LifeWay Conversations: KNOWN with Rick Prall and Mike Wakefield

In the last video about KNOWN, I got to talk with Scott and Jeff about the general student strategy for KNOWN.  This time I got to sit down with Rick Prall - the editor - and Mike Wakefield - the product manager.  Rick and Mike did a great job of introducing me not only to the KNOWN product, but all of the history, research, and testing that went into the product. This was my own personal first look at the KNOWN materials and I think you'll hear in my reactions how impressed I am with it.  The student team has made some great choices and have developed a truly creative piece that fits with student culture that's out there right now.  It really is unlike anything LifeWay has done before and anything else I'm seeing in the student realm. What I love about the KNOWN team is that they aren't afraid to take risks.  It's a small thing, but even moving away from a quarterly student book to a monthly one is a huge change for us.  And once you open the book, it's appearant that these guys really nailed it on what a student learner piece should look like. [vimeo 1233040]
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Being Open and Transparent: Another Reason I Love My Job

Whenever I begin a new role in life, I seek to set some milestones for myself.  In my current role, I recogonized some immediate needs (exceeding revenue expectations, improving the quality and diversity of the product), but also ancillary tasks I wanted to complete.  One of those was to bring our customers into the walls of LifeWay to see the personalities and passions of the incredible people that I get to work with.  So far, over 20,000 people have viewed the various LifeWay Conversations strewn about LifeWay.com (and collected right here for my blog readers). I'm proud to say that LifeWay has had the foresight to offer a product that's based on this very concept: to not only give an open look at how LifeWay crafts its resources, but to give the customers a chance to contribute as well.  This project is called Open Access. Last week, I got to see the fulfillment of my dream to help bring people into the walls of LifeWay.  Somehow, the team decided that it was okay for me to shoot one of our meetings.  The entire team approved the idea. I know... it's a strange thing for me to be so excited about.  But I love the fact that we can be open enough with our business that we're able to give people a glimpse into what it's like to work here.  Sure, it may be a boring video and you might get dizzy with my movements (the filming was just me and a handheld... we've got to look at a better way to film in the future), but it's raw with real people doing real work and making real decisions. You can view the video here. I think it would be great to see other corporations have the boldness to pull back the curtain a bit and give a glimpse into their corporate culture and processes.  Being able to do things like this makes me honored to be an employee here at LifeWay.
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Open Access: Choosing a Title

In this Open Access video, Dale McKleskey talks about the importance of choosing the right title for a product, and some of the processes that we go through to do so.  Dale not only hits on the Open Access project's study, Going Beyond, but also some of LifeWay's past studies by Beth Moore. [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&embedId=47244421&uri=channels/30228/156826]
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LifeWay's Open Access Project

For the past few weeks, I've gotten to be a part of the planning for a "secret" LifeWay project called Open Access.  I'm incredibly excited about the potential that this project has for us, as it is going to do a lot to develop an online community for us.  I'm looking forward to the continued movement towards transparency and development of employee personalities here at LifeWay and this is a major step in that direction. The Open Access line of projects will be products that allow customers to access our materials while we are working on them.  Participants who purchase the product will get a rough draft of the study and literally get to see it mere weeks after the author turns it in to us.  This will allow the participants to give us feedback about the ideas and concepts in the study, as well as share any personal stories that might be applicable to the study.  All of the feedback will be read, and turned to constructive criticism for the author and editors to choose how to implement. The participants will also be able to communicate with each other via an online forum, so we can see how the group as a whole react to the study and how they interact with each other.  LifeWay employees will, of course, interact there as well. The first product that we're doing with Open Access is a new Priscilla Shirer study... that doesn't even have a name yet!  I believe there are meetings next week to finalize the name; hopefully we'll be able to announce it soon. The Open Access project will have a blog as well, here. The blog will talk more about the development process than the actual product, and we hope to utilize it to give people a behind-the-scenes look at how a study is crafted here in the offices.  As a part of that, I'll get to interview various employees throughout the next few months about what they're working on for the study. The first of these video conversations is/was with Jennifer McCaman (our project manager) introducing what Open Access is and what we hope to accomplish: [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&embedId=22245474&uri=channels/30228/143907]
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Student Ministry Strategy: Scott Stevens and Jeff Pratt

I'll be honest; the point of this interview, from my end, was to promote the upcoming KNOWN resource coming from the student department here at LifeWay.  But these guys - even though they're in charge of that launch - didn't care about getting that message out.  They wanted to get the message of what they are passionate about (student ministry strategy) out.  And so, that's what we talked about. This was also a learning experience as an interviewer, because I was determined to get at least a mention of the product in at the end, and tried to force a segue and, being the honest guy he is, Jeff called me out on it.  He knew what I was doing and was trying to get at, but he did not like the implications of my segue, so he argued about what I had actually said. It was awesome to interview two people with so much knowledge in their field, and the evident passion they have for equipping the local church with the best possible knowledge, strategies and resources for understanding youth today.  This is a must-watch if you are involved in youth ministry. [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/30228/111031&embedId=10085325]
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FUGE Creative Directors: Neil Hoppe and Darrel Girardier

One of my first real friends here at LifeWay was Darrel Giradier.  He was working for Fuge when I started working in the Fuge offices in 2002.  I found a peer that I could talk with, brainstorm with, learn from, and look up to. I first met Neil back then, too, when he came in to help write some of the creative elements for portions of the camp experience. Now, they're both full-time employees of LifeWay, heading up the creative direction of the kids camps and student camps.  These two are both so completely on target with the current trends in culture and marketplace needs for their respective demographics that, if you have any interest in the culture of student from grades 4-12, I highly recommend watching this video.  These two are genuine experts in their field that don't get nearly enough time to share their knowledge. (Seriously, guys - why aren't you speaking at conferences and such?) [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/30228/100794&embedId=10063178]
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David Webb and Christian Fiction

A while back, I got to meet with David Webb about the B&H pitching process.  Our conversation back then really turned into a "get-to-know-you" meeting, and we talked a lot about the Christian Fiction market, what his job was, who some of the new authors were, etc etc.  The information he was sharing - as well as his passion for Christian Fiction - seemed to me to be something that anyone interested in Christian fiction might want to know.  How often do you get a chance to sit down with one of the top guys in the business? The video is also a lot of fun because you get a peek into David's mind as to how the whole process works, and how involved an editor might be in a story (David talks about how one time a story really needed a character to die...).  David also talks a bit about upcoming books by authors Jamie Carie, Leanna Ellis, and Rebecca Seitz. So, without further ado, here's a video conversation with David Webb.  [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&embedId=10054074&uri=channels/30228/96816] 
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Chris Johnson and Influencing Like Jesus

The prototype video project I've been working on getting online at LifeWay has been the Influencing Like Jesus project.  The videos are complimentary to the Influencing Like Jesus product, by Mike Zigarelli, that we just released.  This video was done with Chris Johnson, the Editor-in-Chief for a lot of our undated Bible Study products.  This interview was a lot of fun as Chris was willing to answer some tougher questions, like the difference between "influencing" people and "manuipulating" people...  [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/30228/94137&embedId=10051667&locale=en]
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Mike Harland and the new Twila Paris CD

As a part of my job at LifeWay, I get to work with placing our media on iTunes.  Typically, I'm a bit at the back end of the process, loading things up once production on a disk is finished (this is going to change, soon).  Back in December I got a frantic call about needing an ISRC code for the new Twila Paris CD that LifeWay was putting out.
Curious about such a large project for us, I began to ask around about who I could talk to about the album.  Ended up that the best person for the job was Mike Harland - the director of LifeWay Worship.  So not only was this the first time I've done a video interview with a director, it was the first time I did one with someone I had never met before.

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Jason Hayes and Connect Conferences

Jason Hayes is the Young Adult specialist at LifeWay. He came on board about a year ago or so, and has been a great addition to the team. He gets to build relationships with churches across the country, helping them understand the needs and culture of young adults, as well as learning from churches that are having positive young adult ministries.
In this video conversation, Jason talks about the upcoming Connect conferences. The conferences will be limited to 75 participants and be regional, hoping to get church leaders from nearby areas to come together and share their young adult ministry knowledge.

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Michael Kelley and the Tough Sayings of Jesus

Michael Kelley is an editor for the Threads team's (undated) Bible study products.  Before he began to work for LifeWay full-time, he wrote a study for us called "Tough Sayings of Jesus," which spotlighted four times in the Bible where Jesus doesn't seem to be quite as nice as we might normally think (from the Tough Saying webpage: the rich young ruler in Mark 10, the Canaanite woman in Matt. 15, the unforgivable sin in Matt. 12, and a contradiction about who Jesus is in Matt. 10 and Luke 12).Threads is getting ready to launch volume two of the study, so I sat down with Kelley for a bit to talk about his job here at LifeWay, and some of the concepts behind these studies.[kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/30228/90177&embedId=10039540&locale=en]
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Patrick Watts and LifeWay Worship

Patrick Watts is one of the more forward-thinking people here at LifeWay.  Since I've known him he's always been open to exploring new ideas and is willing to have hard conversations about what the future of worship and music might be like in our churches.  Patrick is getting to head up one of the more high profile initiatives here at LifeWay, our LifeWay Worship project.

This project is big news for us, as it is a part of the new Baptist Hymnal.  The worship project is bringing in more new, contemporary songs to the hymnal, and bringing in a huge amount of talent to record over 1,000 songs.  When the LifeWay Worship project launches, users will be able to go online and purchase the recorded audio and matching pieces (video elements, sheet music, etc); worship leaders with a keen ear will even be able to manipulate the songs to customize them to the needs of their worship service. The Worship Project is one of the most technologically advanced initiatives that we have done here at LifeWay, and is truly breaking new ground in the way that worship leaders will be able to plan heir services and get the musicians and choirs ready for Sunday gatherings.

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Chandra Bennett and YOU

I first met Chandra when I was working with LifeWay's Customer Service tool, RightNow.  I had to train her on how to use the system as she was taking over the responsibilities for LifeWay's Extra, an online help for our Sunday School lessons.  My wife got to work with her extensively during the quarters she wrote for Extra, as Chandra was her editor.

Chandra is the editor for LifeWay's new YOU curriculum, a part of our new African-American initiative.  I wanted to interview her because I'm quite excited that LifeWay is reaching out from our traditional material style and trying to be more multi-cultural with our products.  The YOU curriculum is still a ways off (Fall of 2008), but Chandra already had some proofs she was able to show off.  I'm really excited to see what comes out of this team, and how they pave the way for us to be more relevant to other ethnicities.

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John Garner and RecLab

One of the first people that I got to really develop a relationship with here at LifeWay, outside of he Fuge employees, was John Garner.  John had me come out to the Rec Lab event three years in a row to help create and run the media and sound.  It was quite the trip, with Andy Woods joining me in 2004 and Andy and Kevin Spratt in 2005.  In 2005 I almost died... have I told that story on here yet?Anyhow, John Garner is one of my favorite ministry people because he is so undeniably full of passion for God and life.  There is no question that he believes in he ministry potential for games, team-building, and fun.  I may not be able to connect with hunting or basketball... but talking to John and hearing his story and passion almost made me want to go to Rec Lab again, just to see him get excited.  John is one of the most genuine souls I know, and  it was an honor and fun to get to sit down with him for our little conversation.[kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/30228/85592&embedId=10039539&locale=en]
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Craig Webb and LifeWay.com/pastor

One of my first days here in the new office, my friend Craig Webb called me into his office to help with a power point presentation he was posting online.  I was confused as to what he was doing and what the actual intent was... and I found out that we apparently offer a bunch of free sermon outlines and power point presentations to go with them online.  Part of Craig's job is to get the sermon outlines from pastors across the nation, and create a resource bank for our pastors to use.I was a bit stumped that I've worked here for five years and never knew about some of the free resources we offer, so I made it a point to get Craig on film talking about it.  This video ended up becoming a video intro for the entire pastor's area.  [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/30228/84903&embedId=10030592&locale=en]
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Chad Jordan and LifeMatters

In the first video I did for LifeWay Conversations, I spoke with Chad Jordan, editor of LifeMatters for the Threads line of products.  It was  actually great to get to sit down with Chad and talk about the new product, as it is a drastic change in the presentation style for LifeWay's dated/ongoing studies.  What I didn't know when I went in to talk with him was that he actually had a copy of next quarter's materials as well he got to show off.  I'm not sure how well it translates to video, but the style and design are simply stellar. In all honesty, now that I've seen the materials and where the Threads team is going with all this, Ashley and I are considering starting a Sunday morning study at our church, just to use these materials. [kyte.tv appKey=MarbachViewerEmbedded&uri=channels/30228/84682&embedId=10030237&locale=en]
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LifeWay Conversations

So... I recently got a new job, working as a Digital Media Producer for LifeWay.  What that means is that I will get to prepare our normal content for online delivery, including audio, video, and print.  This is something I've been doing for LifeWay in iTunes for over two years now, but this new position will have me doing it for all of LifeWay.com.  Needless to say, I'm excited. As a part of this new position, I'll also get to be creating some original content.  While we're still in the process of creating the necessary digital workflow, I've taken my downtime to drop in on people's offices and get them to talk about what they're working on.  The videos are then placed throughout LifeWay.com... I've already got several of them out there. So, you might see some (all?) of the videos show up on my blog here, just to keep you updated with what I'm working on here.  I figure a little video wouldn't hurt to spice up the site, too.  Enjoy, and try to give me some feedback on if I should collect them all here, or keep the blog and my LifeWay work separate.  Thanks!
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