizational responsibility.

5. Receive what we create. Become our own customer. Guard against the mundane. If you don't like the product you are creating, you have a problem.

6. Guard against cynicism. Behind the curtain we have to guard against this. Fight it at every turn. And call it out if we see it.

7. Excellence. We are the best in the world. Confidence not arrogance. Act like it. Maintain a standard. Guard against being lazy and pessimistic.

8. Serve one another. Jump in and help. Get it done mentality. Not just when the "lights are on" (sports reference), but all the time. Be willing to do whatever it takes.

9. Protect and maintain a “make it happen” culture. Guard against the phrase “it’s not my job.” and guard against creating clicks.

10. Get better every day. Guard against complacency. Make it your goal to constantly improve and take your game to the next level.

Make Time for Margin

Margin is a powerful concept. It creates opportunities. For businesses, margin is one of your top priorities. Margin in business creates profits.

Margin in family creates memories.

Margin in our personal finances creates generosity.

Margin in our friendships creates significance and impact.

Margin in our lives overall creates options. Options to pursue dreams, think, pray, relax, meditate, process, grow and ultimately live life more fully.

As leaders, it is important that we create moments of margin for ourselves. Time to dream, time to laugh, time to retreat- on a regular basis, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. Even if it is 5 minutes during the day to think, walk, pray, or simply relax. Margin gives us energy and renewed momentum and enthusiasm. And it is equally important to allow for margin in the culture of your team, and margin for your individual team members. Even something as simple as a funny story shared with the team, or a stop by someone else's office to catch up and say hi, or a quick review of pictures or great memories from something earlier in the year.

Margin is one of the hardest things for most leaders I know to actually create and implement. I am no exception. I struggle with creating margin. One of those leadership attributes that you wake up wanting to pursue and always realize at the end of the day you missed it.

Lack of margin makes us tense, creates stress and pushes for quick decisions. Lack of margin leads to stale and unhealthy relationships, and drives us towards the most available options at the time, but many times not the best. Lack of margin makes for rushed projects, for forced creativity, and for strategy that only thinks of the short term gains, not the long term opportunities.

Margin is the fuel for responding to the unexpected, and the option we all need for being more focused, intentional, life-giving and less stressed.

Make Time for Margin.

15 Keys of a MAKE IT HAPPEN team culture

All of us want to be part of a team that is successful, accomplishes goals, and gets things done. But a MAKE IT HAPPEN team culture is only possible if we, as individuals and leaders, are truly committed to do our part in helping create that team culture.

So here are 15 keys I've found for how each of us can contribute to that end.

1. Your yes is yes, and your no is no. Do what you said you will do.

2. You take responsibility before being told.

3. Solve problems, and create solutions. Always. Instead of creating problems and delaying solutions.

4. Show up early. for everything. As I tell our team: if you are early, you're on time. If you're on time, you're late.

5. Always leave meetings with action items and clear next steps.

6. No blaming others.

7. Place a priority on execution, not concepting. Moving always towards completion and the finish line, vs just another idea.

8. Create small nimble teams who work together- no more than 3 people on a project.

9. Clear lines of authority distributed throughout the organization, and always directly connected to responsibility AND authority.

10. Encourage working together. Constantly create a collaborative spirit and environment.

11. Model a high trust factor. I have to admit- this one is difficult for me. The "I'll just do it myself" mentality doesn't help....

12. Consistent "leaning in" posture and spirit- want to learn, always get better, and constantly improve.

13. The Leader leads. Whoever the organizational/team leader is- they have to model all of these- leader leads on all of these. Walk the walk and talk the talk.

14. Permeates from the bottom up. A make it happen team may have a strong alpha leader, but if the team fears but doesn't respect that leader, it won't work. Bottom up means mutual respect across the organization.

15. Meetings are the exception, not the norm. Meetings for meetings sake are killing most organizations. Only schedule a meeting if you absolutely have to. And nothing wrong with that. But quick stand up meetings, hall run ins, and collaborative conversations I've found to be way more productive.

What would you add to this list of keys you've found in Make it Happen team cultures? 

10 keys on leadership from Chuck Swindoll

Chuck Swindoll is a hero of mine. A legend. A man of God who has lived it out. And these were 10 Keys he provided for us back in 2010 at Catalyst Atlanta. So practical.

Specifically positioned as things he wanted to pass on to the next generation of leaders- primarily those in their 20's and 30's.

1. It's lonely to lead.

2. It's dangerous to succeed. Especially when you are young.

3. It's hardest at home.

4. It's essential to be real. if there is one area or realm that being fake is personafied, it's among leaders.

5. It's painful to obey.

6. Brokenness and failure are necessary.

7. My attitude is more important than my actions. "Some of us are getting hard to be around."

8. Integrity eclipses image. Every time.

9. God's way is always better than my way. Many times we are just capable and can pull it off ourselves.

10. Christ likeness begins and ends with humility. "for i am meek and lonely of heart."

Thanks Chuck for your example and investing in us!

Thirteen People I want to meet in 2013

Here are a few of the people I want to meet in 2013, that are definitely outside of my normal circle of influence!
1. John Lasseter- chief creative officer at Pixar and Disney Animation Studios
2. Marissa Mayer- President and CEO of Yahoo!
3. Chris Anderson - curator and key leader of TED
4. Charlie Rose - host of the Charlie Rose Show, and CBS Early Show
5. Duck Dynasty family- Phil, Willie and Jase Robertson
6. Denzel Washington - legendary actor
7. Jonathan Ive - senior vice president of industrial design at Apple
8. Sheryl Sandberg - COO at Facebook
9. Jeff Bezos- CEO of Amazon
10. Brad Paisley- country music singer and songwriter
11. Richard Branson- CEO of Virgin
12. Pete Cashmore - founder and CEO of Mashable.
13. Tina Fey - comedian, writer and author.

The reason to meet all of these folks- I believe they are the best in the world at what they do, whether acting, performing, directing, coaching, leading, producing or singing. People at the top of their game who are incredibly excellent at their craft or profession have learned something about greatness, otherwise they wouldn't be where they are. And I love to learn from those outside of my "normal circle" of influence.

Who's on your list?

Host the Chick-fil-A Leadercast in your community

One day. Over 100,000 leaders gathered all over the United States. One mission. Infinite impact. Everyday leaders grow through extraordinary, life-changing events. That’ s why GiANT Impact, in partnership with Chick-fil-A, Inc. created the largest one-day leadership event in the world: the Chick-fil-A Leadercast.

Happening live via simulcast on Friday, May 10, from Atlanta, GA, the Chick-fil-A Leadercast will be broadcast  to hundreds of locations around the United States and the world, and is the premier development event for leadership growth at all levels. Chick-fil-A Leadercast enables and empowers local communities all across the country by giving them access to world-renowned content.

You, too, can be a part of this event by hosting the event in your community or by bringing the event into your organization. Are you a pastor, business leader, non profit executive or community leader? Host the event in your community or direct to your business or organization. The Chick-fil-A Leadercast team is seeking partners around the world who wish to make a significant impact in their communities and organization by investing in its leaders.

Check out the website for all the information you need.

This year's speaker lineup includes Coach Mike Krzyzewski, John Maxwell, Andy Stanley and many more world-class leaders.

To learn more about bringing Chick-fil-A Leadercast to your city or organization, as well as receive FREE access to the exclusive backstage interview with Andy Stanley click here.

10 Major Trends for 2013

Here are a few trends that seem to be capturing major attention as we start 2013. I am not proposing that all of these are positive trends, but simply stating them as a picture of reality as move into 2013 and beyond.
1. Content on demand- everywhere, often and most of the time free.
2. Tech in everything- cars, kitchen, refrigerators, watches, wallets, and other devices.
3. Smart Phone as the center of your world- it is where you consume content, get info, make calls, update my status, and remote control my tv and appliances, along with basically running your life.
4. Integrated social media- social media is no longer a phenomenon. It's here to stay. And now integrated into everything we do.
5. We are all leaders- because of social media, technology, and the digital space, anyone can create a platform and gain influence quickly. Everyone has access. Small competes with large, and there is an equal playing field for most involved.
6. Authenticity matters- more than ever, we have to be real and genuine and honest.
7. Comfortable Multi-tasking is in- Cars are now being created that drive themselves. For real. We are more than ever creatures of comfort. Comfort so I can do multiple things at once.
8. Touchscreens- experience is now about everything being a touchscreen and swipe technology.
9. Collaboration- working together is more and more becoming the norm. Shared office spaces between companies, shared staff, partnerships, etc.
10. Mergers and streamlining within industries- similar to #9, but specifically as it relates to a formal merger between companies, organizations and churches. This continues to happen with more regularity, and is now happening consistently with churches and non-profit organizations.

Tell Me what you want, what you really really want....

Over the last 15 years, I've heard this alot. From key leaders, CEO's, authors, celebrities, politicians, actors, producers, pastors, and lots of other folks. I would figure out a way to make a connection with someone, and then arrange a meeting, phone call, breakfast, lunch, or coffee. Inevitably, this question would eventually come out in the conversation. I loved hearing it. It was the honest question, and I wasn't afraid to answer it.

Now I ask it. Not because I'm someone who deserves to ask it, but more because time is precious. When you are a leader and have a team and an organization to run, besides family and friends and all kinds of other things that require your attention, and there are people who want to spend time with you, you have to make choices. I understand now why all these folks were always asking me that question... "So what do you really want?"

So next time you have a meeting or phone call or a lunch with someone who you respect and want to learn from and consider to be a key influencer, here are a few pointers on how to make sure they'll want to talk to you the next time you call or want to meet:

1. Honor that person's time. Ask how much time they have, both before the meeting and once you arrive. Once you know how much time they have, then stick to that. And actually wrap up sooner than what is expected.

2. Ask way more questions than you give answers. You're not the expert, they are. So leverage the time and soak up their wisdom. Don't use the time to share your story, unless the person truly wants to know.

3. Pay for it. If you are at breakfast or lunch or dinner, pay for the meal. I don't care if you are meeting with Bill Gates, pay for it. It is a sign of respect. Even if you are a non-profit and trying to raise money, pay for the meal. Seriously.

4. Tell the person what the agenda is. If you are planning to ask them for money, tell them that. If you want a favor, tell them that. If you have a certain need you want to get their advice on, tell them that. If you have specific questions you want to ask and get their answers on, tell them those questions. Be upfront. Be honest. Be real and authentic.

5. Be prepared. Know everything you can about the person you are meeting with. Have 8-10 questions prepared for the conversation, plus several items of interest you will want to cover. Do your homework. The more you know about someone and have a good understanding of who they are and what their interests are, proves that you value and respect their time.

6. Write it down. Bring something to write with, and write down the good stuff. And write down the key connections and things you can follow up on later.

7. Follow up. First, write a personal hand written note to say thanks for the time. Then, figure out ways you can serve that person. If that person likes a certain coffee, send them a gift card. If that person likes a certain college team, make a connection about that team a month later. If you can make a connection for that person that will serve them, do it. If you want to create a long term value add friendship, you'll need to be intentional around their likes and interests.


Be Exceptional

Are you a competent leader? Or are you an exceptional leader? I know lots of competent leaders (and unfortunately incompetent leaders as well), but very few exceptional ones.

Competenthaving suitable of sufficient skill, knowledge, and experience. Seems doable. Doesn't seem like a stretch to try and be competent at your job and as a leader. Another definition of competent- adequate, but not exceptional. Wow, sign me up.... every since a child dreaming about what I would be when I grow up I dreamed of being adequate.... yeah, not real inspiring, huh.

How about being Exceptional as a leader? How about being the best in the world at your skill or area of expertise. How about being #1 in your industry as an organization. Striving to be better than average, above the norm, outside of the ordinary. That seems a bit more inspiring than adequate, average or suitable.

Being competent is the norm. Being exceptional is the unusual.  Work on being exceptional.