Blog - Faith & Work

Steve Vaughan

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Why the humblest person will go the furthest in business - Jim Collins and Google agree with Jesus!!

Posted by Steve Vaughan

26-Nov-2013 14:49:00

good-to-greatI remember 8 years ago reading Jim Collins’ famous books Good to Great and Built to Last and they have been very foundational to the way I think about charity, church or business growth. Collins and a team spend 5+ years studying why 11 corporations move from being good to being great. In one of the chapter Collins talks about the kind of person it takes to lead such an organisation, and he lists 2 qualities,

Quality one was no surprise = an incredibly strong will. However the second quality was more interesting = humility. He says these driven leader are self-effacing and modest. They consistently pointed to the contribution of others and didn’t like drawing attention to themselves. “The good-to-great leaders never wanted to become larger-than-life heroes…they never aspire to be put on a pedestal or become an unreachable icon. They were seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results.”

Just the other week, I came across the same idea from a LinkedIn article with regards to hiring new people at Google. The author says

“When interviewing product managers at Google, we ranked candidates on four metrics: technical ability, communication skills, intellect and Googliness. A Googley person embodies the values of the company – a willingness to help others, an upbeat attitude, a passion for the company, and the most important, humility.”

He goes on to saying

Disruptive companies reinvent. They don’t copy and execute someone else’s playbook. To be disruptive, a startup’s team must cast aside preconceived notions and assumptions about doing things the “right way” and start inventing new ways.

The more time I spend in venture capital working with startups, the better I understand that there are no templates or stencils or best practices. Each startup team faces a unique market opportunity with distinct market dynamics, sales processes, competitive forces, assets and challenges.

In such circumstances, the best expeditionary force keeps open minds about the way forward. They learn from each other and the market. The first step to learning is accepting we don’t know everything.

pope_humilityAgain, we see humility as an important quality in business. If you read ancient literature, humility only became a virtue from the time of Jesus. Before that the Romans put humility on a par with cowardice and fear – To be great was to strive for glory, not to be humble. However Jesus, in his life and death (most famously expressed in Philippians 2) turned humility into a positive quality. And from his leadership, we can see that the servant leader is the one who has the greatest impact. He has inspired millions down the centuries and has has more followers around the globe today than any person in history (quite a leader!). Philippians 2 says he’ll one day be revealed as the one with the highest rank in the universe.

Hopefully all this gives you ample motivation to pursue humility in life and business.

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Interested in joining a community of Christians in Business in Dublin?

Posted by Steve Vaughan

26-Nov-2013 14:47:00

The whole point of this website is to form a community of Christians in Business in Dublin who work together for the common good of the city. I use the word community in an organic sense in that it will be formed by Christians of different ages, backgrounds, denominations and churches who meet together for the sake of praying and workingt together for the peace and prosperity of Dublin.

Maybe you're new the city, maybe you're a christian who works in business but have never throught of integrating your faith and work or joining a community. Here are the three aims of the community and a few ideas of where we hope it will go.

(1) Equip Christians to integrate their faith with their work. How does the gospel shape the way we do our work?
  • Provide a support group for people who would like to pray and read the bible with Christians in the workplace, around working hours.
  • Host seminars and forums, with speakers, to  help us to think through how faith and work integrate

(2) Help Seekers explore faith and work. How does the gospel change our motivation, manner and method with which we approach our work?

  • Put on events and courses that are relavent for city centre works who want to explore the big questions of life (see www.intro-course.ie)
  • Host seminars and forums, with speakers, who will help us to think through how faith and work integrate.

(3) Connect Workers to collaborate for the good of the city. How can we work in such a way that we seek the peace and prosperity of Dublin as a whole?

  • Bring like-minded people together for the sake of starting social enterprises that channel the resources of business towards those who are socially and economically deprived

If this is something that interests you then please do let us and do share any other ideas you have.

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Is there such a thing as a Christian salesman?

Posted by Steve Vaughan

26-Nov-2013 14:45:00

iron1After making the move from church pastor to salesman (initially with Oracle and now with HubSpot) I was repeatedly asked how I found the change of working for a small christian charity to one of the largest companies in the world. Rather surprisingly I found that the roles had more similarities than differences. Here are my thoughts on the experience and how being a salesman in a big blue chip company is basically the same as being a pastor in a local church.

In no particular order…

larry(1) There is always an underlying culture – this hit me immediately when started at Oracle. From the way you dress (whether Monday-Thursday or on ‘dress-down Fridays’), behave, talk, drink, work or network there are lots of assumed values and standards that are spread across the business and without thinking about it you start to conform to that culture. Much of the culture comes down from “the leadership” – whether Larry Ellison (who is some of the inspiration behind the character Iron Man) or the local directors and VPs. However local church is no different. Just as I had never worked in a big multi-national, so many people have never come into a church gathering/community and when they do they’ll feel the difference in culture and the more they stay and belong, the more they’ll feel a pressure to “fit in” and much of that will come from the way the leaders look, dress, act and talk (read 1 Corinthians or the book of James for the New Testament examples).

(2) Oracle is a place of many nations – I sit opposite French, Italian & Portuguese people everyday and interact with at least 20 nationalities a week, just from my sales floor alone. Oracle is a place where the nations of the world have gathered together under one cause. So the church in heaven, and therefore the church on earth, is a place where all the nations have gathered together, to set aside their differences in order to serve and adore our creator and saviour, Jesus Christ (see Ephesians 2-3 & Revelation 7).

Coffee(3) You drink lots of Coffee – I am currently cutting down my coffee intake to “one a day” as when there is free cappuccino’s on tap it can be lethal. A lot of coffee gets drunk every day at Oracle. However the church is no different (except the standard of coffee is usually less good!!!) and when you are a church pastor you can easily drink 10 coffees a day and come away wired.

(4) The job of a salesman is basically the job of a pastor – I was chatting to my Sales Director about this last week when he asked me how, given my background, I was settling into my new job. I told him that the heart of being a church pastor is to listen to people, find common ground, ask insightful questions, understand their pains and problems and then “sell” them a solution…Jesus! So in modern sales, you spend 80% of the time listening, building rapport, asking insightful questions that unearth business pains and then you sell them a solution which will solve all their problems…Oracle Fusion CRM or now HubSpot

(5) Humility will go along way – As I outline in my previous post, the humble person will actually go the furthest, not just in the Kingdom of God (1 Peter 5 & James 4) but also in business.

(6) There is always a pressure to deliver - Sales is all about hitting “your number” – that is what defines you, governs you, gets you paid and sees you progress. If you hit your targets you’re fine. If you miss them, then you’ll feel the pressure. However there are lots of pressures that a pastor can feel – there is still the pressure to “perform” or live up to people’s expectations. I guess underneath it all is a heart that finds it’s value in personal performance rather than Jesus’ performance on our behalf (see Philippians 3).

money(7) The importance of  of money – You cannot do church activities, mission, social action or community-formation without money (nor have a job as a full-time pastor). So in business, there is no business where there is no money. However the quantity of money is where the difference is seen. Coming from a local church background where budgets are rather small it is crazy the amount of money that is flying around in a modern IT business. Whether that be the salaries, the sales, the expenses or the products. I was talking to a customer the other day about a $1,000,000+ sale. That is silly money in the church but normal money in business. Interestingly Jesus spoke more about money than heaven and hell as he recognised it as  one of the greatest snares that stopped people entering the kingdom of God (Luke 8.14 & 18.18-30). This leads me onto my next point.

(8) Motivation is everything - 0n my second day when I didn’t even know what “CRM” meant I met one of the Sales VPs, for Application Sales. He was also new to Oracle VP so was meeting the team and finding out who was who. He asked us about our background. My Co-worker Fiona had come from a retail background so he got all enthusiastic about how we needed to tap into her abilities and knowledge to sell our product. He then turned to me and said “And what about you…what did you do before this?” I told him that I had worked as a church pastor and charity worker. First his face went rather blank. Second he paused. Third he said “Oh”. Fourthly, once he had gathered himself, he said “so you have gone from what is essentially about doing good to the world to what is essentially about making money!”  I think I fumbled some comment about the need for business’s to engage with CSR and then he moved on. What has been interesting is that I repeatedly hear from those up top, that what should motivate us is money, career and status – that is the carrot that is dangled before us to ensure we work hard. One of the senior managers even said “I am unashamedly money hungry” which was rather surprising to me, though I appreciate his honesty.

Oracle_HQNow whilst I do not despise money, career or status, this is a very striking part of the new culture (point 1) that I am experiencing and do not want to be conformed to. The bible is clear that we are to work (a) for Jesus first and foremost (Colossians 3) (b) for the good of mankind and the flourishing of the city (Jeremiah 29) and (c) so we can earn a living (see book of proverbs and the scathing remarks to the sluggard!). The issue of motivation however is central to the Gospel. I know in my own heart that being in Christian ministry can very easily become about my own status and glory…so maybe the only difference is that at Oracle it is blatant where-as in the church it is secret (which is probably more dangerous!!!). God clearly says that our heart and motivation are the determining factor in any work we do, even our good works (see 1 Corinthians 13). (Picture = Oracle HQ)

I am sure there are more similarities, but there are 8 I can think of. All this reveals to me that there is such a thing as a Christian salesman and in fact, whether you're a Christian Pastor or a Christian Salesman, the underlying situation is very similar. So in answer to the question, yes I think there is such a thing as a Christian salesman.

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How do we seek the peace and prosperity of Dublin?

Posted by Steve Vaughan

26-Nov-2013 14:40:00

googleEach of us has this idea that our cities could and should be a better place, we wish we could build a city that was full of peace and prosperity. And this is the calling of Christians in Business, to follow the mandate given by the prophet Jeremiah to the people of Israel who were living in exile in the greatest city of their day, Babylon.

Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.” (Jeremiah 19.7)

Here are the 3 options available to us as Christians, with 2 practical tips to help us get it right.

(1) RETREAT - instead of engaging with the city we can retreat and withdraw, seeing the city and the world of business as "evil and bad." However if you retreat, we become invisible to the city and will not be able to make a positive impact in Dublin.

(2) CAPITULATE - without forethought we jump in to everything that the city has to offer, not stopping to consider whether we are compromising our values. However if we "just do everything that everyone else does" and none of or Christians values shape the way we do business we again become invisible and will not be able to make a positive impact in dublin.

(3) SHINE - Jesus calls us to be a "city on hill" whose good deeds shine out and speak of him (Matthew 5). In giving is this identity and command Jesus is calling not to retreat from the city, not to capitulate from the city but to form an alternative community in the city (an alternative city!), which is radically engaged and yet radically distinct, fully engaged yet fully christian. We are fo form an alternate city within Dublin, working for the good of the Dublin by both encouraging all that is good and challenging all that is bad.

So how can we avoid the dangers of retreating and capitulation and ensure that form an alternative city that shines and makes a positive impact in Dublin? Here are two suggestions.

(a) Avoid the sacred/secular divide. Don't see your job as "unspiritual" and your "church commitments" as spiritual. Everything is spiritual to God, everything can be an act of worship if done for the right reasons and in the right way. Take your job seriously, pray for the flourishing of your workplace and colleagues and offer your work as an act of worship to God.

(b) Keep an equal footing in both work and church. Don't sacrifice your work for the sake of the church community and don't sacrifice your church community for the sake of work. Of course there are times when sacrifices will need to be made (on both sides) but with a long term view in mind find a ryhthmn by which you are able to keep a foot firmly in both camps and commit to both. This will enable you to listen to your workplace, understand the pains, needs, desires and hopes of the people and the company, in order that you can then bring these things to your church community and to God in prayer.

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Why Do We Work? Frederick Neichtze and Simon Sinek highlight the importance of motivation.

Posted by Steve Vaughan

16-Sep-2013 23:58:00

Frederick Neichtze once said

"He who has a why to live can bear almost any how." 

Neichtze said something we all know to be true, each of us is searching for a greater purpose on which to base our lives. Once we know "why" we are doing something, what is the greater good that I am living for, we will devote time, energy, money and brainpower to fulfilling the "how". Conversely if we are unsure about the "why" then we quickly can become demotivated, inefficient and unsatisfied in the "how".

 

This vital principle has been applied to the work place and popularised by Simon Sinek. Described as “a visionary thinker with a rare intellect,” Sinek teaches leaders and organizations how to inspire people. With a bold goal to help build a world in which the vast majority of people go home everyday feeling fulfilled by their work, Sinek is leading a movement to inspire people to do the things that inspire them. Here is a simple diagram that explains his thinking.
Why
Simon says that so often we get things in the wrong order. In his book Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action Sinek outines that instead of starting with 'what' we do day-to-day and then thinking about 'how' we do it before finally thinking about 'why we do it' we need to reverse the order. 
For example
  1. What - Organise my customers information.
  2. How - through a computer system and team work.
  3. Why - to get my job done, please the boss and get paid.

But if we switch the order we could say

  1. Why - Provide the best customer satisfaction possible, to benefit others and grow the business
  2. How - Organise our customers information as best as possible to be able to serve them as best as possible - use computer systems and team work
  3. What - Take care in following the processes that support our customer service.

This is only a minor example, but perhaps it is the most helpful as it shows how this can work in a very day to day mundane way.

So let's go bigger picture again, why do we work at all? What is the purpose, cause and drive behind all that we do?  The obvious answers will be around earning money, giving purpose to our lives and find community. On a deeper level we may be motivated by trying to bring blessing to others, to seek the peace and prosperity of Dublin or to image our creator God. Hwoever will these provide that deeply fulfilling motivation that each of us needs to be the best we can be?
The following ebook looks at each of these motivations and what it means to find your ultimate motivation in reflecting the ultimate worker, in whose image we were made.

 Download free ebook - Why Work?

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