Catalyst Atlanta 2016 – Notes & Top Leadership Quotes

Notes and summary of the top leadership quotes from the Catalyst Atlanta 2016 conference.

Catalyst Conference 2016Each year, thousands of young adults gather in Atlanta for Catalyst, a conference for up-and-coming leaders.

I was pleased to have to opportunity to live blog this year’s conference. Below is a summary of the quotes and notes I took during each session.






Organizational health always results in sustained impact. This is not the case with platform leaders. – @AndyStanley

Healthy people are attracted to healthy organizations. – @AndyStanley

In a healthy organization every person should feel they have a critical role. – @AndyStanley

You begin becoming a great leader right now, where you are. – @AndyStanley

Everybody knows what they are doing, do they know what you are doing? – @AndyStanley

andy-stanley-catalsytatlIf “me” isn’t connected to “we”, there will be sideways energy and we will lose focus – @AndyStanley

When everyone knows what we are doing, most decisions are premade. – @AndyStanley

The only way to know who the good decision-makers are in your organization, is to let other people make decisions. – @AndyStanley

If the “what” is fuzzy, you will be called to make decisions you shouldn’t have to. – @AndyStanley

The process of answering questions is more important that the product. – @AndyStanley

(At our church) you can belong before you believe. – @AndyStanley

Everybody lives forever somewhere. – @AndyStanley

Answer the questions “what” and “why” and “where do I fit in?”. – @AndyStanley

Following Jesus will make you better and make you better at life. – @AndyStanley

Memorable is portable. – @AndyStanley

How does what I do contribute to what WE do? Each team member needs to know this. This is the responsibility you carry, not the job you do. – @AndyStanley

Develop a one sentence responsibility descriptions for you direct reports. ‘If all else fails, here is the one thing I will hold you responsible for.’ – @AndyStanley

Everyone who works for you should know what you think they are responsible for. – @AndyStanley 




Rachel Cruze is a personal finance specialist and the daughter of Dave Ramsey.

rachel-cruze-catalyst-atlQuit the comparisons. Don’t let the way others live affect how we live our lives and spend our money. – @RachelCruze

If we quite comparing ourselves to others, we can cheer for them and support them.@RachelCruze

Gratitude leads to contentment. Have a running gratitude list. – @RachelCruze

When we have debt it’s difficult to be generous. – @RachelCruze

Where there is no margin there is no ministry. – @RachelCruze

What could the people of God do for God if we didn’t have debt? – @RachelCruze

Talk about money and money issues… to your spouse, to your kids. – @RachelCruze

What’s the legacy you are going to pass? Debt or financial freedom? – @RachelCruz



Simon Sinek is a noted author and thought leader.

In my job I talk about trust and cooperation. There should be no call for this kind of work. – @SimonSinek

Leadership is not about being in charge, but about those in your charge. – @SimonSinek

Giving money is not a sacrifice. You can make more. Sacrifice is something you will never get back. – SimonSinek

Leadership means you give away all the credit and accept all of the blame. – @SimonSinek

You don’t a job you love. You fight everyday to stay in love with it. – @SimonSinek

We all can be leaders. But not very one wants to nor should they. Leadership is about sacrifice. – @SimonSinek

Empathy means considering the human being, not just their performance. – @SimonSinek

simon-sinek-catalyst-atlTake care of the people (employees) and they will take care of the customer. – @SimonSinek

Leaders can look for employees doing something right… or employees doing something wrong. – @SimonSinek

Are you obsessed with beating the competition or with your mission? – @SimonSinek

“My door is always open” assumes employees are willing to walk through it. – @SimonSinek

At dinner there should be zero phones on the table. It’s the only way to make the people you’re eating with feel valued. – @SimonSinek

Our current work environment is filled with the hangovers from the bad ideas of the 80s and 90s. – @SimonSinek

When you destroy the human spirit you destroy your company. – @SimonSinek

Show young employees to enjoy the work journey and they’ll give you 20-30 happy years. – @SimonSinek

Let us error on the side of empathy. – @SimonSinek

Other people will serve you the way you serve them. – @SimonSinek

The goal isn’t to always win but to outlast. – @SimonSinek

We have an entire section in the book store about Self Help. There is no section called ‘Help Others’. – @SimonSine

Practiced empathy results in a changed spirit. – @SimonSinek




Brian is co-founder of Hillsong Church in Sydney, Australia

brian-houston-catalyst-atlSuccess: If I can live my life that sets up a platform that enables the next generation to win.- @BrianCHouston

I get so inspired when I see young people start to flourish. – @BrianCHouston

The hope of the church is not in the past, but in the future. @BrianCHouston

We should listen to the fathers. Every church needs some silver hair. But we need to keep taking things forward. And I’m 62. – @BrianCHouston

We hold on (to our position) because we are fearful. But we don’t have to (be fearful) if we keep looking up. @BrianCHouston

A lot people like safe, comfortable and in control. (But this is not the life Jesus & the disciples lived.) @BrianCHouston

The predictable is not where the answer is. – @BrianCHouston

Predictability is what keeps the church from moving forward. – @BrianCHouston

When it comes to loyality and credibility, predictability is your friend. – @BrianCHouston

Dogma, in a way separates, is not the way forward. – @BrianCHouston

There are times when predictability is the enemy. Like spontaneity. Spontaneity is our friend in the church. – @BrianCHouston

I’d rather be an artist than an art critic. I’d rather be a church builder than a church critic. – BrianCHouston

Creativity is about what’s not yet done. – @BrianCHouston

You never get influence from doing things the way they have always been done. – @BrianCHouston

The devil doesn’t worry about big churches. He worries about creative churches. – @BrianCHouston

Text books are built on what is already known – @BrianCHoustonBooks should be our servant not our master. – @BrianCHouston

Experience is overrated. (It focuses )on what has already been done. @BrianCHouston

The smaller family you come from, the more important it is to expand your world view.- @BrianCHouston

My advice to young people is to stand out. Don’t just be the same… be the same… be the same. – @BrianCHouston

Our heritage should be our servant, not our master. – @BrianCHouston

We live in a world where there are so many people we can learn from. But we can get down in predictability and doing things the same way. – @BrianCHouston

I want to honor history but I don’t want to be bound by history. – @BrianCHouston

You are alive at a great time. @BrianCHouston

Worship unifies. – @BrianCHouston

God has called you to make history, not just study history. – @BrianCHouston

You can live a life that defies history. – @BrianCHouston



judah-smith-andy-stanley-catalyst-atlJesus wasn’t excluding the Pharisees, he was simply including people that weren’t normally included. – @judahsmith

The number one characteristic of following Jesus is compassion. – @judahsmith

Travis Boersma (@YoDutchBros) is head of Dutch Brothers Coffee. The company culture reflects “Uncommon Fellowship”

Know your specific outcome, ask if it is working, change it until it does (work). – @YoDutchBros

Focused intensity, multiplied over time by God, equals success. – Dave Ramsey via @YoDutchBros

Love all. Serve all. (Core values of Dutch Brothers Coffee) – @YoDutchBros

dscf1596We are in the relationship business and the product is love. Customers come for the coffee and come back for the people. – @YoDutchBros

You never get a second chance to make a great first impression. – @YoDutchBros

Mentoring is “walk with me, hang with me, learn through real life experience.’ – @YoDutchBros

The better quality of questions you ask, the better quality of life you can lead. @YoDutchBros

A lot of people are taught to say NO. Our company culture is to say YES. – @YoDutchBros

Focus on being the best version of yourself. Ask, “How close am I?” – @YoDutchBros

True happiness lies in striving for you full potential. – @YoDutchBros

(I want) my cup to be so full that I’m spilling into others. – @YoDutchBros



Father Edwin Leahy is headmaster St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, NJ. He has appeared on 60 Minutes to share how his school serves a changing and diverse neighborhood.

dscf1623The best part of being a monk is that we fall down, we get up. We fall down, we get up. – @FrEdwinLeahy

Adults should not do anything for kids that kids are capable of doing for themselves. – @FrEdwinLeahy

They ask me, “When will I retire.” I say, “Tonight at 9pm.” – @FrEdwinLeahy (on not hanging it up too soon).

CRITICISM: ‘You run Catholic schools for kids who aren’t Catholic.’ Father Leahy, “Yea, that’s why we do it!” – @FrEdwinLeahy

Give up what YOU WANT for what WE NEED. – @FrEdwinLeah

Keep death before your eyes every day because it changes how you live. – @FrEdwinLeah




Craig Groeschel is pastor of Life Church in Oklahoma City with 25 campuses.

I wonder how often it grieves the heart of God that we as Christians take shots at each other. – @CraigGroeschel

We have one enemy – Satan. Other believers are not the enemy. – @CraigGroeschel

We desperately need each other. I don’t care how awesome your church is, you cannot do it alone. – @CraigGroeschel

Unity is not uniformity. We have strength in our diversity. – @CraigGroeschel

God’s people should lead the way with irrational generosity.

If we all look alike and act alike we can only reach the same people. – @CraigGroeschel

Every single one of us needs the rest of us. @CraigGroeschel

Error on the side of being for other Jesus followers, no against. @CraigGroeschel

Believe the best of other Jesus followers rather than the worst. – @CraigGroeschel

Build on what you are for, not on what you are against. – @CraigGroeschel

dscf1478It could be that if God is not blessing us, it’s because we don’t have the right stance towards others.

We give everything we can to strengthen others. What do I have that God can use? – @CraigGroeschel – @CraigGroeschel

We can do infinitely more together than we can apart. – @CraigGroeschel

Take what you have, make it available to God’s people… and watch unity develop. – @CraigGroeschel

We error on the side of being for and not against. – @CraigGroeschel

We love like Jesus loved. – @CraigGroeschel

Our mission is too important. Our time is to short to take shots at each other. @CraigGroeschel

Our world is sick of HEARING about the love of Jesus. They want to SEE the love of Jesus. – @CraigGroeschel

We can do a little in a lot of places. We can do a lot in one place. – @CraigGroeschel




There’s a difference between being authentic and being vulnerable. – @TylerReagin

It was so fun. I never want to do it again. (On renovating a house.) – @JenHatmake

Let’s re-engage. Let’s get to know our street. – @JenHatmaker

We decided to treat neighbors like people, not projects. – @JenHatmaker

ball-catalyst-atlIt’s easier and neater to hide behind theology (than to engage people). – @JenHatmaker

We (Christians) are so set apart that we have no voice anymore. – @JenHatmaker

(We should) spend less time defending our rights and more time lifting up Jesus. – @JenHatmaker

I need to love mercy for THEM as much as I love mercy for MYSELF. – @JenHatmaker

Getting out there changes you. Some things you just have to feel. – @BrandonHatmaker

Go be a friend. Ask more about them than talking about you. – @BrandonHatmaker

We earn a hearing with people over time. – @JenHatmaker

If we are strategic about being a good friend, the Gospel will naturally go there. – @BrandonHatmaker

We (Christians) are so incredibly polarized over minor issues. We need to find what we are unified in. Be Bridge-builders and peacemakers. – @BrandonHatmaker




Mike Foster heads People of the Second Chance, which helps people recover from serious challenges and find Jesus.

worship-catalyst-atlI’ll call nobodies and make them somebodies; I’ll call the unloved and make them beloved. – Romans 9:25

We are not defined by our brokenness. We are defined by God’s radical love.

Let Him love you in your worst moments. That is the path to freedom..

We look at people’s strengths and gifts. We don’t look at their brokenness.

People should not (suffer) alone. Our church pews should be ‘friendship benches’ (so nobody has to be alone.)

I want to be a grace flavored snow cone on a hot judgmental day.

Call people out on their belovedness and remind them of who they are.

What if we started throwing parties for people who really need a party?



Andy’s main point: Early Christian fellowship included all kinds of diverse people. Unity of believers is a testimony to the world that Jesus is God.

andy-stanley-catalsytatlUncommon Fellowship: Head-turning, jaw-dropping, never-would’ve-seen-those-people-together association.

People who were nothing like Jesus liked Jesus and Jesus liked them back

If they don’t get the oneness thing right, the world will miss Me. (Unity among Christian is testimony that Jesus is God.)

Disunity disrupts the mission.

Unselfish love fuels uncommon fellowship.

Mutual submission is the most powerful relational dynamic in the world.

Everybody wants to be in a community where there is care for one another.

Uncommon is uncomfortable.

Oneness must win the day. (Unity is preeminent.)

Immorality in the church disrupts unity.

Will we place unity above our particular view of Christianity?

Jesus gave His life so that we could experience the most uncommon fellowship of all… fellowship with the Father.

If your theology separates you from sinners like you, you may have some work to do.

We can’t all be right. But we can all be one. Jesus did not pray for our rightness. He prayed for our oneness.

Click here for more notes from @BrianKDodd.







Great teams have the following traits:

#1. The mission is more important than me. Mike Collins flew on the Apollo mission that first put two people on the moon. He stayed in orbit around the moon to support those walking on the surface. He put mission above himself. Help people see how what they do contributes to mission… something bigger than themselves.

A. Start with “why.” Keep the “why we do what we do” out front year after year. Without a target, no sport makes sense.

B. Reliance on each other. Relinquish control to rely on others.

C. Peer accountability. Everyone expects the boss to hold you accountable . . . but everyone needs peer accountability. Peer input can carry more influence. If you are the boss, give employees the permission to call you out if you do things differently from what we have agreed to.

#2. Choose to trust: When there is a gap in information, we can either choose to trust or to get suspicious. Great teams choose to trust until all the information is known.  Choosing to trust creates a better option than getting mad.  Trust is foundational to great teams . (5 Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni.

#3. Clear lines of communication. If there is no gap in information, there is no need to choose between trust and suspicion. Create clear vision and communicate it well. Systems of communication are your friends.

#4. Strong teams have game changing cultures. These cultures are fun, they serve and they create belonging. Some ideas for team fun: Have a ten minute relay race in the office. Go get ice cream. Get a ping pong table. Play corn hole. Get a message chair.

#5. Work-Life Balance. Have good boundaries. Guardrails are there to keep you on the road.

#6. Unified teams embrace conflict. Leadership is what we allow to happen within the team. Understand the person you are dealing with and embrace the conflict in a constructive wa they understand.

#7. Healthy teams prune. They cut, they change, they evaluate. Necessary Endings by Henry Cloud is an excellent resource.

Call to action: Pick one of these six and improve it in the next week.


tyler-reagin-catalyst-atlThere is a confidence in calling that is not arrogance.

Culture does not produce immediate ROI (return on investment). – Developing organizational culture is a long term process.

Reputation equals influence.

Without a target, no sport makes sense.

The boundary of a landscape is not the limiting factor for a creative. Lack of vision is

Right Path is a great self assessment tool for team building.

The #1 deathbed regret: “I was never myself.” Be who you uniquely are, not an imitation of someone else.

Leadership isn’t just what we DO, but what we ALLOW to happen on the team.

Give responsibility AND authority to build trust with people.




brad-lomenick-catalyst-atlGive your emerging leaders freedom to pursue projects. It’s now a free agent marketplace.

Engagement is what should be measured.

Meetings give us a sense that we are doing something. Don’t meet. Just go do something instead.

There is a power shift towards the niche.

Coach young leaders. Don’t manage them.

(Young leaders) are more attracted to intimate gatherings than big events.

Young leaders won’t wait for hierarchy to move out of the way. They will start something anyway.

We lead like we were lead. (Understand this a leave room for change.)

We used to feel a 10 year generation gap. It’s now a 4 yer generation gap.

The higher we go as a leader,the more we tend to fake it.

The best assimilation strategy is simply to ask “What’s your name?” or “How can I help you?”

The greatest felt need of the emerging generation is the question of “why?”

Young people want their leaders to aggregate, curate and coach.





When you open the door to Jesus, you open the door to wherever He takes you.

Empathy doesn’t water down the truth, empty amplifies the truth.

Press pause long enough to understand what is really going on.

To have empathy: pause to imagine and interact.

reggie-joiner-catalyst-atlIf you want to have influence as a leader, you have to change how you think about people. Have empathy.

3 ways to have influence: power, authority or because you earned it.

If you want yo have influence as a leader, you have to change how you think about influence.

When you establish a habit of showing up for others, it may change you more than it does them.

Your best chance to have influence in someone’s life is to actually show up.

All of you are (where you are today) because someone showed up for you. Uncommon people showed up in your life at the right time.

Before you can influence someone they need to know they matter to you.

If your theology isn’t changing the way you treat people, it’s not good theology.

Maybe before we tell people how to build a church, we should build one ourselves.

Before you can influence someone they need to know they matter to you.



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Photos courtesy of Catalyst and the good folks at SEE SPARK GO.

Top 10 Leadership Quotes from H3 Leadership – Brad Lomenick’s New Book

Leadership quotes from Brad Lomenick’s H3 Leadership.

H3 LeadershipWhat are the three most important questions a leader should ask? According to leadership expert Brad Lomenick, they are:

Who am I? (Humble)

Where do I want to go? (Hungry)

How will I get there? (Hustle)

These are the three areas Brad explores in his new book H3 Leadership – Humble, Hungry, Hustle. H3 contains a lot of great leadership wisdom culled from Brad’s decade as president of Catalyst (an influential organization that provides leadership training for young adults).

Here are some of the top tips from H3 Leadership:

#10. The best ideas come out of the kiln of disagreement and discernment.

#9. One of the most difficult lessons for leaders to learn is how to let go.

#8. You can’t expect to pass on what you don’t have. Your team will mirror you. If there something you don’t like, you probably created it.

#7. Leaders are readers.

#6. You don’t always get to do what you love; sometimes you have to force yourself to love what you do.

#5. The best way to shore up your legacy is to effectively hand it off to your successors.

#4. It doesn’t matter how much of a race you run if you don’t cross the finish line. Similarly, unfinished projects might as well never of been started.

#3. The quality of work we do is not just about bragging rights. It’s about stewardship.

#2. Leaders who don’t communicate their vision are no better off than leaders who have no vision to communicate.

#1. People would rather follow a leader who is always real versus a leader who is always right.


Leadership is more than hard work; it is habitual work.

When you rise in the morning, nearly half of your day will be determined by the patterns and we created for passively allowed.

The path to being a better leader is paved with the asphalt of habits.

The patterns we cultivate shape the person we become.

Life is about decisions. If you want to change, make a decision.

Your sense of identity will help determine your scale of influence. Ignore it at your own.

Self discovery is not a practice you complete, but a posture you cultivate.

Lone Ranger leaders are destined for trouble. Even the actual cowboy character had Tonto.

Relational depth often emerges from intentional dialogue.

The organization’s mission should always be more important than the individual’s personal ambition.

The best leaders protect and treasure their reputations, their consciences, and their values.

Lack of character is a fast acting venom for which there is often no antidote. Safeguard with deep convictions.

Many leaders assume they know what their most closely held convictions are, a false assumption that keeps them from naming them.

Faith is less like your arm and more like your heart. It is not supplementary to who we are but integral.

The more one succeeds, the busier one gets. And the busier one gets, the harder it is to nurture spiritual vitality.

Developing a healthy habitat of ambition  is one of the most important tasks of every leader.

As a leader’s career surges, his or her curiosity often sinks.

If you’re not learning, you’re not leading to your full potential.

The key to innovation is intentionality.

Innovation in part has nothing to do with you; rather, it is determined by those you have around you.

Creativity can be exhausting because it is not an act, but a process.

If you’re not investing in innovation, then it is not a priority.

People need to be motivated, and casting a vision that propels them forward is one of the first and central tasks of a leader.

When a vision statement is flexible it will be liberating instead of limiting.

Sometimes the best way to cure fear is to stare it squarely in the face.

Those who’ve failed much don’t fear failure like those who’ve only tasted success.

Unbending discipline is often lead to self-loathing, but flexible discipline will lead to self control.

Many leaders procrastinate before beginning, stall out once they’ve started, or give up before they are finished. (Execute.)

Some of us need to put down the megaphone and just grab a shovel. Little less talk, and a lot more action.

You’ll often realize that an idea should be killed while you’re still attempting to execute. When this becomes clear, murder it and move on.

When you prioritize your team, your team will prioritize you.

If you combine a positive work environment with regular delightful experiences, you’ll take a giant step towards raising up a dream team.

Think about the most revolutionary  items you interact with any given day. Chances are, everything at the top of your list was the product of partnerships.

The more margin in your life, the more room you have to let your rhythms run.

If you don’t control your cadence, your cadence will control you.

Generosity is more than how one spends money; it’s a holistic posture that should animate everything a leader does.

Most of your team wants to work for and with a serial giver rather than a serial taker.

You have no chance of being a generous leader if you’re in insulated leader.

Practice bringing calm to chaos, clarity to the unknown, and confidence to uncertain circumstances.

I appreciate Brad’s smarts and heart to grow young leaders. He is the reason I wholeheartedly recommend Catalyst as one of my favorite resources. H3 Leadership is a great way to absorb a lot of Catalyst wisdom in pithy and highly-readable book.


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Key Take-Aways from The Catalyst Leader by Brad Lomenick

An important part of a leader’s job is to look on the long horizon. It’s to see what’s coming. It’s to be ahead of your people so you can take them somewhere. TED is a great place to be exposed to emerging ideas. So is Catalyst, an organization designed to help young adult leaders quickly reach their potential.

Catalyst Leader BookBrad Lomenick is head of Catalyst. He is a leader’s leader. Everyday he is immersed in new ideas about what’s next, coming from many of the best leaders of our day. That’s what makes his book The Catalyst Leader – 8 Essentials For Becoming A Change Maker one of my “must reads” this year. Brad brings together great ideas in a uniquely transparent and accessible way. Here are the key takeaways:


There will be times when you are called to do something, but not equipped to do it. (Recognize this is an increasingly common dynamic for young leaders.)

Yesterday young people had to wait as their elders aged out of office. Today organizations are opening positions for young people’s fresh thinking and idealism.

For better or worse, young people can grasp life’s reins earlier than ever before.

Many have platforms that exceed their wisdom.


Focus on what God has called each of us to do (not on comparing each others’ callings).

Be faithful where you are. God is responsible for how big your influence gets. – Rick Warren

Pursuing one’s calling isn’t a life sentence. (Your calling is for now and may change with time).

When people lead well they are more likely to finish well.

The goal is not perfection, but a posture of moving toward healthy habits.

Ambition must be grounded in wisdom. Inspiration must be built with boundaries. Passions need the steady hand of principles to guide them.

Choose integrity over immediacy.

Don’t allow your ambitions to blind you to the team’s needs, the organization’s health, or the well-being of your family.

Seeking God’s will for your life begins by asking yourself, “What keeps me awake when I should be falling asleep at night?

Questions to ask that help you discover God’s will:
> What are your passions and gifts?
> What would you work on or want to do for free?
> What energized you when you were a child?
> If you could do anything and take a pay cut, what would that be?
> What barriers are preventing you from pursuing your true calling?
> If you aren’t engaging your gifts where you are now, could you make changes in your current role to better engage those gifts?

The divine course is not mysterious or evasive, but walking it likely requires sacrifices.

Higher calling matters. When you care so deeply about the why – why you are doing what you are doing – then and only then are you operating in a way that allows you to overcome the obstacles. – Dave Ramsey

Never compare our beginning with someone else’s ending. – Jon Acuff

Instead of wondering what your next vacation is, maybe you should set up a life you don’t need to escape from. – Seth Godin


Brad shares, “I’m best when I’m being me. Every leader faces a temptation to project a persona rather than be themselves. They think that in order to maintain the confidence of their team, they must appear faultless, flawless and ever wise. Most organizations need an authentic leader, not a perfect one.
(Our organization) needs someone they can trust and follow. That can only happen if I embrace who I am rather than try to be someone else.
Be yourself. Authenticity trumps cool every time. – Craig Groeschel

Perhaps the ultimate freedom is the freedom to be one’s self. – Daniel Pink

If we don’t learn to be content with who God has made us and called us to be, then we will never reach our potential as influences.

People are more perceptive than we give them credit for. They recognize when we’re putting up a front or constructing a false persona.

Usually the leader is the only person who doesn’t realize how uncomfortable they’re making everyone else (when they construct a false persona).

When you find yourself in uncomfortable situations and feel the urge to pretend you’re someone else, resist it. The best person you can be in that moment is the one you already are.

The digital age makes it easy to be inauthentic. Individuals now have the power to create a person in whatever image they choose, even if it doesn’t match reality.

New media encourages us to be “on” all the time, an in such a setting, authenticity requires intentionality. Social media must be viewed not only as a way to connect, but also an avenue for honesty about who we are.

There’s beauty in imperfection. When something becomes too polished, it loses its soul. Authenticity trumps professionalism! – Christine Caine

Our society has created an appetite for authenticity. Consumers crave magazine covers without unrealistic, Photoshopped veneers.

47% of young leaders said they first look for authenticity in a potential boss.

40% of young leaders say authenticity is one of the most important leadership traits of the next decade.

A journey begins with learning to be comfortable in your own skin.

We must grow comfortable with who we are before we can share that person with others.
No one wants to work for someone who seems unaware of his or her faults, failures and weaknesses.

Authenticity is the new authority in leaders. – Mark Batterson

Sharing your failures and weaknesses is crucial to letting people in and empowering you to lead well.

Those around you will connect with you when they share in your failures and not only your successes.

It’s okay for those around you to see your weaknesses. We don’t have to be perfect, but to be catalyst leaders, we’d better be authentic.

Originality is overrated. Authenticity is what matters. – Whitney George

The more ladder rungs you climb within an organization, and the more power you have access to, the more chance of being inaccessible and protected. -Chris Seay

Leaders who are willing to share honestly about their own struggles immediately gain influence.

When you are in a hurry or think someone isn’t worth your time, remember that you were once in that position.

When you’re small, act big. When you’re big, act small.

With social media and technology, the game has changed. People expect to be able to always connect with you.

Best practices for cultivating authenticity:
> Practice self-awareness. Before you can release your true self you have to recognize your true self.
> Question yourself. Whose attention do you crave? What is it that you don’t like about yourself, and how can that short-coming also be a strength?
> Move from self-promotion to storytelling. If you want to be a change maker, begin to see public outlets as places for sharing your personal story.
> Resist the urge to create a digital alter ego. Claire Diaz Ortiz says “Social media is not just about being connected. It’s about being transparent, intimate, and honest.”
> Learn to laugh at yourself.
> Build a support network. Keep honest people in your life that can help you stay grounded and keep you from thinking that you’ve arrived.
> Be interested over interesting. Be more concerned with listening instead of talking.
Constantly turn over the rocks in your life and leadership. Uncover areas that need to be made clean. Big things are at stake.
It’s easier to impress people from a distance, so many leaders keep others at arm’s length.

You can impress people from a distance, but you can only influence them up close. – Rick Warren

We often prefer digital interaction to life-on-life exchanges. This insulates us and prevents others from uncovering our weaknesses. But it also reduces our ability to influence others.

The result of authenticity is freedom from fear, and this is a liberty that every leader needs to truly reach their potential.


Being a change maker means realizing that commitment to God and passion for following Jesus cannot be compartmentalized. For the catalyst leader, Mondays  through Fridays are holy days.

No matter where you work, your job can be an act of worship and service to God.

The way we live out our personal callings says a lot about how we see ourselves. It reveals whether we view ourselves as worshipers or ones who desire to be worshiped.

A catalyst leader understands that the foundation of life and the source of true influence must be a deep love for God and desire to glorify Him.

Passion is infectious, so I try to fill our team’s ranks with people who display this trait.

Christians today like to debate whether following Jesus with great passion is a matter of doing or being. But I think it is both.

Following Jesus cannot be purely private. When God touches you, your passion for him flows out of you and onto those around you.

Your internal passion determines external reach.

Your heart will shape the actions of your hands.

Too many build up their heads without minding their hearts. Spiritual development is often ignored.

Christian leaders who are most successful today tell me that spiritual ardor is integral, rather than accessory, to leading well.

Many people today claim to love God but aren’t rooted in God’s Word and in their relationships with Him.

I encourage leaders to set aside portions of their week to block out their pressures of life and pray, meditate, and seek God’s face.

Sustained leadership requires practicing the discipline of replenishment. Nothing will sap your passion for God like burnout.

Building margin in our lives is powerful and absolutely crucial for leaders. Margin is the fuel for responding to the unexpected.

As a leaders’ margins decrease, so does their spiritual vitality.

Petition God to light a fire for His glory inside you.


Just keep taking the next step and keep having excellence in the ordinary. – Dave Ramsey

There are at least two components to leading capably: the right standard and the right staff.

Being a capable leader doesn’t mean being big. Or being expensive. It’s called being excellent.

Every great organization has a few areas where their standards are so high it’s annoying. this is a good thing. Set standards that scare you, and work to achieve them.

The best ideas win.

God is an excellent God. He does things as well as possible. So should we. We want to do things the best we can do it, because God deserves our very best. God living in us informs the way we do things and the kind of excellence that God demands. – Shelley Giglio

Excellence is built on three pillars: clarity, focus and connection. – Holly Green

Excellence starts with getting very clear on the end state you wish to achieve (winning) and relentlessly driving towards it every day. – Holly Green

No on ever said leadership is easy. Your job as a leader is to make the difficult decisions and carry more responsibility. Embrace it.

When filling an opening, I look for make-it-happen kind of people.

Capable leaders:

> Constantly push forward.
> Are team players.
> Own their mistakes.
> Willing to take risks.
> Constant learners.
> Aren’t entitled.
> Are anticipators.
> Are persistent.
> Are trustworthy.
> Deliver.

Hard work is a prison cell only if the work has no meaning. – Malcolm Gladwell

Resist the temptation to believe that you can carry an entire organization on the back of your talents or passions alone. You must surround yourself with equally gifted leaders who share a common commitment to excellence.

A high standard of excellence starts with you.

Excellence is a spirit, rather than a presentation. But if the spirit is there for excellence, then a great presentation will follow. – Joel Houston

Do two things to maintain excellence: lead by example and value your people. – Joel Houston

If what you are doing is important, you will encounter resistance. If what you are doing isn’t important, it will be easy. – Donald Miller

Capable leaders hustle.

Capable leaders are not afraid to get their hands dirty and reach down into the mess to move things forward.

Whatever you are, be a good one. – Abraham Lincoln

One way to increase your organization’s capability is to reduce sideways energy (wasting time on little things when the energy could be spent better elsewhere).


A single act of courage is often the tipping point for extraordinary change. – Andy Stanley

Courage isn’t the absence of fear – it’s inspiring others to move beyond it. – Nelson Mandela

Small acts of courage are possible every day, but we shy away from such deeds due to our fears of ‘rocking the status quo.‘ – Jamie Walters

The influencers I respect the most are the ones who live and lead bravely.

Courage is not just an individual trait but an organizational one.

Do the thing you fear the most. – Rick Warren

Fear in leadership is connected to uncertainty about the future. But uncertainty about the future is never going to go away. Uncertainty is why there are leaders. Uncertainty gives you job security. – Andy Stanley

Tips for building a culture of courage in your organization:
> Set scary standards.
> Allow for failure.
> Reward innovation.
> Pursue the right opportunities. Not every risk is a good one.
> Learn to delegate. If you want your team to be courageous, give them the chance to lead.

The road to success is many times put together through multiple failures. Allow for and even encourage your team to fail as they attempt to succeed.

Courage calls us to confront and push, even when everything inside of us beckons us away from it.


Greatness is not about personality. It’s about humility, plus will. That is where the essence of leadership begins. – Jim Collins

Leaders are defined by their inner strengths and convictions, not the outer portrayal of who they are.

You character will determine your level of leadership and even your legacy.
Reputation can’t be delegated.
Reputation takes a lifetime to build but only a few seconds to lose.
The best leaders are reflectors of praise, not absorbers. (Redirect praise back to your team & God.)
Humility is not denying your strength. Humility is being honest about your weaknesses. – Rick Warren

The way a person speaks often reveals much about their level of humility. Humble leaders use phrases like:
> I’m sorry.
> That was my fault.
> Thank you.
> I’m listening.
> I trust you.
> Great job.

Hype never trumps hustle or humility.

Humble yourself enough to focus on others.

Power is one of the great corrupters of would-be leaders.

Character and integrity is built over time in the insignificant moments when you think no one is watching.

The people who know you the best should be the ones who respect you the most.
To get to the top and to be successful at the top are two different skills sets. – Nolan Ryan

When we lead we must continually engage in the act of self-questioning:
> When I look at the sum total of my efforts this year, do I believe I’ve done my best work?
> Have I finished everything I’ve started, or have I left piecemeal projects behind?
> Did I give in to the temptation to cut corners?
Discipline is hampered by distraction.

Leaders lead from who they are on the inside. And that is why the God who made us is so eager to remake us on the inside. – Gary Haugen

Our tendency as human being is to favor the quick over the slow, the cheap over the expensive and the easy over the difficult.

God often requires that we choose the slow, difficult and costly.

There are very few overnight successes, and most leaders who take shortcuts don’t finish well.

Influence is as much about the journey as it is about the destination.

In anonymity and obscurity is where most leaders are truly developed and made.

See where you want to be, and lead like you’re already there.

The great temptation for Christians is to allow one’s efforts for God to replace one’s journey with God.

Demand perfection from yourself, before anyone else demands it from you. Become an expert now, even before you need to be.

The attention spans of leaders are getting swept away by the deficit of attention in our culture. – Louie Giglio

In a world of skeptics and pessimists, people are more attracted than ever to leaders of integrity.

We plant sod where God wants to plant seed. He’s more interested in growing our character than having us look finished. – Bob Goff

What are your hidden weaknesses that could blow up in your face?

Create a personal board of directors made up of friends who know you and have the freedom to call you to account on anything and everything.

In order to lead well, you must avoid insulating and isolating yourself.

Who can honestly tell you when you are wrong and keep you in touch with reality?

You can’t necessarily control your reputation, but you can control your character.

The greatest threat to our influence is our tendency to read our own press clippings and protecting ourselves from honest feedback.

What kind of person are you when no one is looking?

Leadership functions on the basis of trust, and when the trust is gone, the leader soon will be. – John Maxwell

Your heart is the starting place for character, and it’s what gets God’s attention. – Andy Stanley

Character is what turns your giftedness into influence, and unleashed God’s power. – Andy Stanley


Vision is the most powerful weapon in the leader’s arsenal. – Bill Hybels

If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams

When we fail to dream, to envision the potential of tomorrow, people grow desperate.

Leaders look through the windshield rather than stare in the rear-view mirror.

We will be known by the problems we solve. – Jeff Shinabarger

You can gain influence by doing something. – Jeff Shinabarger

While managers are tending the grass, leaders are peering over the hill.

To better lead twenty-somethings:
> Give them freedom with their schedules.
> Provide them projects, not a career.
> Create a family environment.
> Cause is important.
> Embrace social media.
> Accept that they are tech savvy.
> Lead each person uniquely.
> Make authenticity and honesty the standard for your corporate culture.
> Understand they are more interested in making a difference than leaving a mark.
> Give them opportunities early with major responsibility.
> Accept that they want the larger win, not the personal small gain.
> Realize they’re not about working for a personality.
> Provide opportunities for mentoring, learning and discipleship.
> Coach them and encourage them.
> Create opportunities for quality time, individually and corporately.
> Hold them accountable.
> Grasp that the sky is the limit in their minds.
> Recognize their values, not just their strengths.
> Provide a system that creates stability.

By balancing younger, more optimistic team members with older, more realistic team members, you’ll be able to strike a crucial balance where hopefulness can thrive.

To imagine things other than they are is the essence of hope. It is also the stuff of revolution. – Leonard Sweet

Strive to be a hopeful visionary, not an unrealistic dreamer.

Don’t buy into hype-centered thinking that leans on sensationalism and inflates you goals so large that people won’t take you seriously.

A true visionary operates on hope rather than hype.

Hype produces chatter but hope inspires action.

Vision-center leaders are:
> Optimistic about the future.
> Focused on the best in their people, not the worst.
> Never satisfied, but always content.
> Consumed with making tomorrow better than today.
> Accepting of change.
> Inclusive, not exclusive.
> Personally bought in.

You want everyone involved using words like”we” and “us” instead of “you”.

As leaders, it’s our responsibility to set up, cast vision, and lead with courage even when immediate pressures suffocate us.

Dream about accomplishing a project so out of your abilities that it keeps you up at night. God calls us to think big.

People won’t willingly follow you until they can see the role they play in the future you envision.


Refuse to do anything less than collaborate with people as you lead. Pull other people’s leadership into play. – Nancy Ortberg

Collaboration is integral for leaders moving forward. It is part of the framework for trading equity and value in today’s economy.

We desire to be known by what we are for, not by what we are against. That is where unity starts.

Three positive effects of collaboration:
> Collaboration creates innovation.
> Collaboration reduces unnecessary risk.
> Collaboration amplifies success.

When you collaborate with other leaders, you’ll gather more ideas and have more hands to carry them out.

You don’t have to blow out someone else’s candle to make yours shine brighter.

Some people would rather throw rocks and grenades than life preservers.

The next best thing to being wise oneself is to live in a circle of those who are. – C.S. Lewis

Good contracts make good partnerships.

Collaboration is built on generosity, which is a new currency in our culture.

The most influential platforms today revolve around sharing and generosity.

The paradox of collaboration is that when you help others succeed, you almost always create a win for yourself in the process.

The old system of ‘command and contol’ is being replaced by ‘connect and collaborate.’ – Dov Seidman

Keys for collaboration and building bridges:
> Make sure expectations are clearly laid out on the front end.
> Stay adaptive, humble and accessible.
> See collaboration as a need, not just an option.
> Choose wisely.
> Be intentional in finding common areas of interest and connection.
> Make connections for others.

You can do what I cannot do. I can do what you cannot do. Together we can do great things. – Mother Teresa

Always take the chance to ‘plus’ someone on your team. Make your partner look good.


Life only moves in one direction: forward.

Sadly, few leaders today are tapping the great well of wisdom found in a mentor.

More young leaders need to put down the microphone for a moment and pick up a pen and paper and start taking notes.

If you are in your 20s or 30s, find someone much older than you who can pour into your life.

If you are an older leader, you can’t just sit around and wait to be asked (to be a mentor)… you need to pursue younger leaders to invest in.

The wisdom and experience you hold doesn’t do anyone good if it remains bottled up. It must be poured out.

Every leader – regardless of age – should have at least one mentor and should be mentoring at least one other person.

Final thoughts:
> The time has come for you to be who God has called you to be, to live out His purpose for your life.
> Never let your ambition force you to create a false self. As you lead, share the real you with others.
> Root yourself in an untamable love for God. Seek Him first and let him handle the lesser things.
> As you pursue this calling, make excellence a nonnegotiable. God deserves your best.
> When the time comes to taking a risk or make a difficult decision, push through the fear. God will sustain you.
> Let your convictions and principles steady you. Hold fast to your integrity, discipline, and humanity.
> When stress runs high and difficulties arise, keep hoping. Remember that with God on your side, a better tomorrow is possible.
> Build bridges, not walls, with those around you. There’s power in partnerships.
> And finally, don’t believe the lie that you are the center of the universe. Seek out older leaders who can help grow you, encourage you and guide you. And then pour your life into others.

While this summary hits a lot of the main points, it misses Brad’s personal stories and how he models transparency in his stories. These make reading the entire book worthwhile.




NEXT: Top quotes from the Catalyst Dallas conference.