• Andrea is a contributor at:

    BlogBurst.com

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    Alltop, all the cool kids (and me)

Top 10 Business, Faith & Faith-at-Work Podcasts (Part 2)

Alrighty, then: Here’s the second (and final) installment of podcasts that send my gray cells a-dancing . . .

button-salesguySales Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips For Getting The Deal Done
I confess: As an introvert, the word “sales” used to scare the daylights out of me. But I’m learning we’re all in sales, no matter what we do. Plus, biblical selling is all about servant leadership and relationship building . . . The Sales Guy delivers short, powerful tips for closing the deal in about six minutes each week.

button-acThe Accidental Creative
In a show aimed at the creative types among us, the AC guys explore topics and interview leading experts on what it takes to thrive in the create-on-demand world and “keeping your creative passion alive while dealing with the daily grind.” Check out my favorite episode on the “War of Art” (or forcing yourself to produce brilliant stuff, on deadline).

button-procrastinationStop Procrastinating Now
Umm . . . does this one really need a description? Each episode covers a root cause of procrastination and practical steps for overcoming it, building good habits and “obsessive consistency” (whatever that means).

button-kouklStand to Reason
Why do you believe what you believe? Because your mama taught you that way? Because the preacher said so? The good folks at Stand to Reason help us understand what truth is, and how to back it up with solid reasoning and evidence (yes, I said evidence). “There is a difference between choosing an ice cream flavor and choosing a medicine,” says host Greg Koukl. “When choosing ice cream, you choose what you like. When choosing medicine, you have to choose what heals. Many people think of God like they think of ice cream, not like they think of insulin. In other words, they choose religious views according to their tastes, not according to what is true . . . I think you can test religious truth, and I’d like to offer [some] of those methods to you.”

button-mommyMommy Mastermind
For moms of small children who have other ambitions and responsibilities in addition to (the awesome privilege) of raising their children. (I’ll definitely implement Mommy Mastermind’s tips as I prepare to grow EspressoShots.com while caring for a newborn in a couple of months… Lord help me.)

. . . and that about covers it. (I follow dozens of other podcasts as well, but figure that’s all the pod-talk you can take for now.) What resources do you consume on a consistent basis?

Please stay tuned for our next post, coming in a few short hours: “4 Musts for True Productivity” (Hint: Email subscribers will get 8+ related resources that the rest of you won’t see here . . . But you can rectify that by hurrying up and subscribing here.)

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Top 10 Business, Faith & Faith-at-Work Podcasts (Part I)

girl-earphonesIf you made me choose between eating and being able to listen to my favorite podcasts for a day, that’d be a tough one for me. They’re my brain food, and consuming them makes me smarter, wiser and happier.

One simple (yet very, very powerful) success principle is choosing carefully whom we listen to and what goes into our minds. So I’m always searching for great audio teachings from men and women who embody the qualities and impact I want to have in  my own journey.

As an added bonus, I find that pumping helpful knowledge and wisdom into my ears makes tedious tasks like driving, filing, house-cleaning and standing in line at the post office far more enjoyable and fruitful.

Below is the first half of 10 podcasts I can’t get enough of, in no particular order (I’ll deliver the remaining 5 in the next couple of days to keep this post a more “digestible” length).

button-carrieBreaking Free with the Barefoot Executive
Carrie Wilkerson, the “Barefoot Executive,” is one of my heroes. Each week, the preacher’s daughter and rock-star business woman from Texas lights up a fire in my belly (and under my derriére) to not wait for success, but go after it with a club. Her podcasts always leave me wanting more, so I gladly write Carrie a check each month for more intense mentoring through her online mastermind group. (Although Carrie’s message focuses primarily on women business owners, she’s got plenty of male followers.)

button-psychotacticsPsychotactic Zingers
Sean D’Souza, who calls himself a “Brain Auditor,” teaches the psychological reasons customers buy (or don’t buy). The quirky host also shares psychological tactics for self-improvement and more powerful communication.

button-48days48 Days To The Work You Love
Each week, best-selling author and psychologist Dan Miller advises callers about finding ways to profit from their innate gifts and passion, and how they can transition to their dream job in a relatively short amount of time. According to Dan’s web site, “his unique clarification of how God gifts us will introduce you to a new sense of freedom and fulfillment of your life’s calling.”

button-bibleListener’s Audio Bible Proverbs Podcasts
This podcast features brief readings of the book of Proverbs, written by King Solomon, who is still widely regarded as the wisest man who ever lived. In the words of author and PR veteran Mark DeMoss, the wisdom found in Proverbs “is universal, timeless, and foolproof.” Wisdom from above, DeMoss adds, “does not favor intelligence or education, affluence or sophistication; it calls to everyone, everywhere. We need only to respond.”

button-getitdoneguyGet-It-Done-Guy’s Quick and Dirty Tips to Work Less and Do More
Somehow, Stever Robbins is able to pack great productivity tips and humor into about 6 minutes each week. Good stuff. 
 
Again, I’ll deliver my next top 5 podcasts in the next post. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear what you feed your brain.

What resources have breathed new life into you and your career?

Hearing From God When I’m in a Mess

freemp3-johnImagine you’re fortunate to have a loving dad who possesses superior insight, influence and resources. But you don’t talk to him much—you’re just too busy.

Except when a crisis hits, in which case you barge through his front door, firing off questions: “What do I do about money? And my job? You know what a mess I’m in; my boss hates me, and what the heck am I supposed to do about those TPS reports? Plus I have this weird growth on my back; how do I make it go away?”

Your dad smiles, looks into your eyes and says, “Sit down, child, we’ll get to that. Haven’t seen you in a while . . . Can I get you a Coke? How’s the family?” But you’re not interested in chitchat—you’ve come for specific answers, and you need them fast.

Curiously, your dad knows this but purposely holds the answers back. Why? Because he’s most interested in intimacy and, if he were to dispense directives as fast as you want, you’d rush out the door and not return for another three months. (Plus, the kind of help you really need has nothing to do with TPS reports or the funny growth on your back.)

Sadly, this scenario (fresh in my mind from a podcast by John Eldredge and Craig McConnell of Ransomed Heart) often mirrors how we approach God—like an ATM: Punch in our password, get our cash and go. We go to him in panic mode with our list of demands and we’re frustrated he’s not spitting out answers fast enough.

Meanwhile, he’s often after something deeper or more important than giving us money or job-related information in the midst of our fits. “Of course he wants to speak, guide and direct us,” John explains, “but not at the expense of relationship . . . He’s not the heavenly Wikipedia.”

So what do we do when we need an answer now? Recognizing that such answers flow out of consistent, conversational intimacy with God, John tells us he’s intentionally formed the habit of sitting down in the morning with a cup of tea, journal and pen in hand, and simply asking, “Lord, what is it that you want to speak? What’s on your heart today?” “It’s a way of letting go of my list,” he explains.

Occasionally he might add, “Lord, I’m not hearing you on [insert question]. What do you want to talk about? What question should I be asking?” “I let him change the question,” John adds, “and take it to what he wants to take it too.”

If you feel like you’re not getting answers from God, it’s possible he’s trying to talk to you about something else. Forget the boss and the TPS reports for a minute—what are your real heart issues?

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Notes:

  • Think on this: “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” [Matthew 6:33]
  • I need to give credit where credit’s due: Much of this post is an adaptation of the Ransomed Heart podcast (“Intimacy” episode). You can download it from iTunes or by clicking on the “Free mp3” graphic above.
  • More on this topic in our next couple of posts: I’ll share how I started hearing from God, and then some insight that changed the way I view Romans 8:28.

Making Work Matter

20-21 (NIV)

"Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Matthew 6:20-21

A couple of years ago, I had the privilege of eating breakfast with a local business hotshot. The whole thing was arranged by my boss as a mentoring opportunity. During our conversation, the polished lady sitting across from me asked about my career objectives. I told her about my desire to help people apply biblical principles for business success and marketplace impact.

Knowing this lady didn’t share my faith, I then shoved a biscuit in my mouth while anxiously awaiting her response. She was silent for a moment, then said (partly to herself), “People really are hungry for purpose and significance, aren’t they?” You bet. Driving the point home was the fact that our company president had recently quit to become a minister. A few months earlier, one of our vice presidents shocked everyone by taking a massive pay cut to pursue “a calling from the Lord.” No wonder the lady across the table was intrigued.

As Bob Dylan said, the times, they are a-changin’. While researching marketplace trends and forecasts for a writing assignment, I noticed that emerging value shifts typically fall under three themes: Simplification, Balance, and an insatiable thirst for Significance. I suggest both the root and answer for all three can be summed up in one word: Relationships.

It’s no coincidence that relationships are at the core of successful business models and of the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Scriptures do not call us to religion, but to a genuine, personal relationship with Christ and with each other. Being a catalyst for change in today’s (and tomorrow’s) marketplace means we must invest in God and in people.

So why aren’t we doing it? One obstacle is busyness and the clutter that comes with it. Fear is another roadblock. What will people think? What if my faith is politically incorrect? What if the right choice is the least profitable one? Then there’s the unfortunate inclination to treat God as a spiritual Santa Claus, using prayer as a substitute for obedience, as A.W. Tozer explained:

Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late — and how little revival has resulted? I believe the problem is that we have been trying to substitute praying for obeying, and it simply will not work. To pray for revival while ignoring the plain precept laid down in Scripture is to waste a lot of words and get nothing for our trouble.

In future posts, we’ll address some of these roadblocks and value shifts. Meanwhile, it’s been said that the best way to feed relationships and foster change in our organizations, communities and spheres of influence is to accept people as they are. After all, that’s what Jesus does. Yet, because He loves us, He refuses to leave us as we are. Any way we look at life or business, we’re either polluters or part of the cleanup team. Take your pick.

Two things to keep in mind as we explore biblical principles for success and fruitful relationships: Truth, by its own definition, is exclusive. In the words of best-selling author and apologist Ravi Zacharias, “all-inclusive philosophies can only come at the cost of truth” (Jesus Among Other Gods: The Absolute Claims of the Christian Message). Applying the truth of the Scriptures to our daily grind is the absolute wisest thing you and I can do to make a positive impact in our jobs and in the marketplace.

Second, too many counterfeit believers serve up a watered-down, distorted version of the gospel that requires as much commitment as ordering a cup of coffee. They dilute God’s Word until it is as potent as decaf with skim milk, and then wonder why the world isn’t moved by it. This mishandling of the gospel gives true followers of Christ a black eye and bad rep. (Which reminds me of St. Augustine’s words: “Never judge a philosophy by its abuse.”)

In a world where the rules of engagement change at dizzying speed, some things just never change.

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Related Resources:

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How Counterfeit Freedom Is Keeping You Bound (and what marshmallows have to do with it)

marshmallowThe other day my sister, Alice, called about a friend’s impulsive decision and its destructive consequences to his life and those around him – to which I responded, “I bet he ate the marshmallow.”

Let’s rewind to a week earlier: Alice, who’s a chaplain, told me about a scientific experiment involving young children and marshmallows. Each child in the study was given a single marshmallow and told by the researcher: “I’m going to leave the room for a moment. If you can wait until I come back to eat that marshmallow, I’ll give you more. If you can’t wait and eat that while I’m gone, I won’t give you any more.” (I’m paraphrasing here, but you get the idea.)

As expected, some children couldn’t wait and gobbled up their marshmallow. Others waited and were rewarded with additional marshmallows. Years later, researchers tracked those children, now adults. They found that, in general, those who’d waited to eat their marshmallow now led more fulfilling and successful lives. Those who couldn’t wait and gave into their impulses now struggled with major life issues.

The differentiator was self control and, thus, the ability to delay gratification for a larger payoff. (Hence my comment implying our friend would have eaten the marshmallow as a child.)

Coincidentally, today I responded to a reporter’s inquiry for a story related to this study published by the New York Times, which indicates religious people have better self control. (Said reporter wanted to hear from church-going women whether this is true and why.)

First, I clarified that church attendance by itself doesn’t make you godly or a living example of any virtue any more than sitting in a garage makes you a car. As we discussed in the previous post, it takes a personal life commitment and relationship with God.

Then I added that the rules and guidelines presented in the Scriptures aren’t there to bind us — on the contrary: They exist to set us free from destructive behavior and other crud that would land is in deep trouble. It’s like the painted lines on a highway or the tracks that allow a train to speedily reach its destination: At first glance they seem restrictive, but remove them and you’ll have an ugly wreck.

In a related post, Doug Britton wrote, “an infant may be tempted to enjoy the ‘freedom’ of drinking from a bottle of bleach or running into [traffic] but this freedom would bring death. Likewise, ‘freedom’ from God may look attractive, but the end result is unhappiness.”

Perhaps what makes church folks better at self control is the understanding that, far from hindering personal freedom, self-control is a vital ingredient for a thriving, free life.

What expressions of so-called “freedom” in your life are actually keeping you bound? What “marshmallows” are robbing you of an abundant life or a successful career?

OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE

OPPORTUNITYISNOWHERE: You can either read it as “Opportunity is Nowhere” or “Opportunity is Now Here”–your choice. (I totally stole this one from Dan Miller.)

I know the economy is bad, but I’m surprised by how many people have emailed me lately asking me to forward their résumé (or a loved one’s) due to a recent job loss. I’ve also been hearing from folks fresh off the corporate fast-track who can’t seem to land a job in retail because they’re “overqualified” or don’t have the required retail or restaurant experience.

The marketplace is changing and we’d better be aware of new opportunities as free agents and decrease our dependency on corporations.

I think the following video is a good illustration of what’s happening in corporate America right now… It will either make you laugh or cry. Either way, it should make us think.

I happen to be excited about the future. Change can be a very, very good thing — especially when it opens our eyes to better, more productive and purposeful ways of managing life and work.

>> Digressing, I finally joined Twitter (I resisted as long as I could). You can follow me at www.twitter.com/andreaemerson. I also reserved espressoshots.com, which I envision as a much more robust version of this blog. And I have 4 months to pull it all together before baby #2 is born and all my free time is history.

To blog or not to blog (and other thoughts on purpose)

It’s been a little long time since I last posted. For those of you who still visit me after two months of nothingness, God bless you. I am not worthy of your eyeballs on this page.

For the past two to three months I’ve been taking a hard look at everything I do and deciding which useless tasks to toss out and which to pour myself into. You see, I tend to get excited about lots of causes and opportunities and then I’m all over the place, getting very little sleep and unable to give each activity (or person in my life) the attention each deserves. So I decided to simplify, cut off some dry branches and just do few things with excellence.

In the process, this blog almost got the ax (hence, my absence). I’ve often debated the merits of blogging with my friend Sue. A contributor at Veritas Rex, a political blog managed by a handful of writers, Sue’s attempted to slap some blogging sense into me: “You have to feed the beast,” she warned, “and the beast is always hungry.”

While pondering her advice, I came across an intriguing post by Wildfire Marketing President Bob Eagar, entitled “The Dangers of Blogging.” According to Rob, blogs could be “the biggest time waster since Solitaire came standard on office computers.” He argues that, as busy professionals trying to grow a business, pay our bills and spend time with God and loved ones, we must be vigilant how we invest our time. (Solid advice so far.)

Plus, I’m thinking, there are lots of blogs that share the same focus as mine, except they do a far better job — why would I want to compete with them? Rob makes a pretty darn good case as to why I should chuck the whole shebang.

While I find myself nodding to Rob’s persuasive arguments (which you can read in full here), I’m still skeptical. It can’t all be bad, I’m thinking. And it isn’t (which is why Rob still maintains a blog). If nothing else, blogging can be an effective tool for fine-tuning your unique voice and focus.

It turns out my decision on the whole blogging dilemma was made much easier a couple of days ago, when the magazine I work for announced it is ceasing operations. Now that I no longer have to produce and polish a truck-load of content for a publication, I’m ready to blog up a storm.

I’m making some changes, though:

  1. I’m focusing more on personal stories and experiences, and not so much on exploring big concepts. Some of the folks on my blogroll (over to your right) already do that exceptionally well.
  2. I’m not going to obsess about appearing ultra professional, polished and spiritual because, frankly, real people are flawed and don’t talk in über-articulate, politically-correct prose all the time. So get ready: My quirks and penchant for drama are about to come out.
  3. The Bible and Seth Godin both have me convinced that generosity pays better than anything else. So you’ll find free goodies here from time to time, like book downloads, nifty tools and such. I might even start giving away the stack of pre-release books I often got from publicists when I was an editor. (We’ll see. I hate going to the post office, but I’d like to find some of these babies a new home.)

How about you? Have you slowed down enough to reconsider why you do what you do, and why you do it the way you do it?

Ps: If you’re in the greater Indianapolis area, I’d love to meet you. Drop me a note in the comment section below and we’ll do coffee sometime.