Monday, August 8, 2011

Presidente Bruce's August Message

Becoming a Market Maker

Like many of you, I tend to draw upon my life experiences to not only support me in my testimony, family and beliefs but also to help guide me and teach me as new experiences occur and provide me opportunities to learn and respect new ways of thinking and provoke emotional stirrings that make me a stronger person with enhanced vision. Preach My Gospel, page 17 states: “While learning from a good teacher is very important, it is more important for you to have meaningful learning experiences on your own”. Early in my business career I had such an experience that for many years has proved invaluable in my behavior, outlook and client relationship manners. As a young partner at The Staubach Company, my mentor and senior partner and I were asked to make a presentation to Dean Witter (now known as Morgan Stanley) to represent them in their search and negotiation for a new western headquarters building in San Francisco, California. As was our custom in the early days of my career, I did much of the initial work in preparing for the presentation, becoming familiar with every high rise building in downtown San Francisco, conversing with every meaningful landlord, gathering all pertinent data available and putting together all of the final touches for our presentation. The entire time I worked on the preparation of this presentation I had the vision of actually winning the client and working on this particular transaction for the next three (3) years. I also knew that if we were successful in being hired by Dean Witter, it would mean a sizable commission for our firm and even though we would be splitting the commission with the firm and among several other partners, it would mean at least a years’ worth of income for me personally. Therefore, I was really excited about the prospect of such an outcome but at the same time extremely nervous about failing in such a venture as this business would mean a substantial win for our firm.

In the weeks working up to our presentation date I was busy assembling all of the information, putting the final touches on our documents, putting our graphics together, and finalizing our verbal presentations. We were fully aware of the idea that if selected, we would work for the next 3 years without compensation but with the hope and anticipation that when completed, we would be rewarded and finally earn our compensation. On the other hand, we were cognizant of others participation and that if not selected, all of our work, preparation, phone calls, data gathering, practice (and in my case sincere prayer!) would be in vain if not successfully chosen and we would have wasted 2 months of work time in an attempt to secure this particular client. Here is a news flash for you. Missionary work is exactly the same way! We work endless days at times, preparing to teach, studying the words of the Savior, praying, meditating, setting our goals and we do this with the hope, faith, expectation and vision that our investigators will somehow hear the power of our words and the spirit will take effect in their lives, convincing them of truths once taught to them before they came to this earth. Boyd K. Packer said: “The gospel will have a familiar ring to them” (PMG, page 90). We do this without compensation, but with the eternal reward and joy that we might be an instrument in the Lords hands to help a lost son or daughter of God return to the kingdom he or she once knew. As missionaries, we also understand that at times, we will be rejected and turned away thus frustrating us because of all of our work, preparation, study, meditation and prayer only to feel as though it was in vain due to an unreceptive audience. Elder Jeffrey R. Holland said: “So take control of this situation. Teach with power and authority, and then be devastated if the first steps toward commitment keeping and covenant keeping have not been successfully begun” (PMG, page 8). As you will continue to see throughout your life, missionary work has many future applications as you walk through this mortal experience.

As we made our final preparations and traveled to San Francisco, I was constantly preparing over and over again in my mind the exact words that I would share, the facts and figures that I would show, the responses to potential questions that might come up, and thought of other incidental issues that would assist our message in being delivered in a more receptive environment (since we were the last firm to present and knew that the executives at Dean Witter would be tired and possibly bored, we catered a meal of gourmet cookies, soda pop and cupcakes). Do we not do the same when we are teaching interested investigators about the gospel of Jesus Christ? In several instances in Preach My Gospel we find references to creating an inviting environment: “Create a climate when you teach in which the Holy Ghost can bear witness” and “When you testify, you help create an environment for investigators to feel the Holy Ghost confirming your witness of the truth” (Preach My Gospel, page 92, page 199). If we are not doing so, we need to repent and be aware that for the rest of our lives we will continue to have experiences similar to the missionary experience and our attitude, stature and vision here in the mission will largely affect how we react to such situations after the missionary experience is complete. Remember the prophetic words of Henry D. Moyle when he said that a “man will never rise above the stature that he attained in the mission field”. We should be constantly rehearsing in our minds what we might share with investigators, contacts and less active members as we travel from one appointment to another. We should be thinking of ways to increase the reception of the spirit in the home and how we might be inspired by the spirit in answering difficult questions, concerns or doubts.

In our case, we knew that we were prepared, educated, professional, confident and skilled to represent Dean Witter in this assignment in San Francisco and thus we began our presentation in midst of sharing cookies, cupcakes, sodas and all of the information that we had assembled together. Like us, if we feel the spirit of the Lord with us, we are confident, well prepared and attempt to create an environment in our teaching where the Lord can attend us, we have greater hope and faith that our investigator will progress. As we were about half way through our discussion, we could sense that the executives at Dean Witter were getting a bit tired and maybe even bored at the information we were sharing with them. Just as it says in Preach My Gospel, page 21 “do not try to teach all that you know”, it was noticeable to us that it had been a long day for them and somehow it was incumbent upon us to inspire them or to say something different that would provide them a new point of view. I am sure that you have felt this way many times in the mission field where you are teaching an investigator and somehow they lose interest in the message that we are teaching. Always remember that a great teacher inspires his audience. The great educator, William Arthur Ward once said: “The mediocre teacher tells, the good teacher explains, the superior teacher demonstrates and the great teacher inspires”. How many times have you been teaching, or watching your companion teach and yet begin to fall asleep? I use this as an example because it happened to me in the mission field! I fell asleep while my companion droned on about some doctrinal point and I felt terrible for having fallen asleep but at the same time felt as though the investigator probably wasn’t as inspired by our message either because of our inability to be great teachers. Recall the words in Preach My Gospel, page 179 “Avoid falling into a routine when presenting the message…. Follow your impressions when the Spirit prompts you to say something”. Elders and Sisters, I know that missionary work is laborious and at times difficult and very tiring but we need to be inspiring teachers!

Finally our potential client got restless and blurted out a question that I was well prepared for. He said: “All of your competitors have come in here and shared with us the potential financial structure of our future transaction. I want to know what your opinion is of what the financial economic terms of our transaction will be”. Wow, I was so prepared. I had all of the numbers. I had all of the answers. I had been preparing for weeks to answer this single question. It was now obvious to me that all of our competitors had been doing the exact same thing and all had shared with Dean Witter their opinion of what the future might have in store for Dean Witter. As I summoned all of my knowledge, opinion and clairvoyance in a small moment, ready to blurt out what I thought would be the response that they would like (knowing also that the wrong answer could send us out the exit door with no hope of ever winning the business), my partner looked at the lead executive at Dean Witter and said: “Why do you care? It doesn’t matter”. In absolute disbelief I looked at my partner and thought, what in the world is he thinking? Here I had prepared for this moment for 60 days and he has the audacity to say, ”it doesn’t matter”? In that exact moment I learned a great lesson…. My partner was not thinking of himself, his income, the firm or whether or not we would win or lose this particular client. He was not afraid of “losing” this deal or pontificating market facts or being measured to others that had previously presented (PMG, page 10: “Avoid comparing yourself to other missionaries and measuring the outward results of your efforts against theirs”). He had greater vision. He had no fear. He was willing to say things that mattered and not just say things because we had prepared them. He also had the ability and confidence to state the obvious. As the executive at Dean Witter sat up straight in his chair, he remarked: “All of your competitors have filed through here, have given us their projection of the final economics of our transaction and you have the audacity to say that it doesn’t matter”? Oh my goodness! Here was the breaking point. The next words out of our mouths would make or break us for the next 3 years and while I fought for words to respond to his question that might resurrect the negative tone shared by my partner, my partner immediately replied: “Like I said, it doesn’t matter. What do you care what other companies are achieving in this marketplace and why would you look at the economics of their transactions? They are meaningless to you and have absolutely no bearing on what your economics will look like. You are a market maker and not a market taker. So don’t think that you have to “take” market economics when in fact, you “make” the market”. As I sat in stunned silence, my partners’ words echoed in my mind and I thought, wow, that is powerful! In typical missionary fashion, my eyes were completely focused on my partner and I then changed my gaze over to the client to glimpse how they might react to such a powerful statement (PMG, page 179: “When you are not speaking, pray for your companion and carefully observe the investigators responses”). After a good 30 seconds of silence on both sides (PMG, page 185: “Do not be afraid of silence”), the chief executive at Dean Witter looked up from his pad of paper on the table and said, “No one has responded to that question in that way. Do you really feel that we are a “Market Maker”? My partner replied, “No, I don’t feel that you are a Market Maker, I believe that you are the Market Maker”. The chief executive of Dean Witter looked up and said: “You are hired”!

Have you ever been in a teaching moment where you felt inspired to say something bold, inspiring, and extraordinary but were uncomfortable or afraid to share it? Or in my case, where I was going back to my previous data and study to respond to such a question? Preach My Gospel, page 19 states: “the lessons do not tell you everything to say- or how to say it. Instead you are responsible to thoroughly understand the lessons and teach by the Spirit in your own words”. Elders and sisters, this was a career changing teaching moment for me. Not only was the bold presentation of the message impactful but the words within the message were so powerful. I constantly think of the power of our gospel message and the intent of being a Market Maker in all that we do. Truly as representatives of Jesus Christ, we are Market Makers! Each missionary in each sector of our mission is his or her own Market Maker and has the ability to impact your own personal sector in ways that no one else can do it. Thus, my question for you is will you be a Market Taker, or a Market Maker? If you are willing to be just like everyone else and take what your sector gives you, then you will merit the rewards that are afforded to you. On the other hand, if you truly believe you are a Market Maker, being bold, strong, inspiring, prepared, challenging and testifying at all times in all places, you will make a difference and “how great will be your joy”! (Doctrine and Covenants 18:16).

Let us be Market Makers! Let us be the Big Fish in the small pond and make a difference in our sectors. Let us be bold with our investigators, not afraid to challenge or afraid to commit because of our fear of losing them. Remember, you are not dealing with income but with salvation here! Yes, you may lose some, but your boldness, preparation, confidence and challenges combined with the spirit of the Lord will bring many more of our brothers and sisters to the knowledge of the restoration. May the Lord bless all of us as we stay worthy of his spirit and become Market Makers in our sectors.