Trending: More Business Executives Are Being Caught Going to Prison

Darin and Sandi Caught Good 2017-12-07

Business Executives Caught For Being Good

I heard a statistic that the top three fears that people hold are (1) public speaking, (2) public dancing, and (3) going to prison. If true, I guarantee that the thousands of business executives, who have paused from their work schedules to volunteer with the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP), would wholeheartedly disagree with that third claim. In fact, I would bet they would say spending a day in prison with PEP men is more fulfilling than the work they do and successes they’ve had.

If you don’t believe me, I’ll let photos tell the stories that words cannot describe. PEP was founded in May 2004 and operates exclusively in the Texas prison system. Their first operation started in the Cleveland Correctional Facility, north of Houston, which is where many of my colleagues and friends volunteer. Graduates of this program receive a certificate from Baylor University’s Hankamer School of Business, but the PEP men aren’t learning only business skills. They will tell you the most challenging part of the program is Leadership Academy, where they do a deep personal dive into character and come out transformed men. The program starts with leadership, because people cannot be successful in business long-term without having a solid foundation of character underpinning their decisions and actions.

If you want to learn more about this program which is transforming men, families, and communities, I’d love to introduce you to the PEP Chief Empowerment Officer (CEO), Bert Smith, and is senior leadership staff. Even better, I would love to take you to prison, so you can hear firsthand testimonies from the men and servant leader graduates. Ask me how you can get yourself a Get Into Jail FREE card.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership, business development, and sales.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all their colleagues.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Use Your Strengths to Strengthen Your Marriage

Marriage strongThere’s no such thing as a perfect marriage, but everyone can have a great marriage. Some struggling spouses may respond: “I don’t see how; my wife is the opposite of me” or “I just don’t understand how my husband thinks.” Hope lies in the fact that awareness and appreciation of individual strengths in the marriage can narrow any divide.  Who knows?  Maybe you will create a marriage that will be a shining light for others.

As a leadership coach, I help clients identify and drive on their personal strengths.  The CliftonStrengths Assessment (https://www.gallupstrengthscenter.com/) can identify and force-rank 34 potential strengths.  Your top 5 become your Signature Theme and can provide insight into what brings you the greatest fulfillment (Evans & Kelsey, 2016).  Your Signature Theme also becomes the basis of your worldview—the lens by which you evaluate and judge people, their actions, and the happiness of your relationships.

People who are like you tend to “get you.” We typically gravitate to people who share similar worldviews except in those instances were feelings of love, newness, excitement, and romance can cause us to choose someone who is different than us. In these cases, when the “love chemicals” dissipate, it is not uncommon that spouses question how they chose their mate.

Hope is just around the corner! Differences in individual strengths can help explain the emotional distancing, but knowledge of Signature Themes can also be the bridge-builder to greater harmony and closeness. There are no perfect marriages, because there are no perfect people.  However, couples who understand their own and spouse’s strengths can work as a team in bringing together the powerhouse of all their gifts.

How do you get started on this journey? Take the CliftonStrengths Assessment and get to know yourself. Share your top strengths with your spouse and learn theirs.  The more dissimilarity in your strengths rankings, the more likely you will have different priorities, perspectives, and skills.  Awareness building around strengths should increase patience with your partner, because you realize your partner is not stubborn, uninformed, or unreasonable.  Your spouse is only filtering the information through their own lens.

The next step is to brainstorm how each spouse can use his or her strengths for the benefit of the marriage. My husband and I only share the “activator” strength in our top 5, which means we are impatient with pause and want to lead and make things happen. We are focused on performance.  When we partner on a project, watch out world.  Many people probably feel left in our dust.

My remaining four top strengths are classified as either strategic or executing: (1) futuristic, (2) learner, (3) strategic, and (4) achiever.  All of Darin’s remaining strengths fall into either influencing or relationship-building categories: (1) communication, (2) woo, (3) connectedness, and (4) individuation.  Yes, “woo” is a strength.

When you look at how we apply our strengths, I’m the business leader, and he’s the sales leader.  When Darin and I disagree on a customer approach, I typically defer to Darin, because I know he has a greater strength to understand and connect with customers than I do.  When it comes to business strategy, I will usually seek Darin’s input, but he defers to me as that is my strength.  When we disagree, it doesn’t divide us.  We are instead grateful that we have so much talent spread across our marriage.

Take the CliftonStrengths survey!  Find out your strengths and share your top 5 with your spouse over a date night.

Reference

Evans, J., & Kelsey, A. (2016). Strengths Based Marriage: Build a Stronger Relationship by Understanding Each Other’s Gifts. Nashville, TN: Nelson Books.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional leadership coach with an extensive background in premarital and marriage coaching, education, and mentoring. She coaches individuals, and couples, as well as facilitates relationship workshops.  She has a passion to help people experience outstanding marriages and relationships.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website www.shinecrossings.com

What’s Your Favorite Marriage Tradition?

How-To-Plan-A-Successful-Couples-Road-TripWhen asked, “What is your most important relationship?” many spouses respond, “My marriage.” When husband and wife agree and act consistently on that answer, I would expect them to have a solid foundation upon which to build a happy marriage.  The second question, “How are you investing in your marriage to strengthen it?” does leave some spouses wondering how to answer.  If you paused to think about your answer, you’re not alone.

Your pause doesn’t mean that you’re not investing in your marriage but perhaps signals that you’re not as intentional as you could be. If you asked my husband or me the latter question, we would answer, “Our annual Thanksgiving road trip!” With our children grown, we decided that Thanksgiving week would be reserved for our marriage strengthening.  No other family—just us!  Mapping out an itinerary taking us thousands of miles across several states, we start from home base or fly into a new city and drive in a big loop to eventually return home on Sunday following Turkey Day.

Our family knows that Thanksgiving week is reserved for strengthening our marriage with the Christmas holiday our designated time to spend with family and friends.  If road-tripping around the country during Thanksgiving week is not your ideal adventure, I would encourage you to get creative and think of a tradition or two that speaks to your likes.  If you currently have a tradition or think of one that excites you, please leave a comment.  You may inspire other couples.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional leadership coach with an extensive background in premarital and marriage coaching, education, and mentoring. She coaches individuals, and couples, as well as facilitates relationship workshops.  She has a passion to help people experience outstanding marriages and relationships.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website www.shinecrossings.com

God’s Message: People Have a Deep Desire to Be Known and Accepted For Who They Are!


Excerpt from LWI El Salvador 2017 Mission Journal

October 12, 2017


As many of my mission followers know, God always shows me a revelation, a truth, or provides a message that I am to take forward from each short-term trip.  This year was no different. We came to drill a well, and in return, God continued to share with me ideas and concepts to take forward.

Last year’s trip to El Salvador was significant, because it was the final message in a book that God was writing for me.  It culminated into the concept of World Changers on Mission (WCoM). As I approached this trip, I was curious whether there would be a message, and if so, would it be the beginning of a new book or perhaps its own short story.  As is God’s way, He never shares the entire plan with me.  As He impressed upon me a few years ago with a vision: if He gave me the entire plan, I would have nothing to look forward to.

IMG_2737You ask, “What did God impress upon you this trip in El Salvador?” I experienced firsthand how the prisoners and community looked at me and how some of them hugged me.  They all wanted a future–something to look forward to.  Many of the kids, teachers, and parents wanted to come to America, a land where they believe dreams can come true.  We, who hold the power and resources, have a have a responsibility to honor others by truly seeing, knowing, and accepting others despite our differences in circumstances and cultures.

I am now a life and leadership coach.  I feel like I have been one my entire life, living it even without the formal training and title until this year.  I graduated in May with my Master’s in Human Services Counseling, Life Coaching, and put out my shingle under Shine Crossings.  Although I envisioned working with both individuals and businesses, the clientele who have reached out have primarily been friends, colleagues, and friends of friends.  I cannot tell you how much joy I get when I see my clients flourish, achieve their dreams, and improve their lives and relationships.  I really do feel like I’m living my calling.

IMG_3333In many ways my mission of life coaching is linked to the message of this mission.  Life coaching allows me to enter into a relationship where a person can be seen, known, and accepted.  If there is a connection between my coaching mission and the mission field, where do a take life coaching?  God told me many years ago that He has no borders, and neither should I.  I have a suspicion that I may need to take life and leadership coaching outside the walls of America.

IMG_3294Ivy keeps coming to mind.  Is it coincidence or plan that I met this self-taught English-speaking teacher, who lives in a rural farming community in El Salvador?  What is the likelihood that Ivy is fluent in English with no one to speak with until our team comes to drill a well on the school property?  Was this a divine encounter? Was I predestine to meet Ivy?  What will Ivy and I do together?

Although I prepared one, I never had the opportunity to give my devotional as other team members stepped up to share what was on their hearts.  What I planned to share was the life Scripture that God first put on my heart during my first mission trip to Nairobi, Kenya in 2013.  This Scripture was the intended message that the mission team was to teach at the local high school we visited:

Jeremiah 29:11 which says: “For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”

Then a few months before this trip, God strongly laid down on my heart:

John 15:5 which says, “I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”

I see how the Scriptures connect and build upon one another.  Jeremiah first declares the truth: there is a plan, a plan for a future filled with hope.  John then declares how I must walk out the plan for it to come to fruition.  I believe it is our human nature to create our own plan and exercise our own free will to execute that plan.  Our ears become muted to God’s direction and pearls of wisdom, so we end up relying more on our own foolish ways.  It takes concentration and effort to fight my own free will and follow God’s plan for my life.

God’s intended message for me is not crystal clear, so I will continue to pray for its clarity.  If you have read through all my entries, you will notice several highlighted phrases that resonated with me throughout the trip.  I believe the bigger picture lies in these puzzle pieces:

  • God brings together His team
  • People want to be seen by others
  • We live out purpose when we live in community
  • Make time to be in relationship
  • God’s dreams for us are always bigger than we can imagine
  • I am not the puzzle, but only one piece of a bigger vision
  • God never leaves us; He never forsakes us
  • People have a deep desire to be known and accepted for who they are, not necessarily, for what they have done

Amen!

Living Water International 2018: Give the Gift of Water!

img_3356.jpgClean water is a scarce resource for over 70% of the world’s population.  If you read this statement, you are likely in the global minority who have upwards of 15+ point sources of clean water in your home: kitchen and bathroom faucets, showers, toilets, dishwasher, washing machine, and outside spigots.

Can you imagine how difficult life would be if you had to worry daily on where to get IMG_3294safe drinking water? In developing countries, many children are not able to attend school, because their main purpose of the day is to walk miles to find, collect, and carry cisterns of water back to their homes.  In villages that may have an old well, the infrastructure has collapsed or is on its last legs.

Living Water International (LWI) is committed to change the landscape in Central America one village at a time. For the past three years, my husband, Darin, and I have brought together and led teams to drill water wells, do pump repairs, and teach hygiene and sanitation lessons in Honduras and El Salvador.  Three trips have not been enough!  We are headed back to El Salvador in 2018 to once again bring life-giving water.

IMG_3333Although the trip is designed around a specific objective—to give safe water to a village or school, the mission has an expanded purpose.  You can see how God is working in the lives of these people. Although the team comes to give, they get in return.  As you hang out, play, and talk with the locals and LWI staff, you develop a kinship and friendship that extends beyond the time spent in-country.

If you feel even a tinge of excitement or wonder, I encourage you to reach out to me, so we can have a conversation.  No prior drilling or mission experience necessary.  You will be taught everything you need to know while serving in the field and will be surrounded with experienced mission members who would love to show you the ropes.


About the Mission Leaders: Sandra and Darin Dillon have a calling to organize and take teams on short-term mission trips to developing countries with the purpose of blessing both the teams and communities. Previous missions have included drilling water wells, installing water purification systems, leading business-as-mission workshops, and evangelizing as well as teaching hygiene and nutrition.  You can learn more about the Dillons by visiting their website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.

Come Party and Learn More About the PEP Revolution

PEP Roundup 2You are invited to pony up and party at the PEP Round Up where you can learn more about how the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) transforms community.  Meet men like Richard, who is now a Christian leader of his wife and son and who owns a business that operates in two major Texas cities. Before entering PEP, Richard was incarcerated, gang affiliated, and a weapon-carrying drug dealer who had 7 felony convictions.   PEP was integral to transforming Richard’s life and now his family and community thrive from his life-changing PEP Roundup 3PEP experience. Richard is just one example of men transformed through the leadership academy, business plan program, and the executive volunteers who partner with these men.

PEP had another record breaking years in 2016.  PEP graduate recidivism continues to remain less than 7% as compared to the general prison population of > 50% after 3 years.  PEP graduates have achieved 100% employment after 90 days upon release.  Seventy-eight new businesses were formed with over 6 reporting more than $1,000,000 in revenue.

PEP Roundup 1The first PEP Round Up on October 29, 2017 is a fundraiser and social event to keep the program growing so it can serve more men.  This nonprofit organization runs solely on the generous donations of companies, individuals, and grants.  Although the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) fully supports this program because of its unprecedented impact, there is no federal or state funding for this program that is rehabilitating men into contributing citizens.

Enjoy live music, armadillo and pony races, games, silent auction, and an art show while dining on mouth-watering BBQ.  Converse with some of the PEP graduates who have started businesses and have some kick-up-your-heels fun! Individual tickets are $100 (tax deductible).  Although the Howdy and Hoop-de-Doo starts at 5 pm, you and your family are welcome to arrive at the George Ranch between 3 – 5 pm for a tour of the historic homes. Come join me on October 29th and change a life!


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

Conviventia 2018: Invest in Others by Putting Your Talents to Work!

DSC01677Calling all teachers, chefs, project workers, sports enthusiasts, medical professionals, social workers, mental health providers, consultants, computer whizzes, and anyone with a servant heart. Do you want to learn about a new country, make a meaningful impact, feel appreciated, and experience the mutual joy of sharing your time and talents? If so, please consider joining a diverse team who will serve the people of Colombia during the summer of 2018?

IMG_3362Conviventia is unlocking human potential in Bogota, Cartagena, and Barranquilla by providing basic education, vocational training, and family strengthening through schools, community development centers (CDC), and services with a Christ-based worldview.  To continue the impact of transforming lives, they need and would appreciate the investment of your time, knowledge, and support through an ongoing relationship.  Our friends and family have all been blessed with experiences, opportunities, and talents that Conviventia would love to put in use.  Although the need is great, some of the more pressing opportunities for impact include:

  • Teach teachers, staff, and students (preschool, elementary, and higher)
    • Develop and lead English lessons
    • Share classroom best practices, theories of learning, discipline and strategies for working in large groups
    • Design and conduct classroom projects for math, music, science, and art
  • Teach business, vocational, and life skills classes
    • Cooking
    • Self-defense
    • Tailoring
    • Hairdressing
  • Lead construction projects that support and enhance the integrity of the facilities
  • Strategize and design programs that increase community safety, beautification, and neighborhood connection
  • Design and conduct a health brigade for parents and children
  • Develop and lead family strengthening activities:
    • Workshops on marriage, relationships, financial, conflict, handling a crisis
    • Family sports and activities
    • Parenting classes
    • Home visits
    • Vision/life projects
  • Evangelize with campaigns directed toward children, parents, elders and youth in the community
    • Plan and conduct vigils and camps
    • Teach a Bible class
    • Teach songs, do crafts, and orchestrate a class play
    • Lead sports lessons and activities

IMG_1261Have no doubts that everyone is equipped to do or share something.  What is on your heart to lead?  This list may not include your special talents, yet we know Conviventia can put them to good use.  Reach out and let us know how you would like to contribute.


About the Authors: Sandra and Darin Dillon have a passionate calling to organize and take teams on short-term mission trips to developing countries with the purpose of blessing both the teams and communities they serve.  Previous missions have included drilling water wells, installing water purification systems, leading business-as-mission workshops, and evangelizing as well as teaching hygiene and nutrition.  You can learn more about the Dillons by visiting their website at www.shinecrossingsministry.com.

Be an Investor in the Change You Want to See Happen

2017-08-01 Sandi 1

Sandi and Jamar discuss his business plan

Who wants to pay less taxes for Welfare, Medicaid, and housing the incarcerated? Who wants less crime and fear of crime? Who wants to pay less in insurance premiums, because claims are down?  I bet everyone said “yes” to those three questions. Wait, there’s more! I’ve only listed the savings.

2017-08-01 Darin 2

Darin giving Andrea feedback on his plan

Who wants to add taxpayers to the economic base?  Who wants to see dignity restored?  Who wants to see families reunited and thriving?  These results are the opportunities for growth.  If any of this sounds attractive, I’d ask you to consider an investment in a business called the Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP), which might return the highest ROI in your outreach portfolio.  As a savvy investor, I’ve been pleased with its performance over the last 4 years. Recidivism rates for the general prison population exceed 50% after three years post-release, yet PEP graduates boast less than 7%.

2017-08-01 Sandi 3

Sandi sharing ministry information with Leo

My portfolio strategy is to build equity in our society by investing my money and time in PEP men who are committed to turn their lives around and give back to their families and communities.  PEP is the catalyst and the full-time partner to these men who work through the intensive, character development leadership academy, followed by business skill development and business plan competition for the coveted prize of bragging rights.  The program culminates with graduates walking across the stage in cap and gown to accept a diploma certificate from Baylor’s Hankamer School of Business.

Although PEP business volunteers enter prison to teach and encourage these men, I walk away from each event inspired by their hard work, dedication, and personal growth month after month. Surprisingly, it’s not all about business. Many of these men ask me about my mission ministry and explain how they plan to bless others with the profits from their businesses.  Statistics show over 78 new businesses have been formed by PEP graduates upon their release, with more than six reporting $1,000,000 in annual revenue.  For five consecutive years, PEP has reported 100% employment for program participants within 90 days of release.

Get Into JailPEP has so many ways for the business leader to invest their time and resources: work side-by-side these men in prison while they refine their plans, be a business advisor, host a transition house dinner, teach at e-School, and hire the services of a PEP graduate/business owner.

If you are interested in learning more, I would love to spend the day with you in prison and can get you a “Get into Jail FREE” card.  I have connections!  I guarantee you will have an unforgettable experience, will make friends with other business executives, and be richly rewarded with a personal handwritten thank you card from the men you coach. These men need mentors and role models of servant leaders.  Will you be that leader? If PEP does not speak to your heart or talents, I encourage you to seek out and invest your treasure in whatever change you want to see happen—be that servant leader.


About the Author: Sandra Dillon is a professional coach and consultant with an extensive background in leadership and business development.  She coaches individuals as well as designs and facilitates workshops.  She has a passion to help organizations engage all its employees.  You can learn more about Sandra by visiting her website at www.shinecrossings.com.

The Power Of One

changtheworldMargaret Mead said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.”  I would add, “Never underestimate the power of one.”  It only takes one to make a difference—a hero—an every-day person who gives a part of his life to something bigger than himself.

To be a hero one must ask the question: “What can I give?” The answer lives in the difference between what is and what can be.  People rise up by lifting up others.  The truth—the world needs more of you and your unique gifts.  People ask, “How and what can I give?” People tap into their “power of one” by answering the following questions:

  1. Who am I?
  2. What can I do for others?

Heroism is unveiled in action. Where can you mentor, teach, help, encourage, and inspire? Heroism is like a boomerang.  The boomerang flies across the horizon only to return to its sender.  Heroes are motivated to give but find they get even more in return. In the process of giving, you may just create your best life ever—one that can be described as:

  1. A life worth living
  2. One with purpose
  3. One with love and laughter
  4. With significance

What will you do 1 year, 5 years, or 10 years from today?


 

Shine: Everyone Has Something to Offer

shine 2I believe everyone has something to contribute to this world—a light within them just trying to get out.  That light may be a creation, an innovation, a word of encouragement, a helping hand, or a quiet presence.  I lovingly refer to these gifts as Shine moments where people are at their best.  Some of my favorite Shine quotes include:

The Purpose of Light Is to Create More Light (Paulo Coelho)

Live to Let Your Brilliance Show

We Are All Meant to Shine

Sometimes More Sparkle Is Called For

The World Is Far Brighter Because You’re in It

Never Pass Up a Chance to Glow

Shine With All You Have

I Want a Brighter World Than Bright (John Keats)

Your Shine is Not Simply Seen—It should be felt

Always Keep Your Fire Lit

Be Brilliant—the World Needs You

Your Light Touches Hearts and Minds—It Changes the World

What are your Shine gifts?  When have you been most blessed by someone’s Shine moment?  “Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you” (Isaiah 60:1, NIV).  I encourage you to continue to search within yourself for those gifts that need to shine out into the world and fill it with more light!