Friday, March 31, 2017

Friday Burn

::: Empire State of Change
New York City churches tread the line between community center and place of worship; they are a mixture of ESL classes in the basement, bi-vocational pastors, after-school programs and co-op gardens behind project buildings. They are dinner parties on Wednesday nights, and artist collective meetings in recording studios.

::: Building Resilient Kids
In the most accurate sense, it means that a child has good adaptive capacities to metabolize various experiences, even difficult ones, and continue to thrive. It is an important quality for later success in all areas of life, and in my opinion, one of the best things to build into a child.

::: More than 100 Chinese cities now above 1 million people

::: When we reach the end of our days our life experience will equal what we have paid attention to, whether by choice or default - William James via Jon Tyson

Picture: Missions leadership weekend, Annapolis, March 2017.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

2017 Support Letters - #1

One non-negotiable of Ember's summer teams is that support letters have to look beautiful. We want them to look like someone took a lot of time and energy in putting them together and that the readers are hopefully impressed when they open them.

Tess has taken all the responsibility for multiple years for helping guide students to not only write good letters but make them beauuuuutiful.

Monday, March 27, 2017

17 Italy Mtg #2

+ More Intros
+ Mantra - In every apple, there is an orchard. [Hirsch]
+ Concept - Indigenous
+ Detailed Support Letter Packaging
PS - They are happier than they look and are starting to perk up.
PS - Not the whole team.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Friday Burn

::: How Chobani’s Hamdi Ulukaya Is Winning America's Culture War
Ulukaya's distinctive character has always defined how Chobani operates. Ask people who work closely with him, and they'll tell you that there are effectively two Hamdis: the driven businessman out to obliterate his rivals, and the empathetic humanitarian.

::: Starchitect Norman Foster on Taking the Torture Out of Flying

::: The Happiest and Unhappiest Countries in the World

::: Quit looking for the leaders and start building them. @bobhyatt

Photo: Westminster Bridge, Prague 2015 team.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

17 Italy Mtg #1

+ Intros
+ Pictures from Italy from last year - give a sense for look and feel
+ Mantra - We throw fire
+ Concept - Person of Peace
+ Support Letter beginnings
+ Team Schedule

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Ember Summer Send 1

Every other year or so, someone that has spent a lot of time with The Ember Cast asks to dream with us. This usually takes the form of what we call a 'Summer Send' and represents some of our best opportunities. We get to play recruiter between someone we know well and partners that we admire, doing interesting things, and able and willing to invest in the emerging generation. Summer Sends usually last most of the summer and are the next logical experience for people like this, most of whom have done a one or two week experience with us.

This summer, our first Summer Send we are working on is sending Tess and Lindsey to Poland for part of the summer. While there, they will have the opportunity to work with the staff of a brand new church plant, do some cultural analysis and observation to help this staff, and do some exploration of their city and culture on their own.

Tess and Lindsey are uniquely perfect for this. They both have been around Ember and short term missions for a good number of years, have experience in navigating culture as well as teaching others how to do it, and have leadership initiative beyond their years. I'm thrilled that Ember can be a small part of their journey in throwing fire. Thanks in advance for supporting these two.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Friday Burn

::: How the Blind People Use the iPhone
This is really incredible.

::: Hong Kong's Skyline Farmers

::: The Astonishing Focus of Namibia's Nomads

Quote: "Rules for Self Discovery:
1. What we want most;
2. What we think about most;
3. How we use our money;
4. What we do with our leisure time;
5. The company we enjoy;
6. Who and what we admire;
7. What we laugh at."
- A.W. Tozer via Dan Sadlier

Photo: Soundcheck with Shane. Subscribe to Shane's Muslim Connect.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Hiring and Interviewing at Google - Work Rules!

Notes from Work Rules!: Insights from Inside Google That Will Transform How You Live and Lead by Laszlo Bock. Highly applicable to the way that you run an organization and the kind of teams you intentionally build.
The presence of a huge training budget is not evidence that you’re investing in your people. It's evidence that you failed to hire the right people to begin with.

In other words, most interviews are a waste of time because 99.4 percent of the time is spent trying to confirm whatever impression the interviewer formed in the first ten seconds. "Tell me about yourself." "What is your greatest weakness?" "What is your greatest strength?" Worthless.

The best predictor of how someone will perform in a job is a work sample test (29 percent). This entails giving candidates a sample piece of work, similar to that which they would do in the job, and assessing their performance at it. Even this can't predict performance perfectly, since actual performance also depends on other skills, such as how well you collaborate with others, adapt to uncertainty, and learn. And worse, many jobs don't have nice, neat pieces of work that you can hand to a candidate. You can (and should) offer a work sample test to someone applying to work in a call center or to do very task-oriented work, but for many jobs there are too many variables involved day-to-day to allow the construction of a representative work sample.

There is a better way. Research shows that combinations of assessment techniques are better than any single technique. For example, a test of general cognitive ability (predicts 26 percent of performance), when combined with an assessment of conscientiousness (10 percent), is better able to predict who will be successful in a job (36 percent).

The neat trick here is that, while interviewers can certainly make up their own questions if they wish, by making it easier to rely on the prevalidated ones, we're giving a little nudge toward better, more reliable interviewing.

One early reader of this book, when it was still a rough draft, told me, "These questions are so generic it’s a little disappointing." He was right, and wrong. Yes, these questions are bland; it's the answers that are compelling. But the questions give you a consistent, reliable basis for sifting the superb candidates from the merely great, because superb candidates will have much, much better examples and reasons for making the choices they did. You'll see a clear line between the great and the average.

Sure, it can be fun to ask "What song best describes your work ethic?" or "What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?" - both real interview questions from other companies - but the point is to identify the best person for the job, not to indulge yourself by asking questions that trigger your biases ("OMG! I think about the same things in the car!") and don’t have a proven link to getting the job done. We then score the interview with a consistent rubric. Our own version of the scoring for general cognitive ability has five constituent components, starting with how well the candidate understands the problem.

A concise hiring rubric addresses all these issues because it distills messy, vague, and complicated work situations down to measurable, comparable results. For example, imagine you're interviewing someone for a tech-support job. A solid answer for "identifies solutions" would be, "I fixed the laptop battery like my customer asked." An outstanding answer would be, "I figured that since he had complained about battery life in the past and was about to go on a trip, I'd also get a spare battery in case he needed it." Applying a boring-seeming rubric is the key to quantifying and taming the mess.

Remember too that you don’t just want to assess the candidate. You want them to fall in love with you. Really. You want them to have a great experience, have their concerns addressed, and come away feeling like they just had the best day of their lives. Interviews are awkward because you’re having an intimate conversation with someone you just met, and the candidate is in a very vulnerable position. It's always worth investing time to make sure they feel good at the end of it, because they will tell other people about their experience - and because it's the right way to treat people.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Over The Edge

Ember was honored to be a small part of Bay Area Community Church's first annual missions conference titled On the Edge - what a fantastic event! The intended audience for this event included people already committed to go on one of their 20 missional experiences this year, or people interested but not sure where to commit to, or people not wanting to go but just to send others. Huge congrats and thanks to Casely, Trevin and Michele and their global missions team - this team continually raises the bar for local churches engaging their communities to serve across the planet. It was also great fun to have our friend Shane as part of the event and around for the weekend.

Here are some best practices that I took from having a behind the scenes view:
The team hosted a dinner for their trip leaders on Friday night, with very specific direction and encouragement for the conference on the next day.
Every time Trevin talks about some kind of task, he prefaces it with describing specifically what the win is. "The win for this is..."
The team published a mobile friendly link for people to commit to a team. This eventually links to the longer application process.
There was a set of required workshops for first time participants. The team wanted to be very specific about content for this set of people.
World class presentation for handouts, brochures, lobby banners, etc. Everything BACC does in terms of presentation is excellent.

These kinds of missions mobilization events are not normal. They only happen with lots of dreaming, planning and passion.

Photo: Clancy, Shane, Casely, Michele, Trevin.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Friday Burn

::: Europe's Most Godless Country
Iceland. And I've been to this church in this article.
[PS - Not a huge fan of the TGC but whatever]

::: 20 Questions with Scott Harrison of Charity Water

::: Leadership Principles at Amazon
As we do new things, we accept that we may be misunderstood for long periods of time.
Leaders raise the performance bar with every hire and promotion. They recognize exceptional talent, and willingly move them throughout the organization. Leaders develop leaders and take seriously their role in coaching others.
Thinking small is a self-fulfilling prophecy. Leaders create and communicate a bold direction that inspires results.
Link via Tim Ferris

::: Chatbot that overturned 160,000 parking fines now helping refugees claim asylum

Photo: Ember guides and George. DTA, March 2017.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Ember 2017 DTA Leadership

The Ember Cast is always honored to help our clients and partners with some of their student missions training opportunities. We had one such opportunity last weekend, traveling with some leader teams to Annapolis to spend about 24 hours focusing on successful student missions leadership.

Concepts during the weekend included: Frames for Teams, the Myers Briggs Type Indicator, Island Survival, the Tuckman Team Model and Culture Mapping. Friday evening was the majority of this leadership content while Saturday was up and about all over downtown Annapolis. Our time in DTA was driven first by a hybrid cultural scavenger hunt/geocache challenge - latitude and longitude on index cards. Later in the day, Ember Guide Trevin gave us a walking tour of some of the lesser known parts of the city, including the more marginalized neighborhoods contrasted with the more affluent which also included the context behind Downtown Hope, a church plant right in the middle of the arts district.

If you are wondering how this weekend was designed, there were three subtle but prominent pillars to the experience:
Disciples are made on the road, not in rows - one of our core Ember mantras [Kim Hammond]
Highly Reproducible - everything that we modeled could be reproduced by these leaders.
Less is more - instead of too much structure, less gives leaders more opportunities.

Special thanks to Ember Guides Tess, Trevin and Ember spawn Emily for making this weekend happen. And you can do this too. And you should, if you have short term mission teams traveling this summer.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

On the Edge - Workshops

On The Edge, Bay Area's first annual global missions conference. Here are some of the workshops, registration ends tomorrow. Would love to say hi if you are there.

Friday, March 03, 2017

Friday Burn

::: The 10 Most Innovative Companies in Travel in 2017

::: Tim Keller steps down at Redeemer Pres in NYC
Through the City to City church planting program, Redeemer has launched 381 churches in 54 cities worldwide.

::: Mountain View high school in line to win big with Snap's IPO
Link via The Hustle

::: Discipleship takes place in the living room more than the classroom & in the streets more than the sanctuary. @dreamawakener

Photo: Antelope Canyon, January 2017.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Jer 17:9 In Context

Too many Christians today are living back in the old covenant. They've had Jeremiah 17:9 drilled into them and they walk around believing my heart is deceitfully wicked. Not anymore it's not. Read the rest of the book. In Jeremiah 31:33, God announces the cure for all that: "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people." I will give you a new heart. That's why Paul says in Romans 2:29, "No, a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly, and circumcision is the circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit." Sin is not the deepest thing about you. You have a new heart. Did you hear me? Your heart is good.
- John Eldredge, Wild at Heart