My wife, Cindy, and I flew into London on September 24th, 2013 for my second Dmin Advance week. I had never been to London before and I was looking forward to exploring the famous city and country I had read about in history books. I was also looking forward to the learning experience I would receive from the well planned agenda focusing on Christian global leadership. The topics to be covered were public and cultural leadership; church and non-profit ministry challenges, opportunities and initiatives in the UK and Christian business leadership in the UK.
The Advance started on September 26 which gave my wife and me an opportunity to tour and become acquainted with central London. The Advance would end on October 3rd. My adult children were scheduled to meet us on October 4th for a 10 day family trip.
We had a wonderful time and I was impressed by the global leaders we had an opportunity to listen to. Now that the semester is over, I will reflect about my learning experience starting with the London Advance and including the 10 books I read – blogged about and discussed with my cohort. This reflection will be in a Visual Ethnography format (Pink 2009).
The first day on September 27th, we toured London. Our first stop was to listen to Vicar Jeremy Crossly, a parish pastor for central London business district. I was moved by his humble demeanor and how he shifted his ministry from a declining congregation caused by the great recession to ministering to business men and women in the moment of a few minutes. He shared that during the great recession of 2008-2009, he lost 75% of his congregation.
Our next stop was to Lloyds of London which was a very impressive stop. My first impression was that of the innovative architecture. All the working parts of the building were designed on the outside of the building, not in the center of the building. In the retirement community business, I have been responsible for 50 year old high rise structures and when the plumbing needs replacing in the center of the building, the cost is extraordinary.
My next impression was of professional awe. As we toured the multiple levels of the building, it was full of desks and professionals and had the look of a Wall Street floor. We had a tour guide who shared the history of how Lloyds first got started. It all started at a coffee shop owned by Lloyd. It was the place where merchants and ship owners gathered to talk about their ships and investments. As the story goes, the ship owners began to insure their cargo against theft and loss.
I was surprised by the fast pace of life in London shared by Vicar Jeremy and seeing it at Lloyd’s of London. The fast pace was demonstrated at lunch time when professional business men and women would be standing up in groups socializing with mugs of ale in their hands.
Our next day was attending the Global Leadership Perspectives Conference at Crypt on the Green. We heard international leaders such as Martyn Percy, David Male, MaryKate Morse, Kirsh Kandiah, Faith Ngunjiri, Shawn Holtzclaw and Jason Clark. The topics were various leadership perspectives from the speaker’s research and disciplines.
David Male talked about a significant change in leadership from following maps to navigating in the open sea. I have seen this shift recently as my job responsibilities have shifted from managing multiple retirement communities to developing consulting relationships in China to help build and manage retirement communities in Asia. I reference this change in my blog of November 1, 2013 called Remapping Business Expectations for Global Opportunity and Innovation. In the blog, I reflect about Christopher Columbus who had the nerve to navigate the open sea with very few and incorrect maps to follow (Friedman 1999).
Kirsh Kandiah talked about Movie Matters and the Messiah Models. Kirsh started by showing pictures of movie heroes who are known worldwide. Hero icons of Jason Bourne played by Matt Damon, Jack Bower played by Keifer Southerland and James Bond played by Sean Connery. These movie icons dominate the leadership imagination of the world as the US continues to produce movies and show them to a global audience. Kirsh then talked about the three offices of Christ as leader.
Culture is significantly influenced by icons and models. In my blogs The Power of Images in Church and Work to Shape Culture and Christian Art – A Spiritual Journey I talk about how I have been influenced at church and work by symbols and art. Leadership continues to be molded by visual images of leaders in many forms of media and visuals.
After the Advance my family flew in from the US and we vacationed for 10 days in the UK. We rented a flat apartment with views of the London Eye, Big Ben and the Shard. We explored London for a few days, and then we rented a car and traveled up to Oxford to have lunch in the Eagle and the Child Tavern where CS Lewis and JR Tolkien met for decades every week talking about life and books.
We drove over 500 miles to Edinburgh, Scotland where Jonathan and I played golf at St. Andrews golf course where golf was invented. It was a highlight adventure for father and son. The women of the family stayed in the beautiful St. Andrews Clubhouse lounge and sipped tea and had crumpets most of the day while we golfed. After visiting the Edinburgh castle, we drove to the airport and flew home. It was a very special family memory and adventure.
I continued my global leadership journey the next month after the Advance. On November 14, 2013 American Baptist Homes of the West (ABHOW), the company I work for went international by signing a Joint Venture with the Yimin foundation to help build Retirement Communities in China by consulting and managing. Dave Ferguson CEO of ABHOW is in the middle, Randy Stamper Board Chair and Ms. Cui are on either side of Dave. This experience was reflected on in my blog Mussel Stagnation and Global Stretch in CCRC Business. This event is the culmination fo 18 months of traveling back and forth building and negotiation relationships with two China opportunities.
Last semester, I was offered the promotion of VP of China Operations. This semester I reflected about that decision in my blog Improving your Professional Career using Exit and Voice Stratagies. In this picture, I am having lunch with my friends from Taikang Insurance the company I am consulting for.
Taikang has ambitious plans to be the trend setter of building the most successful Continuing Care Retirement Communities(CCRC) in China. They have chosen ABHOW (Cornerstone Affiliates International, a subsidiary of ABHOW) to consult with them to develop their CCRC model operations. They are currently under construction building their firs CCRC in Beijing to open in May 2015. Taikang has plans to build 15 CCRC in the next 16 years.
I visited the Beijing CCRC last August and the first building on the left was only 5 stories tall. This picture above was taken at the end of November and the outside structure is complete with two buildings 12 stories tall. The Chinese are known for their ability to build large buildings quickly!
I am consulting with them to customize the policies and procedures we have sold them. We are also helping them to develop and manage a small Alzheimer’s and memory support program similar to what I spoke about in my October 7th blog Innovative Home Models Caring for Orphans and Seniors.
As I continue this journey to build relationships in China and consult with various companies who want to build and manage CCRCs, there are a few important values I need to keep focused on. The first value is to always be ethical and demonstrate ethical behavior. Bribery is an strong concept in China and this occurs through their tradition of gift giving. Being a Christian using Christian ethics sometimes means to loose the job by not violating one’s ethics as explained in my blog The Ethics of Getting Fired.
Another value as the organization grows is to get the right people on the bus (Collins 2001). I write in detail what I have learned about this concept over 20 years in business in my blog How to get the Right People on the Bus. I recently hired a Chinese speaking and reading Administrative Assistant and she has been an invaluable asset in negotiating Chinese contracts. My next hire will be a person who can help to develop training materials as we prepare Taikang Insurance to open their first Beijing CCRC.
The last value I hold dearly is cultivating a daily walk with Jesus to guide me through the many decisions and situations that lay ahead. My last blog this semester expressed the importance to read my Bible daily and to carve out time in prayer for daily spiritual guidance in Evangelicalism and a Life Time of Studying the Bible. My last picture was taken in Dumbleton, England, a mansion garden we had the opportunity to stay at for two nights. This garden picture reminds me of the beauty of solitude and a quiet place to read my Bible and pray for guidance for the continued international journey ahead.
Collins, Jim. Good to Great. New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 2001.
Friedman, Edwin H. Leadership in the age of the quick fix: A failure of nerve. New York: Seabury Books, 1999.
Pink, Sarah. Doing sensory ethnography. London: SAGE Publishers Inc., 2009.