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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?

Save Time (And Effort) By Empowering Others

Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. [Proverbs 9:9]

Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning. (Proverbs 9:9)

Those of us with a strong need to please (or to be in control) often are bogged down by people who seemingly depend on us to get anything done.

A dear relative, who somehow thinks I have amazing Internet powers, used to email me: “Please search XYZ on the Web and let me know what you find. And, by the way, I need that by 3 p.m. today.”

Despite the fact that she had Internet access (and even used that access to email me her requests), she just thought I could do a better job, faster. And so I did. I searched for product specifications and prices. I searched for sources for her Masters thesis. I even searched for good vendors in her hometown, even though I live a gazillion miles away.

Meanwhile, something similar happened at work. A “technology-challenged” co-worker often bypassed our company’s IT support and came to me for help each time her computer crashed or a program wouldn’t respond as expected. Eager to please, I’d walk over to her cubicle and troubleshoot with her.

When helping = hurting

Then one day it hit me that all that “helping” on my part was actually hurting everyone involved. It consistently sucked up big chunks of time and energy, hindered my other commitments and kept my relative and co-worker dependent on me to complete their projects.

I realized the best thing, both for them and me, would be to (1) teach them how to execute those tasks on their own, and (2) begin gently saying “no” to their requests so they would no longer be dependent on my assistance and availability. (As the saying goes, “Teach a man how to fish and you’ll feed him for life,” right?)

How to double someone’s IQ (and free up your time)

You may have heard of Tim Ferris, best-selling author of the The 4-Hour Work Week. While I don’t subscribe to all of Ferris’ advice, he does have some good points: “It’s amazing how someone’s IQ seems to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them.” After equipping his team to make decisions, he says, “[they] now know that I don’t respond to emergencies, so the emergencies somehow don’t exist or don’t come to me.”

Now it’s your turn: Banish those time suckers

What problems can you eliminate today by removing yourself as an information bottleneck and empowering others?

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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?

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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.

Getting angry about the right stuff

*Warning: Today’s post contains whining*

I’ve been getting angry a lot at work lately.

Angry at the customer who gives me final approval on a project, then, a few days later, decides she wants to make “just one more change.” Eight times.

Angry at the team member who gives me the wrong project specifications, forcing me to re-do it all later.

Angry when I must depend on others to meet my deadlines.

Angry when the assignment I’ve spent hours on gets canceled or postponed indefinitely.

And then this two-minute video by Rob Bell shut me up.

Here’s a highlight:

Some people are looking for a fight because they aren’t in one. The people I know who are most engaged with the suffering of the world . . . who  have given themselves to bold, beautiful, healing kinds of causes, they’re generally free from that irrational, petty kind of anger. They don’t fall under the trap of that low-grade rage that actually increases the brokenness of the world.

Amen, brother, I get it. Thanks for setting me straight.


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Related resource: “Be Angry But Don’t Blow It” 16-minute audio by Lisa  Bevere (one of my heroes)

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New Career Skill: Effective Confrontations

guys-fightYears ago I was promoted above my supervisor, who deeply resented the fact that I leapfrogged her on the chain of command.

The unusual promotion was both unexpected and an answer to prayer. My first reaction was to lock myself in the bathroom and jump up and down for a few minutes, silently mouthing, “Thank you, Jesus.” My second reaction was to sit in the bathroom stall with my head between my knees, silently mouthing, “Help me, Jesus.”

Following the good news, the company bigwig had just given me my first assignment: to discipline my fuming boss-turned-subordinate. The day before, she was the boss of me. Now I was expected to reprimand her for poor performance.

Up to that point, I had been a people pleaser — the thought of offending someone terrified me beyond reason. But I knew if I were to succeed in my new role, I had to develop a bold tongue and confrontation skills in a hurry.

Finding the right balance was a struggle. I had watched “no-nonsense” managers tear their subordinates apart by taking the “brutal honesty” approach. I’d also watched entire departments suffer when the boss was too light on boundaries. I knew either of those scenarios would amount to failure.

I found refuge (and some really kick-butt strategies) in what I considered the top authorities in effective confrontations:

  1. The Bible
  2. Drs. Henry Cloud and John Townsend, clinical psychologists and authors of Boundaries Face to Face: How to Have That Difficult Conversation You’ve Been Avoiding (who, incidentally, base their advice on Scriptures)

“As a consultant,” says Cloud, “I find that the best performers, the best teams and the best work cultures are those that confront well.”

Mirroring the two scenarios I described earlier, Cloud and Townsend state that many of us live in two worlds when it comes to relationships. In one world, we have friendly conversations in which we avoid all disagreements (which was my case). In the other, we have major conflict-type conversations that tear everybody up. “In the first world we have connection without truth, and in the second we have truth without connection,” the authors write. The Bible calls this marriage of truth and connection “truth in love” (Ephesians 4:15).

Think about a time when someone told you the truth without love. “You always mess this up,” or, as one of my former co-workers was told, “You’re too immature for a management position.” You probably felt attacked and, no matter how accurate the statement, it hardly mattered, because the hurt eclipsed everything else. In godly confrontations, truth needs to be coupled with grace for the other person to safely receive and digest the feedback.

Now think about a time when you received grace without truth. Like the time someone shared a terrible idea with me, which I knew would be a disaster, and I just smiled and said, “That’s interesting; maybe you could make that work.” It probably made the person feel comforted, but provided no direction, correction or insight into what she should do next. “When you are confronting,” Cloud and Townsend write, “sprinkle in your care. When you are caring, sprinkle in the truth.” And when in doubt, they advise we go for grace: “The damage done by a lack of grace is more severe than the opposite.”

Applying that advice, I summoned my new nemesis to sit down for a talk (which was progress already, considering she wasn’t speaking to me). I poured my heart out and told her how freakin’ scared I was, and how much I wanted us to succeed together. (I think she had built up this scenario in her head that I was out to “get” her and my admission of weakness caught her off guard.)

As we talked, I could see the wheels turning in her head and the muscles on her face relaxing. An hour later – I’m not making this up – she gave me a hug and said, “I love you.”

We eventually parted ways, but enjoyed a good working relationship until she left the company a few months later.

I love how biblical truth is still applicable – cutting edge, even – today.

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If you need help tackling a difficult confrontation, below are some useful resources:

Boundaries books series:

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How to Be Remarkable

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I have a bad, bad habit. Every couple of months or so, I conduct risky home-made experiments on my hair, typically involving an assortment of chemicals and scissors. Occasionally, there are accidents. You’d think I would have learned after the first five times I turned my hair green or caused chunks to fall out. I have not.

After one such episode last year, a friend sent me to Vivian, a salon owner in Indianapolis. I broke my personal record that day, spending eight hours in Vivian’s chair so she could fix my latest mishap. (Getting the color all over my head to match was considered a success.)

Most shocking was when Vivian called my cell phone a few days later. What’s that about?–I mumbled, staring at the caller ID. On the other end of the line, Vivian said, “How’s your hair doing? Are the products you bought working ok? Because, if they aren’t, I’ll take them back, you know. I was just thinking about you and wondered if you have questions or need anything.”

When I told her I couldn’t afford the treatment she’d recommended earlier, she responded, “I don’t care about that; let me just bless you and you pay whatever, whenever you want — or not at all.”

Here’s a woman who cared more about my hair than I did. I was so shocked I probably told 10 people about Vivian. (Can you say word of mouth?) Needless to say, I’ve been her advocate ever since (and I insisted on paying full price).

I often thought of Vivian while reading Mark Sanborn’s The Encore Effect: How to Achieve Remarkable Performance in Anything You Do, which I devoured in a couple of hours. The best-selling author defines the Encore Effect as the natural outcome of remarkable performance: the kind that gets people buzzing about you and demanding more and more of whatever you do. Deliver a remarkable product or service in a remarkable way, Sanborn writes, and you’ll have people coming back for more. In fact, delivering just 5 percent more or performing 5 percent better than the average may be enough to put you in the “remarkable” territory.

Amidst the a-ha moments packed in the book, Sanborn wraps up each chapter with “Intersection,” a summary section that blends business intelligence with biblical precepts.

Let’s face it, even if you’re not a follower of Jesus Christ, you and I must recognize that He was amazingly successful in leading a team of goofballs (the disciples) in a way that turned them into remarkable performers, transformed entire cultures and changed world history. (And, may I remind you, He did so one person at a time — without the help of mass media?)

It follows, then, that applying His principles to our work must produce remarkable results. Sanborn concurs: “Being more like Jesus means being remarkable in the way we do our work and live our lives.”

Now, we all know a jerk or two (or ten) who identify themselves as followers of Christ while the only remarkable thing about them is their incompetence or unreliability. That’s where authenticity — the distance between our lips and our lives — comes in. In the paraphrased words of Jesus, “Why do you call me ‘Lord’ when you don’t follow anything I say?”

“We can’t talk with credibility about how Jesus has changed us if we don’t demonstrate that difference,” Sanborn explains. “And the difference He makes should be remarkable.”

And so we come to my New Year’s resolution: Whether I’m a blonde or a brunette (or a greenette), I’m going to be remarkable.