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Those who give, receive

This article was originally printed in the October issue of the Business Journal.

We’ve all heard the adage “it is better to give than to receive.” We think of it in the context of helping a child learn the power of being generous instead of being greedy. Turns out that it is very smart business, too!

It seems that any large, successful business has figured out how a strong Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) program yields significant benefits. It’s easy to relegate that duty to companies who have more resources; it stands to reason that they would find it easier to implement programs of any substance. However, small companies have as many – or perhaps more – options available to them that are often overlooked.

As a very small business, I struggled with this for years. I dreamed of having a larger impact, but it seemed elusive, completely out of the realm of possibility. Finally, I realized that all things are relative. Every small deed or action we take ripples infinitely to others. What if your small business were to impact just one person in a significant way? Now that person takes that positive influence out to every person she interacts with. Think about the importance of that!

What is Corporate Social Responsibility?

Exactly what is a Corporate Social Responsibility program? It’s a sophisticated term for the concept of ‘better to give than receive!’ Giving to others has a funny way of bringing unexpected good things back to you. That is what CSR is all about. Anyone who has ever volunteered at a non-profit will be the first to tell you that their enjoyment of the experience was even greater than the time, energy, and effort they gave to it.

Individuals and companies in our region have an enormous heart when it comes to helping others. But there is room to do more, and as every small business takes another step, we all prosper, including employees, company leadership, and customers!

Being socially responsible has unexpected benefits

In an article authored by Bridget Pollack, Vice President of Marketing and Communication at SCORE Association, she notes that 55% percent of consumers say they are willing to pay more for products from socially responsible companies. And even more astonishing, 75% percent of millennials said they consider corporate responsibility when deciding where to work.

Small businesses that are interested in having loyal employees should take note of this statistic, too. Eighty-three percent of millennials said they would be more loyal to a company with a CSR program, according to a recent employee engagement study by Cone Communications, as noted in the article by Pollack.

Michelle Veasey, Executive Director of NH Businesses for Social Responsibility, the statewide organization that helps connect and inform New Hampshire organizations about CSR, sees this in action routinely. As she reflects on the trends, she says, “In my last six years with NHBSR I’ve seen CSR grow from a competitive advantage for early adopters of sustainable business practices to a business necessity for businesses large and small across the state.  Companies like W.S. Badger find that the investments they make in workplace programs like Babies at Work pay back many times over when it comes to retaining and attracting the best talent for the job.  Additionally, millennials are attracted to companies that encourage community engagement, adding value to their work and connection to their peers.

Do something, no matter how small

Finding the connection from your business to your community can be a fun endeavor! Put your efforts into some creative thinking instead of focusing on what you are taking out of your bank account. It will come back to you in other ways! Besides, doing good doesn’t have to cost you a lot of money.

Volunteering is one of the easiest ways to get started. Offer your employees paid time to volunteer at a non-profit where the team can work on a project together, or let the employee choose a group they are passionate about. Team building benefits will come back to you ten-fold, and the non-profit will benefit from your manpower.

Afterwards host a breakfast, luncheon, or Happy Hour during which everyone shares their experiences. Perhaps even invite the non-profits to hear impressions! Use the opportunity to build and strengthen relationships.

Create a campaign that taps into your organization’s mission and offers a creative way to support others. Last year I began a special initiative called the Graceful Giving Campaign that’s designed to celebrate and support the incredible work of our non-profits. The concept was inspired by my dog, Grace, who was rescued from the streets of Puerto Rico by a non-profit. Grace is also the one behind the dog-inspired leadership insights I offer through my business, PeopleSense Consulting.

The Graceful Giving Campaign is now an annual event that happens in October, around the time of Grace’s birthday. Instead of gifts for Grace, donors support a non-profit by donating any amount, and prizes are awarded. But the important thing is that everyone wins by connecting and expanding their communities.

Focus on an area that aligns with the mission of your business. If you make or sell food products, look at issues that involve hunger. If you make or sell clothing items, explore housing needs. Every single business model offers opportunities to contribute.

All good efforts will return to you

Whatever you do, it will absolutely create a positive impact for others. The icing on the cake is that you will also benefit. Know that even the smallest deed, program, or campaign will yield more than it may appear to on the surface.

I am reminded of another adage: “You cannot change the world, but you can change someone’s world!” Whose world are you about to change?

Eichert presenter at Insurance Agent Summit

Robin Eichert will be one of 26 invited speakers at this year’s Insurance Agent Summit, held October 23-26, 2017. Eichert is presenting “Taking the Guesswork out of Your Agency’s Next Hire” on the first day of the five-day summit.

Other speakers include insurance agency owners, producers, brokers, and thought leaders of the industry. The event is designed to help insurance agencies generate more quality leads, develop and improve automation and system process, and hire top talent.

The master classes are all offered online, requiring no travel, allowing you to take part from your home or office when it works best for you. Use this link to sign up for the conference and attend every session at no charge ($997 value).

See you there!

 

How a spider web tells us to weave what we want and embrace change

On most weekday mornings, the alarm goes off at 5:30. About 15 minutes later, Grace and I head outside for a quick walk. My eyes are blurry and I’m not totally awake, coffee comes later. So the other day when I glanced up and saw this heavy string-like image hanging in front of me, I thought I was seeing things. After all, it’s a bit dark at that hour this time of year.

I literally wiped my eyes, trying to figure out what it was. Holy cow! Could it be a spider web?? This was a cobweb of epic proportions. Not a traditional circular web, but a thick, strong thread like I had never seen before. I stopped to examine, making sure not to run into it. It reached about 30 feet from the retaining wall of our driveway to some high branch in a tree across the road. It was swaying in the breeze, strong, comfortable, and carefree, nowhere near a breaking point. I found the end of it near where I was standing, then realized there were several other shorter “lines” along with a few round webs, too. This spider had been very busy and had created some amazing results in a very short time.

What does a spider web have to do with managing people or creating better workplace dynamics?

There are a couple lessons that come to my mind. For starters, nature is a role model that amazing things can be accomplished. If a tiny insect can spin a tough tinsel that will sway safely in the wind, it makes me believe that we humans are capable of miracles, too. Are you limiting your potential because of our own belief system or organizational constraints? When we believe that we can spin the web of our dreams, what would it look like?

Things can happen fast, move with it! This elaborate web network happened overnight and by afternoon, all of it was already gone. It reminds me of the saying, “the only constant is change.” Animals and plants in nature have to adapt in order to survive but we often resist change in the workplace. This spider had exerted a ton of energy but there was nothing to show for it within the span of a day. That was probably his plan, building what he needed but knowing that it wasn’t permanent; he then moved on to a new place for his next meal. If we want to survive, we need to adapt to our environment or move on to a new one.

Finding your spider web

I almost walked right by this spider’s work without seeing it but I was thrilled that I had noticed it. Not only did it capture my attention in the moment, I went out to check on it several times that day! I never did see the spider but I felt some connection with him since I was admiring his work so much. It makes me realize that when we have an awareness of our environment, we tend to treat it better and care more about it. Paying attention to what is around us, whether it’s people, animals, objects in nature — well, anything such as the mood we are in or the achievements of our colleagues — impacts and enriches our thoughts and interactions. What have you noticed today in your environment that you may have missed before? And how did that change the way you interacted? Leave a comment, I’d love to hear from you!

Graceful Giving offers opportunity to inspire and be inspired

Inspiration can come in very unlikely packages. My dog, Grace, has influenced me in countless ways over the years. She has persistently nudged me in directions that expand my knowledge and understanding of how to interact and care for her. This journey has taken me places I never even knew existed and it has benefited us both tremendously.

In our workplace relationships, we find inspiration from those who offer a helping hand, a trusted piece of advice, or support when we need it. It’s not so typical to feel inspiration from those that frustrate us, but that can be equally influential. In our early days together, Grace often left me confused and annoyed, not knowing what I should do that would change her fearful, reactive behaviors, She and I continued to work together even though there were plenty of bumps in the road. It wasn’t always easy, but I was committed to her development and she was loyal to me. I suppose we inspired each other.

Why is inspiration important and how do you find it?

When we care enough about something, we do something about it. Inspiration is important because it moves us into action and allows us to think that anything is possible. As leaders, we need to inspire and to be inspired.

This October, as Grace turns 13 years old, it’s the perfect time to appreciate her — and her inspiration. That’s what the 2nd annual Graceful Giving Campaign is all about. It is a way to put a spotlight on helping others; involving non-profit organizations who do such important work to help those in need, just like the non-profit that originally rescued Grace from the streets when she was a pup.

Putting your inspiration in action

Everyone can get involved. Check out the six participating non-profits and choose one or more that you would like to help. When you make a donation of any amount from Oct 1 to Oct 31, 2017, you will be entered to win a $100 cash prize! The non-profit that receives the most donations towards their wish list item will win a facilitated workshop called Graceful Leadership: Building Respectful Relationships. And we all win by working together to help each other.

Grace and I invite you to join us. Leave a comment below and tell us who (or what) inspires you! Then jump over to the Graceful Giving page and put that inspiration to good use!

After you donate, spread the word by sharing on social media and using the hashtag #GracefulGiving. That way we can like and share your posts, too! And with your help, we can inspire even more people to get involved.