Phil Cooke is changing the way business, church, and non-profit leaders influence and engage the culture. A writer, speaker, & filmmaker, Christianity Today magazine calls him a "media guru." His media company, Cooke Pictures, advises many of the largest and most effective churches & non-profit organizations in the world, and his books and online blog at philcooke.com are changing the way they tell their story. His newest book “One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do” is set to release in July of 2012 from Thomas Nelson Publishers.
Posted 12/19/14 at 10:21 AM | Phil Cooke
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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…
Posted 12/8/14 at 10:04 AM | Phil Cooke
Biographer Ron Chernow, discussing his outstanding life of George Washington, recently mentioned how important “focus” was for our first president. Chernow said that at the beginning of his presidency, “[Washington] couldn’t seem to sit down for dinner without 20 people being there—strangers sponging off his generosity, eating his food, drinking his wine. Washington had to create barricades if he was going to be able to function as president. . . . He saw that he needed to carve out some kind of zone of sanity or privacy just so that he could work without constant interruptions.”
I’ve read research that indicates that when we’re interrupted from a task, it often takes as much as 40 minutes to get back to that same level of focus. It doesn’t take many of those interruptions to completely destroy an entire day. FULL POST
Posted 12/8/14 at 9:53 AM | Phil Cooke
We’ve all met them – people are abysmally wrong and yet incredibly confident. We see it night after night on the Jimmy Kimmel Live! TV show as he sends out camera crews to catch hipsters bluffing about things they know absolutely nothing about. Well, writer David Dunning in Pacific Standard magazine has written a remarkable piece on the research into why we are all confident idiots. I strongly encourage you to read the article because it will explain so much about people. But here’s some highlights that stood out to me:
— It’s been said that being educated is being able to differentiate between what you know and what you don’t. It sounds simple, but it’s incredibly hard to achieve. Too often, we fail to recognize the frequency and scope of our ignorance. FULL POST