More Than Words :: Interview with Mindi Jo Furby

Note from Mike: I’m honored to post this interview with author Mindi Jo Furby, author of More Than Words, Toz Knows, and More than Words for Kids. We had the opportunity to work together last year on some branding and book development projects and I’m so impressed with her initiative, and success!  http://www.mindijofurby.com/

More than Words for Kids is a children’s book that releases TODAY!

What was different about writing a children’s book, as opposed to a book for grown-ups? (More than Words)

Um…everything! I’ve never worked harder on anything in my life. I tapped into the minds of several child development experts, children’s ministry directors, parents, teachers, etc. and still felt profoundly clueless with this genre. The major difference between writing for grown-ups and writing for children is the method of communication. With adults, we can reasonably assume that they grasp abstract concepts like time. Not so with children.

Since their minds have yet to fully develop, I had to use word pictures and stories to illustrate the truths I was trying to communicate. When you’re dealing with concepts like infallibility and inerrancy, this proved quite challenging! But once the writing was complete, my illustrator and I had a grand time putting pictures with each story.

What’s the big goal of the book?

The big goal of this book is to help kids learn, love, and live by the Bible. We do this by teaching them what the Bible is, how it was put together, and how to read, interpret, and apply it in ways they understand and can emulate.

Tell us a little about the book…

This book is so much fun! Short and to the point, children are invited along on a journey into the Bible that they’ve never experienced before. Each chapter begins with a story that illustrates the main concept. This allows children to grasp abstract concepts—bringing them down to a level they can understand and relate with.

It is not a dry, boring text book! Rather, it’s written in a conversational tone with an abundance of illustrations and textual variations that engage children and keep them entertained while they read. In short, this is a fun, exciting way for children to learn about the Bible and how they can use to launch their faith in Jesus.

What did you learn about self publishing with your first book that helped you with this book?

Patience. If there’s one aspect of publishing that’s crucial, it’s taking your time and maintaining a standard of excellence. Nothing should compromise the quality of the work being published. Thankfully, I learned the process of publishing – writing, editing, illustrating, formatting, and printing – with my first book and was able to apply it with relative ease with this book.

Having a timeline and communicating with your team is extraordinarily helpful too. I laid out a timeline for the entire production of this book, communicating with my team members every step of the way. The result was a steady rhythm of work that turned into a wonderful project (without undue stress!).

What are you hoping this book will accomplish?

My prayer is that this book will serve as a catalyst in the fight against biblical illiteracy among the children in our nation and world.

We live in a biblically illiterate culture, and it’s crippling the faith of our kids. With this book I’m hoping to ignite a movement in the hearts of the next generation (perhaps awakening some hearts in their parents’ generation) to move toward God and secure a strong foundation of faith based on His Word.

Where can we find out more information on this and other books?

On our website! www.mjfpublishing.com

 

Why LinkedIn for Ministry Leaders?

Why would I ever care about LinkedIn?

I hear this a lot. Here’s my basic response to skeptics or newbies:

Think of LinkedIn as Facebook without a sense of humor…

LINK: I use it to connect (and get on the radar) with potential clients and creative peers. I’ve made some great business connections this way.

POSITION: For example, making sure people KNOW you are a writer, speaker, or thought leader on _______. It’s SO important to position yourself CONFIDENTLY, CREDIBLY, and CLEARLY.

Your personal brand must be represented in the PHOTO you choose, and articulated clearly in your HEADLINE. After your brand photo and headline are established, it’s time to start connecting with others.

BE A PRO: Watch for the occasional emails from LinkedIn offering a 30 day free Premium membership, and use this offer to its fullest potential (cancel at day 29 if you’d like, but the features might be worthwhile for you). You’ll be able to find, message, and connect with VIP’s in your arena with this expanded access.

SEARCH: LinkedIn has a great “advanced search” function that really helps target best connections (by city, company, expertise, etc.) and the Premium account give you access to more features like “InMail” which allow you to message people, and include your web site in the message.

(Another question I often get is, “Why do you so many ALL CAPS?” …)

You only get one chance at a first impression, so make sure your BRAND and VALUE PROPOSITION are clear (what you offer and why you’re awesome), then you can confidently connect with new prospects.

NO SOLICITING: “Selling” is frowned upon in LinkedIn-ville. This is about building win-win business relationships. Your connection requests should have more than just the default text (“I’d like to add you…”) and NOT feel like a sales pitch.

Take time to learn about the person you’d like to connect with. Be creative, thoughtful, and generous in your connection requests.

GROUPS: This may be the best part of LinkedIn! Much like Facebook groups, they let you connect on a more conversational level.

WEB: Don’t forget to add the LinkedIn icon/link to your web site. Some people actually prefer connecting this way.

LinkedIn is a way to “Position” yourself in a way that’s attractive to peers and potential clients.

Take some time to look around, get your profile polished, and dive in.

(Or contact me for help in developing your brand on all social outlets!)

 

Photo courtesy of LinkedIn

New Domain Extensions to Watch

Categories:Street Stories Blog

There are many new domain extensions being released this year.

Some of these alternatives to “.com” and “.org” might be great for you and your organization…

.author

.bible

.blog

.book

.church

.faith

.giving

.today

Go to your preferred domain provider to find out about release dates, and the opportunity to RESERVE a domain with a new extensions

Let us know how you’re using these!

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2 Communication Keys that Doubled a Church

Years ago, after selling a small business, I took some time off, painted our house, and volunteered time at our church.

In three months, by the surprising grace of God, I was the executive pastor, serving 350 people and about 75 volunteers!

Two years later, the church attendance doubled to 700. Volunteer involvement doubled as well, despite being a “mobile” church (with three different venues in those two years) in a city with lots of churches. There were plenty of other challenges as well.

For the purposes of this blog, we’ll focus on the two keys to this growth (and not talk about all the mistakes I made!)

By the way, these apply to business, social media, and ministry!

#1: Tell people WHY the church exists

It might sound elementary, but I challenge you to really examine this point for yourself.

Assuming you’re not the only church in a fifty mile radius, why should people commit to your church? What does the leadership believe is most important for this community? Communicate this—clearly and often.

One way of looking at this is to be clear on what your church is NOT about.

In other words, have the courage to be lovingly unapologetic…

“We hope you love our church, but here’s what we’re focusing on, and here’s what we’re OK with not being so great at.”

Once you start trying to please everyone, you’ll please no one. As an added bonus, your joy will decrease, and your stress will increase!

Intentional branding and positioning is important here, and we can help! (because outside perspective is so crucial!)

For example, if you don’t think small groups are super-cool, don’t have them. If a big music team isn’t on your dream list, keep it simple. Help people understand where you ARE laser-focused.

Just make sure you communicate the “why”!   (over and over and over)

#2: Make daily difficult choices based on your “why”

Lack of follow-through is why many savvy churchgoers roll their eyes at “Vision Sundays” and “Mission Statements.” Face it, these globs of words get stale on a forgotten web page, or new-members PDF, and rarely are used in daily meetings.

Every week you’ll be asked about some new ministry idea “the church should do.” Most of these suggestions will be terrific –  BUT that’s also why most churches cave in and try to be all things to all people.

People can sense when a church is rudderless. How? They look at actions.

People respect a church that is clear about their purpose, and sticks to their focus. Communities are hungry for dependability and stability.

The best communications are not words, anyway – the best communication is action.

We were almost derailed by a well-intentioned foray into… small groups. Every other church on the planet was doing house groups, and that’s why we started them—or tried to.  The amount of effort we put into it and the amount of pressure we exerted on people was huge.

And you know what? Nobody really wanted them in the first place, least of all the senior pastor. The (predictable) result was a few frustrated small group leaders, treading water and hoping for more church support.

Say no thanks.

People respect a church that is clear about their purpose and sticks to their focus. Communities are hungry for dependability and stability. You can’t have that when you’re chasing lots of good ideas at the expense of your great idea.

The best communication isn’t words anyway, the best communication is action. Tell and show – and show and tell.

People in your city will appreciate a focused church, where words and actions paint a clear picture, even if they choose not to attend!

Are you OK with that?

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Photo Via Creative Commons:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisgold/6416201641/

Giving Thanks… To People!

Categories:Street Stories Blog

Recently, I’ve been reflecting on some goodness in my life. (Yeah, “reflect.” Sounds deeper than “think.”)

I started tracing back how this goodness came about—the prized introductions, the unique opportunities, the genuine kindness shown, and the abundance of slack I’ve been granted…all by people around me.

People who had a choice!

I get to write books, blogs, business plans, and branding strategies because someone gave me an (undeserved) opportunity to try. I work with amazing people, because some other amazing people introduced me. They didn’t have to.

Trace back any slice of goodness in your life…

  • Enjoy your job? Who took a risk to refer you?
  • Have a skill? Who gave you a chance to develop it?
  • Enjoy laughing with your good friend? Who introduced you?

Yep – Every good thing in our lives comes from God. And very often, this goodness is flowing through other people.

Sometimes it’s easier for me to say “thank you” to God than take time to thank the person who made an impact on my life.

Recently, when I’m celebrating a success, or a rescue from a blunder, I’ve been trying to trace the trail of goodness back to a person’s generosity, or forgiveness.

And let’s face it, I’d rather call a friend to share a success, than humble myself and call the person who, years ago, made the success possible. (Yes, Mike, you’re super-brilliant…but if Jim-Bob hadn’t invited you to that meeting, where would you be?)

Pick one area in your life you’re thankful for. Trace back through the dark forest of your own awesomeness, follow the crumbs you were given, and you’ll rediscover the many people who played a role in your journey.

Since we don’t have God’s mailing address, write a note to those people. Since the Almighty doesn’t drink coffee (hard to imagine, I know), buy someone a cup. Look them in the eye and thank them.

Then, let’s start asking ourselves if we’re being “that” person for someone else.

Take a moment. Thank God. And thank a person!

 .

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Photo via Creative Commons: 
http://www.flickr.com/photos/butterflysha/140523563/

What’s Your Name Worth?

I just watched interview with multi-bazillion-selling music producer, David Foster.

(If you think his music is “schmaltzy”, I agree. But read on anyway…)

David tells the story of completing production on one of his first records, and giving a copy to his mentor, Quincy Jones. (triple-multi-bazillion selling music producer)

Handing him the record, David says,

“By the way, track 1 is not one of my favorite songs. On track 3, don’t listen to vocals in the bridge because they’re out of tune. Track 6 is not good but they made me use the song…”

Quincy grabs the record from him and points,

“What does it say right here?”

David answers, “It says ‘produced by David Foster‘”.

Quincy replies

“Right. You’re an idiot… It says ‘produced by David Foster’. That’s your name. And if it can’t be absolutely your very best effort, you better not put your name on it.“

Yikes.

I’m a producer, and so are you. To paraphrase Foster:”Where the artist is weak, we do everything. Where the artist is strong we fight to make them as great as they can be.”

Imagine purchasing a book or multimedia app from your favorite author, and finding a handwritten note inside that reads:

”Please note, our budget was tight and the project was behind schedule, so we apologize for not having all the content and features that we wanted. But please buy our next release, since we’re planning on doing a much better job!”

Ridiculous, right?

Does this mean every initiative needs a million dollar budget? Of course not. Creating resources that truly impact people takes time, planning, and teamwork.

But most of all, it takes a firm resolve to give people your best.

What’s your name worth?

 

Photo via Creative Commons http://www.flickr.com/photos/50507112@N05/8692332798/in/photolist-ef7tGS-918brG-5Ygdgd-59dh8K

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