Creative Mornings Minneapolis: Hidden

Creative Mornings Minneapolis

Next Friday (March 28th) I’ll be speaking at Creative Mornings Minneapolis. Last month’s speaker was Brother Ali. Seth Godin once spoke at the NYC chapter (I recommend his Q&A even more that the speech). I’m honored, excited, and intimidated.

The Creative Mornings theme for March is “Hidden.” I’ll tell some stories from my travels to Haiti and the Philippines, talk about my work in social media, and tackle the idea that you have a story to tell.

If you’re in the Minneapolis area, please stop by and say hi.


Poverty Doesn’t Always Look Like You’d Think

Some of the most hopeful, beautiful, generous, and welcoming people I’ve ever met were also some of the most financially poor on earth.

Even in the most desperate places there is hope. Real people with stories and dreams.

Cité Soleil, Haiti slum

If you’ve experienced this same thing, we both have a responsibility. Tell about the need, but please, please share the hope as well.

This Blank Canvas

What an amazing thing to have this blank canvas in front of us.

The internet, a blog, or even your Twitter account are all ripe for you to tell stories. You can share what you’ve learned so far or paint a picture of the world you imagine.

As I’m re-reading Stephen King’s On Writing, I’ve been reminded of the weight and opportunity writing holds. What an exciting and scary thing it is.

So once again, I challenge you–and myself–to not let this slip by. It has never been easier to pull out your laptop and begin.

“Don’t forget – no one else sees the world the way you do, so no one else can tell the stories that you have to tell.” -Charles de Lint

Book Review: The Social Church

The Social Church by Justin Wise

Today, The Social Church by Justin Wise is available for purchase. I’d highly recommend it.

One of the biggest flaws of most social media books (and blogs for that matter) is they’re too concerned with the tips and tricks. The “how” gets put before the “why.” Don’t get me wrong–you’ve gotta study up on the ever-changing digital scene, but if you aren’t grounded in a overall philosophy, you’ll wash away with each social media tide that comes in and goes out.

This is one of the things The Social Church gets right. Justin takes us through many stories in church history (don’t worry–it’s not boring), but also covers modern times and trends. Without first knowing the past, we can’t understand the present.

I also appreciated Justin’s honesty about the role of social in an overall strategy. He writes, “Starting a Twitter account will not magically bring scores of young people through your church doors.” Having an office phone doesn’t mean that on it’s own, your sales will blow through the roof. Why would a Twitter account or Facebook page be any different? Social media is a tool that requires a plan.

In the end, Justin really gets to the heart of social. “This is where the value of social media lies—to facilitate connection and relationships between real people.” Social media is a tool for building community and telling stories.

Even if you don’t work on a church’s marketing or social team, I think you’ll benefit from reading The Social Church.

You can download the first chapter of The Social Church for free or buy the full book now.


(I completely missed this story in 2012. It’s still good enough to share today.)

Anthony Smith is a little boy from New Hampshire that suffers from the chromosomal disorder Mosaic trisomy 22. One effect of the disorder is that Anthony is deaf in his right ear and mostly deaf in his left.

Anthony Smith Blue Ear

Anthony didn’t want to wear his blue hearing device (nicknamed the “blue ear” by his family). The reason: Superheroes don’t wear hearing aids.

Desperate for a solution, Anthony’s mom Christina decided to send Marvel Comics an email. They knew the superhero world best. Maybe there was a character who wore a hearing aid?

Marvel responded. They sent her a comic cover from the 80s and told her, “Not only do super heroes in fact where hearing aids, but that Hawkeye, an actual Avenger, wears them and that if Anthony wore his, he’d become an honorary Avenger.”

The story doesn’t stop there.

The artists at Marvel designed a comic featuring a new hero: Blue Ear. Anthony was ecstatic. He began wearing his hearing aid (to listen for those in trouble, of course), showed off the comic to his friends, and inspired his teachers to organize a ‘Dress Like a Super Hero’ event.

Hawkeye and Blue Ear

What if the Marvel artists had said “We’re too busy” or “We can’t take on any extra work right now” instead? Christina’s email was sent to a general fan address at Marvel. It could have easily been ignored.

Sounds completely ridiculous doesn’t it?

I bet you have chances to do this kind of thing too. What if we approached each day as a chance to make magic moments for our customers and fans? We might not make the front page of CNN or Huffington Post, but what’s the value in showing we care?

Time spent delighting is time well spent.

Anthony Blue Ear

How to Help Syrian Refugees

Syrian refugee camp snowman [Photo credit: CNN]

This little boy is a Syrian refugee. He’s been displaced because of fighting in his country. It’s winter, but he doesn’t have a hat, gloves, or coat. Many of the kids don’t even have shoes.

Now is a good time for us to help.

Fundraising fro Syrian Refugees

842,000 Syrians have been displaced and are spending their winter trying to survive. Thanks to a few trusted NGO connections on the ground, we have a chance to get these kids needed shoes, socks, blankets, and jackets.

Please check out the campaign: “Shoes for Syrian Refugees

If you don’t have money to donate right now, please consider spreading the campaign to your networks on Twitter and Facebook.

When Light Counts

Darkness exists to make light truly count (Sleeping at Last)

I’ve been thinking about opposites lately. Without darkness, how can we know what light is like? Without cold, what’s warm? Without chaos, what does order look like? Without silence, what is noise?

Without darkness, light means nothing.

Have joy in joy. Mourn when you need to. Don’t forget we need both.

11 Quotes On Storytelling

I grew up listening to bed time stories. Whether they were realistic or not wasn’t the point. Stories gripped my attention and let me picture new things. It made sense to end a day like this.

Now that I’m older, I still try to let my imagination run wild. It’s harder because the adult life tells me to be linear, logical, and not to “waste time.” But I know that stories help me make sense of life. They encourage me to dream.

Here are a few quotes that have taught me more about story.

Where the Wild Things Are

“There’s always room for a story that can transport people to another place.” -J.K. Rowling

“At the center of every great story is some kind of human flaw.” George Dawes Green

“People have forgotten how to tell a story. Stories don’t have a middle or an end anymore. They usually have a beginning that never stops beginning.” -Steven Spielberg

“Stories work when they resonate with stuff we already believe.” -Seth Godin

“The audience will not tune in to watch information. You wouldn’t, I wouldn’t. No one would or will. The audience will only tune in and stay tuned in to watch drama.” -David Mamet

“Great stories happen when characters take action.” -Donald Miller

“If a story is not about the hearer he will not listen. And here I make a rule–a great and interesting story is about everyone or it will not last.” -John Steinbeck

“Maybe stories are just data with souls.” -Brené Brown

“Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” -GK Chesterton

“Words are how we think; stories are how we link.” -Christina Baldwin

“We need storytelling. Otherwise, life just goes on and on like the number Pi.” -Ang Lee

If you like these quotes, here are 26 more.

Typhoon Haiyan: How You Can Help

Bacolod, Philippines slum |

My heart’s been heavy this week for the people of the Philippines. They’re beautiful, warm, and generous people. (Pics from my recent trip.)

How can you help with Typhoon recovery? Certainly donations for immediate need and long-term recovery are needed. But, how do you pick a charity to donate to after a disaster?

I wrote a post for Compassion International to tackle this very question. >

Here are a few charities I’d highly recommend that will use your donation well:
International Care Ministries
Convoy of Hope
Feed My Starving Children (where I work)

Your advocacy helps a lot too. Tweet, post on Facebook, and tell your friends about the charities doing good work. Your voice counts.

Did I Do A Good Job Today?

As a social media manager, there are hundreds of ways to measure or determine this. Aside from everything else–numbers, analytics, growth, revenue/donations–I find myself asking three questions:

  • Did I tell good stories?
  • Did I help my fans care more about my cause?
  • Did I help my fans connect more with each other?

If I can say “yes” three times, I feel alright.