Tag Archives: Leadership

What I’m Loving this Week: Learning Resources

I am currently overloaded with free learning materials. Thank God for generous people on the internet. Let me share some of the great resources I’ve come across lately:

1) Leadership and Influence Summit – 36 video talks that you can watch for free at your own time (before November 15). The speaker lineup includes Chris Brogan, Jon Acuff, Keith Ferrazzi, Erwin McManus, Mark Sanborn, Tim Elmore, Charlene Li, and a bunch of other great leaders. Some of the topics include The Power of Story, Planning for Success, the Ziglar Way, the E-Myth, Social Nation, Communicate to Lead, Generation iY, etc. Need I go on? Great stuff.

2) Tools and Resources from Generation iY / SaveTheirFutureNow.com – Author Tim Elmore came up with a book that I’ve been wanting to read called Generation iY. Until I get my hands on that book, I’ve been devouring all the informative and useful articles on their website–treasures for a teacher like me. If you’re a parent, educator, youth worker, employer, or anyone who interacts with young people on a regular basis, these resources will come in handy.

3) The Leader as Lifelong Learner, a guest post by Daniel Offer at Michael Hyatt‘s blog – This post reminds me of the entry that I wrote a couple of weeks ago, Do all leaders really have to be readers?In this blog post, Offer offers (I couldn’t resist) a strong argument in favor of reading books. As a book-lover myself, I couldn’t agree more. He gives some great strategies for those who struggle with reading.

Let me know if these resources helped you!

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Do all leaders really have to be readers?

There is a famous phrase that says “Leaders are readers.” I can’t verify if this has been consistently true throughout history, but on a personal level, I do know this for sure: reading helps me learn better, and learning helps me lead better.

Personally, I prefer reading books. I can go on and on about books, and those of you who have followed this blog long enough know this to be true. I always love giving books to people when my resources allow me to do so, but what I’ve learned throughout the years is that not everyone likes to read books.

“I tried,” says a friend, “but I really can’t sit still and read.” And that explains why I’ve seen some of the books I’ve given to people gathering dust on their bookshelves.

So what’s a non-reader to do? Do all leaders really have to be readers?

My answer is no. At least not everyone has to be a consistent book reader. Here are my 5 tips on how to learn and grow as a leader if you’re not into being a reader:

1) Opt for audiobooks. Do you feel left out when your friends talk about a book? More often than not, that book has an audio version. You can listen to it while you’re exercising, running errands, or while you’re stuck in transit. Yes, there are better things to do other than daydreaming!

2) Subscribe to podcasts or iTunes U. Podcasts are great options for those who want variety and don’t want to spend a single cent. You can find podcasts about everything under the sun, and just like audiobooks, you can enjoy them while you’re occupied with other tasks. Not a lot of people take advantage of iTunes U, but if you find it in your iTunes Music Store, do take the time to look around. There are some wonderful talks and lectures to be found if you spend some time digging. Podcasts and iTunes U tracks are all available for free.

3) Stick with the short stuff. Some people think they can never be readers because they can’t sit still long enough to read a whole book on just one topic. But nowadays, you can opt for lighter reading fare. Read blogs! You can read about a variety of stuff, and some blogs come with videos and pictures that will cater to your other learning needs.

4) Make listening appointments. Maybe you don’t like reading, but you have friends who devour books like potato chips. Chances are, they would love to talk about the books they just read, so I suggest asking them to fill you in on what they’ve learned. All you need is some time, a couple of focused ears, and an open mind. Paper and pen: optional.

5) Keep things bite-sized. As much as you try to avoid it, there may come a time when you’ll come across a book that you know you really want/need to read. Take the Bible, for instance. Reading the Bible is different from just hearing the Bible. When I read the Bible, I find myself having to read through a passage over and over to really ‘chew’ on it and let it sink in. If I were just listening to it, it would be too much trouble to keep having to go back to hear the same thing over and over again. Plus you can’t highlight an mp3! In cases like this, here’s my tip: just chop it up. When I started reading the Bible, I committed to reading one chapter a day. Nowadays, I’ve found that my time in the Word has been even deeper and richer when I just stick to reading 3 to 5 verses at a time and really taking the time to think them over. I’d like to think that reading 3 to 5 sentences a day is manageable for everybody. So whether you’re taking on the Bible or a book on business, you can do it! :)

One of my favorite definitions of success is from author and leadership expert John Maxwell. One portion of his definition says that success means “growing to your maximum potential.” If you look closely, that’s different from “maximizing your potential.” We can’t maximize our potential every day of our lives unless we plan on burning out quickly, but growth is something that can happen daily. Besides, we don’t even know what our “maximum potential” really is. The best we can do is to keep growing–and to keep growing, it’s always good to keep learning.

What are other ways that you learn? How do you make learning fun?

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Practicing what you preach can be easy (or easier!)

Okay, here’s the truth: practicing what you preach isn’t easy at all. I should know, I’m a teacher, and I struggle with this a lot.

You know that saying that goes, “Those who can’t do, teach”? I’ve always thought that was a little harsh. But there is a sad truth behind this: sometimes it’s just easier to teach what you know than it is to actually convert knowledge into effective action. It’s easier to talk about leadership than it is to lead an organization, it’s easier to talk about discipline than it is to stick to your resolutions, it’s easier to preach about self-control than it is to exercise it, it’s easier to talk about compassion than it is to give away the money you’ve worked hard for, and it’s definitely easier to talk about financial stewardship than it is to stop yourself from buying things that you don’t really need. It’s a constant struggle. But it CAN get easier.

This is what I’ve learned: when I need to practice what I preach, I need to be honest with myself and admit that I need other people. Sometimes I need a leader for direction when I’m lost and confused, a mentor for guidance when my blind spots are getting me into trouble, a co-worker for support when I’m feeling overwhelmed, a teammate for their ability to do what I cannot do, or a friend who can pray for me when I feel like giving up. Different problems, different roles, one important truth: it gets easier when I open myself to other people.

But what does that look like? How does that work on a practical level?

I’m a big fan of taking baby steps. In this case, I would probably start by being honest with myself that I need someone to talk to, then I would find that person, then I would say these three simple words:

“I need help.”

I think it’s the fear of rejection, or the fear of feeling vulnerable or powerless that stops people from saying these words. I know that these fears have stopped me time and time again. But I also know that each time that I swallowed my pride, put aside my fears, and said those words out loud, grace followed–and flowed–and I had no regrets. Well, that’s not entirely true. Most of the time, I regret not asking for help earlier. :)

Who are the people or what are the strategies that have helped you practice what you preach? Do share!

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10 Awesome Things About Catalyst West (Part 2)

Visit CatalystConference.com

In case you missed it, here’s the first half of my list of 10 Awesome Things About Catalyst West. And as for the rest, I’m just going to dive right in!

6) Seeing the power of social media. Catalyst is a forward-thinking movement, and they really found ways to encourage everybody to go on their mobile devices to interact and connect with each other. People were tweeting and sharing photos, videos, and quotes from the speakers as the talks were going on. Attendees could have instant access to speakers and authors to give shout-outs or to ask questions, thanks to Twitter. Blogger Jesse Giglio did a great job of compiling a list of some of the memorable tweets. As for me, here are some of the funniest ones I read:

7) The tour of Mariners Church with architect and visioneer Mel McGowan. One of the benefits of Twitter is being able to find out about tweetups, and when I saw that this: “Tweetup: Mariners Campus Tour w/ @melmcgowan on Apr 23, 2010 RSVP here: http://twtvite.com/z3iqj1 I thought it would be a good idea to go. When I first saw the Mariners Campus, I thought it was beautiful and it looked like a lot (and I mean, a LOT) of creative thought was put into it. Again, I couldn’t help but notice the details! Because I’m involved in kids ministry and youth/campus ministry, I was especially curious to see Port Mariners (their version of Kids Church or Sunday School) and the Student Center.

Here are some photos of the Mariners Church campus (located in Irvine, Orange County, California):

Mel McGowan leads the creative concept development, programming, master-planning, design, entitlement, and project management efforts of Visioneering Studios. Throughout their careers, McGowan and his partners have worked with companies such as Walt Disney Imagineering, Universal Studios Creative, and Warner Bros. Recreation Group, among many others, which explains why being at Mariners feels like being in the happiest place on earth. On a side note, their website says that Rick Warren‘s Saddleback Church is one of their clients, which also explains why Saddleback has the same “they-thought-of-everything!” kind of feel.

What I liked about Visioneering Studios is that they’re actually a non-profit ministry, which I thought was amazing. What was even more amazing was that when Mel McGowan found out I was from the Philippines, he told me that he would be there next month for a project they’re working on in Cebu City: a halfway house for trafficking victims. So just in case you were wondering, not all the projects they work on are on the megachurch/theme park level. Like I said, awesome stuff! Read more about their story here.

8) The Response Room. There was so much to process during the 3 days of Catalyst West, that it was essential to take the time to slow down, be still, and reflect. Thankfully, the Catalyst team had already thought of that and converted the Mariners Chapel into a Response Room. More than just a quiet space, the Response Room was an experience. The Response Room was a collaboration between Catalyst and Uncover the Color. You can read more about it and see photos from the room here.

9) Louie Giglio’s talk. As I mentioned in the last post, each talk was powerful in its own way that it’s difficult to choose a favorite one. However, if I were to choose one that resonated with me deeply, especially in this season of my life, it was the talk by Louie Giglio. If you’ve never heard of him before, there’s one word that best describes him: PASSION. It’s who he is (if you hear him speak, you’ll know what I mean) and what he does.

Apart from going around the world for the Passion World Tour, Giglio also just started Passion City Church in Atlanta with renowned worship leader Chris Tomlin. You would think that these guys–who have probably influenced millions of people around the world–would have [almost] everything figured out. But during his talk, Giglio candidly shared that–because he’s new at the church planting thing–he barely knows what he’s doing. People always ask him what kind of church he’s envisioning (missional? postmodernquasidenominational?), and he sheepishly admitted that his usual reply is: “I don’t know yet.”

I totally get that feeling. Unfortunately, there’s always that pressure (whether real or imagined) to have it all figured out! Giglio was sharing that in the church world, they always say that we should be like the Acts 2 church. I hear that a lot. But as he reflected on these passages, he had a mini-revelation, which he shared with us. The mini-revelation was this: “Everybody always says that we should be like the Acts 2 church…but what kind of church did the Acts 2 church want to be?”

(Take some time to think about that and let it sink in.)

I love this line that he said: “I’m not sure what tomorrow looks like, but I have hope in what tomorrow looks like. I am confident in where it comes from.”

10) The theme: UNUSUAL TOMORROW. Before I got to the conference, I knew about the theme, but I wasn’t paying much attention to it. But when I was there, it finally sunk in and I realized that those two words couldn’t have described the future better. We live in the face of an unusual tomorrow where trends will change, ideas will come out of nowhere, technologies will evolve, and a new generation of leaders will arise. Many factors will be unpredictable, but there is one thing we can choose and control: how we face the future. We can face it with fear and worry or we can choose to face it with hope and anticipation.

Here’s the thing: it’s a choice we have to make daily. Because every single day, as Andy Stanley puts it, “The realities of today tend to crush the dreams of tomorrow.” It’s true isn’t it? But I take comfort in this: I have an unusual tomorrow precisely because God’s ways are higher than our ways and His thoughts are higher than our thoughts. The future may be unusual, but I can trust that–like everything else on this list–it’ll be awesome too, because it’s the hands of our awesome God.

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So that ends my list! There was much more to say, but the brutal truth is that the Catalyst experience can’t be fully captured in words. If you’ve never been to a Catalyst event, my hope is that you’ll be able to attend one of their conferences at least once in your lifetime. If I had the chance and the funds to travel and attend again, I would go in a heartbeat! For some of you, that chance may be coming up: Catalyst Atlanta is happening on October 6-8 and I heard that one’s even bigger (The Catalyst conference actually started in Atlanta). Seth Godin, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Beth Moore, Craig Groeschel, Perry Noble, Mark Batterson, Tim Elmore, Gayle Haggard, and Chris Seay are just some of the people on their speaker lineup that I’d love to hear from. If you have plans of being in the area during that time, go for it! While you’re at it, read blogger Bryan Allain‘s “Top 10 Excuses for not Going to Catalyst” post. If I haven’t convinced you yet, he’ll get the job done!

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10 Awesome Things About Catalyst West (Part 1)

Disclaimer: This post is a little long, but it’s my attempt to capture and share as much as I can about what I experienced and learned last week, especially for the folks back home in the Philippines who wanted to be at the conference. I wanted you all to be there too, so this is for you. I hope it inspires you in some way too!

It’s tough to talk about my first Catalyst West conference experience without using the same adjectives over and over again, so I figured I’d just get it over with and put it out there: Catalyst West was awesome. And here are just some of the reasons why (in no particular order):

1) The Catalyst team knows how to give everybody an unforgettable conference experience. This has been, without a doubt, one of the best-planned and most creative events I’ve ever seen (and I used to work for MTV, so I’ve seen my share of concerts, award shows, and other large-scale events!). The evidence of the Catalyst team’s excellence and creativity was in the details. How can you resist overflowing popcorn, snow cones, and candies, plus quirky props, costumes, and unique entertainers? You can’t. They seemed dead serious about getting everyone to have fun…and I’m pretty sure that they succeeded! Hover over the photos in the slideshow to see the captions:

2) Speaking of fun, Catalyst hosts Tripp Crosby and Tyler Stanton sealed the deal. If there were still people in the crowd who were resisting the urge to laugh, these two made it impossible to hold it all in. Just to give you an idea of what these guys come up with on a regular basis:

They even spiced up the announcements after each session by doing them all in 3D (You can watch one of the videos here, with or without 3D glasses!). They also came up with other fun stuff, like when they ran around in fencing suits and got all 3000+ people to throw foam balls into the baskets on their heads to win free stuff. And when they sang their parody of “We are the World” (aka “We Aren’t the World”) together with all the worship leaders (see lyrics here: http://yfrog.com/j2b8kj). And when they went back to the future to save the internet (long story). Watch more of their videos on trippandtyler.com!

3) So many opportunities to laugh. I can’t remember everything, but I remember laughing a whole lot during the two days. One of my favorite parts of the conference was when they were flashing tweets from various conference attendees and speakers (some were real and some were made up). I can’t remember the tweets word-for-word, but I remember a lot of people picking on Rick Warren, and even Rick Warren played along. And speaking of playing along, I love the stuff that Tripp and Tyler did to introduce Andy Stanley and Donald Miller! I love that all these people don’t take themselves seriously. :) And I tell you, these Catalyst people are ruthless! Look what I (and many other women) found inside the restroom stalls:

Tyler Stanton's book in a stall in the Ladies' restroom

There’s no escape! Special mention goes to Stuff Christians Like author and blogger Jonathan Acuff for providing the laughs during his lunchtime book giveaways and to stand-up comedian Michael Jr., who is hilarious and inspiring at the same time. To watch Michael Jr’s comedy bits and know more about his upcoming documentary, go to his YouTube page. And I just finished reading Stuff Christians Like and I really enjoyed it (review coming soon!).

4) Powerful music c/o Aaron Keyes, Carlos Whittaker, Chris Tomlin, Jeffrey B. Scott, Jonathan Shelton and Candi Pearson-Shelton. Blogger Ryan Rotman did a great job compiling the set lists on his blog. If you’re interested in things like these, you can check out the setlists here and here. And if you want some really good (and free!) music, click on this link.

5) The tough-to-beat speaker lineup. Coming into the conference, I was really looking forward to watching Andy Stanley, John Ortberg, Mark Driscoll, Donald Miller, Erwin McManus, Wess Stafford, and Louie Giglio, and they were awesome as expected. But so were the rest of the speakers: the incomparable Dallas Willard (who received a Catalyst tribute), Charlene Li, Reggie Joiner, Kay Warren, and Scott Belsky, among others.

Some of my favorite quotes from the conference:

  • Charlene Li (Open Leadership): “Social media isn’t about technologies, it’s about relationships.”
  • Scott Belsky (Making Ideas Happen): “Restraints are empowering in the creative process.”
  • Eugene Cho on giving: “Generosity is not just to help people but to rescue us from the abyss of greed.”
  • Mark Driscoll on what God sounds like: “I heard a voice. I’ll tell you what it sounds like…it sounded like it was in charge.” (Check out the notes he posted on his blog)
  • Reggie Joiner (The Prodigal Generation): “If you could choose two characteristics for your church and home, choose forgiveness and joy.”
  • Erwin McManus: “God gave us imagination for a reason.”“Part of our gift to the world is to help people find meaning in life. But first, we need meaning in our lives.”
  • Kay Warren on adoption: “Every family must ask the question: ‘God, do you want us to adopt?'”
  • Donald Miller: “People become the character they play in the story they believe.”“Leaders tell stories. Are you telling a good story?”
  • Andy Stanley on leveraging your authority as little as possible: “Great leaders say this a lot: ‘I’ll let you make that decision,’ or ‘I don’t really know what to do, I’ll let you make that decision.’ Great leaders don’t make all the decisions.”
  • Andy Stanley’s tip to leaders: “You are not the smartest person in your organization. You are just the leader.”
  • John Ortberg on the wisdom of Dallas Willard: “I never get in an argument with Dallas because I’m afraid that he will prove that I don’t exist.”
  • Dallas Willard on John Ortberg’s lack of tweeting: “Have you ever felt like you’re a twit?”
  • Dallas Willard when asked to define Jesus’ gospel: “It’s how to get to heaven before you die.” (After he said that, there was a deafening silence in the venue, and my seatmate whispered, “That was PROFOUND.” He wasn’t the only one who thought that; John Ortberg had to ask Willard to repeat it again!)
  • Dallas Willard on grace: “Grace doesn’t make us passive. Grace is not opposed to effort. It’s opposed to earning.”
  • And more from Dallas Willard: “Do the next right thing you know you ought to do, because that’s what God wants you to do.”

There’s so much more verbal goodness that I’m unable to share, mostly because my pen couldn’t keep up with the words that were coming my way. I remember someone tweeting at the conference, apologizing to the person seated behind him because his brain just exploded (whoever you are, you were right on the money!). Each message was powerful in its own way that it’s difficult to choose which one I liked the best. However, there was one that resonated with me deeply. That one, I’ll share in the next post, together with the other stuff I loved about Catalyst West. In the meantime, you can see more photos here, and if you want to read more, you can head over to the Catalyst blog.

To be continued…

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Catalyst West Labs 2010

What do you do when you get the chance to watch your favorite authors, bloggers, and leaders speak all in one day? If you’re like me, you listen and you furiously take down notes…lots of them!

Yesterday was the first day of my 3-day Catalyst West adventure. I first discovered Catalyst two years ago on the INJOY website when we were planning a youth leadership event in the Philippines. I wanted to research on what other programs were out there, and I was immediately captivated by all the things they were doing at Catalyst. They always had the best speakers and powerful live music (they had Hillsong United last year at Catalyst West), not to mention the fun gimmicks–world’s biggest pillow fight, anybody? Catalyst used to always be held at Atlanta, Georgia, but last year, they started a West Coast version in Irvine, California. As soon as I heard about it, I knew that it was going into my Faith Goals list! Long story short, this year was finally the year! :)

Catalyst West Coast is a 2-day conference, but there’s an extra day prior to the conference (and some say it’s the best part of Catalyst) called Catalyst Labs. There’s a separate registration fee for Catalyst Labs, but for anyone who’s considering attending in the future, let me tell you that it’s worth it.

The Labs kicked off with powerful music c/o Aaron Keyes and giveaways c/o Catalyst podcast host Ken Coleman and Catalyst chief Brad Lomenick. There were all sorts of goodies (e.g. books, CDs, apparel, etc.) being sold at the lobby, but I did my best to RESIST! Let’s see how long I can hold out! After the opening session, all the participants break out into 6 different venues, each one featuring a different speaker or set of speakers. Here are the sessions that I attended:

Speaker: Susan Isaacs, actress, writer, and author of Angry Conversations with God
What I liked most about the session: The reason why I opted to attend her track was because I knew that she would be fun and entertaining. But more than that, I liked that she kept things simple, and how she talked about writing a spiritual memoir as something for everyone, not just seasoned writers or leaders.
Notable quote: “The details of your life are important to you and to God.”

Michael Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishing (and my favorite blogger)
What I liked most about the session: Everything! This session was one of the things I was most looking forward to at Catalyst, and it did not disappoint. Like Isaacs, Hyatt makes the topic simple and the challenge doable, and he is incredibly generous with sharing his tips on building an online platform.
Notable quotes: “Without vision, technology is useless. With vision, technology is priceless.” / “The best bloggers invite people into the conversation.” / “What are you going to do with the passion that you have and all the amazing technology at your fingertips?”

Speaker: Scott Belsky, founder and CEO of Behance and author of Making Ideas Happen
What I liked most about the session: I’ve heard Belsky on the Catalyst podcast prior to the event, and I immediately became more curious about what Behance was doing. Essentially, Behance’s mission is “to organize the creative world to make ideas happen.” I’ve worked on several creative teams in the past, and I know how challenging it can be to make creative ideas happen, because most of them just end up stuck or lost somewhere in someone’s inbox. The session was packed with insights and tips from Belsky. In other words, I liked the topic very much, and I give props to Belsky and his team for what they’re doing.
Notable quote: “You can’t pursue ideas in isolation. None of us is beyond partnership.”

John Ortberg, pastor and bestselling author
What I liked most about the session:
Notable quotes: “There is God, it is not you.” / “Spiritual growth is handcrafted, not mass produced.” / “Transformation requires as much grace as salvation does.”

There’s so much more to share, but all in all, I just had to say that Catalyst Labs was a great learning experience! Today (the first day of the main conference) was unbelievably awesome as well. It’s going to take me a week to write about it! But there’s so much I want to share because I think there were powerful insights for everybody (Andy Stanley, Reggie Joiner, Mark Driscoll, Dallas Willard, Charlene Li, and Louie Giglio were just some of the highlights of the day). I promise that I’ll write about it as soon as I can, but tonight, I just need to let it all sink in! So stay tuned, because I’ll be giving a prize away very soon! :) In the meantime, if you’re a blogger (or you’re thinking about starting a blog), check out this post from superblogger and Catalyst Lab speaker Anne Jackson. Enjoy!

If you’re reading this and you were at Catalyst Labs yesterday, what was your favorite part?

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