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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

Finishing Your Race Before Dying

Is seeking greatness from ego or God?

Who is setting your bar?

It is common to see many Christians setting their bar based on the teachings of their denomination and church.

The tone set by their denomination, more importantly, the local church, determines how far a believer desires to go in life.

Just be honest:

  1. Who is setting your bar and how far you can go in life?
  2. You (I mean your ego)?
  3. Your parents?
  4. The media you frequently listen to and watch?
  5. Your teacher or mentor or coach? Or
  6. God (your soul)?

Having ego isn’t the problem, the type of ego that possesses you is the issue

There were a few individuals who cared and boldly confronted me. They were frank in my face telling me that I had ego.

My immediate response always had been, who doesn’t have ego? Most of these good people were shocked!

  • First, they didn’t know that I knew about having ego.
  • Second, they didn’t anticipate that I’d be frank about it. They were expecting me to be apologetic. Why should I?

Sometimes for a few minutes while other times for hours and for more than one session- depending on with whom I was debating- I must explain to them that even Moses, Jesus, and Paul had egos except that they weren’t led by their ego.

You can imagine how stunned they were. They thought I was crazy, even speaking blasphemy for putting Jesus’ name into the mix. Of course, until I provided the context…

I don’t blame them. The problem is the definition of ego they had. In my world, there are two ego types:

  1. Healthy and normal, and
  2. Toxic and abnormal.

The healthy ego is necessary to survive in the physical universe

The normal ego is meant to help us in this dangerous world. Can you imagine what will happen if you always use your soul to guide you here on earth? You can’t protect yourself from:

  • Car accidents,
  • Fire, and
  • Many other dangerous beings and things including bad people.

Think of your infancy years, before you developed your ego when you were 4 – 6 years old. You didn’t have a personal identity yet. You were trusting and relating to everyone, even strangers and potentially horrible people.

If a snake crawled toward you, you would have grabbed it and might have attempted to swallow it. If there was a fire in front of you, you would have played with it. You got my point…

Before we move on, I fully understand that the line between having a healthy and a toxic ego is very delicate.

What is more? At one point in life, before we developed our spirituality, we all might have been possessed by a toxic ego that thought there was only a physical universe, and the most important thing is survival and comfort of the physical body.

In the future, I will dive deep and talk about the different identities we have, in which universes they operate, and what their agendas and priorities are. Familiarizing ourselves with these personalities helps us to differentiate and also prioritize whose voice to hear and when.

Just a quick example, if I’m driving on a highway, I want my ego to be in charge and pay attention to avoid accidents and hurting other people around me. This isn’t the time to think heavenly. When I am in a prayer and fellowship mood, I silence my ego and command it to sit tight until I’m done. I tune to the voice of my inner self and leave the physical and metaphysical universes to communion with the heavenly beings in the spirit.

Depending on where I’m at a given time, what I’m doing, and with whom I’m interacting, I switch between my identities. You got the point…

You may be rolling your eyes and thinking that I’m being dishonest or having a multiple personality disorder.

If you’re tempted to negatively label me like that, you haven’t read what Jesus said: “Here I am sending you out like sheep with wolves all round you; so be as wise as serpents and yet as harmless as doves. But be on your guard against men.” (Matthew 10: 16)

Jesus was telling His disciples to be wise!!! You can’t always be a dove or a ‘serpent’ and always and everywhere. Be wise when to switch your personality hat…

Ego will fight to death to stop you from seeking true greatness

That being said about ego, the question is who is seeking greatness? Your ego or your highest self within? The short answer is your highest self.

Let me break it down for you. Ego is selfish, think temporal, and fearful. On the other hand, your soul- your highest self, doesn’t think small and never buy into human made limitations. It’s eternal and never afraid of anything…

If you think about it, ego is afraid of you taking the journey of your soul and being truly great. It will lose you if you step into this realm…

Ego only seeks high places, like the pharisees, as far as the glory doesn’t cost their lives and cause discomfort.

The next question is: Does God be unhappy if you succeed on earth and become great in your own unique way?

No way! He is the GREAT ONE and it is His pleasure to see His images, you and I, attain true greatness. Here is what He said to Abraham: “I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.” (Genesis 12: 2)

Didn’t He made Abrham great? Why then do you think He will be intimidated or offended if you also become great in your own unique way and according to the glory He had for you before the foundation of the world?!

No one who took their fulfillment seriously stayed ordinary and obscure

By the way, I’m not talking about the greatness ego seeks. I’m talking about the greatness your soul desires and destined to achieve. Her fulfillment on earth is dependent on whether you pursue your purpose in life and get fulfilled or not.

Without any doubt, no one took this fulfilling and God ordained journey and remained ordinary, obscure, and stayed under the table! If you find yourselves ‘under the table’ and your light is not shining on top of a hill, it’s because you haven’t yet begun the journey of your soul. You haven’t yet left ‘egypt’ and martched forward toward ‘cannan’…

Jesus pursued His assignment in life, and He became great. Remember, He:

  1. Wore our flesh.
  2. Began from scratch as a kid and grew in strength and wisdom (Luke 2:40).
  3. Didn’t succeed automatically.
  4. Sought and pursued His assignment on earth till the end until He said: ‘It is finished.’

Your greatness begins when you start the assignment God gave you on earth

One of the most powerful scriptures that has inspired and guided me for many years is one of Jesus’ last day’s prayers in John 25 where He said, “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17: 4)

But, Jesus wasn’t the only one who discovered, pursued, and fulfilled His assignment on earth. Paul followed the same pattern and encouraged others to do the same when he said, “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11: 1)

Paul too finished his race and announced, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race.” (2 Timothy 4: 7)

I’m aware of one of the quotations some preachers use to limit the aspiration of their congregation. They quote the same Paul I just quoted who hadn’t content until he finished his race. In Philippians 4:12, Paul confessed: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation.”

Unless someone wants to take this out of context, Paul wasn’t talking about being content where you’re in life, away from God’s purpose for your life. He was talking about learning to be content with what he had materially.

Yes, we should be content with what we have materially right now. The question is are we contented based on what others tell us where our finish line should end and how high our bar should be or are we contented based on the destiny God has for us, which isn’t too small nor too little?

Mistaking a transit as a destination

Unfortunately, most of us camp on a ‘mountain’ for too long, never moving to our destiny thinking that that is where God wants us to conclude our journey. We’ve mistaken the transit as a destination.

I can hear God admonishing us like He did the Israelites in the desert. “Leave this place, you and the people you brought up out of Egypt and go up to the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” (Exodus 33: 1).

God has a glorious destiny for all of us during our lifetime that allows us to unchain our full potential. It isn’t behind us. It is ahead of us and we must begin this journey if we haven’t yet.

Sadly, many of us think that our potential will be fulfilled when we get to heaven and in the spiritual universe. As a result, we camp where we are now and WAIT til we die. Very saddening and heartbreaking!!!

This message is especially important if you’re mistakenly thinking that you’ve arrived. If you’re still breathing, you’re not yet done! You’re not close to the finish line yet, let alone crossing it, until you fulfill your assignment.

Why? Because you know it when you cross the finish line. Your soul testifies that you have arrived… You have peace unlike in this world. And most importantly, the world around you know it. Nothing is fulfilling like the feeling of finishing your God-ordained assignment faithfuly and courageously by staying committed and resilient till the end!

Don’t forget, Jesus knew when He crossed the finished line. After saying ‘it’s finished’, He stayed a little longer to mentor His successors. Likewise, Paul finished the race and stayed for the sake of His followers. He said: “For I am hard-pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better. Nevertheless to remain in the flesh is more needful for you.” (Philippians 1: 23-24).

I’d like to make some disclaimers:

  • Your purpose and destiny are different than the ones Jesus and Paul had.
  • Where you finish your race and how it will come about is totally different than mine and everyone else’s.
  • We all may not finish our race while leading at the front like Jesus and Paul. Do you remember the prophetess Anna (Luke 2:36–38) and Simeon the devout (Luke 2:25–35)? They played significant roles in supporting the mission of Jesus while He was a kid and vulnerable. They knew why they were there. The outcome would have been different if these were bad people who worked for Herod. They understood that they were playing a part toward the eternal agenda of God. Because of that they fulfilled their spiritual duty. Once it was done, they knew when they crossed the finish line and ready to transcend to the spiritual world feeling contented and fulfilled. What a journey and an end!? What about you? How do you plan to finihs your race? How can we help?

In conclusion, we all should discover God’s purpose for our life and pursue it till we fulfill it. We shouldn’t fear stepping up to the plate to join the eternal movement of the Kingdom of our Almighty Father even if our ego limits our aspirations and tries its best to stop us from taking the journey of our soul. Even if the world around us thinks that we are egotestical and trying to make a name for ourselves.

Beware!

  1. The ego has a totally different agenda how it would like to use you.
  2. The devil may also use the people you trust to cheat you out of your glorious destiny, without them knowing it, by lowering your bar, over staying at a transit, and stopping before you reach the finish line.

Ego thinks that there is only a physical universe and a body it protects and take care of. It is so selfish that it seeks comfort and avoids taking risks, such as pursuing your eternal assignment, which may make you uncomfortable and require you to pay some dire prices.

Whether your purpose entails you to be at the front and leading like Moses, Jesus, and Paul or provide support in the background like Mary, Anna, and Simeon, don’t settle until you cross the finish line and get fulfilled in life while you’re alive and on earth.

If you would like to:

  1. Discover your purpose in life,
  2. Equip yourself with the necessary mindset, skillset, and character, which enable you to pursue and fulfill your call, you should be part of our community.

We would like to hear from you. Send us email if you have any questions or would like to be part of our team at [email protected]

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.

Walk as if you’re already great because you’re!

It’s easy and simple. If you still have sin consciousness and feel deep inside that you’re unworthy, you’ve not yet saved, you’re not yet born again 🙂
 
If you keep apologizing for being created to manifest greatness, you aren’t yet in faith. If you still doubt that your destiny is at the top, if you aim lower than standing at the top of the mountain like a shining light before you depart from this universe, you’re not yet free from the guilty consciousness that was introduced when Adam fell.
 
Don’t tell me that you know the Son of God who freed you while bowing your head as you walk in this world. Don’t preach to me that you walk side by side with Him on a daily basis and still you don’t have the boldness to believe that He restored you to the former glory before Adam fell.
 
You’re free. You’re worthy. You’re the crown jewel creation for the Father, and you’re the brother or sister of the King who restored us into our former glory.
 
Don’t feel bad and apologize for your being greatness material. Greatness is your birthright.
What is expected of you is to seek the highest level of greatness- the greatness Moses, Mary, Simon the devout, Jesus, Paul, and the likes sought after- and finally commit yourself to pass through the four stages they passed through to unchain the greatness God had chained within you before the foundation of this universe to the fullest…

What is expected of you is to seek the highest level of greatness- the greatness Moses, Mary, Simon the devout, Jesus, Paul, and the likes sought after- and finally commit yourself to pass through the four stages they passed through to unchain the greatness God had chained within you before the foundation of this universe to the fullest…

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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…