Christian Business Men’s Connection – South Florida
Steve Solomon is on a mission – one that he’s been passionate about for decades.
The 67-year-old Miami resident is area director of the Christian Business Men’s Connection (CBMC) South Florida. It’s a position he’s held since 2018, following a 30-year career as a telecommunications sales executive. In fact, he retired from his longtime career when he was asked to take the helm of the non-profit, faith-based organization.
Solomon’s affiliation with CBMC dates to 1993 when he first attended one of their events. There he met Steve Estler, who became a mentor. One thing led to the next and in 1997, Solomon was asked to join the board of directors. He accepted the position and served on the governing body until 2005. “I served on and off the board for years,” noted Solomon. There was a period of time when Solomon’s job with BellSouth required extensive travel. During those years, he noted that he didn’t have the time to dedicate to the organization. But in 2015, when travel demands weren’t as great, he again became active. Suffice it to say, being affiliated with the non-profit has proven life changing. “It helped me grow in my leadership abilities and to develop more genuine and longer-term relationships with clients and co-workers,” he said. So much so, that Solomon wants to share that experience and inspiration throughout the South Florida community.
“Over 450 men are connected to us,” said Solomon. The organization, he elaborated, focuses on men in the marketplace and sponsors various types of group meetings, predominantly throughout three South Florida counties: Palm Beach, Miami-Dade and Broward. Yet their reach also extends to the West coast of the state, including Naples, Fort Pierce and Punta Gorda.
CBMC is for men of all ages who are business owners, executives, C-suite managers. Solomon explained that the organization is driven on Christian principles, such as: “Love your neighbor, be generous, use business as a way of building community, be honorable in all your business dealings.
“We bring faith-based values in what we do,” continued Solomon, who has grown the organization exponentially since taking the position. “They didn’t have an area director for 20 years. I took over a very mature organization that needed some energy and direction. In the last four years, we’ve gone from three to 50 groups. We’re bringing in a young and diversified group, getting young leadership involved.”
Solomon is a transplanted New Yorker. He was born and raised in Yonkers, but also lived in the Bronx. He moved to the Sunshine State in 1990. He noted that CBMC is a national organization that was established in 1930. It exists in over 400 cities across the country, and it’s been in Florida since 1959.
The organization achieves its goals through a series of small groups and events. The groups meet monthly. “We try to limit attendance to about 12 men,” said Solomon, which allows for more intimate conversation and connection. Recruitment to the groups is frequently through word of mouth; often a friend brings a friend to an event. They also partner with Christian radio stations, such as Moody South Florida (an event sponsor), the Christian newspaper The Good News (with a 10,000 a month circulation), and social media.
Soloman is frequently out and about in the community as he tries to recruit men and expand CBMC’s reach. He partners with various local organizations such as the South Florida Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, as well as other chambers and business networking groups. He is quick to explain that the men involved in CBMC are not technically known as members. There is no membership fee. The organization is funded through the generosity of donors.
About 40 percent of the men connected with CBMC South Florida are immigrants from Latin American countries, such as Venezuela, Brazil, Columbia, Dominican Republic, Nicaragua. “Many have been here for a long time,” said Solomon, who shared a glimpse of how their groups operate.
He described the Trusted Advisory Forum, created nearly two years ago, as a mastermind group. A successful businessman hosts a meeting in his place of business and then presents a scenario that is discussed by the group. Ideas and suggestions are bandied about and reflected upon.
Their Young Professionals Group, with men from about 25 to 45, was launched three years ago. It meets at Banyan Air, a fixed base operation at the Fort Lauderdale Executive Airport. The group kicked off with in-person meetings, went to all virtual when the pandemic hit, then was hybrid and is now back to a live format. “It’s the same format as the Trusted Advisory Forum,” said Solomon. “We bring in a businessman to share how he became successful. He talks about what to do, what not to do. It’s as if he’s talking to his younger self.” The group has met with so much success that CBMC will soon be launching two more before year’s end: in Palm Beach and Doral. Several more are planned for 2023.
Their Connect Group is comprised of about six to 10 men who meet weekly – either virtually or in person. “They check in with each other, pray for each other,” said Solomon.
CBMC South Florida holds monthly luncheons in Fort Lauderdale, Boca Raton and Doral (Miami-Dade County). Typically, these draw anywhere from 50 to 100 men. They also sponsor a Cigar Outreach Night, Men’s Retreats and Marriage Retreats.
Solomon said that with all the stress and pressure put on families and marriages in the last several years, the retreats have been well received. They’re a place where people can just talk to one another and connect in an intimate environment. CBMC’s Marriage Retreats – for couples and those soon to be married – are led by licensed counselors. Solomon leads the Men’s Retreats, which host accomplished businessmen who share insight on using faith and sound business principles to achieve success.
In addition to the numerous groups that enhance business practices and values, Solomon said CBMC is committed to making an impact locally and globally. The desire to effect change on a larger scale evolved from conversations during Cigar Outreach events. Besides getting together and smoking cigars, Solomon said the men wondered what else they could do to not only improve their businesses, but also expand in the world. The answer came in the form of supporting charities such as Habitat for Humanity, and others that aid the homeless as well as helping people around the globe, including in Latin American countries and in Ukraine.
And in the aftermath of Hurricane Ian and its devastating impact in late September on the West Coast of Florida, Solomon has been coordinating with CBMC Tampa Bay to provide needed assistance.