Marc Zboch is a leader in the field of community service. Through his work with many faith-based cultural relief organizations, he has been able to make a lasting difference in the world. Working in disadvantaged countries like Cambodia, India, North Korea and Haiti, he has been able to bring his expertise to building projects as well as helping areas access food and clean water.
Zboch was successful in the business world but came to feel that he was not fulfilled by these activities. He came to realize that there was a deep level of need for support in the developing world. His travels took him around the world, and he saw that there were many projects that needed funding and personnel. Led by local residents, he matched his funding and personnel to the projects that were most in need.
Marc Zboch has recently begun a scholarship in his name. This scholarship is worth $1,000 for a deserving student with a strong interest in charitable works. Current students, as well as high school seniors who have been accepted to a college or university, are eligible to apply for the scholarship.
In addition to his work with global mission groups, Zboch is also involved in charitable projects in the United States. He has been an inspirational figure for many businesspeople who have been considering charitable work but have not known where to start.
What was your best/favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject in school was English. I have always loved to read because it could take me to many places without leaving my hometown. I was one of those kids who was always reading, and sometimes my parents had to encourage me to go outside and play with my friends. As I grew older, I came to love reading the classics.
What was your first job?
My first job was repairing gas station equipment while in High School. I would drive all over several states on the weekends so the full time repairmen could take time off. I learned that excuses are not accepted. When I drove 100 miles to a gas station that was shut down, I had to get them working again no matter what.
Many people, now a days, hit a bump and give up. I love to hire people we call “bull dozers”. They are tenacious and creative problem solvers who don’t quit.
Where and how did you first get into the industry you currently work in?
I first started in charitable work when I took a mission trip to Haiti. I saw how US food aid was wiping out local farmers; how US church plants were weaker than indigenous run churches and how US charities were developing a sense of entitlement that hurt Haitian independence. I started working on programs that help people to help themselves and never do anything for people that they can do for themselves. This led to building medical and agricultural projects around the world that are self-sufficient and build pride for the beneficiaries.
How have those jobs prepared you for what you do now?
I’ve come to realize that local people know far more about solving their own problems than foreigners. The trick is finding strong local leaders then supporting them.
Describe the best day of work you’ve ever had.
My best experience was in the slums of Manilla. I was there during the rainy season and would go into tiny one room homes where eight or more people slept. The roofs were made of scraps of plastic and leaked badly. The families would wake up in the middle of the night soaking wet and cold. The Missionary I was working with bought large stacks of plywood for a few dollars each. We supplied the plywood for the neighborhood on the condition that the healthy men repaired roofs for the elderly and disabled. This was a cheap, easy, one day project that made a huge improvement in the lives of hundreds of people.
How do you keep yourself motivated?
My mentor is an 84 year old South Korean Minister who continues to work in dangerous communist countries. He tells me that a successful missionary must have “wet eyes” for others. This is when you are deeply disturbed by the suffering of others. It’s when you leave your family and the comforts of home to go help others because nobody else will help.
What kind of business ideas excite you most?
I love seeing entire industries transformed by the Internet. Uber has become the largest taxi company in the world without having to own a single car. Air BnB has become the largest lodging company without having to own a single hotel room. This shift is only just beginning. I run across countless industries waiting to be transformed by the Internet. Now that the world has 4.7 billion people using smart phones, I’m looking for ways that 2nd and 3rd world countries can share in the new opportunities.
Have you ever tried any unorthodox techniques to attract attention to your business?
Most of my businesses have been in building Direct Marketing and Internet Companies. I’ve created some of the most successful TV, radio, print and direct mail campaigns. Now I enjoy helping worthy non-profits educate the public and help build their donor base. Many missionaries are blessed to see miracles on a weekly bases, but never share them. Donors want to play a part in their success but have to know the results of their investment.
What personal achievement are you most proud of?
I helped plant one million trees. Many of these are fruit trees in deforested countries. In the third world trees are used for cooking and sold as charcoal. When you lose trees you lose top soil, which makes growing crops difficult. But fruit trees are never cut down because they produce food and income. So we help make these trees affordable for small land owners. The fallen leaves restore the soil. In some cases, you can see plants re-emerge that have not been seen in decades. Land heals surprisingly fast.
What wisdom would you have liked to share with yourself when you first started out?
God gives every single one of us unique gifts and talents. Sometimes we have to dig to figure out what those are, but once they’re discovered it’s like finding a hidden treasure.