It’s Not About You


The following is an excerpt from my newest book length project.  The working title of this new book is “LeaderSheep; Leading from a posture of submission in Business, Ministry and the Kingdom of Heaven” and is tentatively scheduled for release in early 2018.

Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. – 1 Corinthians 11:1

Few books of the last quarter century have been more influential in Christian circles than Pastor Rick Warren’s,  “The Purpose Driven Life”.  In 2007 Publisher’s Weekly declared Warren’s magnum opus of Christian living the “best selling non-fiction hardcover book of all time.”  In just 5 years it had sold over 30 million copies and become the second most translated book in history behind The Bible itself.  In recognition of the influence he had had on a generation of Christ-followers  Warren was asked to pray for the nation at the inauguration of President Barak Obama in 2008.

The Purpose Driven Life was originally published at a time when America, and indeed the entire world, was reeling from the first act of war committed on her soil since the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  The terrorist attacks on The World Trade Center and The Pentagon on September 11, 2001 shook America’s confidence to its core and sent people searching for answers to life’s biggest questions.  The sub-title of the book “What on Earth am I here for?” spoke to those people in a deeply profound way and helped to drive sales of The Purpose Driven Life to stratospheric heights.

But if anyone thought that The Purpose Driven Life was going to give them a feel good, step by step motivational message about how to get back on track through some inward journey of meditation and search for meaning they wouldn’t have gotten off the first page.  For those looking for that type of self-centered motivation the book opens with a punch to the gut that Warren delivers in a signature style reminiscent of an iron fist in a velvet glove.

The first four words of The Purpose Drive Life are “It’s not about you!”   

I can’t think of a better way to start talking about LeaderSheep than by setting the expectation, direction and tone of this work with a reminder that the purpose of leadership is not self-promotion.  It’s quite simply not about you!

In order to be LeaderSheep we must first recognize that we are not leading for personal gain or personal reasons.  Sheepish leaders have a clear sense of purpose, that much is true, but first and foremost they know that their purpose has actually nothing to do with them and everything to do with the flock.  If you are going to be a sheepish leader the first thing you need to do is find the purpose of the thing you are leading, be it an organization, a division or a product launch.

For more on finding purpose or to follow my progress I write this new book contact me at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.  As always I crave your feedback, questions and comments are always welcome…

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

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Saturday Night Live vs Donald Trump


When Humor Isn’t Meant to be Funny

alecbaldwintrumpEver since Alec Baldwin created his Saturday Night Live caricature of Donald Trump and even a bit before that, the late night comedy shows have had a field day making satire out of the political landscape. Of course late night comedy has always gotten laughs through satirical commentary so why should things be any different now? I vaguely remember Dana Carvey’s caricatures of George Bush in the early 90s which rumor has it President Bush himself made it a point to watch so that he could take a moment to laugh at himself.

There is something honestly refreshing about our ability to look at serious issues with a bit of humour. It’s healthy too. Dr. Avner Ziv, chair of the educational sciences department at Tel Aviv University has written extensively on the psychology of humor as an aid to education. His 1984 book “Personality and a Sense of Humor” is his most cited scholarly work on the subject and contains a large section on the purpose of humor in public discourse.

Less serious and self-involved people have held that things might be changed by a less tedious approach – that is, by means of humor. Humor exposes ugly human phenomena (those that render the world almost unbearable) to mockery, in the hope of thereby eliminating them. Man makes a mockery of man. In his efforts at changing and improving mankind, man turns matters he thinks grave into absurdities. He does this sometimes with delicate casualness, sometimes with disrespect, and sometimes with ferocity. The laughter that derives from the perception of absurdity reforms the world. [Avner Ziv – Personality and a Sense of Humor]

For this type of humor to work it must be delivered as broadly as possible. Originally theatre was the means to deliver humorous political commentary today we have the late night comedy show.

thatresatireThe English playwright, Ben Jonson described comedy as an educational instrument its goal is not to make us laugh but to arouse in us a form of moral outrage that leads us to improvement. The French novelist Stendhal concluded that the main aim of comedy is to expose people to mockery. The person who is the object of ridicule may be able to accept a reasoned rebuke without making significant changes, “thanks for the input but that’s just your opinion”, they may say. But that same person may not bear to be laughed at. Just before he died Charlie Chaplin said in an interview that the function of comedy is to sharpen our sensitivities to the perversion of justice.

We are entering a time when politicians seem hyper sensitive to this type of humor. Why, in contrast to former president Bush does Donald Trump refer to Saturday Night Live as “over-rated”, “unfair” and “biased”? Why did a prominent Texas republican senator who once likened president Obama to a Nazi recently say that we need to show more respect to the new president?

Why indeed?

Mockery and satire are the final frontier of political debate. As government becomes more totalitarian descent must become more direct and mean spirited.

Comedy is generally received in a friendly spirit. Satire is not. Its victims fear it as a threat to their power and position. Thus in totalitarian countries satire directed against the ruling powers is banned, and any manifestation of satire earns harsh punishment. [Avner Ziv – Personality and a Sense of Humor]

freespeachWhile most western democracies are a long way from a curtailing freedom of speech it is clear that there is a large contingent of politicians and citizens across the political spectrum who either feel that their only recourse is mockery or that they are being unfairly attacked. As we stand on the threshold of the Trump administration we would all do well to remember that governments do themselves a disservice by prevent or complaining about humor against themselves. Laughter is a safety value for the release of tension and one that should point the ruling party toward what the masses are really thinking. When they ignore it, seek to oppress it or complain too loudly about it they do so at their own peril.

I’m not laughing at any of this political satire anymore. I don’t find it funny in that way, it is very serious and the reaction that Mr. Trump has had to it is downright horrifying. Satire is not meant to illicit laughs it is meant to spark debate in a society where reasoned discourse has been oppressed.  When president Trump consistently complains that his detractors are “over-rated” and “sad” he is doing nothing to advance his agenda or enhance his image, he is fanning the flame. By attempting to discredit his detractors in this way the feelings of hostility will likely continue to increase. As these feelings build up they will create a kind of “pressure cooker” which will explode in time. Without satire and the laughter it invokes this hostility might be demonstrated in far more violent ways.

During the Obama administration we saw the advent of the Occupy Movement, a largely peaceful protest directed at the banks and other large institutional elites. Obama met the concerns of the masses with reasoned discourse and eventually helped temper their fears through the democratic process. I fear that unless the politicians start listening to each other again and learn to laugh at the satirists rather than seek to oppress and discredit them, the next time won’t be so peaceful.

Lauren C. Sheil is a serial entrepreneur who has been in business for over 25 years. He has operated farming operations, a recording studio and a music manufacturing plant, has written 3 books on Economics and Christian Ethics and presented his ideas to business owners and ministry leaders from all over the world. His latest book “Meekoethics: What Happens When Life Gets Messy and the Rules Aren’t Enough” is available on Amazon.com.

Mr. Sheil is currently a Financial Security Advisor and Business Planning Specialist with one of Canada’s premier financial planning organizations.  He is passionate about helping entrepreneurs to live life to the fullest while Eliminating Debt, Building Wealth and Leaving a Legacy.  

He can be reached at themeekonomicsproject@gmail.com or by calling 613-295-4141.

Confidence Men; Wall Street, Washington and the Education of a President – Ron Suskind


I have to be honest; I didn’t actually finish this book. It’s over 500 pages long and after plodding through just over 2 years of history I was still just over halfway through and I was exhausted just reading about the way in which the power brokers of the US system operate, so I gave up.

Ron Suskind is a very detail oriented and gifted researcher. Using considerable journalistic skill he has woven a compelling story of the Obama campaign and the first term of the Obama administration. For a political junky like me it was eye-opening and truly put the American political climate in a new light. Coming from Canada, I have often marveled at the way in which the United States is organized. To me, coming from a political system that is built on a parliamentary liberal democracy the populist system of checks and balances used by our neighbors to the south has always seemed messy and inefficient.

Suskind has done nothing to alleviate this impression. Good old fashion majority rule still, to me at least, seems to be a far better way to organize a country, especially one that dominates the economic climate of the entire world in the way that the US does. But I don’t get a vote (pun intended) so I guess we’re stuck with this dysfunctional system for the time being.

Here are a few of the quotes I took from the from the first half of the book, with a few comments for clarity of understanding.

Who would loan money to a dead company? Mostly unwitting pedestrians by way of their 401(k)s, in investment funds, pension funds, and retirement accounts of all stripes, or in the new infusions of debt they’d take on, at the slightly lower rate, through their credit cards and second mortgages – debts that, more and more, would never be paid back, because the point, for so many Americans, had not been their ability to pay debts, but just to carry them, for one more day. They’d been flocking to Wall Street’s debt rollover party for years – a rate cut means a whole new set of invitations – though few would realize it had become a vampire’s ball. They’d be devoured so Wall Street could live another day. – Ron Suskind; Confidence Men

Most consumers invest in grouped funds through 401(k)s and IRA’s. In Canada we call them RRSPs (Registered Retirement Savings Plans) and IPPs (Individual Pension Plans). The point is, most people don’t know what they are actually invested in, they trust their advisors and plan administrators to do that for them. More and more, during the latter half of the Bush II administration people were investing in weakened companies, their money was propping them up and the cheap money they were getting through loans from the back was allowing them to continue along business as usual without the need to make any structural adjustments. It was a house of cards that was bound to collapse.

One day we will have to stand before the God of history, and we will talk of things we’ve done. Yes, we will be able to say we have built gargantuan bridges to span the seas. We built gigantic buildings to kiss the skies… It seems to me I can hear the God of history saying, ‘That was not enough! But I was hungry and ye fed me not. I was naked and ye clothed me not.’ – Martin Luther King Jr.

During the campaign Obama used to quote Dr. King a lot. Once in office and the reality of the economic situation set it and the rhetoric changed but the sentiment of King was never far from the memories of most voters.  It was this disconnect that quickly alienated many voters and gave rise to the Tea Party movement which nearly ended his presidency before it got started.

You are all bright people, but you failed. Risk management is hard. So the lesson is we can’t let you get as big as you were and do the damage that you’ve done, or get as complex as you were, because you can’t manage the risk element. – Mervyn King (British Economist on the 2008 Financial Crisis)

Sometimes it takes an outsider to give a meaningful critique of the situation. Risk management is an integral part of any investment strategy and it was woefully lacking in the debt fueled run up to the 2008 collapse.

Buy low. Sell low – and a little. – Carmine Visone (Managing Director; Lehman Brothers)

Visone was an old school money manager who helped build Lehman through the 1980s and 90s but his conservative approach ultimately kept him from the job he really wanted, that of president and he was consigned to a relatively insignificant portfolio of established real estate property as the bubble grew.  I wonder what might have happened if he had been given a more significant role with the company in the early 2000s.