What has more value, a pebble or a $250K grocery business? It may seem obvious but to members of the Academy who have started business with the small rock on the sidewalk, it's not that simple. The cliche “making something from nothing” takes on a new light when we look to Christ.
At the Academy, we teach students to turn “stones” into “bread,” or pebbles into a business, through faith and action. We teach them, as daughters and sons of the Great Creator, they are Creators in embryo. They learn to use that potential to craft their own future, their own income, their own business.
It’s one thing to sit through a lecture on faith--it’s another to put it into practice. With the pebble activity (you may know it as “bigger or better”) participants put their faith through a workout.
Step 1: Find an item of no value. Yep--pick up that rock.
Step 2: Trade this item with a willing party. You’ll get a no more often than a yes, but someone will say yes.
Step 3: Repeat Step 2 until you find yourself in possession of actual cash. Just keep trading.
Step 4: Use this cash as initial startup capital.
Sounds ludicrous, you say? To celebrate the Academy’s recent debut in Brazil, get this. As of April 2020, including three terms of the residential program, over 100 students raised almost 4,000 in a matter of weeks. Over 70 businesses were started from that capital. Here are some examples:
Rafael, a returned missionary, found himself working too much to spend time with his wife Maria Isabel and his three children, Eva, Ester, and Amon. The pebble activity gave him the confidence to start an online digital arts company. He is poised to expand his business and now has more time to spend with his family.
Sayala and her husband are parents of three and recently unemployed. She said, “the first activity of ‘the stone’ changed my life that day, because it showed me how I was able to transform something insignificant...at the moment we don’t have any money to start, but that activity reminded me that I can start anyway.” They’re now plowing their way forward to begin a restaurant using the principles of the pebble to trade services with a nutritionist and a graphic designer.
Nancy partnered with her daughter to begin an event planning business. Because of what she learned in the pebble activity, they offered their services in exchange for advertising and now their business has several referrals for future (paid) events.
We are the pebbles
There is a recorded conversation between Lucifer and Jesus Christ from two thousand years ago in Matthew 4, part of which includes the temptation in verse 3, “And when the tempter came to him, he said, If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread.” The temptation was not, according to Elder Hugo Montoya a temptation of hunger, but “by placing His divinity in doubt. He used the conditional phrase ‘If thou be the Son of God.’” From this lesson, learn
1. the true temptation of the adversary is doubt of our capacity, divine nature and individual worth
2. Jesus Christ has overcome that temptation and therefore can help us overcome it as well
3. Jesus Christ is fully capable of creating nourishment from rocks.
At the Academy, we help students turn these lessons into lifestyles and business plans.
The Academy does not give out loans. Students fund their own businesses. Resilience is built from scratch. All business comes with ups and downs. That is universal. However, our students are more prepared to endure those trials because they know, even if they lose everything, they can always find a rock (and depend on the Rock) and begin again.
You may be in an unexpected financial situation or have an idea for a business you didn't think you could start without cash. We encourage you to try out the pebble activity on and share your progress with us on social media with #pebblebuilt.