Category Archives: leadership

my renewed commitment to diversity (one of the reasons i’m stoked about The Summit)

annie lockhart croppedmost people reading this blog would already know that i co-lead a little pot-stirring youth ministry organization called The Youth Cartel. and most would know that one of our most focused chances to stir is our event The Summit. if you’re familiar with TED talks, then you have an idea of what this event is like: 18 carefully selected, unique and brilliant presenters bringing laser-focused 12 – 15 minute talks specifically designed to spark your youth ministry imagination. in the spirit of TED (and, very much in the spirit of the wonderful and fun little book, The Medici Effect), The Summit includes presenters you’ve mostly never heard of offering provocative ideas or suggestions or challenges or prophetic words that are intended to help you dream big dreams; new dreams, even.

there are 50 or 100 uniqunesses about this event that get me pumped about it. i’m not alone in that; and it’s not only because i’m hosting this baby. in fact, those reasons are probably why april diaz, a seasoned youth ministry veteran who’s been to her share of national youth ministry events wrote this about last year’s event:

The best “youth ministry” conference I’ve ever been to! The format was provocative. The content was challenging. The community high caliber. Just incredible.

BethanyStolle-headshot-croppedit’s why marti burger, the head of youth ministries for the evangelical covenant church (denomination), wrote:

Loved the variety of voices, the challenges, the opportunity to dream, vision and create new concepts moving forward. This isn’t a conference where you will walk away with something you can use on Wednesday but a chance to discern how to re-image ministry. Such a gift!

bryan lorittsso, yeah, i’m pumped. but there’s another reason.

a few months ago, my friend efrem smith shared an image on facebook that showed how little progress we seem to have made on reflecting the diversity of youth ministry leaders when it comes to the “stage” and “page.” in other words, we haven’t been intentional enough about finding and raising up both women and non-white youth workers. now: i’m a white dude. add to that: i turn 50 a week from friday — so in the youth ministry world, i easily qualify as an “old white guy.” i still have something to say, and i don’t want to be sidelined because of my skin color or age.

Christy Lang Hearlson Headshot 2012but i’ve really come to see that the church (particularly the evangelical wing of the church) doesn’t have much of a “farm team” system for raising up speakers and writers who aren’t white dudes. i wouldn’t be speaking and writing today, honestly, if i hadn’t given a whole lot of mediocre talks and written some “just ok” stuff when i was younger.

my interactions with efrem about that post (we had a fantastic four hour lunch, and a bunch of emails) convicted me that The Youth Cartel’s value of finding new voices simply must include those who are often marginalized. and in the spirit of The Summit, the best new thinking often comes from the margins. (i have also been reminded of my interactions with dr. soong-chan rah from north park university, who challenged me and mentored me years ago in this area.)

crystal kirgissi’ve had an interesting a-ha. when our criteria for finding presenters isn’t “who’s really well known? who will be good for our marketing efforts?” the process of finding diverse presenters who will bring significant contribution gets reframed. it’s still work. but it’s not an almost-impossible task.

as a result: while the topics planned for presentations at this year’s Summit have me totally stoked, the mix of presenters has me even more so.

holly rankin zaher-croppedwe currently have 14 of our 18 presenters locked in. there are only 5 white dudes in that mix (and only two of us — me and mark devries — would qualify as “old white dudes”). there are 6 women. there are 5 non-white presenters. we’re actively pursuing 5 more presenters this week (with the ideal of landing 4 of them), and those 5 include 3 women. those 5 include 3 people of color.

jeffrey wallacethis effort (and success!) is much more than some sort of a politically-correct marketing ploy. this is core to the DNA of The Youth Cartel. and it’s core to The Summit being an event where you still truly have your imagination sparked. and it’s why you won’t hear a bunch of ideas or thoughts that you’ve already heard in one variation or another sixteen times before.

it was a very happy moment for me at last year’s event when, as Anne Jackson was getting ready to go up on stage, she whispered to me, “i just realized that of the 6 presenters in this session, i’m the only white person!” yeah: and that session totally rocked it.

we hope you’ll join us at The Summit. but we also hope you’ll join us in looking to the margins. it’s pretty rare that fresh stuff comes from the middle.

lem usitatheresa mazza

(oh, and by the way: if you register for The Summit before June 1, you get a VERY sweet bonus. you call ALL the audio and video of this year’s event for FREE!)

Orbiting the Hairball: Innovation without Disconnection (part 3 of 3)

(part 1 of this series explored the need for most of us, despite the desire to be innovators, to stay connected to our organizations via the gravitational pull of orbiting. part 2 looked at forces that corrode innovation.)

bow thrustersTwo Essential Thrusters for Sustaining Orbit
Spaceships and Large Ocean Vessels share a technology that helps them make minor directional adjustments without firing up their engines: thrusters. On a boat, bow thrusters move the front of the ship left or right. On a spacecraft, they provide short bursts of propulsion to move in any direction.

In order for us to stay in the sweet spot between a useless trajectory of our own and getting mired in the disabling affect of the hairball, we need two thrusters.

Anyone with healthy or unhealthy resistance to change (most of us have this) need a dose of courage from time to time to push us in the direction of innovation. Here’s what I have learned: I cannot make myself have courage anymore than I can make myself have the fruit of the Spirit. Spiritual courage comes from the Holy Spirit.

The etymology of the word itself tells us this. The root of courage (“cour”) means “heart”; and courage literally means “to have a full heart.” Excitement and praise and rewards and potential can partially fill my heart. But they’re not sustainable. My heart can only be truly topped off in the face of significant risk by the fuel of the Holy Spirit.

I’m done being an arrogant risk-taker. I want no part of innovation born out of my own hubris. Instead, I long to experience a life of humility. Humility can keep me from believing my innovations are sure-fire. Humility can keep me from steamrolling people. Humility can prevent me from dismissing others, made in the image of God, who do not agree with my inventions.

I long to experience a life of Jesus-y courage tempered by Jesus-y humility.

I long for a tribe of youth workers who will fire up their thrusters of courage and humility, overcome their fears and insecurities, and move into orbit together, not disdaining the hairball, but exerting our own gravitational pull on it while it reciprocates with us.

Orbiting the Hairball: Innovation without Disconnection (part 2 of 3)

(part 1 of this series explored the need for most of us, despite the desire to be innovators, to stay connected to our organizations via the gravitational pull of orbiting.)

corrosionForces that Corrode Innovation
Even in the orbit, I have to be intentional about resisting the hairball’s pull. I’ve noticed a handful of things I have to be particularly cautious about.

The Love of New
I have a short attention span, and am constantly drawn to the next new thing (whether it’s a youth ministry idea or a smart phone). Whatever good or broken thing in me drives this has to be stabled from time to time.

New for the sake of new causes all kinds of problems. When I live this way, and think this way, I hurt people. I get more interested in the new thing than in people. I both reflect and add to our cultural obsession with acquiring new things and discarding (potentially good) old things. I set myself up to miss out on the beauty of stillness and unchanging. I get ruthlessly dismissive about what was good. I have, in the name of new, tossed many an archetypal baby out with bathwater that was hurl-worthy.

My Own Insecurities
I can be a bull in a china shop, to be sure; but sometimes only because I like being perceived as the kind of guy who’s willing to be that bull.

In my desire to be innovative, my insecurities work against me in two ways:

First, my insecurities and desire for approval fuel me to innovate merely so I will be perceived as an innovator. Seriously, how lame is that? Surely, any innovation born out of that motivation will be short-lived at best, or hollow and hurtful at the worst.

On the other side of the equation, my insecurities work against me to curb innovation. The thinking that lurks in my subconscious says, “In this case, it would be easier and safer to retreat to the majority way or the old way where tried and true measures of success are more predictable.

A Desire for Security
The professionalization of youth ministry brought some undeniable changes. But, in many ways, it’s the worst thing that ever happened to youth ministry. When we are—when I am—being paid to do youth ministry, our innovation muscles are unavoidably restrained.

I find this a tension regularly in my work with The Youth Cartel. I deeply desire for us to “instigate a revolution in youth ministry.” But I also need to figure out how to pay my mortgage, and pay my daughter’s upcoming college tuition. There’s great job security in not being a boat rocker.

Fear of Being Marginalized
I’ve been confronted with my fears at a much more visceral level since I lost my job at Youth Specialties more than three and a half years ago. My fears sort of sicken me; but as I’ve identified them, they’ve played a wonderful role in my pursuit of humility.

I know I have an almost insatiable desire to live larger-than-life. The squiggly thing under the rock is my fear of being forgotten, marginalized, lacking influence. It’s a counter-productive fear, and it stunts my creativity.

You might not share this exact same fear (though I think it’s common to the majority of youth pastors). But, what I’ve so strongly found in the coaching and consulting work I do these days is that every organization and every leader carries with them fears that are more than willing to stifle creativity and innovation, truncate risk, and derail deep transformation. Being honest about your fears, when it comes to change and risk, is a critical component of maintaining orbit around the hairball.

next up, in part 3: Two Essential Thrusters for Sustaining Orbit

Orbiting the Hairball: Innovation without Disconnection (part 1 of 3)

Here’s a tension I live with: I’m passionate about innovation in youth ministry, but—if I’m really honest—I’m not a true entrepreneur.

I want to stir up change. I love hearing about bold and risky youth workers who are experimenting. I often scramble up on my little soapbox and rant about this or that perspective or approach that needs to be dismantled. Heck, I even started a fledgling organization called The Youth Cartel (not a safe name, to be sure), with the tagline: Instigating a Revolution in Youth Ministry.

But I also have all these internal and external forces—fear, complacency, expediency—that pull me back to the way it’s always been done. I’ll speak to a group of youth workers on a weekend about the need for change, write a ranty blog post on Monday, encourage a youth worker in my Youth Ministry Coaching Program to take a huge risk on Tuesday, then fall back into what’s easiest with my middle school small group on Wednesday night.

At times, I think I’m just a wannabe innovator.

orbitingMaybe that’s why I find such great encouragement in one of the strangest and most wonderful little books I’ve ever read, Orbiting the Giant Hairball, by the late Gordon MacKenzie. MacKenzie tells weird stories and gleans principles from his decades-long working life at Hallmark, the bastion of greeting cards. The author constantly struggled with the bureaucracy, red tape, naysayers, and compliance-demanding systems of his workplace. But, through a bit of luck and a big dose of creativity, he shaped himself into a sort of corporate shaman with the absurdist job title: Creative Paradox (really, that was his job title).

There are dozens of gems in the book; but my primary, ongoing takeaway (I’ve read it about five times) is in the metaphor of the title. While the world needs eccentric and whatever-the-cost entrepreneurs (the world of youth ministry surely needs these people), most of us live our vocational lives in organizations, with hairballs that exert significant gravitational pull. If we want to have an impact on the organization (in our case, our churches), we have to avoid two extremes: we have to find ways to protect ourselves from getting sucked into the hairball while not shooting off into our own trajectory. We have to orbit, staying in the gravitational pull of the hairball without succumbing to it.

A true youth ministry entrepreneur would say, “I’m going to do this a new way, no matter what happens: whether I keep my job or lose it; whether I impact the church or have to do this outside the church.” We need those people; but I’m realizing that’s not me. I’m called to the orbit. And I think most church-based youth workers–shoot, really, anyone who isn’t self-employed!–is called to the orbit.

coming up in the next two posts…
in part 2: Forces that Corrode Innovation
in part 3: Two Essential Thrusters for Sustaining Orbit

willing to make the wrong decision

ymcpv west screen shot

yesterday i hosted the second meeting of one of my online YMCP groups. during our ’round the horn time of sharing highs and lows of the past month, as well as reporting on homework, one of the guys shared a bit of input he’d received from someone that, in the midst of a particular decision he was trying to make, he found shaping and instructive. it struck me as brilliant input, and i quickly jotted it down:

You don’t lack the ability to make the decision; what you lack is the willingness to make the wrong decision.

man, that’s it. that’s what, so often, keeps me frozen in the process of decision making. my fear over loss or scrutiny or embarrassment or the potential of spilled milk. and i see this over and over again with leaders of all sorts, including youth workers. great leaders are willing to make the wrong decision (and, of course, to own it when wrong decisions are made, rather than pointing at others or external factors). this isn’t a cry for impulsivity or a cavalier approach to decision making that ignores potential hurt or mess. instead, it’s an invitation to move out of that frozen space of indecision, with a willingness to risk.

are you willing to make the wrong decision?


the two things that trump best practices every time

i was on the phone the other day with a youth worker asking for input on “where should 6th grade go” question, and a bunch of ancillary questions flowing out of that first one.

after asking a handful of contextual questions, and listening for a while, i responded something like this:

i have two responses for you. one is the BIG DEAL answer. the other is the less of a big deal answer.

anytime someone asks me a question like this — whether it’s this exact question or one like it — my first response, and the very best response, is: the correct direction for your youth ministry, the best strategy, the best mission and values, the best program is always the one that you collaboratively discern from god.

in other words: who cares what smart answer i could give you about best practices, if the best practices i suggest to you — even if they really are best practices, tried and true, tested and proven by dozens or hundreds of churches — are not what god has planned for your youth ministry?

god is actively working in the world, and not sitting around waiting for you to figure out how to most effectively copy what that other church is doing so you can “bring god” to your community. so even when it comes to a seemingly mundane question like “what should we do with 6th grade?” the best answer is always “whatever god wants us to do with 6th grade.”

that’s the BIG DEAL answer.

after that — and still well before an “answer” rooted in best practices — is the less of a big deal answer:

what is called for in your community? what’s contextually appropriate?

for example: with the “what to do with 6th grade” question, if the BIG DEAL question doesn’t give you enough guidance, then ask yourself what the local schools do with 6th grade? it’s likely that the best contextual answer is there, in that.

seriously: once you’ve looked for the BIG DEAL answer and the less of a big deal answer, there’s not as much left for your brilliant brainstorming and planning and best practicing.

Leading Up: Finding Influence in the Church Beyond Role and Experience

i’m so excited about the release of joel mayward‘s new book, Leading Up: Finding Influence in the Church Beyond Role and Experience, published by The Youth Cartel. i’ve worked with joel on this book, in one way or another, for almost two years. it sprung out of a conversation we had in the very first youth ministry coaching program cohort (that joel was in). later in that year, he presented thoughts on it, in the form of a rough book outline, to that cohort; and the whole group spoke into it.

it’s a leadership fable, in the style of patrick lencioni’s books. and joel really pulled it off with excellence. not only for youth workers, the book would be helpful to any church leader not in the driver’s seat (that said: the main character in the fable is a youth worker).

here’s the back cover copy:

Far too many church leaders find themselves frustrated, floundering, or fired because their dreams for the church reach beyond the job description they were hired to fill. Whether you’re a pastor, an intern, or a volunteer, you’re not the one in charge of the congregation. Thankfully, neither is your boss; Jesus is the lead pastor for every church. His Spirit moves in each of us, and those gifted in leadership can find Christ-honoring practices for leading up- having influence that goes beyond role or experience. This isn’t about manipulation or rebellion, but about humbly participating in the mission of God in your church.

Leading Up is a leadership fable that unpacks a paradigm and practical tools for leading up in your church. Logan is a young pastor with a big vision for Evergreen Community Church, but cannot seem to move any of his ideas beyond wishful thinking. At a significant breaking point, a mentor comes alongside to mentor Logan on his journey of leadership, transforming both of these leaders and the church in the process. Logan’s affecting tale will offer compelling insights for any church leader wanting to expand their leadership skills.

until the book officially releases (which should be in about a week, i think), we’re offering a special pre-release discount of 25%, making it only $9.74 (instead of the $12.99 it will be very soon). pre-release sales are on the physical book only, but ebook versions will be available soon also (on The Youth Cartel store, as well as the kindle store and the apple ibook store). click here to order now at the pre-release price.

a case study of developing vocational values

shawn kiger is one of my heros. he’s been the youth pastor at the same small church (in a small town) for something like 14 years. and he has zero “aspiration” to move on to something “bigger or better.” shawn’s humble tenacity has resulted in all sorts of beautiful strength, both in his own life, and in the congregation where he serves (a congregation which, since he’s been there so long, is very much his church, not just the place he’s employed). there’s a certain grounded influence one can only have when one knew almost all the teenagers in the youth group from the day they were born.

but shawn is not coasting. he’s a learner, and seeks growth in his life and church and ministry. he proved that by jumping into the year-long process of the youth ministry coaching program. and, recently, he posted on his church’s blog about one aspect of his year in YMCP — the development of vocational values. i loved his post, and thought i would share it as a great case study (btw: shawn’s the bald guy off my right shoulder in this pic of his YMCP cohort – click the photo for a larger view):

From September 2011 through August of this year I was involved in a Youth Ministry Coaching Program. This cohort was made up of 10 youth pastors from all over the country and our leader Mark Oestreicher. We met every other month for two days in Nashville. In the off months there was homework to do, books to read, and a coaching call from our leader. This program is what they call whole-life coaching which means that we not only worked on our youth ministry knowledge, but also on ourselves. This program was hands down the best training I have ever attended and well worth the time and effort that I had to put into the last year.

One of the main things we talked about over the past year was values. What are the values that we live by in our own lives and what values are leading our ministry. This is something we don’t think about very much. We usually lead our lives and our ministries by what we think is right. Most of the time we never take the time to actually sit down and think about why we do the things we do. That was one of the great things about this coaching program. We were given time to think about what is most important to us and how we live that out both in our personal lives and in our ministries. The rationale behind taking this time to do this is so that we have a clear picture of where we want to go and how we are going to get there. The following are my personal vocational goals I came up with for myself.

  • Family time is essential to my well-being. Meaningful time with my family gives me life to accomplish everything else.
  • The church is essential to our faith. I believe God created the church to help us grow and live out our faith. I want to help the church live up to that.
  • God has called us to love others and to serve with the poor. I believe Jesus showed us how to love others. We need to stop talking about it and start doing it.
  • Personal growth and change is required to be who God called me to be. Learning new things and trying new things is the best way for me to reach teenagers for Christ.
  • Becoming a disciple of Jesus takes a discipline life. Daily God calls me to learn more about Him and to come closer to following Jesus’ example.

These 5 values are what make me tick. If I live these out, I believe I will be living what God has called me to be. Now I don’t always do all of these very well and never do all 5 of these perfect at the same time. But by having these written out, I can see where I am giving too much attention to one and leaving out another and then make changes to correct that.

shawn used this post to announce that he’s launching the process of collaboratively discerning the values of their youth ministry, and to enlist the church in praying for that process. really good stuff. shawn’s values — and eventually, the ministry’s values — act as rudders. for all of us, spiritually discerned values function as rudders that steer our little dinghys through the choppy waters of change.

The Seduction of Ease

The other day I was getting caught up with a friend who works in as aspect of the business world where he regularly interfaces with super wealthy people. Earlier that week, he’d been working with a guy who owned 22 different residences and vacation homes (all for his own use, that is), along with the “well, of course” private jet and luxury yacht.

After I got off the phone, my mind wandered for a bit. It wasn’t merely the predictable daydream of my money-ship coming into port, or of owning 22 personal residences, or having cash flowing out of my pockets. Since that daydream is absolutely, inarguably, most assuredly fiction, my daydream was more dangerous in its seduction.

The most dangerous seductions are always those within reach.

If I (happily married chap that I am) notice I have an attraction to a movie star I’ll never, ever meet; well, let’s just admit the inherent risk is low. But if I notice an attraction to my wife’s friend who seems to be flirting with me; yeah, that’s risky.

It’s the plausibility that greases the skids of destruction.

That daydream, then, was not risky because I might become obsessed with materialism (I don’t think that’s my current risk) or suddenly wealthy and not able to keep my priorities straight (the sudden wealth just ain’t gonna happen). The risk, instead, is the seduction of things being easy.

I remember a pastor I worked with complaining once that we’d been working so hard, for so long, to paddle into a wave (I live in California, and surfing metaphors are common!); and he felt we deserved to catch a wave and ride.

Ease in ministry means: the money pours in, the people flock to services and programs at inexplicable growth rates, the internal culture flows and everyone performs like a Formula One pit crew. It might even mean that other ministries start to look at the ease with which we do everything and think, “We need to be more like them!”

But all too often, ministry is not easy. Ease is elusive. In the surfing metaphor, the wave moves past us just before we get to our feet on the board.

So we paddle harder and harder, faster and faster. But it’s still difficult. And the moments when things seem to be getting easier are fleeting, appearing more as mirages than reality.

The aspect of ease that calls to me is sort of “no duh”: it seems like it would be easy. I like coasting. I might even think I deserve that sort of blessing (I mean, come on, I do a lot for God, after all).

No, I’m not being dreary – let me clarify. There’s a tension in this seduction. I long for ease – in ministry, in life, in pretty much everything – but know I’ve never experienced it as a place of great growth and transformation. Maybe that’s just me – maybe all of this is merely my junk, my dysfunction. But I don’t think so.

As someone who trades, professionally, in spiritual growth (wouldn’t that be cool on a business card?), I’ve seen my share of both what defines “the good life” and what leads one in that direction. The former is all about ongoing growth and newness, and has very little to do with wealth or ease of any sort. The latter – the road to the good life – is a road of challenge, disruption, striving, and stretching.

In other words (and this is, I suppose, the point of this meandering rumination), ease is the enemy of growth. And I think I’d prefer growth and struggle over ease and stagnation. In fact, I’m way more alive when I’m being challenged.

In my ministry context: gliding forward on a blessings hovercraft sounds pretty darn sexy. But – at last for me – I don’t think it’ll give me what I ultimately desire. It would only be a detour, a holding pattern of inactivity.

So, bring on the challenge, baby. You can keep your 22 personal residences and your life of ease. I want growth – so I choose a life of challenge.

jeff goins on the youth ministry coaching program

last year, in my first nashville cohort of the youth ministry coaching program, i had a participant who was a little bit of an anomaly. he wasn’t a youth pastor (as most YMCPers are). instead, he was a ministry minded guy who happened to work for a short-term missions organization, trying to connect with youth workers. he boss paid for him to participate in YMCP for a combination of personal growth, and to get a better sense of the real needs of real youth pastors.

i hope we accomplished the 2nd of those goals. i know we saw the first one take place.

jeff goins is a gifted a brilliant leader, writer, and ministry mind. so i was thrilled to fantastic post on the value of coaching (really not about YMCP, but — c’mon — by inference, it is!)


Why You Need a Personal Coaching Program

We weren’t meant to do life alone. Without a good team — and a good coach — we’re left with little direction or guidance.

Many of us have believed the lie of the self-made man or woman. But in order for us to become our best selves, we need a quality support network to challenge, affirm, and empower us.

I just finished up my year of being a part of the Youth Ministry Coaching Program (YMCP). Although I’m not a vocational youth minister, Mark Oestreicher was kind enough to allow me to be a part of his cohort.

It was the best professional and personal development decision I’ve made in a long time. Maybe ever.

I thought I’d sit in a lot of long meetings that would be informative, but relatively boring. I should’ve known better.

I was blown away by times of teaching, prayer, and personal sharing. I connected with the other ten members of this group in ways that I’ve seldom done with other groups.

I made lifelong friends. I was encouraged to pursue my dreams and walk more confidently in my identity. Oh, and I learned a few cool things about youth culture and ministry.

Everyone should pursue some kind of professional coaching program. Here’s why:

Good coaching challenges you

This group called me out when I was wrong or asked more of me when they knew I was holding back.

I learned that I can be arrogant and dismissive from this group. I learned that I still need to grow in my inner life and that while I know a thing or two, I don’t know everything.

I was challenged to be humble, open, and honest with others who are different from me.

Good coaching affirms you

The first time we met, someone asked me what my dream was.

“I guess it’s to be a writer,” I said, questioning myself.

“That’s ridiculous,” someone said. “You already are a writer.”

I’m not a big sports guy. I was on the golf team in high school for a year and was in a lot of spelling bees. That’s the extent of athletic, competitive involvement.

When I did do anything remotely athletic, I sensed that the coach was embarrassed by me. In fact, he occasionally would say so. It made me never want to try. So I didn’t.

In this group, conversely, I learned to believe things about myself that were already true. And I started living into them. This blog is a direct result of my involvement in the YMCP. There’s no other way around it.

That’s what good coaching does.

Good coaching empowers you

Perhaps my favorite part about this group was the “confession” time.

Now, this is not what you may be thinking. Clear your mind of images of sitting in a dark cathedral confessing your sins to a disinterested priest.

Every time we met, we would circle up our chairs, look each other in the eyes, and whoever had something they wanted to talk about, they would share.

We shared triumphs and disasters in our lives. Sometimes, we gave each other advice. Other times, we shared a moment of silence together. Deep dark secrets were divulged, and beautiful healing happened.

This kind of openness allowed us to feel safe enough to begin making important changes in our lives. As a result, we did things we never would have dreamed of this year.

That’s what a good coaching group does. They help you do your job better by first changing you. I love how we did it — collaboratively and in community. It was powerful.

Your turn

If you can find something like the coaching program I did in your own town (or even if you have to travel far to find one), I heartily recommend doing it. It’s well worth any investment of time or money you spend.


btw: jeff has written a few excellent ebooks (and his first — also excellent — traditionally published book coming soon). his latest ebook, which i’m not sure would have become a reality were it not for YMCP, is a fantastic charge and practical steps for would-be writers, called “You Are a Writer: So Start Acting Like One.”