Thursday, June 26, 2014

10 Reasons to Take Yourself to the Summit


1. We need to be inspired

None of us are overflowing with events or situations that are inspiring us--inspiring us that God can do great things, in and around our lives. The Summit is an inspiration injection.

2. It's in Kokomo

Something amazing and life-altering is happening in our back yard. Take advantage of something God has brought so conveniently close.

3. You haven't been to camp since you were a kid

Every summer we send our kids to camps to get better: science, sports, cheer, church camps etc. It's time we invested in us getting better. These 2 days will help us be better with the other 363. I learned about "early and late adopters" that I wrote about in this post at the Summit.

4. God shows up

He just does. He uses this environment in a unique and faithful way. How many environments can we walk into, knowing that the Spirit will be palpable at some point? This is one of them. And if you're not into God, but into leadership, the God stuff won't be freaky, I promise.

5. It's World Class

In a world where we over-sell everything, the people and content here are truly some of the world's best. Every year the faculty is a best of list from diverse fields around the globe. Check out this year's faculty.

6. People are depending on you

Whether we're a housewife to a leader of a large company, people are depending on us: family, co-workers, neighbors, congregants, fellow citizens. We are all tied together and when you and I attend the Summit, we get a little bit better and that positively impacts the people around us.

7. Life takes it out of us

Every day is challenging. Often we're grinding it out. We're so busy cutting down trees we never stop to sharpen the saw (S. Covey). The Summit puts something special into us. As challenging as life is, we need opportunities like the Summit to re-sharpen us for a world that can dull us down.

8. One thing will change your life

We never know what or how, but without fail, there's always one profound thing that marks us when we take in the Summit. Something happens that instills a profound change, either in paradigm or actual transformation.

9. It's a ridiculous bargain

For the people of Oakbrook to pay this small fee in return for this huge faculty and world class event is, well, ridiculous. Instead of buying dinner at a decent restaurant for the family, register for the Summit. How much money do you spend in a year to make yourself better? Spend a little, reap a lot. It's normally $249, but for Oakbrook and our Partner Churches, it's a phenomenal bargain. If you attend these churches, click on the appropriate link:


10. Pat Lencioni

No one dispenses exceptional content with unique humor and delivery like Pat Lencioni (Len-CHO-knee). You will love him.

August 14-15, Thurs-Fri 9:30-5:30
(Special pricing for Oakbrook attenders ends midnight July 15)

Why do Oakbrook attenders get special pricing?
Good question. It's because hosting this event costs the host financially and in lots of volunteer and staff man hours. It takes a lot to pull off an event of this caliber so the Willowcreek Association compensates the host church in appreciation of all that goes into hosting.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Worst Thing You Can Say...

When I'm at a business and I'm greeted by an employee and I ask, "How are you?" The worst thing I hear back is:

"I'll be doing great when I'm off in about 20 minutes."

This feels almost as ubiquitous as the checkout question, "Did you find everything ok?" (Sorry, blog within a blog here.) I made it to the checkout with the item; is this the best question you have?

Sorry, back to the topic ;-) "I'll be doing great when I'm off in about _____ minutes" communicates so much in that tiny sentence. It says:

  • I've forgotten you're a customer by the way I'm treating you like a fellow employee.
  • Whatever I'm doing here is far from what I like to do.
  • I don't really respect what I do for a living even though I chose this job.
  • I'm foolishly brazen. I didn't even look over my shoulder before I said it.
  • I'm apparently not good at talking with customers.
  • I'm putting up with whatever you might ask of me until I get to do something interesting.

So here's the tension: I write this and get it off my chest. You read it and nod along, "Morgan, you're so right!"

But now, I have to do something the next time this happens. Why? If I don't, I'm just a crabby old guy with a blog. Seriously, the easiest thing to do is make commentary on life; take pot shots.

So now I have to find a way to turn the tide, because most of the people I'm talking about don't read my blog. And I'll have to be nice when I say something. I never got rebuked by an old dude with an air of superiority and thought, "That was cool."

Here's my game plan: (E. = employee. MY = me)

E: "I'll be doing fine when I get off in 10 minutes."

MY: "Do you mind if I share something with you?"

(Start by asking permission. When offering something that might be hard to hear, I always ask permission. And before I ask, I check my motivation: am I trying to make a point or trying to help? Unless I'm honestly trying to help, I should shut up. Making a point is selfish; trying to help is humility.)

E: (cautiously) "Uh, sure."

MY: (Sincerely) "When you said that just now, about doing better when you get off--you probably never thought how that sounds on this side of it, but it sounds like you don't want to be here and then don't really want to wait on me."

E: "Oh hey, sir, I didn't mean to..."

MY: "Hey it's ok--I know a lot of people say that. I said something because I'm just a guy trying to help. (smiling) Now where are the routers?"

During and after that exchange, if I'm not seriously nice to the employee I've totally screwed this up. If I come off in my actions, like I really care, then maybe my words have a chance.

I'm guessing when this happens he or she will tell all the people on the shift and maybe people on the other shifts the rest of the week. The story might get told like I was a douche; that's ok. The story will get told and maybe some amount of positive change will come about.

All I know is it takes all of us to get better. If all I do is make observations that never turn into helpful interactions, then what good am I really?

Who knows, you may even take a stab at this the next time some well-meaning employee let's you know they'll be going great in a few more minutes ;-)


Thursday, June 19, 2014

There is One Thing I Dislike about Downtown

So after 20 months into owning and operating the Main Street Cafe, there is one thing I don't like about downtown Kokomo: the factions.

"This group doesn't like that group." 
"This guy doesn't like that guy." 
"She was mean to me so I don't like her."

Right now some of you are saying to yourself, "Dear, dear Morgan. You are so naive. This is how communities are. This is how life is."

If you believe that, you're part of the problem.

If you've resigned yourself to that reality, you're contributing to that paradigm. I'm not writing this with the direct intent of cheesing people off; I'm writing this because I want our city to live up to it's potential. And part of living up to a potential involves putting down childish or immature ways.

Sandra and I are friends of people like Scott Pitcher, Greg Goodnight, and Paul Wyman. (Slow down: this isn't a piece defending or elevating these men--stay with me. I hate articles that are so vague you really can't follow along. So I use these guys here because they have thick skin and you'll better be able to follow along. And just because I mentioned those men, please don't think that this is about them. This is about a broader issue involving more people than I even know.)

And just to be clear, we are good friends with people who do not like these guys. As Sandra says of herself, "I'm Switzerland." ;-) These guys are local lightning rods: people tend to love 'em or hate 'em. And again, people love or hate way more people in our downtown community than just these guys.

When I hear the banter of, "He doesn't like me," or, "She treated me poorly." I go right back to an elementary school playground. Why? Because that's the level of this kind of behavior.

"Sally doesn't like me so I'm NOT talking to her and her friends; I'm just talking to my friends. (Crossed arms into pout.)"

We think because we're grownups and wear suits and business dresses that these conversations with our side about so-n-so in the ______ department is mature and normal. It's not. It's the kind of behavior we scold our children for if we observe it in them. We coach our kids:

"Billy, seek first to understand."
"Don't be as bad as the other guy."
"Take the high road."
"Why don't you talk to him about it."

Here's the thing: I'm not writing this because we have a little discord, a little difference of opinion between (for example) city and county, republicans and democrats. We've wrongly taken the lead of national figures who openly do not like other national figures. And where it used to be that we didn't like their policy or agenda, now we don't like them. And that's wrong.

And why does this matter? It matters because the fabric of a community is not policy. The fabric of a community isn't the side that gets its way the most. The fabric of a community isn't new buildings. The fabric of a community is relationship.

So I write this because when I see us unknowingly tear at the fabric of our community via the kinds of conversations we'd chastise our children for, I want to call us to something higher, something better, something more emblematic of our potential as a community.

What we don't realize is this petty personal factionalism that we've created, becomes readily apparent to people who are new to our community; they quickly sniff it out. And it's not attractive.

And the truth is, how we choose to get along today will be part of our legacy to young people who will someday be Kokomo's most influential people. They will do as we do.

This can change easily--one interaction at a time:

  • Stop talking negatively about specific people behind their backs. You are a person of influence. People follow your lead. Lead well in how you talk about others.

  • Walk away when other people start talking negatively about someone. Or if you're bold enough, ask them to stop in a polite humble way.

  • If you know you're on the outs with someone (regardless of how or why) ask for a meeting. It can start this simply, "I don't want it to be the way it's been..." Or, "I'm sorry." Or, "I don't understand why...can you help me understand?" Don't be concerned if they'll reciprocate; you do the right thing and see what happens.

  • If you're a person of faith try this: pray for the person you don't like. It's really hard to pray for someone and hate them. Trust me, I know. Been there, prayed that ;-)

  • Find something to appreciate in someone you don't like. I've yet to meet a person who has no redeeming qualities--the question is, are we willing to look for them.

Here's another nugget to chew on. Let's say you have a deep dislike for someone in our community. The truth is it just rusts your soul and furrows your brow. The recipient of your dislike sleeps fine.

We don't have to be everyone's best friend. But the fabric of our community is stitched together through relationships. And the holes in the fabric of our community are ripped by discord, animosity, and misunderstanding.

As I land this post, know that I've written it for you. Not for them. You cannot control them. You can only control you. Don't share this with "someone who really needs to read this" until you first do a reflective self-exam.

A community reaches its potential when you and I do everything we can to bring our best to each and every relational interaction. You and I are the fabric of this community. Change isn't a thing; it's a person. It's you and me, everyday.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

What if Kokomo Intentionally Raised Up Young Entrepreneurs?
What if instead of teaching a class about business, we immersed students in a business culture? What if that "class" never even met in a school, but always met in local businesses? What if the teacher didn't lecture about business principles but instead, facilitated an on-going relationship between the students and local business people?

What if the class had a weekly diet of business people coming to talk to the class? What if the class weekly toured local businesses led by the men and women who ran them? What if each student had their own personal mentor from the local business community? And what if each student had to start his/her own business?

What if this is actually coming to Kokomo for the 2014-15 school year?

It is. Kokomo CEO is for juniors and seniors of the nine area high schools.  It will meet the first two periods of each school day. It operates under the Kokomo Area Career Center, but doesn't meet there; CEO meets in businesses.

In recent months I've seen students in other states that have been through this class. They rave about it. They site it as integral to their growth, maturation and outlook on life. And they admit that they are different for having gone through the CEO experience. 

I've been chosen as the facilitator (teacher) and I am excited, honored, humbled and appropriately nervous. When I was 15 I started on my first entrepreneurial adventure: I convinced Gerald Moser that I was responsible enough and talented enough to run my own drum studio in his downtown building. I've been working in Kokomo ever since and in 2012 Sandra and I started the award-winning Main Street Cafe.

As part of the business community I have high aspirations for Kokomo and for young people. I love what our city is becoming and I love the potential inside this next generation. Connecting these potential packed students with great local business people should prove to be quite a ride!

My 16 years as a pastor at Oakbrook Church is not to be cast aside or marginalized. My position with Kokomo CEO is a part time contract, so I plan to continue to be integral at Oakbrook, just with fewer hours per week.

(The 2014-15 Kokomo CEO class is now full. For juniors and seniors in the 1015-16 school year, look for opportunities to apply this upcoming school year.)

Ways business people can be involved:

1. Guide a tour. Invite us in to tour your facility and we can see what it's like to take risks, manage opportunities and learn from outcomes.

2. Speak to our class. Share your story, successes, failures, learnings, best practices etc.

3. Mentor a student. Offer to make time available to one student as he/she may need throughout the school year.

4. Support Kokomo CEO financially. Kokomo CEO is funded by local businesses.

Email me if you're interested in partnering with us or have questions:



1. I don't have any hand in which students get into CEO. It's a blind process conducted by our board.

2. I won't hit you up for money. I'm the facilitator: I'll share with you, cast vision, update you on CEO activities and needs. But the board handles the fund raising.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

The Real Reason Everyone Doesn't Immediately Like the New Stadium or KipCor

In recent months a lot of changes have hit the scene in downtown Kokomo. Being that Sandra and I are owners of downtown's Main Street Cafe, I am more in-tune to the local chatter than ever before. 

We noticed (wasn't actually hard to notice) that there were vocal detractors to KipCor's buying of local properties and just recently, the newly proposed baseball stadium

Jeff Broughton is KipCor's president and CEO. They started work here during the tail end of 2013. In my observation, he's not just a man flying in, talking to renovation crews and flying out. He's clearly making work of getting to know people and getting to know Kokomo. 

As Sandra and I have talked with Jeff these past few months, he doesn't come across as an outsider; he interacts more like a neighbor than a developer. He comes across like someone who's looking to find a home.

A question I've been asked many times, "Is this Broughton guy for real?" I reply, "You can't fake drywall." 

His crews are doing real renovations to great old buildings that have been idly sitting and going to waste. I don't know his past any more than I know most other local business people's past. I know what I see evidenced in his work and his relational interactions. And what I see appears to be real, as real as any other born and bread Kokomoan business person I know.

As to the new sports facility, I've heard the squawks, "Do we really need to build a 9 million dollar baseball stadium?" The quick answer is no. We don't need that. Likewise we don't need murals in our community, flowers along our streets, or smooth roads.  

I think the thing that every city needs to do is much the same thing each individual longs to do: reach its potential. Therefore investing money in hopes of contributing to the greater good of our city is indeed a need.

The thing I love about leaders and entrepreneurs is that they see the need or usefulness before everyone else does. Most of us wouldn't have voted to do all the bump-outs, new stop signs etc downtown. But almost all of us love and take pride in our downtown that looks better than it has in decades--maybe ever.

All of us drove past the Firestone Building and the train station section of Buckeye and never thought of doing anything to improve those areas. Almost all of us are now enjoying seeing these old beauties coming back to life.

There is this theory called the Diffusion of Innovations.

 On the graph, 2.5% of us are innovators (leaders, entrepreneurs, developers etc). 13.5% of us are early adopters. That means that only 13.5% of us can get on board with a vision based just on a plan or talking about it.

In my humble opinion, this is why a lot of people in Kokomo roll their eyes about renovating old buildings downtown or building a new stadium. Also factor in that Kokomoans are more on the conservative side; most of us are not exactly known as risk takers ;-)

As you look at the graph, think of the rising curve representing actual construction of a stadium or actual renovation of a building that's been dilapidated your whole life. The more the project comes together and takes actual shape, the more people will start to see and believe in the vision.

I've seen this with Jeff Broughton and KipCor. In the winter, when it was mostly talk about the vision, I heard a lot of skeptical chatter. Now, after months of renovations, people are driving by the Firestone Building and Buckeye street. They're seeing the vision and now the chatter is rapidly trending positively.

Why? Because we're now into the early majority phase (see chart) which represents 34% of us (add to that the 15% who were already in).

The late majority (34%) will wait to see if businesses actually inhabit these renovated spaces. Laggards (16%) will wait to see if the businesses that come in, will survive.

So although there are always a couple people that try to make things hard for a KipCor or a new stadium, the truth is most of us simply can't see the vision until it starts taking shape.

So what does all this mean?

1. If you're an early adopter be patient with everyone else. Try to help them see it, but don't get irritated if they can't. And the fact that you can see it, perhaps indicates that you're a leader or entrepreneur and the reason you are, is because everyone else isn't. I say often to colleagues, "That's why we're leaders."

2. If you're not an early adopter, be patient. Don't judge a vision by its cover. A lot of great inventions sounded insane. "Really, in the 1960s we're going to the moon? I can give you 100 things we need to do first that are better uses of our time and money."

3. Even though Kokomo has its share of mid to late adopters, we are a very loyal people. We get behind things and people we believe in even if we weren't the first on board with the plan.

One last thought: Everything that KipCor will try won't work. There's a chance the stadium won't get done or done on time. But as Americans, don't we celebrate people who take a run at things? We certainly don't revere people who thought of all the practical reasons not to take a risk. There are no pictures, statues or records of people who played it safe.

Greatness as a country and for us as individuals rides on a little risk. I personally appreciate local people who are crazy enough to say, "What if?" Aren't you?

-Morgan Young
Associate Pastor at Oakbrook Church
Facilitator of Kokomo Area Career Center's new CEO Entrepreneurship program