Friday, July 31, 2009

Tracking: OCPD Squared?

According to an article in USA Today, the new American obsession is to track everything from packages to pizza delivery, to tracking how taxpayer money is being spent. To give you an indication of the interest in tracking, in 1995, UPS had a total of 100,000 online requests for the month of December. In 2008, UPS received an average of 27.3 million requests per day for December.

In The Essential Orange, Karin Koonings says that everybody's tracking something - here are some examples:

Domino's rolled out Pizza Tracker last year which gives consumers a window into the status of their pizzas as well as Domino's a window into the online world of its customers. The Pizza Tracker is used by 75% of Domino's online customers. Besides connecting consumers to their pizzas, the tracker gives the first names of workers who make and deliver their order. gets 6 million package-tracking requests daily, and according to Mark Colombo, senior vice president of digital access marketing, "tracking is one of our top drivers for customer satisfaction," "People are obsessed with it."

Some folks are big trackers of flights. That's why Daniel Baker started FlightAware in 2005. It's a free service that receives FAA information and converts it into maps that track almost all non-military flights in the USA and Canada. That's about 50,000 flights a day. The service receives 100 million flight-tracking requests a month.

Tracking feels like a way to reassure the consumer that their individual purchase or request is important. People don’t have to call a number, be put on hold or get lost in complex phone trees. And while it is an automated feature, is feels personal, allowing you to feel just a bit more in control.

All the examples above have been consumer-related, but I wonder if the same principles might be applied in a church setting?

Does this need for tracking address a human desire for control in a chaotic world?

Or is it just another characteristic of obsessive compulsive personality disorder?

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Does Your Church Need a CIO?

That's Chief Innovation Officer.

In a great post by Larry Lundstrum at The Woodlands Church, a visit to their staff by Disney's Chief Information Officer leads to application to the church; you can read it here.

Disney is a great model for the church to study in a lot of ways, and Larry's post, along with notes from his friend Aaron, will make you think.

One of the most powerful quotes?
You don't have the resources that Disney has, but you have a power that Disney doesn't have.

That power is the Spirit of God - and it's lived out in the lives of His people, working in and through the church to serve the world.

That's innovation! How is your church being innovative to reach your community - and the world?

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Customer Service Champs at the Big Moo

A quick drive-thru visit yesterday to a Chick-fil-A in Salisbury reinforced why they were a winner in Business Week's Customer Service listing.

I pulled into the drive thru, was greeted by a very pleasant associate, placed my order, and drove around to pick it up. A different associate had it ready for me, the order taker was just behind talking to another customer, and the whole transaction took less than a minute from the time I pulled up to the menu.

Our local Chick-fil-A is the same, even though we dine in most of the time. The associates are always courteous, and their deliberate decision to be so makes most customers respond in kind.

One has to look no further than the chain's founder, Truett Cathy, and his principles of business for the reason they are so successful. Here's a sample:

Nearly every moment of every day we have the opportunity to give something to someone else - our time, our love, our resources. I have always found more joy in giving when I did not expect anything in return.

The Chick-fil-A organization lives this out daily in all of its employees.

What about your organization? What's your "GQ"?

That's "giving quotient."

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Falling, Failing, Learning

I just completed my 5th annual 24 Hours of Booty, where 1,200 riders complete a 3 mile loop course for, well, 24 hours. For the second year in a row, some of the most amazing participants have been unicycle riders. On a 3 mile course. With hills, turns, and the like. For 24 hours.

That’s skill, but only as the result of a lot of failure

Seeing the unicyclists on the 24 Hours of Booty ride reminded me of a recent post by Seth Godin. His premise? The reason riding a unicycle is difficult is because it is so sudden.

“All the time you're practicing, you aren't actually riding. You're falling. Then, if you don't give up after all this failure, in a blink, you're riding. No in-between. Failing...riding.”

While many things we do have a gradual learning curve, some things are like the unicycle: practice=failing; repeat; repeat again, then all of a sudden, we’re doing it.

Don’t give up.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Church of England Begins Welcome Initiative

Bald? or Bulging? The Church of England is going out of its way to make sure you feel welcome.

A Church of England book published this week says they should be regarded as worshippers with "special needs" alongside the blind, the deaf, breastfeeding mothers and very short people.
The advice is part of an initiative launched this week to make churches more friendly and less intimidating to newcomers in an attempt to increase attendance at services.

The book, called Everybody Welcome, claims only one in 10 church visitors return because existing worshippers tend to be so unwelcoming.

It urges churches to become more professional in their attitude to attracting newcomers and suggests they follow the example of department stores in appointing customer-care managers.

The book's authors, Anglican clerics, warn that churches' failure to realise how unfriendly they can seem to visitors could lead to long-term decline in the number of people worshipping.

See the whole article here.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Booty Reflections

The HQ of the ReCycle Team. We sleep in the tent to the rear, but hang out under the canopy when we are not on the course or eating up at the food tent.

This was a dry year (unlike the past two), but it got really hot by Saturday afternoon, with no breeze.

Set-up was busier than usual, but we managed to get a decent spot.

Bootyville-where the riders camp out when they are not riding.

It was more crowded than ever this year, with most of the spots taken within 2 hours of the field being opened.

Many teams have multiple tents; they are often decorated with lights and banners.

This year they had a contest on the best-decorated site: Mojo Riders, a large team that rides every year was the winner.

Jeff Autry
Tammy Morris

Chris Morris

This was my most memorable moments of the whole ride. On the parade lap, the course is lined with hundreds of friends and families who are cheering for the riders. Obviously this little guy has a dad on the course, but it meant a lot to all of us!
2009 24 Hours of Booty is over. I didn't rack up as many miles as I would have liked (around 87), but I did set a personal record for the most showers in 24 hours (5). The heat got to me in the end, and I stopped riding late Saturday afternoon.
The most important part of the weekend? Over $800,000 and counting raised for the fight against cancer.
It was a great weekend - I'm tired and sore, and moving slow. The last laps were painful, and I hated to pull off the course, but I knew my body was done. So much for 2009.
I can't wait till 2010!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Start-Finish Line

Here's where we all started last night - and will end at 7 PM tonight.

I've finished another shift, had a quick bite of lunch, more Vitamin Water and Powerade than I should have-now I am heading back out.

Slow and steady....

I think I can, I think I can...

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Bootyville, 8 AM

We're a little over halfway through the 24 Hours of Booty. This is Bootyville-normally the athletic fields of Queens University. But for the 24 HofB, it becomes a place to meet new friends, park your bike between rides, and crash (your body, not your bike!)

There's music playing during the daylight hours, tons of drinks and snacks, and a few vendors giving away samples, letting you test ride (on a stand) your dream bike, and of course Port-a-Potty Row. You can get a free massage or learn yoga stretches that help you ride better.

Bootyville-gotta love it!
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Friday, July 24, 2009

Beginning the Ride

The parade lap of the 8th annual 24 Hours of Booty starts at 7 PM tonight. I'm riding in honor of my dad, Doc Adams, a cancer survivor.

1,200 riders representing 174 teams from 24 states have raised over $800,000 for the ride this year.

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The 24 Hours of Booty Begins Tonight...

...and I'm ready to ride!

The 24 Hours of Booty is pretty much what it sounds like: a 24 hour bike ride on a closed course (the Booty Loop) in Charlotte, NC. It is the only sanctioned 24 hour road course ride for the Lance Armstrong Cancer Foundation.

This is the 5th year I will be participating. I'm captain of the ReCycle Team: Chris and Tammy Morris, Jeff Autry, and me. Our goal is to have at least one rider on the course during the entire 24 hours.

Here's a shot from last year's Booty; that's me on the left in the orange.

I will be leaving shortly to go set up our campsite in Bootyville (the athletic fields of Queens University). I will be posting Tweets from the bike and the course over the next 24 hours. If you want to follow them click on my link to the left. You can also check out my Facebook page.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A Few Questions about the Business of Church

My college degree is in accounting. My master's degree from seminary is in church administration and communication. I have done additional post-graduate work in church business administration; I am a certified Fellow in Church Business Administration. I have been a member of the National Association of Church Business Administration since 1992. I just returned from that group's annual meeting in Long Beach, and I have a few questions:

  • Why is one of the largest gatherings of church administration types getting grayer?
  • Where are the administrators of non-denominational churches?
  • Do these administrators network in any fashion?
  • What is the value of peers coming together, digitally or in person, to support one another?
  • Is a new model of "church administrator" coming into being?
  • Isn't the operation of whatever you call "church" becoming more complex? How do you manage it, then?

Just thinking...

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Business Activities in the Church

It is my privilege to work with churches of all sizes, organizational styles, and structure. But no matter what the church, there are some "business activities" that they must deal with in some form or fashion. The following list of activities require management skill:
  • Financial
  • Human Resources
  • Information
  • Office
  • Food Service
  • Image
  • Facilities

You can probably add more. Whether it is a one-staff church or a church with 300 staff members, most, if not all, of the above activities take place every day. Here are some implications for those who are responsible for managing these activities:

  • Leaders who have the responsibility for management must be intentional not only about their primary assignments but also regarding the issues that other members of the organization face
  • Effective managers regularly collaborate with other people through significant processes to facilitate smooth systems operation and to prevent signs and sounds of discontent and malfunctioning organizations
  • For an organization to be effective, it must pursue excellence

How does your church handle "business" practices?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Business of Church

I just returned from the annual meeting of the National Association of Church Business Administration (NACBA). I've been a member of this group since 1992, when I had the privilege of completing the Fellow in Church Business Administration at Candler School of Theology at Emory University in Atlanta.

When I graduated from college with a degree in accounting, I knew I had been called by God to work with churches in the area of business and administration. My wife and I packed up our belongings and left with our 6 month old son to head to Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in 1981, where I obtained a Masters in Religious Education, with a concentration in Business and Communication.

From 1981-2004 I served on the staff of three churches in various positions, with combinations of communication, education, discipleship, and administration. These were three different types and sizes of churches, in three different states, in three different ministry settings. But there was always a common denominator:

The church is not a business, but it needs to follow business principles to make it most effective in its true calling.

I'll be exploring this idea the rest of the week.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Back from West Coast Trip

I would have taken a picture from LAX when I left this morning, but the sun wasn't up - and I barely was! True to the nature of this West Coast trip, my original flight was canceled, but at least they rebooked it for me as a direct flight. I just had to get from Long Beach up to LAX, leaving the hotel at 4:45 AM. I'm back in Charlotte, several time zones later, according to my body.

The NACBA continues on for a couple of days, but my part concluded last night with the close of the expo floor. During the 2 1/2 days of the expo, I met some potential clients, talked to a lot of old friends in the NACBA, and made some new ones.

My presentation Sunday afternoon - "Turn the Ordinary into Extraordinary" was very well-received. Using Starbucks as a model from the business world and Granger Community Church from the church world, the session was on how churches need to provide top quality guest services and experiences. Audience participation and interaction was very good, especially since my speaking slot was the afternoon death valley: 1-2:45 PM.

I've already begun modifying and revising it, and will continue to do so for presentation at the upcoming WFX Charlotte October 28-30.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

This IS Long Beach!

I arrived 9 hours late, missed help setting up the display booth and the expo opening, but I am finally here.

This is the view from my hotel: the Queen Mary, now a hotel, restaurant, and tourist attraction.

Time to get to work: I am at the National Association of Church Business Administration annual meeting. In addition to the expo, I am being recertified as a Fellow in Church Business Administration this morning and I will be speaking Sunday afternoon.
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Friday, July 17, 2009

This is not Long Beach...'s Phoenix-but it is on the way to Long Beach. However, my flight has just been announced as a 2 hour delay. It's 112 degrees here, but don't worry-it's a dry heat.

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A Slight Detour

This is not Phoenix; this is Chicago. Which is where I ended up when my flight out of Charlotte developed problems, had to return, and I rebooked. I will be 7 hours late, but I will eventually be in Long Beach tonight.

I think.
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Early Morning Airport Views

Nobody is conversational on a shuttle bus at 5:30 AM

There is no line at the ticket counter or security checkpoint-none; what planet am I on?

The Cinabon place is a wonderful smell at 5:45

At least 3 different mission groups are headed somewhere to make a difference

The brighter it gets in the terminal the more conversation levels increase

A squeaky wheel definitely needs the grease

Little boys are always outrunning dads and having to be called back

Mobile phones to the ear is the rule, not the exception

Bookstores, as always, are my favorite way to spend time waiting

What will travel be like in 10 years?

Little girls don't dress like little girls anymore; it appears the age to make a fashion statement is about half of what it was a few years ago

Time to board: California, here I come!

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009


I don't know if communication makes the world go 'round, but poor communication can make it come to a screeching halt.

Whatever the context - between individuals, among groups, in business settings, whatever - communication must be a full cycle event in order to be valid. Assumptions can't be made, "we've always done it this way" doesn't work, and hearing isn't always understanding.

How we communicate - or don't - is a critical issue for leaders. It is a learned skill that needs constant practice and continual refinement. I don't think you will ever perfect it, but should always strive for perfection.

How's your CQ - communications quotient?
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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What's Your Frame of Reference?

Do you want to know what the future will look like in the next 10 years? That's simple: study the habits and personalities of today's older teenagers. But be careful not to "assume" you know what their frame of reference is.

Each August for the past 11 years, Beloit College in Beloit, Wis., has released the Beloit College Mindset List. It provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college. It is the creation of Beloit’s Keefer Professor of the Humanities Tom McBride and Public Affairs Director Ron Nief. The List is shared with faculty and with thousands who request it each year as the school year begins, as a reminder of the rapidly changing frame of reference for this new generation.

College freshman have grown up in an era where computers and rapid communication are the norm, and colleges no longer trumpet the fact that residence halls are “wired” and equipped with the latest hardware. These students will hardly recognize the availability of telephones in their rooms since they have seldom utilized landlines during their adolescence. They will continue to live on their cell phones and communicate via texting. Roommates, few of whom have ever shared a bedroom, have already checked out each other on Facebook where they have shared their most personal thoughts with the whole world.

Take a look at it. It's fascinating - and it's the future!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Pass It On

As Yogi Berra said, it’s like déjà vu all over again.

Over the weekend my wife and I visited with our last two kids still at home. This summer, they are both serving in Christian camps in different parts of the state. Our daughter is on the camp staff at the North Carolina Baptist Assembly in Oak Island, NC. Our son is a counselor at the Caraway Boys Camp near Asheboro, NC. This weekend was a half-way break in their summer, and we got to see a little of what their life has been thus far.

As we walked the beach Saturday night, hearing our daughter laugh and talk with her new friends made on staff, and listened to our son telling stories about camp experiences, there was a vague sense that this had happened before. It became clear to me in Sunday worship.

30 years ago this summer, I was in Cleveland, OH, serving as a student summer missionary in both the inner city and suburbs. 30 years ago last summer, my wife was a student summer missionary in Buffalo, NY. Those were pivotal events in our lives, shaping and defining where our paths were to lead. As I reflected on those summer experiences and what has transpired since then, I realized the importance of what my kids were experiencing now.

The speaker in the worship service at camp sealed the thought for me. Not only is she an active youth pastor, over the years 3 of her sons had also served on the staff of this camp. So as she spoke Sunday, the words and stories she told were very real – and they became an affirmation to me as well.

She spoke of gifts that can’t be repaid, but simply passed on to others:

  • Salvation
  • God’s Presence
  • Hope

In the long hours, low pay, and lack of applause, the camp staff was reminded that in the process of losing our lives for others, we often find our lives. I know that was the case for my wife and I over 30 years ago.

I wonder what events are shaping my children’s lives this summer, and what they are passing on to those kids they come into contact with?

What about you? What are you “passing on” today?

Friday, July 10, 2009


This week has been a whirlwind tour of Dr. John Media's "Brain Rules". His work is a fascinating journey into our brains, developing a set of 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school. Though I've only taken a look at 5 of the 12, I encourage you to get a copy of his book, check out his website, and find out how they can make a difference in the way you live.

Here are some of his comments about vision:

Vision trumps all other senses.

  • Vision is by far our most dominant sense, taking up half of our brain's resources.
  • What we see is only what our brain tells us we see, and it is not 1005 accurate.
  • The visual analysis we do has many steps. The retina assembles photons into little movie-like streams of information. The visual cortex processes these streams, some areas registering motion, others registering color, etc. Finally, we combine that information back together so we can see.
  • We learn and remember best through pictures, not through written or spoken words.
  • We are incredible at remembering pictures. Hear a piece of information, and three days later you'll remember 10% of it. Add a picture and you'll remember 65%.
  • Pictures beat text as well, in part because reading is so inefficient for us. Our brain sees words as lots of tiny pictures, and we have to identify certain features in the letters to be able to read them. That takes time.
  • Why is vision such a big deal to us? Perhaps because it's how we've always apprehended major threats, food supplies and reproductive opportunity.
  • Toss your PowerPoint presentations. It’s text-based (nearly 40 words per slide), with six hierarchical levels of chapters and subheads—all words. Professionals everywhere need to know about the incredible inefficiency of text-based information and the incredible effects of images. Burn your current PowerPoint presentations and make new ones.

Check out this video for more information on vision.

Thursday, July 9, 2009


Are you a lark or an owl?

Larks are most alert around noon, and feel most productive at work a few hours before they eat lunch. They don't need an alarm clock because they invariably get up before the alarm rings - usually before 6 AM. Larks get drowsy in the early afternoon, and go to bed around 9 PM. About 10% of the population are larks.

Owls are most alert around 6 PM, experiencing their most productive work times in the late evening. They rarely go to bed before 3 AM, and most definitely need an alarm clock (with multiple alarms) to wake up. About 20% of the population are owls.

The rest of us, about 70% are hummingbirds, flitting back and forth on a continuum between more owlish behavior, or more larkish behavior, or somewhere in between. Our sleep patterns shift back and forth as our circumstances dictate.

Who's right? How much, and what kind, of sleep does a person need. The short answer: science doesn't know. However, studies have shown that whatever amount of sleep is right for you, when robbed of that (in either direction), bad things really do happen to your brain.

John Medina's "Brain Rules" gives 12 principles for surviving and thriving at work, home, and school. I've been looking at a few of the these this week, and the "sleep" brain rule has been an interesting one!
Sleep well, think well.

  • The brain is in a constant state of tension between cells and chemicals that try to put you to sleep and cells and chemicals that try to keep you awake.

  • The neurons of your brain show vigorous rhythmical activity when you're asleep - perhaps replaying what you learned that day.

  • People vary in how much sleep they need and when they prefer to get it, but the biological drive for an afternoon nap is universal.

  • Loss of sleep hurts attention, executive function, working memory, mood, quantitative skills, logical reasoning, and even motor dexterity.

  • We still don’t know how much we need! It changes with age, gender, pregnancy, puberty, and so much more.

  • Napping is normal. Ever feel tired in the afternoon? That’s because your brain really wants to take a nap. There's a battle raging in your head between two armies. Each army is made of legions of brain cells and biochemicals –- one desperately trying to keep you awake, the other desperately trying to force you to sleep. Around 3 p.m., 12 hours after the midpoint of your sleep, all your brain wants to do is nap.

  • Taking a nap might make you more productive. In one study, a 26-minute nap improved NASA pilots’ performance by 34 percent.

  • Don’t schedule important meetings at 3 p.m. It just doesn’t make sense.

Just be careful where you nap!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Short-Term Memory

Say your Social Security number out loud (preferably where no one else can hear, but that’s another story). Piece of cake, right?

Now, remember how to ride a bike. Not so easy, huh?

This quick exercise is a great introduction to another one of Dr. John Medina’s “Brain Rules”:

Repeat to remember

The point in the above exercise? One does not recall how to ride a bike in the same way one recalls nine numbers in a certain order. The ability to ride a bike seems quite independent from any conscious recollection of the skill. You were consciously aware when you were remembering your Social Security number, but not when riding a bike. Do you need to have conscious awareness in order to experience a memory? Or is there more than one type of memory? No, and yes! Take a look at this video for a quick lesson on your memory.

Other facts:

  • The brain has many types of memory systems. One type follows four stages of processing: encoding, storing, retrieving, and forgetting

  • Information coming into your brain is immediately split into fragments that are sent to different regions of the cortex for storage

  • Most of the events that predict whether something learned also will be remembered occur in the first few seconds of learning. The more elaborately we encode a memory during its initial moments, the stronger it will be

  • You can improve your chances of remembering something if you reproduce the environment in which you first put it into your brain

The human brain can only hold about seven pieces of information for less than 30 seconds! This means, your brain can only handle a 7-digit phone number. If you want to extend the 30 seconds to a few minutes or even an hour or two, you will need to consistently re-expose yourself to the information. Memories are so volatile that you have to repeat to remember.

Improve your memory by elaborately encoding it during its initial moments. Many of us have trouble remembering names. If at a party you need help remembering Mary, it helps to repeat internally more information about her. “Mary is wearing a blue dress and my favorite color is blue.” It may seem counterintuitive at first but study after study shows it improves your memory.

In partnership with the University of Washington and Seattle Pacific University, Medina tested this Brain Rule in real classrooms of 3rd graders. They were asked to repeat their multiplication tables in the afternoons. The classrooms in the study did significantly better than the classrooms that did not have the repetition. If brain scientists get together with teachers and do research, we may be able to eliminate need for homework since learning would take place at school, instead of the home.

Probably the most surprising fact in this chapter on memory is best related in a couple of images: which one is the best metaphor for what happens to our brains in the first few seconds of new information?

You might be surprised:

I was!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Every brain is wired differently.

What YOU do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like – it literally rewires it. We used to think there were just 7 categories of intelligence. But categories of intelligence may number more than 7 billion—roughly the population of the world.

No two people have the same brain, not even twins. Every student’s brain, every employee’s brain, every customer’s brain is wired differently.

You can either accede to it or ignore it. The current system of education ignores it by having grade structures based on age. Businesses such as Amazon are catching on to mass customization (the Amazon homepage and the products you see are tailored to your recent purchases). As a regular customer of Amazon, they almost "know" me and my areas of interest better than I do!

Regions of the brain develop at different rates in different people. The brains of school children are just as unevenly developed as their bodies. Our school system ignores the fact that every brain is wired differently. We wrongly assume every brain is the same.

Here is a quick video by Dr. John Medina, author of "Brain Rules", talking a little more about our brain's wiring.

This is mind-blowing (bad pun intended). The human brain is individually wired. When God "knit us together", and created as as "works of art", He made us unique in many ways that science is just now beginning to understand.

A quick summary:

  • What you do and learn in life physically changes what your brain looks like - it literally rewires it

  • The various regions of the brain develop at different rates in different people

  • No two people's brains store the same information in the same way in the same place

  • We have a great number of ways of being intelligent, many of which do not show up on IQ tests

The book is "Brain Rules" by Dr. John Medina. You really need to take a look at it!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Brain Power

12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, & School

I've stumbled across a book that has documented what's really going on inside my head - and that's something that I've been wondering about for a long time!

In "Brain Rules," molecular biologist Dr. John Medina shares his lifelong interest in how the brain sciences might influence the way we teach our children and the way we work. In a series of 12 chapters, he describes a Brain Rule - what scientists know for sure about how our brain works - and then offers transformative ideas for daily lives. The book is a great resource by itself, but Medina has also gathered some great supporting resources available at In a short video presentation for each section, he gives background information, research documentation, and a personal summary of the topic.

I'm going to pull out a few of the Brain Rules this week, and hopefully pique your curiosity so that you want to dive into a little bit of research about your own brain, understanding how it really works - and how to get the most out of it.

Rule #1 - Exercise boosts brain power

  • Our brains were built for walking - 12 miles a day!

  • To improve your thinking skills, move.

  • Exercise gets blood to your brain, bringing it glucose for energy and oxygen to soak up the toxic electrons that are left over. It also stimulates the protein that keeps neurons connecting.

  • Aerobic exercise just twice a week halves your risk of general dementia. It cuts your risk of Alzheimer's by 60 percent.
Want to know more? Check out this short video on "Exercise."

While we always have heard this, I'm putting it to the test. I've ramped up my personal exercise program (riding a bike) this week. Already I "feel" better, but I hope to also "think" better!

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th!

Celebrating Independence Day watching "1776" and eating this cake Anita baked.
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Friday, July 3, 2009

Little Red Book of Selling

I'm closing this week of looking at "The 100 Best Business Books of All Times" by talking about selling. The specific book in question is Jeffrey Gitomer's "Little Red Book of Selling." Gitomer is a sales consultant, prolific author, and motivator.

If you think a book about sales isn't appropriate about the church leadership world, you would be wrong. This book could also be entitled the Little Red Book of Buying. As Gitomer would say, people don't like to be sold, but they love to buy. The people that churches are reaching, and more importantly want to reach, are the same. If you want to connect with them, you must begin to adopt a philosophy that drives you to a higher, value-driven, helping purpose.

This book offers motivation to get you jump-started on interactions with people. Although it is a collection of many of the great sales teaching philosophies, it can be a great learning tool for leaders whose "product" is relationships with people. The nuggets in this book may be couched in "sales" terms, but make no bones about it: you will learn dozens of effective techniques for interacting with people, and creating networks of relationships that will impact your ministry in powerful ways.

Here's a quote that pretty much sums up why I like Gitomer, and why I think leaders in ChurchWorld should be reading his work:

It's not hard sell, it's heart sell. Good questions get to the heard of the problem/need/situation very quickly - without the buyer feeling like he or she is being pushed.

Substitute the word "buyer" with your choice of words - friend, guest, unbeliever, prospect - and you have a pretty good philosophy of engaging people where they are at, and building a relationship with them.

That's my quick look at "The 100 Best Business Books of All Time." Check it out of your local library, or pick up a copy for your own library. There's a wealth of wisdom inside from the business world that you can make applications in your world today.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Why We Buy

Churches can learn a lot from the retail sector. Churches don't sell a "product", or engage in offering goods and/or services for cash - or do they?

"Why We Buy" by Paco Underhill is a classic that I have posted on before - a series of three applications to ChurchWorld here, here, and here. For details, go back to those prior posts. I'm revisiting it today not only because it is on the Top 100 list, but because of the power of its message:

There is a "science" to shopping, and by understanding that science, you can become more successful at it. The relevance to ChurchWorld is the same. The same three distinct aspects of shopping: design (the space); merchandising (what you put in the space); and operations (whatever employees do) apply to churches too.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Leading Change

Change is a constant reality. Not only that, but the rate of change is increasing exponentially. How do you handle change?

John Kotter has written some great works on change; "Leading Change" is the best of a trilogy of works on change. "Help, My Iceberg is Melting" takes the content of "Leading Change" and puts in a fable about a group of penguins on an iceberg. "A Sense of Urgency" focuses in on the first of his change principles. Here is a summary of Kotter's 8 step process:

1. Create a Sense of Urgency.Help others see the need for change and the importance of acting immediately.
2. Pull Together the Guiding Team. Make sure there is a powerful group guiding the change—one with leadership skills, bias for action, credibility, communications ability, authority, analytical skills.
3. Develop the Change Vision and Strategy. Clarify how the future will be different from the past, and how you can make that future a reality.
4. Communicate for Understanding and Buy-in. Make sure as many others as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.
5. Empower Others to Act. Remove as many barriers as possible so that those who want to make the vision a reality can do so.
6. Produce Short-Term Wins. Create some visible, unambiguous successes as soon as possible.
7. Don’t Let Up. Press harder and faster after the first successes. Be relentless with instituting change after change until the vision becomes a reality.
8. Create a New Culture. Hold on to the new ways of behaving, and make sure they succeed, until they become a part of the very culture of the group.

One of the paradoxes of the church today is that it demands continual innovation yet often resists change. Understanding how to lead through change is a great skill all leaders need to have - especially in ChurchWorld.
How's your Leadership Change Quotient?