Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Fribids and Calltrepreneurs

P5 - The recently discovered fifth moon of Pluto
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph W. Emerson

I arrived in Silicon Valley today and will write more about my meetings and discoveries tomorrow.  The Hubble telescope picture of P5  above- the newly discovered fifth moon of Pluto - inspired me to tell you one of my favorite stories from my corporate days and what I hope will happen with calltrepreneurship.  Preachers like to tell stories; I think that's one of the reasons many of us get into ministry.  We get paid to tell stories at least once a week.  Maybe that's why bloggers like to blog - although the pay so far isn't as good.

I digress.  I was working at Pacific Bell in the early 1990's and taking a two-year class on sales and entrepreneurship here in Silicon Valley.  The class was intense.  We studied economics and business; we read books on leadership and biology and we practiced ways to use language more powerfully and precisely.  When we studied language I was taken with the notion that all words are made up and are ways for us to communicate and coordinate action with each other.  Perhaps this seems rather obvious to you but for some reason this blew my mind a bit.

I went to my boss at work, Tom Lehmkuhl, who was also taking the class, and told him I wanted to practice what we were learning.  I was his Tactical Manager (the titles we come up with) and I advised him what he already knew - staff meetings were boring and people weren't too excited about coming to them.  I told him we should stop having them and start having fribids instead.  He asked, what's a fribid?  I told him it was a word I invented that meant "to gather in a mood of wonder and excitement to speculate about the future."   Tom was the best boss and mentor I ever had because he encouraged my creativity and gave me the freedom to try new things and occasionally fail.  As I told him my plans he amazingly said, "go for it."

Here's what we did.  I asked my colleague, Judy Hopkins, to help me design the first fribid.  We began by holding a memorial service for staff meetings (I should have know then ministry was in my future!)  Tom gave a brief eulogy and each of us said a word or two of memory for staff meetings.  We put our thoughts into a shoebox which was a make-shift coffin and did a ritual march around the office singing an appropriate dirge like song.  For the next ten months a different member of our staff designed the monthly fribid.  We took field trips to visit customers and stores like Nordstrom's to learn how we could serve our customers better.  I think everyone looked forward to see what the next fribid would bring; I know I did.

I thought about fribids when I came up with the title for this blog.  As far as I know (and according to Google) calltrepreneurship is a brand new word.  While I don't expect it to join Stephen Colbert's "truthiness" as a new word in Webster's Dictionary, I do think it's important to let you know what it means.  Calltrepreneurship is the process of following a passion or calling, in service to something greater than oneself, and  creating and managing something (a business, a life, an organization) new.  I reserve the right to refine the definition as we go along but I hope to tell the stories of calltrepreneurs, people who listen to the divine whispers of life/God, and do something with them to make the world a better place.  The world is full of calltrepreneurs and the world is in need of the creativity, the craziness, the possibilities that calltrenpreneurship encourages.  

I don't know enough about astronomy or astrophysics to know what kind of trails Pluto's new moon will leave behind.   But I do know that our lives and actions leave trails behind us every day.  Our lives are like new words, new trails that we create ever day.  Trails that have the potential to change our lives and the lives of others in powerful and positive ways.  And we can't let our lack of the right words to get in our way.

Who are the calltrepreneurs who inspire you?

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