Friday, January 20, 2017

Friday Burn

::: 2016 has Been One of the Safest Years in Aviation History

::: The 10 Most Difficult Languages in the World

::: Ingredients for an Innovative Culture

"The ends of the earth are now in our Jerusalem. The question for churches: Do we like our new neighbors?" @LarryMcCrary

Photo: Beignet cart, Bandol France, July 2014.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Frames for Teams

Our latest "frames" that we use for working with teams...

+ A team is not a group of people who just work together. A team is a group of people who trust each other. Simon Sinek via Craig Groeschel

+ The key ingredient to building trust is not time. It is courage. - Patrick Lencioni

+ It's really demeaning to think that, in this deep desire to be liked, you’ve compromised giving clear, unambiguous feedback. - Steve Jobs

+ In any human interaction, the required amount of communication is inversely proportional to the level of trust...As a company grows, communication becomes its biggest challenge. If the employees fundamentally trust the CEO, the communication will be vastly more efficient than if they don't. Telling things as they are is a critical part of building this trust. - Ben Horowitz

+ "For the Christian, there are strictly speaking, no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, 'You have not chosen me, but I have chosen you,' can truly say to every group of Christian friends, 'You have not chosen one another, but I have chosen you for one another.' The friendship is not a reward for our discrimination and good taste in finding one another out. It is the instrument which God reveals to us to each the beauties of all the others." - C. S. Lewis

+ I'm choosing to take something important to me and make it vulnerable to your actions. - definition of trust - Feltman via Brene Brown

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Burn

::: Google Translate invented its own language to help it translate more effectively.
Link via Ember Board of Director, MPM

::: Why Cities are Where They Are
Super interesting video on geography, urban growth and development and urbanization. Make sure to pay attention during the few minutes on wide versus tall continents.
Link - 15 minute video via

::: 13 Things You Need to Give Up If You Want to be Successful
"Somebody once told me the definition of hell: 'On your last day on earth, the person you became will meet the person you could have become.' - Anonymous"

::: The Global Youth Collective - Roosevelt Island Center of Community Development
Run by Dan Sadlier, Hope Roosevelt Island. Love this.

::: "He who deliberates fully before taking a step will spend his entire life on one leg." - Chinese Proverb ‏@willmancini

Photo: Perspectives class, New Freedom, PA.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Happy 16th Em

Dear Em --

As you know, in our family, ideas from you girls are best presented to us as proposals. So we should have braced for something big, somewhere in the Fall of 2015, when you showed up with your clipboard. Clipboards = big time. You had mapped out a grand and epic journey to Australia. Lots of details and credit card points later, your plan came to fruition during June and July of 2016. What an adventure.

We love that you dream big. Colors are rich and vivid and only big, audacious ideas really matter. Circles can and should get bigger to include more.

Keep dreaming big and using that clipboard. We only help solve the world's biggest problems with the most daring ideas and proposals - ones that are the most audacious. And of course, God loves when we dream big because He is in the business of doing immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine.

Love DAD

Monday, January 09, 2017

Perspectives Peeps

I had the privilege to teach at a Perspectives Intensive late last week, where the 16 week long class is run in concentrated style for a week. There were about 15 people in the class which ran from Monday to Saturday. Additionally, most of them stayed at the location of where the class was being hosted, which was a little retreat and summer camp facility near the Maryland Pennsylvania state line.

People attracted to Perspectives are a unique breed and taking the class not only exposes you to great content about global issues but connects you implicitly with these kinds of people. It continues to be one of the best ways to dive into global leadership.

The list of interesting people from last week included:
A couple who served for many years among remote jungle tribes - they were the first white people that some of these tribes had ever seen and the tribes people thought this couple were spirits.
Cross cultural trainer based in Dehli
Missionary to Mali for 4 years. Taking a vacation to Ireland after her first 3 years was a huge vacation.
Couple that ran a guest house in NYC as second careers.
Husband and wife who helped coordinate the class after a 30 year career as a pastor. Best personal missions library I've ever seen, above.
Ten year veteran of student ministry who is taking a lead pastor in a church in a global city in Latin America.

Two Perspectives classes that just started in our area for the Spring semester...

Friday, January 06, 2017

Friday Burn

::: The Most Instagrammed Cities of 2016

::: Poverty Is Going Extinct
This marks a historic rupture. For the first time in human history, poverty is not growing just because population is growing.

::: A Question I Ask New Entrepreneurs
There's no better lesson in business than the experience of dealing with the public in person.
[I've been consistently impressed with Basecamp and how they have run their business for about 10 years now. See Rework]

::: No matter what the calendar says, you're still stuck with your same character. -Steven Furtick via David Huey

Photo: Scheming for 2017.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

ProtoGuide 2017 - Applications Open

Applications are now open for The Ember Cast Fall 2017 ProtoGuide Experience. This experience is the capstone Ember offering, designed to catalyze a student into a trajectory of cross cultural and missions leadership. It's meant for the emerging global student leader - someone already interested in world cultures and global potential. I don't know of any other missions agency or church or nonprofit that built an experience like this, specific for high school students, from the ground up.

More info here. 2017 application here. Thanks for passing it on to someone you think might fit.

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Out and About - January 2017

Happy 2017!!

Ember has the following engagements coming up this month and I'd love to see you face to face. If you are interested in the why, what and how Ember does what it does, some of these might be a good inside look - I could maybe sneak you in.

+ Perspectives Intensive, Lesson 11 and 12, Summit Grove, PA.
+ Short term missions team session - Erupting Super Teams, Columbia, MD.
+ Strength:ening Vision - local church leadership overnight, Queen Creek, AZ.

We've also put the paces on an Ember Pitch, which is a 45 minute overview for The Ember Cast. Contact for scheduling.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Cities

Lordy, what a year.
01 - Philadelphia, PA, USA.
02 - Queen Creek, AZ, USA.
03 - Fairfax, VA, USA.
04 - Fairfield, CT, USA.
05 - New York, NY, USA.
06 - Deadham, MA, USA.
07 - San Francisco, CA, USA.
08 - Newcastle, NSW, Australia,
09 - Coffs Harbour, NSW, Australia.
10 - Ballina, NSW, Australia.
11 - Surfers Paradise, QLD, Australia.
12 - Hervey Bay, QLD, Australia.
13 - Sydney, NSW, Australia.
14 - Catania, Italy.
15 - Ragusa, Italy.
16 - Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.

[2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, 2007, 2006 in cities]

Friday, December 30, 2016

2016 in Posts

Some highlight posts from this past year... I know 2016 was not easy for a lot of people. For me personally, as a family, for The Ember Cast and for my career [tell you later], it was an incredible year, even better than 2015, which I would have never imagined. Thanks to you all that support The Ember Cast and give to us Shengs your time and attention and friendship.

Summer Travel 2016 - epic travel this summer.
Leaving Your Kid 7000 Miles Away
The Med - part of Ember Italy 2016
Australia Travel Notes
Fridays Plane - one of Ember's leadership sends.
Announcing 2016 ProtoGuide - our Ember capstone internship experience.
Ember 2016 Philly Leadership - a first time leadership overnight that Ember customized.

Friday, December 23, 2016

Happy 19th!

Dear Katie --

Most every year for your birthday or Christmas, we've given both you girls gifts that represent being on the move - maps, globes, flashlights, headlamps, etc. Our hope is that these gifts would spur bravery in you, that they would catalyze enough courage for you to chart your way into the unknown. Adventure, which requires courage and bravery, is inherent in a life of faith.

You've certainly had a year of adventure alright. And we've been inspired by all of it - going to school 7000 miles away, applying yourself to new learning, building deep friendships with people from far cultures, seeing new people in new cities. It has been hard to imagine, as your parents, being more thrilled at what you are doing - the Lord has placed you in the perfect place. But of course, as your parents, adventure sometimes worries us. So maybe we need some of those maps and globes for ourselves.

But the world is not moved by the ordinary. It is moved by the passionate, the brave, the courageous, the ones willing to take steps into the unknown. In that sense, a faith and adventure filled life is not just for you. It might be also for those that don't understand passion or beauty or sacrifice or courage.

So we will continue to worry a little. But we also could not wish for anything more than for you to adventure on. Happy 19th!

Love DAD

Monday, December 19, 2016


Hervey Bay, QLD, Australia.

One of the best recent decisions we made as parents was to spend 3 weeks together as a family this past summer before Katie headed off to school in the Fall, a great adventure on the east coast of Australia. Emily had a lot to do with planning this. It was an incredible three weeks.

It meant some sacrifices and depending on your perspective, these were either large or small. There are some things around the house that need some attention - maybe this coming year. We skipped seeing some extended family. Because of some other travel commitments, by the end of the summer, I ended up taking about six weeks off from work, including some leave without pay.

It was all worth it. There are lots of people that can do just about all of the things you do - at your job, in your hobbies, where you serve others. But only you can be Dad.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Friday Burn

::: Photos - Aleppo Then and Now
Unbelievable. Some of you might like an interesting observation about Syria from our older daughter Katie, who is going to school in the Middle East. This was written at the end of August this year.

::: A Chinese Garment Factory is Helping Rwanda Wean Itself from Western Hand Me Downs

::: What Keeps Students From Engaging in Missions
Fantastic article and right on. I would add one more relating to busyness and the idol of achievement.

::: Missionary activity is not so much the work of the church as simply the Church at work. - David Bosch

Photo: driving, Australia.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Don't Play the Busy Card

What could possibly be more important than your kid? Please don't play the busy card. If you spend 2 hours a day without an electronic device, looking your kid in the eye, talking to them and solving interesting problems, you will raise a different kid than someone who doesn't do that. That's one of the reasons why I cook dinner every night. Because what a wonderful, semi-distracted environment in which the kid can tell you the truth. For you to have low-stakes but superimportant conversations with someone who's important to you?
- Seth Godin on parenting, from Tools of the Titans [Link is for Amazon's Smile foundation, which contributes a percentage to The Ember Cast.]