Jonathan Reynolds swapped out his company’s annual gathering for an all-staff mission trip because he wanted to show his team what giving looked like. In the end, they showed him something about giving too!
Jonathan was raised on generosity. He learned at an early age the 90/10 principle his parents sought to live by. Live on 10 percent of your income so you can give 90 percent away.
Their home in Bath, England was always full of people – not just Christians, but all kinds, travelers from all over the world. It instilled in him a deep appreciation and “love for all people everywhere – no matter who they are or what their background or beliefs.”
Jonathan became so enamored with people that people became his business. The job that brought him to America was leading teens on mission trips. Then he landed a sales job, but he really wanted to get back to working with people. So he launched out toward a career helping companies with their people problems. He worked hard, did his homework and became quite good at a lot of hyphenated strategies: performance-based hiring, purpose-driven business, values-based culture.
Jonathan became so enamored with people that people became his business.
Titus Talent Strategies was founded in 2015. In just five years, Jonathan and his world-class team have built it into an innovative, thriving company. Jonathan is a sought-after speaker, an expert on what it takes to build high-performing teams. And he stays in touch with his own team through meetings each week, where co-workers celebrate each other’s successes and talk about what it means to serve their company “partners” with passion and excellence, among other things.
People come first, the company thrives, and Jonathan revels in the idea that he is creating income to put toward God’s work: “I love generating and stewarding wealth for the purpose of generosity.”
“I love generating and stewarding wealth for the purpose of generosity.”
Giving was built into the business from day one. Just as he was getting started, a friend introduced him to Linda Maris, from the National Christian Foundation, who gave him a simple solution giving solution for his business.
Five years in, the “100-percent-mobile” company (they have a training hub in Milwaukee, but everyone works remotely around the country) is united around a strong set of “lived values” that have led them to the top of some “best places to work” lists. These values (which Jonathan proudly says are featured at the TOP of the company’s web page, “not stuck down at the bottom”) include some important standards: performance, integrity, excellence. But there are also some you might not expect: servanthood, entrepreneurship, and fun.
Though Jonathan is a Christian, not all the people who work for him are. Still, his love of people, and his desire to participate in what they care about, permeates the organization. So does generosity.
“We want to be a catalyst for other things, not just giving money away to nonprofits, but also to things our employees care about,” Jonathan says. He recently bought supplies for a science classroom in an underfunded school system when an employee mentioned the need. They also often help with talent strategies for charities who need help with hiring.
Every year, in order to bring employees together both geographically and as a team, Titus Talent hosts something called “Progress,” a gathering for learning and team-building. But Jonathan had just come back from a homebuilding trip Youth With a Mission’s (YWAM) Homes for Hope in Ensenada, Mexico when he began to plan the 2020 Progress. And it had set him to dreaming.
“I got this thought to bring the whole team down, but how could we pull this off?” The YWAM staff told him people did it all the time. That was easy.
So he moved the staff meeting to Ensenada and invited his team on a mission trip. About 60 of his 83 employees took him up on it, and the company paid the cost of the trip for every employee who would commit to the work.
“We thought it would be a great adventure to come down to Ensenada together as a team and change people’s lives in a different environment, different culture, everything completely out of our own comfort zones,” Jonathan said.
“We thought it would be a great adventure to come down to Ensenada together as a team and change people’s lives in a different culture, everything completely out of our own comfort zones.”
Ahead of the trip, they learned about the families they’d be working with to build a home. Once in Ensenada, the employees broke up into three teams, each one taking on a construction project with a family who would live in the home.
It did bond them as a team. “We all work remotely, so we don’t see each other often, and to be able to see each other in this setting has been so great for our team,” said Sierra Fletcher, director at Titus. “We’ve become so much closer.”
Spontaneous, responsive generosity
As they were nearing completion on the homes, one of the teams noticed that the family they’d been working with seemed less excited than they expected. They asked the family why.
A free home is wonderful, but they were building on land purchased through an unjust system. With the income the families made and an 18 percent interest rate on their mortgages, the families were caught in a financial trap. Most would never own the land their homes sat on, and if something happened to one of them, the other could lose the land, and the home with it.
Jonathan’s team had experienced a taste of generosity. They felt the love that compels people to give and wanted more of it. So one of the teams did the math and hatched a plan.
“Why don’t we just chip in 150 bucks each, and we’ll wipe out their mortgage?” That inspired the other two teams to do the same. “I just threw it out there,” Jonathan says. “Hey, teams, do you want to do this?”
“Why don’t we just chip in 150 bucks each, and we’ll wipe out their mortgage?”
And they did. Over a 24-hour period, they all got on their phones and gave into the company’s fund. Toward the end, when it was discovered that their calculations were a little off and they were short several thousand, the giving kept going, with some employees chipping in for $1000. Jonathan recommended a grant to YWAM that was able to wipe out all three mortgages.
When the groups told the families their mortgages would be covered, there were tears all around. All of the worry about losing the land and homes would be wiped out with the mortgages. All three families are not only homeowners; they are landowners now, debt-free.
What does giving together do for a business owner, for a company? Just ask Jonathan. The moment they paid off those mortgages through the fund he had set up early on in the business … that moment was pure joy.
There was “massive heart change,” he says. Since the trip in February, “many of them have communicated that they have changed the way they spend, the way they give, where they give, how they think about the poor and those in need.” And Jonathan himself cannot stop telling people about it.
The team is asking to go back again next year. And Jonathan is already busy dreaming up what he wants to show them next.
Photos: Titus Talent Strategies.
Top: A film crew prepares a documentary of the trip which has now become the company’s culture video.