A Tale of Two CEOs

Published by hardlynormal, December 25th, 2008 in My Big Mouth  Comments Off on A Tale of Two CEOs  

Recently I met two very nice men. Both CEOs work in the same industry and both I asked out for coffee to share ideas on how to help people.

Both said yes.

Since then one CEO I have almost daily contact with. We have yet to share coffee because of schedule conflicts, but he is very open to new ideas. I have shared coffee with a member of his marketing team and we soon will all be breaking bread together.

The other CEO schlepped me on to someone else and they in turn schlepped me down the food chain to another person until the door was completely closed.  Not one idea was shared! It might not be the CEO himself but the people around him making these decisions. Insecurity breeds fear and fear creates walls of isolation.  Obviously they are not open to any outside thoughts.

Which CEO leads a healthy organization that genuinely wants to be more effective?

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Merry Christmas – Hardly Normal style

Published by hardlynormal, December 25th, 2008 in My Big Mouth  8 Comments  

Tonight is Christmas Eve. As I drove home from the homeless shelter I passed several churches letting people out from their Christmas Eve service. I thought about all the candlelight services and elaborate productions being held tonight to celebrate baby Jesus. It all seems like tradition and not any kind of an honor to a Jesus who ALWAYS puts others before himself!

Winter Shelter on Christmas Eve

In contrast tonight I saw 80 plus homeless people receive a good meal. They were given blankets, pillows, cots, and a safe place to sleep. When I walked into the bathroom several of the homeless men were taking showers. I had to stop for a second because I literally was overwhelmed in the moment. All of my life I was programmed to go to church on Christmas Eve and sing “Silent Night” with a candle in my hand and the lights dim. Although many of those services left me feeling warm and fuzzy, knowing that a few caring people provided homeless services tonight was far more powerful. I will never forgot the real compassion and unconditional love I felt tonight!

Too me, helping the homeless on Christmas Eve was much more of a celebration of Jesus and a far better use of money than any kind of church service – period!

Oops, did I just mess up your tradition?

Merry Christmas – please don’t hate me for being real!

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Don’t Give Me Jesus …

Published by hardlynormal, December 24th, 2008 in My Big Mouth  2 Comments  

Don’t Give Me Jesus …
… if giving me Jesus means
telling me about your beliefs,
then walking away.
Don’t give me Jesus,
if giving me Jesus means
judging me by appearance,
but never trying to see who I really am.
Don’t give me Jesus,
if giving me Jesus means
you’re right no matter what,
and I’m wrong no matter what.

Do Give Me Jesus …
… if giving me Jesus means
walking beside me just like
Jesus walked beside
lepers and losers.
Do give me Jesus,
if giving me Jesus means
listening more than talking.
Do give me Jesus,
if giving me Jesus means
laughing with me when I need to laugh,
and crying with me when I need to cry.
Do give me Jesus,
if giving me Jesus means
letting me know when
my actions are harmful or destructive.
Do give me Jesus,
if giving me Jesus means
being my friend.

If you give me Jesus
wrapped in your friendship,
I may be more ready to listen
to what you have to say.

—Anonymous

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I’m dreaming of a dry Christmas.

Published by hardlynormal, December 22nd, 2008 in My Big Mouth  2 Comments  

Look at what my brother from another utter did

I’m dreaming of a dry Christmas..

this seems to be a trend this year. people giving me the joy of giving to others. sure wish more would get the REAL spirit

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Please don’t forget this face! I know I won’t!

Published by hardlynormal, December 21st, 2008 in My Big Mouth  2 Comments  

This is Alexandria. She came into the Burbank Winter Shelter last night with her parents. They had NOTHING! Homeless and hopeless!

Here is the deal. Homelessness has a new face and that is 2 parent families with children.

In the richest country in the world families with babies as gorgeous as Alexandria are showing up at homeless shelters.

Unfortunately we are just at the beginning of this crisis. Poverty is increasing yet money to homeless services is being cut.

I was in one city meeting last week were it was flat out stated that money to support women and homeless services will be greatly reduced over the next 18 months. Some will be completely eliminated!

Alexandria you might say lucked out last night. We were able to find hotel vouchers for two nights so they didn’t have to sleep outside, nor stay in the shelter (the shelter is not able to house families), but the hotel room was disgusting and in a bad neighborhood. Besides finding the money for the hotels finding hotels with a reasonable rate that will house homeless families is another issue.

What can you do? I am so glad you asked! Scream REAL LOUD because local, state, and national government officials don’t believe there is an issue, or they don’t WANT to believe there is an issue!

Please write a letter, make some calls, YELL AS LOUD AS YOU CAN!

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Got a gig, love it, but still in crisis

Published by hardlynormal, December 21st, 2008 in My Big Mouth  Comments Off on Got a gig, love it, but still in crisis  

I accepted a temp job as Outreach Case Manager for PATH Achieve Glendale. It barley pays the rent so I’m still in serious crisis, but I’ll have housing for a few more months.

The cool part is it may be the best and worse job I have ever had

Best… because about a year ago I decided that I wanted to work in homeless services and this is a step in the RIGHT direction. Best…because I am active and outside doing all kinds of cool stuff. Best… because on a daily basis I am directly helping people – lots of people.

Worse…because every single day I am faced with so much pain and hurt I want to quit, but I keep hearing this…

“if not you, who?”

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I’m gonna try something! Micro-blogging on da main blog!

Published by hardlynormal, December 21st, 2008 in My Big Mouth  Comments Off on I’m gonna try something! Micro-blogging on da main blog!  

It’s like been forever since I’ve updated this blog yet my subscriber count has greatly increased. Please forgive me!

I’m not a writer. Never claimed to be, never will!

But twitter works for me so why not get try and blast short bursts here, too

Could be fun!

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invisiblepeople.tv – new homeless vlog – check it out!

Published by hardlynormal, November 4th, 2008 in Homeless, My Big Mouth  3 Comments  

I literally am 7 weeks from being homeless myself, but I had to do something – so I started a vlog that will hopefully keep the homeless conversation going by telling their story

http://invisiblepeople.tv/

Technically it could be better. I don’t have anything but this little laptop that is not made to cut video and a small camera. It’s a miracle that the laptop is even allowing me to compress the data. I just took action with what I have. Lots of people in my situation would either do nothing, or just think of themselves. That is not a bad thing because when one is in survival mode, worried about the basic necessities like food and shelter, it is hard to focus on anything else.

I don’t say that to hype myself, but rather to encourage you to stand up for something you believe in – no matter what! The most effective way to get past your own issues is to help someone else, and if I can put this together with limited resources, you can clean out your closet and take some clothes to a shelter, or cook a meal for someone you know that lost their job, or just simply keep the homeless conversation alive with all of your friends.

I’ve also been twittering about homeless articles/issues and that too has caught some attention

http://www.kevindhendricks.com/2008/10/29/homelessness-is-on-the-rise/

I have no idea where this all will go, but my hope and prayer is this vlog will get you all talking about the homeless issue. For the most part we see videos of all the great stuff NGOs and ministries are doing, and they are all doing a great work. The thing is when all we see is the victory, and we are left with that warm fuzzy feeling we sometimes disconnect and say “wow! that’s cool, I’m glad they are helping the homeless so I don’t have to”.

The problem of homelessness is serious. Very serious! Society wants to categorize the homeless as outcasts, or drug addicts, or mentally ill. The truth is, they are people just like you and me. Yes, people on the streets do drugs. So does your neighbor, your postman, your coworkers, and that mortgage broker who just lost her job. As far as mental illness we all have issues, but before you judge the homeless why not spend a week on the streets eating out of dumpsters and see what it does to your emotional stability.

The first time I was homeless it was the result of many years of drug abuse and bad decisions. I was still a real person and because a church, the Los Angeles Dream Center, had a heart for the hurting they gave me a helping hand to get off the streets. Today I have 15 ½ years completely clean and sober. In 2007 I grossed over $100k. Nov 16, 2007 I had major surgery and my employer let me go on my first week home on disability. At the time I could not even drive so it was not until the first of the year that I was able to look for work. I aggressively looked for work everywhere and anywhere. Both high-end and minimum wage jobs, yet the minimum wage jobs won’t hire you because they know you’ll not stick around, and executive employment can be hard to find. I lived off credit for 9 months increasing my debt to a crisis level. I sold almost everything I had at pennies on the dollar. In June I applied for food stamps because I was out of food and money. In July I accepted a job in Los Angeles and relocated. Unfortunately the move to LA was at reduced pay and a higher cost of living so I could not pay both rent and a mortgage. My house in Missouri still has not sold and is $30k below the loan. I have no choice but to let it go into foreclosure and my credit that I worked so hard to restore is now tanked. Last month my new employer had a massive layoff and I was one of the 25 let go. Last in, first out! Luckily Foursquare really takes care of their people and they gave all of us a very good severance package, but that money runs out in 7 weeks, and right now businesses and nonprofits are downsizing not hiring, and I am out of resources. Once again homelessness is a very close reality for me and my situation is not that unusual in today’s economy. CNN is reporting that 25% of employers plan to have layoffs over the next 12 months. (thanks Brad)

I didn’t say all that for sympathy because I will survive. The point I am trying to make is homelessness can happen to anyone, and by being transparent hopefully you can identify with some part of my story, and the stories of the homeless on invisiblepeople.tv

The other reason I am being so open is the more real I am, the more of God you’ll see as I overcome this challenge. We are headed into some exciting times and my hope and prayer is that more people will start giving of themselves to help others.

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Your life is being broadcast

Published by hardlynormal, October 22nd, 2008 in Character, Church, Community, Future, Internet, Life's Lessons, My Big Mouth, Technology  2 Comments  

Wow! It’s been a long time since I made a post, and a lot has happened. Actually, I have like 20 posts in me, but because in the past my being open and honest was not allowed – I was scared – so I kept silent!

I wanted to write about my new job and my new boss, yet, because I knew when I posted a link to Brad’s blog he would find this blog, I kept procrastinating, and now it’s a mute point. Interesting enough, I did not actually realize how toxic some of my last situations were until I tried to function normally in a healthy environment. I mean, who else would have the coolest workplace, and be open to blogging, and open to voicing a difference of opinion than the guy behind churchmarketingsucks.com – yet I was conditioned for the last several years to not be myself – and it showed, because I was still too scared to be open and honest even though I was in a safe place.

I also wanted to write about control. As I went into this new job I worked extra hard to allow things to evolve around me without any interference by me. We either become control freaks, or become passive, in an attempt to avoid legitimate suffering, yet it is by going through legitimate suffering head on that we grow spiritually and emotionally. It was a great experience going into an organization and not as the boss. Nothing happened “my way”, and I loved every growth-packed minute of it. I actually believe that every mega church leader should go find a small church and work for two weeks each year as a lay person, and not be allowed to influence any decision. Basically seeing life from the other side. Not being the boss for a change was one of the best things that could have happened to me, but that is not the topic of this post.

There is so much that I want to write, and I wish my written communication skills were better so I could effectively communicate all that is my heart. I do regret allowing the oppression of my past situations to continue on into my new life. It’s not their fault, it’s mine! I made the choice to keep quiet, and that was the wrong choice!

What I feel compelled to write about is a change I see as our society becomes more voyeuristic and technology becomes more mobile. Like I said in the last post, I’m sure someone has already touched this topic so I may be behind, but it is very, very important. Now, it has actually come to life for me!

A few weeks back ICFG had to lay off 25 people, and I was one of them. For the record I want to say that although there is no easy way to let people go, ICFG had to make a hard decision, and they took very good care of us. You can tell if an organization has Jesus or not just by how they treat employees that are exiting, and former employees that for whatever reason moved on. Even though my time was short with Foursquare I am extremely impressed with their compassion and forward thinking.

The interesting part to all this is “Black Tuesday”, the day the layoffs took place, was broadcast over the internet via Twitter and Facebook. Some I have selected as a favorite on my Twitter page, which you can read here . Brad was twittering as it went down, and so were a few others in the office. It was weird, yet it is the future of how things are going to be – all of our lives will be broadcast over the internet – like it or not!

I believe the idea of a “big brother” watching us started with George Orwell’s movie 1984, but it’s not the government that is the soon-to-be big participator in broadcasting EVERYTHING, it’s little sister, Aunt Ruby, Johnny down the street, and Yilmaz over in Turkey. As we become more of a mobile technology world, more of OUR world will be broadcast to the Internet – AND NOT BY CHOICE!

As with anything there is good and bad. The good is people who do not have integrity will no longer be able to hide. The new world is all about transparency and vulnerability – everything will be exposed. The bad is there is no privacy anymore – none at all!

No matter if you like this or not, as in the case of “Black Tuesday” being broadcast over the internet, I didn’t have a choice, and neither do you. This train has left the station, and if you are not being real with people, LOTS of people will find out – and sooner than a you can click on a send button!

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Tech is changing things

Published by hardlynormal, October 5th, 2008 in My Big Mouth  2 Comments  

After reading that you are probably saying, “like duh”, but yesterday I had an epiphany (or maybe a brain hemorrhoid) while shopping for speaker stands. I was at the Best Buy in West Hollywood. I like Best Buy but this one is always a mad house. As I waited for service I started to tweet about how even if I set myself on fire I would not get help. Well, it is a public place, and gas is so expensive so I didn’t try it. What I did do is continue to tweet about the bad customer service. Ok, I tried but the manager kept interrupting my typing.

Now think about that. As we move forward we are becoming a mobile technology society. There is no privacy anymore. There isn’t!

Let’s say you have 20,849 people following you on twitter like Guy Kawasaki and you receive a damaged product, or horrible customer service – you can instantly let a mass of people know about your experience. That really changes everything.

Now let’s take this one step further and bring it into the church world. The preacher is telling everyone the bad economy including gas prices is their fault because they don’t have enough faith. A person sitting in the sanctuary can easily broadcast to the world the preacher is full of crap!

From my experience many church leaders work very hard to keep all communication controlled. Heck, for many writing a post like this is still considered a rebellious spirit yet nothing could be further from the truth. Open and honest communication is healthy.  “Control or growth. Pick one.” -Rick Warren

Today I heard a preacher say that most church leaders try and control a person’s behaviors because it is easier than allowing God to change the person’s heart. WOW!

Too me I could not be more excited. Because of the advances in technology more and more people are speaking up against years of oppression, religious gimmicks, and wrong! I am sure this is scary for many leaders because their need for control is fueled by deep rooted insecurities.

The solution is to be real. Not just say you are real, but actually be authentic at all times. Leaders also must be vulnerable. I follow several Christian leaders on twitter and I just love and respect them even more when they show their real self.

Be real – always. Be honest – always. Do what is right even when others don’t and without exception! You just never know how many people are following that guy who is typing on his iPhone!

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