Forecasting from Conversations


by Mason Rutledge, President

In Western Washington our weather has varied from sun breaks to rain to hail to low hanging clouds and the average high temperature is down ten degrees. When there is a glimmer of hope, the weather changes. “Today’s weather forecast, variable.”

The same has been true for the attitudes, thoughts, spirits and experiences for many business leaders as they forecast their daily marketplace existence. “Today’s market forecast, variable.”

This last week I again had the opportunity to meet with dozens of business leaders in small groups, over Zoom or in phone calls. Many are experiencing extreme challenges. I couldn’t believe the number of business owners who missed meetings or were late, because they were compiling SBA or Payroll Protection Plan materials.

This is one of those hailstorms that came out of nowhere, they are being damaged and need immediate shelter. Dave Ramsey reports that for every death to Covid-19 there are 100 jobs lost. There is certainly a massive difference between death and job loss, but the question lingers, in this quote, conversations and various social media posts, “What is the unacceptable ratio?”

The answer as a follower of Jesus is easy, every life is important. Each and every life has amazing value and we should fight for everyone to stay alive. This is the same fight we wage for the unborn. God is the Creator of life and we side with him on this question.

That said, the economic impact of Covid-19 will affect more people than the health impact of the virus, according to Ramsey. We have hit historic levels of unemployment. A friend who owns a credit card transaction company, reports that swipes are only a third of what they were before this crisis. Giving is also down. C3 Leaders experienced a 66% financial deficit in March. Churchome reported last Sunday that giving is down 35%.

Many of the people I talk to are controlling their environment by eliminating broadcast news. They are done with the news. They aren’t watching local or national news. They are relying on what they are experiencing on the front lines or in government reports.

“If I hear ‘unprecedented’ one more time… This is not unprecedented.”

I had one business owner say to me, “If I hear ‘unprecedented’ one more time… This is not unprecedented.” I’ve heard several people with this perspective. They point out previous challenges, which many of us have lived through, and challenges centuries ago which were much worse and yet we sustained. He concluded, “People have no sense of history.”

This lack of clear forecasting leaves many untethered. Most are hiding how they are really feeling. Many business leaders and marketplace influencers are hurting and they do not know what to do. They are right on the edge of unwinding and therefore spiritual work is critical. People are fragile. People need the assurance that comes from being tethered to the God of the universe.

That tethering is providing tremendous peace in faith-filled conversations. Attendance at our C3 Forums is at an all-time high. Some C3 Forums are even meeting in additional Zoom calls to pray. My friend, Randy West from the Rainier Valley, said this week, “God is my first responder.” In another conversation, a friend said, “I’ve been through many downturns and this is the first where I feel peace.” This is a regular theme in discussions the last two weeks. At least a half dozen times I have heard someone say they have a “peace that passes all understanding” (Phil. 4:7 KJV).

“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7

Families are being drawn together. People are reaching out. Kids riding bikes. More people are out walking and talking, even if from six-feet apart. Employees are spending more time with their kids and figuring out boundaries. I had a couple Zoom calls this week that included kids blasting through the doors. It’s fun. At times the sun is breaking through.

Business leaders are also seeing sun breaks. Businesses are focusing on what they can do well. There is an expressed confidence, even a joy. They are pivoting their production to meet new priorities. One manufacturer, who had closed his operations, is reopening to make medical equipment. Most of my week was filled with updating the C3 Leaders website with newly launched learning, mentoring and coaching resources for business leaders ( Even with C3 Leaders, there were plans that we were praying about or considering for the fall that we are launching today, like C3 Coaching.

Frank Trieu and the amazing Trieu family have motivated their staff at Evergreen Beauty College around the phrase, “Chaos to Creation.” They talk about “C to C” with their employees and it is centering their thoughts in this time. If there is Constructive vs Destructive, they are focusing on creating what is next. Speaking of a sense of history, this is how God has always operated (watch for a future video from me).

With the clouds separating there is openness. Someone said this week, “This is a beautiful time to step in.” Step into…

Whatever that may mean in the context, making a call or shopping…
Whomever that may include, long-lost friends, detached family or even diplomatic relations…
This time to freely cross that bridge that just two weeks ago seemed nonexistent.

There is newfound opportunity for redemption. Really good stuff can come out of this time for individuals, business, culture, community, families, countries, the Earth and our souls.

Regardless of today’s weather forecast, you can be assured that the sun will rise tomorrow.