5 Profit Lessons From Silicon Valley

For as long as I can remember I’ve always had a propensity to teach. Even before I started school, I somehow knew that a teacher stood out the front and talked while everyone else listened. I wanted to be the person others listened to. As a four year old it had nothing to do with money or profits, I just enjoyed teaching. So I would line up all my dolls and teach them. Inevitably, they were naughty (I don’t know where I picked up such a foreign concept from 😉 so I would smack their tiny, plastic bottoms!

Two weeks ago I spent time in Silicon Valley and I didn’t sit in a classroom, but I learned lessons that I’d never heard anyone else talk (or write) about.

  1. Size Matters
    The most overwhelming first impression was how HUGE everything was. I felt really tiny all of a sudden, like a four year old in a world of adults. Google, Facebook and Apple all have massive properties. I knew they were global companies and that their headquarters would be big. But there is not just one large building, there is campus after campus, building after building, facility after facility. At Google for example, you’ll need a cycle to move between all the locations which sprawl out over Mountain View.
    Creating a sense of scale, helps profits by giving your customers confidence.
  2. Security Matters
    These tech giants are not just concerned with keeping their software secure, they all have a very visible army of security guards physically protecting their properties. You are not allowed into any of their buildings. You are instructed to just take a photo and move on. And it’s even more pronounced in Silicon Beach (in Los Angeles’ Venice Beach area). Google’s offices don’t even have a logo. And Snapchat’s headquarters has no logo, frosted glass windows and security guards.
    Creating a sense of security, helps profits by giving your employees a sense of confidence.
  3. Real Estate Matters
    Google especially, and to a lesser extent Facebook and Apple have leveraged their income streams into successful investments in real estate. Google owns much more real estate than the offices that their more than 50,000 employees turn up to every weekday. In fact, they own more than 10% of all real estate in the neighborhood. There are places you can stand in Silicon Valley where Google is the owner of everything as far as the eye can see.
    Creating a sense of permanency, helps profits by giving your investors a sense of confidence.
  4. Education Matters
    Facebook is the favourite choice of the big three, especially among women, who want to work with Sheryl Sandberg, and everyone who wants a healthy work/life balance (the sprawling employee carpark is empty on the weekend). Apparently, for every one job opening at Facebook, an average of 10,000 applications pour in. Apple has a reputation for attracting those who love design and want to be the best, but different… even though there is a lot of pressure and constant deadlines. Google has high pressure deadlines too. I was told that “Push” is the favourite word of managers there. And the carpark is sadly full on the weekend. But it is the place you go, if you want to get the best training and development. The Education you receive at Google is *almost* as good as students receive at the nearby campus of Stanford University. All three of the giants benefit from this local pool of students where the campus is packed with motivational banners saying things like “Change the world!”
    Creating a culture of learning helps profits by giving suppliers a sense that you will continue growing.
  5. Location Matters
    I once read that the quickest way to acquire any skill is by association. I’ve read many times that you are the sum of the five people who most associate with. That’s why where you locate yourself matters. Silicon Valley has an entire ecosystem of potential customers, employees, investors, suppliers and entrepreneurs. You can go into just about any cafe (and savvy journalists and bloggers often do) and hear conversations about technology, business and growth. In this environment becoming profitable is so easy it can happen almost accidentally .
    Choosing a strategic location helps profits by giving owners a sense that you are surrounded by profits. And I learnt that teachers don’t always have a classroom: sometimes just associating yourself with success, can teach you much more than a smack on a plastic bottom.

If you want to chat about how you can apply these lessons from Silicon Valley unicorns to your specific business, go to the start working with Shaz page.

Silicon Valley tech tour

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Master of Scale

One of my favourite podcasts is Masters of Scale, where Reid Hoffman (Venture Capitalist and co-founder of Linked In) interviews entrepreneurs about how they scaled.

There’s lots of great lessons every episode, that I won’t try to recreate here – it’s worth a listen.

But it always reminds me what a BIG thinker God is.

No, for all the nations of the world
    are but a drop in the bucket.
They are nothing more
    than dust on the scales.
He picks up the whole earth
    as though it were a grain of sand.
Isaiah 40:15

Just picture that for a minute…. God picking up the whole earth as though it were a grain of sand balancing on the tip of his finger….

The truth is the journey for most entrepreneurs involves growing your capacity so that things that used to seem way too big for you to handle, become so easy to handle, it’s like flicking a grain of sand off the end of your finger.

You have to stretch your mindset, exercise your faith, grow your skills, enlarge your ability to deal with finances and much more.

The area that I see first-time entrepreneurs struggle the most is with people skills. Leading a team of people ain’t easy. It just ain’t. But the way you steward people is often the most limiting factor in the scale your business grows to.

Allow your team members to be late, annoying, sick, make mistakes, lacking in talent and disappointing. Because guess what? That’s how you got here, too.

I’m really good at spotting talent. And I’m good at recruiting and developing talent. Mainly because of all the mistakes I’ve made in these areas!

One of the best techniques I’ve learnt, is to look at the other person and repeat in your mind “We need you”. And smile. We are one body. We need each other. Any other mindset is truly a deception.

Often, the reason people seem to be “more trouble than they’re worth” is because they’re not yet in the right spot. An eye is really useful when it’s helping you to see. But if you’re trying to walk on it, it will seem really painful just to be around.

Jesus knew that leaving the 99 to recover the 1 was the only way to ensure His flock would grow into a multi-generational, global flock. We need that cheeky little sheepy baa baa on board. We’re all the better for being together.

So it might be time to do a team audit. Is everyone displaying they’re worth? Are they providing value to others? If they’re not, it’s up to you to unlock their value. How? Usually, by assigning them to a new project, a new team, a new context. How do you choose that new role?

Wait for it. It will shock you. Ask THEM!

And then LISTEN to them. And give them honest appreciation and feedback.

The writer of Hebrews doesn’t say “Don’t neglect the gathering of yourselves together…” He says “Don’t neglect the assembling of yourselves together.” Hebrews 10:25

If you’re the key to growth (and you are), your role is to approach the organisation like an orchestra. You have to make sure all the violinists are sitting together so they’re not poking out the trumpet player’s eye every time they play.

Even if growth isn’t your role, if you are answering phones but you’d rather be blogging or coding a website, help yourself, your organisation, and everyone else around you, by letting them know. There maybe some timing issues, but the sooner you let your team leader know, the sooner you can become a functional part of the assembly.

Success is funny. It’s like putting together a Swiss watch. Your assembly shouldn’t have even one screw loose. You might need to use tiny tweezers and a magnifying glass. Assemble it to be a finely honed machine – not losing a second – “working like clockwork”.

That’s the irony of thinking big. Scale is about being able to handle the whole earth as if it is a tiny, delicate, detailed grain of sand. Getting the details right is what allows you to go global at staggering speed.

Jesus commissioned us to go into all the WORLD = BIG thinking….
and make disciples = SMALL doing.

On the first episode of the Masters of Scale podcast, the co-founder and CEO of global growth Godzilla AirBnB, Brian Chesky, summed it up this way “In order to scale you have to do things that don’t scale”.

 

Why do Shepherds shepherd?

Sheep need a shepherd – that’s a no brainer in marketplace terms. But Shepherds surely have lots of other choices, especially these days; brand ambassador, social media manager, youtube star – all just as soul-enhancing as shepherding, right?

So why do reasonably sane people with lots of other choices become shepherds?

Now, if you’re a pastor, forgive me, but you’re probably way off track, already.

You see, pastors don’t seem to even hear the word shepherd when you say shepherd, they hear “pastor”. They start thinking about God’s calling, commissioning, anointing.

They think about people.

But, just try for a moment, to think like a real proper shepherd. King David wasn’t pastoring people, he was shepherding sheep.

Why?

Okay, yeah, his dad probably made him. But then why did Jesse choose that?

Real life shepherds, look at you weird if you ask them that question.

They look at you the same way my niece looks at me when I ask her why she hasn’t got her PJs on and brushed her teeth ready for bed even though I’ve asked her three times already.

Like, it’s a dumb question.

Like, I should know the answer.

Profits.

VALUE – MONEY – INCOME – PROFIT – Marketplace.

Is this why Jesus chose marketplace disciples??
Because they would NOT think like pastors?

Maybe the reason Jesus and all of his disciples were the best people to grow the church were because they thought like business people not church people.

Maybe Jesus wanted His church to be… wait for it, pastors, brace yourself… profitable!

Now – you’re going to be shocked because I won’t think like you think.

You’ll probably even think I’m way off.

I’m wrong …

But ask yourself – seriously.

Am I perverting the way God made things?
or am I just saying it the way God made it?

Because if I’m perverting or twisting God’s ways then you can call me demonic…

But if I’m just pointing out God’s ways to you, you have to at least listen to what I say, right?

Even if you don’t like it.

It’s going to HELP you.

When King David wrote about God, he wrote about a Shepherd who provided ALL the needs of his flock (Psalm 23). That Shepherd needed to be pretty well resourced, right?

This Shepherd didn’t just let us hear his voice on Sundays, but he got in the kitchen and laid on a feast for us (even when our enemies were in our face), who was with us during our worst times, and who made sure our cup was overflowing.

Shepherds were the ones who got the call from the angels at the birth of Christ (Luke 2)

More than one.

OUT at night … living where the sheep lived.

24/7 shepherding.

They weren’t namby pamby “Sunday is like a work day for me” pastors.

They were doing the long hours, the midnight shift.
Why? Because sheep herds need more protection during the night than during the day.
How many night shift pastors do you know?

I don’t mean the occasional late night phone call.
I mean spending EVERY NIGHT with your flock? You know, like small business marketplace people usually do.

Most pastors I know are working way too hard and simultaneously not hard enough. They’re working too hard at shepherdy things and not nearly hard enough at helping sheep get their sheepy things done. Some are so out of touch with sheepy things they barely know what functioning like a sheep looks like anymore.

Is this why Paul continued in the marketplace?
To protect against church-think?

How do you do it?

Add value to sheep.

Forget “hear my voice” – they’ve been doing that.
And it hasn’t helped you or them that much – really, has it??
Well, has it?

Give ’em good pastures, an environment with:
– good location
– rotation

Get ’em breeding – duplicating themself – that’s the number 1 skill a profitable shepherd ensures his sheep maintain. Lambing season is the highlight – and it’s not just because lambs are cuter than most sheepy baa baas. A good shepherd will intervene in all sorts of unnatural ways to get sheep doing what should come naturally!

Take your sheep to market, let them see demand and supply in action, up close and personal.

Even if they’re not producing lambs for you, at least fleece them!

Hello, pastor? Remember, how I said to stop thinking like a pastor…

Yes, I am seriously suggesting you fleece your flock. That’s what they’re there for.

Shepherds know that when they take value from the sheep, they are actually giving value to the sheep. Did you ever hear about Shrek, the kiwi sheep that got lost for 6 years. His fleece was so heavy it could have caused chronic issues:

  • The weight was so heavy he could barely get up
  • The wool covered much of his eyes, he could barely see
  • The thick coat could’ve caused heat stress

Shrek continued growing on his own, but no-one benefited from it until his Shepherd found him. Shrek was growing, but worse off. There were no woolly jumpers for customers those 6 winters – the marketplace was worse off, and no payday either – the shepherd was worse off.

You see, when you take value from sheep, you do three things:
1. take burdens from them, and

2. bring provision to yourself, and

3. bring value to the marketplace.

All marketplace people know that customers have two choices when dealing with your business.

They can either keep their problem, or keep their money.

They can stay hungry, or buy food from you.

They can stay bored, or buy a movie ticket from you.

They can get frustrated trying to write a blog piece that sells, or get you to write for them (call me ;-).

Taking their money helps them function better. They get better results. They literally feel better about themselves. And they start to grow anew.

I’m not talking about gouging them for your own selfish benefit. I’m not talking about short-term opportunists here. I’m talking about the natural way, the way things are, and always have been, designed to work. I’m talking about a fair, mutual, exchange of value here.

 

Good shepherds help protect their value. They invest in sheep dip. They weed out the thistles in the paddock and fertilise the clover and alfalfa.

And they fence sheep in. Jesus called it a door (John 10:7).

Sheep without a shepherd, or sheep with a shepherd that is just a hireling, are like sheep with a wolf.

Scattered.

That’s the kind of future we don’t want for our flocks (yes, I’ve started talking about people, now).

Scattered – distracted. Shepherds remind us of what is important, they focus us. They intervene when we are going astray.

Scattered – disparate. Shepherds fence us off from disunity, and directionless wanderings. They unify us. They show us the quickest path to provision.

Scattered – unproductive. Shepherds make us work together, so we, well, work. We reproduce another generation. We know how to grow a fleece – on a timetable. Our milk flows (mmm goat’s cheese). Eventually, our Shepherd might even chuck us on the barbeque on Australia Day!

Sadly, many pastors are scattered, too. My hope and purpose for this blog post is that it helps us all start fleecing and focusing and stop scattering.

Marketplace shepherds need to know these skills, too.

We all need to be reminded of Jesus’ words to Peter.
Do you love me?
Feed my sheep.

Feed them real sheep food; help them focus on growing profits, regularly, so that yielding their annual profits to you is not only a natural part of life for them, it’s a real weight off their shoulders.

Otherwise, you’re just leaving them useless and helpless, like youtube stars to the slaughter.

 

Fastest Path To Online Profits

Many of you know me personally and know my story; how I started my Internet business the first month that commercial internet traffic became legal in Australia, in June 1994, and have been earning money online ever since.

But this blog post is about what I would do if I was just starting out today (9 January 2017).

If I was starting now, the choices might seem a little overwhelming. I know a lot of people in the industry – I know who is credible, and I know there are a lot of sharks out there. I’m also pretty savvy about the tricks the shysters use to “borrow credibility” and I’m diligent about researching and actually testing before I recommend anything to anyone. But I’m not going to pretend I haven’t thought that something looked good, only to be disappointed.

That’s part of the value of what I do – I invest my own time, money and experience in finding, testing and comparing the results of online solutions – and help others avoid the time-wasters, money-wasters, and experience makers 😉

When I first started, especially, but even today, some of the systems and tools have cost thousands of dollars or require ongoing monthly costs in the hundreds. The learning and time investments on some of these systems are horrendous. Just the other day someone asked me to commit to working everyday for the next hundred days. I don’t know about you, but I don’t commit more than three months of my life to total strangers.

Forget that! I’m not afraid of commitment, but I want them to prove themselves, and their solution first, before it costs me three months of my life I won’t get back. And I certainly don’t invest thousands of dollars in unproven solutions. After all, Jesus never said to the hungry multitude, if you keep coming here everyday for the next hundred days, and you invest hundreds of dollars, then I’ll feed you some loaves and fishes.  No! Jesus provides instantly, without qualification, for multitudes – and that’s the kind of kingdom principles I love helping people with.

Other online “opportunities” require a lot of preparation time. You have to think, research and write your business plan; including identifying your target market or ideal customer, developing your strategy, creating marketing funnels, adopting a profitable business model. And that’s just the planning part.

Then you have all the practical things that can take days if not weeks and months just to learn how to do, let alone actually do:

  • choosing and registering a business name
  • establishing a bank account
  • obtaining a tax file number
  • buying a domain name
  • web hosting
  • blogging platform
  • email address
  • facebook page
  • twitter/instagram/snapchat/pinterest/tumbler account …

This can all get a bit overwhelming. And quite frankly, it can turn what looked like a profit at the beginning, into a loss.

The good news is you don’t have to do any of that – and you can start creating online income today even if you have no knowledge, no experience, and no money.

When I first started, I had lots of hard slog occasionally interrupted by major financial breakthroughs.

The first night that I earned $10,000.00 in one night – was the first big breakthrough. At the time my father, who was a Research and Development Engineer at the prime of his career, was earning $32,000 yearly.

The realisation that I had earned in one night what it took him nearly four months to earn, blew my mind. Here I was, still in my twenties.

My pay packet for the day was more than 100 times what his was.

I started doing calculations on how quickly I could earn a six figure income – in ten days!!

Then God stretched my thinking… if I could have a $10k pay day one day, why couldn’t I do that everyday?

A few quick sums later and the calculator was staring me in the face with an annual income of $3.65 million … all online, without leaving my home.

That’s what got me really excited – and helped me earn my first million dollars online so quickly – and why more than twenty years later, I’m still excited about helping people do what I did.

But my friend Phil made me realise recently, that just because it’s all so easy for me now, doesn’t mean it’s easy for everyone else. We were in a bar at the marina, on a hot day between Christmas 2016 and New Years Day 2017, having a few refreshing drinks, and I told him one quick technique I use to make money online. Before we left the bar, within a few short MINUTES, he’d made money online too. He kept saying “this works!”

To say he was happy is an understatement. I had to resist saying “I told you so” … I was about to tell him he should read my blog more often, when I realised I hadn’t even shared this technique with you, my lovely blog followers!

So -to help you avoid the hard slog parts, and skip straight to the financial breakthrough parts – here’s what I’m going to share with you:

  • The fastest path to make online profits without any knowledge, experience or money.
  • How to make your first $200 online TODAY
  • Top 3 tips for making it even more profitable
  • How Google, Facebook, Apple, Uber and AirBnB have created Billions of Dollars of wealth for their owners
  • The number one online profits mistake – and, more importantly, how to avoid it
  • The only decision that matters
  • Pay Day Timeline – when EXACTLY you’ll get your money to spend

In Psalm 112: 3 the Psalmist tells us “Wealth and riches will be in his house,
And his righteousness endures forever.” Righteousness and riches often go together, but this scripture also teaches us that riches and real estate also go together. You have wealth and riches in your house. The simplest, cheapest and by far the fastest path to unlock the wealth that is already in your house just waiting for you to profit from is through AirBnB.com.

If you prefer to watch rather than read, I did a quick live YouTube video (feel free to share on your social media, too). Fastest Path to Online Profits.

There are no startup costs at all. It’s free! They do take a tiny commission when you make money, but you can benefit from all their global systems for free before then.

I’m a firm believer that ANY lack can be overcome with partnership. The bible says that those who seek the Lord shall not lack any good thing. (Psalm 34:10). Most of the people I help don’t need more money, they just need a good partner. So I teach them how I partner with profit giants – multi-national, multi-billion dollar, global, online companies who provide online profit systems to help you prosper.

If you make just one room in your house available for booking at just, say, $30 a night – all it takes is one person to book for one week and you have made $200 online income TODAY. One week is my average length of stay – but I’ve had guests love it so much that they’ve wanted to stay longer. One guest even wanted to stay for six months!

I have a restriction now so that guests can only stay for a maximum of two weeks because I can make more money in other ways and I like having maximum freedom with my time. But that’s another great thing about this solution is that you have total flexibility and control over your listing. You can literally turn it on and off at any time just like a money tap. If you want cashflow turn it on, if you want to stop it for awhile, just “snooze” your listing to switch it off for a while. It takes less than 30 seconds to make those changes. And, remember, both Phil and I got our first booking within moments.

Everyone wants to go on holidays and find somewhere to stay – this is not something you have to get all “salesy” and “pushy” about. Those are hunter strategies where you go out and chase down your prey. This is the kind of technique Jesus said He would teach his mates – fishing strategies – where you have to think about what is attractive to a market of hungry fish? What can I offer that they will enjoy taking?

With AirBnB not only are there no startup costs, a global network, and no selling involved, there is a really small learning curve. If you can fill out a form and upload a photo, you can start using AirBnB. Either download the app to your mobile phone or open the browser on your desktop and you are half-way there already.

But the biggest benefit by far is the speed with which you can make your first money online. Not only can you do it from home, you can also do it in a few minutes from a bar at the marina when you are in the post-Christmas relaxation mode. Or without leaving home, whilst you’re still in your pyjamas before you’ve even had breakfast. It’s fast!

Look, it’s not the perfect online business. For a start, you don’t own or control the business platform. But if I was starting out, even if I intended building my own business platform, I would start here, and let AirBnB provide cash flow my future, ideal business. Your future, ideal business will definitely need cash, and even if you intend to get investors, they will want to see that you know how to fund your business without them.

If you want to avoid the number one online profit mistake, you need to hear something you probably don’t want to hear; Your future, ideal business is very risky. All ideas are. Most new businesses are. AirBnB is proven to work. Jesus taught his mates to make sure they were building on a firm foundation, by doing (Matthew 7:24) – not a risky, unproven, unstable idea. You’ll probably surprise yourself at how much you can learn by actually doing – creating online income – than you will by dreaming.

Too many people make the mistake of waiting for the ideal business. They want all the details before they start. Wise old Solomon said “If you wait for perfect conditions, you will never get anything done.” (Eccl 11:4, The Message). A good plan today, is better than a perfect plan tomorrow. When God called Abraham he told him to go to the land He would show him (Genesis 12:1)… He didn’t even tell Abraham where he was going; He just wanted him to start!

Another common mistake people fall for is trying to be a solo-preneur on their own. Firstly, it takes way too long to do it all on your own.

Time is the asset. You only get one life.

SYSTEM stands for Save YourSelf Time, Energy, Money. If you don’t have a system, I can guarantee that you are wasting time, energy and money. Don’t do that!!!

The smart solo-preneurs partner with profit giants like Google, YouTube, Facebook, Apple, Uber and, of course, AirBnB, who have created billions of dollars for their owners. If you are still thinking of Facebook as “such a time-waster”, can I encourage you to see these companies with fresh eyes? They are valued at billions of dollars by the stock market because they provide real commercial value – they have global online profit systems that help millions and millions of people create wealth and riches. And they do it by letting you get started quickly. Did you know you can learn some things just through association? The bible says “He who walks with wise men will be wise” (Proverbs 13:20). If you want to be profitable, you’d be wise to partner with profit creators to build your own profits.

You can even make AirBnB more profitable. You can start building a list of contact details from your guests. Follow them on social media, ask them to introduce you to more of their friends and build a global network of people who like and trust you and can tell you how you are helpful to them. You can provide tours and experiences and earn money from those other services on AirBnB now too – so you don’t even need to have a room to rent out!

There’s other ways you can amp up your AirBnB profits, too. Contact your guests before they arrive and give them all the information they need. You can add value by letting them know about tourist facilities and fun things to do in your area. I always try to welcome my guests in person. And then I take them on a quick walk down to the beach and marina to showcase the natural beauty in my backyard. I leave a tourist brochure to showcase tourism partners in the region, like where they can see the koalas and kangaroos, go on a whale-watching cruise or hire a kayak and so on.

On their first morning, I do a quick check with them to make sure they have everything they need to enjoy their stay. There’s often little things, like they forgot to pack a toothbrush, that you can help them with quickly and cheaply and thoughtfulness makes all the difference to how they feel about their stay.

Okay, I know this has been a long read, but I wanted to give you as much value as I can. And we’ve arrived at the only decision that really matters: Which bank account do you want your income to go into? Make sure you check and double-check the account details you give to AirBnB, because all of this post has been about this result – getting money into your bank account. Do you want to put it into a personal account or a business acount? Do you want to pay it straight off the mortgage? Or credit card? Or put it in a savings account so you can go on holidays yourself and check out how other AirBnB hosts are using the platform to create profits?

You can even use part of your harvest of income, to sow seeds that will improve and increase your AirBnB business. (If you want some tips on increasing your online profit systems, I talk about that in my latest book, Atmosphere).

So once AirBnB have advised they’ve sent the first deposit to your account, watch that account like an eagle, until your money is there. The good news is, the sensationally awesome news is, that once you can see it, you can spend it.

The timeline to pay day looks like this:

Day 0 (today): Add your Listing, get your first booking, AirBnB tell you how much you’ve earnt.

Day 1 (tomorrow): You could be checking in your first guest as early as tomorrow – especially, if it is a busy tourist season when you first add your listing.

Day 2: AirBnB will advise that they have sent payment to your bank account.

Day 3 – Day 10: Payment might arrive on Day 3, but if there are weekends and/or public holidays, the longest I’ve had it take is a week from when they send it.

If you think this online profit system could work for you, it’d be really cool to leave a comment. Comments from my global readers are part of the feedback I analyse to help me decide how I can help more people. If I get a lot of comments, I’ll do more in-depth posts on how to make a profit online – not just the starting strategies like this, but the more advanced strategies that are a lot more profitable. So your comments will be helping future readers, too.

It’s over to you.

Go make a profit (after you’ve left a comment)! 🙂

 

 

 

Beyonce, Jay-Z, Blue Ivy and Me

12742376_10153370296015924_5515112143764004321_nI was boarding my flight from Sydney last week when I noticed that Beyonce was sitting in first class with Jay-z. Their daughter, Blue Ivy, had the most amazing pink bunny ears on top of her head for Easter, and I really wanted to ask them to have a selfie with me. But I restrained myself because I imagined what it would be like if everyone on the plane asked them that, and how invasive it would be.

But about 3 hours into the 5 hour flight, Beyonce and Blue Ivy came walking down the back of the plane just as I was getting up to go to the toilet (okay I might’ve got up a little bit quicker, when I saw them. Little bit). I crouched down in the aisle and said to Blue Ivy “I love your bunny ears!”. Her eyes lit up and she wrapped her tiny, pudgy arms around her mother’s impossibly long legs and said “someone else likes my ears mommy!”

It was just a tiny kindness. I’ll remember it more than her for sure. But what happened next, blew me away!

I was one of the last people to get off the flight and nearly everyone else had long since left the arrivals gate and hurried off to collect their baggage from the conveyor belts conveniently located about a million miles away, down two flights of stairs. But as I was about to hurry off myself, a stewardess touched my elbow and said “Miss Jones, I was asked to give you this.” It was an envelope with very florid hand writing on it. It said “Miss Bunny Ears”.

I opened the envelope and inside was a letter from Beyonce. She wrote about how homesick Blue Ivy had been during their Australian tour, and how she had had “a total meltdown” at the hotel that very morning because she felt like she was so far from home and had no friends, no-one even noticed her, everyone just wanted to talk to her mummy and daddy. And she just wanted to go home. She was not looking forward to going even further away from home, to Perth.

There was also a drawing, obviously done by Blue Ivy. This kid is no Picasso! But I think it was her with the bunny ears, her mummy and daddy (who were very skinny), and I’m guessing I’m the very fat woman who is crouching down with her huge bottom in the air!

Along with Beyonce’s letter and Ivy Blue’s drawing, was a cheque, signed by Jay-Z (I didn’t know his real name was Shawn Carter until that moment). It was in US Dollars. And it was for one million of those dollars.

Giving up a selfie, and giving a self-less compliment to a little girl, had left me jumping for joy at arrivals gate 23 in Perth airport!

Sometimes not getting what you want is even better than getting what you want.

Okay. Of course, I wasn’t a flight with Beyonce – she has her own private jet! And I didn’t get a million dollars from Jay-Z. I just made it up.

The point is, sometimes life as a witness is better when you make stuff up.

Understand that Jesus didn’t use very much scripture. He mainly used scripture when he was talking to religious people. But when he was talking to everyday people, especially when he was speaking in public, he hardly ever referred to bible writers.

He mainly used lies. Well, not everyone calls them lies. Some people call it pretend or creativity or fiction.

He made stuff up.

There really wasn’t a sower who started sowing on rocky ground – he just made it up.

Do you really believe there was a prodigal son who spent all of his father’s money? No! He just made it up.

As for a good Samaritan, that’s like saying there was a good Osama Bin Laden. He just made it up.

The point is that all of his stories had a point. All of his fiction was designed to tell a truth.

Pablo Picasso, the amazing artist, died in 1973. But his art will never die. And one of his quotes about art is illuminating for all who seek to witness.

“We all know that Art is not truth. Art is a lie that makes us realize truth at least the truth that is given us to understand. The artist must know the manner whereby to convince others of the truthfulness of his lies.”

Jesus might never have painted a canvas, but he was very creative in his communication. He often used lies to reveal a truth.

I’m not suggesting you start telling lies about facts. But I am suggesting that you practice storytelling. God is the Creator. Ask for God’s help in creating creative stories.

Hopefully, you’re going to be a witness for the rest of your life. So think about how you will be telling your story in five years’ time. Think about what sort of technology you can use to tell your story now.

I had a young girl look very surprised tonight when I told her I was on snapchat. She said “Oh, I thought that was just the younger generation, like fourteen year olds”.  Let me tell you, this forty-nine year old is already thinking about how I can tell creative stories using mobile and virtual reality technologies that aren’t even available yet!

Practice creating new stories from the everyday world you live in, that will put the spotlight on a truth others might not yet be able to see. If you’re worried about developing the reputation of a liar, I’ve found the morning of April Fools’ Day is a great time to practice.

The above is an excerpt from my new book “Witness” which is available for pre-order now on Amazon.com

 

 

Global Networking

My focusing phrase for 2016 is “Expand and Advance”.

I’m planning to expand and advance in many areas this year.

One of those areas is to expand my global network.

I’m looking primarily for Christian business people in Australia, as well as all different parts of the world.

I’m also looking for people who have nothing at all in common with me. People who will challenge, critique, educate, inspire and stretch me.

So if you’d like to join my global network this year, please follow the blog, leave a comment and let me know how I can serve you. #GoGlobal

global network

That Used To Be My Comfort Zone

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What scares you?

Do that.

Soon.

It will stretch your comfort zone way quicker than reading 100 personal development or self-help books.

I spent last night at the Comedy Lounge in Perth doing my first stand-up comedy gig.

I. Was. Terrified.

There was actually a much larger crowd than I was prepared for.

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That’s my dad right ………………………………………. *there* ^^

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And my friends Michelle, Heidi, Jodie, Mike and Simon, too. (Not shown are Emma and her dad, and Heleen).

Also, you can see quite a few people standing up at the back because despite putting out all the extra tables and chairs, there still wasn’t enough of either.

Two of those people standing at the back, on the right hand side are Big Col and Mike G, two of my favourite comedians. They were in the audience when I performed. Which felt like one too many tables had turned!

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There were all sorts of people in the audience and young and old, hipsters and dags were all having a good laugh together.

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There were people like Cam Knight who have regular television gigs on the Comedy Channel and have spent 15 years doing stand-up comedy.

I was waaaaayheyhey outside my comfort zone. My face was flushed, my throat was dry. I had spent at least forty hours writing and rewriting material, and memorisation and rehearsal time on top of that. I was trying to remind myself to breathe, and hoping that I’d get to the part where I would enjoy myself sometime soon. The bloke next to me asked me to turn my heart “boombox” down – it was thumping, visibly.

But as you can see I had friends supporting me, and I was helping others have a not too shabby Thursday night, no matter how awkward and nervous I was. It was one of the most vulnerable times I have ever experienced. And I met some of the finest people I’d met in a long time!

I talked about all kinds of things… marriage, kids, diets, selfies, business, Centrelink, comedy, church, bourbon – lots of things. But the really curious thing was that there was only one topic that everyone wanted to talk about – “the Jesus thing”.

Nearly everyone else there was using “Jesus Christ” as a curse word.

And yet, it struck me that all of us, no matter how anti-religious we seem, have an inner Jesus-detector that goes off like a metal detector finding a coin at the beach.

There can be loads of sand covering up years of successful hiding. But when you talk about Jesus in an open, sincere way, even if the context is comedy, it sets off a resonance deep inside every human heart.

And you can’t bleep that out.

No matter how outside your comfort zone He is.

So, you may as well just invite Him in.

(Pic Credits: Comedy Lounge, Charles Hotel, Perth.)

 

Opportunity Of A Lifetime

“The opportunity of a lifetime must be seized in the lifetime of the opportunity.”
Leonard Ravenhill

I can’t remember where I first saw or heard this quote, but it made me look at a few things quite differently.

Time is my “love language”. So I tend to take it personally, and badly, when someone “steals” my time. On the other hand, when a random stranger, who has nothing better to do, spends a few minutes to chat with me, I read way too much into it.

Since I was eighteen, I’ve always valued my time in monetary terms, too. At my first job, I didn’t just learn about time management, I had to write down what I did every 15 minutes and charge that time out to a client. At the end of the week, I had to submit those time records to my boss and he would record my productivity. When you do this for months on end, valuing your time becomes a habit.

But this quote made me value my time a bit differently – not just by what I had done, but by what I could do. Not just the cost of my time, but the opportunity cost of my time.

I recently offered an opportunity to everyone I knew. Most didn’t take advantage of it at all. And some took advantage of it at the start. Some took a little longer to sign up but then stumbled somewhere before the finishing line. Not one single person seized the full opportunity within the lifetime of the opportunity (it ended today). If only they knew what they missed out on (it would be kind of cruel to tell them, now).

It made me think about the Promised Land opportunity. I watched the recent movie Exodus: Gods and Kings, on a big screen with 3D and surround sound – it was spectacular! It made the brutal conditions of slavery and the plague and the harshness of racism towards the Jews so horrifically real.

So the opportunity of their own land, a land flowing with milk and honey, was an excellent opportunity. It was not just a good opportunity – it was a God-ordained opportunity. And God provided direction, protection, food and leadership to help them seize this amazing opportunity. And yet, out of the millions it was available to, only two (yes, 2) of them actually managed to seize that opportunity in their lifetime. Most squandered the rest of their lives complaining, criticising and literally walking around in circles.

Which made me realise, you not only have to seize the opportunity within the lifetime of the opportunity, but also within your own lifetime!

Every opportunity, like every life on earth, has an expiration date.

Every person and organisation can either choose to possess the promised opportunities, or they can squander their God opportunities.

One of the things that I’ve discovered is that opportunities often co-locate with integrity. Those who follow through on commitments, find opportunities. The promised land is accessed by those who keep their promises. If you’ve agreed to meet with someone, or do something, but it’s now a bit inconvenient, breaking your word and cancelling your commitment might relieve some of the time pressure you are feeling – but it could also mean disqualifying yourself from your God-ordained opportunities.

The good news is, keeping your commitments could mean you find the resources you need to seize your opportunities. I find most people who cancel the commitments don’t think at all about what it is costing the other person to keep. When Jesus had said He was going to the other side of the lake, but there was no boat to carry Him, He didn’t text them a couple of hours before and say he couldn’t make it. He knew that people would be making enormous sacrifices to meet with Him. So, He walked on water. He. Walked. On. Water. Sometimes miracles hide inside of the determination to keep your commitments. Sometimes, like Philip discovered, you’ll find the agility to move at the speed of God.

In 2008, Steven Furtick wrote on his blog:

A lot of people I know are more fearful of making a wrong move than making no move at all. Not me. I’ve been alive long enough to know that if I just sit at the intersection after God has given a green light, He’ll only honk a few times before He passes me by in the other lane. Doesn’t mean He’ll stop loving me or stop using me. It just means that that opportunity is gone. Forever.

If you are currently considering an great, godly, risky opportunity, consider this:
The cost of missing out can be greater than the cost of messing up.

Even if we mess up, let’s not miss out. Let’s make 2015 the year we seize our opportunities!