End of Year focus

Ahh, we are now upon the time of year considered to be the "Holiday Season." A time to take a deep breath. Relax. Have some down time to think. Drink some eggnog. Enjoy time with family and friends. And recalibrate.

I love this time of year. Both for the recalibrate and relaxing part, but also because I usually get more done in the next 40 days than I do during any other season of the year.

It's a great time to be relentlessly focused on getting better. And also to make sure that you find time to plan. Time to strategize for the next year, even about the next couple of years.

Time to get better at what you do. Be incredibly intentional about finding ways to improve. Read a ton. Take time to sit down with experts and learn from them.

I have always viewed the 40 days from Thanksgiving to New Years as a season of the year where I can catch up, and actually "get ahead" of where I need to be. When I make myself tons better, and outrace, outpace, and stay ahead of the curve.

So don't just coast into 2011 through this years Holiday Season. Yes, enjoy some down time, relax and refresh. Drink some eggnog. But also remember to be intentional. Focused.... Because 2011 is almost here!

Remember when....

Remember when..... 1. Joe Montana and Jerry Rice was who everyone wanted to be on the football practice field.

2. MC Hammer made parachute pants cool.

3. DC Talk was actually DC Talk.

4. Drive-in movie theaters were the best option.

5. Star Wars first released.

6. Your computer was simply a typing machine with a screen that could save your work. Otherwise known as a word processor.

7. Your phone had a chord. And was used for making calls from your house.

8. Everyone was downloading Napster.

9. Facebook was something only college students did.

10. You could walk all the way to the gate at the airport to meet who you were picking up.

11. Apple was for the design snobs.

12. The Tight roll was in.... wait, it's back!!

5 Questions w/Ralph Winter, X-Men, Fantastic Four, and COOL IT

I wanted to make everyone aware of a new documentary film releasing TODAY called "COOL IT." The film is directed by two-time Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner Ondi Timoner and is based on a book by economist Bjorn Lomborg. The film addresses what Lomborg believes to be the unjustified hysteria surrounding global warming and allocation of $250 Billion annually towards climate change, in contrast with other concerns such as malnutrition, clean drinking water, HIV/Aids, poverty, and hunger that are severely underfunded, and ultimately proposing a re-appropriation of funds to meet the needs of developing countries. "COOL IT" challenges viewers to look beyond global climate change and embrace the principles of protecting and sustaining all of God’s creation … to focus on saving the planet AND its people.

I had the chance to catch up with Ralph Winter, executive producer of COOL IT. Ralph has been producing movies all his life, and has Executive Produced films such as the X-Men Series, Fantastic Four, Planet of the Apes, Mighty Joe Young and many others.

Ralph believes "COOL IT" presents a definite "call to action" to Christians. The movie is being released by Roadside Attractions in conjunction with 1019 Entertainment in select markets starting TODAY.


Young Influencers List, November edition

Here it is, the November edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past lists from previous months here. 1. Fr. Justin Mathews- Exec. Director and CEO, Focus North America, as well as an accomplished musician and leader in Kansas City.

2. Riley Goodfellow- young 9 yr old activist from CA who has raised thousands of dollars for clean water in partnership with charity: water through her project the Beans and Rice Crew, and greatly inspired us at Catalyst a month ago.

3. Michael Gungor- singer, songwriter, artist, pastor and worship leader from Denver. Also lead singer of one of my favorite bands, Gungor.

4. Amena Brown- spoken word artist, poet, speaker and journalist. She will leave you speechless.

5. Steven McMorran- LA singer, songwriter and founder of one of my other favorite current bands, Satellite.

6. Tony Sheng- father, database engineer, lay pastor and student ministry and missions guru.

Catalyst in Phoenix next week

The Catalyst One Day experience is coming to Phoenix! Next Thursday, November 18, Catalyst One Day will be held at Christ's Church of the Valley in Phoenix, AZ. We are excited to be making our first trip ever with Catalyst to Phoenix, and partnering with Don Wilson and the incredible staff at Christ's Church of the Valley.

Join Andy Stanley and Craig Groeschel at Catalyst One Day Phoenix for a practical leadership day focused on the topic of Momentum. How to create it, how to sustain it, and how to implement systems and tactics in your organization that will fuel momentum on a continual basis. This practical leadership experience includes audience Q and A, dynamic music and powerful worship, and a full day of insight from two of the principal voices on leadership in the Church today.

There is still time to REGISTER you and your entire team. So register now and use the special Rate Code ONEDAYAZ and get 40% off the current ticket price!

Again, the best way to experience Catalyst is with your entire team.

I hope to see you there!

You Want to Speak at Catalyst?

We are always looking for new speakers/presenters for all of our Catalyst events, whether in Atlanta, LA, Dallas, or even online. I wanted to give a bit of perspective on how we find new speakers. If you think you might be one of those, or know someone who is, here are a few tips:

1. Be a Powerful and engaging Communicator. Great communicators get moved to the top of the list.

2. Have an amazing story. Inspirational, courageous, tear-jerking, changing the world type stuff. True Catalysts. These also get moved to the top of the list. This one is not as easy to create or work on for you.

3. Content is king. Great content always wins. Especially content that inspires, and moves leaders towards action and application. There are lots of great communicators, but not all of them have great content. Start here. Develop great content first.

4. Be a Catalyst. Closely related to #2. We love finding the leaders who are out making a difference, and actually living out what God has called them to do. They are practitioners. They're not trying to build a platform so they can speak and write books one day. They are just out having an impact and influencing those around them. Inspirational practitioners is what I call these leaders.

5. We start with friends and "Catalyst family" first. If we are friends, that helps alot. Seriously. We feel like Catalyst is a big family, and we rarely invite speakers in without first having a friendship with them and getting to know who they really are.

6. Not all authors should be speakers. Just because you've written a book, doesn't mean you can communicate. Books give you credibility, but only as a content creator, not as a communicator. I know lots of authors who've sold millions of books and are total sleepers when asked to speak.

7. If you contact me and tell me how great YOU are, you get moved to the bottom of the list. Believe me, I (we) know who you are. We spend thousands of hours a year looking for the new voices, researching, asking around, watching videos, reading the blogs, getting feedback from leaders all over the world, etc.

8. If you contact any of our team after you've contacted me, especially my assistant Michelle, and tell HER as well how great YOU are, you get moved off the list. Feel free to contact us and recommend others you may know, but please don't recommend yourself.

Just to give perspective, I currently have a list of around 500 names who are potential speakers/communicators/interviews at upcoming Catalyst events in 2011-2014!

Turn Back the Clock; What's In and Out in Leadership

This is the weekend every year when we turn back the clock. Daylight savings is over, and it is officially fall/winter. Thought I would turn back the clock to a post from several months ago.

A few Random thoughts on What's In and What's Out in Leadership:


- Command and Control is out.

- Management by position is out.

- Wait until you're "old enough" to really lead is out.

- Top Down Hierarchy structure is out.

- Power as the ultimate expression of leadership is out.

- One career in one industry with one employer in one location is out.

- Working your way up the "corporate ladder" is out.

- "My way or the highway" is out

- "you're in charge because you are older" is out


- Authenticity is in.

- Humility is in.

- Flat organizational structure and systems are in.

- Management by skill and know how vs. position is in.

- Lead as soon as you are ready is in.

- Relational equity as a major asset is in.

- Entrepreneurial spirit, boot-strap mentality, and do it yourself attitude is in.

- Generosity, sharing, serving, and "giving it away" is in.

- Free Agency and "project" based careers are in.

- Collaboration and the ability to partner well is in.

Are you in or out?

Where's the Easy Button?

I've got a Red Easy button in my office. The ones from Office Depot. Love hitting it. Even though it never seems to work, it makes me feel better regardless..... But... Reality is, If there is one thing about leadership that is true across the board, it's this: Leadership ISN'T EASY. It's painful, difficult, challenging, stretching and overwhelming. And neither is the Christian life. And unfortunately, there is no Red Easy Button to hit when things get tough.

Heard a great message from Kevin Myers this past weekend on the life of Jacob, paralleling his story with the idea that being under God's blessing doesn't mean things will be easy. God never promised us a life that is comfortable. Or convenient.

That is so true. Too many times we think that being a follower of Christ means that our paths will be paved with gold plated asphalt, with no curves, and lots of smiling and waving. The easy life. Comfortable. Safe. Free from angst or barriers or roadblocks.

God's blessing doesn't mean things will be easy. Whether in life, in family, in relationships, friendships, your career, your business, your finances, etc.

So what to do? A couple of thoughts that Kevin mentioned.

1. Be Persistent and consistent. Stay the course.

2. Break the cycle. If there is a cycle of building and then crumbling, and building and then crumbling, break it.

3. Sweat and Pray. Work hard, play hard, and pray hard.

Interview with Cameron Strang, Part Two and Three

We continue the conversation with Cameron Strang, founder and president of Relevant Media Group, including Relevant Magazine, Neue Magazine, and a host of other great resources. Scroll down a couple of posts on the blog for Part One. In part Two, we discuss a number of issues relevant to leaders, including key lessons for 20 somethings, should you hire talent or experience, the need to focus on what you do best, how to overcome the "founder" syndrome, and why it's important to budget.

In part Three, Cameron goes on the Catalyst Hot Seat for 5 quick and random questions. There's some gold in there though for sure. And you get just a glimpse of how passionate a sports fan, and particularly an Orlando Magic fan, Cameron really is.....



What Pastors and Business Leaders Can Learn from each other

I recently was interviewed by Mike Myatt and he asked me some great leadership questions. Not sure how good my answers were, but in any case, you can watch the entire interview here. One of the questions he asked me was "what can Church leaders learn from Business leaders, and what can business leaders learn from church leaders?" Good question.

I thought I would provide a few more thoughts around this issue here on the blog.

Church Leaders, here are a few things you can learn from Business Leaders:

1. collaboration- business is built around partnerships and collaboration. Many times you will see competitors in business partnering together if it makes business sense and they can create a profitable return. We have a tendency in the Church to be protective, selfish and isolated, whether it's between denominations, associations, or other churches in our communities. Especially the pastor right down the street from us.

2. excellence- if a business doesn't create a great product, no one will buy from them and they will go out of business. And if you aren't good at what you do, whether a designer or consultant or restaurant owner or UPS driver, then you won't last. Sometimes in the church we have the tendency to make excellence a low level priority, and we don't demand that staff members constantly get better. I've written several times about doing what you do with excellence. And pastors, don't be afraid to ask your business leaders to get involved in helping you create excellence with what you do.

3. execution- the business world is built on "getting things done on time." Again, without this as a core value, businesses will fail. Church leaders can learn a ton regarding execution from the business leaders sitting in your seats or pews on Sunday morning.

Business Leaders, here are a few things you can learn from Church Leaders:

1. relationships first- the currency of getting things done in the Church is through relationships. Many times in business we are so focused on execution and profit and margin that we forget about the relational currency we are building or not building.

2. income for greater purposes- Business leaders- Look for ways to create a "triple bottom line" in your business. Meaning you find ways to give back and be generous and help those in need. This has become the new standard for many businesses- no longer are you only measured by what profit you make- but now measured by what kind of investment you give back to the community. Church leaders understand this.

3. leadership- some of the best leaders in the world are on staff at Churches, especially those who lead volunteers every week. If you can get hundreds of volunteers motivated and excited and committed to serving, then there are all kinds of leadership lessons we can learn from you and implement in the business world.

My Interview with Relevant Mag founder Cameron Strang

Check out my recent video interview with Cameron Strang. Cameron is the Founder and President of Relevant Media Group, considers himself to be one of the most rabid Orlando Magic fans around, and is a good friend. He continues to be a thought leader and idea shaper in regards to Faith and Culture, and is an expert when it comes to 20 and 30 somethings and what they are thinking, reading, writing, and dreaming about. If you are not a current subscriber to Relevant Magazine or Neue Magazine, do yourself a favor and buy a subscription. It's worth it. I promise.

In Part One of our interview, we discuss the future of magazines, digital content, why Relevant is having one of its best year's ever, discovering the core of your career sweet spot, and why being hungry is a good thing.


Do you understand you?

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

1. You are never too good at what you do or who you are to need honest feedback from yourself, your peers, your family, and your friends. Seek it out constantly.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Catalyst, Cannon Man, and Francis Chan

A few videos for your weekend viewing. You can see many more like this here. The Cannon Man from Catalyst: David Smith, Jr. From a few different angles!


Francis Chan talks about moving to Asia.


A legacy of child sponsorships through Compassion. A powerful story.


A Podcast you don't want to miss

The brand new episode of the Catalyst Podcast features a recent interview of Jim Collins, best-selling author of Good to Great and leadership/management guru. Our good friend Tim Elmore interviewed Jim.

Also featured on this episode is an interview at Catalyst just two weeks ago with Randall Wallace, Hollywood legend who is the writer of Braveheart, director of the recently released film Secretariat, and director/producer of We Were Soldiers and Pearl Harbor.

You can listen to the episode on the Catalyst site, or better yet, go ahead and subscribe for FREE and download from itunes.

Young Influencers List, October edition

Here you go, the October Edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see past editions here. 1. Dave Blanchard- business designer at IDEO, and founder of 1522 Lab, a social entrepreneur project.

2. Kyle Idleman- teaching pastor at Southeast Christian Church, and author/developer of the Not a Fan Series.

3. Ryan O'Neal- founder of the band Sleeping at Last. Current project Yearbook is releasing 3 new songs every month for 1 year.

4. Darius Weems- the man behind the film Darius Goes West. Incredibly inspiring story and leader.

5. Audrey Assad- singer/songwriter from Nashville. New album just out entitled The House You're Building.

6. Lori Wilhite- pastor at Central Christian in Las Vegas, and founder of Leading and Loving It, connecting and encouraging women in ministry.

Good, Better, Best

Are you operating at Good, Better or Best? Good is what is expected of you. It is slightly above average, and requires some focus and determination to get there, but is relatively easy to achieve.

Better is just that- it's better than good. Being better means you are typically comparing yourself to what is good. Your standard is tied to outdoing good. And good is slightly better than average. Better gets you mentioned at the company picnic, probably gets you a raise on a continual basis, ensures some "atta-boys" from your co-workers, and looks good on a resume.

Best is where you want to live. Best is greatness. Best means there is no one better than you. Best is a standard unto itself. Best has no comparison. Best is award winning, status defining, and legacy creating. Best is the top of the mountain.

Are you good, better or best at what you do? Who you are? How you lead? How you live?

God demands our BEST. Not just a good show. Not just being a good father. Not just being better at your career than someone else. Not just leading a bit better than your c0-worker down the hall. God wants us to be the BEST. Period.

I don't want to just have a good team, or put together a good leadership event, or be a bit better at what I do than others. I want to be the Best in the world. Good NFL teams don't set out to be good. They set out to be the best- winning the Super Bowl.

Being the best requires focus, determination, intentionality, lots of hard work, learning all the time, never giving up, pushing the envelope, and making sacrifices. And we all know when our performance is not our best. When our writing is not our best. When our attention is not at it's best. Our families know it. Our friends know it. Our staffs know it. Our bosses know it. And God knows it.

Make sure your standard is not just being a bit better than average. Or only being better than your competitor. Your standard is being the BEST. God demands it.

Links, Updates and Things to Know

Some stuff you should know about: - I recently wrote an article for Collide Magazine on "Creating A Great Experience." 11 tips for those who create experiences. Check it out.

- The most recent Catalyst Podcast features an interview with Gabe Lyons, bestselling author of unChristian and his most recent book that just released entitled The Next Christians. Listen or Download HERE. You can also check out this video of Gabe Lyons on CNN over the weekend.

- Some great pictures from Catalyst Atlanta last week are here. Thanks to Jay Caruso and Andy Brophy.

- Ken Coleman and I were interviewed recently on the Focus on the Family Boundless Podcast. You can listen here. The interview with us starts at 16:30 into the podcast episode.

- Thought provoking article from Shane Hipps in a recent issue of Relevant. The article is titled "Is Facebook Killing Our Souls?" Worth the read.

- Practical and helpful article on what creative tools, software, apps, and resources are being used by innovators and creatives.

- Check out the Highlight video from Catalyst Atlanta.


Shauna Niequist, Willow Creek Leadership, Bittersweet, and Change

This is part two of my interview with Shauna Niequist. Shauna is the author of the recently released book Bittersweet, and previously released book Cold Tangerines. Some great thoughts on change, leadership, motherhood, and why the Great Lakes are great....


And in case you missed it, this is part one of my interview with Shauna as well.


A few tips for all the Free Agents and Consultants

This post is for those who are TRANSITIONING or have already TRANSITIONED from an organizational environment to being an entrepreneur or "free agent" - whether you are starting your own business, beginning a new season as a "free agent" or "consultant," or just continuing to live life as a true entrepreneur. I have lots and lots of friends who are in this season of life. They've decided to branch out on their own and chase the dream without an organization behind them. Whether leaving the corporate world, or the non-profit world, or leaving a ministry, or leaving a church environment, they have now decided to go at it on their own. Without the comfort and safety of an organization behind them.

So, as someone who might be hiring you to "consult" or provide advice or be a free agent on my team, let me provide a bit of perspective:

1. You currently think you're worth way more than you really are. Most of the time when you transition from a church environment or ministry environment, the first thing you want to do is make way more money than you did before. Let me give you some advice- until you prove that you can deliver, you'll probably make LESS than you did before. Your get rich quick scheme has no legs, so wake up to the reality that you really have to deliver before the money will start pouring in.

2. You think you're busier than you really are. You might feel busy, but are you really getting things done or just creating a lot of stir and hype? You've found this new found freedom in working on your own and having yourself as your boss, and the tendency might be to become a "40-hour workweek snob," where you think everyone who works long weeks in an organizational environment is wasting time. Don't tell me about how busy you are. Just get it done.

3. You think everyone wants to work with you. Reality is, they don't. Not yet anyway. You might have been the big man or big women on campus in your last season, but now you're on your own, and there are LOTS and LOTS of other free agents and consultants ready to step in and steal your thunder.

So what are practical ways to deal with this tendency?

1. Hustle. Pure and simple. You are going to have to outwork, outthink, outcreate, and outhustle the other free agents.

2. Deliver homeruns on every project you're working on. This is HUGE. And very important especially when you are starting out. No singles or doubles. Homeruns. You're establishing your own personal brand, and expectations on what it will look like to work with you in the future. So OVER DELIVER. Regardless of who the client is or what the project is. The word will get around. Don't worry.

3. Become and Expert and a Learner. Since you really don't know it all, you should be incredibly intentional about trying to learn it all. Become an expert by learning from everyone.

4. Be HUMBLE. Again, no one wants to work with you if you are cocky and arrogant and full of yourself. They might for a while, but over time, the opportunities will dissipate and you'll wonder why. I don't care if you are the best in the world at what you do- if you are arrogant and difficult to work with, I'll choose the other option every time.