What Is Discipleship And How Do We Become Disciples Of Christ?

We’re going through a book called Radical at my church right now and it’s not your average look into American Christianity. It’s full of tough truths and things that are hard to swallow when it comes to how we tend to treat our faith in the Western world. The book is fantastic and was required reading for me and the rest of the crew that went to Congo last December (wow, that was almost a year ago?).

The book really made an impact on my pastor, so much so that he decided that he wanted to build an entire series around it. We’re a few chapters into it right now and it’s already impacting the church I’m a way that most of his other series haven’t. By using Radical as a way to connect the truth of the Bible to our lives as Christians living in the Bay Area it’s allowed us to wrestle with our faith, which one of the hard parts of being a follower of Jesus Christ.

Today the main theme that came from Radical was discipleship and how every Christian is called to become disciples of Christ through spreading the word of God to everyone, everywhere. The foundational verse that kicked off the sermon today was Matthew 28:19-20.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.

As Christians we’re all called to be pushing ourselves to be disciples, which isn’t always an easy thing to do. We’re all called to be disciples in different ways and there’s really no telling what yours will be. One person might be called to disciple as a full-time missionary in China while another might be called to his neighborhood or office. No calling is any greater than another and praying/fellowship will help it become clear over time.

Even though as Christians we’re all called to be different types of disciples, the qualities of what a disciple should be is the same across the board.

A Disciple Loves – A disciple shows unconditional love for all people at all times. This is practically impossible to do, but it’s what all Christians should be aiming for.

By this all men will know you are my disciples, if you love one another. -John 13:35

A Disciple Liberates – There are people who are being held captive by the forces of sin and it’s a disciple’s job to free them from it through the love of Jesus Christ.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and the Holy Spirit… Matthew 28:19

A Disciple Leads – Not only do we need to talk, blog, read and listen to what a disciple should be doing, but more importantly we need to lead in discipleship by example. All talk and no action isn’t going to lead anyone else to become a follower of Jesus Christ.

If you hold onto my teaching, you are truly my disciples. -John 8:31

And the things you have heard me say in the presence of many witnesses entrust to reliable men who will also be qualified to teach others. -2 Timothy 2:2

A Disciple Launches – Taking the time to disciple others will result in more disciples being created. It’s not a numbers game, it takes time and it takes building real relationships, but it will start an exponential spreading of the word of God, which is pretty awesome.

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations… -Matthew 28:19

Being a disciple is hard and it takes time. It requires effort to go and get out of your comfort zone and it means creating real relationships in meaningful ways. How are you being a disciple and where are you being called to act on God’s behalf?

 

Where I Work And What I Do

Working for a tech startup like isocket is unlike anything that I’ve ever done before and from the outside looking in I can see how it’s hard to understand what I actually get paid to do on a daily basis. I’ve never really talked much about what’s going on at isocket, which is crazy since I’m spending a majority of my time there and we’re doing some really cool stuff in the digital ad space.

It seems like a lot of my family and friends are interested in what I’m doing and I feel bad for not writing more about what I’ve been up to. From here on out I’m going to write about more of the things that I think about when it comes to my job and the problems that we’re trying solve with our product. I’m going to do this in hopes that it will help you (or anyone else who’s curious) figure out what I’m doing with my time and energy in Silicon Valley.

Where do I work and what do we do?

One of the first questions that I always get asked when in conversation with someone I’ve just met or someone I’m catching up with is “So where do you work now?” or even better “What do you do?”. My answer to this question changes dramatically depending on who I’m talking to, which is the marketing and sales guy coming out in me. The online advertising rabbit hole goes pretty deep, so I’ll save you the details and give you a nice overview, how’s that?

For simplicity’s sake I work for isocket, which makes direct, display ad sales easier for advertisers and online publishers (which is the industry term for larger websites). We’re developing some awesome technology that makes the money flow more efficiently between advertisers and publishers. Display advertising (those banner ads that you see everywhere) is an $11 billion market and the fact is that it should be a lot bigger (TV advertising is a $190 billion market), but right now it’s just too hard for advertisers to buy display advertising and for publishers to sell it. Good thing we’re here to help, huh?

So what do I actually do at isocket?

Before I get too far into what I’m doing for isocket now, it’s important to know that I was the first employee that we (or “they” at the time) hired (we’re up to 11 people now). That was just over two years ago and if you want you can read the official blog post that I wrote welcoming myself to the team over here on the isocket blog.

Being the first employee means that I’ve pretty much had my hand in everything that we’ve done up to this point. I was the main point of contact with our first customers, I came up with new features that we added to the product and I even helped with recruiting new people to join our team. When there’s only a few people and you’re trying to change an entire industry, there’s a lot of work to do.

When you’re the first employee of any company you need to be able to do whatever it takes to keep the momentum moving in the right direction and you also need to be able to thrive in chaos on a daily basis. One of the main reasons why I wanted to join isocket in the first place was so that I could see firsthand what it’s like to get a startup off the ground and that’s exactly what I’ve gotten so far. Has it been crazy? Oh yeah, but it’s been a lot of fun, too.

As we’ve grown I’ve been able to focus my responsibilities on sales and marketing and my official title is now Director of Marketing, although I think that sounds kinda lame. It makes me sounds important, but it’s just not nearly as fun as my last title, which was Customer BFF (Best Friend Forever).

Sales and marketing covers a lot for a startup that’s trying to move as fast as we are. At the stage we’re at now it’s all about creating as much surface area in the market as we can for our brand and vision all while building relationships with as many premium advertisers, publishers and media planning/purchasing systems as possible. I help us do this through lots of different ways which I can explain later, but I’ll just say that it’s fun, it’s exciting and it’s moving fast.

So in summary…

I’m hoping this all makes sense, but if you need one more short and sweet explanation for what I’m doing out here in Silicon Valley, here’s a cliff notes version.

1. I work for a tech startup called isocket and we’re an advertising company that’s making it easier for advertisers and websites to do business together.

2. I was the first employee at isocket and have been there for just over two years. I’m currently the Director of Marketing and my job is to get our vision out into the marketplace and to create relationships with as many advertisers and websites as possible.

3. I get to bring Frank to work (I don’t think I mentioned that earlier).

If you have any questions about my job or about isocket, please let me know and there’s a lot more where this came from.

 

Steve Jobs Had The Pug Bug

I had dinner the other night with my friend Amanda, who is not only a fellow Pug owner, but also runs the awesomely entertaining Daily Puglet, and she let me in on some great Steve Jobs trivia. I’m not sure if you happened to know this (or if you even come close to caring), but apparently Steve Jobs had the Pug bug.

I didn’t believe Amanda when she first told me, but once I got home I Googled it and here’s what I found:

I’m not sure what his Pug’s name is, but I’m I think that Amanda said it was “Baby”. Not a great name for a Pug, but regardless it’s a good looking fawn that might be Frank’s doppelgänger (I love when I get to use that word).

Where Do You Get Your Energy From?

Everyone wants more energy. The more energy we have the more we can do, the more we can do the more productive we can become and the more productive we can become the more valuable we are to society. Energy is an interesting thing that I think about a lot. When I feel energetic I love it and I can’t get enough. It’s like a drug that I want to keep using as long as I can. I get more things done, I think clearer and I have an increased interest in other people.

Most ways that people get energy are temporary. This could be from a cup of coffee, a Red Bull (who just gave my office a couple cases yesterday) or a 5 hour energy shot. These various energy drinks are a multi-billion dollar industry and believe me, I’ve spent my fair share of money on them (and sometimes I still do). I have no idea what the long-term side effects are, but if taken at a higher than recommended level I can’t see how any of these options can be good for you. Plus, I’ve always found that they become addictive over time, which is never good.

Of course there are other ways of getting more long-term and sustainable energy, but it’s not going to be as easy as picking up a can of caffeine at the gas station. Eating healthy, getting more sleep and exercising can give you the same results all without the side effects that you’re going to have from drinking energy drinks.

Is it easy to tap into your natural energy this way? Heck no, it’s actually pretty hard and it takes time and focus to sustain it. But, I can guarantee that if you stick with it and start to see the difference between getting your energy from a can or from a run — there’s no way you’ll ever go back.

I’m working to keep my energy sources natural, but I’ll admit that sometimes I fall off the horse and end up buying Big Gulps full of Mountain Dew on a daily basis. Although it does feel pretty awesome for the first couple days or so, eventually I get hit with the side effects and the fact that I can’t rely on the tasty, yellow caffeinated goodness for all of the energy that I need to make it through my week. It just doesn’t work for me and it won’t work for you as a long-term way to keep you productive.

 

My Fascination With Consistency

I’m fascinated with consistency. Mainly because it’s something that you can’t fake and it’s the key to seeing success in everything you do. I don’t care if it’s brushing your teeth, moving up the corporate ladder, getting in shape or a relationship with your neighbor — consistency is key.

I’m not good with consistency. In fact, I’m really bad at it. I love when things change and I seem to enjoy chaos in whatever I do. I think this makes me a great startup guy, but it tends to make me a bad husband, friend and long-term employee. I’m a lot better at being consistent than I used to be, so apparently it’s something you can learn, but I’ve got a long way to go.

Something that I’ve learned about consistency is that there’s a breaking point where my fight and struggle against being consistent is overtaken by the positive feeling of staying on course and turning something into a habit.

I’m not sure if that makes sense for anyone outside of my head, so let me give you an example. Once I’ve been running consistently for a few weeks and I start to feel in shape my fight against consistency starts to fade away. This is due to my growing sense of accomplishment which comes from the recognizable evidence that my efforts have, in fact, resulted in me getting what I initially wanted.

This is when it gets interesting because my new sense of accomplishment results in more motivation to continue with the consistency, which then leads to even more positive results and the cycle continues.

At this point you’re usually on top of your game. You’re running farther than you ever have before or you’re making more moves at work than you ever thought you could. At this point truly consistent people keep on pushing and move on to bigger and better things while others take this sense of accomplishment as an opportunity and right to be less consistent.

This, my friends is called complacency and when you let it creep into your mind it will make all of the work and consistent focus that you’ve had up to this point completely worthless. I don’t have time to go into it now, but this is something that I’ll dig deeper into some other time.

Until then, be consistent and don’t give up too soon. Consistency over time equals results, so stick with it!

Need Sleepy

If there’s one thing that I’ve learned about myself over the past couple of years it’s the fact that I really need my sleep to be a positively contributing member of society. If I have 7-8 hours of sleep under my belt when I get out of bed in the morning, watch out world because I’m coming at you full force like a boss.

The words that would describe me when I get some sleep would be:

– motivated
– fun
– loving
– creative
– spontaneous
– patient
– relaxed
– social

On the other hand, if I don’t get any sleep (or enough) then I tend to be better described as:

– cranky
– boring
– uptight
– anti-social
– a terrible husband

The funny thing is that I used to be able to go with practically no sleep and there was usually one day a week when I didn’t sleep at all (p.s. that’s not a good idea). Of course, that was also when I worked by myself most of the day and wasn’t married. I’m sure that I was just as bad back then, but the thing was that I was a lot younger and there was no one to let me know about it. Plus, I would put back some caffeine like it was going out of style so even if I actually was tired I would never know it (p.s. that’s not a good idea, either).

So, what now? Well, I don’t drink any caffeine anymore and I’m doing my best to get some sleep and it seems to be doing the trick. I’m not saying that I’m getting all of the sleep I need (it’s really hard for me to go to bed early), but I am giving it a good effort.

I know that it sounds really lame, but figuring out what keeps you energized throughout the day is really important and for most of us it’s getting the sleep that we need to cover the amount of activity we do during the day. Do a lot? Well, then you better sleep a lot, too.

Want to hear what people who are way smarter than me say about getting sleep? Check out this Harvard post from 2006 titled 6 Reasons Not To Scimp On Sleep.

 

Socializing Your Issues Is The First Step To Healing

Do you ever wonder why you have to go through some of the hard things that you face in life? I know it’s hard to believe, but you’re not the only one who goes through tough times. Even though it seems like there’s no rhyme or reason why you, of all people, have to deal with the problems you face in life there actually is an explanation.

There are two reasons why you have to endure pain, suffering and other issues in your life:

1. It forces you to rely on others and to break out of the thought of self-reliance.
2. Once you’ve made it through the issue, been forced to socialize it and have healed from it, it’s then your opportunity to help someone else through the same situation. You’re healed, so now it’s your turn to heal others.

I know it’s hard to believe that we, as Americans, need to rely on other people. But, at some point in our lives we’re going to get to a place to where we’re no longer in control and at that point we will need the help of others to get us through.

We’ll have a choice to either socialize our issues and start the healing process or keep it to ourselves and let our pride, shame, embarrassment or self-reliance get in the way. One way you never have to let others know you’re not perfect and the other way will start you on the road to recovery. Which choice will you make?

An Awesome Date Night And Getting To Know My Wife

Tonight I had an awesome dinner with my wife Stephanie — it’s our weekly Friday date night (which I highly suggest all married and crazy busy couples should do). We decided to go to an Afghan restaurant near my office in Burlingame. It’s a little expensive, but the food is tasty and the atmosphere is perfect for our end of the week dinner date. We had a nice seat next to the window and the candle light was flickering off of the table, creating dancing shadows across the bright white tablecloth. I could tell is was going to be a great date night.

We ordered ourselves some drinks and toasted to a work-related accomplishment that I had achieved this past week and after that the conversation just started flowing and things felt right in the world. Date night is there to bring us back together after a hectic week of work along with all of the other things that seem to always sneak their way into Monday through Friday. Some date nights are better than others, but they’re all good in my book. I love my wife in a big way and any time that I can get her attention all to myself in this type of setting is a blessing in my book. With that being said, tonight was good.

Why was tonight so good? It was good because we had some real talk about some real things that matter to both of us. It was good because we can communicate with each other in such an open and honest way (it wasn’t always like that). It was good because Afghan food is so ridiculously tasty. It was good because I was with my wife and nothing else mattered tonight besides the fact that we were together and talking and enjoying each other’s company.

I’ve realized that it’s possible to be married to someone and not really know who they are. In fact, it’s real easy and it’s too easy. Date night helps us find each other again each week so that we can continue getting to know each other. I don’t think that I’ll ever stop learning about my wife and I hope I never do.

Check please — until next Friday.

 

Losing Your Writing Voice

Writing, just like anything else, is something that you need to keep in shape. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. I call this losing your voice. Not losing your voice like the time when you drank too much with your fraternity brothers and kept on screaming “I LOVE YOU GUYS!” every 5 minutes.

I mean like losing your voice in a different way. Losing it in a way that means that the longer you don’t write on a regular basis the weirder and more awkward it feels the next time that you decide to put some thoughts down on paper. You lose your flow and what was once easy slowly becomes more and more difficult. It really sucks and whether most of them know it or not t’s usually the reason why most bloggers end up leaving their blog for dead.

Of course, that also can go the other way and I would have to say that learning your voice and continuing to refine it is one of the most important thing that a writer (and especially a blogger) can do. The bloggers and other writers who can nail this and keep at it until their voice is well known, admired and listened to over and over again will become the one’s who can turn it into a fulltime gig. You gotta love the web for that.

So where is my voice at these days? I would say that between learning to type the right way and being terrible with making time for this blog my voice has a long way to go.But, it’s up to me and for the rest of you to find the voice that we all have inside of us and let it be all that it can be.

Does anyone even care about our voices? If we don’t get to the point to where we really know what our voice is we’ll never know that answer. How about we keep on writing and we’ll figure it out together.

Time, Your Most Valuable Asset

As I’ve gotten older and my life has gone through several major changes over the past few years (moving, getting married, becoming a Christian) I’ve realized that time is the most valuable asset that I have. I’ve just started putting some thought into this, but here are some reasons why I say this.

For one, it’s a limited resource and none of us know how much of it we have left. Although many of us don’t think about time like this, it’s true. We’re here now, but we might not be here tomorrow. This means that what we choose to spend our time on is what we feel like is most important in our lives. It’s really that simple.

Also, even though we don’t know how much time we have left in our lives we still have control over what we decide to spend our time on while we’re still here. There are only 24 hours in a day and it’s up to you how you spend them. As you get older you’re going to have more and more restrictions on your time which will make it even more important to manage the time that you have free to spend doing what you want.

As a recently married man (my wife and I just celebrated our two year anniversary), I would have to say that I’m pretty bad at managing my time. Ok, that’s not the truth — I’m really bad.

This is because when I was single I had all of the time in the world to get the things done that I needed to do, but that’s changed. The minute you add a wife that you love and always want to be with into the mix things change. It’s been an incredible learning experience for me and thanks to the amazing patience of my wife I’m slowly getting better with my time and how I spend it.

We’re learning all of this together and it’s tough. It’s really tough. Bringing together two selfish people who have ideas of what they think is the best to do with their time is always going to be hard. We’re still learning how do best manage this and I’m sure we’ll still be learning twenty years from now.

One thing I’ve learned through these first two years of marriage and something that all married men should be aware of is that if you want to show your wife how much you love her then you need to show her that she’s worth your time.

How can you show your wife that she’s worth your time? Here are a few ways that I try (remember, I’m still learning):

  • Watching TV together (even if it’s Jersey Shore)
  • Plan things ahead of time (dinner/date night/weekend trips)
  • Cards and flowers (what you write is more important than you think)
  • Take the time to look nice for your wife when you go out (I still suck at this one)
  • Hide notes in places that you know she’ll find later (sunglasses case, purse, clothing pockets)
  • Don’t go straight home after you do something together — go have some coffee or dessert somewhere (it’s good to have time to simply have conversations with no distractions)
  • Keep the phone in your pocket (that Facebook update will still be there when you get home)

I hope these help and if you have any other ways that I should add to the list, feel free to let me know in the comments below. I’m going to be writing more about these types of things that I think a lot about and anything that you can along the way is always appreciated.