I joined the Big Green Egg cult five years ago and it’s one of the best purchases we ever made. We grill, smoke and even bake several times a week.
I regularly cook reverse Seared Steaks, ribs, wings, pulled pork, and even vegetables. Since I get asked all the time, I thought I’d list out some of my favorite accessories. A few of these are “must have.”
You must have a good meat thermometer because it’s really the only way to know if the meat is done properly. I use three different ones.
Flame Boss 300. This is the gold standard…takes 1 minute to connect to the vent and uses a fan and an app to keep your temperature consistent. This is what you want for long cooks like Boston Butt or Brisket. You can control the temp from anywhere via the app.
Therma Pro. This is a little simpler…like a baby monitor for your meat. It just measures the grill temp and meat temp and sends the numbers to the other unit inside.
Lavatools. This is a small instant read thermometer. It’s perfect for steaks and chicken, when you want to just check the temp quick. For what it’s worth, I cook steaks to 120 (then sear for a couple of minutes on each side), then rest for 10 minutes. Chicken breasts are done at 163 and then rest for 1o minutes. Boston Butt goes all the way up to 195 or higher depending on the cook method.
Next, you’ll want to get a BBQ mitt like this one. I’ve had it for five years and it works great. It allows me to pick up the grate or the plate setter or a cast iron pan. You may want to order two of them.
And speaking of cast iron pan, you’re gonna want to pick up this Lodge 10 inch. You can cook bacon and finish steaks this way. You can expand your cast iron collection over time but this is a good starting point.
Finally, this pizza stone is a lot of fun. You can make your own wood fired pizzas on the Green Egg. Because it gets so hot, the stone is how you have a crispy crust. Heck, you can even cook a frozen pizza on the Egg and it will taste amazing.
Let’s talk about meat. If you’re going to do it right, you want to cook good meat. Believe it or not, my favorite place to get meat is Costco. They have great steaks, boston butt, ribs and chicken. They often sell pork belly, brisket, and other cuts too. And if you want a great steak, opt for their Prime cuts. It’s worth it.
Lastly, spices and rubs are important. I’m partial to the selection of rubs from Meat Church. The Honey Hog and Honey Hot hot it is my go-to for ribs and chicken. The Holy Cow is great on beef and brisket. And I use the Fajita seasoning all the time. I also love Socks Love as a good general purpose rub. For steaks, all I really use is salt and pepper – no need to do more than that if you start with a great steak.
There are dozens and dozens of other accessories you can get, but these will get you started. Part of the fun of having a Big Green Egg is trying things.
Whether you’re writing a book, working on a talk, building a website or preparing a sermon, there’s one important ingredient you must include.
Nearly everyone leaves this out.
It’s the answer to this question: What’s at stake?
If I don’t buy into what you’re writing, if I don’t implement what you’re asking, if I don’t click the button…what’s it going to cost me? What am I going to miss? What is at stake?
If your sales page perfectly describes the features and benefits and payment plans and product but doesn’t communicate what’s going to happen if I FAIL TO ACT, then I’m probably not going to act.
If your talk has facts, stories, emotion, or props but doesn’t put the status quo in jeopardy, I’m probably not going to act.
If your book is interesting, funny and well-written but doesn’t convince me why it even matters, it will just end up on the shelf.
Early on, tell people what’s at stake.
Here are my notes, quotes, and thoughts from Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World by Adam Grant.
This is one of the best books I’ve read this year and it’s well worth the investment of your time. Along with J.J. Abrams, Sir Richard Branson, Arianna Huffington, Sheryl Sandberg, and Peter Thiel, I add my endorsement. 🙂
Economist Michael Housman found customer service agents that used Firefox and Chrome Internet performed higher than those that didn’t. Why? To get these browsers, you have to intentionally download something new rather than accepting the default. You have to seek out an option that might be better.
People are motivated to rationalize the status quo as legitimate, even if it goes against their interests. “People who suffer the most from a given state of affairs are paradoxically the least likely to question, challenge, reject, or change it.” – John Jost and team.
Child prodigies rarely go on to change the world.
Copernicus only shared his findings of the earth revolving around the sun with his friends. He stayed silent for 22 years because of fear.
Entrepreneurs are famous for taking risks, but they are rarely reckless. Entrepreneurs who kept their day jobs had 33% lower odds of failure than those who quit and pursue a passion. If you’re a freewheeling gambler, your startup is far more fragile. A sense of security in one realm gives you the freedom to be original in another. By covering your base financially, you escape the pressure to publish half-baked books, sell shoddy art, or launch untested businesses.
“Many entrepreneurs take plenty of risks – but those are generally the failed entrepreneurs, not the success stories.” – Malcolm Gladwell
Blind Inventors and One-Eyed Investors
Steve Jobs offered an inventor $63 million for 10% of this company and later offered to advise the inventor for six months – for free. He said, “People will architect cities around this.” Jeff Bezos told the guy his product was revolutionary and would have no problem selling it. It was the Segway.
The biggest barrier to originality is not idea generation – it’s idea selection.
70% of high school seniors say they have above average leadership skills. 60% put themselves in the top 10 percent. 94% of college professors say they do above-average work.
Creative geniuses aren’t qualitatively better in their fields than their peers; they simply produce a greater volume of work which gives them a higher chance of originality. Mozart, Shakespeare, Picasso and Maya Angelou all produced a tremendous quantity of work; only some of which receives critical acclaim.
The creator of The Daily Show says she still doesn’t know what will make people laugh.
As you gain knowledge about a domain, you become a prisoner of your prototype. Being creative in one area doesn’t make you a great forecaster in others. Your intuitions are only accurate in domains where you have a lot of experience.
In 2013 alone, 300k patents were granted in the US. The chances any one of these inventions will change the world is tiny. Individual creators have far better odds over a lifetime of ideas.
Out on a Limb
“Great spirits have always encountered opposition from mediocre minds.” – Albert Einstein
“When people sought to exert influence but lacked respect, others perceived them as difficult, service, and self-serving. Since they haven’t earned our admiration, we don’t feel \they have the right to tell us what to do, and we push back.” – Alison Fragile, UNC professor on people trying to exercise power without status.
“The way to come to power is not always to merely challenge the Establishment, but first make a place in it and then challenge and double-cross the Establishment.” – Francis Ford Coppola
When you’re pitching a novel idea or speaking up with a suggestion for change, your audience is likely to be skeptical. Rampant confidence is a red flag – a signal that we need to defend ourselves against weapons of influence.
The job of an investor is to figure out what’s wrong with the company.
People think an amateur can appreciate art, but it takes a professional to critique it.
Norbert Schwartz has shown that the easier it is to think of something, the more common and important we assume it is. Ask people to list three things they love about their life and it’s easy. They feel grateful. Ask them to come up with 12 and they draw the conclusion that their lives aren’t as good as others.
It’s humanly impossible to tap out a rhythm of a song without hearing the tune in your head. Whenever you share a new idea, you’re hearing the tune in your head. Because you wrote the song. Everyone else just hears taps.
To get through, MMT: Message, Medium, Time
Four options for handling a dissatisfying situation: Exit, Voice, Persistence, Neglect
Fools Rush In
MLK didn’t begin writing out his famous “I have a Dream” speech until after 10pm the night before the march. Four days before the march he held a meeting of advisers to “review the ideas and get the best approaches.” It is also estimated he delivered 350 speeches that year. Great originals procrastinate strategically, making gradual progress by testing and refining different possibilities.
Being original doesn’t require being first. It just means being different and better.
Three out of four starups fail because of premature scaling – making investments the market isn’t ready to support. If you have an idea, it’s a mistake to rush with the sole purpose of beating your competitors to the finish line.
Robert Frost wrote 92% of his poems after age 40. Alfred Hitchcock made his three most popular films in his fifties and sixties. MLK had been speaking on civil rights for 20 years.
Goldilocks and the Trojan Horse
Even though they share a fundamental objective, radical groups often disparage more mainstream groups as imposters and sellouts. For example, orthodox Jews evaluate conservative Jewish women more negatively than Jewish women who don’t practice or observe religious holidays at all.
During the women’s suffrage movement, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton split off from Luch stone because they viewed Stone’s support of voting rights for black men as a betrayal of the women’s cause.
For insiders, the key representative is the person who is most central and connected in the group. For outsiders, the person who represents the group is the one with the most extreme views.
Bert Uchino found that ambivalent relationships are literally unhealthier than negative relationships. Our instinct is to sever bad relations and salvage the indifferent ones. But the evidence suggests we should do the opposite: cut our frenemies and attempt to convert our enemies. The best allies aren’t the people who have supported us all along. They are the ones who started out against us and then came around to our side.
When Disney was changing strategies and looking to create original stories, nobody had confidence in it. They positioned the Lion King, which was struggling to get support, as “Hamlet with lions.” That got the green light. The dose of familiarity helped the executives connect the script to a classic take. People need those handles. Absolute originality can lose people.
“If it’s not original enough, it’s boring or trite. If it’s too original, it may be hard for the audience to understand. The goal is to push the envelope, not tear the envelope.” – Rob Minkoff
Rebel with a Cause
“We are not our brother’s keeper…in countless large and small ways we are our brother’s maker.” – Harry and Bonaro Overstreet
We tend to be overconfident about our own invulnerability to harm. But when doctors and nurses think about patients, their logic improves.
Moral standards are forged in part by what parents say after their children do the right thing. Children who receive character praise are more generous. Affirming character appears to have the strongest effect in the critical period when children are beginning to formulate strong identities. Ask children to be helpers not to help.
Karl Downs was a minister who noticed adolescents were being forced by their parents to attend church and were dropping out. Downs held dances at the church and built a badminton court. Members protested but Downs persisted. A young Jackie Robinson ended up volunteering to become a Sunday School teacher there.
Groupthink is the tendency to seek consensus instead of fostering dissent. But what does it take to maintain a strong culture without spawning a cult?
Skills and stars are fleeting; commitment lasts.
The worse companies perform, the more CEOs seek advice from friends and colleagues who already share their opinions. Confirmation bias: when you have a preference, you seek out information supporting it, while overlooking information that challenges it.
Dissenting opinions ar useful even when they’re wrong.
Look for a cultural contribution, not just a cultural fit.
Rocking the Boat and Keeping It Steady
The most inspiring way to convey a vision is to outsource it to the people who are actually affected by it.
There are tests that when people take alone, they virtually never err. But when they go along with a group, they knowingly give incorrect answers out of fear of being ridiculed.
To feel you are not alone, you don’t need a whole crowd. Just having one friend is enough to significantly decrease loneliness.
It’s easier to rebel when it feels like an act of conformity. When others are involved, you can join.
You can dramatically shift risk preferences just by changing a few words to emphasize losses rather than gains. – Research from Tversky and Kahneman. If people think the behavior is safe, emphasize all the good things that will happen. If people think something is risky, the benefits of change aren’t motivating. You have to destabilize the status quo and accentuate the bad thing that will happen if they don’t change.
Venting doesn’t extinguish eh flame of anger; it feeds it. When you vent anger, you put a lead foot on the gas pedal, essentially attacking the target who enraged you.
When you’re angry AT others, you aim for revenge. But when you’re angry FOR others, you seek justice and a better system.
Adults need to spend less time learning and more time unlearning.
My main role at Church Fuel is to create clarity. I’m the Chief Clarity Officer.
One thing I’ve learned the hard way is my team can’t read my mind. If I expect something, I have to clarify and communicate it. Because holding people to an uncommunicated expectation is not fair. I have to clarify my expectations.
Here are seven things I expect from everyone that works at Church Fuel.
#1 – Decisiveness
I want you to know you’re empowered to make decisions. In fact, one of the reasons you were hired is to make decisions. You’re better at your job than I am.
- You’re empowered to make decisions about customer payments, refunds and bonuses.
- You’re empowered to follow up with interested people.
- You’re empowered to reach out to potential partners on our behalf.
- You’re empowered to test a new technology or service.
- You’re empowered to make something better.
- You’re empowered to fix whatever is broken.
You don’t need permission and you don’t need to call a meeting. You can do it and then report back with what you did.
One of my favorite notes is “This came up and here’s what I did about it.” You decide and you communicate.
#2 – Improvement
Several years ago when I was pastoring a church plant, we decided to take an idea from Elevation Church in Charlotte and do an Egg Drop.
Instead of the normal Easter Egg hunt, we would drop some of the eggs out of a helicopter. It wasn’t our idea and a lot of churches do it now.
We planned for 2,000 people.
And on the day of the event about 5,000 people showed up.
It was a total disaster.
- Traffic was a nightmare and people couldn’t even get in the park.
- Parents were knocking over kids in order to get the prize eggs.
- We ran out of candy and eggs.
- The speakers weren’t powerful enough to give directions.
- Crying kids got separated from parents.
And the helicopter pilot kept flying over the crowd pelting them with eggs like he was experiencing flashbacks from Vietnam. I screamed “Nooooo” into the not-powerful-enough sound system only to learn later that those who could hear thought I was saying “Gooooo.”
Based on lack of success, there was no way we were going to do it again.
But after the eggshells settled, we decided we could learn from our experience and solve the problems.
- We pre-registered people, which also helped us follow up with people.
- We gave out empty eggs and let kids turn them in for candy, which also let us keep the eggs for future events.
- We created several sections for different aged kids, keeping parents off the fields.
- We changed a lot of small things and persuaded people to give it a second chance.
Attendance was way down the second year, but it was smooth. It went on to have a nice little run.
That first year turned out to be the learning experience. It wasn’t until we were able to learn from our mistakes, adjust, and implement change that we found a sweet spot. Today, I advise leaders to commit to do something twice before evaluating whether to make it a regular occurrence.
Whether it’s an event, a webinar, a launch, or a retreat, make sure you don’t pull the plug before you’ve had the opportunity to improve.
Now let me be clear: I’m not suggesting that we throw the first thing together and expect it to suck. I’m saying that we need to be patient and learn from our mistakes. We need to be committed to learn and improve, not just launch and act.
When we do something that doesn’t work well, it’s like paying tuition. We’re getting an education. And it would be a mistake to throw that education away. Tuition is what gives you the education and the education is what gives you the opportunity.
Therefore, we have to evaluate and learn from everything we do. It’s the only way to make version 2 better.
#3 – Responsiveness
One of my biggest expectations I have for our team is responsiveness. Quite simply, I want you to respond fast.
To each other and to our customers.
When our customers email, I want them to receive a quick response. When someone from our team posts in Basecamp, I want you to give a quick response.
Responsiveness shows value. It lets people know their issue or their request is important. It’s a simple but tangible way to demonstrate your priorities.
If a team member needs something, your mission is to respond as close to immediate as possible. If a customer emails something, the measuring stick is to respond within 24 hours.
Hire responsive people; stay away from resistant ones.
— Jeremie Kubicek (@JeremieKubicek) April 19, 2017
I’ve been in too many situations where I couldn’t do my next step on a project because I’m waiting on someone else to respond. I don’t want to be thereason someone else is being held up on something.
Responsiveness keeps things moving forward at the appropriate pace. It keeps momentum from slowing or projects coming to an unnecessary halt.
Now to do this well, we must set some boundaries. We can’t be responsive to all the people all the time. We need to choose when and how. I use a simple system for this:
- Basecamp – This is what we use for work communication. It’s our hub. This one tool allows me to interact with the team and replaces several other tools like email and slack. In short, work stuff happens here. From 8-5 Monday through Friday, I’ve got Basecamp up on my computer and phone. I have notifications turned on. One of the reasons I love using Basecamp is it allows me to contain work and choose to be responsive during those hours. On the weekend or a day off, I can simply click a button that says, “work can wait” and I won’t get notifications or work messages.
- Email – Due to the nature of our business, email is where I hear most from customers. I try to empty my Inbox every day and there are rarely more than a few messages in there needing a response. It bothers me when people boast about how many unread emails they have or tweet about how out of control their Inbox is. There are people on the other end of those messages. If they are customers, their request is important and we owe them a rapid response.
- Text messages – Because we use Basecamp as a team, that frees up text messages to be from friends and family. Of course, if there’s something I need after-hours or during the weekend (very rare), go ahead and send a text.
Diving in a little more to responding on Basecamp, here’s a filter.
No Expectation to Respond
- Automatic questions like “What are you working on” and “What did you do this weekend.” This is just water cooler talk. It’s certainly helpful but it’s just conversational. Don’t feel pressure to respond; just jump in naturally whenever you want.
- Chat – The chat is where we just talk about stuff like we were all in the same office. It’s low key. Don’t feel pressure to respond; just chat whenever you like.
Expectation to Respond
- Pings – These are direct messages between individuals, like work text. Always respond quickly.
- Message board. Unless it’s just an FYI or an announcement, chime in on these threads. We don’t just want your opinion, we need it. If you’re on the project, your voice is needed here.
- Automatic questions on your projects. If you’re asked an automatic question on a project you’re involved in, a reply is expected.
#4 – Communication
One of my favorite churches is in Nashville. I interviewed their creative arts pastors one time about their staff values.
And the one that stuck out to me the most was “use your blinker.” This value was all about team communication. Just like a car should turn on their blinker to let other cars know they are turning, humans need to use communication blinkers to keep others informed.
In Atlanta, we’re not great at using blinkers. And in business, we’re not much better. We tend to put our heads down, do our job with excellence and then dive into the next project.
In a virtual company like ours, communication is like oxygen. We can’t survive, much less thrive, without it. We need to use our blinkers.
Company communication isn’t small talk or generic replies to generic questions. It’s intentional. Here are four places where communication is craved.
When we gather for team meetings, be prepared to give status updates on big batch projects or small batch projects you’re leading. One of the automatic questions we ask on projects is “Are you blocked on anything?” This is an opportunity to provide a simple status update and ask others to help you move forward.
Reports and Insights
When a project is over, don’t close it down too soon. Run reports, look at what happened, capture insights. This is where we document what we learned and capture ways to improve. Many of the things we need to know we can’t know until a project is complete.
- How did the ad campaign perform?
- What were the open rates, click rates and revenue numbers from the week-long sale?
- What are the questions being asked in office hour sessions?
A simple one-page report goes a long way.
Closing the Loop
Another way to excel at communication is to close the loop. When someone asks you to do something, ping them back and say, “this was done and here’s what happened.” Don’t let them wonder if you got to it or not.
Staying in the loop about communication also extends to the messages we are sending out to our list. Everyone in our organization needs to know what we’re talking about publicly. There are two simple ways to know what’s happening.
First, the company-wide communication calendar has information about when we are publishing blog posts and sending emails. This calendar should be complete and accurate for the rolling 60 days.
Second, at the beginning of the week, we publish an announcement in Church Fuel HQ with this week’s communication.
#5 – Organization and Planning
The fifth thing that is very important to me is organization. It’s much more than a personality trait; it’s a requirement for effective operations.
There’s a phrase often attributed to Benjamin Franklin and invoked by professional organizers (yes, that’s a real thing).
A place for everything and everything in its place.
This phrase means that you should keep the kitchen scissors in the same drawer, always returning them after you use them so they will be there when you need them next. It’s also a challenge to kill the clutter, refusing to throw things you don’t really need in that kitchen junk drawer.
A Place for Everything
Even in a digital company like ours, it’s important to store things in the right place. We all need stuff to be where it’s supposed to be.
All our files are stored in Dropbox, assessable by anyone on our team. If something is meant for public consumption, it goes to Amazon S3 or Vimeo. If it’s membership content, it gets linked to our member’s area. And finally, it’s all inked in a document called The Content Matrix.
The Content Matrix is a hugely important document containing links to landing pages, video embeds, and files. It’s like the table of contents for all our content.
We’ve already talked about Basecamp, but that’s the place for all of our project data, company communication, and checklist templates. Basecamp is the place where we track our work and track our progress.
A plan for everything.
Not only do we need to have an organized place for everything, we need to create plans for everything we do.
- Before we run a product launch, we need to plan the product launch. We put all the dates and communication assets on a calendar. We create deadlines for everything that needs to be created. We plan what work needs to be done before we start doing things.
- Before we start working on a project, we create the detailed project checklist in Basecamp. It’s a lot quicker to think through all the tasks in advance than it is to get knee-deep in the work and try to remember what needs to be done.
- Before we write a blog article, we create a simple plan. Outline major points, people of authority and keyword possibilities. A few minutes of work on the front end produces a much better post on the back in.
Here’s an example of a plan. It’s what happens when a new contact comes on our list. It’s a flow chart showing what they get, when they get it and what we’re leading them to do. Before we create any of the content in this plan, we create the plan.
Always sketch out the plan and get feedback and make improvements to the concept before you start building.
Apply the 80/20 rule to everything you do. Spend 20% of your total time planning the project and the other 80% of your time will be exponentially more effective.
#6 – Process
There’s a book I love to give away in workshops called “The Checklist Manifesto.”
It’s written by a doctor who says we should create simple checklists for common things we do, not because we’re unintelligent, but because our brainpower is better used for higher functioning tasks. He writes about airline pilots, who are highly capable and highly trained individuals, who run through a pre-flight checklist to make sure they don’t miss anything. He writes about doctors, who are highly educated and extremely detailed, who follow simple pre-surgery checklists to remind them to wash their hands.
Checklists aren’t for the dumb. They are for the busy.
Because of reading this book years ago, our church staff created checklists and processes for dozens of actions. Those checklists eventually became a product called Docs and Forms, got sold to The Rocket Company that has since been sold to Ministry Brands, and is one of the tangible reasons I still create resources for pastors and church leaders.
Systems, processes, and checklists are important to me but they are also vital to the way we do business. There will always be a little chaos and not everything will go according to plan. But where we can create stability, we owe it to each other to do so.
Anytime we do something more than once, it’s time for a process or a checklist. There are two ways this can work itself out.
Frist, document what you do.
If you find yourself doing something more than once, make sure you document it. Chances are, you’re going to do it again and there’s no sense figuring it out again or trying to remember. There’s also the likelihood that someone else will one day try to figure out what you just did. When you create processes, you save other people time and help us collectively get better.
Second, create project templates.
At the risk of turning this into a Basecamp commercial, project templates are super helpful for projects that repeat themselves. Since we do some these things all the time, we created project templates with checklists already built in. It’s better to start from a template than start from scratch. They represent what others have already figured out.
If you add things to a project you created from a template that would be helpful the next time, you can make the change to the template. That way, we’ll keep getting better.
#7 – Celebration
When people ask, “What would you have done more?” in the context of pastoring a church, one of the answers I give is “celebrate more.”
I was so focused on breaking the next growth barrier or going to the next level that I rushed through some milestones that should have been celebrated. This is one of the struggles of visionaries. We’re always thinking of what’s next, often at the expense of what’s now.
I’d spend a month getting people ready for something, casting vision and planning and the minute it was over I’d be on to the next big thing. But I should have paused to celebrate more, tell more stories and mark milestones.
Truth be told, I’m a little sentimental about stuff like this. Little trinkets, photos and memories, and awards are fun to me. And I need to do a better job pushing that stuff throughout our organization.
Before rushing into the next campaign, I want to look at the results and talk about what we learned from the last one. But I also want to celebrate.