What I learned from Steve Jobs


I just finished “Steve Jobs” by Walter Isaacson. Here’s 20 things I highlighted. Some apply to preaching. Some apply to pastoring. Some are just interesting:

1. Apple had a 3rd partner, Ron Wayne, who got cold feet after 11 days. He was paid a buyout of $2,300. Had he stayed, his share would be worth $2.6 billion.

2. Picasso had a saying – “Good artists copy, great artists steal” – we have been shameless about stealing great ideas.

3. In the annals of innovation, new ideas are only part of the equation. Execution is just as important.

4. The empowering force of naïveté – “Because I didn’t know it couldn’t be done, I was enabled to do it. ”

5. The goal was never to beat the competition, or to make a lot of money. It was to do the greatest thing possible, or even a little greater.

6. Jobs recruiting Pepsi’s Scully – Do you want to spend the rest of your life selling sugared water, or do you want a chance to change the world?

7. Jobs responding to a question about how he did market research for the Mac – “Did Alexander Graham Bell do any market research before he invented the telephone?”

8. The best & most innovative products don’t always win.

9. A colleague on how he dealt with Jobs abrasive personality “I used to be an angry man myself. I’m a recovering assaholic. So I could recognize that in Steve.”

10. What prepared him for the success he would have in Act 3 was not his ouster from Act 1 @ Apple, but his brilliant failures in Act 2.

11. It takes a lot of hard work to make something simple.

12. You have to deeply understand the essence of a product in order to be able to get rid of the parts that are not essential.

13. Gretzky – “Skate where the puck is going, not where it has been.”

14. Jobs – “What are the 10 things we should be doing next?…We can only do 3″

15. The mark of an innovative company is not that it comes up with new ideas first, but also that it knows how to leapfrog when it finds itself behind.

16. Some people say, “Give the customers what they want.” but that’s not my approach. Our job is to figure out what they’re going to want before they do.

17. Henry Ford – “If I’d asked customers what the wanted, they’d have told me, ‘a faster horse’.”

18. People don’t know what they want until you show it to them. That’s why I never rely on market research. Our task is to read things that are not yet on the page.

19. You build a company that will stand for something a generation or two from now. That’s what Walt Disney did, and HP, and the people that built Intel. They created a company to last, not just to make money. That’s what I want Apple to be.

20. Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

So, what about you?

What got your attention?

Why I wrote the book and why you should buy one

My new book, Ir-rev-rend: Christianity without the pretense, faith without the facade releases today.

I thought I’d take a minute and tell you why I wrote it and maybe give you some reasons why you should buy the book.

If you want to skip the explanation and get right to the ordering, you can do so by clicking here: Ir-rev-rend: Christianity Without the Pretense. Faith Without the Façade


Praise for Ir-rev-rend

“I get the chance to hang with a lot of Pastors and there are very few that I know who are as “real” as Greg Surratt. You will find this book refreshingly honest and encouraging. Everyone needs an ‘Ir-Rev-Rend’ in their life.”
Mark Batterson, pastor at National Community Church, author of In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day

“Filled with life-changing wisdom and sidesplitting humor.”
Craig Groeschel, author, and founder of Life Church TV

“In a world where most people think they gain credibility by hiding their imperfections, Greg Surratt turns that myth on its head with IR-REV-REND.”
Phil Cooke, filmmaker, and author of Jolt

Busted: My seat mate from Ir-rev-rend finds me

When I posted the preview chapter from my soon to be released book, Ir-rev-rend, I didn’t expect the subject of the story to suddenly show up in the comment section. After all, I’d only met him one time, and that on a brief airplane flight. But, there he was. As big as life. Commenting on the accuracy of our encounter. Fortunately, according to him, I got the story right. The only thing I missed was the spelling of his name. Apparently that wasn’t the only misspelling in the chapter. :-)

I thought you’d be interested in hearing his take on the story.

Well it’s me, I’m the chiropractor you met on the plane. I can’t remember exactly how long ago, I think a couple of years or so. Any way a friend Sean Tabor told me about your book tonight. I decided to read your preface and wanted to comment on what I think gave me power to be me. It’s simple with preachers like Fred Richards, Robert Spadley, truth is I was blessed to have some of Charlestons finest teach me Gods word. Boy does Gods word make a difference especially when you’re forced to believe it. I mean trials can make you or break you depending on how you choose to respond. I was told in Bible school that if you respond to trials in faith , they will make you better. If you respond to trials in fear doubt and unbief, they can make you bitter. I think life can be full of trials, it’s kind of a serendipity experience that builds your character along the way. Well any way I wanted to tell you my secret. It’s not only listening to great preaching it’s listening to Gods word. I know it sounds cliche, who cares there are plenty of versions to listen to. It works, listening to Gods word changed my life. I wish I could say I didn’t have feet of clay, but I do. Many times I honestly listen to God’s word even after knowing I just meditated on something I should not have. Guess what his word cleanses to the utter most. I’m also amazed with Gods word that I listen to the Word during my work hours over the speaker system. I want all of my patients and staff to hear Gods precious word. I go home at night and turn on my iPhone and listen to Gods word when I sleep I listen to Gods word. I currently attempt to hear the word from Genisis to Revelations about every three to four weeks and repeat the process often. I feel that Gods word is the most important thing I can give my self to. One other thing I want to say, I am very happy to say that my children are doing well. My youngest Hannah, is sixteen, she attends Fair hill Christian school in Fairbanks Alaska, my next oldest child is a senior at hutcheson high also in Fairbanks. My next oldest just graduated high school and attends Lee university in Cleveland Tn. My oldest is attending Southeastern University in Lakeland Fla. I told you this because I see Gods faithfulness and answered prayers. God is amazing. I love him and want to spend the rest of my life serving my flock at Carlile Chiropractic. I am pleased that you refer to me in your book. I’m so glad that after so many years God kindly allows me be re instated back to the lives I left over thirty years ago. I want to thank Fred Richards and Rob Spradley, Jim Kelly, Jeff Stockford, and Sue Nesmith for being there in YouthQuake. Gods word, Gods people, Gods Spirit what a combo. Now that’s a hardy meal that feeds this Charlestonian Alaska boy. I love you, thanks for sharing and allowing me to share on the plane. God bless you if you want to keep in touch I would love to take you into the wilderness. If you want pictures let me know. Thank you Dr Jon Carlile

A little later Jon’s brother Ed left a comment:

Greg, your description of Jon and his enthusiasm was perfect. He is so inspirational even in the worst of times. He would always say, “I just want to stay in God’s will”. It is because we were raised in a good Christian home. We were members of Northwoods Assembly when Sea Coast was started. So we had the good training and direction of Pastor Richards. In fact, my wife and I were married there by Doug Cotton. When Jon totally committed his life to God, he never looked back.
He has amazed me in his accomplishments, which haven’t come easy. When he was at Life Chiropractic University in Atlanta, he didn’t have tuition for his sophomore year. He was insistent that God would provide a way. I’ll never forget the day he called me in Charleston to say he was on the Rugby team. John had never played any high school sport and he really didn’t know what Rugby was. But that’s where enthusiasm, following God’s will and 285 pounds of Jon Carlile can do. I asked him if he ever scored. He said they just put me in to rough people up. Either God is a big sports fan or He wanted Jon to get that sophomore year scholarship.
I’m glad you had an opportunity to meet Jon and share his story.
I’m proud to be his brother.

As if that wasn’t enough, there was at least one more interesting comment. You may remember me referring to a girl I sat next too on an earlier flight. She was nervous about flying and releaved to be sitting next to her pastor, not realizing that he was piously praying for an empty seat. Her name is Brenda and she recognized herself:

To be fair, once the adrenaline wore off and the plane took off I tried not to talk to you because I figured you get tired of being a celebrity. But geesh you just kept yammering on and on. I said a couple of prayers of my own. I was sorry to see the editor changed the original text from “an intelligent well put together (and most likely very funny) woman” and just went with “young woman”.
I get it. You needed the space.

Great chapter. You had me at “no one should be up at that hour.”

Thank you for the times you have been a part of my story. I’m sure that sentiment could be repeated sincerely all over the world! I look forward to the rest of the stories.

Honestly, I tried to disguise the identity of some of the characters in other stories a little better than these. I changed names and facts to protect the innocent (and sometimes the guilty). But I’m kind of glad that Jon identified himself. He’s the kind of hero that everyone should get to meet at least once in your life.

I’m glad I got my chance, I hope you enjoyed reading about it.

Preview chapter from Ir-rev-rend: Christianity without the pretense, faith without the facade

The following is a preview chapter from my book “Ir-rev-rend: Christianity without the pretense, faith without the facade” (release date September 28, 2011). If you would like to order a copy for your Kindle/iPad you can click HERE. For a hardcover copy you can click HERE.

Giveaway:  I’m giving away a copy of the book to 5 people who leave comments. (Winners will be announced Monday)


Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words … they’ll sink your ship in a skinny minute.

I recently contributed some thoughts on transition in a new book by Scott Wilson titled “Steering Through Chaos: Mapping a clear direction for your church in the midst of transition and change”. Today I’d like to share the first of three simple lessons we are learning when it comes to communicating change to a group of people.

  1. The words you use are really important.  I remember when we were trying to transition our church into being more “seeker accessible”, we made a really big mistake with the language we were using.  We saw a bulletin from another church with a disclaimer that read something like, “If you are a seeker here today, this service is designed for you.  If you are a mature believer, we have a midweek service that goes more in depth into God’s Word.” I thought that sounded great, so we began to run a similar blurb in our weekly communications.  Immediately our seasoned church people began to complain that the weekend teaching was becoming progressively more shallow.  The truth is, I hadn’t changed anything about the way I was preaching.  All that had changed were those few lines in the bulletin.In an effort to get ahead of the parade, I quickly repositioned the words to say something like, “If you are a seeker OR a seasoned believer, you’re going to LOVE our weekend services.” Amazingly, over time, people marveled at how much deeper the teaching was getting, when the only thing that had changed was a wiser use of words.  You’ve heard the phrase, “Them’s fightin’ words”?  (If you live in the South, you have :-) Unfortunately, when used wrongly, words can lead to unnecessary battles and quarrels.  In a transition, it’s important to think very carefully about the words that you use.  Are we communicating an unintended message?  Will the words we have chosen move the cause forward, or will they be a distraction that unnecessarily causes division?

“A very great part of the mischiefs that vex this world arises from words.” – Edmund Burke

“Give me the right word and the right accent and I will move the world.” – Joseph Conrad

“Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.” – Eph 4:29 NLT

Who’s Huram and what’s a pomegranate?

If you don’t know…you need to let your fingers do the walking to Amazon.com and buy my friend Shawn Wood’s new book, "200 Pomegranates and an audience of One" today.

Shawn does a great job of teaching us how to be the artist God created each of us to be.  He brings to life the story of a man named Huram of Tyre, from the Old Testament.  You’ve got to get it, I think you’ll enjoy it.  If you don’t, just ask Shawn for your money back…I’m sure he’ll be fine with that (or maybe not).

DISCLAIMER:  One of the chapters is about me.  (Personally I think that chapter pretty much carries the whole book).

The shack

As promised I will give my brief thoughts upon reading the Shack.  My reluctance to read it was fueled by the overwhelming number of invitations to do so.  There is a "curse driven part" of me, still under the redemption process, that resists rebels against anything that might be personally helpful to me that is recommended by too many people.  "You’ve got to…" translates in my brain to "no thanks, not going to happen".  That explains why I may be the last person in our church to read the hottest book of the year.  (My personal thanks goes out to the gracious, persistent friends who persevered…continue to pray for your friend/pastor who is still in process).

The story begins for me where lots of good stories do…in an airplane, on my way to speak somewhere, not particularly interested in engaging in lengthy conversation with the person next to me.  I finally loaded "The Shack" into my Kindle and settled in for a long flight to the West Coast.  I grunted a "hi" to the girl next to me, flicked on the power, and began to read.  Four hours later, just as the wheels touched down in Orange County, I finished the last chapter.  As we were waiting for our turn to exit the plane, the girl I had so graciously ignored asked me about my electronic reading device.  I enthusiastically explained what it was…the best thing since an iPod.  She was an avid reader so she was quite interested.

Just before she pulled her carry-on from the overhead compartment, she said, "I hate to seem nosy, but I saw you were reading "The Shack".  What did you think?"


I thought the generic look of the plain white e-reader would shield my reading material from the general population…but obviously not.

"It was good", I answered, knowing that we didn’t have time for much meaningful conversation, seeing that our turn to exit was just two rows away.

"Have you read it and did you like it?"

"I have", she replied.  "I didn’t want too, but several of my friends kept giving me copies."

Where have I heard that before…she sounds like me.

"What was the basis of your reluctance?", I asked.

"I’m not a religious person, so, after reading the back cover, I thought…this looks like one of those Jesus books…not interested…but I started to read it and couldn’t put it down", she said as she turned to move toward the front of the plane.  Several people walked past me as I struggled with an over-packed carry-on that was looking like it may become a permanent part of the overhead bin.

Uh-oh.  This was beginning to look like one of those God moments that I had missed by not being sensitive to His leading and maybe opening up a conversation on the flight.  Oh well…maybe next time.

But she waited for me in the terminal as I was looking for the baggage claim.  She obviously wanted to talk more about it.  I whispered a prayer and then asked her, "With you not being religious and all, how did reading this book impact you spiritually?"

"Good question" she said as she took a minute to think about that one. 

She said that she hadn’t really thought about it in that way and she needed to explain that  while she wasn’t really religious, she wasn’t an agnostic either…she just had been turned off to Christianity and the church and such.  She had visited a Buddhist temple a few times, but she would probably classify herself as an irreligious spiritual seeker.

After thinking about my question, she said, "I think the book has opened me up to Christianity again. I’d never really seen Jesus in that way. How has it impacted you?"

I said, "I think it made me feel closer to God in some ways".

"Me too", she said, as we approached the baggage carousel.

At that point I realized that this conversation had evidently distracted me from remembering that I had carried a camera onto the plane that was no longer with me.  I quickly told her that I hoped she would find what she was seeking for, (and whispered a prayer that God would guide her in the process) and went on about my own journey in finding something that was lost.  If you knew me like Debbie does, you would know that that is the story of my life…in a state of perpetual searching for things I’ve lost.

The point?

The book was good…it’s fiction not fact…it’s about God revealing himself (herself?) to someone in a stuck place…it’s about how God might work…not definite, but possible.  Theologically, I didn’t see anything dramatically problematic…the author doesn’t have a very high view of church…I think Jesus likes the church a little more than he would have you to believe.

I liked it…but who really cares?  If the book began the process of opening up a spiritual seeker, who would probably never hear a sermon from that pastor that she unknowingly shared a plane ride with, to the idea that God loves her and wants to have a relationship with her forever, what difference does it make whether I liked it or not?

I’d tell you that you should read it…but you might be like me…and that would force you to put it off for another month or two.

Hanging out with my friends

Books are my friends. My high school English Literature teacher would be shocked to hear that confession. Here are a few of the friends I’ve been hanging with this summer:

1. Charlatan: America’s most dangerous huckster, the man who pursued him, and the age of flim flam by Pope Brock

Aside from having the longest title I’ve seen, it is a fascinating story about a “quack” doctor who took advantage of peoples desperation for wholeness and, in the process, almost became governor of Kansas, invented radio advertising, put country music on the map, and destroyed a bunch of peoples lives who put thier faith in his cures. (How’s that for a run on sentence?)

I liked it for a couple of reasons. First, I’m a sucker for history wrapped around a good story. Second, the parallels to hucksterism in the church were frightening to me.

2. The Starfish and the Spider by Rod Beckstrom

This one is about the possibilities of a flat, borderless, reproducing organization. It studies how groups like al Qiada and the Aztecs survived against much more powerful enemies. I’m looking at this from the implications on small groups and church planting.

3. The Shack by William P. Young

I finally, somewhat reluctantly read this one. More on my impressions on this when I can get to a computer. (when will Apple allow bluetoothe keyboards for iPhone.

The most exciting thing for me? Each of these friends live on my Kindle. I’m in love.

Who are your friends this summer?