Ethics & the GT Region, pt. 3: Real Networking vs. My Business Department

Ethics & the GT Region, pt. 3: Real Networking vs. My Business Department July 27, 2018

This networking post is part of an ethics and values series of writings, a talk for community business leaders, motivated more by pragmatic concerns than by religious interests.  However, religious values are certainly implicit to the piece.

In this writing, it’s my intention to exercise caution and spare some details.  I am not adding words at this point, although I have been providing some commentary in the previous footnotes (see Ethics & the G.T. Bay Area Region: 1. Developing & Holding to Our Values and Ethics & the GT Region, pt. 2: on Agriculture, Commercialization & Discretionary Income).

William​ ​Cavanaugh’s​ ​book​ ​​Being​ ​Consumed​​ ​addresses​ ​globalization​ ​as​ ​opposed​ ​to​ ​local culture.​  ​​​Even​ ​though​ ​we​ ​have​ ​some​ ​global​ ​commercial​ ​chains​ ​in​ ​the​ ​region,​ ​we​ ​have​ ​also​ ​held onto​ ​our​ ​heritage.​  ​​​My​ ​wife​ ​and​ ​I​ ​have​ ​lived​ ​in​ ​cities​ ​like​ ​this​ ​before,​ ​fairly​ ​picky​ ​about​ ​what​ ​big name​ ​companies​ ​are​ ​allowed​ ​in.​  ​​​Locally​ ​owned​ ​business​es ​thrive​ ​here.​  There​ ​is​ ​a​ ​commitment to​ ​who​ ​we​ ​are​ ​and​ ​that​ ​is​ ​a​ ​guiding​ ​value,​ ​or​ ​what​ ​Cavanaugh​ ​calls a telos.[1]

JVI, GT East Bay | 07.23.18

Ethics & the GT Region, pt. 3: Real Networking vs. Our Own Business Departments

i. Young Professional Development

How​ ​are​ ​we​ ​helping​ ​young​ ​professionals​ ​settle​ ​into​ ​roles​ ​in​ ​the​ ​region?​  ​​​How​ ​are​ ​they going​ ​to​ ​help​ ​us​ ​progress?​  ​​​One​ ​answer​ ​I​ ​received​ ​is​ ​that​ ​there​ ​is​ ​a​ ​difference​ ​in​ ​the​ ​way​ ​younger planners​ ​see​ ​regional​ ​development​ ​as​ ​opposed​ ​to​ ​others​ ​in​ ​their​ ​fifties.​

There​ ​may​ ​be​ ​a​ ​stark contrast​ ​between​ ​recent​ ​generations​ ​in​ ​Traverse​ ​City

This​ ​fall,​ ​one​ ​of​ ​our​ ​local​ ​business​ ​publications​ ​ran​ ​an​ ​article​ ​on​ ​forty​ ​top​ ​leaders​ ​in​ ​the region,​ ​all​ ​under​ ​the​ ​age​ ​of​ ​forty.[2]  One​ ​of​ ​those​ ​young​ ​leaders​ ​is​ ​Max​ ​Anderson,​ ​Executive Director​ ​of​ ​the​ ​​Traverse​ ​City​ ​Area​ ​Chamber​ ​of​ ​Commerce​.​ ​​​Our​ ​chamber​ ​now​ ​offers​ ​a​ ​couple professional​ ​development​ ​networks.​ ​​​One​ ​is​ ​​Leadership​ ​Grand​ ​Traverse​​ ​which​ ​is​ ​for​ ​everyone. The​ ​other​ ​is​ ​​Traverse​ ​City​ ​Young​ ​Professionals​​ ​which​ ​serves​ ​young​ ​adults.

To​ ​assist​ ​young families,​ ​we​ ​offer​ ​regional​ ​child-care​ ​available​ ​through the Great Start Collaborative.[3]

One person​ ​I​ ​interviewed​ ​said​ ​he​ ​has​ ​never​ ​seen​ ​anything​ ​like​ ​it​ ​in​ ​other​ ​cities.​ ​​​“If​ ​you​ ​can’t​ ​find mentoring​ ​in​ ​Traverse​ ​City,​ ​then​ ​you’re​ ​the​ ​problem!”

On​ ​the​ ​other​ ​hand,​ ​while​ ​preparing​ ​this​ ​talk,​ ​two​ ​of​ ​those​ ​top​ ​forty​ ​young​ ​adults​ ​lost​ ​their jobs.​  They​ ​both​ ​held​ ​high​ ​ranking​ ​offices.​  This​ ​is​ ​a​ ​hot​ ​topic​ ​in​ ​local​ ​news.​  No​ ​misconduct​ ​or poor​ ​performance​ ​has​ ​been​ ​reported.​  In​ ​fact,​ ​their​ ​good​ ​performance​ ​is​ ​why​ ​they​ ​were​ ​noticed​ ​as leaders​ ​in​ ​the​ ​area.  They​ ​both​ ​were​ ​hired​ ​under​ ​a​ ​previous​ ​leader​ ​who​ ​left​ ​not​ ​long​ ​afterwards. It’s​ ​speculated​ ​that​ ​these​ ​two​ ​have​ ​been​ ​asked​ ​to​ ​leave,​ ​a​ ​decision​ ​that​ ​may​ ​be​ ​more​ ​politically motivated​ ​than​ ​anything.

I​ ​don’t​ ​know​ ​the​ ​reason,​ ​and​ ​I​ ​imagine​ ​no​ ​single​ ​news​ ​source​ ​has​ ​the whole​ ​story

I​ ​only​ ​want​ ​to​ ​point​ ​something​ ​out.​  ​​​If​ ​we​ ​want​ ​to​ ​invest​ ​in​ ​the​ ​next​ ​generation,​ ​it won’t​ ​happen​ ​if​ ​we​ ​don’t​ ​offer​ ​them​ ​a​ ​seat​ ​at​ ​the​ ​table.​  ​​​They​ ​are​ ​driven​ ​by​ ​meaningful​ ​work,​ ​i.e. a​ ​cause.​  ​​​If​ ​we​ ​do​ ​not​ ​share​ ​our​ ​power​ ​and​ ​our​ ​values​ ​with​ ​them,​ ​then​ ​our​ ​children​ ​and grandchildren​ ​will​ ​suffer​ ​under​ ​the​ ​inept​ ​leaders​ ​that​ ​we​ ​failed​ ​to​ ​develop.

ii. Networking

Traverse​ ​City​ ​was​ ​actually​ ​better​ ​at​ ​communicating​ ​and​ ​networking​ ​at​ ​one​ ​time.​  ​​​We were​ ​a​ ​smaller​ ​town​ ​that​ ​was​ ​more​ ​interdependent​ ​in​ ​business,​ ​social,​ ​and​ ​church​ ​relationships.  Small​ ​town​ ​values​ ​may​ ​still​ ​survive,​ ​but​ ​many​ ​professionals​ ​have​ ​become​ ​more​ ​progressive.

Churches​ ​used​ ​to​ ​be​ ​more​ ​engaged.​

There​ ​used​ ​to​ ​be​ ​an​ ​extensive​ ​prayer​ ​network​ ​of pastors​ ​who​ ​met​ ​in​ ​small​ ​groups​ ​all​ ​over​ ​town​ ​every​ ​week

This​ ​was​ ​before​ ​my​ ​time​ ​here. ​ ​​​At this​ ​point,​ ​there​ ​is​ ​only​ ​one​ ​remaining​ ​group​ ​from​ ​that​ ​era.

One​ ​person​ ​said​ ​a​ ​couple​ ​of​ ​pastors​ ​trashed​ ​​the​ ​cloth​.​  ​​​There​ ​were​ ​church​ ​splits​ ​and upheavals​ ​at​ ​larger​ ​churches.​  ​​​There​ ​were​ ​doctrinal​ ​differences​ ​that​ ​leaders​ ​failed​ ​to​ ​address.  These​ ​are​ ​the​ ​reasons​ ​our​ ​regional​ ​church​ ​leaders​ ​are​ ​divided.​  ​​​Church​ ​fighting​ ​is​ ​difficult​ ​to​ ​hide in​ ​a​ ​relatively​ ​small​ ​town.​ ​​​Now​ ​our​ ​congregations​ ​take​ ​up​ ​their​ ​own​ ​causes.​  ​​​We​ ​can’t​ ​even make​ ​time​ ​to​ ​pick​ ​a​ ​central​ ​issue​ ​on​ ​an​ ​agenda.​  ​​​It’s​ ​disheartening​ ​that​ ​some​ ​people​ ​view​ ​our congregations​ ​this​ ​way,​ ​when​ ​we​ ​should​ ​be​ ​setting​ ​an​ ​example​ ​in​ ​the​ ​area​ ​of​ ​networking.

iii. Community Networking

While​ ​concluding​ ​this​ ​study,​ ​I​ ​had​ ​more​ ​questions​ ​than​ ​I​ ​began​ ​with.​  ​​​I​ ​was​ ​surprised when​ ​one​ ​person​ ​I​ ​spoke​ ​to​ ​said​ ​that​ ​all​ ​these​ ​issues​ ​are​ ​only​ ​a​ ​nice​ ​coffee​ ​talk.​  ​​​He​ ​said vineyards,​ ​hops,​ ​and​ ​alcohol​ ​are​ ​not​ ​the​ ​problem.​ ​ ​​Professional​ ​development​ ​for​ ​our​ ​young​ ​adults is​ ​not​ ​the​ ​issue.​  ​​​Networking​ ​is​ ​the​ ​issue.​  ​​​No​ ​one​ ​will​ ​come​ ​together​ ​unless​ ​there’s​ ​a​ ​cause.

Once​ ​again,​ ​I​ ​was​ ​surprised​ ​with​ ​what​ ​he​ ​said​ ​next.​  ​​​Although​ ​he​ ​works​ ​in​ ​a​ ​different field,​ ​he​ ​has​ ​friends in ​law​ ​enforcement.​  ​​​It’s​ ​not​ ​making​ ​the​ ​news,​ ​but we​ ​have​ ​a​ ​couple​ ​of​ ​terrible​ ​regional​ ​problems,​ ​human​ ​trafficking​ ​and​ ​opiate​ ​drugs.​

His​ ​question is,​ ​why​ ​not​ ​network​ ​with​ ​other​ ​leaders​ ​to​ ​discuss​ ​real​ ​issues?

He​ ​says​ ​about​ ​one​ ​in​ ​six​ ​around​ ​here​ ​are​ ​addicted​ ​to​ ​an​ ​opiate​ ​like​ ​heroin​ ​or​ ​fentanyl.​  ​​​I have​ ​heard​ ​of​ ​this​ ​issue​ ​before.​  ​​​It’s​ ​not​ ​difficult​ ​to​ ​find​ ​news​ ​sources​ ​reporting​ ​that​ ​our​ ​opiate issues​ ​are​ ​higher​ ​than​ ​national​ ​averages.​  ​​​People​ ​are​ ​not​ ​dying​ ​at​ ​the​ ​bar​ ​or​ ​casino.​  ​​​They’re dying​ ​from​ ​one​ ​hit​ ​of​ ​fentanyl​ ​because​ ​it’s​ ​highly​ ​potent.​  ​​​He​ ​pointed​ ​out​ ​fatalities​ ​in​ ​recent​ ​news stories​ ​that​ ​my​ ​wife​ ​and​ ​I​ ​know​ ​about,​ ​where​ ​the​ ​cause​ ​was​ ​not​ ​reported.​  ​​​He​ ​knows​ ​it​ ​was​ ​from fentanyl.​  ​​​People​ ​have​ ​no​ ​idea​ ​how​ ​easily​ ​they​ ​can​ ​OD​ ​on​ ​this​ ​particular​ ​drug.

Human​ ​trafficking​ ​is​ ​something​ ​the​ ​state​ ​of​ ​Michigan​ ​is​ ​burdened​ ​with.​  ​​​Locally,​ ​children are​ ​sold​ ​to​ ​support​ ​expensive​ ​drug​ ​habits.​  There may be a couple of safe​ ​houses in the region, rescuing locals and people from​ ​out​ ​of​ ​state​ ​who​ ​come​ ​in​ ​​hot​,​ ​because​ ​their​ ​pimps​ ​are​ ​still​ ​hunting​ ​for​ ​them.

He​ ​stated​ ​that​ ​if​ ​we​ ​want​ ​to​ ​get​ ​something​ ​on​ ​the agenda​ ​that​ ​can​ ​truly​ ​help​ ​our​ ​region,​ ​why​ ​not​ ​start​ ​talking​ ​about​ ​these​ ​issues?​  ​​​These​ ​problems are​ ​on​ ​his​ ​heart​ ​every​ ​day​ ​as​ ​he​ ​starts​ ​the​ ​day.​  However,​ ​in​ ​his​ ​line​ ​of​ ​work,​ ​he​ ​does​ ​not​ ​have​ ​time​ ​to​ ​organize​ ​a​ ​network.

What​ ​could​ ​a​ ​network​ ​like​ ​this​ ​do​ ​for​ ​a​ ​region​ ​like​ ​ours?​

Could​ ​we​ ​stop​ ​it?​  ​​​Maybe​ ​a better​ ​question​ ​is​ ​asked​ ​by​ ​Steven​ ​Garber​ ​as​ ​he​ ​wraps​ ​up​ ​his​ ​book​ ​​Visions​ ​of​ ​Vocation​.​  Could we​ ​stop​ ​it​ ​for​ ​some?​  ​​​Wouldn’t​ ​that​ ​be​ ​worth​ ​something?  Could​ ​we​ ​strive​ ​for​ ​the​ ​​proximate​, stopping​ ​it​ ​for​ ​as​ ​many​ ​as​ ​we​ ​can,​ ​knowing​ ​that​ ​it​ ​will​ ​probably​ ​continue​ ​for​ ​others.​

Can​ ​we strive​ ​for​ ​proximate​ ​justice?[4]  Wouldn’t​ ​some​ ​of​ ​our​ ​efforts​ ​be​ ​better​ ​than​ ​none?

A​ ​network​ ​that​ ​works​ ​with​ ​major​ ​issues​ ​would​ ​be​ ​a​ ​great​ ​venture.​  ​​​

However,​ ​it​ ​may​ ​be difficult​ ​to​ ​sustain​ ​a​ ​volunteer​ ​network​ ​that​ ​focuses​ ​on​ ​deterring​ ​crime​ ​over​ ​time

However,​ ​if guiding​ ​outcomes​ ​were​ ​built-in​ ​from​ ​the​ ​beginning,​ ​the​ ​network​ ​could​ ​start​ ​with​ ​just​ ​one​ ​issue and​ ​eventually​ ​widen​ ​its​ ​ability​ ​to​ ​invest​ ​in​ ​our​ ​region.​  ​​​What​ ​is​ ​the​ ​end​ ​game,​ ​the​ ​hope​ ​we would​ ​all​ ​be​ ​striving​ ​for,​ ​the​ ​​telos​,​ ​the​ ​meaning,​ ​the​ ​cause?

We’re​ ​already​ ​witnessing​ ​a​ ​growing​ ​synergy​ ​among​ ​our young​ ​professionals.​  ​​​I​ ​could ask,​ ​what​ ​are​ ​they​ ​doing​ ​together​ ​that​ ​is​ ​similar​ ​to​ ​​discipleship​​ ​or​ ​​catechesis​​ ​in​ ​the​ ​church?​  ​​​In both​ ​instances,​ ​we​ ​gather​ ​together​ ​to​ ​develop​ ​people​ ​and​ ​incorporate​ ​them​ ​into​ ​community.

Cosco​ ​has​ ​finally​ ​set​ ​up​ ​a​ ​shop​ ​in​ ​our​ ​city​ ​this​ ​year.​

We​ ​​​may​ ​soon​ ​discover​ ​that​ ​a similar​ ​set​ ​of​ ​values​ ​guides​ ​them

​​​Jim​ ​Sinegal,​ ​a​ ​Cosco​ ​co-founder,​ ​discusses​ ​their​ ​unique​ ​work culture​ ​that​ ​makes​ ​headlines.​  ​​​Their​ ​values,​ ​like​ ​integrity,​ ​drive​ ​them​ ​in​ ​many​ ​ways.​ ​​​Sinegal says:

Honesty​ ​and​ ​doing​ ​the​ ​right​ ​thing​ ​cannot​ ​be​ ​the​ ​responsibility​ ​of​ ​management​ ​alone.  Every​ ​level​ ​of​ ​the​ ​company​ ​should​ ​understand​ ​what​ ​the​ ​rules​ ​are​ ​and​ ​every​ ​employee​ ​in the​ ​company​ ​should​ ​be​ ​mortified​ ​if​ ​the​ ​company​ ​and​ ​its​ ​people​ ​don’t​ ​do​ ​what​ ​they​ ​are supposed​ ​to​ ​do.​  ​​​The​ ​attitude​ ​has​ ​got​ ​to​ ​be​ ​pervasive​ ​throughout​ ​the​ ​organization:​ ​“We don’t​ ​do​ ​that​ ​kind​ ​of​ ​stuff​ ​around​ ​here!​ ​​​Period!”[5]

If​ ​a​ ​network​ ​at​ ​least​ ​shares​ ​common​ ​values,​ ​then​ ​those​ ​values​ ​will​ ​guide​ ​them​ ​as​ ​they​ ​act on​ ​troubling​ ​issues,​ ​and​ ​as they​ ​seek​ ​to​ ​help​ ​others​ ​develop.​  ​​​A​ ​strategic​ ​network​ ​like​ ​that​ ​could possibly​ ​make​ ​a​ ​difference​ ​in​ ​a​ ​community​ ​like​ ​ours.

Clifton​ ​Taulbert​ ​is​ ​the​ ​President​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Freemount​ ​Corporation,​ ​an​ ​author,​ ​a​ ​sought​ ​after speaker,​ ​and​ ​an​ ​expert​ ​on​ ​community​ ​development

His​ ​character​ ​development​ ​materials​ ​are used​ ​in​ American​ ​schools​ ​and​ ​prisons.​  ​​​He​ ​helps​ ​communities​ ​form​ ​these​ ​types​ ​of​ ​networks,​ ​like those​ ​we​ ​once​ ​had.​  ​​​He​ ​brings​ ​leaders​ ​together​ ​who​ ​are​ ​already​ ​invested​ ​in​ ​the​ ​community,​ ​like clergy,​ ​health​ ​care​ ​professionals,​ ​educators,​ ​those​ ​in​ ​the​ ​social​ ​sectors,​ ​etc.

His​ ​approach​ ​is​ ​unique.​  ​​​We​ ​think​ ​of​ ​professional​ ​development​ ​and​ ​even​ ​church discipleship​ ​as​ ​something​ ​that​ ​makes​ ​an​ ​individual​ ​stronger.​  ​​​Clifton​ ​focuses​ ​on​ ​making​ ​the community​ ​stronger,​ ​a​ ​community​ ​that​ ​will​ ​naturally​ ​raise​ ​up​ ​healthy​ ​generations.​  ​​​He​ ​shares stories​ ​of​ ​communities​ ​like​ ​ours​ ​where​ ​people​ ​used​ ​to​ ​know​ ​each​ ​other.​ ​ ​​We​ ​used​ ​to​ ​have​ ​a vested​ ​interest​ ​in​ ​each​ ​other.​  ​​​Your​ ​success​ ​used​ ​to​ ​be​ ​my​ ​success.

Have​ ​our​ ​busy​ ​lives,​ ​our​ ​corporate​ ​ladders,​ ​and​ ​competitive​ ​practices​ ​caused​ ​us​ ​to​ ​forget some​ ​things​ ​that​ ​should​ ​not​ ​have​ ​been​ ​forgotten?​

Do​ ​we​ ​care​ ​about​ ​networking​ ​in​ ​ways​ ​that could​ ​actually​ ​encourage​ ​us​ ​and​ ​help​ ​us​ ​achieve​ ​collective​ ​goals,​ ​instead​ ​of​ ​just​ ​mine,​ ​or​ ​those​ ​in my​ ​business​ ​department?​

Could​ ​we​ ​not​ ​only​ ​strive​ ​for​ ​our​ ​own​ ​success,​ ​but​ ​also​ ​expect​ ​the​ ​best of​ ​others?​ ​​​Clifton​ ​states:

Expecting​ ​the​ ​best​ ​of​ ​others​ ​and​ ​praising​ ​their​ ​achievements​ ​was​ ​not​ ​just​ ​the​ ​long-ago practice​ ​of​ ​a​ ​small-town​ ​group​ ​of​ ​visionaries.​ ​​​It​ ​must​ ​be​ ​practiced​ ​wherever​ ​we​ ​live, where​ ​we​ ​work​ ​and​ ​where​ ​we​ ​play.​ ​​​We​ ​must​ ​look​ ​for​ ​ways​ ​to​ ​lift​ ​the​ ​sights​ ​of​ ​those​ ​who feel​ ​downcast,​ ​and​ ​we​ ​must​ ​remember​ ​to​ ​extend​ ​words​ ​of​ ​encouragement​ ​and​ ​praise when​ ​fellow​ ​workers,​ ​students,​ ​volunteers,​ ​or​ ​teammates​ ​have​ ​done​ ​well.​ ​​​This​ ​is especially​ ​important​ ​if​ ​the​ ​accomplishment​ ​seems​ ​modest​ ​but​ ​contributes​ ​to​ ​the​ ​building of​ ​a​ ​good,​ ​productive​ ​community.​  ​​​Small​ ​acts​ ​of​ ​community-building​ ​can​ ​be​ ​of​ ​immense value.[6]

This​ ​project​ ​is​ ​only​ ​a​ ​modest​ ​contribution.  ​​​I​ ​am​ ​still​ ​in​ ​awe​ ​of​ ​the​ ​community​ ​dynamics that​ ​I’m​ ​discovering​ ​in​ ​Traverse​ ​City.  I’m​ ​thankful​ ​for​ ​those​ ​who​ ​have​ ​taken​ ​time​ ​to​ ​talk​ ​with me.​  ​​​I​ ​hope​ ​that​ ​a​ ​desire​ ​will​ ​arise​ ​among​ ​us​ ​to​ ​support​ ​networks​ ​and​ ​forge​ ​new​ ​ones​ ​that​ ​will pass​ ​along​ ​our​ ​values​ ​to​ ​future​ ​generations.


[1] William T. Cavanaugh, Being Consumed: Economics and Christian Desire (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2008), 65-68.

[2] Ross Boissoneau, “2017 40Under40: The Region’s Most Influential Professionals Under Age 40,” Traverse City Business News (September 2017), (November 8, 2017).

[3] Doug​ ​Luciani,​ ​“Building​ ​Community​ ​-​ ​For​ ​Today​ ​and​ ​the​ ​Future,”​ ​​Traverse​ ​City Record-Eagle​​ ​(April​ ​30,​ ​2017), e-future/article_420f553b-e1bb-5efc-8407-8b59e5638f2a.html​​ ​(accessed​ ​November​ ​6,​ ​2017).

[4] Steven​ ​Garber,​ ​​Visions​ ​of​ ​Vocation:​ ​Common​ ​Grace​ ​for​ ​the​ ​Common​ ​Good​​ ​(Downers Grove,​ ​IL:​ ​IVP​ ​Press,​ ​2014),​ ​200-201.

[5] Albert​ ​Erisman​ ​and​ ​David​ ​Gill,​ ​“A​ ​Long​ ​Term​ ​Business​ ​Perspective​ ​in​ ​a​ ​Short​ ​Term World:​ ​A​ ​Conversation​ ​with​ ​Jim​ ​Sinegal,”​ ​in​ ​​Beyond​ ​Integrity:​ ​A​ ​Judeo-Christian​ ​Approach​ ​to Business​ ​Ethics​,​ ​2nd​ ​ed.,​ ​ed.​ ​Scott​ ​B.​ ​Rae​ ​and​ ​Kenman​ ​L.​ ​Wong​ ​(Grand​ ​Rapids,​ ​MI:​ ​Zondervan, 2004),​ ​147.

[6] Clifton​ ​Taulbert,​ ​​Eight​ ​Habits​ ​of​ ​the​ ​Heart:​ ​Embracing​ ​the​ ​Values​ ​that​ ​Build​ ​Strong Families​ ​and​ ​Communities​​ ​(New​ ​York:​ ​Penguin​ ​Books,​ ​1997),​ ​72.



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