management San Diego Living San Diego State

Two San Diego State Universities: The Power of Winning

I’m new to State. I moved into the College Area in 2008 and quickly adopted them. I’m not an alumni. I didn’t grow up in San Diego. They are just the school that’s near my house and I enjoy going to football and basketball games.

McLane Creative

Start-up Mode, What We’re Learning

“So, how is the start-up stuff going?”

It’s a fair and caring question. I get it all the time.

Several months ago Kristen and I felt God pulling for a big change. Long before we even knew exactly how it would play out… we knew it was time to go for it. You know, a double dip recession and the worst economy in a generation is the perfect time to launch a start-up, right?

Actually, it is.

If you have a good business idea there is no such thing as a bad economy. If you want to think about economics, tomorrows biggest business winners are being determined today because the people who profit while everyone else is floundering will pay bigger dividends than those who either lose ground our don’t do anything now.

“It’s crazy.”

That’s my response when people ask that question because it’s the truth.

It’s crazy fun. It’s crazy the things I’m working on. And it’s crazy to think about all the conversations I’ve had as I’ve considered various opportunities over the past months.

It’s crazy to have to do things like month-to-month forecasts. And it’s crazy to have to rent an office for myself when I’ve had an office of my own provided by an employer since I was about 19 years old.

What I’m Learning

  1. I wish we had done this earlier. It’s not that I regret a moment of my time at YS, but as we ramp things up that I could have done this sooner and we’d be further along in our development.
  2. It’s not scary. Right now, there are millions of people doing jobs they hate because they are too afraid to make a change. I’m more afraid of doing a job that I don’t want to do than I’m afraid of starting my own business.
  3. Mission drives focus. I’ve been asked to consider projects that just weren’t right for what I’m trying to do. And a few times, in my insecurity, I’ve said yes to things that were more a distraction to my mission than they were profitable for our business.
  4. You have to stand up for yourself. In the past I’ve either just dealt with difficulties or had someone to help me with things I couldn’t correct. But now? I’ve got to have difficult conversations with people. I’ve got to be clear about what I am and am not going to do. If I won’t stand up for myself, I’ll get stepped on.
  5. Disappointment is part of the deal. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten amped for a big thing that hasn’t happened. It just goes with the territory. It’s not that I don’t allow myself to be disappointed anymore. But I have learned to deal with it quickly and move on.
  6. Dreamers get paid. Some of the most fun projects I’m working on happened because of saying, “Hey, wouldn’t that be cool if…?” Or it’s cousin, “How can we work together on that?
  7. Helping people is best. I LOVE helping people do stuff they thought wasn’t possible. There’s nothing quite like doing some training and seeing people go, “Oh, I could do ___ with that. Wow!” Believe it or not… that’s not that common. Traditional business wisdom would teach the opposite.
  8. It’s all about value. I have a philosophy that I want to deliver ridiculous value to the people I work with. Why? Delivering value builds loyalty.
  9. Admit when you suck. Just like I’ve had to learn to stand up for myself I’ve had to learn to go over and above when I’ve stunk. It happens. It will happen. Just admit it, pony up, and resolve to do better.
  10. Take advantage of the flexibility. The biggest mistake I’ve made in the past six months is not taking time off. I’ve gotten good about scheduling stuff. But vacation time? I didn’t do it. In 2012, I’ve got 4 weeks of downtime already booked.
Church Leadership Good News

Do we live on the same planet?

Sometimes I’ll meet a person in ministry and think, “Do we live on the same planet?” 

  • I’ve got a really solid core group of kids each Wednesday night– I think they have a chance at winning the Bible quizzing championship.
  • Our high school students are very involved in the community. Each year we get together with other churches in our district for a youth rally. They love it.
  • I always take my sword wherever I go. You have to be prepared for battle at all times.
  • I had to pull my kids out of public school because in California there’s a new law that teachers have to include gay history in the curriculum. (What’s really weird is that they don’t live in California!)
  • I teach my students that they need to take a stand. A life with Jesus is all about taking the stand, right?

Code language. Insular communities. Church-centric attitudes. It leaves me wondering who they are trying to reach?

It makes me wonder how they have a conversation with their neighbors? I wonder what they are thinking as they get to know Diane next door, who just had to put her mom in a home. Or what they talk about with the gay couple across the street? Or what their neighbors think about them when they turn off their light on Halloween? Or refuse to come to the block party because people are drinking?

I wonder if people think of them as good news in the neighborhood?

I’m guessing that there are a lot of neighbors hiding from a lot of their Christian neighbors in this country.

I believe in Jesus. He is my only hope for salvation. And I fully acknowledge that the church is God’s chosen instrument for believers. But there is this sliver of people in every church who… are really weird.

And no one ever has the guts to tell them the truth: “You’re weird. And you really need to work on that. Jesus asks us to be different in a good way. Your weirdness is making it harder for me.

The Flip Side – The culture wars are dying

Not all church staff are like that. It’s actually very few.

More and more I’m hearing a bad strategy being replaced with good strategy.

  • In order to reach a community you have to meet the relevant needs of the community.
  • In order to start reaching more people we had to stop fighting culture and stop teaching that the output of a life with Jesus is behavior modification.
  • We recognize that to reach our neighbors we have to be good news before they will hear Good News.
  • Rather than bring a program into our community which worked elsewhere, we’re going to the community and asking how we can serve them.
But it’s the really weird ones that we now have to shake and ask, “Do we live on the same planet?
Church Leadership

All Culture is God’s Culture

See Nicholas Kristof’s post at his New York Times blog which spurred on these thoughts, John Stott and Christian Evangelicals.

Feedback? If what I’m saying is true, how would this impact how you do ministry in and through your church?


The Godfather, Scene One

Easily my favorite films.

Right from the first scene you see that the world is controlled by two competing mores.

First, the surface world where law & order seemingly rule in a land where everyone is equal. Second, the underworld which truly defines what law & order means for a certain class of people.

This reveals something we all know: There are rules that apply to everyone and there is another set of rules which appear to not apply to everyone.

Such is the way of the world. Such is the way of the world. Such is the way of the world. 


City People Really are Wired Differently

Photo by Jerry W. Lewis via Flickr (Creative Commons)

In 2002, Kristen and I considered a position at a lovely church in rural Nebraska. The nearest large city was Lincoln some two hours away. The town was quaint and cute as a postcard. But as we dug into the realities of moving somewhere with one coffee shop, a small grocery store, a gas station, and three farm implement dealers we realized that we really couldn’t see ourselves living 45 minutes from the nearest town with a  supermarket. (Or hospital, mall, or even Applebee’s.)

We loved the idea of a ministering in a simple, farm town. And we adored the church and their vision for the community. (Nearly half the town attended their church each Sunday morning!) But, ultimately we are wired as city folks. We were used to riding the cramped train to work. And, in Chicago, we were never more than a few blocks from the nearest Starbucks. Even in our 5 years of living in Detroit’s northern suburbs we found ourselves constantly annoyed by the monoculture of suburbia. The quiet and wide open space and all of that stuff kind of raises my stress level a bit. When it’s that quiet and wide open I find myself humming the Dueling Banjos from Deliverance.

I feel alive and free in an urban setting while visiting or living in a more rural place raises my anxiety level. (Folks from Romeo will remember that we chose to live in the village and not out in the more rural areas of town.)

I always thought this was just my personal preference. But, it turns out that city people and rural people really are different neurologically. A recent article in Time Magazine shared some insights from recent research on the differences between rural and cities people’s brains.

In an international study, researchers at University of Heidelberg and the Douglas Mental Health University Institute at McGill University report in the journal Nature that people who live or were raised in cities show distinct differences in activity in certain brain regions than those who aren’t city dwellers.

Those who currently live in the city, for example, showed higher activation the amygdala, the brain region that regulates emotions such as anxiety and fear. The amygdala is most often called into action under situations of stress or threat, and the data suggest that city dwellers’ brains have a more sensitive, hair-trigger response to such situations, at least when compared with those living in the suburbs or more rural areas. Read more

All of this is kind of locked in during the first 15 years of life. Your developing brain is either used to the stimulation of the city or in suburban/rural settings and that becomes comfortable with one or the other.

As the article goes on to point out– there are positives and negatives to either. City people tend to be more anxious over their lifetime than rural people. And people raised in the country are less likely to ever fully feel at ease living in the city.

Why does this matter?

Understanding yourself is often half the battle to managing life stress. As the article concludes, “So what does this mean for avid city livers like me? I’m not giving up my urban lifestyle, but I may have to balance the high-energy hum of city activity with more downtime. “In general when it comes to stress, it’s important to keep a balance,” says Pruessner. “These results suggest the need to keep things in balance so after a period of working hard, you balance that with a period of off-time as well.”

Read the full article here.

Christian Living

The Prince’s Posture

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

John 1:11-13

The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

Romans 8:16-17

Do you have a Prince’s Posture?

Christians believe that Jesus’ work gave us access to the King of Kings. Not only do we have access through Christ– We are adopted as children of God.

Adopted children of the King with unlimited access to God. That’s status.

And yet, as I interact with Christians in leadership at their church, and especially as I interact with Christians in the public arena I’m appauled how many of us take a posture of weakness, irrelevancy, and… other postures unworthy of respect or the high calling we have on our lives.

We genuflect to the kings, demigods, and pseudo-powers of our society instead of carrying a prescence and posture of a prince.

A prince would never need to genuflect to a local lord. Nor would he entertain, beyond amusement, the solutions of those who didn’t have access to the knowledge he had.

But that’s the posture many people take in society.

The only thing worse than an arrogant prince is a weak, defeated one

A prince isn’t cocky, he is confident. A prince isn’t intimidated by challenges, he uses his resources to overcome. A prince isn’t lead by fools, he is entertained by them. He isn’t overcome by his insecurities in the public arena, as he knows his King owns the public arena and His Father has the power over the people. Ultimately, the prince isn’t worried worried what people think, because he understands that any power in the room belongs to his Father.

A Prince’s Posture

  • Self-assured
  • Confident
  • Clear-minded
  • Generous
  • Polite
  • Educated
  • Connected
  • A doer of his Father’s business, not a debater of what his Father might want

As we begin a new week, my encouragement for my fellow princes and princesses is to put on the Prince’s posture and put away the insecurities.


Place your bet

Photo by @ Alex via Flickr (Creative Commons)

A few months ago I went to Las Vegas with my father-in-law for 24 hours. There are at least 4 things hilarious with that statement, right?

He was running a marathon and needed someone to drive with him from San Diego to Las Vegas and back. I went since it’d be nice to catch-up along the way as well as have lunch with my mom, who lives a mile from the Strip.

Since my mom lives there… I have been to Vegas at least 10 times. Normally, I like to people watch late at night. The joke has always been that I’m down $11 in slots lifetime and I’m mad about it. I’ve never really been into the games.

What I learned from 6 hours on the Strip

Unlike my normal late-night-people-watching, this trip had me up very early, checked out of my hotel, and walking the Strip by breakfast. With more than 6 hours to kill I wandered through a few casinos filled with old people playing slots and a bunch of dealers standing at empty tables.

Along the way I stopped at a Starbucks. As I sipped my mocha I entertained myself by watching a few scattered games here and there. In truth, like a lot of Christians, I feel really out of place on a casino floor. More because I don’t know what to do than that I don’t feel like I could enjoy it.

At one casino there was a small crowd around the crap table. It was a morning clinic explaining how the game worked. Perfect… I could kill an hour, learn something, and its free.

Here’s an observation from that clinic: There is a time to place bets. But once the time has passed it is too late for placing bets. You are either in the game or you are out. The shooter rolls 7 or 11 on his first roll, everyone with a bet on the line instantly doubles their money. If you think about it, every form of gambling has that same timeline. A time to place bets. A time when betting is closed. And a moment when a winner is declared. Cards, slots, horses, lottery, etc.

When you are playing in the game you have a claim at the table. You can win or you can lose. Your heart beats faster and adreneline pumps. The dealers chatter with you. And the cocktail waitress is happy to bring you a bottle of water or whatever you’d like on the house.

When you aren’t in the game you have no claim to the table. You can’t lose but you can’t win either. You’re on the sidelines as an observer. No pitter-patter of your heart. The dealers might not acknowledge you. And fat chance in getting a free drink from the waitress if you aren’t in the game. You’re just another tourist.

Gambling in Vegas is a lot like life outside of Vegas

It feels like people are so afraid of losing that they just refuse to place a bet at all.

  • College – Where do I want to go? What do I want to study?
  • Marriage and family– Is this the right person? What if it’s the wrong person? Should we have kids? If so, when?
  • Vocation – What do I want to do when I grow up? What if I don’t like it?
  • Location – Where do I want to live?

People aren’t shy about their shock with Kristen and I because we placed bets on all four of those categories early in life and have continued to “improve our hand” over the years.

The flip side, experience has taught: In order to win you have to place a bet in the game. And the window for placing a bet is limited. When the time comes to place a bet I already know I want to be in the game because sitting on the sidelines is too boring for me. There are risks and rewards… but I always know I want to be in the game.

Life’s winners and losers are in the game. But those who hold on, never placing a bet, will never know what winning feels like because they are too afraid to accept the risk of losing. And that, my friends, is losing every time.

Culture iphone Web/Tech

iPhone, Your New Cigarettes

iPhone, Your New Cigarettes

The parallels between the iPhone in 2011 and cigarettes in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, and 80s are stunning.

  • It’s iconic.
  • It’s celebrated as the cool thing.
  • It’s a status symbol.
  • It’s celebrated in the media.
  • It’s manufacturer is getting rich.
  • There are cheap imitations. (Sorry Android users)
  • It’s addicting, but not viewed as a serious addiction.
  • The first thing you do in the morning is light up your iPhone.
  • The last thing you do before you go to bed is put your iPhone out.
  • People step out of meetings to check their iPhone.
  • People huddle around their iPhone while they walk around.
  • They do it in public, to the sneering glare of non-iPhone users.
  • After sex… well, some people light up their iPhone.
  • The price could go up at any minute, but you’d still need an iPhone.

I’m as much an addict as the other millions of regular users. Hopeless. Helpless. And happily satisfied in my addiction.

Just like cigarettes– users are left with the question:

Do you own your iPhone or does your iPhone own you?

Culture hmm... thoughts

Leave me alone

Photo by Ian Burt via Flick (Creative Commons)

Maybe I want to be in debt, eat crappy food, and watch endless hours of mind-numbing television?

Has it ever crossed your mind that the reasons I do this are because I want to? And maybe, just maybe,  don’t want to be fixed?

Maybe it’s not about addiction? Maybe it’s not some sort of freudian cover-up to deal with the pain of childhood lost? And maybe it’s not because I’m avoiding handling my responsibilities.

Thank you Dr. Phil. Thank you Suze Orman. Thank you Dave Ramsey.

Yeah– I’ve heard about the book. Yeah– I’ve heard about your website.

But no thank you.

A fix it culture

Rooted in our DNA as Americans is an innate desire and need to fix things. We find our identity by making broken things better. It is a source of great pride. People who fix things are heroes. People who need fixing are zeroes.

We hunt out things that aren’t right and apply a solid dose of American stick-to-it-tiveness to the situation so that it falls in line with a level of social acceptability.

We love Dr. Phil.

And Maury Povich, Jerry Springer, Judge Joe Brown, Oprah Winfrey, and we used to love Phil Donohue.

We feed off of Biggest Loser. Before that we giggled at Richard Simmons, while thinking he was a hero at the same time.

A show like This Old House or Flip this House are as addicting as crack cocaine.

We text in our favorite underdog to American Idol or Dancing with the Stars.

Then a few years later we cry along with fallen heroes on Celebrity Rehab.

Fix me, baby. Fix me.


Because we have an innate desire to fix people.

And yet we never ask the question… “Would you like to be fixed?” Or “Can we humiliate you on national television so people can be entertained?

At the end of the day, deep in our DNA, we don’t care if someone wants the help nor do we take the time to understand how they could best use our help.

We’re too busy fixing symptoms and not causes.