Google’s 9 Principles of Innovation (and how they can help YOU)


Gopi Kallayil, Google’s chief social evangelist, recently shared the companies 9 principles of innovation at San Francisco’s Dreamforce summit.   According to Kallayil, these 9 transferable principles allow any company to innovate.

Here are the principles.

#1 – Innovation comes from anywhere. 

A doctor on Google’s staff believed the company had a moral obligation to help those searching for information on suicide.  The company then changed the search results to display the number for the National Suicide Prevention hotline.

How are you learning from adjacent fields?  If you want to innovate as a communicator, maybe you should watch a comedian or a 2nd grade school teacher.  Are you listening and learning from those who have different voices or experiences?  Have you considered going to a different kind of conference or bringing in an outside perspective?

#2 – Focus on the user.

The instant search feature (where Google predicts what you will finish typing) saves users time. The company estimates 5,000 years worth of time, actually.  All this because they think of the person using the technology, not just the technology.

If you want to make positive change, truly get inside the head of the people you’re serving.  What are their hopes, dreams, fears, and frustrations?  Relevance is understanding how people think.  Too many times, we build stuff or talk about stuff that really interests nobody.

Here’s a simple action step:  Read your last newsletter.  Is it about your programs or the person reading?

#3 – Aim to be ten times better. 

10% improvement leads to incremental change.  Google thinks 10 times improvement, a change that will result in revolutionary innovation.

What are you working on that’s worth improving by a factor of 10?

#4 – Bet on technical insights.

Google, not the auto industry, is pioneering the self-driving car.

Google is a technology company, but you don’t have to think in numbers to deploy technological solutions to common problems.   Can people text to sign up for something?  Can people make recurring donations on your church website?  Are you leveraging Facebook?  These things aren’t as complicated as you might think.  In many cases, volunteers can lead them.

#5 – Ship and iterate.

Google launched the Chrome browser in 2008 and then released an update every six weeks.  “You don’t need perfection in your product,” said Kallayil.  Instead, ship early and often.

What are you going to launch in the next three months?  What idea are you sitting on that needs to launch in beta form?  By the way, this might help.

#6 – Give employees 20 percent time.

Google gives employees one day a week to work on a favorite idea.  And some of their greatest ideas developed during these times.

Are you taking some of your time to think and dream?  If you lead others, are you giving them time and space to do the same?  Innovation happens in the margins.

#7 – Default to open processes.

Whether it’s the Android mobile operating system or marketing an app, Google relies on an open ecosystem.  When you truly listen to others, and adopt their ideas, innovation happens.

Pastors can ask congregations for sermon ideas.  Leaders can ask their teams about meeting effectiveness.  Open it up and make it better.

#8 – Fail Well

If you don’t fail often, you’re not trying hard enough.  “Failure is actually a badge of honor,” said Kallayil.

Failure really isn’t failure if you learn something.  Are you capturing insights from failed projects?  How do you capture those learnings?

#9 – Have a mission that matters.

Google believes they are working on things that will impact billions of people.  They understand  that our work must be compelling.

What are you working on that will matter 100 years from now?  Everything else is just busywork.

Two Questions from Ben Franklin

In his Autobiography, Ben Franklin talked about a habit he formed in his life to keep his relationships in good standing.  Believing healthy relationships was a key to success, he advocated asking these two questions on a regular basis.

  1. Is there anyone I have wronged that I should apologize to?
  2. Is there anyone who has been generous to me that I should reach out to and thank?

Those are two powerful questions.  Let’s ask them regularly.

Two of the Dumbest Things I’ve Said

On more than one occasion, I’ve told my kid – who has just fallen – to”be careful.”  That’s good advice, but it’s far more helpful before a kid falls down.  I’ve yelled upstairs to tell my youngest to stop yelling.  One time during a sermon, I slipped and said “bring your breasts to church.”  Which is technically true, but I meant to say “best.”

But those are not the dumbest things I’ve ever said.  I’ve said far worse and far more deadly.  Here are two.

1. I’ll do it later.

In 2009, my marriage was in trouble.  We were three years into the church planting journey.  And while things were going well on the outside, i was a wreck on the inside.  I was successful by most standards, but my soul was in trouble.  My own need for acceptance plus the pressure of a fast-growing organization was a deadly combination.

A friend came to me in love, concerned about marriage and encouraging me to get help.  I knew he was right and admitted as much to him.  But I never took action.  I never scheduled a counseling session.  And a couple of years later, I imploded.

I fell into the trap of later.

For me it was getting help with my marriage.  It might be the same for you.  Or it might be getting out of debt, starting an exercise plan, changing your eating habits, saving for retirement, mending a broken relationship, going to church or any number of things.

I wish I could go back and take action sooner.  It would have changed a great many things and save a whole lot of people a whole lot of pain.  You don’t need to make that mistake.  Act before you have to.

2. I don’t like people.

I’m an introvert, and everyone who knows me knows this.   But this doesn’t mean I don’t like people…it means that being around big groups of people drain me.

So while speaking to large groups of people, I would say things like “I don’t like people.”  I’d always get laughs, especially since people didn’t expect to hear such a comment from a pastor.

But I let my personality type become an excuse for having shallow relationships.  I let the air of accountability keep me from the need for authenticity.  In the name of going to the next level, I shut myself away from people, even though I deeply craved honest relationships.

It was a dumb thing to say because it wasn’t true.  And it came across as arrogant.  And it kept people even more at arms length.  I regret ever saying it.

Help! I’m a Brand New Speaker


Public speaking has been a part of my life and career since I started speaking to student groups as an 18-year old college Freshman.  Since those early dates at Florida State University, I’ve had the opportunity to address both small groups and large audiences.  From a few hundred teenagers to a business conference ballroom, I love speaking to people.

And I love helping people hone and craft their message, especially new speakers.  If you’re new to public speaking, or you think this is something you could incorporate into your work flow, here’s some advice from someone who has been in the trenches.

Here are four challenges for brand new speakers.

1.  Find your message.

A lot of people talk, but few people really say something.  As a new speaker, I want you to be in the second group.  I don’t want you to just book a gig, fill a slot or take up the time – I want you to deliver a message that really connects.

So before you start outlining and putting material together, you’ve got to take time to find your core message.  Your core message is not your topic.  It’s much deeper and far more important than that.  A lot of speakers have a topic without having a point.

So what’s your real message?  What driving principle MUST you tell?  How is that different, better or more entertaining than everybody else putting out content on that subject?  Great messages start with great sentences.

The best speakers have one or two core messages.  These are continually honed and refined through the years, but they rarely change.  They can be repackaged and reshaped, but the core remains the same.

Before you start speaking, take time to find your true message.

2. Work on your talk.

With your core message discovered, now it’s time to do the work.  And this is where most shortcuts happen.

If you want to be a great speaker, you’re going to have to put lots of time, energy and effort into your talk.  Even if you’re a natural speaker, you’ve got to do the work.

You know why?  Your listeners will be able to tell.  Your audience can tell whether you’re talking about everything you know about a subject.   They can tell if there’s truly a depth of understanding or if you’re phoning it in.

Check out this post from Pat Flynn  a popular blogger and podcaster, who is making the intentional jump into public speaking.  In this short post, he talks about the prep work he did to prepare for a keynote presentation at a Financial Blogger’s Conference.

I put in about 250 hours of work over the course of 4 months preparing for this gig, from the initial idea throughcrafting the slides and rehearsing each night for the final 3 weeks leading up to the event. 

When my 1-year old couldn’t sleep at night (due to teething or growth spurts), I’d buckle her into our van and drive around town, practicing my presentation by speaking it out loud until she fell asleep hearing my voice. 

Before bed each night, I’d run through the first 12 minutes in my head before allowing myself to fall asleep. 

I “re-read” all of my favorite presentation books: Stand and Deliver by Dale Carnegie, Resonate and Slideology by Nancy Duarte & Zen Presentation by Garr Reynolds – mostly through audio while on runs. 

I studied the most viewed slides on, and the most viewed and shared TED Talks on - again.

I stopped watching TV (except for Breaking Bad), and I had to put some projects aside temporarily to focus on this.

This gig was incredibly important to me because FINCON helped me get my start in 2011, allowing me to get on stage in front of a crowd for the first time. I needed to bring my A-game, and I didn’t want to leave any chance that I’d fail or leave a bad first impression.

When you want something so bad and put in the hard work, good things usually happen.

Knowing your message isn’t enough.  Speakers, especially new speakers, need to put in the work.

Since you’re new to speaking, you might find building your talk off some best practices might help.  Lots of people have structured great talks, and you can learn from them.  There are systems and processes you can use to create your talk and hone your message.

3.  Learn from others. 

The third thing new speakers should do is commit to learning.

When I first started speaking as an 18-year-old college freshman, I was a know it all.  I acted like I had knowledge people needed and they were lucky to be able to listen.  I thought the information I was communicating warranted attention.

Now that I’m 20 years into public speaking, I am beginning to understand that great information isn’t enough.  The world has great information at their fingertips.  The organization, presentation and delivery of that information is what separates me from others.  And while it’s great to learn more about the subject matter, you can also learn a ton on how it’s presented.  And this will likely be the difference maker.

Speaking more doesn’t make you a better speaker.   It will help you be more relaxed, but it won’t make you better.  You only get better with coaching and intentional, evaluated practice.

Just doing more math problems won’t make a 10th grader better at math.  They need to learn HOW to do the problems.

Just hitting more golf balls won’t make a middle aged man better at golf.  He needs professional instruction and intentional, evaluated practice.

And speaking more won’t make you a better speaker.  You need to learn best practices and intentionally weave them into your style.

When I coach preachers (these people have to present new information to the same audience 50 times a year…that’s no small order), I challenge them to get better at speaking, not just research more content.  Just preaching more doesn’t make them better.  They need to learn from great communicators.

And here’s the thing…the list of people they can learn from isn’t limited to other preachers.  No matter your field, you should widen your gaze and learn from politicians, comedians, school teachers and TED talks.  You’re not just listening for content, you’re listening for how it’s delivered.  You’re not just listening to learn, you’re listening to see how the presentation is organized.  As you listen or watch, ask yourself these questions:

  1. Why do I like or dislike this person?
  2. If I’m interested, why?  If I’m bored, why?
  3. Where did they get their materials?
  4. How was their talk structured?
  5. What was their big idea?
  6. Did they ask me to do anything?

If you want to be a great speaker, commit to listen, watch and learn from other great speakers.  From all walks of life.

4.  Speak anywhere and everywhere.

Some of my first talks were delivered to four teenagers.  And that was okay.   I needed to cut my teeth in small rooms.  Yes, the message to that small group of young people was important.  But it was equally important that I learned what the heck I was doing.

You might speak to hundreds or thousands one day.  But now is the time to talk to the tens.  You might be ready for the big leagues one day, but for now, you need to put in some time at the batting cage.

So accept every speaking invitation, no matter how small.  Speak to young people and senior groups.  If the local boy scouts want you to come talk for three minutes, do it.

And don’t just wait for them to come to you.  Pursue every opportunity, no matter how small.  Ask to say a few words before an opening prayer.   Ask to address your kid’s classroom on career day.

Don’t worry about a speaking page and booking fees and contracts – that will come later.   Don’t think big…think small.  Stop submitting TED talk ideas and join ToastMasters.

Your goal isn’t to make it big, but to practice your talk.  Your goal isn’t to be discovered, it’s to hone your message.

If you’re a new speaker or thinking about getting into public speaking, leave a comment with your thoughts.  What are your questions and concerns?  What’s your biggest challenge?

Three Ways to Be a Better Friend


I tell my kids this all the time:  If you want good friends, focus on being a good friend.

But truth be told, it’s a message I need to preach to myself.   Instead of looking for more friends, I need to focus on being a better friend. Because this sounds so theoretical, let me give you some action steps.

1.  Show up.

It’s great to be there for your friends when they are diagnosed with cancer or make a decision that ruins their marriage.  But it’s just as important to be there for the everyday stuff.  Bearing one anthers burdens start with the light weight stuff.

I have a theory that we’re uncomfortable to ask people to help in big areas because we don’t know how to ask for help in the little areas.  And this goes both way.  Friends don’t wait around for massive opportunities to be a friend…they show up in the little ways.

Help someone move.  Offer to watch the kids one weekend.  Drop off some food when you know they aren’t feeling well.  These little acts of showing up are the building blocks of friendship.

If you want to be a good friend, just look for little ways to show up.

2.  Ask questions.  

“How did Sunday go?” a friend recently asked.

it was a simple text message on a Monday morning from a friend who noticed I was preaching at a church on Sunday.  I’d talked about the message on Facebook and Twitter and he thought enough to ask when it was over.  He asked a specific question about a specific event in my life.

This simple act of concern is an act of friendship.  As a friend, make a little effort to know what’s happening in their life.  You don’t have to be a Facebook stalker and you don’t have to be weird about it.

It’s just plain kind to ask questions about what’s happening at home, at work, at school, or in life.  Ask about that deal they were working on.  Ask about their holiday plans.  As if they need anything.

If you want to be a good friend, just ask your friends specific questions.

3.  Give more than you take.

Good friends give more than they take.  They offer their home, their resources and their time far more than they ask for help.

If you’re the kind of person who always asks for help, support or tweets, you’re on the taking side.  Jump the fence and go over to the giving side.

If you want these kinds of friends in your life, be this kind of friend for someone else.  Give with no expectation of return.

Three Ways You Can End Your Message

UnknownThe landing is one of the most important parts of any  flight.   In this moment, there is more potential for error and danger than any other time.

This is true of sermons, too.

Too many times, we create great outlines and deliver great content, but suffer a crash landing.   Without a clear conclusion, great content often falls flat.  Before I give you a few practical suggestions on how you can end your sermon, let me share with you two Biblical examples.

Example #1: Nehemiah

In the Old Testament book, Nehemiah told his story and then clearly asked the people to join him in building the wall.  His call to action wasn’t “think about it” but to “build it.”  Nobody had any doubt about what Nehemiah wanted.  The end of his message was super clear.

Example #2: Peter

In Acts 2, Peter preached one of the greatest messages at all time.  He told the story of Jesus and accused people of killing Jesus.  At the end of the message, Peter clearly said, “Repent and be baptized.”  There was no doubt what Peter wanted people to do.  Peter was crystal clear.

Here are three ways you can clearly land the plane in your message.

1.  Ask people to DO something.

If you’re preaching on prayer, don’t just extol the virtues of prayer.  As you come to the end, as people to pray. Not generically, but specifically.  Say something like, “This week, I want to ask you to take five minutes in the morning to pray for your neighbors.”

If you’re preaching on forgiveness, ask someone to start a conversation with someone they need to forgive.  The more action oriented and specific you can make your conclusion, the more powerful it will be.

The best time to consider this question is BEFORE you start writing.  If this question is on your mind throughout your preparation process, you’re more likely to preach for action.  What do you want people to do?  Keep that question on your mind and make sure it makes it’s way to your sermon.

2.  Ask people to SIGN UP for something.

Another common ending is to ask people to take a next step.  Whether it’s a class or a group, a volunteer opportunity or online giving, calling people to take action is a great way to end a message.  When you connect the content of the sermon to the action step at the end, it’s powerful.

When you’re asking people to sign up, make it easy for them.  Can they sign up by texting something to a particular number.  Can they fill out a card that only has two or three blanks.  Can they drop the card in the offering bucket instead of standing in a line at a table?  If you make the step simple, more people will take it.

3.  Ask people to PRAY something.

Another way you could end your message is to ask everyone to close their eyes and walk them through a guided prayer.  Ask them to pray silently as you pray out loud.  But don’t tack this on…really think it through.  Connect your prayer to the message and give people the opportunity to talk to God.

Those are just three ways you can land the plane this week. What are some of the great landings you’ve seen?

For lots more on communication, get a 14-day free trial of Preaching Rocket.  This 12-month program will help you become a better speaker.  We’ll show you how to structure a talk, creating a teaching calendar, deal with feedback and criticism, tell better stories, connect with the congregation, create a sticky statement and a whole lot more.

Entertaining Sermons

Five Things You Might Not Know About Compassion

Last week, I had the opportunity to travel to the Dominican Republic with a group of pastors to see Compassion’s work on the ground.   This was the second time I’ve been able to observe Compassion up close and on the ground.  Both times, I returned home impressed and inspired.

Compassion Child Survival Program

Here are five things you might not know about Compassion and their ministry in countries around the world.

1.  They work through a local church.

A lot of pastors don’t know this, but Compassion works  with and through churches.  About 5,700 of them, actually.

When you think “Compassion Project,” you should really think local church.  The sponsored children don’t go to a project, they go to a local church.  Families receive medicine, food and education from a local church.

Compassion doesn’t take government money, so this lets them focus on releasing kids from poverty in Jesus name.  They aren’t just interested in solving physical poverty, but they want to free kids from spiritual poverty as well.

I love the fact that everything goes through a local church, because Jesus said He would build his church.  Non-profits are great, but the local church is eternal.  I love this about Compassion.

2.  All kids in the program receive services, but only sponsored kids receive letters.

When Compassion approves a project at a church, they determine how many children can participate.  If there is room for 300 children, then the project serves 300 kids.  Not all of those kids are sponsored, but all of them receive services.

Sponsors are important not just for funding, but because of relationships.  Letters are a big deal.  In the Dominican, I saw how the letters and emails were translated and delivered back and forth and it’s a powerful process.

At one of the projects we visited, one child asked, “How come my sponsor never writes me?”  Dang!  At dinner one night, a young lady who had grown up in the program told us, “If you sponsor a child, make sure you write…it means more than you know.

On the trip, I was also challenged to view letter-writing as discipleship.  Instead of just talking about life, I can share Bible verses and ask questions of faith.  And each time I write to my child, staff at the church will help my child write back to me, up to six times a year.

3.  Compassion helps moms and babies and college students, too.

This mom and little girl are a part of a child survival program in the Dominican Republic.

This mom and little girl are a part of a child survival program in the Dominican Republic.

While most people know Compassion for the child development program (Nearly 1.2 million children are a part of this worldwide program), they also offer a powerful program for new moms and their babies.  They teach mothers how to take care of children, provide for them, and earn a living.  And these are high-risk cases, so the program is aptly named.  It’s called The Child Survival Program.  They are literally saving lives.

In addition to the Child Survival Program, they also have something called a Leadership Development program.  Think of it like college with Christian mentoring.  At dinner one night, I got to meet two of the LDP students.  One young lady was studying to be a pediatrician in her home town and another was going to school to be a civil engineer.  The cost for this program is just $300 a month.  Honestly, every single church should sponsor a LDP student.

4.  Compassion has a thoughtful curriculum.


At each step of the way, there is a powerful, Bible-based curriculum for mothers, children and LDP students.

They teach the moms of babies how to care for the children at home and how to nurture them during the early years.  In the elementary years, they teach the children skills using Scripture as examples.  With the LDP students, there are lessons in communication, etiquette and more.  I got to flip through some of this curriculum, and it’s quite impressive.

The curriculum is full of Bible and full of Jesus.  This does keep Compassion from working in countries like China, where you can’t talk about Jesus or be open about your faith.

5.  Compassion keeps extensive records and has fantastic processes.

Bobby looks through one of the children's files.  The records Compassion keeps are impressive.

Bobby looks through one of the children’s files. The records Compassion keeps are impressive.

In one of the rural churches, we were able to look through some of the files of the children, and let me say…these records were impressive.  There are home visits and documented shopping trips, complete with receipts and pictures.

This isn’t busy work or empty paperwork either.  At the home office, I saw how reports are processed and how the information makes it’s way all the way back to the sponsor.  People really know what is going on these children’s lives, and there are great systems to keep everything in check.

With more than six decades under their belt and a great network of people on the ground, Compassion has a great track record of success.  You can get involved and feel good about your investment.

How You Can Get Involved with Compassion

1.  Your church can host a Compassion Sunday.

A Compassion Sunday is one day of focus, where you just ask every family in attendance to sponsor a child.  Compassion will send you a bunch of packets (you can focus on a country or region if you want) and families can take them home.  Compassion will even help you with resources and ideas.

You can pray about it or create a strategy, but just put it on the calendar for six months from now.  Connect your congregation with a bunch of sponsored kids.  I promise…this will generate momentum and will inspire generosity.  Learn more here.

2.  Your family can sponsor a child.

A few years ago, our family began supporting Leah, a Compassion child from Burkina Faso, Africa. Last year, we decided to sponsor two more, choosing children that shared our own kid’s birthdays.  This is the best money we spend each month, and we give it with confidence knowing it’s making a huge impact through a local church.

Go here to see some of the kids that need a sponsor.

3.  Your church can sponsor a LDP student.

It’s $300 a month, and your church or Sunday School class or small group can make this happen.  I’ve met these young men and women, and they are really impressive.  They stay in their communities and serve in all walks of life.

Go here to learn more about the LDP program.

This isn’t a sponsored post and there are no affiliate links here.  I strongly believe in the ministry of Compassion and want you to get involved.  Their heart for children and the local church is unmatched.  You won’t regret partnering with them to help release children from poverty in Jesus name.

David and the Two Giants

You know the story of David and Goliath.

But did you know David actually faced two giants that day?

The first giant is Goliath.  He’s the one you know about.  The Philistine champion with the armor, sword and spear.  The bearded insult hurler who promised to give David’s body to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.  The giant David struck down with his slingshot weapon of choice.

But there’s another giant in the story.  A far more subtle giant.

I’m talking about the Saul, the king of Israel.  You might not think of him as a giant, but the writer Samuel said he stood a foot taller than everyone else.  He looked like a king, which was a significant factor in his selection process.  Some scholars even believe Goliath was really 6’6″ and Samuel (the author of the story) was trying to compare Goliath to Saul, the one who should have been there fighting.

Saul attempted to outfit David in king’s armor, but David refused.  Not just because the armor didn’t fit, but because Saul’s weapons weren’t tested.  David knew he could fight one giant with another giant’s methods.  He couldn’t wear the giant king’s armor any more than he could walk in his big footsteps.

The close to home giants who try to peddle their programs and methods on you are just as dangerous as the easy to identify enemies who attack you.  The giants within are just as deadly as the giants without.

Why Your Church Might Struggle to Involve Leaders


There’s a big difference between a volunteer and a leader.

A volunteer in your church will move stuff around.  A leader will move stuff forward.  Both are important, but leaders will provide exponential growth.

A lot of churches are not very good at engaging, inspiring and working with volunteers.  But we’re even worse when it comes to developing leaders.  It seems like we always need people to do stuff, but we really struggle with attracting high-level leaders to lead stuff.

Here are three reasons you might struggle to involve more leaders in your ministry.

1. Leaders aren’t recruited from a sign up table.

If you need a bunch of people to sign up for a work day or a volunteer opportunity, there’s a good chance you will see some activity from a really passionate message and a solid call to action.  When the stakes are low, you can get people to go to the sign up table.

But you can’t recruit leaders this way.  Leaders don’t sign up at tables along with everyone else.  They respond to personal invitations.  If you want to engage leaders, you need to identify them and personally invite them into the process.

Try saying something like this:  “Hey Jimmy…I’ve noticed you over the last few months and our staff was talking.  We all agree you have tremendous leadership potential.  Would you like to grab coffee sometime and talk about it.”  

2.  You have to work hard to create a culture of leadership.

I like to grow things in my backyard, but it’s pretty shady.  That doesn’t lend itself to growing lots of flowers.  However, I can grow Hosta, Azaleas and ferns.  The culture of my backyard is suited to those kind of shade-loving plants.

Your church has a culture, too.  And if you don’t have a culture of leadership, leaders won’t thrive there.  You may have a culture where the pastors do everything, or where people aren’t trusted with decisions.  If that’s the case, you’ve got to work hard to create a new and better culture.  One where innovation and risk is valued.  That’s the kind of culture that’s attractive to a leader.

Creating a culture where leadership can thrive takes time and work.  You have to create a leadership development path and bring it front and center.

3.  You have to be willing to let leaders make messes.

Leaders don’t want to be told how to do everything.  They want the freedom to lead.  That’s a defining and fundamental characteristic of this kind of person.  So if you want leaders to lead ministry, you need to put people in charge.  Support them, guide them and champion the vision…but let them lead.

A lot of church leaders are just unwilling to do this, choosing to keep tighter reigns on everything.  I think those kind of churches can be well organized and effective, but they won’t involve people to their full potential.

For more information on turning volunteers into leaders, sign up for this free online event. 


Nine Years from Now


The sign read…”Knob Creek Whiskey: Aged 9 Years.”

Nine years is a long time in real life. Nine years ago, I had to flip my phone up to make a call, texting wasn’t possible, and there were no such thing as apps.  Nine years ago was three jobs ago, five houses ago and two children ago.

The makers of Knob Creek created a product that wouldn’t be ready to sell for nine years.   All expense.  Just investment.  No results for nearly a decade.

What are you working on that won’t be ready for nine years?  What do you have aging that won’t be ready for nine years?

Why You Should Do Everything Twice

In 2008, the young church I was leading wanted to make a big splash in our community.  We borrowed an idea from another church and organized an Egg Drop – basically, an Easter Egg hunt on steroids.  Instead of scattering on the ground, we would scatter most of them on the ground and drop the rest out of a helicopter.

We aggressively planned for 2,000 people in a town of 17,000.

About 4,500 showed up.

And it was a disaster.

Our communication with the helicopter didn’t work, so instead of hovering to drop the eggs, he made multiple passes.  The kids, held back with caution tape, rushed the field as my “NOOOOO” sounded like “GOOOOOO.”  The helicopter pilot made multiple passes, spraying the kids eggs like a Blackhawk pilot.

Crying kids were separated from their parents.  Angry parents stormed our stage.  A few minor fights broke out among adults vying for the eggs with the Nintendo Wii prize.  And traffic was backed up for miles.

Our follow up meeting didn’t produce much positive evaluation.  I felt like a goof up, and our reputation in the community took a hit.  There was no reason we should have done the event again.

But I was committed to the idea and strongly believed we needed to do it two times before deciding whether or not to strike it from our memory.  The first time was a disaster, but we learned so much. Mike Tyson says (yes…this is a Mike Tyson quote), “Everybody has a plan until you get punched in the face.”  Our first event was a punch in the face.

But we decided to do The Egg Drop again.  We made strategic adjustments, and while the crowd was smaller the second year, the event went off without a hitch.

Today, I tell leaders to commit to any big event two times before committing to it one time.  When you try something new, there’s a good chance it won’t work as expected. The first one of anything will probably stink.  Get through it and learn from it.   There is a great power in repeating things from year to year.

You will learn and it will get better.

It Might Not Work

You might go follow every prescribed step perfectly, and the launch might not work. You might set out all the chairs, have the perfect band, and invite everyone you know, and people might not show up. You might create a plan, test it, and execute it flawlessly, and the results might be less than impressive.

In the end, it might not work.  People get drunk on success stories, but stories of failure are far more familiar.

There are no magic pills, super buttons, or guarantees of success.  The salespeople will tell you otherwise, but the lessons of reality school eventually find their way home.

But the point isn’t perfection.  Or automatic success.  Or writing a book.  The point is giving it your all and not giving up when it doesn’t work.

Cause sooner or later…it’s not gonna work.

Using God’s Name in Vain

You might think of using God’s name in vain as a cuss word.  Like when someone hits a bad shot and asks God to damn the little white ball.

But the second commandment has a much deeper meaning than curse words.  Taking God’s name in vain is essentially attaching God’s name to something that he’s really not associated with.

  • When the preacher says “God told me” and then uses guilt to motivate a church to give away their personal savings so the pastor can have a new fancy building….that’s taking God’s name in vain.
  • When the guy convinces himself that God wants him to buy that new car for reasons one, two and three…that’s taking God’s name in vain.
  • When the politician manipulates an electorate by quoting Scripture out of context or preying on the fears of the religious right…that’s taking God’s name in vain.

God isn’t attached to the flight of your golf ball any more than He wants to manipulate a congregation through a supposed man of God.

Let’s be careful what we attach to God’s name.  Because He doesn’t want any part of most of it.

The Value of Coaching

I stopped liking math in the 7th grade when Mrs. McDade frequently sent me into the hall for disrupting her pre-algebra class.  And while I’d like to blame my descent from being ahead of grade level throughout elementary school to spending the summer before 8th grade in summer school on her, the reality is I just don’t like math.

Math got sideways when letters were introduces in pre-algebra.  At that point, I was done, and I went on to pursue an English degree.  Now I write and speak, and stay as far away from numbers as possible.  Which raises a tricky issue when it comes to investing.   Because investing money is all about numbers.

In our house, my wife is in charge of the money, but I handle our investments.  She pays the bills, runs our spending plan, and keeps everything on track, and I do long-range financial planning and investment.  I’m no expert in the stock market, but we’ve done much better there than if we just kept our savings in a simple savings account.

Do you want to know my secret to investing in the stock market?

I pay for advice.

About a year ago, I joined a program from the Motly Fool.  I’d read their blog for a while and had gone through a lot of their free stuff.  Their investment advice is always easy to understand and uses regular words.  There’s actually some humor built into their coaching

So I signed up for a paid program called Rule Breakers.  Each month, I get a newsletter as well as access to online recommendations.  They introduce me to new companies, and let me know when to act.

And the results speak for themselves.  If I had invested broadly and generically in the S&P, I’d be up about 30%.  In comparison, The Rule Breakers Portfolio is up more than 76%.  I’ve followed the Rule Breakers recommendations, so my portfolio has done well this year.


So with a little professional help, I’ve been able to do way better than average.  The tiny bit of money I pay them is worth 100x more in the long run.  I could get free advice from numerous people, but free advice is usually worth what you pay for it.  The value I get from this advice far exceeds the price.

  • It’s why spending $49 on the $1,000 challenge – which will help you identify your passion and earn some side income, is worth it.
  • It’s why your organization should spend money to get sales and marketing advice from Casey Graham.  You’ll make far more in the end than if you try to figure it out on your own.
  • It’s why authors and writers should go through Michael Hyatt’s Platform program.

If you want to do better than average, you probably need some outside help.  I could invest on my own, and I would not have done as well over the last 12 months.