The Idea

The idea. It starts small, like a seed.

It’s fragile, if you share it to soon it won’t grow. If you wait to long it will wither away.

So when is the best time to share it? How do you hold on to it and continue to help it grow?

This is one of the biggest things I’ve been learning lately. It’s not necessarily something I’m good at at all. It’s actually very hard for me to know when an idea is just right. It takes lots of cultivating and preparing before you even try to share the idea. Sometimes the idea is never meant to be shared.

A few weeks ago I came across part of Apple’s “Tribute to Steve” event that they held for all Apple employees. About 40 minutes into the event Jonny Ive spoke. Jonny is Apple’s main design man who shared the tastes of Steve Jobs. He shares a few statements at the beginning of this video about how Steve Jobs viewed the creative process. Check it out below.

I’m assuming I’m not the only person who is trying to figure this out. It’s obvious that Steve Jobs understood the process and had his share of success’ and failures because of it.

What about you? Have you shared ideas to soon or to late? What have you learned to help you along in this process of cultivating an idea? 

(Photo Props)

The Communicating Leader

Often times while leading people the hardest thing to do is communicate well. It’s an every day struggle. It’s not something that we figure out then move on to the next problem. It’s like a fine skill that we hone in over the course of our life. My guess is that it takes a very unique leader to focus in on communication. But, we all know what it’s like to not have a leader like that. We’ve probably experienced it at some point. Maybe it’s been us!

I don’t need to list out the symptoms of poor communication. We know what it feels like. We know how it demotivates. Ultimately, I believe it’s what can make or break us as leaders. The problem is it can take a while to track down unless you are actively looking for it.

Here’s where the Communicating Leader comes in. The list below explains how ideal communication comes from a leader and how to be proactively working on communicating well.

  1. The RIGHT information is communicated - Sometimes as leaders we share the wrong information. We need to learn how to really focus on what people need to hear. That way we aren’t taking up to much time and they aren’t checking out because we share info that’s not important.
  2. Information is communicated ON TIME - This is huge. To often leaders jump the gun or wait to late when sharing information. This is a practice, a skill. Learn how to time your communication right. Learn when your people are ready to hear it.
  3. It’s communicated to the RIGHT PEOPLE – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve come across situations (or heard of them) where the wrong people know the right information. This can be extremely de-motivating to those you lead, extremely. Find out where you communication leaks are, so that the information is going through the right channels.
  4. DON’T HOLD INFORMATION as a power play - A leader who doesn’t trust his employees holds information from them. A leader who is insecure, holds information from them. Don’t be that leader. Learn how to trust your employees. If there is a trust issues, address it! Don’t be insecure. Don’t hold the info over their head. Those you lead love it when they know they are in the loop.
  5. Finally, COMMUNICATE CLEARLY – This is simple, but it’s very hard. It takes knowing your employees and knowing yourself well. Learn how you communicate, and how others like to receive communication.

Here are a couple of questions I’d love to hear back from you on. Have you ever had a major communication problem? How did you fix it? Are you annually or quarterly asking those you lead or work with how you are doing at communicating? 

The Resistance

I’m not sure if you have spent much time in a gym, or much time researching gym related things. Ex: Working Out. I went through a season about this time a year ago when I was really wanting to get into shape. It was hard. I felt like a lazy log. I needed my butt kicked. So I got a copy of P90x and started the three month plan.

There are two basic types of workouts with P90x. 1) Cardio 2) Resistance. Resistance training is the type of exercise that builds and tones muscles. It can be incredibly hard and make you feel like you are going to die.

Here’s what I discovered. The first few weeks of the workout I was SORE! I didn’t want to do the resistance workouts when it was time and I complained about it a lot. Just ask the Saturate Team. After time I found that I looked forward to the resistance training. On the days I did those work outs I felt stronger and more energetic. I could see and feel a difference in my body. I started to be able to do things that I couldn’t before; like push-ups.

In a lot of ways The Resistance in the creative world is very similar. It hurts. It’s overwhelming. We complain about it. But there are two things I’ve come to learn about The Resistance.

  1. The more resistance an idea gets, the more I need to push through to make it happen.
  2. Each time I push through resistance, I’m able to handle more of it the next time. 

I just finished the book Do The Work by Steven Pressfield. It’s all about this idea of The Resistance and where it comes from. Most times we are our biggest source of resistance. Sometimes it could be circumstances, others or money, but most times, it’s us. Much like resistance training, where I’m using my own body mass as a weight to make my arms stronger, The Resistance I face when creating/making ideas is my own. The more I work through it, the stronger I become.

What’s your Resistance? Do you have any? If you don’t maybe you aren’t trying to make the right ideas happen…maybe you are not challenging your creativity and ideas to the level of making them grow. What are your thoughts on The Resistance?

(Photo Props)

Best Practices: Twitter Pt.2

It’s here! Part 2 of our Twitter Best Practices posts. You can find Part 1 here or other Best Practices Posts here.

So in this post I thought it would be great to talk about the how. What are the tools or strategies that help when using Twitter. Obviously, this won’t be an extensive list mostly because so many others have covered it. What I’ll bring is my unique opinion and experience along with some of the practical tools that everyone from your normal Tweeter to a Power-Tweeter could use.

Usually one of the first questions you start talking about when using Twitter is what client or “app” should I use? Since the majority of people tweet from a smart phone I’ll start with app’s you can download. These are from the iOS (iPhone) perspective but most of them are on Android as well.

Twitter App – The Twitter App (free) is what most people start out on. It’s a great, simple app to use. It can be basic enough for a newbie to use and it has all the features that a Twitter elitist would want. In my opinion, there are usually to many steps to do what I want. Example, to do a basic replay requires two steps or clicks.

Echofon – Echofon (free or $2.99) has been one of my consistent favorite apps. I spent the $5 for the pro version. It’s worth it for the multiple accounts and syncing with the desktop version. I like the shortcuts it has to do different things, the themes, and it’s interface. It has always been a solid app to use.

Tweetbot – Tweetbot ($2.99) is a newer app. It’s pretty slick. With cool animations and sounds it’s like candy to the eyes and ears. It has most of the flexibility that the Twitter app and Echofon have as well. I’d recommend this app to the person who loves flashy user interfaces.

One key feature that all three of these apps have is Push Notifications. Typically, on Twitter you want to know when you get replied to. These apps will alert you of that even if you aren’t in the app itself.

Next we’ll move onto Desktop Apps. There are mainly just two that I usually recommend. But, there are also two power-user tools as well.

Twitter & Echofon both have desktop apps. They do everything you need them to do, as in the apps. Twitter is very slick looking and Echofon syncs with it’s iOS app. Those would be the two distinguishing features between the two of them.

For power users I’d recommend Seesmic or Tweetdeck. They support multiple columns, multiple accounts, and in my opinion, ugly interfaces. But, if you are a power user you are probably already using one of those apps.

For those of you on teams who may be using Twitter for your non-profit or church, there are two good options. One is CoTweet and the other is Hootsuite.

CoTweet is very expensive. It is also the better of the two platforms in my opinion. If your organization can afford it, I’d recommend it. Simple options like “who’s on duty” to receive alerts, to a extensive database keeping track of interactions. I will say that Cotweet offers a free version, but you can only load Twitter accounts. If you manage a Facebook page (which I imagine you do) and a Twitter account, this price jumps exponentially.

Hootsuite is much more affordable and includes bother Twitter and Facebook integration at that affordability. Again, the interface isn’t as intuitive but it’s easy to learn.

The key to both of these options is the team based platform. You can have multiple people represent one Twitter account or FB page. And you can do this without giving out the “master keys” (login info). Hootsuite is what I’ve been using now for about 6 months in a team environment and it’s been working well.

I want to wrap up this post there. It’s getting long enough. Maybe I’ll have to do a Pt. 3 with some other tips and tricks when it comes to using Twitter.

I’d love to hear from you. What’s your favorite tool? Android users, what’s your go-to Twitter App? 

Resource Dump #1

I thought we’d take a little break from our normally scheduled blog post to share some resources today. I’m calling this the Resource Dump post. I’m sure there will be many more. Here’s how it goes. I’ll try to share with you three different types of resources that are really helping me out. I’ll also try to make sure they are different types of media too. (Books, Video, Audio). All I ask in return is for you to share one resource back. What’s one resource that has been helping you grow?

Resource 1) EntreLeadership Podcast – I started listening to this podcast a couple weeks ago and can not get enough of it. It’s loaded with some serious leadership gold. The podcast is produced by Dave Ramsey’s company and based of his recent book called EntreLeadership. It’s just a matter of time till I pick up the book. Each podcast usually contains a snippet from the EntreLeadership training courses they do and then they also include an interview with a leadership expert. I can’t recommend this podcast highly enough!

Resource 2) Making Ideas Happen by Scott Belsky (Book) – Do you have ideas? Are you ever in charge of making ideas happen? Do you consider yourself creative? Do you struggle keeping things organized? Are you breathing? (yes, I went there) Then this book is for you! This book has been highly transformative in the way I do things. I’m actually going over the book a second time and pulling out action steps to put into practice right away. The book lends itself more to the project manager or creative individual, but I really believe it can give a lot of people a step in the right direction.

Resource 3) IAmPaulAtkinson & LeadershipFreak (Blogs) – I know this is two resources. I wanted to include them both in this post. Some of you may already follow Paul’s blog on leadership stuff. Despite working with him every day and being pals, I still ready his blog because it’s always got some good, practical advice. I just started following Dan’s blog (Leadership Freak) a few weeks ago after hearing an interview with him on the EntreLeadership podcast. (seriously, you need to go subscribe to that podcast right now in iTunes) He also has some very practical tips on leadership on his blog. Last week I tweeted a few links to their blogs. Check out this link for a few posts of theirs to start on. 

Ok, it’s your turn! Share with us what leadership, creativity, social media resource that you’ve been eating up lately. Heck, even if it’s a post from your own blog share that with us below in the comments. 

The Fringe Leader

Fringe [frinj] 3. An outer edge; margin; periphery: on the fringe of the art world. – Dictionary.com

What is it about the fringe that scares some of us and makes others come to life? For some it is where they find their identity, and others try to pretend it’s not there. What is the fringe?

The Fringe is a group of people, ideas, or actions that are at the outer edge.

The Fringe is that one person who always thinks totally different then you ever have.

The Fringe is that new technology that has the potential to take off but you’re scared to touch it.

The Fringe is the idea that’s out there about that industry you are in. You know that change is coming but you try to prevent it at all costs.

Do you know the Fringe? If you are a leader I hope you do. This is where movements come from. Where ideas are born. Where raw passion and energy collide and overcome great odds. The idea of the fringe leader is something I’m just now discovering and praying that I become one day.

What does a “Fringe Leader” look like? It can vary, but there are some important characteristics.

The Fringe Leader is always listening. They are not just talking to their middle management. They get down with those doing the work and listen. They ask questions. They ask “what’s coming?”, “what’s our culture?”, and “what do I need to know?”.

The Fringe Leader is willing to take a chance on that one idea. They understand how it will revoluntionize or subtly make a huge impact on what they are doing.

The Fringe Leader ask the outsider to join them, and allows them to have a voice. The Outsider is the one most don’t understand (and maybe the Leader doesn’t either). The Leader allows the outsider to speak from where they come from and allows them to disrupt what is happening. (Read disrupt as, dropping a bomb that changes everything, but for the good)

You may be a leader now, or maybe you are a leader in the making. One thing that’s important to remember is that as you grow in influence and leadership there will be times people aren’t always honest with you. Sometimes you aren’t privy to what’s going on at the fringe anymore.

And at that point is the most important time for us to become the Fringe Leader. We must be willing to humble ourselves and “what we know” and ask the right questions of the right people. We need to stop and reconnect ourselves to the outer edge of what’s happening to continue to lead well and lead those there with the passion and energy that they have.

Are you a Fringe Leader? How do you stay connected to those on the outer edges?

(Photo Props)

Why Are You Doing What You Are Doing?

Much of life and creativity is seeing others work, art, ideas, and remixing them. Look at Apple, most movies, many songs, and you will hear ideas, melodies, or even exact lines that were used by others first. Usually what we remember is the person who does it best. But “best” can seem like a preference based opinion. So I have another way of looking at it.

People who present their idea best are probably the people who have thought through the “why” of every aspect of their idea. 

Recently my church (LCBC) had Bill Hybels come in and speak as we celebrated out 25th Anniversary. He said something about innovation that I had to write down.

“Innovate to solve a problem” – Hybels

That’s it. Very simple but so profound. Don’t just create for innovation’s sake, solve a problem! It’s extremely important to know the why behind what we are doing. If not, the right decisions won’t get made, the right people won’t be on board, the right funding won’t come in, the list could continue. As we lead our creative ventures we should be able to account for all of our decisions with a reason why. They may be simple reasons, but it still counts.

This coming weekend LCBC will be hosting an event called Saturdays @ LCBC. It’s all about the why behind what we do at LCBC. This event is targeted to leaders, pastors, employees, and volunteers from other churches. Our goal is to be able to help them understand why we do what we do so that they start thinking about their dreams and visions. So they can figure out their why. We want them to ask “What is my dream for my church?”.

If you are a church leader or volunteer and would like to know more about Saturdays @ LCBC check out the link above or click on the banner over here ———–>

Either way, I’d love to hear to hear from you. Does your organization have a “why”? There’s honestly so many different levels in which you could ask the why question.

So, if you are up for it, below let me know what you’ve been thinking about lately and the “whys” you have been concluding. 

Start With Your Canvas

I have a simple quote and thought for you to think about today. A few months ago I came across this quote on Ben Arment’s blog.

“I am convinced that the work of an artist doesn’t begin on a canvas presented to her. Not one gets that kind of opportunity. It begins with creating the canvas, the opportunity, the idea model, the spreadsheet.”

We talked about this quote in our Creative Team meeting at work and I printed it out and put it on the front of my journal book. On a weekly bases I’m challenged by Ben’s quote.

Usually I blog about three things here, Leadership, Creativity, and Social Media stuff. Sometimes is a combination of the three. This post I’m marking Leadership/Creativity. The reason I’m doing this is because one of the biggest things I’ve been learning about fostering our creative nature is leading ourselves well. And, allowing ourselves to be lead well by others.

So, here is my question for you. In what ways are you leading yourself to create your own canvas? You just won’t create it if you aren’t being intentional about it.

What ways are you leading to create a new canvas in your organization?

What canvas are you creating for your family?

What canvas are you creating for your strengths?

What is the idea model, spreadsheet, the opportunity that you need to create?

(Photo Props)

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