I recently was honored to get a chance to speak at the University of Memphis as part of the "Know Good - Do Good - Thrive" program sponsored by the Fogelman College of Business and Economics. The program was designed by executive in residence Harry Smith to promote the basic concept that "if a professional does the right thing on a continual basis, he or she will be successful." Makes sense right?
Tuscaloosa, Alabama tornado devastation in 2011
In preparation for my speech, it got me thinking about why this concept is so hard for many business owners and professionals and so easy for others. Is knowing good and doing good so hard? And can you actually thrive as a result of doing business like that? I know at my company (ISI) we have always stressed that community service is an obligation, not an option. We even set up a program called "ISI Gives Back" which allows ISI employees to identify charitable causes (of their choice) for the company to support with time, money or both. Through the past few years, some of the recipients of this program have included the local Ronald McDonald House, the Alabama Tornado Relief Fund and St. Patricks Catholic Church.
St. Patrick's Church - serves the 3rd poorest zip code in the U.S. (yet sits across the street from the FedEx Forum)
Is that knowing good and doing good? You bet! But there is also a practical side to doing good which can translate to a return on the investment (ROI). As an example since ISI started the "Gives Back" program, the company has experienced dramatic revenue growth from $11m to over $20m with record profits and thriving in the worst economic environment in 80 years. It seems that the more the company has continued to give back to the community the past several years the more our business has continued to grow. Why is that?
Since 85% of our business comes from repeat customers, it seems ISI clients continue to appreciate not only what we do as a company but also how we do it. As a business owner, it doesn't get any better than that! There is another benefit from the "ISI Gives Back" program. Based on my experience, employees appreciate working for a company that isn't in business to just make a profit but to make a difference as well.