John 15:15 is an interesting passage and often the subject of modern Christian apparel and vernacular. Jesus is my friend! I love that aspect about walking with Jesus, but let’s remember that Jesus said this to his disciples at the end of His ministry when they walked through a discipleship process. I would be robbing God’s people if I told them that “Jesus is your friend” right after they gave their lives to Jesus without letting them in on the discipleship process.
John 15:12-15 tells us:
This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.
The discipleship of Jesus was a process and a tough one at that. Jesus instantly had his disciples working from the start of the relationship and challenged the first disciples in Matthew 4:19.
And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.”
A key to the process, follow —> make —-> fishers of men. In other words, our obedience affords the creation process of who we are supposed to be. The word “make” in verse 19, is the same word from Genesis 1:26.
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”
Jesus told a group of Jewish males that if they followed Him, Jesus would CREATE them into what they were not. He would do the impossible in and through them. I love this! As believers, we are created into this status of a child of God, but the only way to be a child of God is to follow him. We need to drop everything and surrender to him. This is the discipleship process, and it is never easy, but only God can do the creation aspect of this relationship.
You remember the Jesus is my homie movement? Then came bobble head Jesus that said yes to just about everything. Jesus is not my homie; he is my King and Savior. Jesus can call us friends when we have heard from Him and obeyed (vs. 15).
I want Jesus as my friend because I want to do the will of God. Otherwise, we only want a ticket to heaven or at least an escape from hell without the road of discipleship that God wants for us. When we follow Jesus, we submit our authority to Him, and He then will make us (create us) to be more like Him.
His love for us is so deep and goes to all lengths to meet us where we are at, but as cliche’ as it sounds… He does not want to leave us there. Jesus no longer called the disciples servants, not because they stopped serving, but because they knew the plans of the master. Servants never know the plans of the master, friends know and do the plans of Jesus.
I am a Getting Things Done kind of guy and for those who understand what that means, good. For others, Getting Things Done (GTD) is not just a mentality or attitude we possess, it is an efficiency system of task management and life management that was first pioneered by David Allen. His book is fantastic and can get you started re-thinking your life management, but he has a shorter, quick overview ebook as well.
In a nutshell, you get used to making lists in life that include the following:
- Next Actions
- Waiting For
- Maybe or Someday
The idea is this, stop holding all those ideas, tasks, pictures and creativity in your head waiting for them to happen or for you to recall them when the time is right. The first rule, write down everything. Like a reporter carrying around a notepad, have an app on your phone, notebook, etc. and just write it down. Second, place it in one of these list headers I listed above. Third, do a mind sweep at the end of the day, every day and put these ideas into proper categories and lists. What this simple practice does is free your mind to be anxiety free, and not always functioning at near capacity. You can trust that the idea is where it needs to be.
Now that was the shortest GTD system lesson ever, but my real goal in this post is to recommend some digital and analog resources for a GTD system. If you are the type that needs the old pen and pad the GTD system may be a bit cumbersome at first, but once you get the hang of it, efficiency is around the corner. The problem is that I have not found one particular planner that works for the system entirely. So for my analog buddies I recommend the following:
Analog Only: Moleskin Classic Notebook and Self Journal
So I would write all my inbox, maybe and waiting for stuff in the Moleskin Notebook much like a chronological journal and then daily use the Self Journal for Someday, Next Actions, and Projects. The Self Journal forces you to work in 13-week increments with goal setting in mind so you can be aggressive about your Somedays and not put them off.
What I Do: Nozbe, Moleskin, Evernote, and Self Journal
That being said, I end up coming back to digital as my main avenue of task management and do a combo of digital and analog. So this is how I do it currently. I use Nozbe as my digital inbox, next actions, and Projects (tasks). I use a Moleskin Cahier Journal for analog inbox and notes when typing is not an option. I then use Evernote for everything else including a journal. Evernote syncs with all your devices as does Nozbe, so forgetting a pad somewhere is no longer debilitating.
The point is to get everything out of your brain, consuming time and energy, and freeing you up to focus on the moment. Now go ahead and
Get Things Done!
One of my favorite topics to discuss, teach and learn is task management. However, I only use that phrase because life management has not caught on as a buzzword. First off, the idea of task management is a compartmentalization that is far too funneled down. Simply put, one must learn to manage their life so that task management would even make sense.
I remember working with certain individuals and introducing the company or church software we use to manage tasks and day to day operations. For myself, it is simple and makes life less complicated, but for some others, it is their worst nightmare. Some people like the old ink and pad, some digital and others like to live so free that they try to keep it all in the head. For the professional, the old noggin is not recommended.
Whether I have been called in as a friend over coffee or paid to consult a corporate department, the issues that arise in task management all boil down to some simple causes. The fact is that your department, family, church staff, etc., are made up of people, and people are complicated. If real leadership was merely creating duplicates of yourself, the 80’s corporate mentality would still be strong and active. Now, if you do not have an espresso machine, 23 stage water cooler, and pizza Fridays, your staff will be distracted from accomplishing the goal. While I would love to solve that issue, I digress. In my experience, here are some common problems that arise with Task Management.
Dictatorship vs. Coaching
We can chat about the good old days, where the boss says “jump” and all the employees say, “how high,” but that would be ineffective today. Whether you understand millennials or not, they have changed the landscape of the workplace, including the church. So when you are trying to run a department, company, or church with efficient task completion you have to keep in mind that you may have three generations involved at one given time. The systems available out there are not broken; usually, leadership is.
Done are the days of telling people what to do and then coming back at the deadline to collect your reward. Any coach (sports, life or other) would tell you that you should consider this method:
- You do, they watch
- You do, they help
- You help, they do
- You watch, they do
This method is nothing new, but we must consider the methods by which we lead people. I will write more about coaching versus dictating at another time. I bring this up because I have found this to be a major contributor to ineffective production on teams.
Duplication vs. Multiplication
Duplication is a serious problem on many ineffective teams. I would encourage you to read some books on multiplied intelligence; it will be worth your while. If you come into a room and it gets quiet, you ask for ideas, and you end up answering your own requests, or when you give your opinion, everyone else just starts to agree, you have a problem. The idea of little mini-me(s) running around our department, office, or church staff can be tempting at first, but you will soon realize that you are creating a dangerous co-dependency within the intelligence of your team. They will lack passion and drive; tasks will drop off and eventually it will effect the entire organization like a virus with no antidote.
Learn to multiply the intelligence in the room with each meeting. Listen more than you talk. Pat people on the back for a good idea and end meetings making the whole team understand that they did it together.
Life Management is Poor
Let’s face it, how can we expect to manage our work tasks efficiently when we are juggling the rest of life by the seat of our pants. Our nutrition, health, finances, marriages, family and friendships, and hobbies all affect our peace of mind. If your life is all out of order, but you expect that once you hit your work desk, that a well-oiled machine is about to begin, you have another thing coming. As a leader, you should look for opportunities to coach others, speak into the lives of those you lead.
In a corporate atmosphere, you may not be able to create Bible Study moments, but you can impact the lives of those under your supervision. First, manage your own life. Can you come to work knowing that you can focus on what you are getting paid to do and produce? Manage your life in a way that allows you to have a clear mind and heart and then coach your team to do the same.
Task Mangement is subservient to Life Management, get better at managing life and task completion will become much more efficient.
I was asked why certain posts had Daily Reading on them. These posts are based on my own personal time each morning, although it may be from days passed.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Romans 1:21
This verse begins a heated debate that did not even exist 20 years ago in the mainstream Christian church. While I will carefully break down why homosexuality is a sin at another time, it is important to realize that all sin against God has a beginning. Futile thinking has a monopoly on secular society and I fear that we, the church, have become futile in our efforts to bring light to the darkness. Again, another topic for another day. This morning, I intend to simply provoke us to honor God and thank God and the importance of this position in our lives.
The Apostle Paul tells us the slippery slope possible when we do not honor God or thank him. Paul is not referring to a single individual here, but like any study, what applies to a group can often be boiled down to individuals. First, let’s break down thanks and honor. Honor is not a thing you do first thing in the morning and then go about your day; rather, it is a daily commitment to live your life in a way that reflects the love of Jesus. Honor is a loaded word and I think a quick biblical study will show how we truly honor God.
What Does It Mean To Honor God?
Verb: δοξάζω (daxazō) – to praise or glorify
It always means “to have or to give a share in”. 1 Plain and simple, to honor God is that He has or has been given a share in your life. This is not just words we express or a confession, but an active lifestyle that God would be honored by. So while it seems that Paul may be saying the futile thinking came because they did not thank God each morning and then honor him when we scored a touchdown by pointing up, it is deeper than that. It really describes the relationship aspect, and this small word study should then be attributed to our other relationships that call for honor (parents, spouse, children, leaders, etc.)
Daily Challenge: Wake up every morning, thanking God and setting a course for honoring (give it to Him, sharing with Him in it) Him throughout your day.
1 Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds., Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964–), 253.
My friends and peers understand that I am die hard about 2 major vendors in my life.. Apple and Starbucks. I was sitting here at a Starbucks today and realized I have never written about why I like Starbucks while my love for Apple products has been made clear over the years. So here is my rant on why Starbucks.
I have played multiple roles in life as far as my career/vocations have gone, but ministry has always been my top. Starbucks creates the perfect storm for someone like me, a slightly ADD, creative, technological, get it done, driver, seeker of knowledge, people lover, coffee snob with a mission. I think that sums me up! I can sit in Starbucks, accomplish my mission, allow interruptions if I choose them, get my favorite beverages, learn a ton about people, learn about things you never knew through others and get a broad idea of your community landscape. Starbucks is no respecter of person, race, gender, age or status… If you can buy a small coffee you are in, just like that.
The music pumps at just the right volume (sometimes too loud), the hum of voices can easily compartmentalized or you can use headphones, you can hold meetings, small groups, training for the price of coffee.
I have been a digital marketing specialist since 1999, sometimes full time, other times part time. I love to be around people and businesses that do IT right. I love out of the box thinking. The time I spend at Starbucks, the marketing rubs off on me, I am more creative because of it. At any good leadership seminar or conference you will be told to surround yourself with what you want to be, champions who are rocking it and willing to take risks. Whether I am drafting a sermon, small group study, marketing plan for the church, work for my web marketing business, I am more creative here.
For instance, being here has caused me to blog about Starbucks, creating the photo of me and 3 of my kids with me at a Starbucks, and allowed me to realize I do not have a proper photo of me and my daughter Aliyah at Starbucks causing me great anxiety to get it done. Starbucks has helped me see the area of relationship that is missing for me. So sorry Aliyah! I love you dearly! All kidding aside, creative atmosphere breads creativity.
Pull out my laptop and I am set to work for hours at Starbucks. Certain locations around the country are now offering Google as the ISP of WiFi in the store. For instance the location here (remaining unnamed for the sake of being able to get a seat in the future) in the southern suburbs of Chicago has Google internet that tops out at over 50 mbps download and 11 Mbps upload. WHERE can you get that fast of public internet? While the Wifi is labeled Google, the rumor is that Comcast is really providing the service but honestly I could care less, it is fast.
Loyalty Program – Gold Card
Starbucks is smart! They have a simple yet rich loyalty program, and I have had the Gold Card since the first year it was released. Every purchase I make builds and once i reach 12, I can get a free drink of any size. While I have been tempted to break the record for most costly free drink, I have refrained. Now most people hear about my Starbucks fascination and they assume I am getting the fancy drinks that they get each time and think of the budget I must have. Nope, I buy a tall coffee, drink it and because I have the Gold card, I get free refills. The cost is $2 plus change to work with fast internet for hours. I constantly get emails with a new deal, ways to double my rewards and free stuff to try. They make you feel like a special envoy to Starbucks.
Coffee and Tea
I am a bit of a coffee snob, I like good quality coffee and teas. Now that Starbucks owns Teavana, my beverage options have combined for the ideal combo. Much like my fascination with Apple, the product just works. You know what you are going to get each time you order and if you do not like it, hand it back and they will make what you want. You cannot beat that guarantee either.
There you have it, my Starbucks rant is now over. Also, please note that I was not paid to write this in anyway including currency exchange, product bartering, etc. However, I would not turn down a simple Starbucks for Life reward if that happened to be offered.
Love Jesus, Love People!
Since I last wrote my review of the Mr Coffee Keurig Model: BVMC-KG5-001 last week, I ordered a Keurig B70 Platinum Brewing System for our house. I ordered it from QVC so I could make 4 payments and not take a big hit all at once. The cost of the unit was $159.99 plus shipping and handling, but I also received 48 K-Cups, Water Filter Kits, and a My K-Cup.
The Keurig B70 is a really cool unit with a digital screen, easy setup and can brew 5 sizes: 4 oz, 6 oz, 8 oz, 10 oz, 12 oz. The water reservoir holds 72 ounces of water and the heating element of the Keurig B70 holds about 25-35 ounces so you can make 3-4 cups of coffee just from the heated water inside the unit.
The Keurig B70 is very quiet and quick! The unit has a good amount of clearance so you can fit just about any coffee cup. You can set the temperature of each brew, set a brew time and a default brew size. Overall the Keurig B70 is a great buy and I will update this post with any issues if I have any.
Six weeks ago I went to Walmart and bought the Mr. Coffee Keurig for our office and the machine was working great and the only complaint I had was that the water cover would always fall off. I then decided to buy the ame machine for my home and it was working great for us at home as well.
Last week, the unit I have at home started to not make the right amount of coffee as was being selected. I would choose the larger cup setting and it would take in 2-3 ounces of water and make what looked and tasted like an espresso shot. Assuming it was user error, I then tried it again and it has been having that problem ever since.
Today at the office, I went to make a cup of coffee and the same exact thing happened on the Mr. Coffe Keuring at the office. What is the chance of the same machine model having the identical issue at two different locations with the same owner? Not likely unless it is a known issue with the manufacturing of the machine. I have cleaned out the exit needle and done descaling to no avail.
DO NOT buy the Mr. Coffee Keurig, spend an extra $20 and get the Mini Keurig System or better. I have posted on the Mr Coffee Facebook and awaiting some resolution.
I took a small video of what the problem is below
Currently I am the Digital Marketing Director at an advertising agency in Alrington, TX and I oversee Facebook Ad placement for clients of all types. To help with time saving and reporting for Facebook Ads I chose to work with Alchemy Social. There are a decent amount of 3rd Party Facebook Ad integration companies out there, but Alchemy Social came highly talked about from the likes of Mashable and TechCrunch due to being on the list of approved providers for Custom Audience and Facebook Exchange.
I have been working with the platform since October 2012 and for the most part I have had a buggy ride with HTTP Errors daily but this goes with the territory of using http sync software. I wanted to give an honest and valuable review of the Alchemy Social Software platform and I will update this blog with any corrections and tech updates since I am still using the platform. I will give my review and give a score based on 8 categories and each being graded 1-10 so the highest possible score would be an 80.
Please remember that I am reviewing Alchemy Social’s Self-Service Platform and not their Managed Solutions
Alchemy Social Customer Service – 6 out of 10
I gave the grade of 6 out of 10 because of some great effort on the part of the account directors and staff to satisfy some of the issues as they came up. However, I did not give a 10 because I believe that Alchemy Social could truly benefit from some updated customer service solutions.
The client portal does not have a chat or contact function at all. While I am the only one working on the software at my company, larger agencies or companies have teams and if they all have to locate the email of the Account Director and wait for email responses to tech issues, this could be tedious and de-value the experience. My suggestion would be to either utilize a chat function or at least a ticket system to simplify and organize the support clients receive.
Also, most companies are utilizing Twitter with softwares like ZenDesk or other ticket systems to respond to issues and notify clients of bugs. In general the only communications that transpire for clients is an email with new updates and severe issues or downtime announcements. They also lack a public suggestion system and forum. If Alchemy Social would create a customer forum, ticket system and blog I believe the grade would shoot up to 10 and customers would be more patient when issues do arise.
Kudos to both my Account Directors for emailing me constantly and doing everything they can to keep us functioning, but the company needs to progress in channels of communication.
Alchemy Social User Friendly – 8 of 10
Alchemy Social won our affections from the initial demo since we could see how much Alchemy could save us time and make our ads much more effective. The ad creation process is easy and they have eliminated some of the easy to make errors in their creation page in recent weeks. When you create an ad, the creative, target audience, geographic target, type of ad and type of ad payment (CPC, CPM, Optimized) are on one page.
So the layout is very good and hard to beat. However, I did not give a perfect score due to some of the bugs if you try to edit ads in the same area. You cannot change the ad budget from daily to lifetime budget so you are stuck either editing it in Facebook backend or not switching at all.
Alchemy Social Features – 8 out of 10
Alchemy Social is feature rich and gives the client a pretty full arsenal of Facebook Ad function with only two Facebook products unavailable in the platform itself… Custom Audience and Facebook Exchange. You can either upload your Custom Audience lists in Power Editor or Alchemy Social will provide you with a link to a way to upload it through Alchemy.
Once Facebook combs your Custom Audience list it will be available in the target section of the Facebook Ad creation function. You cannot find a Custom Audience link to click in the Alchemy Social dashboard. You have to manually head over to the link they email you to upload a list. I cannot ding Alchemy too severely for the Custom Audience integration being archaic because Facebook Power Editor is so buggy and undesirable that Facebook probably needs to have their end working great before any 3rd Party provider could come close to making the grade on Custom Audience.
Alchemy Social Reporting – 7 out of 10
This is one of the main reasons I chose Alchemy Social. Alchemy’s Facebook Ad reports are visually appealing and can save you so much time versus building your own Excel Spreadsheets and Graphs. You can white label your reports, add your own comments and compare ad copy, images, targets and much more as far as performance. You also have the ability to save templates so each campaign can simply be put into a report in a short amount of time.
I gave it a 7 because they have one feature that I cannot believe is missing… print or pdf. Seriously? You cannot click a link to print or save a report as pdf as an inboard function of Alchemy Social. Once this is improved upon, the grade would easily jump to a 9 or so. I am a macbook pro user so I can right click the report area, then click print, then choose to print or open in preview to save as pdf. That is just not cool, Alchemy needs a print/pdf function ASAP.
Alchemy Social Platform Performance – 4 out 0f 10
This is where the vision and claims of a software meets the daily grind of actual usage by clients. Right now, I am unable to see more than 30 campaigns in the dashboard or it freezes or empties the screen. The dashboard screen is the only way to click on a campaign in Alchemy to edit and analyze. They are currently working on the issue and they have been gracious enough to not charge us for the month so they can work it out. The downside is that I am forced to work in Facebook itself to edit ads and that just makes no sense.
I have had consistent http errors come up when placing ads and often the Page Update Ads have a bug in Alchemy that requires you wait 3 seconds between each drop down selection or it will fail and leave your campaign in limbo. This grade will update when this all is hopefully resolved. By the way, the dashboard issue was tested and confirmed on 2 separate Macbooks on Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera. It was also tested and confirmed on 3 PC Desktops running Windows 7 in IE 9, IE 8, Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Opera.
Alchemy Social Platform Pricing – 8 0ut of 10
The Alchemy Social platform is priced evenly with the competition where you pay $500 per month or 5% of Ad budget, whichever is greater. Most 3rd Party competitors are priced within $50 or so of the Alchemy pricing. I gave it an 8 because $500 is still a lot of money for small agencies and providers.
Alchemy Social Mobility – 4 out of 10
The Alchemy Social platform is not really mobile friendly and they have no mobile app available as a companion for your account. If Alchemy had a mobile app or mobile dashboard, that would make it fly above their competitors.
Alchemy Social Tracking Syncronization – 9 out of 10
Alchemy Social works well with multiple tracking options and most agencies probably use google analytics, which Alchemy is compatible with. The following tracking options that are available:
- Google Analytics
- Alchemy Conversion Tracking
- Alchemy Pixel Tracking
Overall, I give Alchemy Social a grade of 54 out of 80.
Earlier last week I posted regarding a frustration with Empire Gold Buyers and how we felt my sister was getting the run around.
Suffice it to say, Empire Gold Buyers actually came through, and gave my sister exactly what she requested. I also received a call from a gentlemen there and he was was cordial to explain the process upon reading my post via google. My apologies to Empire Gold Buyers, and I have since removed the post!
I retract my statement regarding Empire Gold Buyers being a possible fraud scheme, and actually I am pleased at their follow-through, reputation, and would recommend them to anyone. As a side note though, I was told that no matter what your retail price of a diamond that buyers market/dealers only value it at about 25% of the retail price.
So my advice is, if you need the cash turn in your rings or jewelry to Empire Gold Buyers, but do not expect more 30% of your original retail price.
Well, it’s July 4th and I dare to go where every man goes all at once… the grocery store. I headed over to Walmart and saw the crowds and decided to go to HEB. Now I have been to HEB for a quick gallon of milk or a couple of items at a time, but have yet to go full grocery shopping.
I will never go back to Walmart for groceries again considering HEB has that classic grocery store aura and the following pros over Walmart:
- Produce – fresher, better selection, and competitive in pricing to Walmart
- Baked Goods – A much better bakery section hands down
- Fresh Foods – HEB smokes Walmart in fresh prepared foods to go
- Deli – better meats and cheeses
- In-House Coupons and Deals – You walk in and there are yellow coupons and posters stating what meal deals or combos on sale
- Customer Service – one of the demostration ladies literally ran around the store with me to find artichoke hearts, and the baggers are packing while the checkout lady is checking me out for a much faster exit.
Anyway, my opinion is HEB is a much better overall grocery store than Walmart!
(I was not paid or even asked to write this blog article by any representative of HEB)