Published On: Fri, May 4th, 2018

BocaLead: A Great Chance to Network, Fellowship, Share, be Encouraged

By: C. Ron Allen

Given the latest buzz around town these days, I had penned my column this week on ethical leadership. But after having lunch at Boca Raton Community Church on Thursday, I opted to shelve the piece – at least for a week or so.

Each month, on the first Thursday, more than 400 businessmen and women – young and old – meet in the church’s fellowship hall for lunch. But this is not your typical luncheon.

At BocaLead, as the forum is aptly called, Pastor Bill Mitchell teaches how to apply biblical principles in our workplaces.  Mitchell has tackled topics such as “Focus on the Future,” “Lead by Example,” and “The Heart of a Leader.”

Attendees are given pens and handouts for notetaking. Most of us leave with a few principles to help nurture and rejuvenate our professional and spiritual lives.

While lots of networking take place at BocaLead, this is not a Christian yellow pages or a Christian networking. There are no sales pitches. In fact, the program is sponsored through the many businesses that buy tables for $85 and invite guests or their employees, and individuals who pay the $12 cover.

The monthly staple has been sold out several times this year. It has also been duplicated in Broward County. LauderdaleLead began last September at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.

Not bad for a program that began in 2013 as a four-month trial program for 25 fellow business leaders to help them raise the bar of ethical leadership in the city through mentoring.

A businessman for 25 years, Mitchell has a knack for simplifying the bible so that even a heathen will find it encouraging and unobtrusive.

His presentations are nothing like his Sunday messages. Local businessman John Barbar serves as the master of ceremonies and kicks off each session. Mitchell works hard to ensure each presentation is relevant to our daily living and often infuses props to convey his points.

A classic example was Thursday when he delved into a topic that was so appropriate – How to lead when you are not the boss.

He told how a Chick-fil-A franchisee in Georgia went beyond the company’s grain and sold milkshakes, which ultimately was adopted companywide.

For several years the management of the fast food chain was against selling milkshakes because they could not make it in the required time to maintain their reputation of preparing food in a specified time.

Unbeknownst to corporate executives, an out-of-the-box thinking franchise owner bought ice cream, all the other milkshake ingredients, and a machine. He did the unimaginable and before long, customers were bypassing Chick-fil-A stores to go to his store to buy their milkshakes.

When corporate execs got word of the franchise’s business practice, the senior vice president of operations paid him a visit. The franchise owner challenged the executive to make two drinks in a faster time than he would make his milkshake and the vice president lost. Thus started the practice of the company selling shakes.

The moral of Mitchell’s story was that great leaders challenge up with the best motives, they are keenly aware of what the boss is most interested in, they know what is core and what is peripheral and they challenge quietly but they are not silent.

To the surprise of many and in Mitchell’s creative spirit, as he wrapped up his presentation the staff brought out enough milkshakes for several high school students who were in attendance.

He also announced that the adults could redeem their handouts at the Chick-fil-A in the Towne Center Mall for a vanilla or chocolate shake throughout the month of May.

I am not surprised by the generosity of operator Paul Kiedis and his team. They are very supportive of community events and epitomize the philanthropic spirit of founder Truett Cathy’s dedication to making a difference in the lives of youth.

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