Sunday, September 11, 2011

"...and now they're gone"

"Planes flew into the World Trade Center and now they're gone."

These were the first words Sam said to me when I answered the phone the morning of September 11th, ten years ago. She had gotten to work early that day and quickly heard the news from the East Coast. I remember being skeptical. "What do you mean they're gone? That doesn't make sense." Through sobs, she insisted it was true. 

I ran to turn on the TV and spent the next several hours trying to comprehend what had happened (how many lives were lost? I remember calculating there were probably 10,000 dead - miraculously it was much less), what was happening (are there going to be more? how many more hijacked planes are up there?), and what would happen (this kind of thing doesn't go unanswered).

I didn't know anyone that died that day. Personally I was fairly removed from the event, though I had some connections to people that were near (a grade school friend's brother narrowly escaped from the south tower). NYC & DC, 3000 miles away, suddenly felt like they were next door.

Tonight there was a religious channel re-running the memorial service that took place three days later in the National Cathedral. I remember watching it at the time and being very emotional, the rawness of the event having hardly diminished, fighting back tears as the Battle Hymn of the Republic played on the organ to conclude the service.

In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free
While God is marching on

Glory, glory, hallelujah!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

We are all made of stars

I'm in our regional office right now prepping for the talks I'm giving next weekend at the WSU/UI Fall Retreat. The first talk I'm giving is from John 1:1-5, with the focus on verse 5:

"The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it."

One of the illustrations I'll be using involves talking about the size of the universe. I was doing a little bit of research (finding out that scientists recently tripled the number of stars they think are in the universe) when I came upon this skin-chilling quote:

"It's fun because it gets you thinking about these large numbers," Conroy said. Conroy looked up how many cells are in the average human body – 50 trillion or so – and multiplied that by the 6 billion people on Earth. And he came up with about 300 sextillion.
So the number of stars in the universe "is equal to all the cells in the humans on Earth – a kind of funny coincidence," Conroy said.

Read the whole article here.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Home screen

This blogger app has home screen potential. In other words, it makes the top 20 apps I use. Or at least that is the aspiration.

What got the boot? iPod app. I blame stage of life.

Is there an app out there that tells you your most frequently accessed apps? Probably, but for now I'm sticking with guessing. I don't need/want to know how often Tower Defender gets opened.


Being on staff means raising financial support. And with this comes asking for referrals.

Today I had a support appointment and got a very encouraging response to my request for referrals. Here is the email my friend sent to two of his friends after our meeting:

A and D,

You guys came to mind today when I met with Darren Holland for lunch. He serves with Campus Crusade as the Director of Operations for the Greater Northwest region. Darren served at Wazzu before moving here last year and shared stories of lives being changed while he was there. I guess that is why you came to mind. His current role allows him to touch lives of students and staff across 7 states through training opportunities and conferences.

As you know, I served with Crusade for 10 years and my parting wasn't easy. Talking with Darren off and on for the past year has been the first experience where I felt compelled to re-engage with this organization.

He will be contacting you directly to see if you would like to hear about his ministry and see if there is any connection to your heart or anyone else you may know. I hope you don't mind that I am passing your email address for him to use in contacting you. And, I hope you feel no obligation to meet with him by this introduction.


If I ever want to help others know how to write a good referral, I'll send them the outline of this email.

Phone blogging

I'm writing this from the new blogger app for iOS. Not sure if I'll be doing much serious blogging from my phone, but it's certainly nice to have the option. Or at least an easier option.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Connect Deck

"Do you really have something to do the whole time you are at the Tweetdeck?" - a staff friend.

As others may have similar questions, here is what is happening at the staff conference Connect Deck during a typical meeting:

- All six people on the deck have a shared Google Doc open. This is where we paste tweets or texts that come in during the meeting we find noteworthy. Joe, the velvet-voiced mouthpiece for the Connect Deck, draws from these to share with the emcee's during the meeting, highlighting those he might read for the audience.

- For one meeting, we had a group Skype chat going so we could message each other easily. When we didn't (the second session I worked) it made communication more difficult. We could have used the sidebar feature in Docs, but Skype gets your attention a little better. At least it does for me.

- One or two of the people at the desk are logged in to a Google Voice account. This account receives texts during the conference, usually from people that have questions/thoughts and aren't on Twitter. This number sees a lot of texts coming in, especially when the number is posted on the big screen with a response question.

- Just about everyone at the deck has a power user Twitter client open. Tweetdeck seemed to be the favorite (it's what I use), but there are others like Seesmic and Hootsuite that do similar things. My columns during the last session I worked: All Friends (darrenaholland), Mentions (darrenaholland), Search: "Campus Crusade", Search "#csu2011", Search "#cru", Mentions (csu2011), and Direct Messages (csu2011).

- Which reminds me: When I arrived at the Connect Deck the first day, I was given the csu2011 twitter account login (wouldn't you like to know!). This allows us to not just post from this account, but easily monitor mentions/replies/direct messages. (Note: There weren't many DM's.) We try to let the #csu2011 community do most of the posting (they usually beat us to things anyway), but we'll jump in and send out a (re)tweet from the csu2011 account if we want to draw special attention to information or thoughts from other users.

- The person sitting immediately to the left (audience right) of Joe, wears a headset and communicates with the program director. Most of the time this was Brian Barela; I did it on Saturday. When a Connect Desk segment in the program is coming up, or as was the case when I was working, we're trying to figure out what we want people to text in, this channel can be very busy.

- If, given all the above, there was lag time, I found myself doing any number of things: replying to people on twitter that had used "Campus Crusade" in their tweet and had clear misinformation about the name change (directing them to our FAQ's), sitting and listening to the speaker, posting thoughts of my own related to the session on twitter, reading the incoming tweets (they are nearly constant during an especially compelling speaker) and commenting/retweeting.

So there is the science of the Connect Desk. I'll do a follow-up post about my impression of the overall impact social media made at our conference, both for good and for ill.

Any questions? Anything I missed, fellow tweeters? Are you going to have a "Connect Deck" at your next conference? Should we have been paying attention to other communication channels (like Facebook), too?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hanging out

I "hung out" last night for about half an hour. Yes, hanging out now has sharp edges to it, thanks to Google+.

It was very lonely for that half hour. Not even my wife and a friend sitting in the same room could help with the despair and isolation as I waited for one of my 26 Google+ contacts to "hang out" with me online. Yes, Chris, it was kind of sad.

I'll "hang out" again. Someday.


This is inside baseball for those on staff with the US Campus Ministry, but...

Has anyone seen this? I don't know anything about it other than the picture, but whatever it does will likely be an improvement on the old.

Guess I'll find out at CSU like everyone else!

Moving and weight loss

"He charged them to take nothing for their journey except a staff - no bread, no bag, no money in their belts - but to wear sandals and not put on two tunics." - Mark 6:8-9

Moving is stressful. Even if it's just down the street.

We just got done changing rental houses a couple weeks ago and have pretty much unpacked everything and settled in. But oh man was that a process. Nothing makes you face the reality of how much stuff you've acquired like getting ready for a move. Well, except the actual move itself. Moving a piano: now there is reality!

I've been watching that reality show "Extreme Makeover - Weight Loss Edition" (confession: because it's on right after "The Bachelorette". Guilty.) on Monday nights. It's like Biggest Loser, but you get to watch the whole weight loss process for one person as they condense a year long weight loss program in to an hour. They still have the annoying "standing on a scale listening to it beep as a bunch of random numbers pop up then BREAK FOR COMMERCIAL and we're back with more beeping and tension filled looks by the weigh-ee before the actual number is revealed and the triumphant music plays" moments, but it's pretty interesting to watch people try to deal with the emotional issues that have led them to get so overweight.

Which is kind of like having too much stuff. In the weeks leading up to our move, I kept thinking about how easy it would be to move if we didn't have all this stuff. While I like having a bed and plates to eat off and a piano that my wife can teach our kids to play and a desk to work at and a trimmer to edge the yard and a TV to watch TV and on and adds up. And in the middle of all the "necessities", a lot of junk creeps in. And all that junk just slows you down.

I think we took five car-fulls of stuff to Goodwill before the move, another one since the move, another one that is ready to go, and another couple loads of stuff we gave to family or friends. On top of this, we sold stuff on eBay and Craigslist (probably around $1k in the last year) and just threw other things away. And yet, our new house is still very amply furnished.

I've started thinking about stuff the way the weight-loss-TV-people think about losing weight: A little each day. If you were to total up all the stuff our family owns, you could qualify it three ways: 1) Total weight of all the items, 2) Total volume of all the items, 3) Total number of all the items. A reduction in any of these numbers is victory for the day. Here is how that plays out:

Papasan chair: We got this from friends a few years ago. It is light, but is really three items my kids can strew around (base, frame, and cushion) and occupies a large volume. One of the first things to go.

36" tube TV: This behemoth probably weighed more than anything we moved outside of the piano. And that includes a fridge. Major victory getting rid of this thing (thanks, Goodwill workers, for helping me unload). Now down to one 27" tube...which is no lightweight. Someday we'll get rid of it and replace it with a modest flat screen that pulls HD and weighs a lot less. Maybe we'll hold out for a TV that you can roll up like a scroll or tape it to your wall. Give it 10 years. Just wait.

Kids toys: You have no idea how these add up. Hand me downs, Happy Meals, birthdays, Christmas...and yet our kids will often choose sticks or a hose or a spoon over any of these toys. I'm not sure which ones we got rid of, but it was nice to ask the kids which ones they wanted to give to other kids. That helped them get behind it. BTW we still have like 1x10^6 army guys and a coterie of Disney princesses.

CD's/DVD's: We sold our 300+ CD collection on Craigslist for $50. I have no regrets (iTunes + Pandora = bye, bye CD's). Huge reduction in both number and weight. With the DVD's, we sold some, gave others away, kept a few of the Disney ones. Streaming is the future. Time to rid ourselves of the relics.

Paper files: Yes, these count. Over the last couple years, we've gone from about five file drawers worth down to about 1.5. I'm hoping to get down to .5 and stay there by the end of the year. This could almost be it's own post as it requires a lot of different tactics to winnow down. Evernote and a good scanner are key, but everything from processing mail to online bill pay are part of this. Huge reduction in "number of items" if you're going by pieces of paper or even file hangers.

Clothes: Sam and I both got real about clothes we actally wear. Good victory on number and volume here.

I could go on and on, but the bottom line is "why do I have this?" If it isn't readily clear...time to go.

After all, I'm not sure the missionary lifestyle is really compatible with being a pack-rat. Our stuff isn't our security and it isn't "us".

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Fasting, Support Raising, and Moving

My friend and co-worker, Matt, has been blogging about his experience fasting. You should check it out.

It has inspired me to try and write about a couple different experiences: One that me and my wife are in right now (support raising) and one we just completed (moving). In both of them, I've been learning some difficult things about my character, some very good things about the character of the Lord, and some very practical things that have helped me in both. Perhaps some of it will be helpful to others.

So get ready for a torrent of posts...or at least more than the 1 post/month rate I've been doing. :)

[BTW - I haven't been on blogger since they re-did their interface. It looks much nicer, and has some neat new features, but I don't ever remember accidentally publishing a post with the old one!]

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Suspicious illustrations

You know when speakers use an illustration that makes you suspiciously wonder "did that really happen?"

I'm in the middle of filling out an application for support from our church, and one of the questions is to "write briefly about significant events in your life that have impacted you spiritually." One of mine involved hearing a talk by Ron Hutchcraft. I thought "why not see what he's up to these days?" So I googled and found his website. One of the headlines is a new blog post titled "watching him drown", a title which has definite parallels with the talk I heard that impacted me ("Rescue the Dying", from Esther 4 - It might be free somewhere, but if so I couldn't readily find it. Here you can find the mp3 for $1.50). An excerpt of that blog post:

"A 911 call alerted first responders that a man was slowly wading out into San Francisco Bay, inching his way to ending his life there. Soon a group of firefighters - along with a crowd of 75 people - were watching as this desperate man went deeper and deeper, occasionally looking back at the shore. They stood there for an hour.

"And they watched him die. Without anyone making a move to help him. I can only imagine this man looking back at those spectators, wondering if anyone cared if he lived or died. And I wonder how life-changing it might have been if someone had been willing to try to save him. It's all just sickening."

Suspicion raised. I couldn't believe that really happened. So I googled it.

And it is real, and it just happened 8 days ago.

The story on the San Jose Mercury News website, titled "The drowning suicide that shook an island", opens...

"Only two people went into the chilly San Francisco Bay waters Monday to help a suicidal Raymond Zack and neither wore a police or firefighter uniform."

Read the rest of the story here. Then read the rest of Hutchcraft's post, titled "Watching Him Drown".

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Why team leaders need Skype Premium

First of all, the cost is $8.99/mo (25% off when you purchase a year's subscription).

For those of us leading teams of less than ten people (in my context of campus ministry this means conference design teams, summer project leadership teams, field ministry coaches, and even local team name a few) I think it's worth it. Here is why:

- It allows you to host multi-person video conferences. Only one person needs the premium account and it allows you to host a conference with anywhere from 2-10 video endpoints (though Skype says performance is best at 5 or under).

- Meetings are a lot more engaging when you are talking face to face. For the last several months, the distributed team I am part of has been having a monthly video conference. Each one is two hours, and it's amazing how much more quickly they go by, and how much more locked on I am, when I am seeing people's faces and expressions.

- We've all heard about how much communication is non-verbal. You are actually able to see how people are responding to what is being said, adding a lot of richness to the interactions.

- When you do finally get together face to face, you feel like these are people you know and have logged time with in a way that just doesn't happen with voice calls.

And here are some tips I've gleaned over the last several months:

1. The experience is best when everybody is on their own camera. Looking at a group in a conference room isn't very natural. The people are often too far away to pick up expressions, and much of the time they aren't looking your direction. It actually makes you feel more isolated if you are communicating with a group that is all in a room relating to one another and your vantage point is "looking in".

2. Hotel wi-fi just isn't there yet. Make sure you've got a solid internet connection for best results.

3. Most people aren't updated with the latest Skype. As it says on the Skype website, everyone has to update to version 5 or better in order for it to work. It's really easy but make sure ahead of the call everyone has it done.

4. Be patient. Allow a few minutes in the first part of your meeting for troubleshooting whenever you have a new group or person trying it out. Of course, if you're reading a blog you are tech savvy and probably already know this. :)

Any other tips to add?

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Facebook study shows Facebook users like moving fingers while staring at screens

A fellow staff member is a little bit anti-facebook and sent a link to me the other day. It is about a study finding that adds a tally mark to the "reasons to stay off Facebook" column (summary: Facebook users are narcissists).

Of course, there are a lot of Facebook studies coming out lately. In fact, the study she sited was dated August 2010. But lo and behold, just this month, another study comes out showing Facebook helps your self-esteem.

And then there is this study that just dropped last week: "Most Americans have Facebook, study says"

Here are my predictions for Facebook studies we'll soon be reading about:

"Study shows people more likely to recommend Facebook studies that reinforce their native preferences about Facebook than those that don't."

"Study shows Facebook studies often disproven by future Facebook studies"

"Study shows Facebook study data can be used to prove two opposing viewpoints"

"Study shows Facebook users behave in ways that reflect the culture at large"

"Study shows Facebook would be less polarizing if it were called 'Starbucks'"

Initiative: Take it

One of our regional opterns (operations interns), Amie, had the following assignment today:

- Pick-up a staff family from the airport and get them to their destination in Portland.

The plan as it stood yesterday was for the family to arrive, pick-up their bags, then call Amie (who would be in the cell phone waiting area) to pick them up at the curb.

Instead, Amie took it upon herself to arrive early, park, and go wait beside the security checkpoint. She stood there with a sign she had made with the family's name and our organizational mark (getting a few snide comments along the way about "Campus Crusade for Christ"), initiating the pick-up at the earliest point possible and demonstrating a fine sense of hospitality.

Perhaps a small thing, but I loved it. From Seth Godin's post yesterday:

Initiative isn't given, you take it

The amazing thing is that unlike taking an apple or a chocolate bar, there's no loss to the rest of us. After you take it, we all benefit.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Ultimate Super Bowl mash-up

Yes, it's Monday morning, but let's do one more Super Bowl post. Perhaps we can get some clues towards what makes a great event, and great moment, in the process.

There are four elements that make up a great Super Bowl: The national anthem, the commercials, the halftime show, and the last few minutes of the fourth quarter. I've already posted about the commercials, so we'll focus on the other three elements.

I had an idea: What if we took the best national anthem, the best halftime show, and the best game finish and mashed them up all Glee-like? What would we get?

Hint: It doesn't involve Christina, the Black Eyed Peas, or Ben Roethlisberger.

Best National Anthem

This isn't from the Super Bowl (sorry Whitney, yours was good but it was DQ'd for being pre-recorded), but is from just a few weeks ago. Here is what we can learn from the performance of Jim Cornelison:

1. Sing it straight up and you're already halfway to greatness.
2. The national anthem is actually a very masculine song in the right hands (or vocal chords).
3. Perform it in front of a bunch of Bears fans in Chicago. Absolutely electric.
4. Hold that last note and wait for the jets to get there. Boo-ya! Gives me the chills every time.

Best Halftime performance

It's always fun to be watching something and realize at the time you are watching the birth of a defining cultural moment. As soon as those names started to go up you knew this wasn't your typical halftime performance. When The Edge started to tap out the intro to "Streets", it became transcendant.

For such a redemptive moment, it is interesting that three and a half years later this same venue would be the setting for another of the decades defining stories.

Best Fourth Quarter

That's pretty low quality video, but I don't think the NFL likes their good stuff on YouTube.

Two words: Helmet Catch. Again, one of those moments you immediately knew was bound for greatness.

So those are my fave moments. What are yours?

Sunday, February 6, 2011

"This is what we do" - Best of the Super Bowl commercials

While a departure from my normal content, how can you not write about pop culture on Super Bowl Sunday?

It's very tempting to go with the snark and run through all the ads that weren't worth $.03, let alone $3,000,000. But we're going to try and keep it mostly positive around here. Mostly. Let me just get a few things off my chest and then we'll move from good to better to best.


First, Doritos. I will still eat your chips, but your Super Bowl ads always annoy me for their lack of creativity and, in this year's case, an added dose of gross awkwardness. Instead, just show me a cool ranch chip close up for 30 seconds and I'm sold.

Second, to everyone that used sex and/or slapstick to sell your products (and you were legion), I say this: you're just blending with the crowd at this point. And where you do stand out, it creates an emotional response that makes me want to be a brand anti-advocate. I'm talking to you, GoDaddy and Pepsi Max. (And yes, as I put on twitter, my wife happened to buy our first ever 12-pack of Pepsi Max while she was at Costco during the first quarter. Ill-timed.)

Okay, that feels better. Let's get to the...


Transformers movie trailer

I will not see this movie. I repeat: I will not see this movie. The trailer is awesome (I actually like the siren robot horn - adds to the drama), but I've got you figured out, Michael Bay. Your roots are in commercials and you know how it's done. The problem is, you can't film a whole movie like a 30-second commercial (which you do) and have it be good. So I'll watch your movie promo and think "Maybe this time will be different! Maybe the movie will be as good as the trailer." But I know better, Mr. Bay. No Pearl Harbor sneak attack on my wallet (or my senses).

Bridgestone "Reply All"

Both Bridgestone ads were pretty good, but I had read earlier in the day how this one came to be. It's a fascinating article in Fast Company that goes behind the scenes on how ad agencies go "all in" when they are creating a Super Bowl spot.

You've got to love how well the commercial illustrates the impossibility of retracting an email. It's good not just because it's funny, but because it captures our age: digital communication, once you hit send/publish, is out there immediately to laptops, desktops, and mobile phones. My favorite is the guttural yell as he rips the cords out of the server bank. The futility is the funny.

Kind of reminds me of an email I got back in 2005. Moving right along...

Volkswagon Black Beetle

I wouldn't say CGI Beetles are the best way to get me excited about your product, but this spot had just enough going for it to make my list. First, I like the song (though not so much the cover they used). Second, the two stripes on the Beetle left little doubt where we were headed. Or so I thought. Here is what I think made this ad stand out:

That shot alone was enough to get me excited. Something tells me they are going to get rid of the flower holder as a major selling point in the new Beetle.

CarMax "Kid in a candy store"

It moves quickly and expects the viewer to keep up. Plus, I probably like word play a little more than the average person. You can see people quoting this one in the days ahead. "I feel like a hippie in a drum circle!"


Kia Optima "One Epic Ride"

I caught on to the "bigger and better" thing they had going on when Poseidon showed up, but this got really interesting when it kept going after the aliens grabbed the car. Really, where do you go from there? I thought "wait, are they going to have God show up and grab this car?" Well, not quite. Just the Mayans using one of their time-traveling, car-summoning wormholes.

Considering the idolatry going on in this ad, I'm kind of glad God didn't get involved. And I don't really see him driving a Kia.

Volkswagon "The Force"

Okay, full disclosure: I have a five year-old son that I could picture doing most of the stuff our mini-DV (Darth Vader) does in this ad. Those clever VW ad wizards know their target audience, and it's a slightly more affluent version of myself.

When I was right around my sons age, I had a Star Wars themed birthday party. Unbeknownst to me, my uncle's friend had a full blown DV costume, showing up at my party and simultaneously frightening and delighting all in attendance. My parents got a great pic of Darth holding me up over his head, but I'll have to dig that one out another time. In any case, more bonus points for nostalgia.

Love that they got permission to use "The Imperial March".


Chrysler "Imported from Detroit"

I liked it when I saw it live, but loved it when I re-watched with my full attention. So many elements masterfully woven together: The Detroit setting, the cinematic stylings, the phenomenal ad copy ("it's the hottest fires that make the hardest steel"), the visual narrative that begins with factories and skyscrapers but evolves into the human story, the emergence of "Lose Yourself" at the same moment the story shifts to the car, the look of (dare I say?) steely determination on the faces of everyone you see...I could go on. This was more a movie trailer than a commercial; it draws you in to a larger story that goes way beyond the Chrysler 200. As Chris Brogan tweeted, this was the first car ad that wasn't about a car. I think that is a good thing.

"This is the Motor City, and this is what we do" - Eminem, with the only words spoken directly to the camera.

As the car drives off onto the streets of Detroit and the video fades to black, the following appears one word at a time:

Maybe it is because this article was fresh in my mind, but the wording and visual styling made me think there was a nod to Apple on this one. Presentation, Emotion, and California Detroit. It certainly has the three components.

One final note: Who came up with such a great ad? Well, it did kind of feel like a Nike ad, didn't it? None other than Portland-based Weiden+Kennedy, known almost equally now for their work on Old Spice.

So are TV commercials the contemporary art form that shapes our culture more than any other?  Some say so...and I'm inclined to agree. Knowing why they speak to us is an opportunity to see into the soul of our culture, understanding that the stories they tell are the ones we, as carriers of the ultimate narrative, will be working to replace. Or redeem.

You must banish from your mind the naive but commonplace notion that commercials are about products. They are about products in the same sense that the story of Jonah is about the anatomy of whales. — Neil Postman

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Peace, hope, and love

Got a Facebook message on Thursday from a student at WSU:

I have something I would like to ask prayer for. I'm going to be sharing the gospel with a really good buddy of mine [friend's name]  (who many of you know). If you could be praying that God would be speaking through me and working in his heart in preparation for our conversation. I believe, as I'm sure most of you do, that prayer is so powerful. God listens to us, and he can open hearts and transform lives. I love [my friend] so much, and I want more than anything for him to know the peace, hope, and love that comes with a relationship with Jesus Christ. Please join with me and keep him in your prayers. I know that God will do a great work in his life. Thank you!

Pardon the cliche, but...this is why I do what I do.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

More from "Break all the rules"

It's not hard to guess why the following paragraph resonated with me...

"The manager role is the 'catalyst' role. As with all catalysts, the manager's function is to speed up the reaction between two substances, thus creating the desired end product. Specifically, the manager creates performance in each employee by speeding up the reaction between the employee's talents and the company's goals, and between the employees talents and the customers' needs. When hundreds of managers play this role well, the company becomes strong, one employee at a time." - First, Break All the Rules

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Breaking all the rules - 12 questions

From the chapter in First Break All the Rules entitled "The Measuring Stick":

"Measuring the strength of a workplace can be simplified to twelve questions. These twelve questions don't capture everything you may want to know about your workplace, but they do capture the most information and the most important information. They measure the core elements needed to attract, focus, and keep the most talented employees."

Initiated by my director, these twelve questions were asked of all US Campus Ministry operations staff, both full-time and intern, at the end of October this last fall (low=1, high=5). The results are below.

(The 14 Greater Northwest respondents are those on my office operations team as well as operational leaders in the field that report to me.)

A few of my thoughts:
- The lowest numbers, relative to the national average, were the first two. This is troubling, but makes sense; we haven't had operations leadership in our region for the last couple years. Hopefully these numbers will improve this spring when we do the survey again, though I suspect number two relates to funding. This may take longer, and more effort, to turn around.
- The lowest number for both our region and the nation was the "best friend at work" question. Why would that be? Is that unique to operations? To Campus Crusade? To non-profits? Or is that the lowest in other industries, too?
- The highest number was the mission/purpose question. Gladly, people in the GNW (and US) feel their job is important.
- This information will get increasingly helpful as we ask these questions again in the future. Patterns and trends will emerge that will help me/us know what we are doing well and what needs attention.
- For the immediate future: I'd love to get question number one quickly up in to the 4-5 range. I want my people to know what is expected of them, both by me and the organization. Not knowing what is expected at work is a recipe for frustration.

What do you think of this info? Have you ever used these questions in your workplace? Any tips/insights you want to give?

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Books for an Ops team (Part II)

Way back in May of 2010, I posted about books I was considering having our Ops team read in the upcoming year. I've since moderately adjusted the list.

The following are currently being read by one person on the team and will be summarized in a 10-20 minute book report to our operations team answering the questions "What did I like? What did I take exception to? How could the concepts/ideas help our Ops team perform better?  Our whole region?":

Radical - Platt
Death by Meeting - Lencioni
Jacob and the Prodigal - Bailey
I once was lost - Everts and Schaupp
Drive - Pink
Seven practices of effective ministry - Stanley
Switch - Heath
Linchpin - Godin

What do you think of the list? You read any of these?

Monday, January 31, 2011

Majoring on Majors?

When I was staff on campus at Washington State, a lot of time went into thinking about what year our students were (Frosh, Soph, etc.) and where they lived on campus. Much less time went into thinking about their academic focus. I think that may have been a missed opportunity.

A sampling of the majors that attended our recent Winter Conference is at right.

How might ministry look different for a business major vs. a nursing major? Outdoor recreation vs a math major? 

What about when they get to the workforce?

In thinking about our conference next year, one beneficial tactic might be to get people of like/similar major together. Imagine a room full of business majors. How could they minister to their peers within the department? What skills/talents/strengths do they have that could serve their campus ministry? Could a group of them connect post graduation to help reach a workplace (or even a city)? What would ministry look like in this area of the workforce? 

Do you consider majors as you work with students? How could we better incorporate this into how we win, build, and send students?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

12 things I've learned while managing a conference Facebook Page

Third child? Check. Annual Winter Conference? Check. Blog updated? Here we go...

My friend Matt already did a post about how we used Facebook to build engagement and community before, during, and after our regional Winter Conference. Here is our January 10th page stat summary:

And here are twelve things I learned over the last few weeks as I helped manage the page:

1. Giveaways are great for building engagement (again, see Matt's post).
2. It takes time for people to feel comfortable posting on your page. They need to trust you first.
3. It is ten times easier to get someone to "like" a post than to comment. Duh. But if they "like" stuff enough eventually they'll comment.
4. The page administrator is like a host at a party. You need to keep things moving, facilitate conversation, build interest, make introductions, help people feel at ease...but avoid dominating the scene.
5. Take lots of photos and post them quickly. Tag a few people to get people's attention (we had a great team helping on this front).
6. Facebook's default setting for Pages is to have photo tagging turned off for fans. For a student conference, you're going to want to get that turned back on real fast.
7. Tag pages and people in status updates and link to relevant sites as much as possible. This adds a dynamic look and feel to the page and is another way to draw attention to your page from other places.
8. Add related pages to page favorites (screen shot at right). This puts your page in context and relationship with others.
9. Video is always going to be a hit. (Matt did a post about this, too)
10. The conference Facebook page will likely be a strategic tool for building community and promoting ministry opportunities around our region all year.
11. In our Greater Northwest context, Facebook is still the place to be if you want to interact with students.
12. Actively managing a ministry Facebook page is a way to disciple people. By what you link to, highlight, how you relate and is another way to influence people towards Christ-centered community and mission.

There are many more, but I'll just add this one: It's a lot of fun. :)

If you manage a Facebook page, I'd love to learn from you. Comment with what you've learned or just link to your Facebook page so we can see an example!