Formerly a special agent for the U.S. Department of Drug Enforcement (DEA), Omar Aleman, owner of Aleman & Associates, was instrumental in the arrest of – perhaps the most celebrated apprehension in DEA history – Panamanian Dictator Manuel Antonio Noriega for international drug trafficking during the invasion of Panama in 1989. Now a private investigator, motivational speaker, adjunct professor at Trinity International University and philanthropist, Aleman said Lifework Leadership helped him reshape his life following the passing of his first wife under what he now calls “Jesus & Associates.”
Dedicated to transforming leaders by clarifying their calling and engaging their hearts for service, Lifework Leadership is a nine-month leadership course. Classes include teaching from nationally-known speakers, case studies with prominent business people, literary discussion and practical life application. Each class examines the life of Jesus as the best example of leadership and is designed to engage leaders on issues they face in their personal and business lives.
Omar and his wife Julianne Aleman, who has also been through the program, recently discussed their experience with Lifework Leadership and how it has influenced their understanding of leadership and their work in the community.
Good News (GN) – First could you tell me a little about Aleman & Associates?
Omar Aleman (OA) – When I first retired, Aleman & Associates was a company I was using to follow up on what I used to be at DEA, director of training. I figured after I retire, using all of my contacts that I had spoken for and trained for free with the Department of Justice, now I could go out and train and speak and get paid. And I did that for several years, contracted with the Super Bowl, spoke all over the place, and I was training police officers overseas. That went along until the passing of Cheryl, my wife, in December of 2010. That was very important in terms of Lifework Leadership. Because my wife was a Broward Circuit Court Judge, I was on a track where I was involved with a lot of justice people, judges and people in the community. Even though I was a Christian, her situation was so important that we spent a lot of time with that kind of a populous. Once she passed, it freed me to do something else with Aleman and Associates. I was no longer interested in making money, but I did want to have the company be a back drop to serve Christ and do nonprofit work. I still wanted to speak. I still wanted to train, but I wanted to do it for the Lord. Now my company became a sub associate of Jesus and Associates. Aleman and Associates was me after I finished DEA. I want to be me. I want to train. I want to make money. My wife passes and I think, I can still keep Aleman and Associates so long as it be a subsidiary of Jesus and Associates.
GN – Was this before or after Lifework Leadership?
OA – Before. Now this is the interesting thing. I met Stephan through Cheryl. I really got to know Stephan Tchividjian when he invited me to the dinner with the theologian Ravi Zacharias. He was in town and Stephan invited Cheryl and me to a private dinner with him. After Cheryl passed, I began to see the vision and that came to fruition when I sat with Stephan at The Grill. I told him, “Stephan, I want to redefine the way I do life as Jesus and Associates.” And he said one of the first things you need to do if you want to redefine and get involved in the nonprofit Christian community and the business community is take Lifework Leadership.
So I said, “Stephan, nothing personal but I teach Organizational Leadership at Trinity international University. Why should I want to go to another leadership class?”
And he said, “Well this is a little different because you are now shifting your emphasis from leadership in terms of the criminal justice system to leadership in terms of serving Christ and what a better way to do that than going through Lifework Leadership?”
Then he explained to me what Lifework Leadership was. It was a leadership situation but it was more involved with serving Christ. So that was different even though I was involved in this at an evangelical school. That was organizational leadership. So then I got involved in Lifework Leadership in 2012.
I was very, very impressed with Lifework Leadership and I began to find the people around me that I could really trust and work with in terms of Aleman and Associates. Who is at lifework leadership? All of the professional Christian leaders of the community. Now in 2019, if I would go through my rolodex of people who are important to me today, the vast majority of them I met through Lifework Leadership. My whole life in terms of my work within the confines of being a Christian man in this community is based in the fruit of Lifework Leadership. Without Lifework Leadership I would still do Christian work, but I would not have the kind of networking I have because I find myself surrounded by people from Waddid Daoud – I mean I look around almost everyone I know who I have any connection – Bill Davell – It doesn’t matter who it is – Steve Solomon, Roy Moore – They are all part of that… Lifework Leadership created for me my new community. My new foundation.
So then they asked me to be a coach. After that they asked me to be a speaker. About that time I was really making a whole career change as a result of Lifework Leadership.
GN –Julianne, what year did you go through and what was the decision for you to take the course?
Julianne Aleman (JA) – 2015 – 2016. Around that time was when Omar said, “You should do this.” He talked about it all the time and we’re married, so I thought, well, if we get any busier than this I don’t think I’ll have a chance to do it, so that was a good opening.
OA – One of the issues about this is very important. I went to Stephan and said I would like for Julianne to go through Lifework Leadership, but she’s not a business woman. The reason why is that she is my partner in Aleman and Associates, which is not a business of the world but it’s a business of God and he got it. He said, yes. She was not there because she owned a business or she was a corporate giant. No, Stephan knew that in order to help me and her at the same time, he was helping Aleman and Associates.
GN – Have the principles of Lifework Leadership affected or moved you in any direction?
JA – Lifework impacted me in a profound way because before I met Omar, for 20 years in my past marriage, I wanted something like this to equip leaders but there was no such program. I was in a community that was under extreme, toxic leadership, and I was trying to do the best that I could to lead in Christ’s example but was very confused at the time. Under this toxic leadership, I’m trying to lead like Christ but things are not matching up. So I feel that Lifework played a very important role because it showed me the difference between an extreme toxic leadership to a very healthy excellent leadership through these speakers. I saw where the errors were and was able to dissect it more meticulously and I felt actually very healed, very restored and healed.
GN – Are there any particular guest speakers at Lifework Leadership that left an impression?
JA – John Cortines, COO, of Generous Giving, came and talked about giving. He was really just confirming everything we have been doing for the past years. And that was very encouraging because sometimes we think, Lord, should we give more or what should we do after this?
OA – The guy who is going to be coming … Chuck Bengochea, former president and CEO of Family Christian Stores – interesting guy. You talk about the chances he took. This guy had a big job at CocaCola and he gave it all up and went to Honey Baked Ham and then he left that to go to a business that went south. He lost everything yet today because he knows he’s led by God… That guy has taken hits. He’s been at the top and he’s been down, but he understands one thing – I gotta keep on plowing for the Lord. And that guy is a guy I look up to.
GN – Why did you become a sponsor of Lifework Leadership?
OA – When you take into consideration all that I said, it is a no brainer to become a sponsor. I owe that organization… The same thing as GriefShare – I’ve been in GriefShare since Cheryl passed, and now I do all of the devotions. After eight years you’d think, man you’re married. You are happy. Why are you still in GriefShare? I owe GriefShare a tremendous amount. When I was at my lowest, they held me. They picked me up, and I saw what they could do with my life. So if I could do the same things for others on Saturdays, that’s what it’s all about. Lifework Leadership helped me to institute a new life. It’s a no brainer to be a sponsor, and I truly believe in the product. I believe in Lifework Leadership and so what do I do? I invest. By being a sponsor of Lifework Leadership, I’m being a part of something I believe in. I believe in Heart2Heart. I believe in CBMC. I believe in Hope Haven. And you know what? We trust it, so that’s where we put what God gives us.
JA – And what we give is really just a very small token of our expression of love to Jesus, so we always just pray, multiply like the little boy’s lunch, and if this little can just bless somebody, we are happy.
GN – You’ve had a comparison to what you thought was leadership at TIU and what Lifework teaches as leadership. What have you learned?
OA – When I taught organizational leadership at Trinity International University, we used a text book and we used the Bible. As much as you try to personalize it by using characters in the Bible pursuant to leadership, they are still characters in the Bible. What Lifework Leadership gives you is live successes and failures. It is not on a page anymore. When I look at the successes and failures of people around me in Lifework Leadership, there is something that really hits me because now I can smell their breathe; I can see the pain in their face. I can see when they got divorced, when they became alcoholic and they lost everything, that they were down and they picked themselves up. That to me brings leadership and the whole idea that when you have failed at leadership and the results of that come to light – the things I taught and learned – this is a lot at Lifework leadership. Lifework Leadership gave me a live Moses and a live Sampson, and it gave me a live Luke, and the life of all these people who to some may not be that important until you sit across the table from them.
GN –Of the various nonprofits you are involved with, did that come about through Lifework Leadership?
OA – I think Lifework was very instrumental in this, but not Lifework itself, the folks I met at Lifework. All of the charities that I serve and or fund come through connections I made at Lifework Leadership, whether it’s CBMC (Christian Businessmen’s Connection), Heart2Heart (senior outreach) or Hope Haven (international wheelchair ministry).
GN – Who is the right person to go through Lifework?
OA – I think it’s a person who is digging for answers in their life. Who is at a point in life where they know they don’t know it all. They are looking for not training – but they are looking for different ways in which to do life.
I think Lifework Leadership is for people who consider themselves to be leaders… Lifework Leadership allows you to have a very intimate look at different kinds of leadership ventures: successful and unsuccessful. Most people see leaders within the confines of their own industry. In other words if you are a lawyer or a doctor, that’s all you see. Lifework Leadership brings together a myriad of different leaders from different places that allows you to compare not only your industry but all the other industries that come into play when you come into Lifework Leadership.
You learn more about yourself simply because you see leadership not just from your perspective and your business and your professional circle now you are touched by other professional circles that allowed to give you a wider scope into what you should be able to tweak your own leadership qualities.
For me – my professional life, my social life, my entertainment life and my spiritual life – if I were to put them all together, it’s all based on people I’ve met at Lifework Leadership.
Visit lifeworksouthflorida.com for information.