Four questions to ask about your friends who influence you

  Your close friends say a lot about you. I don't mean they talk about you I mean they are a reflection of what you value. It's not uncommon to get comfortable in a group of friends and the entire group can flow to decisions that change your values. Often, our fear of isolation keeps us in a group of friends who influence us but we'd prefer to be making other choices.

Do you ever evaluate your friends? You might look back on this time and realize you were living out something you're not proud of (kind of like those awkward family photos, which is one of my favorite sites).

Here are a couple of questions I have begun to ask myself about friends who influence me:

1. Does their faith have action? - This might not apply to you but I am looking for friends who believe in something and therefore act. And this has to be outside their own address, meaning they care about others outside their own family. Faith without action is dead so do I see my friends being a blessing to others?

2. Do they ever have enough? - I'd prefer to have friends who add value to my life. By value I don't mean more expensive stuff. I find value in encouragement, conversation, support, challenge, and laughter. It's difficult to be friends with someone who never has enough possessions. Not one of us is void of wanting more but having influencing friends who constantly want more just increases our discontent. Which brings me to my next question...

3. How do they spend money? - Could it be true your financial peace is a reflection of your friends? Sure it can. Most people I know who would like to be debt free are stopped short in their effort by the fear of what their friends will think of their lifestyle. And so we spend money to keep up an appearance of a group of friends.

4. Are they consumers or producers? - I greatly enjoy friends who push me to create. To do something new. Friends that stretch my assumption of what could be. It stirs something in me to be around people who want to be creative and bless others through their creativity.

Friends have a significant influence on our lives. It's important that we ask ourselves good questions about our friends because it's easy for a group of people to drift into a lifestyle we feel like we have to keep up with even though it's not something we want.

What questions do you ask about your friends? What kind of questions would you hope your friends ask about you? Please leave your comments below!


4 must have tools for leaders (especially non-profit leaders)

Those who know me know that I can get a little geek'd up over technology toys.  But every once in a while I come across a resource that actually makes me better or more efficient as a leader.  Oprah had her favorite things (YOU GET A CAR) and today I am going to Oprah your face off with tools you are going to use as a leader (I tried to prolong using the word "tools" as long as possible because I know some of my audience will snicker in public just reading the word). [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcI-rHO0yko[/youtube]


We are going to work our way from the most popular to the one you may have never heard of.

(Drum Roll in the sound booth)

1.  Dropbox

I have become a cloud fanatic.  Dropbox is like a online harddrive.  The best part is that it's so simple to share files from Dropbox.  As a leader, you have a great opportunity to have a lot of free memory.  If you start an account and then invite your team to also have Dropbox, you get 250mb free every time a team member signs up.  Brilliant!  I have moved every working file I have to Dropbox.  Plus, I can then access it anywhere online or through an app.

2.  Evernote

Evernote is also a cloud based system but it is used for note taking.  The beauty in Evernote is that it's available on every device and syncs to every device.  So the note I take down on my phone is waiting for me when I open my computer.  Or the notes I put on my iPad are waiting for me on my phone when I get to the meeting.  When I got the idea for this post I was in my car.  So I used the new dictation function on my iPhone 5 and put a note into Evernote just by speaking an idea.  That's called Geek'n out.

3.  DocScan Pro App

This little guy is an App and worth every penny.  Yes, you have to purchase the Pro version but you'll thank me later.  DocScan Pro does away with a need for a scanner.  I love DocScan pro for keeping receipts.  Every time I have a receipt I just use DocScan Pro to take an image, turn it into a PDF, and then I export to my receipt file saved in Dropbox.  It takes me about 30 seconds to do it all.  I know this much, if these British kids (They might be Austrailian, I can never tell the difference unless someone drops a "Mate" or a "Barbie") can do it, so can you!



4.  Red Stamp App

Every single leader should have this app.  How often are you in situations as a leader where you see people doing tremendous things and you want to say thank you?  Now you can do that in the moment with Red Stamp.  Look what I did for you all since I'm so thankful you read my blog!


How great is that!  Red Stamp's website say's this, "Email, text, tweet, Facebook, Instagram and paper mail personalized photo cards, notes, invitations + announcements right from your iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch."

That's stinking brilliant and an incredible way to let someone know you appreciate them!

Okay, now it's your turn.  What other resources or tools would you have listed as "must have's" for leaders!? Please leave your comment below!

Ship it good

Top three things I learned about leadership in 2011

#1: Leaders Ship

You're probably thinking this is a joke but it's not a joke. I know, obviously leaders ship because the word is leadership. Seth Godin has forever influenced me through his book Linchpin (which you can order through my sidebar by placing your cursor over the book) because he talks about the importance of shipping an idea. Yes, everyday people package things in a box and hand them off to UPS or some shipping company to be delivered but this is different. This shipping means you stop having an idea and you start sharing your idea. This shipping means you stop thinking about an invention and you create the invention. You've got to ship it, ship it good (I mean come on, you had to see that coming). Whatever you think would make the world better for people you have to ship it!

The desire to ship is to lead where no one else has been. In a time that isn't yet defined and without a standard, which I think is now, Godin would define creation in this span as art. I want to be an artist that ships. I don't want to be a good factory worker that is always on time and just does what their told. I want to look on the horizon to see what's coming and create art for future success. This was my best leadership lesson in 2011, to be a leader who chooses to ship.

Are you engaged?

Most leaders would say, "I want to be engaging." I think leaders mean it in the way that Merriam-Webster defines it as a transitive verb on 5 A and B (Click to see definition). We want to hold the attention of people. Our organizations want to hold the attention of people. As leaders we want this with our teams, but have we stopped to look up from our work and notice what holds the attention of the people we lead? Without A there is no B, yet we want to hold the attention of the people so that they will be induced to participate. See, this is where leaders are asking the wrong questions when it comes to being involved in social media. Leaders will lean towards the thinking of, "Will people pay attention to me if I put effort into social media?" We are so accustomed to leading the charge that we think all eyes are supposed to be on us. But it's time for us to bring the backwards-ness (I made up that word) of the Gospel to social media. Leaders should be asking, "Do I see what's important to the people I lead on social media? Am I engaged in the place where the people I lead are sharing their lives? Do I see what has them burning with passion on social media?" This is the Gospel, not that we are trying to influence people to believe what we believe, but that we are sharing life with them.

This is how people in leadership are dropping the ball with social media. They think, "I don't want to have to put in the work so that people can see me," instead of putting in the time so they can say, "I see YOU and what YOU are doing is significant!"

Leaders, I have to ask you: are you engaged? Is your attention on the lives of your people and are you induced to participate in their lives? Or is everything about you?

Do you see organizations or leaders who are engaging the lives of their people? Please share if you do!