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.

 

My Dream Thief

A thief steals but he isn’t a robber.

A robber takes something by force or threat. A robber will walk into the biggest bank in town, in broad daylight, and demand that you give him all the money he wants.

He is brazen, direct and often brutal.

He may try and disguise himself with a balaclava and arm himself with a shotgun.He doesn’t care if he is the lead story on the evening news  – it all adds to the intimidation and fear he wants to create in you. It might even make his next robbery easier.

You know beyond a shadow of a doubt that you’ve been robbed. If you survive the ordeal, and you have enough remaining courage, you can tell the police exactly what time you were robbed and what was taken.

Compare that with a thief. He wants to conceal the robbery, not just his identity, at least until he has made his getaway, but often much longer.

A thief aims to be so sneaky that you may never even know you’ve been robbed.

Sometimes, sadly, these thieves have not only stolen, they have also murdered and destroyed.

When I help people with their finances, I often find that there is a hidden thief at work, and they have no idea.

Sometimes, they are even co-operating with the thieves.

Sometimes, they didn’t notice anything was missing because the thief has replaced the real thing with a fake. The stolen goods may not even be financial, but are still very precious; hope, laughter, peace, love, relaxation, friendship, innocence, romance, confidence, trust, integrity.

I know too many people who get to a certain age and realise their dreams have been stolen, killed, destroyed. And they have no idea when or how it happened. When I was young, I used to dream of standing in front of an audience of people who loved what I had to say. In fact, I didn’t just dream about it, I did it. If someone gave me a doll, I wouldn’t play with the doll, I would add the doll to my audience. But pets and pot plants were just as good 🙂

If I had to explain to myself as a child that I didn’t speak to audiences anymore, because no one invited me, or no one paid me, no one supported me, or no one thought I was any good, child-Shaz wouldn’t understand. Because child-Shaz knew she did it for the pure joy of just doing it.

For many years, my pay packet was actually the fake thing that stopped me from realising I’d been stolen from. I ignored the desires of my heart in exchange for mere money. My bank account was prospering, but my soul certainly wasn’t. Money was my master, my dream thief.

It took me a long time to realise that my job is not my life; my life is my job. Now, I’m following my dreams (yes, Mum, even when I don’t get paid).

15167527_10153544232222824_5690075321125581959_o

Jesus only mentioned one enemy of an abundant life.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. (John 10:10)

The work of a thief is hidden. Judas was not a robber, he was a thief. The mask he chose was not a balaclava, that would’ve been far too obvious; Judas was devious.

He looked like He was supporting Jesus, but when no one was looking, Judas was stealing from Him. While Judas was kissing Jesus, he was betraying him. He seemed one thing on the outside, but on the inside, he was the exact opposite. He looked like he was raising funds, but he was depleting them.

Judas had control of the money box “and he used to take what was put in it” (John 12:6).

Judas not only took money from Jesus, he also got the thirty pieces of silver from the priests. But in the end, he realised the money was a horrible substitute for life. (He tried to give back the thirty pieces of silver, before he hanged himself – Matthew 27:3-5).

Some of the things and people that may have supported you at one time, may now be sneaky thieves robbing from you.

  • Distraction can rob you of time, it kills focus.
  • Debt can destroy freedom, it often brings slavery.
  • Fear can kill faith, it often brings containment.
  • Criticism can steal joy, it often brings shame.
  • Procrastination can rob you of productivity, it often brings barrenness.

I encourage you to take an inventory, actually write a list of things that have been stolen. Check out if everything you have now is genuine, or have you accepted a poor imitation of the real thing? Are you living your dreams, or has someone or something stolen, killed and destroyed the abundant life that Christ came to give you?

Positioning Strategies

Developing a positioning strategy for a startup business, is always deliberate and can be a very involved and daunting process for the first-time entrepreneur.

A positioning strategy helps a business communicate to the market the best benefits of their product.

It involves analysis of your customers, your competitors and of course, your own strengths, weaknesses, resources and so on.

You may decide to position your product as a premium provider that is associated with high quality and may be considered expensive compared to other options.

Or you may want to be the cheapest, the quickest, the most Australian, the most environmentally friendly, the coolest, etc.

As a business matures, it may re-position itself away from a niche product towards a more mainstream position. Or it might go the other way.

When things change, businesses will sometimes respond with a different positioning. For example, McDonald’s responded to healthier eating patterns by re-positioning themselves not just as a burger restaurant, but as a fast-food provider for all tastes.

But it’s not just businesses that are concerned with positioning.

The bible is full of stories of God maneuvering people into and out of positions. Unlike the deliberate planning of business positioning, the bible stories show protagonists completely unaware of the positioning process.

Esther was forcibly removed from her homeland into a foreign palace “for such a time as this”. Often these people spend significant time with no idea what is going on… until the moment reveals the significance of where they are.

I had one of those moments this week.

I found myself perfectly positioned to talk to Australia’s first female Muslim member of Parliament, Anne Aly. It was a surprisingly emotional conversation as she shared her anticipation at the diversity of voices in the upcoming parliament. And I shared how my idea of heaven is where every tribe and every voice is included.

13680825_10153738888675924_2677228125564857749_n
29 July 2016 Anne Aly, Australia’s first female Muslim Member of Parliament, with myself and DRO for Cowan, Yvonne Masgai at the official Declaration of the Poll.

When I said yes to “Project Double D” all I knew was a Double Dissolution election would more than likely be called. I didn’t know which candidates would nominate. I certainly didn’t know that in a few short months, I’d be positioned as an eyewitness to political history.

The thing is the project was not one of the most enjoyable projects I’ve ever been a part of. So next time, things aren’t going as well as I’d hoped – I’m going to try and keep in mind that it may be positioning me for something way more significant than I could ever understand, let alone be aware of beforehand.

I feel like there’s a lot of people who are going through major changes this year in preparation for new positions after this. You may have tried analysis of your own strengths and weaknesses and resources … and still have no idea now what is happening or why, yet.

As they say in the entertainment industry…. stay tuned!

 

Why Vision-casting is so Powerful and Productive

Robert Redford, Steve Jobs, David Cameron… all the best leaders spend at least some of their time casting vision.

But why? What is it about vision-casting that is so productive for already powerful, global leaders?

vision

Well, firstly, vision effects outcome. And sometimes the stakes can be really high. Consider Britain’s decision this week on whether to remain or leave the European Economic Union.

The future of an entire nation changed in one day. Powerful!

On the other side of the world, Australian shares lost $50 billion of value in shock.

The question of whether to stay or “Brexit” was quintessentially a question of vision. What kind of future did the people of Britain want? A future based on the possibilities of partnership with their powerful neighbours in Europe, or the freedom and control of a self-reliant future.

To cast their competing visions, leaders travelled the length and breadth of the country, several times over, to meet with people personally. Yes, there were brochures, and media appearances and social media campaigns, but the majority of time spent by the leaders was spent in front of a voter’s face.

At first glance, especially from a time-management point of view, this might seem like an incredibly unproductive thing to do. Why shake one person’s hand, when you could tweet to twenty million during that same time? Why address a small community meeting of eighty entrepreneurs in a tiny village when you could instead be interviewed on BBC broadcasting to eight million viewers?

Even Donald Trump, who doesn’t like shaking hands with anyone, and will (*probably) tell you himself “I’ve made a lot of money in media, I’m very good on television. I translate very well on Twitter”, has spent months out on the road criss-crossing America with personal appearances.

It’s all about the Proximity of Presence. There’s something about being in the presence of the vision-holder that doesn’t quite transcend into traditional and social media. Blogs and those other channels are great supplements, reminders and reinforcements, but for truly productive vision-casting think Michelle Pfeifer and Robert Redford – try and get all Up Close and Personal. (Yes, I realise the irony of quoting a non-personal appearance to encourage personal appearances 😉

Okay, so we’ve answered why vision-casting is necessary (the stakes are high), we’ve answered how to do it (up close and personal). But why does it work so effectively?

Here’s how Steve Jobs answered that question:

vision
If you are working on something exciting that you really care about, you don’t have to be pushed. The vision pulls you. #quote Steve Jobs

Ephron W. Taylor said it  this way. “Define the vision (this is the seed of self-leadership)”.

Leaders multiply into more leaders through vision-casting. Leaders help you lead yourself, and ultimately lead others, by planting and nourishing vision.

If a leader can plant the seed of vision in you, she doesn’t have to spend mountains of energy or time to motivate you towards success, that seed will grow generations of motivation in you, from the inside out. You’ll probably even start dropping seeds in your own network of contacts.

Vision is the ultimate leverage. You’ll achieve much more, with much less, if you cast vision seeds that grow into their own orchards of vision in others. And it’s massively scaleable – vision can multiply rapidly.

So next time you are talking with someone you want to work with, think of the weird old Christmas Carol lyric:

Do you see what I see?” (it also talks about lambs, talking wind, and stars with tails who have apparently gone out for a disco – probably best NOT to think about those things if you want your vision to sound credible 😉

Said the night wind to the little lamb,
do you see what I see
Way up in the sky, little lamb,
do you see what I see
A star, a star, dancing in the night
With a tail as big as a kite
With a tail as big as a kite

The vision locomotive just pulled an entire nation into massive change in one day – such massive and quantifiable change it had billions of dollars of economic impacts in the hip pockets of investors on the other side of the world. And that’s just day one of the changes.

 

If you want your work to produce such powerful and productive effects, lead with your hand. Get off the computer for a change and go and shake someone’s hand. Because if we can learn anything from sexy Robert Redford, it’s that even the most visionary leaders look better up close and personal.

 

My night with Boy George

Wednesday night was one of the coldest night’s in Perth for five years. I was miserable. It was hump day.

And I was going to a Culture Club concert at HBF Stadium.

There was so much I should love about it – I love live music, I love doing something different, I love going out with friends… but I was cold.

And I hate being cold.

Also I had the sniffles – my nose was like a snot tap that had blown a washer so you couldn’t turn it off you just had to try and use tissues like a cork to plug it up every now and again.

The opening act was Kids in the Kitchen. Aussie band. From the 80s.

So much to like – I love anything Aussie, I loved the 80s, I love bands.

They were woeful.

But they served as a valuable reference point.

Because when Culture Club took the stage, I realised that Kids in the Kitchen had the same venue, the same crowd, the same sound system and lighting and …. it was only the lack of talent that was holding them back.

Boy George (I feel like since we’ve both been around since before the 80s, I should call him Man George now) entered to a standing ovation.

Yes, that’s right. Before he was even on stage, he commanded more applause than Kids in the Kitchen had for their finale.

I won’t tell you all the things that happened after that.

But it was strangely spiritual. And I was no longer cold. So I’ll give you the bit that’s like the warm weather between spring and autumn.

#summary

Mind blown.

After my review was published, the owner of Culture Club’s PR company was so impressed, she showed it to Boy George himself.

I’m always amazed about where my words end up. So I should know better. And I do regret my comments about his green eye-shadow.

But here’s my review for Primo Life magazine (Pic credit: Primo Life)

My Night with Boy George

 

boy george review

Pitch Perfect – How to Ask for what you want

startup pitch to investors

Warning: Longer post than normal ensues…

None of these thoughts are my own. I went to a pitching seminar at the Innovation Centre of Western Australia recently. I found it helpful, so I thought I’d share my notes with you.

——————— Presentation #1 ————————————————

Sam Birmingham – startup coach at Pollenizer Global and founder of Startup Weekend.

Startup is not about a business plan. It’s an iterative process – everything is a learning loop. Get your product out to the market and start learning.

Uses tools like Lean Startup, Lean Canvas etc.

Start at the problem. Don’t get wedded to a solution.

Problem –> Product, USP, metrics etc

Market –> Customer.

Constraints bring out the best in people.

Do a “twitter pitch”. Confine your concept to less than 140 characters.

e.g. “If Apple designed Salesforce” or “Google Analytics for Offline Stores”.

Gaddie pitch – confine yourself to answering 3 questions, in this order:

1. You know how …. What is the problem you are solving? Help them feel the pain of it so they know you understand it.

2. Well, what we do is …. Introduce the solution. Describe how you solve the pain.

3. In fact …. Provide some strong validation as to why you’re so awesome. Blow them away with a snippet of information e.g. “we’ve connected more than 1,000 people to jobs in the last 6 months”.

Universal Startup Pitch Deck – a simple framework they designed to get some consistency in pitching. But it also helps you think through the strengths and weaknesses of your startup business.

  • Hi, I’m ……
  • from ….
  • The problem we’re solving is ….
  • Our solution is ….
  • We do this by….
  • This is a big opportunity because …  (feel free to get people excited!)
  • Our target market is …
  • Our customers are ….
  • We acquire customers by …
  • We make money by…
  • Our key competition is… (never say you don’t have competition – you must show you understand the market).
  • But we’re better because…
  • Our team is….
  • So far, we have ….
  • What we’ll do next is …
  • What we’re looking for is….

Did a demonstration using a new startup TechBoard (which is similar to Crunchbase and AngelList).

Note: Sam says acquiring Customers (not just users) is the most expensive part of any startup – never underestimate how much it will cost or how long it will take to get to profit.

——————— Presentation #2 ————————————————

Toby – now works with KPMG – formerly worked in Silicon Valley (Is a Cal Bears supporter), responsible for Billions of Dollars in deals.

Mr Right’s best pitch won’t work on Miss Wrong.

Whenever you pitch, make sure you understand your audience. Do your homework before hand if you can, if not, actually ask them questions before you start.

Pitching to get interest (a date) is different to pitching to get an offer (a marriage proposal). Know what you want – they might just say yes!

Different types of investors:

Seed Capital – usually from family, friends, banks – beg, borrow, & steal.

Angel Investors – usually wealthy individuals with higher standards than your family and friends.

Venture Capitalists – institutional investors who have to answer to their shareholders.

It’s not about who you are attracted to, it’s about who would be attracted to you. So look up their website and research them on Linked In, your network etc. Who have they invested in in the past? Who are they investing in right now?

Find a way to get introduced. You shouldn’t have to cold call, if you’ve done your research and networking right.

The Investor is only ever asking one question:
“Why should I invest in you?”

So, no matter what they ask, you should always answer THAT question. For example, even if they ask about current economic problems (e.g. interest rates, share price etc) you should answer “I’m so glad you asked this question, because actually we’re a solution to this problem because…” then tell them what they really want to know:

1. Do you have an experienced management team they can trust?

2. Is there a predictable customer demand (i.e. revenue stream)?

3. Does the product/technology solve a legitimate problem

4. What is the market size and competition

Know where you stand in regards to your:
1. Access to Capital

2. Access to Customers

3. Access to Talent

4. Brand

Other questions that you should think about (and have an answer to) will help them to answer “yes” to their main question.

  • Where did your startup come from?
  • What got you started?
  • Were you in the industry before?
  • Were you a consumer of the industry before?

Use Robert Cialdini’s laws of influence e.g. reciprocity, authority etc.

Have email templates ready to use that implement the Laws of Influence. e.g.:
“Given your interest in Uber and AirBnB, and the current market around this type of domestic-based solution in previously commercial markets, I thought you might be interested in 2015Jobs.com.au, Australia’s leading technology for private and domestic employment, as used by ….

Use Social Proof even when talking about your market e.g. “the market everyone is investing in at the moment”.

Talk about your future before it happens “2015Jobs is well-positioned for international market expansion…”

Elevate61 is an incubator to help people raise funds in the USA. Many USA investors aren’t allowed to invest beyond the borders of USA even if they really love your idea – so you need to be setup there to even start talking to them.

Energise is an accelerator in Australia – that has 12 supporting companies e.g. BHP, Shell, Worley Parsons etc – that will test and possibly use the products being developed by the mainly natural resources and energy startups.

The main thing he looks for in startups is self-awareness around coachability. You’re not able to be good at everything. So knowing your weaknesses can be a real strength.

Get A New Job – Guaranteed

lotteryGetting a new job can be a bit like winning the lottery. Everyone wants it. Thousands of hopefuls get their ticket. But only one ever wins. And, let’s face it, that one is hardly ever you.

There’s an internet fun fact that you are more likely to die on the way to buying your ticket than you are to win.

And yet people keep hoping.

The ancient writer said “hope deferred makes the heart sick”.

Us humans aren’t wired for uncertainty. It makes us physically ill. We operate much better under certainty.

That’s why I’m designing a new job site that has certainty built into it.

It won’t be like existing sites that help you seek jobs, it will help you find them.

It won’t be about a process of creating a profile, applying for a job, submitting a resume, writing a cover letter, explaining how you fit selection criteria, and all the hoops that come after that.

It will be about bypassing all the jumping through hoops and going straight to payday.

It will be like buying a lottery ticket when you already know it’s the winning ticket.

I can’t wait to share it with you. If you want to be among the first winners, join the waiting list now at http://www.2015jobs.com.au