Social Missions are an important part of many people's life. Doug and Evan talk about the impact of COVID on social missions and their importance to our lives and holistic wellbeing.
Doug's business specializes in partnering with companies and non-profits to capture overhead cost savings without layoffs to fund growth and strengthen financial results.
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Welcome to the terminal value Podcast where each episode provides in depth insight about the long term value of companies and ideas in our current world. Your host for this podcast is Doug Utberg, the founder and principal consultant for Business of Life, LLC.
Doug: In the city of Chicago Evan Moffic is a rabbi but also an associate of mine. Ivan, how are you doing?
Evan: I'm doing great, Doug. It's wonderful to be on the podcast and, you know, talk about some of the amazing work you're doing.
Doug: Oh, thank you appreciate that. Well, so actually, but Evan, of course, what I'd like to do today is to talk about you, I know you have a, you have a pretty significant social mission that you've been serving with your synagogue. And one of the things that I like to bring to my listeners on the podcast, is just different views, you know, kind of views from different parts of life, the, you know, just the things that make everybody unique, the anti mainstream view of life in America, you might say ,so yeah, take it away.
Evan: Well, you know, I guess, what we do is just try to serve the Jewish community and try to serve the community more broadly, really, just trying to be with people in important moments, you know, when people are, you know, getting surgery or experiencing illness, visiting with them, highlighting some of the work that our congregants do in the community, you know, working at soup kitchens, and, you know, fighting gun violence, we just have a lot of, you know, we have a strong social mission to really kind of make a difference in the community and be with people in their most important moments.
Evan: And it varies, it changes all the time. Sometimes it's, sometimes I've got, you know, a lot of tutoring lined up for the day. And another day, it's, you know, funerals.
Evan: So it kind of varies, but all of it centers around just serving people.
Doug: Well, and I'd love to hear your fear. How's COVID impacted all this, just because I've, you know, what I've observed is that a lot of people are going through quite a bit of social isolation. And in theory, a religious community would have to be an outlet valve for that. But for example, where I'm at, there's a state puts pretty strict headcount limitations on worship service. And, you know, attending a zoom worship service isn't really the same thing. And not being able to socialize after worship service still isn't really the same thing. So kind of what's your observation on how people are hoping long term impacts are going to be?
Evan: It's a great question, and the long term impacts are getting harder to predict. But I can tell you that I'm much more optimistic now than I was at the beginning.
Doug: I think to here.
Evan: it is, you know, because I saw people really came together. Of course, zoom is not nearly as good as being together in person. But what it has done, is it to allow people to connect, and to participate in worship, without the without having to get out of their homes and go to the synagogue. And that's hard. I mean, we have a lot of older people. I mean, that's, that's true in every most mainline religious communities right now, is it there aren't as many young people as we wish there were. And this has made it easier for people to participate in worship, of course, not participation at the highest level, but its participation in some way.
Evan: And we've been a lifeline. I mean, people in my community have told me that we've been a lifeline for them during these times, you know, they are lonely, they are suffering. You know, especially older folks who are a little bit you know, they just have to be a little bit more concerned when they go out. And we've had, we've really had stuff going on every day over zoom. So that has really been, we've been able to engage people. And you know, I was really worried about the economic fallout at the beginning. I thought, you know, we have people on fixed incomes, we have people who are relying on their investments, you know, I thought maybe we would get hit hard. But it seems to be Yes, a lot of people are still having a tough time. But at least within our community, there's just a little bit more stability now. So I'm very grateful for that.
Doug: Yeah, that's that that's really good. That's, that's excellent to hear. Well, and yeah, cuz I know that I'm the pastor of my church. And so for the benefit of the listeners, when I say my church, I'm actually referring to the parish that my wife and I we drive across town every Sunday. It's the parish that I've gone to since I was five, and the pastor there is the same person who married my wife and I in 2001. So I'm that guy. But anyway, when we go over to our parish, yeah, just lost my train of thought there. But anyway, yeah, the I just keep thinking about you about what the impacts of the of this, this is going to be on everybody's social stability. And, and actually, we've been really blessed just because yeah, our contributions have have really kept up. And that's been able to preserve the mission. And I just think that's going to be so important to people going forward. I mean, because I'm here and again, yeah, who knows how everything's gonna gonna shake out. But, but I think that, that that feeling community is, I mean, I know, I've, I've noticed that we haven't really, you know, we've been isolated, just like a lot of people. And we're actually very fortunate that, you know, we, we have a little bit of elbow room at our property. And you know, we're not, we're not in like Portland, Portland. So we're not we over there having all the other protests and everything.
Doug: It's it, you know, but yeah, I think it's that I think that loss of social community kind of kind of really hurts. And like you said, especially for the for a lot of your older people.
Evan: It is and you know, and I think I think one of the challenges is, or, or the questions that this is raising is, what is community? You know.
Evan: Is it is it always in person, is it you know, we've had some people who had been members of the synagogue, but they moved to Florida when they retired, and they've been able to participate in some of our classes. So they've maintained these connections, and that's a beautiful,
Doug: That is.
Evan: and it was like something that wouldn't have been possible.
Doug: Yeah. So definitely silver linings.
Evan: So you know this raises questions. Exactly. Exactly. What is community? How do we connect with people? And I think that this is reminded us, you know, what we think about community might be, you know, more bigger than than we then we thought before.
Evan: So that's a silver lining for sure.
Doug: Yeah. And yeah, absolutely. And actually, yes, I remembered the point I was going to make when I, when my brain went off on a tangent, yes, one of the points that the the pastor of my church repeatedly makes, because you were talking about how a lot of times every, every church is struggling to get younger people and my pastor always says that, you know, the, you know, the closer people get to meeting God, the more they decide they want to learn about him.
Evan: Ah, I like that I'm gonna use that.
Doug: You have full license or license to copy.
Evan: Excellent. Very well said.
Doug: Yes. And well. And because because also kind of it gets into a little bit of my personal philosophy. Now, you know, I don't want to get too much into religious proselytizing, because otherwise I could, I could make a lot of people who would otherwise be friends in debt to get scholarly looks on their face. But the way that I've always thought about about God and religion is that, you know, I think the first question you have to, you have to ask is whether you believe there is a God or not. I mean, to me, that's a no brainer, I think you have to be willfully in denial to think that there's not a God, but some people do. But if you accept that base premise, then you have to figure Okay, if we accept the premise that there is a God, then that means that this being who created the entire universe must have some kind of plan. And it is thus incumbent on me to figure out what that plan is.
Evan: Ah, yeah, I think that's a good way of thinking about it's very logical.
Doug: Yeah, it's, you know, so because the thing you know, like, you know, a lot of people will say, Oh, well, you know, you know, I don't believe in organized religion, why do I need church? Why do I need synagogue? Why do I do whatever I might be thinking about a little backwards, which is that, you know, the, you know, because if you think about you, if you think about it less, and that, hey, I'm doing God a favor by going to church and you think about it more like, Hey, I have a duty to this being that created everything, including me
Doug: To write out what they want. It's a little bit of a different spin on it.
Evan: Yeah, it puts a little bit of the of the burden back on it. It says, you know, we start with God, we don't start with our own human needs. We start with God.
Evan: There's a power to that it's not all about us. I think.
Evan: That's one of the Yeah.
Evan: It's that's a countercultural religious message today, you know, so much of our culture is, it's, you know, about what about what we want. So, I think starting with God is it's really been good.
Doug: Absolutely, absolutely. I mean, and, and, you know, I think it's a, you know, it's a good thing, too, because of course, radio when you go through difficulties, like everybody does, you know, it's easy to panic, you know, get down and get frustrated or whatever you know, but that of course, you know, We don't have that grounding, realize that you're a contestant back in the event. You know, that. Your center?
Evan: That's right. That's right. Good. Well, what else? I want to I want to just sort of learn about what, how we can kind of, you know, what we, you and I have talked about is.
Evan: The way what you're doing with expense reduction can really help in in a nonprofit business. And I think that that's true for us. I mean, we've really had to kind of focus you laser in on what is our mission? What are we here to do? And I think that's been a healthy exercise, you know, yes, we're financially sound right now, you know, it's been a big recovery. But it really during this whole process, we we kind of had to analyze what is our core mission. And a lot of it really focused on serving people in those relationships, you know, we spend a lot of money on music, we spend a lot of money on classes, but we really learned that it's the relationships that matter most. And that was actually been a really healthy exercise, that what is the unique contribution that my synagogue gives to the community, and sort of refocusing resources on that, and cutting resources from the more extraneous stuff has been a really healthy exercise?
Doug: Yeah, and I think that's really appreciate bringing up that point, because, of course, you know, one of the things that I do is, is cost optimization consulting.
Doug: Which is a fancy way of saying expense reduction. But a lot of the company, or a lot of the companies and entities that I work with are things like schools, government entities and nonprofits, there's the regular companies too. But I think the reason why that's important, especially for mission driven organizations, is that you're it's like you said, right, you're you know, you're focused on your mission. And, you know, you don't necessarily have the time specialty nor inclination to go and try to, you know, not only a negotiate your, your, your supply contracts, the vendors, but be to monitor all those contracts.
Doug: And so I think that's actually where someone like myself as expense reduction analysts, because the way we operate, is we actually have a network of cost analysts so that instead of someone from your synagogue needing to be an expert, in say, negotiating office supplies, or what you know, let's say that you do small package rate to send out to send out recordings of services, or any number of other, let's say you have have telecom bills, I'm sure that if you're that across all the Jewish Federation, in, in Chicago, the telecom bills have to be enormous.
Doug: And so too, instead of trying to negotiate those all on your own, bring in somebody like us, you know, who were we're bringing in, you know, considerable amount of industry experience. And then we can do that on your behalf. So you can focus on what really matters to your, to your constituents, and to your congregation, which is your mission. And I think that's actually I know, for me, that's one of the things that really animated me to join up the expense reduction analysts is because I really want to be able to help mission driven organizations who focus on mission.
Doug: which, incidentally, is why I got this podcast going is because I want to create a kind of a stage or a podium, for people to get the word out about the missions, because I think so much gets so much gets lost and just the mainstream, you know, news communication, you know, it's all national global headlines, and it's like, like, it's a real life is local. You know, people always say, you know, people always talk about the national headlines, Trump Biden, you know, now in a few months, that's Trump, nobody's gonna care about Trump Biden, because the election is going to be over.
Evan: So true.
Doug: But everybody talks about, you know, everybody talks about the national election, and I'm like, the way I look at it, they're both you're both sides, you're steering us off the cliff, they're just taking different roles. It's, you know, it's, it's the local that matters to me, because, you know, because that's the people where I live, you know, that that's the local stuff is what's actually going to impact my life, but nobody pays attention to it. Nobody pays attention to it at all. And that's what actually has a real impact. It's just, it's not sensational, you know, you know, tax based campaigns for a school bond, just don't move the needle in people's, you know, people's attention, you know, having a, you know, you know, land use decisions, and they're like, people don't care, but that's what actually impacts your life.
Evan: So true. So true and local. Yeah, I think we I don't know when that happened, that we just kind of got addicted to politics to kind of, almost in some ways, speaking from a religious point of view.
Evan: Or some people politics is their religion. It's like, you know, they've got those who are saved and those who are not safe. And anyone who disagrees with me is absolutely wrong and wicked and immoral. And I'd be obviously this is true on both sides. And it's it's sad to see that Because, you know, the founders of our country, were very wise to build that wall between church and state because religion and politics serve different functions. Politics is all about compromise. You don't, you can't function in a political multi cultural democracy without compromise. And religion is about kind of, in some ways being uncompromising having certain sets of values. And so the two operating separate spheres and, and I think they that that was been pierced A long time ago, in a in an unhealthy way.
Doug: And exactly because I would say, because it's like you said, Yeah, the you know, religion, of course, you have doctrine, and there's a general lack and compromise that I would say, that's very descriptive and how politics has gotten.
Doug: So if anything, more like religion, in fact, everything is become more like religion.
Doug: Or I guess, a dogmatic religion, you know, because, of course, the idea of doctrine, like we were saying earlier, is that it's like, you know, if you accept the notion that there is a God and that we have a duty to find out God's true nature, then you know, then doctrine becomes very important because it becomes a confession of faith over what you believe God's true nature is, but that, that isn't necessarily the way that every facet of life should be.
Evan: That's right. That's right.
Doug: That’s a that's a bleed over that we seem to have lost track of at some point.
Evan: So true, so true. Well, it's great talking with you, Doug as always.
Doug: Yeah I know. It's so it's always lots of fun. Well, well, hey, Evan. So if people want to learn more about your mission, where can they go?
Evan: They can go to they can email me firstname.lastname@example.org or rabbi moffic R-a-b-b-i-m-o-f-f-i-c.com, rabbimoffic.com and I would be glad to connect with anybody.
Doug: Outstanding. Well, yeah, anybody listening, I would recommend connecting with Evan. Not only is he very knowledgeable, but he's one of just the nicest guys you ever get to meet.
Evan: Oh, thanks, Doug
Doug: Alright. Well, thank you and everybody have a wonderful remainder of your day.
Doug works with schools, businesses and nonprofits to optimize their costs without layoffs. The best part is that he is only paid for successful projects so you have zero risk. To learn more, visit Dougbusiness.com or schedule time to talk about your business at meetDoug.biz.
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