Airplane Etiquette, Part 3

Had to add another round to the Airplane series, since yesterday I experienced what is these days a common occurrence. A plane packed liked sardines, with no focus on customer service. Basically get em on the plane, avoid them, and get them off.  Flew from Atlanta to LA on Delta, and the plane was a 757 (one aisle in the middle, three seats on each side) and the plane was completely full. EVERY seat was taken. It was quite overwhelming. Like when you are standing on an elevator and it is completely full and you are afraid it is going to get stuck and you can't breathe well. Yikes. 

So I was thinking how could Delta have made this dismal experience a little better? When a flight is over three hours, no matter where the destination, there should be CERTAIN RULES that apply. Here are a few thoughts:

1. On any flights over 3 hours, airlines must use a plane with two aisles. This should be implemented by the FAA, FCC, CNN, ABC, and all major airlines and organizations. Seriously.

2. Has to be tv screens for every person on the flight in the back of the seat in front of you. Please. No more of the middle screen that only shows one thing that everybody has to watch. 

3. On on that note, No LAME movies. Give us something that is worth at least watching if there is absolutely nothing else to do. 

4. On a flight over 3 hrs, don't make me pay $2 for a freakin set of cheap headphones. Come on.

5. On a flight over 3 hrs, don't make my pay $8 for a freakin bag of sunchips. That is ridiculous. And at least give me something to snack on besides customized biscoff Delta cookies. 

6. Every hour, there must be mandatory stretching for certain sections of the plane. This should be coordinated by the flight attendants. With exercises that are easily implemented - such as toe curling, neck rubs and firm handshakes.

7. There HAS to be a game coordinated by the pilot that incorporates everyone on the plane, provides entertainment, and takes up at least 30 minutes of time. Could be a mystery game, trivia, or if you are single, a dating game. 

8. Random prizes must be given away every 30 minutes. You might call it door prizes or raffles or whatever, but this would really make the experience better.

9. Mandatory baby sections on flights over three hours. All in the same segment of seats, in the back of the plane, where they can scream together. Maybe white noise through the air filtration system to drown out the screaming if possible. Or a noise canceling wall of some sort. 

10. No flight attendants over 250 lbs. If you are wider than the aisle at your widest point, then you cannot work a flight of more than 3 hrs. I have bruises on my right shoulder from being run into by the flight attendant at least 10 times. 

11. How about a snack/beverage cart that doesn't have steel reinforcement on the sides that breaks bones and cuts like a butcher knife? Is that a possibility? 

So just a few thoughts to make the experience of a three hour flight or more just a bit more satisfying to the customer. The person who I believe still has a right to ask for a few things. 

I am guessing you've had an experience like this recently......

Your Five (or Three)

T-Mobile has made the idea of "your fave five" famous lately with their catchy marketing campaign denoting your five favorite people who are in your phone that you talk to on a consistent basis (and for free with their favorite five plan).  On a related and more important note, however, who are your three? The three folks (besides you) who are working together to CREATE and CULTIVATE culture? Andy Crouch spoke about this at Catalyst, and I want to reiterate his point. A key element in culture creation is the idea of 3/12/120. And the first part of this equation is the THREE. This is the small group of people that you are truly creating with- an idea, a project, an initiative, a new bold concept that is going to revolutionize your industry, or even better, is going to help shape the thoughts and philosophies of your neighborhood, your community, your city, and/or your area of influence. Andy's point is that when you look at the culture shaping initiatives around us, the core group that came up with these ideas or concepts usually is a group of three-five people. Which makes the idea really practical for all of us. Find your three (you probably know who they are) and start doing something. Together.

Hoops of Hope

One of the great parts of Catalyst is getting to work with great people. And also meeting great people who are doing great things all over the world, and then being able to share their story with the Catalyst community. One of those great stories from this year is Austin Gutwein, a 14 year old from Phoenix, Arizona. Five years ago, as a 9 year old, Austin was confronted with the reality of orphaned kids in Africa, and decided to do something about it. He launched Hoops of Hope, a non profit that raises awareness and funds by challenging kids all over the world to shoot free throws and raise money for kids in Africa, specifically in Zambia. 

Austin is an incredible kid. He and his dad Dan were here with us for three days for Catalyst, and it was an absolute pleasure to be around them and hear more of their story. I am glad to count them as friends and look forward to helping grow the impact of Hoops of Hope. When I was 14, and I think I speak for all of us, I was not even remotely concerned with things going on outside of my own little world, much less anything happening globally. Austin has a desire and a passion for impacting people. He impacted each of us at Catalyst. Moreover, he wants to impact the entire country of Zambia and the entire continent of Africa. Thanks Austin, for being willing to step out and make a difference! Glad to count you as a friend!

Check out this video documentary of Austin and Hoops of Hope that showed just prior to the Final Four this past spring. Ashley Judd is narrating the story:




So we have been celebrating all day today. It started with an 8:30 am breakfast for the entire team made all from scratch here at the office, and then included an hour of just laughing at funny stuff that happened last week at Catalyst. Next, we spent two hours celebrating each other- literally, we all thanked each other for great work. Everyone just randomly talked about the great job by other people in the room and on the team. Then we went to the local bowling alley and celebrated with some great competition on the hardwood with the pins and then spent some time in the game room hitting up the basketball hoop shoot. It was such a fun day and a much needed day to relax, enjoy each other, and celebrate. So often we forget to celebrate. It's on to the next event, or project, or initiative, or work assignment. No time to stop and smell the roses, but gotta go, go, go.... Yeah, in the short term there may be a desire to move on, but in the long run, if you don't stop and celebrate, ultimately that's the best way to demotivate everyone on the team. And it is imperative that we stop and be THANKFUL. For us here at Catalyst, Thankful for what God did in the hearts of thousands of leaders, the incredible things that will come out of last week, and the projects that are already in motion based on 12,000 leaders getting together and the incredible things that happen from that kind of momentum, energy and impact.

So take time to stop. Celebrate. Be Thankful. Be Grateful. It's good for you. It's good for everyone on the team. And it's up to you to set the tone on this as the leader. If you don't celebrate, no one else will.

Catalyst Thoughts Part Two

Round Two of thoughts from Catalyst, now 4 days removed from the event:  - I really love hanging with the band guys in the green room. These guys and girls are the real deal. They love Jesus, and are amazingly gifted at leading people in worship. Plus, I consider folks like Steve Fee, Kristian Stanfill, Aaron Keyes, Eddie Kirkland, Chrystina Fincher, Reid Greven and Matt Adkins good friends. 

- Brad Scholle from Rethink and Gwen Blythe from Big Stuf were absolutely ESSENTIAL to our team. They kept Reggie and Lanny in line and made sure they were prepped on transitions and scripting. Thanks to Brad and Gwen for your contribution this year.

- Melissa Kruse did a great job in project managing all the details of Catalyst. She is the quarterback, and performed great. 

- It was great to be able to profile some amazing projects and amazing people from the main stage on Thursday and Friday- Austin Gutwein of Hoops of Hope, Chris Seay from Ecclesia Church in Houston and Dino Rizzo from Healing Place Church in Baton Rouge, Safehouse Outreach from downtown Atlanta, Justin Dillon with the Call + Response Rockumentary, Lejla Allison from Samaritans Purse, Michelle Toletino from Compassion, Jeff Foxworthy and the 410 Bridge, and Nathan George who founded Trade as One. 

- We've created a unique post event "serve together" project plan in conjunction with ROOV. You can get involved here

- Catalyst LABS were packed. Each room was filled to the brim with attendees. Over 2100 leaders showed up for the Wednesday sessions. LABS are quickly becoming one of the most popular parts of the Catalyst experience. 

- Really proud of the videos that were shown at Catalyst this year. From the opening video (thanks Jonathan Bostic) to the funny sketch videos from Lanny (thanks Tripp Crosby), the entire scope of videos was better than ever.

Catalyst Thoughts Part One

Random thoughts from Catalyst, Part One: - I think I slept a total of around 18 hours over 5 days. Not a good ratio. However, on Saturday, I think I slept 18 hours in one day.... so quickly made up for it. 

- Lanny Donoho was perhaps funnier this year than any other year in recent Catalyst history. 

- Speakers/content were the best ever. Hands down. 

- There was not an empty seat in the arena. 12,415 leaders (give or take a few) in attendance. 

- The only session I was able to listen in on was Craig Groeschel's on the idea of "God ruin me." It did. In a good way. 

- Eddie Kirkland leading worship at the end of Day One was an incredible moment. Nobody wanted to leave. Literally. People stayed until 7:15 pm, and the day ended officially right at 6:20 pm. 

- We had a camera crew catching ALOT of the backstage conversations, moments, decisions and happenings. Most of these were involving me. Not sure it will be interesting to anyone else, but our team will get a laugh or two out of it. Supposedly this footage will be on the behind the scenes DVD included with the DVD's of the speaker sessions. Wow.... what a bonus!!!!

- Jesse Phillips worked his guts out over the 5 days of Catalyst. Thanks Jesse- you are a Rockstar!

- The Daraja Children's Choir from Nairobi, Kenya left me speechless and weeping. Seeing them lead "Mighty to Save" with Kristian Stanfill on guitar was a moment I won't soon forget. There weren't many dry eyes among the audience. 

- The entire morning session on Friday that was geared towards the "Gospel in Action" hit me like a brick. I knew what was in store, but God used it in ways we never imagined. 

- The "Serve Together" tent outside in front of the arena was really cool, and featured 12 organizations that we wanted to highlight in regards to the work they are doing, along with a couple of organizations in the lobby as well. Here are the organizations in no particular order: Hoops of Hope, Samaritans Purse, To Write Love on Her Arms, International Justice Mission, Call + Response, Compassion International, Convoy of Hope, TOM's Shoes, Gift Card, Rwanda Clean Water, 410 Bridge, Word Made Flesh, HOPE International, Prison Entrepreneurship Program, Land of a Thousand Hills, 

- I missed out on most (really all) of the great conversations happening backstage, in the green room, and among many of my friends who were here because I was running around constantly. I love seeing so many conversations happening, which turn into great projects and initiatives. It really is amazing how many great things occur because of conversations happening among all the attendees at Catalyst.

- Jon Foreman from Switchfoot was amazing. He and Keith (Keith Tutt who plays the cello) were extremely gracious in making a stop on their way to Minneapolis for a concert to play several songs during the afternoon on Thursday. Thanks Jon!!

- It was great to finally meet Dino Rizzo in person. We are planning a duck hunt in Louisiana for sometime soon. 

Catalyst Thoughts Part Two coming soon.

Great Rivalries

As mentioned yesterday, I am pretty disappointed with the outcome of the OU-TEXAS game. OU I believe is the better team, but in rivalry games, you can pretty much throw out the records, and many times the best team doesn't win. In fact, in the last 5 or 6 OU-TEXAS games, the lower ranked team has won. 

Regardless, rivalry games are always fun to watch. When it comes to great rivalries, I would put the OU-TEXAS game at the top of the list. 

What other rivalries stand out to you as some of the best?

Wow, what a week

An incredible week. Tomorrow will have a complete recap of Catalyst, but for today, it is lots of rest and trying my best to recover. After 6 straight days of very little rest and running mainly on adrenaline and caffeine, had to have a day to relax. Plus, dealing with what seems like a slight case of a stomach virus and fever.  Pretty disappointed with the play of Oklahoma against Texas today. Oklahoma is a better team, but when you have 2 turnovers and a fake punt that didn't work out, you are probably going to lose. And I don't think Texas could play any better than they did. I am sure I will be hearing about it from all of my Texas friends..... 

If you weren't at Catalyst, you should check out the brand new Catalyst West Coast website and video. West Coast is going to be pretty incredible. And of course already working on East Coast Catalyst for next October 7-9, 2009 at Gwinnett Arena once again.

Catalyst Prayer List

I appreciate the community that has been formed here at On the Journey. And I value your prayers this next week for our entire Catalyst team as we welcome 12,000 leaders to Atlanta. If you have time, would you please lift up these items. Thanks!

  1. health for our team; rest and renewed energy 
  2. wisdom in the messaging/program for the event
  3. Application/Action items from the event- what we want attendees to do when they go home and things to act on
  4. speakers- their content and preparation
  5. safety and protection for people traveling
  6. safety and protection for workers and everyone involved in the event
  7. clear weather all week during Catalyst
  8. attendees- their hearts would be prepared and opened up for being challenged and impacted
  9. God would receive all the Glory
  10. Jesus would be lifted up
  11. Connections would happen among teams who attend, as well as connections with people who don’t even know each other. The power of 12,000 leaders gathering would be exponential in terms of connections and projects post event
  12. The Church would be strengthened and brought together. 

Together #5- the Core Catalyst program team

They say "It takes a village....". Well, when it comes to putting on a production the size of Catalyst, that's not far from the truth. All together, we'll have over 500 people here next week to help put on the event, including our Staff, Production Team, Artists, Performers, Speakers, and Volunteers. While I would love to mention everyone involved, I thought for now I would give a quick rundown of the core team that makes Catalyst happen:  Brian Pirkle- Technical producer. Brian calls the show, so you'll see him in the director chair in the production area wearing the headsets and hopefully calm!

Lanny Donoho- Mr. Enhancer himself. Funny. Charming. A real gem. Lanny's been doing events since the 60's....

Reggie Joiner- our resident program guru. Reggie challenges us, makes us ask the hard questions, and keeps us grounded and on task when sometimes we might want to do something that is way too wacky. 

Ken Coleman- the voice of the Catalyst Podcast, and our third emcee. Plus, Ken provides great insight on creative programming, flow of sessions, speaker content, etc.

Jeff Shinabarger- Jeff is truly an ideator. He has a knack for coming up with great ideas and understanding how they can fit. He also has an amazing heart for social justice and is constantly making sure we are messaging correctly for church leaders. 

Steve Fee- Mr. Worship Leader, plus really good at putting creative edges on ideas. Our resident rock star extraordinaire. 

Reid Greven- Music man at North Point, and music man for Catalyst. Reid has the task of trying to wrangle the musicians and artists who are assembled for Catalyst, and making sure they are where they're supposed to be and have the right charts, chords, lyrics, etc. 

Chrystina Fincher- Chrystina has been involved with Catalyst since the beginning as an amazing worship leader, leader in the band, incredible cover song vocalist, and song selection specialist. Plus her husband Jayce hangs out by the stage at the big sound board. 

Ryan Bates- Majestic Productions. Ryan and his team provide the audio, video, lighting and aesthetics within the arena and on the stage. Ryan is great to work with and makes things happen. 

Brian Cole- our internal production man. Brian manages the entire production budget and takes lead on video, audio and all of the details needed to make things happen. Brian has helped produce every Catalyst so far. 

Melissa Kruse- the quarterback and project manager for the event. I think she deserves a vacation!

Jon and Amanda Hindson- Operations gurus. They are a married logistical and operations force! Jon has been involved with Catalyst since the beginning and keeps us in line with all the details that us creative types like to forget! Amanda is lead on labs, helps me with speaker logistics and details, and finds tons of experience items for us to enhance the program.

Ben Arment- this is Ben's first Catalyst event to be involved from the inside. He joined us in May, and while he is working diligently on the West Coast event, he's managed to make a few program and creative meetings. He Innovates with his eyes closed. 

Chad Johnson- Mr. Catalyst himself. He schmoozes with our VIP group leaders and is the key relationship connection to thousands of leaders across the country.

Kevin Sterner- Designs the brochure, marketing materials, the fun box that everyone looks forward to, and helps us concept the theme and direction for the year. 

Jason Locy- Website man. Designer of the event notebook, groupzine, funny emails and our resident cynic. 

Again, there are many others who are involved, and I'll mention them later in another post after the event, but just wanted to give a shout out to the core team that has been meeting regularly the last several months. It's here!

Reach Out

Okay, take some time this week to reach out. Make a call or send an email to:

- a close friend who lives in another state that you haven't talked to in several months

- a former employee or work peer who might need some encouragement

- an "unreachable" (out of your league) mentor or hero who has greatly inspired or impacted you from afar. 

- a coach, teacher or pastor who greatly influenced you during your childhood or teen years.

Why most good 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 the winningest high school program in the state. Growing up in Bristow meant high school football.  I asked him the other day what makes a good coach. Here were 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. 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.