Feeding a village

I called my mom on the way home from work this week after a particularly challenging day at work. I was feeling the weight of having to make the difficult decision to let an employee go, one which I always wrestle with, and never quite feel comfortable doing, no matter the situation. But the right staff, or as I say, team – is key to it all.

My mom is 76,  still easy to talk to, and always calming for me. She said, “Oh, I was just getting ready to compose an email to you!” As it turns out, she wanted to tell me about a sermon Sunday she thought might mean something to me. She was right.

In short, the message by John Murray raised the question: Do you ever think of entrepreneurship as a spiritual gift? And then added: 

“We have heard the saying that if you give a man a fish you feed him for a week; if you teach him to fish, you feed him for a lifetime; but if you help him start a business, you feed a village.”

Prior to running a ticketing software company, I’ve had other careers, much more in the “helping” field: school and piano teacher, choir director, 3 jobs in the non-profit sector, stay-at-home mom. I’ve written fundraising pieces for the Red Cross disaster relief. Taken teenagers to Russia and to the streets of LA to expand their worldview. Introduced children to the world of music. Read countless books to my children and gave them the chance to enjoy playing at home for as many years as possible before school. Directed a 40-voice choir and 10-piece combo that on one particular Easter morning, shook the rafters.

And now I sell tickets.

I realize that being a job-creator is important, and often fulfilling. But I honestly have wondered at times if I just tell myself that to get up in the morning and feel good about what I do. I never would have stretched it to “a spiritual gift.” But I like the idea. For me – and for everyone who has tried, failed or succeeded – to make a living for yourself and others, on your own.

Feed a village? I love that! And right now, when everyone is pointing fingers at everyone else over who and what really “creates jobs” I can honestly say who cares? The real job creators are ordinary people, working hard, sacrificing credit score, 401Ks, decent health insurance, and often your sanity – to start a business or a company. Even for the solo entrepreneur, you’ve just created a job.

I remember vividly, a moment at a company Christmas Party where the young wife of  our first non-family employee who is still with us 8 years later – thanked me for his job. He’s incredibly smart, and has become an integral part of the support team after starting as a part-time call center agent. She said, and I’m pretty sure she teared up a bit, “Because of his job supporting us, I’m able to go to nursing school – thank you so much.”

It’s a happy day for me when I see any of the staff purchase a new car, go on a nice vacation, buy a house, or in some cases, just move out of mom’s place. I don’t take credit for the fact that they are committed and hard-working – but no matter what you sell or what service you provide – these are the rewards we can all share.

So – call it what you may. Spiritual gift. Social contribution. Community service. Here’s a hats off to today’s and tomorrow’s entrepreneurs. While our leaders try to figure out how to create jobs, we’re just doing it. And feeding a village. 

2 thoughts on “Feeding a village

  1. My mom, my Grandfather and now my wife have all chosen the teaching profession, and many view it as a one of the most self-serving and community driven professions. It wasn’t until only a few years ago I realized I followed the same path of teaching, just not entirely in the public field.

    One of the major decisions to choose the private arena vs. the public was to do exactly what you outline here, have a bigger better impact on the community, the industry and if I may be so bold, the world.

    Great post Lynne!

  2. Great post and thank you for including me in your tweet!

    You’re doing an awesome job.

    I’m not sure all employees see it as a blessing to work and learn from someone else. At the same time, those employees are the ones that won’t last.

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