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January 2008
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March 2008

Permission Marketing 3

I have just a few more comments about permission marketing, which we have talked about on two previous occasions. The essence of permission marketing is building a relationship with people who want to hear what you have to say as opposed to interrupting people with all kinds of messages they don't want and aren't looking for using marketing gimmicks and techniques. I recently went into a sports venue and there was a company's name on the turnstile spokes as I went through the ticket gate! That is a perfect example of non-permission marketing. The company thought they had my captive attention to send a message. They did; the message was, "This is dumb and I will choose to ignore this invasion of my private, mental space." I don't remember the name of the company that put their ads in that imaginative but silly place.

In my last post, I mentioned that permission marketing requires listening, which interruptive marketing requires speaking. The latter requires that the company or church initiate and dominate the conversation with the public. Permission marketing requires that the organization listen to the public, something we as humans aren't always equipped to do. Listening takes time and takes the conversation the way the speaker wants it to go. That is why so many pastors are such poor listeners. They are so used to speaking at and to problems that they don't really know how to listen. I have seen this to be the same the world over.

In the late '80s, Stephen Covey's book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, swept the world. I have quoted the fifth habit many times: Seek first to understand, then to be understood. I have learned that when I have said to someone, "I know just how you feel. This is my experience in that area," I am actually denigrating their experience and trying to do them one better by telling them my story. For the last decade, I have worked to ask better questions, listen more intently, give feedback more accurately and not try to speak too soon. I still have a long way to go.

Here are two of my favorite quotes where listening is concerned:

“Listening, coupled with regular periods of reflection, are essential to the growth of the servant leader. . . . The most successful servant-leaders are those who have become skilled empathetic listeners” – Robert Greenleaf, The Power of Servant Leadership.

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply. . . . The essence of empathetic listening is not that you agree with someone; it’s that you fully, deeply understand that person, emotionally as well as intellectually” – Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

I have used The Monday Memo as an example of permission marketing. I send it only to those who give me permission and anyone can easily remove themselves from the mailing list. You may be thinking, "But you, Dr. Stanko, writer about what you want to write about every week. Aren't you dominating the conversation?" The answer is that I am, to an extent, but I would not have 12,000 subscribers if I didn't write about things that were helpful to the reader. If I wasn't a good listener as I travel, teach and consult, I would not write an effective Monday Memo. The Memo isn't about me; it's always about the reader -- readers who has given me permission to send my material to them.

So how good of a listener are you? If you don't think it's important, remember what Jesus said: "Therefore consider carefully how you listen. Whoever has will be given more; whoever does not have, even what he thinks he has will be taken from him" (Luke 8:18). If your listening skills are okay, then how are you applying this to your work, whether in or out of church? Are you listening to people's needs and working to meet those needs, while still adding to the bottom line whether that's money or changed lives and communities? That, IMHO, is the essence of permission marketing.

Feel free to add your comments to this entry on the site where it is posted.

Mess Yourself Up

Do you know who makes sure I write my books? Do you know who requires that I write for three blogs, produce magazine articles, or develop my weekly Bible studies?

The answer: No one!

Now you may say, "Well, what about the Lord?" Yes, God has put those ideas and concepts in my heart and He positions me to do those things. Yet there is no one who can force me to write. I must do it on my own. It all starts with embracing the fact that I am a writer.

For many years, I never knew how to fill out my entry form as I went into foreign lands. The form would invariably ask for "Occupation" and I would put down administrator, pastor, consultant or teacher. Then one day I put down "author" and something snapped into place. I am a writer! I had given myself permission to tell others and it was a major breakthrough. I had never been asked about what I do when I put down the other occupations. The first time I put down "author," the agent in the UK looked up at me and asked, "What do you write?" It proves the power of drawing attention and resources to yourself when you are honest about who you are and aren't.

So I am an author and authors write. So I started my blog and try to write one book every year. I have completed verse-by-verse Bible studies for 18 books in the New Testament, all ready and waiting to be published. Not wanting to wait until they are published, however, I send them out to 5,000 people free of charge every week.

I came across a prayer that I use in as a Pacific Institute facilitator and I thought I would share it with you today. It goes like this:

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves, when our dreams have come true because we have dreamed too little, when we arrive safely because we have sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when with the abundance of things we possess, we have lost our thirst for the waters of life; having fallen in love with life, we have ceased to dream of eternity; and in our efforts to build a new earth, we have allowed our vision of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly, to venture on wider seas where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.

Have you become too pleased with yourself? Have you dreamed too little? Sailed too close to the shore? Ceased to dream of great things? If so, stir yourself up! Don't put off on God what only you can do. And don't underestimate your ability to ignore the Lord if you are relying on Him to stir you. It's time to mess yourself up . . . and then put youself back together in a more productive way.

Pray this prayer with me and then get to work. There are lives to be changed and worlds to be explored. There is no telling what can be done by people, like you, who aren't afraid of failing and who know how to disturb their world so that they can do more, see more and go to more places than they ever thought possible.

Very Interesting Stuff?

My brother-in-law sent me an email with the following facts in it. I thought I would pass it on. It's got a lot of American interest facts, but my readers around the world may learn something as they read. I'm not sure it's all true, but it is all interesting, sort of -- at least to me. You can't ever say you don't learn anything when you read this blog!

In the 1400's a law was set forth in England that a man was allowed to beat his wife with a stick no thicker than his thumb. Hence we have 'the rule of thumb'
Many years ago in Scotland , a new game was invented. It was ruled 'Gentlemen Only...Ladies Forbidden'...and thus the word GOLF entered into the English language.
The first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time TV were Fred and Wilma Flintstone.
Every day more money is printed for Monopoly than the U.S. Treasury.
Men can read smaller print than women can; women can hear better.
Coca-Cola was originally green.
It is impossible to lick your elbow.
The State with the highest percentage of people who walk to work:
The percentage of Africa that is wilderness: 28% (now get this...)
The percentage of North America that is wilderness: 38%
The cost of raising a medium-size dog to the age of eleven: $ 16,400
The average number of people airborne over the U.S. in any given hour: 61,000
Intelligent people have more zinc and copper in their hair.
The first novel ever written on a typewriter:
Tom Sawyer.
The San Francisco Cable cars are the only mobile National Monuments.
Each king in a deck of playing cards represents a great king from history:
Spades - King David
Hearts - Charlemagne
Clubs -Alexander, the Great
Diamonds - Julius Caesar
111,111,111 x 111,111,111 = 12,345,678,987,654,321
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If a statue in the park of a person on a horse has both front legs in the air, the person died in battle. If the horse has one front leg in the air the person died as a result of wounds received in battle. If the horse has all four legs on the ground, the person died of natural causes.
Only two people signed the Declaration of Independence on July 4th, John Hancock and Charles Thomson. Most of the rest signed on August 2, but the last signature wasn't added until 5 years later.
Q. Half of all Americans live within 50 miles of what?
A. Their birthplace
-- ----------------------------------------------------------------------
Q. Most boat owners name their boats. What is the most popular boat name requested?
A. Obsession
Q. If you were to spell out numbers, how far would you have to go until you would find the letter 'A'?
A. One thousand
Q. What do bulletproof vests, fire escapes, windshield wipers, and laser printers all have in common?
A. All were invented by women.
Q. What is the only food that doesn't spoil?
A. Honey
Q. Which day are there more collect calls than any other day of the year?
A. Father's Day
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In Shakespeare's time, mattresses were secured on bed frames by ropes. When you pulled on the ropes the mattress tightened, making the bed firmer to sleep on. Hence the phrase......... 'goodnight, sleep tight.'
It was the accepted practice in Babylon 4,000 years ago that for a month after the wedding, the bride's father would supply his son-in-law with all the mead he could drink. Mead is a honey beer and because their calendar was lunar based, this period was called the honey month, which we know today as the honeymoon.
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In English pubs, ale is ordered by pints and quarts... So in old England , when customers got unruly, the bartender would yell at them 'Mind your pints and quarts, and settle down.' It's where we get the phrase 'mind your P's and Q's'
Many years ago in England , pub frequenters had a whistle baked into the rim, or handle, of their ceramic cups. When they needed a refill, they used the whistle to get some service. 'Wet your whistle' is the phrase inspired by this practice.
At least 75% of people who read this will try to lick their elbow!
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Don't delete this just because it looks weird. Believe it or not, you can read it.

I cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid Aoccdrnig to rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it deosn't mttaer in waht oredr the ltteers in a wrod are, the olny iprmoatnt tihng is taht the frist and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it wouthit a porbelm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Amzanig huh?

A Good Laugh

I usually don't pass on things that are sent to me, but this one makes me laugh every time I listen. It's an audio recording of a man who witnessed a car accident while he was talking to his friend on the phone. He turned news commentator and comedienne as he described what he saw. You can listen here.

Then my friend, Bill, sent me a link that shows all the weird "Christian" Jesus products that can be found on today's market. You may laugh at this one or you may shake your head and pray, "God, help us!"

Catch Up

I've been down with the flu all week.  I've been able to work at my desk but not move around much.  I consider myself fortunate when I see how sick others have been with the same thing.  I cancelled all my appointments this week, and have worked at my desk on numerous projects, including my next book, The Local Church Worker's Survival Kit.  It's turning out to be a bigger project than I anticipated, because I have so much material and examples, along with so many things to say.  I've also spent a lot of time on the phone this week. 

At any rate, it's time to catch up on some good and purposeful news.

  1. The first is a link to an article sent to me by my sister-in-law, Diana.  It's about a high school in Uganda that is flourishing because it is based on Christian principles. You can read that article here.  Go Uganda!
  2. Then my friend Barbara sent me two things of interest.  I saw the one report she sent last Sunday on the news and it is the story of a young Venezuelan man (26 years old) who is now the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic.  It is a great story that points out the power of purpose.  You can watch that report here
  3. Then I have another piece, thanks to Barbara, called Creativity Explored.  It is a 15-minute documentary on YouTube about artists with disabilities at an art gallery and studio called Creativity Explored in San Francisco.  You must watch this video here.  This video goes with my latest series in The Monday Memo on creativity.  Thanks, Barbara. You may have to start your own blog!
  4. My publisher has connected me with Keith Carroll, an author coach, of extensive experience.  Keith's company offers all kinds of services to writers, including help with getting a manuscript published.  Keith also has a free email author coaching course that he will send to you upon request.  To check out his services, go to his website.
  5. Finally, I have a friend who is working on a book project and needs your help.  Pastor Paul is writing a book entitled, Building a Platform of Honor, and would like to hear from you in a two or three sentence summary of what you do to honor God in your daily life.  You can write Pastor Paul directly or post your comments to this entry.

I have some more things stored up that I want to write, but for now, I'll sign off and put them in another entry. 

Chariots of Fire

I watched the movie Chariots of Fire the other night, the 1981 Academy-award winning movie. It is the story of Eric Liddell, Scottish runner and missionary statesman, and Harold Abrahams, a British runner of Jewish ethnicity. The movie shows the preparations that both men take to run in the 1924 Olympics and also depicts Liddell's desire to run for God and Abrahams' desire to use running as a means to establish his worth in English society.

I won't go into all the movie here, except to say that if you haven't seen it, you should. I watched the movie to get the exact quotes I reference regularly from two characters in the movie.

In the movie, Abrahams approached a Scottish coach to ask him for help to be a better runner. The coach is a bit taken aback, since protocol dictated that a coach approached the student. And then he said to Abrahams, "We have an old saying in my game, son, that you don't put in what God's left out." This is a statement straight from the modern strengths movement, which says you build on strengths and ignore or minimize weaknesses. The coach was telling Abrahams, "I can't make you a great runner if God didn't put great running in you for me to coach."

The second quote is more famous and I have used it since my earliest days of purpose coaching. In another scene in the movie, Eric Liddell's sister, Jenny, is concerned that his running is taking his focus away from their missions work in China. Eric takes his sister for a walk and tells her that he is taking over the missions work in China, much to her delight. But, he adds, only after he finishes running. He said to her, "I believe God made me for a purpose, for China, Jenny, but God made me fast and when I run, I feel His pleasure. To give it up would be to hold Him in contempt. . . To win is to honor Him."

Wow! Liddell acknowledged that God made him fast and to deny that or not use it would be to insult God! What's more, Liddell felt that winning races honored God. His sister say it as a distraction; Liddell saw it as the main act.

Eric Liddell died in China in 1948 in a Chinese prison camp. He honored God in life and death. How about you? If you know Him, then you are prepared to honor Him in death. But do you honor Him in life by expressing who He made you to be? Do you use your speed, speech, humor, artistic flair, intelligence, creativity or compassion for Him? Don't try to be who you aren't -- trying to put in what God left out -- but also don't hold Him in contempt by not using all that He gave you to use. If you do, perhaps one day someone will make a movie about you and show how you used your life and work to bring glory to your God in life and in death.

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Leadership Training in Zimbabwe

A while back, I wrote a post entitled Buddy, Can You Spare $175,000? Click here to read that post again.  It contained my initial thoughts on establishing a leadership center at the University of Zimbabwe medical school.  I haven't forgotten about that dream and I wanted to pass it by you again to see if you knew of any sources of funding for such a project.  If you have any questions, feel free to write and ask.

The last time I was there, I was approached by one of the medical students who asked me for one of my books.  I gladly gave her one and then she said, "Thanks.  I don't have any books at all, so this is the first copy in my library."  I was surprised since books are so readily available in the States.  I reminded myself, however, that I wasn't in the States and determined to help equip these fine students on the front lines of the fight against AIDS and malaria with the latest in leadership and management information, so help me God.

If you can help, please write and let me know.

A Response From Kenya

Here is a response to my most recent post from a friend in Kenya. I wanted to send it along right away so you could get a firsthand look at the current situation.

Hope you are well. Thank you for your email but I want to say that your assertion that Kenya is shambles is incorrect, while I appreciate the fact that there has been many deaths and destruction Kenya is NOT in shambles. Sure we cannot at the moment quantify the effect of the violence to the destruction to the economy but we have not gone to the dogs, thank God. I live here and i know what i am talking about life is back to normal for the interim and we know we shall surely bounce back.

You say that there is nothing to attack or burn thats why things have quieted down, John with all due respect you sound like the western media who have been so quick to show the ghastly images of the violence in Kenya, they really excelled in portraying Kenya in a very negative way or any conflict in Africa for that matter. I am not saying they should not do their duty but a little balance is all we ask. I own a business here and certainly it hasn't been burnt down or my home even. The problem is everyone in the west want to comment on the Kenyan crisis but they have no clue of the real situation on the ground. Read the many blogs and articles on the internet and while some of them are well meaning they smirk of ignorance and really end up portraying Kenya as a another Somalia. This is not true and it is a misrepresentation of the facts.

Kenya is NOT in shambles and not everything has been burned down. These people write on the basis of what they see in their media. I have seen reports of tourists who came to Kenya fearing the worst but they were shocked at what they found. As they put it in their own words, they thought the country was literary burning down that there was total chaos but they found the total opposite, that it was peaceful, it was safe to travel around and that it was only a few parts that were experiencing problems.

Businesses are operating as normal, tourists have started coming back in fact this past weekend we saw over 400 tourists dock at the port of Mombassa and more are expected and generally life is continuing. Does that sound like a country in shambles? I don't think so. Sure, hundreds of people are homeless and are camping in IDP camps but we are 34 million people and the rest are continuing on with their lives. We are praying for those who have been displaced that they will be resettled quickly and the national reconciliation and healing process will begin shortly so that we will see this great nation move past this dark period in its history and move to greater heights than ever before. I believe that God will turn this nation around and we are on course for a momentous growth and prosperity never witnessed before in Africa and the World at large.

That is the real situation and with God's help we shall overcome.

Thanks for the update, Hilum. If anyone else has their own report, please feel free to post it on my site.

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Everyone Has Something They Can Do

I was watching the news tonight and they had the story of a 14-year-old boy who has invented a new sport, while confined to a wheelchair.  Aaron Fotheringham from Las Vegas does stunts, just like a skateboarder would do, from the confines of his wheelchair.  I was fascinated by what I saw and just had to share it with you.  You can read the entire story here.

It reminded me of what the Lord told Gideon when Gideon objected to God's directive that he, Gideon, would defeat the Midianites:   "The Lord turned to him and said, "Go in the strength you have and save Israel out of Midian's hand. Am I not sending you?" (Judges 6:14).

What strength do you have to do something?  Aaron has strength to perform stunts in a wheelchair, thus encouraging other children in wheelchairs.  If he can do that, what can you do -- not next year, but now?

Here is a picture of Aaron doing his thing:


Creative Process

I have been writing about creativity in my most recent Monday Memos. Diana, my writing editor, mentor, and encourager, who also happens to be my sister-in-law, wrote a great piece in her blog today about writing and creativity. Here is some of what she wrote:

If you want to write something that's going to last a long time (and who doesn't?), you have to be prepared for a lot of work. A lot more than you're thinking about right now. You will get up early. You will go to bed late. You will miss TV shows. You will hibernate from your friends and family. You will offend some of them. You will devote time to learning what you don't know.

You will think you are going crazy.

You can read the rest of her post here.

This may not seem like an encouragement, but it is. Writing (and creativity) isn't part of the heavenly Jerusalem; it doesn't just descend from on high. You have to work to make it happen, but the work is exhilarating and rewarding. What's more, you then have the opportunity to impact thousands of people, some of whom you will never meet, but who will bless you from afar.

Diana's blog also has some great material to help you with every step of the writing/creative process. I urge you to let her experience and insights help you through the sometimes hard but always energizing world of expressing your own creativity.