Robert Wright, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation, has come up with a theory about globalization that might help you do business. He has studied Paul of Tarsus, who went around persecuting the followers of Jesus until he literally saw the light on the road to Damascus. Paul spent the rest of his life spreading Christianity by championing love and brotherhood.
Wright takes pains to show that Paul’s letters to other converts are the oldest writings in the New Testament, and that the other early writer, Mark, had little to say about love or brotherhood. In fact, Wright points out that Jesus uses the word “love” only twice in the whole gospel of Mark, compared with 10 times in just one of Paul’s letters to the Romans.
Wright says all that “kin talk” makes sense if you see Paul not only as a preacher but as an entrepreneur who’s trying to build religious franchises across the Roman Empire. He’s not satisfied with one mom-and-pop shop in Corinth.
Paul solved several technical problems:
To keep far-flung congregations in line, he used letters, or epistles, advocating brotherly love.
To send these letters, he used business people like Lydia, who marketed expensive purple cloth to wealthy clients, and a couple named Aquila and Priscilla, who conveniently marketed tents used by the commercial class to avoid vermin-infested inns. Like other leaders who ran Paul’s operations, Lydia “was the ancient equivalent of someone who today makes a transatlantic or transpacific flight in business class.”
To accommodate his couriers, Paul persuaded affluent converts to host them, which not only provided reliable long-term lodging for the business people but also helped them build congregations in new places.
This pragmatic approach worked amazingly well, creating more and more franchises at greater and greater distances—and became the first example in Christendom of doing well by doing good.
And what, you may ask, does this mean for me? When marketing abroad, forge strong personal connections—the equivalent of brotherly love—as an integral part of your brand.
— Adapted from “One World, Under God,” Robert Wright, the Atlantic.
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