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?

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…@mikeschmitt

This week’s “Getting to Know” features Mike Schmitt.  I first met Mike through Twitter and have come to appreciate his selfless and humble attitude.  If there was ever someone to model what Jesus Christ might be like today, it’s him.  What he does with CommuniD BBQ is amazing.  I asked Mike to share what CommuniD BBQ are meant for:

CommuniD BBQs happen every Saturday in Detroit and once a month in Flint and Mt. Clemens. They are put together by an organic network of churches, community groups and individuals from across Southeast Michigan called elevate Detroit. At CommuniD BBQs anyone is welcome to come as we share an afternoon and a meal together. It is not an opportunity to volunteer or to go “love on people”. It is a chance to share love with others and allow them to share love with you. It is an opportunity for people from all walks of life to come together, get to know each other and be people together.  We are all beautiful images of a creator God.

The video below (originally shared on Dan Sadlier’s blog) show’s Mike in action.

Mike was also kind enough to answer my questions and I am so glad he did!

Who is the most influential person in your life and why?
From my past: Mom. As she was diagnosed with terminal cancer, her husband and my dad of 25 years left her and our family. As literally our world and lives fell apart, she never questioned God’s goodness and never lost her joy. Her faith, trust and love for Him was inspiring to myself as well as everyone who knew her. As a testimony to her faithfulness, there were hundreds of people at her funeral and the procession went on for over a mile and a half.

Currently: Tony Stallwarth. There is a video called Homeless Karaoke (www.homelesskaraoke.com). The way Tony talks about people in that video has strongly shaped the way CommuniD BBQs have been formed since almost day one.  I have had the chance to meet and talk with him a couple times now. His vision of the Kingdom and love of people is inspiring and transforming.

Guilty dessert pleasure?
Crème brûlée. But there is no guilt in anything that good. It simply must be heavenly.

What is one piece of advice you would give someone?
Don’t spit into the wind. And if you want to change the world, you won’t.  But what you can do is change the world for one person at a time.  Together, if we all do what we can, the world will be a very different place.

If you want to keep up with what Mike is doing, you can follow him on Twitter at @mikeschmitt.  Check out his blog, Shoes For The Hopeless, and if you want to follow what is going on with CommuniD BBQ, check out the Elevate blog and “like” the Elevate Facebook page!

I’d like to leave you with these verses from 1 John 3: 16-18:

We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us.  So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.  If someone has enough money to live well and sees a brother or sister in need but shows no compassion—how can God’s love be in that person?  Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions.

Now that you’ve read that, think about Mike.  He lives out God’s love every day.  Get to know Mike.

Think Different

This video has been making its way around the interwebs today in honor of Steve Jobs and his resignation at Apple.  There isn’t much to be said about the ad.  As I continue on in my career in digital marketing, I’ll always look for ways to challenge “the way we’ve always done it” and “because our metrics and analytics indicate this.”  It’s not because I don’t find value in what was done before or analytics, but because in this ever changing landscape of technology and digital, sometimes there aren’t past examples and analytics to support something that’s never been tried before.

As I look at my family and especially my children, I’ll challenge them to always think differently so they can be life long discoverers and learners.  “Learn from my mistakes” will still be a valuable teaching tool but allowing them to “fail forward” will just be as valuable especially because they will experience things that Julianne and I never did as kids.

For now, I wish Steve Jobs the best on his new life.  I sincerely hope his health isn’t the driving force behind this move and that now he’ll be able to spend more quality time with his family.  Good luck, Steve!

Fan the Flames

As a parent, I often think about the stories I’ll pass on to my kids.  Pouring into the next generation has become more important to me especially as my kids get older.  Am I helping pass along the Filipino heritage of my mom and dad?  Am I instilling into my kids the work ethic of my parents and Julianne?  More importantly, am I sharing my faith with my kids so that they are able to decide for themselves what their faith means to them?

I recently heard at Kensington Orion that we are only one generation away from either losing the knowledge of God or from making life changing impact through the stories we tell the next generation of how Christ impacted our lives.  Through how we are living our own lives, are we creating stories of impact that can be an influence to future generations to carry on our legacy as parents as well as the message of Jesus Christ?

Think about it terms of the history of the United States.  Have we really done a good job at passing down the spirit of those that founded this great country through the stories that made this country so great?  Simple things like the history of U.S. Presidents, capitals of the states or even more recent events like 9/11 have lost some of  their meaning to those that never experienced them.  These stories remain important and shouldn’t be minimized.

If you are in any position of leadership, I believe it’s vitally important for us to constantly think about what it is we want to pass along to those that come after us.  Are we providing every opportunity for those that we lead to learn and grow?  I think about my own faith and how that has come to shape my life over the last 5 years.  I get so excited when I think about how God has blessed my life and my family.  I am now thinking about the stories I want my kids to tell my grandkids so that they will able to feel the influence Jesus Christ had on my life even after I’m gone.  I’m reminded of Paul’s message to Timothy in 2 Timothy 1:

I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice.  And I know that same faith continues strong in you.  This is why I remind you to fan into flames the spiritual gift God gave you when I laid my hands on you.  For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.  So never be ashamed to tell others about our Lord. (2 Timothy 1:5-8 NLT)

What stories are you preparing for future generations?  I hope they are good and memorable, otherwise you might be left with this…

Privilege = Responsibility NOT Entitlement

Kirk Cousins continues to define the model athlete for me.  I’m not just saying this because he is a Michigan State Spartan.  I’m saying this because of the following video where he spoke and represented the Big Ten players at the Kick Off Luncheon.  The video is worth your 8 minutes of time.  Much of what he talks about is applicable not only to athletes but to all of us as well.  Regardless of what you think, we are privileged individuals…most of us have homes, jobs, families, good health, etc.  I continuously go back and think, am I being responsible with what God has given me or do I view what I’m given as some sort of entitlement?

Kirk mentions Luke 12:48 in his speech…

From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.

Does your privilege give you a sense of responsibility or a sense of entitlement?  It’s obviously your choice, but one makes a difference and the is just plain selfish.