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Posted 8/19/15 at 10:46 AM | Phil Cooke
“Your baby was born like this because you are cursed.”
In Kenya and other sub-Saharan countries, this is often pronounced to the mother of a baby born with spina bifida. Spina bifida (SB) is a crippling birth defect that leaves a portion of the spinal cord exposed on the back, preventing the function of nerves below the exposed area. Tragically, babies with SB are often considered to be of no value in sub-Saharan cultures.
In fact, Fransisca, a BethanyKids staff member who was born with spina bifida, was almost poisoned for her condition. Despite fear and uncertainty, Fransisca’s mother ran away to protect her newborn daughter.
Fransisca’s mother eventually returned to her community, but Fransisca was never accepted. Her own father called her a “useless child.” Because of their inferior social status, SB babies often go without any care. Or, they might be taken to a local practitioner of traditional medicine or a local government hospital. Since neither have knowledge in current SB treatments, or a neurosurgeon on staff, the babies are often sent home to die. FULL POST
Posted 6/22/15 at 7:58 AM | Phil Cooke
Our world is shaped by innovation—the newest iPhone, the latest Netflix show or the most current social media app. It’s hard to imagine a world without these devices, but iPhones have only been around since 2007, unlimited streaming on Netflix came the year after and Facebook is a young company at just eleven years old.
The world before this unlimited access to information now seems archaic, but staring at “devices” all day can prevent us from seeing the bigger picture. The bright light of the screen can be more than a little blinding.
Fortunately, there are remedies for this. Increasingly, many American families have employed restraints like digital curfews, no more screen time after, say, 9 PM. Others make a more substantial effort to reconnect with the larger community by joining clubs or leagues.
Museums, however, offer us the best opportunity to shed our often streamlined worldview to better connect with history and understand current events in a way that can impact and shape our lives. While technology has made amazing advances that have changed the way we learn about the world, nothing can come close to the total immersion we can experience at a museum. FULL POST
Posted 2/17/15 at 10:42 AM | Phil Cooke
At times, we all get frustrated or just plain tired of the way we do things. Maybe it’s repetition, maybe it’s competition, or maybe the culture or markets have changed. But chances are, as I discuss at length in my book, “Unique: Telling Your Story in the Age of Brands and Social Media,” you’re simply not telling your story well. In that case, a “re-brand” or “brand refresh” might be in order. But don’t just leap off the branding cliff or hire a costly agency. Before you do anything drastic, start with these five questions. They’ll help you determine if it’s really time for a re-brand, or if you just need a vacation:
1) What do you really want to change? Do you need a simple “refresh” of the look, or a complete re-think of your identity and perception? Make sure you know the difference. FULL POST
Posted 2/2/15 at 11:12 AM | Phil Cooke
This photo is the stack of books next to my desk I need to read. It’s big, but it’s not random. My dad used to read even more than me, but WHAT he read were random books. Books his friends recommended. Others he found on sale. Books he stumbled upon. On the other hand, I read strategically. I believe to maximize your time, and increase your knowledge, you need a strategic plan for reading. Here’s what I mean:
1. Start by focusing on books that deal with issues you’re struggling with right now. When I’m writing my own books, I collect everything I can find on that subject, and immerse myself in it. When I have a speaking engagement, I isolate the books in my library on that particularly subject. I want to learn information that helps me with challenges I’m dealing with today.
2. Save the leisure reading for the beach. I’m a huge fan of leisure reading – but I hold those books for times when I actually have “leisure.” When I try to read a new novel in the middle of a big project, or when I’m stressed out, it’s a waste of time. But on a plane, I have all the time in the world. Nearly every summer our family spends time at Donner Lake, near Lake Tahoe. I save a stack of leisure books for that trip, because I can relax and really enjoy them. Last summer I read “Unbroken” by the lake and enjoyed it enormously. FULL POST
Posted 1/30/15 at 10:05 AM | Phil Cooke
A great number of media organizations are touting 2015 as the “Year of Digital Video.” Most of these predictions refer to the broad range of videos, movies, advertising, and other online content that is exploding on multiple platforms. But there’s plenty of reasons that 2015 will be the year of online video for churches, ministries, and nonprofits as well:
1) Fundraising and donor development are story driven. When it comes to asking for support, your organization’s integrity, how many meals you furnished, or how long you’ve been in business are important. But if you really want to touch a potential donor, show them the story of lives that have been changed because of your work. Nothing shares those stories better or more powerfully than online video.
2) Online videos are relatively inexpensive. While direct mail is still important, and your website is the cornerstone of your message, shooting and editing online videos are remarkably competitive when it comes to price. DSLR cameras are cheaper than ever, and a 1 or 2 person crew can do amazing things. You don’t need an entire department to make fantastic video productions. And farming the project out to freelancers or consultants could even be less expensive than full time employees. FULL POST
Posted 1/29/15 at 12:32 PM | Phil Cooke
When disaster strikes our life, we’re often simply overwhelmed. As we saw during the 2011 tsunami in Japan, entire towns were wiped off the map, and all these years later, we’re still seeing news reports of problems with the clean up. When a country like that is in chaos, where do we begin when problems happen? Even more important, how do we deal with the “meltdowns” we face in our lives? In my book “Jolt! Get the Jump on a World That’s Constantly Changing” I show you how to weather the storms of change, and actually use it to your advantage. After being fired, going through a divorce, losing a loved one or experiencing other traumatic life events, how do you start over? Here’s 5 ways to move forward with purpose:
• Realize the time to change is now. When you’ve hit the wall, or rock bottom, that could be the best thing that’s ever happened to you, because it “jolts” you into action. While we never welcome terrible things, they can often help us focus on what really matters and show us the way out. FULL POST
Posted 1/28/15 at 11:59 AM | Phil Cooke
I’ve spent time on this blog warning social media users about inappropriate posts. But should a church, nonprofit, or company start a lawsuit over a critical social media post? According to recent news reports, employers are experiencing real challenges when they try to sue employees – even when those employees are critical of the companies they work for. Even when people Facebook or Twitter bad news about the organization, or get drunk and post something highly critical, it’s very tough to pursue them in court. Even in the rare cases where a company wins, they usually lose the PR battle. In other words, in the social media world, tread very carefully.
It’s the wild west out there, with lots of potential minefields for organizations of all types. For instance, someone could potentially sue a boss for sexual harassment after he repeatedly tries to “friend” him or her on Facebook. Or employers might pull a job offer after learning personal information from an applicant’s social media site. FULL POST
Posted 1/28/15 at 11:35 AM | Phil Cooke
After decades working with churches around the world, I’ve discovered one of the most difficult challenges pastors face is finding the right “Executive Pastor.” Smaller churches don’t usually need one, but as churches grow, a leader in that role becomes more and more important. But in a significant number of cases, local pastors don’t really understand the job. In my opinion, one of the best XP’s in the country is Mike Buster, Executive Pastor at Prestonwood Church in Plano, Texas. He’s worked with Pastor Jack Graham for 28 years, and they’ve become a remarkable team. In fact, in my opinion, Jack Graham is one of the greatest leaders in the church today, therefore the standards at Prestonwood are high. So I asked Mike to tell me about the purpose, role, responsibilities, and challenges of being an XP. Here’s what he said: FULL POST
Posted 1/21/15 at 3:06 PM | Phil Cooke
Our friends at Google have posted the subjects people searched for the most in 2014. It’s set up by category so you can browse through the different areas and drill down to more specifics. There’s enormous information here for articles, blog posts, sermons, and essays. Scientific American also posted some interesting insights as well as trending subjects that were searched on Google. But remember, “Search” isn’t everything. As Leon Wieseltier recently wrote in a brilliant piece in The New York Times:
“Searches for keywords will not provide contexts for keywords. Patterns that are revealed by searches will not identify their own causes and reasons. The new order will not relieve us of the old burdens, and the old pleasures, of erudition and interpretation.” FULL POST
Posted 1/14/15 at 1:25 PM | Phil Cooke
I’m taking a risk here, since I received so much criticism for recommending Christians see the movie Noah. But as Hollywood attempts more movies based on the Bible, we need to do more than just complain when they miss the mark Biblically. The truth is, some of these movies will be hit and others miss. Hollywood isn’t a Christian institution so for us to expect Biblical fidelity in all their movies is simply not realistic. Just to complain about it doesn’t help change the situation. Instead, here’s what I’d recommend:
1. Absolutely let’s preview films and tell Christians (especially families with kids) what’s in these movies. I’m all for reviews and recommendations that let people know what’s there so they can decide for themselves whether to see it or not.
2. We need to actually see the movie before we criticize. I’m a firm believer that to criticize a movie, book, TV program or other endeavor without actually seeing it is intellectually dishonest. Christian leaders do it all the time and I believe it really hurts our credibility outside the Christian bubble. If those leaders were honest, they’d admit they’re mostly doing it to stir up the faithful to help fundraising, but when it comes to making an impact in the culture, it’s not helping. If you hear negative things about a movie or TV program and want to avoid it personally, that’s fine. But before you mount a public petition drive, boycott, or campaign against it, you need to know what you’re talking about. FULL POST