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.

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.

in leadership,Leadership Rules,Misc,Next Generation Leadership. 1 Comment

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.

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.

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 colenesmith.com and is on Twitter @ColeNeSmith.

Young Influencers List, August edition

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

1. Andy Mineo- NYC based hip hop artist, songwriter, producer and performer; part of the Reach Records family.

2. Heather Stevens- co-leader of “The Church and It’s 20 Somethings” project. And daughter of Tim Stevens…!!

3. Jerry Shen- co-founder of ELEO Conference, entrepreneur, creator of Fantasy Monster, and director of Engineering for Yahoo Fantasy Sports.

4. Thomas Lake- Atlanta based senior writer for Sports Illustrated.

5. Jeff Shaw- director of Out of Darkness, an anti human trafficking ministry, part of the Atlanta Dream Center.

6. Erika Kraus- founder of Haiti Transformed, and relief and development director at Antioch Community Church in Waco, TX, as well as Acts of Mercy International.

7. Brooklyn Lindsey- youth speaker, author, and youth/Saturday night campus pastor at Highland Park Church in Lakeland, FL