Strive for Exceptional

Book Review: Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise, by Horst Schulze with Dean Merrill

Horst Schulze knows what he is talking about when he describes how to build an exceptionally excellent brand. Schulze is the co-founder and former president of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company and the founder, chairman, and CEO of the Capella Hotel Group. He is a well-known and well-respected leader whose hotel chains exemplify innovation, excellence, service, and competitive advantage.

His book, Excellence Wins: A No-Nonsense Guide to Becoming the Best in a World of Compromise, not only reveals his core values, but also explains how to develop and implement them in any industry. The book is divided into three sections. Part one focuses on serving your customers. Part two aims at engaging your employees. Part three is on building true leadership.

Part One: Serving Your Customers describes how to identify and surface what your customer is really looking for. Once you know their true needs, you can move everyone to focus on customer service. The author also explains how to keep customers, and how to handle their complaints.

Part Two: Engaging Your Employees starts by recognizing that your employees should be treated with respect and dignity. The motto of the Ritz-Carlton hotels was “we are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.” He explains the importance of helping your employees understand the vision and purpose of the organization and then training and reminding them of that purpose.

Part Three: Building True Leadership highlights how each person can grow in their own leadership skills. He explains why vision statements are important and the importance of measuring your goals and objectives.

Throughout the book, the author includes stories from his varied background. He begins with his childhood in Germany and ends with where he is today. He sprinkles biblical principles throughout the book and shares his own personal testimony in the epilogue.

While the book can be read quickly, it would be helpful to slow down and ponder each of the principles he shares. It provides encouragement that developing and producing excellence is possible in today’s world.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on March 22, 2019 in Books, Leadership


Area 51

Area 51, where fly balls go to die, is now closed. Congratulations to Ichiro Suzuki on a Hall of Fame career. It was fitting that he began and ended his career in Japan.


A poem of faith

God can handle all your needs,

mend the heart that hurts and bleeds,

give the lonely something true

that changes lives and makes them new.

Jesus heals the fractured soul,

makes it breathe,

makes it whole,

gives us hope when hope is gone,

breaks the darkness, offers dawn,

to all who follow, all dare—

the door is open, love is there.


The poem was penned by Christie Ellis, a character in Steven James’ novel, Every Wicked Man (The Patrick Bowers Files). In the book, Christie is a person of faith and follower of Christ, but who is struggling with doubt due to the fact she was recently diagnosed with terminal cancer.

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Posted by on March 21, 2019 in Faith, Quotes


Learning to align your will with God’s will

Book Review: Sacred Pace: Four Steps to Hearing God and Aligning Yourself with His Will, by Terry Looper with Kris Bearss

How can the average person know God’s will for their life? How can they learn to hear God’s voice in regards to making decisions? How can we train ourselves to slow down and wait on God for direction?

These questions lie at the heart of Terry Looper’s practical instructions in his book, Sacred Pace: Four Steps to Hearing God and Aligning Yourself with His Will. His desire is to help people learn to hear God more clearly in their most important decisions. What sets this book apart from most books on discovering God’s will is that it is not written by a pastor or theologian. It is written by a businessman who shares his heart about what God has taught him on this topic.

The book is divided into four parts. In the first section, the author tells his story about being a hard-charging entrepreneur who was focused on the next deal and making as much money as he could. In the process, he drove himself into burnout.

In the second section, the author reveals his four-part strategy for making decisions. His approach is based on three key verses (Psalm 37:4; Proverbs 3:5-6; Romans 12:2). It incorporates three core truths. God knows best, and I only think I do. He sees the future, and I can’t. He loves me and everyone around me more than I ever could. The key verses and core truths lead to his four step process: Step 1: Consult your friend Jesus. Step 2: Gather the facts. Step 3: Watch for circumstances. Step 4: Get neutral.

In section three, the author shares several lessons he learned along the way over 30+ years. He explains the difference between the Holy Spirit’s guidance and intuition, when to slow down, how to stop from running ahead of God, not avoiding pain, and determining whether a desire is God’s or his own.

The final section describes how to practice the principles in the most important relationships of life—marriage, parenting, business, during negotiations, ministry, and giving.

The book is easy to read and understand, and very practical. The author shares numerous personal illustrations from his marriage, family, and businesses, both where he succeeded and where he failed.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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Posted by on March 20, 2019 in Books, Personal growth, Scripture


Doubt is a steppingstone to faith

“Sometimes doubt is simply a steppingstone on the journey toward a deeper faith. You don’t need to understand God to love him. In fact, if you make understanding him a prerequisite for loving him, you’ll always be disappointed.”

Author Steven James

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Posted by on March 19, 2019 in Faith, Quotes


A family of characters in love with Jesus

For the past 32 years, I have been privileged to be part of the faculty of Walk Thru the Bible Ministries. There are over 25,000 instructors spread out through 151 countries around the world. This past week, there were 50 of us who met at the WinShape Retreat in Rome, GA, for InstructorFest 2019. The four-day conference was part information about where the ministry is headed, part encouragement and challenge as to what each of us can and should be doing to help the ministry grow and be effective, and part training as we participated in a workshop on leadership development.

Any time the WTB family get together, there is laughter, tears, prayer, teaching from the Scriptures, good food, and encouraging conversations. As Phil Tuttle, the President of Walk Thru, said, we all share a common DNA—love for Jesus, passion for communicating truth, and at least one screw loose. It is an energetic, creative, passionate group of folks, and I am deeply grateful to count them as friends and compatriots.

The workshop on leadership was a condensed version of The Heart of Leadership by Mark Miller. It was led by one of the WinShape staff. (The WinShape Foundation is the non-profit arm of Chick-fil-A.) The final activity was a Rube Goldberg challenge where each team was given a variety of tools and resources with which we were to build a machine that activated a “That’s easy!” button. As you can see from the video below, I was fortunate to be part of the winning team.

One of the highlights of every instructor gathering is a recommitment ceremony. Each one is to look the leader in the eye and say, “By God’s grace, my life is sexually pure and by God’s grace my life will stay sexually pure until we meet again. I will live my life and ministry with integrity as long as I live.” It is truly a “holy moment.” Knowing that I need to make that statement and be accountable to my brothers helps me say “No” to temptation because I never want to be ashamed in one of those gatherings.


#LiveGod’sWord #InstructorFest2019


The Captain of our Salvation

In 1804-1806, Captain George Clark and Captain Meriwether Lewis, were sent by President Thomas Jefferson to find a way across the old trackless West from St. Louis to the Pacific Coast. They faced tremendous hardships and great danger. In so doing, these explorers opened up a way to the west.

In Hebrews 2:10-18, Jesus is described as the captain of our salvation. The word, “founder” or “author” in verse 10 can also be translated “captain” or “pioneer.” As the captain of our salvation, Jesus blazed a trail to heaven that we can follow. By becoming a man and experiencing the trials of temptation and the agony of death, Jesus secured our salvation, broke the power of death and Satan, and helps us in our temptations.

Jesus secured our salvation (10-13). Christianity had always had its critics. For some, the idea of a suffering savior is offensive. Yet, the author of Hebrews tells us that it fits the character of God and displays his power. The One who created the universe wants to spend eternity with us. So he made a way for us to come to glory.

Jesus was the originator, founder, captain, or trailblazer in securing our salvation. The picture is that of one who stand at the head of a group and open the way for others to follow. Christ blazed a trail to heaven that we can now follow.

The phrase, “make … perfect through suffering” tends to confuse us because it sounds as if Christ was lacking something. However, it means that his suffering uniquely qualified him to be our savior.

Jesus willingly became a human being and identified with us. Like all human beings, Jesus learned to live by faith.

Jesus broke the power of death and Satan (14-16). Jesus was fully God and fully man. In his incarnation, Jesus took hold of human nature without its sin. He shared the same humanity with all human beings.

Jesus needed to die in order to break the power of death, and to break the power of the one who has the power of death. It was only through his incarnation that he could truly be a substitute sacrifice for the sins of humanity; the perfect God-man dying in the place of sinful people.

Jesus did not die, however, for fallen angels. He died for fallen human beings. In the incarnation, Jesus stooped lower than the angels so that he might provide salvation for us.

Jesus helps us in our temptations (17-18). High Priests were not known for being merciful. They were known for carrying out the demands of the law. Through his incarnation, Jesus became a merciful high priest.

Jesus was made like us in every way. He was tempted and suffered and endured with a human mind, body, and emotions—and he never turned away from the cross. As a result of his own experience with temptation. Jesus is able to come to our aid when we are tempted.

This passage of Scripture should cause us to rejoice and praise God. Praise the One who secured our salvation, broke the power of death and Satan, and helps us in our temptations.

This is the synopsis of a message preached at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on March 17, 2019. It is part of a series of sermons on the book of Hebrews. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.