The Monday Morning Hangover

It’s Monday.

Which means your twitter stream will fill up with tweets from pastors citing something called the holy hangover.

What is the holy hangover? It’s the Monday-morning feeling of emptiness that comes from preaching your heart out. It’s coming down from somewhat of a spiritual rush. It’s a real sense of being drained that only preachers will understand.

But before you Facebook about your holy hangover, press pause for a minute and think with me. How are your followers going to interpret this holy hangover.

You talked to people.

On a stage.

Most people don’t think it’s hard work.

They don’t know how much time you spent preparing and they don’t understand the spiritual weight that comes with preparing and delivering a sermon. In their minds, you were the center of attention for a few hours.

On top of that, they read your holy hangover tweet from the teachers lounge when they have to eat a 22-minute lunch that was reheated in the community microwave. Or maybe they read about your holy hangover on Facebook, which they checked from their office cubicle where they will sit for eight hours doing work they don’t enjoy for a boss that has little personality. Or they didn’t even see your status update because they were on their feet for ten hours straight in the restaurant.

I’m not trying to make you feel guilty for needing a Sunday afternoon nap or feeling emotionally drained on Monday morning. That’s reality.

But perception is also reality.

When you talk about a holy hangover, it disconnects you from your congregation – the very people you’re attempting to help follow Jesus with all their hearts. I know being a pastor is a ministry and a calling and a divine responsibility, but many of your people feel the same way about their jobs. At least, that’s what you told them when you told them to be a missionary in their workplace and invite their co-workers to church.

I know there’s a spiritual weight but it sound like whining to the everyday person.

Is the holy hangover real?

Sure.

It might be a very real sensation for you.

But my humble advice learned from years of making this mistake: don’t brag about how tired you are on social media.

Most people will think you’re crazy.

Complete List of Church Planting Networks

A friend started a list of all the church planting networks, and asked me if I knew of any more. Since everybody is smarter than somebody, I thought I would post the list and ask for your help. What’s missing?

  • Acts 29
  • Stadia
  • New Thing Network
  • ARC – Association of Related Churches
  • Orchard Group
  • National Missions (General Baptists)
  • North American Mission Board (Southern Baptist)
  • Next Coaching Networks
  • Missio
  • Passion for Planting
  • Launch
  • Vision 360
  • GlocalNet
  • Mosaix Global
  • Liberty Church Planting Network
  • PLNTD Network

Please leave a comment and tell me what’s missing.

What I Learned From Donating Money to Barack Obama and Mitt Romney

The Elephant and the Donkey

The other day, I conducted a little experiment. I decided to make identical donations to both Presidential candidates to see how easy it was. Here’s what I learned.

  1. It NEVER occurred to me to try and find my local campaign headquarters to make a donation – I went straight to the web. Digital is my default. If you’re still REQUIRING people to give or pay in person or with cash or checks, you’re missing it. Nobody is getting elected President without being able to receive digital contributions.
  2. Both websites made it EASY to find the contribution page (screenshots below).  I didn’t have to search through a site map to get to a donation page. It was super clear and easy to find.
  3. I was able to donate with my American Express, which is my credit card of choice. You’re crazy if you don’t take all four major credit cards.
  4. Both candidates gave me the opportunity to turn my one time donation into a recurring donation with one simple click. Right after I entered the amount, there was a button that said, “Make this a recurring donation.” One time donations are great, but they know that recurring contributions are a home run.
  5. Both websites gave me the option of setting up an online profile for expedited giving later, but only AFTER I made my one-time donation. If you ask people to set up an account before they give, you’ll lose people in the process. Churches, go ahead and ask people create an account, but make sure you give people a “no registration required” and super-fast option as well.
  6. President Obama’s website asked for slightly less information that Governor Romney’s site. I was able to cut and paste my credit card number into a field on President Obama’s site, but Governor Romney’s made me remove the dashes. On one website, I didn’t have to enter the 3-4 digit security code; on the other it was required. If you don’t have to ask for it, don’t ask for it – the simpler the better.
  7. Donating to President Obama took me 92 seconds from start to finish. Donating to Governor Romney took me 2 minutes and 19 seconds.
  8. Both websites offered me extra incentives to give. President Obama was featuring an evening with George Clooney and Mr. Romney offered me a chance to meet his wife. My donation entered into a raffle for these things. I think it would be way cooler to have dinner with Clooney.
  9. I received immediate confirmation of my donation (screenshots below). Both emails were short and to the point. Governor Romney’s confirmation email looked better, but President Obama’s email was more clear and did a better job asking me to make another donation and set up recurring contributions.

Look how easy it is to find the donate button on President Obama’s website:

And here’s the top of Governor Romney’s homepage.  Again, it’s super easy to find the donate button.

Here’s a screenshot of the email I received after making a donation on President Obama’s site.  It’s 100% get, which is certainly mobile friendly.

And here’s a screenshot of the email I received from the Romney campaign.  I think it looks better but it’s doesn’t lay out a clear next step.

When’s the last time you made a donation to a church or politician? What the process easy or complicated?

What is ZMOT and What Does it Mean for Churches?

I recently finished reading a free Google eBook called ZMOT: Zero Moment of Truth. And while I was reading it for business purposes, I couldn’t help think about what it means for churches.

Here are some notes from the ZMOT:

For companies, the first moment of truth is when a customer grabs a product off a shelf to purchase it. It’s all about placement and price.

But today, there’s pre-shopping, something Google called the Zero Moment of Truth. It’s a young adult who checks out user reviews before making a purchase or a new mom who asks her Facebook friends what baby formula they use, or a hotel shopper who searches for “Best Hotel in San Francisco” before skipping the description and diving into the user ratings.

Consider these stats:

  • 70% of Americans say they look at product reviews before making a purchase.
  • 20% of Google searches are on a mobile device; and for LOCAL searches, the number jumps to 40%. Mobile is not the future – it’s already here.
  • The average shopper uses 10.4 sources of information to make a decision.
  • YouTube is the second most used search box on the Internet.
  • The worldwide average for product reviews is 4.3 out of 5. “Negative comments add authenticity,” says Dave Reibetein.

People begin their research online and their research looks more like a conversation. Friends, strangers, websites, and experts all weigh in. People now think about thinking about buying something. If you’re not visible online when people are doing their homework, they will find others who are. The Internet is the new 1-800 number, and it’s been set up for you even though you didn’t ask for it.

Audiences are asking three things about your product: Will it save me money? Will it save me time? Will it improve my life? None of those questions have to do with the product – all three of them are about the person.

Here is what this might mean for churches:

1. Its’ time to stop sending postcards and start creating conversations. I’m actually a fan of traditional marketing (I wrote a free ebook on how you can get more people to visit your church), but it’s not enough. We need to figure out how to leverage user reviews, social interaction and feedback. When someone in the community says, “Hey, I’m thinking about taking my teenagers to a church…where should I go?” that’s a Zero Moment of Truth.

We need to teach church members how to have normal conversations with people. Just like they would recommend a gym, they need to recommend their church – no pamphlets or tracts are required. We need to remember that Word of Mouth is the best way to spread a message, and utilize traditional forms of advertising and outreach as supplements.

2. We need to talk about benefits, and not features. A feature is about us – a benefit is about them. And while your website, logo, brand, ministries, services and mission might be compelling, most people think of themselves and their situation first. So you have a student ministry – how will that benefit my 10th grader? So you do a mission trip – how will that help me? So you have good music – what do I care?

People who are considering attending a church are asking questions, and I don’t think they have to do with a statement of beliefs or who is the chairman of the Finance Committee. If someone is thinking about visiting a church, they want to know what the pastor is like, they want to know what their kids are going to do and if they are going to have a good time, and they want to know if the people are friendly.

Features make your church sound impressive. Benefits get talked about.

3. We need to deploy more resources to video and search. We can have fancy live video websites, but if YouTube is the second most searched box on all of the internet, we need to get video to where people are. And I’m not just talking about 45-minute sermon videos. Highlights, recaps, testimonials, baptisms, etc. all need to make their way online.

Churches should use Google’s Keyword Tool to see what people are searching for online and then engage in conversation and add their voice. Pastoral Blogging isn’t dead – a Pastor could use this tool to talk about what people are talking about.

And in all of this, we need to understand that people are accessing this information on MOBILE DEVICES. Whether it’s a responsive website, video encoded for YouTube, or a church app, you must think mobile.

Book Notes: The Advantage by Patrick Lencioni

Here is my two minute book review and my raw notes from The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else in Businessby Patrick Lencioni.

And here are my RAW notes:

Leaders sometimes have three biases-

1. The sophistication bias – leaders who think simple things aren’t important
2. The adrenaline bias – leaders who are afraid to slow down to deal with things that are truly important
3. The quantification bias – leaders who shy away from things that can’t be measured in a precise way

Organizational health is the GREATEST opportunity for improvement and competitive advantage.

“Smart organizations don’t seem to have any greater chance of getting healthier by virtue of their intelligence. In fact, the reverse may actually be true because leaders who pride themselves on expertise and intelligence often struggle to acknowledge their flaws and learn from their peers.” – page 9

The environment matters. If you had to bet on the future of one of two kids, would you choose the kid raised by loving parents in a solid home or the one who was a product of dysfunction. Resources don’t matter as much as environment.

The Four Disciplines Are:

1. Build a cohesive leadership team
2. Create clarity
3. Overcommunicate clarity
4. Reinforce clarity

Teamwork is not a virtue – it is a strategic choice.

Two methods for leading a discussion:

  • Advocacy – I think we should change our strategic choice.
  • Inquiry – Why do you think this approach is not working?

Intelligent people should never sacrifice the effectiveness and manageability of their team for a tactical victory.

Members of cohesive teams spend many hours working on issues or topics that don’t fall directly within their formal areas of responsibility

Fundamental Attribution Error – We give ourselves the benefit of the doubt but assume the worst about others. You attribute negative behaviors of others to their character and attribute your own negative behavior to your circumstances. St. Francis said, “Seek to understand more than to be understood.”

Leaders don’t tolerate artificial harmony. Two people who trust each other and who are engaged in something important SHOULD feel compelled to disagree when they see things differently.
You can disagree and commit.

In meetings, silence can mean disagreement. At the end of the meeting, ask for a formal commitment to the decision. You must prevent “I never really liked that idea in the first place.”

Firing someone isn’t always an act of accountability – it could be a sign of cowardice for a leader who doesn’t know how to hold people accountable.

Behavioral accountability is more important than the formal, result-oritented kind.

An organization that rarely achieves it’s goals is, by definition, not a good team.

CLARITY

Most mission statements do not accurately define what the organization actually does for a living. You can use lots of words and say nothing.

“A good plan violently executed today is better than a perfect plan executed next week.” – General Patton

If your mission statement was never formalized or written down, it would still live in your heart and be real. Your purpose needs to be your purpose before it’s worded for a billboard. You can focus on saying it right, but first it needs to be real.

Values should attract and repel customers. CEO who responds to a customer, “We’ll miss you.”

A core value is only a core value if you could honestly say you’re more committed to it than 99% of the other companies in your industry.

A strategy is nothing more than a collection of intentional decisions made to give yourself the best chance to thrive. It’s a plan for success.

ONE THING

Every organization must have a single top priority within a given period of time. A thematic goal is a rallying cry. It should provide clarity around how to spend your time. Specific objectives are the activities required to achieve the goal.

If you have multiple roles in the organization, be clear about what role you’re playing when you’re making a decision. Expecially if you’re the CEO and also fulfilling another role.

Peopl are skeptical about what they are being told unless they hear it consistently over time. You don’t need to set it and forget it – you need to set it and continually remind.

“Most leadership teams are more than adept at sending out email messages and giving presentations, and yet they still struggle with effective communication because employees wonder about the authenticity of what they are reading and hearing.” (page 145)

You can know how to build a website, btu never achieve clarity around key messages.

Institutionalize your culture, don’t bureaucratize it.

The most memorable time of an employee’s career, and the time with the biggest impact, are his or her first few days on the job.

The best management programs are designed to stimulate the right kinds of conversations around the right topics. Compensation plans should be simple and clearly remind employees what is most important.

MEETINGS

Most important thing to observe is the leadership team during a meeting. Bad meetings are the birthplace of unhealthy organization and good meetings are the origin of cohesion, clarity and communication (page 174)

Don’t reduce time or combine meetings…make sure they are the right KIND of meetings and make them effective.

Separate tactical decisions from strategic ones.

Click here to get the book from my Amazon store.

Why I’ve Asked 400 People to Give Me a Dollar

In late 2011, while returning from lunch to an important meeting, I asked my friend Casey if he thought a person on the street corner would give us a dollar for no particular reason at all. Thirty minutes later, we were in a semi-crowded Starbucks testing our financial and sociological idea.

The idea was pretty simple: Ask complete strangers to give us a one dollar bill for no reason. If they asked what it was for, we wouldn’t tell them. If half of the people said yes, and we found figure out how to ask 2 million people, we’d have a million bucks.

The first person we asked said yes. The second person we asked said yes. The third person we asked said no, because she didn’t believe we’d spend the dollar wisely. A few weeks later, someone said they would give us a dollar, but didn’t have one on them. I told them to visit a website I didn’t own, but quickly registered and set up later. The idea has a website.

In the past six months, we’ve asked for dollars on Beale Street in Memphis, in Pikes Place Market in Seattle and at the top of the John Hancock building in Chicago. We’ve approached complete strangers in Times Square and talked to shuttle drivers at airports. Each time, the question is the same: Will you give me a dollar?

People have given dollars via Paypal. I’ve used a Square reader to collect a dollar from a few people who didn’t have cash. Wherever we go, if we can find a few spare minutes, we strike up a conversation with a stranger and ask them for money.

The Stats

Over the past six months, we’ve personally asked more than 400 people to give us dollars. In a small, tin box in my house, I have 172 dollar bills, a loonie from Canana, a dollar from New Zealand, several pounds, a few Euros, a Bohemian dollar and a currency I can’t quite place. We usually snap a picture with the donor, and upload them all here.  Our friends Joe and Dave have traveled with us and helped as well.

You might think this is a shortcut to millionaire status, and that asking people for money is the easy way to financial success. But before you jump to conclusions, consider the math: At our current rate of success, I’d need to ask 172 people each day to give me a dollar for no reason, and I’d have a million bucks in 30 years. It guess I should keep my day job.

I’ve also spent more money on the idea than I’ve collected in dollar bills, what with the t-shirt, 500 business cards, and yearly cost for a PO Box. But great ideas (or at least ideas) often require an up-front investment before they pay off.

If you’d like to just mail us a dollar, you send it to:

Will You Give Me A Dollar
931 Monroe Drive #156
Atlanta, Georgia 30308

The stats are interesting, but the stories are far more meaningful. We’ve met some fun, crazy, weird, lonely, happy and blessed people across the country. I think about the funniest person alive, who gave us a dollar in a TGIFridays in Charlotte – he said he was so far in debt he was still paying off the original Nintendo. I think of a server in Toronto who told us her life story, and another who shared her fears about God and told us why she didn’t go to church. I think of the homeless man in the city who gave asked us for some change and ended up giving us a dollar “because nobody had ever asked him that before.”

People have shared their stories, and many people have laughed in wonder. A group of total strangers in New York started singing a dollar song (we walked away with $8, before a Times Square police officer said we couldn’t sing for money). It turns out, asking people for dollars is a great conversation starter, and our experiment has started many conversations.

The Lessons

Though asking for dollars is interesting, it’s not all fun and games. The reason we’ve stuck with the experiment for months is because we’re actually learning valuable lessons about business and life. I’ve got seven working principles that I’m not fully ready to share, but here are a few quick learnings.

1. I didn’t get a dollar unless I asked for a dollar.

Without exception, the only people who gave us dollars were simply and clearly asked to give us a dollar. 100% of the people we didn’t ask, didn’t give. Shocking statistic, I know.

If we wanted something, we had to ask. This is Sales 101 – if you want the sale, you’ve got to ask for the sale. If you want participation, you’ve got to ask for participation. HOW you ask matters, but no technique or strategy makes up for keeping your mouth shut.

I wonder how many potential entrepreneurs haven’t launched their business, because their business only exists on paper. I wonder how many volunteers sit on the sidelines because nobody clearly asks for their time. I wonder how many employees continue to do the minimum, because they are never asked to share their opinion or contribute something more.

There are times in life and business when you’ve got to stop informing and start asking. Asking complete strangers for dollars is uncomfortable, but if you want a dollar, you’ve got to get over that discomfort and make the ask.

2. HOW I asked for a dollar matters.

At first, we tried the direct approach. We’d just walk up to someone and say, “Sir, would you give me a dollar?” This question typically produced a funny look and few dollars. Over time, we learned that a more nuanced approach would be more effective. My current approach goes something like this:

Me: Excuse me ma’am, could I ask you a question?
Lady: Um…sure
Me: It’s a hypothetical question.
Lady: Okay.
Me: Hypothetically speaking, if you had a one dollar bill on you and I were to ask you for a dollar for no particular reason, would you give me a dollar?
Lady: Ummm…sure…if you needed a dollar, I would give you one.
Me: Okay, then…will you give me a dollar?
Lady: For real?

This approach is far more effective for several reasons.

First, we don’t just beat down the door with an ask…we ask for permission to ask a more important question. When the person says, “Yes, you can ask me a question,” they have already taken a step toward the conversation. It’s a small investment, but they are invested in the relationship.

Secondly, putting the conversation in the hypothetical realm makes them feel a little more relaxed. They don’t believe I’m going to ask them to do anything hard or weird…because we’re just talking hypothetically.

Finally, once they have committed to a hypothetical situation, when that situation becomes real, they tend to follow through because failure to do so would make them a liar. At this point, many people do, in fact, tell us they don’t really have a dollar. It’s up to be whether to believe them or not, or to let them know that I accept VISA.

As we’ve learned to vary our approach with different people or in different settings, we’ve gotten more successful.

3. Unlikely people said yes.

This person asked us for a quarter and ended up giving us a dollar

In Seattle, we were approached by a gentleman who appeared to be homeless. He asked us to give him a quarter. Before he had a chance to take a step, I said, “Can I have a dollar?” Clearly, this wasn’t the answer he was expecting. I could see his brain working through the conundrum. It took another twenty seconds of asking, but this person – who did not appear to have much at all – willingly gave us a dollar.

“I need to up my rates,” he said as he handed me a dollar coin. After taking the dollar, and giving him a willyougivemeadollar.com business card, we gave him back two dollars. He gave us a dollar and we gave him back two. Not a bad investment, and I left that street corner feeling something like a cross between Mother Theresa and the Federal Government.

I remember when I was raising money to start a church in North Atlanta. I asked everyone I knew for money, and learned this lesson first hand. Those I thought were locks for support often found excuses for not participating. On the flip side, support often came from unlikely places.

What Now?

I’m not done asking for dollars, and I’m working on travel arrangements for the rest of the year.

I want to know if more democrats at the Democratic National Convention or more republicans at the Republican National Convention will give away dollars for no particular reason. I need to attend a NASCAR event and see how many dollars we can get there. What if we traveled to the Four Corners and say which state was more generous?  Are people at the world’s largest Star Trek convention good candidates for dollar donating? These are all questions that keep me up at night.

I wonder if people in other countries would give me a Lira, Peso, or Yen. I want to travel around the world in 21 days and ask for dollars in countries along the way.

This is a fun experiment, but it’s something more. I’m learning lessons about business and learning even more about people. It’s a social experiment with limitless application.

Sunday Sermon Notes: Christian by Andy Stanley

Andy Stanley continued the Christian series today.  Here are my notes.

If you’re a “just grace” person, there’s always going to be something missing.  If you’re a “just truth” person, there’s always going to be something missing.  Jesus was the embodiment of grace and truth, and as the body of Christ, we should strive to be that as well.

Jesus modeled grace and truth with his life, but he taught it in Luke 15.  He begins his message with a parable that would create common ground with notorious sinners and religious leaders alike.  People who were nothing like Jesus wanted to listen to His sermons.

Imagine if the front rows of your church were filled with sinners who were far from God, and these people WANTED to hear the message.

Jesus began the message with something both groups would agree on – not with a deep truth or with what He truly wanted to address.  After his opening words, both groups nodded in agreement.

The story of the prodigal son illustrates God’s grace.

Why are there so many angry Christians?  Why are there so many angry pastors.

The older brother was angry, but he neglected to realize that the Father wanted his proximity, not his performance.

Christians turn into angry Christians when they think they deserve something form God and they are afraid someone else will get it.

You can be a good Christian without being a good disciple.

God doesn’t get mad at lost things.

 

Three Things Every Pastor Secretly Wants

After a dozen years as a youth pastor and six years as a church planter and Lead Pastor, I’ve learned a lot about myself. Part of that process involved being honest about what I truly wanted, which made me wonder if more pastors don’t have these secret desires, too.. Here’s my humble list of three things every pastor secretly wants:

1. A Pastor Wants a Best Friend

For a period of a few years, I was a conference junkie – I even kept the lanyards hanging on the back of my office door. After a while, I realized that most conferences were the same and started pursuing coaching relationships. I learned that I could pay money to have people who were getting it done mentor me and show me how to reach the next level. While this was a step in the right direction, it still fell short.

Coaching is greater than conferences. But friends are greater than coaches.

I didn’t have a best friend in ministry, and that wasn’t anyone else’s fault but my own. Sure, I had people who wanted to learn from me, and I had people who said they wanted me to let them in, but I was skeptical.

More than anything, I’m convinced that what pastors need is what pastors want. Not a fake system of accountability that keeps up appearances, but a real friend or two who could handle any amount of crap. If a pastor is struggling with something, he needs to talk to someone that can’t fire him. He needs someone who will get in his face, but not throw him out on the street. That’s a friend.

2. A Pastor Wants Financial Security

I believe there’s something in the heart of a man that wants to provide for his wife and children. And answering the call of God to communicate the Gospel or lead a church doesn’t erase that deep desire to love, protect and provide.

My first full time job in ministry was in South Florida, and I made less than public school teacher. That was fine for a youth pastor with no kids, but once I had a family, it wasn’t going to work. Sadly, that meant no longer working at that church. And for the next ten years, I scrapped by, earning enough to live a comfortable life but setting aside nothing for retirements. I was able to travel and attend conferences, but my wife and kids missed most of that.

I secretly wanted to be a better provider for my family. I wanted the freedom to send my kids to a good summer camp (not just the free VBS) and I wanted to attend and buy my wife some new furniture for the house. I never went into ministry at the age of 18 to make a lot of money, but there were times when I didn’t want it to be so dang hard.

I’ve struggled with whether or not to write something like “Five Things Pastors Could Do to Earn More Money” because I don’t want to be misunderstood. But in general, I believe pastors need to earn a little more money so they can make decisions on what’s best for the church and what’s best for their family, not what’s necessary for their survival.

This is also why I launched The $1,000 Challenge, a short-term course to help pastors identify and launch a side project to generate some extra income.

3. A Pastor Wants Respect

Dr. Emerson Eggerichs says every woman has a deep need for love and every man has a deep need for respect. This was true for me.  I wanted to be respected in my profession and in my home. I wanted the people in my church to respect me as a leader. I wanted the people in the community to respect me as a legitimate contributor. And I wanted the rest of the church world to respect my ideas and experience on how things should be.

But even deeper than that, I wanted my wife and kids to respect me as a husband, father and provider. There’s a great irony in this because my family was never impressed by my accomplishments. My wife and kids weren’t impressed buy the amazing meeting I had, the pastor of the mega-church who called seeking advice, or the brilliant paragraph I wrote for a message. I was recognized for accomplishments at work, but these accomplishments didn’t earn me much respect in the home. It seems like my kids just wanted me to read them a story and my wife wanted my undivided (aka no phone) attention.

There’s a fine line between seeking the approval of man and wanted to be respected for what you do. And looking back on my six years as a church planter and Lead Pastor, I think a healthy desire for respect too easily morphed into a hunger for attention. But nevertheless, that respect was a real desire.

Looking back, one of the healthiest things that could have happened was for my secret desires to become my open desires. My hope is this post would encourage you to openly admit what you want – whether or not it sounds spiritual.

Three Lessons Everyone Can Learn from Target

The Target logo

Target was originally founded in 1902 as the Dayton Dry Good Company. Since then, the company has changed their name (adopting the name of it’s most successful division in 2000) and become the second largest discount retailer in the United States.  Here’s a little more about the retail store.

The Target Difference

I remember when the first Target store opened in my home town of Jacksonville, Florida. They were competing with Wal-Mart, but very quickly, I came to recognize them as the “high class” discount store. Back then and still today, I notice two key differences between Target and Wal-Mart.

First, the aisles at Target are wide and clear, while the aisles at Wal-Mart are filled with Doritos and underwear displays. Secondly, their parking lot is free of obstructions, while the parking lot at Wal-Mart is littered with shopping carts like shrapnel on a battle field.

Target creates a different shopping experience for customers, and you can see it on the ceiling and in the shopping cart. Though it’s cheaper to leave a warehouse ceiling open, Target installs a drop ceiling in their stores to create a higher-end look. You will sometimes find a Starbucks inside a Target, and that alignment is as just as much about their brand as it is about the coffee. And their new, all-plastic shopping carts are just cooler than other stores.

The Growth of Target

After initial success and quick growth, the company experienced a decrease in profits in the 70s as top executives entered the job with little retaining experience. The Dayton Dry Good Company actually considered selling off the Target division, but a new CEO led a turnaround, marked by selling off inventory at a discount and refusing to open new stores. After the company got back on track, they continued to grow through acquisitions.

In 1995, the first Super Target opened in Omaha, Nebraska. Today, Target continues to undergo change, closing most of their garden centers and adding fresh produce. The first City Target, a smaller, downtown store in landmark buildings and not strip malls will open in 2012. This seems like a great strategy for entering large urban markets like Chicago and Los Angeles.

Three Lessons from Target

1. Your brand is bigger than your logo. Target’s simple red logo is recognized by more than 94% of Americans, but Target’s brand is much bigger than their logo. It’s just as much about the ceiling and the shopping cards and the length of lines at checkout as it is about the simple Helvetica font. A brand is as much about a promise and operation as it is about colors and style.

2. A changing strategy is necessary for success. The history of Target is filled with change – in moving from garden centers to fresh produce and from regular stores to super size stores to smaller urban stores. Growth requires both consistency of values and a change in strategy.

3. Diversify and focus. Target focuses on the customer experience, while diversifying at the business level. The company also owns Target Financial Services, Target Sourcing Services, Target Commercial Interiors, Target Brands and Target.com. These are different, but related companies, who grow in relation to each other. The success of one company or division is directly related to the success of another company or division. Even in creating distinction, we need to be unified in mission.

Why Organizing Your Church is Important

I heard Andy Stanley once say that sermons without systems won’t lead to life change.  Sure, sermons are important, but without a systematic plan to move people into community, sermons will just become information over time.  Like pipes in a wall, systems and structure is the vehicle that takes passion and translates it into life change.

That’s why I’m such a believer in organizing the church.  The mission of the church matters, so the church should be structured in a way that makes sense.

A Pastor named Paul said this:

“I’m three days into this resource and already it’s a game changer. Thanks for producing such high quality and immediately applicable resources!”

He’s talking about this resource. It’s my new ebook called Organize Your Church in 30 Days.

You can get it for $20 (and it includes a $20 discount for Docs and Forms). Or if you don’t want to pay for it, you can subscribe to this and get all of the same information spread out over 90 days.

Here’s a little more if you’d rather watch than read.

Technology Tools and How I Use Them (Part 4)

Evernote.  Things.  And Dropbox.  Three tools I use to stay organized and synced.

And like most people, I use email and a calendar program on a daily basis.  These round out my main tech tools.

Email isn’t really advanced technology, and there are many programs you can use. But here are a few things I’ve learned about working with email.

  1. I try to empty my inbox every day. You shouldn’t have a bunch of email awaiting response in your Inbox. Sit down and clean that thing out and empty it every day. I NEVER keep tasks in my email Inbox…if something arrives that I need to do, I create a task in Things and assign it a deadline. Michael Hyatt’s post on this subject is excellent.
  2. I have four or five different email addresses but all of them come to my Mac Mail inbox. I rarely use the Gmail interface or access my email on another computer. The SMTP servers keep my mail folders on my computer indention to the mail folders on my iPhone.
  3. I get Twitter DM alerts in my email Inbox, but not mentions or other social media notifications.

As far as my calendar, I use the simple iCal program that came with my MacBook Air. It does everything I need to do. Here are a few things I do:

  1. I have several calendars, but I see them all in one place. I have a personal calendar and several work calendars. I share all of these calendars with my wife and she shares her calendar with me and iCloud keeps everything in sync.
  2. I put birthdays on my calendar with a 4 day notification if I want to send that person a hand-written birthday card.

Evernote.  Things.  Dropbox.  Email.  And a calendar.  Those are the five workflow tools that keep things simple and organized for me.

Technology Tools and How I Use Them (Part 3)

No technology or organizational tool is perfect, and no tool on it’s own will make much of a difference.  But when you learn to leverage tools properly, and stick with them over time, they can really help you stay organized and get stuff done.  So far, I’ve talked to you about Evernote and Things.

The third tool I use to stay organized is Dropbox.

Dropbox is a simple file-sharing service that I use to backup and sync all of my documents and files. Instead of keeping files in the default documents folder, I put everything in the Dropbox folder, which is automatically synced with the cloud. Dropbox keeps all of my documents and files organized.

Here’s how I use Dropbox.

  1. I pay for an extra 50 Gigs of storage so I literally have every file saved and synced on Dropbox.
  2. If I need to share a file, I simply stick it in the public folder, right click on it, get a public link and send that link to the appropriate person.  File sharing is super easy with Dropbox.
  3. I can access all of my files on my IOS devices or any other computer.
  4. Dropbox works like a backup as well. I still back up my entire computer using Time Machine and a portable hard drive that’s kept in a fireproof safe.  But knowing my important files are synced is nice.
  5. Dropbox is so much nicer than Google Docs because it lets me keep my folders organized the way I want to organize them, and I’m not limited by file type or formatting issues.

Are you a Dropbox user?

Technology Tools and How I Use Them (Part 2)

This week, I’m sharing a little bit about the tools I use to stay organized.  Yesterday, I talked about Evernote.  The second tool in my organizational tool belt is a task manager called THINGS.

I use Things to manage tasks. This is important, because I don’t believe action steps should stay in your head. A bunch of stuff in your head that you’re forced to remember is mind-clutter. And worse, when you remember it, you’re probably supposed to be thinking or working on something else.

  1. When I think of a new task, I put it in the Inbox.
  2. If I get an email task, I create a new task in Things and assign it a deadline.  I do not keep tasks in my email Inbox.
  3. I have about 50 tasks in THINGS – about 30 of them are due in the next month, 5-10 are for the next 24 hour period and several are just future things that could do.
  4. I schedule RECURRING tasks. This is important to creating an action rhythm and keeps you doing the most important things on time. Think about it…much of what you do (or should) do is repeating. For me, “Read Bible” and “Exercise” is a recurring daily task. It pops up every day and I check it off. “Tag stuff collected in Evernote” is a recurring weekly task, so it appears every Friday and I check it off. “Spray house for bugs” is a recurring monthly task, so it appears once a month and I check it off. “Check credit report” is a recurring annual task, so it appears once a year and I check it off. Here are some of my other recurring tasks: schedule blog posts, review website, pay affiliates, blog spam twitter followers, look at spending plan, schedule dentist appointment, and create school awards for kids.
  5. Things keeps my tasks in sync between my phone and computer, so if I’m out and about and add a task on my phone, it can sync with my computer.
  6. The key to using a task management program is to assign a deadline to action steps, even if it’s a self-imposed deadline. Tasks without deadlines are somewhat silly. If it’s important enough to do, it’s important enough to do on time.

Things is a Mac program, but there are a ton of other task management solutions.  You might check out Remember the Milk, Wunderlist, or Action Method.  Like most things, there’s no perfect solution.  It’s a waste of time to constantly search for the perfect tool or switch from one thing to another.  Just find something that works, and use it daily.

Sunday Sermon Notes: Andy Stanley / Christian

Here are my notes from Buckhead Church on Sunday, April 15, 2012. Andy Stanley continued a series called “Christian.”

The introduction recapped where the series had been, bringing back the principle in John 13:35. Jesus didn’t ask people to be Christians…He asked people to be followers.

  • There’s a great tension in Christianity, and when you try to resolve it, you lose something important.
  • If you want to know what Jesus meant by what He said, watch what Jesus did.
  • There’s a tension you dare not resolve. John 1:14 says that Jesus was full of grace AND truth.
  • There are grace parents and truth parents. There are grace churches and truth churches. But Jesus was full of both of these things. In John 1:17, we read that grace and truth CAME through Jesus.
  • Not a balance between, but a full measure of.
  • Jesus let a guy into heaven with 1 minute left on the clock. Jesus spoke truth to the woman at the well. It’s messy, inconsistent and unresolved in the church.

Andy then told an amazing story about a modern family situation and how it was handled. You’ll just have to watch it.

Jesus said, “Sin is sin.” Then he paid for it. Then He said, “Stop sinning.” And he still says, “I love you.”

You will be tempted to let go of either grace and truth, but we need to live in the tension.

Technology Tools and How I Use Them (Part 1)

There are a ton of tools that will help you track stuff, accomplish stuff, and organize stuff. But for most of us, tools mean nothing.

Tools have the potential to be helpful helpful, but it’s how you use them that really makes the difference. Said another way, the existence of tools doesn’t build anything. So with that as a backdrop, here are three of my primary technology tools that help me stay organized and get things done.

First up…Evernote.

Use Evernote to capture and save anything

I use Evernote to capture notes and ideas, and the free service keeps all of my notes in sync. Evernote lets you capture anything, access it anywhere, and find things fast. Evernote is my digital filing cabinet – I don’t use it for tasks but to save anything I find interesting. Here’s how I set it up and use it on a daily basis.

  1. I use Evernote on my computer and it syncs with all of my IOS devices. I can access and add info from anywhere.
  2. I have about 10 “notebooks” in Evernote – these are like folders. I have a folder for blog ideas and blog posts, a folder for work stuff, and a folder for Will You Give Me a Dollar. I have a folder for personal stuff as well.
  3. I created a notebook called !Inbox. (The ! keeps it at the top of the list.) Every new note goes into this notebook by default.
  4. Once a week, I go through everything I clipped into my Evernote Inbox, assign it a few tags and move it to the proper folder.
  5. I use keyboard shortcuts to get things into Evernote. If I read a blog post I want to save, I simply highlight the text and hit CMD-C to copy it. Then I hit CTRL-CMD-V to open up a new note and automatically paste the text.
  6. I pay $5 a month for the upgraded service, which allows me to save PDF and Word files in Evernote.
  7. When you set up Evernote, you can create a custom email address. Simply forward anything to this email address and it will appear in your Evernote inbox.
  8. I purchased a Doxie scanner and it scans documents (bills, invoices, and important papers) directly into Evernote. I even scan pictures and school assignments from my kids (before throwing them away….shhhh!)

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  This resource from Brett Kelly is an absolute must read for Evernote users or if you’re thinking about making this part of your system.