Mr. Brad Anderson, former chief executive officer of Best Buy, visited Bethany to share his success story with students, faculty, staff, community members and alumni, on May 1, 2019. Mr. Anderson also visited two business classes where students had the unique opportunity to present and receive insight and feedback from Mr. Anderson.
Mr. Anderson’s lifelong quest for purpose resulted in him entering seminary after college. Upon the weighty realization that pastoring required managing the spiritual lives of future congregants, and the belief of one professor that he could only expect to give one great sermon in his lifetime, Mr. Anderson left seminary.
Following, Mr. Anderson worked at a small music store, the Sound of Music, with a continued determination to find his purpose. He tried to quit after two weeks’ time, many hours worked and little commission earned, but his boss refused. It was when he delivered and installed speakers to a customer at a time such in-home service was rare that he realized he had “delivered more value in the eyes of the customer.” With this customer centered approach, Mr. Anderson went on to lead and become the CEO of the company that became known as Best Buy.
Through the challenges, Mr. Anderson learned to find his own truth, most often finding guidance in biblical parables. He also shared the difficulty of teaching servant leadership and how it can reduce the “waste of the capacity of the brain.” This happens when we “adjust to the good of the whole,” Mr. Anderson said while commending Bethany for focusing on servant leadership as one if its core values. Mr. Anderson shared advice with business students asking how best to prepare to enter the job market, and suggested to avoid accepting presumptions and to maintain an appetite for curiosity. Businesses that connect to a “hypothesis that is true” and have employee engagement, have a greater chance of success, according to Mr. Anderson.
Mr. Anderson also shares a connection with Bethany that dates back 74 years. His mother, Sylvia, attended Bethany in 1945 and his father, Marbury, received an honorary doctorate of divinity in 1972 from Bethany. President Jones presented Mr. Anderson a Dala horse as a symbol of the college’s appreciation and in commemoration of his family connection. A Dala horse (short for Dalecarlian) is a traditional carved, painted wooden horse originating in Swedish province Dalarna and adopted as part of Lindsborg’s city seal.
Bethany College, established by Swedish Lutheran immigrants in 1881, is a college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. The mission of Bethany College is to educate, develop, and challenge individuals to reach for truth and excellence as they lead lives of faith, learning, and service. Bethany connects its past, present, and future with distinctive initiatives like Swedes to Sweden, a free service-learning trip for the sophomore class to Sweden, and the Good Life Scholarship, presenting all local high school graduates with a four-year, full-tuition scholarship to the college. Bethany College is on the Web at www.bethanylb.edu and is located in Lindsborg, Kansas, the fine arts and crafts capital of the state.