Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Son of Hamas

Son of Hamas by Mosab Yousef, is the account of a man who grew up as the son of one of the first founders of the Islamic group Hamas. Growing up, he lived mainly in Palestine and maintained a relatively normal life despite his father being linked to Hamas. As he approached high school graduation, he became increasingly frustrated with the Israeli soldiers who occupied the area and generally harassed them.

He was arrested and sent to prison where he was interrogated for information about Hamas though he knew very little at that time. During the course of his incarceration he was eventually convinced to become an agent for Shin Bhet, the Isreali intelligence agency similar to the CIA. Though this went against everything he believed in and he did it partly to escape torture, he came to see the increasingly militant activities of Hamas as bringing destruction and harm to the world and saw that assisting to prevent these activities would be of greater good than participating in them himself.

Over the course of the next 10 years he was involved in continual operations that led to the arrest or death of terrorists and their leaders saving many lives in the process. His inside connection within Hamas allowed him access to the highest level leaders as well as interactions with the Palestinian Liberation Organization leader Yasser Arafat. This provided invaluable insight and intelligence for Shin Bhet in fighting terrorist activities.

A seemingly random encounter with a British tourist led him to investigate the Bible and the Christian faith. Over time as he read the Bible, he found more and more truth in it which matched up more with the reality he experienced than the Koran which he had a firm foundation in. Eventually, he became a full fledged follower of Christ and was actually baptized. All of this is rather amazing given his upbringing and that his father was a sheik and imam of the Muslim faith.

After 10 years living this life, he loved the work but wanted more of a sense of normalcy so got out of Shin Bhet and moved to California. He now maintains a blog at

The story reads like a spy novel but is an amazing real life account. It provides great insight into the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and anyone interested in gaining better perspective on the Mideast would benefit from it.

If you found this review helpful, please let Amazon know at this link.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Our Iceberg is Melting

In the book Our Iceberg Is Melting, Harvard professor John Kotter and co-author Holger Rathgeber tell the story of a colony of penguins who are facing change. The story is written in fable format similar to Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson.

An astute penguin named Fred observes that the iceberg the colony lives on is melting and that they will face potential disaster if it breaks apart in the middle of winter. He proceeds to present his findings to Alice, a member of the leadership council. Once the need for action is realized, there is no small amount of squabbling amongst the council as to next steps.

They eventually determine to let the rest of the colony know of the great risks and solicit ideas for solutions. After arriving at a creative solution through interactions with a seagull, they implement a migratory initiative to seek out new icebergs. The change is not without detractors who question the findings and argue for maintaining the status quo without addressing the risks of the melting iceberg. However, through strong leadership of the head penguin and a small action team, the penguins drove efforts to eventually relocate to a safer home.

The story has multiple examples of personalities seen commonly in organizations. There are those who are interested in arguing for the sake of arguing, the cautious, the hard driving but consensus building leaders, the creative but sometimes ignored penguins, the naysayers, those being academic in mindset but who ask tough questions, and those who just want everyone to be happy, among others.

Kotter and Rathgeber use the story to demonstrate an eight step process of successful change which includes:

1. Create a Sense of Urgency
2. Pull Together a Guiding Team
3. Develop the Change Vision and Strategy
4. Communicate for Understanding and Buy In
5. Empower Others to Act
6. Produce Short-term Wins
7. Don't Let Up
8. Make It Stick

The book is fun, has great change management principles, and can be read in no more than an hour or so. While change for change's sake is not necessarily wise, for those in any organization facing challenges, this book provides easy to understand concepts for managing change.

If you found this review helpful, please let Amazon know at this link.

Monday, July 12, 2010


Yesterday at church as a part of the sermon, the pastor challenged the congregation to not be afraid to be uncomfortable if your agenda does not match up with God's plan. As a physical illustration of this, he challenged people to give up the shoes they wore to church to go towards needy people in Hati and other under privileged areas of the world.

This was not communicated to people prior to the church service so was an immediate response. I was on stage playing with the band while people came up and it was a really cool sight to see hundreds of people bringing their shoes to the front steps not afraid to be a little uncomfortable.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...