Month: March 2016

I want to be like Southwest Airlines

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Collins and Hansen have written an excellent research-based book called “Great by Choice” in which they surveyed companies that outperformed their tumultuous industries and times by 10x or more. People who lead these organizations are affectionately called “10xers.”

One excellent example is Southwest Airlines. If you invested $10,000 in Southwest in 1972, your investment would have been worth $12,000,000 in 2002. That’s 63.4x better than the market and 550.4x better than their industry. Here are some of my favorite takeaways from the book.

Myths we believe about successful organizations in turbulent times:

  • Successful leaders have to be bold, risk-seeking visionaries. Instead, figure out what worked, why it worked and build on proven foundations. Be more disciplined, empirical and paranoid.
  • Innovation distinguishes 10x companies in a fast-moving, uncertain and chaotic world. Instead, be able to scale innovation and blend creativity with discipline.
  • A threat-filled world favors the speedy; you’re either quick or you’re dead. Instead, figure out when to go fast and when not to.
  • Radical change on the outside requires radical change on the inside. Instead, change less.
  • Great enterprises with 10x success have a lot more good luck. Instead, it’s about what you do with luck (good and bad) when you get it.

Points to emphasize as you lead your organization:

  • Fanatic Discipline keeps you on track. Discipline is consistency of action, values, long-term goals, performance standards, and method. The highest form is self-discipline. Fanatic discipline stays the course and goes well beyond any “normal curve.”
  • Empirical Creativity keeps you vibrant. Empirical creativity is about direct observation, experiments, and gathering evidence. Most people turn to authority figures, peers, group norms for advice. 10xers gather their own evidence. They don’t favor analysis over action; they favor empiricism as the foundation for decisive action.
  • Productive Paranoia keeps you alive. Paranoia says, “Events could turn against me at any moment. They will. I’d better be prepared.” It’s not about paranoia per say, but about “effective action.” It’s about being hypervigilant. Productive paranoia keeps conservative financial positions and prepares for the unexpected.
  • Level 5 Ambition provides inspired motivation. Channel the “ego and intensity” into something larger and more enduring than yourself. It’s about building a great company, changing the world, achieving a great object that’s ultimately not about you. Level 5 leaders have personal humility and professional will. They hold inspired standards as more important than inspiring personality. The central question: “What are you in it for?” The answer is “impact, contribution and purpose” over “money, fame and power.”


For me, this looks like

  • gathering consistent people around me and being a consistent person myself. This includes values, strategies and standards. It’s about developing self-discipline. The Holy Spirit gives the fruit of self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). The Holy Spirit first filled someone for the arts and “all kinds of skills” (Exodus 33:1-3).
  • thinking deeply and looking into details even when it’s uncomfortable. The Holy Spirit gives gifts of words of wisdom and words of knowledge (1 Corinthians 12:8). Luke, who wrote to of the longest books of the New Testament, was a doctor that wrote with incredible detail for that era. As an example, we learn a lot about how Jesus died and rose again because Luke wrote with a high level of detail and checked his facts.
  • preparing for the unexpected; counting the cost. (Luke 14:25-34). We read over and over about the preparations David made to fight in battle. He wasn’t just hoping that things would go well. He knew that God would make him victorious, and he prepared for that victory. He often cited the exact number of men and supplies he was taking with him into battle. 
  • reminding myself and others around me about the bigger vision we have: we’re changing the world (Habakkuk 2:2). Jesus gives a vision of love and what we could be that compelled him beyond his comfort zone. Vision gives pain a purpose and personal humility mixed with aspiration to do something great is what will lead us boldly to new heights. 

Let’s fly like Southwest as we lead our organizations to 10x contributions.

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She gets it. Do you want to know the secrets of multiplication in your organization?

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Here’s how.

I recently finished “Multipliers” by Liz Wiseman and Greg McKeown. I suggest reading it sometime. One basic assumption that I appreciated was “People are smart and can figure things out.” I suggest integrating these top 5 takeaways now:

  1. Pull Weeds: Be a talent magnet: “Pull some weeds” or remove people that are holding others back.
  2. Label Opinions: Be a liberator: Label your opinions as “soft” (an idea or perspective) or “hard” (a clear and/or emphatic point of view).
  3. Ask Questions: Be a challenger: Extend a concrete challenge and ask great questions like “How would you propose we solve this?”
  4. Use Data: Be a debate maker: Back and base decisions with data.
  5. Force F-I-X: Be an investor: Never allow people to give an A-W-K without an F-I-X. Invite people to finish their own work and invest in themselves by stretching and offering solutions to problems they’ve identified.

If you can attract top talent by empowering them, setting them free, and creating a culture of challenge, debate and investment, you’ll see exponential growth in your company. They see their studies revealed 2x to 10x growth when companies were led by multipliers over diminishers.

Drucker and Fields have been quoted as saying “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” May your organization be wildly successful as it enjoys a hearty breakfast of healthy and empowered culture.

Cat Attack!

The other day, I was called into my son’s bedroom in the middle of the night. “There’s noises outside,” he exclaimed. I’m quite sure he thought he heard something like this:

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I explained that grandpa and grandma’s cat wanted inside, so Sugar was yelling loudly to get some attention. Had Enoch looked outside, he would have seen something like this:

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Enoch relaxed and slept peacefully the rest of the night.

Isn’t that the way it always is? We hear of wars and rumors of wars and get intimated. We see the first cat. We think of the worst possible situation. But our Heavenly Father comes alongside us. He explains the truth. Those noises aren’t nearly as scary as they seem in our head.

Sometimes, we just have to get victory over the battle of thoughts in our heads so that we can receive the blessing of rest and peace.

So, what’s the sound you’re hearing now? Is it the first picture or the second? Odds are, since Jesus already has final victory, it’s the second cat. Let’s take our eyes off the first cat and put them onto Jesus so He can show us that there’s nothing to fear.

Gallons of Grace


We just got the car from heaven. It’s not because it’s really the most amazing car.

Knowing we were coming back to the States for three months, we decided we needed to have a set of wheels to help us get around while in Minnesota. We reached out to family and friends to see if anyone had anything available and a couple of people started looking around. 

In the end, my father in law decided to buy us a vehicle. We started looking around for options. His price range was set a little higher than I felt comfortable with. I explained that I’d always grown up working hard for things and earning them. 

Dave sat at the kitchen table and explained that we’re part of the family. He credited God for providing what they have and talked about how proud of us they are. He said it was no big deal, but that he really wanted us to be taken care of. 

As we went car shopping, he constantly asked my opinion of things and then negotiated a deal for a great vehicle that was indeed outside of our personal price range. 

The next morning, as we were preparing to take our new Lincoln Aviator on our first trip, Dave stole the keys and filled up the tank. 

We’re literally driving down the road a vehicle purchased by grace and fueled by grace. 

This is the kind of life I want to live. Andy Mason talks about the “cycle of Sonship” in his quick, but profound book entitled “God With You Work.” 

 In the family, we are connected and receive an inheritance to increase 
He understands that in the kingdom, we begin with the value of family. It leads to connection with God, the Father. In our relationship with Him and through our connection to Him, we receive an inheritance and learn to increase it. 

I have a strengthened desire not only to use this vehicle well, but to increase it, to invest in it. My hope is that I would learn how to live by grace, which freely receives and can freely give, but also expects more than “earning it,” because grace empowers. Our vehicle has been purchased by the blood of Jesus our tank is filled by the power of the Holy Spirit.

What’s stopping us from driving right into what He has for us today?

10 Onward Resolutions

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Cloud was, perhaps subconsciously, looking a place to belong. His time belonging at Aroma started around a table while we practiced English together. It continued at the communion table as Cloud learned to trust in Jesus. He belongs everyday as we work together to minister to the larger community at Aroma through small groups. One day it’s going to culminate at the wedding feast of the lamb in heaven.

I’ve been intrigued by the process one goes through to find a place to belong. More specifically, I’ve been reflecting on thoughts from the book “Onward,” by Howard Shultz.  The CEO’s thoughts on Starbuck’s battles from beginning to 2010 are insightful for organizations seeking to live from passion for a particular stance they take. We can and must create places where people belong. Shultz refers to this as offering people a “third space.”

Here are some “belonging resolutions” I’d love to apply to my personal life, business and ministry moving forward. Each of these resolutions are quotes from the book rewritten in a way I want to personally adopt.

  • Resolved to think and communicate as clearly as the Transformation Agenda (a take from Agile Marketing) did for Starbucks in their highs and lows. Resolved to communicate effectively through self-examination in the pursuit of excellence, and a willingness not to embrace the status quo. Resolved to let this be a cornerstone of my leadership philosophy. Resolved to let communication be narrow, clear and repetitive in order to set expectations and win people’s trust. Resolved to tell a great story by making sensory, emotional connections. People belong when communication is open and honest. We can learn to speak the truth in love.
  • Resolved to believe. “The Beatles believed. And if you believe, you can change anything.” Resolved to let knowledge breed passion. People belong when they have something bigger than themselves worth believing in.
  • Resolved to create an engaging, respectful and trusting workplace culture through a combination of intent, process, and heart that is to be constantly fine-tuned. Resolved to empower team members to give legendary service keeping our culture alive, growing and thriving. Resolved to protect and preserve my core friends and family. Resolved to work together with others, instilling confidence. Resolved to utilize boards of directors to make sure companies are managed well. People belong when they see their leader not just “being a maverick,” but rather working together with other, more experienced leaders while maintaining a stance of intentional vulnerability. People belong when a high-invitation, high challenge culture welcomes them to be safe yet accountable to their best.
  • Resolved to get my hands dirty. People belong when everyone gets involved. There’s a certain camaraderie that comes from being in something together, even if it means both of us are tired. Resolved to “climb the mountain.” Resolved to consider the fact that climbing a mountain is not for everyone, but takes fortitude for the journey, skill to make tough, quick decisions and faith the brand and leadership. Resolved to stay the course, maintaining values and our company’s core. People don’t have a problem with hard work. They have a problem with not understanding how it fits into something bigger God is doing or not understanding how it aligns with their personal passions. People belong when they know the vision.
  • Resolved to strike a balance between heritage and innovation. Resolved to maintain confidence about where I’m headed and to bring people along. People belong when they see the vision even if the exact path might lack clarity. Resolved to instill in the organization excitement about and courage for developing new products. Resolved to try to live up to high expectations by pushing people further than they think they can go, yet not further than I believe they are capable of going.  People belong when they know where they came from but are also willing to embrace change.
  • Resolved to be an icon. Icons make use of the times, assert cultural authority, don’t confuse history with heritage, project and protect their values, disrupt themselves before others disrupt them, sacrifice near-term popularity for long-term influence. People belong when they see something bigger than themselves.
  • Resolved to play to win; not to play not to lose. Resolved to care all the time the way I care some of the time. Resolved to be a person of passion regardless of its affects. Resolved to effectively balance entrepreneurial vision with patience of execution, paying the same degree of attention to the back end of the business that I am hardwired to pay to the front end. Resolved to use everything, even marketing, to shape culture for positive change. People belong when we dream big and go for the goal with precisioned discipline.
  • Resolved to be a fiscally responsible organizational leader; for example, cutting labor costs, not by cutting jobs but by holistically reshaping how and when work gets done within the organization. People belong when they know you want something for them instead of from them.
  • Resolved to ask tough questions. For example, How could we re-create and improve the store experience, which is our heritage and the foundation of the brand’s identity? How might we expand on our value proposition, which has always been about emotional and human connection? How should we strengthen our voice to tell a better story? How could we extend our authority beyond the four walls of a shop or venue? People belong when they get better. They get better through facing the facts but maintaining hope in the future.
  • Resolved to grow with discipline. Balance intuition with rigor. Innovate around the core. Don’t embrace the status quo. Find new ways to see. Never expect a silver bullet. Get my hands dirty. Listen with empathy and over-communicate with transparency. Tell our story, refusing to let others define us. Use authentic experiences to inspire. Stick to our values, they are our foundation. Hold people accountable but give them the tools to succeed. Make the tough choices; it’s how we execute that counts. Be decisive in times of crisis. Be nimble. Find truth in trials and lessons in mistakes. Be responsible for what I see, hear, and do. Believe. People belong when we bring our best to the table and dine with them.

I hope ultimately that my life, family, business, and ministry can be one where people “belong,” not because it’s lackadaisical, but because we all strive together to be and do our best.