Friday, November 30, 2018

Friday Burn

::: The number of people with access to electricity just fell below 1B.
Link via The Weekend Briefing

::: Is our constant use of digital technologies affecting our brain health?

::: The World's Largest Migrations

Photo: The Louvre, Abu Dhabi.

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Better Practices - A Humble Mindset

This is a series of posts that outline our better practices - tactical things that you could do right now that The Ember Cast has found highly profitable for growing global leaders. Feel free to use these ideas with attribution, meaning just say, "I got this from The Ember Cast."

There are many times when we think way more highly of ourselves. When it comes to mission teams, we sometimes believe and articulate that we are 'taking God to [fill in place or people]' as if God isn't there already. It's a fundamental error in theology.

Instead, articulated excellently by Tim Dearborn in the Short Term Missions Workbook: "Walk with humility. Remember, you are showing up late to a meeting. God has been at work among these people long before you arrived!"

This simple shift in thinking will put your team in it's rightful role with who they are, what they are to do, how they should relate to long term partners and who they serve and what the Lord might be calling them to the future.

Monday, November 26, 2018


On my last night here, we decided to go over to the Grand Prix to see if someone wanted to give away their wristbands to see Guns N' Roses. I'm not a huge fan and we only stayed for 5 or 6 songs but it was an experience and totally worth it.

I continue to be fascinated by Abu Dhabi. Cultural mix of very futuristic future and very old past. Lots of the world comes here for opportunity - you cannot help but meet people from places you might never go. A cab driver told me that Nigerians are taking over the world. The Filipinos are the most polite people I have ever met. Someone Katie works with said, 'Abu Dhabi changed my life.' Interesting focus on investment in the city and it's citizens. There is something about the desert.

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Monday, November 19, 2018

How to Neuter Entrepreneurial, Apostolic Leaders

1. Force them to go to school.
2. Give them too much money
3. Tell them all the reasons why something cannot be done.
4. Swamp them with paperwork and administration.
5. Give them people to lead who are excessively needy.
6. Limit their travel and keep them in their own culture.
7. Consistently correct them when they are provocative or prophetic in their communication.
8. Make sure any initiative they take must go through multiple steps of approval.
9. Insert 'conserve' and 'maintain' in conversations with them.
10. Have someone supervise them who projects his or her own strong pastoral gifting onto the relationship.
11. Tell them to stay when they want to go.
12. Make sure they have plenty of rules and policies to live by.
13. Give them a precise, detailed, inflexible job description.
14. Keep them safe.
- Beyond the Local Church, Sam Metcalf

Friday, November 16, 2018

Friday Burn

::: Big tech, Kibera and AI

::: Square Roots - Urban Farming

::: Robert Egger - Philanthropy Puts a Chokehold on Innovation
Egger was the founder of DC Central Kitchen.

::: My friend David Huey runs Hungry for A Day and they are kicking off their Thanksgiving project this week. Check it out here.

: 'Limited resources + Willingness to fail + Increasing passion = Exponential Innovation' - Craig Groeschel

Photo: Vienna, Austria. July 2007.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

NovEmber dinner guest - Icing Smiles

Once a month, The Ember Cast hosts a dinner with a select group of students and a special guest who are some of the most creative and innovative in the global missions/nonprofit space. The intention of this dinner is for our students to learn, interact and be inspired by these amazing individuals who have created something incredible from nothing.

Our NovEmber dinner guest was Tracy Quisenberry, founder and executive director of Icing Smiles. Icing Smiles a nonprofit org that provides celebration cakes and other treats to families impacted by the critical illness of a child. In just over 8 years, Icing Smiles has mobilized thousands of volunteers including bakers, project managers and delivery staff to deliver cakes in all 50 states, including just delivering their 17,000th cake.

Our conversation touched on lots of topics including working in multiple vocations, starting something from nothing, having a laser focus on the mission of your organization and some of the struggles as a founder. Below are some other highlights. Thank you, Tracy, for helping inspire our students and helping Ember forge the future!
The Founder struggle
"Dig where you are"
The hardest job is to lead a team of volunteers.
Was always too hard on herself as a founder

+ Her career experiences as an international tax account for a large multnational corporation helped prepare her to lead an organization. There were also lots of things that she had to learn

+ Icing Smiles is not a faith based org but we would not be an org without my faith.

Q - Have you struggled with mission creep?
Definitely. Had an offer early on to be a program piece of a big, well known nonprofit, but it was an obvious bad fit.

Q - do you want your org to outlast you
Tracy - Yes! Absolutely.
Tony - No not necessarily. Seth Godin - entrepreneur or freelancer. I used to think about us multiplying lots of mentors and missions catalysts that were investing in high school students. But now, I want to be the artisan crafting each and every thing that we deliver.

Advice to 16 year old:
Don't be so hard on yourself. See the pieces of the puzzle,

There are 14 steps to delivering a cake.
"A cake is not just a cake - it is sometimes a breath of air when families feel like they are suffocating."

Monday, November 12, 2018

The Ember Cast Celebrates 8 Years!

EDIT: Duh. I had 2010 on the brain - it is 8 years, not 10.

It was exactly 10 8 years ago today that we held the first board of directors meeting for The Ember Cast, so today is a pretty huge milestone for Ember and it totally took me by surprise. I'm thrilled at everything we have done over this season and wouldn't trade it for the world. Super grateful for the Board [only 3 of us right now] and how the current and past Directors have paved the way and forged the future through the medium of Ember.

Some quick numbers over the past 10 8 years:
Almost 20 team training events and 16 Perspectives classes, all involving over 1000 people. Some 18 community impact projects, involving around 300 people, virtually all high school students. 9 summer teams, 115 people, 9 countries. Over 1500 people have been involved in some kind of Ember engagement. Around $202,000 raised and spent for student missions leadership. Some 18,500 service hours. Over 700 donors have sacrificially given for these efforts. Around 120 travel days. 14 ProtoGuides, which is who you should bet the future on.

Thank you to all of you that have given your support both with your attention, finances and encouragement. Special thanks to the Board for hanging with me to follow through on the idea that we can catalyze high school students to live very large lives impacting the future. And of course, all glory to the Lord for letting us be a small part of this.

PS - I am never bored.

Feb 2008, flying to Orlando for Humana 2008. Matt, Joyce, me. Note that I worked with my board before they actually became my board.

Friday, November 09, 2018

Friday Burn

::: A Dog Could Stop Malaria

::: The Irresistible Urge to Build Cities from Scratch

::: A Device that Can Pull Drinking Water from the Air

::: If #Yemen was 100 people:

-80 need aid to survive.
-60 have barely anything to eat.
-58 have no access to clean water.
-52 have no access to health care.
-11 are severely malnourished.

But Yemen is not 100 people. It’s 27 million people.

Thursday, November 08, 2018

Conviction > Consensus

Decisions based on consensus typically end up with an ordinary outcome because by seeking to please everyone, you boil your options down to their lowest common denominator: whatever option is the most familiar to the most people and therefore gets the least protest and the fastest support. As British author Aldous Huxley once observed, "The vast majority of human beings dislike and even actually dread all notions with which they are not familiar. Hence it comes about that at their first appearance innovators have generally been persecuted, and always derided as fools and madmen."
Only conviction will take you somewhere the group never anticipated. Sometimes you need to forget everything you've learned - all the classes, the 'rules of the road,' conventions, what investors are telling you - and just go with your gut. It is your intuition, formed from your entire life's experiences, revealing something that nobody else can see. Take it seriously!
Herein lies that most important nuance of leading with conviction: You must surround yourself with others who also have conviction. Strong gut instincts surrounded by weak people or people afraid to speak up are bound to lead you astray.
For extraordinary outcomes, seek conviction in your work and build teams that value conviction over consensus.
- Scott Belsky, The Messy Middle

Monday, November 05, 2018

Better Practices - Missionary Roundtable

This is a series of posts that outline our better practices - tactical things that you could do right now that The Ember Cast has found highly profitable for growing global leaders. Feel free to use these ideas with attribution, meaning just say, "I got this from The Ember Cast."

Most student teams never deeply interact with their in-country hosts. Our teams aim to do different by scheduling and hosting a 'missionary roundtable'. The idea is simply a conversation between students and vocational missionaries about what they do and how they do it. It sounds easy because it is.

It does, however, require time and advance preparation. It must be scheduled. Guests must be given some kind of preparation on what to expect. Someone should host this conversation, which looks best like a talk show. Think about your favorite podcast - this is a curated conversation and someone is proactively leading it. Most fun over a meal. We always prepare questions that ask about struggles, strategy and advice for young people.

Cross cultural workers that have been in the field for any amount of time have a wealth of experience. We are crazy to serve with them for at least a week at a time and never exploit that wisdom to our students.

Roundtable, Aix, France, 2014.

Friday, November 02, 2018

Friday Burn

::: The 100 Charities that are America's Favorites

::: The 63,000 People that Run the Atlanta Airport

::: Places in the UK where no one lives

::: Successful leaders do consistently what other people do occasionally. - Craig Groeschel

Photo: McDonalds, Londrina, Brazil. July 2005.