Revitalized On Sunday!

Wow what a morning! I slept well last night, had a good morning of reading, and went to church. I did go to church this morning for a specific reason. I was looking for guidance. There are many difficult and complex issues associated with modern living, some of which are very confusing, and I went to church this morning looking to the One who I knew has the answers. He did not disappoint. I have a renewed sense of peace and action.

This process of growth got me thinking about the challenge from Dr. Luke Goble to identify my top ten books. I have read several thousand books and wondered what I would consider my top ten. So I sat down and looked at my Ipad and my bookcases to see if I could narrow it down. I have read books from a plethora of genres that have impacted me over the years. Shakespeare, Durkheim, Kant, McIntyre, and others have influenced me. But what are those books that have made me who I am today? That was an interesting thought process especially after my revitalization this morning at church.

The question is who am I? I am a Christ follower first and foremost. Therefore, what were those books that have influenced my walk with Christ the most? Secondly, I am a thinker who doesn’t follow the left or right path, but one that usually falls in the middle, which means I have the opportunity to make both sides of the social and political spectrum upset. I am a selfish individualist who at times drives my wife and children crazy because of my drive to accomplish things. Lastly, I am a man who has come to believe that business can be done in a way that economic equality can be gained through hard work and tenacity. However, I also believe that the system is skewed to the rich, who need to see their responsibility to help those that do not have the same opportunities. So what are those books that have helped me get to this point in my life?

The most important book in my life is the Bible. I am not ashamed of this, nor will I apologize for this. Those who say that Christians are haters, have no idea who this guy Jesus Christ is. I met Him in the pages of the book, and I intend to walk with Him for the rest of my life.

The second most influential book that has made me who I am today, is the book “With Christ in the School of Prayer.” Andrew Murray’s books have had a huge impact on my thinking and ability to meditate and reflect on my relationship with God.

The third book, The Pursuit of God, by AW Tozer has had an incredible impact on my life. This was a book that, along with Murray, helped me to cultivate an inner life that hungers and thirsts for God. It has helped me to accept the grace of God.

The fourth book is actually two short stories in one book. “Father Sergius” was the story of an ambitious man who became a monk. However, his ambition follows him into this new role and almost destroys him, but he eventually finds the path of service. “Master and Man” is a short story about a businessman who though his impatience puts he and his servant in jeopardy. They are traveling to another city and get stuck in a blizzard in Russia. The master learns humility by keeping his servant warm through the night, but dies in the process. The businessman’s lessons were incredibly instructive for me.

The fifth book was Habits of the Heart. It was written by Bellah, Tipton, Sullivan, Madson, and Swidler. This book taught me about the complexities associated with modern living. It also convinced me that success is never just an individual effort. There are people who have supported us, counseled us, and helped us have the strength to attain our accomplishments. I don’t think there is such a thing as bowling alone.
The sixth book was a recent read. Niall Fergusson’s book “The Great Degeneration: How Institutions Decay and Economies Die” explores the economic stagnation of the west due to increasing debt, and the lack of economic mobility. Low wages and the ability of a corrupt and monopolistic elite to exploit the system to their own advantage are considered socially regressive. This book has helped me to see what the major cause of a stationary economy is, one that is characterized by the rich exploiting the poor. It is the result of laws and institutions. In other words entrenched systems that favor one group over another. I am a firm believer in personal initiative, but if a system has been established that does not allow each individual to prosper through initiative and innovation, then Houston we have a problem.

The seventh, and the most related to my current position as department chair, “Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education: Liberal Learning For Professions,” by Colby, Ehrlich, Sullivan, and Dolle. This book has helped me to see how important engagement in the classroom is, and how important practice is in the community. It has convinced me that there is no better place to study business then in a liberal arts institution.

The eighth book was written by one of my favorite modern authors, Phillip Yancey. “The Jesus I Never Knew,” helped me to think outside of my western evangelical box to see a Jesus that is closer to the real one. A companion to this book would be “Imaginary Jesus” by Matt Mikalatos. Often we create our own Jesus’s to fit our own selfish desires.

The ninth book on my list probably should be a little higher on the list. “The Making of a Man of God,” by Alan Redpath is one of those books that transformed my life. When I was younger I was very insecure, and I was afraid to try anything because I was afraid of failing. By looking at the life of David through the words of Redpath my life was truly transformed.

The tenth book was written by Malcolm Gladwell. David and Goliath was a timely book in my life. It helped me to confront those giants I was facing. “David and Goliath is a book about what happens when ordinary people confront giants. By giants, I mean powerful opponents of all kinds.”

So there you have it. This is not by any means an exhaustive list. I am sure I have left many books off the list that have impacted me, but for who I am right now, these are the big ten.

And that is my thought for the day!

Lessons On Life And Business

Today was an interesting day. We had a Faculty meeting on campus that ended with a student panel. I would have to say the student panel was the most interesting and most disconcerting event of the day. My take away from the conversation was that we as an institution need to focus on our value proposition. In other words know who we are and what value we are providing to our customers, the students. We can never be everything to everybody, and if we try we will water down our message we will lose our way. Mission drift is a devastating event.

The Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy died on Monday at the age of 93. He has received a lot of bad press because of his position that marriage is between a man and a women. He has been called a hater, simply because of his faith. That really does concern me. Those that say he is a hater actually hate him. Seems counter productive to me, and seems problematic. Why can’t we have differences of opinions and still respect and even love one another?

I personally don’t think Truett Cathy was a hater. I have been to Chick-fil-A restaurants in Virginia and I saw diversity and excellent customer service represented. However, what tells me that Truett was not a hater is how he ran his business. He was a principled man who tried to be the best Christ-follower he could, even in how he ran his business. He even shut down on Sunday’s to allow families to go to church.

In today’s paper I learned a lot about him. I learned that he believed in himself. He only had a high school education, yet he started and ran a multi-billion dollar company. He was an optimist, and believed he could make something of himself. He did, and so can we. The second thing I learned was about his work ethic. He was an incredibly hard worker. “He saw work as a privilege and made a point of enjoying it.”

The third thing I learned about him involved his culture of service. “He was devoted to serving others, from his customers and employees to young people and others in his community. He understood, like few others, what it meant to steward a great brand.” And related to this was the forth thing I learned, Truett never stopped innovating.

But here is where it gets interesting. The fifth thing I learned about Truett was how generous he was. “In 1984 he founded the Winshape Foundation, named for its mission to shape winners.” Through his foundation he provides foster homes for children, which currently houses about 150 children. He has also launched a scholarship program for restaurant team members. This scholarship program has awarded over $30 million in scholarships.

The last thing that I learned today was that Truett Cathy was a humble man. He and his wife have lived in the same home for decades, and as Muhtar Kent, SEO of Coca-Cola, stated “ he never took himself seriously.”

Truett Cathy didn’t have horns, he wasn’t spewing out fire and brimstone, but he did believe in traditional marriage based on his understanding of the Bible. So does that make him a hater? Others don’t see it that way. I really don’t think we are going to agree on everything, but instead of hating why don’t we serve, innovate, work hard, and maybe just maybe we will make a better world. I for one, am going to follow Jesus and He can deal with all you haters.

And that is my thought for the day!

A Common Growth

I remember years ago reading books that discussed the common good. Usually the authors were looking for common values that transcend cultural differences. Kidder, wrote about shared values in a troubled world, and others wrote about categorical imperatives so important for the social adjustment of our society.

Currently I am reading articles and books that are exploring a common economic growth. The argument, as Pitney proposed in his book on Capital in the 21st Century, is when a society’s economic growth is substantially related to the holding of capital and not through income, we have a widening gap between the haves and the have nots. Although I don’t agree with all of what Pitney discusses in his book, I do agree with this premise. I believe for a society to prosper all of its participants need to have a growing piece of the pie. This is an issue, because how does society accomplish this, yet not fall into a socialist trap?

William Galston has an editorial column entitled “Politics and Ideas.” I find it enlightening and centrist. Yesterday’s column began with a review of Kissinger’s new book and describing America as a problem-solving nation. Galston states that this skill can be used to create a growth that works for everyone, not just a favored few. I tend to agree with this.

Our political system is broken. Democrat or Republican parties are held in the pockets of their rich cronies, which is undermining our republic. As a nation we’ve forgotten how to be innovative and creative, leading to human beings taking initiative. The number of people on government transfer payments continues to grow. These are just two symptoms of our social problems that I think are critical, but what does Galston say?

“Recent reports underscore the extent of the challenge.” His challenge, an economic growth that works for all! Galston reports that unemployment has ticked down to 6.1%, but “the employment to population ratio is lower than it was at the official end of the great recession.” Our labor force participation rate is the lowest it has been since 1970. Galston makes a good point, “The aging of the population accounts for some of this decline, but it cannot explain why participation among prime-age workers between 25 and 54 stands at only 81%, two points below its level in 2007.”

We have all read the reports that state the top 10% of our society have flourished in this new economic, while “family incomes in the 40th to 90th quintiles have stagnated.” We’ve also read how the bottom 10% has actually lost significant ground. Recent reports have also stated that those with a college degree have had their incomes stabilize, while those without a college degree lost 10% of their income. Polls now show that only 16% of Americans think that job opportunities will be better for the next generation.

The Global Strategy Group conducted a survey between January and March of this year. They found that 78% of us think that Congress should promote an agenda that ensures economic growth is fair. The responders also felt that for everyone to flourish the middle class needs to thrive, which right now is not the case. The question one must ask, is how do we do this?

Many believe there needs to be an expansion of apprenticeship programs. Others feel the colleges need to be more affordable. I think both of these are an important start. Millions of jobs that require technical skill are not being filled each year due to a lack of people with the necessary skills. I think a thriving apprenticeship program can help there. Machinists, plumbers, and electricians are trades that pay livable wages and are respected. Seems to me we need to develop those skills.

It also seems to me that we will need doctors, professors, managers, philosophers, and others that require college educations thus we need to make our schools more affordable. The school I teach at has attempted to accomplish that, as well as carve itself a niche by creating a remedial system to help first generation college students.

These are two specific actions that can work if we build the right support systems with strong financial foundations. By doing this we can have a positive impact on our society, but do we have the will? This is a very simplistic way of describing solutions, but for those of you who are watching the PGA Tour Championship occurring at Eastlake Golf Course, do a little search on the Eastlake Foundation. You’ll be amazed at what has occurred in the neighborhood surrounding that golf course. You’ll see a community that came together and transformed that community from an underperforming, crime-ridden community, to one of the best in Atlanta.

And that is my thought for the day!

Business And Philanthropy

The more I study business, and the more I teach it, the more I see that corporate philanthropy is important. In other words those who have should share with those who have not had the same opportunities. Much of what is being discussed about corporate philanthropy would fall under the heading of Corporate Social Responsibility, but I also see this as a part of the Social Entrepreneurship movement. This could also be categorized as philanthro-capitalism. It has become so important that Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen, who is a philanthropist, has been hired to teach it at Stanford.

Laura is actually very excited about the subject. “I think this whole convergence of philanthropy and technology is so exciting I can’t stand it, and it’s the reason I never seem to be sleeping and always seems to be drinking Taster’s Choice and yelling when I talk.” She has been teaching philanthropy at Stanford since 2000, and recently has started her own foundation that she describes as a innovation lab for giving. Her goal is to “democratize giving by providing online resources and programs to make donating more accessible to people at all levels of wealth.”

Another woman, in Portland, Oregon, is accomplishing something similar. Sandra Morris, with her company, CafeGive, has created a web platform that helps small to midsize companies organize their giving processes to allow employees to practice philanthropy. Both Laura and Sandra are successful business people, who see the importance of giving back.

Even though many corporations are including philanthropy in their business plan, I don’t think we have seen anything yet. Laura states, “The Millennials have more social consciousness than any other generation,” illustrated by the fact that, “72% of college students in a 2012 said that working for a firm that creates some sort of social impact is important to their happiness.”

Ms. Andreessen has had many opportunities that others haven’t. She is the daughter of a billionaire, who earned his billions in real estate, and is married to Mark Andreessen who co-founded Netscape. However, just like her father she has decided to be a philanthropist, and has chosen to teach others how to be philanthropic too. She has worked with Mark Zuckerberg , who gave $100 million to the Newark, New Jersey public schools in 2010.

Why does she doe this? I think her father’s example helped, but she also attributes it to another experience. “Her enthusiasm for philanthropy came from her late mother, who was active in nonprofits throughout her life. When Ms. Arrillaga-Andreessen was in her early 20’s, she took care of her mother while she had cancer.” For the first time in her life she said,” I had to live completely outside of myself and live for the purpose of another human being. Right before she passed, I made a commitment to her and to God and to myself that I would carry on her work…and hopefully one day take it to a greater level.”

I have come to the conclusion that wealth is not the problem, but the love of wealth is. When we grab, amass, and horde wealth for our selfish pleasure we lose the purpose of wealth. It is only as we see wealth as an opportunity to do good that we see the real purpose of wealth.

I believe that efficient business creates wealth, but I also believe that as we do efficient business we need to do it is a humane manner that is economically, socially, and environmentally sound.

And that is my thought for the day!

Thoughts On Integrative Education

Later this week I will embark on a new endeavor. I will be creating my first online course. After I create it, I will then facilitate the course for about ten students. We have started two programs online at WPC, and both seem to be moving forward. In a couple of weeks we will have a F2F meeting with the students to see how everything is going. With the advancement of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOC’s) many schools are moving in this direction. It is interesting that according to research conducted by the Chronicle of Higher Learning, online schools are the least respected by hiring companies. I don’t think this means online courses, but only those schools that exclusively offer online courses.

Stanford has now gone down the online road. John Taylor, professor of Economics at Stanford University, wrote about is experience in today’s WSJ. He noted that he usually taught ECON 1 in a large lecture hall with hundreds of students, but this summer he tried something new, an online version of the course. What he writes about his experience is exactly what I have observed with the development of our courses, in other words a course that is well thought out, with excellent assignments, and weekly activities that demonstrate how students are learning. I think some of our onground courses could learn from this development process.

Taylor wrote, “The course was called ECON 1v. Last fall, after each ECON 1 classroom lecture, I went to the recording studio and gave the same talk divided into smaller segments, for easier online viewing. Producers then mixed in graphs, photos, videos, illustrations and captions, and indexed each video for easy searching.” He goes on to describe how they “supplemented these videos – about 70 in all – with study materials, and discussion forums on Stanford’s online platform at Class.Stanford.EDU.” This is set up in a similar format as MOOCs. Although WPC does not have the same resources as a Stanford, we are developing our courses in the same manner.

As I read this article this morning, and read Parker Palmer, I have to wonder will online courses help students find the sense of integration so desperately needed in their lives? Or as Palmer describes it, are they developing the skills needed to live an undivided life? I agree with Palmer when he states, “Our colleges and universities need to encourage, foster, and assist our students, faculty, and administrators in finding their own authentic way to an undivided life where meaning and purpose are tightly interwoven with intellect and action, where compassion and care are infused with insight and knowledge.”

I have no doubt that we are giving our students at WPC an opportunity to develop this sense of integration. I also believe that Faculty and Administrators have an opportunity to accomplish this. However, I have to ask this question, what about an online student? Do they have the opportunity to develop their own authentic way to an undivided life? After thinking about this, I have say yes, but they need to be aware enough to recognize it.

The modality does not make any difference when it comes to a motivated person and their ability to grow intellectually. Some people need an onground environment to learn and grow, while others are more internally motivated. These folks are usually reading, thinking, praying, and accomplishing other developmental activities to grow and live an undivided life.

In our business program, my goal is for my students to be able to be Christ centered business practitioners who want to serve their communities. This seems to me to be an important skill, one that is authentic. In other words a life filled with meaning and purpose, focused on weaving intellect and action, theory and practice, by using intellect and knowledge to compassionately care for those around us.

I truly believe that a student who studies at WPC will learn these very important skills, at least in our onground offerings. I also think those who take our online offerings will be able to accomplish this, but many will not. It will depend on the individual.

And that I my thought for the day!

Fall Is Around The Corner

Today was a beautiful day in the Northwest. My wife, my dog, and I went to Falls Creek and completed a 3.5 mile hike. We trekked 1.7 in, and sat down at three waterfalls. They were wonderful and well worth the hike up the hill to see them. We then walked back another 1.7 miles, and then drove to Stevenson, WA to have a late lunch. We are all tired tonight, but thankful for a wonderful late summer experience.

This time of the year it seems that I start to get serious about thinking and writing. I guess it is a result of being a professor. The thoughts I wanted to share with you tonight were motivated by a conversation I had with a friend on the golf course yesterday evening. He is an HR manager for PGE, and as we were walking the 18 holes yesterday he asked how my students felt about business? As I think about what I told him, I actually gave him what I thought about business. Now I wonder what my students really think about business.

The questions that I want to ask them are questions that I have grappled with. What is the purpose of business? This is the first and most important. Is it just to make profit, or is the purpose something a bit more lofty than that? I would tend to think that there is a higher calling than just profit. Don’t get me wrong profit is important, especially if you want to stay in business, but if that is the only reason I am in business then I probably wouldn’t have the fortitude to hang in there no matter what. I think the purpose of business is more about the mission than profit. What is the mission of my business, and am I fulfilling that mission? I think that is key.

The second question I want to ask my students involves the process of business. If I am a businessman then how do I treat my employees? Do I treat them like a commodities to be exploited for my own benefit, and then reward them accordingly? Or do I treat them like human beings who want to accomplish things in their lives just like I do? This is a very important distinction. Something that Douglas McGregor that was important enough to write a book about.

The last question I want to ask my students has to do with a business’s responsibility to society. Do they believe that a company that takes resources from the community owes anything to the community it operates within? I tend to think the company does owe the community something. How many companies have just picked up stakes and moved somewhere else to lower their costs without any concern with the community they were leaving. Singer, GM, Caterpillar, and other companies like them have chosen to lay off millions of employees in search of lower costs, devastating communities throughout the United States.

Don’t get me wrong, I know we have to control costs and maintain healthy margins, but I also think we have to rethink how we do this. I wonder if my students agree with me.

I wonder what my students really think about business. I think it is time I ask them

And that is my thought for the day!

A New School Year

Can you believe it? School has started. Welcome weekend is over and now it is time to buckle down and get to work. Yesterday the Business Department met with the new students and we will be seeing all of the returning students in our classes today. We had seven of the nine instructors for this semester involved yesterday, and I have to say our department rocked it. A great level of energy in the room, and the fresh new perspective of having the additional faculty involved was incredible.

I have a lot of hope for this new year. Our HCA professor will be teaching Economics also, which will give her a larger exposure to our students. I know the business and SE students will enjoy her style and her knowledge.

The Accounting professor is beginning to see how Accounting, framed within social justice, can change the world. I think all of us in the department are beginning to see that framing our business classes within the larger context of positive social change is important. This is the unique Warner Pacific perspective.

As I said over and over yesterday, I believe in the power of business to change the world. This change can be either good or bad based upon how we frame the activity. The activity of business is the same no matter what type of organization one is involved in. Therefore, technically business programs teach the same things. However, if business can create positive social change then we much frame the activities of business within the larger context of said social change. This is the why of teaching business at Warner Pacific College.

This is why we have created a new program, in its second year, around Social Entrepreneurship. We have fifteen students in the SE 101 course, and nine in the program from last year. Not bad for a new program, and based upon the questions yesterday, there is an incredible amount of interest in the program, students just don’t know what it is.
Our new SE professor has a very high level of energy. This was obvious yesterday and good. I think it actually pushed us old folks to be a little more animated. I look forward to seeing how this new instructor will impact the SE program. I think she is going to do an excellent job, and will have a great impact on our department as a whole.

We have a new law professor this year. He teaches for us in the adult program, and I think our students are going to love his style. I would love to move this class away from the 8am time slot, but at this point in time there is a need to accommodate the instructor’s schedule, thus the early time frame. We’ll see how students respond to the new person.

BUS 101 has always been a course that is interesting and challenging. We have a new instructor and we have a new text and strategy. We are now framing the course as foundational to the whole program. I think the person we have teaching this course will do this quite well. I am looking forward to seeing what happens with that course this year.

As I stated yesterday was an exciting start to the school year. I really needed to just think through what happened and reflect on it. I do plan on blogging a bit more. It is time to get back to work.

And that is my thought for the day!