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 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, ( and Netfirms ( have very inexpensive hosting arrangements that will help you create a professional appearance. Check out this page at
  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 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 ( or Crown Financial ( or Kiplinger’s page ( Other sites that show up on a quick Google search include Personal Budgeting ( and (
  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 ( 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: 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

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: or or 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.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Men's Ministry or Men Of Ministry

Much is written today and there are many good people working to help churches build strong, vibrant men's ministries. But what's the purpose of a men's ministry? What's the purpose of the particular men's ministry you're involved in? Do you know?

Sometimes I think the purpose of many church and para-church men's ministries is to give some men an opportunity to minister to men. Then the ministry is measured by the number of men "receiving" ministry - showing up at the breakfasts, or attending the classes. Please understand that I know many churches that do not take this specific approach. If you're fortunate enough to be in one of those churches, that's great. Many other churches however are dissatisfied at the lack of involvement, passion and growth of the men in their congregation. They're always trying to get more men "involved" or "growing" or "participating." Is that a problem your church faces? If so, this is one possible solution.

Since when did men need to be ministered to as a rule? I realize we all appreciate some help when we need it, but Proverbs 27:17 says that "Iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another." In my mind, that means at least half of us are ministering to someone, now and the other half will be soon. Robert Lewis, in Men's Fraternity, calls us "action figures." We're to be initiators, as Larry Crab said in The Silence Of Adam, not passive, but active, stepping into chaos, and bringing order. In Wide Awake, Erwin McManus suggested that when we're passive; when we're unconnected with the world around us; when we're not ministering, we fail to honor our call. We shortchange the world because we fail to fulfill the work God prepared for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). We are made for a purpose; to make a difference within our sphere of influence. As John Ortberg stated in God Is Closer Than You Think, we're made to bring "up there down here." Sure we could use some help. We're not supposed to go it alone. But if the purpose of the men's ministry is to try to grow us through involvement and attendance, we'll come up short.

We're not to be full-time students. We are not to experience a relationship with Christ from a classroom, or vicariously through our church staff and men's ministry leaders? No one ever made a difference sitting in a church service always being a hearer. We are called to not only be hearers, but also effectual doers. We need to stop being taught and begin to actively learn. We need to learn on purpose and for a purpose. The ministry we need must make us ministers.

So, how can you become a minister? Maybe you're one now. If so, great. Pray for the rest of us. As for the rest of us, if you hear a still, small voice in you telling you it's time to get up and get going, do it! Listen to God. Ask God today to make you a minister. Ask Him to show you where and how to make the world a better place, one person at a time. Then, whatever you think he's telling you to do, DO IT! Will you mess up, probably. But you're messing up not doing anything anyway. Ask God to direct you, pray for the people around you and watch what God does. He's almighty. He'll direct you if you're sincere in your desire to follow Him. Ask a couple of men to keep an eye on you so you don't get too far off base, but go for it. Before you know it, you'll be in real men's ministry.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

100 Best Business Books Of All Time

The more I learn about Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten of 800-CEO-Read, the more I agree they are qualified to claim The 100 Best Business Books of All Time: What They Say, Why They Matter, and How They Can Help You (Portfolio, 2009). Their website explains much of the history of their passion for business books. Out of that passion, the authors present quality reviews, reasoned standards of excellence and an appreciation for business books that deliver new ideas, or timely solutions in fresh ways. The book clearly honors the subtitle. You will learn what the books say, why they matter and how they can help you.

In the introduction the authors demonstrate they are all business. They created a set of standards to justify the claim to the best books of all time. Their first standard was to "ask each book the same set of questions: Is the author making a good argument? Is there something new that he or she is presenting? Can we use this idea to make our business better?" The second standard is how applicable is the topic, does the book apply to business people here and now? And the third standard relates to accessibility. How accessible is the information? I appreciate this standard as most executives might. What is the cost to acquire the information? Most of us don't have weeks to commit to learning a new idea.

From that point forward, the book is immensely creative and useful. The books are arranged by categories but also in priority order. The categories are:
  1. You
  2. Leadership
  3. Strategy
  4. Sales and Marketing
  5. Rules and Scorekeeping
  6. Management
  7. Biographies
  8. Entrepreneurship
  9. Narratives
  10. Innovation and Creativity
  11. Big Ideas
  12. Takeaways

The reviews are concise, yet deep, thoughtful and informative. The reviewer is identified so you know if it was Jack or Todd doing the review. I noticed no repetitive content. Each review is fresh, containing quotes when helpful and the reviewers opinion of the highlights of each work. Often, the reason for inclusion is also explained in the review. Each review is between 2-4 pages except for the 12 books listed under Takeaways, which are one page each.

Four features provide the "But wait..." bonus you probably would not expect from reference such as this:
  1. The first chapter - You;
  2. The final chapter - Takeaways;
  3. The sidebars.
  4. The Where To Next entries at the end of each review
The You chapter contains books to make you a better business individual. Examples include Getting Things Done by David Allen, How to Swim With The Sharks by Harvey Mackay, The 7 Habits Of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey, How to Win Friends And Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and Oh The Places You'll Go by Dr. Seuss. (Yes, that's right. Read the review to understand. I can't wait to get the book.) The Takeaways chapter contains 11 reviews (one for each chapter) of unique, bonus-value books. Examples include What The CEO Wants You To Know by Ram Charan, Lucky Or Smart by Bo Peabody and Thinkertoys by Michael Michalko. The sidebars provide a variety of interesting facts including articles such as Leadership in the Movies, Found In Fiction, Classics, Deming's 14 Points Of Management, and Quotes. At the end of each review there are at least 3 suggestions for Where To Next. Thoughtfully, the authors have provided a less-structured-but-not-random alternate path through the reviews. For example, The Five Dysfunctions Of A Team is in the Management section, but the recommendations take you forward to the section on leadership, back to an entry on starting a business, and to the one-page Takeaway description of The Team Handbook by Scholtes, Joiner and Streibel.

This book challenged me and shamed me. I am ashamed at how few of the 100 Best I've read. Clearly, too many of my selections have been from those books ranked 101 and below. I have a lot of catching up to do. But I'm challenged as well by the how the authors studied, learned from, documented and shared the benefits of each book. This book takes a special place in the library. It makes me focus my learning, eliminate waste, and concentrate on getting the best bang for my business book buck!