BOB BUFORD is known for being the voice of a generation, a prolific author, speaker, and philanthropist whose immense and widespread contribution to business leadership, personal transformation, and the growth of the modern church cannot be measured. Bob’s book Halftime began a movement of an entire generation of successful business professionals transitioning to a LIFE OF EVEN GREATER SIGNIFICANCE and eventually to the creation of the Halftime Institute. Join us as we honor his legacy by exploring Bob Buford’s Top Ten Values over the course of the year.
“The entrepreneurial-style leader is where the leverage begins.”
-Bob Buford (1939-2018)
By: Pete Chambers and Lloyd Reeb, Co-Leaders of the 100X Forum at Halftime Institute
“Every venture I have undertaken, whether profit or non-profit, has been a play for rapid growth requiring almost continuous innovation and entrepreneurial energy. More than once I have employed a person who performed well in a maintenance role in a large, prestigious organization. It never seems to work out. It is the difference between special forces and holding down a pentagon job.”
Excerpt from Drucker and Me
Our friend and mentor Bob Buford believed that the entrepreneurial-style leader is where the leverage begins. This doesn’t diminish the importance of leaders who are not entrepreneurs, but he believed entrepreneurs are where leverage begins. As we explore this concept together, we have three key questions in mind:
1. Why did Bob Buford focus on leaders?
2. Why did he believe leverage begins with entrepreneurs?
3. Why was he so obsessed with leverage?
Bob was looking for 100X return on his life. In other words, he wanted to invest his time, social capital, and money in endeavors that would produce 100 times the impact in terms of benefit to people. ‘Life change’ was his measure.
Bob was a man who was driven by a deep purpose and he viewed the risk of not pursuing his purpose as potentially disappointing God and disappointing himself. This healthy fear was a key motivator.
In order to get 100X return on life, you need leverage. Our observation is that you can gain leverage through platforms, processes, and people. In this article, we’re going to focus on the people — specifically, entrepreneurs.
Peter Drucker was the person who turned Bob’s attention toward entrepreneurs, specifically what he called “a new kind of entrepreneur”, and challenged him to go find and inspire those people.
In January 1989, Peter wrote this note to Bob, who was at the starting line of his second half adventure…
“The reason you are important Bob is not that you have money. The reason is that you have thought through an entrepreneurial role. You are a pioneer. You are establishing something terribly important, and that is a NEW form of entrepreneurship that is focused on the contribution of the individual not on the contribution of money.”
Bob experienced firsthand Peter Drucker’s willingness to “invest” in him because he was an entrepreneurial leader. His belief was that you should invest in the leader first and the strategy second. If you get the right leader, they will fix the strategy.
Most entrepreneurs work out of some sort of fear and/or opportunity they can’t get away from. Therefore, they are willing to take risks that most of us avoid. You can’t teach that. New ideas almost always require an entrepreneur to blossom. Innovations have great growth potential. Bob was looking for talented social entrepreneurs who wanted to bring God’s blessings to others, for three reasons:
1. They are willing to risk money, time, and reputation on ideas that have high potential return.
2. They have the essential ability to cast the vision, build and inspire a team, and garner momentum.
3. They don’t require all the answers, systems, or processes in place before they get started.
But that alone doesn’t get you to the kind of leverage Bob was seeking. The real point of leverage was the diffusion of innovation. Instead of investing his time trying to make large stable organizations adopt new ideas, he brought a few very select entrepreneurs together to learn from each other and share best practices. Some were entrepreneurial pastors, some business leaders. In both categories, their most effective innovations and best practices would pull the mainstream organizations toward better results. This was where he gained the most leverage.
We are both entrepreneurs by nature, and we chafed in early corporate roles. Bob saw the potential in our leadership and passion for helping talented leaders find and live their destiny. He provided three important things we didn’t even know we needed:
He gave us permission by asking, “what would be the cost of failure?” In other words, he encouraged us to view failure as an opportunity to fail forward and not see it as a complete negative. If he saw you had vision or opportunity, he was great at helping you clarify the opportunity, get aligned with your purpose, and introduce you to others with similar experiences, all of which greatly reduced the risk of going for it. It was magical how influential he was at getting top caliber leaders to unleash their God given gifts.
Bob went on to heaven three years ago. We partnered for 20+ years alongside Bob and today we are both still focused on catalyzing the halftime movement around the world. His leverage continues. He asked us to look at the end of life and consider:
How are you going to finish?
When I still owned my business, there were times I was wondering if I was going to even survive, and his long term view made me see that he never doubted that I would be successful. He always focused me on the end game of life. He was more worried about how I would be scored as a Christ follower, a husband, a father, a son, and less as a money maker. How fortunate were we to have that kind of mentor!
Now the questions are…
How does this apply to your next season?
How do you select who you invest in?
Where do you believe the leverage will come from as you advance your calling?
We don’t claim to have all the answers, but we can certainly help you explore your own, personal answers to these questions and many others that inevitably arise on the path to living with more purpose and impact. Halftime Certified™ Coaches are equipped to help you discover clarity and experience leveraged impact in your next season. We’d love to get you connected — simply reach out to us.
About the Authors:
Pete Chambers and Lloyd Reeb co-lead the 100X Forum at the Halftime Institute. The 100X Forum is designed for leaders with more than $50 million in assets or who give more than $1 million away each year. It is a one year journey with six peers focused on your purpose, platform, people, philanthropy and persistence. Together they are helping leaders gain 100X return on life. If this interests you, click here to connect with Lloyd.