Christmas Season Wrapper

By @ 12/17/13 in Christmas, Sun Valley, Wrapper

Last year Sun Valley had a goal of 5000 boxes.  We exceeded that goal generously and this year have set the mark at 10,000 boxes.  This is equivalent to $200 Thousand.

We are doing some of the same things we did last year, and we updated a few things.

— We are still providing the list of food to shop for.  This is a very basic food list that most food shelters and pantries throughout the city need and ask for.

— 12x12x12 boxes are still being handed out.  These are big enough to hold the food listed and also makes it easy to transport the food from the store, to home, to the church, to the the food pantry.

— Invitations have been given out each week for folks to use to invite their friends, family, and co-workers to participate in the cause.  The invitations also have the Christmas Eve service times on them.  We handed out invitations (2 per week) for 3 weeks.

The biggest change this year was our partnerships.

200px-The_Salvation_Army.svgFirst of all, the boxes that we are handing out this year have been completely donated by Salvation Army.  Wow!

This year we met with Albertson’s grocery stores and pitched to them the idea of an in-store kiosk and having a UPC code for the box of food.  They loved the ideas and partnered with us in big way this year.

— The inshore kiosk allows for the community to get involved with the Out of the Box food drive and makes shopping easier for Sun Valley.

— The UPC code again was a great idea too.  You scan the code and buy as many boxes as you wish.  Albertson’s then tallies the food purchased once the cause is complete and delivers it straight to the food bank.  Nice!Albertsons_ai

We are also doing an “Albertson’s Invasion” :: the Sunday evening (9-11 pm) before Christmas, a 1000 or more from Sun Valley will invade Albertson’s and buy their food boxes.  The food will then be boxed up and shipped directly to Salvation Army who will be there with their trucks.  Its a fun way to shop and a great way to get the news of Sun Valley and Out of the Box 2.0 campaign to the news organizations in our community .

The partnerships with Albertson’s and Salvation Army this year have been a real plus!

By @ 12/11/13 in Staging, Wrapper

IMG_2103The wrapper is very important.  It is.  Just a simple walk thru the supermarket and I’ve proved my point.  Look at the way things are packaged.  The package or wrapper is often the thing that first interests you in the product.  First impressions are important.

So, because of that, the packaging of a series, especially Christmas is important.

On Monday I talked about the website and the branding.  And I said I’d talk about the new partnerships today, but I’m going to take a side trip and chat a bit about the staging.

And we kept it simple.  You don’t have to produce a multi-million dollar theatrical set for each series.  Sometime the staging caltreels for something elaborate.  But not often.  This brand (refer to Monday’s blog) was based on a simple Christmas setting.  A diamond background — almost like wrapping paper with colored snowflakes drifting randomly over the top of the paper.


The box in the middle was a redo of last year’s brand in the effort to bring us to the new and improved 2.0 campaign of 2013.  It seems to be working very well.

So how did we translate this to the stage?  Almost literally.

Behind oucardboardr huge on-stage center screen we hung white diamonds.  Floating randomly around them — snowflakes.  Everything white so that we could light it any color we wanted.

And in front of the center screen and in and around the instruments — crafty Christmas trees.  6 and 8 feet tall.  No decorations on them.

And all of the above make out of cardboard.  Yep.  Cardboard.  It is the Out of the BOX campaign! Isn’t it?  I did say literally didn’t I?

It worked!

By @ 12/09/13 in Christmas, Wrapper

The Christmas season began in full force at Sun Valley this weekend — and on all three campuses.  We are again challenging our SV Community to give generously and collect monies and food for our local food banks.

Last year our goal was 5000 boxes of food and the SV folks blew it out of the water and raised over $126,000!  Crazy generous folks!  But this year — our goal is going to be 10,000 boxes.

In order to meet this goal, the cause and its information has to be clear and readily available.  We also have some key partnerships this year that are going to help SV take Out of the Box 2.0 over the top.

In the next few blogs, I’ll talk about the list of things that the Creative Arts Team accomplished and/or created in order to make this year’s food campaign and Christmas sermon series a success.

The Brand
First, we had to decide on a brand and we wanted to use something similar to last year’s look.  Last year’s campaign was a major success, so we only needed to freshen it up and make the brand new and improved.  This is what we chose:


The Website
And because there was much information to pass on to our SV folks, we provided an easy to browse web presence.  BOX.SV.CC

Wednesday, I’ll talk about the cause and some of our new partnerships.


By @ 12/04/13 in Creative Activist, Leadership

RecruiterNumber Twelve :: Recruiter

The following is true for the creative team and their team of volunteers.

Talent is always drawn to other talent because talented people like being around talented people.  And yes, creative people like being around the creative.

The ability to do this — attract the best people — is one way Creative Leaders measure themselves.  They are always looking for new talent that fit where they are currently and where they want to be in the future.

And in the church world, this is a very important process when building solid volunteer teams.

Recruiting is important, but also remember — a Creative Leader must foster a culture and environment that

  • keeps the talent productive and happy.
  • provides for development
  • makes the talent know they are valued

Bottom Line :: A Creative Leader who gets results and helps people get where they want to go in their area of passion and skill — a funny thing happens — talent will want to be around and they will stick around.

By @ 12/02/13 in Creative Activist, Leadership

ConsistentNumber Eleven :: Consistency

Good Creative Leaders are constant.  You don’t have to worry about this with them.  You always know what to expect.  A successful Creative Leader is reliable.  They are responsive and always deliver on the promises they make.

When things seem to be a mess, they are focused and composed.  This consistency helps others control their emotions and actions too.  A good Creative Leader doesn’t point the finger — they are fact finders — and take action only on those facts.

A consistent Creative Leader understands that those around them take their cues from their actions.  They know that if they act with consistency, those they lead will act in the same way.

You’ll hear church leaders say that talent, culture, and strategy will make or break you.  And that’s true in the big picture of things.  But “in the micro,” I believe that success is in relationships.  And good relationships begin with trust.  Always.

You always know where a  respected Creative Leader stands.  Their trust is grounded in consistency and character.  They are genuine and never carry a hidden agenda or say different things to different people.  Decisions are always based on the best outcome not on the easy and the profitable.

A Creative Leader is approachable and almost always available.  They understand wisely that open doors and private confidences supply them with a valuable resource :: genuine relationship.

By @ 11/27/13 in Creative Activist, Leadership

FairnessNumber Ten :: Fairness

I’m sure you can hear your mother, your dad, or maybe one of your former teachers say, “The world isn’t fair.”

And it isn’t fair most of the time.  But a true leader is.

Describing a true and successful Creative Leader ::

  • inspires trust
  • stimulates loyalty
  • motivates excellence

…this leader works to keep themselves responsible and liable to the same rules and regs as those they lead.  No thrones.  No leading from on high, but by example.

Their teammates are treated as equals.  And a successful Creative Leader lives and works with the team and doesn’t mind getting their hands dirty.  Ever.

It’s true.  And it’s necessary — a leader must have rules.  But slight departures and mistakes are allowed.  We all make mistakes.  A leader knows when these errors come from right intentions.  Use these instances as moments to teach.

Focus on the right things and ask the right questions — what’s important? — what’s not?  That’s how you truly know what’s truly fair.  It’s also the way those you lead know they are being treated fairly.

No, the world isn’t fair, but a leader can act fairly ::

  • Walk the Talk
  • Make sure the Rules are Clear
  • Keep Personal Bias at Bay
  • At in Good Faith

It takes focus.  You can do it!

By @ 11/25/13 in Creative Activist, Leadership

PassionNumber Nine :: Feed Their Passion

Talented Creatives want to and demand to be part of something bigger. They live and work and dream of saying, “I helped create that.”

And they will soon learn that those big moments are rare. Or at least they don’t come every day or even every week.  Successful Creative Leaders, however, recognize those big moments and take advantage of them.

You can rev up your team of talented Creatives with a bunch of rah-rah speeches for a while.  And doesn’t matter how good you’re at it.  Or how much conviction you have.

Why?  Because this is the big leagues now. They need more. Your team wants to know that they’re part of a greater purpose.  And a church’s creative team has the ultimate purpose — proclaim Christ to the world.  It must be their passion.

Your team wants a Creative Leader who has a vision and a clear plan for making their purpose a reality — feel essential — and see their ideas and their hard work produce something significant. Their passion, their work — Significant enough to bring life-change.

But also, talented Creatives want to share in the benefits (and receive some credit). Creative people come-and-go, including you. That’s why a Creative Leader must focus on building loyalty to the mission that will ultimately outlast you.

Of course it requires buy-in – and the passion it produces – and it requires more thank the Creative just knowing where the mission is taking them and why.  It’s deeper than that.  It has to be there day after day.  Creatives can only pump themselves up so much and that’s why Creative Leaders require contagious and lasting enthusiasm.

Your team will always need to see the positives and understand the progress.  They want to laugh and have loads of fun in the process too.  A solid creative process will always allow that.  It will make room for it.  It will unite your team.

The Creative Leader must remind each team member of why they do what they do — why their work is relevant and important — and what the community as a whole will gain from the collective passion of the creative team.  And it will will demand more than a few well crafted speeches or “at-a-boys.”  Reinforce the mission — this is your job.  Make it clear every day, in your modeling and in your conversation.

Let your passion fuel theirs.  That’s what a Creative Leader does!

By @ 11/20/13 in Creative Activist, Leadership

CoachNumber Eight :: You Must Coach It Out of Them

Every day and every time I look into the eyes of a guy or gal on my team I’m asking, “How can I make them better?”

I know (and hope) you are asking that question too.  Every Creative Leader should be extremely focused on this endeavor.  But how do you do it?

Don’t pigeonhole any teammate.  This is a big no-no, but very easy to do.  But let me clarify and qualify this statement a bit more.  Don’t center your attention on what he can’t do or even what is being said about him.  Don’t ignore that information, but pay attention to what he can do and what he could do if he was led a bit differently.  A leader should be good at realizing the capabilities of a worker.

When you hire, don’t focus on today, but hire for the future.  A leader is able to see potential.

Keep track of the personal interests of your teammates.  People will almost always exhibit abilities that are tied to these interests.

Always be looking for opportunities to build confidence in your teammates.  Even if you have some inkling that they may fall short, give them the chance.  Absolutely — a leader should be ready to rescue, however — any trials the teammate goes thru or any error they may commit will finally lead them to success.

Be a good coach.  Good Creative Leaders are coaches — always seeing what others can’t.  You’ll see it if you look for it.  Push your team (individually and corporately) to a level they could imagine on their own.  Everyone will reap amazing and exciting rewards.

By @ 11/18/13 in Creative Activist, Leadership

ExampleNumber Seven :: Model It before Demanding It

The successful and wise Creative Leader is a model first.  And when it comes to excellence, a leader doesn’t demand or command excellence — the “bar of excellence” is set by the leaders actions, work ethic.  It is set by their example.

Because Creatives do what they do for Jesus, the bar is high and life-changing events and moments are expected.  Remember, this is an everyday occurrence — week after week — 52 weeks a year.  That’s every seven days.

Because this is so important and because it’s a constant demand, a good Creative Leader is always asking, “Is this the best I can do.  Is this the best my team can offer?”

Goals are set.  The leader keeps the team, individually and corporately, focused and tuned in to the task(s) at hand.  Creative leaders understand that the creative process is important and must be a habit — a good one.  But a the leader also knows that the team must be kept from falling into bad habits or ruts.

Creative results — is the product.  Life-change — is the goal.  So a leader pushes the  team to continually stay sharp and to continually evaluate product and process.

And the Creative Leader knows that their example sets the tone for the rest of the team.

This means that the leader teaches the team to share the load.  This creative thing is a team effort.  Excellence is the target and is almost always accomplished by a team not an individual.

Special Note to the Creative Leader:
Sometimes during a specific project, and occasionally, a leader must play favorites.  Why?  Strictly because of performance.  The job has to get done and one individual (at that specific time) is pulling the train or the majority load.

But this is a two-way street.  The Creative Leader must understand why this individual is excelling but also identify why others in this occasion seem to be hitting limits.  Analyze both and then lead both.

One of the characteristics I wrote about two weeks ago was “experience” — Part 3 of this Blog Series ::  a leader must remember that their experience equips them to excel.  Not all of your teammates are there.  It is your job as Creative Leader to nudge them to a higher level — constantly.

This is what a leader does.  And if you do, your team will outperform any other creative team.  They will probably surprise you too.

And that’s why you, as Creative Leader, need to model excellence — day-after-day — year-after-year.

Always model it before demanding it!

By @ 11/15/13 in Creative Activist, Leadership

BoundariesNumber Six :: Provide Safe, yet Creative Boundaries

I talk about this one in my book, The Blame Game.  And a Creative Leader of any tenure knows this one all too well:  Creatives don’t color inside the lines.  And Creatives don’t play inside the lines very well either.

I’ll wait until you stop laughing before I proceed — because it gets better.

Creatives also tire very quickly of taking orders.

(Another break for laughter)

It’s true isn’t it?  Do you know how you know this so well?  Because you are a Creative.  Reality is that you now have the opportunity to lead those very much like you.  How lucky you are!

That’s why a successful Creative Leader provides those they lead opportunity for ownership. This is what a leader does and this is what a solid creative process provides.

A Creative Leader doesn’t look over the Creative’s shoulder.  They provide freedom :: getting out of the way, turning your Creatives loose to create, learn, explore …

Guide them.  Lead and usher them toward better creative choices.

Resource them.  Provide what they need to be completely successful.

A Creative Leader provides … space.  As much space as possible. And in that creative playground and safe boundary, a place to figure out how to create and re-create … by themselves and with their teammates.

This is how Creatives become better Creatives.

You must trust — this is the place a successful leader operates from — not a lot of second guessing.  You can’t control everything anyway.  You may think you can, but a true leader knows otherwise.

Will mistakes happen with this plan?  Yes.  But be honest — mistakes will happen with any plan.  So back your team instead of throwing them under the bus.  Of course you correct and guide.  Absolutely learn from mistakes.

Believe in your Creatives.  Give them your best support.  Give them permission to do their best.  They in turn will give their Creative Leader :: creativity and loyalty,