Spring Forward

The past couple of months have been that of new beginnings as spring is in the air. I have continued writing and am 90% complete on our newest book Leadership by LIGHT, Principles that Empower.  This work has been a great challenge and I believe will emerge as a game changer for anyone interested in  becoming more than they are and more than they hoped they could be.  It should be available for purchase in late May of this year.


I promised to share a video about our Launching Leaders Worldwide project in this blog.   This video is an introduction to our course, which is a 12 week on-line experience complete with facilitation and world class mentors.  The complete series of offerings should be available in mid-summer.  Stay tuned.

2 min course intro: https://www.dropbox.com/s/ogdrlvgy873j9ig/Launching%20Leaders_Course%20Intro_01.18.16a.mp4?dl=0

As we enter this spring time and newness of life; it’s calving season on the Farm. Here is one of the latest farm creations:

This is a great time of the year to ponder our path. Are we just putting in time or are we making a difference?

I recently watched a movie with Robert De Niro and Anne Hathaway called The Intern. He is a 70 year-old widower, retired, and searching for meaningful ways to spend his time.  Without giving away the plot, Ben Whitaker (Robert De Niro) decides to shake up his life when he becomes an intern for a startup web company (on-line clothing).   He is assigned to be the owner’s (Anne Hathaway) personal intern.  What struck me was that it is NEVER too late to make a difference.  What this requires however is that we leave our zones of comfort and DECIDE to make a difference.  It’s a part of recognizing our true identity.

I was in this mind set when I decided one of my grandsons needed a lunch date (actually, it was grandpa who needed a lunch date—and my grandchildren never turn me down):

Happy Spring everyone.


I have been lost in writing the new book for our Launching Leaders Worldwide effort; it is essentially a book about how to find and maximize your potential. It will be out about mid-year along with the on-line LMS courses.  Michael Leonard (our full time executive director) and I have been visiting with several leaders of various faiths as we develop an inter-faith and faith-driven curriculum.  What wonderful and good people we are honored to be associated with.  I feel humbled in their presence.

The new book, Leadership by LIGHT, principles that empower, will be a game changer for anyone who has felt a gap between who/where they are and who/where they want to be.  Let me give you a peek at the chapter titles:

Chapter 1 This is Launching Leaders

Chapter 2 Taking Control of Your Life

Chapter 3 Mentors

Chapter 4 Charting Your Course with God

Chapter 5 The Formula

Chapter 6 Beware the Double Life

Chapter 7 Habits of Success

Chapter 8 Fitness Financial

Chapter 9 Rising Above

Chapter 10 Effective Communication

Chapter 11 Giving

Chapter 12 Stand UP

 Some of the content is similar as that in The Ministry of Business, How Correct Principles Magnify Business Success, but this book takes it to a more practicum level and includes a lot of new material.

Let me share an excerpt from the introduction:

Recognizing the unique challenges Millennials face as they attempt to establish themselves in today’s fast-paced, high tech, increasingly global world, we’ve crafted Leadership by Light to speak specifically and clearly to them. The ideas contained in this book will certainly benefit anyone who applies them to their life, regardless of age, but they have been designed to speak most directly to the needs, challenges, and cultural contexts of the current Millennial generation.

In so doing, we’ve tried to avoid simply preaching at our readers. We know that Millennials aren’t interested in the idea of having someone else come and “fix” them. Millennials are fiercely independent, creative, and determined to make their own unique marks on the world. They’re not content to accept things as they’ve always been. They’re wary of hierarchical top-down organizations and want their voices to be heard. Millennials place great value on teamwork, equality, and innovation, and for this reason, they possess the energy and ability to be a truly revolutionary generation.

Our goal is to value Millennials, to listen to their voices, to learn from their insights, and to validate their knowledge, experience, and real-world savvy. Rather than try and tell them exactly what to do, we want to create space for them to fine tune and develop the best parts of themselves.

One of the most ubiquitous challenges young adults face today is the seemingly endless amount of information that literally swamps all of our lives. While having anything and everything a mouse click or screen tap away can be an incredible blessing, it can also introduce all sorts of new distractions. In his book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Loss, Greg McKeown describes some of the potential stumbling blocks introduced by our high tech, information-saturated world when he writes: “It is not just information overload, it is opinion overload.”[i] The problem is not the amount of information available; it’s the unmanageable volume of unproductive, distracting, problematic information swirling around our digital worlds. How do we sift through the infinite information, opinions, ideas, and ideologies we encounter every time we turn on a technological device or go online? How do we create harmony out of the cacophony of voices drowning out our everyday lives? How do we carve out space for our own voices in a raging ocean of noise?

The goal should not be to simply avoid entering into this ocean of information and ideas. Not only is that becoming nearly impossible to do, but more importantly, doing so would cause you to miss out on truly incredible, beneficial, and helpful opportunities to learn, grow, and contribute. Rather, the goal should be to figure out how to identify the voices worth listening to and the information most helpful to you, and then learn how to create opportunities to learn from those voices so that you might one day add your own voice to them in cooperation and harmony.

Leadership by Light sets out to give you a foundation of ideas, principles, skills, and practices that will empower you to make these types of determinations in your own life. We want you to engage your world and change it for the better—not avoid it or be intimidated by it—and we believe we’ve compiled a collection of “formulas” or “recipes” that will help you do just that.


Recently, I took a grandson into the bakery section of whole foods.   He came face to face with a fun monster cupcake, and many other cupcake delights.  He was mesmerized.  Here before him was a smorgasbord of possibilities.

Why should our dreams be fade as we age? Why should we be less enthused at the possibilities before us?  Why let the world filled with all of its controlling potentates dictate the dreams we have or prevent us from their realization?

I have seen too many folks get trapped in their path; controlled by fear, blocked from the vision and dreams before them. It’s time to reach through the glass and grab a few cupcakes; let the frosting line our lips, taste of the possibilities and live beyond the limitations we have placed ourselves in.

In my next post I’ll share a short video and more updates on the emergence of Launching Leaders Worldwide. In the meantime, keep dreaming!

Raw Hide

You will note from past entries, that I love cows and I love the lessons learned from our experience with cows.  This time of year it’s time to move the cows from their summer range of grass which is now covered in snow, to a winter range of hay and corn stalks.  We moved them from Wyoming into Colorado for their check-ups and then onto their winter home.

12-09-2015 Raw Hide 1

Cows last day at their “summer” home.

Our friend and veterinarian organized our efforts as we prepared the cows and calves for the cold winter.  Shots were given; each cow was run through the chute for their checkup.

12-09-2015 Raw Hide 2

The cows are escorted one by one for their one on one with the vet; where they also receive a “Preg Check”.   This is a process that involves a rubber glove that goes up to the armpit.    In this photo, I really wanted to preserve the dignity of the cow, so the left arm which you don’t see, is three feet inside of the cow, checking on the fetus.  I also didn’t want the cow to be identified, so I purposely didn’t show its face.  It’s up to your imagination as to the expression it holds.   It only takes the vet about 5 seconds from beginning to end; he then pulls his arm out and announces how many days pregnant the cow is.  “120 days” he blurts out, or whatever the number is.

I asked him how he knows.  Our particular vet is world renowned for his work in cow reproduction, and his expertise and experience over forty years makes him accurate within a week of when the cow delivers.  He figures it out by gently grabbing the fetus leg, which is about the size of a thumb at this point, and based upon the size of the leg he can accurately determine how many days pregnant the cow is so we can determine the anticipated date of birth.

The cows were really very gentle during the procedure; mind you their head is locked in a steel chute, but still, I was surprised at how well they handled the whole thing.

The life lessons from this experience are two-fold.  1) Be glad you’re not a heifer.  2) Experience matters when you’re trying to be best in class; you can’t gain that experience from watching from the sidelines, you have to roll up your sleeves and dive in.

I’m sure I’ll have an opportunity to write about the new born calves when they arrive in the spring as   our small herd of heifers are all pregnant.  Stay tuned for more life lessons from cow adventures.


We get some pretty good wind this time of year from over the foothills and mountains.  Sometimes I will lie in bed, praying the roof doesn’t blow off.  I’ve been known to get out of bed late at night and go on the deck with my spot light to make sure funnel clouds are not visible – like it would do any good, right?

This last spring we put up a new play set for the grandchildren; which has been swarmed on from time to time, a great hit.

Today, this is what it looks like after a few gusts of high wind.

11-20-2015 Swing Set

You are looking at the bottom of the set, highest in the air, the slide used to be in the front.  This play set is upside down and twisted 180 degrees.  I’ve got some work to do when the wind subsides.

This was a pretty heavy set, anchored by its own weight.  I’m sure those involved in actual tornadoes would mock this analogy, so please forgive my attempt, though I admit my loss was small.  Thank goodness the grandkids were not swarming the set when the gusts arrived – tender mercy.

I got to thinking about what could have prevented this from happening.  It became clear to me that some concrete footers with anchor hooks attached to the set, would have easily solved this problem.  Maybe even a couple of guy-wires to the trees.  It would have taken a few more hours of work, and a few more bucks.  I will have to do this now anyway when I wright this ship.

I think we often make our lives vulnerable in many personal ways by not doing a better job of laying the foundations; and by not investing just a little more in the early phases.  This applies to relationships, to developing habits of success, to delaying a needed change, to waiting a little longer before taking the plunge.  Until the winds of life come howling, we are just fine; we put off what we don’t have time for.  Eventually, the tasks on our choice list disappear if they don’t need to be addressed today.  Forgotten until the wind blows.

So here is a little visual encouragement to keep developing those good habits until they really are habitual, to spend some more one on one with your significant other, to be patient just a little longer, to anchor the things that matter so we are not caught by surprise by the winds of life.

The Best Investment

In Launching Leaders Worldwide, we teach a class called Financial Fitness. This is not rocket science, but is based upon having the discipline to control expenses and save money.  I will reserve the details for when you take the class someday, but aside from the picture of the graph I will share, there is a principle or two that could use repeating.

Let me tell a personal story. Years ago my wife and I had a dream to start a business.  We didn’t know exactly what that business would be, but we knew it was the path we should follow.  We counseled with our mentor, and we developed a five year plan; this was circa 1983.  This would be the THINK part of our THINK PLAN DO class.  We started with saving $25.00 per week, and over the course of five years, would increase this amount to have saved a whopping $50,000.00.  The amounts are not important in this life lesson; but the idea is we started where we stood, and planned for a better future.  This is the PLAN part of the equation.  Our sacrifices included no credit card use, cheap dates, no new loans (except to purchase a home), and to do this with an attitude of gratitude.  We agreed that we would remain positive and not complain about having no extra money to spend.  In the financial fitness course, one learns about the “Gold” account, which is the savings that can never be touched except to re-invest.  The money we would save to start a business was in the gold account.  We enjoyed cheap dates such as getting a big gulp from 7-Eleven and two straws and go for a walk in the park.  These were great times and we remember them fondly.  Because we had a PLAN and were following the principles of financial fitness, we were able to ACT on the final step which is the DO part.  Almost exactly five years after the start of the plan, we did have exactly what we had hoped to save, and started a business.  We built that business over 27 years, and sold it.  The blessings from that newly-wed commitment have blessed our family in untold ways.

I believe the millennial generation today would do well to understand that the best investment you can make in yourself is discipline and patience. In my example, understand the value of time and the patience to stick with a plan.  It was very hard to sacrifice during the five years, we sometimes did not have enough; but we didn’t stop believing and we stuck with the plan.  Another lesson is that your investment in yourself is the best investment you will make.  I have lots of young entrepreneurs come to me with their start-up ideas.  They always need money, and they are usually bold enough to ask me for a loan.  I don’t give personal loans anymore.  My wife and I didn’t borrow any money when we started the business.  Our investment fund was our corpus.  You never work harder to succeed in business when your own money is on the line.

Instead of taking your idea to an investor, why don’t you save your money for a few years and be your own biggest investor in yourself? You will learn the valuable lessons of thrift, patience, endurance, and discipline along the way, and there will be a greater sense of accomplishment when you do arrive at the various points along your journey in life.

I’ve included below both the original five year plan I mentioned (nothing like raw authenticity—please forgive its blur) and the Financial Fitness diagram from the LL course.

11-2015 5 Year Plan

11-2015 Financial Fitness

Launching Leaders Worldwide has Launched

After nearly 6 years of successful creation and implementation, Launching Leaders has hired its first executive assistant and is taking LL to the world.

In the coming months Michael Leonard (executive director) and the other directors of Launching Leaders Worldwide will work to establish a new curriculum that invites people of all faith to participate in a life-changing experience.

The New LL worldwide is shaping an advisory board comprising leaders of several faiths to assist in development of the curriculum content.  Our target audience is the Millennial generation; though the material applies to all ages.  Our objective is to teach principles that empower™.

Some of the areas of focus will be creating a congruent faith-based life, teaching the formula ‘s for success, mentoring, financial fitness, entrepreneurial pathways, development of value statements and life plans, as well as principles of giving back.

LL Directors

Launching Leaders Worldwide Directors.  From Left; Laurence Day, Terry Pitts, Steve Hitz, James Ritchie, Michael Leonard.

Here is a synopsis about Launching Leaders Worldwide:

Faith-Based Principles that Empower

Faith-Based Principles that Empower

It is well documented that young people are falling away from traditional religious affiliations or worship at increasing, and even alarming rates[1]. Secular society and its social causes and concerns are winning the hearts and minds of many Millennials (ages 18-33), at the expense of an abiding faith in God. They struggle with the perceived “old ways” of the denomination they grew up with and how faith and belief apply to their everyday lives.

Commonly this group classifies themselves as atheists or agnostics, or say their religion is “nothing in particular.” According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, these religious “nones” makeup 35% of Millennials. Far more Millennials say they have no religious affiliation compared with those who identify as evangelical Protestants (21%), Catholics (16%) or mainline Protestants (11%)[2].

However, while Millennials have been falling away from faith, there are still millions of Christians who remain deeply committed and active in their faith[3]. But these Christian Millennials also want to know how to apply their faith to solve their everyday problems and accomplish their professional and life ambitions. They don’t want their faith to be relegated to Sunday worship alone. Similar can be said of other Millennials of faith.

There is a desperate immediate need to inculcate faith into the lives of Millennials and anyone who feels a gap between where they are and where they want to be in their spiritual and professional life. The resultant lack of faith is reaching into our society with symptoms that are causing a dark and faithless abyss.

Launching Leaders – Reaching Millennials and Beyond

Launching Leaders was founded in concept in 2000, from ideas born from the work of James W. Ritchie and used across the globe in his philanthropic efforts.  Launching Leaders is a forum of ideas and teachings centered in faith in God and is directed toward Millennials, and the entire world generally, in helping to close the gap between where a person is and where they desire to be. The unique formulas for life-giving success range from financial fitness, to uniting the professional and spiritual affairs of one’s life in order to maximize potential.  Participants experience tested formulas and patterns of life that inspire hope and a commitment for a better life, no matter their life ambitions.

LL DataLaunching Leaders as a set curriculum and in-person class was first tested in 2008 in New Zealand by Terry and Mary Pitts, who organized and taught three cohorts of students, aligning them with mentors, and celebrating several hundred graduates.  It has since been taught in multiple places in the USA, Fiji, Ghana, and elsewhere.  The initial companion book (The Ministry of Business), which combined many of the teachings, was developed after the New Zealand experience, and has since been published in two languages (English and Spanish).  Several thousand of these books have been distributed.

The next step for Launching Leaders is to deliver this proven curriculum to a broader, worldwide faith-based audience of Millennials and any others who desire to lift themselves to higher ground.  Delivery will be online and in-class. We invite you to come along with us and catch the vision…

Catch the Vision of Launching Leaders – Come to the Mountain, and Become a Wall of Oak!

Launching Leaders will EMPOWER you into a new world of possibilities, a world that has most often been reserved for the ‘few’ who have rubbed shoulders with the game changers, observed their success formulas and incorporated them into their character and behavior.  This program will change your life.

Napoleon by many measures was a very successful military leader but his primary goal was to conquer England, the prize.  It was all that was left on his punch List.  Load his men in the boats; cross the English Channel and in a few days he would control the entire continent.  But his dream died on the beaches of Normandy.  He never gave the command to board the ships.

“Why?” historians have asked.

Unseen, but real, over the horizon was the powerful British Royal Navy, which he had named the Wall of Oak – a wall of ships made of oak – and he never dared attack.  They were so good at their game that the strongest military machine on the planet, at that time, dared not confront them.   Napoleon’s rise to greatness died on that beach.

Launching Leaders will bring each of you face-to-face with mentors and coaches who individually have become a Wall of Oak in their areas of expertise and by learning from them we can borrow their strengths until we have incorporated them into our character and we too have that attribute as a piece of our personal Wall of Oak.

Each session we will symbolically climb a steep mountain where we will spend some quality time with many of the masters of the past as we glean from their character those principles and attributes we will need to become a Wall of Oak.  We will begin with Moses where we will discover the scary – but exhilarating – reality of our God-given potential, which translated means that there is truly nothing that we can not do if we have been created in God’s image. We will never be the same once that reality has sunk in and we begin to realize the true purpose of our mortal existence and the endless possibilities.

Each session we will return to the mountain with a new mentor or two and pick from their character their attributes of success. Men and women such as J. Paul Getty, David B. Haight, Stephen Covey, Ben Franklin, George Clason, Nelson Mandela, Ghandi, Og Mandino, Joan of Arc, Peter of the Day of Pentecost, the Apostle Paul, Dr. Jim Loehr, Jim Collins, Margaret Thatcher, Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and George Washington just to name some of the heavy hitters lined up for us.

Let’s get started. Put on your hiking boots; Moses is waiting for us where he wants to share with us what happened to him when he enrolled in an earlier version of Launching Leaders.  WE think you will quickly see why we begin with his story.

Grab you a mentor and coach and let’s find Moses.

Faith-based – A Key Differentiator

Johnson MckayThere are countless “leadership” and “self-help” courses and other offerings.  These include traditional live open enrollment or on-site classroom settings, as well as online workshops. Vendors range from in-house training departments to commercial providers.

There are also faith-based leadership and self-help courses provided by specific denominations (e.g. United Church of Christ and Bethel Church), or in local houses of worship, often using “home grown” curriculum and talent, targeting local parishioners. Some universities also offer faith-based programs, targeted at improving denominational leadership (e.g. University of Portland and Kellogg School of Leadership).

However, we have not identified a single offering that teaches in the faith-based realm and unites the spiritual with the professional to maximize success, as does Launching Leaders.

Delivery Platforms

Important to the success of the new Launching Leaders will be a robust online series of learning modules where a worldwide audience can participate fully.  An online learning management system will be established utilizing cutting edge learning methodologies tailored to the needs and learning styles of Millennials, including mobile applications.

Also critical to success is engaging local faith group leaders who can customize the curriculum to fit their needs and particular faith group interests, texts, traditions, and mentors/leadership figures.

Global Interfaith Advisory Board

Quentin DanielsWe are looking for denominational and other leaders, as well as Millennials of faith, to become members of our global interfaith advisory board. These individuals will help us move Launching Leaders into a new era, appropriate for all types of faith-based individuals and organizations. The board will direct the creation of the curriculum and updating of the companion book. They will help shape effective in-class and online tools, provided to pastors and worship leaders to teach principles that engage and enable Millennials and adults. They will help us establish a mentoring base that will form both local and global mentoring opportunities for the participants.

The Lines are Being Drawn

Let’s help Millennials and others see that their faith and professional lives need not be separate and distinct from one another. Let’s help them understand that combining the two will clarify their purpose in life and bring happiness, enabling God to do His work and connect the dots.  Let’s help them understand that success in life and beyond can and should be based on God-given principles. Our young adults are being tugged and pulled by powerful worldly forces and convincing arguments. The lines are being drawn more plainly than ever.

Let’s Launch some Leaders!

[1] Pew Research Center Study, May 2015

[2] Id.

[3] Barna Group Study, Sept. 2013

Identity Crisis

identityThis is a personal story about what matters most.  As most of you know,   our family formed a company in 1988 and grew it to maturity over the past 27 years, having sold it to another entity five years ago.  My last day with the firm I founded was August 13, 2015.

I always wondered what leaving the firm we founded would feel like.  The timing was not my own; though we had planned for this day years ago.  Still, it is a step into the unknown.

If you believe as I do that there are no coincidences, that everything happens for a reason, and that there is a God in Heaven who cares about and directs our journey, then you will understand what I’m about to say.

In the end, the legacy we leave is how we treated the folks who we mingled with in this journey.  In the company we founded, we always treated folks with dignity, affording them trust and the freedom to excel and become.  That can never be taken away.

My wife said “Steve, we didn’t build a company, we built a family”.  That is exactly right.  The lessons we learned along the way are lessons for eternity…..and the lessons continue.

When you leave a position of influence, there is a natural vacuum that occurs in the mind.  For me, it was the unexpected silence.  Electronic chatter came to a standstill.  The phone pretty much stopped ringing.  Many of those I considered my friends (in the company) over the 27 year journey became quiet.

There were a few of those who worked for us over the many years who made an effort to express their gratitude, which was very nice.  We love the company family we created; much like our own.

I’m not asking for sympathy as our lives continue to be fruitful, and the new time afforded us will allow us to focus on things that matter most to us; our family, other family businesses, charitable ventures and much more.  The life lesson I want to express in this post has to do with our identity.

Is it formed by what we perceive to be a part of our identity?  When your friends are only those whose email traffic you vet at work, or the social media, then you probably don’t have many real friends at all.  Cut yourself out of that traffic loop for a few days and you will see what I mean.  What would you do without thumbs to text?  Try this test and see how you survive.  More importantly, see how that world survives without you.

Is it shaped by the volume of our electronic river?  I was pretty shocked actually to see my river dry up from some directions; but it didn’t take long to really appreciate.  If the size of your electronic river is a big part of your identity, then prepare for an eventual drought.  This is an interesting topic as books have been written on how to capture this river and store it in your reservoir, and monetize it.  All well and good, but don’t let it affect who you really are.

What I have discovered is also a lesson my wife taught me.  It is most important to know both WHO you are, and WHOSE you are.

In my situation, I have a certain knowledge that I am a child of God.  I believe I have deity in my veins; that I am a part of God’s royalty.  Because of that belief, I also believe that I belong to Him, in a way that carries with it a certain amount of humble confidence.  I am a child of God, and I belong to Him.  That is who I am, and whose I am.

The pride of position (in my case, the CEO of a significant employer), the praise of men (in my case, the accolades that come with positions of influence), and the “fake” assurance of importance created by social media (were my identity grounded in those things), could have sunk my ship.  No instead, I recognize the hand of God in my life; that I have value and worth, and that what I have to offer is of a type of value that overshadows the comfortable cocoon the world wraps around you.

Don’t get too cozy if you plan to do God’s work.  He will move you from your comfort zone toward a land of promise.  He will move you.  If you reduce the cacophony of sound (noise), it creates the space to move forward.

Onward I say, on to more important victories!  Stay tuned as I express more of the things Ginger and I are involved with as we move from our comfort zone toward the land of promise.  We look forward to having you all become a part of this wonderful adventure.  Things we have just touched on in our past blogs such as Launching Leaders, The Ministry of Business, and Mycore to name a few, will become front and center in our universe.  We are excited to share this journey with you.