Dinner Mentors

Anymore in America, when you approach someone with a common-sense business proposition they’ll act like you were attempting a mugging. We can’t blame them. America has spent so much time “educating” itself with classroom theory that we don’t recognize a true business deal when it bites us in the face. Companies think “business” means a tsunami of junk mail and telemarketers. Those methods only pay-off because the majority of Americans can’t recognize business from bolshevik.

In Hong Kong, if you asked almost any person on the street if they were interested in business they’d be curious what you were thinking. Reflecting the long-forgotten entrepreneurship of 1900 New York, the new Asia knows that business deals must be “felt” out through relationships, not calculated with a linear programming chart. One subway ad reads, “Our way of financial background checking: A shared cup of coffee.”

We praise the success of Microsoft and Apple in their ability to see the potential in the mouse auctioned-off by XEROX. We talk about their wisdom to see the trends before everyone else. Then, in the same breath, we ask to see a company’s track record before singing with them. Track records exist only for the past, and every company that blew up in a stock market correction, at one point, had a “good track record”. A track record that guaranteed future success would solve the mystery of market corrections. The newbie today may be tomorrow’s billionaire and yesterday’s Master of the Universe may be they guy you feel bad for not giving your change to on the street corner. How are we to know who to jump on board with?

How does an infant know his mother’s voice? How does a dog know the scent trail of his master? “Knowing” who to trust for any financial transaction requires that one has been around the block. We must “be” business people to recognize the good from the phonies—and that’s not something you can learn in a class, it’s something that must be taught at the dinner table.. just like ministry.

If we look at nearly every ministry and business that started strong, grew, stayed healthy, then somehow went down in flames, nearly all of them have one thing in common: the helm was handed by someone with a master’s degree.

This does not suggest that all master’s degrees are bad, but it does suggest that a master’s in Business or in Ministry gives a false sense of security—if it is obtained BEFORE a proven track record of success. Theory can only interpret the past, so a master’s in Ministry or Business (or any other ‘practical’ field of study) must have that “past” track record to interpret. Success BEFORE the degree means that the paper isn’t a prosthetic past.

Still, there’s the ongoing problem of ineffective ministry and telemarketing. How do we solve these nuisances and get out of our economic slump? We must teach young people about business, dinner-table style—even before adolescence.

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