Authentic Leadership

The authentic leader is not something that just happens to a person. There is character development, reflection, accountability, passion, and hard work in becoming an authentic leader. As I have noted, there are many great books that help us think about what it means to become a great leader, but none are as effective as the Bible. My thoughts about being genuine, authentic, and a leader of integrity are governed by the scriptures and I hope you will see that in the following. I will pose questions to myself and try to answer them as well as I can.

Which people and experiences in your early life had the greatest impact on you?

I have been blessed with great men in my life who have been examples of how Godly men should live in this world. However, the most influential person in my life has been my mother. Most of my early childhood was spent with my mother because she was my home-school teacher. My parents chose to home-school me and my siblings in our early developmental years because they believed that this would allow them to have the greatest impact on our lives moving forward. For me, it did. I was able to see how my Mother interacted with people throughout the day and to see how she scheduled our time, made plans for the following day and still managed to have a flawless home cooked meal on the table for when my father would get home from work. Without a doubt, she molded my character the most and shaped my personality to what it is today.

Growing up in the church, I was heavily influenced by my Pastor and Elders in the church. My theology about God was shaped and formed by these men. Specifically, Pastor Bill Glenn. He was not only a Pastor to me, but a great influence in my relationship to my wife. He had a such high regard for scripture that it permeated through his relationship to his wife and family. He also introduced me to the doctrines of grace and the wonderful blessings that came from applying these truths to my life. One event that changed the course of my life happened on a Sunday evening service when I was in my late teen years. We were watching a series by R.C. Sproul called “Chosen by God”. I remember walking away that night thinking deeply about my condition as a sinner in comparison to God’s Holiness and asking, “why would God even bother with me?” I was given an answer that night and I will never forget it. God didn’t need to bother with me at all and he would have been perfectly just in allowing me to to die in my own sinfulness. Just as a Judge is just in sentencing a criminal his due punishment, so was I guilty of the worst crimes known to man, I was against God. But He chose to save me, a dead man walking with no desire for the things of God, He loved me first and opened my eyes to his power and majesty and gave me life.

What tools do you use to become self-aware?

I use Holy Scripture to become self aware. By reading and meditating on God’s word, I ask myself if I believe what the Bible says about me is true. I try to answer honestly and then see if that is how I live my life. It seems to me that no other tool in life can cut to the heart of an issue like the Bible can. It dissects my motives and exposes me for who I really am. One of my favorite verses for self-awareness is in Hebrews 4:12, “For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” Scripture reminds me that I am not high and mighty, nor will I ever be and I have no place for pride. At this moment, I am self-aware and I know who I am in Christ.

I use teaching to become self-aware. It’s been said, “If you want to learn something, teach it.” There are many ways I try to teach subjects to other people, including myself. First of all I coach Upward basketball for our church on occasion. I’ve played, watched, and enjoyed basketball all of my life, however, when I coach, I feel like I’ve never see a basketball in my life. Weather it’s a new technique, new play, a coaching strategy, or just simply adjusting to a new type of players, coaching and teaching go hand in hand, they prove what you really know about the subject matter. So I use coaching, teaching, managing a business, leading my wife in home studies, and so on to make myself aware of what I really know and what I think I know.

I use prayer to become self-aware. Nothing humbles me quicker than prayer. Here I am, alone with the creator of the universe trying to be honest and sincere about my troubles, joys, needs, passions, circumstances, etc. At the heart of my prayers is a desire to get from God what I want, when I want it. However, when I am in communion with God for over three sentences, I begin to truly understand who I am talking to. I get a sinking feeling that He is looking past my superficial needs and desires and he already knows what I am there for. At that moment, I ask deeper questions that turn the focus from me to him. I am know that my greatest needs have already been accomplished by Christ on the cross so I turn my attention to giving him thanks and praise for making me alive to truth. I realize that anything outside of hell is a gift from God and I have every reason in this world to be happy, joyful, at peace, and patient with God. My pressing needs become a passing temptation to use the good things in life for my own personal gain. In prayer, I am aware of who I am in Christ.

What are your most deeply held values?

The most valuable possession in my life is Christ. What flows from that are the values I hold and the reasons I get up every morning and live. Because Christ first loved me, I can see what it means to love others, especially when some are not lovely people. Christ made me value people by loving me and giving me grace when I didn’t deserve it. As a business owner, I strive to show grace, mercy and love to my employees as much as I have been shown those things in my life.

Because Christ love me first, I can work as though I’m working for God and not for men. I value the freedom we have in Christ to work hard like no other group on this planet. I know that my reward is in heaven and from that I have a desire to work everyday for God, even if I have a human boss or weather I am the boss. I am always held accountable for my work and I want it to be done with excellence. Working for the Lord produces fruit and this is how we are known, by our fruit. Work is not a curse, it is a gift from God and we can choose to either enjoy our work or despise our work by how closely we cultivate our relationship to Christ.

What motivates you extrinsically?

I am motivate extrinsically by watching people accomplish great things weather it be weight loss, good grades in school, or by accomplishing a great feat like becoming a famous actor or musician. Excellence in other people is what I feed off of in my own life. I love to watch the world perform talents that seem to be impossible. Sports are probably the greatest way I can think of that exemplified being successful. When I see Peyton Manning break passing records that we never thought could be broken or Usain Bolt run faster than any man in history, or Stephen Curry break a 3-point record in a single post-season, I get motivated to become excellent in my own profession. There is something about sports that transcends into our own lives. I have not set a touchdown record but I can learn to practice like the pros do and I can be the absolute best I can be in my everyday work environment.

What kind of support team do you have?

One of the great ironies of accountability or support is that the person asking for accountability is the person who should be holding his or her accountability partners accountable for holding him/her accountable. By this I mean that no one can hold someone accountable until they all of the sudden don’t need accountability anymore. It just doesn’t work like that. The person who needs help and support is the person who needs to do all the work. If not, then the accountability and support is for nothing. That being said, I have a team of people that I am close to who routinely conducts an audit of Jake Mansfield. I have asked them to and they have been willing to dig into my life to spot inconsistencies, sin, and places of improvement. These people are pastors of my church, my wife, and friends & family.

Is your life integrated?

Yes, I believe that most of my life is integrated in the sense that my work life, home life, spiritual life, and everyday life have all started to culminate into one purpose and one direction. As I look at the many different sections of life, I realize that they all need to be built on a solid foundation of Biblical truth. If my spiritual life is right with God, it will only come natural that the rest of my life aligns and integrates into the same purpose. Because I am a child of God, My eternal destiny has been secured, therefor, I don’t allow trials and trouble to change the course of my life. I can have financial difficulties, physical ailments, family troubles, etc. and I can continue to live for a purpose greater than myself. The purpose that God gives us infiltrates every part of our lives and integrates them over time.

What does being authentic mean in your life?

To be authentic ties so closely to integrity and genuineness. The person who understand himself/herself from an objectively truthful viewpoint can only understand what it means to be “true to yourself”, or authentic. I believe that God has allowed us all to know who we truly are in light of his word. Once we understand that we are sinful to the core, against God in everything we do, and broken beyond measure, can we than begin to have authenticity towards God and others. That understanding will allow us to come to the cross on our knees begging for forgiveness and restoration. I cannot help but think of the two men praying in the Bible who Christ calls one authentic and the other a hypocrite. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector goes like this according to Luke 18: 9-14, “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get. “ But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Being authentic in my life is not easy. It requires that I humble myself, live with integrity, walk with God daily, and recognize who I am according to God’s word.

What steps can you take today, tomorrow, and over the next year to develop your authentic leadership?

Authentic leadership starts by acknowledging that leadership is not about you, it’s about empowering people to lead in their own leadership positions. Authentic leadership is about building people up to become leaders or improve on their existing leadership positions. The trusted position of leadership comes with great rewards. Not the kind of accolades that rock stars or actors get but the kind that come from the enjoyment of leading a group of people towards a common goal that is worthy of living for. The writers in HBR’s Leadership book, “Discovering your Authentic Leadership” chapter put it this way, “No individual achievement can equal the pleasure of leading a group of people to achieve a worthy goal.” The authentic Christian leader should be able to say the same thing except add the fact that the goal is to glorify God in our success and our failures.

There is a higher calling and a more noble cause for the Christian man who goes to work each day and lives for Christ. Weather he is a janitor, businessman, or Pastor, authenticity is an imperative for the Christian life.

ReferenceHBR’s 10 Must Reads – Website Reference

Indiana, we’re breaking up. It’s not you, it’s us.

 

Farewell Indiana, Hello Florida!

The title says it all, Jess and I have decided to move to Florida-for good! Come mid-september, Jess and I have decided to leave the great state of Indiana and pursue 100 more days per year of sunshine in Florida.

Jake and Jess Mansfield

It’s an exciting season and we think it is the right move for us at this time in our lives. We have been debating on this idea for the last couple of years and finally decided to make a move. As a native hoosier for the last 37 years of my life, I have many ties, close relationships, and wonderful memories of every corner of Indiana. My wife Jess, on the other hand, is a native Dominican, New Yorker, Philidelphian, and Miami girl. That being said, Indiana is just as special to her as any other place she has lived, if not more. She has spent the last 8 years here in Indiana with me and rarely complained about anything. She is adaptable and is used to change. In fact, besides the Dominican Republic where she spent the first 13 years of her life, Indiana is the longest she has lived in any one location since. Needless to say, making this move was a hard decision for us both.

We thought it would be a good idea to share with everyone how and why we came to this decision. In classic David Letterman fashion, let’s take a look at the top 10 reasons why we are leaving Indiana to move to Florida. Hit it Paul!

Top 10 Reason for moving to Florida:

10A change is good – Every once and while, you need to shake things up in life. Complacency and boredom can easily become a way of life if you are not actively pursuing things that will stretch yourself. As much as I love Indiana and am grateful for all my years here, I personally want to see and do more outside of this state. Since Jess has had a taste of living Miami, FL previously, she knows what to expect. Although the winters were not nearly as bad as they were for her in New York, she is still okay with leaving them behind. Together, we both would like to be stretched in our lives and this move will be good for us in that regard.

9What do we have to lose? – Jess and I have posed the question to ourselves, “What if Florida is not all it’s cracked up to be?” What now? Well, we don’t have much to lose. If we find out after living in Florida that it’s not the place for us, we can simply move back to Indiana. We have very little to lose and much to gain.

8Adventure – Adventure is not everything, but it is fun to experience every once and awhile. We have done and seen just about everything that the midwest has to offer in terms of outdoor adventures. The last few years have left us feeling bogged down with trying to come up with new ideas for weekend plans and exciting getaways. Florida will solve this dilemma for us for a while but we realize that if we live based off of this idea that all places will eventually become old. Nonetheless, we want to have some fresh and new adventures in life and Florida is a starting point. We plan on doing the following in excess; boating, fishing, deep-sea fishing, exploring, snorkeling, island hopping, camping, swimming all year-round, etc. You get the picture.

7Exploration – Similar to adventure, exploring florida will be apart of our weekend cycle. Our plan is to visit the beautiful coastlines of Florida nearly every chance we get. From Clearwater Beach, to Naples, and Miami, we plan on exploring everything in between as time permits. Some of this exploration will be to find out where we want to settle in. In other words, where do we want to live when we grow up. Other parts of this exploration will be to just simply experience a state we really have little knowledge of. Exploration is not our main reason for moving but it will be fun for a while!

6Winter is not coming! – Sorry John Snow, you know nothing. Winter is not coming! For a guy who loves winter, it will be a strange sensation for me not to expect winter to come. I just can’t get over the idea of stupid lights on a Palm Tree or a snowless Christmas. Can you imagine watching Ralphie beat up Scut Farkus while its nice warm outside? It just doesn’t seem right to me but apparently millions of southerners do it every year and can look past it. That being said, come January and February, I think I’ll be okay with 70 degree temps. Once again, this is not our main reason for moving but it does add the the excitement for us. No more snow!

5Food – Once again, I would never suggest the someone move based on how they feel about a certain variety of foods available in that area. That’s not the point here. That being said, bring on the Cuban sandwiches, cortaditos, crab legs, lobster tails, shrimp, and anything from Miami. It’s not that you can’t get all of these items here in Indiana, it’s just that you’re in Indiana while you’re eating them. The location of eating food is just as fun to me as the actual taste of the food. Eating these foods with my family around makes it even better!

4Holidays with family – On to more serious reasons. For the last 8 years, Jess and I have spent the majority of our Holidays with many different families with whom we now call our very own family. We can only extend a humble “Thank you” to these families who have invited us into their homes during Thanksgivings, Christmases, and Birthdays. Our hearts are so overwhelmed by your thoughtfulness in inviting us to all of these events. Knowing that we haven’t had much family around during these times, it was a wonderful comfort to know that we were always welcome in your homes during the holidays. That being said, we do have a desire to be close to our families during the holidays and this is a major reason we want to move to Florida.

3Island life anyone? – The Dominican Republic is our second home. With half of Jess’s family still living in the DR, we tend to make our vacations revolve around visiting them whenever we can. With the goal of Miami being our new home, a quick flight from Miami International Airport to Santa Domingo, DR is much cheaper and quicker! Although it’s still not optimal, we will be much closer to her family in DR along with her sister Michelle in Miami.

2New life – As of 8/7/2017, Arian Djencic, Michelle’s first child was born. Needless to say, Jess and I have been anticipating this moment for the last 7 months. Jess is excited to meet her new nephew and to be apart of his life. We are very excited to be close to Michelle so we can help out where we can, babysit as he gets older, and do all the fun things Tio’s and Tia’s are supposed to do. This is a large part of why we want to be in Florida and I think that is a good reason in itself.

1Family, family, family – And the number one reason we have decided to move to Florida is to be with family. As I have mentioned above, Florida is central to most of our family. My mother and Pappa Joe live in Brooksville, FL where we will be staying for the next few months. My Grandma Fuzzy and Uncle Bob also live in Brooksville close to my Mother’s house. Pappa Joe’s son, my half brother, and his family live in Sarasota, FL. Michelle, Jess’s sister, is in Miami with her new baby. The Dominican Republic is closer and less expensive to travel to and visit her father and brothers in San Francisco de Macrois, DR. Altogether, we have much more family there and hope take full advantage to be with them every chance we get.

What’s the plan?

The plan is simple. We will be leaving for Florida in mid-September, driving a uHaul, pulling my Jeep, and Jess will be following me in her car. Our first destination is Brooksville, FL where we will live with Mom and Pappa Joe for a few months until we get settled in. We will take this time to visit Florida as much as we can to get an idea of where we will end up. The goal is to find a condo in downtown Miami or in the Miami Beach area. However, we are open to wherever the Lord directs us.

I will continue to manage my business virtually from home while Jess will be looking for a new position wherever we end up. I would love to say we have thought through every aspect of this plan and have it completely mapped out, but we don’t and we’re okay with that. Part of this new season of life is to leave some things unplanned so we can enjoy the discovery process. That’s the plan!

Where does God fit in with this plan?

Those of you who know us well may be asking how God fits into this plan? So far we have talked a lot about preferences, likes and dislikes, etc. for moving to Florida but was God’s will consider in making this decision at all? I think a better question would be, “Does our mission as Christians change as we make this move?” That answer is easy, no it does not change. We will still make it our aim to obey, love, and trust God as we do on a daily basis in any location, no matter where we are. I have come to understand that God allows us quite a bit of liberty to make decisions based on preferences and likes. However, that doesn’t mean we are free to sin, nor does it mean we are to make our lives solely focussed on our own selfish desires. 1 Corinthians 10:23 states, “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. I want to be careful not to take this out of context, but the point is that we are free to do many things but those things must be profitable. Profitable for what? Towards the end of chapter 10 Paul writes this, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God…not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.” Jess and I both have a ultimate goal in mind of being profitable for others that they may see and know the beauty of Christ. That they might be saved from eternal hell and that we might be an instrument God uses to do His will in their lives.

All this to say that our motives for moving are mixed. We desire to be around family, we would love to see and experience new things in life, all the while continuing to serve God through the local church as we seek to find a new church family awaiting us in Florida.

Conclusion

Adios Indiana

In conclusion, I think it is fitting to say that this was a hard decision for Jess and myself. We have grown so close to so many people here and we felt like this move was abandoning our friendships and church family. However, we quickly realize that we are not and this is a good thing. We will continue to have strong relationships with all of our family and friends here in Indiana as long as it is possible. We will do our part to be intentional about staying in contact and keeping up-to-date about everyone here. We will be rebuilding our community again and that takes time and effort. That being said, we saw fit to make this move at this stage in our lives for the reasons mentioned above. As we get settled in we fully expect all of our friends and family from Indiana to come and vacation in Florida with us!

 


Titus 2 – Sermon Outline

By God’s grace, salvation makes us alive unto good works, through sound doctrine.

  1. Teach sound doctrine (vv 1-10)

    • Older men (v2)
    • Older women (3)
    • Young women (4)
    • Young men (v6)
    • Slaves (v9)
  2. How to teach sound doctrine (v7)

    • Show integrity
    • Possess Dignity
    • Have Sound speech
  3. Doctrine of Salvation (v11-14)

    • God brings salvation for all people (v11)
    • Through Jesus Christ (v13)
  4. Doctrine of Sanctification (vv 12-15)

    • Negative – Renouncing ungodliness and worldly passions (v12)
    • Positive – Live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives (v12)
    • Be zealous for good works (v14)

Emphasis: The same power that saves is the same source for sanctification.

Preceding text: People were being deceived in the church because others were leading them astray. They professed to know God but the evidence was in their works.

Following text: Our salvation in Christ is too great to not be zealous in good works. Devote yourself to good works for the cause of Christ.

Theme: By God’s grace, salvation makes us alive unto good works, through sound doctrine.
The Gospel:

  • God brings salvation for all people who believe in Jesus Christ (v11, 13)
  • God extends grace and mercy to sinners (v14)
  • God redeems his people for his own possession (v14)

Paul’s aim: Paul’s aim is to strengthen and mature believers through sound teaching so that they understand the doctrines of salvation clearly and will not be led astray.

  • Be zealous for good works because God has provided us salvation in Christ.
  • Sound doctrine keeps us from falling into traps and snares, therefore, be a student of your Bible and draw near to God.

Teach Sound Doctrine

But as for you, teach what accords with sound[a] doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Bondservants[b] are to be submissive to their own masters in everything; they are to be well-pleasing, not argumentative,10 not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.

11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people,12 training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13 waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

15 Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.

Footnotes:

  1. Titus 2:1 Or healthy; also verses 2, 8
  2. Titus 2:9 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface

English Standard Version (ESV)The Holy Bible, English Standard Version. ESV® Permanent Text Edition® (2016). Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Company Analysis of Möbius

Möbius Learning is a custom eLearning company that specializes in content creation and delivery systems. Möbius is able to transform any technical subject matter – medical devices, machine tools, cutting tools, lean, math, quality solutions – into clear and concise training. Möbius is dedicated to providing their clients with a world-class workforce through the delivery of superior instructional design and highly interactive technology. From a rapid turnaround project to one that is large and complex, Möbius can create an employee training program that can meet any training need.

I am a Co-Founder and managing partner at Möbius. We have currently see no end in sight to our production of eLearning development. In fact, every year we see a growing need for cost effective, customized, training solutions from companies all over the world. E-learning is in high demand for many companies who cannot find the time or money to send their employees off to week long employee training seminars or employee development programs. For most schools and businesses, traditional “brick and mortar” learning has been replaced by self-paced, cost effective, online courseware.

As we will see, my business and the field of work we are in has a demand side that is growing and a supply side that is efficient. The use of technology has allowed us to see increases in productivity while our work force remains the same. This is leading to an increase in profitability for the company. From another perspective, the demand from schools, companies, etc, has increased every year, allowing us to be more competitive with our pricing models. There are currently not enough development companies out there right now to keep up with the demand for quality training. If you have an elearning business, it’s not hard to find work right now if you know where to look. Overall, Möbius has an economically sustainable business model and the profitability is in line with markets across the globe. However, as time and technology advance, new methods and quicker development will challenge the business model of Möbius. In order to stay profitable, we will need to keep on eye on the latest advances in technology and monitor the needs of clients as they change in this rapidly evolving economy.

Supply Side: Production Technology

As Möbius looks to increase our current productivity, it is necessary that we consider the supply side of the business. When we consider Callahan’s statement that, “The wellspring of human action is dissatisfaction”, we realize that our chief end of the company is to be continually growing. If we are able to improve our situation every step of the day, then we fit the model that Callahan was referring to. We are making a concentrated effort to improve our working conditions and the motivation is dissatisfaction with the way technology allows us to work now.

More and more businesses are cutting overhead by the rapid advances of technology. Consider “the Cloud”, a storage server space for electronic files somewhere out in space, the end user is able to access his/her files from anywhere. If you look back just 10 years, servers could cost a company thousands of dollars to purchase, thousands more to maintain, and the amount of space was limited. Not to mention the files could only be accessed by people connected to the server locally, this means that people cannot work remotely. At Möbius, we strive to keep ourselves current with modern software and hardware. For example, cloud-based computing has allowed has allowed us to hire employees who work remotely so we save money on the cost of housing employees and purchasing hardware and software. From an efficiency standpoint, we have put in place a system that is profitable for us right now and will continue to be as long as we always looks for news ways to improve each production process.

Supply Side: Input Mix

Möbius is a different style of company than a manufacturing company, or a home producer. We have very little overhead and tend to have minimal input to our production of online learning. Whereas a manufacturing company may have an input mix of steel and iron, we really only have research and software to compare it to. We could make the argument that the cost of software raising each year is affecting the cost of our inputs. As we search for cheaper, more efficient, software, the ratio of input to output grows larger, making us more profitable. One example from our software is that we decided to invest in a yearly subscription to an online course builder that costs us $1,500/yr/3 licences, totaling $4,500/yr. Compare that to our former software that was $450/license, totaling $1350/year. The math doesn’t make sense at this point until I account for the real cost of our choice. We evaluated the new online software and realized that it would save us up to 1.5 months of work in a year. That’s roughly a $45k cost savings for the company in a year. The value of the new online software was a no brainer. Our input was more expensive but out output was extremely more profitable.

Supply Side: Sustainable Competitive Advantage

In technology, a competitive advantage is an imperative to survive. At the rate of technological changes occurring in the eLearning world, if you don’t adapt or try to beat the competitor to the punch line, you may be out of business before you can blink your eyes. At Möbius, our software and highly skilled programmers are very valuable. The more we invest in new software, the greater the outcome of business grows. We also invest in top programmers and developers to enhance our productivity through code. We have found that much of our competition is stuck in old technology. For example, we know of one eLearning company that doesn’t have the manpower to produce courses that are compatible for Apple’s iPad’s. We are capable to take their content and make it ready for cross-platform devices, including the iPad. The only way we can do this is through the purchasing of new software and investing in our programmer’s education.

Demand Side: Market Structure

From an E-learning perspective, Möbius would be in a Monopolistic competition, where there is a competitive market, with a large number of firms, all of them having a small proportion of the market share and slightly differentiated products.

Demand Side: Major Competitors

We can identify at least 5-8 small organizations that develop E-learning content for different sectors of the workforce in just the local area of Indianapolis. Each firm has a special niche in the market, for example, we have workforce education, another may have culinary arts, while still another may be developing content for Universities in general.

Demand Side: Differentiated Product Line

We understand that we can produce content for any subject matter there is, however, our strength and connections are in the workforce realm. Our product line differs from the competitors in the fact that we offer a more comprehensive product. Most E-learning companies state up front that they are content focused and will have the buyer supply the original content and SME research for the project. Our competitors would then take that content and develop it into a finished product to be delivered back to the company. We separate ourselves in the area of research and development by sending our Subject Matter Experts SME’s onto the field to research a process, software, machine, CNC, etc. and gather the content into an organized storyboard. Once this Phase 1 is complete, we then begin to develop the content into a finished product. We differentiate ourselves by becoming a one-stop-shop for businesses that do not have time or money to spend on this process. Callahan would classify this as a division of labor to some extent because , “not everyone comes to the table with the same capabilities”. This combination of a niche market and division of labor has allowed us to become a leader in the area of training in the workforce education world.

Demand Side: Create and Sustain Competitive Advantage

From a competitive advantage standpoint, we can do many things well. We can develop content for any industry, market products, build websites efficiently, develop apps, supply learning management systems, and so on. However, due to time and money, we see that there is a competitive advantage in being really good at just one of those things. Our advantage is in R&D for complex processes in the manufacturing world. Callahan references Michael Jordan as a house painter. In it he states that, “Jordan has a comparative advantage in basketball, while his painter has a comparative advantage in house painting.” Jordan’s advantage is in his pay rate. Similar, we would not stop to work on a website for $2,500 when we can create a CNC programming course for a major manufacturing company for $85,000+.

Economic Environment: Important Industry Characteristics

Some characteristics of the online training world might include things like a constantly changing device output such as tablets, smart phones, PC’s, etc. The economic environment is more than cash, it’s the “natural” resources and materials that will be available now and in the future of E-learning. This industry is changing by the minute and it is important that a company is always looking ahead for opportunities to present itself as the leader of the pack in technology, year-in, year-out.

Economic Environment: Important Macroeconomic Characteristics

From a macroeconomics standpoint, there are many issues facing this economy, including a deficiency in skilled programmers, inflation, economic growth, and international online policies. With the future of education trending towards online, self-paced learning and further away from “brick and mortar”, we plan to see a continued rise in the demand for online content within the years to come.

Biblical Perspective:

From a biblical perspective, Möbius is ran by Christian men. This alone does not make the company a success! However, it is a foundation to start a company that finds value from God first. In Callahan’s book, he talks about how the classical economists were plagued by their inabilities to construct a coherent theory of value. I struggle with the idea that dissatisfaction is what motivates a Christian man to get better at something. Shouldn’t our motivation be that we are trying to make the Lord look glorious? When I read passages like, 1 Timothy 6:6 “But godliness with contentment is great gain”, I ask myself, “if I am dissatisfied in my circumstances, how can I be content instead?” As an owner of a company, I want to be primarily driven by a desire for godly gain first of all. Once I have understood contentment as a Christian, I then can focus on the “dissatisfaction” in the company processes and see them in a whole new light. My human action will be driven by a desire to please God first of all and a desire to glorify him in finding solutions to process improvements.

I also appreciate Callahan’s biblical quote of, “How does it profit a man to gain the whole world but lose his soul?” From a business perspective the term “profit” may not always be monetary. Whatever choices we make as business owners, specifically for the direction of the company, it will always be with an expectation that there is profit in the end, whether we become a global player in the economy or our business runs dry, we can still work for the glory of God and find profit in our toil.

Jake Mansfield
05/21/2013

Resource: Resource Link

Ecuador – Journal Day 4

Day 4 – May 5, 2014:

Business Visit: Flower Plantation & American Chamber of Commerce


Takeaway #1: The Business of Beauty is still just a Business.

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit to the Rose Plantation. After a pretty drive and a stop at the equator for some more pictures and history/science lesson, we made our way to the town of Cumbaya, Ecuador. In Cumbaya, we stopped in for our small pastry treat. They were nestled back behind a building that no one but the locals knew about. After our snack, we headed to the rose plantation just outside of town. There we learned that the selling of roses is a big time business operation. The productions cycle of a rose if pretty amazing. They start with a current style or color that is trending. After that they harvest a rose that matches this trend and see if it will be sustainable for long-term growth. Once the flower is planted and grown, the productions begins. There are men and women on the facility who monitor the growth on a daily basis. The roses are plucked once they have grown into maturity and sent off to be packaged. The packaging process was configured by size, color, and style. They were packaged and prepped for delivery within a few hours of being cut. Off they went, to be sold at market value.

Takeaway #2: Happy Employees, Happy Owners!

Besides all the business procedures and logistics in the business, this place was romantic. Romantic in the sense that it fit the beauty of a classic storyline. There was family heritage, community support and dedication from the employees, a wait staff in the home, home cooked meals, and fresh flowers everywhere. This is my kind of business! One thing that kept popping up in the conversation was that the employees are happy to be working there. Weather this was due to the government minimum health and wage requirements or because of the great service of the family, I don’t know. However, I do have a hunch that people felt a sense of pride working on this plantation. Here is a small description from their website about why they have happy employees, “a socially responsible company that takes special pride in the security and well-being of its employees by providing them not only with the standard industrial safety equipment, but also nutritional assistance, on-site medical care, and a nursery, among other benefits.” To me, this is how you take care of your employees if at all possible.  Sign me up!

Takeaway #3: Am. Cham, Storms and Sleepy Time.

After the rose plantation, we visited the American Chamber of Commerce. On any other day I would have enjoyed this talk. However, I think we all had too much fun at the rose plantation and just finished eating an amazing meal that slowed us down a bit. At any rate, our discussion was about the current business climate in Ecuador. The biggest factor in the current climate was who the president was going to be at any given moment. Currently President Correa has made some big changes to the economic policies in Ecuador that have hurt and strengthened the state of business there. One reason he is liked at home are his poverty-fighting programs which seek to spread the wealth and close the gaps of all the classes. The results of his reforms are in, Unemployment fell to 4.1%, a 25 year low, poverty has fallen by 27% since 2006, public spending on education has more than doubled, and health spending has expanded. With all of these “great” signs of prosperity in Ecuador, you would think that the business climate would match those statistics. In the Am. Cham. presentation, we learned that the real issue in business is the ban on all imports. This means that as an American company looking to do business with Ecuadorians is not the most attractive place to be. The sale of exports and the ban of Imports causes an imbalance of economics in the country. The best example is of the oil production going on now. If they export oil but don’t import it, their prices tend to drop within the country. However, this has a reverse effect as the external consumers disrupt the drive for oil. The oil prices can fluctuate dramatically in Ecuador, causing unrest and instability.

Summary:

Business is getting interesting in Ecuador. For the rose farmer who depends on exports to the president who bans exports, there is a sense of friction within these walls. I’m still skeptical about doing business in Ecuador at this point.

Ecuador – Journal Day 3

Day 3 – May 4, 2014:

Business Visit: Mindo Cloud Forest


Takeaway #1: Getting there is half the battle.

Day three started out early! Once we were on the bus and started heading out to Mindo, things got interesting. My takeaway from this trip is that there are no easy ways to get from point A to point B in Ecuador. Our journey from Quito to Mindo was beautiful. We were able to make our way through the barrios of Quito and to the outskirts of the country region. As we made our drive, we stopped at a small village and had a bathroom break. There we were able to eat some empanadas made fresh inside a little house on the corner. As the trip progressed, the roads wore thin. We reached one point where we all had to get out and walk around a mudslide that knocked out half the road. The bus driver cautiously maneuvered around it in some dirt track as we watched from the other side. Almost there? The road just kept winding and twisting and turning around the mountain sides. The further we got, the more I felt like civilization had left us.

Takeaway #2: Exploring the trails.

[sociallocker]Once we arrived at the Mindo Cloud Forest, we were ready for a some exploring. Mindo is a mountainous terrain, placed in the slopes of the Andes. This is where the two most biologically diverse ecoregions in the world meet. They are known as the Tropical Andes and the Chocoan lowlands. The trails we hiked were full of life and felt alive. We were able to see rare Rhino beetles, Centipedes, beautiful flowers, ferns, and other hanging vines and mosses. My only regret is that we didn’t stay longer to explore the other trails, go rafting, tubing, zip lining, or horseback riding. We only saw a small portion of this beautiful place, but that just gives me more incentive to go back and see more.

Takeaway #3: Protecting places like Mindo.

The hot news today is all about the economic policies created by Obama to try and protect the earth by taxing the people and putting policies in place that stop CO2 emissions. Weather that is right or wrong is not my point in this journal, I am simply stating that Eco-friendly states and countries are cashing in big time from these policies. Weather is through greenhouse emissions and technology created to reduce those emissions or whether it is deforestation policies that are over regulated, or in tourism, there is money to be made. Ecuador has the cloud forest, the Amazon Rainforest, and so much more as far as eco-diversity in the natural landscape. I personally think that the evidence is clear about global warming, etc. Much of what we hear is hype and misrepresented statistics to drive an agenda. The Cornwall Alliance has been a great source of information about the statistics in global warming. It teaches you how to read statistics and analyze data that otherwise is used as propaganda for hidden agendas. On the other hand, we have to take everything with a grain of salt and weed out the errors. Hidden gems like the Mindo cloud forest are amazing places with so much to gain from it. I would hate to see the encroachment of machinery start tearing away its beauty. So I assume that the Amazon rain forest would give me a similar feeling if I visited it. Main point is that we need a balance. God provided the earth for our use, we have dominion over the land, but we need to keep it intact and beautiful. The people of Ecuador also feel that their lands needs to be protected but they also have the hard choice of whether to soak up their resources by digging for oil and cutting down the trees so they can thrive, or preserving the land and living a poverty stricken way of life because they will not see the profits of the oil. They are not left with many options economically.

Summary:

Day three was my favorite day of the trip! I love business and economics, but the cloud forest was a breath of fresh air. If there were any reason to go back to Ecuador, for me it would be to explore more of the Mindo cloud forest.[/sociallocker]

Ecuador – Journal Day 2

Day 2 – May 3, 2014:

Business Visit: City Tour, Mitad del Mundo, & Museo Guayasmin

Takeaway #1: Faith and Culture

The city of Quito was quite a thriving metropolis. The very first thing you notice are the tight roads that crawl around each building. Much like many European cities, the buildings tend to have some wear and tear to them with a hint of Spanish and French architecture. This makes sense since the Spanish took over this country in the early 1530’s and the French have had many influences in the Ecuadorian sciences and culture. Overall, the city of Quito was full of religious symbols, statutes, and churches, mainly Catholic. The Catholic faith is entrenched into the minds of the Ecuadorian people. The Churches were active and alive even on the weekdays. This tells me that the economy, politics, and everything else that forms Ecuador is going to have some kind of foundation from the Catholic Faith and the traditions of the church. A great place for mission work!

Takeaway #2: Use a GPS Dummy!

The center of the world, a place I never thought I would visit in my lifetime. The Mitad del Mundo symbolizes Ecuador and give it its name. This monument was built to commemorate the site where French explorers calculated the world’s equatorial line, not much to se here but some history and tourist shops, but it makes for a fun day trip out of Quito. The real point where the equator passes through Ecuador was later found to be about 240 meters north of the line at Mitad del Mundo. There we found a real life native family who ran the site. We were amazed to see the unusual stuff that is caused by the Ecuador line, like the balancing egg on a nail head, the disorienting line walk, and the most famous event, the water draining experiment.

Takeaway #3: El Guitarrista! by Guayasmin

My undergraduate degree is in Fine Arts from Purdue University so this visit to Museo de Guayasmin was an exciting event for me. I realize that not many people enjoy modern art, and rightly so in many cases. Modern art has left reality behind and took any significance or meaning with it. However, I was somewhat impressed with Guayasmin and his ability to use emotion to pull the viewer in. El Guitarrista, The Guitarist, show above was my favorite painting of his. There is tons of emotion being pulled from the guitarist, basically showing his soul in playing and singing. The use of color is another feature that Guayasmin uses really well. The deep hues and bold colors suggest that most of his paintings were to spark rage or some strong emotion from the viewer. Couple that with his wacky political views and you have a popular artist in the making! My biggest takeaway from seeing these type of paintings in the heart of Ecuador is that art is powerful, weather you are in Europe looking at the renaissance painters or in Ecuador viewing modern painters like Guayasmin, they all have a message and a story to tell; except for most Post-modern artist.

Summary:
Day two in the city of Quito, Ecuador was amazing! I love culture, art, language, and people, so for me to visit a new place like this and to see all those things on the first full day was awesome!

Ecuador – Journal Day 1

Day 1 – May 2, 2014:

Our arrival into Quito, Ecuador was late at night, we were all tired from flying and ready for bed. To my surprise, Quito had just completed a new airport on the outskirts of the city. I noted that the airport did not resemble the Ecuador that I was expecting. In my mind we were going to land on a dirt tarmac and be greeted by local tribesmen,okay, maybe I’m not that naive but thankfully this was not the case at all. The airport was modern and sleek with everything our American airports would have. To me, this was a sign of economic growth and stability in the country.

Onto our Hotel Rio Amazonas. It was a lengthy drive into the heart of Quito as we hopped on the bus and met our tour guide Esteban. He proceeded to greet us with a great excitement and eagerness to share all his knowledge about Ecuador right away. I don’t remember much of that first drive home except for a horrible car wreck on the other side of the road and a seemly treacherous pass over a canyon that swerved around the mountain side.

Our hotel was situated in the heart of Quito near the “tourist” areas, therefore we could eat late because the restaurants stayed open later for us non-Ecuadorians. Once again, I was surprised to find ourselves in a fairly modern hotel with hints of Ecuadorian economic prosperity speckled throughout the rooms. Once again I expected a run down old historic building with little old ladies managing the current affairs of the hotel business, this wasn’t the case either. We were in a modern-ish city in a modern-ish hotel that gave me a reality check into the living conditions of the Ecuadorians.

To cap the night off, my wife and I immediately requested another room in the hotel. It seems that our first room was located directly above club “Louder Than Ever” and we didn’t waste any time exchanging rooms on the first floor for a room on the sixth, this helped a little.