Published March 20, 2019

Pride Almost Destroyed My Business, Attending the Summit Saved Me

I used to lead my company very poorly. I wasn’t aware of this, but it’s true. In fact, I thought I was leading my company well until I attended The Global Leadership Summit for the first time in 2013. It was during my first Summit experience that I began to feel the Holy Spirit calling me into a greater walk of leadership.

The Summit worked in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to begin changing who I am and how I lead.

It’s funny how God ensures everything happens in the right time. You see, the 2013 Global Leadership Summit landed at a time that my relationship with my business partner was bankrupt and broken. I had lost hope in reconciliation. My small business and my 40 employees were hurting as result of this dysfunctional relationship. Because my business partner is also my brother-in-law, the dysfunction between us was causing strain in my family as well.

The Summit worked in conjunction with the Holy Spirit to begin changing who I am and how I lead. After Brené Brown’s Summit presentation about vulnerability and shame, understanding vulnerability became a catalyst to loving myself and others better. The Summit also inspired me to embrace learning as a way of life, and I realized I needed a lot of help. That’s when the biggest change started to happen in my life.

We decided to hire an executive coach to serve our organization in both culture and strategy. As a result, we learned how to transition our company into a Core Values organization. I also started investing in an organization called At Work on Purpose, which empowers Christians to live out their faith at work in a respectful, authentic and engaging way.

I am now a student of leadership. I’ve seen drastic changes in the health of my staff, the health of my family, and the health of me. I see work as an act of worship. Lives are being changed because of the Summit and the fact that God knew there was more in store for me.

How it began – my journey of transformation

In 2001, my younger sister, brother-in -law and I took over the family business from our parents. I was set up as a 50% owner, and my younger sister and brother-in-law became owners of the other 50%.

It turns out I was the problem.

Over the next 10 years, we managed to quadruple the annual revenue of our organization, allowing us to seamlessly complete the business payments to my parents. We had a financially thriving business, no debt, and a great reputation. All the key ingredients for a successful, healthy business, right? Wrong. Unfortunately, our success was only on the surface.

I was making several mistakes as a Christian and a leader that were making my business an unhealthy place to work, and I honestly didn’t even know it.

  • I avoided conflict. I thought I was being a good Christian when I ignored the way others were hurting or bothering me. I side-stepped conflict at work, at home and at church.
  • I wanted comfort. Comfort was the target and reward I wanted for my hard work. I thought comfort equaled success.
  • I was full of pride. I thought I had the right answers, and people just needed to listen to me. I thought the world would be a better place if only everyone were more like me.

Because I believed I had all the answers, I made decisions in a silo. I did not want insight from others. I wanted to make my own decisions without help. If someone suggested I do something differently or questioned my decisions, I would quickly judge them. How dare they question my intelligence?

These types of shortcomings do not work well for any organization, but I think the impact is amplified even more in a family business. While on the surface things seemed great, by 2013, I felt my relationship with my brother-in-law had reached a point of hopelessness. Years of dysfunction had taken a significant toll on our relationship. We were not talking to one another. Things were unraveling quickly and I knew I did not want to spend the rest of my business life like this.

Everything started to change once I admitted I needed help.

After attending the Summit, I began to seek help. I met Chris Halter, a business coach from Perfect 10 Corporate Cultures.

One of the first things Chris did to help us was to complete a cultural analysis of our team. He told us our culture was very toxic and unhealthy.

It turns out I was the problem.

With help from Chris, our team established 11 Core Values. The three major ones were:

  • Build up others: Love intentionally through actions, attitudes and words.
  • Keep it real: Be honest with yourself and others.
  • Embrace Change: Abandon comfort, persistently learn and be transformed.

The transition was not easy. 

Creating an emotionally safe environment, one where people feel worthy of love and belonging, isn’t accomplished overnight. We introduced our new direction of being a Core Values-based learning organization. Not everyone thought this was a great idea. Over the next 18 months, we probably transitioned out a third of our staff.

But love brings unity, empathy and understanding.

In our daily operations, we learned to use the Core Values and started to rebuild trust with one another. We changed how we hire. Now we hire based on the Core Values instead of skill alone. We wholeheartedly believe a team that is unified in the Core Values and authentically cares for one another can accomplish amazing things together.


Today our vision is:

Through expressions of love, honor and affirmation, we will transform
to become empowered and discover purpose
to embrace celebration and cultivate belonging
to encourage engagement and foster connection

This vision is important to us because our world is hurting—individuals, families, organizations, communities are tempted to embrace division, something with which I’m unfortunately very familiar. But love brings unity, empathy and understanding.

Trophy Awards team

The Trophy Awards team

Our company is continuing to be transformed. 

The roots of pride had run deep into my heart. I had no idea they were there. I was like a man with a growing cancerous tumor in his body who was totally unaware of his impending death. In this process, I’ve learned that pride hinders our ability to love others. I’ve been transformed, and as a result, so has our organization.

The Summit was the spark that started the flame of leadership in me. 

My leadership is like a house that sits on four posts. One of these posts is the Summit. It is an annual shot in the arm. It encourages me to fight the good fight. It reminds me that God wants us to steward our lives for His lost people. In many ways, I am still in a storm of challenges. My leadership life is messy, and yet my mistakes lead me to find learning opportunities. The Summit helps me be tenacious and to persevere despite the obstacles and challenges. It reminds me of the need for grit and resilience.

I invite our whole team to the Summit to continue to learn and be transformed.

The people in an organization will only engage in learning as much as they see their leaders engage in learning. That is why I believe investing my time and resources to attend the Summit is a powerful way to not only spur my own growth, but also the growth and development of others on my team.

About the Author
Tom Busch

Tom Busch

Business Owner

Trophy Awards Manufacturing, Inc.

Tom Busch is a second generation business owner of Trophy Awards Manufacturing, Inc., a company focused on creating a culture where people feel valued and motivated to reach their full potential, help their customers mark important moments and help organizations express meaningful appreciation to the people they love.