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Business as Mission: where social impact and profit...and much more...converge

Monday, January 26, 2015

Some people find it confusing to read about socially conscious business, social entrepreneurship or values-driven business. Isn't business just business – driven by profit margins acceptable to shareholders?  What’s all this talk of values, social impact and community development?

For the past decade or so it has become increasingly popular to talk about social purposes, meaning that some entrepreneurs have a motive beyond profitability.  They want to solve social problems and bring a positive return to society.  Big corporations sometimes address this through the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR); and business startups sometimes call themselves social entrepreneurs meaning they start businesses which inherently provide for maximum job growth in their area, or they hire the marginalized in the community, or they take gigantic steps to benefit the community by helping solve problems that exist in the community, or all of the above.  Some entrepreneurs are driven by a cause, like a software developer eager to provide a better way for people to connect.

Let’s take the oft-quoted proverb of going beyond giving a fish (aid, charity) to teaching people how to fish (self-support, development).  Social entrepreneurs also investigate and address issues of alienation and marginalization. They ask, “How can provide access to the fishing streams and ponds or to advanced fishing industry equipment controlled by interest groups and power brokers…breaking down barriers that hinder the poor from advancing?” They want to revolutionize the fishing industry.

Some might say, “That sounds good, but it mixes two extremes in ways that seem irreconcilable.”  A business is focused on profit and the Not-For-Profit or NGO is focused on social impact.  How can you do both together?

The idea of the Triple Bottom Line surfaced in 1994 when John Elkington coined the term in reference to equal attention to environmental, social and financial measures (or as some think of it – the 3 Ps – profits, planet and people).  People started to talk about sustainability in terms of protecting the planet, improving the individual and community conditions, while still making a profit.

Business as Mission (BAM) similarly seeks an eclectic integrated approach to our humanity, but acknowledges the spiritual component of our humanness, thus combining the temporal and the eternal; the individual and the corporate; God and humanity; the sacred and the secular.  The case could be made that BAM is the ultimate social enterprise because it creates jobs, improves the community, provides profit to investors and assures that employees, investors, customers, vendors, and the wider community learn of the God of the universe and of Jesus’ provision for the human condition.

So, BAM business owners are truly social entrepreneurs.  They know they must satisfy their investors, and those investors understand the wider social and spiritual purposes.  They believe in the goal of simultaneously seeking profit for themselves as well as spiritual and personal growth for society’s public benefit.

Such BAM businesses are driven by spiritual values and are sometimes called Kingdom businesses meaning that they are part of building the kingdom of God on earth, and pursuing the eternal kingdom of God for all who follow in Jesus’ ways. Hence we see on the IBEC website reference to values-based businesses, because in order to realize real social reconciliation, consciousness and purpose, one needs to base one’s life and business on eternal values – such as  faith, love, integrity, excellence, truth and purpose.  BAM businesses are all of this: socially conscious, values-driven, mission-driven, business for transformation – all of which bring the entrepreneur to incorporate everything that is important to God together in an integrated whole with the human condition.

How does this work?  For example in consulting with a business, it is important to pursue a business plan at some point; and also pursue a ministry plan (or social plan).  Both aspects need to be integrated, intentional and measurable.  

Here is how one client planned for spiritual and social value (in part). Dave decided to write a weekly proverb on the main office door of his East Asia office where all 25 employees came to work every day.  He wrote it there with no biblical reference.   For example he might write, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them about your neck…”  Sound good?  Everyone pretty much thought that sounded like a good thought but they had no idea of the source, until someone would be chosen to ask where it came from.  The low-key answer from Dave: “…oh that is from my Holy Book” – which led to conversations about Dave’s Holy Book and what it said.  After a few weeks they were asking to study more “good sayings” from Dave’s Holy Book.

I visited Dave’s manufacturing plant a few years ago and I asked several employees (through translation) what they liked about working for Dave.  Many things emerged:
  • I like that he pays us on time each Friday (something atypical of that region).
  • I like that he gives us severance if there are few contracts (not all that common).
  • I like that he honors our families and includes them in group activities.
  • I like that he cares about our kids when they are sick or in trouble.
  • I like that he teaches us new skills.
  • I like that he hires handicapped people from the community and gives them value and dignity.
  • I like that he invites us to go camping once a month, and listens to us talk about life around a campfire.
Dave is a social entrepreneur; he is a Business as Mission business owner (BAM); he works toward Business for Transformation (B4t).  He drives toward the Triple Bottom Line – profitability for his company, job creation and community value and spiritual formation.

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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"Football does not define me"

Monday, January 19, 2015

Marcus Mariota of the Oregon Ducks football team has been much in the sports news the past two months.  Last month he won the 2014 Heisman Trophy in a landslide and on January 12 he led the Ducks in the national championship game.  There is no question he is a talented record-breaking all-star quarterback.  But is there more?

Mr. Mariota is not accustomed to losing and the embarrassing loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes on January 12 was only the 5th loss in 41 starts of his college career.  FSA magazine quotes him “…losing – especially here at Oregon is tough.  We have high expectations as a program to go and win…”1 But on the biggest stage of college football, this champion of a guy did not win.

Mariota went on in the interview to say that he has learned a lot about himself through college sports, “Coach has helped me learn that football doesn’t define me.  It is just what I do.  That was a huge life lesson for me.  I really took that and ran with it.  My faith is what keeps me going and I can always grow in that.1

“Football does not define me!”  Elsewhere Mariota says that glorifying God with his abilities is the most important thing – that is what defines him.

If business does not define us and it is ‘what we do’ as Mariota suggests, how then are we defined?  For Mariota it is to “shine our light” and use the abilities that God has blessed him with.

God has blessed business people with abilities to start and/or operate businesses.  That is special!  That is important!  But that does not define us.  What defines us is the complete package – character as foundational to competency. 

Perhaps central to character is our integrity.  “The word integrity evolved from the Latin adjective integer, meaning whole or complete.2 In this context, integrity is the inner sense of "wholeness" deriving from qualities such as honesty and consistency of character. As such, one may judge that others "have integrity" to the extent that they act according to the values, beliefs and principles they claim to hold.”2

While running a business overseas for the glory of God or in providing consulting and coaching expertise, the issue of integrity surfaces in various ways.

  • Am I foundationally and “completely” and wholly who I say I am?  For example, if I am a tour company, am I really doing that to the approved standards?
  • Is my life and business integrated so I live the same way at home as I do in business?
  • Do I give full time to the business, or is it just a hobby?
  • Do I have a valid professional identity which makes sense to all levels of society?
  • Do I recognize that I cannot do it myself and I do not pretend to do so?
  • Do I intentionally integrate my life and family into the community where I live?
  • Do I bring my experiences, talents and training into an integrated whole so they make sense in the business, or have I been trained for something else altogether and am faking it?

For these and other questions – we must ask ourselves what defines us.  Whether we are a business owner, a consultant or an investor these are important questions as applied to a Triple Bottom Line business overseas. We do well to ask ourselves questions of integrity and wholeness and continually drive toward a complete integrous representation of who we are.  

Mariota will survive the embarrassing national championship loss because “football doesn’t define him” – his integrous faith does.  So too it is for us in the hard times of our business life!


Photo credit: isportsweb (http://isportsweb.com/2014/11/20/oregon-football-marcus-mariotas-heisman-chances/)

1  http://www.fca.org/2015/01/12/in-his-own-words-marcus-mariota/#.VLV1mnsYO7A
 2 "integrity". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language (4th edition ed.). El- shaddai ØØØ. 2000. Retrieved 2009-05-13. ... from integer, whole, complete

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Top reasons startups fail

Monday, January 12, 2015
I am always intrigued with titles like this one I saw recently: The Top 20 Reasons Startups Fail.  Why would I not be interested? We are in the startup business; and I don’t like failure; and it is the start of a new year!

The study analyzed more than 101 startup post mortems for reasons for their failure. Before looking at the full study and the graph, think about the top three; quoted here from their blog.

No Market Need – 42%
Run out of Cash – 29%
Not right team – 23%

1. No market need

If there is no demand or you do not know how to create demand, then no amount engineering talent will solve this. Selling demand to something that does not exist yet (selling faith while knowing you can deliver) is a skill in itself.

2. Ran out of cash

This can happen in three ways:

You didn't raise enough cash to begin with;
The results didn't happen before you ran out of cash; or
You scaled prematurely. 

The whole point of the bootstrapping phase is to test and gain clarity in a new unknown area, while keeping expenses as low as possible so you can still be in the game when you can execute the clarity you gained. You don't want to run out of cash before you can fully execute what you have learned in the startup phase.

3. Not the right team

There is nothing worse than working with the wrong people. It is a horrible way to spend your time. Note that you CAN'T change people. You may be able to train them +/- 5 to 10% in either direction but you can't fundamentally change a person. Getting the people that naturally exhibit the personality traits for the success in the role is the only way to create a great team. These sorts of teams create 1000% returns with a lot less effort. In these sorts of teams, people want to work together and enjoy each other's company.

While we may not concur with all points made on this site, the full graph here and other comments are great food for thought.



As I look back over the business clients IBEC has had in the past eight years and especially those that did not make it or are currently struggling, I see some of these top three but also some of the other factors such as: lack of a business model, loss of focus, legal challenges, failure to pivot, and disharmony among ownership.

It would be a good strategy in early 2015 for IBEC consultants, coaches, business owners and investors to think about these 20 reasons and ask the hard question: is the business struggling or potentially failing because of one or more of these reasons?

As for IBEC itself, one of our challenges is to continually ask the question: is there a market need for our services?  Are we ahead of the times?  What price point will the market withstand?  What marketing strategy will best match supply with demand?  How does one develop faith in the consulting product?  What does it mean to create value first?  

These and other related questions are the subject of an IBEC study in the coming weeks which we are doing in partnership with others.  It is our attempt to understand and act upon “market need.”  As a reader, please know we are open to any suggestions, comments or questions.

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Five key elements of our purpose to keep in mind in 2015

Monday, January 05, 2015

IBEC’s purpose is to help build sustainable businesses through consultative expertise that changes lives and transforms communities.

  1. We help build!  IBEC leadership and consultants are committed to partnering to get the job done. We want to work together in collaboration with other individuals and organizations – and we do.  We help – we do not do it alone!   We highlight partnering on our website.  We highlight it in reference to our 360 degrees of success together with colleagues, customers, employees, families, investors, owners and many others (Values Based Businesses Deliver 360° of Success). We are in the consulting business together with others.  With you!  And it is all about growth and development – we are building for the future.

  2. Sustainable business is the end in view.  We have an exit strategy and train our clients in what the end should look like.  We don’t want anyone to be dependent on us but we are committed to sustainability, independence and interdependence.  The companies we coach in more than 20 countries are striving toward the bottom lines of profitability and sustainability; job creation for more and more people; and to the creation of spiritual capital; and good stewardship of creation’s resources.
  3. Consultative expertise is our core product.  The coaches, consultants, subject matter experts, investors, donors and leaders who have joined us are committed to using their experience, expertise and education for the good of others – to help others’ businesses to grow and make a difference in their world.  Consultative expertise is what we are all about and we aim to grow that in 2015.  We thank God for the involvement of top level executives, experienced managers, engineers, marketing executives, bankers, business owners, MBA's, attorneys, IT experts, accountants, and the list goes on.

  4. Expertise that changes lives.  Lives change when people have dignity.  Having a job brings dignity and self-worth.   Lives change when they come to know the God of the universe and they see purpose for their lives.  Lives change when they rise above poverty; learn to fight injustice and learn to thank God for their empowerment.  IBEC loves to see that happen!

  5. Expertise that transforms communities.  It doesn't stop with a successful business or a changed life.  Individuals grow into a community that is transformed – the collective whole of individuals who are changing their world.  We still look forward to the individuals who are changed by having a job, hearing about Jesus and experiencing liberation and dignity while developing into a community changing transformation.  We keep working to that end.
We step into this new year with great expectancy and ask you to consider how you might get engaged with IBEC in 2015...as an entrepreneur, as a consultant, as an investor, as an advocate or as a donor. Visit our website for more information or contact us to find out more about ways you can join us in this life changing venture.   

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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What’s your TBO ('The Big Opportunity') for 2015?

Monday, December 29, 2014


“How you see your future is much more important than how you see your past.” Zig Ziglar

“Do not follow where the path may lead.  Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is the time of year when one hears comments like, “I can’t believe another year has gone by!” or, “Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions yet?” or, “My, how time flies!” or, “Wow, has this year ever flown by!” or, “Is it 2015 already?” or, “Time is just moving too fast!”

Prolific author, management guru and Harvard professor John P. Kotter is cognizant of the rapidity of the speed of change in our ever-changing world. His 2014 book Accelerate (XLR8): Building Strategic Agility for a Faster-Moving World provides some helpful insights as we peer into the new year with our businesses.

The book proposes that each company needs to balance the system of the traditional hierarchy with a new system built for an environment where change has become the norm.  This new system is more agile and network-like but is determined to operate in concert with the hierarchy in a “dual operating system.”  In other words, within our bureaucracy, we need to liberate certain people to operate free of bureaucratic layers.  While some in the company need to focus on management, reliability, quality and efficiency, others must be nimble, swift, and creative, ready to grab opportunities.

While Kotter reviews his well-known differentiation between management and leadership and also his 8-stage process of change (which he calls here the “Eight Accelerators of Action”), one item that caught my attention was the idea of the big opportunity (or "TBO").  In contrast to vision statements, a TBO is a window into a winning future that is realistic, emotionally compelling, and memorable.  Such an opportunity begets a change vision which begets strategic initiatives.  

A TBO is a product of change in an organization’s environment (such as new markets, new advances in technology, or new demands being placed on an enterprise by competition or turmoil), changes inside the organization (such as new products or new people), or both.” 1

What might be the TBO(s) for IBEC in 2015?  Stay tuned for an upcoming blog theme…but they must, according to Kotter, “…be rational (why us, why now, why…), emotionally compelling (a sincere, positive, authentic appeal to the heart) and memorable (clear, short, no jargon).

Here is an example of a TBO for IBEC in 2015:

We may have the opportunity and resources over the next year to create a series of compelling BAM Talks by experts in the Business as Mission world.  This will lay a bedrock foundation for internet viewers to learn what BAM is and why it is important for all of us, and also hear stories of BAM at work.  It is exciting to see so much interest in Business as Mission, but it is important to provide a consistent foundation and real-life stories as we face the challenges of the early 21st century.  We cannot miss this opportunity or we would fail the church in America, and business people who are trying to follow Jesus with their professional capacity.


“Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead,
I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me…” 
(Paul of Tarsus)

1 John Kotter, Accelerate – Building Strategic Agility for a Faster Moving World, Harvard Business Review Press, Boston, 2014, p. 133.

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures


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A kingdom-minded business perspective on Christmas

Monday, December 22, 2014


There are many ways to say “Merry Christmas” or to give a Christmas greeting in the languages of the world.  The greetings above represent “Merry Christmas” in most of the languages served by IBEC consultants.  Despite cultural and linguistic differences there is one commonality – the Christ of Christmas! 

The continuity of Christ – from beginning to end– gives us a kingdom-minded business perspective on Christmas. We see that Jesus was "in the beginning" and "His kingdom will never end."

The Great Creation Mandate
In the beginning God took man and put him the garden to work it and take care of it  (Genesis 2:15) and he said to him, “…be fruitful and increase in number, fill the earth and subdue it…rule over every living creature…”  (Genesis 1:28). Jesus was there.

The Great Commandment
“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind…love your neighbor as yourself” (Luke 10:27). Jesus spoke it.

The Great Commission
“…Go and make disciples of all nations…” (Matthew 28:19). Jesus commanded it.

The Great Throne Finale
“…there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language…” (Revelation 7:9).  Jesus will be there.

Many times in business planning we are encouraged to ask ourselves what the end might look like.  If the beginning started out with God at work and man invited to work also…and if Jesus invited us to love our neighbor and for much of the world that looks like the dignity of a good job…and if the Jesus of Christmas desires all peoples to worship him and follow him…then the end might look like this:

“Who will not fear you, O Lord, and bring glory to your name?  All nations will come and worship before you…” (Revelation 15:4).

Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Sustaining vision for an abundant life

Monday, December 15, 2014

Entrepreneur and IBEC Board member, Dave Kier reflects on purpose in what we do.  At this time of year, young entrepreneurs may wonder if all the work and uncertainty are worth it.  They may be trying to live one day at a time, having lost the vision to “change the world”.  The story that Dave relates below may encourage you to push on to a better future and not give up.

“I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly.”
John 10:10b NASB®

Earlier this year I renewed an old acquaintance who was a POW during the Vietnam War. Just five days before he was to return home, Charlie Plumb was shot down and captured to be tortured and imprisoned in an 8 x 8 cell for 2,103 days in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton”. (Read the phenomenal story, “I’m No Hero” about how he and 19 other POW’s learned how to keep a disciplined mind never allowing the enemy to get them to feel sorry for themselves and give up.)

In the news of late was a story on our soldiers returning from the Middle East and how disillusioned they are as they return home from fighting a war that took too many lives and left too many limbs behind for what seems to be no purpose.  They return home without declaring victory and then a few are told to go back to war again knowing that victory isn't the objective. Since we fight long drawn out political wars today, our soldiers don’t return to parades with confetti. Instead, they return home as if they punched a time clock for the last time and now must look for another job. The government reports that 22 veterans commit suicide every day - 22!  Even the greatest generation is suffering from this virulent epidemic as possibly they too are now wondering what on earth they fought for.  Many come home today with PTSD. Life for them suddenly lost its purpose. It’s a sad thing that is happening. Very sad. 

 On the other hand, Charlie said that none of the Hanoi Hilton POW’s left suffering with PTSD. How can that be? They were physically and mentally abused for nearly six years.  They couldn't speak to each other. They were constantly told they were forgotten. They had no reason to keep living – except – the faith that they would one day return home. They never stopped believing in God and in their country. They had family they were determined to see.  They had something to live for. They never let go of hope. Charlie came home to spread this message of hope through his experiences. He told me last week that though he could now retire, he is already filling up his speaking schedule for next year (Click here to watch videos highlights from talks and interviews).  He has to get the message out – a message of hope!

It seems to me that we try to manage life today rather than build it. We recently interviewed a man for a job and the longer we talked, the more enthusiastic he became as he talked about how he loved to make work easier and more productive. Most managers interviewed talk about how they manage or maintain work.  Too many people wake up to make it through another day instead of waking up to make today better than yesterday. It seems as if even those of faith are also losing their sense of purpose.  Jesus didn't create us and give His life for us so we could make it through another day.  Jesus came to give hope and He gave us His Spirit to enable us to press on.  Jesus came to reveal to us a future to live for.  Jesus came to give life – not existence – abundant life!  

David Kier, Owner of DFS Feeds and IBEC Ventures Board Member

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Part 2: Entrepreneurs, business developers...or both?

Monday, December 08, 2014


Last week Dave Kier surfaced the question of “Leadership” versus “Followership”.  He drew a distinction between the founder (or entrepreneur) in a business and a manager.  He talked about leaders and followers.  In Part 2 of this theme we consider the importance of all types in the development of a Kingdom business team.

Malcolm Gladwell in his bestseller, Outliers, says, “No one — not rock stars, not professional athletes, not software billionaires, and not even geniuses — ever makes it alone.”  He makes the case that success has a high correlation with the opportunities offered and the people in our path.  As an example he cites the teacher who allowed Bill Gates unlimited access to a time shared terminal in 1968.  That teacher created a differentiation for Mr. Gates and gave him the boost he needed for greatness.

Gladwell continues, “The people we surround ourselves with have a profound effect on who we are.”  We often think of Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.  But do we credit the impact of Eduardo Saverin, Andrew McCollum, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes?  Of course Steve Jobs had his Steve Wozniak and John Sculley. Walt Disney had Roy Disney, Fred Harmon and Margaret Winkler.  Bill Gates had his high school buddies Paul Allen, Ric Weiland and Kent Evans and college friend Steve Ballmer.

Dale Losch in his book, A Better Way – Making Disciples Wherever Life Happens, 2 talks about the whole body of believers and differing roles in business start ups.  He refers to “ground-breakers” — pioneers who are ready to be agents of change (p. 125).   These are the entrepreneurs who seek out opportunities and strategies.  Their new ideas, methods, directions and opportunities break new ground— for the business and for making disciples on the spiritual frontiers.

Losch continues by describing the “business developer” — men and women who have the ability and experience to develop and grow profitable and sustainable business opportunities.  They have exceptional business, organizational, human resource or leadership skills. They strive for results and are accountable for both the business growth and for making disciples.

Entrepreneur Ernesto Sirolli suggests that God has never created a person who can do all of the following: “make it; sell it; and keep track of the money.”  He continues to make the case for a business team to fulfill the dream of the entrepreneur. 3

So what does this mean for Business as Mission start ups?  Just as “it takes a whole village to raise a child,” so it takes a team to start and grow a business.  It takes leaders and it takes followers; it takes all kinds of people of character; people with capacity to learn and grow and work together.  

Good to Great author, Jim Collins, refers to insuring having the “right people on the bus.” Collins insists that “great vision without great people is irrelevant” and he says great companies define the right person as a person with character and innate capabilities, that being more important than knowledge, background and skills.  But the point is — a bus with a visionary driver is not accomplishing much unless there are people on the bus — the right people!  

Let us determine as we build Kingdom businesses that we take the time and care for everyone necessary for success.  Most people will not be the boss or the entrepreneur or the leader; they may be the accountant, the IT expert, the marketer, the language and culture expert, the product developer and so on.  We are in this together — for business success and for Kingdom results.


1  Gladwell, Malcom. Outliers: The Story of Success, Little, Brown and Co., 2008
2  Losch, Dale. A Better Way:  Making Disciples Wherever Life Happens, UFM International, 2012
3  http://www.ted.com/talks/ernesto_sirolli_want_to_help_someone_shut_up_and_listen?language=en
4  An African proverb
5  Collins, Jim. Good to Great.  Harper Collins Publishers, 2001


Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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Part 1: Leadership and Followership

Monday, December 01, 2014


Again we share the insightful thoughts of entrepreneur David Kier, owner of DFS Feeds and an IBEC board member.  His thoughtful wisdom reveals an important concern for Business as Mission start-ups: do we emphasis the entrepreneurial leader at the expense of the business builder? This is Part 1 of a two part series on the importance of a team in a business start up.                          

The student is not above the teacher, nor a servant above his master.

It is enough for students to be like their teachers and servants like their masters.”

Matthew 10:24-25 NIV


In business we speak a great deal about the importance of leadership.  At a recent Business as Mission conference the emphasis was on the entrepreneur, that trail blazer who goes to distant lands to become a leader by starting a business.  Thousands of books are written on leadership, but not many on “followership” - except in God’s spoken word written for us. The media focuses on that leader who leads the charge into all kinds of situations. Kind of strange isn’t it? Most of us are followers not leaders. Oh, we are all leaders in some fashion but not all bear the title in the workplace, in church, on the team, and so on.

Not many of us are cut out to be the person who skillfully directs a group of people to become super effective.  Let me tell you a little secret: most of us entrepreneurs aren’t good leaders – as if you didn’t know already! We are great doers…but not necessarily great leaders. We’re a frustrated lot. I read in a business book years back that “Inside every business, there is someone slowly going crazy.” That someone is the founder! He just wants to go and do things and build something and not mess with all the details or figure out how to get people to understand their jobs. 

Jesus gave a very important principle for life and one we have trouble with in the world that highlights the leader: it’s okay to be a follower. It’s a great thing to be second in command or not in command at all.  If you are young, first be an awesome student of the organization and don’t worry about becoming a manager. Learn the culture. Learn the business. Learn the people and in so doing, learn yourself and who you are.  If you turn out to be one that can be given the charge over a group of people – well – you will still have to keep learning and be under more pressure. 

We all are accountable to someone. One of the greatest lessons learned in life is to know who you are and understand and accept your position in life. Another lesson:  if you can’t submit to God, you will likely have difficulty submitting to your fellowman.  Follow well today.

David Kier, Owner of DFS Feeds and IBEC Ventures Board Member

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Giving thanks

Monday, November 24, 2014

Today I received a text from our youngest daughter Trudy, “Back on US soil! Just landed in DC.”  I am very thankful today.  She had been in harm’s way this past month, serving the 1.7 million refugees in Northern Iraq as an HR Director for her organization.  Two days ago a suicide bomber killed several in her city.  Why does she go to places like this?

This week I read an article describing the book For Love of Country by Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks) and Rajiv Chandrasekaran.1 The book honors the veterans who have served our country and provided heroic examples of sacrifice, bravery and courage. Says Schultz and Chandrasekaran, “To do right by our veterans, to recognize their value to our society and fulfill our solemn obligation to those who volunteered to protect us – we first have to understand what they have accomplished.”

How do we understand those who volunteer to be in harm’s way so they can serve us and others?  Certainly we are thankful for active military and veterans, especially in this month when we celebrate Veterans Day and Thanksgiving Day.  The authors of For Love of Country assert that it is not enough to say “thank you” at an airport or stand for an ovation at a baseball game – “we first have to understand what they have accomplished.”

The same goes for aid workers like Trudy...and the same goes for entrepreneurs and business developers in difficult countries.  I am thankful for each one and in this short blog.  I will not provide much of an understanding, but in some small way I want to recognize some people I met this month who have started small businesses in countries with much poverty, high unemployment and severe injustices.2 These examples represent the kinds of businesses served by IBEC and organizations like us:

  • John operates a farm project in the former Soviet dominated country of K, with 350 employees – providing food for a poor country and offering an understanding of what it means to know Jesus.
  • An employee of an IT company in South Asia with 60 employees affirmed, “…the company is making a difference in people’s lives…I have come to know God.”
  • An owner of a coffee shop chain in Asia who employees more than 20 deaf workers affirms that he is creating jobs among the disadvantaged and also sharing what it means to be a follower of Jesus.
  • Monica's Foodsproduces healthy organic baby products and demonstrates the quadruple bottom line (profitable company, 20 jobs created, spiritual vitality, and stewards of creation).
  • Classic Piesin a large Middle Eastern city contributes to multiculturalism, the sharing of biblical faith and the creation of jobs in the food industry.
  • Modern Media2 is a multi-disciplined media start up within an emerging market in central Asia.  They create a vision for local talent, support traditional art forms and are helping transform their community one neighborhood at a time.
  • Jim and Susi's Middle Eastern textile factory grew to 400 employees but nearly collapsed after Arab Spring.  Today they demonstrate principle-based decision making to the community as they rebuild the company.
  • Dean owns a tour company in south Asia where he hires local guides to lead the tours.  The guides are curious about western tourists as well as the owners’ religious commitment to Jesus of Nazareth.

This week is Thanksgiving week in America (Canada celebrated in October).  I am thankful for thousands of people who start and operate businesses which give value, dignity and hope to victims of injustice.  They provide hope for a job, for a better life, and for an understanding of the God of the universe.  Thank you all!

1  Schultz, Howard and Chandrasekaran, Rajiv, For Love of Country, Alfred A. Knopf, 2014

Names and places have been disguised out of respect for individuals’ desires.


Larry W. Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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