Here’s a slide deck to help introduce people to the theology of productivity that I give in What’s Best Next the book.
It can serve as a good refresher for those who have read the book, and also something that you can easily share with those who haven’t read the book.
(Note: I love slideshare! It makes it super easy to share and spread presentations.)
I’ve collected together into a single page on my blog all the reviews for What’s Best Next that I know of. (If I missed anything, let me know!)
Also on the page are links to interviews I’ve done on the book (written, audio, and video) and links to some excerpts from the book that have been posted.
Warren Bennis, one of the fathers of modern leadership thinking, died a few weeks ago. The NY Times gives a great summary of his thinking and impact. Here’s the start:
Warren G. Bennis, an eminent scholar and author who advised presidents and business executives on his academic specialty, the essence of successful leadership — a commodity he found in short supply in recent decades — died on Thursday in Los Angeles. He was 89.
The University of Southern California, where he had been a distinguished professor of business administration for more than 30 years, announced his death on Friday. He lived in Santa Monica, Calif.
Professor Bennis wrote more than 30 books on leadership, a subject that grabbed his attention early in life, when he led a platoon during World War II at the age of 19.
“I look at Peter Drucker as the father of management and Warren Bennis as the father of leadership,” William W. George, a professor at the Harvard Business School and a former chief executive of the medical device company Medtronic, said in an interview in 2009.
As a consultant, Professor Bennis was sought out by generations of business leaders, among them Howard D. Schultz, the chief executive of Starbucks, who regarded him as a mentor. Presidents John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson, Gerald R. Ford and Ronald Reagan all conferred with him.
As an educator, he taught organizational studies at Harvard, Boston University and the M.I.T. Sloan School of Management.
Professor Bennis believed in the adage that great leaders are not born but made, insisting that “the process of becoming a leader is similar, if not identical, to becoming a fully integrated human being,” he said in an interview in 2009. Both, he said, were grounded in self-discovery.
In his influential book “On Becoming a Leader,” published in 1989, Professor Bennis wrote that a successful leader must first have a guiding vision of the task or mission to be accomplished and the strength to persist in the face of setbacks, even failure. Another requirement, he said, is “a very particular passion for a vocation, a profession, a course of action.”
“The leader who communicates passion gives hope and inspiration to other people,” he wrote.
Integrity, he said, is imperative: “The leader never lies to himself, especially about himself, knows his flaws as well as his assets, and deals with them directly.”
So, too, are curiosity and daring: “The leader wonders about everything, wants to learn as much as he can, is willing to take risks, experiment, try new things. He does not worry about failure but embraces errors, knowing he will learn from them.”
But Professor Bennis said he found such leadership largely missing in the late 20th century in all quarters of society — in business, politics, academia and the military. In “On Becoming a Leader,” he took aim at corporate leadership, finding it particularly ineffectual and tracing its failings in part to corporate corruption, extravagant executive compensation and an undue emphasis on quarterly earnings over long-term benefits, both for the business itself and society at large.
He worried until recently about what he called a “leadership vacuum” in America, a problem he said was caused to a great extent by a lack of high-quality leadership training at the nation’s business schools.
And perhaps one of his most important points:
A dearth of visionary business leaders, he said, meant that companies were being led more by managers of the bottom line than by passionate, independent thinkers who could steer an organization effectively.
“We are at least halfway through the looking glass, on our way to utter chaos,” he wrote in “On Becoming a Leader.” “When the very model of a modern manager becomes C.E.O., he does not become a leader, he becomes a boss, and it is the bosses who have gotten America into its current fix.”
David Murray has some great tips for new students going on over at his blog.
Here is the last session of the What’s Best Next workshop from last April. In this session I outline the process for managing workflow and getting your email inbox to zero every day.
Here is session 2 from the What’s Best Next workshop I did in April. In session one we looked at the goal of gospel-driven productivity. In this session we look at the guiding principles for accomplishing this goal. And then many more things.
(You can also watch this directly on Vimeo.)
(And, of course, here’s the book at Amazon if you don’t have it already.)
Back in April I did a Saturday morning workshop on What’s Best Next, hosted by Stonebrook Church in Ames, Iowa. Here is session one, where I talk about getting the foundations right for productivity. That means, above all, understanding the purpose of our productivity, which is to do good for others to the glory of God.
(You can also watch it right on Vimeo.)
This is an absolutely incredible deal. WTSBooks is running a sale on 100 of P&R’s ebooks — they are only $1.99 each for the next 72 hours. (And you are able to easily get them into your Kindle.)
Here are the top three I would recommend:
- John Frame’s excellent Systematic Theology.
- Tim Keller’s Ministries of Mercy. This is perhaps Keller’s least known book — but, in my view, it is the most important one. What Keller lays out in this book is often overlooked but absolutely foundational to the entire Christian life. Do not neglect getting this book!
- Mark Jones’ Antinomianism. This is a helpful treatment of the place and necessity of obedience in the Christian life that helps correct several unfortunate errors.
Francis and Lisa Chan have a new book out, called You and Me Forever: Marriage in Light of Eternity.
Francis has summarized the main point well like this: “It’s easy for couples to get so wrapped up on things here, where they are not focused on the kingdom.” Lisa adds: “We need to remember that we are on a mission.” Marriage needs to be considered in light of eternity, and this means realizing that marriage is also about mission for the kingdom. This, in turn, also leads to the most fulfilling marriage.
You can learn more about the book at its website (which includes a very helpful short summary of the books vision by Francis and Lisa) and also see their humorous rap video for the book here:
This is a great article in the latest issue of Christianity Today on a new approach to helping lift Africa out of poverty through commerce.
My friend Paul Larsen, who is doing great work in this arena, is quoted several times in the article. (You can also check out the in-process website for the organization he is starting, called the 128 Foundation. Its mission is to drive social, economic, and spiritual progress in the developing world.)
Here’s the start of the article:
Three years from now, the largest port in all Africa is set to open its docks in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. But the hands that are building the $10 billion port are not Tanzanian; they are Chinese.
China has emerged as a powerhouse in the global market, and many expect it to surpass the United States as the world’s economic superpower in years to come. But the same growth that has improved the quality of life for millions of Chinese is arguably hampering it in Tanzania, Nigeria, Mozambique, and other African countries where China is buying land at astonishing rates. For example, in just two years (2011 to 2013), China’s investments in Tanzania grew from $700 million to $2.1 billion. “China is very keen on establishing brand-name equity or recognition among African consumers, because the African population is going to double by the middle of the century,” Howard French, author of China’s Second Continent, recently told NPR.
Critics of “land grabbing” say the widespread practice displaces local workers, provides fewer jobs, and extracts natural resources (oil, coal, gold) that skip local communities and go straight to international corporations. “Poor farmers and cattle herders across the world are being thrown off their land,” says investigative journalist Fred Pearce. “Land grabbing is having more of an impact on the lives of poor people than climate change.”
One for-profit corporation founded by Christians, however, sees growth potential in poor people themselves. Part of a relatively new investment category called “impact investing,” the company is tilling fertile ground in Tanzania, Mozambique, and Ukraine not only for economic growth but also for spiritual revival.