Media expert Phil Cooke recently put out a remarkable book called One Big Thing: Discovering What You Were Born to Do. Most of the books that fall into my hands are skimmed. However, I read One Big Thing word-for-word. I even marked in it (something I rarely do). I liked the book so much that I brought Phil onto the blog for an interview about the book. Enjoy the interview and order the book.
For readers who aren’t familiar with the book, what is the premise and the overarching idea?
Phil Cooke: For more than 30 years, I’ve helped churches, ministries, and nonprofit organizations engage the culture more effectively. In case after case, I discovered the organizations who really get noticed, funded, and valued are organizations who do one big thing extraordinary well. All the organizations that are average at many things never seem to get noticed. So a few years ago, I started applying that idea to individual people. Who are the artists, pastors, writers, filmmakers, or leaders that get their message heard?
It’s people who are known for One Big Thing. And for the record, your One Big Thing isn’t necessarily about a job. It’s not so much about discovering your One Big Thing is to be a pastor, salesman, or secretary. Your One Big Thing is really about the over-arching purpose for your life. What you’re “wired” to accomplish, and what you were born to do?
At what point in your life did you discover your OBT and how did you arrive at it?
Phil Cooke: I was a pastor’s kid growing up in the South in the 50’s and 60’s. During that time pastors would try anything to get people into the church. They were well intentioned, but did some really stupid things like shaving their heads or sitting on high poles. So from an early age, I saw how poorly that was perceived by the community. As a result, I’ve always been passionately interested in making the public understand that Christians aren’t idiots. Whether it involves working directly with churches, ministries, and nonprofits, writing books, or speaking, my goal is to do my best to make sure Christians are taken seriously, rather than marginalized or shut out of the cultural conversation.
What has been the response to the book so far?
Phil Cooke: Fantastic. I understand the Washington Post considers it one of the top five business books of 2012. I’m thrilled that not just Christians, but non-believers have really connected with the book as well. My reviews online have been incredible. But the greatest joy has been the number of emails and Facebook posts from people who say the book has completely changed the direction of their lives.
Who, specifically, would benefit from the book?
Phil Cooke: Anyone with a dream, an idea, or a project who needs to find an audience. You may be a pastor trying to increase your influence, an artist hoping to get your work seen, or a business leader who needs to convey his or her ideas to the public. I’m especially passionate about Christians who are trying to impact people with the gospel, because in today’s cluttered and distracted culture, that’s more difficult than its ever been. But knowing your One Big Thing is the key to helping you cut through that clutter and get your message heard.
What would you say to the person who believes their OBT is to be part of a team? (say they believed it was to be a bass player in a jazz band). Consequently, their OBT is contingent on other people rather than something they can pull off on their own.
Phil Cooke: For members of a team, finding your One Big Thing is even more critical. Without knowing your expertise, wiring, or focus, you’ll never contribute your talent and gifts most effectively to the team.
Tell us a bit more about what you do and how can people learn more if they are interested?
Phil Cooke: We jokingly tell people (well, maybe HALF joking) that “we help Christians not suck at the media.” And if you’ve ever seen much Christian media, you know there’s much work to be done. (Phil says smiling.) Our company, Cooke Pictures, in Burbank, California works with churches, ministries, and nonprofits around the world, helping them express their brand story more effectively. My personal background is in television producing and directing, so we’re most at home creating and producing media programs. But much of our work is also helping organizations discover their own story, and then share that story with the world. The bottom line is that we’re here to help Christians expand their influence and reach a larger audience. In today’s hyper-competitive culture, where people have more options than ever, it’s so incredibly important to capture their attention. After all, it doesn’t matter how powerful your message is, if no one is listening.