Sunday, December 8, 2002

Ex-P&G boss runs spiritual startup

Exposing people to Bible is among group's goals

By Cliff Peale
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Three years after relinquishing one of the top posts at Procter & Gamble Co. for a foray into a theological seminary, Denis Beausejour still carries around a list of his former colleagues.

Every day, he prays for them.

Back in Cincinnati running Dr. Henry Cloud Answers for Life, a group targeting spiritual development as the answer to many of America's corporate, personal and social ills, Mr. Beausejour doesn't look back.

It's very much in character for the 45-year-old Canadian native, who said he had "a calling" when he suddenly left his job as P&G's vice president of global marketing in March 2000. He was widely viewed as the heir apparent to the company's influential top marketing post.

"I enjoyed the work tremendously, and I had a pretty good run there, but I don't think about that a lot," he said in an interview this week. "I miss the people. I think it's probably the finest collection of people I've ever experienced in my life."

Bob Wehling, Mr. Beausejour's former boss as global marketing officer at Procter, said his departure for the seminary was no surprise within the company.

"I know when he started the job in advertising, he was very upfront with me," said Mr. Wehling, now retired. "He had a calling."

After leaving P&G, Mr. Beausejour completed his master of arts in religion at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School outside Chicago. He has thought about working toward a career as a minister, and has spoken at several churches, including Hope Church in Mason.

He spoke there in October on "the spirit-filled life."

Mr. Beausejour started the Dr. Cloud center, a unit of Campus Crusade for Christ International, in May. It has half a dozen employees in a Blue Ash office, and he said the primary goals of the business are not financial, but spiritual. They include exposing as many people as possible to the Bible, improving marriages, and encouraging corporate executives to use more character in their daily tasks.

"It's brand new, and I have a pretty big vision for it," he said. "I've started a lot of businesses over the years, and we're in that startup mode."

The "big vision" includes work in both the corporate market and the everyday situations where people need a spiritual connection, he said.

"The (corporate) manager who routinely shoots the messenger when there's bad news probably is dealing with some other stuff," he said. "I think, deep down, everybody has a need for something spiritual in their life.

"How you react when you walk in the door and see (your spouse) at 6:30 after a full day at the office, or when somebody cuts you off in traffic, or when a bank teller gives you some bad news, all those little microcosms of life are the dimension where the spiritual world connects. People are starving for it, but they don't know where to get it."

Mr. Beausejour vividly remembers his last day at P&G, March 7, 2000. On that day, the company announced that it would not meet expectations for third-quarter earnings, sending the company's stock price down $30 a share and cutting Mr. Beausejour's net worth by nearly half.

"I thought to myself, `Now that's an interesting challenge,' " he said. "But God has a funny way of testing and guiding the people who answer his call."


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