Click on the speaker to read my notes from their session: Bill Hybels, Len Schlesinger, Cory Booker, Brenda Salter McNeil, Seth Godin and Steven Furtick.

This is the sixth Leadership Summit I have attended in some capacity, and today was one of the better days of the Summit I have experienced. I think I’d recommend five of the six talks for people to hear.

Here are some half-baked thoughts from the first day. Once Leadership Summit is over, I’ll expand on some of the thoughts here in an additional post. A lot to process from the day.

Before the conference started, people were talking about Howard Schultz, the CEO of Starbucks, backing out of speaking. It was news to everyone. When someone first mentioned it, I wasn’t surprised. I guess I’m a bit cynical from his days as an owner of the Seattle Supersonics and the role he played in the team being moved to Oklahoma City. A large faction of sports fans in Seattle do not like him.* As an NBA fan, I’m disappointed that a great NBA city doesn’t have a team anymore, and doesn’t get to watch two of the best players, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, in the NBA on a consistent basis. While I was curious as to what he might say, I wasn’t as giddy as other people to hear him speak. So, I wasn’t too disappointed he backed out.**

*Scroll half way down this page
to read what some Sonics fans think of Howard Schultz.

**A friend of mine, who was a fan of the Sonics, tweeted me mock surprise that Schultz backed out of something at the last minute. I laughed.

I thought Bill Hybels’ response to Schultz backing out was gracious. Bill did reference Matthew 18 in hopes that Jim Mellado and he could talk with the individuals behind the online petition that spurred Howard Schultz to back out. I applaud their efforts to initiate a conversation with the individuals, but I’m not sure Matthew 18 applies. I do know Bill is motivated by love with this.
Bill encouraged everyone in attendance to go buy some Starbucks. I thought, “I’ll do what I can to avoid Starbucks for awhile.” Of course, I then remembered that after the conference ended for the day I had planned to meet a potential Online Campus volunteer at a Starbucks they frequent.
For a lead pastor of a church (Willow Creek) with 24,000 people attending on the weekends, I continue to think Bill Hybels is under appreciated. Flavor of the month pastors come and go, but Bill is still going strong. His talk was insightful yet again. There are a lot of speakers that are good cheerleaders, or employ smoke and mirrors with their message. Yet, there isn’t much takeaway from their talks. Not Bill. His talk is full of content that is practical for aspiring and current leaders. No one else came close to providing the amount of practical content.
Bill walks the talk with his presentation. When he goes into detail about a difficult topic, he speaks from experience. How he handles individuals that spread decisiveness at church, or the faithful staff person who no longer has capacity to do the job that is required of them, is textbook. Most churches usually just roll over for either of those individuals. Bill, and his team, address it and deal with it. Knowing what Willow Creek does gives insight into why it not only has the numbers it does, but also why it continues to have the influence it does.
Over lunch, a number of us CCC staff talked about needing to clamp down on gossip and divisiveness when it crops up amongst attendees or volunteers. We sometimes can allow volunteers to think they can say anything, without repercussions, because they provide a great service to the church. That may be true, but that should not give them carte blanche to gossip and poison the body of the church. As leaders, we need to address it when it comes up, or else it’ll lead to a slow death for the church.
Bill asked, and answered, five questions during his talk. I think he could’ve spent an hour on each one of the questions.
Len Schlesinger’s talk reminded me a some of Jason Fried’s talks at Big Omaha. He spent a lot of time shattering the myth of the entrepreneurial stereotype.
Len talked about how businesses need to reinvent themselves or else they’ll fall off. Two things came to mind with this. I thought of how CCC has reinvented themselves a bit, with Lead Pastor Mark’s arrival and with the Double Your Impact campaign. Now, CCC is better positioned for the next generation. And, I also thought of U2’s album Achtung Baby. U2 easily could have coasted off The Joshua Tree for awhile, but they did away with convention and made an album that transformed them into one of the all-time rock bands.
Yes, I thought of Achtung Baby. The album was released twenty years ago this fall.
I’m amused when I hear Republican Christians say Democrats can’t truly be Christian. I wonder what they’d think after hearing Mayor Cory Booker’s talk. I’m sure some would find something wrong with it, but I think he’d get a number of them to change their opinions.
Listening to Cory Booker provides some hope in government and politics. I wish there were more politicians like him.
The back-to-back of Len and Cory was a double dose of “do something”, of being the change you want. It was a great session.
Brenda Salter McNeil is quite the orator.
The Jerusalem >> Judea >> Samaria concept Brenda talked about is something I’ve heard a lot from Lead Pastor Mark throughout the Double Your Impact campaign. It can be simplified as going into your city, then nation, then the world with the gospel. During her talk, I thought of it a bit differently. For CCC, Jerusalem is West Omaha, Judea is Midtown and Samaria is North/South Omaha. CCC needs to infiltrate the city with the gospel, and not just stay in West Omaha.
People wondered how anyone could follow Brenda, but I knew if anyone could it would be Seth Godin. He just went up on stage and did his thing. I wish he had more time to talk. His presentation was solid. Not just in his content, but his delivery, his style, his slides. The whole product was good.
I liked how Seth used the word “art” throughout his talk.
One of my favorite quotes of the day, courtesy of Seth Godin, “Too many people are walking around holding on to something while it rots.”
I continue to grow in respect for Steven Furtick. I appreciated how he spoke to the conference mentality of being pumped up to do something, but then not doing it once you leave.
You know, I’m going to write a separate post about Steven in the next few days.

More to come after I sort through and process the content, themes and thoughts from the conference.

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