The Downside of Success

Missing the TargetIn my last post, I told all of you about my weight loss and exercise program as part of Oakland Christian School‘s Biggest Loser competition.  Well today’s is to give you a little update!

On Wednesday, I received an email from Merianne telling us that we are in for a “surprise weigh in” on Friday.  Well, much to my delight, my initial thought was “Nice! I can’t wait to see if I maintained or maybe even lost another pound or 2!”

So this morning, I stepped on that scale and I actually GAINED almost 4 pounds!  Not the news I was hoping to get!  What happened?

I think a few things could contribute to this…those “few things” being the number of Christmas parties and pot lucks I’ve attended over the last couple of weeks!  More importantly though, I think I experienced the downside of success…complacency.  I took my eyes off the target of maintaining my weight and healthy eating habits and thought that I could now just coast.  Thankfully, the scale can be a painful reminder that in order to have continued success, you need to stay focused on your goal which for me was staying and eating healthy.  It’s time to refocus and not let this small setback derail all the work I’ve done up to this point!

As I look forward to 2013, this little year end lesson made me think about other areas in my life where I’ve enjoyed some success and maybe have given in to some complacency:

  • MY FAITH – my relationship with God is stronger than ever but still requires full commitment from me to live it out every day
  • MY MARRIAGE – Julianne and I will celebrate 14 years in August next year.  We’ve had our ups and downs but our relationship is the glue that holds our family together and I want make sure that she knows how much I love her and admire her
  • MY KIDS – These 4 little ones always bring a smile to my face and I take being their father seriously.  There are things I can (and will) do better next year.  In addition to spending more time with them individually, I want to provide them with their own targets / goals to achieve and hold them accountable.
  • MY JOBMRM Detroit has been great to me and it really is hard to believe I’ve been here for over 2 years now.  The leadership here has been very supportive especially when the account I came here for was closed.  They reassured me they would find a place for me, they did and now I have a reason to be even more appreciative with the recent promotion I received

So there you have it.  Along with my health, the 4 things I listed above need my continued focus and that means staying true to the goals I’ve laid out for myself in each of them.

Don’t take your eyes off the target or you might get stuck with an extra 4 pounds you don’t want.

Merry Christmas everyone!


Friendship Redefined

I’m a huge advocate of social media (as you know) and how it has impacted the way brands market.  I love the connections that I’ve made from using Facebook and Twitter.  This blog has given me a platform to share my thoughts on faith, fatherhood and marketing.  Social has expanded our reach to across the country and in some cases around the globe.  I’m sure you’ve also seen the ability to reconnect with people you once thought you may have never been able to again.

However, with all of the positives I just mentioned, social has redefined the word “friend” hasn’t it?  Think about this…I have 1,177 friends on Facebook.  I don’t tell you that to brag, but as I look at that number, what real relationship do I have with all of those people?  Yes, there are a select few that I can say I have a deep friendship with but most of the others are people that I’ve come to know professionally, people I’ve come to know through Kensington, others are childhood friends and others are those from Michigan State.  Regardless, each group of people was significant for a certain period of my life but I can’t honestly say the friendship is nothing more than a casual friendship.

What I’ve learned and was reinforced this past weekend at Kensington Orion was that social media does a great job of expanding our friendships horizontally but often times causes the vertical depth of friendships to suffer.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been able to establish deep and meaningful friendships with some…Gini Dietrich and Justin Brackett are 2 great examples but those were able to grow because of the personal investment we made to get to know each other not only through our online interactions but also through in person visits and conversations.

As I’ve continued to think about this over the last few days I began to look at the friendships I have with other guys around me…or lack thereof.  I hope I’m not in the minority on this, but in conversations I’ve had with other guys in my circles (not a Google+ reference), many of us can only name maybe 1 guy that we feel comfortable enough sharing more than the surface level stuff with.  It must be a guy thing because I know this comes much easier for women.

Why is this important?
I mention all of this because of the message from Kensington Orion this week.  This past Sunday we talked about the 3 men in David’s life that…

…were committed
…were Christ like
…carried burdens

This group of men battled for each other and supported each other.  I want that in my life.  I also want that for the life of my sons.  I want other men, other than me, to pour into my boys and teach them what having strong male figures in their lives will do for them as they grow up to become men.  For me, I want a select few guys to be able to hold me accountable to my faith, to my marriage and be able to help me when I’m struggling.  This verse from Proverbs states it perfectly:

As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. ~ Proverbs 27:17

Having these close relationships sharpens us, makes us better men, better husbands and better fathers.

What is my action step?  To invest in the relationships around me and pray that God reveals to me the open doors of friendships that will sharpen me and to make the vertical investment.

What about you?

Lead Late

Everyone is in such a hurry to be a leader, to get ahead, to be noticed.  I received a great piece of advice recently.  A man that I have a ton of respect for told me the best advice he was given was to not worry about recognition or being considered a leader to early in life.  He was told, “let God bring success and fame your way when you’re gray and can handle it.  Right now, grow, mature and raise your family to love and honor Him.”

Some people are born to be leaders but I’m sure those leaders didn’t chase it.  They were naturally thought of that way and were recognized as leaders at a time when they were prepared to lead.

Have a great Friday.

UPDATE: Check out this blog from Sam Luce.  I think it fit with what I talked about above.

Lessons Learned From A Loss

I’m not one that accepts defeat easily.  In part, it’s the competitive nature in me.  It’s also the fact that I’m an only child so I’m used to getting my way.  But when it comes to missing out on an opportunity to work on a fun business project, you need to evaluate and figure out what the lesson is to be learned.

Here is the background.  MRM Detroit was given the opportunity to pitch a website redesign project.  After a lot of hard work to come up with 4 designs we thought this potential client would appreciate, we were awarded the business.  We were subsequently presented with a new requirement that wasn’t part of the original scope and needed to quickly assess what could and couldn’t be done.  Our point of view was that it significantly increased the amount of work and budget and could jeopardize the live date of the site.  So we pushed back.  We did commit to delivering on the original scope but presented the clients with some other options…one of which was to delay the launch so we could go back to the drawing board and do this right.  The clients picked the “delay” option but with the caveat that they would open up the redesign for bid again.  Needless to say, they picked the other agency and awarded the project to them.

So now what?  After a few days of being disappointed, I decided to take the approach of “what can I take from this experience and apply moving forward.”

Don’t Commit To Something You Don’t Believe In
Nothing good can come of this.  The requirement being asked of us after being awarded the business was technology that was innovative but not something we as an agency had done (yet) or would really recommend.  We backed up our POV with research we had done with some of our larger clients.  Additionally, we felt in order to protect our agency’s reputation as well as the client’s brand, to try to develop something that wasn’t broadly being used as well as in a timeframe that wasn’t reasonable didn’t make sense.  We did make the commitment to partner and collaborate with our clients on this project but wanted to do it in a way that was strategic and would benefit everyone.

Be Specific And Know Your Role
Looking back on this experience, there was a lot of ambiguity in the process.  One thing that we did when we re-pitched the project was clearly list out the assumptions we had going into it.  We made sure that we listed out what we knew our responsibilities were and our assumptions on what client responsibilities were.  Whenever going into a project, knowing who was doing what can certainly ensure seamless delivery and launch.  If you’re not sure, ask.  If you disagree, discuss.  If you agree, approve and go.

What You Don’t Know, Learn To Do
The new requirement was responsive web design.  We’ve never built this for a client.  It’s new and there are 2 big names I found that are using it fully…Barack Obama and The Boston Globe.  Why hasn’t MRM built a site with this?  This morning I sent an e-mail to our technology, user experience and interactive teams suggesting we do a prototype.  Guess what?  They agreed.  We may not be currently doing this for a client but we certainly need the expertise and background to provide innovative solutions for our clients.

There you have it…lessons learned from a loss.  We may not like it but there is always an opportunity to learn something when things don’t go exactly your way.  What lessons have you learned in losses?

A Boy Named Suh

Ndamukong Suh has had a rough week.  What began as hope in beating the undefeated Green Bay Packers on Thanksgiving suddenly turned to shame and disappointment in Detroit’s up and coming football star.  Things got worse after the game with an “explanation” of behavior that didn’t really sit well with…anyone.  I don’t need to relive the drama from last week.  I think everyone knows about it now.

What I’m more interested in is what lessons can be learned from this.  Two things come to mind.

Own It.
We all make mistakes.  We’re human.  Where most people often get hung up is admitting their mistakes and trying to make excuses.  If you messed up, admit it.  People will see right through the excuses but I’m of the opinion that people will respect you more if you just take responsibility for your actions.

Maturity Matters.
Suh is 24 (soon to be 25) years old.   At that age, are most people ready to lead?  Suh has been given a great responsibility as a member of the Detroit Lions.  Given the recent history of performance, his attitude is what the city of Detroit has needed in order to embrace change and shift in attitude with our Detroit Lions.  He has automatically been given a leadership role but is he ready to grasp it?  Given the events of last week, I’d say not.  This city and this team are prepared to follow him but he’s just not ready.

Unfortunately for Ndamukong Suh, the labels are already being tattooed on him.  The true test will be how he performs after his suspension and how he interacts with his team.  I’m hopeful he has mentors on the team that will take him under their wing and have that man to man talk with him.  In his post game interview, he mentioned “The Man upstairs.”  I’m hopeful he has a faith in God that he can rely on for support.

How he acts on and off the field will be scrutinized now more than ever and people will look to cut him down at the first opportunity.  My hope is that the lessons he learns from this can transform him into one of the most feared defensive linemen in the NFL and one of Detroit’s most revered leaders once his career ends.  If you were to ask me who he should model himself after, I offer you the following example…

Bill Laimbeer got it done.  Revered in Detroit and has 2 NBA championships to show for it.  Ndamukong, time to grow up and learn from a Detroit legend.

See You Next Year @TEDxDetroit

I’m 2 days removed from TEDx Detroit and I miss it.

I miss the connections.

I miss seeing my fellow board members.

I miss seeing the attendees.

I miss seeing the inspiration.

I miss seeing the optimism.

I’m glad I miss it.  Now I’m hopeful that everyone that attended has something to grasp onto and feel inspired.

Inspired to do.

Inspired to create.

Inspired to share.

Inspired to make a difference.

The story from Wednesday that continues to resonate in my head is the one of connecting tw0 lab participants in a possible business deal.  That’s what TEDx is all about.  Bringing people together and allowing their creativity to grow, their ideas to develop and ultimately putting them into action.

A special note to my fellow board members of TEDx Detroit.  Thank you for the opportunity to serve with you.  All of you have a special place in my heart because of the passion that you have for what this event is all about.  I learned a lot and I look forward to doing it all over again next year.  There are so many memories that I’d love to share and it would take me hours to gather them here in this post.  So the memories I’ll leave you with are photos.  Photos from Sarah Cunningham, author and one of our awesome volunteer photographers.  Take a look at her view of TEDx Detroit from her camera lens.

Photo Credit: Sarah Cunningham

So many memories to last a lifetime.

To all the attendees, take what you learned and inspired you and do something with it.  Our opportunity is now to show the world what we can do.  Take the lead.  Make it happen.

See what others are saying about TEDx Detroit:
I Was Part of Something BIG Wednesday from Elena Wollborg
TEDx Detroit 2011 Thank You from Charlie Wollborg

Pass the Buck

What comes to your mind when you hear the phrase “pass the buck?”

My first thought is negative, as in, avoiding responsibility.  However, after reading Exodus 18:13-27 recently, my thoughts about “passing the buck” began to change.

Here is a little background.  Many are familiar with Moses and him leading the Israelites out of Egypt.  There were stone tablets called the Ten Commandments and there was the parting of the Red Sea.  I’m hoping you’re following.  Well, Moses spent a lot of time with a nation of people and as luck would have it, he was appointed by God as their leader.  As a leader, he most likely felt obligated to hear and resolve arguments.  The problem was, he was the only one doing this.  It says in Exodus 18:14 that everyone stood in line “from morning till evening” waiting for Moses to settle their dispute.  Probably not  a good use of his time.

Enter the wise father-in-law, Jethro who offered him this advice (Exodus 18:19-22)

Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him. Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives. But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you.

In essence, Jethro is telling him to “pass the buck.”  As leaders, we can’t do it all.  This is one of the lessons that I’m currently learning in some of the things I’m involved in today.  Early on in my career, I was focused on doing everything.  I had to.  That was my job.  As I now have more responsibility, I need to learn to let go and trust in the abilities of those around me who are tasked with the responsibilities of helping me get things done.  As Jethro tells Moses, “They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you.”

The other benefit of delegating is it shows your leadership by allowing others to learn by doing.  It grows them personally and professionally.  As leaders, it is important for us to nurture and teach those around us.  It allows us to focus on the bigger picture, strategy and end results (a certain smarty pants from Chicago recently wrote about this).

As you lead, are you delegating?  If not,  you may want to consider passing the buck.  Your move.