David Steward: Building a Business
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David grew up in a Christian home in the small town of Clinton, Missouri. As a teen, he lived through the racially tense '60s and recalls attending segregated schools, sitting in the balcony of the movies, and being barred from the public swimming pool. David doesnt harbor any negative feelings about having to endure those days, especially since his mother warned him against becoming bitter and resentful. "I literally lived on the other side of the railroad tracks," says David, "but I learned that division doesnt work."
Though his family had few material possessions, David believes he inherited considerable wealth from his parents because they taught him what was important: treating people right. David recalls homeless people stopping by the house. "No one was ever turned away," he says. "I saw faith in action." David also remembers his mother giving her last dollar to the church. "I knew it was seed to be sown with the expectation of a harvest," says David. These principles of sowing and reaping have stayed with him for his entire life.
David always had a lifelong dream of owning his own business. "It was a burning desire inside of me," he says. After college, David spent ten years in sales for three Fortune 500 companies. As the senior accountant for a major corporation, David was awarded Salesman of the Year and was made a member of the companys hall of fame. They presented an ice bucket with his initials engraved inside. David looked inside the bucket and realized it was empty. "This was a defining moment," says David. "I asked myself, Is this what I want out of life?" At the time, David and his family were living paycheck to paycheck. But David had complete faith in God. "It was clear in my mind that my belief in God, coupled with the desire to work hard to serve others, meant I was destined to succeed."
He founded World Wide Technology (WWT) in 1990 on a shoestring budget and 7 employees. WWT is the largest black-owned business in the United States, and with over $1 billion in revenues last year, WWT is the second black-owned business to ever hit the billion-dollar mark. They have over 450 employees and help companies develop systems that create databases of virtually any type that their customers may require for tracking orders.
Platform for Ministry
While his e-commerce business is thriving, David gives credit to the teachings in the Bible. While starting his business, the odds were stacked against him. "Looking back to 1990, it was nothing short of a miracle," says David. "It was a leap of faith." David sees his company as his ministry. It provides an opportunity for him to apply the lessons in the Bible and also serves as a platform on which to serve God by being an ambassador in the business world.
His pastor, Dr. Lynn Mims, of Union Memorial United Methodist Church, asked him to start a Sunday school class for businesspeople. David was concerned about the long-term commitment but wanted to somehow accommodate his pastors request. Davids wife, Thelma, reminded him what the Bible says in, "From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required." So they started the Bible study and called it Doing Business By the Book, the catalyst for his book, Doing Business by the Good Book: 52 Lessons on Success Straight from the Bible. Today the class is attended by governors of Missouri, past and present; Senators; Congressman; and other dignitaries.
Two of the most important lessons David teaches are the following: (1) good leadership is love "I love my employees and show them through my actions," he says; and (2) blessed to be a blessing serving others and doing good for others is the bottom line. Davids hope is that the corporate world picks up his book and that it directs them to the Bible. "This is the milk that gets people excited about the prosperity God has for their lives. If it directs them to the Word, then mission accomplished."
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