Bassline

Bassline

I was listening to a podcast recently where they were talking about the bass note being the deepest, truest, most defining thing about who we are.  This is the type of podcast where they are trying to be inclusive of all religions, but the Christian leader of the podcast was clearly talking about the God that I know…

Betting

Betting

Every employer I talk to is frustrated with the state of the current employment base.  Workers seem less committed to long-term employment.  Tenures of their employees seem to be shrinking.  No one is interested in building a long-term career.  Nothing is like it used to be.

Or is it?

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, not much has really changed on the tenure of the average employee of a salary and wage job in over 50 years…


Prioritize

Prioritize

Most of us are pretty good at the one and pretty poor at the other.  We're super clear on what our priorities should be:

  1. God

  2. Family

  3. Friends

  4. Work

  5. etc.

We got the “noun” part of this thing down. We know how to give the right answer when we are asked about what is most important to us. The “verb” is where things really start to break down.

The reality is determined…

Staged

Staged

Our realtor came with a stager.  She rolled through the house and quickly arrived at a short list of things that would ultimately change our lives.

  • cut the contents of our closets down by half

  • whittle our hundreds of books in our shelves to dozens

  • make the house more welcoming from the street…

Boxes

Boxes

Zeus gives a box to Pandora, the first woman, with one strong stipulation: don’t open it. Like almost anyone, the prohibition on opening the box was actually the catalyst to that occurring.  (At least that is the way it works for me.)  She opens the box and all kinds of evils and miseries were unleashed to affect mankind.

Most of us suffer under the idea that there is stuff in a box or closet that we just need to keep closed. That if we open up to those mysteries, all kinds of misery and evil will be unleashed.  

But my experience has been exactly the opposite.

What is actually lurking in the shadows is opportunity, goodness, and the foundation for so much restoration. It is walking into those closets…

(In)validate

(In)validate

We believe in the idea of calling. We think that we were all uniquely created to offer one aspect of the Divine that no other creature can (as C.S. Lewis talks about).  Abundant life, momentum, productivity, joy, etc. are found at the intersection of your life, God, and what he particularly created you to do.

One of the leaders we work with said recently in an interview:

“Having that kind of clarity gives you a sense of calm, a resolve. You are not anxious about the future or even the past for that moment. You are a little more excited about the present and that everything is so purposeful and is so meaningful.”  

Turns out there is similar data to support the power of organizational purpose and helping employees align their own purposes to that…

Clear

“The right time to make the right decision…is as soon as possible.” 


When I was involved in the securities industry for a couple of decades, bond salesmen used to talk about firing clients. It was always a cause for celebration when you could.  

  • It meant you no longer had to deal with a tedious or challenging client.
  • It clearly meant that you also had enough other business that you could afford to lose the client you were firing.

It was not something you could do while you were building your career. When you were trying to establish your book of business, you pretty much had to accept doing business with whoever would help you pay the bills. It didn’t matter how difficult or challenging the client might be.

Every time we added a new salesperson to the trading floor I managed, the same process would occur. We would help the new hire establish a book by giving them the castaways from our existing sales team. These were the prospects that they hadn’t much luck with, but also the difficult or challenging clients that the team wanted to fire.

We are starting to see some of our clients fire customers as well.

I met with one recently who proudly told me that they had fired a client. It was a very big deal.  Before you think that this doesn’t sound like a very significant thing, you probably need to know that they only have 7 others.  

They were firing 1/8 of their customer base!

So far this year, this client has clarified their values and purpose. They have crafted a transcendent vision and started working on the strategic steps it will take to get them there.  They have elevated leaders and begun to approach their market in a much more strategic way.

They are clear on who they are.

They are clear on where they are going.

They are clear on the kind of clients they are going after.

They are clear on the kind of clients that no longer fit their firm.

They are adding a client to replace the one they are firing. The first of many they will add out of their new confidence, clarity, and desire to grow in their market.

In the investment world, you fired a customer when you could afford to.  Our client fired someone because they couldn’t afford not to. Their client didn’t align with their values, purpose, or fit the overall culture of their business. The revenue wasn’t worth the challenges, frustrations, or the way they treated their employees.

They are making the right decision for the right reasons. 

Consider

  • Are you clear on who the best clients are for you?
  • Are you clear on your values, purpose, future vision, and your overall culture?
  • Are you using these crucial benchmarks to guide your decision making?
  • Are you willing to make even difficult financial decisions based on them?

Restoration

Restoration

Stories about restoration may be my favorite thing. Honoring great leadership is one of the others.  Emma Koehler’s story and the construction of Hotel Emma are about both.  

We all, at times, feel like we are powerless to succeed given the deck of cards that the market has dealt us or our industry.

You know that feeling, right?

And while there is a humility in not taking full credit for our success, it can be a tremendous stumbling block...

Attendance

Attendance

My tank was pretty much on empty.  I was showing up to work every day and was pretty proud of how I showed up to every game, practice, or other children’s event for my first 3 children who were 13, 10, and 7 at the time.  I was super present in my children’s lives, but knew in my heart that I didn’t really have much to offer.

At a men’s weekend in Colorado a little over 15 years ago, we were forced to take a hard look at our lives, our parenting, and our marriage.  It wasn’t a “beat down” like I had experienced at so many faith-based men’s events, but an open…

1 = 3

1 = 3

Despite managing $1 Billion in bank assets and outperforming virtually everyone in my high-performing peer group, I was still making only a few thousand more than when I started as a credit analyst just out of college.  Add to the fact we were expecting our third child and I felt like it was time to go around the boss (who said he was unable to adjust my compensation) and speak directly to the CFO we all reported to.

I was incredibly nervous.  My presentation included 3 years performance against the relevant Lehman indices, the incremental…

Campfire

Campfire

Some of my favorite conversations have happened while sitting around a campfire. I realized that there have been prolonged seasons of my life where my normal conversation seemed to profoundly shift when I sat around a fire with other men.  I talked about things there that just didn’t seem to come up in my everyday conversations.  I don’t know if it was that I was more primed, the other men there were more open, or somehow the Father orchestrated conversational magic as we looked into the flames.

It was likely all of those things, but I’ve come to realize that the real catalyst for significant conversations lies far beyond the campfire.  Progressively, I am having campfire conversations in every conversation.  Whether I am sitting around a fire…

Interdependence

Interdependence

As we celebrate our independence from a king and a kingdom, I am increasingly aware of our crucial need for greater interdependence with a King and a Kingdom. The incredible courage and self-determination it took to escape the control and tyranny of an oppressive monarchy might have lingering costs greater than we could have imagined.

The prototypical small American business owner is an extension and celebration of that pioneering spirit that made…

Underestimate

Underestimate

I think we started thinking about grandkids almost as soon as we started having kids. We hoped that our six children would produce a quiver full.  

“Like arrows in the hands of a warrior

    are children born in one’s youth.

Blessed is the man

    whose quiver is full of them.

Not only did our children start to marry young, our two eldest have now blessed us with grandchildren as well. We heard all the rhetoric about grandchildren:

  • "You won’t believe how much you can love those kids."

  • "It is even better than parenting your own."

  • "All the best stuff without some of the challenges."

Even with 25 years of anticipation and all that rhetoric…

Kingdom

Kingdom

Apparently, the monarchy is alive and well. Most estimates target global viewership of Prince William’s recent nuptials at about 2 billion.

2 billion! Over 25% of the world’s population!

Okay, at least 2 of my daughters and my wife (tape delay) watched the royal event. We definitely factored into those numbers, but it is still pretty staggering. There is an incredible amount of focus on the royal family and the events…

Tensions

Tensions

One of the concepts I reference most frequently in client meetings has to do with tensions versus problems. It was introduced to me by Andy Stanley at the Willow Creek Leadership Summit in 2010. One or more of our coaches likely reference it weekly in a client conversation.  It has become part of the holy canon of principles we apply.

For some, the idea of healthy tension may be an oxymoron. They believe that if they have a healthy organization, there won’t be any tension. Many leaders actually…

Stories

Stories

Americans spent over $10B at movie theaters last year. We are pretty aware of the fact that there is a diversion offered there that cannot be replicated anywhere else. With 2 hours and about 10 dollars, we can escape the mundane and get lost in adventure, intrigue, and romance. We can forget that the story we are living is likely much smaller and less interesting than the ones we are experiencing…

MasterClass

MasterClass

I had a simple principle that guided every day of my investment career:

I was just smart enough to know that there were a lot of people smarter than I am.

Now the brokers that called me from all over the country were used to talking to investment managers that thought they had it all figured out. The questions they usually posited were intended to stroke my ego and feed the misconception that I didn’t need their suggestions and that all my ideas must be the right…

Overflow

Overflow

My friend Bill told me about a vision God gave him for me.  He said that there was a free flowing river of God’s provision, freedom, life, and abundance.  I was standing right out in the middle and the water was washing over me.

He also said that the other picture he had was of him standing on the riverbank barely dipping his toe into the water.  

I think about those two images often.  

The contrast.

The embedded hope and longing.

The deep and powerful truth they hold.

Increasingly, the leaders I meet are exhausted, overwhelmed, and often discouraged.  They are not operating…

Narrow

Narrow

This story begins almost 20 years ago. A man with a wife of 11 years, a son of 10 years of age, and two daughters of 7 and 4.  The protagonist in this story is a banker managing a large investment portfolio (10 digits worth) with a carefully constructed spreadsheet of his future net worth (7 digits worth).

He is on track. Everything is happening according to plan. Numbers don’t lie, correct?  Well, at least they don’t, until they do.  Because the scoreboard our protagonist is trying to light up is the wrong one. This one is motivated…

Excavate

Excavate

Our kids enjoy a show called “Expedition Unknown” on the Travel Channel.  Every episode has the incredibly likable everyman Josh Gates taking us into the great unknown mysteries: the origins of Stonehenge, the Mayan lost city of Gold, and even the whereabouts of the Ark of the Covenant. 

He is often digging for and unearthing “treasure”. And I say that in quotations because what he typically finds looks more like a rock, a lump of clay, a shred of wood, or a piece of broken off something. Of course, once it is cleaned…