Tips from a guru

There’s a lot of buzz going around about church planting at the moment. You’d have to be living under a rock to have missed it.

Will Henderson is planting the first Acts 29 (Mark Driscoll’s movement) church in Australia. He’s a Pressy. He’s from Brisbane. He’s got a blog.

Until now I hadn’t thought it worth mentioning. But today he interviewed my dad.

He got the scoop with dad’s top three tips for church planters.

1. Work really, really hard at clear bible teaching. This is the foundation. As a planter you will be tempted to take shortcuts in this area, my advice is to do the opposite. Spend up to three days a week focusing on your teaching and do it really well.
2. Do everything else as well as you can. Doing this affirms your commitment to number one.
3. Love people, but be firm and apologise freely.

Here are dad’s bottom three based on my experience having assignments proof read and hearing him rant at my mistakes (especially point two).

1. Avoid run on sentences, run on sentences are two sentences in one without a full stop in between.
2. Make sure your lines are straight – nothing says “sloppy” like a poorly folded bulletin, or a sign with letters out of alignment.
3. Keep it shorter than 23 minutes. Nobody likes to be bored. Especially your wife.

Coach, first class and business

You know what really annoys me. The theory that to be successful in the realm of business you need some sort of mentor, guru or coach. When did this happen?

I don’t care if your business coach or mentor is really successful – if they’re so good why aren’t you working for them?

Sure, learning from other people’s successes and failures is helpful. And wisdom comes from experience (including other people’s experience). Advice is great. But the idea that you need constant handholding and affirmation in order to realise your true potential is constantly frustrating. What happened to learning on the job and from your own experience – it seems that the approach these days is to run around collecting coaches and pithy advice before stepping out and doing something. It’s hardly entrepreneurial.

It’s especially frustrating when you run around telling everybody what your coach/mentor/guru/sage/seer etc told you and suggesting they apply it to their own endeavours in that field in a way that disparages everybody who does things differently or chooses to hold to an alternate philosophy.

That is all.

EDIT: In case anyone is wondering who this is directed at – it was vaguely work related. But I find this frustrating in every sphere.

20 creativity insights from the brain behind the “best job in the world” campaign

Today I had the pleasure of enjoying lunch with an advertising “guru” – he doesn’t like that term –  so lets call him a leading marketing executive – the CEO of CumminsNitro – Sean Cummins.

He’s the man behind Virgin Blue’s marketing (and indeed their “brand”), the Tourism Queensland Best Job in the World Campaign and other interesting things.

He spoke for four hours in two functions today and I’m going to try to focus on the interesting bits. Things that may be beneficial if you’re thinking about marketing, branding or strategy… I know that lists are great blog fodder – so here we go… (this is basically my notes from the functions). These are in chronological order not order of significance – but I think the most important idea for me was that creativity is not airy fairy – it’s a discipline. Then, shortly behind, was the idea that “genius comes from the prolific” which actually came from Einstein.

  1. There are a whole lot of ads out there shot exactly the same way – and he gave an example of “weird stuff happening on streets” from gerbils in running wheels to walking ATMS – he put together a two minute clip of bits from all these ads in a seamless montage. Finding a point of difference includes the style of your campaign – not just the substance of your product.
  2. We are in the throes of the greatest change in advertising ever – so much so that the man at the helm of one of Australia’s most highly regarded companies told a small business that asked a question to think hard before advertising. Ask if you need to advertise at all.
  3. There’s an old quote from a guy from Proctor and Gamble that says “I know 50% of my marketing works, I just don’t know which half.”
  4. Advertising has traditionally focused on a “push” philosophy where the seller “pushes” their messages onto the buyer – social networking and the changing community mentality means that it’s moved to a “pull” model where people choose what brands to hold dear and pull them to themselves.
  5. The concept of your branding being your logo essentially died when Nike became known for sweatshops –  your brand is what you’re known for, not your recognisable logo. Your brand is more than your logo – it is perhaps best defined as your “aura”.
  6. “The last bastion of the creative scoundrel is to change your logo”…
  7. Being successful in understanding markets and selling products means being an investigative journalist and researching trends and vibes rather than capturing a fleeting moment of creativity and hoping it resonates.
  8. Test things with focus groups – have people who will give you blunt, realistic feedback.
  9. Don’t sell anything off a negative. Find a positive. Don’t sell the reef on the basis that the reef might one day not be here – it opens up an in for lobby groups and the competition.
  10. Paul Hogan once captured the consumer’s intention best (and the way to sell things) when he said you don’t invite people to your house to see the furniture. People are after authentic experiences and interactions – not an icon or postcard perfect photo.
  11. When you’re selling something strategy is more important than substance – you don’t come to a client with an idea for an ad but a strategy.
  12. Sometimes tighter deadlines produce tighter results – “give me an hour and I’ll produce a more pithy campaign than if I’m given a month”…
  13. If a proposition or proposal has the word and in it it’s not single minded.
  14. Twittering is like sponsored stalking.
  15. The movie Australia was an artifice – with no buy in for tourism whatsoever – tacking a $60 million campaign on the end was a gross error in judgment.
  16. Sometimes we need to stop making sense and start acting on ideas to see how far they can go.
  17. Develop a creative habit – or a methodology and discipline for creativity. Figure out how and where you best come up with ideas. Where do you think your clearest. Don’t keep a notepad by your bed (unless writing down your spontaneous ideas helps you get to sleep). Dreams are not when we are at our most lucid. Set a rigid routine around your creativity.
  18. Einstein said “genius comes from the prolific” the more of something you do the more likely you are to get better at it and produce a flash of brilliance. Songwriters may write their biggest hit in five minutes but it will take a lifetime of discipline to produce the ability to do so.
  19. When you’re communicating an idea try to find a one word summary. Consider how you’d explain it when grabbing an innocent bystander on the street – the longer you take the more freaked out they become.
  20. For complex ideas write the concept out in full and then prune. Remove the unnecessary fluff until you’re left with your substance. Follow the epithet “say it straight then say it great” in order to ensure you’re communicating the essence of your idea.

The guru’s guru

I’ve never been one for gurus. Particularly self proclaimed ones who spit out pithy statements at random intervals.

Simone just hailed me as a guru of trivia, which was nice, which got me thinking about the concept of a “guru”.

Gurus tend to annoy me. Today, I’d like to introduce you to the guru of the internet. Seth Godin. I subscribe to Seth’s blog – mostly because he is a marketing guru. And sometimes he says useful things. The rest of it is twaddle. Like this:

“If it acts like a duck (all the time), it’s a duck. Doesn’t matter if the duck thinks it’s a dog, it’s still a duck as far as the rest of us are concerned.”

That’s a quote from a post on “Authenticity“.

Seth is a guru to so many people – but he has gurus too. Kevin Kelly, founder of Wired is one of those gurus. He’s like the grand daddy guru of the internet. He does seem pretty cool.

Kevin Kelly has gurus too. His gurus are people involved in the emerging church movement. He says as much here. Almost. He’s a Christian and he likes relevant stuff.

Being a fan of the emergent church means being a fan of Mark Driscoll. Almost. He was one of the people who started the movement but has since distanced himself from it. In writing. It’s probably not fair to lump him in with them – but it works for the sake of this little soliloquisious (surely the adjectival form of soliloquay) syllogism.

Mark Driscoll is now the guru of a generation of young Christian men who want authentic Christianity.

His guru is Jesus. So following the chain from Seth Godin – everybody’s guru – gets you to Jesus.

I guess my point is: Everybody you may consider a guru will have their own guru – once you get to the top of the pile of gurus that’s the guy worth following. Follow the guy with no gurus.

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