CNLP 468: Donald Miller on the Backstory to His Journey from Blue Like Jazz to Business Made Simple, Common Mistakes Leaders Make, And Dropping a Victim Mentality

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New York Times bestselling author, Donald Miller, discusses the surprising (and at times confusing) journey from being the well-known, well-loved author of Blue Like Jazz to becoming the founder of Business Made Simple, a wildly successful company that helps businesses succeed.

Carey and Don discuss why he’s made the multiple transitions he has, how it’s all part of the same journey, common mistakes leaders make, as well as how to drop a victim mentality.

Welcome to Episode 468 of the podcast. Listen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

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CDF Capital

As the church shifts away from lockdowns and uncertainty, the questions that lie ahead have not changed.

Now, more than ever, learning from each other is critically important.

CDF Capital’s XP Summit 2022, on May 24th and 25th, provides an opportunity to learn from some of the top global ministry leaders. This year’s theme is The Post-Pandemic Church. Be inspired and gain practical tools to help you navigate this season.

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Conversation Links

Hero on a Mission by Donald Miller

My Business Report

Business Made Simple

Business Made Simple by Donald Miller

Business Made Simple Podcast

Building a StoryBrand by Donald Miller 

Blue Like Jazz by Donald Miller 

Blue Like Jazz movie

Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott

CNLP 395: Seth Godin Shares His Secrets Behind Creative Work, Top Tips for Communicators and How He Learned to Think the Way He Thinks

CNLP 300: NT Wright on Why Atheism Doesn’t Need to Destroy Your Faith, on Women in Ministry, and How the Church is Getting Heaven Wrong

CNLP 152: Eugene Peterson on Why He Wrote the Message, The Rhythms of a Reflective Life + Mark Batterson and Adam Weber on Peterson’s Legacy

Cultish by Amanda Montell

Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Yes to Life by Viktor E. Fankl

At Your Best by Carey Nieuwhof

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Insights From Donald

1. The business community has much it can learn from the Church

Donald Miller—author of the Christian bestseller Blue Like Jazz and the CEO of Business Made Simple—has his feet planted firmly in both the business and church worlds (which makes him a perfect guest for the podcast).

One of the most striking things Miller said during the interview was that he believes the business world is doing itself a disservice when it dismisses “church” as a place to learn incredibly rich lessons in business and leadership. For example, no other cultural institution on Earth is producing and distributing as much new content to a global audience as the Church does on a weekly basis.

2. Likewise, the Church can learn a lot from the business community

While some people may bristle at the idea of thinking about church “as a business,” it’s important to recognize there’s much to learn from modern business practices that cultivate brand awareness and customer loyalty. After all, the internal and external messages drawing someone into boutique fitness studies are very similar to the unmet needs and expectations that may attract someone to a church.

Additionally, people want to see vulnerability and authenticity from business leaders and brand ambassadors. A pastor who preaches on the importance of loving one’s neighbor on Sunday who also treats their staff like dirt probably won’t hold onto their platform for much longer.

3. Every day, we live as the hero, villain, victim or guide of our own story

In Donald Miller’s new book, Hero on a Mission, he breaks down the four major characters in every story—the hero, villain, victim and guide—that also define how we approach life. When you see yourself as the hero, life becomes a series of challenges to overcome and moral character to develop. When you’re the villain, you see people as obstacles to overcome and control.

If you approach life as a victim, you’ll view yourself at the mercy of forces totally outside of your control, doomed to a life without agency. And finally, the guides see themselves as dispellers of wisdom and clarity as a result of their hard-fought experience. Heroes and guides often experience life with a deep sense of meaning. Villains and victims don’t.

Quotes from Episode 468

The business community has more to learn about content creation and distribution from the Church than any other institution in the world. - @donaldmiller Click To Tweet The one thing they don’t teach you in business school is how to run a business. - @donaldmiller Click To Tweet The fact that life is meaningful is very hard to defend unless we agree on certain theological principles, but it's even harder to experience. - @donaldmiller Click To Tweet When you live as the hero and a guide, you experience a deep sense of meaning. When you live as a villain or victim, you don’t. - @donaldmiller Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 468

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Read or download a free PDF transcript of this episode here.

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Next Episode: Mark Sayers

Mark Sayers joins us for a wide-ranging conversation about the profoundly disorienting change leaders have been experiencing over the last two years, future church trends and what to expect in 2022 and beyond.

We cover supply chain disruptions, critical race theory, the revenge of nature, deconstruction and the challenge of control. This is part one of a six part Future series on the podcast.

Subscribe for free now so you won’t miss Episode 469.

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Carey Nieuwhof
Carey Nieuwhof

Carey Nieuwhof is a best-selling leadership author, speaker, podcaster, former attorney, and church planter. He hosts one of today’s most influential leadership podcasts, and his online content is accessed by leaders over 1.5 million times a month. He speaks to leaders around the world about leadership, change, and personal growth.