and Robert have shared ministerial backgrounds in their journey and now Bruce is creating tools to help churches and non profits provide job search tools and job opportunities as a service to their community. Build a community and then create content to serve them.
A little bit about Bruce...
Bruce’s passion is to glorify God by helping people reach their life goals through meaningful vocations. Having spent the last 20 years in the recruiting industry, Bruce has learned a great deal about how to help people navigate the career process and helping them see how they are God’s masterpiece created for good works.
Bruce has spent over 30 years in recruiting and consulting, with a focus in the accounting and finance industry. Throughout his career, Bruce has served as:
- Business Development Executive for several national staffing and consulting firms.
- Executive recruiter for mid-management to CEO level positions globally.
- Owner of The Job Connection, job ministry technology platform.
- Founder of successful consulting and staffing firm, sold in 2014.
- Founder of successful telecommunications start-up, sold in 1996.
- City Councilmember for The City of Norcross, Georgia.
- Leader of a large career ministry at Perimeter Church in Johns Creek, Georgia
Bruce earned his Bachelor’s degree in Accounting from The University of Georgia, and currently lives in the City of Norcross, Georgia with his wife Carolee and three teenage children. In his spare time, Bruce really enjoys trail running and leading worship his church through playing piano and guitar (and harmonica).
Robert Peterson 0:00
Today's guest is Bruce Smith. Bruce, his passion is to glorify God by helping people reach their life goals through meaningful vocations. Having spent the last 20 years in the recruiting industry, Bruce has learned a great deal about how to help people navigate the career process and helping him see how they are God's masterpiece created for good works. Who's earned his Bachelor of Science in Accounting from the University of Georgia and currently lives in the city of Norcross, Georgia with his wife, Cara Lee, and three teenage children. In his spare time, Bruce enjoys trail running, leading worship in his church through piano, guitar, and harmonica. Bruce Smith and Robert have shared ministerial backgrounds in their journey. Now Bruce is creating tools to help churches and nonprofits provide job search tools and job opportunities as a service to their communities. Who believes you can build a community and then create content to serve them? Bruce, thanks for jumping on the show. Today. I'm looking forward to learning about you and your journey and sharing with our audience.
Bruce Smith 2:02
Fantastic, Robert, I'm excited to be here. We can jump right in however you want to go?
Robert Peterson 2:08
Typically, I let each guest share their entrepreneurial journey and what got them to what they're working on today.
Bruce Smith 2:15
That can be a long story short one, there's a couple of them. I'll try to keep it a little bit short. I started my career as a CPA, and enjoyed doing accounting work moderately, until a managing partner said, Hey, Bruce, you're not cut out for this, you might want to do something other than public accounting. It was a great training ground. I value the accounting experience. What I learned about that was some advice that was given to me is accounting is the Language of Business. If you understand accounting, you can apply that to any business you're in. Especially for an entrepreneur, I'll tell you that it comes in handy and saves a ton of money. I'm lucky to have that in my pocket. When I left public accounting, I actually started a company on a phonecard. We were basically selling time, little debit cards. We did that for a little while, I had no idea what I was getting into. We're buying time for six cents a minute and selling it for eight cents a minute. Talking about selling pennies and work, pennies by the minute. That was an interesting experience, I sold that company, then I got into recruiting. I had done recruiting for a while with a big firm, and then, left that after a while and started my own. The second business that I started was a search firm, and enjoyed that. Did that for about a year and didn't make a whole lot of money because that's when the.com bubble burst. I probably did one search in a year which doesn't pay the bills. That's when we're having our second child so I got into the staffing business. Back into corporate America doing staffing. Those are all contractors. Did that for a while, and had some success there. Why not do it myself? I left and did it myself. I started a staffing firm with a couple other folks who did that for five years and sold it so I enjoyed the staffing business. I did okay when I sold that company and then I stayed with the acquirer for about three years. Along the way in the recruiting business in the business world, I had a passion for helping people find jobs, which is how you and I got connected. About five years ago, four years ago 2017 I bought a company called the jump connection, which is The software platform that we deploy at churches, which helps connect employers with job seekers within a church's community. Whatever way you wanted to find that community, we typically say it's a 25 mile radius. Think about it as a job board that we deploy in micro markets. I'll use a good example: Willow Creek was one of the first users of the platform, and they've been on since 2003. They have a care ministry. Employers are looking to hire talent, we got job seekers within that Chicago area, that are involved in that ministry, we're able to connect them. What's so different about that, and what's so special about it? What's special about it is that it allows an employer to find faith minded job seekers, if you find any value in that, then that's where you'd find those people. It also gives the church a tool to help job seekers find jobs. That's the whole purpose for the job connection. We deploy that at churches all over the country. I've been doing that basically on the side for the last five years, and loving it. It taps into my passion for helping people find jobs, it taps into my passion for technology, which I love technology, it taps into my passion for ministry, it taps into my passion for connecting people with career. I enjoyed that.
Bruce Smith 6:36
What I would say about that is the fact that it has tapped into all my passions, makes it a meaningful, entrepreneurial endeavor. I've realized, I'm 58 years old, you might want to cut that out and leave it and I don't know what you want to do. I'm a little old to be an entrepreneur. The thing that I've learned is, there isn't enough money to motivate me to do something I don't want to do. It's not important to me, life is too short. I've got so many other passions and some of the things that are more important to me, than to burn my time for money. I enjoy making money to follow my passion, not to waste my time, or to spend my time. That's where I've landed where I am today. What I also do is I advise people, and this is a side note, if you're over the age of 50, it would be a good idea to find an alternative form of self employment. You might be in a great job. That's fantastic. The older you get, the less employable he gets. It's important to find ways to employ yourself, whether that's a side gig, whether that's consulting, whether it's buying a franchise, you name it, being creative about that, and owning that owning your career, is important. That's where, that draws on the individual's entrepreneurial capabilities, skills and passions to do that. That's where I am today, Robert.
Robert Peterson 8:07
I like what you're saying there. Definitely, not age related, every American should own a business in some way, shape, or form, whether it's a small little side hustle, or there's so much value in owning a business and running a business. Also using a business creates a stream of income. That is set aside from whatever corporate government, whatever entity that happens to be paying your bills today is so valuable. I'm a firm believer in what you're saying. Let's explore that. You mentioned a franchise, for someone that's working a nine to five and feels like I don't have any time I could never do anything. What would you recommend? How would they go about getting another stream of income and other side hustle?
Bruce Smith 9:10
That's gonna be unique to each situation. Some people have nine to five jobs that lock them in and they can't leave. They can't do anything personal on their time. Their time is owned. There's a great book that I got some great ideas from, it's The Four Hour Workweek. I don't know if you've read that four hour workweek. I don't necessarily agree with his motivation for having a four hour workweek because I have no desire to travel the world and take dancing lessons and in Spain and do all that I love where I'm living with my family digging roots here in Norcross, Georgia. What he talks about is how to leverage your time, how to leverage other resources versus to be more productive in the job you're in to free up, your week to devote to maybe more entrepreneurial things. Reading that book helped me open my creative thinking around what a Side Hustle Hustle might look like. That might be four hours a week, it might be gaining a new skill, gaining new skills, you're on, web development, doing online selling, doing anything with some new technology, if you can spend four hours a week doing that, that's huge. That would be step one of learning new skills, and trying to apply them to the experience you already have, or the education and training you already have. What is it that you're doing, or that you've experienced in your career, where you can package that, sell it, serve others, consult, or maybe build a product around? That could produce either equity over time, or an income stream. That's where I would start. What I did is I bought the software company, it was relatively small, I could afford it. I bought somebodyelse's platform, where they were ready to move on to other things, and it was opportunistic, and I said, Hey, this fits right in my sweet spot, gives me some challenges, learn about it, I bought into a stream of income. Don't overlook opportunities to either buy a small company, buy a consulting practice, buy something small, there's 100 ways to buy someone out, you don't have to write a check. There's a lot of things you can do to creatively, buy a business.
Robert Peterson 11:54
Certainly the idea of buying, even your WHY would some people might be listening, saying, why would a software guy want to celebrate it right in the beginning, and the truth is, there's innovators, there's people that love the creative, bright aspect, and once they've created their board, and they're done with it, and they need to pass it on to somebody who wants to take it to the next level. There's tons of that opportunity out there. If you're looking for it. Being open and available to say, Wow, I'd be willing to take something that somebody else got wound up, and I get to help unwind it and deploy it
Bruce Smith 12:34
Technology. It's one thing to create a great tool, it's another same thing to find a customer. Two very different skill sets, it's a cool tool. If nobody knows about it, nobody's buying. If you have selling skills, and maybe not technology skills, find someone who's already built it, and you sell it. That's something that you may have a great idea of, if somebody else has already built it, buy it. You can be the sales engine for that, or the marketing engine, which is a big deal. There's a lot of technology people out there that do not want to pick up the phone. They want to stay in the dark and develop and God loves them. There's a big need for someone to sell it. In our world. We say nothing happens until somebody sells something.
Robert Peterson 13:24
Or you put it out there? You got to put offers out, you got to, Seth Godin talks about shipping it, you got to ship it. If you're not shipping it, if you're not putting it in, if it's not getting into a customer's hands in some way, shape or form. You're not. You don't have anything. That's absolutely true. So challenging. Obviously, a lot of what you've done, a lot of your experience is based around connection and the value of connection. Let's dig into making connections. Then I hate the word using connections. I want to think of adding value to Connections maybe, on your side, giving back to the connections to continue building relationships, the power of relationship and business building.
Bruce Smith 14:17
Back in. Boy, I'm trying to think back. I've kept a digital Rolodex as long as I can remember, and I never delete a name. Now my laptop might have deleted a name, I've never deleted a name. Even before LinkedIn came out, I had a palm pilot, and then I had a Blackberry and I've been relentless about keeping track of people that I meet Robert and I say, I met Robert at Wendy's, he works at some supply. I don't, I put notes in there. That's when I see Robert I'm like, who was Robert? Oh, yeah, I met you at Wendy's and you're the guy that does Something anyway. Recruiting business relationships are everything. Everyone's either a future customer or a candidate. That's the way I think and in the recruiting business. I would also think about that in anything else I do, everybody I meet is either a future customer, or candidate, someone that I sell to, or someone I don't say buy, that would, I can support, I can be part of a solution. That's how I approach relationships. It's, for me, a long game. In terms of marathons, not sprints. You and I, this may be the first time we meet. I've always been surprised after 58 years of living, how those relationships come back around. They inevitably do. The craziest places, suddenly, Robert shows up hot, what a small world, we have that relationship in place, that is shared experience. We can go from there. I don't think there's anything wrong with reaching out to people that you've met and asking for help. People love to be asked for help. As long as you're transparent, and say, here's what I'm trying to accomplish. I'm in this new job, and I'm trying to learn more about how to sell software. I'm starting this company. I haven't figured out all the answers. You might have some answers for me. People love being asked for help. There's nothing wrong with saying, Hey, Robert, would you mind being a customer? Would you mind testing my new sandwich that we're selling? Would you mind being part of this being a successful business? It's important to me that this is successful, you'd love to see me succeed.
Robert Peterson 16:52
That's super valuable. Especially in the church community, in the faith community, there's a lot of people that want to maintain this separation. You keep church in a box, and you keep your work in a box. Then there's entrepreneurs that are keeping their work in a box. They've got a network of 100 people in the church that know them and love them. They don't have any idea what to do.
Bruce Smith 17:20
Some people are different. If I reached out into the church, I would go to now and ask for help. Some, if it was for my work, some people embrace that. Some people might be offended, they say, I don't know if I want to do that.
Robert Peterson 17:42
Either way is fine. You gotta put yourself out there. I agree. You've got a community of people that love the Lord, they love you, and why wouldn't they want to help you? If so many people are afraid to ask, right?
Bruce Smith 17:55
Yes. What we're finding now is even churches are looking for ways to be relevant, right? Being relevant in the community. Even with the job in connection, we're trying to help churches, be relevant and speak into the employer, job seeker relationship, and why shouldn't Why shouldn't the church do that? Why should they have some sort of voice or influence and what that relationship will ultimately look like? It may be speaking the Word of Truth. Speaking the gospel into that, I'll call it a marriage. In that relationship, that's gonna be a long term, hopefully long term relationship, there's no reason that your church can't be part of that. Be relevant in that conversation?
Robert Peterson 18:42
Certainly, I hope that the majority of churches are saying, if there's an opportunity for us to connect our congregants with job opportunities, we want to jump on that. We want to make sure that they're employed, they take better care of their family, if they're employed, they can take better care of the church if they're employed. It's that how's that not a win win? situation for the church, for the church family and for employers that are looking for people that are going to have a different level of commitment and different level of faith. That's not to say that everybody in the church is going to be a perfect employee. Your odds are increased if you're looking for a certain group of people, this is the place you're gonna find them.
Bruce Smith 19:32
Work is a redemptive act. Right, Robert? God created us and called us to work there. The very act of work is redeeming, redeeming the world, redeeming our communities, which is such an amazing gift to have an amazing calling. It's what we do every day. I'm starting to read a book now. It's called total truth and an amazing book and in the front of it is a quote by Francis Schaeffer, where he says, and I'll botch this, it says something like, Christianity is not a list of truth. Christianity is the truth. It's not a list of great ideas and some great philosophy. It is true. It's total truth. It covers not only Sunday, but Monday. What we believe and act and how we act in church should be exactly what we believe and act on Monday when we're working.
Robert Peterson 20:37
Even more so. Yes, I consider Sundays the fuel me up opportunity, right. The idea if you fill me up is the idea that I'm supposed to run it out during the week, and Monday means I've got the fullest tank, like if I've done it, Monday, my tank is the fullest and I better be putting it to work. Our culture has created this idea that Mondays are miserable and terrible. We're working for the weekend and blah, blah, blah. We need to be different. We need to be excited about Monday, we need to be fueled up and fired up and put ourselves into the workplace with stamina and vigor. Like you said, Work is redemptive. It absolutely is, it's our obligation to give back or serve others. I tell people all time, if your work isn't satisfying, if you're not finding joy in the work that you're doing, pull the cord, the little bus. I'm old school, the bus has always had these little cords next to the window. When you pulled the cord, it rang a bell and the driver hit the brakes. That's and you can get off the bus. You can find a different bus to get on. There's too many people that feel like they're stuck. They don't have options they can. There's so many options, you can create so many options in this country. Even now, in the middle of a recession when all of a sudden it feels like nobody's hiring. They're still hiring. There's still jobs. McDonald's, I saw a sign that McDonald's set up to $19 an hour. Good gravy. That's crazy to me.
Bruce Smith 22:07
Everywhere. What specifically for the entrepreneur, what a great creative redemptive opportunity. For the entrepreneur, it's a pile of dirt.. It's not a garden yet. It's a pile of dirt. You've got to figure out, what seeds am I going to plant? How am I going to fertilize that and I'm going to grow the best fruit I can grow, the best vegetables? That's the entrepreneurial walk and experience. It's full, if you look at my garden full of weeds, and we have to battle those weeds every day. As soon as you come up with good ideas, there's always challenges in that entrepreneurial journey. It is such an amazing creative process and the rewards are off the charts.
Robert Peterson 22:55
Let's talk about the value of purpose in guiding that and keeping you on the rails. Obviously, for many people, the weeds come in, and they take over the garden and they give up gardening. If you have a bigger purpose, and you recognize a vision or a destination. Scripture says, without vision, the people perish. For entrepreneurs, without vision, your business dies. Any idea where you're going? Share with me the value of vision in your journey and in helping others?
Bruce Smith 23:29
In my experience, I call the difference between mercenaries and patriots. Mercenaries are hired or hired, right for money to fight. When challengers come, they're gonna drop their guns and run. A patriot often isn't paid. Fights for a purpose, a much higher purpose. They stay to the death. When I think about team building, about hiring people, about what I'm going to do next, that's going to take a big lift, I think about my attitude is, Am I a patriot about this? Do I have a passion for this? Is there a mission here? Can I get excited about that? Or am I doing it because I say, I can make some pretty good money here. When you're a mercenary, problems come and challenges come and they will, you run out of energy pretty quick. You look for an easy way out. Yes, passion, mission, purpose, vision, big words that are easily thrown around, without those means quantified, and understood and kept in your field of vision. When those challenges come, competition steps in. When you lose a great employee or a partner, when you lose a big deal or you lose a client. For me when my site gets hacked gets hacked again, when those things happen if you don't have a way to step back and say, why am I here again? Why did I get up early? Why did I stay up late? Why am I chasing this thing? Why am I breaking even because I have a bigger purpose and a bigger mission. I have people that I'm serving, and that will miss me taking Seth Godin, will they miss you if you're gone. There are people out there that will certainly miss me if I'm not in the marketplace doing what I'm doing. Yes, mission, purpose, vision, values, all very, very important.
Robert Peterson 25:38
What a great example, mercenaries are patriots like, I'm a huge history buff, love, and war served in the military. That definitely struck a chord. Why haven't I been using that? That seems natural?
Bruce Smith 25:52
You got it, I'll take the TM off that you can use it.
Robert Peterson 25:57
Man. Then, of course, Seth Godin, is, will they miss you, when you go on? In ministry? That was always one of the powerful things, and will they miss the church if the church disappears? You talked about churches trying to be relevant, and it's as important for entrepreneurs to be relevant. The difference is the church can survive a little bit longer in irrelevance, depending on the support structure, things get passed by for too long. Entrepreneurs quickly find out that they have to be relevant, or they will not survive, they will get paid. Exactly. Awesome. So good. That was a marketing lead into marketing. Obviously, you've got a two sided product, a software product that you deploy through churches. Then you serve two sets of two sets of clients, who share your trait, the job seekers, people looking for jobs, and of course, employers who put job applications up there. Let's talk about the value of marketing and what your marketing is about, what's the message that you're putting out there?
Bruce Smith 27:18
For the church, when I'm speaking to a church, it's more about helping them be relevant, also serving their job seekers in their community that are reaching into the church and saying, Hey, I need help. I'm reaching out to the church, I don't know what to do, I can't pay my rent next month, I've lost my job. Oftentimes, the church doesn't have an answer for that other than, supporting them financially is great. They don't have a way to help them fish, particularly deployment. It's a hit or miss. Most churches struggle with that. What our tool does is it gives a church a place to send jobseekers and gives them a way to interact with the community that wants to interact with them. The job seekers and the employers that are plugging into our sites are self selecting in a lot of like minded I can't guarantee that a job seekers of a Christian, I do think they're faith minded, they're showing up, I can't guarantee an employer is Christian, actually, there's no such thing. There are people the faith minded because at least they certainly see value in engaging with the church to help solve a problem. That's my conversation with the church, and what the platform does. Then when I reach out to employers, that's about monsters and indeed, CareerBuilder, all those companies, everybody's an employer, that it's hard to target. When it comes to sales and marketing sales it is me selling to Robert, marketing is me selling to the world, his messaging. For a product like ours, it turns out to be more marketing. That is, I reach out to a lot of HR managers and talent acquisition people all over the country, since we have churches all over the country that are that are doing this, and I give them a way to reach out, to either post jobs at local churches or post to post jobs nationally to get that, get that traction with those job seekers. I haven't solved it. I haven't figured out what the silver bullet is and marketing for this. We're trying a lot of different things. What I'm finding is, although it's time consuming, the Wonder one, me reaching out to Robert and asking, telling my story, explaining the value of the job connection and explaining the ROI to you. resonates right. Splashing an ad is expensive and time consuming. I can reach out to you directly. Although it's slower, it's more effective. Same thing when I'm marketing to churches, reaching out to the executive pastor and calling them directly to email me to you, not me to an email blast.
Robert Peterson 30:25
That's so valuable. I assume and based on what you're sharing now, the biggest challenge is making sure that once a church is buying into this and using it for their confidence is making sure I've got enough jobs within that 25 mile radius. To make this worthwhile for them.
Bruce Smith 31:19
That is why we help the church get the word out, we have plenty of jobs that are posted there. That's typically not a problem. Good. Luck.
Robert Peterson 31:31
I understand that especially for entrepreneurs that have a similar problem. They've got the whole world telling them, you need a website, we need SEO, you need to post on Facebook, you need to go live, you need to pay for Facebook ads, you need to pay Google ads. That's right, and all these different things. The reality still is a face to face handshake, a phone call goes much further down the road than any of that stuff that everybody buys into. Does because they don't want to pick up.
Bruce Smith 32:03
You and I, probably Seth Godin pants, as well as, the idea of a minimal viable market, Focusing on what's the minimal viable market, and not trying to rule the world yet. Finding, thinking about, what I'm doing is a minimal, viable market, it's churches. I don't need a lot of churches, I'd love to have them all. There's 320,000 churches in North America, there's 40,000, in Canada, I have a fraction of those. There aren't many people like me, or companies like software, that's directing to that minimal viable market. All I care about, all I want to do is reach those churches, I don't need to expand into nonprofits so much, or anything else. I'm trying to stay focused on churches, same message, there's value in the energy and the momentum of, hey, we've got this curated group of customers. We're providing the same content, and we're connecting them. Part of what we do is we connect executive pastors and churches that are already spread out all over the country, they have no idea what other churches are doing to help the unemployed. We connect them, they can talk. When I'm creating a tribe, again, Seth Godin tribes, great book is, how do you create a tribe? Be the curator of content and value to that tribe?
Robert Peterson 33:42
That's so good. That's the challenge so many people are afraid to niche down to that minimum viable group. The real value in that isn't what they do as a group. It's the language that you start using more regularly, more consistently. The language that they hear automatically matches up with them. Then you start attracting that minimum viable group, and guess who comes with them? The group that's right around them, and close by him. Entrepreneurs need to hear Wait, it's okay to target, all the way down to Nancy, who makes exactly this and who does exactly this and walks their dogs on Tuesdays at two o'clock? Absolutely. The more narrow that you can, the more narrow that you can nail it down, helps your communication, it helps you speak to that client in the language that they're listening to. You attract more people than then you're out there trying to find anybody with a credit card.
Bruce Smith 34:53
It's easier to tell the story correctly. Instead of having to think this is If I'm not talking to a church, I'm talking to something else. I have to. I have to change my story each time I talk to a different customer. If I'm talking to the same people, I'll use a tribe of customers that all have the same profile, I can tell the same story in my, in my marketing message compounds. There's a whole conversation that's going on, that I'm unaware of, of those potential customers, one will hear the message and say, not for me, it could be for my friend over at this other, in my case, another church, or entity that would resound with that concentration of similar buyers similar message, is very valuable, especially at the beginning, when we're building a company
Robert Peterson 35:44
So good, that leads to the idea of authenticity, the online space, it's so easy to try to pretend to be somebody else. Obviously, you and I both come from a background where we want to be authentic, we want to put our true selves out there. The church world is also known for people putting on a Sunday suit, and in a Sunday appearance and not being the same character, not being the same person that they are during the week. In your business experience, how valuable is character? What do you recommend for somebody who's struggling
Bruce Smith 36:25
The first part of that is character, character only shows up over time. You could have great character, no one's gonna see it on day one, it's the same character that shows up year after year. Then that's when trust begins. That's irreplaceable, you cannot replace them. The consistency, continuity, of always showing up is extremely important. In a world where people want to get rich quick, or they want solutions quick, or they want the easy road, you might get lucky, strike a deal. Over time, that's where the real value is. When it comes to character, character is built over time. It's valued. From the outside, more and more over time, hardly ever on day one. What was the second part of that? Second part of that, Oh, someone's struggling with, with character. I can only look, Robert, I can only go back to the gospel on that. Character is founded and is found in the Gospel, it's the truth, and character is built on truth, not on pithy ideas, or things that feel good. Building your life on a rock like Christ. That's where character comes from. Then the way that you get through the hard times, where characters are built, is through that faith in Jesus Christ. That's my gospel for the day. There's real, I would say worldly value in that, as you walk through trials and tribulations, where you learn from, hard knocks, that's where character is built.
Robert Peterson 38:20
I agree with you wholeheartedly. Love, obviously, having a relationship with the Lord is foundational. Character is how you show up in that adversity. Yes, and it's interesting. For me, it's, acting above the line of courage, what I would call the line of courage acting in the positive emotional states, the majority of the time finding joy, peace, love, all the, all the fruits of the Spirit. In recognizing that those negative emotions, grief, shame, guilt, and all those, those are symbols, those are signs that something's wrong, and that you need to make a change that something's going on. That's not to say that bad things don't happen to good people, bad things do but good people react differently than bad people. For me, it's that level of responsibility. I absolutely trust in the Lord but I'm still responsible for my actions and my behaviors and how I face how I show up in the world. Helping people see that right. God loves me regardless of how I show up in the world. In my love for him, I want to do the very best and I want to show up as my very best self. When I show up in the world. It means acting. That means owning the things that I can own right how I treat my wife, how I treat my kids, how I treat my partners, how I treat people in business. All of those are reflections of my character, that I choose to act, in those higher emotions, and I choose to try to not control my anger to recognize that if I feel anger that there's something going on inside of me that says, Ooh, something's not right, what's going on? Robert, that's not and deal with that. That's the development of emotional intelligence. It's important in every structure, whether you have a faith background or not, you need to have some emotional intelligence to deal with other people, and how you show up in the world. I'll tell you that there's a lot more happening above the line where you're responsible for yourself than below the line where you're a victim, and the world's happening to you and God hates you. That's a convenient excuse. God doesn't love me. He hates me, I'm a sinner, bla bla bla, made all these excuses for all the things that they're doing. They continue to do poorly in the world.
Bruce Smith 40:54
The tough thing about character is there are no short term wins. There are not when you're living with
Robert Peterson 41:04
your loved one did one day at a time.
Bruce Smith 41:07
Yes. Nobody sees it, except you on day one. When you do something hard, and it's sacrificial, nobody sees it and nobody cares. Over time, people see the value of character, of the consistency and the selflessness that is a result of building character. That's what makes it so hard to do that over and some people take the short way out. I've always believed that it's easy to get rich, it's what you are willing to do to sell your time yourself, your cares, your morality, whatever you want to call it, it's easy, anybody can get rich. It's doing what God has called us to do. Whether we get rich or not, it's in God's sovereign hands.
Robert Peterson 41:57
There's tons of forms of wealth, first of all, and financial wealth is only part of it. Relational wealth is far more valuable. In how you choose. The great thing about the kingdom is that you can choose to get financial wealth by serving other people by helping more people and it can be Win Win situation where everybody benefits you're not, you're not taken away from anybody else, you're adding value to them. You're receiving financial value in return. Everybody is benefiting. IThere is a place in this world where everybody wins. Some people in the cutthroat corporate world tell you Oh, that's not possible. Or if they have a scarcity mindset that they think, there's all these limitations on it, I simply don't believe it. One of my best examples is my daughter was trying to get my grandson to give me a hug, and she's running over saying, I'm gonna take grandpa's hug, I'm gonna take his hug. Wait a minute, there's not only one hug, there's an unlimited number of hugs. As long as I'm breathing air, there's hugs available.There's an abundance of hugs. For me, it was alright, now I see it, I see how easily we can jump into scarcity. We use scarcity as a tactic, as a tool, as a limitation. I want to tell people look, God's love is unlimited. God's desire for us to experience abundance is unlimited. All he's asking us to do is take care of each other. If you've got a product or service or, or skill that takes care of other people, you will be blessed if you use it to take care of other people. That's exactly what entrepreneurship is exactly what good ministry is, it can be done in a way that creates this wave of abundance that causes more. The great thing about abundance is we can invest it into other ministries and other services, that all continues to create more.
Bruce Smith 44:05
A practical part of that is building extra capacity, in your time, in your product, in your profits, to be able to respond in those situations where maybe you're giving it away. In my software business, I can give it away if I want to. It doesn't cost me much except, some bandwidth or some server space. If I find a church that needs, the platform can afford it, I can give it to him if I want to. It allows me the capacity to be generous. I would encourage an entrepreneur that when you're when you're building a company, building a service, whatever that is, that you don't live, it's razor thin on the margin, that there's something that you can give Give away when the opportunity comes up,
Robert Peterson 45:02
So valuable. Let's talk about the value of contribution and generosity in this journey, and I love that, looking at it that way building the capacity to give into to bless others and that doesn't have to be your church or ministry thing that can be your employees even giving, buying them all lunch giving them, taking care of their family, when when a crisis hits, there's so many opportunities to give and to bless others beyond the normal expectations. That's what giving is. It doesn't have to be sacrificial, it can be planned, I plan my time, my wife, and I plan our time that we've been doing that, for 30 plus years that we've been married, and anything that's above that, we have opportunities to give above that, and we love to create that. I love it that, in your company, you build extra capacity to give when the opportunity presents itself. That is an outstanding plan. All companies should have that, regardless of faith, regardless of traits. This is not this is this is a I'm gonna say it's a spiritual law, it is a law, a universal law. It's a natural law, that giving, putting money out into the world, putting your time, talent and treasure out into the world for free, brings it back around, it puts it into the flow, and it causes that flood and money flows like spirit money is a very spiritual tool. Very few people start to recognize that and see it that way. Even Jesus talked about the parable of talents, he talked about putting it out there putting it to use and the one guy that buried it, he said the least you could have done is put it in the bank. It earned interest. He wants the money to go to work, put the money to work, it's designed to work, it's a tool. The tool doesn't do any good stuck in the toolbox, you gotta take it out of there and put it to work. I love that. Thank you for sharing that. How is giving being beneficial for you and your company for you and your family?
Bruce Smith 47:09
I'm sorry. Say that again? How is giving? Listen, I'll be honest, I struggle with it. When times are tough at the Smith house, sometimes I struggle with being generous. We've been generous, we sometimes get challenged, we've got financial pressures here, I got three in college and started this company on the side, and my wife has her own business. I would be less than honest, if I said I'm always more than generous and above the tie. Trying to stay consistent and faithful to that. The capacity thing is a big deal. I'm trying to find more capacity in my life where not only in work, where I can make time for the unexpected, where I can be generous and unencumbered to help someone or or company solve a problem without expecting to get paid. Also I try to build that into my personal life where I can be available. If someone shows up unexpectedly. I know these days in our world, we don't like any unplanned minutes, we make sure that my calendar is blocked for a reason. This is my work time. This is my playtime. This is my family time. This is why I'm sleeping after that. It's hard to bake in some capacity for generosity and availability. I'm trying to do that. The funny thing is I'm trying to bake in the availability in exchange for what, actually nothing, it's nothing time, you get nothing for that you're supposed to leave it or not
Robert Peterson 48:58
The idea of it's nothing time comes from a pretty narrow view of our time, right are so tightly tightly controlling our time. Man, if you've got space in your capacity, I love that phrase, if you've got capacity that when you walk to the mailbox, and you see the neighbor, that you can not waive that you could actually say hi and have a conversation and find out how they're doing. Man there's so much value in that and people are longing to be listened to and have an opportunity to tell their story. If you don't have the capacity for some listening, that capacity applies to their kids. They're there. They're working at home, they're sitting at their desk and they're 40 hours and maybe 45 Maybe 50 Every time the kid comes up and pulls on the shirt sleeve and says, `` Mommy can now Daddy, can we do something and we turned to him and we said, ``Oh, just busy. We're busy. We got to stop Being busy, busy is a waste of whatever, and say, No, what this zoom call goes until two o'clock and at two o'clock I got 10 minutes we're plugging it in, we're doing something awesome. Having that capacity, generosity of our time is probably far more challenging for most people than generosity with their money.
Bruce Smith 50:20
There's so much pressure in life tickets to optimize, to optimize all your time. Listen, Robert, that's funny, there'll be times when I know I've got mail outside. I can see from here, if a neighbor is outside, I'm going to grab the mail and get back in because I gotta get on a call or do something right. Or I know, my neighbors are going to occupy 30 minutes of my time, if they catch me, I have the same challenges the rest of the world does.
Robert Peterson 50:50
today more than ever, our neighbors need to be heard. Why can't we bake in that 30 minutes and plan it. Man, I gotta get up 30 minutes earlier, I'm going to talk at that mailbox for 30 minutes. Make that happen? On the one hand, it feels like oh, that's it doesn't fit any of my categories for scheduling. On the other hand, it adds so much value.
Bruce Smith 51:16
A real practical response to that is a book called the Common Rule, which is a fantastic book, it gives, especially in the age of distraction and technology. Give some great suggestions around how to manage your phone, your phone is not neutral. Fighting for your time. There are people that are being paid billions of dollars to make sure that that phone is not neutral. There's a lot of technology and science behind that to distract you. It's a great book about spending time with people from meals, scheduling time without your phone, scheduling time to be available to be one on one with people. A real practical approach to how to manage some of that, demand for optimized life. I highly recommend Ivelisse. I've listened to it probably four or five times so good.
Robert Peterson 52:21
The recognition that your phone is not neutral, that yes, your phone is being paid to get your attention. Absolutely. The more attention you give it, the more it will get to. One of the things I encourage people to do is be very intentional about what you allow into it. I encourage people to stop watching the news, I encourage you to trust me, if it's important, you'll find out. It will get to you. Trust me, there's so much it's so overwhelming. Our news is this constant stream of disaster and the world Wow. Your brain is not made for that. Our brains are still in caveman mode, for the most part, especially when it comes to survival. When our brain hears all these messages, it starts dumping adrenaline to protect us, it starts up on adrenaline to fight the lion outside. What the truth is, there is no lion outside. We don't need all that adrenaline dumped into our system for no reason. When you turn those things off, you can start experiencing the chemicals of joy and the chemicals of those positive fruits of the Spirit I mentioned earlier you enjoy peace, love, all of those things come from, dopamine, oxytocin, serotonin, and endorphins that our bodies designed to give us. We're so distracted by the anxiety and stress of the world that we're in fight and flight mode 90% of the time and don't even realize it.
Bruce Smith 53:55
Coming back to the vision purpose mission. Over time, I've realized that I can't solve everyone's problems. Surprise, surprise. There's this lane in my life that I'm pretty good at. I try to focus on if I'm going to be helpful if I'm going to add value. If I can love someone, it's in my lane. There are a lot of challenges in my community in my world, that unless God calls me and equips me to do that. He's equipped me and called me and put me in this lane. I'm gonna run down this lane as fast as I can. Follow me a call God has already given me and there's a lot of noise that's going to distract me from that. I can't even do this one mission. If I get distracted with all the other things I'm trying to solve, I can't do that. I'm prayerful that God has called other people to these other lanes. Not that I'm neglecting them or avoiding them. He's called me here. This is where I'm going to run until he tells me otherwise.
Robert Peterson 55:13
That's so powerful. so many people get overwhelmed by so much stuff. 99% of it, they have no control over or no responsibility for. They're getting themselves all wound up over things that are completely outside of their purview outside of their lane. It's absolutely a big distraction. Of course, it's slowing them down. It's interesting, Steve Harvey, and obviously Steve Harvey's a comedian, and talk show or game show host. He made the statement that the devil has one job, and it's to distract you from your God given purpose. If you found your purpose, and then find out all these other things are pulling you away from your purpose. That's the devil, he's distracting you with all this chaos, to stop you from running down your lane. That's so powerful to recognize, look, I got this lane. God's called me to this. I gotta trust that God's calling other people to take care of Ukraine and all these other things that are going on. I can't, I have no influence. On those lanes, I have no power. I have no voice. I don't know anybody that's working over there. I can't give them a call and say, Hey, let's fix this. If God wants me to fix that, he's gonna make all those things happen. He's gonna give me the relationships, he's gonna give me the connections, he's gonna give me the responsibility. He's giving me the call that says, Do this is your thing. You're gonna wake up passionate about it, and you're gonna start making those connections to make a difference in that place.
Bruce Smith 56:41
That's the body of Christ at work. Hope so, if I'm a screwdriver. Please don't use me as a hammer.
Robert Peterson 56:50
Bruce Smith 56:52
I'm a good screwdriver. That's a healthy view of the Body of Christ . Look, I can give my money to Ukraine, I can give my money to a lot of different things. I do if I can, with my time and my talents, my treasure, most of it goes in the lane that God has called me to.
Robert Peterson 57:17
Even in your giving, it could spread thin versus being able to make significant contributions to significant things. I can give a penny to every ministry that I've fallen in love with. The truth is, I can focus on the one or two that my wife and I are committed to, and I can make significant contributions that will make a difference for that ministry. I can count on other people to make a difference in the other ministries that they've been called to. That's so powerful. We're gonna switch gears a little bit. Bruce, what was your favorite, your most memorable date with your wife?
Bruce Smith 57:56
Oh, my gosh. It might be when I asked her to marry me. Try to make a long story short, my roommate at the time was a pilot. I had a coupon for a free tuxedo, the one I used the month before was ruined. I got a tuxedo. I got some flowers. I got my roommate to fly us to St. Simons Island. Check this out. We went down to the beach. As I was starting, as I proposed to her on St. Simons, fireworks started coming up from Jekyll Island, which was pretty crazy, I had nothing to do. We were able to enjoy that. Then fast forward. Robert, check this out. Fast forward. Nine months later, I went to the Knights of Columbus meeting the Knights of Columbus, I have nothing to do with them. Somebody dragged me along for some luncheon. I'm sitting there eating rubber chicken, listening to the Treasurer talk about their annual meeting that they had in Jekyll Island that was capped off by fireworks. I raised my hand and I said, I wanted to thank you for the fireworks that you displayed at what I proposed to my wife.
Robert Peterson 59:27
That's funny. You said nine months and other things pass through my mind like later
Bruce Smith 59:34
no, no fireworks. Anyway, that was my best date ever.
Robert Peterson 59:40
Very good. That's pretty good. Bruce, what's the big dream?
Bruce Smith 59:46
The big dream. Wow. You should have told me before you're gonna ask these questions, Robert.
Robert Peterson 59:50
God, no time to make it up. You gotta go with what your heart says.
Bruce Smith 59:55
Big dream. I would say at least around here. My passion and mission in career ministry is figuring out a way where the church can be more impactful, and work. The role I'm playing now is a very practical part of helping people get jobs, helping employers find people. That's a very tangible, practical thing that we're working on. The bigger vision, the bigger purpose, the bigger dream is, speaking, the biblical truth about work into people's lives, that the work that they're doing is more rewarding, more fulfilling, more God honoring, more redeeming, and what that looks like and how to get there. I haven't figured that out yet. We're on the road.
Robert Peterson 1:00:54
Nice. So good. Bruce, you spent an hour with a young entrepreneur having coffee and you're leaving with Bruce's Words of Wisdom, what would you share?
Bruce Smith 1:01:05
Robert, you're killing me here.
Robert Peterson 1:01:07
I'm doing great, you're great.
Bruce Smith 1:01:12
I would be a young entrepreneur. I'd say be all in. Figure out what it is that you're trying to do, figure out who you're trying to impact, why you're trying to impact and the change you're trying to make, right? If you can quantify that. You've got a way to do that. Be all in, and make it happen until the world shuts you down. That would be my encouragement.
Robert Peterson 1:01:47
Perfect. Bruce, thank you so much for joining me. I appreciate all the wisdom and conversation and even the surprising answers.
Bruce Smith 1:01:55
You bet we are our great, great, great to spend this time with you. Thanks for having me.