Mike Childress and I are a networking dream story.
Introduced, mysteriously enough, by a woman each of us only met once, our first coffee shop conversation in 2016 went straight from hellos to grief, faith, and growth – topics we’ve returned to again and again, including in our recent All Up in It conversation. As Mike says in this episode, we’re not so good at small talk.
As our conversation has continued over meals and across time, our friendship has turned into one of the most important in my life and our professional collaborations have continued in a variety of iterations.
In fact, at this very moment, you’re reading this on one of our collaborations; Mike is the creative adventurer and skilled technician behind this very website!
When I asked Mike to have this recorded conversation with me, he, in turn, asked for my guidance in how he could speak about his faith – Mike is a devout Christian – in a way that wouldn’t make me uncomfortable.
That, my friend, is signature Mike. He was seeking to uncover how he might speak authentically and transparently while also wanting to be sensitive to the reality that I am not Christian.
In my signature way, I asked that we go right there, into our differences, with the curiosity and respect we’ve been bringing since day one. I mean, to talk about what he’s all up in – related, yes, to grief, fatherhood, and business – without talking about how each intersects with his faith wouldn’t have been much of a conversation at all. It would be like going to see your favorite band only to find half of the musicians have been hidden behind partitions on the stage.
You can watch the preview here; whatever your beliefs or lack thereof, I hope you’ll check out the full conversation below or on Spotify. What you’ll find is Mike’s deeply-relatable efforts to lead with his values and let everything else – including and especially his businesses – evolve from there:
Key moments in our conversation include…
…how Mike describes himself as a human:
- A twist of a start with a 4th wall break where I introduce myself to introduce as a way to illuminate a difference between Mike and me and how we’ve navigated together in our long and deep friendship, particularly that Mike’s Christian faith is key to his navigation of the world while I identify as a secular Jew whose spiritual practices are informed by Buddhism and physics
- He is also a husband, parent, and business owner
…what Mike is all up in:
- A refined focus on the presence he wants to bring to his kids and broader family in the wake of the death of a teenager from a youth group he lead
- Deepening his understanding of the Bible which includes both finding his own meaning and seeking to understand the foundational meaning of the text, both of which help relieve him of the need to be perfect
- A fresh round of exploring the grief of his dad’s death when Mike was 13; with grief, his faith provides the underlying hope that allows him to face mortality
- How the longer road of grief is a nuanced and the sense of additional loss that goes with the fading of Mike’s memories of his dad
- The intersection of his beliefs and his business, of money/power/influence and being a Christian, and how one has to be prioritized, in his case, being a Christian and his family roles supersede his role as a professional. As such, he is vigilant to not let work impede on his family life and to be in alignment with his beliefs all the time.
…his tools include:
- Conversations with people who are good listeners, including his wife Faith and his close friends
- The Bible
…the non-profit he chose to highlight was:
Safe Families for Children seeks to keep children safe and families together. Safe Families for Children is rooted in faith, fueled by radical hospitality, disruptive generosity, and intentional compassion, to build a network of caring and compassionate volunteers to support families facing social isolation. Our goals are to prevent child abuse and neglect, reduce the number of children entering the child welfare system, and support and stabilize families.