Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Burn

::: To Get to Harvard, Go to Haiti
Richard Weissbourd, a child psychologist and Harvard lecturer who has studied the admissions process in the interest of reforming it, recalled speaking with wealthy parents who had bought an orphanage in Botswana so their children could have a project to write and talk about. He later became aware of other parents who had bought an AIDS clinic in a similarly poor country for the same reason.
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::: 10 Tips for International Relocation
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::: Why You Shouldn't Give Up on Traveling in an Age of Fear
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::: For a leader, it's not what you can do but what you can duplicate. - ‏@willmancini

Photo: Catania and the Med, from Mount Etna

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Finding Potential

After spending the past decade studying vulnerability, courage, shame, and worthiness, I’ve come to believe that leadership has nothing to do with position, salary, or number of direct reports. I believe a leader is anyone who holds her or himself accountable for finding potential in people and processes.
- Brene Brown via Mitchel

Monday, September 19, 2016

Summer 2016 Travel Hacking

Not everyone has the ability or the desire to travel like we did this summer. But if you have the desire, I am a huge fan of 'travel hacking.' Simply put, it is the art of maximizing credit card points to earn points that can be applied to travel. If I can do this, anyone can. Here are two real life examples from this summer.

+ Australia
Outbound flight - BWI-OAK [not direct but 1 stop in HOU, same plane]
Transferred 43,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points to Southwest account. I already had about 3,000 points from some travel for work. Bought 9,000 points for $192.50 plus I paid for $50 for early bird confirmation and the fees were $22.40. Overall cost - 55,000 points.
4 tickets = $66.22/person

SFO<->SYD roundtrip flight
Transferred 280,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points to United account. Fees were $409.44 plus I bought travel insurance for $90.32.
4 tickets = $124.94/person

Inbound flight - SFO-BWI [1 stop in PHL]
I had about 80,000 American Airlines points and used all of them. Fees were $22.40 and $60 for travel insurance. Most of these points were on the Citi AA card and for a few years, I had put automatic payments for smart phones and Internet on this card. I've since started using the Chase Ink for these fees since it's 5x points at least right now.
4 tickets = $22.10/person

Total flight cost:
335,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points
80,000 American Airline points
$846.40 - $211/person

In addition, when I read about the the IHG index card sweepstakes, our family wrote 94 index cards. We received around 60,000 IHG points from this sweepstakes and was able to book two hotels in San Francisco on the outbound as well as the inbound for $0 except the $46 in postage for the contest. Lodging in SFO is extremely expensive so this was totally worth it, even if no one got any sleep all night long in the hotel on the way back to Merryland. Thanks jet lag.

+ United Arab Emirates
Direct round trip on Emirates. IAD<->DXB. 90,000 Chase Ultimate Reward points bought through the Chase Ultimate Rewards portal brought the fare down to $1097. Two tickets = $548/person.

So if you really want to travel, you too can do this. Most of this, as you can tell, was done with the Chase Sapphire Preferred and the Chase Ink cards both of which are great cards. The Chase Sapphire Reserve was just released a few weeks ago and I'm not sure about that one yet. But between those two other cards, a good bit of time and some intentional planning, you can save a huge chunk on airfare, anywhere around the world.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday Burn

::: To attract young people to your church, you've got to be warm. Not cool.
At one multiethnic church, we were struck when volunteer leaders told us that they all have meal budgets. Every small group leader in the youth ministry is encouraged to take students out for meals or treats regularly as part of their formation process. The students trumpeted the value of this investment, as you'd expect from teenagers who are getting fed. But it wasn't just about food; when describing their meal conversations, students used many of the phrases common to warm communities that emerged in our research.
Link via Jeremy Del Rio


::: You're more likely to be killed by your own clothes than by an immigrant terrorist
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:::New York's Elevators Define The City
The six-story building is the staple of New York housing stock. There are good reasons for this, one of which is geological. Nearly all New York City's drinking water flows down from reservoirs and through aqueducts from upstate without any pumping - gravity does the work. A building taller than six stories requires a water tower and its own pumps to provide suitable water pressure to tenants on the higher floors, and that's a costly pain in the neck to build and maintain. Also, new buildings five stories or taller at least since 1968 have been generally required by the city to have an elevator, although some five-story buildings are exempt. So six floors is tall enough to need an elevator but short enough to avoid needing a water tower and other extra construction expense.
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::: The future has many names. For the weak, it is unattainable. For the fearful, it is unknown. For the bold, it's ideal. - Victor Hugo

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

The Emerging Global Student Leader

The emerging global student leader – it is a student that likes to travel, that loves to be immersed in new contexts and cultures, that enjoys peeling back elements of culture to gain deeper understanding. They are not afraid to lead or activate or initiate. Their parents don’t mind putting them on planes. ‘I love airports!’ is one of their favorite sayings. Living in another culture for a season or a lifetime is a natural thought. They have lots of globes, maps and compasses. They think about how to make a dent in the universe by loving the unloved, engaging someone unlike themselves, and serving a world in need. Global missions looks different in light of a generation of this type of student and The Ember Cast was started as a response to tap this potential.

The Ember Cast is a tribe of missional leadership guides who, based on Biblical principles, catalyze students, and those that serve them, for the future of humanity.

We exist for these emerging global student leaders – to resource them, to connect them, to put them to work and to give them the platforms to lead. We also exist for those that serve them – parents, coaches, student pastors, and churches.

If these concepts resonates with you or a student that you know, get in touch. We’d love to connect. And of course, throw fire with you.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Summer Travel 2016

There has never been a season in my life where I traveled like I did during this summer. It was totally ridiculous, absolutely out of control and so totally worth it. Here are the stats, mostly for my benefit.

In 3 months, between Australia, Italy and the United Arab Emirates:
40 total days away. 30 days away from work including 9 days of leave without pay.
3 continents in 3 months.
4 islands - Australia, Lady Elliot Island, Sicily, Saadiyat Island.
44,300 air miles.
76 hours in flight.
18 flights including one on an 8 passenger plane.
18 airplane meals.
13 AirBnbs/Hotels.
1 boat. [1 was enough]
3 rental cars.
Drove 1,800 miles in rental cars - I only drove in Australia.
11 train rides including subways.
22 Uber/Taxi rides.
1 wild kangaroo sighting, but it was dead on the side of the road [Australia].
44 servings of Gelato [the whole Italy team].
7 days in 106+ degree F temps, with an average of 112 degrees F [UAE].
Somewhere on the order of 4,200 pictures.

My trip to the UAE was probably the most profound cross cultural experience to date.

2 pro tips:
1 - Put everything you will need for 24 hours in your carry on bag, including a clean pair of underwear and a clean shirt.
2 - Put a fresh dryer sheet in your carry on bag.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Chase the Lion - Mark Batterson

May you discover your God-sized dream in the pages of this book, and may you have the courage to chase it. But your greatest legacy isn't your dream; it's the dreams you inspire in others! You aren't just a dreamer; you are a dreamcatcher.

I've been inspired by Mark Batterson and NCC for many years now, and we've had a front row seat to watch how they have impacted DC and beyond and inspired tons of people around the globe. His newest book, Chase the Lion, is typical Batterson. You'll laugh at his jokes, be awed by his stories, be intrigued at his research, and be jolted into action by his perspective.

He is right though when he states that God sized dreams aren't just about our dreams, they are about the dreams that we inspire in others. But in order to do that, we have to, just like the subtitle implies, go after dreams that are big and dreams that terrify us.

Read Chase the Lion and you'll be activated for not only chasing your dream but embarking on a journey to uncover dreams within dreams and erupting far more than your own soul.

Disclosure: I was provided a copy of this book for review purposes.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Leaving Your Kid 7000 Miles Away

We had an amazing time this past week transitioning with our older daughter to her first year of college. She is going to a school in Abu Dhabi which is the capital of the United Arab Emirates. The UAE is a country right off the Persian Gulf, just east of Saudi Arabia. Up until this past March, I had no idea where it was.

Visiting Abu Dhabi is like visiting the future. Modern, large, creative architecture. A physically clean city with zero crime. 100% car culture meaning taxi cabs, private cars and no public buses or subways. A proactive government that is investing in many ways for the future of the country. The ability of the city to attract world class cultural and educational institutions and multinational corporations. The gravitation of grand hotels and huge malls among daily living. Escalators that turn on when you step on them. The intentional collection of people living together from all over the world. Even with lots of reminders of the ancient world - the Grand Mosque, traditional Emirati clothing, the smell of oud - I was captivated by the futuristic in this city. Coming home to Dulles airport was quite anticlimactic.

Leaving your kid 7000 or 70 miles away is difficult. But the Lord has so been so clear in this, we continue to be in awe of the opportunity. She was born for this chance to flourish in the global future of a place like Abu Dhabi.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

See You in SeptEmber

Every year around this time, I take a self imposed 4-6 week sabbatical from all activities related to The Ember Cast. The general rule is no meetings, no writing, no financials, no dreaming. I let the very busy spring and summer season slow down and rest and celebrate what we have accomplished. It is kind of difficult. But the principle is true: spring is always on the other side of winter. In years past when I have returned, I'm very energized and thrilled. Deanna and I are doing some traveling at the start of this [surprise surprise] so that will be fun. See you next month.

Photo: Acate, Italy. July 2016.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Throwing Fire - Round 2

2nd try last evening at a different airport since her original first leg was too delayed. But en route all night.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Kids Matter More Than Adults

There's a new kind of leader who believes kids matter more than adults.

Maybe you're thinking that the statement, "kids matter more than adults," is a little extreme. If you're an adult, you might be even slightly offended.

Before you discredit the idea as too radical, think about it. Even your dog figures this out pretty quickly. When a new baby arrives, everyone's status changes.

I'm not trying to devalue any human at any stage of life. The statement isn't intended to imply that an adult's life has any less value than a kid's life, nor that the world should in any way revolve around a child. What does it suggest is that if you want to affect the way a generation sees the world, then it makes sense to start influencing their character and faith when they are young.
- Reggie Joiner

Friday, August 12, 2016

Friday Burn

::: In Search of Metaphor
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::: The Hard Work of Rest
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::: Hey Church, We're Just Not That Into You
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::: Cynicism is the status quo's most powerful ally. - @jnovogratz

Photo: Late night leaders. Ragusa, Italy, July 2016.