14 Organizations worth a Year-end Gift

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

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

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

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

4. Gift Card Giverfull disclosure on this one- I serve on the board so I'm a bit biased. But there is very little overhead and you can give a gift or a gift card to help out.

5. Convoy of Hopethey've brought their trucks to Catalyst the last several years, sponsored the Present: Hope Bike Tour a couple of years ago, and are the official Disaster Relief partner of Catalyst. Their disaster relief and community development is amazing.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

14. Your Local Church- make sure you are giving regularly to your local church body. That is the place to start!

Treat Your Customers Like Celebrities

It's important you treat your customers, your tribe, your clients, those you do business with like celebrities and VIP's. What do I mean by this? If Tom Hanks, or Denzel Washington, or Will Ferrell, or Beyonce or Oprah showed up at your office, what would you do? How would you talk to them? What would be your body language? Would you be too busy with other things to say hi to them???....

A few thoughts:

1. Make your customers feel important. Shower them with encouragement and act like they are the only person in the room. Listen to them, and look them in the eye.

2. Show an amazing attention to details. Remember their names, their kids names, their favorite color, where they went to college, favorite movies, favorite snack, etc. And when they request something, even if very small, make it happen and execute.

3. Create a "customer rider." Celebrities have riders, that provide demands on quirky stuff. Same with customers. Allow your best customers to create a "rider," thus providing a way for you to get to know them better. A form they can fill out that will allow you to serve them well.

4. Truly be interested in what they are interested in. If they like the ballet, then learn about ballet. If they like sports, take them to a game. If they like art, give them a painting for their birthday.

5. Be eager to serve them. Your mindset should be to drop everything you are doing to take care of them. If Denzel or Beyonce walked in your house or your office, you would get them a diet coke and not be worried about the spreadsheet you are working on.....

6. Provide them swag. Celebrities get swag all the time. So should your customers.

7. Refer them to your friends and make connections for them that are win/win. Celebrities get tons of opportunities many times because people are always willing to introduce them to their friends. Make those same connections for your customers.

8. Respond immediately. Call them back the same day, return their emails in 24 hours, those kinds of things.

What are you afraid of?

What are you afraid of? What are you scared of? What frightens you? Let's face it. We are all scared of something. And all of us need a dose of courage to confront what currently is making us afraid.

Courage is facing up to something that frightens you. Looking at it straight on and dealing with it, straight up.

Reality us, we all need courage. Especially leaders. Courage to overcome. Courage to break through barriers. Courage to charge and climb the next hill. Courage to face fears. Courage to conquer and control fears. Fears. Yep.

Many times what holds us back is fear. Being scared. Living scared. Leading scared.

But take courage. Be FEARLESS, not fearful.

Boldly step into all God has created you to be. 

Today, what are you scared of? What is holding you back from all that God has created you to be?

For me, my biggest fear is failure. Occasionally it creates some very unhealthy leadership landmines and roadblocks that I have to work through. And is paralyzing, because when a leader is afraid to fail, taking risks then gets moved to the side, and maintaining status quo is the focus. Reality is, for many type A leaders, we are scared to death of failing. Afraid of what our friends will say, what our families will say, and how it will impact our next career season. And afraid of potentially losing what we "feel" like we've helped build or create.

And many of us incorrectly assume that in failure, the leader should take all the blame and is responsible no matter what. Not true, but something that still evokes fear.

Fear and failure don't have to go together. Failure is not something to be scared of. We should respect failure, but not fear it.

Take a bold step. Today.


Bonus: here are some random things I'm been scared of over the course of my life:

1. Storms- up until I was 13 0r 14, I was absolutely petrified of storms. I mean scared out of my mind. If there were clouds in the sky in the morning with a chance of storms, I would get physically sick I was so scared. And have to stay home from school. Literally petrified. And in Oklahoma, storms are for real. Tornadoes all the time.

2. Certain Dogs. This one still haunts me because of being bit by a pit bull when I was 5 or 6 years old. Still have the scar on my shin to prove it.

3. Bugs and Snakes. Not a fan at all of spiders or snakes. Actually, pretty much all small bugs shake me up a bit. Bees and wasps as well. I'm sweating just thinking about it.....

4. The Elevator in the St. Louis Gateway Arch. If you've been, you know what I'm talking about!!

5. Jellyfish. Hello. Who's with me?

Who's the eight at your dinner party?

Okay, you've got 8 spots at your dinner table for an upcoming gathering at your house. Invitees have to be alive. And has to be people you've never met. Who's getting the invites? Here's my eight:

1. Nelson Mandela

2. Will Ferrell

3. Beyonce

4. Denzel Washington

5. Jase Robertson (Duck Dynasty)

6. Oprah Winfrey

7. Richard Branson

8. Bono


Who's at your dinner table?

Friday with Friends: my recent interview with Sarah Cunningham on her new book

It's Friday with Friends on the blog. So please meet Sarah Cunningham.
I first met Sarah Cunningham at a Catalyst conference almost a decade ago when the church she worked for, Westwinds, put on an experiential service for our attenders. She was in her early twenties and just getting ready to write her first book, Dear Church: Letters From a Disillusioned Generation.

"I was intensely driven back then," Sarah remembers, "But a lot of times, I took on tasks that were either bigger or faster paced than I knew how to emotionally manage. It led to some messy leadership rhythms for me early on."

Fast forward to 2013 and Sarah's now aiming to not only help people move beyond disillusionment with the Church (an updated version of her first book re-titled as Beyond the Broken Church comes out in May, 2014), but also to help them avoid some of the leadership traps that sidelined or slowed her down early on.

"I learned a lot by mistakes and by the generosity of smarter, healthier people who managed to drop life-penetrating wisdom into my world exactly when I needed it." Sarah explains, "Eventually, I got serious about collecting those insights that gave me a breath of fresh air and helped add health to my leadership rhythms."
Sarah's now capturing those insights in The Well Balanced World Changer: A Field Guide for Staying Sane While Doing Good which released last month. The book offers a collection of 2-5 page essays, each of which presents a sticky idea or piece of wisdom that helps reframe expectations, inspire perseverance, set healthy pace and so on.
I recently interviewed Sarah about the book:
Me: So much about leadership is about striving to accomplish something meaningful. Do you think leaders worry that being too "balanced" might hold them back in terms of achievement or drive?
Sarah: I do think a lot of us like being the man or woman who is known for hoisting a huge ambition on our backs and charging forward. That kind of intensity drives us and we like the hard work and energy and momentum it brings to our lives. But being well-balanced doesn't mean siphoning away that leadership energy. It can sometimes mean directing it.

For example, over the years, I've seen (and maybe at times been) the leader who secretly (or publicly) thinks their great ideas are being overlooked. Publishers are passing them by, conferences aren't platforming them. They become cynics who write attack blogs venting about how exclusive the "Boys Club" is. Granted, sometimes there is need to advocate for including more people. But for a lot of us, I think the "balance" in this stage isn't retreating onto your couch and switching your dream out to watch a sitcom. The balance is saying, "If I want to be perceived as someone who has something worthwhile to say about this subject, than I need to get out there and take action, make a dent, and prove I'm in it for the long haul. If I want to be considered legitimate, then the best thing I can do is get out there and BE LEGITIMATE."

Me: That kind of sentiment, that our dreams or goals aren't unfolding fast enough, is a common sentiment. Why do you think that is?
Sarah: It's true. One of the essays in The Well Balanced World Changer pokes a little bit of fun at the way we tend to idolize "overnight success" stories. We (or some news reporter) locks onto some great road to glory story like Seth Godin's, for instance. And we say, wow, look, Seth Godin gave away thousands of copies of his book and it skyrocketed him to fame. The media and publishers were beating down his door, rolling the red carpet up to his house all because he had that one fantastic idea. But what a lie we tell ourselves, right? Then we set our psyches up to think, "All I need is that one great idea and I'm going to make it big!" It would be way smarter for us to lock onto other stories that emphasize all the years of day-to-day hard work that Godin put in before that big idea of giving his book away was able to gain traction.
Me: That mentality can definitely set people up for failure. What do you think is often the biggest disappointment for leaders as they strike out after their goals?
Sarah: I think leaders are often passionate people. They feel their goals deep in their bones. Some cause or vision stirs inside of them white hot and they basically are compelled to bring it to expression. But the trouble is that they have this romantic idea that because their cause is so worthy and so noble and so high-priority for them that the world--or some industry or group--is going to immediately recognize and support their work. Sometimes that happens, but a lot of times it doesn't.
It's tough when we realize that even though we are fighting against the world's evils or working to make life or faith a better experience for many, cheerleaders don't always greet us when we step out of the house. It's tough when we realize that millionaires aren't going to line up at our door to bankroll our ideas or that volunteers aren't necessarily going to wrap around the block waiting for the chance to sponsor a child, donate to our cause, or take on a leadership role in our church or organization. There are these tough leadership moments when our ideals crash into reality and we have to figure out what to do next.
Me: And what do you suggest leaders do in those moments?
Sarah: The Well Balanced World Changer is basically dozens of stories that answer that question. But for one, I think we commit to self-management. That means we make a conscious effort to review our own patterns and history and become aware of the triggers that usually trip us up. And secondly, I think we intentionally make time in our schedules for ongoing assessment and re-calibration.
For me, a big part of that was learning that when a huge task is in front of me, I used to think the best question was to ask, "Can I do this? Do I have the skill sets? Can I work hard enough and long enough to get it done?" And now, as I stare those big dreams in the face, I tack on, "Can I do this? Do I have the skill sets? Can I work hard enough and long enough to get it done? AND...can I do it and stay healthy?"
Anyone can crash their lives and lose their heath, family, relationships and job pouring themselves into workaholism to achieve a goal. But real leaders manage what they take on so that they aren't just leading today but they're leading ten, twenty, thirty years from now.
Sarah's book is available on Amazon, at Barnes and Noble, and wherever books are sold. You can also find great shareable content at her book's Pinterest page. And you can contribute your own life lessons to an online collection of wisdom using the hashtag #worldchangerbook. You can find more great content at Sarah's blog

12 Music recommendations you don't want to miss

What you do matters

Do you love what you do? Do you enjoy your job, or are you just enduring it?

Is it just simply a means to an end (money, fame, margin) or do you see your vocation as crucial to your life purpose?

Is the greatest intent of your week to only get to the weekend? Or to suffer until the next vacation day?

Is what you do an extension of who you are?

If someone told you that you have to quit your "job" tomorrow, would you be relieved or disappointed?

Many folks go through life simply enduring what they do, instead of loving what they do. Not all of career life is glamorous, or constantly fires us up. I get that. Some things you just have to put up with and endure. But if you daily dread getting out of bed and diving in to your occupation, to your career, to your vocation, then something has to change. It's not worth it.

Don't settle for just going through life enduring the 5 days of the workweek, to only have as your greatest goal of the week to make it to the weekend.

Love what you do, or at least like it. It's too important not to.

There's no Way.....

How many times do you hear that? From your team, your friends, your family, the organization you work for, your church, your kids, etc. "There's no way I can do that!"..... "Our team could never pull that off!"..... "Well it's easy for (so and so) to accomplish that kind of game changing project, because they have a massive team and lots of money"......"I'm not that smart or that connected to pull the right people together....." And on and on and on.

STOP using this as an excuse. As believers, as followers of Jesus, if we're not chasing after something that is so much bigger than we are, and there's no way we could ever accomplish it without God, then we are playing it too safe.

Is there currently something you are working on, organizing, idea crafting that is so big that everyone around you says "There's no way!!" If not, it's time to think big. Get outside your comfort zone. Dream about accomplishing a project so out of your abilities that it keeps you up at night.

God calls us to think big. If we are only working on something that we can accomplish on our own, with our own strength, I'm not sure that's good enough.

So what's on your heart or stirring in you that you keep pushing back because it just doesn't seem possible? Whatever it is, put it on the table. Stretch. Pursue it. "There's no way" those around you will say. But there is a way. God can accomplish what seems impossible to us. With our sweat. And our work. Through His power.

There IS a way WE can do that......

The 12 People I try to avoid when Flying

Power to the flying people on this one. One of these days I hope to write a good coffee table book about this and many other flying funnies. So here you go: The Top Twelve people I try and avoid when flying......

1. Marvin the middle armrest hog- here's the deal, middle seat boy always gets first right of refusal on armchair left and armchair right of their seat. If someone is sitting in the middle, the least you can do is allow them to have elbow space. Leaner Larry sitting in the aisle seat has no right to invade your space, nor does Window Wally.

2. Quick draw cellphone Chad- seriously, this annoys me to no end. Wheels down and cellphone on. Can you wait at least a few minutes before getting on your cell phone and talking as loud as possible so that you seem somewhat important to those around you, when we all know that all you did was just call the person most likely to answer so that you could act like something was incredibly important and couldn't wait. Give me a break. How about 5 minutes of downtime before you jump back into cell phone land- and start making calls once you are off the plane.

3.  Can't quit chatting Cathy- is it really necessary that you talk on your phone until the flight attendant has to tell you to turn it off, at which moment you act like you are done and then jump right back on the same phone call. You are such a rebel.... Stop it. Whatever it is can wait. Stop it now.

4. Move forward 1 or 2 rows when you are in the back Bobby- there is an unwritten rule in airplane etiquette- upon arriving at the destination, once the seat belt sign goes off and everyone is allowed to get up out their seat, you cannot advance more than one row past where you were sitting, unless previously allowed through announcement or special circumstances authorized only by the senior flight attendant or captain. Otherwise, stay in your row, and beyond that, just stay in your seat. Is it really that important that you save 7 seconds by moving forward and hacking everyone off? Foreigners are the typical culprits on this one.... there needs to be an international handbook on etiquette written immediately, if not sooner.

5. Nothing to read, write, or do Danny- honestly, you are on a three hour flight and brought nothing with you to work on, watch, read, write, or listen to. Are you serious? So the entire flight you try to sleep, but can't, so instead you just annoy everyone around you. Buy an ipod, or a walkman, or at least a newspaper.

6. Tommy Turnaround- the guy in front of me on a number of occasions actually turned around and sat on his armchair facing me, sitting high and looking over the back of his chair. He was reading a book, but it was still creepy.

7. Larry the shoulder Leaner- Larry is in the middle, I am in the aisle, and he leans on me as he falls asleep. All over my shoulder. Actually all over me in general. Multiple elbows, throat clears, and side swipes don’t seem to alleviate the issue.

8. Wrong Way Wes- so you know how everybody stands up when the plane gets to the gate, even though you still have 5 minutes before you are even thinking of exiting the plane. So Wes decides to stand up, and then instead of facing towards the front of the plane like everyone else, he decides to stand and look in my direction, towards the back of the plane. Multiple minutes of trying to avoid eye contact at close range is a difficult task!

9. Pulls on my seat to get up Paul- this guy kills me. The headrest part of my seat is not designed for you to grab when you are getting up out of your seat behind me. And it's also not meant to grab when you are walking down the aisle to the bathroom.

10. Butt in my face Barry and Carry on Carrie- Usually they are together, or even the same person. Can you please be conscious of where your rear end and other parts are being placed when you are lifting that 100 lb carry on bag up into the luggage bins. And while I'm at it, your carry on is supposed to fit neatly in the bins above, not fitting by spending 15 minutes cramming it in using all possible means necessary, along with two flight attendants with hammers and wrenches.... And finally, your carry on luggage is not meant to be rolled down the aisle like you are in the Airport lobby. Pick it up and carry it. You hit everyone in the knees and the feet on the way down the aisle and also catch the carry on bag strap 13 times on the arm rests.

11. My kids are your kids Kelly- you know this one, right? The parent who changes the dirty diaper right next to you, as well as naturally feeds their children in clear sight, and also allows them to basically make your flight a complete living hell for 3-4 hours because of screaming, crying, crawling, grasping, and sucking all life out of you.

12. No touch Norm- a simple problem. Norm thinks that by pushing much harder on the monitor display (on the back of your seat) with his fingers, that somehow the channels will change quicker and the volume will adjust easier. He also fails to show any sense of touch when readjusting his trayback table into the back of your seat.

Who else would you add to the list? 


Be Better than Average

Are you just being average? In your job? In your family? Your friendships? Your community? Your organization? Your Church? Your passions and hobbies? Your leadership? Are you typical? common? ordinary? all right? fair? everyday? commonplace? decent? moderate? customary? general? mediocre? run of the mill? tolerable? usual? All common synonyms of average. Yuck.

I don't know about you, but I don't want to be mediocre or tolerable or run of the mill. And let me clarify- we're not talking about whether you were a C student in Calculus or Chemistry or English class in high school, or being an athlete, or an amazing communicator, or an orchestra singer, or a world renowned pianist. There are certain gifts or wirings or strengths areas where I'm going to be average at best, regardless. For example, I'm an average (maybe more below average!) basketball player. I'm never going to be better than average at basketball, no matter how much I practice and work out. Same thing with singing. I'm average, but I sing with the confidence of a world renowned vocalist!

I'm referring to the things in life and leadership that we CAN control. That we can get better at. Things we can constantly improve in. That require intentional focus and a mentality that says I'm not going to settle for just being okay. Areas where my competence can continue to grow.

Parenting. Leadership. Being a friend. Your job. Being a neighbor. Your walk with Jesus. Marriage. etc. These are the areas we should strive daily to be better than average.

Don't be that person who just does enough to get buy and keep your job for one more day. Don't be that person who everyone says, "yeah, it was an ok presentation, nothing out of the ordinary." Don't be the that leader who simply is trying to "not rock the boat" and hold on for as long as possible without stirring things up. Don't be that person who is the last option when it comes to helping out or volunteering because you have a reputation for just showing up but not helping. Don't be that person who your boss or employer has to painstakingly consider every quarter whether to have a sit down conversation about your performance.... "I like you Bob, but your performance and contribution to the team is just average." Don't be that person who no one wants on their team because they know you won't contribute anything to the conversation or to solving the problem. Don't be that.

There are way too many average people right now in the world. So... Right now, get up, straighten up, stand up, and do something extraordinary. Decide you want to be excellent. Do Something outstanding. Make today remarkable.

Being average is ..... just average. Be better than that.


Beware of being a "Used to" Leader

We all know leaders who live in the past. Your leadership needs to be all about the present and the future, and not focused on the past. Don't be a "used to" leader! 

"Used to" leaders are inconsistent.

A "used to" leader is someone who lives in the past, and has drifted away from commitments you once made.

"Used to" Leaders are always talking about how.....

I "used to" workout.

I "used to" have a regular prayer time.

I "used to" be a hard worker.

I "used to" date my wife/husband on a regular basis.

I "used to" be a learner and read consistently.

I "used to" read the Scriptures daily.

I "used to" have fun with my kids.

I want to be an "I AM" leader. I want to be an "I Will" leader. Making it happen today. Making it happen tomorrow. Focused on today. Being present.

Don't be a "used to" leader.

15 Leadership Blogs I read every day

1. Michael Hyatt 2. Seth Godin

3. Mashable

4. Fast Company

5. Perry Noble

6. Dan Pink

7. Simon Sinek

8. TED

9. Catalyst

10. Ron Edmondson

11. Leadership Freak

12. John Maxwell

13. Pete Wilson

14. Tom Peters

15. The Aspen Institute

*** bonus: American Express Open Forum

THESE ARE NOT THE ONLY BLOGS I READ EVERY DAY. I read way more than 15 a day, but only including these this time. Just to clarify!


Beware of the "They" Mentality in your organization

I hear this all the time. In organizations, on the street, coffee shops, stores, and seems like always at the airport! I was waiting on my baggage the other day at the airport, and overheard a conversation between several airport employees, who were griping about a number of things wrong with the company they work for. Their conversation was centered around "I can't believe THEY decided to make that decision.... they are asking us to show up early but they don't understand. I can't wait to tell them what I think. Maybe then they will give us a chance to succeed. I really deserve a raise but THEY are holding me back....." And the list goes on.

Who is They?

We've all experienced this. You hear it all the time.... "they" don't want me to get a promotion. "they're" the reason the project is failing. It would have worked if "they" wouldn't have messed things up. It wasn't my fault- "they" were supposed to take care of that. "They" can figure it out because I don't care anymore.

As leaders, most of the time, we are the "they." And we need to constantly be aware that the idea of "we" and "me" instead of "they" should be our compass. Passing the buck to an unknown entity like "they" just causes confusion and frustration in an organization. It's easy to put all the blame on "them" because "they" don't have a name or face or personal connection. The onus is on US, WE and ME, not THEM or THEY, whoever those folks might be.....

Possessive language is what you are looking for on your team, with your project, and in your company. Challenge your team to get rid of the "they" mentality. From the top to the bottom. It starts with you setting the tone. So next time you have the urge to say "they", change it to "us." All of the sudden, the rules change.

Your Best Marketing Tool is....

Marketing has changed in the last 10-15 years. Used to, if you had a good ad campaign, eye catching design and a well-written tagline, people would notice and take action. Not necessarily anymore.

In today's economy, your best marketing tool is a great product.

With so many things vying for our attention, getting noticed and standing out among the crowd is incredibly difficult. Thousands and thousands of marketing messages are all around us. On a constant basis.

To assure people buy your product, use your service, become part of your church, attend your event, interact with your website, subscribe to your blog, shop at your store, eat at your restaurant, purchase your art, or read your book- create something excellent!

Create something that people talk about. That stands out regardless of how much noise is occurring in the market. The kind of service or product that everyone wants their friends to experience up close.

A few great products that come to mind:

- Apple stuff

- U2

- Cirque du Soleil

- Pixar Animation

- charity: water


- Bob Goff

- Disney World

- Seth Godin

What other GREAT products or services come to mind that don't need a bunch of marketing because they are so incredible??

12 Simple Rules for Greetings

Hello. How are you? What's up? Hey. All of us greet differently. There is no right or wrong.

These are a few of my thoughts on Greetings that might create a few laughs. Most of these are related to greetings within the office, but a few are appropriate anywhere.

Enjoy these and add more below in the comments section!

1. If I don't know you, and we've never met, we're probably not going to hug. Let's stick with a firm handshake for the first introduction. And no fist pumps if we don't know each other.

2. If I've already seen you that day, we don't have to regreet each other. Regardless of in the office, at an event, or at a social gathering, we've already established a connection, so no need to have to re-establish that. Stick with a simple head nod or a thumbs up, or just walk by like gunslingers in an alley.

3. When greeting, avoid using nicknames that you think are funny and the other person doesn't. Not necessarily a good way to build a bridge.

4. When greeting, DO use nicknames if you and the other person thinks it's funny. Nicknames are a great way of showing connection. I LOVE giving nicknames.

5. For greeting those you know, I prefer the clasp and hug, not just the straight hug. Straight hugging can get awkward, but when you go to the clasp handshake first, it establishes a point of contact to then hug from.

6. When in doubt, the high five still works. Especially for those you know well or work with. No words, just a high five. The fist bump can also be substituted in here.

7. Unless you really want to know, don't ask me how I'm doing. Just make a statement instead, a statement that stands on its own, that doesn't require a response from me. Something like "today's the day" or "there he is!" or "you're the man!"

8. Greet with a compliment whenever appropriate. Such as "I really like that shirt!" or "I appreciate you!" or "that jacket looks great on you!" Those who greet with compliments are always remembered and someone you always like seeing.

9. If we are just exchanging friendly passerby greetings, don't ask me something deep, or something that requires me to necessarily stop for a complete conversation. Again, I love conversations, but if we're passing by, that probably means we are both on our way somewhere.

10. If I know who's calling me on my phone, because of caller ID, I'll usually greet them with a customized greeting vs. a standard greeting. You should do the same. If I am confident of who is calling, I don't need to say "This is Brad." But maybe "what's up bigtime" or "where are you?" or "you ready to go?" or "hit me money" or just simply "dude." Feel free to say the other person's name in your customized greeting.

11. The holy kiss only works in the following scenarios: 1. family, 2. much older women or men, 3. spouses of close friends as long as the close friend is present. Always on the cheek, never on the lips.

12. When greeting someone from another race, nationality, area of the world, or even cultural difference, don't get too far out on a limb. Stay with what you are comfortable with. Trying to speak a different language or arrange a cultural phrase is risky!

My system for getting things done

To start with, I'm a big fan of David Allen's Getting Things Done, and Scott Belsky's Making Ideas Happen, and Michael Hyatt's tips on his blog. Over the years, I've established my own system that seems to work for me. Thought I would share it. Let me admit- I don't necessarily recommend the system I've instituted for myself. I would recommend implementing a system the experts recommend, and ultimately just some kind of system, whatever it looks like.

Again, whatever your preference- just establish some kind of system! That is the key in my opinion... having a system that works. For you.

But for me, the following system works.

1. I keep a "to do" list in my drafts on my outlook (for Mac). Right now I have around 125 items on this list. This is where every task, to do item, action item, or follow up is recorded. If not at my computer, I will record in my moleskine or iphone and then put in the to do list once a week.

2. I keep at least three folders around my desk - Action items folder, Reference folder, and Backburner folder. This is taken directly from Scott's book and his methodology. These folders are for papers, documents, printed emails, etc that need to be kept in physical format, not just digital format.

3. Moleskine for capturing ideas, taking notes and thinking/dreaming. Any to do items are transferred to my to do list on my computer once a week at least. The key on this is capturing big ideas and thinking/dreaming- have at least one place you capture those kinds of ideas.

4. Email inbox- I try and keep my inbox to under 20 emails daily. If it gets to be more than that, it becomes too much of a distraction. I don't use my inbox as a "to do" list. Anything that can go on a "to do" list goes on the "to do" draft in #1 above.

5. Evernote to capture notes from meetings, cool websites, videos, etc. Mainly use evernote for capturing things from the web.

6. I receive all of my email. But in terms of responding to email and other requests, I try to forward as much as possible to my assistant. Not because I don't want to respond personally, but more because it frees me up to focus more of my time on items that only I can do- speaker selection, programming, strategy, planning, new business development, strategic partnerships, etc.

7. I keep a very detailed system of folders in my inbox. But more for reference, and not for follow up or action. Emails only go in these folders once they have been completed or followed up on. But having them in folders for reference is incredibly important, especially when trying to remember what's been done in the past.

8. One excel spreadsheet that is a "catch all." Your name is probably on it!! I have a spreadsheet for capturing names, speakers from the past, speakers for the future, bloggers, influential leaders, young leaders, etc. It drives Michelle my assistant crazy and our entire team crazy, but it works for me, as this is the place where I can braindump every name or idea or new relationship.

9. Creative boards for planning and programming. I've mentioned the creative boards before. They are instrumental in programming events, as well as planning for the future. Provides a visual strategy that is easily changeable.

10. A few Physical Folders around major areas of organizational focus. I keep a few folders in my office tied to different projects, events, and areas of organizational focus (for example, "staff reviews"), but try and limit these folders as much as possible. The goal is digital storage whenever we can.

11. Our team does very FEW meetings. We don't meet "just to meet." We meet only if needed. This helps tremendously in allowing time to move things towards completion and ultimately getting things done. I've found that many organizations put meetings on the schedule just because it's been done that way before. Not with us.


How about you? What is your system for getting things done? 


8 Ways Good Leaders are Great Followers

As LEADERS, it's equally important for us to know how to FOLLOW as it is how to LEAD. In fact, many believe to be a good leader, you must first be a great follower. And continue to follow well as you continue to lead well. I would suggest that great leaders are equally in tune with how to follow well, as how to lead well. So here are a few thoughts on following:

1. Good followers are finishers. They get the job done. Take projects across the finish line. Make things happen. On their own.

2. Good followers anticipate. They understand what needs to be done next before having to be told, and are always looking for ways to make the process better.

3. Good followers criticize in private, and praise in public. Enough said on that.

4. Good followers are trustworthy. When given an assignment, a leader can be assured that it will get done. Dependable. This is incredibly important.

5. Good followers are vision copycats. They take on, embody and live out the vision and mission of their leader, and of the organization, helping set and model a cultural standard.

6. Good followers make their leader better. They push their leader, and know how to lead up appropriately and intentionally.

7. Good followers lead themselves. They don't need to be managed, and aren't needy. They are self aware, and don't need all the attention from the leader.

8. Good followers are principled. They are humble, disciplined and have complete integrity. They know it's not about them, and what you see is what you get.

An interview with Hillsong songwriter and worship leader Reuben Morgan

I recently caught up with Reuben Morgan, prolific songwriter, artist and worship leader with Hillsong Church. Reuben is one of the most influential songwriters of our generation. He has written or co-written such powerful worships songs such as Cornerstone, God is Able, Mighty to Save, Awakening, and Forever Reign, among many others.

The new album Glorious Ruins from Hillsong Live is powerful, epic and amazing. Check it out.

In part one below, we talk about the new Glorious Ruins album, a few specific songs from the album, how Hillsong maintains a distinct sound, and Reuben's move to London in the past year.

In part two below, we talk leadership, what makes a great leadership culture, and some of the key leadership essentials that make up the Hillsong DNA.


- New album- Glorious Ruins- tell us about it.

- Christ is Enough is one of the feature songs on the album (which you wrote), along with Glorious Ruins as the feature track and name of the album. Talk about each of those songs.

- You also co-wrote Glorify Your Name with Chris Tomlin. Give us insight into that song.

- How do you all maintain the integrity of songwriting, and the sound of a Hillsong worship song?

- You are now spending your time in London. Talk about what is happening there at Hillsong London.


- You've been around the Hillsong culture for a long time- what are the few key leadership essentials/traits that you see all the time and that seem to be embodied within the Hillsong culture?

- How about for you? In terms of leading, what would you say is key and crucial regarding leaders who you are now influencing?

- I'll give you the last word.

The Tension of Ambition

There are a number of things in our lives that live in tension. As leaders, most of us are ambitious by nature, and this seems to be a constant source of tension. Not necessarily bad tension, but tension none the less. Ambition. Seen by many as a negative word- way too secular and worldly. Not something that always gets mentioned at the annual church or non-profit awards banquet when introducing the volunteer of the year. There's lots of evidence of bad ambition in our worlds- too many ambitious folks we know have ended up burning out, burning up, or leaving a path of destruction.

If you are a leader, especially a type A, you feel this constantly. I know I do.

The pull of wanting to move forward and conquer the next hill, but also knowing that the greatest way to get there is not necessarily by leaving everyone around you in the ditch. Many times it seems the best way to make something happen is to do it myself- a classic sign of the ambitious type.

The question is what does GOOD ambition look like? Ambition that allows for things to happen, for new ideas to be launched, teams to excel, individuals to flourish, etc.

For me, I have learned a couple of ways to try and manage the tension, and the best way to explain is with a concentric circle model- what I consider the Inner, Middle, and Outer Circle Influence principle. First, I have a few folks around me who keep me in check regarding my ambitions- this is the inner circle. Why are you doing this? Is this for the organization's benefit or for your own? Who will be impacted by this decision, and in a positive or negative way? How are you growing as a leader? Second, I try to make sure that my leadership is accessible as possible to those I interact with regularly- both to my team as well as to partners, vendors and associates-this is the Middle Circle. I have learned (and watched) that many times ambition goes sour and turns negative when Type A leaders push everything in their lives towards being as private as possible. This is a mistake. It doesn't mean that you have to broadcast every part of your life, but it does mean that you should be upfront and authentic with those around you, especially those you are working with or partnering with on a regular basis. Third, don't worry about what others say who don't know you- this is the Outer Circle. Many of us struggle with ambition because we are trying to please or gain credibility with people who really don't matter or ultimately could care less. And too much of our energy gets used on trying to get noticed by those on the far outside of our "influence" circle.

Stick to the basics.

Deal with the tension of ambition.