Lisa Huetteman2019-12-30T08:54:55-04:00

Your host Lisa Huetteman.

Who am I?

I am a cradle-Catholic who is on this journey just like you. I’m a wife of an awesome husband, mother of two adult daughters, and daughter of an aging mother who lives with us. I am also a business person with 23 years of corporate business development experience and 15 years’ executive and business coaching experience. I am the author of the book The Value of Core Values: Five Keys to Success through Values-Centered Leadership. Although I love my day job as a business coach, I’m most fulfilled when I am praying, reading, worshiping and adoring our Lord.

Who am I not?

I am not a theologian, Biblical scholar, or trained catechist, but I’m learning. The more I read and study our Catholic faith, the lives of the saints, and our traditions, the more I find the connections to what makes businesses successful. There are wonderful lessons and I am passionate about sharing the teachings of the great theologians, Biblical scholars and Church leaders as they apply to your work life, so that you may benefit from the blessings of our faith.

Join me and together let’s go forth, glorifying the Lord by our lives.

BY YOUR LIFE is a podcast that will inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday with Monday through Friday in a secular, business world. It is our desire to help you live your Catholic faith in the marketplace and to discover that it is good for business. We believe that most best practices in business can be linked to Holy Scripture and our Catholic traditions. BY YOUR LIFE hopes to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify God by your life.

Latest Episodes

113 Get to Work

We are all living in a dark time right now. Wouldn’t it be great to fast-forward to the point where we can look back on the blessings that this time will bring? Wouldn’t that make it easier to deal with all the challenges this pandemic has brought into our lives? Well, for people of faith, we are already there. In this episode of By Your Life, we talk about how we are called to share our faith and be a blessing to others.

Ascension of the Lord – May 24, 2020

Happy Easter, a blessed Memorial Day, and welcome to the one hundred and thirteenth episode of By Your Life. I’m Lisa Huetteman and I know that you have a hundred different things you could be doing right now, so I thank you for choosing By Your Life.
My goal is to inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday, with Monday-Friday, in a secular business world. It’s my desire to help you live our Catholic faith in the marketplace. I hope to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify the Lord by your life.

Big dreams

In this edition, we’ll reflect on the readings for the Ascension of the Lord. In the first reading from the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles, before Jesus was taken up, the disciples asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6) This question implies that their belief in Jesus as the Christ meant they expected him to be a political leader who would restore self-rule to Israel. Because that hadn’t happened before he died, they wondered if this was the time?
They still didn’t get it. After being with him for three years, eating and drinking with him, learning from him, and participating in his ministry, they still thought the Messiah’s purpose was to win political freedom from Rome. How disappointed they must have been when “he was lifted up, and a cloud took him from their sight.” (Acts 1:9) Their hopes for the restoration of Israel were crushed. The Messiah had come and was now gone and not only was Rome still occupying Israel, they feared persecution from the Jews who had Jesus killed. They must have been devastated.

Shattered dreams

We all have experienced similar disappointments or periods of darkness when what we planned for is taken from us and we realize what we hoped for will never be. As I was reflecting on this, I thought about Shawn Munn. Shawn is the President of Logos Imaging, a provider of portable digital x-ray solutions, and I wrote an article about him for TwoTen Magazine.
As a teen, Shawn was gifted academically and on track to become valedictorian of his high school class. He was also an athlete who played football, basketball and, just to “be a little lazy,” picked up golf. His identity was wrapped up in sports, and he thought he was headed for success.
But that wasn’t God’s plan. God had dreams for Shawn and to fulfill them he needed to give him a nudge. The summer before his senior year in high school when he was working at a grain elevator during the wheat harvest, his foot slipped into the grain auger and severed his arm above the elbow and his leg just above the knee.
At 17 years old, not only were Shawn’s dreams shattered, his personal identity was gone. Gone were his dreams of walking into Memorial Stadium as a Nebraska Cornhusker. Gone was the hope of finding a woman who could love him. For five years—five years of darkness—there was no joy in his life.  Lost in the forest of his pain, he believed he was destined to live a life he didn’t want—the life of an amputee. As he described it, “I lived in total selfishness and self-pity.”
In hindsight, Shawn recognized that the success he was seeking and was taken from him was on a path to self-destruction. In a moment, God gave him a gentle nudge and it was all taken away. He said, “I don’t know how God uses tragedy in his economy, but at that moment in time, the very hand of God reached in and grabbed me.”
It took over five years for Shawn to accept God’s grace, but through the testimony of Christian athletes and the woman who would become his wife of 25 years, Shawn was rescued from his dark place and as a result, he has gone on to share Christ through his own testimony.

New and improved dreams

Were his dreams really shattered? Not really. Shawn is still an athlete. He’s a competitive golfer with a 12 handicap. Shawn said, “The average person can’t imagine how difficult it is to swing a golf club with one arm.” Laughing, he added, “Try doing it with one leg!” He also met a woman who not only could love him but became his wife and mother of his three children. And, he’s a successful business owner who is a witness to God’s love at home and at work. When I asked if he wished God’s plan for him could have been a little less painful, Shawn emphatically answered “No! Looking back, that day is the single biggest event of my life leading up to my salvation.  It was a transformational event that I would never take away. Nothing would be worth going back and having the life I had before.”
We know from Scripture that the disciples’ dreams weren’t shattered, and neither did they go back to the life they had before. They received “the promise of the Father” (Acts 1:4) and “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:4) Nothing, not even their lives, was more important to them than spreading the news of salvation through Jesus Christ. Accepting this gift changed their lives just as it changed Shawn Munn’s life. It didn’t mean they no longer had trials. It didn’t mean they didn’t suffer again because they surely did. It just meant they were able to persevere through the dark times with the help of the Holy Spirit because they were confident in the hope of their salvation.

Hindsight is 20/20

We are all living in a dark time right now. Wouldn’t it be great to fast-forward to the point where we can look back on the blessings that this time will bring? Wouldn’t that make it easier to deal with all the challenges this pandemic has brought into our lives? Well, for people of faith, we are already there. We know that all things work for good for those who love God. (Rom 8:28) We may not recognize the blessings at the moment, but we live in joy despite the hardship because we have hope.
Wouldn’t it be great to fast-forward to the point where we can look back on the blessings this pandemic will bring?Click to Tweet
This isn’t true for everyone. Some people will not be blessed by this pandemic. Instead, as Shawn Munn did for the first five years after his accident, they will choose selfishness and self-pity over living the joy that comes from knowing and trusting God. We all know people like this, so what are we to do?

The meaning of the Ascension

When writing about the Ascension in his book Vibrant Paradoxes, Bishop Robert Barron says, “The Ascension is Jesus’ journey not to another place but to another dimension. But this dimension to which he has gone is not alien to us. It is instead a source of inspiration, power, and direction. And this is why the angels who appear to the disciples just after Jesus’ departure say, ‘Men of Galilee, why are you standing there looking at the sky?’ (Acts 1:11) What they are hinting at, none to subtly, is this: under the influence of Jesus’ spirit, get to work! Do all you can to foster the marriage of heaven and earth. Get on with the mission of the Church.”
Under the influence of Jesus’ spirit, get to work! Do all you can to foster the marriage of heaven and earth. ~ Bishop Robert Barron @bishopbarronClick to Tweet

Get to work

You may be unemployed or underemployed right now, but we all have a job to do. As Christian disciples, we are called to be [Jesus’] witnesses… to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Shawn Munn’s story wouldn’t have turned out as it did if it weren’t for the people in his life whose witnesses gave him hope. Most of us have people we can point to who did the same for us. Their lives were a witness to the joy that comes from Jesus Christ, and because they shared the cause of that joy, we are now able to live in that joy and to pass it on.
I have a friend, a former colleague, who I keep in contact with and we get together from time to time. She has had her share of suffering as we all do…health issues, loss of a loved one, financial difficulties in a tight economy. But a scan of her Facebook page will reveal a constant stream of posts criticizing others. There is the exceptional post of something in her garden or a new recipe she tried, but 98% of it is sarcastic, vile, and often vulgar attacks on someone or something. I have another friend who is dealing with the exact same health, loss, and financial struggles, but her life radiates joy. The difference is she believes in Jesus Christ and because she has hope in him, she passes it on.
You may wonder why I haven’t “unfriended” my negative friend. It is because I feel sorry for her and I hope that I might be a witness to her. I believe that I have been called to do that. Not just in the general sense like we are all called to be Jesus’ witnesses to the ends of the earth, but I was literally called to help this person. In fact, my phone rang a couple of years ago, and it was her. She hadn’t meant to dial my number, and my name and the person she wanted to call are not next to each other in her contact list, so it wasn’t just an accidental click. She dialed the other person and my phone rang. God knew she needed to talk to me, and he was calling me to be his witness.

Answering the call

Because of that call, I made an effort to be present to her. She was going through a very difficult personal loss and that was a very tough time in her life. Throughout the next year, I continued to call her, reach out, meet her for lunch, and see how she was doing. She took a new job where she was helping other people and the joy that brought to her was noticeable. But then, she quit that job and over the past year has fallen into a negative pit. Every time I read one of her posts, I pray for her. She has no joy and I know the only way out is Jesus. Now that the lockdown is relaxing a bit, I’ve been thinking I need to call her, get take-out, and have lunch with her. This week’s readings confirmed this for me.
Who is God calling you to be a witness to? You don’t have to go to the ends of the earth, just next door.Click to Tweet
How about you? Who is the person that God is calling you to be a witness to? You don’t have to go to the ends of the earth, just next door. Sharing Jesus with someone is not about winning a religious argument, it is about passing on the hope and the joy that you have in him and winning a soul. Pray about that person and ask the Holy Spirit to guide you. That is what I will be doing for my friend.
This week, as we prepare for Pentecost, let’s ask the Holy Spirit to inspire us, strengthen us, and direct us to be Jesus’ witness to that one person God is calling us to.
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created and you will renew the face of the earth.
Lord, by the light of the Holy Spirit you have taught the hearts of your faithful.
In the same Spirit help us to relish what is right and always rejoice in your consolation. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
May God bless you abundantly with his grace this week and may you glorify the Lord by your life.

If you liked this episode, spread the word. You know what to do, forward, share, or click to post. Also, check out the Resources page where you can find a link to the books and other resources mentioned in this and other episodes of By Your Life. I’m always interested in what you think, so give me some feedback by leaving a comment.

By |May 26th, 2020|Categories: By Your Life, Uncategorized|0 Comments

112 Keeping Commandments-Honoring Core Values

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15) But how do we do that and survive in the world of business where our competition isn’t playing by the same rules? How do we do this in a pandemic when all we can do is try to survive? In this episode of By Your Life, we’ll explore how loving God, keeping his commandments, and business profitability are not mutually exclusive.

Sixth Sunday of Easter – May 17, 2020

Happy Easter and welcome to the one hundred and twelfth episode of By Your Life. I’m Lisa Huetteman and I know that you have a hundred different things you could be doing right now, so I thank you for choosing By Your Life.
My goal is to inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday, with Monday-Friday, in a secular business world. It’s my desire to help you live our Catholic faith in the marketplace. I hope to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify the Lord by your life.
In this edition, we’ll reflect on the readings for the Sixth Sunday of Easter. This Sunday’s Gospel begins with Jesus saying to his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15) Let’s read that again. “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn 14:15) If you love me…

The ultimate question

That’s a huge question to ask yourself. It is the ultimate question. Do you love him? I think we all want to say “Yes Lord, you know that I love you.” (Jn 21:15) At least, I would want to say that. As much as we like to tell ourselves that we love him, do we really? Do we love him on his terms or ours? Because Jesus is clear the proof is in the pudding. If we love him, we will keep his commandments. We will love God and love our neighbor with agape, self-giving love.
How do we do that and survive in the world of business where our competition isn’t playing by the same rules? How do we do that when our industries’ common business practices are unethical? How do we do that in a culture where it is tough to find employees who even bother just to show up to work? And, how do we do that in a pandemic when all we can do is try to survive?
I get it. It can be tough. But, just asking these questions presumes that keeping his commandments is worse for business than not keeping his commandments. It assumes that being unethical is healthy for your business. It assumes that employees are a tool for your business to succeed instead of the other way around. And, it assumes that somehow not following his commandments will help you get through the Covid-19 crisis.

Core values are a necessity

Most of us want to lead moral, ethical lives at work. Doing so takes faith that we can do so and survive financially. It requires a belief that doing the right thing and doing it right, is good for business, even if no one else is playing by the same rules.
An article in the Gallup organization’s Workplace blog highlights this perspective. Pointing to Portillo’s Hot Dogs’ CEO, Michael Osanloo as an example, the authors emphasized that having a cultural “true north” is not optional. It is a business necessity. Portillo’s Hot Dogs has experienced a 20% drop in revenue because of the pandemic and according to the article, their CEO is proud of that number, considering the circumstances.
He said, “Our core values are family, greatness, energy, and funand those concepts have guided everything that we’ve done as an organization.” For example, when stores in certain markets weren’t required to close for dine-in customers, Portillo’s closed anyway because it was the right thing to do based on their values.
So, why is this good for business? First, your core values are a guide in difficult times that enable you to make tough decisions.  While this matters every day, it is especially important during times of disruption. The second reason is your customers and employees appreciate values-driven decisions. You attract and retain customers and employees who share your values.
Your core values are a guide in difficult times that enable you to make tough decisions and your customers and employees appreciate values-driven decisions. #leadership #corevaluesClick to Tweet

Competitive opportunity

Yet, in that same article by Gallup, it said, that “only 41% of U.S. employees strongly agree that they even know the values their company stands for, and only 27% strongly agree that they believe in their organization’s values.” In addition, according to Gallup research, only 26% of U.S. workers believe their organization always delivers on the promises it makes to customers.
Only 41% of U.S. employees know the values their company stands for and only 27% believe in their organization’s values. ~ Gallup #leadership #corevaluesClick to Tweet
So, people want to work for and buy from a values-centered organization, yet only ¼ to ½ of all companies can claim they are one. That means there is a huge opportunity for a competitive advantage that comes from being a moral, ethical, values-based business. But this competitive advantage doesn’t mean you’ll maximize profits. What it means is you’ll have sustainable profits because you’ll earn loyalty from employees and customers alike.

The case for profitability

So how does loyalty lead to sustainable profitability? Honoring core values increases trust, trust increases loyalty, and loyalty is good for business. Studies show that companies with high levels of customer loyalty typically grow revenues at twice the rate of their competitors. Customer loyalty increases profit margins. By some estimates, it costs five times as much to attract a new customer as it does to retain an existing one. So, companies with low customer turnover have more time and money to serve their current customers and grow by attracting new ones.
Honoring core values increases trust, trust increases loyalty, and loyalty is good for business.Click to Tweet
On the employee front, a company that retains loyal employees builds an experienced, dedicated, and productive workforce that can deliver the high level of service necessary to cultivate loyal and satisfied customers. On the other hand, a company with high employee turnover is at a competitive disadvantage because it’s estimated that replacing an employee can cost, on average, one to three times the annual salary of that employee. Disgruntled or disengaged employees that remain on the payroll are also expensive. They can curtail productivity, damage morale, and create personnel problems that consume management’s time and energy.
Even though this makes logical sense, it is still difficult when you have to make decisions in the face of economic pressures. Honoring your core values or keeping Jesus’ commandments is the easiest way to make these difficult decisions.

It’s not about money

One of the CEOs I interviewed for my book, The Value of Core Values, was Peter Cunzolo, owner and CEO of ExecuJet Charter Services, a provider of world-class charter flights. He told me about a customer who needed help in acquiring an aircraft and hired ExecuJet as consultants. This customer was gung-ho to buy a particular aircraft even though ExecuJet told him it was going to need a lot of work. He wouldn’t heed their advice. At the same time, ExecuJet was under pressure from the selling agent who offered them part of his commission as an incentive to do the deal. The agent admitted the aircraft had a big inspection coming up but dismissed the risk and pushed to close the sale.
In the end, Peter Cunzolo walked away. He said, “I don’t want to run into this guy somewhere down the road and hear him say, ‘You sold me this airplane and it cost me an extra $250,000 just to bring it up to compliance.’ It’s just not in my constitution to do the kind of deal that would result in that kind of dissatisfaction. I never want my employees to do it either. It’s not the example I want to set. The bottom line is it’s lying. Yes, we would’ve earned a great commission to complete that deal, but I would’ve lost a repeat customer because I wouldn’t have done right by him. I would go so far as to say that I would have sinned against him.”
The customer bought that airplane anyway through another broker. He came back to ExecuJet several years later and handed them the project again. ExecuJet was able to help him on the back end of the deal. They had to go back and make a lot of the necessary repairs required at the time of purchase, plus additional repairs his last management company failed to perform. They did the right thing and in the end, it was good for their business.
Interestingly, I interviewed Peter Cunzolo in 2009, at the height of the economic downturn and at a time when executives were being demonized for flying in private or chartered jets. The entire private jet industry came under fire as an icon of corporate greed. The economic pressure was great. But Peter had a sense of calm and peace because he knew where his strength was coming from. He knew who was protecting and providing for him, his employees, and their families.
This type A, hard-charging, get things done executive was not afraid to make tough decisions to maintain their profitability. But, he said, “It doesn’t have anything to do with money. It is about finding your inner spirit—your inner joy—that God really wants you to have. If I didn’t have my faith and I didn’t have the blessings that I have—my family, my health, the people I’ve been blessed to work with—nothing else would work. In this very competitive business, we have maintained our profitability. It’s God’s providence. In a day and age when people want God to go away, I’m glad to be able to tell this story.”

The reason for your hope

And that brings me to our second reading on Sunday, where St. Peter said “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope.” (1 Pet 3:15) Peter Cunzolo knew the reason for his hope and he was glad to share it. His faith in God, his values-centered decisions, his business’s profitability, and his peace, calm, and inner joy were not mutually exclusive, and he was happy to let people know about it.
Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope. (1 Pet 3:15)Click to Tweet
Yes, it is true that sometimes you will suffer a loss of revenue or profits because you did the right thing. ExecuJet did, at least in the short term. But, St. Peter also wrote, “it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil.” (1 Pet 3:17) So even in tough times, you should always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope. (1 Pet 3:15)
Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us live according to Jesus’ commandments in a world that does not. Let’s ask him to help us be a sign to the world so others will want to know the reason for our hope. And, let’s ask him to help us give an explanation to anyone who asks for the reason for our hope.
Come Holy Spirit, Advocate, and Spirit of Truth. Lead us on the path to generously respond to Jesus’ call to keep his commandment. Always remind us of the commandment of love and help us to live it. Allow Jesus’ words to become life within us, become attitudes, choices, actions, and testimony so that others may also come to love him. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen
May God bless you abundantly with his grace this week and may you glorify the Lord by your life.

If you liked this episode, spread the word. You know what to do, forward, share, or click to post. Also, check out the Resources page where you can find a link to the books and other resources mentioned in this and other episodes of By Your Life. I’m always interested in what you think, so give me some feedback by leaving a comment.

By |May 17th, 2020|Categories: By Your Life, Uncategorized|0 Comments

111 Don’t Let Your Hearts Be Troubled

Most of the things we worry about never happen. Many of the things we worry about are unimportant in the scheme of eternity because none of us know when we will be called out of darkness into His wonderful light. In this episode of By Your Life, we pay tribute to someone who lived every day of his life in service of God, family, neighbor, and country and glorified the Lord by his life.

Fifth Sunday of Easter – May 10, 2020

Happy Easter, happy Mother’s Day and welcome to the one hundred and eleventh episode of By Your Life. I’m Lisa Huetteman and I know that you have a hundred different things you could be doing right now, so I thank you for choosing By Your Life.
My goal is to inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday, with Monday-Friday, in a secular business world. It’s my desire to help you live our Catholic faith in the marketplace. I hope to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify the Lord by your life.

A tribute to a fan of BYL

In this edition, we’ll reflect on the readings for the Fifth Sunday of Easter. This week, the By Your Life podcast lost its biggest fan, John Liebner. Almost every Monday, I would get a comment, email, text, or a call from my brother John thanking me for another great episode and sharing a bit of his experience that related to that week’s topic. But last Monday, there was nothing because he passed away suddenly and unexpectedly the night before. The silence bore a huge hole in my heart. It was less than 24 hours since he died, and I missed him so much already. So, I want to dedicate this episode of By Your Life to his memory. John Liebner truly was someone who glorified the Lord by his life.
Just a little background on who this guy was. He was the oldest of six siblings. He married his high school sweetheart and after graduating from Central Michigan University, began his career as a commissioned officer in the Army. While serving, John also got a Masters’ Degree in Human Resources Management with a concentration in Economics from the University of Utah, and shortly after left to join the foreign service at the State Department’s Agency for International Development. He spent the rest of his career serving in places like Yemen, Kenya, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Bolivia, Egypt, and some 10 other countries. He spoke English, Spanish, Arabic, and French fluently. He loved to play football, cricket, rugby until his knees gave out, and he watched most sports, cheering for the Chicago Bears and White Sox, the University of Michigan, and his high school’s football team, which he followed every season. John was a big guy at 6’4”/240 lbs., and his personality was larger than life. He was a good man.

Rules for customer loyalty

At work, although he worked for a government agency, John was always customer-oriented. He used to preach that “It is essential to #1 Know your customer, #2 exceed customer expectations, and #3 always look for ways to make improvements. If you fail to follow Rules #1, #2, and #3, you’ll have to do customer recovery.”
#1 Know your customer, #2 exceed customer expectations, and #3 always look for ways to make improvements. If you fail to follow Rules #1, #2, and #3, you’ll have to do customer recovery.Click to Tweet
I was thinking about this as I reflected on the first reading this week. This is exactly what the early Church was doing. The Church doesn’t talk about people as “customers” any more than our government refers to recipients of foreign aid as “customers”, but why not? Businesses exist to serve their customers, USAID exists to serve communities in need, so too the Church serves the poor through corporal and spiritual works of mercy.
So, we heard in Sunday’s first reading from the Acts of the Apostles that there was a complaint from the Hellenists “because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.” (Acts 6:1) As all organizations grow, things can get overlooked and so it was for the early Church.  Some early Christians felt their needs were not being met. So, the apostles listened to them to understand the issue and then responded to meet their needs. They established the first deacons to be responsible for the task of service so they could “devote [themselves] to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” (Acts 6:4) This was an act of continuous improvement and as a result, “the number of the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly.” (Acts 6:70)
Every business needs to follow this example to create customer loyalty. There will always be issues that come up with customers, however, how you respond to the problems is what makes the difference between whether the customer is loyal or disgruntled. Businessman, author, and columnist Harvey Mackay said, “You can’t buy a good reputation, you must earn it.”, which is why my brother John said, “If you fail to follow Rules #1, #2, and #3, you’ll have to do customer recovery.”, and, how you manage customer recovery, will determine your reputation in the marketplace.
You can’t buy a good reputation. You must earn it. ~ Harvey Mackay #leadershipClick to Tweet

A good reputation

Which brings me to my next point, and that is how you achieve what you achieve is more important than your accomplishments because it defines your character and establishes your reputation. In our first reading, the apostles were looking for “seven reputable men” (Acts 6:3), and because of their good reputation, seven were selected and an opportunity was presented to them. As I mentioned, my brother had an extensive, interesting career that was the result of having a good reputation and opportunities presented to him. People he worked for—his customers—sought him out as new opportunities arose. He attributes that to his 3 rules: #1 Know your customer; #2 Exceed customer expectations; and #3: Always make improvements, which allowed him to contribute to his organization achieving its mission.

Quality service

John lived a life of service…service to God, service to his family, service to his neighbors, and service to his country. He was a big fan of Deming, the leading management thinker in the field of quality, and he sought to implement total quality management principles into everything he did. I interviewed him for Jobseek Radio a few years ago and he told me, “With my job in the government, I would always ask myself how I would do it if this were my own company. The key was to make improvements. If you don’t continue to make improvements, customers will perceive you as getting worse. They are always looking for something better. They’ve forgotten how good you were in the past and are looking forward to improvements in the future.”
John also felt it was important to share his knowledge with others. He said he felt good when one of his employees would leave because they were taking advantage of a good opportunity that was presented to them. That meant he did his job in developing his people and it was furthering the mission of his organization. John understood it wasn’t about him.

It’s all about people

John loved people from all cultures. I visited him and his family in Yemen shortly after I graduated from college. One of my most vivid memories was being invited into the home of the man who guarded his house. The guard’s house was a small, one-room building at the front of the yard. He was so pleased to have us as his guests. I was uncomfortable with the food, which I didn’t recognize, the conversation, which I didn’t understand, and the customs, which I unknowingly violated. But John was at home with all of it. He laughed and joked and ate and drank, and his guard enjoyed his company. He was a people person.
In Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do.” (Jn 14:12) Feed the hungry. Welcome the stranger. These acts of service were commonplace for John and his wife Ann. Thanksgiving was his favorite holiday and it was not unusual for them to host upwards of 50 people in their home. They invited his co-workers, Marine guards from the embassy, or any ex-pat who needed a family for Thanksgiving. There was always room for one more because that is who John was.
Whoever believes in me will do the works that I do. (John 14:12)Click to Tweet

A life of virtue

John was a good man and a man of virtue. We spoke two days before he died, and he mentioned that he had some old training videos that I might be interested in. When I say old, they were VHS tapes and manuals, but their message was timeless. We talked about how I could use them in my business, but then it occurred to John that these training materials were not his to give away. They were purchased by USAID and therefore belonged to the US Government. No one at USAID knew about them and if they did, they probably weren’t interested in them, but that didn’t matter. John knew the right thing to do was contact one of his old colleagues to see if they wanted them back and if not, then he could send them to me because John was a man of integrity. John was a man who glorified the Lord by his life.

Don’t let your hearts be troubled

The Gospel reading for this Sunday is very comforting to me as I grieve the loss of my brother. Jesus, in his farewell discourse, said, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. You have faith in God; have faith also in me. In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places. If there were not, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be.” (Jn 14:1-3)
My heart may have a hole in it that my brother used to fill, but it is not troubled. I do have faith in God and also in Jesus. He prepared a place and came back and took John to himself. So, it is with joy that I “announce the praises of him who called [John] out of darkness into his wonderful light.” (1 Pet 2:9)
None of us know when we will be called out of darkness into his wonderful light. So like John, we need to live each day as if it were our last and glorify the Lord by our lives. On this Mother’s Day, let’s ask our Blessed Mother to intercede for us:
O Blessed Virgin Mary, pray to God for us always, that He may pardon us and give us grace. Pray to God for us always, that he may grant us peace in this life. Pray to God for us always, that he may take us unto himself, to the place he has prepared for us in his Father’s house. Amen.
And may God bless you abundantly with his grace this week and may you glorify the Lord by your life.

If you liked this episode, spread the word. You know what to do, forward, share, or click to post. Also, check out the Resources page where you can find a link to the books and other resources mentioned in other episodes of By Your Life. I’m always interested in what you think, so give me some feedback by leaving a comment.

By |May 17th, 2020|Categories: By Your Life, Uncategorized|0 Comments

110 Suffering for Good

We all have role models. Some are good and some are not so good. We need good examples to follow and we should be a good example to others. In this episode of By Your Life, we talk about the model that Jesus gave us to follow and why it is good for business.

Fourth Sunday of Easter – May 3, 2020

Happy Easter and welcome to the one hundred and tenth episode of By Your Life. I’m Lisa Huetteman and as businesses are beginning to open up again throughout the country, I know that you have a hundred different things you could be doing right now, so I thank you for choosing By Your Life.
My goal is to inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday, with Monday-Friday, in a secular business world. It’s my desire to help you live our Catholic faith in the marketplace. I hope to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify the Lord by your life.
In this edition, we’ll reflect on the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Easter. Three things to take away from this week’s readings:

  • Jesus teaches us how to be leaders.
  • Jesus doesn’t ask us to do anything he didn’t do.
  • Everything Jesus does and teaches is for our good, not his.

This week, I participated in a webinar hosted by Patrick Lencioni and the Amazing Parish organization. The target audience was primarily pastors and those employed by Catholic parishes, but because I’m interested in the intersection of Catholic and leadership and I like Patrick Lencioni as a leadership author and coach, I listened in.
After being introduced as a successful leadership guru in the secular world who was bringing his expertise to Catholic parishes, Patrick Lencioni made an important clarification. He said, “I’m not bringing my secular knowledge to Catholic parishes. Jesus taught us how to be leaders. Everything I do in the secular world is biblically-based.” He went on to say that every pastor must be a leader, every CEO must be a leader, and you cannot lead without having a strong personal relationship with the people you lead.

Jesus teaches us how to be leaders

You don’t have to go any further than this Sunday’s Gospel to find a biblical source for this principle. Jesus said, “The shepherd calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has driven out all his own, he walks ahead of them, and the sheep follow him, because they recognize his voice. But they will not follow a stranger.” (Jn 10:3-5) He calls his own sheep by name. He knows them. He leads and they follow, but they will not follow a stranger. They recognize his voice. They know him. The sheep and the shepherd have a strong personal relationship. They know each other.
How well do you know that people who work for you? Do you know their spouse and kids’ names? Do you know what their troubles are, and do you pray for them? Do they know you? Do they know your spouse and kids’ names? Do they know what you enjoy doing outside of work? Do they know what your priorities are at work? Do you have each other’s back?
I’m sure that the answers to these questions vary by person. With some people, we do have a strong personal relationship and with others we don’t. Some people are just “easier” than others. But, if you are creating a culture of teamwork, it is essential for everyone to be a part of it.
I was working with a team that had created a toxic culture within their workgroup that was not only disruptive to their work, it was spilling out to other departments that had to interact with them. I worked with them as a team and individually. When I met with one of the members of the group, I asked him how his weekend had been. He told me he was a little sore because he had been painting the nursery in his house. So, I congratulated him on expecting his first child. Later that day, I was meeting with another team member and in casual conversation mentioned something about the baby. She said to me with a slight tone of anger, “I didn’t know he was expecting a baby. Who told you that?” I responded that we had just been chatting about his weekend and he told me. Then, a little angrier this time, she said, “He never told me he was expecting a baby.” She was obviously perturbed that she had been excluded. So, I asked her if she ever showed interest in him and asked him about his weekend. She hadn’t. Now, I don’t know if the lack of personal relationships was the cause or a symptom of the toxic culture in their workgroup, but I do know that one place to start to make a change for the better was for them to show interest in each other as people.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting that your workplace becomes a counseling center or that everyone has to share intimate secrets. What I am saying is that we are whole people. Our personal lives do not end where our work lives begin. If I didn’t get a good night’s sleep last night because I was worried about a sick child, I’m not going to be as productive at work today as I normally would. If I have financial, physical, emotional, or social problems in my personal life, they will occupy my mind at work. Being aware that something isn’t right with a co-worker, offering to help, perhaps not with the problem but with the work that is being impacted, and just as importantly celebrating their life’s little successes are the Christian thing to do. It is called loving your neighbor who happens to be in the cubicle next to you.

Jesus doesn’t ask us to do anything he didn’t do

In our second reading, St. Peter wrote in his first letter that Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example that you should follow in his footsteps. (1 Pet 2:21) In current business terms, we might say, “Never ask your employees to do something you wouldn’t be willing to do yourself.” or “Lead by example.”
I read an article recently in Authority Magazine that was an interview with Tony Cole, the Chief Technology Officer at California-based Attivo Networks. Tony learned a lot about leadership during his career in the military and in the interview, he shared military leadership lessons for business. Lesson #3 was “Don’t ask anyone to do anything you wouldn’t do or haven’t already done.” He told a great story about a leader in the Army that was trying to get a soldier who was late for everything back on track. Besides this bad habit, the soldier was outstanding. To cure the soldier of his tardiness, he was ordered to be out and in proper duty uniform during Reveille every day for an entire month. The leader was also there saluting the flag every morning. The soldier respected that his leader shared his punishment and as a result, it truly was a learning experience that led to his fine career in the Army.
Unlike the military, for most of us, leading by example does not involve risking our lives for our fellow workers, but it certainly involves self-sacrifice. It means you are there if your team is working late or over the weekend to meet a deadline. It means you pick up trash on the floor when you see it. It means you are vulnerable and acknowledge your weaknesses. It means you honor your company’s core values even when there is a financial cost. It means that when you’ve violated those core values, you humbly acknowledge it and make it right. And, as Tony Cole said, “When things go wrong, it’s your fault and no one else should ever take the blame. One of your jobs as a leader is to take any hits for your team.” If you do, you’ll build loyalty, and loyalty builds teams.
No one took the hit for the team in a greater way than Jesus. “He himself bore our sins in his body upon the cross, so that, free from sin, we might live for righteousness.” (1 Pet 2:24) He didn’t do it for himself. He did it for us. He had nothing to gain except our salvation. He did it because he is love itself.
Imitating his example requires you to be “patient when you suffer for doing what is good, this is a grace before God.” (1 Pet 2:20) It is easy to do good when you are rewarded for it. It is easier to suffer consequences when you did something wrong. But suffering patiently for doing what is good? How do you do that?
You’ve likely experienced the person who you were kind to, helped in a difficult situation, or went out on a limb to support, and instead of gratitude, you received indifference, or worse, hostility or abuse. Responding as Christ taught defies common logic. Instead of answering in kind, we are called to accept the hatred and suffer for doing what is good. “This is a grace before God.” (1 Pet 2:20)
I know a CEO who financially assisted an employee to help him out of a tough spot, only to have the employee turn around and steal from him. What impressed me the most about this CEO was that even though he had to deal with the issue of the theft, he said he if he had to do it over again, he still would have helped the employee out because that was the right thing to do. He didn’t allow this employee’s bad behavior sour his love for neighbor. This is a grace that comes from God.
So, we would never be like this employee, would we? I mean, would we ever turn on the person who extended us kindness, instead of responding with gratitude? Every time we sin and it doesn’t cut [us] to the heart (Acts 2:37) and we don’t repent, we are turning on the one who “bore our sins in his body upon the cross.” (1 Pet 2:24) Knowing this truth about ourselves, knowing that we are guilty of failing to respond with gratitude, may help us to find the compassion for others who do it to us.

Everything Jesus does and teaches is for our benefit

This is hard teaching to put into practice. I get it. Suffering for doing something good isn’t easy. It doesn’t make sense. It certainly isn’t commonplace. We live in a world where fighting back is the default position, not the last resort. Suffering for good is countercultural.
So is Christianity. Love your enemies. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who maltreat you. Living a Christian life is hard. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, and it certainly isn’t common in the marketplace. Businesses are subject to the to the laws of economics, but those laws are not mutually exclusive to living according to the laws of Christ. Jesus taught us to love, and according to St. Thomas Aquinas, to love is willing the good of another, and that is a choice. That is choosing self-less giving. When businesses seek what is good for their employees and their customers, it is inevitably good for business.
Just remember, everything Jesus does and teaches is for our good. He said, “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10) A Christian life is a more abundant life, at home, at work, and for eternity.
So, let’s pray for the grace to follow Jesus’ example and suffer for others as he suffered for us.
God our Father, thank you for the abundant grace you freely give us. Help us to follow your Son, to overcome our self-interest and to patiently suffer for what is good. We know that your grace is enough. Amen.
May God bless you abundantly with his grace this week and may you glorify the Lord by your life.

If you liked this episode, spread the word. You know what to do, forward, share, or click to post. Also, check out the Resources page where you can find a link to the books and other resources mentioned in other episodes of By Your Life. I’m always interested in what you think, so give me some feedback by leaving a comment.

By |May 3rd, 2020|Categories: By Your Life, Uncategorized|0 Comments

109 The Good News is Not Fake News

“Today, with the enormous amplification of news and of opinion, we are suffering from more than acceptable distortions of perspective.” Thomas Merton wrote these words over 50 years ago and they are just as true today, except what Merton referred to as “propaganda,” we call “fake news.” In this episode of By Your Life, we talk about how we are all guilty of distortion of perspective and what we should do about it.

Third Sunday of Easter – April 26, 2020

Happy Easter and welcome to the one hundred and ninth episode of By Your Life. I’m Lisa Huetteman and I know that you have many options for what you could be doing right now, so I thank you for choosing By Your Life.
My goal is to inspire, empower, support, challenge, and encourage you to connect Sunday, with Monday-Friday, in a secular business world. It’s my desire to help you live our Catholic faith in the marketplace. I hope to offer you practical ways to go forth and glorify the Lord by your life.

The propagation of fake news

In this edition, we’ll reflect on the readings for the Third Sunday of Easter. Last week, the mayor of Jacksonville Florida reopened the beaches to the public with limitations and guidelines for social distancing and it set off a mainstream and social media frenzy when a lot of people showed up to enjoy the sunshine. Some Twitter users called out Floridians for not taking proper precautions using the hashtag #FloridaMorons, which the mainstream media picked up and reported.
Then, there was a Facebook post that placed two images of the Jacksonville beach side by side and claimed the image of the crowded beach that was published in the news was from over a year ago and was being used to mislead people about the current situation. The post said, “Once again the media is giving the public fake news… They are lying again.” As it turned out, this post was the real fake news.
I watched this with interest because both stories were shared with commentary that highlighted the bias of the person sharing or retweeting. The rest of us who didn’t bother to share were likely to agree with one or the other point-of-view depending on how well it aligned with our pre-existing beliefs. Personally, I wanted to dismiss the version that painted the opening of the beaches as irresponsible, and not because I have any personal interest in whether the beaches are open or not, but because I am from Florida. I objected to the “Florida Morons” label, so I rejected the opinion of those who shared it.
The truth of this story is probably somewhere in the middle. According to News4Jax, “Not all of the beaches were crowded. Not all were empty. Most people didn’t break the rules of social distancing. Some didThe discrepancy in the perspectives has a lot to do with people looking at images of different angles from different times at different parts of the beach. Their preconceived notions also came into play. So, neither was the media fabricating news about crowds on the beach nor were these Floridians morons.

Wisdom of Thomas Merton

As this story was playing out online, I happened to be reading from The Pocket Thomas Merton, a little compilation of Thomas Merton’s works. Thomas Merton wrote in Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander that:
This is no longer a time of systematic, ethical speculation, for such speculation implies time to reason, and the power to bring social and individual action under the concerted control of reasoned principles upon which most men agree.… Action is not governed by moral reason but by political expediency and the demands of technology—translated into the simple abstract formulas of propaganda. These formulas have nothing to do with reasoned moral action, even though they may appeal to apparent moral values—they simply condition the mass of men to react in a desired way to certain stimuli. (CGB 53-54)
Oh, how Merton describes our current culture and the spread of propaganda, a.k.a. fake news. Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander was published in 1966, decades before the advent of 24/7 news channels, the internet and the public’s obsession with social media. What would Thomas Merton write today? The same thing!
In Faith and Violence, published in 1968, Merton wrote:
Today, with the enormous amplification of news and of opinion, we are suffering from more than acceptable distortions of perspective. Our supposed historical consciousness, over-informed and over-stimulated, is threatened with death by bloating and we are overcome with a political elephantiasis which sometimes seems to make all actual forward motion useless if not impossible. But in addition to the sheer volume of information there is the even more portentous fact of falsification and misinformation by which those in power are often completely intent not only on misleading others but even on convincing themselves that their own lies are “historical truth.” (FAV 250)

Bias affects our ability to think critically

We are all guilty of this. Humanity has done it forever. That’s why Merton’s writings are as relevant today as they were over 50 years ago. We are subject to the way our minds are wired. We are all subject to bias and it is bias, not objectivity, that affects our ability to think critically and respond responsibly.
What are some of these biases that we all suffer from?

  1. Anchoring Bias, Primacy Effect – We overvalue the first information we see/hear. (This is why we say it is so important to make a good first impression.)
  2. Bandwagon Effect/Groupthink – Believe something not because we believe it, but because that is what everyone else believes. (Look at the stock market, how polls affect voting, and how people react in a meeting for examples.)
  3. Confirmation Bias – We listen to information that confirms what we believe, or receive information in a way that confirms what we already believe. (Hiring managers can be guilty of this when screening job applicants.)
  4. Ostrich Bias – We ignore negative information as an outlier. (This is true of smoking. Everyone knows that it is bad for you, but those who smoke think that they are an outlier and won’t be affected by it.)
  5. Blind Spot Bias – How biased are you? Most people are likely to say they are less biased than the average person. You’re not. (We all have blind spots and we are all biased. If you think you don’t, that’s your blind spot.)

So, you might be wondering what this has to do with our Sunday readings.

The Good News is not fake news

Our Gospel was taken from Luke 24 and is the famous Emmaus story. The two people, Cleopas and his companion were walking away from Jerusalem toward Emmaus. We find out that Cleopas knew all about Jesus, that he “was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people” (Lk 24:19), and he knew that others “were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive.” (Lk 24:22-23) But yet, they didn’t believe it. They didn’t believe it even when others “went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” (Lk 24:24) They must have thought it was fake news, otherwise, I can’t imagine that they would have left Jerusalem.
Why were they downhearted and walking away?  Because the “chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him” (Lk 24:20) and they “were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel.” (Lk 24:21). Could they have been suffering from Blind Spot Bias? What they were hoping for—that Jesus would be the one to redeem Israel—didn’t happen the way they thought it should. Their blind spot was their belief the Messiah was someone who was going to redeem Israel from the Romans and Jesus’ death at the hands of Roman executioners meant he wasn’t the Messiah after all. So, they were downhearted and walked away.
But then, “Jesus himself drew near and walked with them.” (Lk 24:15) And as they walked, he helped them remove the blinders that kept them from seeing the truth, that Jesus was, in fact, the Messiah. He helped them interpret all that had happened through the lens of “Moses and all the prophets, … [and] all the scriptures,” (Lk 24:27) not through the lens of their beliefs about the Messiah. He revealed to them that what they thought was fake news, was actually the Good News. Such Good News that their hearts were burning within them. (Lk 24:32)
This is the Good News that should shape our view of the truth, our biases, our perspective, and our responses to others. It should be the lens through which we interpret and live the Gospel. And since most of us are living the Gospel online now more than ever, it should be the lens through which we respond—or not—to things that other people say.

The Gamaliel Principle

One final thought: On Friday of last week, the first reading was from the Acts of the Apostles chapter 5. In it, a “Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people,” (Acts 5:34) spoke to the Sanhedrin about what to do with the apostles, who had just escaped from prison with the help of an angel and went right back out to teach in the temple area, even after they had been given strict orders to stop. The Pharisees had become so “infuriated with them that they wanted to put them to death. (Acts 5:33) But, Gamaliel said, “I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” (Lk 5:38-39)
These words of the great teacher of the law have become known as the “Gamaliel Principle” and is a helpful lens through which to view the things that might disturb us and instead of reacting, wait, gather more information, and see if it resolves itself. Bishop Barron offered this takeaway for leaders. He said, “A great leader should see everything, tolerate most things, and change a few.”
This advice reflects what Thomas Merton wrote when he criticized that “action is not governed by moral reason but by political expediency and the demands of technology.” (CGB 53-54) Sometimes doing nothing is the right thing. Instead of reacting, take some time to gather the facts and reason out, calmly and objectively, the moral implications of whatever action you plan to take, whether it be a retweet, share, comment, or more importantly in entering into dialogue with someone. To quote Thomas Merton again, “If we love our own ideology and our own opinion instead of loving our brother, we will seek only to glorify our ideas and our institutions and by that fact, we will make real communication impossible. (FAV 163)
So, as we go through this week, let’s remember Cleopas and his companion. They are like us and we should identify with them. Instead of walking the wrong way where we don’t recognize Jesus in the people we meet, let’s stop and take time to view them through the lens of Christ, and respond with mercy and truth as he taught us. Let’s ask the Holy Spirit to help us.
Lord, no good life comes without the right discipline. Give me the grace to impose it upon myself. Help me to discipline my tongue, that I may be clear rather than clever, sincere instead of sarcastic. Help me to discipline my thinking and actions, to do what is right and not what is easy. And, help me to do the best I can and leave the rest to You. Amen
May God bless you abundantly this week and may you glorify the Lord by your life.

If you liked this episode, spread the word. You know what to do, forward, share, or click to post. Also, check out the Resources page where you can find a link to the books and other resources mentioned in this and other episodes of By Your Life. I’m always interested in what you think, so give me some feedback by leaving a comment.

By |April 30th, 2020|Categories: By Your Life, Uncategorized|0 Comments