In all my years running The Beryl Companies, I've found that being of service to other people gives me the greatest fulfillment and happiness. I'm lucky as a leader to have the opportunity to do it every day.
One of the hardest days of my life was when I lost my brother--who was also my business partner and best friend--to brain cancer in 2005. He was 43 years old and lit up any room he was in. Beryl has become well known for our company culture, and much of that emphasis took shape because of Barry's direct influence and impact.
A couple of years after he died, I started an annual golf tournament to raise money to support the eradication of this disease. All proceeds go to support UCLA's neuro-oncology research program where Barry was treated.
This year, we planned to hold our fifth annual such event. We had a particular challenge because my marketing team is full of new hires, with no experience planning charity golf tournaments. I warned them how much work it would be and even offered to pay for a professional to run the entire event. But they told me they wanted to do it and came up with a plan to involve everyone inside the company. They started a committee and created weekly meetings. I only attended the first one. I should add: No one on this team had ever met Barry.
What I witnessed over the last year was nothing short of amazing. Employees reached out to find golfers and sponsors and donors. They went door to door at retail outlets to fill the silent auction table. They held internal bake sales, garage sales, and raffles where even $1 made a difference. They worked with the golf course to negotiate the lowest price. This initiative was even more incredible to me because I know many of my employees face their own personal or family challenges. (In Beryl's call center business, many employees are single parents who deal with any number of day-to-day hardships.)
When we held the event earlier this week, I was told that we raised more money than ever, and our costs were the lowest since we started the program years ago. Our group of inexperienced event planners pulled off an impressive feat. When I looked around the room at 10 PM the other night, they were all exhausted and moving slowly, but I could see their sense of joy, satisfaction, and accomplishment (and it didn't even drive revenue to the business).
It's hard to describe the feeling I had when I witnessed my staff create such a valuable initiative that's so important to me personally, but also got everyone across the company to contribute. When it was all said and done, they also got to experience one of the most rewarding feelings in the world--to give to others. All I did was ask them to help and then, luckily, was wise enough to get out of the way. My heart goes out to them because they gave their hearts to me.