In Memoriam… Dr. James D. Strauss

Dr. James D. Strauss, Lincoln Christian University

If you’re fortunate, you’ll have a teacher or professor who leaves an indelible imprint on your life.

One of my seminary professors, Dr. Jim Strauss, had that effect on many of his students. Dr. Strauss died this past week and was remembered at LCU on Monday.

I had Dr. Strauss as a professor for only two classes at Lincoln Christian Seminary. In the spring of 1993, I was in Lincoln for my first semester as a student and Jim was in his last as a faculty member. I remember being struck by his room-filling personality, sharp mind, and generous spirit.

As a classroom teacher myself, I still use some of the phrases that Dr. Strauss liberally lobbed about. He’d fill the chalkboard with names and ideas, often abbreviating them, telling the class, “We’ll put this in code so the outsiders won’t know.” And when he’d ask a question and students offered answers that weren’t exactly what he wanted, he’d say, “Well that’s not false…” I’m passing along Dr. Strauss’ legacy, the funny bits at least, to the next generation.

The funeral/celebration service was recorded and is shown below. To get a sense of his personality and wit, scroll ahead to 16:27 and watch Jim playfully respond in an interview from a few years ago.

Take a marketing class with Seth Godin for less than $10

My students know a couple things about me:

  • Reading and learning are a big deal (I think it’s a key to making yourself stand out)
  • I think Seth Godin is one of the best guys around who can help you understand how to communicate your value

Here’s your chance to capitalize on both of those.

Seth is offering a class on SkillShare called, “The Modern Marketing Workshop.” The class is self-paced. You’ll get some instructional videos with Seth and walk through a series of project exercises that can “transform the way you and your team tell your story and grow.” You could use this for your existing business or one that you want to start. Either way, there’s good stuff here.

I’m taking the class and you can, too, for less than the price of a decent lunch. Here’s how:

  • You can pay full price for the course–$19–here.
  • Use the discount code SETH15 and pay $16.15 (that’s what I did).
  • Use my tell a friend link and pay only $9 for the course.

Seriously–it’s $9.

To take a class with Seth Godin and make something that could change your business, your life, and your customer’s lives.

The real cost will be your time and effort. But I reckon it will be worth it.

What are you waiting for?

Dr. Rob Maupin: College is more than job training


UPDATE: Rob’s talk is now online–watch it here.

What’s the purpose of college?

As a parent, what do you hope your child gains from four (or more…) years of higher education? Are you concerned about the cost? Are you concerned that the moral/ethical foundation you’ve helped your son or daughter establish over 18 years will last once they leave home?

My friend and colleague at Lincoln Christian University, Dr. Rob Maupin, spoke to a group of parents at Traders Point Christian Church in Indianapolis on Tuesday to discuss these issues. Rob dispelled several common myths about college (hint: college is NOT job training) and then offered suggestions for the parents to help their students prepare for success in their 20s and beyond.

Rob teaches in the Intercultural Studies department at LCU. You can follow him on twitter at @MaupinRob or check out his brand new blog and web site at If you’d like to book Rob to speak to your parents, youth group, or consult with your church leaders, just drop him a line.

How to Create a Pecha Kucha Presentation with Google Drive

My students at Lincoln Christian University are doing pecha kucha presentations this week, and a few have chosen to use the Presentation app in Google Drive. While Google Presentation will allow you to create timed slides, there’s no option to time the slides for 20 seconds–essential for a pecha kucha slide show. But there is a “back door” solution.

The YouTube video above walks you through the process–it’s simple and takes just a few seconds.

Two Books I Hope You’ll Read This Month

The potential for future strife, in my view, involves maximizing acquisition and application of knowledge. We will see both institutionally (nations, businesses, enterprises) and individually a chasm grow between those who can readily use knowledge and those who cannot. That strife will be both internecine and international. We need to stop teaching people irrelevant content which can be acquired in seconds when needed, and start teaching them how to learn, so that knowledge acquisition is natural and lifelong. — Alan Weiss

My students at Lincoln Christian University are winding down the fall semester. Like students at schools all over the country, they’ll have about four weeks of vacation before the spring semester begins. So what to do with all that unstructured time?

How about this: keep learning.

Just as consultant Alan Weiss asserts, your ability to constantly learn is a competitive advantage, and one that doesn’t depend on any school or classroom.

With that in mind, here are two books you could read over the Christmas break that have the potential to pay dividends throughout your life:

Dan Pink, recently named by Thinkers50 as one of the top 15 business and management thinkers in the world, wrote the first American business book in manga, the Japanese comic book style. An instant bestseller, it offers career advice for young and old alike–and it has a pretty cool trailer (below).

Johnny Bunko trailer from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

Richard St John’s book offers similar advice but from a different angle. After being asked the seemingly simple question “How do you become successful?” by a young teenage girl, he set out to find the answer. Ten years, 500 interviews, and reams of data later, 8 to Be Great tells you what successful people do–and you can do what they do. Here’s a summary of the book that Richard St John gave in a TED talk (below).

Both books are fun, easy to read, and undeniably helpful. You can read Dan Pink’s book in 90 minutes–it’s a comic book, for crying out loud. Richard St John’s can be read in a couple of sittings, so you have no excuse to not read them both.

I’m encouraging my children to read them. In fact, my thirteen-year-old daughter has already read Johnny Bunko and we’ve had some good conversation about its lessons.

I wish these books had been available when I was 20. If you’re in college now, please do yourself a favor and read them. You’ll get a 20 year head start on me.

Bonus assignment if you finish these: Seth Godin’s Linchpin.

UPDATE: How to Use Google Drive for Assignments

A few weeks ago, I’d posted a screencast that showed how to use Google Drive to create and submit assignments with its sharing features. Google has since changed the way Drive is accessed, so I made an updated video (below).

If you’re not using Google Drive for team projects, you really should try it. The file sharing features are much more efficient than passing around multiple versions of Word docs and emails.

Graduates Speak: What They Gained From Studying Business at Lincoln Christian University

A couple weeks ago, I posted an email that I wrote to a prospective student. Ultimately, she wanted to know if she’d be able to find work if she chose to study business administration at Lincoln Christian University (where I teach).

Since I’m connected with many of our students and graduates on social media channels, I linked to that post on my blog and asked a question on Facebook:

LCU business students and grads: anything you’d like to add to my thoughts on this? Let me know and I’ll create a new post with your ideas.

Several graduates raised their hands and added comments and a couple emailed me. Here are a few of their responses.

…the opportunity to do independent studies. My senior year was almost entirely independent study courses which was an amazing opportunity not only to explore a specific interest, but to work so closely with Eric Teoro [the Business Administration department chair]. You don’t get that at larger schools! — Melinda Jordan, LCU Business Administration, 2008

An organization is only as good as its people, and… the business department is second to none. Having professors that encouraged me to follow my calling, even if it wasn’t the traditional degree-and-desk-job path, was huge in my development into who I am today. I’m grateful to both you and Eric for that. — Tyler Sickmeyer, LCU Business Administration, 2007

…most employers do not emphasize where your degree is from, only that you have a degree. Most employers care more about what kind of person you are and what experiences you have. LCU business majors gain the real world experiences they need while developing the type of character employers are looking for. If you ever would like a prospective student to talk with someone or even would like me to come talk to a class, I would be glad to help. I would also like to thank you and Professor Teoro for molding me into the business professional that I am today. — Alex Bond, LCU Business Administration, 2010

The opportunity I had to learn from you and Mr. Teoro was invaluable. I agree with everything you said but the paragraph starting with “Secondly,” really sums up what you are truly getting from LCU Business program that will help you in the “secular” workforce. From working for someone else in the “secular” workforce to owning a business in the secular sector of the workforce, it truly has been the character development that truly has helped me to excel. The way that you and Mr. Teoro both push us to do our projects in areas that we choose and are truly interested in is also great because doing projects that we are not actually invested in or care anything about doesn’t help us to develop our character or skill like we could if we were working on projects we are passionate about. — Danny Drewes, LCU Business Administration, 2010

John Whitbeck, a 2001 graduate, offered this as a response to the young student’s inquiry:

I would add that this blog is proof of the quality of personal instruction and mentor mentality a student will recieve. The more personal attention is extremely valuable today.

Dear __________, you are much less likely to recieve this kind of caring and individual attention at what one might consider a “major” university. Having a degree from a university with a “Big Name Brand” will only get you to the door. It’s the skills and confidence you learn that is the real rocket fuel to a career. As one of Mr. Gowin’s first students at LCU, I am happy to say that 15 years later we still communicate with one another both on a personal and professional front. This private sector professional is still getting an eduction from LCU through faculty relationship.

If you haven’t already, check out Ben’s thoughts on his first few months out of school as well.

Many thanks to Melinda, Alex, Danny, John, and Tyler–not just for their contributions to this post but for their hard work in the classroom and beyond. They are the proof in the program.

Essay in “Theology in the Present Age” – Available on Amazon

It’s not often that you get the chance to say a significant “thank you” to a beloved teacher. I was given that rare opportunity this fall.

John Castelein was my professor and advisor in my MA program at Lincoln Christian Seminary a number of years ago. John announced that he’d be retiring at the end of this academic year, and two of his former students–and my colleagues: Chris Simpson and Steve Cone–secretly began to compile a Festschrift in John’s honor.

Chris and Steve reached out to several of John’s former students and asked if they’d be willing to contribute an essay for the project. I made the cut (barely, probably) and wrote a personal reflection of my time with John. Not only did I study with him in the classroom and on my research paper, but John was also my preacher at Lincoln Christian Church for a season.

Several friends and LCU colleagues also contributed to the book. You’ll find it on Amazon in both paperback and Kindle editions.

Why a Person Might Want to Study Business Administration at Lincoln Christian University

My friend Brandon is the director of admissions for the undergraduate school at Lincoln Christian University. He forwarded me an email from a prospective student who asked two really good questions: what percentage of LCU business administration graduates get work, and do they get hired by businesses that aren’t explicitly “Christian.”

Here’s how I responded:

Hi _______–

Thanks for your interest in LCU and in the Business Administration program. I’m happy to answer your questions.

While we don’t track hiring statistics on students after graduation, most find work in the months after they finish. Of course, a lot of that depends on the individual student–their interests, personality/character, and hustle.

One recent graduate, Ben, applied for more than 50 jobs, received a few offers and turned down a couple before choosing the right one. He wrote me a letter to share with my students–you can read it here. By the way, feel free to poke around my blog a bit; it will give you a little insight into the things I like to share with my students. Since you’re just getting started with school, you have the opportunity to “begin with the end in mind” (as Stephen Covey says). See here and here for some things to keep in mind as you go through college.

You also asked whether companies that aren’t “Christian” hire LCU graduates. Absolutely! While a few Bus. Admin. graduates have been hired here at LCU in recent years (including Brandon) and a few find employment in the church or nonprofit sector, most of our recent graduates work in the private sector. We have graduates at State Farm Insurance and Country Financial, a bank manager in southern Indiana, an editor at a large book publisher in Indianapolis, a sales manager for a seed company in Illinois, people working in marketing and software development in the IT field, entrepreneurs, and people in healthcare services. And those are just the few that I’m personally connected with.

As you continue to consider your college choice, there are two things you’ll find that make our business program different from others. One is the emphasis on real world projects. In most of your business classes at LCU, you’ll have some kind of team project that will have you and other students working with local businesses and organizations. In a marketing class, for example, you may work with a coffee shop staff to help them find ways to reach new customers. For a management class, you may organize and run a fundraising event for a nonprofit. In a human resources class, you’ll lead training on some HR topic for a business’ employees. In a sense, these projects become mini-internships that enable you to gain real skills as well as to meet and work with business professionals.

Secondly, we’re concerned not only with what you learn but–perhaps more importantly–with the kind of person you are becoming. Our graduates find work and do well because they are the kind of people employers want: they work hard, they have integrity, they’re kind and loving to their coworkers and customers, they solve problems (instead of creating them). Why? Because they know people are created in the image of God and that our work matters. These are the qualities businesses need in the people they hire, and we’ll do our best to reinforce them as you learn here.

Have you heard of Seth Godin? If not, check out his blog and consider reading his book Linchpin. Good stuff, and the kind of things you’ll hear us talk about in our business program at LCU.

Is that helpful?

Feel free to contact me if you like. I’d also be happy to put you in touch with some of our students or graduates.

Best regards–

Michael Gowin

Michael S. Gowin, MA, MBA
Associate Professor of Business Administration
Lincoln Christian University
100 Campus View Drive
Lincoln, IL 62656