Monday, October 29, 2012

A lesson from fundraising data

One of the big fundraisers that Camp of Champions holds each summer is a Bowl-a-thon.  We ask all of our summer staff to tell their friends and family about the ministry of camp, our scholarship program and how they've seen God work in the summer.  Each year we're amazed at how God provides... this year was especially awesome as our staff combined to raise over $40,000 to go towards camper scholarships.

Being a numbers guy, I recently looked at the data from the last two years of Bowl-a-thon.  I was mainly just curious, but I also wanted to see if any trends emerged, in order to encourage and equip the staff we have next summer to raise funds for scholarships (so more kids and families can hear the gospel).

Here's one lesson I learned:  Of the staff that raised $0 in 2011, only 18% returned to work at camp.  Remove the people that raised $0 and the return rate for the rest of the staff jumps to 54%.

Or in other words:
Someone's desire to raise money, even just $100, speaks very loudly about how much they believe in a cause.  OR
The final number they raise isn't as important as the fact that they tried at all.  OR
The jump from raising $0 to raising $1 is more important than from $1 to $100 or $100 to $1000.

Take away what you need to, leave what you don't!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

RePost: My Free Advice to 18-25 Year Old Males

Sometimes I feel like posting this every month... but for now once a year will be sufficient:

Wake up on time.

Get out of bed.

Find an alarm clock that works for you.  No excuses.

Work on your homework ahead of time.  Cramming for tests and writing papers until 4AM will not translate into good work habits.

Don't be late to stuff.  Show up on time.

If you're late, own it, apologize and get working.

Use a personal planner to track your schedule.  The one on your smart phone or iPod doesn't count unless you actually use it.  (Note: your family's calendar in the kitchen... the one your mom updates... is also no longer sufficient.)

Read your Bible.  Stop pretending you don't have time or you're too busy.  If you can't read your Bible now, you certainly won't have the time to do it in 10 years.

Work hard.  Work well.  Work smart.  Don't be an idiot.

This advice is 100% free and comes with no stipulations.  I'm offering a one-day special and giving this advice free to ANYONE, even if your'e not a 18-25 year old male.  It's yours for the taking.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Inspire Me: Maui Jim Lessons

Recently I attended a Pekin Chamber luncheon where the guest speaker was Tim Krueger, Maui Jim CFO.

Maui Jim is a sunglasses company based out of Peoria.  Nothing that Tim said was earth-shattering.  In fact most of it was obvious and simple, so maybe that's why it stood out to me as inspirational.  What follows was mt attempted notes on Maui Jim's general guiding principles.  They are specific to business, but it's not that hard to see how they can relate to life and ministry.

Treat your employees like gold.  
Example 1: Maui Jim employees four full-time physical trainers who's only job is to help the other employees get in shape, stay in shape and eat well.

Wow your customers.  Make them smile.  Follow the 5/95 rule.
Example 1: If a customer's glasses need fixed because their dog ate them, the company sends back a dog bone with the fixed glasses and a note that says: "Give the dog this bone instead of your glasses next time."
Example 2: After 9/11, Maui Jim bought back the inventory of it's Hawaiian distributors who were having trouble moving sunglasses (because no tourists were traveling).  The distributors are now intensely loyal to Maui Jim.
The 5/95 rule is this:  5% of your clients/customers are NOT going to follow any of the rules you make.  So don't make rules for the 5% that penalize the 95%.  Only make rules that benefit everyone, especially the 95%.  And don't be surprised about the 5%, you knew they weren't going to follow your rules to begin anyway.

Make your product the best.  Don't focus on other things, focus on your product.
For Maui Jim, this means continually improving their sunglasses.  Their price and brand are important, but not if they aren't making the best possible sunglasses.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Take Out Your Wife: A Mini Rant

Note: This is specifically directed towards Christian men who have wives.

My wife and I just celebrated out 8th anniversary.  Leading up to it, I was struggling with a gift idea.  So I asked who would know, or at least where I thought I could get an opinion: my Facebook friends.

While I didn't get a ton of answers.  The answers I did get (all from women) seemed a little obvious to me: a dinner out, hire a sitter, or a good conversation over a cup of coffee.  I'm not trying to put myself on a pedestal, but I regularly do these things for my wife.  

Are we at the point that a simple date night is a super-special gift that an average guy can't think of on his own?

That's too bad. Date nights should be obvious and regular.  If you have a wife, take her out!

Monday, October 15, 2012

HIRI: Free Will by Sam Harris

I recently listened to the audio version of Free Will by Sam Harris.  Here's How I Heard It: (HIHI?)

What I Liked:  The mental stimulation this book provided.  Don't listen to this when you're half asleep.  There is a definite need to be quick thinking and on your toes as the content comes at you.

What I Didn't Like: A few times Harris used some word play to make his point stronger than it actually was.  Two such statements, as an example: "We know we can perform an experiment such as this, at least in principle"  "Imagine a neuro-scanning device..."  Both times he is making the case that we can prove people aren't in control of their own choices.  But he only quickly uses the word "imagine" or phrase "at least in principle" and then the rest that follows is given as a fact.
Another minor dislike was that because I listened to the audio version I was unable to check his sources (or know if he had sources) for any claim he made.  Considering the type of book that it was, I'll probably look into some of his claims and sources down the road.

Where I Land: The premise of the book is that there is no such thing as free will.  I have to admit that Harris makes his point very strongly.  However, coming at this book with a Biblical worldview, I already believed these two truths: 1) God is in complete control of everything (therefore there isn't free will)  and 2) People have the freedom to make their individual choices (therefore there is free will).
I believe both of these seemingly incompatible truths because the Bible teaches both of them.  How they resolve each other is something I may not know this side of heaven, or maybe it is only known to the all-knowing God.  While Free Will gave me a lot to think about, in the end, it merely supported (in some sense) truth #1.  Truth #2 is still equally strong in my mind, continually supported by the Bible and by my everyday experiences.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

BOOR October 2011: 7 Billion Reasons

Last October I read this interesting post about world population growth and religious growth.  Seeing how that we're a year removed from the author's original posting, I'm assuming most of the numbers are inaccurate.

But the stats are still just as fascinating.  What is the expected population in 2050?  Where is the growth of Christians outpacing that of Muslims?

But the most important question the author poses is this: What will it take to reach a lost world with a rapidly increasing population?

Fin the full post here: 7 Billion Reasons

Monday, October 8, 2012

Personal Task Management

It's been over a year since I switched from managing my tasks on a computer to doing it on paper.  I still feel that doing so was a great decision.  I save a lot of time not being distracted by all the things you can find on a computer.  I also think keeping your task list on paper gives you some built in simplicity and clarity: You can't do it all in one day because you can only fit so much on one piece of paper.

However, there is one sliver of task management that I've transferred back to digital.  If a task or job has multiple parts or recurring items in them, I keep those things in digital format.

For example: I write "Budget" in my task notebook as a reminder to deal with bill-paying, check-writing and keeping up on my family budget.  But for the specific list of bills to pay and checks to write, I have a digital list that I reference.  (You could easily use a spreadsheet, I went with Trello for a little more pizzazz.)

Or when I plan Camp of Champions' staff training.  I need more than a sheet of paper to track all of the details and schedules.  So I keep those in various spreadsheets and documents.  But "Staff Training" is all that gets written down in my task notebook.

Simple and obvious?  Maybe.  But it works.

One caveat: The specifics of how you manage your tasks aren't as important as the fact that you manage them.  How are you doing with that?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

A cell phone guideline

I'll need to do a full update to my Using Technology post soon, but here's an idea I recently had:

When you sit down for a meeting with someone, set your phone out on the table and declare who you will accept calls from.  If the phone rings or buzzes, check if it is one of your pre-declared persons.  If so, go ahead and answer it, you told us you would already.  If not, then let it sit.

If I'm meeting with you today, I'd declare I would answer the phone for: 1) my wife, 2) my realtor, 3)
The President (I'm not necessarily expecting a call from him, but it doesn't hurt to be prepared.)

Here's a bonus guideline: If you're sitting down to a meal with your family.  Put your phone out of sight and on silent.  Is there really anyone more important that could call you?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Writing on a whim

Sometimes it's good to write without an end in mind.

Don't have an entire article or blog post thought through before you start writing.  Go with your initial thought and see where it takes you.

It might not be ready to "publish" or send on after your first pass through writing it, but it might help give you clarity on what you were thinking.