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