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How Innovators Can Be Peripheral Visionaries

On Episode 114 of The Edge of Innovation, we’re talking with executive advisor Scott Monty about how innovators can be peripheral visionaries!


Scott’s Affinity For Futurist Ideas
A Peripheral Visionary
Asking Questions & Listening Like Sherlock Holmes
Interesting Projects Scott is Working On Now
Conclusion: “Stay Curious”
More Episodes
Show Notes

How Innovators Can Be Peripheral Visionaries


Paul: Good afternoon, everyone. Today we’re talking with Scott Monty of Scott Monty Strategies in Canton, Michigan. Welcome, Scott. Are you there?

Scott: I am here. Good to be with you, Paul.

Scott’s Affinity For Futurist Ideas

Paul: So now how did you find out you had an affinity for this kind of futurist ideas and sort of thinking outside the box? You know, you don’t sound like somebody who wants to go and just be satisfied in a retail job or whatever. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with that. But what were the things that happened and gave you hints that that’s where you wanted to be? Or did it just happen?

Scott: Well, it’s not like there was a flash of lightning, and I heard a voice from the heavens crying out to me. It’s one of these things that crept up on me over a while. I tend to stay very engaged online. I try to follow people who are interesting and different from me — right? — to help color my view with lots of different ideas. I am innately curious. Dorothy Parker famously said, “Curiosity is the cure for boredom. There is no cure for curiosity.”

So, I continue to feed my, my curiosity gene. And at a certain point, I began to be able to discern where I thought things were heading. and call it a sixth sense, call it a matter of being well read, both in current events and in history, and I just am able to kind of put these pieces together.

Paul: Interesting.

Scott: It’s funny because the auto dealer that I helped with his customer experience we both kind of worked through this, and we said that there’s really no direct competitor to auto dealers. I mean, they’re protected by franchise laws, for the most part. There’s really no inherent threat there. But if you look about, look around and, and observe how people are treating technology, the auto industry is going to be affected by Apple and Netflix and Amazon and Uber to a certain degree. But, these are about behaviors. They’re not about taking over the auto industry. It’s because people have become accustomed to getting everything on demand with the click of a button in a day or two. We’ve become accustomed to that level of convenience.

So, we said, okay, well that’s the expectation. How do we take that now and apply it to the auto industry, to the dealership experience specifically?

Paul: Yeah, that’s fascinating. It’s a whole world ripe for disruption.

A Peripheral Visionary

Scott: I call it being, I mean, people talk about futurists being visionaries. I like to think of myself as a peripheral visionary. I can see into the future but way off to the sides because that’s where the threats come from. They come from out of left field when you’re least expecting them.

Paul: That’s, that’s a great way to put it. I think that was a Seinfeld line too. “I’m a peripheral visionary.”

So, when you grew up, what were your interests?

Scott: Believe it or not, I actually wanted to be a doctor.

Paul: Okay.

Scott: I was premed at Boston University and was actually president of the Premed Society. But I was going through university and grad school at a time when managed care was beginning to make its name known. And I realized as I got into the first year of medical school that there needed to be people that were scientifically knowledgeable on the business side and to be able to give reasonable suppositions as to what outcome might be in an informed way without being heartless about it.

So I said, well, let’s see what I can do here. Right? And I decided pretty quickly that I didn’t want to go the pure science route. So, I added an MBA with a concentration in healthcare administration at turning the medical experience into a master’s degree with a thesis, so it was a Masters in Medical Science. And embarked on a world of managed care.

Stayed with that for about three years until my forehead began to get flat from all of the repeated bangings on the wall. But realized, again, and this is in retrospect, Paul. I wanted to innovate and that industry was just so slow moving and bureaucratic. There was going to be no innovation in the discernible future. And I guess that’s’ where I first began to see things differently and got this spark.

Paul: Interesting. So when you were 10, 12, 13, 14, did you say, “I want to grow up and be a doctor?”

Scott: Uh, pretty much around the early teen years, I think.

Paul: Okay. That’s interesting.

Scott: An I had a great family doctor. And I just knew I wanted something where I felt like I could help people.

Asking Questions & Listening Like Sherlock Holmes

Paul: Okay.

Scott: And when I mentioned… I would have been a doctor if it wasn’t for that science thing. I think my enjoyment of medicine, what I had experienced up until then, was on the patient relation side — taking a history, getting to know the patient, asking questions — which in turn goes back to another childhood interest I had and still have. And that’s Sherlock Holmes.

I discovered Sherlock Holmes when I was about 14 and then discovered there’s all these people around the world that belong to these clubs. They meet regularly, and they’re people from all walks of life. And you can discuss the character in the stories, but it’s really about people getting together to get to know each other. And as I talked to more of these people, I realized that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who himself was a physician, was influenced by Dr. Joseph Bell, who was a medical school professor of his. And one of the most important things he learned in Bell’s classes was taking patient histories and observing and taking it all in. So, this is really where, you know, Holmes got his profession as a consultant.

Paul: Interesting, interesting. Well, that’s the listening and the hearing and listening are critical. As I’ve matured, I’ve learned that you have to listen because people are telling you a lot of information that might not be clear. Fascinating.

Scott: That’s right. Yeah. I mean, again, take it back to that dealer. If I took him at his word and he said, “We’re at 100% capacity,” anyone could have taken that at face value and go “Oh, uh-huh. I get it.” But I heard it, but I also heard there was something in his voice as if to say, “We need help with it.” And it, again, taking the listening together with the previous knowledge, it’s one thing to listen and as you’ve stated, it’s absolutely important. But it’s taking that listening together with — whether it’s experiential knowledge or a theoretical knowledge or what have you, and putting the two together, that really makes the magic happen.

Interesting Projects Scott is Working On Now

Paul: Interesting. So, do you have any interesting projects you’re working on now that you can tell us without revealing too much?

Scott: I am working with a fintech startup right now, that is looking to create a new opportunity for small investors. So, we all see these, these unicorn IPOs, these incredible valuations, and there’s a bit of a check happening in the marketplace right now. But you see these IPOs, and the average investor wants to get in on the ground level, and the price is announced, and then it spikes on the first day, and then it fades off. You can never actually get in at the same level as the early investors.

And so this fintech startup I’m working with is looking to create a new marketplace whereby small-medium businesses that need capital but that don’t want to give away ownership of their firm can be part of a marketplace and small investors who have, say, a minimum of a thousand dollars to invest and so they’re lower than angel investors, but they’re not VCs — can actually invest in these companies and be part of their eventual stock offering somewhere down the road. So, it’s a win-win. And we’re in the midst of designing this right now, putting the fund in the marketplace together.

Paul: Very cool. When will that be a reality?

Scott: Well, I think we’re targeting summer of 2020. There are a couple of early clients right now, so I’m just helping them get some deals in place.


Paul: Very cool. Well, Scott has a great website as well as a great LinkedIn page, which we’ll have links to in the show notes. Is there anything you’d like to specifically cite or direct our audience to that you think would be of interest?

Scott: Well, I mean, if you go to my website, I would encourage you to sign up for my Timeless and Timely Newsletter. It’s really about the intersection of the past and the present and helping leaders of tomorrow get where they need to go. I usually bring up some references from literature, philosophy, or history, and then bring it back around to something that’s going on today.

Paul: Cool. Alright, anything else? Any shameless plugs?

Scott: I think that’s all I’ve got at this point.

Paul: Alright. Well, as you’re aware, we’ve been talking with Scott Monty of Scott Monty Strategies. And there’s going to be a whole bunch of show notes based on what we’ve talked about. And we’ll have his contact information there as well. Some really cool stuff that Scott has done and I think he’s given us some good encouragement to look at things a little bit differently. So, Scott, thank you very much for coming on the show. We appreciate it and hope to have you on in the future again.

Scott: It’s my great pleasure, Paul. Thank you.

More Episodes:

This is Part 3 of 3 our interview with Scott Monty. If you missed Part 1, you can listen to it here: https://saviorlabs.com/innovation-marketing-strategies-with-scott-monty/
If you missed part 2, you can listen to it here: https://saviorlabs.com/innovation-looking-to-the-future-learning-from-the-past/

Show Notes:

Is Church the Place for Innovation?

On Episode 99 of The Edge of Innovation, we’re talking with Mark Dever, the senior pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church, about whether or not church is the place for innovation.


Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the Church
Is Church Run Like a Business?
What Does the Church Try To Accomplish?
How a Church Measures Their Success
Running an Organization
Training Up Other People
Is Church the Place For Innovation?
Starting Another Organization: Is It a Good Idea?
Encouragement For Entrepreneurs & Innovators
Five Sources To Find Out More About Christianity
Entrepreneurs & Faith
More Episodes
Show Notes

Is Church the Place for Innovation?

Innovation & Entrepreneurship in the Church

Paul: So, welcome to the Edge of Innovation. Today were talking with Mark Dever from Washington D.C.

So, do you think you’re an entrepreneur?

Mark: Well, in that I don’t mind trying new things, yeah. I think I’m an odd entrepreneur in the sense that I tend to be kind of traditional, conservative and extremely, by nature, content. So, I don’t feel restless or driven but I think I do work as hard as entrepreneurs tend to work and I think I’m very willing to try certain kinds of new things.

Paul: So, you’re mixing innovation in with entrepreneurship. And they’re very close and they’re very intermingled. Where do you think that there has been innovation in your work in the church? Or is that a good thing? Is that a bad thing? It’s a fairly big subject.

Mark: I think I’ve worked to recover older, more biblical practices that have been largely lost in too many churches today and I’ve put those back in a modern church.

Paul: I see. Well that’s re-innovation, if you will. That’s cool. Do you think that there is room or opportunity to innovate in the church?

Mark: Yeah, sure. I think it can be done very badly and I think it can be done very well. But yes.

Paul: So, what’s some examples of that?

Mark: Well, badly would be if you change, if you innovate in the message. That would be a very bad thing. Badly would be if you create a kind of legalism where you’re requiring things that Jesus Christ did not require. Innovation could be a good thing if you are thinking of how to achieve your goals for your church in ways that haven’t been thought of before but work well and are consistent with what you think are good and true

Is Church Run Like a Business?

Paul: So, do you think that your church, do you run it like a business or is that fundamentally different?

Mark: Oh, I think it’s pretty fundamentality different. For example, when my salary is discussed by the elders, I literally leave the room so that I know nothing of those conversations. So yeah. We’re not trying to personally make money. We don’t profit in that sense.

Paul: Do you have customers?

Mark: People who are members of the church, who attend here, may think of themselves that way. We don’t use that as an image because it makes the customer, king and we understand that God is king and we understand that He has revealed in the scriptures what we should do, believe, have, and so we don’t think that’s just up to the individual’s choice.

What Does the Church Try To Accomplish?

Paul: I see. So, you have a thousand people coming to services. You are having an impact in their life and they’re having an impact in the people around them’s life. Do you think that the church, this particular church, accomplishes a lot and if so, what is the primary accomplishment that you would sort of extol?

Mark: That we try to be faithful to what God has revealed in Scripture and we try to help other people do that, to live in a life of love of God and love of neighbor as we should. So, that’s what we work for.

Paul: So, it’s very different, it’s a quality of life.

Mark: Right. It’s not a quantity. It’s not find me a metrical thing, like we can count it up.

Paul: Right.

Mark: So, for example Paul, our church has as a building, one large room that, I think, can seat about a thousand people. Well that room has been full for ten years so we’re not having growing number of members. Our number of members is kind of static at about nine hundred and fifty to a thousand. And what we try to do is, try to serve them as well as we can. We have people die or move on, so we’ve always got sort of more space for people who want to come in but success can’t be seen in our percentage of numerical increase each year.

How a Church Measures Success

Paul: I see. So how do you measure success?

Mark: Just by whether or not we evaluate ourselves as being faithful in being and doing those things that we’ve been called to be and to do.

Paul: I see. So, the teachings of the Bible, is what you’re saying. Do we fulfill those? Do we understand those?

Mark: If we have a husband who is abusing his wife and we do nothing to stop him from doing that, then we understand that we’re failing. If we act and stop him from doing that and we help the wife and we help the children, then we understand that as success.

Paul: I see. So, you actually get into the messiness of human interaction.

Mark: Very much so.

Running an Organization

Paul: Yeah, that’s very interesting. So again, revisiting the idea where you didn’t go to school for organizational management. You didn’t go to school for how to run an organization. You went to school for church history, I guess?

Mark: Yeah. Historical theology. Yeah.

Paul: How did you make that leap to running an organization?

Mark: Well, when you become the pastor of a church and then that church grows, you will end up having a certain amount of responsibility for that organization.

Paul: But is it just, you pulled it out of your hat or did you take a secret management class someplace or is it just that you were born with it?

Mark: I’m guessing born with it. It’s interesting. The seminary I went to did make us take what they called a leadership course, where we read books at the time by Ted Peters, folks like that. And I have to say all the stuff that we read… In Search of Excellence.

Paul: Yes. Tom Peters.

Mark: All the stuff I read seemed kind of obvious, so it didn’t seem unusually insightful to me. it seemed true, but I didn’t need somebody to tell me that kind of stuff.

Training Up Other People

Paul: So, what I’ve struggled with as being a leader is, well, I know it’s right, do it my way. And I’ve seen many leaders struggle with that. Has that been a problem with you?

Mark: Not so much. I’m a big believer in training up other people and then if you can get other people learning to do things, you’re multiplying.

Paul: Right. Okay.

Mark: So, I’d much rather have it done not quite as well but sufficiently well, and moving in a good direction by a new person, and then help them to learn how to train others also.

Is Church the Place For Innovation?

Paul: So, now, you have all of these members. Would the members say that your church is innovative? I guess you already sort of answered that question. And is a church the place to be innovative?

Mark: I think the fundamental answer to that is no.

Paul: Okay.

Mark: But you could misunderstand that. I think it’s fine if the church tries, you know, an new air conditioning system, a new PA system, to sing a new hymn. I think that’s fine. If you think the church needs to have new things like that in order to survive, I would say well that’s not true and I would say it’s basic marching orders have been laid down very clearly for thousands of years in Scripture and what we want to work at is to continue to be faithful and try to follow those instructions.

Starting Another Organization: Is It a Good Idea?

Paul: Now, you mentioned an organization 9Marks. Why did you start this? You have a church who is functioning well. Many times with business, you hear, “Focus focu,s focus!” And so, it’s very usually dangerous to take a tangent and go off and do something else because it dilutes tension and venture capitalists look at it and say, “No. Stop half of the things you’re doing and do the other half twice as well.”
So, you went off and started this thing called 9Marks. What was the impetus for that? What was the point? What was the problem you were trying to solve?

Mark: Well, it was actually some friends who started 9Marks kind of with me. It was more their idea to start an organization, the marks of a church, that is talking about are things that I had noted and I had taught and even written about. These friends thought, “Mark. You’re doing this well enough in this church, let’s try to reproduce some of these things you’re saying and doing and teaching.” You know kind of like a Harvard business review.

Paul: Oh, okay.

Mark: Best practices kind of stuff. Let’s share this with other pastors so they can see what’s going on and maybe develop resources that would help them improve their churches.

Paul: And has that gone the way you expected it? Better? Worse? When you started it, it sounded like you were a reluctant traveler. “Okay, you guys are interested in dong this, I’ll come along.” Is that fair or… and how has it worked out?

Mark: I think that’s fair. It’s gone well. It’s been around for twenty-one years. And yeah, if you go to the website 9marks.org, look on a church search map, you’ll find about four thousand churches in the U.S. that have affiliated themselves with this, saying they agree with these marks of a healthy church.

And we have produced lots of content for free, you’ll find on the website. And probably about sixty different titles, sixty different books of which I’ve only written, oh, five or ten of them. Not a lot of them, and most of those are being translated into many different languages around the world. Almost every week, I’ll receive some copies of some 9Marks title that’s been translated into – this last week, Polish. And you know, it just keeps going.

Encouragement For Entrepreneurs & Innovators

Paul: So, is there anything you’d like to say to would-be entrepreneurs or innovators or business people? Anything at all?

Mark: Yeah, just as a Christian, I think business is hugely important. It’s productive. It created wealth. It gives jobs to people. It helps people meaningfully organize their time to do things that help other people. So, I love business people, men and women. I love to see their creativity, their productivity, the blessing they are to others. So, as a pastor of a Christian church, I just couldn’t be more encouraged by men and women listening podcasts like yours Paul, and trying to get better doing what they do, because if they get better doing what they do, it’s going to help everyone around them. So, I’m super thankful for good business people.

Paul: Well, that could be a good oxymoron. Good business people.

Mark: Well you know what I mean. You know what I mean.

Five Sources To Find Out More About Christianity

Paul: No, I’m just saying, but it could be. Very much so.

So, let me go back. So, you’ve talked about Christianity, You’ve talked about what it is. I would imagine a lot of people listening to us don’t really know what Christianity really means. They may have a notion of it. Where would you direct them to be able to learn more about what you say Christianity is or what you believe Christianity is?

Mark: Okay, what I believe Christianity is. I’ll give you five sources you can go look at.

Talk to a good friend of yours who’s a Christian. That’s number one, a friend. Get him to explain it to you.

Number two, go find a good church near you and let them explain it to you.

Number three, grab a good book. I’ll mention two: C.S. Lewis, called “Mere Christianity” or Greg Gilbert, a book called “Who is Jesus?” So that’s C.S. Lewis, “Mere Christianity”, Greg Gilbert, “Who is Jesus?” These books would very briefly explain to you Christianity.

You could yourself pick up a copy of the Bible and start reading the Gospels about Jesus. I would encourage you to read Mark’s Gospel. It’s short. It’s the shortest of the Gospels. We think it may have been the earliest written.

And finally, I would tell you go to the 9Marks website and just look up, just type in the word “gospel”. Because that’s the basic message of Christianity. G-O-S-P-E-L. Just type in “gospel” and see what articles come up and read or listen to some of the resources you find there.

Paul: Okay, well, we’ll put all those links in the show notes so people don’t have to furiously write them down.

Mark: You could also put one of capbap.org, so if they want to hear any of my teaching, they are there for free.

Entrepreneurs & Faith

Paul: Excellent. What would you, if you were to meet with a would-be entrepreneur, has really no experience with faith, what would your conversation be like with one of them?

Mark: Well, it happens from time to time, I mean that’s not just hypothetical. One of the guys who helped us start 9Marks, actually gave us several hundred thousand dollars to get started. He was just a businessman who lived here, a few doors down and he just liked what he saw happening in this church. He thought if other churches became more like this, it would help communities they were in. So, he gave us money to try to help us get started.

So, conversations can vary a lot. They can have a personal interest in faith themselves, they can just like some of the things that we’re doing and want to be a part of it, so it varies a lot.


Paul: Very cool. Any other things you’d like to cover or talk about?

Mark: No, I mean, it’s been a good conversation.

Paul: Alright, well, we’ve been speaking with Mark Dever, the senior pastor at Capitol Hill Baptist Church in Washington D.C. and I guess you’re four blocks behind the supreme court building?

Mark: Exactly.

Paul: We’ve been talking about a church in Washington D.C. where Mark is the teaching pastor? Do you have a particular title?

Mark: Senior pastor.

Paul: Senior pastor. So, you’re old is what they’re saying?

Mark: I’m very old.

Paul: Oh my gosh. Well, did you actually get to meet Jesus?

Mark: After a manner of speaking, but not in the way you mean it, I think.

Paul: Okay. Well, we’ve had a good conversation and we’d love your feedback.

More Episodes:

This is Part 3 of 3 our interview with Mark Dever. If you missed part 1, you can listen to it here!

And if you missed part 2, you can listen to it here!

Show Notes:

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