What started in a garage almost 50 years ago has risen into a multi-billion dollar empire. Steve Green is the President of Hobby Lobby, and works along side his father, who founded the company.

Steve discusses the reasons behind the remarkable rise of Hobby Lobby, how it almost all fell apart, their biggest challenges, bucking the trend, why his company pays entry level works double the minimum wage, and why his family agreed to sign Warren Buffet and Bill Gate’s pledge to give at least half of their wealth away. Steve also talks about why he’s so passionate about funding what they’re funding.

Welcome to Episode 302 of the podcastListen and access the show notes below or search for the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts and listen for free.

Guest Links

Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Website | Hobby Lobby

Episode Links

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Museum of the Bible

The Giving Pledge

The Bible in America by Steve Green

This Dangerous Book by Steve Green

This Beautiful Book by Steve Green

3 Insights from Steve

1. Treat employees as you would want to be treated

Steve knows the value of treating employees well. Hobby Lobby pays their employees double the minimum wage. Steve remembers a time in the company’s history when they couldn’t do that. But, he says, because they can now, they do.

He also notes that when you are generous with your employees, it’s a win-win situation for both the employee and the business. In addition to a higher wage, Hobby Lobby provides chaplains for their employees. Steve says, “Many times people have challenges that they’re dealing with in life, because life creates challenges; kids or marriage or finances, and it’s easy to say, ‘Leave your troubles at home when you come to work.’ But that just isn’t realistic. If we can help an employee through our chaplains to help their life be in better order, then they become a better employee.”

2. God owns it all

The Green family firmly believes that the Hobby Lobby business is God’s business. This mindset is the driving force for their family, through the easy and the rough times. They believe that there’s only two things in life that are going to be eternal: 1. Man’s soul and 2. God’s word. Steve says, “That is what brings purpose to us going to work. It makes it exciting to be the best that we can be.”

Steve also desires for Hobby Lobby to be an example in the business community of what a Christian business should be like, even if they’re imperfect. He shares that their philanthropy and ministry support helps point people to the gospel.

3. Make more money so you can give more away

In the 1990’s, the Green family began increasing Hobby Lobby’s giving to the point where they were giving away half of their profits. They’ve even joined Bill Gates and Warren Buffet’s Giving Pledge—an effort to help address society’s most pressing problems by inviting the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to commit more than half of their wealth to philanthropy or charitable causes either during their lifetime or in their will.

Steve believes the more money they make, the more they can give away. He says, “Our real drive is to say, ‘How can we do more for God and His kingdom?’ We’re giving away half of our profits, and if I can make more profits, that’s more that we can give away.”

Quotes from Episode 302

There's really two events over the last 20 years or so that has changed retail, digital and delivery. @stevegreenhl Click To Tweet

We win by having committed employees, and obviously it's a win for them because they're starting at it at a much higher rate than they could in many places. @stevegreenhl Click To Tweet

As we build a good organization, you obviously have to treat employees as you would want to be treated. @stevegreenhl Click To Tweet

It's easy to say leave your troubles at home when you come to work, but that just isn't realistic. If we can help an employee through our chaplains to help their life be in better order, then they become a better employee. @stevegreenhl Click To Tweet

The more money we make, the more we can give away. @stevegreenhl Click To Tweet

We're not here to make more money. We're here to do more so that we can be a greater impact for good in our world. @stevegreenhl Click To Tweet

CNLP 302: Steve Green on the Rise of Hobby Lobby Empire, Why Their Retail is Still Growing When Everyone Else’s is Shrinking, and How Paying Entry Level Workers Double the Minimum Wage Pays Back Click To Tweet

Read or Download the Transcript for Episode 302

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Next Episode: Rebekah Lyons

Rebekah Lyons, a driven, young leader who was accomplishing an extraordinary amount at home and at work, had her first panic attack out of the blue in 2011. The last eight years have taught her so much about how to handle the stress, anxiety and frantic pace of life today. In this episode, she shares the rhythms that have helped her—and other driven creatives—find rest, meaning and purpose in the midst of a frantic world, and what to do when you relapse and the anxiety and panic return.

Subscribe for free now and you won’t miss Episode 303.

CNLP 302: Steve Green on the Rise of Hobby Lobby Empire, Why Their Retail is Still Growing When Everyone Else’s is Shrinking, and How Paying Entry Level Workers Double the Minimum Wage Pays Back


  1. Cyndy Warnier on November 14, 2019 at 9:33 am

    I decided again my better judgment to listen to this but I do agree that there were many good points here. However, I have a problem with a CEO who also claims his faith, and yet has no problem with buying illegal antiquities from other countries. His denial that he didn’t know what he was doing, and yes paid a huge fine, sadly doesn’t cover the fact that it seemed to be OK to remove cultural things from another country for his own use and profit until he got caught! I just have trouble with that connection and reconciling his faith to his actions, sorry.

  2. Rebecca Wilson on November 13, 2019 at 11:57 am

    Wow! One of the best podcasts I’ve ever listened to. Such an inspiration and role model for everyday life as well as business life.

    • Carey Nieuwhof on November 13, 2019 at 5:12 pm

      Thanks Rebecca!

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