Wednesday, August 27, 2008

summer school + relational trade [part 1]

If you read our blog, you could get the impression that all Jess and I do is spend time in places like Hawaii, the Rockies & the vineyards of South Australia – it isn’t true… so here is a post that branches out from one of my Summer School courses a few weeks ago.

The one-week course was called The Christian Leader in the Secular World of Work, which I took for my marketplace concentration. Peter Shaw, a former senior British public servant who is now an executive coach, ran the course. Peter has written extensively to both Christian and secular audiences looking at the life of Jesus to see what we can learn about how Jesus lead (as a visionary, servant, teacher, coach, radical and healer), made difficult decisions, used conversation as a tool, and made the most of each moment. While enjoying the discussion, at times the approach was perhaps a bit too reductionist and had the danger of straying into ‘eisegesis’, or reading stuff into the text.

The highlight of the course, however, was the discussions that Peter facilitated, which formed a solid chunk of our time together. The group consisted of about 25 people including a former big business CEO, a CFO, a high profile Vancouver lawyer, several management consultants, senior pastors and a teacher. This mix of people brought wonderful insights from the range of experience people had, which was truly valuable. Each day we sat in a different seat and in pairs got to share parts of our leadership and workplace journeys. By the end of the week, I got to know five people well.

One of the guys I got to pair up with was a CEO, this time of a smaller business. Hugo was part of four families who formed Level Ground Trading, a fair trade company, established in what seems to be the pioneer-days of the fair trade movement, in 1997. Hugo was a fascinating guy, and it was great to hear about his experience as well as his values for operating in the marketplace. Hugo’s business really impresses me too, and not just because he’s buying coffee beans at a price that is fairer to the farmers who work hard to produce them. In my next post, I’ll explain why I am so impressed with Level Ground Trading.

This morning, our coffee beans had run out, so I went to our cupboard and reached for the new two-pound bag that we bought last week. I got a pleasant surprise when I realised that we have been drinking Level Ground’s CafĂ© Mbeya since March. We were astounded to come across Fair Trade Coffee at Costco (a large wholesale chain in North America) and we were even more surprised at how good this organic dark blend from Tanzania tasted, and at the great price of $15. When I first came across the coffee’s packaging, it was the big bright pictures of the local communities, their stories, and a map showing where the beans were from that stood out to me, and not the Level Ground Trading logo. As a marketer, I could critique this as a mistake, but after learning more about Hugo and his company, I think the packaging’s emphasis is just right.

More about Hugo and Level Ground Trading next time… but in the meantime, I invite you to check out, which is a beautifully presented website and really informative too.

[part 1] / [part 2] / [part 3] / [part 4]

1 comment:

Emma said...

hey there all-play-and-no-work hughesis!

no, just kidding - that was a cool post! I'm gonna go check out his website. How cool that there are these great Christian people doing good things in the global market place!

i look forward to reading more!

love em