Diversity in Common

Jeff Bradshaw

Jeff Bradshaw owns Sierra Pacific Financial Services in the Fresno Central Valley. He has a broad range of experiences in California agribusiness and has been active in the U.S. agriculture community for almost 35 years. He heard about Pinnacle Forum from a gentleman who invited him to breakfast at the home of a Fresno Forum member.

“We sat around and chatted informally,” Jeff recalls, “and I realized we all shared the same challenges even though we were in different businesses. This was a group of professionals with lots in common. I found that attractive because I really think men need to get together with their ‘tribe’ once in a while and share life notes.

“As I continued with the group, I enjoyed being able to discuss business and the community without a lot of excess noise or chatter. We could look at what the Word of God says as the baseline and discuss how to apply it to every aspect of our lives. We were all professionals in our own circles doing what God called us to do, and yet we were all dealing with processes, personnel, competition, strategy, etc.”

Jeff doesn’t get this level of interaction elsewhere. “I run Bible studies and church projects, you name it,” he says. “At church, you’re dealing with a wide array of people, whereas the Forum is a group of guys with whom I can relate on a business level. When I tell them about issues at work, they’ve been through it, whereas in my church community, they can’t relate to what I’m talking about.”

Jeff’s commitment to people is what led him to leave a Wall Street firm and start his own company. “Selling commission-based products didn’t always serve the client’s interests,” he says. “I prefer the freedom to offer objective advice and develop long-term client relationships.”

But this makes for a busy lifestyle.

“Work never ends in my vocation” Jeff freely admits. “I don’t call it work because it’s something I enjoy doing. I like the journey, but I have a tendency to get spread too thin taking care of clients and serving at church with local ministries and international missions. When I started with the Forum, my wife wondered if it would be just another time-consumer. But I saw it as something good for me the same way that going to the gym and working out is healthy. I’m working on myself but it reinforces my role in the family and community as a spiritual leader.”

Jeff calls his Forum group his recharge station. “I’m getting drained all the time pouring into people and I really struggle to recharge my battery. Periodically I need to call a timeout and ask myself, what is my vision, my mission? What am I driving toward? I may think I’m on the right path but sometime I may have mission drift and not realize it. My group helps me stay healthy in all aspects of life, spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, academically. They help me keep all these in balance.

“In the group we can talk about family, business and the ministries God has us in,” Jeffcontinues. “We pray for each other and think of ways to encourage and support one another. I especially value the confidentiality and trust. There’s no judging and we can talk about anything and everything. To do this we’ve got to open up. At first we may feel this is too risky but the Forum erases that. We don’t have to worry because there’s mutual trust and respect.”

With all the things Forum members have in common, Jeff appreciates what he calls non-correlation or diversification. “When I look around the table I see diversity. This guy owns a company. This one’s a manager. There’s a banker and a school official. Not everyone is in agribusiness like me and I initially thought, what do I have in common with these guys? But I found there’s a lot of parallels in whatever we’re doing. There are similarities despite the differences and we can learn from each other.”

Being a lifelong learner is important to Jeff. “I am very much a believer in learning, growing and getting better in every aspect of life. I enjoy being around people who are different from me with different life experiences because they’ve got a gem or two I haven’t discovered yet. Pinnacle Forum encourages my tendency to say, “Let’s have breakfast. I want to know more about what you do.”

Neil Young once said, “Learning from other people is what music is all about.”

Jeff Bradshaw would say, “Learning from other people is what life is all about.”

 

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