Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Primal by Mark Batterson

It is often good to focus on the core; to get back to the basics of what you believe or how you do something. Mark Batterson sets out to help our generation embark on a reformation, not one that is a new discovery, but one that is a rediscovery of something old, even Primal. Primal is the title of the latest book by Mark Batterson. In an effort to pursue reformation, Mark takes a look original reason for creation, the core meaning of the Great Commandment: Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

The author encourages us to engage Christ by applying thought and action to the four ares where we're to love God: our heart, soul, mind and strength. Each section is a thought-provoking analysis of the meaning of the those words from the original Greek, but the application uses relevant illustrations. This is not in an academic study, but an experiential one as you think carefully about what it means to love God with all your heart or with all your soul.

We live at a multi-task pace. We pay attention to our cell phones while we watch TV, surf the Internet and talk with our family. Many time the author calls us to focus, think deeply about what it means to do anything with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. For example, in the section on all of our mind, he discusses how our imagination is much more powerful than the logical-thinking part of our brain. Our imagination is able to conceive of much more than we can feel or taste or smell. But we use so little of our imagination when we are engaged with God. I confess avoiding my imagination in relationship to God. I get so easily discouraged when God doesn't meet my expectations. So I keep Him in a box. I was very challenged by the idea of worshiping God with my imagination. My gratitude goes to the author and the publisher for the challenge.

You need to read this book. Our church (the universal one) needs to re-ignite our Primal, core need to engage God and love Him with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength. This book will help you do just that.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Real Church by Larry Crabb

Larry Crabb doesn't much like going to church anymore. And he's not alone. That's actually the title of the Introduction to the book Real Church: Does It Exist? Can I Find It? by Larry Crabb.

Depending on your own perspective, I can imagine people calling the book anything from a rant to a compelling, transparent look at both the church and the person. My perspective is much like the authors. I don't much like going to church anymore either. I definitely wouldn't call this a rant.

The author is transparent and honest and represents both sides of some of his own arguments. Just reviewing the chapter titles will show you where the author's thoughts travel.
Chapter 1: Why Have We Lost Interest in Church?
Chapter 2: Why Do So Many People Still Attend Church and Like It?
Chapter 3: So What Is It that Makes a Gathering a Church?
Chapter 4: So What Is It that Causes a Gathering to Cease Being a Church?

And those were just the chapters of the introduction. The author goes on to examine the question, "Why should I go to church?" The next five chapters examine three answers to that question that just don't work:
  1. "It will make my life better;"
  2. "It will show me how to change my world;"
  3. "It will offer salvation and help for righteous living."
Before reaching the end of the book, the author calls many current church practices into question. His reasoning strikes me as biblically sound. Many of us could use asking God to take us throught the same evaluation the author describes.

For me the most compelling part of the book was in Chapter 20. The third section is titled "Marks of the Church I Want to Be Part Of" and chapter 20 is Mark #3: Finds Contentment in Wanting What Jesus Wants.
Listen to Jesus: "May they [His followers] be brought to complete unity to let the world know that you sent me" (John 17:23, emphasis mine). Francis Schaeffer called it God's "final apologetic." What he meant, I think, was this: how we get along with one another is the most persuasive evidence the Holy Spirit has to work with as He draws people to Jesus (emphasis in the original).

Jesus calls his church to unity. Why wouldn't we expect difficulty, even satanic attack, at that very point. Maybe that's why church seems to be such a performance any more with so little community (at least in my own personal experience).

If you're having trouble with church, I recommend the book. I believe the author managed to engage in constructive examination and pursuit of a deeper relationship with Jesus. Now if more church elders and staff people would read it too.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

You Were Born For This

Book Review
You Were Born For This: 7 Keys to a Life of Predictable Miracles
By Bruce Wilkinson

Have you ever wondered why miracles are so uncommon? I haven't. I always figured a miracle is a miracle because it is an uncommon event. Miracles don't happen every day. That's what makes them miracles, right?

Not so, according to Bruce Wilkinson. His latest book You Were Born For This: 7 Keys to a Life of Predictable Miracles presents a reasoned and compelling argument that we can experience miracles every day; in fact, we probably do, but we're not aware of them. (There is also a video introduction you might be interested in.) Bruce makes the case from scripture that God is active in the world and His works are miracles. God is actively searching for people to participate in and deliver the very actions (miracles) God is doing. "God chooses to partner with ordinary people for His supernatural agenda.

Even the author refers to the book as The Prayer Of Jabez to the power of miracles. It is a follow up to Jabez in that Jabez prayed to be a blessing and to have his territory expanded, not for Jabez' benefit, but for the benefit of others. God is busy working on His agenda and he chooses to employ people in His agenda. One of the primary reasons we miss out is we're not working on God's agenda, but our own. When we work to align ourselves to God, He delights to include us in His agenda.

Bruce's style is very engaging. His reasoning and examples connect you with the points made in the book. The scripture is not taken out of context. The message is accurate and believable. It's an easy read that is worth the effort. I must make two confessions though: 1) I am not finished with the book and 2) I have experienced a couple of miracles so far during my reading, but not daily ones. Regardless, I recommend the book highly. I will finish it because Bruce always expands my knowledge of God and my greatest goal in life is to be a trusted vessel in God's work here. This book will help you connect with God and partner with Him in His works here to reveal Jesus.

If you do, I'd like to know about it. Comment here and let me know. I have one copy of the book that I'll send to a randomly-selected commenter on Sept 30. Just add your comment below to participate.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Make A Difference - James 1:22

But prove yourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers who delude themselves. James 1:22

The end of a relationship with Jesus Christ is that we are doers. There is a difference between someone who remodels his kitchen and someone who remodels kitchens for a living. There is a difference between someone who plays guitar and a musician; or someone who volunteers and a volunteer. The difference is commitment. James challenges us to be a doer. We're to be professional in our doing.

Think back to the best leaders you've known. I'd bet one thing they had in common is that they weren't afraid to do what they said. They were people who had integrity. Integrity is the most common response to the question, "What do you want in a leader." Integrity means less that your leaders are honest, but more that they are true, pure. Their message was consistent with their beliefs. When we say someone has integrity, we are saying that they are what they claim to be. Integrity is the opposite of hypocrisy. The original Greek word for hypocrite meant an actor or one who wore a mask. Anyone who appears different than they truly are is a hypocrite. They're acting. If the best leaders in your memory were actors, you haven't had a good leader. Great leaders are what they represent. They live the life they call others to. Followers of Jesus are to do what they claim to believe.

Another problem with integrity in leadership is that it spills over from the professional life to the personal life. If you tell the truth to your teammates, but you lie to the government about your income, are you still a liar? Do you really have integrity? If you're an honest politician but you cheat on and lie to your wife, are you not still a liar? How can you be called honest if you're not always honest? If you lead a team and preach commitment to your company, do you bad-mouth your superiors? Would you be surprised to know that I have? We all have fallen in some way or degree. You can't achieve perfection in your integrity, but as a fellow member of the human race, your friends and teammates ask that you pursue integrity and that you're closer than they are. It's hard to lead someone to integrity if you're not on the same road.

Finally, we can't just do anything. We must use judgment and discrimination because we're called to do "the word." Our profession as followers of Jesus is to be full time doers of the Bible! "Wait a minute!" you say. "We can't be accountable for everything in the Bible! That's impossible!" And, you'd be right. No one would ever do anything if they had to become an expert on the Bible before they started. In Romans 3:23, the Bible itself says, "all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God." We fall short, but that's no excuse. We can't wait until all the lights are green before we leave the house. Becoming a full-time doer of the word is a process. Just like any profession or vocation, we have to start. Doctors practice medicine and lawyers practice law. Just as integrity is a pursuit, knowledge of Jesus and the Bible is a pursuit. Once we believe that Jesus is who he claimed to be, we begin the pursuit of knowing Him and glorifying Him. Once you believe Jesus is the way, the truth and the life as John 14:6 says, then you can truly begin to study for the tests that life will bring your way.

Today, ask God to make you a doer of the word. Take a few minutes more than usual and learn the Bible. Take a few minutes more than usual to talk with Jesus and ask for direction. But be careful, if you get an idea that lines up with the teaching you know to be true, you probably need to take action. How else will you be able to call yourself a doer?

As you pray, ask God to show you where you can do something different today.

What thoughts came to your mind?

Do they line up with scripture and what you know to be right? *

If it did, what are you waiting for. Go and be a doer of the Word today. The word of God is your new job. Do it like you mean it. You get to work on your career and the rewards are eternal! Think about it. Then, get to work.

*If you're not sure, check with your pastor or send me a note. I don't have all the answers but I may be able to help. Or I definitely will help you find a friend who can walk with you as you work on your career in Christ.

Photo © Vyacheslav Osokin - Fotolia.com

Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Seven Wonders of the World

My mother reminded me of the Seven Wonders of the World today.

7 Wonders of the world

Thanks Mom!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Social Media Madness Part 2

Well, my Twitter account is back online and it remains http://twitter.com/mikehenrysr.  It apparently happened some time last night or early this morning.  Jessica's account @jdhenry09 is back as well.

We still have no communication why we were suspended or reinstated.  I wonder if we'll ever know.  Now I can begin to develop a strategy to better manage this if it ever happens again.

The blog is back up as well, but clearly "under construction." I tried to change the primary domain on my hosting account and messed up Wordpress.  While I think the site is pretty much back in tact, there are still a couple of problems and we're also implementing a theme customization, so some things will remain under construction for another day or two.

Several folks offered info and sympathy.  Thank you very much.  Also, thank you to everyone for your patience.

Mike Henry

Posted via email from Mike's posterous

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Social Media Madness

My Twitter account was suspended today.  It used to be @mikehenrysr.  I don't know what it will be when I finally get to the bottom of the mess with Twitter.

My website is also down.  I learned that you shouldn't change your primary hosting domain.  Wordpress didn't like what I did and now I can't post to my blog nor can I send anyone a tweet telling them my site is down.  I'm having fun.

I'll post another message when everything's back up.

Mike Henry

Posted via email from Mike's posterous

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Opportunity Disguised As A Lion

Book Review: In A Pit With A Lion On A Snowy Day: How To Survive And Thrive When Opportunity Roars By Mark Batterson

I've got to say that I really enjoy Mark Batterson's books. I read Wild Goose Chase first but haven't yet written a review. That will be coming (hopefully) soon. In A Pit presents a principle about opportunity: opportunity seldom looks like opportunity at first. I just read the following quote from Harvey Mackay's weekly newspaper column about James Barksdale, the former CEO of Netscape. Barksdale had a maxim about opportunity known as the three-snake rule:
  • The first rule: If you see a snake, kill it. Don't set up a snake committee. Don't set up a snake user group, Don't write snake memos. Kill it.
  • The second rule: Don't play with dead snakes. (Don't revisit decisions.)
  • The paradoxical third: All opportunities start out looking like snakes.
Batterson makes the argument from the life of a biblical character, Benaiah, and an encounter he had with a lion, in a pit, on a snowy day. Benaiah chose to fight the lion, and went on to become the leader of King David's army. Benaiah's life and career hinged on this event, and he ended up in charge of the army of the greatest king in the history of Israel.

Batterson calls us to become a lion chaser; someone who would chase down the lion rather than someone who would run from it. The book is energizing, empowering, encouraging and challenging. Each chapter is engaging as the author discusses facets of embracing opportunity even when it's disguised as a lion, or a snake. I admit I took my time and savored the book. One chapter called Unlearning Your Fears he asked: "Are you living your life in a way that is worth telling stories about?" Well are you?

Another chapter and one that I studied the most was titled Guaranteed Uncertainty. It begins:
I know one thing for sure: Benaiah didn't wake up on the morning of his lion encounter and plan out every detail. It wasn't scheduled in Outlook. It wasn't on his to do list. I'm not even sure it was on his wish list. The lion encounter was as unplanned as a toothache.
God makes opportunities out of the uncertainties of our lives. If you think about the great moments in your life, they were seldom planned. Batterson uses examples like the Pentecost, and other major events of scripture. They weren't planned. Those people (and us at times too) didn't get up on the morning of the day in question knowing it was going to be a day with a life-changing pivotal opportunity. Embracing God requires us to embrace the uncertainty of our lives and use perspective and trust in God to allow Him to make the most of each opportunity (or lion or snake).

In the same chapter, the author explains something that made a big impact on me: Explanatory Style. What is your normal interpretation process for the events that happen your life? When someone stands you up for lunch, do you think "Something must have happened to them," causing you to worry, or do you think "That turkey stood me up!" causing you to be angry. The author calls that our explanatory style. He goes on to explain that our default explanatory style can cause us to see problems as opportunities God has placed before us or it can cause us to blame God or someone else for the problems and drop into victim mode. Great leaders seldom rise from victim explanatory styles.

The book was thoroughly encouraging and challenging. As a Christ-follower, I am encouraged to continue to work on my Explanatory Style. I commit to refuse to blame God or others for my circumstances. My prayer is that I can honor that commitment and that I will be found faithful to embrace the opportunities God presents in my life, whether they look like snakes, lions, unemployment, loss of income or any other type of setback.

Please let me know if I can help you in that area as well. I recommend the book wholeheartedly.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Why I'm Not Following You on Twitter

I've become a bit fascinated by Twitter. In just over 5 months on the service, I've made friends with people from all over the world, some business leaders, an author or two, and several other folks. I've even had a few phone conversations with some and one or two have been a great help to me in my new business. I enjoy meeting new tweeple. If you haven't, you can follow me here. I will (at least initially) follow you back.

I like to follow people who tweet about interesting ideas, leadership, teamwork, making the world a better place, people who are generally encouraging or add something to the twitterverse, and fellow followers of Jesus.

However, today, I just unfollowed several people on Twitter. I do it once a week or so. While Twitter is non-reciprocating in it's organization structure, I believe my twitter account is. I made that decision a couple of months ago in an effort to develop a standard follower policy. So here are the reasons I might un-follow you.
  1. You chose not to follow me back. It's just as simple as that. Unless you're a news feed or a product I'm extremely interested in, you won't last. You may make it for a few weeks but after a while, I'll unfollow. One other exception to this, at least for now, is friends who just don't seem to pay much attention to Twitter. I have about 20 people I know personally that have accounts but haven't seen fit to tweet or follow anyone. No wonder you don't understand it!
  2. You're a celebrity. I don't follow many celebs and only local politicians. As a note, it's unfortunate that the local politicians don't interact more on Twitter. Many of mine fall in category #1 above because they don't understand the value of the service.
  3. You tweet a ton. I use a Firefox add-on called Greasemonkey and a script called FollowCost that ranks your tweet volume. If your count is over 1000 milliscobles (a value derived by the authors), you risk being dropped at any time. Also any accounts that post multiple versions of the same tweet (more than two or three a day, which I sometimes do) then you can expect to get unfollowed.
  4. You have some association with porn, foul language, hate, etc.
  5. You send a bunch of direct messages (DM) to me. By a bunch, I mean one or two unsolicited ones. I understand people who choose to send DM's as Thank You messages. That's a personal preference and I don't have any hard feelings about those. But if you send me a "Hi" DM and you haven't sent any standard tweets, you're a goner.
That's about it. Maybe we just haven't found each other. I may from time to time follow you because of someone you follow or something you tweeted, but if you don't follow back or if you hit one of the other categories above, you can just give me a few days and I'll disappear. For me, Twitter is about the friends I can make, the relationships I can build, and the people I can help. Thanks for reading this and being part of my Web 2.0 world.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Paths and Principles

Book Review: The Principle Of The Path: How to get from where you are to where you want to be by Andy Stanley, published by Thomas Nelson.

I just spent a few conflicted hours with Andy Stanley's latest book. As usual, he delivers a powerful message, with biblical accuracy and pointed simplicity. The point of the book, and the principle stated plainly is: Direction - not intention - determines our destination. Later in the book he adds that our attention determines direction or what we focus on determines our path and our path determines our destination. It seems so obvious to me and yet I am also very tempted to lobby for an exception.

The book is well written. The author has used great examples from personal life and important passages from scripture to make the point that the choices we make determine our destination. The points are well explained and even argued as he understands well the questions one might ask. In fact we all ask many of the questions of this book and we all make many of the mistakes in the book as well. Who hasn't wished they could eat whatever they wanted or skip exercising without gaining weight (or worse)? Who hasn't wished there was some shortcut to happiness.

I understand and agree with the ideas in the book. I take responsibility for my choices of what I eat and how I spend my time; of the thoughts I choose to dwell on and the habits I've allowed. I take responsibility for those things and therefore I accept responsibility for where my life is after 51 years.

But there is little to encourage those of us who are a number of years or miles away from where we'd like to be. The book offers little more than a suggestion that we seek out a mentor or that we submit to God. Maybe there is little more than that for someone like me with several years of bad decisions behind them. This is a great book but I'm left more disappointed with my life for having read it. I don't know why. Maybe I'm arguing with submitting to God. Maybe I want to reserve the right to try to take shortcuts. But I felt after completing the book that the answer to the question "How do I get from where I am to where I want to be?" is that I can't get there from here. I have to go back in time or accept some compromise for a destination. The book seems to offer little regardless of my desire to change.

Therefore, I don't know how to recommend the book. I will probably offer it to some high-school graduates at my church, but I don't see recommending it to many of my friends at my age. I'm a big fan of the author's and I've appreciated his works like Next Generation Leader and Visioneering, which I both enthusiastically recommend. But I'm left with an empty recollection of The Principle Of The Path, wondering, contemplating where my life will end up now that I'm this far from my dream path.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Tribes Group Blog - Day 19

What a treat to participate in a group blog project about Tribes by Seth Godin started by ChurchCrunch! Today, we're discussing pages 91-96.

Leaders Go First

Seth begins today's reading with an interesting post on how leaders resist the status quo. Leaders become leaders in the Tribes world because they go first. They disregard the status quo in exchange for an idea that is bigger and better than the status quo. The idea may not succeed; many don't. But in every case, someone had to go first. Someone had to stop being "everyone" and step out. Quoting the book, "'Everyone says it's impossible.' Guess what? Everyone works in a balloon factory and everyone is wrong." The chapter ends with the comment that "Over and over, everyone is wrong - unless you believe that innovation can change things, that heretics can break the rules, and that remarkable products and services spread. If you believe that, then you're not everyone. Then you're right."

We all can be everyone to someone. As a boomer, I find myself telling my kids sometimes that they can't do something. I really don't like it when I notice that, but I'm also afraid that I don't notice it as often as it happens. Too many times, I'm everyone to my barbarian kids. Do you notice that about yourself? Do you see that in your relationships with your peers, or coworkers or children? To what degree or to whom are you an everyone?
But, wait. Seth's not done. There's a great deal more. The two examples he uses are the music industry and Microsoft. Both are in a state of decline, however I'd venture to say that more people would agree that the record industry is in decline than would agree the same about Microsoft.

Watching The Music Business Die

Seth goes on to write an accurate and scathing rebuke of the music industry. As usual, his perceptive eye marks the decline of the industry and he provides some accurate criticism and an encouraging challenge to start trying to build a career self-publishing. The music industry was built for another time and it's economic model worked so well, that huge systems were created and many people made a lot of money operating the system. In fact, I wonder if the church hasn't made so much money working the system that we (I'm one of the church) missed the opportunity to take the lead and take advantage of the very process Seth describes. Is it possible that we (the church) made too much money and we missed the chance to really be the change in the music industry?

I've often wondered what would happen if the church gave away Christian music. What if we just gave it away. Wasn't it Keith Green who said something to the effect of, "If we call it music ministry, then why are we charging for it?" What if we created a site where people could download music for free? If the consumer states that they're a believer, they're sent to a donation page. If they state that they're not a believer, they're sent to a page where we explain that we give it away because someone paid for it. The advertising would be of an outreach nature and artists would be paid per download. No record companies, no distribution deals, just music with a Christian message. What do you think?

Don't Panic When The New Business Model Isn't as "Clean" as the Old One

The final entry is a conviction to me. Why don't I step in and do something? Am I God's heretic for this? If not, where is the leader or heretic for this idea? Actually the idea is probably not original with me. Even Seth mentions that "This isn't about having a great idea (it almost never is). The great ideas are out there, for free on your neighborhood blog. Nope, this is about taking the initiative and making things happen."

Is there a heretic Christian reading this blog who's in or around the music industry? My distance from the industry itself is a challenge, but I would quickly join with anyone else in beginning this venture. Is anyone willing to take some action and be a part of the change that's taking place in the music industry? It doesn't have to be the idea presented above; that's just the conversation starter. Open up the discussion with your thoughts and let's change something!

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Noticer by Andy Andrews

Book Review

I just finished a wonderful book called The Noticer by Andy Andrews. The Noticer is a remarkable, magnetic story, told as a narrative by the author mostly in the first person. The author pulls you into the book which reads like a series of short stories about an older man named Jones and his interactions with the people in and around Andy's hometown of Orange Beach, Alabama. Jones (not "Mr.", just Jones) notices things. He pops up from time to time to help people get perspective. He gives the characters perspective, but he will also give the reader perspective if you'll let him.

The author is referred to in some places and reviews as 'like Og Mandino' which is reasonably accurate. I haven't read Mandino in 20 years, but I remember his books. This book is encouraging and fun to read. I intend to read it again for fun since it's not too long either (another Mandino similarity).

Throughout the book, you will learn about Jones' escapades and interactions in the lives of several different, very interesting people. The characters are believable and described without boring detail. The reader learns about the characters as they interact rather than through lengthy introductions.

Like I mentioned earlier, The Noticer will change you if you let it. I can see how some people might make light of the style of the book or it's writing. But there are compelling truth's in the book that everyone can use to be a better person. Jones has a very thoughtful interaction with Henry Warren, an overworked, unethical, succeed-at-any-cost, type A personality. Henry gets two chapters, making him a major character. In the second chapter, Jones explains to Henry that a mistake can be "covered" by a simple apology, but if we chose to mistreat people, and some for many years, that wasn't a mistake; that was a choice. For choices, apologies won't get the job done. Forgiveness is required and that takes time. I was convicted by the people I've apologized to when my actions offended them.

A chapter earlier (Chapter 7), when Jones is first giving the Jones says:
Despite popular belief to the contrary, there is absolutely no power in intention... Have you ever considered how often we judge ourselves by our intentions while we judge others by their actions? Yet intention without action is an insult to those who expect the best from you.

The depth of the argument coming from this older man in the book will catch you in your personal rationalization; that is unless you're in denial or you never have this problem. It's even more challenging when I think that I "intend" so much and "act" so little. (Sheesh!)

Finally, at the end of the book there are questions for use by a small group or for personal thought and consideration as you read the book. Since the ideas Jones introduces in each chapter are thought-provoking, the questions help formulate the thoughts. When I re-read the book, I'll be going over the questions in more detail.

I recommend this book. I'll be getting others by the author and giving this as gifts to some friends. The Noticer will give you perspective. Take advantage of the gift and use the perspective to change your life.

Friday, April 24, 2009

CEO Pay Is NOT The Issue

It sure seems like a crime to pay millions to the CEO of a company that is losing millions. It sure seems like a crime to use government loans and subsidy money to keep a company afloat that squandered millions or more overpaying executives. It seems even more corrupt to pay people extra millions to get them to stick around and fix companies broken by these very people.

But the people who robbed these companies are not the problem. We (Joe Stockholder's) are the problem. We just wanted our stock price to increase. We thought if we rewarded them for increasing our stock price, the stock market would reward us. We offered them millions to increase our wealth. We expected our reward in our paychecks, and our 401k's and our retirement funds. We expected them to keep the stock price going up and up. We didn't expect it to end or we wouldn't have lost so much money when the bubble burst.

My own greed (and yours too, if you're honest) is the issue. As stockholders, we rewarded the wrong behavior out of our own greed. When a company is valued by the stock price, leaders are tempted to pursue short-term gains in stock price at the expense of long-term profitability and contribution. They weren't planning on sticking around either. Our greed has made us short-sighted. Don't tell me you never considered getting yours and getting out. As a popular song once said, "Go on, take the money and run."

If I ever get any money to invest in the market again, it will be in dividend paying companies. After the market run-up of the 1990's and the first decade of this century, I'm convinced that we can't build a system that can sustain those types of gains. I will value companies that make a positive difference, provide a true benefit to their customers and share real, cold, hard, profits with their employees and shareholders.

My only fear is, when the market takes off again, will I be able to hold my ground?

Photo by AMagill

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Tribes - Group Blog Project

Over at ChurchCrunch, they're conducting a group blog project where bloggers contribute a post a day (except Sunday) regarding a few pages of the book. The schedule is at the bottom of the post. As of this writing, 5 posts have been completed. Please check them out. I'll be posting on May 4, so please also check back then and comment here or on the other blogs about the post.

The section of the book I'll be covering relates to pages 91-95. In that section Seth makes some of his trademark unabashed observations about how "leaders" aren't "everyone" and a pretty scathing critique of the music industry. Please check out the posts and comment freely.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Jessica Henry - My Hero and a Woman of Action

Many of my favorite qualities, the things I appreciate most in people can be found in my daughter, Jessica Henry. More than anything, she loves people and is quick to act to help people. She's very much a barbarian as defined by Erwin McManus in The Barbarian Way. Like a barbarian (and her dad), sometimes she doesn't fit well. Barbarians don't fit well when there's not a battle to be fought. Barbarians need a cause. We're clumsy in a civilized culture. In the absence of a battle, barbarians seem out of place.

Jessica loves a battle; she's all in for a good cause. She's always looking for a way to make a difference or a way to change things. She has several friends that talk about change, but few actually take any real action. Jessica is always trying something, tweaking something, looking for ways to improve on something. Sometimes all of that critical focus makes you negative, but Jessica has a great heart, a cheerful disposition and a brilliant, electric contagious smile.

But if you ask for her help, be prepared to get to work. Don't ask her to help you think about something. Action is her middle name. If you want her to help, you better have a plan, or she'll throw a plan in for free. She won't let you fail, unless you fail to act. She also gets hurt, many times by showing up for a fight only to find out it was really a dance, or a spitting contest. Sometimes she gets hurt because people really don't want the type of barbarian she can be. She can't help it, but neither can they. So sometimes she doesn't fit and it hurts.

But she fits with me. She's my hero! She is a brave and special barbarian, one of a kind.

I am proud of you and I love you very much. I thank God for letting you be my daughter.

Love, Dad.

Michael Henry Jr. - Man of Courage

There's a man I appreciate for his courage and good spirit. He is quick to laugh yet when he faces a difficult situation, he never complains or seems to regret his place. He just makes a difference. That man is my son, Michael Henry Jr.

Mike (his mother would prefer that I call him Michael) wanted to be a Marine, but, because of scoliosis, he had to endure difficult back surgery and lose his dream of serving his country as a Marine. Regardless, he is still one of the few. His life is one of sacrifice for his family and he serves them and his company and his friends well.

He has a wife Ashley and a son Colton who he loves very much. He has made a lot of sacrifices for them and Ashley has also sacrificed much for him. He's a fortunate man in that regard. They are growing together as husband and wife and as parents. I'm proud to know them, much less to have had the opportunity to be Michael's dad.

Mike, you are a brave man. You face circumstances that are more extreme than I could have faced and you saddle up anyway, as John Wayne put it. You are courageous to your core. You may be scared, but you never show it. You do what's right every day without complaining and without bitterness or anger, two of my deepest problems. You take your life in stride, invest it in your son and wife and you make a difference. You are a world changer. Don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise. You may not make a lot of money, or earn a PhD. You may never be self employed, make millions, retire early. But you are changing the world and I love you. I'm proud of you and what you are doing will be celebrated for eternity. Keep up the good work.

Love Dad.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Lead Change Group

People often complain about the status quo, but few do anything about it. It takes some energy to fight the inertia of what is in order to make something better or new. I know. Sometimes I feel like I lead that tribe.

Anyway, in an effort to help people do something about change, I created a group on LinkedIn called the Lead Change Group. You can check us out at http://bit.ly/leadchangegroup. If you're a member of LinkedIn, please join the group and help us all complain less and do more.

Thanks, Mike...

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Anything With Nothing

We the willing
Led by the [un]knowing
Are doing the impossible
For the ungrateful.
We have done so much
With so little
For so long
We are now qualified to do
Anything With Nothing

Back in the dark ages, my fraternity pledge class had to memorize this creed. I have remembered it a long time, mostly because it's easy to remember, but also because it represents my feelings in a lot of situations. I put the word unknowing in braces because the fraternity brothers insisted that we use the word knowing. On the inside, we all knew what it was supposed to be.

It does seem like our current times call for us to do so much more with so much less, that we will soon get to the point of the creed. Don't you feel that way?

How are you going to do more with less? That's the big question of our times. The thought that's on my mind today is that I can definitely compliment more, express gratitude more, appreciate my friends and family more. That doesn't cost me much, and it's so needed.

I can also pray more. Not for stuff for me, but for friends, family, our community and our country. I purpose today to do more with less in these areas.

What about you? How can you do more with less? I really would like your feedback on the subject. Any suggestions and comments from you will be very welcome. As we do more with less willingly, we begin to change our world and reverse this funk our nation is in.

Will you join me?

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Media Freedom

Something happened today that I thought I'd never see. I never expected to see it, not because it was technically difficult, but because too much money is riding on it. Thomas Nelson publishers sent me a book to review called Collapse of Distinction by Scott McKain. The review will probably be up in a week, but that's not the news. What couldn't wait is my introduction to Nelsonfree. (www.thomasnelson.com/nelsonfree)

Because I had the hard copy version of the book, I was invited, even encouraged to also pull an e-book version or an audio format of the same material! Did you get that? They gave me the e-book copy for my iPhone Kindle and an MP3 Version for my iPod! What a deal.

Maybe you are aware of other publishers or Thomas Nelson even and how they've been doing this since ancient history, but I just became aware of it and I'm one happy puppy.

Thanks Thomas Nelson and @MichaelHyatt and the authors and other publishers that participate in a program like this. I'll be doing more business with you on purpose for sure. In fact, since I want so many different titles at any given time, I can practically guarantee I'll pick the Nelsonfree item over the others in the list every time! Finally, a rational mind has entered the book publishing world.

Photo: Sticking Together by Michael Heiss

Monday, March 23, 2009

Quality Of Life

How can you improve the quality of your own life? What factors are most important to you as you judge the "quality" of your life?

Quality is an individual measurement. For example, I value the quality of an automobile by comparing it's total cost of ownership to the benefit received over the useful life of the vehicle. Others value quality as the absence of defects. So, when a polling entity tells me that a car is "first in initial quality," I don't put much stock in their opinion. I don't value "initial quality" as much as "life-cycle quality."

Quality for me is a measure of value. "Quality of life" is the degree of success you have exchanging your minutes for experiences. If the experiences are beneficial, you might conclude that you've had a quality life. As our minutes become fewer, as the time ticks by, fewer things grab your attention. Quality experiences are typically the fewest things, the things left when very, very few minutes remain. The time spent in those activities is referred to as "quality time." So your exchange rate equals valuable experiences divided by the minutes used (Q=Ve/M). Your Quality or the benefit you receive determines the value of your moments; and the sum of the value of your moments equals your value of life. You set the value. The value of anything is what someone will give for it and in the end you will have given everything. Think about it.

So what are you giving your life for? What are you getting in return? Are the experiences temporary? What do they cost? A candy bar costs me 20 minutes on a treadmill! Is it worth it? The treadmill time has other benefits (feeling good, adding minutes by making my heart stronger, etc.). But think about a candy bar costing 20 minutes or more and that might help you make a different choice.

So which experiences are truly valuable? How do you measure the value of an experience? Part of the reason I believe in Jesus and the Bible is because it seems to me to line up with the truth. Many people value time with family and friends. Many people believe it is good to help others, but most also agree that helping others with selfish motives is bad. Our founders held that some truths were self-evident. I believe God designed the fabric of every human being weaving it with the idea that helping others is a quality activity. Jesus said the greatest commandment was to "love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind, soul and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself." He also said we are to store treasure up in heaven where it won't be destroyed or stolen, because where our treasure is, there our heart will be also. Christ claimed that helping others lasted for eternity. Everything else will just melt away.

This year, I'm listing the experiences that are important to me. I've never been much of a goal setter, but this year I purpose not to fail. I've written the list and I'm monitoring it. I'd like to help more people this year than ever before.

How about you? Have you written such a list? Will you let this time of your life pass without living it on purpose? You're giving your life. What are you getting for it?


Sunday, March 15, 2009

This Is Your Brain On Joy

Can some of our "spiritual" problems actually be caused by brain malfunction? Can we blame our spiritual problems on our brain? Dr. Earl Henslin delivers an entertaining, informing, and interesting work on this challenging topic.

His book, This Is Your Brain On Joy: A Revolutionary Program for Balancing Mood, Restoring Brain Health, and Nurturing Spiritual Growth, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers is a surprising work on a difficult topic. Certainly there is no shortage of scientists (and wannabe scientists) who assert there is nothing spiritual going on in the brain. And just as certainly, there is no shortage of Christians (or followers of other religions) who are constantly on guard against thoughts that everyone is a victim of biological malfunction. I must confess, I happen to tend toward the latter camp. I tend to beieve we find too many "scientific" excuses for our sin.

But Dr. Henslin makes a compelling case for how our minds affect our attitudes, actions and responses. Our mind processes information and reacts according to how it's wired. If the wiring is faulty, it will react in a faulty but consistent manner. He sets forth the arguments based on years of study with Dr. Daniel G. Amen MD, a world renown neuroscientist, pioneer in brain imaging research, author of over thirty professional papers and twenty-two books. But he also bases his case on biblical principles and even uses some of the science to verify those same principles.

The book opens with a very descriptive layman's description of the brain and the areas to be discussed. He shows SPECT scans (single photon emission computer tomography) which highlight the areas of brain activity. For several years, Dr. Amen has been scanning patients in different situations to find patters in brain activity linked to different chemical reactions within the body. The book contains many photos illustrating the findings. Dr. Henslin keeps his descriptions at a level most can understand. He makes clear, sometimes even humorous, analogies to real-life comparisons with everyday language in a way as to keep the average reader awake and engaged.

After the initial explanation of the brain's areas and function, the book presents test to see which areas of the brain you might address. There is a general chapter on therapies, foods, and behaviors, called Joy Boosters, that should help improve any of the mood areas and the the next five chapters of the book discuss the five mood areas specifically. If you have a particular tendency, you can concentrate on those areas of most interest to you or read straight through.

The mood section is followed with a chapter on joy from the spiritual perspective using the book of Philippians as a guide. As a Christ-follower himself, the author brings together the arguments of the science-only group and the bible-only group in one chapter that addresses what the bible says about joy. A healthy mind still must deal with issues of joy due to our fallen sin nature too. Dr. Henslin explains his belief "that science and spirituality go hand in glove: God created our brains and our bodies to respond positively and in healing ways." Dr. Henslin shows the six secrets of joy from this small epistle from the apostle Paul; secrets we should be using to experience joy and glorify God without regard for any specific brain condition.

The book closes with three appendices. The first is titles The Day I Had My Head Examined; a first hand account of the SPECT imaging and analysis performed on Becky Johnson, collaborator on the book. She candidly describes her background, her thoughts, the procedure and the result. The book is filled with specific examples of other people whose lives were changed dramatically by the diagnoses made using the SPECT scans. This first-hand account helps bring the point home and provides an appealing perspective.

I highly recommend the book. My wife and I both appreciate the information provided as it applied differently to each of us but it also helped from both of our perspectives on 26 years of marriage and behavioral patterns. We're thankful to the authors and the publisher for having the courage to address both extremes of the physical / spiritual argument and reach informed conclusions.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Charrise McCrorey - Full Out And Fearless

I recently had a coaching session with Charrise McCrorey, also known on Twitter as @CoachCharrise. Her website is Full Out & Fearless (www.fulloutandfearless.com). She and I met through Twitter and Steve Chandler (another Fearless friend). First of all, know that Charrise can help you focus your life so that you really do live a full out, fearless life.
Early in our conversation we found that we have some common background. Unlike many "coaches" today, her expertise isn't in how to use the web. Charrise has first hand experience in sales and other job functions in quite a few industries. Amazingly, she even has some background in my industry, the logistics business. Her experience is practical, too. She won't be telling you about something she read on someone else's blog!
Charrise then listened through more monologue than I care to admit. She asked questions that got to the heart of issues in my background very quickly. After the monologue, she made some recommendations that were really questions for me to answer for myself. She left me with 6 questions that helped focus my mental energy and bring clarity to my situation. Rather than telling me stuff I already knew, she helped me focus on just the gaps. The time I spent talking with her was very helpful. It went by very quickly.
Follow @CoachCharrise! Just do it. You won't regret knowing her. She brings value to people, something we can all use. Thanks Coach.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


I am only one,
But still I am one.
I cannot do everything
But still I can do something;
And because I cannot do everything
I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.

Edward Everett Hale
Quoted by John Maxwell in 17 Essential Qualities of a Team Player

Posted via email from Mike's posterous

Monday, February 23, 2009

Will You Lead Us?

Tribes by Seth Godin lives up to its billing. It was listed as one of the 100 Best Books Of All Time and I agree. Seth Godin is thoughtful, creative and inspiring. He makes the heretic in you come alive. He encourages you to stop playing the games setup by the people and organizations, break from the pack and take the lead! He perceptively challenges us to lead Tribes in new ways, using new technologies designed for people of a new era. However, it's really not that new at all. A Leader puts their tribe first, invests with passion in the cause of the tribe and encourages others to lead by creating, coaching, listening, and challenging the status quo.

Embrace the book to understand how people want to be led. We want leaders that serve us and the cause. We want to join a cause, not an individual. Individuals fall short. We want you to find a tribe and take the lead.

One person really personified the type of leadership Seth talks about - Jesus. (I didn't get the idea that was the author's intention, but that is the case.) Jesus defined servant leadership. Don't take my word for it though. After reading Tribes, grab a bible and see for yourself or drop me a line.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Ten Least Acceptable Places To Ask For Twitter Followers

Visibility has to have limits. As I spend more time on Twitter, and as popularity of the service increases, I've noticed more and more people asking for followers. Haven't you? So I decided there are some places I didn't want to be solicited to follow people.

10. Classified ads or Craigslist
9. Web support surveys
8. Grocery store bulletin boards
7. Pre-printed checks
6. Bible tracts or religious pamphlets
5. Your outgoing voicemail message
4. Birthday and get well cards
3. Fitness club lockers
2. Public bathrooms
1. Sympathy cards

I'm sure you have opinions. Pass this list around or add your comments. If you comment below, heck, I may even follow you!

Make a Referral - jump start the economy

I'm pledging to make a referral to a business I want to help as part of a national campaign to make 1000 referrals March 9-13. What a great small business stimulus plan.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Still Employed - How To Help Unemployed Friends

You dodged the layoff! Congratulations. You aren't the minority, but you feel like it. After you go outside and dance like Wesley Snipes did when he wasn't cut on Major League, you get back about the job. Sure you have a lot of work to do, but now you have friends who are also out of work. What can you do to help them with their job search or new business idea?

  1. Reach out to them but be available at their pace. Different people react to job loss differently. Volunteer to help them with the process. You don't have to hire them to be a help. Help them with their plan; developing it, executing it, or revising it. Offer to politely hold them accountable. (See caveat below.)
  2. Help them create their elevator speech. This is a two or three sentence answer to the question, who am I and what do I want to accomplish. It should be written from the hearer's perspective. Help them think of themselves in terms of action verbs rather than industries or functions. See Step 8, here.
  3. For that matter, you can offer a lot of information on job searching on the web. There are groups like JobAngels on Twitter and several groups on LinkedIn, as well as hundreds of search sites.
  4. Help them network. Networking beats remote searching any time. Introduce them to people. These are people who might be able to use someone like them or who might know someone who could. If their elevator speech is concise, it won't be difficult to introduce them to your friends. Afterward, ask how the meeting went and whether they got any other names. That may even help you think of other people to talk to. Bonus tip: check back with the person you introduced to get feedback to share with your friend.
  5. Encourage them. Ask questions about their ideas and help them stay positive. Please do not tell them their ideas won't work. You know you hate it when someone does that to you. Besides, anyone will deflate them, but only their friends can put air in their sails. For every idea they have, try to help them along the way. Imagine what they'd need, even if it sounds impossible and try to be part of the solution. Besides, you'd hate to recommend against something only to find out later that they would have succeeded greatly if they hadn't listened to you. This may be the time they can start a business or move to a new part of the country. You never know what might happen.
  6. Pray for them. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, this is the greatest thing you can do. I can tell you first-hand that God does choose to change events when his people pray.
There are a couple of caveats. First, don't do the work for them! Constantly help with encouragement and suggestions, but rarely, if ever, accept any action items from your discussion. Finding a job is their job. They have to do it. If at any time you feel like you're more interested in this than they are, break it off. Tell them to call you back when they've taken some action. And, when they call you back, if they haven't taken that action, be politely unavailable.

Second, and this is the most difficult. If you either have a position you don't want to hire them for or you feel like they are not qualified for the position they are seeking, you have to tell them, and the earlier the better. The truth will set you free, but it is seldom painless. Put yourself in their position. If they had food on their shirt, you wouldn't let them go on the interview. After you've spent some time helping them define and articulate their strengths, put yourself in their position and tell them the way you would want to hear it. Focus on what would you want someone to tell you and how would you like it to have been said. Put their interests first and do the best you can. That way, if they say they never want to talk to you again, at least you will know you did your best. Besides, you can continue step 6 regardless.

Any other ideas? Please feel free to add a comment with your thoughts.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Non-Cash Liquidity: Love Your Key Vendors To Create Competitive Advantage

"It is literally true that you can succeed best and quickest by helping others to succeed." - Napoleon Hill

With thousands of layoffs announced each week, it is easy for fear to penetrate even the most hopeful and optimistic business owner. What will happen if unemployment exceeds 10% for 6 months or more? Do you have what it takes to maintain your business if these extreme economic times continue?

Many businesses "circle the wagons" during these times. Just like the public in general, and their employees, business leaders begin to watch their spending; make only necessary purchases, hold cash as long as possible, and remain as liquid as possible. However, as a friend reminded me,
"When the market is down, you should be buying. And the market is way down. But you shouldn't sell to become liquid. The market is down! Don't violate a principle to exercise another principle."
So, if you have some liquidity, now is a wonderful time to be on the offense. Now may be the perfect time to take advantage of some terriffic opportunities.

But many of us are not very liquid, correct? Are all of your assets tied up in a shrinking 401k or a home that's dropping in value? Liquidity may not just mean "cash" liquidity. Cash is a trading exchange, but it's not the only one. Now more than ever, there are things of value that can be exchanged to help a business get on the offense during these times. Just about anything you can do to build quality business "friends" can be made to help grow your business if you think strategically.

For example, you are (or should be) valuable to your suppliers. You're their customer! Have you ever considered selling to your vendors? You're probably pretty dependent on a couple of companies. What would you do if they failed or if they increased their prices by 30%? What if their quality deteriorated rapidly? Your vendors contribute to the strength of your company. You're already their customer. Maximize the benefit of that relationship.

Rather than defensively act on the fear generated by the questions above, why not step into the battle and see if you can create some competitive advantage? You can help make your supplier the best in their industry. Take the most strategic suppliers you have and arrange to meet to discuss how you can be a better customer. Maybe there are things they need that you can provide at little or no cost. Would it help them if you agreed to speak about them at a conference or provide a reference to their creditors or within their industry or to their other prospects? Would they be willing (or able) to guarantee your pricing for some period? What about a simple press release as a result of extending your contract with them? Would they provide some type of advertising incentive or participate in some marketing for your company? Can they recommend other potential clients for your business? The list goes on.

Take some time and prioritize your key suppliers. Pick up the phone and call them. They would love hearing from you when you're not complaining anyway. Ask what you can do to help them. You will create goodwill, leverage and opportunity. You could be creating the competitive advantage that makes the difference between surviving and winning over the next few months.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Jump Start Your Job Search Part 3

As I stated when I started this series, thirty of my coworkers lost their jobs a couple of weeks ago. I thought, since I've been through this quite a few times, that I'd post some tips to help people get started and get past the grief and fear associated with loosing a job in the current economy. So, starting last Friday I posted Part 1 to get you started and yesterday I posted Part 2 to get you up to speed.

Part 3 – Get Known On The Web

This section is designed to put you into overdrive. There are some free or very cheap things you can do to enhance your exposure using the web. These tools haven’t been available to me in my previous job searches, so I’m just learning about them too. Please feel free to add more ideas and correct or comment freely.

  1. Step 18 - Write a blog. Pick a cause and begin writing. When you have 10 or so 300-500 word pieces, get going and make one or two posts a week. Be professional, share your beliefs, but be valuable. Check out Problogger for advice and instruction, as well as Wordpress, and Blogger to help you get your blog going quickly. I haven’t yet gone to the effort to try to make money blogging, but if anyone can help you with that it’s Darren Prowse at Problogger. If that comes easy to you, go for it.
  2. Step 19 - Market your blog. I recommend you start looking around for some tips and also beginning with LinkedIn, Twitter (see Step 9 from Part 1)and Facebook. There are actually several marketing tips you'll find just by searching for them. Don’t be troublesome about it, but once you’ve taken up a subject (other than your job search), people interested in that subject ought to want to read what you have to say. Remember to add value. Don’t push your blog on people, but “make it available” to them in the event they have some interest. Note: If your blog is about your search, your mom will probably be the only reader, and if she isn’t, I can’t help you.
  3. Step 20 - Read a self-improvement book. Any popular book will give you ideas, but I've mentioned several already that help with the job search: Rites of Passage; Now Discover Your Strengths; Go! Put Your Strengths To Work; Strengths Finder 2.0; Dream Giver, Next Gen Leader, Wide Awake, the Bible, What Color Is Your Parachute?; and anything suggested by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten at www.800CEORead.com. Some cost money but each is cheaper than a meal out. Besides, if you’re cutting it close, you can save the bucks and check out the local library. The first book I would recommend though is the Bible. You probably already have one. I believe it is the ultimate self-improvement book. If not, ask the nearest church if they will give you one, or ask me and I’ll get you one. Then, check out Matthew chapters 5, 6 and 7 and Philippians, Psalms, and Proverbs. And if you do contact me, I can help with some other passages that will help you know a good God who is in charge. I’ll be glad to recommend a friend in your area that can help with personal bible study. Just leave a comment.
  4. Step 21 - Create a web bio and link it to your LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. This is the place on the web where you want anyone looking for you to find you first. There are some sites that enable this easier than others. If you get a domain name, many of the services, such as Godaddy, (www.godaddy.com) and Netfirms (www.netfirms.com) have very inexpensive hosting arrangements that will help you create a professional appearance. Check out this page at About.com.
  5. Step 22 - Research the companies that could help you reach your desired outcomes. Don't just use search engines. Try Twitter and LinkedIn. LinkedIn is particularly useful because you can see people in the order of their proximity to you (by relationships, not geography) that are associated with the company. Once some of those people have been identified, ask them for information. If none of them are close enough
  6. Step 23 - Extend your introductions. Identify someone who could hire you and see if you can get introduced to them through LinkedIn. As your friends who are in the connection chain. You never know what will happen until you ask. One caution: a lot of people are Open Linkers which means they link to hundreds and thousands of people they don’t know personally. You may hit some limits with this behavior. But ask around and see what you can make happen. Don't let this process happen to you, make something happen all by yourself!
  7. Step 24 - Create a professional Facebook page. This is another low cost presence on the Internet that you can use to your advantage, if you’re careful. Avoid ultra-personal pages. Remember anything you say can and will be used against you in a job search. If necessary, use a separate profile and don’t open it up to the world.
  8. Step 25 - Monitor Twitter. Find people in your industry on Twitter and follow them. Go to Twitter Search, or use a tool like TweetGrid or TweetDeck and search for companies or common terms. When someone refers to one of those companies, ask them a question. You never know what you might find out. Search for the names of people in the industry and also ask your connections for names of companies in the industry. Be professional though because the world is watching. However, resist the temptation to click every link about issues not relative to your job search. If you can’t focus, drop this step. There are several job searchers and helpers on Twitter also. Start by following @JobAngels or searching Twitter for the hash tags #jobangels and #rtjobs
  9. Bonus Thought: Participate in LinkedIN Q&A and Groups. This will help build your network if done well. Remember to answer when you can add value. Don’t just agree with people. If you don’t have anything to say, don’t say anything. But if you do, please chime in. We can all use the help of an intelligent person like you. Then, if your answers are valuable, people will check out your profile. In some cases, you might use your profile page from Step 21 as part of your signature line. Don’t sell yourself though. Provide thoughtful, valuable answers to questions and people will check out your profile. Also if you have a business-related blog or if you are using Twitter to provide valuable posts to followers, include those links on either your LinkedIn profile or your Web Bio. Also, do not send people to a Twitter profile page that has a bunch of posts about what you’re eating or listening to. That will just detract from your web presence. If your Twitter posts are about your eating and TV watching habits, I recommend you change your Twitter-ways.

There you have it. Work this system, believe in yourself, maintain your focus, and don’t let fear force you to choke. Everything that happens in the next few weeks is designed to get you to chicken out. Don’t take yourself out of the contest by getting sidetracked or letting fear force you to choke. Don't let things happen; make them happen! Stick with this and be flexible and go for it.

And please let me know if any of this is helpful, share any suggestions or success stories. As my Dad always says, "We're rooting for you!"

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Jump Start Your Job Search Part 2

Part 2 - Taking Care Of Business

Steps 11 through 17 are necessary for you to go the distance. Once your system is running, (see Part 1)these are the activities you need to do, but they’re not the most critical activities to finding that job.

  1. Step 11: File for unemployment, but hope that you won’t need it. Hopefully you will be earning too much money to qualify before the government actually gets around to paying you. The reason I put this at Step 11 is I’ve never done it (in 4 of these so far, but you never know) and because you will have some downtime after you’ve completed the first 10 steps. Besides up until now, you will be too busy to take the time to do this. And, like I said earlier, if steps 1-10 go well, you’ll never collect.
  2. Step 12: Exercise. Do it every day. Loose the weight you've been planning to. Write your goals down and keep an exercise log. It took me an extra day to finish this because I had to work out before posting. Anyone who notices the shape I’m in would know I haven’t been doing too well with this one. Check out this post from Military.com or exercises you can find on the web like these.
  3. Step 13: Get and stay busy. There are basically two good ways to do this once you’ve made the initial pass to contact your network; either get a part-time job or volunteer. Volunteering gives you greater time flexibility, but the part-time job gives you income. Whatever you do, do it as well as you can, over deliver. Add value. People hire people who create value. Decide today you’re going to improve you value through your output and go do it. Make a difference in everything you do and you’ll attract the right people.
  4. Step 14: Update your budget. I didn’t put this higher on the list because the first few items are the most important. Once you have your system working for you, it is time to take an assessment and make sure you have what you need to stick it out. Check out Dave Ramsey’s site (www.daveramsey.com) or Crown Financial (www.crown.org) or Kiplinger’s page (www.kiplinger.com). Other sites that show up on a quick Google search include Personal Budgeting (http://www.personalbudgeting.com/tips/tips.html) and About.com (http://financialplan.about.com/msubbudg.htm).
  5. Step 15: Save money where possible. Spend as little money searching as possible. Try to avoid buying software or services if you can. If you must spend some money, consider spending it on your resume first since that’s the first barrier to getting an interview.
  6. Step 16: Sell things you don't need. Use Craigslist (http://www.craigslist.org) because the price is right. Call this income. You could also search for jobs there, but most of what I’ve seen is high demand positions or lower income ones.
  7. Step 17: Stay in touch with your contacts. When anyone gives you a name from Step 10, make sure you do 3 things and avoid one:
  • Thank them.
  • Contact the referral.Refer to step 10.Don’t ask for a job, ask if they know anyone who could use someone with your strengths and your goals.If they have a job like that, they’ll tell you.If not, you’ve got another person looking.Check Part 1 Step 10 for a bit more info.
  • Follow up with the referrer, thanking them again and letting them know how the contact went.
  • Avoid over contact.Your job situation is your biggest problem, but not theirs.You don’t need to follow up with anyone unless they tell you to, or unless you have a legitimate thanks or question about a specific person.

Be on the watch for Part 3 – Get Known On The Web which contains steps I’ve picked up recently. They were not part of my earlier job hunting activity. Until then, please comment freely below. As with all of this, I’m open to suggestions, comments and correction. Let me know if this is helpful or not and any other suggestions you might have.

Take No For An Answer!

Listening to Steve Chandler speak about his new Club Fearless and reading the book by the same name gives me a lot of ideas. Steve makes the point that "Yes" and "No" are like heads and tails. You can't have one without the other. There is no such thing as a coin with no tails. There would be no day, if there wasn't also a night. The two are exclusive. In other words, you can't have both in the same context at the same time. But the absence of one would force the absence of the other.

Now as for No, we do expend a lot of effort avoiding that word. Actually we equate that word with rejection and we avoid the rejection. I find it easy to consider postponing some activities because of the fear of rejection as I start my business. Maybe you're like some of my friends and you're looking for a new job. A large part of our lives gets wrapped up in our career. When we don't have a job and we're out trying to find a job, we can get a lot of our self-image and self-worth wrapped up in the difference between No and Yes. However, if we can realize that No makes Yes possible, maybe we won't take the No answers so hard.

Your job (especially if you're looking for one) is to:
  1. Decide as precisely as you can exactly what you want (and don't be afraid to dream),
  2. Figure out who is most likely to be able to say yes;
  3. Ask the question in a way that makes it easy to answer Yes.
Once you've done that, go for it! You need to collect your No's as quickly as possible.

Decide now, while you think about your dream goal, that a No is just an interim result. Better yet, it is a necessary result. There is some number of No responses that you need to plan for. Set the number high and start getting them. Continually expend your best effort to eliminate the reasons for each No, but don't let them discourage you. Every No brings you one step closer to your Yes.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

What Fabric Is Your Life?

Have you ever considered your character as a "fabric"? Imagine every action you take being a strand of thread that you weave into the fabric of who you are. Each day, each action, each thought either adds color and strength to the fabric you're weaving or it detracts. In fact, lies, selfishness, pulling others down, any action that makes you smaller, punches a hole in your fabric. Sure, you can cut corners on your taxes. You can take shortcuts in the report you're producing. You can take a pill to try to make you sharper or improve your performance. But when you do, in place of thread, strengthening and beautifying the cloth of your character; you substitute weakness. You have compromised the quality of the fabric you are weaving.

Be careful with your actions. Each is a thread. Pick the best thread minute by minute when you make your choices. Choose to add value, benefit others, elevate performance. Choose to leave every situation better than you found it and the fabric of your life will be spectacular. What type of fabric will you weave with your life?

Friday, February 6, 2009

Jump-Start Your Job Search (Part-1)

Thirty of my coworkers just lost their job. After searching the Internet for advice related to job hunting and career change, I became very discouraged. There is a lot of fear and dread in the job market these days. Spoiler: This is not your normal advice on job search. I’ve been through enough job transition to qualify for my own wiki. As I told some of my coworkers, if I’d lost as many wives as jobs, my marriage counselor would say something like, “after that many, the problem isn’t with the wives!”

What To Do If You’ve Lost Your Job: 25 Steps To Jump-Start The Job Search

Part 1 – Get Your Wheels In Motion

These are your top priority. They get you and your system working for you. Follow these actions as quickly as possible. The biggest obstacle to finding a job is not having one. The inertia of inactivity should be your biggest concern, but these 10 steps get you going. Remember finding a job IS YOUR JOB. Get going.

1. Decide you won't be afraid. "Courage is being scared to death... and saddling up anyway." John Wayne. Several other great quotes are listed here: http://tinyurl.com/7sc4fm. Regardless of the fear, keep moving. You’ve got to show up, keep moving and persist. In times like this, opportunity exists.

2. Keep your standard routine. If you got up at 5, keep doing it. If you worked out in the mornings, keep doing it. Spend your job time looking for a job or building your business. Don’t get lazy and don’t overwork. Here’s an article on the daily routines of several prominent top executives from 2007. Don’t give in to the desire to just lie around and whatever you do, stay away from the TV and the refrigerator.

3. Clean up and update your contact list. This is an activity you just have to do first and keep doing. Be diligent. Get your contacts in one place and evaluate each one. Prioritize them in the order of who you need to contact, who you would like to contact, and those you really shouldn’t contact. If you’re like me, you have some contacts that you don’t know well enough to discuss your situation. Get them out of the way. Don’t spend too much time on them right now. You can always come back to them later. The “need” group gets top priority and energy. Get the information on them in one place and make sure that’s the only place you go to update. Check out Plaxo, Google contacts (which for some reason, can't sync with Outlook) or Yahoo Addresses.

4. Evaluate your strengths. One way to do this is to write a few short stories about events in your life. The stories need to be three to five paragraphs in length. If they were negative, include what you learned. (If you didn't learn anything and they were negative, don't include those.) Then go back through the paragraphs and highlight or underline the verbs. These verbs become the foundation for your transferable skills, or skills that can transfer across industries. Much more depth on this issue can be found where I first heard this, in the book, What Color Is Your Parachute by Richard Bolles or on their site The Jobhunters Bible. Other tools are Now, Discover Your Strengths and Strengthsfinder 2.0. A link to every book mentioned in this article is here.

5. Make a list of your desired outcomes or goals. There is a lot written about goals. Much of it costs money. Don’t pay any money you don’t have to (developed further in step 15.) Simply sit down with a piece of paper and write in detail what you’d like to happen. Write as much as you can. Keep writing until you can’t write any more and then take a break. After a while of doing something else, review the list and add anything that comes to mind. The key is the list. Once you have it, you are ahead of the bulk of people in the world. When your thoughts run dry, group and rank the outcomes. By group I mean associate any goals that are not mutually exclusive. If your goal is to buy a new car and you have another goal to be out of debt, you need to rank the two. One must be more important than the other. But if your goals are to buy a new car and build a website, those don’t necessarily compete with one another. The “group” you’re most interested in though are the goals directly related to job hunting and your career. The more thought you put in, the more prepared you will be when you receive an offer.

6. Update your resume. Consider creating versions aimed at the people who can select you for your desired outcome. The plan here is not to misrepresent yourself. Never be dishonest. But certain hiring managers want to know different things. If you desire a job as a manager, emphasize your management skills and show how you managed your peers, reports, supervisors, customers, pets, anything about management. If you also pursue a job as a contributor, emphasize your contributions in previous positions, even possibly in volunteer organizations or other industries. Put yourself in the position of the hiring manager and write your resume and cover letter in a way that shows you to be just the person they need. If you’re planning on making some money in your next job, this is where you can spend some money. Get some professional help. Take a look through the stuff on jobsearch.about.com.

7. Prioritize your contact efforts. Spend some time thinking about who you will contact and when. You’re planning your sales cycle. You would do no less if you were selling a product for a company. The better you do this, the more effective you will be. Don’t compromise or talk yourself out of contacting some people either. You’re family (and the taxpaying public) is counting on you. Contact the people most likely to either hire you, or know someone who might hire you.

8. Create an elevator speech. Did you notice that the step after prioritizing your contacts isn’t to start calling? You need to know what you’re going to say. Please don’t waste your contact’s time. They are busier now than ever because people are probably being laid off where they work too. You need to prepare what you’re going to say. An elevator speech is a short description of who you are and what you're looking for. Most people will help you if you know what you want and you make it easy for them to help. The best advice I ever read on this topic was in the book Rites Of Passage by John Lucht. The author points out that the quality of your elevator speech helps you avoid dead ends in your networking. Even a lackluster elevator speech helps you avoid awkward situations with your friends. Rather than asking them to hire you or if their company can hire you, you state who you are and what you’re looking for. Then you can ask your friend if they know anyone who might use a person like you to do exactly what you’re looking for. The result is your friend now is helping you. Rites has a whole chapter dedicated to this. Check it out.

9. Create professional LinkedIn and Twitter profiles. Include the elevator pitch in the description. Put in relevant experience and education. Don’t exaggerate. This profile can be a very easy to use electronic version of your resume and you’ll be using it as such. While you’re at it, join some groups in the industries you plan to search and set up searches for the jobs you’re looking for. Check out this article: http://zi.ma/05649b or http://ow.ly/9tV or http://tinyurl.com/czpxpk. Search for other articles and help on LinkedIn primarily. Just don’t spend too much time looking here because the money’s in the next step.

10. Start connecting with your contacts. The point is to ask them if they know anyone who could use someone with your strengths and goals. You elevator speech will help the flow of this conversation. After the introductory conversational exchange with your friend, get right to the point. “I don’t want to waste your time, but I’m looking for a new opportunity. My experience and background have helped me to become a [who I am from my elevator speech] and I’m looking for [whatever you’re looking for from your elevator speech]. Do you know anyone who is in that situation?” As time goes on, you’ll begin to get some names. Make sure to follow up with the person who gave you the name, thanking them and letting them know how the introduction went. Note: This approach is explained in much greater depth in many places, but I first read about it in Rites of Passage at $100,000 to $1 Million + by John Lucht. His book, the companion workbook and their website RiteSite contain much more information. If you’re salary is in this price range, invest the money and buy the book.

So, embrace the future and get going. Your new life is waiting. Part 2 will contain some things to do while you're working and in Part 3, we'll discuss new technologies enabled by Web 2.0.