Marc Zboch is a philanthropist dedicated to eliminating poverty in developing countries. He works in disadvantaged areas like Haiti, India, Philippines, Central America, and Cambodia. He helps local leaders develop ongoing, self-sustaining medical and agricultural projects.
Zboch has recently endowed a $1,000 scholarship for students with an interest in furthering the greater good. His scholarship is intended for current college students and high school seniors who have been accepted to an institution of higher learning.
Marc Zboch has been deeply involved with charities for many years. His expertise in the field makes him an excellent resource for younger business people who want to shift their focus from making money to furthering charitable causes. He believes that it is important to take stock of the world’s needs and do what you can to help.
Where did the idea for your career come from?
I started several successful businesses and could not wrap my head around how 40% of the people in the world could live on $2.00 a day or less. I had to experience it for myself. doing charitable work because I saw a serious need in the global community. I took one of my kids and traveled throughout Northern Haiti, sleeping in a tent. I arrived shortly after the United States had donated an enormous amount of rice. This well intentioned act had destroyed Haiti’s rice farmers. They couldn’t sell a product that was now free. We made Haiti poorer and more dependent on others. From that moment I wanted to work on projects that make people independent.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A secret of success for many of the wealthiest people on earth is to shut out the world in the morning. Don’t listen to the news, radio, TV and don’t check your emails. These distractions take you off of your agenda and put you on someone else’s. I like to start my day in prayer, meditation or exercise. I give thanks then plan my day. I like to focus on the one or two actions that that will have the biggest impact. Even if you only have time for a shower, do it in silence while you plan your day. Your productivity could double.
How do you bring ideas to life?
The gap between an idea and reality can be hard to bridge. Many philanthropists have good ideas, but it can be challenging to bring these ideas to life. The number one thing that I do is to talk to the local people where my charities are working. When the ideas for change come from the local community, they are much more likely to be helpful, as opposed to people who don’t know what is needed imposing their ideas.
What’s one trend that excites you?
I am excited by the growth of scholarship programs. My scholarship is intended for a student who has a passion for charitable work, whether they have experience in the field or not. It is a $1,000 scholarship that is available to college students and high school seniors. I believe that offering scholarships to potential helpers is a good way to encourage them to pursue their dreams.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
My most productive habit is asking questions. I have been told that I can’t let an idea go without looking at it from all angles. I love to hire and work with people who have curious minds. They want to know how everything works and interacts. They look for ways to do things better and don’t accept the status quo.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I would tell my younger self to stop worrying so much about what he would achieve in his career. Career success is important, but I was so focused on myself and on making money, I lost sight of what is important. As I grew older, I came to understand that life is about what you give to others, not only about increasing your own prosperity.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
People think that charity often means to give of oneself without expecting anything in return. While the sentiment is true, it’s not entirely how charity works. Charity works because it’s a give and receive scenario. You’re offering something to someone and in return that person grows and is able to learn. This can be done via tutoring, monetary donations, volunteering, mission trips, and so much more. Charity in its truest form is a relationship; one that you must nurture.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I recommend that everyone look carefully at their own skills. Being honest with yourself about what you can and can’t do can make you aware of areas in which you need to grow or to get the help of someone who already has those skills. You need to understand that you can’t be everything to everyone, at least not successfully.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I hire people smarter and better than myself. God gives everyone special talents. The gifts that an accountant has will be much different than a sales manager. An entrepreneur can’t play all the positions. He has to be the coach.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I am not proud of all of my endeavors. Unfortunately, one of my projects was not well-received within the local community. I pushed for it, not really understanding that you have to ask the community what it needs rather than imposing your will.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Security is the lowest form of satisfaction. When you loosen your grip on your finances and help others, you will always receive more than you gave. When you see how happy people with nothing can be, you will have a little reset switch go off in your brain. You start to look at what’s important in life.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I had an idea for a “How To” book, but wanted to know if it would sell before I wrote it. I placed a $100 ad and quickly received a flood of orders. I stayed up several nights and wrote a book that became a Nationwide best seller.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Google Docs is hugely helpful. I don’t have to store my files on my local computer, freeing up space. It also helps me share work with my colleagues.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I recommend Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton. It is a great way to learn how to help others while building their self-esteem and independence.
What is your favorite quote?
To whom much is given, much will be required. (Luke 12:48)
• Life is about more than making money. If you are feeling unfulfilled, consider volunteering or donating to a deserving cause.
• Always be sure that your charitable projects are tailored to the community and that they address an existing need.
• Balance your ideals and your faith with real-world expertise.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.