Thursday, September 17, 2009


When I first heard Bono speak at the 2006 Leadership Summit, I was blown away. His intensity, passion, conviction was ... surprising and inspiring. I took notes and put them in my daughters baby book. I want her to incorporate his words as life lessons. And from a rock star. Who'd have thought?

This is what I wrote in 'E's' baby book in August 2006:

"One of the speakers was Bono, the lead singer of the Band U2 and Time Magazine's 2005 Person of the Year. He was a taped interview conducted by Bill Hybels, Senior Pastor of Willow Creek Community Church. I was so impressed by Bono that I took some notes to share with you [E]."
  • Always reserve the right to be ridiculous.
  • He finds Christians difficult - very judgmental and only looking at surface issues.
  • He likes to be in the middle of conflict - he actually said "in the middle of a conflict is a great place to be. It allows duality. I see his point here and agree with the concept - be able to see all sides / perspectives. But, be prepared. Sometimes you have to chose a side.
  • Celebrity is currency.
  • Great ideas have the same power as a great melody.
  • The church is historically behind the curve.
  • Love thy neighbor - who is our neighbor?
  • Stop asking God to bless the things you are doing. Find what God is doing. It's already blessed.
  • It's not a burden, a duty. It's an opportunity, an adventure.

So here it is 2009 and Bono was back at the Leadership Summit to report on what he was seeing in the fight to end extreme poverty. Again, this was a taped interview conducted by Bill Hybels.

  • Only love can leave such a mark.
  • Love thy neighbor" is a command, not advice.
  • Intuition is greater than intellect.
  • There's always resistance on the ongoing journey of equality.
  • If you lead anything do something.
For more information on the fight to end extreme poverty and the One Campaign, go to

Here's to learning and growing. J

Eye Witness to Power

David Gergen was great [I really haven't heard anyone I didn't like - a lot]. His bio reads:

Editor-at-large at U.S. News & World Report and political analyst for CNN and PBS, David Gergen has served as a White House adviser to four presidents; Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton. He is also a professor at Harvard’s School of Public Leadership. An active participant in American national life for 30 years, Gergen has a lifetime of experience in observing and participating in high-capacity leadership, which he’s distilled into seven vital elements needed for future leaders. The author of Eyewitness to Power, he firmly believes that by identifying the traits of other leaders (and learning from their mistakes), we can increase our own effectiveness and leadership potential.

  • “A leader's role is to raise people's aspirations for what they can become and to release their energies so they will try to get there.” David Gergen
  • A teacher of leadership can't make you a leader. They can point you in the/a direction.
  • There's a difference between learning and doing.
  • You have to learn to get better ... reflective practice = you learn in the doing (in the arena) and the reading [of books by other leaders].
  • "Not every reader is a leader, but every leader is a reader." Harry S. Truman
  • Reflection - what worked, what didn't, what will we do differently.
  • "There's confusion between motion and progress." Peter Drucker
  • Look at life/TO DO list in six (6) week increments. Review at the end of the six weeks.
Admirable qualities of former presidents:
  • Nixon: Best strategist .. able to see the way history could unfold.
  • Ford: A decent man.
  • Clinton: Resilient - he'd always get back up.
  • Reagan: Best leader since President Roosevelt. A principled man; a contagious optimist (not pollyannaish). A sense of common sacrifice and a sense of humor.
"Inspect is as important as respect."
Weaknesses of each:
  • Nixon: Demons he couldn't control [author of his own tragedy].
  • Ford: Naive
  • Reagan: Detachment [entrusted too far]. Let others have control of the wheel(s).
  • Clinton: Cracks in his character. No moral compass.
"Learn to keep your flaws in check so as not to hurt others." ... There needs to be alignment between private behavior and public life. ... Martin Luther King was a great moral leader. He never claimed to be a saint.
"Get up every day and try to be better." Nelson Mandela
  • We should be more forgiving and less invasive.
  • Leadership doesn't have to be lonely. Lone leadership is over. The best leaders have a team of leaders. Learn how to partner, collaborate, build things together.
  • If you want to go fast, go alone. But, if you want to go far, go with others.
  • Leadership is persuasion.
Gergen on speeches ...

  • Who the speaker "is" speaks as loudly as what they say. Trust? Authentic? Expert? Clear? Simple?
  • A speech should be 15-20 minutes - max!
Personal habits of leaders matter a lot. Self discipline:
  • Control over your life
  • Physically fit - endurance
  • Daily reflection
  • Daily time with people you cherish. Loving relationships are very important.

"Be the change you want to see in the world." Gandhi

If we only picked three of these gems to incorporate into our daily lives, can you imagine the magnitude of change?
Here's to learning and growing. J

Thursday, September 10, 2009

And the Problem Is ...

I had been looking forward to hearing Tim Keller speak after seeing the Summit's video introduction of him earlier in the summer. And I wasn't disappointed. What a gem. Tim's bio reads:

Called a "C.S. Lewis for the 21st century" by Newsweek, Dr. Timothy Keller is founder and pastor of New York’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Manhattan. Over the past 20 years, the church has grown to three sites, with weekly attendance of 6,000. Named one of the Top 25 Most Influential Churches in America, Keller’s ministry is notable not only for winning over New Yorkers who are skeptical to faith, but also for its missional approach, planting more than 100 churches through the Redeemer Church Planting Center. Author of The Reason for God and The Prodigal God, he will talk about the well-known parable of the Prodigal Son and discuss the ways many people in our churches tend to resist the gospel.

Please remember, these are my notes, my interpretation of what I heard at the Leadership Summit. For more information on Tim Keller and his teachings, go to

He starts out with a bold statement - "The main problem in church is spiritual deadness/indifference." As a christian I'm thinking "not me." He goes on to explain the parable of the Prodigal Son in a way I'd never heard before.

Keep in mind, the word 'prodigal' means recklessly [wasteful] extravagant. The parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke 15) was told to religious leaders of the day. The younger son is a runaway son and viewed by most to be "the" prodigal son. In reality, the older son is the prodigal - just like many of of us in the church.

Both brothers are alienated from the father [like we are from God]. They both have to be invited in. Both brothers love the money and 'things' of the father, not so much the father. Both of the brothers are rejecting the father [God] and acting as their own savior. The younger brother is lost because of his recklessness, but the older brother is lost because of his goodness. He is using the father [God] to get the "things" he wants.

  • The Gospel - I am accepted therefore I obey.
  • Religion - I obey, therefore I am accepted.
The gospel gives us a righteous life - we're in, it's all ours and He loves us. The default mode of our heart is religion. The older brother gets angry with the father [God] because he believes the father [God] owes him. He prays, but has little to no intimacy with God. And the older brother doesn't forgive, he's prideful.

To keep from being the older brother, we have to find a new level of repentance and rejoicing. We have to be sorry for our wrong doing and repent for the reason for our "right-doings." Here's the kicker ... it's our good works that separate us from God.

Tim Keller is going deeper with WCA's (Willow Creek Association) Next Steps series on September 23rd at 1pm EST. Click here and scroll down to Tim Keller for more information and to register. He has so much more to say - and is very interesting to listen to. Check him out on YouTube. I can't wait to read his book(s) and listen to more of his teachings.

Here's to learning and growing! J

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Catching the Future (The Leadership Challenge)

The next speaker was Gary Hamel. His bio alone was exciting ...

Gary Hamel was ranked as the #1 Business Thinker of 2008 by The Wall Street Journal and called "the world's leading expert on business strategy" by Fortune. An author, speaker, professor, and innovative management consultant, he is most widely known for originating concepts such as "strategic intent" and "core competencies." The founder of Strategos, a worldwide strategic consulting company, his vision for the workplace revolves around releasing human potential and creativity. Hamel will address the paradigm shift needed to fully engage the potential of people and explain how tomorrow's most successful companies will be organized. He is the author of Leading the Revolution and The Future of Management.

His presentation was FANTASTIC. It was so good I was mesmerized and missed some of what he was saying in my notes, but I captured enough. Gary spoke to his audience of church leaders, but like most of the Summit, the message applies to any organization.

  • Are you [your organization] changing as fast as the world around you?
  • Are we all walking the talk as Christians?
  • A church [organization] needs to be: ... a nurturing environment for new believers, not just a place for existing christians ... a place to grow ... a place that is relevant.
  • The world is changing so fast. It's becoming more turbulent faster than organizations are becoming more resilient.
  • Conquer denial
  • Face the facts
  • Questions your beliefs [practices].
  • Listen to and learn from the renegades/dissidents/outliers
"The future has already happened, it's just unequally distributed."

"We clutch the current because we can't see alternatives."

  • It takes 1000 ideas to have 100 experiments that turn into 10 projects that become one [1] winner!
  • Ask your people [audiences, teams, etc.] "how to __________."
  • Look at what you do and identify what hasn't changed.
  • Compare your [self, organization, etc.] to others and ask "what is identical?"
  • A leaders job is to mobilize, connect, and support. It's about being part of a community vs. a hierarchy.
  • The facebook generation doesn't want organized religion OR big business. They want "cause".
  • Shoot for being spiritual powerful and institutionally weak. Be vibrant .. resilient .. flexible ..
"We won't get better at changing lives until we get better at changing our churches."

"Humility is a survival mechanism."

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

Gary has provided more information and an interactive blog on the Summit's Next Steps section.

Here's to learning and growing. J

Monday, September 7, 2009

Hiring, Firing and Board Meltdowns

The second session of the Leadership Summit (08/06/09) was a different take on hirings, firings and board meltdowns. A three +/- minute drama was done showing a hiring for a key position within the organization, a firing, and board that completely breaks down. Obviously, there were things during each of the dramas that were not the "best" way to approach the depicted scenario. After the drama, a panel of experts - Bill Hybels, Carly Fiorina, Dr. Henry Cloud, Patrick Lencioni, and Dr. David Ireland - all discussed the good [not much], the bad [a lot], and the ugly of the drama depiction.

In all of this, it's important to understand that the leader's role is to honor people. The people you work with and lead, the people who may come into the organization, the people who will leave the organization. Jack Welch was quoted as saying "the kindest form of management is the truth."

Hiring. Scenes were shown of a person reviewing a resume, talking to someone on the phone about the candidate, and then the face-to-face meeting and subsequent offer. Some of the gems I got out of the session included:

  • Your candidate must fit in with your culture. That means you have to first understand your culture.
  • You must be clear on why you are hiring and what you want to achieve.
  • Hiring out of desperation is a big NO-NO and rarely [if ever] works out!
  • Identify [in advance] 2-3 behavioral traits you most want to see in your candidate.
  • Spend time with the candidate out of the interview environment.
  • Ask the same questions [worded differently] three times.
  • Ask questions about their answers to your questions.

Questions to ask them include:

  • What would other people say about you?
  • What are ways that are challenging in dealing with you?

In a best case scenario, your organization would have such a strong [and defineable] culture, people could self select themselves into the organization - or out of it.

Firing. The video showed the steps that led up to a person being fired, obviously badly. The gems were:

  • A firing should NEVER be a surprise. Don't let the firing/layoff be the first conversation.
  • Regular feedback is imperative.
  • Very few people like to have [or be on the receiving end of] hard conversations. Have a process in place for having dialog along the way.
  • Retrain first or re-position. Look for a different fit.
  • Clarity and care is key for down sizing.

Board Meltdown. A board meltdown can be avoided during the board creation process. Creating a board of directors [fyi 15-20 board members is unmanageable] should be a strategic and planned endeavor.

  • Board members must have influence, affluence and skill sets that are needed by the board and the organization.
  • Board members must have limited terms.
  • Time and energy should be put into defining what is needed and the ideal mix of styles, talents, etc. for a board.
  • A board is a team and as such should figure out how to work together as a team.
  • They must trust each other, be vulnerable and open to each other.
  • As a board, they must have a culture, a philosophy, and direction on how to behave.

Here's to learning and growing. J