Book Review: Financial Fitness: The Offense, Defense, And Playing Field Of Personal Finance

Financial-fitness-bookForced To Ponder

I wasn’t sure how to respond.

I recently made a new acquaintance at my church who studies and understands financial matters. We were discussing my stewardship pastor role at the church and my use of Dave Ramsey materials for financial instruction.

He told me that he believes Dave spends too much time on the defensive side of money. All he talks about is budgeting, getting out of debt, and emergency funds.

I really couldn’t argue too much with my new friend. He was making a solid point.

My friend then recommended that I look into the Financial Fitness materials by LIFE Leadership. So, I bought the Kindle version of their book and did a quick read on it in a few days.

In this post, I’ll share a few of the highlights of what I learned.

3 Key Elements I Learned From Reading This Book

Financial Fitness: The Offense, Defense, and Playing Field of Personal Finance by LIFE Leadership Written by Chris Brady and Orrin Woodward

1. I have perhaps spent too much time on the financial defense side of money then the offensive side. Here’s an excellent quote from the book that makes this exact point:

“Most books on personal finance start (and, all too often, end) with a focus on financial defense (how to get out of debt, protect your money, and prepare for contingencies). But defense is the wrong place to start because it creates the wrong mindset. Defense of money is vitally important, but making it the first priority often puts people in an attitude of scarcity rather than abundance. We will cover financial offense (making more money) first and then defense (protecting one’s resources) later because the values and attitudes of financial offense are naturally abundant, aggressive, and bold. Successful financial offense requires initiative, innovation, ingenuity, and tenacity—the entrepreneurial values” (Kindle location 1212).

2. I need to excel in my current job role, and then figure out a side income to throw off passive cash flow. While this wasn’t necessarily a big news flash for me, it was a good reminder for me on how to stay on financial offense. Here are three excellent quotes from this book regarding this point:

“As you truly excel in your current role, you will naturally be given more responsibility, and as you do the same with the new duties, you will build yourself into a better and better leader. This is why the offense side of finances is so important in achieving financial fitness. Whatever you are working on right now in your life, truly excel at it in order to fully invest in yourself. The natural result will be progress and increasing prosperity and opportunities” (Kindle location 1432).

“If you have a job, it means doing the same thing as an intrapreneur—thinking like an entrepreneur, a leader, and an innovator at your work, rather than just fitting in to your job description. It means adopting an ownership mentality, thinking and acting like an owner rather than just settling for an employee mentality. Focus on the owner mentality in your choices, work, interaction with others, and in all tasks, character opportunities, and relationships whether or not you are actually the owner—as an entrepreneur or intrapreneur, or both” (Kindle location 1420).

“One of the key principles of financial fitness is to increase your passive income, even if you continue to work at a primary active income source. Of course, if you are currently employed, don’t quit your job until your passive income has surpassed your active income (and you have sought professional advice, gotten out of debt, done the proper planning, and so forth). As we said earlier, you can keep carrying buckets for your employer, but it is also helpful to begin building your own pipeline of passive income” (Kindle location 1753 ).

3. I need to give more consideration to Emergency Preparation: food, water, power, guns, cash, and precious metals. In my mind, I would think that emergency preparation would fall under the area of financial defense. Brady and Woodard categorize this interestingly enough under financial offense. Here is a lengthy but excellent quote on this topic:

“Saving for a worst case includes the opposite of compounding money, which we will call “impounding.” This means putting away various forms of money just in case catastrophic things happen. Stash some cash in a safe, secure, secret place. And in case inflation ruins the value of the currency, put away some silver coins as well. Silver is better than gold for this purpose because in a worst-case world, gold will be very valuable, so a gold coin will be worth a lot more than the food you will want to buy with it. Small silver coins will be easier to trade for small needs. Gold can be used to effectively protect larger amounts from loss of value due to government inflation (more on this later). Saving for a worst case includes the opposite of compounding money, which we will call “impounding.” By the way, don’t be too extreme about this. We are not doom and gloomers, and we’re not predicting a world with roving bandits and no electricity. It could happen, but so could a lot of things. We are simply suggesting that part of sound money planning is to realize that bank holidays and closed banks can happen. They occurred during the Great Depression, even though the world didn’t end. But people with some cash and silver were able to purchase food and fuel when others could not. And major storms, natural disasters, and other challenges can come also. So be prepared. Don’t be fanatical. Just take some wise precautions. Another valuable investment on this same level is food storage. Get the kind that lasts many years and keep it in a cool, dry place. Many people store guns and bullets with their food and metal coins. Learning to hunt might be a very helpful preparation. Again, this is for last-ditch survival needs, but having it as part of your investment hierarchy can be very valuable” (Kindle location 2323).

My Recommendation

Okay, so here’s my recommendation: I highly recommend reading Financial Fitness, especially if you have been down in the trenches with the Dave Ramsey philosophy for a while. I’m not saying that the Dave philosophy is bad, but you can get too immersed in financial defense for too long. This has the potential for developing a financial scarcity mindset, which isn’t where you want to be, long-term.

This book can help you get turned back around to focusing on financial offense, which leads to abundance thinking. I wonder what this world would be like if people had thoughts of abundance rather than scarcity mindsets?

Questions: Have you read Financial Fitness? What were your takeaways from this book? Would you recommend this book to others?

Does The Bible Really Contain A Secret Money Code?

Photo by Susan Kambalu

Photo by Susan Kambalu

Sean Hyman And The Biblical Money Code

His advertisements are everywhere!

Over the last few months, it seems like anytime I have my local talk radio station on, Fox News, or simply browsing the web, I keep running into advertisements for Sean Hyman’s Biblical Money Code.

A few weeks ago, I was curious enough to just go ahead and purchase the lowest subscription possible to check out what all the hype is on this Biblical Money Code book is all about.

Buying The Biblical Money Code book is really more of an opportunity for you to end up on an email subscription to the Ultimate Wealth Report plus NewsMax.com. Of course, this is the new normal in today’s digital marketing age, so now I am blessed with at least two to three extra emails cluttering up my inbox each day!

But, you do also receive several ebooks and other pieces of financial information for your purchase. It’s not a complete “bait and switch.”

Who Is Sean Hyman?

Sean Hyman is a former pastor who has allegedly moved from making $15,000 a year to now giving away up to $50,000 a year. He didn’t make this kind of money in church work, however! Here’s a portion of Sean’s bio regarding his financial work:

Sean Hyman has become a trusted correspondent on CNBC, Fox Business and Bloomberg due to his extensive background in the financial markets, having spent more than 20 years in the investing trenches. Over that time, he’s been a stockbroker at Charles Schwab, a trading course instructor for foreign exchange market maker Forex Capital Markets (FXCM), a financial writer for numerous outlets, and a key speaker at conferences both nationally and internationally. Over the course of his career Hyman has also held five financial licenses …

… Sean Hyman became the editor of the Ultimate Wealth Report newsletter because he loves teaching and helping others to have a better life than what they’d had before. His goal with the Ultimate Wealth Report is “to shepherd readers in the right direction so their wealth doesn’t get eaten away by inflation, but rather benefits from the rise of inflation.”

A Fast Overview Of The Six Keys

The primary ebook focused on the Biblical Money Code that you receive as part of your subscription is called The Six Keys To Financial Success. Like many ebooks you receive online, it’s a brief 47 pages and a quick read.

In the ebook’s introduction, Sean makes the case that in order for God to bless us financially, we need to follow all the financial wisdom in Scripture. In order to unlock the full potential of the Biblical Money Code in our lives, we must be fully obedient to all God’s wisdom, not just part. That won’t work.

Sean states that most people only follow some or part of the Biblical financial wisdom found in Scripture. Perhaps, they may tithe on a regular basis, but the rest of their financial life is a complete mess. Or, maybe they live a debt free lifestyle, but don’t tithe.

Sean drives home the point that a believer living in full obedience to each financial principle unlocks the full and complete blessing of God in the area of personal finances.

Here are the six Biblical financial principles that Sean focuses on:

  • Principle #1: Pray for God’s Favor and Blessing In Your Work.
  • Principle #2: Tithes and Offerings: 10% Plus Some, Not Just 10%.
  • Principle #3: Save Money and Reduce Your Debts
  • Principle #4: Invest for Your Future
  • Principle #5: Philanthropy
  • Principle #6: Being the Lender and Not the Borrower

My Take On The The Six Keys To Financial Success

I am of the personal opinion based on my own research PLUS personal experience that there is a “Biblical Money Code.” Is it some kind of big secret or something? No, of course not. But, the Bible does give us A LOT of common sense wisdom when it comes to handling money.

I do believe that God blesses complete obedience to His Word and His will. I also believe in the power of the Law of the Harvest. When you do the right things in the right order and in the right way, you will reap a bountiful harvest.

This is so very true in this area of personal finances. If you follow Biblical financial wisdom in every area (giving, saving, spending, debt, and investing), then God will bless you. You will reap what you have sown.

BUT, I would be hard pressed to say that this will happen every time for every person in every situation, though.

God is God, and He does not always conform to the box that we place Him in. He may allow negative financial circumstances into our lives, even if we may be following this “Biblical Money Code.”

Why would God allow this to happen, though, if we’re playing by these Biblical money rules?

It’s always difficult to pinpoint a definitive answer. We may never know this side of heaven. Perhaps God is teaching us an important spiritual lesson. Maybe He wants us to learn to rely on Him, rather than money. Or, maybe, He wants us to learn a lesson in controlling our emotions and growing in the virtue of patience.

I believe the key is remaining open to growth in your life when your expectations aren’t met, even when you are doing all the right things. But, don’t give up, though. Keep on doing all the right things in spite of the circumstances. There will be a tremendous payoff, eventually. Remain obedient, teachable, and press through to the end!

Questions: Do you believe in a Biblical Money Code? Why or why not? Have you experienced the Law of the Harvest in your personal finances from following these principles?






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My Top 10 Blog Posts In 2013 According To Pageview Traffic

Photo by sam_churchill

Photo by sam_churchill

Preface

In a blog post earlier in the week, I took a look at My Top 10 Favorite Personal Blog Posts in 2013. In this post, I will list the top 10 blog posts in 2013 on my personal blog, larrywjones.com, according to pageview traffic analytics. Let me qualify this list by saying that some of these posts were written prior to 2013, but they still received a lot of pageviews in this year.

In order to read each post listed below in its entirety, just click on the embedded links. So, without further delay, here are the top ten posts in 2013 according to pageview traffic [drum roll, please]:

Top 10 Blog Posts in 2013 According to Pageview Traffic

10. Are You Simply A Volunteer Or Are You Called To Ministry? In this post, I look at the differences between those church members who only volunteer their time and talents, versus those who sense a deep calling to use their time and talents to advance the Kingdom of God. There is a major attitude and investment difference that’s worth noting.

9. Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan. Several years ago, I went through a period of brokeness in my life. While many people would have probably just given up, thrown in the towel, and chucked the “Christian life” thing, I drew closer to the Lord and grew in my faith. I moved to a new, better place in my life. In this post, I share additional details on how the Lord truly took me from broken to superhuman.

8. 8 Characteristics Of An All-Star LinkedIn Profile. The truly, engaged professional has a killer LinkedIn profile. The best profiles are similar to online resumes, but on digital steroids! Over the last two years, I’ve become a huge fan of the various tools and features that LinkedIn has to offer professional business people. In this post, I outline the eight characteristics of the very best profiles out there, today.

7. What Should You Do When You’re Waiting On God For Your Next Move? I have received a favorable response from several people telling me how much the post personally spoke to them. I believe this post spoke to others because it reflects some of my one personal frustrations as I circle about in my own circumstantial holding patterns. I can speak from the knowledge of my own personal experience.

6. 7 Tips To Successfully Motivate Volunteers In Your Organization. Whether or not your volunteers feel a sense of calling or simply a spirit of volunteerism, there are practical techniques you as a leader can use to successfully motivate your followers. In this post, I give seven tips that have worked well for me over the last 16 years.

5. How To Organize Your LinkedIn Connections On A Free Account. A free account on LinkedIn doesn’t mean that you have to go without practical tools to organize your professional connections. In this post, I use screenshots to walk you through a systematic approach to organize your hundreds of connections.

4. 5 Awesome Books That Have Radically Changed My Life And Made Me More Productive. This is another one of my posts in which I still receive a very positive response. Here, I list five books I have read in the last few years that continue to have a positive impact on my personal life. I highly recommend them for your library.

3. 5 Ways To Live A More Elegant Life. The elegant life is not praised or promoted in our modern era. Why is this? I’m not entirely certain, but society in general continues to degrade into a more crude and rude state. How we dress, talk, eat, and walk does make an impact on those we come in contact with. “Suit up” and check out this post!

2. 14 Practical Leadership Lessons I Have Learned From Being An Orchestra Director. I’ve been directing volunteer orchestras now for almost 20 years. During this time, through much trial and error, I’ve picked up several important leadership lessons. In this post, I share what I’ve discovered about leadership along the way. Interestingly enough, this post really “caught fire” in my digital circle of influence, and this post was also featured over on the XPastor.org website: A Recent Post Featured Today Over At XPastor.org | 14 Leadership Lessons.

1. 6 Characteristics Of A Renaissance Man. This post was one of my first, early entries on the blog when I had a slightly different emphasis on Renaissance living. Interestingly enough, due to numerous Google searches on renaissance men, this page receives a ton of traffic. It’s far and away (like 30x more pageviews than the next popular post) my most visited blog post. Even though I shifted my blog emphasis to whole life stewardship, this is still a great blog post, in my humble opinion.

Book Review | Let Go by Pat Flynn

Let Go book by Pat FlynnLet Go Day

Today is Let Go Day. Here’s the info on this special day that Pat Flynn personally sent to me just a few days ago:

The event is going to be a blast. Let Go Day is a celebration of everyone who has ever Let Go, bet on themselves and pursued their own path. Here are all the exciting details.

What: Two-hour LIVE UStream Broadcast with me and special guests
When: Monday, June 17th (TODAY!) beginning 12:00 P.M. Pacific / 3:00 P.M. Eastern
Where: letgoday.com
Why: Because who doesn’t like a party?! 🙂
Who: You, your friends, and your future friends

I’ll be hosting the LIVE broadcast for two hours! My family may make an appearance. My Let Go team may make an appearance. And some special guests may make an appearance. We’ll talk about our Let Go stories as well as yours, if you share them with us. There will be a few ways to share your stories:

  • Via #LetGoDay Twitter hashtag
  • In the Ustream chat during the webinar
  • In the comments of the Let Go Day blog post on Smart Passive Income (coming soon!)

We’ll also be holding a giveaway every 15-20 minutes on the broadcast. We’re still finalizing the giveaways, but you can be assured that awesome books and gift cards will be included.

Let Go | The Book

This day is also a celebration of blogger/podcaster Pat Flynn’s first published book, Let Go. I had the opportunity to read Pat’s book over the weekend, and I wanted to share my insights to my readers on Pat’s special day:

  • The book is a super quick read! It only took my about 45 minutes to go from beginning to end.
  • The price point is excellent for a short book. $2.99 over at Amazon.com.
  • Inspirational is the best word to describe Pat’s first book. I came away stoked and inspired to keep working on my own blog and various side projects I have going right now.
  • This book resonates with my message here on my blog: “moving from ordinary to extraordinary.” Pat has certainly done that in his life through building an awesome online empire!
  • I loved all the quotes Pat used for each chapter heading. Great quotes, Pat!

Here are some great life lessons I came away with from Let Go:

  1. Lesson 1: Things work out when you least expect them.
  2. Lesson 2: Great decisions can put you in front of great opportunities.
  3. Lesson 3: Hard work and dedication do pay off, over time.
  4. Lesson 4: Creating a blog is a great tool for the blogger himself to learn and grow.
  5. Lesson 5: Negative events (such as being “let go” from a job) can lead to amazing things. I’ve shared this same principle in my recent FREE eBook Moving From Broken To Superhuman.
  6. Lesson 6: Use times of life transition to learn and grow.
  7. Lesson 7: “This isn’t your fault. We’re going to be okay.” Life stuff happens, but things end up working out in the end. Keep the faith. Play the cards dealt to you.
  8. Lesson 8: Make smart financial decisions during a life crisis. I don’t know if Pat and his wife are Dave Ramsey followers, but they seem to know how to handle their finances, wisely. Love it!
  9. Lesson 9: Podcasts are great tools for personal growth.
  10. Lesson 10: Create mastermind groups of like-minded individuals.
  11. Lesson 11: Hustle, hustle, hustle.
  12. Lesson 12: Going back to school to get another degree isn’t always the best solution.
  13. Lesson 13: Family is the most important thing. Cherish your moments together.

Click on my affiliate link below to get this amazing, inexpensive, inspirational book on Pat’s life story. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.

Let Go by Pat Flynn


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Why You Should Become A Writer

Photo by Jeffrey James Pacres

Photo by Jeffrey James Pacres

Writers Make Their Mark

Great minds read books. Great minds also write books. If you think back across history, many of our most memorable historical figures were writers.

From Biblical history, I think of Moses, King David, King Solomon, and the Apostle Paul. These men were some of the greatest minds of their respective eras and wrote the majority of the canonical Bible.

Outside of Biblical history, I’m reminded of the respective geniuses of people such as Plato, Homer, Plutarch, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Tolstoy, and Mark Twain.

Why Are Writers So Great?

Writers are, for the most part, highly analytical thinkers. They think about the era in which they live. They consider their place in history in a big, multi-cultural world. They bring a unique perspective to life in their time and place in this world through the lens of culture, family, religion, upbringing, and political leanings.

Writers are typically very disciplined. Some of the greatest writers carve time out of their schedules each day to write. They understand that they need to just show up everyday and write something. One day it may only be 100 words. Another day it may be 1,000. The key though is to keep plugging away at this writing thing. There will be times of great productivity and other times of drought. Great writers discipline themselves to show up each day and pray for inspiration to produce an amazing product.

Because writers tend to be so analytical and disciplined, we can get a view of their world at the time of their writing. We are in essence looking at a snapshot of the mind and the times of the writer in their era.

Clear writing is also evidence of clear thinking. Great writers know what to omit. They understand that they need to edit and re-write to bring clarity to their writing. Of course, not all writing is this way (for example, journals), but the majority of final product writing has been written, edited, and re-written several times.

Why Write?

There are a number of great reasons to be a writer.

One, writing helps clarify your thinking. I know that when I tend to struggle with problems, I find myself journaling and perhaps even writing blog posts on subjects I’m wrestling with. Writing is a great way get all your thoughts out of your head and investigate possible solutions.

Two, writing can instill self-discipline. Setting up a time each day to write can bring discipline to other areas of your life. I know this has been true in my own life. It takes effort to wake up early in the morning and tackle a project such as writing first thing. But, I love it. I enjoy the discipline and process of writing. I look forward to my alarm going off at 4:30am so I can start writing.

Three, writing can leave a legacy to those you care about it. Whenever the Lord decides to take me home to be with Him, my immediate as well as extended family will have a lot of “me” to sift through. I’ve written 2-3 blogs worth of material. I’ve written several journals. I’ve written one e-book to date. If my children want to know the “real Larry Jones,” then all they need to do is read my writing. I can’t think of a greater gift to give your children and grandchildren: a peek into your mind through your own personal writing.

Four, writing could lead to a different career path. I believe there’s a growing trend to hire good writers for any number of positions. In the book Rework by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, we read the following:

“If you are trying to decide among a few people to fill a position, hire the best writer. It doesn’t matter if that person is a marketer, salesperson, designer, programmer, or whatever; their writing skills will pay off” (p. 222).

Questions: So, are you a writer? Have you ever considered becoming a writer? If you are a writer, how long have you been a writer? What tangible benefits have you discovered by being a writer?

Rework


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Moving From Broken To Superhuman: Your 5-Step Action Plan

Photo by Bindaas Madhavi

Photo by Bindaas Madhavi

My Life Fell Apart

In April of 2009, my life was blasted into a million pieces. I lost my identity as a husband, family man, Christian, and even as an ordained pastor.

I was handed a separation and divorce I simply did not want. I spent hours in prayer. People in my church prayed over me. I tried everything in my power over an 18-month time period to repair a marriage that was hopelessly over. No dice. I lost.

But, out of the ashes of destruction came a new work. New life was reborn out of the rubble of the past. Over time and with God’s help, I began Moving from Broken to Superhuman.

A 5-Step Action Plan

As a result of these incredible life challenges, I stumbled into a 5-Step Action Plan as I worked my way through my brokeness in search of healing. These five steps helped me regain my life perspective. They renewed my faith of what could be possible with God’s help and a lot of hard work.

Over the last several years, I’ve seen many people go through some major life challenges. Some are able to “walk through the fire” and not be consumed. They come out okay, maybe even better on the other side.

Others, though, seem to struggle through their difficulties. They can’t get any traction in their lives. They’re treading water and seem hopelessly stuck.

The great news is that it doesn’t have to be this way.

So, how can one person emerge victorious from their problems, and another be stuck with little hope of moving forward? I believe my 5-Step Action Plan can give you the tools to move from defeat to victory.

This little ebook addresses the problems and the accompanying solutions. So, do you want to stay stuck where you are right now, or are you ready to move forward?

3D Book Cover

You can’t buy Moving From Broken To Superhuman in bookstores. In fact, you can’t buy it anywhere on the Internet. There’s only one way to get it—by subscribing to my FREE email newsletter.

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All you need to do is fill in the form above or the one on the top right-side of this page. Once you do that and confirm your subscription, I will email you the download link to this amazing, FREE resource.

If you’re really struggling with difficulties in your life right now, here’s an opportunity for you to learn and grow from my tragic experience. What do you have to lose? A better question: what are you losing out on if you don’t get my FREE ebook?

Question: If you have read my e-book, what did you think? Feel free to leave a comment and let me know what you thought of it. Thanks!

5 Strategies To Develop Your Volunteer Teams

Photo by mtsofan

Photo by mtsofan

Volunteer Development

In a normal work environment, employees are routinely and strategically developed in their professional growth. While most employees typically understand the necessity for their own proactive, self-motivated development, I’m not quite as confident that volunteers always have the same view of their individual role within an organization. Of course, volunteer development is strictly based on the type of task that needs to be performed.

For example, if you’re volunteering to feed the homeless at a soup kitchen, then a minimum of training is required (i.e. stand here and scoop these potatoes onto each plate). If you’re volunteering to teach a 5th grade boys Sunday School class at church, then I can see the potential for training in the areas of teaching, discipline, classroom management, and so on. Every volunteer position will vary in difficulty and training required to accomplish the task.

I believe the majority of volunteers show up to fill a spot. They can see and understand that there is a need. Then, they step up to meet the perceived need. I’m not always sure, though, that they understand the training and development necessary to perform their role.

If you are a leader of volunteers, then you need to passionately guide volunteers in their personal growth and development. Here are some strategies I have found useful in leading my volunteer groups.

5 Strategies For Your Volunteer Development Arsenal

  1. Model Superstardom: if you want your volunteer group to perform at an amazingly high level, then your own personal performance has to be at the extreme high-end of your own expectations. The groups that you lead will not typically rise past your own level and ability as the leader. If you desire for them to be superstars, then you need to be a superstar performer yourself, first. “You can’t lead anyone else further than you have gone yourself. “ – Gene Mauch
  2. The 5-Minute Motivational Speech: no, this isn’t shades of Matt Foley (“… living in a van, down by the river” stuff). This is actually a quasi-newer addition for me in my development arsenal. So far, I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from my volunteers. They view it as spiritual devotional at the beginning of our time together. I actually view it as a way to teach and motivate my volunteers each week. Either way you view it, though, it works well as a connecting and teaching opportunity.
  3. Print and digital newsletter: for 16 years, I have done several motivational activities within the context of print media. For my own volunteer organization, we utilize a print newsletter and digital pdf version that we email out each week. Within each publication, I typically utilize these two articles to subtly and consistently develop my team. The Quote of the Week: at the top my weekly newsletter, I attempt to include a motivational and encouraging quote. You know you’ve hit a home run on a quote when members take that quote and put it up on Facebook after reading it! Note from Larry (or Note from the Leader): in this section of the newsletter, I always try to be an encourager of their successes and grateful for their commitment to the mission and vision.
  4. Workshops: whenever possible, we schedule small workshops to assist in the development of our volunteers. We occasionally will also go off site for larger workshops and conferences.
  5. Books: there have been a few occasions when I have utilized short books with smaller groups of leaders. Books are always great tools to learn and grow, even in the context of a small group. You can read through them together and have group discussions regarding what you’re learning.

Questions: Are you a leader of volunteers? Do you use any of these five strategies and have they been effective with your teams? What other strategies have you utilized and how effective have they been?