Best Swimming Pool Invention Since the Diving Board

I took up swimming again in 2013.  My weekly sports activities for the last 20 years have primarily consisted of tennis, basketball, and running.  I love trail running too and I increased the frequency of tracking down and tackling trails a lot more the last couple years.  As I get a little older the body loves the softer running surface and, especially now, the water.

At my age everyone is running into plantar fasciitis, IT Band syndrome, pulled calves, ruptured Achilles, torn rotator cuffs, and ACL injuries.  My fellow training mates are falling like flies.

So I’ve taken some of my aerobic workouts to where (there is no air) and the toll on my joints is more forgiving.  You’ve never heard anyone say they blew their knee out swimming, have you?

Audio Flood

The best invention for the swimming pool since the diving board is the underwater iPod.  There are two main manufacturers –

AudioFlood and Underwater Audio

So as weird as this may sound, you might start to look at downloading some business-professional podcasts and take them for a swim.

I purchased mine from AudioFlood because they had great comments on their site, and on  They also have this “single piece” protection system that sounded good to me.

Underwater Audio

Underwater Audio

Whoever holds the patent on this technology is going to become a billionaire in about 1 minute.
I don’t know why all smart-phones, tablets, and laptops aren’t already covered with this stuff.

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Hope Floats

Hope must be the word of the year.  Every turn I take I’m seeing the word hope.  Even in this shot I took last week I took of a butterfly behind our house.  For native American (indigenous peoples) the yellow butterfly represents hope.  My wife Kitty put in this butterfly bush and now I guess I know why we have one.


Hope Abounds

  • I’ve recently been talking to groups called Bridges of Hope and Hands of Hope
  • Our first (beta) client for MissionKonnect was Homes of Hope
  • Our first pay client (and long time charity my family supports) Nehemiah Vision Ministries was founded by Pastor Esperandieu Pierre.  Esperandieu means “hope in God”
  • One of the boards I’m on, Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center, has a new tag line:  Mary Rigg provides “Help and Hope.
  • Their Get Involved page is now labelled “Where Hope Happens”
  • Mary Rigg’s annual gala is now thusly named Help and Hope
  • And the butterfly

Hope is a great word and yet what so many lack.  There is great work being done by these organizations above to show that their is hope.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Spirit, you may abound in hope.



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Entrepreneur clubhouses

There are a couple of great collaborative shared-workspace, startup incubators on the north-side of Indy that you should definitely check out if you have great new business idea or are growing a small business.

LaunchFishers and The Speak Easy are two very popular shared-workspaces locally.  For my two startups MissionKonnect and Radcliff & Associates we have members to both locations.  I have used the space to do eTapestry consulting and training at both locations as well.

Speak Easy

LaunchFishers is about $300/year and The Speak Easy is a little more ($500).  I guess for it’s extra cool factor – and maybe it’s the more exclusive of the two. Some report that The Speak Easy is near Meridian Kessler but it’s more “south Broadripple” if anything.  It’s attached to Developer Town.

Speak Easy

The Speak Easy calls itself “essentially a clubhouse for entrepreneurs, designers, and geeks.”  And states that they aren’t exactly an “incubator”.  My partner Tony Ratliff and I are entrepreneurs.  Not geeks.  Tony might be a marketing geek.  But that’s not on the list.



The membership director of LaunchFishers is Kurtis Moss and he describes his incubator as “a place to do business, not a place to grow business.”  They estimate 70% of the members of Launch are in software development.  And even though MissionKonnect is only early stages of developing software, I’m sure that’s the category we’re under.  Hopefully, we’ll see you over there.

Panera Bread, Paradise Cafe, and Starbucks are great meeting places with free wifi but if you’re going to whiteboard ideas out, spread your things out, and make call after call – these shared-workspaces lend themselves much better to accomplish this.

Check This Out
Here is a totally cool 360 degree view of the Speak Easy space.  How does the Google Maps van get inside these places?

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I Like Panhandlers

Why are the homeless and panhandlers so feared?  I like them.  They make me a touch anxious like anyone else and I used to be afraid to make eye contact, but you’ll really make your life a lot easier if you just hand them some cash or food.  Homeslessness is not a “them” problem, it’s an “us” problem.  It’s a fissure inside our imperfect society.

There’s legislation being passed to keep panhandlers off city streets.  There are reports of “organized scams” of the people asking for your cash off the interstate exits. Homeless

Why are people scared they’ll spend it all on booze?  I don’t drink and I don’t really care if they do.  How many of you out there don’t self-medicate with alcohol?

Many d0wntowns have been trying revitalize their image… Here’s a disappointing quote I found about the prevalence of panhandlers — “No one likes to see destitute people in the city center. No one likes to walk down the street and be asked for change,”   USA Today

I learned some years ago after studying a lot about the poor in our area and in our country, that the problem with people who are poor or begging is rarely due to lack of education or lack of motivation or lack of hard work.   In the last few years I decided then to start giving a dollar to the people on the off-ramps begging for money.  If you read the book Nickeled and Dimed you’ll probably get a perspective you don’t have yet if you don’t try to give when you can.  ”Give to everyone who asks.” (Luke 6:30)

Most local Indy community centers like Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center and Shepherd Community Center do not have facilities for the homeless to go and the popular Wheeler Mission in town has “100% occupancy”.  (Which I also think is kind of like over-crowding in jails.  Because I think the shelters will take on homeless despite no beds being available.)  There is also a local group called The Pour House and they commit themselves to personally get to know as many homeless as possible.

To help reduce the number of people needing to panhandle make sure to support all these local urban poor charities – Wheeler MissionShepherd, Mary Rigg, The Pour House.  The recent economy has been tough on all of us but believe it or not those who struggle daily to make ends meet suffer even more than we do in these economic times.

I had this blog entirely written and today while I was filling my car with gas someone asked me for some money to get to Kokomo.  A city about 40 mins away.  I told him I wasn’t sure what cash I had.  While pumping gas I watched this guy ask one person at his island, another man in a vehicle north of $60k at my island, and the guy pumping next to me.  The answers were “No.” “No.” “No.” and “Yes.”  I gave him $5.

As I drove away, I thought to myself,  (a) I guess I need to finish this specific blog on the poor asking for money and (b) I had just finished watching some amazing tennis by the number 1 player in the state and two top teams compete.  I would have paid $15-20 easily for that and it was free.  I figured I had more than $5 to burn on this guy.

If you try to sweep panhandlers off your streets somewhere then they just become someone else’s problem.  Is that really what you have in mind?


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Gmail Inbox & iPhones

Recently for those of you that have Gmail accounts know that there is a new “Promotions” tab in the Gmail inbox redesign where all “mass email” or promotional email will land.  Email marketers (including charities) have some legitimate concerns that their constituents might not see their regular communications if they’re not checking that tab.

And although there are few concerns for you to deal with (with mass email going into Promotions), what I’m finding as I email thru my MissionKonnect business, SO many people are reading on iPhones and iPads (Apple iOS) that the changes Gmail has made are pretty negligible at the moment.

You can see the distribution below of how 45% of the email we sent was read rather heavily to iPhone and then to iPad.  What this also screams loudly again (and it’s not a new song) your email need to be very mobile ready.


Some advice I would give to you is that if you have board members and specific volunteers that you communicate with who have Gmail addresses, I would keep an eye on those and go to the extra effort of making sure they are getting your important communications.  They might not being reading it on their cell phone and may not be aware of this new place where Gmail has directed bulk email.



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Man Overboard | New Sheriff in Town

While at eTapestry I created two consulting packages for dealing with the high turnover rate in the development offices at charities worldwide.   I created one called Man Overboard and another New Sheriff in Town.

In my consulting business I’ve been getting an increase in the number of proposals going out to groups in this very situation and have been telling them that the concepts still hold true.

The average stay in a development position for charities is 24 months.  That’s the definition of a revolving door.

These two consulting packages are to help assist the client with getting up to speed lightening fast when your main database person moves on (i.e., man-overboard) or for when you are a newly hired Development Director showing up (i.e., new sheriff in town) with a not so tiny new system to understand.

With my 13 years of experience with eTapestry now, we can do a super thorough audit of a clients database on my first dive inside. We can tell them who their VIPs are, exactly how their data was being entered, what all types of giving were taking place (direct, designated, online, memorials, in kind, etc.) and the database structure as a whole and which staff person was doing what.  That’s pretty powerful.

We also now offer full onsite training (that Blackbaud does not offer) to get you most effectively up-to-speed.

Contact us if you’ve had someone jump ship – or if you just landed that cool new gig.


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Doodle Around

How many emails does it take to coordinate meeting times?   Is it a nightmare sometimes to try to find the convenient time for when everyone is available?  Sure, those can be rather easy using MS Outlook’s calendar on a corporate network, but coordinating meetings outside of your office can be a such a time drain, true?

Welcome to Doodle.  If you haven’t heard of it yet, you soon will.

Doodle is a cool new tool that you can use to send various date and time choices to an unlimited number of people and Doodle will show you what the most convenient date & time is.

I received my first Doodle to help set up a charity board committee meeting earlier this year.  I was impressed by it and I immediately started using it.  Doodle is your friend.

«If you’re trying to find a convenient time to meet several people try a simple scheduling app like Doodle.»

– The Wall Street Journal 


«Doodle is a pleasantly light, quick-and-dirty scheduler with the most intuitive interface of the four services I reviewed.»

– Mashable

«Doodle is a serviceable, no-frills event scheduling solution that makes it easy to coordinate meet ups. Because of its limitations, it’s not ideal for party planning, but it should suit business users looking to set up meetings.»

– PC Mag


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Hotspots (iPhone)

Hotspots are not totally new technology, but I’m a huge fan now. iPhones have had “Personal Hotspots” since 2011.  I’ve been using it for about a month and it is pretty fast and super easy to use.  You can toggle the hot-spot on and off on your iPhone very easily.  Apple iOS4.x added the ability to use your iPhone as a wi-fi hotspot and then added this item under Settings later on.

I strongly recommend using hotspot for client meetings, restaurants that don’t have wi-fi, airports.  All the common wi-fi-less locales.  I was doing some eTapestry consulting at a charity this week (Turning Points for Children, Phila. PA) and they practically salivating to connect to my iPhone’s 4-5 bars instead of their rather slow baby-crawling internal wire- less.  It’s always a perfect back-up plan.  I’ve been at two charity events and I’ve gone at least temporarily to the iPhone both times.

AT&T is my carrier and depending on the data plan you already have, you should be able to get it for $25/mo extra.  That’s not cheap but $10/mo per Gig of data seems to be the going rate.

AT&T does allow you to turn the service on and off from month to month which is some freedom that you’ll not always get from cellular carriers.

Check it out!

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Changing Priorities

Last year around this time my wife and I were in England at a wedding in Bristol which is 90 minute train ride south of London.

This photo is my favorite street sign of all time.  This was taken in Bristol.  It took like 30-45 minutes at the wedding rehearsal for someone to explain this to us and I’ve already forgotten the meaning.  But what I didn’t forget about the trip was that most of the English friends we met there were in a fair amount of awe of the mission work that my family does.

The wedding party was so intrigued that as they bet amongst themselves about how long the best man’s speech was going to be, they decided that half the wagers would go as donations to “Kitty’s charity” as they called it (Nehemiah Vision Ministries-Haiti).  They ended up giving away all the money raised (60 pounds).  [17 mins was the length of the best man's speech, by the way!]

For Europeans it is a bit of a foreign concept.  They were deeply intrigued and very interested in the stories.  That reminds us how secular Europe is which apparently makes going on mission trips a foreign concept to them despite the fact they travel to other nations all of the time over there. Every person I asked had even traveled to America.  They need to consider some changed priorities.

I have a good friend from Czech Republic who went to college in the States and for our first trip to Haiti he asked, “So you’re going to Haiti?  It’s not a vacation?  And they are not paying you?”

As Americans we should be proud, and I think many of us are, by the charitableness, servant focus that we have.  The backdrop to this photo is a huge part of this image.  This Kodak-moment captures entirely where having different priorities are rooted.


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Third World Success


My wife Kitty and I have been privileged to sponsor some children in Haiti for the past 6 years and and our original sponsor child is the absolute image of success.

Franzy (left) was dropped off at an orphanage in Chambrun Haiti.  Chambrun is a village of about 5000 people with no electricity and no running water.  Food and clean water are in scarce supply.  We don’t know his exact age and we don’t know anything about his parents.

Nehemiah Vision Ministries (NVM) was established in 2005 by the Haiti national director of Campus Crusade (Pastor Esperandieu Pierre) who had witnessed a 14 year old girl breast-feeding in the streets of Chambrun and felt called to personally (along with his wife) change things there.  NVM established a campus only 15 minute walk (most travel is in walking) from Chambrun.   NVM provides a school, serves food, provides a health and dental clinic, as well as worship, services for the Haitians in the area. [follow NVM on Twitter]

As a sponsored child, Franzy was fed two meals a day at school and one at the orphanage.  With NVM’s assistance he’s been eating better than most of the villagers his orphanage is surrounded by.  And he’s learning English, which will likely bring him other advantages.

Two amazing things have happened recently with Franzy.  As you can see from the top photo, Franzy had a curvature of the legs since he came to the orphanage.  That is probably the reason he was left at the orphanage.   Yet, Franzy has had this same smile (all photos) on his face every time you see him.  Happiness, as you can see, doesn’t come from luxury.

After a few U.S. doctors thought he needed surgery, one doctor finally diagnosed Franzy with a “parasitic sacrum” which means he had a parasite in his lower back. They were able to start Franzy on some meds and his legs started and continue to straighten!

A second awesome story we have heard from people on campus is that Franzy has also preached (twice) during their form of “children’s church”.

Franzy’s story embodies a real-live image of success of what a lot of people are trying to do to help those who suffer due to the randomness of where they were born.  NVM was able to expose Franzy’s health situation to hundreds/thousands of people and dozens of doctors from around the globe.

Franzy (right) and friend cleaning off paint from my sunglasses inside the walls of the orphanage. A new children’s home on the NVM campus is nearly finished and Franzy will move there soon.

This week my new startup MissionKonnect was blessed to partner with Nehemiah Vision Ministries.  MissionKonnect will be sending email communications, email solicitations, design new child sponsorship pages, design online registrations for all mission trips, etc. for NVM.  We are grateful to know that we can be a part of lives being transformed — including Franzy’s.

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