05/16/2013 06:07 pm ET Updated Jul 16, 2013

Practical Advice from a Wise CEO

"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions."
Albert Einstein

I don't know of any student at Valley Forge Christian College who wants to be mediocre or even just a little above average. Within each heart is a quest to excel... to make a difference... to change the world.

Why else would someone submit themselves to a rigorous academic program and be willing to spend a considerable amount of money and remain focused for at least four years to achieve a degree? Something inside stirs the heart of every student to reach for the stars.

We love to bring before our students role models who can help them on that quest and answer from personal experience the question, "What do I need to do to be successful?" These models motivate and inspire us to realize our fullest potential. And, Dr. Steve Strang is such a person.

Dr. Strang is founder of Charisma Media in Florida. Best known for Charisma magazine, the company publishes other magazines, has many digital products and publishes more than 200 books a year in English and Spanish. Eleven (11) of those books have become New York Times bestsellers, the most recent being The Harbinger.

Dr. Strang recently addressed our students and shared five (5) of his leadership secrets.

1. Start Reading. While he was still in his twenties he picked up books by Zig Ziglar and Robert Schuller. From them he learned that life sometimes comes at us with enormous negatives. Sometimes things are so bad you should feel bad. But don't wallow in that. Give yourself a deadline. Have yourself a pity party then let it go. Take personal responsibility for your future.

2. Find Mentors. Jamie Buckingham was his mentor. When Strang was young, this almost 'larger-than-life' author and international leader got behind him. Because it took his publishing effort ten (10) years to break even, he needed that kind of support.

Buckingham said to him:

  • "The truth will set you free but first it will make you miserable"
  • "Attempt something so big that unless God comes through it will be a disaster"
  • "What would you do if you knew you would not fail?"

3. Find Your Passion and Pursue It. "The University of Florida prepared me for my first job as a reporter," Strang said. "But no one thereafter talked about starting a business. I was very unprepared to start something... to create something." But Strang went on to talk about his passion and how, out of that passion, Charisma Media was born.

4. Be of Service. Strang confessed that it was Earl Nightingale who claimed in the 1950s "The Strangest Secret," i.e. "You've got to be of service before you can expect money." Most people will struggle to pay their bills but even with a small business you have income and you have expenses and if you have any money left over, that is your profit. It is that simple. And if you provide a service that produces that profit today and you do it again tomorrow, you will thrive.

5. Leave Something. "Life cannot only be about accumulating things," he said. "Everyone must be willing to leave something." He spoke of the influence of the founder of Chick-Fil-A, Truett Cathy; the founder of Hobby Lobby, David Green; and even Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty. They all started with nothing but they decided to leave something. That desire to leave something can create a timeless legacy in each of our lives. We must leave the world a better place than where we found it.

Several years ago Time magazine recognized Strang as one of America's 25 most influential evangelical leaders. His mission and that of Charisma Media is to inspire people to radically change their world. Over the years he has been doing just that.

If we follow his advice, that could certainly happen to any one of us.

Think about it.

Dr. Don Meyer is President of
Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA
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