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Ever Wish You Could Pick the Brain of Your Favourite Leaders? (I've Got a Brand New Podcast Coming!)

As you’ve heard me mention all summer, we have exciting things planned to help you lead like never before.

And one of them is this. I’ll be launching a brand new podcast next month.

You can subscribe right now to get access to exclusive content and new episodes.

Can I tell you why I’m so excited about it?

As a young leader, I always wished I could just pick the brain of leaders I admired.But I didn’t know many. And the ones I listened to from afar were always on stage and inaccessible to me. You know the drill. Been there, right?

Over the years I’ve been able to meet some of the leaders I used to watch from the back row —plus a ton of leaders whose names you might not recognize who have some amazing insights.

So many times when I’ve been talking to those leaders I think to myself “I wish ________ could be in on this conversation!” or “I wish everyone could hear this!”

Well, starting next month, you (and your team) can!

The guest list is pretty amazing (I’m so excited…I’ll reveal it in a few weeks…earlier if you subscribe).

The podcast will feature some of the top names in leadership today as well as people you may never have heard of but who offer some exceptional leadership insights (I love that part!).

My goal…to bring you some of the best conversations happening in leadership today. And all of it’s designed to help you and your team lead like never before.

So…if you want inside access and want to be the first to hear what’s coming down the pipe, subscribe to my podcast today by clicking the button below.

Can’t wait!

Anyone you’d like to see me interview on the show?

Leave a comment!

By subscribing , you’ll receive updates, exclusive content, and new episodes from The Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast.

Why Shrinking Attention Spans Are a Myth (And 5 Ways to Fight Them)

As a leader, you fight for people’s attention.

If you don’t have their attention, you don’t have influence. And if you have no influence, you’re not leading.

So having people’s attention is critical.

How do you get it?

That’s a great question.

And the emerging consensus today is that you need to be shorter because people’s attention spans are shrinking. As this article (among many) shows, people’s attention spans are dropping.

But notice the claim is only that the span has dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds today. 12 seconds was hardly a marathon.

Idea? Be brief, and you’ll have people’s attention.

I’d like to challenge that. I’m not convinced it’s solid logic and I’m not convinced that’s actually what’s happening.

I tend to agree with Derek Halpern and want to buck the accepted wisdom that attention spans are shorter.

Let me explain why, and then I’ll show you 5 ways to hold people’s attention far beyond what they’ll give most people.


The Real Issue: 10 Minutes of Boring is 10 Minutes Too Long

So what’s the real issue when it comes to attention span?

People don’t have time for boring.

Clearly we’re inundated with more messages than at any time in human history. And it’s forced us to be better stewards of what we consume.

Come on, you know this: faced with countless options, 10 minutes of boring is 10 minutes too long.

But an hour of fascinating is hardly enough.

If people’s attention span was truly 8 seconds, you couldn’t explain the rising phenomena of binge watching.

Why would teens and twenty somethings with zero attention span lock themselves in a room all day and all night to binge watch a brand new series?


Why This Blog Shouldn’t Work

When I started blogging seriously just under two years ago, people told me ‘nobody will read anything over 400 words.”

I heard it again and again.

But I realized much of what I had to say didn’t fit within 400 words, or often even 700.

So I just decided to be a long form blogger. I try not to waste words or go on too long. I always try to be helpful. But some ideas take longer to explain than others.

My average post is about 1200 words. Some have gone as long as 1600 words.

Just ask Ramit Sethi. He will often write very long emails, and hyper-lengthy copy and is one of the most successful online marketers around.

If you’re wondering, I personally don’t study him to become rich (that’s what his business is about), but because his approach to marketing is fascinating and completely counter-cultural these days. (If you want to see a study of his writing approach, you can click this link. Warning: there is off colour language).

So, I just decided to be me and wrote longer posts.

As some of you know, I set a goal in 2013 (my first full year of blogging) of 100,000 page views. To my utter astonishment, I saw over 800,000 page views.

Just a few days ago (early August 2014 if you’re reading this in the future), this blog passed 1,000,000 page views for 2014. I still can’t believe it.

Maybe long form copy isn’t dead.

And THANK YOU to everyone who has read and keeps reading this blog. I am so grateful to have met so many of you and we’re learning so much together.

It’s been an AMAZING journey. :)


And Now A Leadership Podcast

Next month I launch a podcast. Again, I’ve consulted with many podcasters about the ideal length.

Many told me 17-22 minutes is the sweet spot.

I’m doing an interview format in the podcast, and I want the podcast to be the best leadership conversations out there. My best personal leadership conversations never take 17-22 minutes to get through.

When I’m talking to a high capacity leader, the conversations often last an hour or longer.

Tim Ferriss and Pat Flynn have two of the top rated podcasts out there and theirs often run over an hour.

So I’m setting the format at 40-50 minutes per episode. I hope you’ll find the conversations with leaders as fascinating and helpful as I do.

We’ll see what happens. But I’m excited.

(P.S. If you want to get in on the launch of my podcast, sign up on my email list today. We’ll be keeping you in the loop and giving you further options for even being part of the launch itself. Just subscribe under my profile pic at the top right.)


5 Ways To Hold People’s Attention Spans In a Crowded World

So how do you hold people’s attention spans in a crowded world?

Here are 5 ideas that have helped me wade through it:


1. Write killer content

Quite simply, write the best content you can. When you’re writing (even an email), when you’re blogging, when you’re designing your website, when you’re speaking or preaching.

Spend the time you need to think through your ideas.

Don’t try to be someone else.

And if you’re not a writer, become an incredible curator of other people’s content.

If you cant’ write, research, collect and distribute the best content you can to your community.

Always ask permission, but use other people’s articles to populate your emails to people who attend your church or are part of your organization.

Killer content wins. It just does. People will read it. People will thank you.

Because everyone is looking for help. Be the person who helps them.


2. Pay attention to your headlines and series titles

I have learned over time that the headline makes all the difference.

If you want how to learn how to write great headlines, click on over here where I explain it in detail (and include some helpful links).

I’m now trying to apply that to sermon and series titles at our church.

For example, I was going to call our summer series this year “Entitled”, because it was all about entitlement.

Then I realized I created a yawner.

So we renamed it “Starve the Monster”. I talked about the monster of entitlement that lives in us and our kids, and our team developed a really great graphics package.

People talked about it, remembered it more, and it became one of our most shared series online this year. All that in the middle of summer.

Bet you you’ll remember Starve the Monster.  And you already forgot ‘Entitled”.


3. Consider a 2 minute YouTube style summary of your message alongside the full version

Here’s an idea we haven’t implemented yet but will shortly.

Most churches upload their 30-50 minute message Sunday and leave it at that.

I think that’s a mistake. People are used to 2 minute YouTube clips. So why not create a 2 minute excerpt of one of the best moments of your message or a 2 minute highlight reel to place beside the full version on your site.

It would allow people to sample something before they dive in.

My guess is if your content is great it will increase the number of views you get on full length messages, not decrease them.

It’s just an easier access ramp.


4. Create headers, white space and key points.

Even though most of my posts are over 1000 words, you can read the key points in under 10 seconds.

Headers and subheaders, lists, points and lots of white space make the text so much easier to read and scan.

I think it also makes it more memorable.

You remember what you see.


5. Get up close and personal.

You know what people still like? Face time. And not the online version.

People love to meet you. They really do.

So as much as you can, get out from behind the keyboard and meet the people you serve.

Doing that one on one is tough when you have a church or organization over 100-200 in size.

But if you can’t meet one on one, meet in groups.

In the future when I’m on the road, I’ll try to meet blog readers and (soon) podcast listeners in groups by hosting meet ups.

At home, from time to time I throw parties for leaders and people who attend our church at my house. I can’t invite everyone (we have 2000 people who call our church home), but that doesn’t mean I should invite no one.

Throughout the year, we’ll host other events and ministries in which we try to build personal relationships, cast vision and thank people for their involvement.

We just recently held a few during peak vacation season and were shocked to get a 70% yes rate from people we invited. Clearly people want to connect.

Guess what happens every time you connect in person with someone?

People feel connected to you and you feel connected to them.

And that means the next time you speak, you have their attention, because they have yours.

Don’t ignore the personal touches that make life the amazing adventure it is.

So that’s why I think people will give you more time and attention than you think when you connect with them.

What do you think?

Leave a comment!

Top 10 Ways Leaders Waste Time (And 10 Time Hacks to Help You)

When was the last time you complained about not having enough to do and more than enough time to do it in?


Almost every leader I know struggles with finding the time to get it all done.

I do too.

So what helps? And what hurts?

One of the best things you can do is have an honest conversation with yourself about how you waste time.

I’m going to assume you’re not gaming when you should be working, but there are other more insidious ways that time slips away.

Any idea what your time wasters are? And even if you do, any idea how to fix them?

Here’s some practical help.



The Top 10 Time Wasters and Time Hacks

So because this is a post on time management, let’s cut to the chase and outline the Top 10 ways leaders waste time and 10 time hacks that can help.

While this isn’t a scientific list, I know this is how I waste time if I’m not careful and they’re patterns I’ve seen in working with many leaders over the years.

All of these are common struggles, and the good news is there are relatively easy solutions.

Read more

5 Ways To Make Your Content More Compelling, Clickable (and Maybe Even Go Viral)

What makes you click? Or read? Or listen? Or, better yet, share a message with your friends?

Ever wonder that?

Me too.

Whether you’re writing a message for Sunday,  a blog post, a conference workshop, your notes for hosting an event or even writing an email you hope won’t instantly trigger the delete key, we all hope what we write and speak will be well received.

And yet every day, a lot of potentially great content disappears into the ether, never to be heard from or seen again. And others gets shared by hundreds, thousands, or even millions.


Believe it or not, most content that resonates share 5 characteristics. With an eye for these 5, you might soon find your content resonating more than it does now.

Students outdoor with digital tablet


It Starts with Great Content…But

There are a few things I’m going to assume. Because there isn’t really that much of a market for terrible content, let’s assume your content is:

High quality


Of value to people

This is true whether you’re speaking, writing or however you’re communicating.

No tweak or method is likely to make bad content more shareable.

Just wanted to make sure we’re all on the same page on that issue.


A Little Study in What Connects

Last year I met Brian Orme. You may or may not have heard of Brian, but you’ve likely been touched by his passion for helping leaders access great content.

Brian is the editor of Outreach Magazine,, SermonCentral, ChurchPlants and the exceptionally popular FaithIt. The content he edits is read by millions every day. You actually can’t be in senior leadership in ministry and not have been impacted by the content Brian edits.  Brian, by the way, is also a really great guy.

Brian and I have had a few conversations about what makes some content connect while other content just doesn’t.

We isolated five characteristics that seem to make content click with people. It’s unscientific for sure, but if it helps you preach better, teach better, lead better and write better…well then that’s awesome. It will advance the mission we’re all on.


5 Ways to Make Content Compelling, Clickable (and Maybe Even Viral)

Before we get started, let me clear up one more thing . I don’t think you can make content go viral. You can probably make it more compelling and more clickable. But you can’t make it go viral.

However, content that goes viral often has unique characteristics. Giving your piece these 5 characteristics below won’t make it go viral, but if anything you offer ever does go viral or gets shared disproportionately, it likely has some or all of these 5 characteristics.

Read more

The Pros and Cons of a Celebrity Pastor Culture

Without a doubt, we live in a celebrity culture.

It’s interesting that we can be fascinated with people we’ll never meet and who likely have little desire to meet us. But we are.

And in the last decade, celebrity culture has taken hold in the church.

The burning question: is it good for us?


This is So First Century

Well, actually, before we get too far into the conversation, realize that none of this is truly new.

The Apostle Paul struggled with a first century version of a celebrity culture.  Self-admittedly, Paul wasn’t the best speaker, and it seems the early Christians were eager to declare their loyalties to the apostles that they considered the best leaders/speakers—even to those who hadn’t invested nearly as much in the local church as Paul had.

A brimming popularity contest among church leaders is written all over 1 Corinthians 1-3 and significant sections of 2 Corinthians.

As long as there have been people, there has been the desire to assign loyalty to whomever you ‘like’ best.


How the Interwebs Changed Things

Fast forward to our day. Not only have we become a consumer culture, but we’re able to access media and personalities instantly and constantly.

Remember that just over a decade ago—back in the 1990s—you used to have to work to hear another pastor preach.

You’d have to drive to his or her church. Or buy a CD (or cassette…gotta love those tape ministries) and wait for the product to be delivered in the mail.  Few people bothered.

But with the rise of broadband, wifi, podcasting and smartphones, suddenly it became possible to listen to both your local pastor (or worship leader) and the best preachers (or worship leaders) on the planet. For free. Anytime of the day or night. Any week. Every week.

And millions of people have.

The unspoken reality is that almost every local church leader is now being evaluated not against last week, but against the best communicators on the planet.

Keep reading…

Why All Future Leaders Will Be Great Conversationalists

Sometimes there’s a revolution going on and you can sense it, but you can’t quite name it.

Almost every leader is caught in one of those moments right now.

How you lead—and how you need to lead to in order to be relevant—is changing, fast.

Young leader conversation

A generation ago, a leader was regarded as an expert. A leader:

Knew things others didn’t.

Could assume his or her opinion would be respected.

Carried an authority that came with the position.

And as a result, a leader had a distinct advantage over others.

Not all of those characteristics are entirely gone. But the canary in the coal mine hasn’t chirped in a while.

What’s shifting?

Keep reading…

12 Cultural Trends Church Leaders Can't Ignore (But Might)

12 Cultural Trends Church Leaders Can't Afford to Ignore

When you lead an organization — especially when you are responsible for leading an organization like the local church — there is a temptation to ignore trends or minimize the impact they will have on how you operate.

It’s so difficult to gain and keep momentum, that when you have some momentum it becomes tempting to ignore the changes around you because they might force you to rethink your method.

But the truth is that your method (your strategy, your approach, your plan) is not sacred; the mission is sacred.

Andy Molinski calls it global dexterity: The ability to adapt behaviours across cultures without losing who you are in the process.

Leaders who are willing to reconsider the methods to preserve the mission are usually the ones who succeed long term.

While there are dozens of trends that are impacting the church, the trends outlined below are what I would call ‘organizational sleepers’.

Keep reading this post

Converting On-Line to Real Life

I’ve been married in real life to the same amazing woman for twenty years.  We met in person, not online.  Only eight people were on the internet in 1990.   We weren’t two of them.

But this weekend I’m preaching on the difference between on-line and real life relationship as part of our Like Me series. You can watch parts one and two of the series here on on iTunes (search Connexus Community Church).   I have some thoughts based on my experience with social media, some resources I’ve read and of course, what the Bible teaches about relationships.  But I’ve never been in an online relationship.

Many of you have. I’d to hear from some of you who have fallen in love on line.  Those of you who met and stayed together or met and broke up.

Some questions:

  • What got you into the relationship?
  • What was enticing about the relationship?
  • What was difficult?
  • How hard was the transition from on-line to real life?
  • What would you do differently?
  • What do you regret?

You can answer all or just one of the questions.  All comments are moderated, but if you want to use an assumed name…I’ll allow that on this post.


- Carey

PS.  The promised blog post on reaching people who don’t go to church is still on its way.  Thanks for your patience!

What I Learned from My Social Media Fast

So I feel like I emerged from a cave yesterday when I came out of a five day social media fast.  How do I feel?  Like the rest of the world gets around by sports car and I got handed a wagon with a broken wheel and no horse.

My rules were simple:  communicate with people voice to voice or face to face for five days.  I got rid of Facebook and Twitter, and only answered texts and emails with a return voice call, not by keyboard.

I thought it was going to be a great week – I’d be more spiritual.  More time for rich relationships.  Time to deeply reflect.  Mind you, I try to take time like that every week.  But I thought my social media fast would enhance that to the nth degree.

Uh.  No.  Not at all.   It just made everything more difficult and more complicated.  Sign of an addict?  I don’t think so.  Hope not.  Read on and make up your own mind.

Some random learnings:

  • It wasn’t that hard not to tweet or update my Facebook status.  I had the urge, but it wasn’t like the response a caffeine addict might have to no coffee.  I could easily last a month or more.
  • What I did miss is knowing what was going on in my friends’ lives.  Most of the benefit of social media for me is staying in touch and keeping up on what’s happening in other peoples lives and ministries.  It felt lonely actually, like a bunch of great people had exited my life.
  • It was incredibly inconvenient.   I could not get to inbox zero because I couldn’t effectively follow up on everything that came across my inbox or desktop.  Not only was it inconvenient for me, it was very inconvenient for our staff and other colleagues.
  • Phone communication isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.  When you’re used to communicating with someone via text or direct messages, switching it up to voice mail makes is more complicated. Text based messaging gets sent at the convenience of the sender and read at the convenience of the recipient.  The phone is very intrusive compared to that.
  • Good communication rule: communicate with people the way they want to be communicated with.  I decided I would read email but ask people to respond by phone.  I had an auto-responder set up on the gmail explaining my five day fast and asked people to call me instead.  Not many did.  I could be wildly unpopular or it might just be that people pick the channel of communication they want and stick to it.  I did call a few people and we had some fun conversations, but got more voicemails than actual conversations.  Online messaging is FAR more efficient and fun.
  • I did have more time reflect and think last week…not much, but some.  But I felt my world got much smaller, and I missed the people who make it larger and richer for their presence.


  • I thought the fast would be liberating, clarifying and spiritually uplifting.  Instead, it was mostly inconvenient.
  • Social media can lead to narcissism for sure, but I found I wasn’t really missing updating my own status, I was missing every else.  And missing the chance to engage and interact.
  • I thought I would be asking everyone to do a media fast in our Like Me series on social media (coming up in November at Connexus).  Maybe a better bottom line is this:  some of us (narcissistic folks etc) need to use social media less, but some of us need to use it more. If you’re not texting, on Facebook or online in any meaningful way, you’re missing a huge part of the conversation.  You’re being left behind.  And people younger than you might not be talking to you at all.  This is just actually the way millions of people communicate now.  You miss it at your own peril.

That’s what I learned.  Ever done a media fast? What was your experience? If you haven’t done one, what do you think you might discover if you did one?

Do You Lie When You Twitter?

Very few people I know have a bad day.

Let me correct that.  All the people I know have bad days and discouraging moments.

It’s just the people I hang around on twitter seem not to.  Everyone is so pumped to be part of an organization, has the perfect wife that they can’t believe married them, loves their family and is excited about the future.

Now to some extent that’s true, I’m sure.  I have a great wife, love working with the team at Connexus, am thankful for my kids and have moments where I’m downright pumped about the future.  But Toni and I argue and don’t always agree on things.  There are good days and bad days in ministry.  My kids are great but we have conflict.  And I’m mostly pumped about the future, but some days I get discouraged.

Confession:  I tend not to tweet the junk.  At times it means there is silence.  At times I find the one positive thing I can tweet about.

Second Confession: I don’t like following negative people.  I’ve actually stopped following people who are overly negative or rant all the time.  I love authenticity, but I don’t like negativism.

Third Confession:  I’m not sure I want to tweet a struggle because I would never want to throw a co-worker, friend or anyone in my world under the bus intentionally or unintentionally.  It’s just not fair.

I find blog posts and sermons the easiest to be ‘truthful’ on because they are longer and invite dialogue and explanation. But I won’t criticize anyone there either because I think it’s a bit unfair and unwise.   I can be self-reflective and self-critical because at least on blogs and in messages there’s a context for junk (at least my personal junk) and joy (shared joy or personal joy).  Personal differences are just that – personal, and they should be worked out one on one face to face.

It’s even easier to be self-reflective on a blog or in a message because you have time and a few minutes or words for context.  Twitter’s and Facebook statuses are so hard because they are so short.

That said, when you tweet, blog, or update your status on Facebook, how do you tell the truth?  Are we putting up false fronts?  Building up false personas?  How do you tell the truth and still encourage others?  Is our on-line personae actually the real ‘us’?  How can the real you be accurately known in social media?