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Relational Intelligence at Work

Living Like a GiANT - A Real Life Example

Living Like a GiANT - A Real Life Example

Jeremie Kubicek

on January 2, 2024

Hey, it’s Jeremie Kubicek here.

We’re excited to have you for this week’s edition of the Relational Intelligence at Work newsletter, where every Tuesday you’ll get an email straight to your inbox from myself or my business partner, Steve Cockram.

This newsletter's primary goal is to support you on your personal growth journey, and to equip you with the skills and knowledge you need to excel as a leader.

For today’s message, I want to share the story of how I met one of the most liberating leaders in the world, Fatorma Siafa.

So, let's dive in...

As many of you know from previous emails, I spent a good amount of my early 20’s in Moscow, Russia building businesses with some colleagues of mine.

But what I haven’t shared is we also allocated funds to help start an International church in Moscow since there weren’t many options available at the time.

It was the winter of 1993 and the concept was so novel that CNN filmed our very first church service. My role that day was leading the congregation in a few songs as a small number of people from the US embassy, and colleagues gathered. 

To promote the gathering we put up flyers in the International grocery stories, restaurants and so forth.

The next weekend rolls around and this stout African young man walks in wearing shorts and a t-shirt (mind you this is still the dead of winter).

“My name is Fatorma,” he said. However, most people called him Siafa, which is his last name.

After a few minutes of conversation, we learn Fatorma has an incredible story...

He was a refugee in Russia after fleeing from Liberia’s civil war. We learned that there were tens of thousands of African students stuck in Moscow.

The former Soviet Union had provided free education to Africans as a form of indoctrination of communism. When the fall of the Soviet Union took place, these students became refugees as Russia stopped funding them or provided schooling.

Fatorma was one of those students. His story is amazing.

During the Liberian Civil War,, anyone with significance or intellectual abilities was murdered or killed. Unfortunately, his parents were included. They were killed in front of Fatorma.

They also came to assassinate Fatorma, but when they went to kill him, the pistol jammed and they pistol whipped him instead.

He ends up getting out alive, fleeing the entire region and taking his sisters to a nearby country to a missionary school. Everyone around him pled for him to flee and the “free” education in the Soviet Union became his ticket out of the chaos.

As soon as he makes it to Russia it is revealed that there is nothing available… for any of them.

So here’s Fatorma in Russia with only his shorts and a shirt, one suitcase, which was eventually stolen, and no food… stuck.

That is when he found a flyer floating on the ground about an International church in the middle of Moscow, Russia.

After learning his amazing story over lunch and the journey of what he’s been through and how he got here, we started helping him with anything he needed.

The thing you’ll learn about Fatorma is he’s a giver. He’s a liberator. He put others before himself.

And after helping him a bit, he kept coming back to the church and he kept bringing in more and more African refugees from where he was staying.

Weeks later, Fatorma had brought in over 200 African refugees to the church.

Because of the number of people, we decided to put Fatorma in charge of helping the other refugees with a fund.

And he ended up playing a special role in that church.

After getting to know him even more, he shared with us one of his main goals… he wanted to work for Walmart so he could eventually go back to Liberia.

Providence is real. It was at that time that the president of our University (Oklahoma Baptist University) was visiting us and, we wanted to see the possibilities of a scholarship for Fatorma...

Fatorma Siafa received a scholarship and our little team began to help fund Fatorma to give him a chance to get unstuck. In 1996 he flew from Russia to the middle of Oklahoma to get an education.

And wouldn’t you know it, he got a job at Wal-Mart.

Oh, even more important, he met his future wife, KK, became an American citizen, and they eventually had two kids.

It’s hard to explain, but Fatorma is special.

He has a gift and a passion, which is to free people - to help them. Because of the type of mindset and his ability to bring people together, he started rising up the leadership ranks at Walmart.

People wanted to work with him, they didn’t have to work for him.

Soon after, he continued moving up the ranks and became a manager of a Walmart in Philadelphia.

He loved working for Walmart, but really wanted to be a part of Chick-Fil-A and the culture they have as an organization.

Because of my connections at Chick-fil-A, I gladly referred him. I will never forget the phone from the recruiter after their call.

She was crying and asked me if Fatorma was real, that she had never experienced someone like him. I shared more of his story which matched what she shared.

He eventually gets the job as the manager of a Chick-Fil-A in a very tough neighborhood in Philadelphia.

One day I go to visit him and catch up and find out he’s been helping tons of people in the community. I met them and literally spent over an hour with people sharing what Fatorma and his family were doing for others.

He’s brought in homeless people and helped them get on their feet and find a job and found ways to help so many others.

And all of the sudden, with Fatorma at the helm, this Chick-Fil-A location became a platform for good…

And by the way, that was the whole reason we started GiANT in the first place… to be a platform for good.

We have a word for that - Liberation.

To liberate means to fight for the highest possible good of others - to bring high support with high challenge for their best.

That is the definition of Fatorma, a liberator. And, it is what many of you who are reading are or striving to be.

After everything Fatorma has been through, he chooses to create a culture of opportunity for people - to be a positive light in others lives.

He chooses to serve those around him instead of being served. He chooses to give freely without expectation of anything in return.

He is exactly why we do what we do at GiANT - to train a different kind of leader.

To this day Fatorma and I are very close and I am lucky to have known him.

Oh, I didn’t tell you, his story continues. He is a significant owner-operator at Chick-fil-A and his son is playing football as a defensive lineman at Penn State University.

Here he is in the middle:

From a Liberian civil war to a refugee in Moscow to the middle of Oklahoma to Pennsylvania. It wasn’t what Fatorma was given, but rather what he did with what he was given.

It was never about him, which is precisely why he is a good steward and worthy of investing in.

If you want to be a person that people WANT to follow, instead of HAVE to follow, you need to learn how to give yourself away for the highest good of others.

You need to learn how to consistently go above and beyond for the people around you to positively impact their lives.

You need to learn how to challenge others when they need it, and to support people in tough times and good times.

Most importantly, you need to adopt the mindset and lifestyle of what it takes to be a true leader - a Liberator.

And the reward for living out that type of lifestyle… is influence.

And as a leader, influence is one of the most powerful things you can have.

Who is the Fatorma in your life? Who can you empower who will empower others? 

That's all for today's message. Thanks for reading!

Until next time,


Jeremie Kubicek

P.S.

If you’re ready to take your leadership journey to the next level, I’d highly recommend you grab of copy of our newly released book, The Communication Code.

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