February 28, 2011

Rob Bell is Right. And You're Proving it.



As one who comes from the Church, I have to defend Rob Bell a lot - from others within the Church. Rarely because of anything they have read or seen him say directly. But, rather, someone they respect has cried "heretic" at Bell and his teachings at some point in time.

To be clear, Bell absolutely could be a heretic. If being heretical means being wrong about something. Here's what I know. He is a fabulous communicator who has brought the 21st century church into the 20th century with his Nooma video series. And his honest exploration and questioning of the relationship between the Creator and creation, both at the individual and collective church level has been a wonderful resource for my spiritual growth.

(Note: these same people who cry "Heretic!" at Bell would most assuredly do the same thing to me if I had a larger platform - remind me to show you some feedback I got from my latest Christian indie-rock album.)

Bell has a new book coming out called, Love Wins. I have embedded a clip above, where he teases the book with the thought-provoking question, "Do we really know who's going to heaven and who's going to hell?", pointing out that the Christian church has simply evolved into this group of people who believe their primary role is simply to classify those in each category.

And, in one united voice, as soon as this video teaser was released, the Christian community shouted together, "Rob Bell is a Universalist and is going to hell."

The irony was completely lost on them.

It's not about ignoring foolishness. Or accepting lies. It's simply discouraging that the church has stopped even trying to be thoughtful - stopped even listening anymore. Because if you were, you'd realize that Rob Bell's making you look like a moron.

February 25, 2011

I Used to Make Fun of Communications Majors

My friends in college who were Communication majors never went to school to become that. They were all drop-outs of their originally intended program. It was a fall-back plan.

Looking back, I'm not sure why I found it so funny. I think it's because I didn't understand what you did with it. "What, are you going to 'communicate' for a living? ha ha."

And there's some truth to it. It's a little too broad to be super marketable, straight out of college. But now that I'm in the real world, I see that communication is THE single skill that's most lacking.

If you're brilliant, but can't communicate effectively, it's entirely a waste.

February 24, 2011

Should I Be Intimidated By You?

I went to a conference the other day - full of strangers. I didn't know who the speakers were or what they looked like. And when I arrived, the conference speakers were sitting in seats along with all of the rest of us, chatting with the attendees. This was a problem.

I didn't know who I was supposed to be intimidated by.

You instantly treat people differently based on their title. We automatically give people the authority that we know others have given them. But that only works if we're aware of it.

I wasn't. And I was happily talking to a woman I thought was an attendee. It turned out that she was the big shot in the group. And if I had known, I definitely would have made a worse impression, through awkwardness. But I'm not sure what the next steps are from this real-life lesson in ignoring 'celebrity'. Any advice?

February 23, 2011

Why Do Poor Criminals Run?

Why do poor criminals always run? These guys have committed the least serious crimes in the entire legal system. And yet, they always end up running.

My first thought is that perhaps it's because they grew up watching the television show, "Cops." That show has created the expectation that robbers run.

Yet, if this is true, then Cops would also create the expectation that robbers who run, get caught - every time. In fact, I have yet to see an episode of Cops where they end the episode looking around saying, "Crap, we lost him."

I'm not saying this doesn't happen. But these episodes never air. So, there is no encouragement for the robbers to run. Unless you have 2 strikes against you, adding "reckless endangerment" to the charges simply isn't worth it.

Why don't these high school dropouts understand reason?

February 22, 2011

Can't Buy Me, Love

It's interesting what you miss when you listen to music written in a different time/context than yours.

I always thought that the Beatles song and lyric, "Can't Buy Me Love", was simply an example of bad grammar. Not knowing that calling a girl, "Love", for example, "C'mere, love." is common parlance in Britain.

In this song, McCartney is actually proclaiming that he, himself, can not be bought.

And this is not true. If you read the rest of the lyrics, this becomes clear. But at first brush, it makes sense right? It's a reasonable observation if you ignore all other evidence.

Today's Weird But Hugely Important Lesson:
You will always believe the first reasonable argument you hear. It is your job to seek out alternatives to compare it against.

February 21, 2011

Bill Gates is Giving Away His Money!

How many times have you received an e-mail like this in the last 10 years? The idea that, to avoid some sort of federal investigation, Bill Gates has to give away a certain amount of money to Microsoft users. And to be automatically put on the recipient list, you just have to forward this e-mail to everyone you know...

Now, as you're slipping away into disbelief, they quickly add, "I didn't believe it either. But then my friend showed me the check he got from Bill Gates for $13,493.43!" That line was usually enough to make people temporarily forget they were smart.

Recently, a girl at work forwarded me this e-mail along with a quick line of hope, "Who knows if it's real?! But I could sure use 13 grand!!" I responded as I've done every time for the past 10 years.

"This totally works! Just last week, I got a check in the mail!"

Her response, "No you didn't!"

Mine? "Then, why did you send me the e-mail?"

February 18, 2011

You Must Not Presume Authority

"You must not presume a position of authority. You must be placed there."

This has been my favorite "quote" for years now. Not only out of arrogance, since it comes from me, but because of how badly I need to be reminded of it. In fact, I've had four posts about this over the last 5 years. 1. 2. 3. and 4.

Today's number 5. And it's a confession. Because I ignored my own advice.

I entered my most recent place of employment fully intending on following this advice. And I quickly got bored. It's hard starting over at a new place. You are all well aware of how completely arrogant I am. So, let me continue with it for a moment. Some people are quick to recognize talent. Some seem oblivious to it.

For the latter group, on day 1, I am an infant. My past does not precede me. I can not be trusted.

And yet, I am desperate to be trusted. I am desperate to be given the ball and run with it. And when not given the ball - when not given authority - I turned to condescension in order to try and self-establish myself as a position in authority in the workplace.

It didn't work. I knew it wouldn't. And yet, my lack of patience got in the way.

But, now I am in a better mental place. Still confident in my abilities. But more focused on being the best bat boy I can be until they call me up.

February 16, 2011

Two Women Across the World

Kirsten Jackson is a single mother with diabetes, struggling to make ends meet, living in Des Moines, Iowa.

Ianis Holcomb is a single mother with diabetes, struggling to make ends meet, living in Wroclaw, Poland.

3 Questions. Who do you empathize with the most? Do you feel a moral responsibility to help either situation? And does your answer depend solely on your geographic proximity to the person?

February 15, 2011

Only Meryl Streep Pulls Off 40-60

Ok, now let's flip the shoe (or heel) and talk about women today. I saw a great tweet, paraphrased, "If you want to see what Jennifer Aniston will look like when she gets old...go see that new movie she's in."

Pretty funny, right? It's also pretty true. Aniston is now 41 years old. And 40-60 doesn't play in Hollywood. Well, at least in the leading lady sense. Don't believe me? Consider Aniston's latest role in this Adam Sandler film. She plays the faux ex-wife meant to make Sandler's legitimate (and much younger) love interest, jealous.

Wait, what about Sandra Bullock? Yes, the beautiful Sandra Bullock is 45. And in her latest acclaimed role, "The Blind Side", she played... a mom.

(quick transition) My wife and I grew up disliking the incomparable Meryl Streep. I know. We were crazy. Why? Because while 60 now, while we were growing up, she was the lone 40-60 year old leading lady in Hollywood. And she typically played mean, ugly or both. What else would she be good for? And now that she's settled into her roles as an older woman, she is blowing my wife and I away, and now we're re-watching her entire catalog, mesmerized by her magnificent acting.

She was simply all alone for 20 years, and it was weird. Yes, there's a few like Diane Keaton (now 64) who have pulled off "leading lady" throughout their entire careers, but in the last 20 years, it's been through either untraditional Hollywood fare or Mom roles where there are multiple love interests in the story.

There is no place for a 41-year old Aniston in Hollywood as it exists. And I believe that you will see her in far less movies for the next 20 years before her resurgence in the early Fall of her life.

February 14, 2011

The Next Evolution of the Cowboy

What makes a man? More specifically, when you think of a "man", who do you think of? Some may jump to the most famous of men, movie actors, with Brad Pitt and George Clooney instantly coming to mind.

And others may quickly scoff at the notion that those metrosexuals even constitute a man, as they look back at the Clint Eastwood cowboy generation as perfect depictions of the ultimate "man's man". But we're no longer in the old west. And those cowboys aren't really around anymore.

So, who has replaced them? What are our options? Well, let's spin the question around. When you think of the opposite of a woman, what comes to mind? The opposite of femininity must be big, fat, stupid, sloppy and hairy, right?

Is that a man? Or can we accept the next evolution of cowboy's metrosexual downside simply to escape the possibility that our new "men" might have a cave- prefix.

February 10, 2011

What $2 Can Teach You About Irrationality

You go to Burger King after work. You're about to buy a Whopper. Then, all of a sudden, you remember seeing something on Facebook earlier that day. That the Burger King 10 minutes away is giving away Whoppers for free tonight, and would save you $2. Do you drive to that Burger King for the free sandwich? Sure.

The next day, you're at IKEA, buying a lamp for $80. When you remember that the Target 10 minutes away has the exact same lamp for $78. Do you drive to Target for the $2 savings. Probably not.

Is this irrational economic behavior? Yes, but only partly. If $2 is really worth the 10 minutes to us, we should always side that way. But, the reality is that the 100% burger savings completely outweighs the 2.5% lamp savings in our minds. It's a comparison issue.

Should it be? No. And remember that the next time you blindly say ok to a hidden $400 fee for your new car purchase.

February 09, 2011

❤ Donate Blood. Save YOUR Life

Tim Ferris' 4-Hour Body has received a lot of press lately. Earned because of his prior revolutionary book the 4-Hour Workweek.

And although these titles may make Ferris sound like the world's laziest man, he's actually an obsessive compulsive about data. While many of his findings on exercise, weight loss and the female orgasm are receiving most of the publicity, he made one passing comment in an interview that should be a huge marketing game changer.

He talked about how good the regular process of giving blood is for your body - specifically in terms of lowering your risks for heart disease.

The long-time Red Cross slogan of "Donate Blood. Save a Life." depends solely on altruism. From a marketing standpoint, do you know what's a more compelling call-to-action than altruism? Anything else.

Donate Blood. Save Your Life. Now that makes me want to sign up.

February 08, 2011

★ What Super Bowl Ads Can Teach Us About Ads

(Note: I only included the ★ in the Title to see how it looks in Reader. Anyone who subscribes via RSS find this compelling? misleading? annoying?)

I should have blogged about Super Bowl ads yesterday. But it took me a couple days to think this one through. Why don't advertisers make all of their ads like they're being shown at the Super Bowl? Why is it ok to be boring if less people are watching? "Guys, this is the Super Bowl. We can't do the usual boring crap that no one cares about. Let's actually try to be entertaining."

Here's the ironic part of this mindset. The Super Bowl is the ONE time of year that you actually have people engaged in your ads. (Perhaps more so than the game if you happen to be my wife.) You could afford to be LESS compelling in the Super Bowl if you wanted to. As long as your message is awesome. And yet, you know that funny wins. It sticks. It works.

Pretend that every day is the Super Bowl. Be funny. Be engaging. Entertain us with your pitch. To the point where we remember it.

February 07, 2011

More Lessons from the Bachelor: Comparison Shopping

For those of you who watch the Bachelor, do you ever catch yourself yelling something like this at the screen? "Why is that ugly freak still on there?? It doesn't make any sense!!"

Here's what doesn't make sense. The fact that we compare her beauty away. The girls on the show are all beautiful. Our minds are simply trained to compare.

It's why I had a crush on Murphy Brown and Mrs. Cosby growing up. It's not only that I like strong, independent women. It's that my options within those worlds were limited. It was Murphy or Corky. It was Claire or Rudy.

The hideous wretches on the Bachelor aren't hideous wretches. They're simply "last" in that category. Test this next time you cry out against the elephant-faced creatures on prime time TV. Take them out of that world, and put them in your office. Would they instantly become the most attractive person you work with?

Why do you think online retailers offer multiple versions of their products? It's so you choose the one they want you to.The comparison gives it value. They know that. Now, you do too.

February 04, 2011

I Would Like to Steal Your App Idea

What app have you thought it would be cool to have?

Yes, I'm looking to outright steal your ideas to make money off them. But on the plus side, I'll give you the app for free!

Take a minute and think about some broad categories or even specific ideas of apps you would like to have on your phone.

February 03, 2011

What the Bachelor Taught Me About Self Esteem

Yes, I watch the Bachelor. I'm not ashamed of it. It's a fascinating sociological experiment.

And a nice girl who got rejected the other night started bawling, gasping for breath and blurted out, "This just makes me question everything!" As if that was inherently a bad thing.

Self esteem is an interesting concept. I remember my older sister and I had this argument when I was 8. She argued that it was vital for people to have high self-esteem. I countered this argument, based on the fact that I didn't like my sister, and assumed her to be wrong about everything. I stand by this argument today, but with slightly better reasoning. For, self-esteem is only good if it's accurate.

American children have the highest self esteem in the world. But the test score don't match this. Now, we must be sure we're separating this concept form self-worth. Having self-worth IS vital. One's inherent value as a child of God is priceless. Yet, esteem about one's life should be subjective based upon the life itself. Otherwise, we will stop evolving.

We shouldn't merely desire to give people self confidence. We should desire for people to transform into an increased "self".