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Posted on Nov 7, 2012 in Branding, Creativity, Graphic Design, Leadership

The Real Reason Barack Obama won in 2012 and 2008

For those of you hoping to find some kind of right-wing conspiracy, this will not be the post for you.

I don’t want to downplay the significance of what happened yesterday or what is going on in our country. There are serious issues that need serious answers. But, I just want to offer my perception on a big reason President Obama was re-elected.

It’s all about branding.

Before you close this tab and go back to your browsing, hear me out.

If I asked you to summarize the Obama campaign in one word, what would you say. And no, I don’t mean your interpretation of the campaign, I mean what they centered their campaign around. What would the word be? Chances are pretty good that we all know the answer. Forward.

Think about the news coverage you saw of the president on the campaign trail. You definitely saw people in the crowd holding up signs with Forward on it.

Now flip the question, what was the one word the Romney campaign used? What was their slogan? What signs were people at the campaign rallies holding up. Yes they have a cool logo, but it doesn’t really say anything. Other than that, you can’t really find the one thing they wanted people to remember and know about them.

And as simple as it sounds, I think that’s the reason Obama won. I know there are issues that people believe in and voted for yesterday. But, we live in a time where we buy the things that have the best, simplest, easiest to remember advertising. And people could easily remember the Obama campaign and what they were trying to communicate.

In fact, we all remember what they ran on in 2008. Hope. Change.

They had a message, and they stuck to it everywhere they went. I can’t think of anything that the McCain campaign ran

on. Yes, I could go look it up, but I shouldn’t need to. For a company that spends Billions of dollars on advertising over a 3-6 month period, we should be able to remember what their slogan was.

The Romney campaign changed their slogan and logo and look almost everywhere they went. They had Victory in Ohio, Believe in America, Real change – day one, Real Recovery, Victory in Florida, Victory in Iowa, We can’t afford four more years, Romney Plan, Putting Jobs first and more.

At the end of the day, for the millions of people who don’t get that involved in politics to try to discover what each candidate is all about, the most memorable campaign will win. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I’m telling you, if the Romney Campaign were to have better branding, we’d probably be having a different discussion today.




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Posted on Oct 25, 2012 in Dear Leader, Leadership

Dear Pessimistic Leader

Dear Pessimistic Leader

(To read more letters to leaders, Click here)

Do you have a letter you want to write? Do you have a letter you’re too scared to write? Contact me!

Dear Pessimistic Leader,

First let me apologize. I don’t know all of what you’ve gone through, but I do know some of it. I’m sure it hasn’t been easy. I know that a lot of what you have endured has led to where and who you are right now. I know that it is because of imperfect people like you and me that you feel the way you do. And for that I apologize. For whatever has been done to you or said about you, I’m sorry.

Second, I know a lot of things have gone wrong for you. I know you’ve seen a lot of bad things happen, and you don’t have hope that good things will just naturally happen. People are messed up, so why should we expect anything good from them? However, just because people are messed up and we have a track record of bad with you, does that mean nothing good will ever come of us?

Don’t give up on hope. It doesn’t seem like there is any kind of hope to hold on to at the moment. I understand that. But giving up on hope is almost like giving up all together.

You see, we’re all holding on to hope for you. We are all hoping that you will slowly, but surely, regain some of the hope that you once had. We are deeply concerned for you. We hope that you will find some optimism somewhere and that it will leak over into your leadership of us.

You may not realize it, but your pessimism makes it very hard for us to stay optimistic. We try. We come it meetings and interactions with you, having had a great day, but not long after the meeting begins we hear about all the negative things in your life and our day begins to go down hill.

We look to you to lead us, and where you lead us we often follow. That means if you lead us into pessimism we will go there. We beg you to lead us to a more hopeful and optimistic future!

We’re not really sure why you’re negative, from our perspective you seem to have it pretty good. Are you just negative to bring us down so you can control us? Is there some other benefit you receive from negativity? We all face challenges, but that doesn’t mean we have to be pessimistic about them. [tweetherder]In fact, we think optimism in the face of challenges gives us the best chance to overcome. [/tweetherder]

We hold on to hope for you. We believe that there is a positive, optimistic you that is just waiting to get out. We long for that. We dream of working in an environment full of hopes and dreams. We dream of an environment where nothing is impossible, where all ideas are welcome and achievable. We want to be a part of something great, and we know that the only way to get there is to dream.

Won’t you join us?

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Posted on Oct 22, 2012 in Leadership

Pre-Leadership? (Why who we are before we lead is important)

“Leadership is influence. Nothing more, nothing less.” – John C. Maxwell

I know you’ve heard it many times before, and yes I agree in large part. I’ve mentioned it on this blog from time to time. And while I understand where he’s coming from, there’s one issue I’ve had with this statement.

It is an issue that has been addressed by Dr. Maxwell in many of his books, but for me – it needs to be stressed a little more.

My issue is this: whoever you are before you become a leader is going to greatly affect the kind of leader you are. Therefore, it will greatly affect your influence. It may not affect the amount of influence you have, but it will affect the way your influence is exerted and interpreted.

[tweetherder]Who you are before you become a leader affects how you influence others when you become a leader. [/tweetherder]

Can you change, and become a better person once you become a leader? – yes

Do people generally change after they become a leader? probably not as much as we’d hope or like to believe.

That’s why this is a big issue for me.

If you’re a jerk before you become a leader and don’t work on it pre-leadership, it will affect the way you lead.

If you’re insecure before you become a leader and don’t start working on it, it will affect the way you lead.

If you’ve got moral failings in your life and you don’t have a plan for taking care of them, it will affect the way you lead.

Leadership is like a magnifying glass – the more people you lead, the greater the magnification.

When you get into a leadership role, you have fewer and fewer places to hide. The higher you go up in leadership, the more sparse dark-corners become. The more people you lead, the more people you know. The more people you know, the more people there are who interact with you. The more people you interact with, the greater the possibility they will experience your flaws.

Why is it so hard to change once you become a leader?

As soon as you step out into a leadership role, you have less time to spend working on who you are as a person. You have to spend more time working on who other people are. You spend your days working with/and on people – helping them become the best they can be in whatever way. Then when you get home, you think about the other problems you have to solve, do the work you didn’t have time to do during the day….go to bed…wake up…people….more people…etc…

That’s why I believe in the concept of pre-leadership. If you aspire to lead some day, who you are today is way more important than you realize. Work hard on become a fully rounded – mentally, emotionally and spiritually – healthy person. You won’t regret it.

What do you think are the most important aspects of personhood to be working on before becoming a leader?


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Posted on Oct 18, 2012 in Dear Leader, Leadership

Dear Disgruntled Leader

Dear Disgruntled Leader

(This is the second letter in a series I’m writing called “Dear Leader.” You can find the first letter here. As you read, I invite you to think about what you would say, and then leave your response in the comment section below!)

I know you’ve come across them, you may even be one. If you aren’t, then you probably know one. You might even work for one. They are completely unhappy with everything about their current situation, and they let you and everyone around them know by constantly complaining about it.

In one my first leadership experiences, I experienced this greatly. I had someone who had been working for the organization for many years, working over me. Not long after I had started working there, he came into my office and started complaining about all the things he didn’t like. And I went there with him. For the next few years we would share with each other just how much we didn’t like this or that.

This is a habit I am still struggling with today. It’s so easy to become this guy. Complaining is easy. Negativity is easy. But it’s something I’ve been constantly working on improving about myself since I left.

There is nothing to be gained by being negative, complaining about everything doesn’t help at all.

This letter is to you (and me):

Dear Disgruntled Leader,

I don’t know what happened to you to make you feel this way. I don’t know why you’re so unhappy about everything around here. I’m sure you have your reasons, and I’m sure you’d tell me if I asked. The problem is, I know more than I ever wanted to know. Your constant complaining has made it very clear that you don’t like working here, and that you don’t like any of us who work with you.

We know you are annoyed with the systems, of which you constantly seem to be victimized. We know you are disappointed and dissatisfied, by the slow pace of change. We experience it all.

What you may not know is that it’s easy for you to bring us down. It’s easy for your cynicism and negativity to greatly affect our attitude and our ability to do our jobs well. The more you complain about the place we are devoting our lives to, the harder it becomes for us to make the sacrifices necessary to bring the change we all want to see.

There are things we really want to say to you, but we resist the impulse for fear of becoming the target of your next rant. Our first response is that we just want you to leave. The cynicism and negativity you bring don’t outweigh the good you do. You bring us down with you, and we’re tired of being victims of it all.

However, since you’re probably not going to stay, could you please find it in yourself to bring the negativity to a minimum. Maybe it would help if you saw a counselor, someone who could help you walk through some of the things you are experiencing.

What we really want for you, is what we want for our organization – restoration. We believe in what we do. That’s why we’re here. We think you do to, but it’s hard to see that through the cloud of malcontent we are so used to seeing you wear. We will give you the benefit of the doubt if you give us a reason to believe you are trying. We will support you if you’re honest with us, and tell us that this is something you are struggling with. But if you never share your personal struggles with us, we can’t help.

You have so much to offer, and we know you do. We know you know it too. Let us help you see it again. Let us help you see the hope, that though things aren’t how they should be, we can be the ones who take it there. If you let us.

Let us.



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Posted on Oct 11, 2012 in Dear Leader, Encouragement, Leadership

Dear Discouraged Leader

Dear Discouraged Leader

When we start in our roles pastors or leaders of various kinds, we have big dreams. The world is our oyster. The sky is the limit. Nothing is impossible with God.

We set goals, we come up with plans, strategies and philosophies. We set our minds to the task and our feet to the work of building a ministry that is definitely going to change lives.

Then somewhere along the way, we wake up on a cold and rainy morning and realize our dreams are too big. We are definitely in the oyster, but we’re not sure there will be a pearl. We know the limit is much closer to the ground.

This letter is to you:

Dear Discouraged Leader,

I know it feels as though all your dreams have been smashed by the reality of leading. It’s not an easy business. That’s why so few do it, and even fewer do it well. You put yourself out there only to find what felt like pats on the back were actually shoves. It’s a hard realization.

We are all messed up. We all have our problems and issues. And what a lot of us do is look for signs of weakness in the people who are leading us, Then we feel the need to point it out.

Why? Who knows all the reasons. Probably to make ourselves feel better. We don’t feel so bad about our short-comings when we’re pointing out those of others. And leaders are easy targets.

You’re out there in front. If you’re leading, you’ve probably got your back to the people you’re leading as you blaze the trail. Your followers think you can’t hear them, but you do. You know all the ways they think you have failed.You know all the things they don’t like about you. You even know how they feel about things that have nothing to do with your ability to lead.

And it doesn’t seem to matter how well you do in other areas. You’re not measuring up in the area they have taken aim at, and that’s going to be where all the attention is going to be put for now.

Here’s the thing. You’re not going to be assessed based on their measurement of you. This is not a standardized test. You are unique. You have a very special blend of talent, skills and personality. And you have them for a reason.

The reason isn’t to be out in front, getting all the attention.

The reason isn’t to get beaten down.

The reason is, you were created for a purpose; to bring glory to your creator.

What happens in leadership is we start judging our success based on the sheep we are leading, and forget that we too are a sheep. Sure we have a responsibility to lead and shepherd as we have been given gifts to do so. But our greatest responsibility is to follow the good shepherd.

So, as you find your back beaten and full of knife wounds, know this: you are already loved more than you will ever know. The glory was never meant to be yours, it is all for Him.

Rest in His love, Give Him the Glory.



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Posted on Oct 1, 2012 in Blog, Culture, Devotional Thoughts, Leadership, repost, Worship, Worship Ministry

Let Justice Roll On Like a River

21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god—
which you made for yourselves.
27 Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,”
says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.

In my last couple of posts I have been going through Amos 5 and drawing out questions that I think it raises for us and our churches today. The first post (Seek the Lord and Live) talked about how what God really wants us to strive for in our worship is Him. The second post (Why Do You Long For the Day of the Lord?), talked about us doing today what we won’t be able to do in eternity. (I also talked about this in a post a while back: What’s Missing from Our Worship?)

Today we come to the part of the passage that many of us are probably familiar with, or we have at least heard mention of. The people of Israel have become greedy with their desires and have stopped living as they should. The things they should be doing, they either don’t do them or they do them for the wrong reasons.

21 “I hate, I despise your religious festivals;
your assemblies are a stench to me.
22 Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
23 Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.

The people of Israel had their traditions. They knew what time of year it was based on the festivals to come. We do this to a certain extent from October through January. We know what time of year it is based on the holiday we have just celebrated and which one is next.

But, the intentions behind the celebrations have gone from remembering events and times when God Almighty had provided for them and become routine, rote, marginalized and perhaps even monetized.

Though this definitely serves as a reminder for the season we are about to enter in, Thanksgiving, Christmas and what not, it also serves as reminder of what our intention should be each and every day.

How quickly we forget. The Lord God Almighty has provided for us in ways we cannot measure. For the people of Israel He released them from captivity, provided protection and sustenance and eventually a land of their own. For us, He has given us a roof over our heads, food on our table, electricity for our electronic devices, free speech with which we can rejoice or complain without recompense…oh yeah, and he sent His Son to die a cruel death on a cross for our sins.

25 “Did you bring me sacrifices and offerings
forty years in the wilderness, people of Israel?
26 You have lifted up the shrine of your king,
the pedestal of your idols,
the star of your god—
which you made for yourselves.

Therefore, I propose that we begin a revolution.

Not the kind that you are thinking of. Not a revolution against political agendas and financially driven parties. Sure, those have their place. Rather, I propose that we rebel against the status quo of worship. I say we stop being concerned with what other churches are doing, what our friends’ church is doing. We should stop trying to do the things society and the world we live in tell us we should be doing. And instead, return to our first love, the Lord God Almighty.

Don’t get me wrong, I think the society we live in provides us with excellent resources to do what we do the best we can. I also think there is a lot we can learn from other churches and organizations about how we can do this thing called church in the best possible way.

[tweetherder]The problem is, comparison has become the game and conformity the the prize.[/tweetherder]

When what awaits us when we seek the Lord is life. What awaits us when we engage in worship as the pursuit of God and submission to His ways is freedom.

24 But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!

May the ways of the Lord, be what drives us in our pursuit. Otherwise, our offerings are an unacceptable stench, noise that God has no regard for. Let our pursuit of Him open us up to His righteousness and may it flow in us from the spring of life.

Let us do the work of the Lord, believe in the one He sent for us (John 6:29). Instead let us feast on the Bread of Life and drink from the water that will never let us thirst again.

35 Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. 36 But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. 37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. 40 For my Father’s will is that everyone who looks to the Son and believes in him shall have eternal life, and I will raise them up at the last day.”


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