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4 Transformational Business Tools I Learned from Leadership

When Michael Schieffer, president of WinShape Foundation, began his job at Starbucks Coffee Company ™, he thought he’d learn how to steam milk and maybe make a “mean latte.”

What he got instead was an 18 year-long journey, a transformational attitude about principles for the business world and also what unravels after his nine-to-five.

“The key point I’d like to share with you all today is ‘prioritization,'” Schieffer told attendees of Regent University’s Executive Leadership Series (ELS) luncheon on Wednesday, May 20th. “I’ve surmised over the years that the hard part is determining what comes first, second, third and what intensity we apply all of them.”

For Schieffer, his list of three priorities – God, family and work/ministry – are what he focuses on no matter the cost; a list in order of importance that Schieffer admits he is sometimes tempted to invert.

But in business experience, there is a trait he’s learned to never compromise: putting people first. In his early days as an off-the-street employee of Starbucks, Schieffer learned what made businesses grow.

“They put people first,” said Schieffer.

A testament he’s witnessed first-hand, being a part of the leadership team that grew Starbucks from a meager coffee-selling company to the dynasty that it is today, witnessing its transformation from 150 stores to more than 18,000 in his tenure.

Schieffer readily admits that the company’s growth, much like his own career, had very little to do with its product. It owes everything for its own set of priorities: people first, coffee second.

After his time at Starbucks, Schieffer had an opportunity to put people first in ministry at Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale, the nation’s 9th-largest church, as its executive administrator/CEO. His business philosophy carried over into ministry: people first, missions second.

“I wanted people to leave our all-staff meetings feeling so valued, thinking ‘I can’t believe God called me to serve at a place like this,'” said Schieffer. “People want to feel valued.”

Just four months ago, through his ever-evolving career, Schieffer learned the fourth transformational lesson: Some organizations already put people first. He witnessed this as he became the president of the WinShape Foundation, a private foundation of the Chick-fil-A organization.

WinShape focuses its mission on an assortment of ministries focusing on being a positive force in the lives of its members, as Schieffer continues to learn what it means to keep his list of three priorities aligned.