Make Your Life Twitteriffic

You don’t have to tweet every thought on Twitter to know how pervasive this platform has become in our world.  The service has grown from zero nine years ago to over 500 million users, and has changed how the world communicates and interacts.  They have been the vehicle for everything from political revolution to the taste of your morning coffee.

So, how can we harness their success for our own life? What lessons can we learn? I thought you’d never ask:

1. Make a Life Pivot - Twitter did not start as a way to post little bits of text for the world to see.  In fact, they began as a company called Odeo that was a tool to help people make and use podcasts (internet radio/T.V. shows).  However, with one keynote, Steve Jobs made Odeo obsolete and the company had to figure out whether to close their doors or do something different.  After dreaming for a while, they came up with the idea for twitter and then used the resources (staff, funding, etc) within Odeo to build and launch it.  They made a complete pivot and began moving in a totally different direction over the course of several months.

We need this kind of strategy in our life.  There are moments when we look around and realize our life is not what we want it to be. We do not have to be stuck in a life we hate.  Rather, we can use the resources tied up in the life we have now to create the life we want in the future.  It begins by dreaming of what could be.  Once we are captured by a dream of our future we begin to make small steps into that future using what we have on hand.  

2. Make Your Dreams Invitation Only - When Twitter began, the service was not ready for prime time.  It needed a good bit of work, but at some point no amount of tinkering behind the scenes would make the service any better.  They needed some users.  Rather than throw open the gates to the whole world, Twitter decided to make the service invitation only and control who could be part of it until it was ready to receive the full onslaught of the world wide web.

Our dreams are the same way.  Before we share them with the world, there is a bit of tinkering we need to do.  What is the first step?  How long will this take? What is the plan if it fails?  What resources (time, energy, financial, physical) can be dual-purposed to get this off the ground?  Once you have a good idea of where you might head, whatever you do, DON’T POST IT ON TWITTER!  Until your dreams are ready to bear the brunt of criticism and dismissal, have coffee with a couple friends, take your significant other on a date and make it invitation only as those you love help you refine your idea.

3. Crowd-Source Your Life - In the early days it was all Twitter could to to keep the service up and running. There were no resources available to add features. That meant it was up for the users to crowd-source solutions to their problems.  In order to reference a person they began putting an “@“ before that person’s username in their post.  In order to tag a post as being part of an event or a category of similar ideas people began to put a “#” before a keyword.  By the time twitter got around to adding features, the work had been done by the users and they just incorporated them into the group.

I think that at least 10% of my life could benefit from this.  There are many problems that I look at and get stumped knowing that there has to be someone I know that has the solution.  If only I had a way to ask for help from all the random contacts I have throughout life.  Wait… Facebooked!  

Several years ago we were stumped as to how share the Bible with very young children.  We had a couple of ideas but wanted more.  We made one post on Facebook asking for how people did that with this children and unleashed ten or fifteen incredible ideas from the trial and error of our high school friends and former coworkers.  Don’t forget.  These social networks can be useful beyond locating the next funny cat video.  

So, whether you tweet or not, take these lessons of success and maybe your life can be a bit more twitterrific.  If you are a church leader, I wrote an article about how these lessons can help our churches, you should check that one out too!

>>>Read More: Steve Jobs Your Life

Steve Jobs your Life

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“Steve Jobs” is my new favorite verb.  He was successful, definitive and inspiring.  He changed the world, held fast to his principles and rocked the mock turtleneck.  Whenever I find a person like that I want to look at their life and find the advice written into their actions or, in the words of Proverbs 19:20, "Listen to advice and accept instruction and in the end you will be wise."

When Steve Jobs walked into Apple after a brief hiatus in the 80s, the company was being pulled in a million directions.  They were producing product after product with some that competed with each other and others that had no business being brought to market at all.  They were scattered and stretched thin like to little jam on a big piece of toast. 

As unbelievable as it sounds today, Apple was on the brink of bankruptcy.  Each day, after keeping all their balls in the air, they didn’t have enough energy and resources to devote to what mattered most. I know exactly how that feels. 

Too many times I have found myself with too much to get done and not enough time to even think about it.  I have done a poor job at delegating and reaped the rewards in the form of a double-portion of stress.

The good news for Apple is that Steve Jobs returned with a vengeance.  The story told in his brilliant biography is that he walked into a board room and drew a cross on the whiteboard.  Above the two columns, he wrote: "consumer" and "pro," and beside the two rows he wrote: "desktop" and “mobile." He told those in the meetings that from the hundreds of listings they produced, they were now only going to make four products.  

The rest is history.  Apple’s laser-focus has allowed it to make really brilliant advances, upset major markets, and totally revolutionize how we live our life.

Which is, of course, what the Bible has been instructing me to do all along.  In Ephesians, it says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”

So, with the Bible as our guide and Steve Jobs as our template, what would it look like if we drew a big plus on a blank piece of paper at home?  Across the top you might write “spouse” and “parent,” or “Being” and “doing”  Then in the rows you write “Big Dream” and “Every day.” Simplify everything. Laser focus.  What is most important now?  What are you going to complete?  

If you must add another column or row go ahead, but remember that the goal here is to help you stop some things and decide what belongs on the front burner because there is a secret to life that I discovered a long time ago:  You cannot make time, you have to take time.  But, that is another article altogether.

Go fourth and Steve Jobs your life!

I talked about this in church terms a while ago for UMCOM.  Find out how to Steve Jobs your church here.

>>>Read More Make Your Church Like an Apple Store

Make Your Church like Apple Stores (6 Steps)

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A couple weeks ago Apple was recognized again as having the most profitable retail space per square foot in the world.  They topped the second place company (Tiffany Co.) by almost double!  Though I’m sure your church administrator would like to increase your tithing per square foot, I think there is a lot more that we learn.

1. Apple stores facilitate anonymity

Sometimes, I want to go into a store and browse the products and buy something without having to talk to a bunch of people.  I appreciate someone saying hello but I don’t want to be distracted by sales people.  And they respect that.  Apple gives me my space and allows me to set the boundaries for my interaction with them.  You can even make a purchase with your iPhone without ever talking to a sales person.

Sometimes people come in the door of our churches needing the same anonymity.  They aren’t ready to shake the pastor’s hand or meet everyone around them.  Sometimes people are hurting, skeptical, or really introverted, and there’s nothing wrong with any of those things. Neither is there anything wrong with someone waiting to sit in the back and check it out totally anonymously.

We need to value our cultures “check it out” value by not forcing people into fake interaction.  We need to be intentional about how we facilitate a healthy level of anonymity.

2. Staff are acutely aware of the customer

Though they are committed to anonymity, staff are paying close attention to all the customers.  As soon as someone exhibits signs of frustration, confusion, or exasperation, an employee is by their side asking a non-invasive, “Can I help you?”

How many of our greeters/ushers/touch team are really spending their time hanging out with their friends or reading a newspaper.  I recently walked into a church on a Sunday morning, walked up to an information desk and stood for a little while before being noticed because the information volunteer was reading the sports section.

All staff and volunteers need to be trained to to three things: 1. Understand what it looks like when someone is lost or confused 2. Be able to answer basic questions 3. Know where to go to get any unknown question answered right away.  They also need to be given permission to be late if they are helping someone like this.

More than that, we need to engender a culture of awareness.  Instead of being on a mission to get wherever we are going we need to slow down and look around.  We need to increase our awareness!

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3. Apple cares about aesthetics

Apple stores look cool, and yet not intimidating.  They are simple, clean, and open.  They spend a lot of time and money thinking about how the stores look, feel, and flow, and it shows.

We need to be thinking through the same things.  We need to be asking ourselves that we are communicating about Jesus through our physical spaces. Do they feel warm?  Do they feel current?  Do they make sense and flow?  Do they feel clean and open?

I don’t think that your church or youth room needs to look like and Apple store (unless you are thinking about selling consumer electronics), but we need to spend the same kind of time and energy thinking about the aesthetics of our facilities so that they are saying what we want them to say about who we are and why we are there.

4. Help is everywhere

Every staff person in the Apple store is easily identified with a same-colored shirt and professional name tag (because everything there communicates high-quality) on a lanyard

How easy is it for a person to identify who at your church is there to help?  How does someone know where to go for help?  I am far from being the person who wants everyone to wear the same shirt on Sunday, but if there is no other way you can see to identify the people there to help, go buy some polos!

5. Focus on community 

You might think Apple stores are about selling Apple products.  They’re not.  Apple stores are about community.  Don’t get me wrong, they want to sell products and aren’t sitting around in a circle sharing what their spirit animal is, but they believe that the best way to sell products is to have the store be about servicing the Apple community.

You can walk into any Apple store, check your email, post on Facebook and charge your iPhone without ever feeling that you are sneaking around.  In fact, many Apple stores are full of people who are not there to buy anything, but are just using the wifi or the computers for whatever they wanted to do.

And, if you do need something fixed, that is the first place you go.  They are known for their first-class customer support.  Each support person is given incredible freedom to comp services and give free replacements to help customers.  Why?  Because Apple actually cares about their customers.  They want them to be happy, and they want them to feel like Apple cares about them more than profits.

I wish church was like that.  So many times I have felt like I was intruding or inconveniencing someone.  I have heard over and over people express that the church only cares about attendance rather than people.  It is time for us to shift our focus from attendance to care.  And not just superficially.  We do not do care for people so that more people will come.  We care for people because WE CARE.

6. Apple utilizes square footage

There is not a bit of wasted space.  Tables are spaced far enough apart to be comfortable, but no space is empty or unused.  It is all used to the max.

If I had a dime for every church parking lot that sits empty all week long, I’d be a rich man.  I understand that you may not have a bunch of things going on, but there are people in your community who need space.  There are small business groups that have to pay for meeting rooms in hotels, there are board meetings and civic groups that would love to be able to use your space.  And, imagine if you staffed it with volunteers who cared for them.  What might happen if those people began to feel about your church the way they feel about the Apple store?

That’s it.  Time for me to go talk to my team about making our church more like the Apple store.

From: Youthworker Movement