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Networking Among Christian Entrepreneurs and Professionals

This past Thursday at Montgomery College, Takoma Park MD, three Christian brothers- Surafel, Joseph, and Aklilu- in partnership with other friends and colleagues, arranged a networking opportunity for entrepreneurs and professionals.

There are networking opportunities for Ethiopians in the DMV area and I’ve been attending many of them. As a businessman and learning professional I network and do business with anyone regardless of their faith. I’ve friends, colleagues, and clients who are from diverse religions. I love and care about all of them.

For me, and I believe for many of the attendees, this is an additional platform that brings entrepreneurs and professionals who share the same faith.

Our ministry is committed in raising world-class Christians who become light and salt in the world by serving in the area of their passion as professionals and entrepreneurs. We need:

  • Creative and innovative,
  • Sharp,
  • Hardworking,
  • Consistent, and
  • Ethical Christian professionals and entrepreneurs who bridge the gaps that exist in the work and solve hardest problems that torment humanity.

I was part of the panel that discussed the importance of networking for professionals and entrepreneurs. In the panel were:

  • Gabe Hamda, President & CEO of ICATT;
  • Selamawit Tefera, Owner of Sheger Ethiopian Restaurant;
  • Surafel Tilahun, Founder & Owner -Sura Investment Consultancy, -ET-POL Global SP.Z.O.O , -Addis Tec – Debol Trading LLC

Gabe is a master of networking. I’ve watched him for years since 2008 as he turns strangers into his friends, partners, and clients. I’ve also learned so many lessons from his natural ability to connect with anyone regardless of their religious background. The audience didn’t take long to recognize that Gabe is the King of NETWORKING.

Selam is one of those few Ethiopian entrepreneurs who succeeded in making the American dream come true by starting with a few hundred dollars in her pocket, ending up owning multiple restaurants, and adding additional investments into her portfolio. Though she shared so many helpful insights and nuggets, one thing that resonated with the audience most was COURAGE in business. She EMBODIES courage and shared some of her bold moves and how they allowed her to advance in her entrepreneurial journey.

Surafel is a visionary who invests both in Ethiopia and the US. On top of taking the initiative to create, together with his colleagues, this unique networking platform, he is a man on a mission. Throughout the event, you could see his passion and determination in his:

  1. Opening remark,
  2. Unique perspectives in doing business as visionaries, and
  3. Closing remark where he emphasized the crucial place faith plays in translating one’s vision into reality.

As a panelist, my focus areas were:

  • Making networking a habit even if you prefer introversion like I do. As someone who has a preference for introversion, networking wasn’t within my comfort zone. However, given the critical role it plays in my entrepreneurial success, I kept going out of my comfort zone and doing it even if I wasn’t enthusiastic initially until it became a habit.
  • Becoming indispensable in the workplace. In the era of global and local cutthroat competition, economic downturn, and AI, professionals can’t afford to specialize in one thing, especially if it is a technical field. One must develop certain soft skills, become a problem solver, and take the lead outside of his/her job description to survive and thrive in the 21st C
  • Developing high-revenue and high-impact skillsets to scale. Among other skills I mentioned in the discussion, networking is critical if you desire to collaborate, increase influence, and scale. Networking isn’t just a mindset thing, though. Almost all people on this planet understand its significance. The problem is that many don’t have the skillsets needed to succeed before, during, and after networking: such as setting goals about why they’re networking and with whom they should network and for what purpose (s); branding and marketing themselves like a pro; selling their ideas or product or service without acting like a sleazy salesperson; closing that ends with a win-win deal for all parties involved; delivering (overdealivering) once getting the deal; followup including getting QUALIFIED referrals and glowing testimonials; etc.

Many people struggle to develop and maintain high character, which is super important for anyone who claims follows Jesus. They may succeed at the front end of networking up to closing. What is the use of investing one’s scarce resources to attend networking events and ultimately get deals if they can’t overdeliver?!

Trust is vital to succeed in any business. It is already hard to earn someone’s trust and make them feel like working and/or doing business with you.

What is the hardest? Delivering your promises!!! One needs to have the character it takes to keep one’s word and follow through on one’s promises… Without character and overdelivering, one is wasting his/her time networking…

I believe that all professionals and entrepreneurs should be ethical. Yes, businesses by Christians should make profits to fulfill their mission. They can’t survive, let alone have an impact if they don’t generate revenue. However, Christians should take the high road regarding character and trust. We have to strive, more than our peers, to overdeliver and demonstrate character throughout the full cycle of networking from:

  1. Meeting people,
  2. Connecting,
  3. Communicating,
  4. Closing,
  5. Collaborating to
  6. Delivering and follow up…

Not just in this networking event but in some of the leadership workshops I design and facilitate in some government agencies, corporations, and community organizations, such as ‘Interpersonal Communication’ and ‘Collaboration and Coalition Building’, I emphasize the need to be proactive and intentional to sharpen some advanced skills, one of which is networking.

  1. Networking doesn’t mean exchanging business cards.
  2. It isn’t all about engaging in transactional relationships.
  3. It is more than that; it is relevant in all industries and determines our individual and collective success as a person, family, team, and organization (church/minstry).

These days, many government agencies and corporations realize that it is not just their marketing and sales professionals who need networking skills. Their leaders at all levels should also excel in networking with internal and external partners, peers, and stakeholders to expand their influence and build coalitions within and outside of their organization. Your church and ministry should also equip your people and leaders to develop networking skills. What are you doing in this regard?

One person, team, or organization is too little, insignificant, and insufficient to have a meaningful impact in this century… 

As the saying goes: ‘Your network is your net worth.’

Let me know if you need help empowering your team to develop critical skill sets to succeed in:

  1. Connecting,
  2. Communicating,
  3. Collaborating,
  4. Turning Conflicts into Opportunities,
  5. Building Alliances and Coalitions, and so on… We can design and deliver the right webinars or workshops or engage with you in coaching or consulting services that focus on your needs, goals, and according to your preferences.

Finally, kudos to the organizers. Aklilu did a fantastic job successfully MCing the event. Joseph moderated the panel and came up with thoughtful questions. I am looking forward to attending future events and supporting what you do using my talent and experience.

Like every other networking opportunity, I met good old friends and got acquainted with great future friends, partners, and clients. Looking forward to stay in touch, connect, and potentially partner with you all…

#Networking #Connection #Collaboration #Coalition

Why is Christmas Special?

How the birth of Jesus made humanity special and why we shouldn’t be scared of AI and Aliens

Merry Christmas to you if you live in the Western Hemisphere! I’ll be back to wish you the same if you live in a country celebrating Christmas in January.

I’m lucky! I celebrate 2 Christmas:

  • I celebrate Christmas tomorrow since I live in the US.
  •  In my native country, Ethiopia, it’ll be celebrated on January 7th, 2024.

A quick disclaimer. I know that Christmas has been commercialized, and people celebrate it differently.

For me, Christmas is special. It isn’t just one of the holidays. It’s an infliction point in the history of the universe.

For starters, the birth of Jesus Christ divided the world’s calendar into two:

  • Before Christ (BC), and
  • After Christ (AD).

Nonetheless, the birth of Jesus Christ has more significant spiritual implications than dividing the world’s history.

Whatever assessments scientists make about why the Earth is exceptional, the main reason for its uniqueness is that humanity resides on it. Humans are the temples of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God. Our presence made the Earth special!

Because Jesus was born, the Holy Spirit returned after the fall of the 1st Adam. The Spirit of God resided among us, and as a result, it made Earth special.

Since Jesus wore our flesh, entered space and time in our likeness, and became our substitute:

  1. We reconciled with the Father.
  2.  We don’t feel condemned any longer.
  3.  We’re not separate from our Source.
  4.  We now dare to call the Father Abba.
  5.  We can stand before His throne and glory to communion with Him as His offspring.

Reminding ourselves of Christmas’s significance is critical because there is a temptation to lower our standards and treat ourselves as normal.

We are a special species. A priceless price was paid for us to enjoy the above benefits. We shouldn’t lower our privileged status in the universe. This is especially true now more than ever.

Here are a couple of things I’m reflecting while celebrating this Christmas:

1. We can’t be substituted by AI. We’re a different breed. We were created after the image of God, and no other beings can replace our special place in the universe. We were worth the Son of God showing up in the flesh among us, proving that we’re special to the Kingdom of God.

I’m not against AI. I intensively use AI for my personal, professional, and business lives. AI will assist humanity in solving many of its daunting challenges! It is our ally. I can’t wait to benefit from all AI advancements in the coming years and decades…

I don’t see it as a threat either. The advent of AI demonstrates that we humans have been evolving metaphysically, and our creativity is increasing exponentially.

As many experts agree:

  • AI can’t substitute you or your job, but someone who uses AI does.
  • AI isn’t the danger; the person who uses it can make it dangerous.

The point is that we’re the only danger against ourselves because we’re spiritual beings who can override matter and mind. We have creative (destructive) power many of us can’t comprehend…

Even at this stage of our mental evolution, we created powerful technologies that can destroy the Earth multiple times.

The wars in Ukraine and Gaza are proof of how close we are to employing nuclear weapons that can wipe out the entire human race. This shows that we’ve evolved mentally and can create great technologies, but we’re prone to self-destruct since we’re so slow in our spiritual evolution.

In the decades ahead, as we evolve mentally, there is no question that AI will become more intelligent than the average man. It is a good thing, not a threat! 

Why should we not be scared? Because AI doesn’t and can’t have what we already have innately: Consciousness.

There is no proof of consciousness arising from hardware and software. 

The only possibility for AI to function like humanity is if we further evolve spiritually and know how to introduce consciousness into the physical universe. That is when we understand how to ‘create’ consciousness.

So far, we’re not yet there. We created intelligence like AI that functions in the physical and metaphysical realms. Still, it won’t be a threat when we further evolve and enable AI to possess independence and become a conscious being because we are ahead of AI in our consciousness evolution.

2. We can’t be destroyed by Aliens. I don’t have proof of the existence or non-existence of aliens. Intuitively, they do not exist. Even if some out there are mentally advanced, they aren’t better than us, at least spiritually.

Christmas is proof that God favored us when Jesus, who 100% evolved spiritually, was born among us. As far as we’re conscious beings, it is unlikely any other non-spiritual being is destroying us.

Let’s say, for now, that there are aliens on the far side of the universe. There are a lot of talks about aliens coming to colonize and even destroy us. If aliens exist, they’re either more primitive or more advanced than us:

  • If they’re primitive, we are the threats, not them.
  •  If they’re more intelligent and evolved than us, there is no way they desire to hurt or compete with us.

We humans hurt one another mainly because we have a scarcity mentality. We dominate others to exploit their resources. And we think that aliens are like us, and their sole interest in us and our special planet is domination to take over the Earth and its resources.

If there are Aliens out there who could contact and reach us, they must be well advanced and can utilize the vast infinite resources of the universe. In that case, why would they want to destroy us as far as we’re backward and nonthreat to them?

Let’s celebrate Christmas and remind ourselves that we’re special, and Jesus’ birth made it so. God reunited with us by sending His Son- Jesus Christ. The birth of Jesus brought to us so many blessings. While celebrating Christmas, let’s recount those personal and collective blessings the birth of the King brought to humanity.

Merry Christmas again!

You’re Born to Greatness (video clip)

This motivational speech was given to Cherry Hill Believers Church in Maryland. This the same speech was given a week earlier to one of the mega Orthodox Tewahedo church in DC.

The two latest books of Assegid Habtewold (The Highest Level of Greatness and Unchain Your Greatness) were written to anyone regardless of his/her religious affiliation, cultural background, or nationality. However, Assegid serves diverse Ethiopian Christian denominations by taking some of the contents from the books and the Bible.

If you’re interested Assegid to speak to your group, reach out to him at [email protected] or call him @ 703-895-4551.

Remember, Assegid Habtewold Ministries is a non-denominational ministry that serves all denominations. He doesn’t promote or criticize any one’s dogmas or doctrines.

Empowering Ethiopian Youth in the US

This morning I was in a DC church to inspire mostly 2nd generation Ethiopian youth born and raised here in the US. The theme of my presentation was ‘You are Born to Greatness’ based on my latest 2 books. There was a question and answer session in the end where the kids were engaged and asking thoughtful questions.

I was so happy to closely witness spiritual leaders, teachers, and mentors of these kids going the extra mile to empower their youth not just on spiritual matters alone but also in the knowledge that equips them to succeed in their personal and professional lives here in the US. These leaders are doing a favor to the kids, their parents, our community, and to God.

Other similar institutions should draw a lesson from these leaders to empower the young generation with the holistic knowledge that equips them to succeed well beyond home and the four walls of the church. Building the youth is building the future of our nation!!!

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AHM strives to restore the greatness of humanity one person at a time. The teachings of the ministry focus on restoring the whole man (woman)- the body, mind, and spirit. The messages are uplifting, life-changing, inspirational, transformational, and empowering. If you share the vision of AHM, you can join us in restoring the greatness of humanity one person at a time…

Interview with Leaders of Your Ethiopian Professionals Network

Last week, I had the opportunity to interview the co-founders of Your Ethiopian Professionals Network. In this interview, we talked about:

  1. Why YEP exists? What was the very reason that led you to establish YEP
  2. What are the top three major achievements of YEP?
  3. What are the 3 biggest lessons you learned individually because you have been serving as leaders?
  4. What are the toughest challenges YEP faces?
  5. What lessons would you like to share with other similar professional groups?
  6. What the future holds for YEP? Where do you see YEP in the next five years?
  7. Are there some ongoing or upcoming projects you’re engaged with right now that you would like to share with our viewers?
  8. And more.

These young dynamic leaders have a lot to offer. I encourage you to watch their interview. Reach out to them if you may have any feedback or question. And of course, if you’re in the DC metro area, join YEP, be with like-minded people to grow personally and professionally. If you’re in Ethiopia, no worries, you can be part of the initiative they recently introduced in Addis.

To learn more about Pick Yourself Up and watch archive interviews, check out its website.

Serving Church leaders and Christian professionals and entrepreneurs in Ethiopia

After 13 years, I’m going back to Ethiopia. While there, I’d like to empower some Church and Ministry leaders, and Christian professionals, entrepreneurs, and community leaders based on my books. The following are some of the services I intend to provide :

  1. Sermons (in Amharic, Ethiopians local language) for congregations, and teachings for youth groups in both Amharic and English (there are English programs in some churches)
  2. Leadership training for church and ministry leaders, administrators, and volunteers
  3. Soft Skill workshops for Christian business owners and professionals.

By the way, we would like to offer these services in the future by traveling to Ethiopia quarterly.

Please pray for us to get the necessary funding to offer these services locally, and also to serve God’s people with excellence. If God speaks to your heart to support these programs financially, please go to the ‘About’ or ‘Donate page of our website. We need your prayer and support because our ministry is very small and don’t have the required resources to provide these services alone. Many of the beneficiaries cannot afford to fund these services either.

If you have a Church or Ministry that you support in Addis, let me know, I’ll try to provide one or more of these services to them.

Note: I’ll document my activities and share my report on our website with pictures, video clips, and testimonials to show you the impact of your prayer and financial support.