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Into the Lion’s Den with Vip Vipperman

  |   Bottom Line Faith   |   No comment


 
Ray sits down with Vip Vipperman to talk about his career as a missionary in China, his drastic transition to the international real estate market, his continuing love for the Chinese people, and the incredible ways he is impacting the world of kingdom-minded entrepreneurs and investors through an organization called The Lion’s Den.
 
Bio:
Vip Vipperman is a bilingual business leader with a successful track record in the local and international environment. Vip’s team raised $160M from overseas for investment in USA real estate projects.
 
Vip facilitated training for over 2,000 leaders, and is the co-founder of a nationally recognized pitch competition called The Lion’s Den DFW that pairs investors with entrepreneurs.
 
Quotes:
“The Lord will be faithful to you; do your best to be faithful to Him.”
“There’s people like you struggling with what you’re struggling with.”
 
Key Takeaways:
1. Savor your daily time with the Lord.
2. There’s plenty of opportunities; you have to start looking.
3. The ecosystem is much bigger than you think it is.
4. There are people like you struggling with what you struggle with.
5. Get up and get started.
6. Just do something.
 
Links:
Thelionsdendfw.org
Thelionsden.us
FaithDrivenEntrepreneur.org
FaithDrivenInvestor.org
 
Full transcript:
 
Ray: Hello everyone. This is Ray Hilbert. I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith and welcome back to another episode. This is the program where we have this amazing, amazing privilege to travel around the country and interview incredible Christ followers who are making a difference in the marketplace. These are entrepreneurs, they’re CEOs, they’re business leaders, marketplace leaders. Occasionally, we get the actor, the entertainer, the government leader. But what all of our guests have in common is a deep love for Jesus, and they’re intentionally trying to live out their faith in the marketplace. We all know we have a great influence in the marketplace, and so that’s what we’re about here at Bottom Line Faith, eternal business, real life.
 
And I am really excited. I feel like in many ways, I’m interviewing a brand new old friend. I am sitting with Vip Vipperman and Vip is the because-founder and co-chair of something called the Lion’s Den out of Dallas, Fort worth, Texas. And he’s also the director of Capital Markets at JPI. And we’re going to hear all … you buckle up. This is going to be a great story of a man that God has used globally to impact the kingdom. VP, welcome to Bottom Line Faith.
 
Vip: Hey, good morning Ray. Excited to be here.
 
Ray: Well, the reason Vip that I mentioned just a moment ago that I feel like I’m interviewing a brand new old friend is, we were introduced by a mutual friend. Recently, you had a conversation on the phone, and I just remember I was just really blessed and encouraged, just hear your enthusiasm. I could tell your deep love for Jesus, but you have this amazing background, so amazing story. So I’m not going to say, hey, let’s just start from the beginning when you were a small child, but let’s start, where were you raised?
 
Vip: So born in Richmond, Virginia and then I came to faith when I was 13 years old at a summer camp. And the interesting thing about that is I grew up, I really chubby kid and was picked on, bullied for a good portion of my school life. And so it was always kind of on the outskirts, struggled with that a lot, the personal confidence, the making new friends. And it wasn’t until when I was about 13 years old and somebody introduced Christ to me and said, it doesn’t matter what you think about yourself. It doesn’t matter what those other kids are saying about you. What matters is what he thinks about you and you’re his beloved child. And so he introduced me, talk to me about what forgiveness looks like, and that’s how I came to faith.
 
But I always start with that because that really set a huge precedence for the whole kid that was bullied to the person that I am now, and just this desire to bring other people in and make other people feel welcome. So I moved my senior year of high school, which was a shock to the system. Fortunately for me because I had been that kid that was bullied, it was a chance to start fresh. And so I moved from Virginia all the way to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and just had a great experience, got connected with a good youth group there. And the Lord just really started to open my eyes to who he was and gave me some great relationships.
 
So I ended up just rolling right into LSU because I was in Baton Rouge and had a fantastic experience as a tiger. In college, I started off in pre-med and thought that’s what I was going to do and ended up getting involved in some ministry opportunities, youth intern type roles, those type of things. And I had the opportunity to work at a summer camp, and then one chance my senior year to spend the summer in Taiwan. And it was just incredible. We taught sports camps to kids. I got a chance to interact with the local people and kind of from early five, six year olds kind of teach in soccer camp all the way to playing ball with high schoolers and college students.
 
And so after that, the Lord just really gave me a heart for the international scene. I’d taken trips to Mexico before and done a little spring break mission trip or something, learned a little Spanish, but God just really gave me a heart for the Asian people. That’s kind of what took me through the next few years.
 
Ray: You ended up in China. What happened? How’d that happen?
 
Vip: So from Taiwan, I spent two years, I committed to go with the international mission board, and two years as a journeyman where I worked with college students. So as it turns out, me and my wife over there who is not Asian, but she was over there on a short term trip as well and got a chance to meet. And we both just felt the Lord was leading us across the street as it were into the mainland, but had an exceptional time in Taiwan. So we came back from Taiwan, got married to my wife, Carrie, went to seminary at Southwestern and Fort worth, did two years there. So I have a master’s of museology degree, which is typically not talked about much in real estate finance, which is the industry I spend most of my time in, but that’s the path that the Lord took me on.
 
And then had the chance … we followed the IMBs role, their pathway through to serve as career aims in Northeast China. So that’s what we thought the Lord had for us. We spent six years over there working with underground church and doing a lot of that activity. And so we’re really excited about it. And then suddenly after about six years, the Lord called us back.
 
Ray: Well, you talked a little bit, you just mentioned the underground church. And as we’re recording this conversation, there is a lot in the news about the crackdown that’s going on in China on Christians and really religion across the board. Just give us a little bit of inside track. What was your experience living there, I think you said for six years, and what was life like that in that regard?
 
Vip: In China, it really breaks down into the public church that’s government sponsored and the underground church that’s not. And in our experience the government wasn’t really against the growth of the church per se. They didn’t like to have groups of people meeting together in significant numbers that they didn’t control, which is part of the communism focus. You just want to maintain the power and control. So a hundred people meeting in somebody’s house having a conversation about a higher power. In our case, they’re talking about God, but for them a higher power that’s telling them how to live their lives, that seems a little concerning for them. And so that’s, I think where a big part of the issue was.
 
And so whenever those groups would try to do public events specifically or when the groups would get larger than say 15 or 20 people, that’s when the government would really start to step in and just say … so they just kept splitting the groups up into smaller groups and their hope was to dissuade people from meeting at all. Fortunately, the faith of the believers that we worked with there and that are still continuing to grow there today is still strong. They’re willing to meet in smaller groups. They don’t have to have the big gym and the coffee machine.
 
Ray: Mega church is not–
 
Vip: They don’t need that. They make these stools in China. You can stack them 25 on top of each other and push them into the corner and then pull them out on Sunday morning and get together. And so whether it was in somebody’s home or in a KTV type parlor, which is like a karaoke bar just because people expected to have loud singing in there. And so it was a pretty easy place to sing worship songs and nobody really have a problem with it. I know that was the different types of things that we could do.
 
So I think today there’s definitely more and more persecution as the government wants to maintain more control. And yet I was meeting with some folks that were in town visiting just this past weekend, and they said the faith of the believers are still very strong. And they’re actually taking the good news across China to other places and even out of China now into other countries. So it’s exciting to see the world will continue to persecute Christians, but the gospel continues to go forth.
 
Ray: They don’t understand that the more you try to quench it, the hotter that fire gets. So you’ve really cut your career in the real estate market. And I want to talk about that in specifics, and how you live out your faith and so forth there. But I’m really intrigued for you to walk us through this interesting concept of the Lion’s Den. In fact, you and I are together here in Birmingham, Alabama. We’re going to be attending a Lion’s Den conference.
 
Vip: The party starts tonight.
 
Ray: The start, I like that. So walk us through. What is the Lion’s Den? What’s the idea? What’s the concept? What should people know about it?
 
Vip: The Lion’s Den came from a group of guys based in Birmingham, Alabama, right here who really had a passion to use their business knowledge for the kingdom. They had opportunities to serve in their church and teach Sunday school around the parking lot, go on mission trips, dig a hole, knock on doors, do some different stuff. But I mean, people with strong business experience, wealth advisors, family office owners, bank executives, lawyers, doctors, and they just weren’t finding a way to use a lot of their skillsets for the kingdom. Maybe they hadn’t gotten a chance to talk the truth at work before. And so I think now there’s definitely a little bit more of those opportunities.
 
So they wanted to use their skills more. And they were also … they continue to donate to great organizations, but they continued to wonder, is the needle really moving? And every year people would come back and just ask for that same money or more over and over again. And they’re like, I wonder if there’s a way for us to send money out and actually get a return back. And I wonder if there’s a way for us to use our skillsets for the kingdom in a different way, mentor or encourage business people. Then Shark Tank had become popular on TV, and they said, why don’t we start a Shark Tank type event? And we could never chase these entrepreneurs around the country. But if we hosted here in Birmingham, we offer a little bit of investment, then I think a few people will come. And very quickly word got out.
 
So I think now probably over 15 million has been invested in the companies according to the reports we get back. It’s just been phenomenal to see the Lord work in this space, and really just to see faith driven entrepreneurs who are wanting to redeem the culture, redeem a business model, who need investment, but they don’t want someone to invest in their company who’s going to take their faith and push it away or push it down. They want to continue to do ministry and in some case enbolden their ministry. So they’re looking for an investor who shares their same faith and values to come in.
 
And most of the investors I meet that same way, they’re saying, hey, I’ve either been very successful or I’ve even been successful and now retired, and I want to invest back with these dollars, but wouldn’t it be great if I could do something that had an impact for the kingdom? And some of the guys that have retired they don’t want to go through another rodeo again. They built a business. As one guy said, I’ve been parking in the same spot for 40 years. And they don’t want to start over with a new parking spot. But they would like to be on a call once a month or once a quarter to meet with folks, mentor, disciple, help them work through some of the business challenges.
 
And so they’re just looking for those kinds of folks that have a good business model, well, actually look like they’re going to be profitable but are hungry, and want someone to step into their lives. So it’s been quite a group just coming together and just saying, hey, let’s do this a different way. So it started here in Birmingham at Sanford university, where the event is this week. I just kind of built from there.
 
Ray: So Vip, you talked about these companies having a kingdom mindset. Tell us what is it that the investors are looking for in these companies? What’s the criteria, characteristics, traits, types of businesses? Just help us to understand the types of companies that are making these pitches to get this kingdom investment?
 
Vip: Yeah, absolutely. It is a broad variety of industries, and it is even different types of financial amounts that they’re looking for. We’ve seen really early stage companies where they’ve basically just got the idea, they’ve got the opportunity and they’ve got the initial beginnings of the software, or they’ve got the very first product. We typically prefer something that’s already got a little bit of revenue, so they’ve proved out that people won’t buy what they’re selling or use the service that they’re providing, the service that they’re providing.
 
And then we’ve seen companies up to as large as maybe eight or nine million in revenue and they’re doing okay in profit, but they need growth capital. And they just signed a contract with Walmart or JC Penney’s or CVS or something like that for their product. Or they just signed a huge contract with Chick-fil-A for their service or something, and they want to actually grow to meet that demand. And so they need that capital. And as far as the investment, it’s been equity investments in the company where people have gotten a board seat and ownership and there’s been debt placed too where they’re basically borrowing a couple of million dollars at a decent interest rate, and they’re going to pay the folks back as soon as they sell the product and get the return on that money.
 
So as far as industries, like I said, it’s been broad. We’ve seen technology, lasers, preschools, we’ve seen companies from China, Africa, I think India, Indonesia, I mean, all over the world obviously. And then we have some based out of Birmingham and in Dallas and across the US. So it’s been an interesting variety. A couple of my favorites and how the kingdom impact plays. One of them is a real estate photography company, which is pretty common in the US but they’ve grown into some new innovative pieces of that puzzle. It’s a franchise business in about 20 States. And in order to continue to get their 24 hour turnaround time of their video and their photographs, they put their back office in the Philippines because they’re working 12 hours when they’re not working here.
 
Here’s the cool thing. They hire and train women who’ve come from a traffic background in partnership with an organization there. And so they give these women training. Then they hire them full time to do their back office work. And so it makes sense for their company. It’s a part of their company system, but it also gives an opportunity for this ministry then to do all these great things and help these families and these women and kind of get through the things that they’ve dealt with. So very kingdom minded in the way that they’re pouring into those people.
 
Ray: So in the secular world, even talking earlier about shark tank, quite often we talk about these companies that are socially minded or for social justice. Is that what we’re talking about? Are we also talking about another level where there’s some overt evangelism or discipleship? Is that part of what we’re looking for?
 
Vip: Absolutely. And I would say it varies among the teams. In some of the groups we would say it’s a Christian owner entrepreneur, and they have a passion for doing their work with excellence, honoring the Lord in their work, and they’re going to be a witness to their employees and to the people that are their customers. Then there’s the folks that take the next step and they’re saying, hey, we’re going to have a chaplain in our company that’s going to minister to our employees. We’re going to have a bible study once a week, and we’re going to be active about sharing the gospel as we meet with customers and clients and those kinds of things. And then all the way to the guys that say, hey, we’re not only going to do that, but we’re going to do it in a foreign country.
 
And some of these folks have gone to places like Madagascar or a business in China, and they’re saying, hey, there’s a people group that’s completely unreached. We’re going to go in, we’re going to find a product that they have locally. We’re going to figure out how to help them to develop that product and sell that product on the international market and through that we’re going to minister to this entire unreached people group. So I mean very extremely missional and their mindset.
 
Ray: So over the next couple of days, approximately how many kingdom impact investors will be at this conference?
 
Vip: Yes. I would say typically we expect about three to five hundred people come to the events. This year, I think already 400 of have committed to be there. Of that group, probably about a third, a over 100 folks are probably on the investor side and typically about a third are on the entrepreneur side, so folks looking for support. And then typically that other third is either business people that are interested in kind of understanding the space. Sometimes it’s a nonprofit that’s just saying, hey, I want to meet a few people, possibly make a connection for a donor. And then the student population. We always have the event on a university campus. So in Birmingham, that’s at Sanford. In Dallas, it’s a DBU.
 
And we’re looking actually towards Silicon Valley this spring because we’ve been invited to come out that way. So we’ll try to see. But so the students, the vision is really not just to help someone who’s in their 60s use their money effectively for the kingdom, but also to help someone who’s 19, 20, just stepped on the college campus to get the vision for what their entire career can look like.
 
Ray: This is fascinating. So I want to take just a moment. And so let’s say that I’m listening to the program and I’m not entrepreneur, and I have some kingdom aspect to my business, some of the things we’ve been talking about, whether it’s chaplaincy or I want to do chaplaincy or bible studies or outreach or put the fish on my website. But I’m an entrepreneur and I’m looking for kingdom minded investors. What’s the process for me to get into the ecosystem at the Lion’s Den? How do I become one of those businesses for consideration?
 
Vip: I mean, the simplest thing I would say is look at the website, which is the Birmingham event is thelionsden.us and the Dallas event is thelionsdendfw.org. What we’ll do is, about six months prior to the event we take applications for the next event, so online apps. So this event, the entrepreneurs have already been chosen that will get on stage and pitch.
 
Ray: And they’ll be how many, at this event?
 
Vip: This one, there’ll be three on stage publicly, and then they normally do kind of a back of the room group, because the nature of their work or the country that they serve is not something that they want public and recorded. They do it that way. So typically about 10 companies will officially be in front of investors during the event.
 
Ray: How many would have applied, gone through the process?
 
Vip: Typically, 40 to 50.
 
Ray: Per cycle of Lions?
 
Vip: Per cycle.
 
Ray: Thank you.
 
Vip: And I mean in some of those will be hobbies and great people who love the Lord and others will just not have necessarily the kingdom impact. And sometimes we just won’t put too many of the same type of business. Three movies we won’t do, four agricultural companies we wouldn’t do, five SAS companies. We want to give people a variety. I mean, it’s a platform for entertainment, so we want to let people see a variety of whether your business is any of these industries, you can still do this. Regarding the application process, October 15th the applications for the spring event will open up in Dallas. And then basically we do that six month rotation that way. So as soon as our event’s over, they’ll start taking apps, they go through kind of online process application, then a little bit of interview, then we scorecard the top 20 companies and kind of pick from there, and then do a little last minute mentoring with the companies before they come in. Because again, the goal is to help them get better, not just somebody to write a check.
 
Ray: Yeah, absolutely. And what’s kind of that range of capital that is invested?
 
Vip: We’ve seen from about 25,000, so five figures, all the way to about seven figures, a couple million invested. The average is probably somewhere in the two, three hundred thousand dollar type range. So six figures is pretty standard because again, they’re early stage companies.
 
Ray: And they’re all for-profit ventures?
 
Vip: Yeah. Everything that gets on the stage has to be for-profit. Now, they may have a nonprofit arm, like the Phillipino training part, they will have a nonprofit partner. One of the companies pitching this year is based in Uganda. And so there are for-profit businesses in the US which they work with, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and all these great retailers. But their back office work is empowering women in Africa.
 
Ray: Okay, beautiful. So that’s a little bit on the company side. What about if I’m listening to this and I’m like, wow, I’m interested, I’m intrigued maybe as a potential investor, what does that look like?
 
Vip: I would say also go to the website just because it would have the next event. Now if somebody was listening, again, the fall event is always in Birmingham. The spring event is always in Dallas. Sometimes we’ll do smaller groups, meetups, different kinds of things during the year. But I mean there’s events now. And this year I went to an event in Nashville that’s an early stage Lion’s Den type event. They called it BAM323 at Lipscomb university, Cedarville in Miami’s looking to host one in the next six months, and a couple of other places. And then there’s groups like Praxis that have their events as well that are very similar to this type of project.
 
Ray: So You’re talking a real movement here?
 
Vip: The way we’ve been saying lately is the Lord is accelerating a movement. In the last five years it’s been mind blowing. I mean, just to see hundreds of companies get supported and invested in and growing. And I mean some of these companies are ones that, whether you realize it or not, you’re using them every day. I mean everybody that walks into Walmart has probably seen Jonas Paul Eyewear or Soapbox which is one of the companies that does things there.
 
A lot of the services is used through Google and some of the other Silicon Valley firms use a back office solution called cloud factory that also came through. And if you’ve ever drinking coffee at Chick-fil-A, those beans are grown by a farmer in Columbia through thrive coffee. And that was also one of our pitch companies. I mean, even though I can only imagine maybe that was in theaters and did incredibly successful raised money through the event. And then we do special events for the investors. For those who are interested in the investment space, we’ll have a special investor dinner where they have a chance to kind of get someone on one time with entrepreneurs and meet peers.
 
Ray: Fantastic. Well, it’s very exciting and this will be my first rodeo getting to meet some of these incredible folks. So I’m really excited about this. I was excited to have this conversation, but specifically Vip, your background and expertise is in real estate. And so what do you do in the real estate world, and how’s your faith kind of played a role in all that? I want to kind of now start talking about Jesus a little bit.
 
Vip: Yeah, absolutely. So seven years ago, we came back from China. We felt like the Lord was calling us back. I was 35 years old and landed in America. I had no idea what we were going to do next. All I had done is been trained to do ministry and worked at Starbucks when I was in grad school. And so the Lord very graciously had a couple of business men just pour into my life. I mean one guy gave me suits, another guy gave me a car, and another guy paid for my real estate license. And that’s how I got started in the real estate industry. A guy hired me and said, we really need your Chinese language because we see an influx of Chinese capital coming into the US real estate markets. And he was like, in real estate, I can teach you.
 
And so I started working for this amazing company and Briggs Freeman, Sotheby’s International Realty based out of Dallas strong Christian business center. And so they taught me real estate, and we started working with Chinese investors into the US real estate markets. And again, I still had that passion for the Chinese, and I was wondering how God was going to allow that to play out. And so he allowed me to interact with those people on a business level, which allowed for some kingdom conversations. I mean, we started going from selling rental properties to them investing in a single family developments like new developments, and eventually even into things as big as $100 million multifamily development deals. And so the Lord just gave us really amazing favor and some significant opportunities that just blew our minds.
 
We would go into a meeting in Dallas with people, honestly, we had no right to get into the meeting with them otherwise. But we had someone in China that was willing to invest $100 million in their real estate deal and they were like, well, I’ll take 30 minutes to see if it’ll go anywhere. And when it goes through then everybody gets really excited. So one of those large deals was in California. And I worked with a company called JPI at the time. They were the host, the ones receiving the investment capital from China.
 
A couple of years, staying in touch with them, and a couple of years later when now money is starting to slow down coming out of China because of some of the things happening that people see in the news these days, I started to focus more on the investment space from a different perspective, US markets mostly, and had the opportunity to come and work for JPI in the US. So now I work in house at JPI and raise capital for them for our apartment complex developments. And so we do about 800 million a year of new apartments in Texas and Southern California.
 
Ray: So how have you lived out your faith? I mean, I’m talking all the time. Oh, I’m honest. I try not to cheat, steal and lie. Okay. Well, even a good heathen knows that’s good business practice. Right? I don’t mean to be sarcastic with that, but maybe a little bit. How has your faith impacted the way you conduct business? How’s your faith played a role in the way you conduct business?
 
Vip: I mean, anything from seeking the Lord to getting the job, obviously, to just the way that we embrace it every day. I mean, praying for the opportunities, praying with oftentimes clients, praying on the phone with the people that invest with us sometimes. It’s been really incredible. Some of the opportunities that I’ve had to, as we’re talking with an investor, then have a moment where you’re just like, let me pray for you today. It sounds like something’s going on in your life.
 
Obviously, some of those would be people of faith more often than the folks that have not. We’ve had opportunities to share the gospel with people that we work with just because the real estate is a very, especially my part, it’s a very people oriented business. And so you’re always going to have, as long as you’re a little bit intentional, there’s opportunities every day. We’re very fortunate at JPI, we work with apartment life, so that’s a ministry provider that’s in all of our apartment complexes. And they do really great work to build activities and events in the apartment complexes, and they build relationships with the residents, and sometimes they have opportunities to talk about things about the kingdom. We have a chaplain within the company that comes through and engages with folks too. So it’s a culture that really encourages us to be open with our faith.
 
Ray: That’s fantastic. What I’d like to do, Vip is kind of just this last section, these last few questions. I want to just kind of glean from your experience, maybe get some advice and so forth. As you look back over the course of your career, what’s been the biggest mistake that you could say, wow, I really learned something at that point? What’s the biggest mistake you ever made? What did you learn from it?
 
Vip: I think the biggest is just any day that the Lord is speaking and that we’re not obeying. Sometimes it’s spending a little too much time on work and not enough time with the family. Some days, I think you might say that the biggest one that we face each day is a choice that we make when we have a first thing in the morning breakfast at seven … like I typically work out Monday, Wednesday and Friday from about five to six, and then I go in to spend a little time with the family, and then go into work.
 
So have a breakfast meeting at say 6:37 and you don’t take time to meet with the Lord first, and then that jacks the whole day. I find that I’m always in a better mood. I’m a better person, if I’ve spent that started the day having time with him. And so oftentimes can struggle with that too on the weekends when you just want to get up, kind of take a little bit easy, spend time with the family and don’t immediately take that time. And then suddenly you go through the day and you’re like, oh man. So I’m really trying to refocus on savoring that time with him more and not missing out on it. And that then leads to a plenty of other choices that we make.
 
So in the real estate business, just like a lot of businesses, especially when you’re in sales, you’re going to talk about the best things your company does. And so balancing, glorifying God and speaking out of pride is a huge challenge every day. And we’re always, as a salesperson, you’re always tempted to embellish, always tempted to, and just trying to seek the Lord not to do that. And having to go back and say, I probably said a little bit bigger number than we really have actively done, or catching yourself in the midst of it. Maybe the return is not going to be quiet-
 
Ray: Yeah, I got you. Well, I’ve talked with pastors who struggle with that when they talk about how many came forward in the altar call. So we share that temptation. That is good. So what I took away from that is a couple of things is one, just not making the big mistake of not having time with the Lord on a daily basis because that sets the foundation. Big mistake, right, that we can all make. And then secondly is don’t compromise integrity to get the deal.
 
Vip: Absolutely.
 
Ray: Let the deal stand on its merits. And if it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. And if it’s not, it’s not.
 
Vip: Yeah. And real estate of these guys is a Lion’s Den too. And it’s a lesson we can all learn.
 
Ray: No doubt. So if you had to go back and advise the 21 year old Vip, if you could sit down across the table like you and I are right now and talk to the 21 year old Vip, what would you tell him?
 
Vip: I definitely would just encourage him to spend more time with the Lord. I mean, as a college student, which is where I was at 21, your mind’s in a hundred different places. You’re just trying to … I definitely would have encouraged myself to take some more finance classes. That’s one thing that I can’t get around in this day. I didn’t take business in college because the Lord was … at that time we were going to sociology and ministry, and so that just wasn’t … I was like, man, a minor in business would have been very helpful in my career.
 
So I have considered an MBA, and I’m still kind of going back and forth on whether that’s the time. I think those would be the two biggest things really. And just to continue to chase the Lord into the different ways he’s taking. I mean, at 21 I hadn’t yet taken my first international trip and the Lord was just about to blow my mind. And so it really was amazing to go from a Mexico spring break trip to a Taiwan trip to living overseas for years.
 
Ray: I love that. So that was really a defining moment for you, although you didn’t know it at the time. That first international trip put you on a trajectory that continued to impact you today.
 
Vip: Oh, absolutely.
 
Ray: That’s fantastic. Well, what advice would you have? So I’m going to go down the road of encouragement. Let’s say that I’m listening to this conversation and I’m a little frustrated. Maybe I’m that entrepreneur that’s like, I need some capital, I need that boost, I need that encouragement, I need that friend. Or maybe I’m that investor, someone who has the resources and I’m frustrated because I don’t feel like I’m maximizing those resources for kingdom impact. So take a moment Vip, what words of encouragement would you have for our listeners who may be in one of those camps?
 
Vip: I mean, the first thing specifically is the ecosystem that exists today is much larger than you think it is. There’s people, and we have people come to the events from 75 cities, 25 States, and 7 countries. I mean, there’s people all over the place that are doing this now. I’ve been to three conferences in the last couple of weeks and have a couple more to go. So the ecosystem is really been built, and there’s people like you struggling with what you’re struggling with that are out there. It’s just a matter of connecting. And so try Praxis Labs, try the Lion’s Den, try Ocean Accelerator out of Cincinnati, Ohio. There’s now two websites called Faith Driven Entrepreneur and Faith Driven Investor. Literally just type that in and.org and both of them are fantastic. Henry Kaestner.
 
Ray: Henry was a guest recently on the prog, awesome, awesome work that they’re doing. What I’m hearing in that is you don’t have to be alone.
 
Vip: Yup, absolutely.
 
Ray: And we talk about that a lot here at Bottom Line Faith, is that isolation is a killer and that’s where frustration and discouragement are rooted. And so really there are resources and community to tap into.
 
Vip: And just do something. My biggest frustration, like when we were in the missions field or in church today or even in the business, it’s just about getting up and getting started. The guy that I worked for in my first real estate job said, every morning I just got to put on my big boy pants and get out the door. And that’s what it really comes down to is there’s plenty of opportunities. You just have to start looking. And so we’re all about activation.
 
Ray: Well, a big takeaway that I know I’m having from this conversation and hopefully many in our audience are as well is, there’re entrepreneurs by enlarge, that listen to this program, they understand the importance of doing something and getting going. But I’m not sure that many of them would be familiar that this kind of community and these kinds of resources exist. And just for encouragement, if nothing else, that’s tremendous.
 
So the last question, I’ve done a bout 150 of these interviews now, and the last question that I ask every single time, it’s the same one, and my regular listeners know. It’s called my 423. Solomon writes, above all else guard your heart for from it flows all of life. So Vip, you’re still a young guy, but let’s just fast forward the clock. And let’s say you’re at the end of your time, this side of eternity, and you have a chance to gather your family, your friends, your loved ones, those who are most important to you, and you are going to pass along one piece of advice that’s going to be like, this is what you want to be left behind. Now is your chance. Fill in the blanks for us. Above all else.
 
Vip: Faithfulness. The Lord will be faithful to you. Do your best to be faithful to him. Reading the word, praying, following, and trying to obey. The Lord will be faithful to you. Just seek to be faithful to him. And I know we’re going to fail in doing that. Right? But we’re going to seek the Holy spirit to help us each day. But the Lord has been so faithful to us. We’ve gotten so many opportunities we didn’t deserve. And so I just … it’s been incredible how generous he’s been. And so I’m just very thankful.
 
Ray: Be faithful. Very good. Vip Vipperman, thank you for being my guest here at Bottom Line Faith.
 
Vip: Enjoyed it.
 
Ray: It’s been fun. Well, folks, I hope you’ve been blessed. I hope you’ve been encouraged by this conversation today. Again, I’m just so grateful that God has placed and positioned leaders like Vip, that’s a calling on their life, that’s combining of their skills, their experiences, and their resources to build the kingdom. And so I hope that you have been encouraged by our conversation today. We want to just thank you for joining us here at Bottom Line Faith. This is that program where we talk with the entrepreneurs, we talk with the business leaders, that integration of eternal business and real life. Folks, until next time I am your host here at Bottom Line Faith, Ray Hilbert, encouraging you to live out your faith every day in the marketplace. God bless. Will see you soon.

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