Friday, May 29, 2009

can. not. wait.

man, this looks great

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Album Art - Drew Holgate, Return to Daylight

I've been given the distinct honor of designing the CD Cover art for the new EP from my good friend Drew, Return to Daylight. I presented several different options to Drew for him to go with, and he chose the one you see below with very few changes. Drew's the Worship Pastor at R2 and he and his band are incredible talents. I'm very honored to be involved with this project. Look for more on this project in the near future.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Why I love High Point

reason number 573,291

I can't believe I actually have it

So the year is 1990, I'm a 7th grader at Oak Hill Junior High and everyone in the entire 7th grade world wants to be Andre Agassi. Agassi is doing for tennis what Tiger Woods would do for golf a decade later. He's introducing an entire new generation to his sport. He's injecting crazy hair, spandex, and neon into a world of boring old guys in white.

And everyone wants his shoe.

Problem is, it's sold out. Everywhere.

Well, my time comes for me to get some new shoes, so my mom takes me out to CBS Sports, the only place in town with any sort of selection of cool shoes. I, of course, want the "Agassi"s... (Nike Air Tech Challenge II in Hot Lava for you sneakerheads). Turns out they have one pair left... the pair that was on display... and it's a freakishly big size. I thank God for my freakishly big feet and overnight become the coolest kid on the block.

But here's the thing I remember most about those shoes. It wasn't bringing them home, it wasn't wearing them to school the next day and people's jealous reactions. It's certainly not how they improved my tennis game because to this day I've maybe picked up a racquet MAYBE a dozen times... It was that night, as I was getting in the shower, seeing those shoes on my bathroom floor and thinking "those are really mine. I'm the kid who gets to wear them." I know it's terribly selfish and materialistic, but it's a memory and a feeling that was absolutely ingrained in me and one I've never felt since...

...until recently. It's amazing how something or someone can come along and make you feel old feelings all over again. Coincidentally this time it's something else from 1990 that has me feeling that same feeling all over again. "I can't believe this is happening to me. I'm the one who gets to experience this."

I don't know where those shoes are today, and I can't pretend to know what the future holds for me and Court, all I know is that right now, I feel so happy, so blessed, to be in this situation. I'm so thankful to God for bringing us together, and I can't wait to see what He has in store.

Avoiding sounding like a jerk in emails

Below is the full text from a blog written by David Silverman (not David Silver) about helping with tone in email. I know this is something I've struggled with in the past, so I thought it might be useful to others as well.

A reader writes with the following query:

"I manage 15 staff who are scattered about. I email them since it's the easiest way for me to communicate with all of them at the same time. Often my emails are very short and to the point. It's business. Two staff see that as my being harsh and have no problem letting me know that. Example: "Would you please update these primary care providers in the database, including addresses and phone numbers?"
Six days later, I sent the following email as follow up to my initial request: "I would like this taken care of by Thursday this week. If you are having trouble getting this done, please let me know."

In return, my employee sent me a lengthy 4 paragraph response on how insulted she was by my follow up email. I would like your opinion."

One the one hand, the employee's response was out of line. What was he or she hoping to achieve? It didn't get the project done and it almost certainly didn't improve your relationship. I'd go as far as to say it's justified for you to reprimand someone for aggressive behavior like that.

But that's me speaking as a boss (or customer) who's sent similar emails to yours. I've also been the recipient — and felt rising anger every time one of my bosses sent an email beginnging with, "Please provide the revised presentation..."

Perhaps unexpectedly, it was the "please" that drove me over the edge. And while I didn't fire off a petulant four-paragraph response, I did seethe quietly. And, more importantly, I didn't feel very much like "providing the revised presentation."

Anyone whose ever been part of an online "flame war" has had the experience of a tiny "e-mole" becoming a mountain. (And yes, I am also shocked that I would attempt such a terrible pun.) Studies have shown that readers add (or invent) emotional bias that is often counter to your intent as the sender.

In this case, all of the niceties you thought you were writing ended up sounding very different in the mind of your employee.

In the echo chamber of the employee's mind, and the absence of other cues from you, "I would like" was probably heard as a passive-aggressive demand, if not a derisive sneer. "If you are having trouble," was meant as "I'm here to help," but interpreted as "I think you're a dolt for taking 6 days to do a minor task." The length of your email also compounded the emotional dissonance. You thought of it as just a quick note on a task, but your brevity came across as curt.

Lastly, the form of communication itself (email) could be interpreted as, "Just so you know, I'm documenting your incompetence."

Ouch, right?

Here are some suggestions for preventing this next time:

1. You could call. Your goal is to check the progress of the task and give the employee a chance to respond with questions — a call could accomplish this while allowing both of you to hear each other's tone of voice. Since you say at least two of your staff find your emails harsh, this could be the easiest solution.

2. Include deadlines when you first make a request. If you don't have time to call, or if time zones make calling a hassle, email can still work if you revise your initial request to include a due date, or, for a bigger project, a due date for an status update. By giving a date, your follow-up won't feel as aggressive and your employee will be less likely to take it personally. Deadlines will also help your staff prioritize — perhaps rendering follow-ups unnecessary.

3. Be conversational. Even if the first email was unchanged, the second email could be written to avoid a blow up. You don't need lots of smiley faces or exclamation points. You just need to write the way you might actually talk. For example, your second email could read: "Hi Cindy, just following up on the email below — can you let me know how far along the task is? I was hoping we could have this by the meeting on Thursday, is that a possibility?"

4. Use the passive voice. It doesn't make for great writing, but it can help you avoid sounding accusatory — and it sounds like your employee felt accused.

To handle the situation as it is now, call. Let your employee know you meant no disrespect, and that your goal, and theirs, was and is to get the job done. And let them know that the I'm-an-emotional-person-and-you-hurt me email has no place at work.

Lastly, I'd like to use this as an opportunity to repeat why I think even the "simplest" emails need to be revised with care. It takes time and thought to ensure you don't give the wrong emotional cues.

Let's open this up to my readers and get you some more opinions. Does anyone have other advice? Do you disagree with the recommendations I've proposed?

The Rev's Got a Band

Found this video on Jason Boyett's blog. The cheese factor is off the charts in this one. If the Rev had a worship band, I'm sure it'd be this guy.

The Rev is Back, Too

The Rev. Bro. Dr. Bshp. Floyd D. Barber the Third made another appearance at R2 this past week. Here's the clip if you missed it. "filmed" in photo booth with my macbook sitting on the back of my truck.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

I'm back

I've beyond slack about keeping this little corner of the internet up and running. I could blame twitter, but I've pretty much been slack there. In the next couple days I'll be catching you up on what I've been up to. Hope you'll enjoy.

Sorry for being extra-lame.