A Look Ahead…2013

2 Timothy 1:7Gini Dietrich shared her 2013 Business and Personal Goals with you yesterday and it motivated me to share with you my personal goals for 2013.

If you happen to be friends with me on Facebook or follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that 2 Timothy 1:7 is my personal Bible verse for 2013. The idea of not living in fear but with “power, love and self-discipline” covers every aspect of my life…both relational, physical, mental, and professional giving me the motivation to try new things this year and experience things that quite frankly would normally scare the heck out of me!

So here we go…below are some of the goals I’ve set forth for myself. I’m asking for your help in holding me accountable and seeing how I do!

I’ve run but never 26.2 miles and not even 13.1 miles. Ever since I’ve lost over 30 pounds in a contest at my kids’ school, I’ve been more motivated to make this change to my body last and become a lifestyle so why not use the lighter body to run a marathon! And I’m not just running a marathon for myself. I decided after watching the story of the Pokot Tribe in Kenya that I needed to run with purpose. The purpose being to raise money so that these people can have access to the most basic need that we often take for granted…clean water. I’m hoping after watching the video below, that you will consider helping me reach my fundraising goal of $2000. Who knows, if I hit it I may just raise it!

This has been a big one for me over the last year. I’ve finally got my head wrapped around the idea of it but I haven’t quite figured out how our family will be act on it. Is it foster care? Is it adoption? Is it foster to adopt? Either way, I know that there are children out there that do not have the benefit of parents to love them and lead them and participate in their lives. Why can’t I, who lives in one of the wealthiest countries in the world spare an extra room in my home (which by some standards is a mansion in other countries) and care for the least of these? More to come on this one but certainly something that I will hope to act on very soon.

I can always do better here. I can be more intentional with the time with my wife and kids. I can give my kids goals to strive towards that will help them at school, on the teams they play on, and provide them with a foundation to be the leaders I pray they can be. I can put aside the busyness of life and make sure to date my wife. Besides my faith, my relationship with her is the next most important relationship I’ll ever have in life. Why not set that example of marriage for my kids so they know how they should treat their spouse and how their spouse should treat them.

There are other goals for this year but these are the big ones. I found that I won’t have success unless I write them down. Something I learned in my weight loss…track everything and measure yourself against your goals regularly. So now I ask you to hold me accountable. If I can stick to these with 2 Timothy 1:7 as my motivation, I hope I’ll be able to look back fondly on 2013 but more importantly motivate others to look at their own lives and goals and live in power, love and self-discipline instead of fear and timidity.


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?

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.

Getting To Know…Ryan Knapp

Last week I started a weekly post called “Getting To Know…”  As I mentioned then, I really wanted you to get to know some of the influential people in my social circles.  I also wanted the people I feature to go a little deeper and get to know them a little more personally.  Many of these folks are successful business men and women but I know that isn’t what defines them…so why not ask them questions non business related and see how they have been influenced!

This week, I’d like for all of you to get to know Ryan Knapp.  I first connected with Ryan when he was featured on Gini Dietrich‘s Spin Sucks.  When I saw that he was a soccer fan, I knew I had to get to know him!  You can find out more about Ryan and his passions by going to ryanjknapp.com.  I will admit that it’s a little hard to really get to know someone by answering only four questions but that’s the beauty of the comments!  If there is more you’d like to know about Ryan, feel free to comment!

Ryan Knapp

Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
My wife.  She is always pushing me to be the best I can and she challenges me like no other person in the world.  While she may not be too happy when I’m taking on loads of new projects and responsibilities, she constantly remains by my side and often gets the short end of the stick for it.

Guilty dessert pleasure?
Ice Cream.  I eat a small bowl every night while watching Daily Show/Rachel Maddow.  We always have a stockpile of various kinds in the freezer.  I’m a huge sweet tooth.

What is one piece of advice you’d give someone?
Find what works for you.  I’m completely guilty of not doing this.  In the world where you can google every question or find the answer to just about anything, we tend to do what others have done before us and not find what works best for ourselves.  When we cannot trust ourselves to make good decisions or to find the best way to solve a problem, we cease to be who we really are, and that is a true shame.

Favorite childhood memory?
This may not be a favorite, but it is something that will stick with me forever.  My father passed away when I was 14 years old from brain cancer and kidney failure.  He was a mechanic and worked in a warehouse all his life, something that most people nowadays wouldn’t be caught dead doing.  The thing that struck me when he passed away was the amount of people he had touched throughout his life.  The line for his calling hours stretched one block outside of the funeral home and the funeral itself had to be moved to a larger church because the medium size church was standing room only.

Seeing the outpouring of support taught me you can have a huge impact on others no matter what your job is or how much money you have.  We think of influence as something which is only reserved for those who have power, but the ability to be kind and help others in our daily lives has a much greater impact.

Getting To Know…Gini Dietrich

A lot of my friends feature a person on their blogs each Friday.  If you go to Gini Dietrich‘s blog, Spin Sucks, she features someone she knows professionally.  Today, it’s Patti Knight and I highly recommend you get to  know Patti.  She’s awesome!

Well, I’m going to begin this weekly post for you but add a more personal touch to things.  Today I’m beginning this weekly feature called “Getting To Know…”  I’ll be asking each person 4 questions…2 somewhat serious and 2 that are a bit lighthearted.  People have depth and I often find the most interesting stories are when they share personal things.  Today’s feature is none other than Gini Dietrich!  Many of you know how much I’m a fan of hers and we have become really good friends since we first met on Twitter a couple of years ago.  So off we go!  Get to know Gini!

Bryan Willmert, Gini, Mr. D and myself at the Lions - Bears game last September

Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
Just one person? It really depends on how you define it. Personally, it’s my mom and Mr. D.  Professionally, it’s Sheryl Sandberg (I want to be her when I grow up), my team, certain bloggers, and my Vistage group.  I also have a handful of really close friends who are pretty influential.  It’s hard to choose one as the most.

Guilty dessert pleasure?
Gelato.  Hands down.  In fact, I think I’m going to make some tomorrow.  I know Pete the Tapeworm will be happy about that.

What is one piece of advice you would give to someone?
What is it with the one symbolism?  Jeez.  It’s the thing my mom said to us nearly every day growing up, “Remember who you are and what you stand for.”

Favorite childhood memory?
When I was in seventh grade, my grandpa (Poppy) was really sick.  He’d had triple bypass surgery twice.  He came to live with us and it was my job, after school, to make sure he got outside and went for a walk.  Those walks were some of the best memories I have of him.  It makes me sad that my younger siblings were really little when he died and don’t remember him at all.  Just thinking about that time I got to spend with him before his death makes me cry now.

EDITOR’S NOTE: I still firmly believe that the Lions were robbed during this game.  Calvin Johnson caught the ball.  It was a touchdown.  (I’m not bitter.)

Where is the honor?

I’m back from vacation and do I feel refreshed!  I took a much needed break from life and the internet (although I wasn’t completely disconnected) to spend quality time with Julianne and the kids.  Along these same lines, you might want to see what my buddy Gini Dietrich wrote about today about creating white space…although geared towards business, it’s very appropriate for taking time away and focusing on your life!

OK…so why do I have you here today?  Last week at Portage Lake Covenant Bible Camp, Craig Swanson from First Evangelical Covenant Church walked us through a timeless classic, the 10 Commandments.  What was amazing to me was how relevant these continue to be today especially when you really dig into what they mean and just how interconnected the 10 are together.  There is a depth and breadth to them that when you really sit down and study them, they come to life.

For today, I want to focus on the 5th Commandment: “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you.” (Exodus 20:12 NIV)

At face value, I think we all grew up as children understanding we needed to respect and obey our parents.  This is what we know of as “honoring” them.  However, it’s becoming more and more common to discount what those that are older and wiser have in experience just because we think they don’t get it because “it’s not relevant” today.  Why do we do this?  Those that have come before us, whether in life or in business, have so much to offer!  There is something to be said from “learning from my mistakes.”  Most of us have access to leaders that are willing to invest in our lives so that we can be successful and not make the same mistakes that many have made before us.  Craig Groeschel from LifeChurch.tv beautifully communicates what this can look like in his talk from Catalyst last year.

What happens when we do this?  Let me take you back to my vacation from last week.  PLCBC is an intergenerational experience.  You see families that have been going to camp for almost 50 years.  The grandparents went as kids and then sent their children.  Those children are now adults with families and they are now sending their kids.  Each of the generations interacts with each other and you see the children and young adults go to those that “have been there” and honor them.  In return, you are seeing the “sages” pour into the lives of the younger generations.

From an organizational perspective or family perspective, are you honoring your “father and mother” or those that came before you?

Are You Smarter Than A Second Grader?


This week I had the pleasure of watching my daughter do her “Expert Report” on France at Oakland Christian School.  Definitely a proud dad moment as she walked her class through interesting tidbits of information on France like:

  • Paris is the capital of France
  • The red and the blue in the French flag represent the traditional livery colors of Paris
  • The white in the French flag is the traditional color of French royalty
  • The tallest mountain in the French Alps is Mont Blanc
  • There are 2,513 windows in the Palace of Versailles

In some ways, I think she is a better presenter than I am!  No nervousness.  Confidence in the information she presented.  At one point, she dropped her note cards but didn’t flinch and kept going.  It was awesome to see and even her teacher took notice!  Julianne and I walked out of there with our heads held high!

What did I learn from this experience or rather, what did I learn from the process Gina went through to get to this point?  Lately, I’m big on looking at the world through the lens of my children.  It’s often a great way to put things into perspective as well as remind yourself that life doesn’t need to be as complicated as adults make it.  In this case, I was reminded that as adults, focus can be lost as we dig into projects.  In this age of multi-tasking, things can often take longer than they need to.  E-mail, Facebook, Twitter, Google Reader…all things that I have open throughout the day…can serve as a huge distraction.  When Gina was doing research on her project, she was singularly focused on finding out as much information as possible about France and illustrating it with her coloring.

It’s all about productivity these days.  Gini Dietrich recently wrote a blog on “Being More Productive Every Day“.  It’s smart and offers up some great suggestions on how you can boost your productivity.  If you think about it, I’m being productive just by providing you a link to great content rather than spending time thinking about how I can say the same thing differently!

Stay focused on what’s in front of you.  It’s pretty difficult to get from point A to point B if you are constantly being detoured.  If you stay the course, then you can give a great “expert report”!

Just for fun, I wanted to share with you Gina’s presentation.  I’ve discovered that blogs and the social web are great tools to share the home movies of the 21st century!