Monday through Friday, I get a daily email from Chirp (chirpbooks.com) with the subject line: “Today’s audiobook deals” and in the email are links to limited time discounted audiobooks. If you click a link in the email to view a particular book on the chirp website, you can view all of the limited time deals. I sort them by “Expiring Soon” which allows me to delete the email daily to keep my inbox clear without missing any deals.
They have a free Chirp app for android and apple When you sign up for a free account, you can specify the book categories you’re interested in.
You may have seen the following letter written by “This is Us” actor, Lonnie Chavis. These images are from his original facebook post:
I haven’t watched “This is Us” yet. But I did see the 4 minute clip he talks about here and it was a punch in the gut.
“The director and writers told me that they didn’t need me to cry for the scene. However, it was hard for me not to cry as I witnessed what I had just learned was my reality. I wasn’t acting. I was crying for me. Can you imagine having to explain to a room full of white people why I couldn’t hold back my real tears while experiencing the pain of racism?” Lonnie Chavis
We’ve come so far in the fight against racism and we’ve made so much progress on the road toward cultural competence and inclusion. Until just a few months ago, I genuinely thought we were still steadily moving forward.
At best, it seems progress is stalled.
At worst? If we’re not careful and intentional and diligent, we could slip backwards toward segregation and division.
It will take incremental steps and years for continued change to come to fruition. Implementing extensive change throughout widespread and interlocking systems and institutions is a mammoth objective with countless prerequisites and dependent tasks. The shadow of this mammoth task can block our vision and prevent us from recognizing opportunities to be active partners within these larger efforts, as well as prevent us from seeing opportunities to use our talents and skills to effect change within our own circles of influence.
Unless we intentionally search for those opportunities, we can fall into thinking that, as an individual, our voice is too small to make a concrete difference and that to be heard, our options are limited to voting and activism; such as protesting, signing petitions, donating money, and posting on social media.
Unless we recognize the cumulative and exponential results that grow from countless individuals working one-on-one to change the trajectory of a single person’s life, we run the risk of becoming incapacitated by the self-defeating belief that our individual contribution “isn’t going to cut it” as someone told me recently.
Acrimonious cynicism is counter-productive and that conclusion is unfounded. I’ve seen firsthand the results of helping a single individual break the cycle of generation poverty and overcome situational poverty and that kind of transformation doesn’t happen in a vacuum. When you help one person, the change in their life is contagious. It infects their family and friends. I’ve been focusing on helping individuals for over 5 years now and I’m not going to give up on them because of a cynical dismissal that equates the results these hard working people achieve to being “coddled.” They are courageous and earn every hard fought success.
Some may call me naive, but I believe we can do more than protest, sign petitions, donate money, post on social media and vote.
If we want continued change and effective reform
I believe we need innovative ideas from
diverse groups of people uniting together,
blocking groupthink and creating synergy
I believe we need achievable goals
with sustainable results and
strategic plans tactically deployed
by teams of dedicated individuals
I believe we need patience and perseverance
for incremental steps, grace for failing,
course corrections and permission to try again.
Each of us has unique talents, skills and passions and there are countless opportunities for each of us to be good stewards of those gifts and make a positive difference in someone’s life by meeting a need. If you really want to find a way to help, look for organizations who are already serving in ways that align with your passion. Call a school and ask if there’s a struggling student who needs tutoring, check out Big Brothers Big Sisters of America or similar organizations. It doesn’t even have to be local. Now that so many people know how to use video chat, you can volunteer without leaving your house. Don’t devalue what you’re good at and look for ways to share it, equipping, inspiring and encouraging someone, even if you only have an hour a week or an hour a month. You can change someone’s life.
I recently learned of an inmate who is making a difference in individual lives – from inside prison. Curtis “Wall Street” Carroll entered prison illiterate at age 17 and after teaching himself to read, he studied finance and the stock market. When a warden (strongly) encouraged he teach other inmates, he started teaching financial literacy. These days, Robin William’s son, Zak co-teaches with him to support prison rehabilitation programs.
No one can do everything, but everyone can do something.
When I agree with someone about a point they make,
it does NOT follow that I agree with EVERYthing they say or believe.
When I DISagree with someone about a point they make,
it does NOT follow that I disagree with EVERYthing they say or believe.
If you know me, you know I read and research a lil’ bit. 😉
I often say that I “eat the chicken and spit out the bones” and I’m not talking about barbecue.
I can honestly say I don’t limit my searching and learning to align with my own “latitude of acceptance” as it’s called in communication theory. I have books written by atheists organized alphabetically along with theologians in the apologetic section of my bookshelves. Doesn’t make me a heretic.
I research all sides of an issue because I’ve come to understand that dismissing, ignoring or ridiculing alternative viewpoints doesn’t invalidate them or strengthen my own beliefs.
Very often, this kind of research puts me in the position of recognizing valid points on both sides of a complex issue. There’s tension in that place. Paradox. Conflicting thoughts, opinions and ideas don’t fit together easily. Doesn’t mean the ones we don’t agree with are invalid.
Like I said. Tension and paradox.
But accepting that tension and paradox is what makes it possible for me to agree or disagree with someone about SOME things they say/believe and NOT agree or disagree about EVERYthing they say/believe.
It’s also why I can respect a person who disagrees with me about something without inferring from that disagreement that they are ignorant, hateful, intolerant, “brainwashed” or that their character is severely flawed.
People and issues are complex and understanding is hard work.
Saw a comment by an HR professional in which they condemned someone for posting a link to a story and then strongly disagreed with people commenting on the post, calling them “disgraceful and dishonorable.” They ended by saying:
“I hope the people you work with have access to some of the hateful comments some of you have shared here.”
My first thought was, wait.
Did an HR professional just promote doxing and termination?
This person’s entire career centers around employee development and training. They are a professed Christian and appear to have a lifelong passion for helping people find and reach their potential. Doxing and termination seemed counter to everything they work toward. They had an opportunity to influence and not only did they miss it and waste it, they intentionally threw it away.
It nagged at me. Like, “couldn’t sleep till after 4am” kinda nagged at me. I prayed about whether to reply and if so, what to say. Nothing seemed right. So, the next day, I went back to the post and replied, ditching all the possibilities I had considered and just straightforwardly asked:
What do you mean when you say “I hope the people you work with have access to some of the hateful comments some of you have shared here.”
I was genuinely hoping I was wrong and that if I wasn’t, that there might be an opening for dialogue.
Within an hour, they replied:
“The message above is very clear.”
For a fraction of a second, I thought about responding. I prayed. And this thought popped into my mind:
I’m not responsible for the outcome of the conversation.
My responsibilities are, at the very least, to:
1. respond to opportunities to have conversation and
2. ask the Holy Spirit to equip me for the conversation so I can respond instead of react
3. do my best to respond respectfully and humbly.
I genuinely believe part of my calling is to put stones in shoes, and leave the work up to the Holy Spirit to soften hearts and open minds. What that means to me is that, if after a conversation with me, someone is thinking more deeply about something than they were before, then I’ve been a good steward of that particular opportunity.
and I need to let it go so I can get some sleep. Because I need to be alert enough to recognized the next opportunity.
Over and over, I see facebook posts by seemingly kind people instructing friends who [they perceive] believe differently than they do to “unfriend” them.
This week, I saw a post from an HR consultant on LinkedIn, declaring they would not work with anyone who [they perceive] believe differently than they believe.
I have more than a few problems with this increasing cancel culturereaction to diversity. And by definition, I believe the word diversity is accurate.
I included [they perceive] because
perception isn’t always accurate, the issues facing us today are incredibly complex and most people aren’t myopic simpletons.
1. Perception is subjective.
Our perception (a way of understanding or interpreting something)
is skewed by our
perspective (a particular attitude toward or point of view)
Consider the possibility that we have more in common that it may appear at first glance.
people who believe and act differently than we do, actually want and value the same things but differ only in their strategies for pursuing those shared goals?
people who believe differently than we do are intelligent and informed about facts, but differ only in their interpretations and conclusions about those facts?
the labels we use to describe people who believe differently than we do actually dehumanizes them and prevents us from seeing them as unique individuals, much less understanding or empathizing with them?
our perception of the “other guy” is wrong? What would we find out about them as human beings if we didn’t unfriend them or refuse to work with them?
2. When an issue truly is “clear” or “simple” there isn’t extensive controversy over it.
Time and time again, I see people completely disregarding conflicting ideas as invalid or irrelevant in their efforts to justify and validate their own view. I’ve said this before:
Dismissing alternative viewpoints doesn’t strengthen your argument or your credibility.
It weakens the first and erodes the second.
If our reasoning can’t stand on it’s own merit and stand strong against questions or counter arguments, it needs some work. And if our reasoning needs work, we might consider listening to the alternative viewpoints as a first step. Allowing them to challenge our assumptions and help us come to a deeper understanding of what we believe so we can explain it. Respectfully.
It’s so. much. easier to call someone by a label instead of by their name, to cut off communication with them and instead surround ourselves with the comfort and familiarity of people who think like us, but we can’t hear different voices if we block ourselves off from their source.
3. Disagreement doesn’t mean people are uninformed, uneducated, racist or brainwashed.
Statements like the ones below assume that people who hold alternative views about the causes of, and solutions to, the problem of racism are only listening to a few well known celebrities “instead of” rather than “in addition to” their friends – and to the alternative views of a significantly larger number of not so famous people with diverse backgrounds, education and credentials:
“…if you are listening to them instead of the black people in your life on a daily basis…You’re doing it wrong.”
“If you’re a white person…quick to post a video of a famous black person agreeing with you, but won’t read a book from a black person with a PhD in their field disagreeing with you, then you aren’t trying to learn, you’re just weaponizing black voices to confirm your own bias.
“If you genuinely want to be part of this conversation, please stop only listening to black voices that prove your white opinion right.”
there are so many of these alternative voices, coming from so many sources, growing louder every day that it’s impossible for us NOT to hear, much less ignore them?
these thoughts and opinions are not just coming from black celebrities but from all walks of life, from multiple socio-ecconomic classes and some with PhDs of their own?
people aren’t just watching youtube video clips and sharing pithy word images?
people are actually reading books, studies and articles – written by authors from both sides, listening to podcasts, interviews and debates AND having authentic, vulnerable conversations with friends who not only don’t look like they do, but also friends who don’t think like they do?
UPDATE TO CLARIFY: By “brand update” do I actually mean change the name and remove the image? Yes. If all you care about is making sure “I get it” then move on, nothing to see here. However, if you think it’s possible that I’m NOT a myopic simpleton, then you may find the following to be of some interest.
Last Tuesday, twitter had…more than a few…tweets about Aunt Jemima being a symbol of racism.
On Wednesday, Quaker Oats announced they are “retiring” the brand.
“Aunt Jemima kept Black woman in the space of domestic service associating them with serving food under a “plantation mentality.”
and “it would be misguided to lament the change by Quaker as a loss of representation for Black women.”
This particular “representation for Black women” was based on a real person, Nancy Green.
“Born a slave in Kentucky in 1834, Green lived in Mount Sterling throughout the Civil War and relocated to Chicago when the conflict ended. There, she became a cook for Judge Charles Walker, who recommended she represent R.T. Davis Milling Company’s pancake mix, according to Marilyn Kern-Foxworth’s book, “Blacks in Advertising, Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.” Her fame grew after appearing at Chicago’s World’s Fair in 1893 before she died in 1923.” according to Courier-Journal.com
“Mrs. Green was one of the first black corporate models in the United States…she became the advertising world’s first living trademark.”
She “Green was a hit, friendly, a good storyteller, and a good cook…”
“Her exhibition booth drew so many people that special policemen were assigned to keep the crowds moving. The Davis Milling Company received over 50,000 orders, and Fair officials awarded Nancy Green a medal and certificate for her showmanship.
She was proclaimed “Pancake Queen.” She was signed to a lifetime contract and traveled on promotional tours all over the country. Flour sales were up all year and pancakes were no longer considered exclusively for breakfast.”
She started at 56 years old. A woman. A Black woman. In 1893.
Nancy Green was Aunt Jemima. and she BUILT that brand.
And now it’s been cancelled.
and Nancy Green’s achievements are not to be admired or celebrated.
Because, as Berry said, it is “misguided to lament” her “loss of representation for Black women.”
Because, as Richardson said, she is the “kind of stereotype that is premised on this idea of Black inferiority and otherness.”
She is not a positive representation for Black women? She represents Black inferiority?
I may take some heat for this, but…
I don’t understand how Nancy Green’s origin as a slave and her physical appearance eclipses her achievements and their historical significance as a Black woman from 1893 until her death in 1923.
As I was writing this post, I found myself thinking of a quote from the following video:
“…race and ethnicity are closely connected to culture and in my experience, most people are proud of their culture. Refusing to acknowledge race is being insensitive the vast cultural differences across the world.”
Kristin Kroepfl, Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Quaker Foods North America, said in a statement to NBC News. “While work has been done over the years to update the brand in a manner intended to be appropriate and respectful, we realize those changes are not enough.”
I may take some heat for this, but…
Nancy Green’s legacy is part of American history. I hope Quaker’s rebrand of Aunt Jem finds its way to recognizing and honoring her.
Some unsolicited advice to anyone trying to reach potential clients or customers:
INVITE ME to Join Your Mailing List, DON’T ADD ME Without Permission. It just alienates us and fills your email list with people who aren’t your target audience.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten an email from an acquaintance who, because they HAD my email address, they added it to their marketing email list.
Sometimes, they got it because they gained access to a group list and poached it. Sometimes they got it because I was a co-recipient of a group email they also received.
And sometimes, acquaintances have just arbitrarily added me because I’d sent them an email in the past.
Resist the temptation to build a mailing list this way.
It builds a fake list. It results in a mailing list of people who never expressed interested in whatever it is you sell.
Personally, there’s NOTHING that makes me UNsubscribe from a list faster, while at the same time lowering the professional respect for, and credibility of, the sender in my mind.
Every time I get an email from someone who does this, my impression is that they need to research and study marketing, specifically permission marketing vs. push marketing.
SO. MANY. posts and comments about leaders that are flat out mean and hateful.
I’m reminded of a blog post I wrote back in 2018:
…duplicity was the unacknowledged elephant in the room when the internet-infused courage of this person deflated like a day old birthday balloon during real life interactions: what happens online, stays online.
Except, it doesn’t.
Our words and actions, regardless of whether they are online or IRL, reveal something of our true beliefs and our character: “…surely what a man does when he is taken off his guard is the best evidence for what sort of a man he is? Surely what pops out before the man has time to put on a disguise is the truth? If there are rats in a cellar you are most likely to see them if you go in very suddenly. But the suddenness does not create the rats: it only prevents them from hiding. In the same way the suddenness of the provocation does not make me an ill-tempered man: it only shows me what an ill-tempered man I am. The rats are always there in the cellar, but if you go in shouting and noisily they will have taken cover before you switch on the light.” [emphasis added] #IreadthereforeIquote
C. S. Lewis
We’re in the middle of a global pandemic. This situation is incredibly complicated. I can’t imagine the stress of striving to make the best decisions in this no-win hornet’s nest while at the same time getting the $#!+ kicked out of me by both the media and hundreds of thousands of armchair commentators.
They have to be exhausted. And yet they continue to put themselves out there every day knowing they’re going to end up a target.
#seepeople and #edify because everyone is #justadifferentkindofbroken
#KindnessisContagious but so is #sarcasm and #criticism
I recently snatched up a $1 offer for access to a huge amount of content within an online writers group for 30 days and I’ve been DEVOURING it. The first day, I listened to a podcast interview with Albert Y. Hsu (pronounced “shee”), a senior editor with InterVarsity Press. Based on the description of the interview, I wasn’t sure if the content would be for me, but one teaser stood out:
“What publishers look for in an author’s platform (and it’s different than you think!).”
What PUBLISHERS look for wasn’t what drew me in, it was the WHY. I was hoping that the WHY would give me insight on how to identify and reach people who are interested in learning and practicing the communication methods I teach. And while I’m not currently writing a book that I want to pitch to a publisher, I do recognize some parallels between being an author and being a teacher: we both want to reach, inspire and help people.
Below are some quotes from the interview that I was still thinking about the next day – so much so that I re-watched the video in order to capture them and continue working through the answers:
“Part of what we do as authors, is that we meet people where they’re at and then we take them somewhere else. Take them further. There has to be a point of identification, but there also has to be a point of dislocation. So we are both contextualizing; saying our words in a way that people can receive, but then we are also being counter-cultural and giving them something that doesn’t just reinforce what they already know. It has to take them another step.”
This is huge for me in consulting and coaching. I ask a LOT of questions and – based on the answers – I ask more questions. Sometimes clients get impatient and want to skip this part of the process, but I have to start with where they ARE – and what led them to where they are – before I can help them explore options for their next best steps.
“Who is the audience and what are the channels to GET to that audience?…If you don’t have a channel to that audience, it’s almost like those readers don’t exist.”
How do I reach people? I’ve learned I have to meet them where they are. Forget the “if you build it they will come” mentality. That only works for ethereal baseball games and Disney.
“What do I have to offer that other people don’t. What’s missing?”
And look who just showed up. Imposter syndrome, my old friend.
In answering the question, “What would you tell first time authors?” he said, “I often ask them, ‘What’s your thing? What are you known for?'”
What’s my “thing?”
I know I’m passionate about communicating well. Effectively, respectfully and empathetically. I genuinely believe that the world would be a MUCH better place if we consistently tried to say what we mean without BEING mean. There would be less division, more respect and comradery and relationships would be stronger.
I think I’m known for that. but I’m not sure.
I’m also not sure who is interested in strengthening their communication skills or how to reach them.
After listening to this podcast, I had a tiny little epiphany. Am I having trouble finding these like-minded people because they are so quiet?
I have to remind myself again and again of the 1% rule:
“The 1% rule states that the number of people who create content on the Internet represents approximately 1% (give or take) of the people actually viewing that content. For example, for every person who posts on a forum, generally about 99 other people are viewing that forum but not posting.”
And the internet population is only 40% of the world population.
But the 1% is so freakin pervasive.
On a daily basis, in every nook and cranny of the internet, I’m inundated with language that dehumanizes, mocks, dismisses, creates division and feeds polarization.
It seems like everywhere I look, language is used as a weapon to bludgeon someone.
Do the people doing the swinging genuinely not recognize the damage they inflict? Do they just not care? Are they oblivious to how they are perceived?
For instance, a facebook friend posted about the cruise ship that wasn’t being allowed to dock during the Covid-19 quarantine, sharing her disapproval of the passengers for even getting on the boat in the first place. But she backtracked pretty quickly when another facebook friend commented to tell her that a couple they both knew were stuck on that ship.
When “those people” became people she knew, she DID care how she was perceived.
Another commenter, not so much:
“I may be a jerk but they knew the risks…. stay on the ship. 🤷🏼♀️”
I held myself back from adding to the snark by replying with: “Well, you got one thing right. And how could they have known?”
I held myself back. Because if I had called her out like that in front of her friends,
1. I would be a jerk.
2. She probably wouldn’t care, because when I looked up that emoji she ended with, I found this:
The person shrugging emoji can designate ignorance, indifference, self-acceptance, passive-aggression, annoyance, giving up, or not knowing what to make of something. It could also be a visual form of the one-word response of indifference, “whatever.”
So here’s my take. When this person led with “I may be a jerk” she KNEW she was being a jerk. And she posted it anyway. I don’t know this person, but this is the first impression she made
1. with me and
2. with all the other commenters on that thread, and
3. with all the friends of the original poster and
4. with all the friends of every other commenter.
Because that’s how facebook works.
But I digress.
My thing. Being passionate about communicating well.
Who needs what I have to offer?
I believe everyone could benefit from strengthening their communication skills. I’ve been studying and practicing communication methods for decades and I’m still learning and growing.
But who wants what I have to offer?
What about within the other 99%? What “channels” should I use to reach them?
Looking at local, in person and possibly off-the-grid people, I already know some first steps to figure out who is interested: networking, public speaking to special interest groups, continuing with the consulting, training and coaching I already do…but moving beyond that…
Talking through my thoughts with the hubs:
“I’m wondering if one reason I’m having such a hard time [identifying people I can help] is because they are so quiet. Are they hidden in the 99%?
If 60% of the population isn’t even active on the internet and of the remaining 40%, only 1% is posting, then we’re talking about a fraction of that 1% who don’t seem to care whether they add to the negativity in the world.
I know so many people who, in real life, seem so kind and gracious. Then they get behind a keyboard, post a passive aggressive remark and sit back to watch and stir up the $#!+storm they’ve created.
Do they not recognize what they’re doing? Do they not care?
I genuinely don’t understand the duplicity.
And I don’t think I ever will. But I think that for the first time, I do understand those are NOT my people. They aren’t interested in communicating well or how they are perceived. When they post something that tears down, they either don’t know, don’t care or don’t care that they don’t know. I don’t comment on their negative posts because it’s pretty clear I would be the odd man out. WAY out.
The comment threads are full of 1%ers. The 99%ers are quiet. We all know that if we counter-comment on a negative post, one of three things will happen:
1. We’ll get attacked and it won’t be pretty. 2. We’ll be covertly blocked from their posts in the future. 3. We’ll get unfriended.
Maybe the people in the 99% are staying quiet because they’re taking a look at what’s being posted and instinctively responding with: “Hard pass.”
So, while the 1% may be the loudest, it’s definitely not overflowing with people who want to be intentional about communicating well. Those are the people I’m looking for.
Are they all in the silent majority?”
Hubs, after listing to my rambling stream of consciousness thought process: “You need to work on this some more. You’re onto something, but you’re not there yet.” Me: “What do you mean?” Hubs: “A cow has four stomachs.” Me: “So…what? I’m on stomach #2? Hubs: “I love how you knew what I was talking about.”
So is my thing metaphors? I do love metaphors.
And so I continue to work on it.
I remembered something else Albert Hsu said in the podcast:
“We don’t write apologetics books for the non-christian. They’re not going to pick up a Christian book. We write the book for the Christian friend…to serve them to reach their friend.”
Translating that to helping people strengthen their communication skills: I can’t help people who don’t care that they use language as a weapon. I can help the people they hurt – to respond effectively, respectfully and empathetically.
I can help those who DO care about the impact of their words and those who are silent, not because they have nothing of value to contribute, but because because they feel marginalized. If I can find them, I want to equip some of the 99%ers to become effective peacemakers, to model respectful debate and to resolve conflict empathetically.
And who knows? Maybe, just maybe, some of the negative 1%ers will notice. and begin to care.
I saw something in a facebook comment yesterday that immediately and instinctively evoked what I’ll conservatively refer to as a negative reaction. It was about members of the coronavirus Task Force and the comment was posted during the live briefing. I tried to let it die in the cluttered recesses of my mind, but it was literally the first thing that came to me when I woke up this morning – much too early. So, in an effort to get a full night’s rest tonight, I’m hoping that writing about it will lead to sleeping in just a bit later tomorrow morning.
Here’s the sleep stealing comment:
“They must be doctor shopping, Fauci, gone, surgeon general home., the lady doctor no longer smiles. She must be on her way out”
Pushing past the primary school level punctuation, I wondered if I was the only one reading this thread who noticed that Fauci was referred to by name and the Surgeon General was referred to by title, but the “lady” doctor was referred to by neither and – although the briefing was packed with nearly two hours of content including her taking a turn at the microphone multiple times – this guy’s comment about her was that she wasn’t SMILING.
Because when you brief the press about a global pandemic, you need to smile.
Stifling my inner Red Foreman, my mind went next to the part of this video about one minute in:
“Do it again, but just this time try it a bit more…smiley.”
“You want me to s-smile?”
“yeah. Just, you know, more…leading lady.”
“The scene gets quite tragic…”
I thought about replying to the comment, but judging by the content of the other comments and replies I already saw and how fast they were being posted (including the bird finger emoji above the lady doctor comment), I had a strong sense that anything positive I might have to say about the “lady” doctor would be of no more interest to this person than her actual name.
Which is Deborah Birx.
And while the commenter was correct in assuming she is a doctor, he also could have referred to her by one of her other titles, like (retired Army) Colonel or Ambassador.
“Birx was nominated by President Barack Obama as United States Global AIDS Coordinator and confirmed by the Senate; she was sworn in April 4, 2014.” Wikepedia
Before she was confirmed as an Ambassador under the Obama Administration, Birx served as the Director of CDC’s Division of Global HIV/AIDS from 2005-2014. From 1996-2005, she served as the Director of the U.S. Military HIV Research Program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.
But according to this particular pundit, she and everyone else on the Task Force “have no clue.”
Maybe the people who actually know this guy in real life wouldn’t view his comment about the “lady” doctor not smiling as misogynistic.
But I don’t know him. And this comment – on a PUBLIC facebook post, where anyone can read it – is all I know about him. He summed it up well with his last comment: