Where Have You Been?

Alright world. So I’m back.

It’s been a long time since I’ve posted on this blog and I can’t help but remember what one of my most influential college professors told my senior paper class. “Publish or Perish.” As difficult as it is to stay committed to publishing content daily and weekly, I believe it is truly worth it (although I have not kept this advice as I should. We all live and learn). There is something to getting your thoughts on paper or in more modern terms, on a computer screen. It causes you to think, it adds value to others, and it places you in the position to be an influencer. I’m sure there are many more benefits to this, one obvious one is networking, but I think you get my drift. If you’re publishing, your moving forward, and an object in motion creates motion.

Life has been crazy. Since I posted last I was hired at Quicken Loans to be a mortgage banker, I’ve had my first child, Desirae, with my wife Heather, and we are on the cusp of buying our first home home.

There is so much to share. This week, after much discussion with Heather, we’ve been praying about what God would have for us next. What is our purpose? What does the Lord want us to focus on?

As I begin to post once again, I’m anticipating having more clarity on where this blog is going so I can provide more value to everyone. I am beginning to gain more clarity as I live in Detroit and pray for God’s direction. Honestly, I think my lack of blogging is a direct result of my intense focus on honing my craft of salesmanship at Quicken Loans as God has led me to do. I’m getting much better at my salesmanship, so I’m beginning to have more time to think of other things. Lately I have felt so relaxed on my job because my new process (I’ll tell you about it more later) that I’ve been able to think about what else God wants me to do in Detroit but I’ve found that I don’t actually know what he wants me to do. This has led me to conversations with Heather about our purpose here and it has been beautiful! There is so much more to come on all of this, but as for now, my heart is full of peace and anticipation for what God has next. I’m excited for my future with Heather and Desirae, and I’m excited for all that God has for me in business and ministry.

So for now, I’m signing off. Have a great night! It’s good to be back. 

Advertisements

Stay True to Your Trajectory

Welcome to the fifth week of the “So You Want To Make a Difference?” Series. In this post, I am going to discuss what it means to stay true to your trajectory and how you can do so. If you need to catch up on the series or you are wondering what is coming next, check out the list below:

  1. So You Want to Make a Difference?
  2. You Have a Purpose
  3. Find Your Sweet Spot
  4. Practical Positioning
  5. Stay True to Your Trajectory
  6. That Doesn’t Make Sense
  7. Arriving at Your Destination

The concept of staying true to your trajectory is pretty straight forward, all you need to do is stay the course, fight the desire to quite, believe when doubt comes…wait, that is pretty challenging stuff. This brings me to the reason why I am writing about something so “straight forward.” Sometimes, the most basic things in life can be the hardest. Let’s be honest, staying the course to fulfill your purpose isn’t always exciting or an easy endeavor. There are no fireworks going off when you wake up in the morning for the 300th time and you’re still living in the same place doing the same thing. It’s rare to find people shouting for joy when they are being persecuted for doing what they believe they are called to do. The hum drum or challenge of life can get to you after a while. So this begs the question, how can you stay true to your trajectory? Here are a couple of thoughts:

1. Get a Jonathon

This is a biblical reference to a strong, selfless, and challenging friendship between Jonathon and David. Jonathon was the son of King Saul and was the air to the throne of Israel. Problem was, without going into much detail, God had given the throne to David instead, and someday David would be king (to learn more about this, start in 1 Samuel 18 in the Holy Bible). Saul didn’t like this and therefore wanted to kill David. When David was being hunted by King Saul, Jonathon was there to offer wisdom, guidance, and encouragement to David so that David would stay on his path towards kingship. We all need friends like this.

2. Get established in a community

It is important to get established in a community if you are going to stay the course. A community is basically a group of likeminded people that are all pursuing the same goals encouraging each other along the way. There are many different types of communities in terms of geography, study, belief etc.. Make sure that you pick one that fits your needs.

3. Dig deep and make the hard decisions

Finally, there are times when things get hard and you just have to dig deep and make the hard decisions. It doesn’t feel good, it’s not convenient, but the end will be worth it. To get away from just “digging deep,” you need to remember (and I need to continually realize this as well) that Jesus Christ dug deep and gave His life on a cross for you because he loves you. Your motivation of digging deep should come from His love for you. This motivation can certainly help you stay the course when it comes to living out the purpose He has given you. If you’re a Christian, love should be your motivation every day. What a beautiful way to live.

I’m sure that you can think of more ways to stay true to your trajectory. I am interested in what you have to say. Leave a comment below and let’s develop the discussion.

And don’t forget, Jesus Christ is the one true God. He loved you so much that he gave his life for you on a wooden cross. True life is only found at the foot of the cross. You could apply everything I tell you in this series and if you still have not given your life to Jesus Christ, you will never be satisfied.

Practical Positioning

Welcome to the fourth week of the “So You Want To Make a Difference” series. In this post, I am going to discuss what you should do after you have found your “sweet spot” (your purpose). If you need to catch up on the series or you are wondering what is coming next, check out the list below:

  1. So You Want to Make a Difference?
  2. You Have a Purpose
  3. Find Your Sweet Spot
  4. Practical Positioning
  5. Stay True to Your Trajectory
  6. That Doesn’t Make Sense
  7. Arriving at Your Destination

In my experience, the easiest part of making a difference is finding your purpose (although, it may be hard to believe). The hardest part is positioning yourself to accomplish that purpose. This post, along with the next two, is all about how you can go about accomplishing your purpose.

Practical positioning is the first step you take to accomplish your purpose once you have found it. We all have to start somewhere, so it helps to get practical. If your purpose is to start your own business, but you don’t know how, then find someone who will teach you how to write a business plan. If you are in college and you believe that you are supposed to be a lawyer to fight for justice, then your first practical step might be to apply for law school. If you believe that your purpose is to be a missionary to Africa, then you might start looking for a contact in Africa.

In my life, I had to apply this practical positioning concept as well. I believe that God has purposed me to be a part of the physical and spiritual restoration of Detroit, MI. After completing college, I practically positioned myself (by the grace of God) by getting a job near Detroit, MI. I did this because having a job close to Detroit makes it a lot easier to accomplish my purpose.

Now it’s your turn. What is your first practical positioning step from here? It may take some faith, but you can do it! Move forward with confidence.

Feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear what you believe your next practical positioning step is, and I’d be honored to have the opportunity to encourage you along the way.

And don’t forget, Jesus Christ is the one true God. He loved you so much that he gave his life for you on a wooden cross. True life is only found at the foot of the cross. You could apply everything I tell you in this series and if you still have not given your life to Jesus Christ, you will never be satisfied.

Find Your Sweet Spot – Your Purpose

Sitting there your heart starts to warm up, it feels like someone ignited a flame deep within you. You feel a smoldering in your spirit and you don’t quite know how to describe it. It feels like you could burn alive, but at the same time it is soothing. You feel like you are going to turn inside out, yet there is so much peace. And then you think to yourself, “I want to do it, I want to make a difference!”

Welcome to the third week of the “So You Want To Make a Difference” series. What I just described above is what may happen when you find your “sweet spot.” In this blog, I want to give you the practical steps to finding your sweet spot. If you need to catch up on the past two blogs or you are wondering what is coming next, check out the list below:

  1. So You Want to Make a Difference?
  2. You Have a Purpose
  3. Find Your Sweet Spot
  4. Practical Positioning
  5. Stay True to Your Trajectory
  6. That Doesn’t Make Sense
  7. Arriving at Your Destination

Your sweet spot is what you were made to do. It is your purpose, your calling. It is usually something that you are passionate about and good at. When boiled down, it is a deep inward conviction that causes you to take action and make a difference.

To find your sweet spot, there is a combination of things that I suggest you do. Find out what God has to say (who is better to learn about your sweet spot from than your creator?), and take a personal inventory of your talents, passions, and desires. At the intersection of these two areas you will find your sweet spot. This process can take quite a bit of time so don’t get discouraged if you don’t figure it out right away. In the end, it will be worth all of the time you spent searching.

Breaking it down a bit more, in order to find out what God has to say, you must first have a relationship with Him. Through Jesus Christ – God’s only son – you are able to have a relationship with God because Jesus died on the cross to make atonement for your sins. All you have to do is repent of your sins and give your life completely to Him (to learn more about this relationship with God through Jesus Christ that I have mentioned, email me at trustructure@gmail.com, I will answer your questions to the best of my ability). Once you have a relationship with God, you can learn what your sweet spot is by praying, reading your Bible, attending a local church, meeting with your pastor, and listening to what God tells you throughout your journey (He still speaks to people today, many times it is in a still, small voice).

Taking a personal inventory of your talents, passions, and desires is pretty straight forward. Set aside some time so that you can think clearly and start writing down everything that comes to mind in the aforementioned categories. In the midst of your personal inventory it is a good idea to get the thoughts of others, too. Take time to talk with your parents, mentors, close friends, coaches, siblings and anyone else that you think may know you well. Different people can provide insights about you that you may have looked over.

Once you have gathered as much information as you can in each category, God’s thoughts and your personal inventory, you will need to start mapping out where everything intersects. There is no exact way to do this, but a good principle to follow is to write everything down in one central place. This will allow you to get a broad perspective of everything and you will be able to begin piecing things together. You will start seeing some intersecting points and your sweet spot will be found at the point that ignites a deep flame within your spirit, a deep inward conviction that causes you to take action and make a difference.

Once you have found your sweet spot, you will need to take steps towards practically positioning yourself to walk out in your sweet spot. Next week I will talk about Practical Positioning. I look forward to having you back.

And don’t forget, Jesus Christ is the one true God. He loved you so much that he gave his life for you on a wooden cross. True life is only found at the foot of the cross. You could apply everything I tell you in this series and if you still have not given your life to Jesus Christ, you will never be satisfied.

Everyone Has a Purpose

To those of you that were here this past week, welcome back to the So You Want to Make a Difference, series. To those that just arrived, I’m glad you’ve made it. You may want to get caught up on last week’s blog, So You Want to Make a Difference, before you read this one. This is the second blog in the series of seven:

  1. So You Want to Make a Difference?
  2. You Have a Purpose
  3. Find Your Sweet Spot
  4. Practical Positioning
  5. Stay True to Your Trajectory
  6. That Doesn’t Make Sense
  7. Arriving at Your Destination

It’s refreshing to be back here writing this week and I am excited to share this blog with you. The first step in the practical plan to make a difference is to understand that you have a purpose. This seems quite simple, but it’s actually a profound concept. If you take it to heart, it will have a significant impact on how you live daily. When you live with purpose you want to wake up, you want to go through the hard times, and you want to be the best you can be because what you’re doing means something. The following biblical, philosophical, and personal perspectives will show you that you do have a purpose.

In the Holy Bible, there are many instances where we can see that people have a purpose. Starting in the book of Genesis, Adam – the first man – was given a purpose by God to name the animals, be fruitful and multiply, and subdue the earth. In Jeremiah 29:11 God said to the Israelites – his chosen people – that he had plans for them, not to harm them, but to give them a hope and a future. Lastly, God said that Saul, also known as Paul, was a chosen instrument of His. These examples of people in the Bible that had purpose are just a few among many others. Everyone mentioned in the Bible had a purpose in some way shape or form. If God had a purpose for them, he has one for you too.

On a philosophical level, it is inherent that we all have a purpose. Just like man created the automobile for a purpose – to travel from point A to point B – God created you for a purpose – to do what he has called you to do.

On a personal level, we all have an inward desire to do something significant. You know what I’m talking about, it is that thing that you cannot stop thinking about, it is that goal that you long to accomplish, it is that prayer that you always pray, it is that burning passion that smolders inside of you just waiting to be kindled into flame.

You do have a purpose, a God given purpose to bring glory to His name in your own unique way.

Next week, I’m going to be talking about how to find your sweet spot – what your purpose is. I look forward to having you with me.

And don’t forget, Jesus Christ is the one true God. He loved you so much that he gave his life for you on a wooden cross. True life is only found at the foot of the cross. You could apply everything I tell you in this series and if you still have not given your life to Jesus Christ, you will never be satisfied.

So You Want to Make a Difference?

You’re sitting there one day in your chair and you can’t help but think to yourself, “I want to make a difference.” You have finally realized that you don’t want to sit there anymore and waste away watching T.V., playing video games, buying clothes, doing drugs, working your monotonous job or trying every relationship possible. Whatever it is, you are sick of it, you are ready to give it up, and you’re fired up about it.

So you want to make a difference? Many people have been at this same place in their life and just let the fire die; they have forgotten about their passion to make a difference. Why does this happen? Where do things go wrong?

I see to main reasons for this phenomenon.

  1. It’s hard to make a difference and people give up along the way.
  2. People lack a practical plan on how to make a difference.

So let’s deal with the number one reason why people don’t make a difference right here, right now. I am not going to sugar coat this for you. It’s hard to make a difference. That’s right, I said it. It’s hard to make a difference. So often people think that it should be easy, it should just fall into their lap. It’s their “destiny.” Just because something may be your “destiny” doesn’t excuse you from having to do something for it. If you want to make a difference you need to be ready to throw down the gauntlet and go through whatever it takes to get there. You may face heart break, withdrawal, pain, tears, torture or even death. If you’re not ready to give your life to make a difference, then you probably won’t make it. Only those that are completely sold out to make a difference will truly attain their goal.

Now that we have number one out of the way, let’s deal with the second reason why people fall short of making a difference with their life. They don’t have a practical plan. This is what the rest of the series is going to focus on, giving you that practical plan on how you can go about making a difference with your life. Here are those steps:

  1. You Have a Purpose
  2. Find Your Sweet Spot
  3. Practical Positioning
  4. Stay True to Your Trajectory
  5. That Doesn’t Make Sense
  6. Arriving at Your Destination

Over the next six weeks, we are going to discuss each of the aforementioned steps and how they apply to your life. I am excited to hear back from you about how this series has helped you in your journey to making a difference with your life.

And don’t forget, Jesus Christ is the one true God. He loved you so much that he gave his life for you on a wooden cross. True life is only found at the foot of the cross. You could apply everything I tell you in this series and if you still have not given your life to Jesus Christ, you will never be satisfied.

The Life-Blood of an Organization

If you want to have TruStructure in your organization, then you need to realize that the life-blood of your organization is marketing and sales. Just like the body needs both white blood cells and red blood cells to give it life, your organization needs sales and marketing to give it life. No matter what type of organization you have this is true. Take a moment and think about your organization, no matter what kind it is – profit or non-profit – you are trying to convince someone to buy a product, give his time or change his beliefs. That is marketing and selling. Take a moment to think about what it is that you are marketing and selling.

Marketing and selling work together beautifully. Marketing alerts someone that there is a product, cause or belief, and sales takes the alert person and helps them make a decision; they both work together to accomplish one goal: to get people to decide for the thing being sold. They work together in another way. They support each other. Marketing needs money to pay to get the word out and sales provides that money. Sales requires that people are informed about the product to find people to sell to and marketing provides those people.

Now, you cannot just be random with your marketing and sales effort to work this beautiful relationship. You must have a full marketing plan and a complete sales system.

Developing Your Organizations Full Marketing Plan

The biggest key to developing your full marketing plan is to start with the end in mind. Decide what you want to accomplish, and then find out what you need to do to make this happen. Make sure you include every step along the way. Once you have each step mapped out, prioritize the order of your steps from basic to complex and start at the most basic one. As you are successful with your basic steps, you will be better prepared for the more complex ones.

Developing Your Organizations Complete Sales System

In order to develop a complete sales system you need to determine how you will respond in each aspect of the sales process. You need to make sure that your system is sincere. You need to make sure that you are willing to improve or change a process when you find that one does not work; always be willing to learn from your mistakes. Finally, practice your system and become an expert at it. If you are willing to put the time in, your system will soon be complete.

With your marketing plan and sales system in place, you will have a beautiful relationship established that brings life to your organization. Your full marketing plan will provide qualified leads to your sales department, causing them to be more efficient with their sales, making the company more successful. Your complete sales system will land multiple prospects causing you to have more than enough funds to create a powerful marketing campaign that fully informs your future prospects. This is a beautiful relationship that is the life-blood of an organization.

A Remedy for a Broken City

Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. – 2 Corinthians 3:17 (KJV)

Needless to say, Detroit is a broken city. Almost everyone that lives in North America and follows any sort of national news knows this. Many people are searching for the remedy that will heal the city. Businessmen are trying to start incubators, and develop new business. Politicians are trying to create programs that they believe will help. Police are doing their best to hold crime at bay with their limited resources. All of these efforts are needed, but I can say definitively that these remedies will not cure Detroit. These are only temporary fixes; band-aids to cover the deep wounds that Detroit has. The answer to all of Detroit’s problems is ironically enough found at the heart of the city and is depicted in a statue. In downtown Detroit, Marshall Fredericks crafted a sculpture that he never gave a title other than a verse from the Bible: “Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. – 2 Corinthians 3:17.” Over time, this statue has come to be called the “Spirit of Detroit.” In short, the answer to Detroit’s problems, the remedy to heal the city, is found in the Spirit of the Lord.

Marshall Fredericks makes a statement with his sculpture that goes beyond the verse behind it – 2 Corinthians 3:17. This verse can be applied in many ways, but Fredericks applied it to Detroit in this way: “THE MAIN FIGURE REPRESENTS THE SPIRIT OF MAN. IN HIS LEFT HAND HE HOLDS A SYMBOL OF GOD, AND IN HIS RIGHT HAND, A FAMILY GROUP: FATHER, MOTHER AND CHILD. THE ARTIST EXPRESSES THE CONCEPT THAT GOD, THROUGH THE SPIRIT OF MAN, IS MANIFESTED IN THE FAMILY, THE NOBLEST HUMAN RELATIONSHIP.” Fredericks believed that the Spirit of the Lord was expressed in the family unit. Detroit has forgotten the value of God being expressed in the family unit and as a result, it has slowly allowed the family unit to be destroyed and bondage has come as a result – the absence of freedom.

The main causes of the destruction are selfishness, hatred, anger, envy, greed, pride, and much more. Altogether this is sin. If Detroit ever wants to restore its freedom again, it must repent of its sin, look to the one God (Jesus Christ) that can save it, and follow him as he leads it in restoring the family unit – “THE NOBLEST HUMAN RELATIONSHIP.” Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

Customer Service KILLS

Over the past few weeks, I have had an education in customer service, and I have come to the conclusion that customer service KILLS! I could stand on the boring premise that if you have bad customer service, you won’t last very long in the business world, but if I do that, then I am just wasting your time. Instead, I am going to talk about an area of customer service from a perspective that most people don’t see when it comes to business. Are you ready?! Here goes. Give money back to your customers when they ask for it, especially when they are under contract to pay the money!!

Now you think I’m crazy don’t you?! You’re thinking, “what!?! How in the world am I supposed to run and grow a successful business if I am always giving my money back to the customer??” Well it is simple, follow along.

What do you think happens when you don’t give the customer his money back? Let’s stop here and recognize that most people don’t even get so far as to ask themselves this question. Most people stop at the fact that they will lose the money that they have rightfully earned if they concede to the customer’s request; they justify keeping the money because a contract was signed or the receipt had an all sales are final clause clearly written on it. I agree that they have all of the right in the world to keep their money, but these people do not realize what is actually happening when they do.

So, back to our original question, what happens when you don’t give the customer his money back? Well, first we need to realize that the customer probably thinks that he has some kind of valid reason for asking – whether you think it is or isn’t has no bearing on this situation. The fact still remains, he has a reason. With this reason, he expects to get his money back. When he doesn’t, he begins to get upset. Thus a bad experience begins – if he hasn’t had one already – because he is pleading his case and it is not being ratified. Each time the customer hears the unwavering reason, “well you signed a contract, I’m sorry” or “see this receipt, it says ‘all sales are final,'” he becomes even more turned off than before. This all comes to a head and the conversation ends with the customer being very displeased. The customer now has no reason to ever give you a positive review to those that he comes into contact with – friends, family or acquaintances. This is where your problem begins. You may have saved that $80 that you would have “lost,” but you have failed to realize that you have lost the $1,000.00 that you would have gained from the seven future customers that the upset customer will turn away from your business. Your short-sighted view of customer service is KILLing your company!

Once you realize that customer service KILLS, you can start asking the right question: “How in the world am I supposed to run and grow a successful business if I never give the customer his money back??” As you take on this perspective you will start experiencing an increase in your total revenue because even when you were completely right in keeping the money, you didn’t, and that customer now thinks you are an angel. He is now even more likely to recommend you than before because you understood his situation, you were on his side, you went above and beyond the call. Whether you like it or not, it is time to realize that customer service KILLS.

Where You Will Find Success

Organizations that set themselves apart by developing their organizational health will find success – accomplish their mission. This applies to everyone because everyone is a part of an organization formally or informally. Webster defines an organization as: an administrative and functional structure. If you were born (oh wait, you were! You’re reading this blog post), you probably live within some sort of functional structure – a family, city, state, nation – and you probably work or serve within another type of functional structure – a business, non-profit organization or governmental agency. Now, there is probably That One Guy in the middle of nowhere without any ties to humanity, and he is reading this post on his super cool iPhone because it is connected to some crazy satellite. He is probably saying “I’m not part of any organization! Ha! This doesn’t apply to me.” Well One Guy, what I have to say to you is “congratulations! You win the ‘That One Guy’ award. Move on and enjoy reading something else more satisfying on your remote rock.” To the rest of you, let’s dive in.

From what I know, most everyone wants to succeed within the organizations that they are involved – they want to accomplish the mission that they set out to achieve. Maybe someone wants to have a tight knit family or a unified community. Others may want to have a profitable business or an impactful ministry or both. But the stark reality is that despite their desire for success, only those that set themselves apart by focusing on organizational health will find success – accomplish their mission.

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, there are about 500,000 to 650,000 new private sector establishments started each year. Each one is reaching for success. But something terrible happens after four years; about half of the organizations fail. The chart below depicts this.

(http://www.bls.gov/bdm/entrepreneurship/entrepreneurship.htm/)

I recognize that these statistics do not include all types of organizations, but I do believe that all organizations follow a similar statistical pattern. As a business analyst at Pro-Motion Consulting, I have found that most of the aforementioned failures in business come from a lack of organizational health. Organizational health is defined as having each area of your organization working together in a clear and unified manner.

Here are the six critical focus areas of organizational health:

  1. Cohesive Leadership Teams
  2. Purposeful Strategy
  3. Effective Marketing
  4. Dedicated People
  5. Sound Financials
  6. Strong Leadership

It is essential that you develop each focus area. If a focus area is underdeveloped, the chances of that organization failing is much greater. I have the privilege of seeing firsthand what happens when organizations take time to develop these areas of organizational health, and the success they have is powerful.

I will explain each focus area in future posts, so be sure to come back for more. Right now, all that matters is that you understand the value of organizational health. If you don’t have it, then your organization will probably be another failed statistic. If you set yourself apart by developing your organizational health, then your chances of success – accomplishing your mission – will be much higher.