Be Outstanding.

Ever been amazed by technology? Imagine these sentences in the context of your grandparent’s childhood:

“I just facetimed with my uncle in GA and wished him a Merry Christmas.”


“I like to play scrabble on my phone with a guy I’ve never met who lives in Seattle


“So last week I tweeted about how great the book QBQ is and the author wrote back and sent me a box full of free books.”

All three of those things happened to me, in the past few weeks. The last one was particularly impressive to me.

John Miller, author of QBQ!, Flipping The Switch, and his new book Outstanding! responded to a tweet of mine by going to my website, reading enough of it to know (at least) that my wife’s name is Jacq and is a Pampered Chef consultant, and found my email and shot me a message thanking me for the kind words about his book. I responded and after a neat conversation he asked for my shipping address and sent me 4 free copies of his latest book (I told him I hadn’t read it yet) along with 4 each of his other books, and other assorted goodies (notepads, pens, etc).

And while he didn’t ask for it, I wanted to give him a shout-out for being so generous. He truly practices what he preaches about personal responsibility.

If you’ve not read it, QBQ was required reading for any student who wanted to be involved in a one-on-one discipleship relationship with me. It’s short, to the point, and remarkable in it’s effectiveness. I’ve read it now at least 3 times, and can’t recommend it highly enough. I’ll be giving away those free copies that Mr Miller sent me (of it and the other books/goodies) in the next few weeks over at

Outstanding, his latest book, is geared toward organizations, and outlines in 47 brief chapters (the whole book clocks in at just 206 pages) the way to make any organization outstanding. Predictably, I enjoyed the book. (free ice cream tastes better) But this book is well worth the price tag, if you are in management of any type or involved in leading others.

Here’s why I think this book is so crucial, especially now. In Chapter 40, entitled “Seek no Culprits,” Mr Miller lines out a principle that, if really grasped by many in our culture, would literally change the world. As a culture we constantly look for someone to blame. From 911 to Katrina response to school shootings to oil spills, every time there is a crisis, there has to be a fall guy. What if instead of looking for a person to blame, we expended the same amount of energy making the situation better?

Our entire insurance industry is built on the hypothesis that we are going to financially blame somebody when something goes wrong. What if instead of blaming, we all just agreed to not seek culprits, to make sure that we make things right, and to accept blame personally for the results of our decisions? There’d be no need for malpractice insurance or personal injury lawyers.

If each of us, and the organizations of which we are a part, decided to not seek culprits, try and imagine the outcome! We’d all turn the channel when the talking heads on Fox News and CNN start trying to find a politician to blame for the unemployment numbers, because that’s seeking culprits, and we aren’t interested in that. We’d be too busy trying to fix unemployment numbers by giving people jobs cutting our grass or selling us coffee. We’d almost completely tune out politicians in general, because 75% of what they say is seeking culprits (like the guy who just left office or the lobbyists or the red tape or the lack of red tape… they spend a lot of time talking about the culprits).

Yeah, the idea of seeking no culprits catching on might be a really good thing. It makes for outstanding organizations.

You know which organization I think is Outstanding? John Miller’s. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to give away such great stuff. And for blowing me away with the power of technology.

The Municipal Broadband Bill: My take.

My Governor Bev Perdue has until midnight to veto H129, a bill that some are saying “protects the monopolies of second rate corporate ISPs at the expense of fast, cheap, local broadband.” I hope she doesn’t.

In the interest of full disclosure, I do work for a corporation that provides high speed internet, but I want to make clear two things: (1) I held these views before I worked here, and (2) the views expressed in this post are mine alone, and unrelated to my employer or my employment.

I’m frustrated, as I’ve written before, that those on the opposing side of the debate are characterizing my position as a support of “big business” or “corporate monopolies.” What I am against is a governmental monopoly. Municipal broadband is broadband that doesn’t have to continue making a profit to continue to function. Governments are fiscal nightmares, generally. Instead of closing up show when they stop making money, they just continue to spend money they don’t have until our economy collapses. “Big Business” on the other hand, makes a profit. That profit is used to hire more people, provide healthcare to those people, provide income to those people, and make the economy grow. (to call that a vast oversimplification would be itself a vast overstatement)

I understand that the same corporations are using those same profits to lobby government to pass legislation protecting their profits. (but can you blame them? Imagine someone entering your field, doing what you do, but for free, without having to make a profit to continue doing it.) I’m not suggesting that I know the answer to the complex issues of corporate lobbies for government action. I’m only vaguely familiar with the issues in the first place.

Let’s start, though, by seeking to understand and debate the issues, not just the sound bytes.

You can’t afford to hire based on a degree.

If you are in the business of hiring people to work for you, and the first filter you have is for a college degree, you might be costing yourself money, time, and the best applicants.

The tried and seemingly-true line (sold thoroughly to us–by educators) is that the single most important thing you have to have to get hired is a college degree. You have to go to college to get a good job. To think otherwise is to go against the grain of popular thought for the past 50 years or so.

And I certainly don’t mean to say that college is unimportant. I won’t go see a dentist who hasn’t been to college. There are many fields where a college degree is absolutely vital to getting hired.

But please don’t buy the lie that the degree is what makes someone (even a dentist) hirable. Somebody who treated dental school like I treated my undergraduate degree should never touch the inside of a mouth. I graduated using the “path of least resistance” method. Find the classes that are the easiest, and get out with as little work as possible. That person’s dental school degree doesn’t qualify them for hiring.

If you are in the business of hiring people, the first filter ought to be teachability. Can the person be taught? Sure, depending on the field you are hiring for, there are some things other than teachability that might rule out a person. But a lack of teachability will always rule a person out.

The second filter needs to be integrity. Take the person out to a middle-to-low-end restaurant for the interview, and see how they treat the server. Take them to Starbucks (ahem) and see how they treat the barista. Interviews are easy to fake. Integrity is not.

No matter the size of your business, hiring people without teachability and integrity will kill it. Even if they have a degree from Harvard.

Was that a Tumbleweed? 3 Reasons I’ve Been Mysteriously Quiet.

How does one go from a 5-times a week blogger for over three years to being the guy with the blog not updated in weeks? Simple:

Turn his world upside down.

Upside down over water
Not that kind of upside down. That actually looks pretty pleasant. Creative Commons image courtesy of notsogoodphotography.

When I was on staff with CCC, I used my internet presence to process life. I vented on the blog. I talked about the hard parts about my job. I made light of the silly things I did at my job. I spent most of the time talking and writing about what I did on a daily basis: seek to reach people with the gospel in creative ways, and using the internet.

Now my job is to “connect people to their world” by selling mobile phones, internet, and TV solutions. I am thoroughly a fish in water surrounded by smart phones and the latest technology. And I am finding out that I REALLY enjoy customer service and sales. It’s fun to see every customer as a puzzle. They need to experience something memorable at the AT&T store for me to feel like I’ve done my job.

Sure, they primarily need a cell phone, or UVerse set up at their house, or a way to get internet access at work. But I want them to receive not only that but to enjoy it. If you aren’t smiling when you walk in, I want you to be smiling when you walk out. My favorite transactions are ones where I clearly make money and provide for my family, but I also meet a need for the customer. It’s a win-win.

So I love my new job. But it’s not really conducive to producing experiences from which I can generate memorable content for my blog centered around missions and life. Here’s the three main reasons:

1. I can’t blog about outreach in progress. “Hey pray for my coworker Billy, I’m pretty sure he wants to accept Christ.” It’s insensitive to Billy and counterproductive.
2. I can’t vent about frustrations with my job or the structure of the company. It is neither wise nor helpful to digitally bite the hand that feeds you. Besides, I am overall very satisfied with my job. And so I can’t blog about pay structure or the intricacies of working in a hybrid corporate/retail environment (I signed away that ability when I accepted the job)
3. I’m learning discretion and patience. This new season of life has been educational in so many ways. I’m very thankful for it. It’s just meant I either become the guy who just blogs about his kids (and nobody likes that guy) or I spend some time away, storing up good content for later.