Devotional: Hebraic thought

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding.” (Psalms 111:10)

Today’s devotional reminds me that education is obviously critical for equipping, protecting, and growing one’s self…but it should never, ever be the primary means of gaining wisdom.

Anything other than reading God’s word, listening for answered prayer, and following His will that is your main operating system are grounds for subpar or undesirable results and lack of fulfillment.

Wisdom in biblical times was gained by obedience – not by logic, reasoning, and analysis. While we are grateful for Greek culture giving us tools for gaining, understanding, and applying knowledge – and they definitely have their place in our lives – it’s time for a reboot and return to this principle.

I am so guilty of this – I consume books, podcasts, teachings, and conversations and apply their takeaways most of the time without consulting God first and asking if my education and actions adhere to His wishes – that it honors God and serves people.

I’m done with gaining wisdom that isn’t sourced by God. Nobody knows a creation better than its inventor; nobody loves me more perfectly than my Father; and the truth never changes – which is why the Bible has endured and empowered people for so long.

Throwback: Calling myself out

This is part of a series called “Throwback” – where I revive journal entries and blog posts written/posted on this very day, years ago.

Written on June 30th, 2016 (one year ago), I found myself being super irritable with everyone around me and almost all circumstances that day, and there is a simple reason why.

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I can always tell when I have not been seeking God. The cares of this life, the urgent over the important, and the petty irritations – these are the symptoms of a life that has not been in the presence of God.

Devotional: Setting goals in faith

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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When you change your mentality from “this is all there is to life” to “this life is preparation for the next” – you will set your priorities very differently.

The first thought process will compel you to not care about people nor do meaningful work, and to instead accommodate your selfish, short-sighted, and wrongful desires. The second thought will remind you that how things go down in the next chapter of your life will be dictated by what you do during this short, temporary stay on Earth; and to encourage you to do what matters most – bringing as much of His Kingdom here through loving God, loving people, and living out your purpose.

God is more interested in why you do what you do, instead of what you do or how you do it. The logistics aren’t as important as the reason for doing them. Prioritize accordingly.

People tend to make goals out of fear, guilt, pride, peer pressure, jealousy, greed, or material things; and God will not bless those reasons. He will bless goals that are made out of love for God and others. When you don’t set goals out of love, people just become projects and things to use.

And try to set goals that are out of your comfort zone or human ability; it will demonstrate faith, build strength, and force you to depend on God to execute with you. And when God’s involved, miracles and purpose are sure to happen.

Throwback: Don’t be too busy

This is part of a series called “Throwback” – where I revive journal entries and blog posts written/posted on this very day, years ago.

Written on June 12th, 2014 (three years ago), I was caught in the middle of a tornado of my own making – doing too much work and being buried alive in them. Re-reading this journal made me realize how history can easily repeat itself so easily without you even knowing or being able to fix them.

But God is a God of grace and second chances; I can overcome this with His help; and this message will help me be fed up with busyness even more, in hopes of real change towards doing less of my own, misguided and/or selfish pursuits so that I can do more for the Kingdom.

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No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please Him who hath chosen him to be a soldier” – 2 Timothy 2:4 KJV

I seriously need to cut down. Here is now I am not fighting for The Lord when I am too busy:

* I don’t have the patience needed to love people – my family, Christine, the kiddies, my friends…people who need me
* I don’t honor my body with adequate sleep, exercise and nutrition
* I don’t give my purpose enough attention & focus – whether it be The Halal Guys project, Fransmart, various other projects, and their subsequent tithing abilities

Devotional: Do what’s best

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“May He equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to Him. All glory to Him forever and ever! Amen!” (Heb. 13:21)

“God’s will done God’s way never lacks God’s support,” as Pastor Rick Warren would always say.

If I am doing what I am shaped to do; if I am doing work at the highest level, with love, with the intention of giving Him the glory, and that serves my brothers and sisters…I have nothing to worry about, and God’s strength will be with me and it will be successful.

It might not be success on our terms – money, possessions, power, recognition, or even results that payoff in my lifetime – but it’s something that lasts forever, is important, and I will be rewarded.

If the work I do doesn’t inspire me, doesn’t exhibit His love, doesn’t serve the people that Jesus died for, and I can’t or won’t do it to the best of my ability…I’ll need to eliminate it, and make room for activities that do fit the bill. I don’t have enough resources for mediocre, misaligned work that won’t have an eternal ROI.

What’s your exit strategy

I was reading Tim Ferriss’5-Bullet Friday” newsletter this week, and he briefly talked about Craig Newmark – founder of Craigslist – and referenced a quote he made:

“Death is my exit strategy.”

What a refreshing statement in a world that focuses on short-term gains and companies that are formed to get sold shortly after.

How cool would it be to find a calling that consumes so much of you and is so timeless that it’s not just a full-time job or a contract that lasts until retirement – but a lifelong mission that ends when you do, or even continues beyond you?

Just something to make you pause for a moment to check the work you’re doing right now. Hope you’re building something so valuable that the only buyout firm that can afford you is God =)

Devotional: Knowing my armor

This is part of a series called “Devotionals.”

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“David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them. ‘I cannot go in these,’ he said to Saul, ‘because I am not used to them.’ So he took them off.” (1 Samuel 17:39).

This applies to all parts of my life.

If there is a project or task within it that I don’t understand, am not good at, and am not remotely curious or passionate about – I need to leave it alone and leave it to someone else who meets or will grow to meet those requirements. I have no business meddling in things God didn’t build me to suit, and I am guaranteed to fail.

Of course – there are activities that may not be my favorite thing to do or that may not seemingly be the best use of my time – that I’ll need to partake in.

How will I know the difference?

I believe that there are two conditions to figuring this out:

1. If God calls me to do it – which means prayer must happen first, and being aware of His answer thereafter; and
2. If it is a sign of love – if it shows someone you care and speaks their love language.

These two conditions are simple enough to direct all tasks that present themselves. I won’t have to feel confused about which road to take, and I won’t have to feel reactive.

Reflection: ”What is an Essentialist?” And what I can do about it?

This is a blog post where I’m simply taking inventory of my life and brainstorming a plan to improve it. I hope it helps you in your own journey; but the main goal of this is for me to think and write out loud.

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From “The Journal” – a monthly newsletter from tech entrepreneur and investor, Kevin Rose:

“The way of the Essentialist means living by design, not by default. Instead of making choices reactively, the Essentialist deliberately distinguishes the vital few from the trivial many, eliminates the nonessentials, and then removes obstacles so the essential things have clear, smooth passage.

In other words, Essentialism is a disciplined, systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, then making execution of those things almost effortless.”

Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.”

~ Greg McKeown

This concept and explanation are perfectly-timed. I am doing way too many okay/good/unnecessary/negative/unhelpful/ineffective things, and not giving my meaningful work – the awesome, “hell yeah”, necessary, immensely impactful, and effective activities – a chance to breathe, thrive, and fly.

I don’t want to die by a thousand cuts (a thousand mediocre tasks), but die during a helluva ride (something worth sacrificing your life for) lol!

What are some examples of these unessential tasks in my life?

Emails continue to be an anchor that prevent my ship from sailing. It’s one of those creepers that seem small and harmless – one email that takes only 30 seconds to respond here, one email that takes 60 seconds to read there, etc. – that can suck me in and kill the rest of my day.

I aspire for an empty inbox – which isn’t a bad thing itself – but most of my means to get there are unhealthy.

Not doing the most important task first will consume the rest of my day, and make me reactive, angry, and prone to mistakes and/or poor judgment. It sucks that my passions and my loved ones suffer when this happens.

Not delegating to my team will not allow them to grow their skills and not allow me an open road to take off.

So…how do I set up a good system?

Modify the calendar so that I only can do ONE THING a day (with the exception of my Daily Routine, creativity sessions, and direct revenue-producing activities). Resist the temptation of doing a 2-3 items…and put them in the Momentum Chrome Extension for later if I’m truly done with that one most important task.

Go through my Trello list of tasks and ask myself:
* Does this generate substantial revenue or meaningful results?
* How can I handle this task to where it never bothers me again? I.e. Decline responsibility, make a call, do it right the first time
* Do I need to handle this now or this week?
* Am I the only one who can handle this? Can I delegate or automate this at all?
* What would happen if I didn’t do it?

Reorganize Trello to where it’s easy to reference for anyone. Utilize labels, colors, checklists, attachments, etc.

How do I execute my system consistently?

Every day, start with the Daily Ritual, the calendar, and the Momentum extension. I’ve spent the beginning of the week planning my activities – now I just need to trust the system and execute it with focus. Email is NOT your task management system.

Spend the first part of my day being creative. My version of art is:
* Creating a prospecting plan for Fransmart, SHAFT, and Pareto.
* Brainstorming ideas with someone (my wife, Dean, coach, investors)
* Looking for retail real estate.
* Finding a way to help someone – with my experience or not.
* Experimenting with ideas I’ve read or heard about.
* Building/Writing a newsletter to investors/customers
* Creating a new system/procedure to make life easier.

When checking emails (ONLY once or twice a day) ask myself:
* Does this generate revenue or meaningful results?
* How can I handle this message to where it never bothers me again? I.e. Creating a filter, unsubscribe, decline responsibility, make a call
* Do I need to respond to this now?
* If yes, how can I respond to it so that there is no back and forth on it again? I.e. Be complete in answer, point in other directions, make a call
* Can I delegate or automate this at all?
* What would happen if I didn’t handle it?

Afterward, just focus on executing the ONE most important thing that will help me feel successful for the day, if I do nothing else; something that will render the rest of my tasks either irrelevant, unimportant, or easier to do.

Play the rest of the day. Be present. Spend time with your loved ones. Do nothing.

Flip-flop: My new goal in life…to be lazy

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This is part of a series called “Flip-Flop” – explained here.

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What happens when I get lazy?

My life becomes more enjoyable and productive.

Reading this article helped me to relax, cancel a few meetings and calls, rethink how I do things, and delete a few tasks from my to-do list…and I’m learning to be comfortable with this uncomfortable feeling.

(It’s thanks to Kevin Rose’s monthly email that I found this gem)

This reminds me of my aspiration of “saying ‘no’ to the good, so that I can say ‘yes’ to the great.” It’s so true that when I fill my schedule up with tasks – because I can’t sit still, because free time makes me feel like I’m not being productive, because it’s frowned upon in the workaholics world – I don’t create any white space to do what truly matters.

Taking care of my health. Reading a good book. Writing on my blog. Having a real, in-depth conversation with a loved one. Brainstorming a passion project. Spending time with my family. Helping people in need. Expanding my relationship with God.

I lose “hell yeah” opportunities because I’m so buried with “okay” or “good” opportunities. And the thought of surviving or dying of mediocrity sucks.

I need to change my perception of “laziness.” It should not be a bad word, but a filter for things that matter. It’s actually good for creating processes that make me more effective. The question I try and ask myself moving forward is:

“Because I am lazy and want to do things that truly matter, do I really need to do this? And if I really need to do this, what is the laziest way I can handle this so that I don’t ever have to do it again?”

As Tim Ferriss has taught me, being busy is the true, unhealthy form of laziness – it means you aren’t thinking, you don’t have your priorities straight, and you are avoiding the few critically important but uncomfortable actions.

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The picture above is a hammock from the Parker Palm Springs hotel – a favorite spot for my wife and I (where I first asked Christine to be my girlfriend…the rest is history). It was a weekend where we didn’t have the kids, and we did absolutely nothing. And it was the best time of our lives. 

Company culture is everything

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I had a meeting today between the owners of Cauldron Ice Cream – an emerging food concept in our Fransmart portfolio that I am fanatical about (and you should be, too) – and a potential franchisee interested in building the brand’s stores in their home market – and both sides were talking about company culture. That topic made me happy.

Company culture is so damn critical to the sustainability, identity, growth, and success of a brand; yet it’s difficult – almost impossible – to directly measure.

And because of this, a lot of company owners just don’t give it the attention it needs – sadly and to their detriment.

“What gets measured, gets managed” is more important, right?

Wrong.

Think about your girlfriend, boyfriend, spouse, kids, domestic partner, and/or best friend. Can you directly measure how much you love someone? Not really; but you can absolutely see its results: How much time you spend together, how you can complement each others’ thoughts/sentences/actions, how you stand up for each other, the tenure of your relationship, and the list goes on. Loyalty game is strong.

Because you can’t measure love – do you refrain from trying to pursue, enjoy, and expand it? No fricken way – life is all about relationships.

Starbucks, Amazon, and other life-changing companies of our time have legendary culture; and their success is very correlated to their focus on building an environment of loyal, fanatical employees and customers.

How you do that and what you do is up to you, and each industry and organization has its own unique way of achieving this. But if there’s a common denominator that jump-starts your thinking…it’s love.

Love defies gravity, love overlooks mistakes, love grows exponentially when you invest in it, love doesn’t try to shortcut, love is patient, love is kind (yes, I’m stealing from the Bible, too, lol), love makes your life rich and worthwhile.

Going back to the above example…do you notice that when you get into a fight with your loved one, nothing else really matters? For me – I can close the biggest deal of my life or win the lottery – maybe even both at the same time – but if I got into a fight with my wife that morning…you can forget about trying to enjoy any of that. I’d even trade those circumstances for a chance at reconciliation.

You can have an amazing handle on your COGS, labor, marketing, etc…but if your employees hate working there or your customers don’t love you…don’t expect to be around for long. There’s little-to-no forgiveness when they aren’t taken care of.

On the flip side – what if instead, your employees were loyal to you? What if your customers are head over heels for you?

Employees offering to stay longer; long lines and wait times; making mistakes on orders; high costs; little-to-no marketing; etc. They are all forgivable.

So why are people driving all the way from Los Angeles, San Diego, and traffic overall; willing to wait in line for sometimes an hour; pay a premium on ice cream they easily get half as expensive and immediately at their local Baskin Robbins or even supermarket? The answer is a culture of love in the product, delivering the customer experience, and team. Think about that when constructing or recalibrating your organization.

So yes – manage the facets of your business that easily pump out data for your analysis. They help you survive, and it’s good to measure.

But don’t forget the part of your business that you can’t see but feel. They help you thrive. Beyond measure.