“In times of change learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully prepared for a world that no longer exists.” -Eric Hoffer
Dana Hanna knows a lot about transition. To hear her and her husband Michael’s story, their lives have been little else for many years now. It began during a season when everything was going well. And they were really uncomfortable about it.
In 2012 they were both pastoring at Gateway City Church in Toronto where their respective ministries were flourishing. “I ran meetings some nights, while Mike ran them on others. When we’d come home and share about our days it was clear we were ‘serving together’, but we weren’t together, together.”
Dana stresses that, while she knows some people can make that work, it wasn’t for them. “We felt that we weren’t doing all we could be for the Kingdom. Something needed to change, but we didn’t know what.”
Dana describes their Kingdom approaches as almost polar opposites. Mike, she says, is focused on meeting needs in the marketplace, while she sees herself as very evangelistic. “We were seeking God and he said to start a business together. But we didn’t know how to mesh hard-core research and consulting with getting people saved and filling them [with the Holy Spirit].”
A kingdom business idea
One day through a series of chance connections Michael was invited to a lunch meeting with Brett Johnson, founder of the Silicon Valley think tank, The Institute of Innovation, Integration & Impact, Inc. “Mike came home from that meeting and said, ‘I found the answer. There’s a way to bring these two things together.’ It was amazing. It was exactly how business and ministry can flow together.”
After more time and several more “God encounters” and mentors, Hanna Strategy Group was born.
In 2013, they launched into their work of infusing kingdom principles into business practices. Their vision was to equip business owners and employees for transformational ministry in the marketplace through consultancy, events, and conferences.
While the events were great opportunities to instill Kingdom-thinking into businesses they did it more out of love than money because, as Dana candidly reveals, most events just broke even, if at all.
The sales operations consulting however, was a different story. They worked with mid-size companies – in the ‘few million dollars’ range – to analyze and rearrange their sales, looking at everything from compensation, splitting up sales territory, and balancing sales force incentives with profit to generate optimal revenue. And by ‘optimal’ they mean two or three times more within 1 to 2 years.
Not surprisingly, business thrived — until transition reared its head again.
“The shift started before we realized it was happening,” Dana says. “There was one company we had a contract with that provided almost 100% of our income. Because of the industry they’re in, the government changed regulations overnight. Almost all of their competition shut down, but they managed to hold on with everyone taking a major pay cut. We took a serious hit from that.”
Keeping covenant with clients
Still, Dana and Mike stuck with their client. Dana says that Christians tend to think of ‘covenants’ in terms of marriage but, she believes we enter into them in many of our relationships.
“We felt we needed to stick with them and help them through this challenging period. I don’t fully understand it. We were hemorrhaging money and our needs weren’t being met.” Eventually it got to a point where they had to consider their options.
And a new one had recently come along.
Mike was offered a top sales operations position at a leading accounting software firm. Despite their situation, they found themselves resistant to the opportunity.
“Again, we believe strongly in covenant. We’re very careful to not jump before God says so, and [the new offer] totally threw us. We finally got our business and now this. And it was like God was saying, ‘You have it. Now there are pieces I need to create in you so that you can carry out this plan.’”
Seeing kingdom principles at work
Mike and Dana decided to pursue the new position. Dana admits God’s ‘plan’ for them still isn’t fully clear yet, but she knows there’s a reason for this move.
“When we looked at the opportunity, I couldn’t help thinking about how Dr. Ed Silvoso, in his book Transformation, says “the marketplace is the heart of the nation and it is waiting to be reclaimed”. It also talks about how to look for the pattern of transformation. It starts first with a transformed heart and home. The transformation then extends to a business, when a company operates by kingdom principles. This kind of company then goes on to transform their industry, and once you have multiple industries being transformed, the spiritual climate of a city is radically transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit”.
Dana says the company Michael is moving to has evidence of its kingdom principles by the fact they are listed among the Top 12 companies to work for in the world.
“They [the company] are really impacting the accounting industry, because whether they know it or not, they are founded on kingdom principles. They may not call them that on their website, but that’s what they are.”
When asked what advice she would have for others who may also be in a transition period, she says it comes down to one step at a time.
“All I know is we’re following step-by-step through constant transition. We’ve done a lot of learning as we go. God has us pause, learn for a season and add a piece we were missing, and move on. But we never take the mindset that ‘I’m just here until I leave.’ We know we’ll get back to HSG, but if God has placed you somewhere, you’re there until he moves you.”