Interview with Melinda Gates – Global Leadership Summit, Session 2B

“You have to let your heart break and take that in.”
                     - Melinda Gates

Melinda Gates was previously the General Manager of Information Products at Microsoft, managing over 300 employees.  She attended Duke University, studying computer programming, and began working for IBM.  She interviewed with Microsoft when they were a company of only 1,700 people.  Year later, and after the birth of their first child, she left Microsoft, realizing the company couldn’t provide a great family and time with her kids while she was pursuing a hard-charging career. It was a values decision for their three kids.  She has worked to give her kids are normal upbringing (as much as possible), even using her maiden name to enroll them in school.

Question:  Do we keep our hearts guarded to avoid the mission God may be calling us to?

It is partly this passion and the idea that all parents want to be able to give every good thing to their child that sparked the Gates Foundation.  Bill and Melinda asked, “How do we give a kid a good start?”  The mission has exploded and now the Gates Foundation is the largest private foundation in the world with over 1,400 employees.  The Foundation focuses on poverty and disease globally and education domestically and is the embodiment of what the Gates’ believe about the world:  every life has equal value. They clearly put their money where their convictions are.  She and Bill (Gates) had pre-decided to give their excess, so it wasn’t a terribly hard decision.  Warren Buffett said, “If you have close to a billion dollars, it’s not going to hurt you to give away half of it.” Even the wealthy see and experience the joy of giving.

Question: Are you investing your intellectual horsepower outside of your business? A church? A non-profit?

Melina has experienced this first hand as she has sat with those receiving aid from the Foundation on mats in slums, humbling herself to their environment, asking questions and listening. She defines herself as an “Impatient Optimist,” determined the world IS getting better—poverty has been cut in half, childhood deaths have been reduced—but remains impatient about what can still be done.

Question: How does it affect you when you see people with great means that do nothing?

The Art of Working Together – Global Leadership Summit, Session 2

The speaker at Session 2 of the Global Leadership Summit was Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford Motor Company. When he accepted the position, he was picked up in a Land Rover (a non-Ford vehicle) and, upon arriving at the Executive garage, discovered not one car in it was a Ford.  Consumer tastes were changing and Ford was running behind, projecting a $14 billion loss for the year. At his first press conference, one journalist asked Alan, “You don’t know anything about the automobile industry.  It’s in trouble, and you know nothing…are we in trouble?”  This marked the first step in a new chapter of Alan’s leadership path.

Question:  How focused is your organization?  Are you in tune with the culture and world around you?  Are you addressing a real need and serving your community or simply doing what you’ve always done?

Alan began by selected leaders from each of the key divisions at Ford, got everyone together, and together, they started building a plan.  The team decided every new vehicle produced should be best-in-class and serve all world markets. They raised $23 billion for the plan, and accelerated production of the new vehicles in a down economy.

But as the plan began to unfold, Alan noticed a bigger problem:  Many organizations, Ford included at the time, didn’t allow “red status” initiatives to be shown to management.  Presenting employees would lose their jobs.  So all status charts at their preliminary team meetings were green, despite the known fact that the company was losing billions of dollars. The lack of candidness had created a wildly unhealthy culture and threatened to derail the plan.

Question: Do you deal with reality in your organization? Are you telling people/leadership what they want to hear or are you keeping it real?

The breakthrough finally came when the first manager had the guts to show a “red” status on his initiative. Alan clapped. He asked the team, “Is there anything we can do that can help Mark right away?” and as Alan made a positive example of this manager, the team responded. Once people were willing to deal with reality and work the plan together, he knew they were going to be OK.

Ford has had a dramatic turnaround:  added a dividend of 5%, shareholders, suppliers, and surveys have had marked improvement.  In fact, while only 42% of nation wide employees have a positive impression of the company they work for, a shocking 89% of Ford employees report having a positive impression of their employer.  One of the biggest shifts made in this ground shaking turnover, was the intentional effort Alan made to move from “me” to service.  People first.  Everyone included. 

When people are offered a compelling vision, comprehensive strategy, relentless implementation, and clear performance goals they thrive.  Employees value facts and data, and while most already know the “big picture,” knowing the one, specific plan, its current status and the areas that need special attention help rally all around a common cause, strengthening their efforts and pushing further faster as one unit. 

This unity continues down to the most basic levels:  respect, a listening ear, a helping hand, and a little appreciation go a long way.  People need to trust the process and the leader, and have a little fun along the way.

Question:  Do your employees trust and respect you?  Do they know and trust the plan?  Each other?  Take some time this week to find out and begin to build a unified culture of respect and service.

4 Distinct Lenses of Leadership - Global Leadership Summit, Session 1

“Everyone wins when the leader gets better.
                  – Bill Hybels

So how do you become a better leader?  An even better question may be, who are you as a leader right now?  In the first session of the Global Leadership Summit, Bill Hybels outlined four lenses through which to examine your current leadership style and dissect how to “get better.” 

Passion Lens
Did you know a motivated worker will out-perform an unmotivated worker by nearly 40%?  What matters most to team members is to work for and around a passion filled leader.  Typically, that passion comes from one of two places: the mountain top of vision or the valley of desperation. 

 Have you been through the valley before?  It is not a pleasant place to be.  But true leaders don’t stay in the valley.  Instead, the valley is often simply the birth place of holy discontent:  when something frustrates a leader to his or her boiling point.  But just as water escapes a sizzling hot pan, this boiling point allows a leader to leave the valley with new resolve and passion to fix what is broken. Unbridled passion.

So how full is your passion bucket?  This passion is key in leadership.  And only you, the leader, are responsible for keeping your bucket full. Every leader does this differently, but each must be self-aware enough to know how. 

Bill mentioned his passion is filled when he reads about other passionate leaders, or physically visits places that stir the soul. Take the time to discover what fills your bucket.  Often it only takes one encounter, getting outside your normal environment, to re-ignite passion.  So find your passion, feed your passion, keep your passion bucket filled…everyone wins. 

Shattered Lenses
Bill had a very different start as a leader:  His dad ran a fear and performance based culture where there were no ping pong tables, suggestion boxes, or exit interviews.  Thus Bill began his leadership looking through a “shattered lens.”  How many leaders do you know who are broken, shattered, in one way or another?

Even with a shattered past, a leader can still develop great culture.  It’s about people.  Leaders have the opportunity to change not only their storyline, but the storylines of people in their care.  Leaders can introduce life changing impact that builds up instead of breaking down.

Make an effort to build the healthiest, life-giving, passion filled culture for your team.  Even if your vision is fine-tuned and methods are air tight, Bill says it best, “An organization will only be as healthy as the top leader wants it to be.” A great leader cannot sit in conference after conference and still not take action to improve the organization and culture.  What needs to shift in your culture to make it one of the greatest places to work?   

Performance Lens
Have you ever worn transitional lenses?  When they first became available, they were more of a hindrance than a help because they took so long to change:  you had to pause when you first walked in a building to avoid tripping while you slowly regained your eye sight.  But as technology improves, the reaction speed of these lens has grown.  Now, they make the transition from outdoors to indoors almost seamless.  The same concept can be applied to leaders:  the speed of the leader sets the speed of the team.  Leaders must fly with the punches and be ready to re-adjust as quickly as the setting changes. 

These adjustments are crucial for your team.  It’s human nature to want to see where we’re going and how we’re doing.  Let them know every six months whether or not they are hitting their targets. Without your vision, your team is flying blind, never knowing if their anywhere near the mark.

How can you be a better lens for your team?  Anticipate change. Readjust goals as needed. Maintain forward vision.

Legacy Lens
While the goal is always to be looking forward, at times we need to look in the rear-view mirror and ask the questions:  What legacy will we leave? How will I be remembered as a leader? What will my employees, family and friends say?

Would you be proud of how you would be remembered?  A leader is not just his or her work.  We are far more than “commerce machines” or “cause machines.” God intended for us to flourish holistically in all our life domains.  So where is your energy currently going?  It helps to divide into five domains and look at each equally:  Work, Faith, Community, Family, and Self Replenishment.

Many leaders fall into the trap of addiction to one domain. When things are thriving at work, and great stuff is happening, the tendency is to think, “Why would I ever get off that train? Why would I want to change a diaper? Serve at a church?” and the other four life domains are neglected.  So are you thriving in all domains or pouring all your efforts in to one?

Leadership Matters Disproportionately.  We Must Get Better.
Maybe you haven’t found your passion:  if your job, your life, your world isn’t very exciting it is likely because there is nothing exciting in you!  Take some time to self-examine:

  1. What do you need to do to fill your passion bucket?

  2. Can you recognize healthy culture? Or have you only lived in shattered environments?

  3. Do you need to recalibrate goals in your organization, better sharing with your team so they know if they are winning?

  4. What legacy are your leaving? What pivots may be needed to change your future reality?

Left Handed Thinking: Learning From Odell Beckham

As a Dallas Cowboys fan, it is really hard to acknowledge a player from the New York Giants, one of our biggest divisional rivals, as doing something right. However, the Giants wide-receiver, Odell Beckham (one of the guys who catches the ball, for the non-football readers), made one of the most incredible catches I have ever seen last year. You can watch it here.

So how did Odell do it? Was it luck? I was captivated by his answer in an interview summarized in this Wall Street Journal article. It turns out, Odell, normally right-handed, trains by doing everyday tasks and activities with his non-dominant left hand. He brushes his teeth, opens doors, shakes hands, practices writing his name and shoots baskets - all with his left hand. All this discipline, inconvenience, disruption, and change for what? So he can catch a football better. Wow.

If Odell Beckham is willing to put himself through this left-handed regiment for football, what is worth inconveniencing your team, church, organization, or life? What can we learn from Odell? How do we pursue "left-handed thinking"?

  • Our Mission is Worth It. I believe the church has the greatest mission on the planet. So if Odell goes to all that trouble just to catch a football, what are we willing to do to accomplish our mission?
  • We Must be Willing to Do What Others are Not. Most simply respond, "Ugh, that is a lot of work." But there are other churches simply willing to work harder. Sadly, we see this division regularly: two fairly identical churches, similar gifts, similar budget, yet one has a sense of urgency while the other does not.
  • To Grow, We Need to be Uncomfortable at Times. We can not keep going back to what is safe and easy. If you find yourself at a plateau or in decline, this is probably why.
  • To Change, It is Going to Take Time and Real Training. Odell has been at this for years. There is no silver bullet. A new discipline with a real plan takes time. Our teams needs time to train and learn the new plays.
  • It is Not Going to Feel Natural (At First). When we first attempt left-handed thinking, it is going to be awkward, slow, and frustrating. We will want to run back to what is natural and easy (but not better).  Unfortunately, many churches would rather die a slow death than persevere with new mindsets and growth.

What left handed thinking are you running from? Are you experiencing plateaus or decline in your ministry or life? Are you and your team sold out for the mission? Is it worth it? What left handed thinking will be required to reach this next generation and shift culture?

Philippians 4:13: I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.

7 Ways to Give Yourself a Raise; You're Worth It.

What's an hour of your time worth? According to a mix of sources, looking at the average hourly wages, household income - for simplicity's sake, half of you make more than fifteen dollars an hour, half of you make less. That's not what this post is about, but regardless of the number, why not give yourself a raise? 

Several years ago, I tracked how much "white space" I had in my hectic, typical week. The hours with no scheduled activity. The hours I waste. And even with three kids, a full time job, and other scheduled activities, I tried for 13 weeks to direct 15 hours of my "white space" to intentional activities. I ended up averaging 10.5 hours a week. I would bet you have 10 hours in your week you could shift to intentionally invest in yourself and your God-given purpose.

3 Things to Stop Doing:

  • Brainless TV.  Watching the latest series, mindless news or sports updates (that was me).

  • Keeping up with the social media Jones's. We just don't get that much return out of "liking" the proper amount of Instagram or Facebook pictures.

  • Having a fixed mindset with negative self-talk. "I could never...I'm just not disciplined...I'm not talented...I'll always be this way..."  It's just not true and we lie to ourselves.

Ten hours a week invested in you. An employer may say that's worth $7,800 a year; 520 hours. I'd argue it's worth much, much more....

7 Things to Start Doing

(These are "Drivers" for your own life, things that will give you better lag results in the future.)

  • Read Practical Books, Blogs, or Magazines. Lean into your strengths and interests. Study leadership, improve soft skills, and sharpen your toolbox. You could read 25 books in a year!

  • Exercise Three Times a Week. Burning those 50,000 plus calories equates to approximately 15 pounds lost.

  • Quiet Meditation, Prayer and Journaling. I'd recommend reading the New Testament.  A mere one or two hours a week can get this done in a year and you gain clarity again on the pleasing and perfect will God has for you.

  • Be a Student of You. Self awareness is critical to really understand how God has wired you. Take personality tests, reflect on the results, narrow in on your strengths, passions and what keeps you up at night. Schedule time to have a Life Plan done with a coach. Ask those closest to you what they see in you: your uniqueness, your talents. Is your life set on a course set for you or someone else? Be positive, but get real.

  • Start a Business and Double Your Pay. As a first step to actually launching your business, determine what you love doing and how to pay yourself double what you make today through whatever skill or service you want to provide. (If you make $15 an hour now, invest your time in how you're going to start a business making $30/hour in your 10 extra hours per week). Going through this process will help dictate what you start reading, learning what you don't know, and narrowing what drives you. Invest this next year in planning and preparing for launch and whether or not you decide to take that step, the actions and practice will pay dividends.

  • Network and Learn from Others. Intentionally invest and learn from others over coffee or lunch. Make a list of people you respect or are in a field of interest for you. Include co-workers and your boss. Be great at asking questions, getting perspective and input on some next steps you can take. Ask your boss if he sees some areas he might think would be helpful to study or books he might recommend.

  • Take Classes. Regardless of your education level, find conferences or classes that will explore a new interest or strengthen some area of development. You may stumble into something you didn't realize you really love, or even confirm what you don't love to do.  :)

In time, these activities can pay great dividends. Your results over time may be increased pay, health, results, knowledge, faith, or (most likely) all of the above. Look at your week? Can you start shifting an hour a week for the next 10 weeks? You're worth it.

Proverbs 23:12 - "Apply your heart to discipline and your ears to words of knowledge."

5 Things I Don't Want My Friends to Tolerate In Me

It seems "tolerance" is the word of society today. Societal values, media talking heads and the political pressures of our day say, "You're either tolerant or intolerant. Good or evil. Evolved or not. Progressive or bigoted." People are labeled without further explanation. If you're associated with the wrong organization, faith, or you simply say some type of lives matter - you're labeled. You're either part of the party or you're looked at as a monster.

Not all tolerance is good, however. 

So with a different twist, I ask my closest friends, "Please, don't tolerate certain actions and behaviors in my life!" Because as we make too many excuses, the bar of accountability continues to be lowered.

Here are the 5 things I don't want my friends to tolerate in me:

1.  Being an Absent Dad. Shame on me if I put work or hobbies before my kids. My wife is a tremendous help to me here. She is a great mom and helps prevent me from being distracted from my mission to be a dad - and I get easily distracted.  I need that input.

2. Being Unfaithful to My Wife. I pray someone knocks me across the head with a two-by-four if I ever make a poor decision with some other woman. Friends, you have my permission. Marriage is hard work but it's work worth investing in. 

3. Being a Cheat in My Relationships. Apparently it's an art:  being able to spin your way in to being a trustworthy person. Evil-minded people work to shame and embarrass good people every day. When there is money on the table, behavior changes. I had a season in my life where I was pretty good at the "spin." I don't ever want to be that person again. 

4.  Settling & Not Pursing My God-Given Purpose. The older I get, the clearer I see patterns in people's lives:  those who seem to be living on purpose and those simply growing old. It emerges in the LifePlans I facilitate with individuals and the teams I work with in churches and businesses. In my own life, I hear the voice in my head saying, "Just pull back the throttle. Check-in it. Play golf. Relax. Stop caring so much..." I need people in my life to spur me on, challenge me to stretch, rest when needed, and then get back in the game.

5.  Not Loving People. This world can be such a frustrating place. I can easily be a judge, missing the "plank in my own eye," and not genuinely love people. It's a simple command: "Love God, Love Others," but hard to live out. I may not agree with someone's actions, beliefs or politics, but I can still be a good listener, seek to understand, ask questions, and genuinely care for all people. It's far too easy to get dragged into the mud and become divisive. I say I love people, but sometimes I need help.

I need friends in my life to help keep me on that road. I don't want them to tolerate these actions in my life.  I'm asking them to call me out!

The wrong kind of tolerance can lower the bar in your life. If we surround ourselves with "yes" friends, all our behaviors will be approved, winked at and celebrated.  Even those that call for a two by four.

Are there things you don't want tolerated in your own life?

I Assume You Have Core Assumptions....Or Not?

You have assumptions. Probably some core assumptions. You're making decisions based on some set of information driving your actions. So what are they? You're making bets on your time, your resources, your team, the strategic plays you're running, but are they clearly identified?

Personal Example:  "If I work out at least 30 minutes, three times a week and eat, on average, 2,000 calories a day, my health will be fine."

Business Example:  "Our sales and marketing strategy will land 40 new clients monthly, averaging $350 in monthly income, while retaining 90% of them annually."

Church Example:  "If we can get attendees to connect to a small group, they'll continue to take steps in faith, be connected with others, and over 90% will stay at the church."

When working with individuals and teams, I hear these statements emerge. If not proven wrong, these assumptions begin to shape strategies and action steps. You can hear them emerge in leadership meetings or around the kitchen table. Particularly, in our Strategic Planning sessions and LifePlans, it's critical to note them, and more importantly, validate them.


Some Questions to ask yourself or your team:

  • What beliefs or assumptions are driving your actions?
  • What is it you're assuming in the marketplace or community that may or may not be true?
  • What beliefs about your customers are impacting your messaging and marketing?
  • How much capacity do you assume your employees are able to handle?
  • What percentage of revenue allocated to customer service is sufficient to maintain strong referrals?
  • What investments drive increased revenue and bring the greatest return on investment? How do you know? 
  • Where are you making decisions without tangible data or information to help you make that choice? Where are you winging it and your "gut" is really making the call?

Action Step:  Identify and write down the core assumptions driving your actions in any domain of your life or organization. Work to make them measurable so you can reevaluate them for truth or accuracy later. Were they right? What assumptions do you need to revisit because you missed badly? Where don't you really have a clue? What have you learned to better reset your strategies?

Apparently the Dallas Cowboys are making a core assumption they'll be able to find a back-up quarterback to Tony Romo in the draft and avoid another 4-12 nightmare season (OK, that was a side bar).   : )

5 Qualities I Want to See in My Pastor

I get the humbling opportunity to work with scores of churches and pastors every year on their strategic planning and leadership development. It's fascinating to see the diversity of teams, challenges, personalities, traditions, buildings, and priorities in such a broad sampling. In addition, I've been privileged to learn more about leadership from the church I personally attend than in all my corporate world experience. And from these perspectives, I want to zoom out and ask, "What do I really look for in my pastor? What matters? What makes me drawn to be part of this church?"


Here are 5 Top Qualities I Look For:


  • Authentically on Mission.  I want to see the same person off stage and on stage. Do they love their wife, kids, and neighbors? Do they reach out to marginalized, messy people in the community? Do they inspire me to model my own discipline after them even after see them in their 24/7 normal days? Do they admit their own flaws and struggles? Do they buy in, "all in," to the mission of Christ?


  • Stretching My Vision. I remember the first time I heard my pastor, Mark Beeson, say, "We are going to be a church of 2000 by [the year] 2000." I got this mini-pit in my stomach and that voice in my head thought, "That's awesome, but isn't that a little crazy? Will it really happen?" Well, God did some amazing things and we blew past that 2000 mark. Our pastor communicated clearly where the train was going and it stretched my thinking of what "could be." It didn't match what the calculator or even the linear progression might say. When the goal leans just a tad crazy, that's awesome, because only God could do it. We don't always hit our targets, but I believe our leaders should be thinking and swinging big in what God is calling us to in our communities.


  • Credibly Executing.  It's one thing to talk about a big vision, but the hard work is actually executing it. Vision is easy, but execution is the "golden egg" with God's blessing. There are pastors that talk the talk, but I just don't get the sense they will actually get it done. Sometimes it's the look in their eyes - like a rookie quarterback coming into the game when the starter goes down. They say the right things but their actions (or lack there of) doesn't point to discipline in the church and teams. They lack confidence and display fear when conflicts come, tough conversations need to happen, or stuff just isn't being done well. How can we believe we'll reach our goals, impact our community, when we don't handle guests well or don't train any of our volunteers? I want my pastor to have a slightly crazy vision but in his gut has the resolve to go after it with excellence.


  • Disrupting the Comfortable. There's a broken record in so many churches, a mass of seasoned Christ followers, that complain about church "light," want more meat (read:  "feed me"), and have really made it about themselves (read:  not others). I believe the normal tug in our lives is to make life simple, reduce change, seek comfort/pleasure. I want a pastor that disrupts and challenges me in my leadership and God's call on my life. It may not be the easy, preferred route, but it's the route of greater purpose and growth. The great blessing of having years of experience and learning in a church comes with great responsibility to pour that into others, not to demand another meal. I want a pastor that will challenge me die to myself and live a mission of serving others. 


  • Managing a Strong Offensive Line. The best of the best pastors are just as flawed as the rest of us, however, they recognize the need to build a great team around them. Pastors that act like the quarterback, running back, and wide receiver generally get sacked and make limited to no progress down the field (and, often, never see their church surpass 100-150 people). I want a pastor that knows his weaknesses and surrounds himself with a great blocking team up front when he's playing quarterback. I want him to hand the ball off to others and give them ownership in the mission. He should have other coaches speaking into his strategies and offering the best plays to run. He does ministry as a team, sharpening the skills of those already there and drafting new players. I love seeing the humility of a pastor on display by the great team he has prayerfully assembled around him.


What would you add? Where can you grow as a pastor? How can you best be a positive voice in your church to help the team and support your pastor?

Session 8: Craig Groeschel


  • Eph 3:20  Christ is able to do it measurably more than all we can ask or imagine…  To Him be the glory.
  • Your brain does not comprehend what you’re capable of… Holding your breath under water… Craig did it for 2:45 minutes…  There was way more in me than I ever understood
  • There is way more inside of you than you can imagine and what God wants to do… (measurably more…)
  • Think of increasing your capacity in all your life domains (not just your business or church)
  • As your organization grows your mindset HAS to change… a church going from 80 to 200, it’s a significantly different organization
  • As a leader, if we are hitting a lid, assume it’s a lid you have as a leader
  • You have to lead and perform in a different way to get to a new level

5 C’s of Expanding your Capacity (choose one that is your’s to work on… you can’t do it call….  CHOOSE ONE OF THESE TO WORK ON- GET 5% BETTER THIS YEAR

  • Confidence (Build)
  • Your language is speaking to the lid, you’re giving yourself away… Change your self talk…. Not “There’s not enough time in the day”…  “I’m too young”… “I’m not good enough”….
  • Take one step forward literally, choose to step OUT of your fears and anxieties… Step out of fear and into God’s authority… He has given you everything you need… Fear is holding you back.
  • The pathway to your greatest potential is through your greatest fear- stop your self talk!
  • “People I respected said I couldn’t do it”…. he heard a voice… “You are not who others say you are… you are what God says you are… not the whacky voices in your head”
  • Connections (Expand)
  • Who you listen to mirrors who you’re becoming
  • You may be one relationship away from changing the course of your destiny (Barnabus helped change the destiny of Paul’s ministry)
  • One relationship (Kyle) changed the course of Life Church in Craig’s life
  • Don’t try to copy what they do, learn how they think… (brilliant people)
  • Get around people that will disorganize your thinking… get around people that will expand your thinking…
  • Competence (Improve)
  • Determine a specific area of growth- ask the people around you (they probably know)
  • Examples: Your communication, listening, delegating, work ethic, hiring, feedback, firing, ability to cast vision, running meetings
  • Delegating tasks = Followers  Delegating authority = Leadership Development
  • Character
  • Talent can get you to the top but only character will keep you there
  • If your character is not strengthening, your future potential is decreasing
  • We need to check our lives for “leaks”
  • Are we lacking in passion for God? Is our marriage struggling? Dealing with pride? False images in social media? Unconfessed sin?
  • I’m vulnerable and weak. Put guardrails in place whether its technology or other
  • Why would I want to deal with a potential temptation tomorrow that I could eliminate and put guardrails in place today?
  • Commitment (Increase)
  • There’s a big difference between “I kind of want this” vs. “Nothing is going to stop me in going after this”
  • Stop “kinda-trying to do something”… Example: Get out of debt! Make it happen.
  • Get a full-on commitment
  • As a church “we’re going to try to reach young people”…. Many churches need to raise their commitment level.
  • There’s more in you! Your brain does not understand what God is capable of doing through you
  • Be relentless, urgency…. WE WILL DO THIS!

What is your one thing?