The Change Revolution

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Posted 12/24/14 at 3:04 PM | Phil Cooke

This Christmas: Not Everything That Interrupts Us Is A Distraction

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

We live in the most distracted age in the history of the world. If you’ve read this blog for very long, you know the stats – we’re checking our email incessantly, focused on social media, always driven by the fear that we might just be missing something. In fact, in my experience over the last decade, most people don’t fail because they’re not qualified, don’t work hard enough, or are incompetent. Today, most people fail simply because they get distracted.

However, in our obsession to manage distractions we should never forget that some interruptions are not distractions at all.  The New Testament book of Mark, Chapter 10, tells the story of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar. As Jesus and his followers walked by, he cried out for Jesus to have pity on him. But For Jesus’ disciples, he was an insignificant blind man who they considered an distraction. They most likely tried to shut him up and keep the group moving, because they had more important things to accomplish. FULL POST

Posted 12/22/14 at 9:44 AM | Phil Cooke

How Do I Know When to Pay for Lunch?

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

Whether you’ve asked someone out for lunch to ask advice, pitch your project, network, or just get to know them, you need to know the rules about who pays. The rules used to be pretty clear, but in the last few years, I’ve seen a growing number of people that don’t seem to have a clue about who picks up the check. So whatever station in life you’re in, listen up:

1. If you invite someone out so you can pitch your project, get advice, or ask for help, always pick up the check.  It doesn’t matter if the other person is richer than you. You’re asking a favor, and they’re being very gracious to help you out. The person who benefits should be the person who pays.

2. If you ask someone to lunch because they’ve already done you a favor, pick up the check.  I went to a lot of trouble recently opening the doors in Hollywood for a young researcher. I introduced him to friends, set up some interviews, and really helped him out. He invited me to lunch to thank me, but left me to pick up the check. Guess what? Next time he calls and needs a favor, I’ll be busy. FULL POST

Posted 12/19/14 at 10:21 AM | Phil Cooke

How to Find Your Social Media Voice

Finding your authentic voice in social media isn’t that different from traditional media. I had a client once who was a TV host. The problem was, as soon as the red light came on the camera, he became a completely different person. His voice got deeper. His style became bigger. He was more over the top. The problem was – that wasn’t him. Even his friends would tell him, “Stop using your TV voice.” But many of us do the same thing on social media. We try to project authority, sound more spiritual, or generally be someone we’re not. Remember my age-old branding advice – a brand isn’t about becoming something (or someone) else, it’s about discovering who you really are. So with that in mind – here’s my advice about finding the real you on social media:

1) Don’t say things on social media you wouldn’t say to someone face to face.   I have a friend that suddenly becomes totally “spiritual” on social media. He blurts out cheesy cornball Christian sayings he’d never actually say to anyone face to face. Others become hyper political, or try to be overly inspiring. If that’s not you when you’re off Facebook, then my advice is to drop it when you’re on Facebook. FULL POST

Posted 12/17/14 at 10:19 AM | Phil Cooke

Welcome to the Christian Attack Culture

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

There’s no question that the Internet has brought Christianity many wonderful things. Today we have online education available to virtually everyone, social media that encourages people to support great causes, and online communication tools that allow us to connect from the four corners of the earth. But it’s also created something I believe is tearing at the very fabric of our faith. It’s created a culture of attack.

Rarely does a day go by that Christian news sites, social media streams, and other web platforms feature some Christian “correcting” another Christian – and calling them out by name. It can range from arguments over worship music, to theological squabbles, to disagreements over ministry styles, to charges of outright heresy, and the barrage of criticism has grown exponentially. While there are qualified theologians, pastors, and other leaders we should respect and listen to, there’s also a tsunami of armchair theologians, angry ex-church members, and wannabes who are convinced their criticism du jour needs to be shared. FULL POST

Posted 12/16/14 at 11:38 AM | Phil Cooke

Why Leadership By Threat Isn't Leadership

Photo: Flickr/Stockicide - Creative Commons

The New Testament book of Mark is a powerful example of who responded to the message of Jesus and who didn’t. Chapter 12 is an especially good example. The people (Mark describes them as “throngs”) loved his message, but those who resisted where those in authority, because they saw his message as a threat. Sadly, too many leaders today attempt to use threats as a leadership technique. I see that in many churches, nonprofits, and businesses today. Many leaders don’t inspire their team, so they threaten them, thinking it’s a good motivator.

You know what I’m talking about. Leaders or managers who say things like “If you can’t do this, there’s plenty of other people I can call.” Or “This is your last chance, you better not screw it up.” Or tinge every request with a dramatic, ominous – and overblown – ultimatum. FULL POST

Posted 12/15/14 at 9:11 AM | Phil Cooke

What You Should Learn From Sony Pictures Computer Hacking Scandal

Photo: Flickr/Jurgen Appelo - Creative Commons

You’ve no doubt seen the stories plastered across the media about Sony Pictures’ recent hacking scandal. Aside from the breach in confidentiality of private records of salaries, contracts, and other business information, there’s been a humiliating release of email conversations between studio executives.

While law enforcement and Sony’s internal team tries to find the culprit, there’s an incredibly important reminder here for everyone: Email is never private. Through a breech like Sony’s experiencing, a legal case, or the person you’re sending it to releasing it, there are many ways what you think is “private” won’t be once you hit “send.” A few years ago, I was asked to be an expert witness for a court case for a major nonprofit, and although the case never went to court, the attorney told me something I’ll never forget: When most organizations have a legal battle, one of the first items to get subpoenaed are corporate emails. FULL POST

Posted 12/12/14 at 11:00 AM | Phil Cooke

The Secrets of Making Great Presentations

Every day, someone in America is committing career suicide. But it’s not with a gun or even drugs – it’s with a podium. Respected men and women – often excellent leaders and employees – but who end up dying a horrible death in front of an audience – usually at an industry conference, corporate meeting, or workshop. It doesn’t take a CSI officer from the crime lab to analyze the evidence from the scene. It can easily be found in an audience filled with people nodding off to sleep, checking their e-mail, mumbling to themselves, or finding excuses to leave early.

The truth is, most speaker mistakes could easily be solved with a few easy steps – keys that only take a short time to learn, but could literally catapult your speaking career to an entirely new level.  So if you’re preparing for an upcoming conference or workshop, or know someone who is, look over this list carefully.

…It might save you from the dreaded “ECH” (Early Career Humiliation). FULL POST

Posted 12/10/14 at 2:01 PM | Phil Cooke

Why Success Takes More Than Passion

Photo: Pixabay - Public Domain

Everyone talks about “passion” these days, and truthfully, it’s a wonderful thing. It’s always better to be emotionally plugged into projects and excited about the possibilities. But these days, it seems that people talk about passion a lot, but they don’t see the importance of preparation. For instance, you’d be amazed at the number of people who call our office hoping I can introduce them to a literary agent – except for the small fact that they haven’t actually written a book yet. The other day someone asked me to introduce him to a movie studio executive so he could pitch his idea, but the caller has never actually worked in the movie industry, written a screenplay, or know anything about the business.

I literally get hundreds of calls from people who want to speak at conferences. But they’ve never volunteered at a conference, met the people in the background, or taken the time to learn by speaking at smaller, less important events. Others want to teach at a university but haven’t taken the time to get a graduate degree. The list goes on and on… FULL POST

Posted 12/9/14 at 10:17 AM | Phil Cooke

Which is More Creative, A Lone Wolf or a Team?

The “lone wolf” theory of creativity (usually an artist struggling alone) has always been the romantic ideal, but is it true? We look to artistic geniuses throughout history and naturally think that real creativity happens in isolation. But as more and more research and historical information comes to light, the lone wolf theory just isn’t holding up. As Peter Bart from Variety Magazine recently pointed out: “Most creative breakthroughs, recent studies point out, are the products of teams of artists.”

For instance, we know that great painters throughout history often worked with teams. Elizabethan Theater – even Shakespeare – reflected the greater efforts of teams of writers and re-writers. Records from the era record payments to multiple writers for the same play. The history of Hollywood is the story of teams of writers, producers, and other creatives working as teams. If you look at musical theater, you see legends like Rogers and Hammerstein or Lerner and Loewe. FULL POST

Posted 12/9/14 at 10:08 AM | Phil Cooke

The History of Bible Movies

During what’s been called “The Year of the Bible Movie” I discovered a fascinating site called “Bible Films Blog” focused on the history of Bible films. It’s a very interesting resource, and includes some of the earliest films on the life of Christ, including “From the Manger to the Cross” from 1912. Back on the eve of the Millennium, I directed a global TV special that featured a music video with Michael W. Smith singing “To The King Eternal” and we shot the video in an abandoned warehouse and projected scenes of “From the Manger to the Cross” on the brick walls.

The video was very effective, and it created a real passion to explore how Christ has been portrayed over the years on film. Some cheesy, some good, but these early films are really fascinating. Check out the Bible Films Blog list. Chances are, the list is longer than you think…

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