Saturday, July 31, 2010

Why I Rode in the 24 Hours of Booty

My dad is a cancer survivor.
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Thank You Blue Bell!

Coming off the course for a break, I find volunteers handing out Orange Dreamsicles donated by Blue Bell Ice Cream. That hit the spot!
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Recovery Food, Bob style

Yes, that's a pint of chocolate milk and a Little Debbie Fudge Round-perfect for recovering from 3 hours on the bike.

At least it's not Cherry Coke...

...that's later this afternoon!
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Red, White, and Blue

This is what my helmet looks like at 4 AM: that's RWB neon strips to match the ones on my wrist and the ones around my neck. Did I mention that my uniform is RWB too? Oh yeah-so are my bike shoes.

USA all the way!

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Friday, July 30, 2010

Break Time!

It's hard to tell, but this is a booth set up by The Melting Pot - chocolate covered strawberries! A popular place at 11 PM.
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Waiting at the starting line

Jeff and I are deep in the starting lineup. The Survivors roll off first, then the top fundraisers, then the masses. It takes quite a while for everyone to get rolling.

The Booty course is a 2.97 mile loop around Queens University in the Myers Park community. It's a beautiful tree-lined course. Many of the residents line the course throughout the event, cheering the riders.

We passed our 1 million dollar goal earlier today, and donations are still coming in.
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2010 reCycle Team

Chris, Tammy, Jeff, Bob - getting ready to roll off. With 1,200 other riders!

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reCycle Team HQ

Our tent and dining canopy, set up just off Main Street in Bootyville. I think setting up both of them in the hot sun ought to be worth a couple of laps!
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Using a Trimeth Lab to Boost Your Influence

The chemical and pharmaceutical industries have given us drugs for everything under the sun. You might be surprised to learn, however, that there's a drug that could make you more persuadable if you take it and make you more persuasive if you give it to others. Perhaps even more shocking is the fact that this drug is now widely available through "trimeth labs" that are popping up in neighborhoods everywhere.

Before we explore that trimeth lab, a quick explanation: I'm wrapping up a series of posts from a great book entitled "Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive" by Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein, and Steve Martin. The information above (and expanded below) is a sample of simple but remarkably effective strategies that will make you much more persuasive at work and in your personal life.

Now - back to that trimeth lab.

The drug, known in the chemistry community as 1, 3, 7-trimethylxanthin, is more commonly known as caffeine, and these "trimeth labs" are more commonly known as coffee shops. Be it Starbucks, McCafe, or your local favorite coffee house, the beverage you get there is a potential tool of influence and persuasion. We all know that caffeine can make us feel more alert, but can it make us more persuasive?

To test coffee's persuasive prowess, scientist Pearl Martin and her colleagues first asked all of their participants to drink a product resembling orange juice.  Half of the research subjects had their drink spiked with caffeine - the approximate amount that you might find in two cups of espresso.

Shortly after drinking the juice, all participants read a series of messages containing very good arguments advocating a certain position on a controversial issue. Those who had consumed the caffeinated beverage before reading those arguments were 35 percent more favorably disposed toward that position than were those who drank the plain juice.

The researchers also tested the effect of caffeine when particpants read messages containing weak arguments. The results showed that caffeine has little persuasive power under these circumstances.

Given a choice, the studies suggest that you should make presentations when people are most alert - shortly after they've had their morning coffee fix, and never right after lunch. If you can't choose the time of day, having coffee or caffeinated tea or other drinks on hand should make your audience more receptive to your message. Be aware that it usually takes about forty minutes for the full effect of caffeine to kick in, so time your prestenation well!

Remember, the research suggests that this strategy is effective only if your arguements are genuine, thoughtful, and well-reasoned. So pour yourself a cup of coffee and write, edit, and rewrite your next presentation till it is absolutely on point.

Then break out the coffee for your audience.

If you have enjoyed this post as an example of increasing your persuasion, check out the others in the series from Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. I highly recommend the book as well. The stories and examples contained show that persuasion is not just an art, but has many elements of science to it as well. Here is a link to purchase it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

When Asking a Little Goes a Long Way

At 5'7", I'm very familiar with the phrase "Good things come in small packages." I've never felt my height (or lack thereof) was a detriment to any phase of my life. Thinking big by going small is a powerful concept.

Consider the following scenario: you are asking colleagues to support a favorite charity of yours. Even though many would genuinely like to support the charity in some way say no because they can't afford to donate very much and they assume the small amount they can afford won't do very much to help the cause.

Researchers put this hypthosis to the test, going door to door to ask for contributions to the American Cancer Society. After introducing themselves, they asked the residents, "Would you be willing to help by giving a donation?" For half of the residents, the request ended there. For the other half, however, the research assistants added, "Even a penny will help."

Analysis of the results found that a penny's worth of ask was worth a pound of persuasive gold. People in the "even a penny will help: condition were almost twice as likely as those in the other condition to donate to the cause.

There are several applications for the "even a penny will help" approach:
  • To friends and members regarding participation in a community project, "Just an hour of your time would really help."
  • To a colleague whose handwriting is illegible, "Just a little more clarity would help."
  • To a busy prospective client whose needs must be more fully understood "Even a brief phone call would help."
The chances are that this little step in your direction won't prove so little after all.

The above information came from a great book entitled "Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive." Authors Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein, and Steve Martin reveal simple but remarkably effective strategies that will make you much more persuasive at work and in your personal life.

This week I am looking at some of my favorite examples of persuasion from the book. Here are the posts from Monday and Tuesday.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Jumping on the Bandwagon

When you are leading out in new directions, and want to get group buy-in, there's nothing like using the momentum of the bandwagon.

But remember: the person who asks others to "jump on" is critical.

In a wide-ranging study based on hotel guests buying in to the reusing of towels for more than one night, social scientists were able to increase the frequency of reuse by several different methods. In addition to the standard environmental protection appeal and the social proof appeal (guests in our hotel reused towels x% of the time), the study went one step further.

Using data collected from the housekeeping staff, some guests saw a simple sign informing them that the majority of people who had previously stayed in their particular room participated in the towel reuse program at some point in their stay.

Guests who learned that the majority of the prior occupants of their particular room had participated were even more likely to reuse their towels than guests who learned the norms of the hotel in general. Compared to the standard environmental appeal, there was a 33 percent increase in the likelihood of participation.

Its usually beneficial for us to follow the behavioral norms associated with the particular environment, situation or circumstances that most closely match our own. The results of this experiment suggest that the more similar the person giving the testimonial is to the target audience, the more persuasive the message becomes.

Here's the application: say you're trying to persuade your team to willingly embrace a new system. You should ask for a positive testimonial from others within your group who have already agreed to make the switch. But what if you've got a really stubborn team member, maybe one who has the most invested in the old way? Don't make the mistake of choosing the most eloquent team member to try to convince the holdout. Instead, look for someone to solicit the opinions of another coworker who most closely matches the situations and circumstances of the holdout - even if that particular person happens to be less articulate or popular.

It's all about understanding the circumstances of those who are most comparable to your target audience.

The above information came from a great book entitled "Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive." Authors Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein, and Steve Martin reveal simple but remarkably effective strategies that will make you much more persuasive at work and in your personal life.

This week I will be looking at some of my favorite examples of persuasion from the book; here is yesterday's post.

Monday, July 26, 2010

How to Make Your Influence "Stick"

Want to make your written communications more likely to be read?

Use a sticky note.

Social scientist Randy Garner ran an intriguing study in which he sent out surveys to people with a request to complete them. The survey was accompanied by either (a) a handwritten sticky note requesting completion of the survey, which was attached to a cover letter; (b) a similar handwritten message on the cover letter; or (c) the cover letter and survey alone.

That little yellow square packed quite a persuasive punch: more than 75 percent of the people who received the survey with the sticky note request filled it out and returned it, whereas only 48 percent of the second group and 36 percent of the third group did so.

Garner suggests that people recognize the extra effort and personal touch that this requires, and that they feel the need to reciprocate this personal touch by agreeing to the request. Reciprocity is the social glue that helps bring and keep people together in cooperative relationships - and you can bet that it's a stronger adhesive than the kind on the back of a sticky note.

An ounce of personalized extra effort is worth a pound of persuasion.

The above information came from a great book entitled "Yes! 50 Scientifically Proven Ways to be Persuasive." Authors Robert Cialdini, Noah Goldstein, and Steve Martin  reveal simple but remarkably effective strategies that will make you much more persuasive at work and in your personal life.

This week I will be looking at some of my favorite examples of persuasion from the book.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

National Drive-Thru Day

We spend $110 billion in the drive-thru lanes of fast-food joints each year, but burgers and shakes aren't alone in getting the grab and go treatment. Other notable events in drive-thru history:
  • 1948: In-N-Out Burger opens in Baldwin Park, CA, and the fast food drive-thru is born.
  • 1953: Roller-skating carhops become a signature at the first Sonic dive-in.
  • 1953: The First Christian Church of Daytona Beach converts a drive-in theater into the first drive-in church.
  • 1975: McDonald's opens its first drive-thru in AZ.
  • 1989: Chicago's Gatling's Funeral Home introduces a drive-thru viewing option.
  • 2004: McDonald's and other chains begin outsourcing order taking.
  • 2006: A Subway in Ohio implements touch-screen drdering in the drive-trud
  • 2009: The Burgerville chain opens its drive-thru to bicycists.

Celebrate with a Quarter Pounder and fries!

Friday, July 23, 2010

More on The Big Idea

The last thing the mission of Jesus Christ needs is more Christians…

Startling sentence? Yes – but the facts bear it out: While the majority of people in the US call themselves Christians (as high as 85%), how are they doing when it comes to accomplishing Jesus’ mission? Some recent research reveals the following:

  • Christians are no more likely to give assistance to a homeless person than non-Christians
  • Christians are no more likely than non-Christians to correct the mistake of a cashier giving them too much change
  • A Christian is just as likely to have an elective abortion as a non-Christian
  • Christians divorce at the same rate as those who consider themselves non-Christians
  • Even though there are more big churches than ever before filled with people who proudly call themselves Christian, 50 % of Christian churches didn’t help one single person find salvation

The Barna Research Group did a survey involving over 150 items like the above comparing the general population with those who called themselves Christians. The survey found virtually NO difference between the two groups: no difference in the attitudes and no difference in the actions. There is a huge problem of the absence of distinction between Christians and non-Christians. Where is the church missing out?

Dave Ferguson and the leaders at Christian Community Church have approached this problem from a unique angle. The result: "The Big Idea", an action plan that will help you focus the message and sharpen the impact of your church on the community. Yesterday, I took a look at how they saw the problem; today, a sketch of a very workable solution.

It is one Big Idea at a time that brings clarity to the confusion that comes from too many little ideas.
  • The Big Idea can help you creatively present one laser-focused theme each week to be discussed in families and small groups
  • The Big Idea shows you how to engage in a process of creative collaboration that brings people together and maximizes missional impact
  •  The Big Idea can energize a church staff and bring alignment and focus to many diverse church ministries

The Big Idea is a great resource for you to use in your church. I encourage you to get the book today! Here’s a link to order it!

Are you on a church staff? What's your Big Idea this Sunday? Or do you have a bunch of competing little ideas?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Revisiting The Big Idea, Part 1

In a recent conversation with some church leaders, I was trying to make the point that simplifying what we do increases our focus and power. Dave Ferguson and the leaders at Christian Community Church have approached this problem from a unique angle. The result: "The Big Idea", an action plan that will help you focus the message and sharpen the impact of your church on the community. I've posted about it before, and the book has been out for about 3 years, but it's worth visiting again. Here is a brief glimpse of the problem as they see it, and a sketch of a very workable solution.

Here’s a typical experience for the average churchgoer and his family. Keep track of the “little ideas”:
  1. little idea from the clever message on the church sign as you pull into the church parking lot
  2. little ideas from all the announcements in the church bulletin you are handed at the door
  3. little idea from the prelude music that is playing in the background you as you take your seat
  4. little idea from the welcome
  5. little idea from the opening prayer
  6. little idea from song 1 in the worship service
  7. little idea from the Scripture reading
  8. little idea from song 2 in the worship service
  9. little idea from the special music
  10. little idea from the offering meditation
  11. little idea from the announcement
  12. little idea from the first point of the sermon
  13. little idea from the second point of the sermon
  14. little idea from the third point of the sermon
  15. little idea from song 3 in the worship service
  16. little idea from the closing prayer
  17. little idea from the Sunday school lesson
  18. little idea from (at least one) tangent off of the Sunday School lesson
  19. little idea from the prayer requests taken during Sunday School
  20. little idea from the newsletter handed out during Sunday School

Twenty and counting. Twenty different competing little ideas in just one trip to church. Easily! If a family has a couple of children who attend a children’s church, and everyone attends his or her own Sunday school class, we could quadruple the number if little ideas. One family could leave with more than eighty competing ideas. And if we begin to add in youth groups, small groups, and a midweek service, the number easily doubles again. It’s possible that this one family is bombarded with more than one thousand little ideas every week explaining what it means to be a Christian.

We’ve bombarded our people with too many competing little ideas, and the result is a church with more information and less clarity than perhaps ever before.

The lack of clarity that churches give their people impedes the church’s ability to accomplish the mission of Jesus. “More” results in less clarity.

It is one Big Idea at a time that brings clarity to the confusion that comes from too many little ideas.

Tomorrow: Part Two of "The Big Idea"

Monday, July 19, 2010

Hello...How 'ya doing?...

I'm fine - how about you? Great...
Boy,isn't it hot today? Yeah it is...
Did you see the game last night? What a catch...

awkward silence

It's called small talk. Some people excel in it, others loath it. For the latter, new studies indicate that happy people have more substantive conversations than those who engage solely in small talk. The data don't disclose whether profound conversations causes happiness or vice versa, but a combination of both is likely. Small talk is a useful social skill, even a way to enter into deeper conversations, but intimacy is necessary to build and maintain real bonds.

Matthais Mehl of the University of Arizona suggests four ways to create more rewarding conversations:
  • Dare to disclose - substantive conversations don't need to be driven by emotions, but they must involve some personal disclosure. The next time you're having a dialog, try inserting something revealing about yourself and watch the conversation open up.
  • Be a full participant - Give your full attention to the person you're talking to instead of thinking of the next five things you've got to do. It will be noticed, and your conversation will be more lively and connecting.
  • Find common ground - if you can find common ground, you're on your way to having more meaningful conversations.
  • Embrace your environment - Find a place where you feel secure and confident. Whether a discussion is one-on-one or in a group, its important to go where everyone feels comfortable. When people feel relaxed, the guards go down and the conversations go up.
The study, published in the journal Psychological Science, involved 79 college students — 32 men and 47 women — who agreed to wear an electronically activated recorder with a microphone on their lapel that recorded 30-second snippets of conversation every 12.5 minutes for four days, creating what Dr. Mehl called “an acoustic diary of their day.”

So, what do you think of the latest on cognitive surplus? What a concept! Do you realize...

Friday, July 16, 2010

You Can't Improve by Coasting Uphill

The final post of "The Physics of Biking" or what I'm learning about leadership while training for a 24 hour bike ride...I am training for my 6th annual 24 Hours of Booty, a charity bike ride for the Lance Armstrong Foundation. As you might expect, riding even part of 24 hours takes training. I don’t mind training, but I hate hills – at least going up hills. Coming down, now that’s pretty cool. You can coast and catch your breath. The only problem is you can’t improve by going downhill all the time.

Living in North Carolina, there are hills everywhere; you can’t train without encountering them regularly. When I planned my training rides, I used to dread the uphill parts. No matter what techniques I tried, going up long, steep hills was a killer. Give me a flat surface and I can move along at a pretty good clip. Even better was a slight downhill run. I haven’t found a one-sided hill yet, so I would labor through, barely surviving, looking forward to the flying downhill on the other side.

Business blogger Seth Godin noted this in a recent post: It's very difficult to improve your performance on the downhills.

I agree completely. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t get any better by just going faster on the downhill side. Eventually, even I realized that the place to improve performance, to get better, is to work on the uphills. That's where the work is, the fun is, the improvement is. On the uphills, if I work hard and don’t give up, I have a reasonable shot at a gain over last time. The downhills are already maxed out by the laws of physics and safety.

Suddenly, the truth about biking can be translated into my work world as well. The best time to do great customer service is when a customer is upset. The moment you earn your keep as a public speaker is when the room isn't just right or the plane is late or the projector doesn't work or the audience is tired or distracted. The best time to engage with an employee is when everything falls apart, not when you're hitting every milestone. And everyone now knows that the best time to start a project is when the economy is lousy.

Godin’s 2007 book “The Dip” is a quick read that reinforces this line of thinking. A Dip is a temporary setback that you will overcome if you keep pushing. But maybe it’s really a cul-de-sac, which will never get better, no matter how hard you try. According to Godin, what really sets superstars apart from everyone else is the ability to escape dead ends quickly while staying focused and motivated when it really counts.

Winners quit fast, quit often, and quit without guilt – until they commit to beating the right Dip for the right reasons. Winners seek out the Dip. They realize that the bigger the barrier, the bigger the reward for getting past it.

What uphill are you facing right now? Will you push through it, improving your performance along the way and on the next hill? Or will you be satisfied with coasting on the other side?

Happy Birthday Amazon!

15 years ago today Amazon sold its first book - "Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies." Launched by Jeff Bezos in 1995, It started as an online bookstore, but soon diversified, selling DVDs, CDs, MP3 downloads, computer software, video games, electronics, apparel, furniture, food, and toys.

In 2007, Amazon launched Amazon Kindle, an e-book reader which downloads content over "Whispernet", via the Sprint Nextel EV-DO wireless network.

I'm a big fan of Amazon, purchasing my first book from them in 1996. Over the years I have purchased hundreds of books there, as well as other products (one Christmas over one-half of our gifts were purchased at Amazon).

Unintentionally, but par for the course, I have 3 books coming in today: two for research on a major presentation at a national convention this fall, and one for additional consulting with a client in preparation for an upcoming project.

Happy Birthday, Amazon!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Draft is Your Friend

Part 4 of "The Physics of Biking" or what I'm learning about leadership while training for a 24 hour bike ride...

Drafting is an important technique in cycling. The cyclist, as he moves through the air, produces a turbulent wake behind himself. It makes vortices. The vortices actually make a low pressure area behind the cyclist and an area of wind that moves along with the cyclist. If you're a following a cyclist and can move into the wind behind the front cyclist, you can gain an advantage. The low pressure moves you forward and the eddies push you forward. A rider tucked just 6 inches behind another rider expends almost 30 percent less energy than the front runner. Increase that distance to  24 inches and the energy savings are slashed to just about 10 percent.

Surprisingly drafting not only helps the cyclist following the leader, but the lead cyclist gains an advantage as well. The interesting thing is by filling in the lead cyclist's eddy you improve the front person's performance as well. So two people who are drafting can put out less energy than two individuals (who are not drafting) would covering the same distance in the same time. While the lead cyclist gains some advantage in this situation he still needs to expend much more energy than the cyclist who is following. Thus, successful drafting techniques require constant lead rotations among the pack.

Although I typically train by myself, most of the rides I participate in have groups in them. My first experience at drafting happened several years ago as I was "pulling" a group of about 7 bikes. As I took the lead, we came to a small rise; due to the effect of the draft as explained above, we actually were able to accelerate to about 21 mph up the hill. I only lasted a few minutes, and then it was time to let someone else take the lead, but the experience of moving forward with less effort was amazing.

How do you take advantage of the draft? Like all the posts in this series, you will make the final choice, but let me offer you my suggestion:

Lead Leaders.

Leaders who develop leaders experience an incredible multiplication effect in their organizations that can be achieved in no other way - not by increasing resources, reducing costs, analyzing systems, or doing anything else. As a leader you will go to the highest level only if you begin developing leaders instead of followers.

Becoming a leader who develops leaders requires an entirely different focus and attitude from that of a developer of followers. John Maxwell's "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership" points out some of the differences:

Leaders Who Develop Followers   Leaders Who Develop Leaders
Need to be needed                    Want to be succeeded                 
Focus on weaknesses                 Focus on strengths
Develop the bottom 20%            Develop the top 20%
Hoard power                             Give power away
Spend time with others              Invest time in others
Grow by addition                       Grow by multiplication
Impact only those they              Impact people far
touch personally                        beyond their own reach

As a leader, do you ride solo most of the time or are you part of a team that together, accomplishes more? Leading a team is hard work - it takes time, energy, and resources. But when you've got the right team of leaders, with everyone pulling their weight, the results are amazing.

Leaders commit themselves to people and activities that provide explosive growth through teamwork.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Gearing Up

Part 3 of "The Physics of Biking" or what I'm learning about leadership while training for a 24 hour bike ride...

The development of the chain drive helped make the bicycle that we know today possible. The chain drive eliminated the need to have the cyclist directly above the wheel. Instead the cyclist could be positioned between the two wheels for better balance. With the advent of gears, the cyclist could also pedal more efficiently. Riders enjoyed increased speed and easier riding up steep grades.

A chain drive alone (without gears) is effective on flat surfaces and going downhill. However, when it comes to headwinds, hill climbing, and even starting on a bicycle without gears--the cyclist has to stand on his pedals and strain while pedaling at a very low rate. Gears allow the cyclist to pedal at a comfortable and efficient rate while traveling either uphill or downhill or with a headwind or a tailwind.The gears of a bicycle make pedaling more efficient, allowing the cyclist to travel faster and more easily handle steep grades and other obstacles.

Gears make it possible for riders to maintain the cadence (or rate of pedaling) that makes them the most efficient. While there are many opinions as to what exactly is the optimal cadence for bicycling, everyone seems to agree that cadence is important.

What are your leadership "gears"? What makes your organization go? How do you determine the speed of your movement? When do you have to push a little harder, and when can you coast? Just like yesterday's post on "wheels", only you have the right answer. But here's mine:


Leaders never grow to a point where they no longer need to prioritize. It's something that good leaders do whether they lead a small group, a church, or an organization of 50 or 5,000.

Successful leaders recognize that not all activity is accomplishment. The best leaders seem to be able to prioritize their focus while reducing their number of actions.

John Maxwell, writing in "The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership," talks about three guidelines he uses when making priorities. To be effective, he thinks leaders must order their lives according to three questions:
  1. What is required? Anything required that is not necessary for you to do personally should be delegated or eliminated.
  2. What gives the greatest return? Leaders spend most of their time working in the areas of their greatest strengths.
  3. What gives the greatest reward? Nothing energizes a person the way passion does.
What are you doing with your leadership potential? Are you successfully prioritizing your actions to produce maximum results? Or are you spinning away in the wrong gear?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It Begins With a Wheel

If you're going to talk about bicycles, you had better start with the wheel. The wheel is the most crucial element of the bicycle: it allows the rider to roll over the ground with great speed and efficiency. A bicycle wheel needs to be able to handle a variety of forces. Besides holding up the weight of the cyclist, a wheel must withstand the forces of pedaling and braking and the jarring effects of the road surface. The resistance to the motion of a wheel can vary tremendously depending on the surface on which it is traveling. The treads of bike tires can affect performance.

Even the earliest bicycles used spokes of one sort or another. A spoked wheel can be made as strong as a solid one and have only a fraction of the weight. It's easy to think of the spokes as columns supporting the wheel and helping it retain its shape. But, the "support" that the wheel receives is created by pulling the spokes towards the center of the wheel (tension) rather than pushing out from the center (compression).

Many aspects of the wheel make it crucial for the success of a bicycle. But this isn't about bicycles so much as it is the leadership you provide to the organization you lead.

What's your leadership "wheel?" There's a lot of right answers to this question, so you will have to figure it out for yourself. Here's my suggestion:


Trust is the foundation of leadership. To build trust, a leader must exemplify these qualities: character, competence, and chemistry (Bill Hybels). In order to develop these qualities, Posner and Kouzes have suggested six disciplines of credibility or trust:
  1. Discovering your self
  2. Appreciating constituents
  3. Affirming shared values
  4. Developing capacity
  5. Serving a purpose
  6. Sustaining hope
Leadership exists only in the eyes of those who follow you - are your "wheels" on right?

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Physics of Cycling...

...or, what cycling is teaching me about leadership.

I'm heading into the final two weeks of preparation for my 6th annual 24 Hours of Booty charity ride. I'll being joined by over 1,200 cyclists as we ride the 3 mile "Booty Loop" in the Queens College area of Charlotte. It's a lot of fun, it's for a good cause, and it's become a tradition unto itself - the ride usually sells out in a couple of weeks each January. If you're interested, here is my personal web page at the 24 HofB site. You can find out anything you want to know about the ride, and if you're  so inclined, you can even make a donation to my efforts! But I digress...

Normally, I prepare for rides like this and other distance events by long, repetitive hours of time in the saddle. I'm not in this for speed, and I just try to condition my legs, butt, back, and aerobic system for hours of riding. This year, however, I am behind in training time. There's no shortcuts, but I am going to take any advantage I can find - which leads me to the physics of cycling.

At it's simplest, I am trying to move my body mass over a fixed course at maximum efficiency so that I can ride for several hours at a time. I only have the muscles of my body (and the energy stored within them), my bicycle (the system that will convert energy to motion), and my computers (my brain and my bike computer) to accomplish the task. In order to ride at maximum efficiency, I'm going to have to really let the physics of cycling dictate my training and ride times.

As I was on a training ride this past weekend, it occurred to me that the physics of cycling have leadership lessons as well...

...want to join me on a ride?

Friday, July 9, 2010

A First for Me...

So, it's been a long, busy week for both Anita and me. As a surprise, I told her it was a date night when she walked in from work this afternoon. Birkdale Village was the destination: dinner, a movie, and Barnes and Noble (with cafe - for dessert) was the plan.

Brixx Pizza provided the dinner: we split a Mediterranean salad and chicken Florentine pizza. After a quiet supper, we strolled down to the movie theater to see "Knight and Day." So far, so good. I asked for two tickets, and the young lady, very cheerful, said "Here you go - have a great evening!" I didn't really think about it till I got to the door.

The tickets were senior price - $3 off the normal price. Each.

Okay, I do have more silver and gray than brown in my hair. I do have a middle-age spread (I prefer to think of it as my best years are in front of me). And I am a grandfather once (and fixing to be again).

But really - senior prices?

AARP can't be far behind.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Maybe "No" Should Be Your Default Word

If I'd listened to customers,
I'd have given them a faster horse.
-Henry Ford

It's so easy to say yes. Yes to another feature, yes to an overly optimistic deadline, yes to a mediocre design. Soon, the stack of things you've said yes to grows so tall you can't even see the things you should really be doing.

In "Rework" by Jason Fried and David Heinemeir Hansson (founders of 37signals), the authors encourage us to get into the habit of saying no - even to many of your best ideas. The power of no can help keep your priorities straight. You rarely regret saying no. But you often wind up regretting saying yes.

People avoid saying no because confrontation makes them uncomfortable. But the alternative is even worse. You drag things out, make things complicated, and work on ideas you don't believe in.

What about it? Can you say "no" today?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Does Your Leadership Group Function as a TEAM?

I’m not a Raving Fan of NASCAR, but I do follow it from week to week. Since I have lived in the Charlotte area for the past 15 years, I have met many people involved in racing: team owners, drivers, crew chiefs, pit crew members, business team members, associated industry employees, etc. However you measure it, racing is a big deal in our region.

I don’t really have a favorite driver, but I do admire the Hendrick Motorsports organization. Their four drivers may be the most public face of the group, but it’s the organization behind them that gets the job done week in and week out.

The hundreds of mechanics, engineers, technicians, and support personnel contribute thousands of hours each week so their team drivers can have a chance at a win on Sunday. Yes, it’s a business, but it’s more than that: they know the importance of teamwork.

Wouldn’t it be great if the same level of teamwork could be present in the ministries of your church?

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Keep Influencers in the Loop with the Scoop

Tim Stevens and Tony Morgan, writing in their book "Simply Strategic Stuff." have some great advice for leaders. Read their advice below, then apply it at your next opportunity.

We’ve all seen it happen. We’re in a meeting, and the presentation has been made. An awkward silence ensues as we wait to see who will ask the first question. We’re not sure yet which way the decision will go. Eventually, all heads turn toward her. She is the one from whom all others take their cue. It may stem from her tenure, wisdom, personality, or opinionated style – but there is no doubt she is the leader. She doesn’t even have a leadership title, and she’s not sitting at the head of the table, but she is definitely the leader. If she’s in favor of the proposal, it will pass. If she isn’t, it will fail. End of story.

These people are called influencers. There is always at least one person who must be convinced before you can progress. It might be one teacher in your children’s ministry planning group. It may be one member on your deacon or elder board. It may be one musician in your band.

It’s pretty easy to identify an influencer. As you meet with the members of your group, watch their eyes and their interactions. You’ll se who in the group is respected, who is feared, and who will lead. You’ll find your influencer.

Once you’ve identified the influencer, follow this rule from John Maxwell: “Don’t skip the meeting before the meeting.”

This one principle will help you so much. It’s timeless. You’ll never have enough tenure in a church or strong enough relationships with a congregation for this not to be true. Anytime you want to start something new, make a change, add a program, or expand the budget – make sure you don’t skip the meeting before the meeting. Be sure to meet with every key influencer ahead of time. Ask influencers what they think, tell them you need their insight, and ask them what questions they have and what additional information they need. By doing this, you will accomplish several things:

• You’ll discover the holes in your presentation

• You’ll communicate to them that they are hugely valuable

• You’ll get new ideas about implementing the change

• You’ll prepare the influencers for your presentation

Follow this advice for quick and painless meetings. Don’t surprise your influencers; be proactive by holding the meeting before the meeting.

If you liked this little nugget, their book is full of many more just as vaulable. Pick up a copy today!

Monday, July 5, 2010

How Larry Hubatka Models the 19 Es of Excellence…

In honor of my Campus Pastor, Larry Hubatka, at Elevation Uptown:

Enthusiasm! Be an irresistible force of nature! Exuberance! Vibrate –cause earthquakes! Execution! Do it! Now! Get it done! Barriers are baloney! Excuses are for wimps! Accountability is gospel! Adhere to the Bill Parcells doctrine: “Blame no one! Expect nothing! Do Something!” Empowerment! Respect and appreciation rule! Always ask, “What do you think?” Then listen – go - celebrate! Edginess! Always dancing at the frontier, and a little or a lot beyond. Enraged! Determined to challenge and change the status quo! Motto: “If it ain’t broke, break it!” Engaged! Addicted to MBWA/Managing By Wandering Around. In touch. Always. Electronic! Partners with the world 60/60/24/7 via electronic community building of every sort. Encompassing! Relentlessly pursue diverse opinions – the more diversity the merrier! Diversity per se “works!” Emotion! The alpha. The omega. The essence of leadership. The essence of marketing. The essence of creativity. The essence. Period. Acknowledge it. Empathy! Connect, connect, and connect with others’ reality and aspirations! “Walk in the other person’s shoes” – until their soles have holes! Ears! Effective listening: Strategic Advantage #1! Experience! Life is theater! Make every activity contact memorable! Standard: “Insanely Great”/Steve Jobs; “Radically Thrilling/BMW. Eliminate! Keep it simple! Errorprone! Ready! Fire! Aim! Try a lot of stuff and make a lot of booboos and then try some more stuff and make some more booboos – all of it at the speed of light! Evenhanded! Straight as an arrow! Fair to a fault! Honest as Abe! Expectations! Michelangelo: “The greatest danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.” Amen! Eudaimonia! Pursue the highest of human moral purpose – the core of Aristotle’s philosophy. Be of service. Always. Excellence! Never an exception!

If not Excellence, what?

Let every detail of your lives – words, actions, whatever – be done in the name of the Master, Jesus, thanking God the Father every step of the way
Colossians 3:23, The Message

The 19 Es of Excellence come from Tom Peters' great book, "The Little Big Thing."