Young Influencers List December Edition

Here you go, the December edition of the Young Influencers List. You can see all the past editions here.

1. Cecil Shorts III - NFL wide receiver for the Houston Texans. 

2. Jessica Ekstrom - founder and CEO of Headbands of Hope, an innovative company creating jewelry and accessories that end up providing hope and dignity to children with cancer. 

3. Barnabas Piper - Nashville based author, speaker, blogger and brand manager of Leadership Development for LifeWay

4. JGivens - Jeremiah Givens, uber talented hip hop artist, producer, rapper, DJ and part of Humble Beast records. 

5. Daniel Lucas - lead pastor of Better Life Church in Morehead, KY. 

6. Zakiya Larry - Dallas based speaker and director of media relations for TD Jakes Ministries, along with CEO of Quest Media Training. 

7. Dan Lin - LA based film producer and CEO of Lin Pictures, with such notable films as The Lego Movie and Sherlock Holmes to his credit. 

15 Organizations worth a Year End Gift

It's end of the year, and lots of us wait until the last week of the year to give to churches, ministries and non profit organizations. 

Knowing that, 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.

Here are some organizations I can give my five star rubber stamp approval on: 

1. Convoy of Hope - they brought their trucks to Catalyst for several years, sponsored the Present: Hope Bike Tour a couple of years ago, and are now feeding hundreds of thousands of kids around the world. I've seen their work up close the last several years on several trips to Haiti and Nicaragua. Their feeding programs and disaster response and relief is amazing.

2. 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.

3. Compassion- go sponsor a child. I sponsor several. I've seen their work up close in Rwanda, Guatemala and Ecuador. Your money is being stewarded well.

4. 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.

5. Plywood People - leading a community of startups "doing good." Run by longtime friend Jeff Shinabarger. I have served on the board for several years, so I'm a bit biased. Initiatives such as Plywood Presents, Gift Card Giver, and coaching of young social innovators is part of the Plywood People mission.

6. San Francisco City Impact - a rescue mission run by Christian Huang, doing incredible work in the tenderloin district in downtown San Francisco, meeting spiritual and physical needs of the inner city. Including community outreach, homeless shelters, feeding program, and church. 

7. International Justice MissionGary Haugen and the team at IJM have been fighting sex trafficking and human slavery for the last 20 years. Rescuing victims as well as bringing justice to areas where no justice exists.

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

9. 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.

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

11. 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.

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

13. 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.

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

15. Bearings Bike Shop - run by friends Tim and Becky O'Mara, providing hope through bicycles for kids in the city of Atlanta, building community one bike at a time. 

and most importantly- invest in Your Local Church! Make sure you are giving regularly to your local church body. That is the place to start! Mine is Passion City Church, and feel free to give there if you don't have a local church! 

8 Key Leadership Questions to ask in Reviewing 2015

As leaders- it's critical we stop and review the year. 

It's important we take time as leaders to reflect and look back over the last 12 months, as well as looking forward to the next 12 months and beyond.

So here are some helpful Year End Review Questions:

1. What are the 2-3 themes that personally defined 2015 for me?

2. What people, books, accomplishments, or special moments created highlights in 2015?

3. Give yourself a grade from 1-10 in the following areas of focus for 2015: vocationally, spiritually, family, relationally, emotionally, financially, physically, recreationally.

4. What am i working on that is BIG for 2016 and beyond?

5. As I move into 2016, is a majority of my energy being spent on things that drain me or things that energize me?

6. How am I preparing for 10 years from now? 20 years from now?

7. What 2-3 things have I been putting off that I need to execute on before the end of the year, or the first week of January 2016?

8. Is my family closer at the end of this year? Am I a better friend at the end of this year? If not, what needs to change immediately?

7 Ways to Live out "Stick-with-it-ness" Leadership

Leaders today need some stick-with-it-ness. 

Here are a few thoughts on the idea of stick-with-it-ness leadership. You could also call it "hang in there" leadership! 

1. Start strong. Come out of the gates with a commitment to excellence. Finishing well means starting well. . 

2. Move the needle daily. Small daily innovations and improvements turn into game changing and paradigm shifting contributions. 

3. Find joy in the journey. Allow joy to bubble up in the everyday. Joy and happiness finds life in hope and faith, which leads to passion for moving the needle and making it happen. 

4. Push through the mundane middle. The middle is the hardest. My 5 mile daily run is always the toughest at the mid mark. Stay disciplined and focused in the minutia and mundane of the middle. 

5. Trust the process. The process will and should define you. So allow the process to be your friend and ally, not an enemy you're trying to avoid. 

6. Keep your eyes on the prize. Take the long view! Mountain climbers don't just climb to climb, they climb to reach the summit. 

7. Faithfulness matters. Faithfulness is the true measure of success. Your scorecard is based on what you did with what you were given. 

One Thing Leaders Must Do and Not Do

There are lots of things that leaders should do, but what about the things leaders SHOULDN'T do?

From my perspective, here is ONE thing leaders shouldn't do, and then the reverse that answers the ONE thing leaders should do question.

Leaders- DON'T become so insulated from reality that you lose connection to what is actually happening around you and within you. 

Leaders- DO set up a system that allows for honesty, vulnerability, accountability and transparency. 

Power corrupts if left unchecked. This can happen to any of us. If we don't have accountability, then we are setting ourselves up for failure. At some point it will catch up to us. We should all strive for realness, authenticity, vulnerability and transparency.

Given to your own perspective, your own situation, your own motivations and goals, power will end up leading to isolation, which leads to insulation, and then towards idolization, and ultimately towards decay, dysfunction, and failure. 

Ambition, drive and success is great, but without context it can be a deadly poison.