Previous month:
June 2007
Next month:
August 2007

Chicago

I am in Chicago where I am attending a seminar on excellence and customer service called 95% Share Marketing. They organizers take you around town and use existing institutions to teach you the lessons of the course. Today we went to a horse racing track and they taught us the principle of clearing clutter by teaching us to read a racing form - not a standard classroom setting. Then they divided us into teams and gave us some money to make wagers. My team lost badly, so now I am at the hotel, focusing on something I do better than wagering on horses and that is writing. At least, I hope I am better at this. The track was beautiful and that whole word fascinating, although not something I would want to do on a regular basis.

Today we will visit many Chicago landmarks, including some famous businesses, to learn the principles of their success. We will leave the hotel at 7:30 AM and won't return until 10:00 PM. It will be long day. i hope I learn a lot! I will of course pass on whatever I learn to you.


Book and Trip

I released my new book, Beyond Purpose, several weeks ago. This is a 52-chapter book that addresses the topics of creativity, time management, goal-setting and personal development. I have attached the press release for the book below for your review.

The cost of my new book is $15 US. If you order in July, I'll pay the domestic shipping or give you a $3 US credit toward international shipping. You can use PayPal to pay for your book. Just use my email address and they will notify me when your payment is in my account. Just include your address with the payment and we'll get your book(s) out to you right away.

If you can't use PayPal, then send me an email and we'll work something out, but order today.

Also, I am thinking about sponsoring my own cruise to Alaska in 2008. If you would like to be a part of that, please drop me an email to let me know and I will send you the details when they are available. It will probably take place next July.

Press Release: Beyond Purpose Press Release


TPI

I continue to be impacted by the training offered by The Pacific Institute in Seattle. I had the privilege of spending a day this week with Lou Tice, the president and founder. Lou has a unique teaching gift that has impacted the world. It was fantastic to have him to ourselves and then spend some time in his home.

Lou talked to us about many things, but perhaps the most meaningful was his exercise that had each one of us describe our "elegant" dream, one with which we could fall in love. It was a moving experience as everyone pondered, wrote out and then share their dream. The beauty of the TPI training is that it encourages us to develop dreams and goals for which we have no ideas as to how they can be achieved. That is so liberating!

We are also encouraged not to set a date for our goals to be achieved unless it is absolutely necessary. That too is a liberating experience, for we can set about doing what we want to do as quickly as possible. It also sets us free to set lifetime goals that cannot be time-dimensioned.

From here, I move on to Chicago where I will be participate in a program called 95% Share Marketing, a training program in customer service and excellence. Then it's on to Orlando and Disney World, where we will experience customer service and excellence.

I will let you know how the program in Chicago goes. It's also time for me to have my Disney "fix." I haven't been there since last October and it's time for another dose of Disney.

Technorati Tags:


Seattle

I am in Seattle, staying in a hotel at the base of the landmark Space Needle. The Needle was built for the 1962 World's Fair and has remained as a major tourist attraction since then. Of course, it rained all weekend and is overcast this morning as I write. I really like Seattle. It has a nice feel to it and the scenery is beautiful - a mix of trees, water, snow-capped mountains and natural beauty.

I visited a church yesterday and was under-whelmed by the service. The moderators kept interrupting the singing with comments and the youth pastor spoke. I have found that when youth pastors speak to the whole church, they continue to use their youth pastor style. What is that? Well, they tend to say outlandish things, since they often have to shock young people into listening. I find that they are funny, but they use teenage humor because they have to entertain their younger audience.

Since they are young but older than their youth audience, they tend to draw on their limited life experience and present themselves as experts. To the youth, they are experts. To an adult audience, they are, well, they are young and inexperienced. Yet I know that they have to start somewhere if they are going to grow and eventually lead adults. I guess I was part of his learning process yesterday.

I also find most churches aren't that friendly. I am no different when I attend church. Most often I want to get in and out right away and I'm not interested in connecting with anyone. Yesterday, I had eight visitors from Africa and I did not see many really go out of their way to greet them. The leaders did to some extent but the people did not.

Today I have a lot of work to do for my classes, which begin in two weeks. And I have some phone appointments. So without further ado, let me get started on my day.


The End is Near

As I write, we are sailing somewhere between Alaska and Victoria, British Columbia, the last stop on our cruise. Today is a busy day, with two concerts, one bookstore and one autograph session. The cruise has been a success judging from all accounts. I think Michael W. is going to announce that he is sponsoring a Caribbean cruise next year. I am sure many of those on this one will register for that one as well.

I love to cruise. I think a cruise is the ideal vacation. There is something on the ship for everyone and for every taste. You can eat or sleep, exercise or watch a movie, go ashore or hang back and enjoy the ship to yourself. The food is fabulous and the variety is surprising. Even though you are on a ship and in a "closed" environment, you can go for days without seeing someone you may know.

It is nice to cruise with a program like Michael W. offers, for that gives you another entertainment option if you don't gamble, drink or attend the shows onboard. You meet lots of people from around the world (there are people from Ireland, the Netherlands and France on this cruise), and you are exposed to good Christian ministry.

At any rate, I am going to sponsor my own Alaskan cruise in 2008. If you would be interested in coming along, send me an email and I will send you the details.

In the meantime, I will be arriving in Seattle when you get this post. Maybe next year you will be with me as we finish off what I know will be a special, purposeful week.


Sitka, Alaska

I am docked in Sitka, the former capital of Russian Alaska! I haven't been here in eight years, but I don't think much has changed. Our ship is here until 5 pm, when we take off for Ketchikan, the southernmost city in Alaska. It's been a great cruise and I have enjoyed being around Michael W. Smith and his team. I new he was popular, but I had no idea his fans were this committed. They love their Michael W, all 900 of them onboard.

I am spending a lot of time reading in preparation for my classes that begin at Reformed Theological Presbyterian Seminary on August 6. My first class is Jesus in the New Testament, and I am reading a lot about the synoptic gospel problem. I didn't know we had a synoptic problem until I started reading, but it seems that there is a lot of concern among scholars about how the synoptics (Matthew, Mark and Luke) contradict one another from time to time. It has been interesting reading so far, but I am reminded how scholars can make a mountain out of a mole hill. My second class in August is on preaching, and I have 12 books I have yet to begin for that one. Maybe I can preach about the synoptic gospel problem at some point in time?

So I am off to shore to look around Sitka, buy a tshirt and come back onboard to stuff my face with more food. By the way, the ship's menu and food have changed since the two years I have been to Alaska on a cruise. The menus are streamlined, the portions are smaller, there is no midnight buffet and the food is simpler. You can still order as much as you want of any one item, however, so we aren't starving, believe me. It is noticeably different from past experiences.

I am thinking of sponsoring my own Alaskan cruise in 2008. If you would like to be included, drop me an email and let me know.


Quality Questions

I am sitting on the LIdo deck of my cruise ship, which is in port at Juneau, the capital of Alaska. Did you know that Juneau is the largest capital city in the United States? Well, it is in square miles, not in population. I am sitting at a table, looking up the channel at some beautiful snow-capped mountains. Today was a rainy day here, which isn't too unusual for Juneau. The rain has stopped, however, and I see some blue sky, along with some low-hanging clouds clinging to the mountains lie a blanket. We are in port for 10 hours before we take off for Yukatat Bay to see the Hubbard Glacier tomorrow.

Yesterday, I wrote about asking yourself quality questions in my weekly Monday Memo 305. After I wrote it, I went to dinner with my fellow coordinators on the cruise. Guess what one of the men used as a conversation piece? He asked us a question and then required each of us to ask the others another question. What a confirmation of what I was thinking and writing about!

Some of the questions were:

1. If you could visit anywhere in the world (for the first time or again), where would you go, why and what would do there? (That was my question, and I guess it was really three questions in one.)

2. What would you do if you had Oprah Winfrey's money?

3. What was the turning point in your life that caused you to be as effective as you are today?

4. What would you like to have written on your tombstone about your life?

All in all, we had an enjoyable discussion but most of us struggled with at least one of the questions, because they make you think about things beyond your daily routine.

So maybe you should try this some time this week. In your family, small group, staff meeting or in any other setting where you are gathered with friends, family or associates, why not pose some quality questions? Then continue to reflect on those questions after the session is over and see if you can arrive at some quality answers to those quality questions. Remember, quality questions lead to a quality life, and that is the goal of the exercise. Don't avoid the questions or the answers just because they make you uncomfortable. Just stick with the process and see where it leads you.


Off to Alaska

Our preparation work is complete and not it's time to board the Oosterdam and head to Alaska. Today most of the 900 passengers arrive and excitement will be high. Michael W. Smith sang the National Anthem at the Seattle Mariners' baseball game, but I was busy with airport pickups and missed the big event. Oh well, I guess I'll have to buy the CD.

We are heading over to the ship and will actually get one while the last cruise is still onboard, but we have work to do to prepare for our group to board. I got my schedule for the week, and it looks pretty straightforward and not too, too busy.

So, I guess I will wish myself bon voyage. I will update you along the way, but I guess you already knew that, huh?


Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

I finished up the Christian Booksellers (CBA) in Atlanta yesterday and today I am back in the airport, heading to Seattle. Tomorrow I will get on a Holland America cruise ship to spend a week with Michael W. Smith and his Alaskan cruise. There are 900 people registered for his cruise, and they will occupy half the ship. I will be one of eight coordinators who will make sure no one falls overboard or becomes paralyzed from overeating. This is my eighth cruise to Alaska and it never gets old. The scenery is spectacular and I thin cruising is the ideal vacation. There is something for everyone of any age to do and the food is obscene, both in quality and quantity.

If you are ever looking for a good Christian cruise company, may I recommend my friends at Inspiration Cruises and Tours?
?

I enjoyed CBA, but it was definitely a bit down this year. Books sales aren't strong and I saw more empty booth space than I can ever recall seeing. There have been mergers and those who came seemed to have smaller booths than in the past.

I am always amazed at how many people I "run into" at CBA. With the exhibit floor so spacious and so many people coming and going, you have to have your path cross with someone else's at the just the right time and place to connect. I was talking with someone, turned around and came face-to-face with a couple who was in the church where I was pastor. I had not seen them in 14 years!

When that happens to me at CBA (or anywhere, for that matter), I always think of two verses from Proverbs:

In His heart a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps (Proverbs 16:9)

and

A man's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way? (Proverbs 24:20).

I signed about 100 books, got an invitation to attend the CBA in England next February, received an invitation from my Nigerian publisher to come to Nigeria next March, and met lots of new people. It's always most enjoyable, however, to meet and catch up with old friends and associates. Next year's convention is in Orlando and attendance should pick up because bookstore owners and managers like to bring their families to visit Disney while they attend the convention.

In case you missed my announcement, I was at CBA to launch my new book, Beyond Purpose. You can order a copy by sending $15US via Paypal, using my email address of johnstanko@att.net. Make sure you include your shipping address and I'll pay the postage through July.

That's about it for now, but I'll keep you posted on my cruise activities and duties.

Technorati Tags: ,


Atlanta

I am in the Pittsburgh airport heading to Atlanta. I like Atlanta a lot; it's a great southern city with a lot of character. I will visit Friedman's Shoe's while I am there. It is a famous shoe store where all the athletes shop, because they carry shoes up to a 22 US-sized foot! I wear a 13, but they have a large selection for every tall and large man.

Someone sent me the following article concerning the forced price reductions in Zimbabwe. Thought you may want to read it, while keeping in mind that CNN usually tries to paint the situation in Zimbabwe from a more severe angle than reality would dictate.

Gotta run and catch my plane. I will let you know how the Christian Booksellers convention goes.