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“Success to Significance”

“California?” Eyebrows lifting behind the frames of his glasses, the man walking toward us in blue jeans on the other side of the gate gave us a wide grin.


“Welcome!” He opened the gate and led us into the area of the Garden Tomb, believed by many to be the place where Jesus was buried following His crucifixion.

“I’m Joe.” He led us to a seating area from which we looked out at the hill of Golgotha, just a few steps away.

“When I first came to Israel, this was the place that touched my heart most,” Joe explained, “so I love returning and leading tour groups.”

Unassuming, gentle, quiet, with a smile that creased his face, Joe’s appearance wasn’t outstanding in any way. He was just a nice man who loved Jesus. But we later learned that Joe had in fact been a powerful business mogul. Having published ROLLING STONE and NEW YORKER magazines, as well as several other publications, Joe was in the upper echelon of New York society. While Jackie Kennedy was still alive, he periodically escorted her to events; and lunched with her weekly.

According to a blog, “Joe Armstrong, who is otherwise known as the Mayor of Michael’s, took his usual perch, Table No. 3, on Tuesday as the suits began filling the room.”

“Carly Simon was once quoted — in an article by William Styron’s daughter — calling him ‘probably the most loved person in New York.'”

Success? or Significance?

Success? or Significance?

But this power broker now volunteers as a tour guide at the Garden Tomb in Jerusalem two months a year; and at Habitat for Humanity seven months.

Why was he willing to exchange his power lunches, elite dinner invitations, and fame in order to volunteer, living in a small apartment while helping others?

I love Joe’s answer: “I made a choice to move from success to significance.”

Wow. That statement challenges me for sure. How about you?


  1. sherry says:

    “..success to significance.”
    well that simply calls for pause!

    1. carolnl says:

      It does, Sherry. For me too.

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