What do you think of when you hear the word “passion”?
The Entrepreneurship Initiative chose Passion as its theme for the 2011 Ei Forum partly because of the many connotations “Passion” carries. Our goal for the Forum, which was held on April 8-9, was to help our audience of 265 people—which included entrepreneurs, investors, pastors, and arts and education leaders from across the country—gain a deeper understanding of how their passion for creating culturally-renewing ventures is linked to the passion of Christ.
Catherine Rohr, Friday’s guest speaker, recently launched her second not-for-profit, Defy Ventures, a workforce development program for former gang members in New York City. She expressed how when faced with uncomfortable and messy situations we could either painstakingly embrace them or easily push them away. The gospel compels us to do the former even if it means suffering and inconveniencing ourselves.
The Forum’s Saturday program continued with three more keynotes—Andy Mills, former CEO of Thomson Financial;Tim Keller; and Yvonne Sawyer, founder of Family & Children Faith Coalition—three breakout sessions, and a showcase of our business plan competition winners. Andy Mills convicted many with the question, “As leaders do we see employees as people or as widgets to produce profits?” Tim put forth the seven deadly sins as a litmus test of sorts to gauge whether “we have passion for ourselves or for God.” And Yvonne Sawyer, who also founded Hope for New York, offered a hopeful reminder to dispense God’s compassion to others, not because we know the outcome, but because we are called to do so.
The Forum introduced a new segment called “Protecting Your Passion: Work and Worship.” Leo Schuster, Tuck Bartholomew, and David Kim interviewed three leaders to discuss how we worship God in our personal, communal, and work practices.
A highlight of the Forum remains the Ei Business Plan Competition Winners Showcase where our entrepreneurs display their wares and mingle with Forum participants in a tradeshow-like atmosphere. The Forum ended with three practical workshops on social media strategy, creating an elevator pitch, and missional investing, where participants were able to interact with leading industry experts.