Wanna see a bunch of HR people cry? Put them in the an expo hall the size of an airplane hanger and put Mr. Blake Mycoskie on stage. We HR folk are often called upon to put our emotions in-check....no such luck on Monday morning in Chicago!
Day 3 of the SHRM annual conference began with a general session like any other: video's, a few speeches by the organization's leaders and music that Steve Browne likes blaring through the cavernous general session hall.
Then Blake took the stage. He told us about how he has always been an entrepreneur and that his first venture was an online driver's education platform. He talked about an idea that turned into a movement and the people who believed in him enough to support him along the way. He shared his vision for starting something that matters. Here are a few elements of his strategic philanthropic vision:
People Believe In People Who Believe
We all love an underdog. Blake conceptualized an idea that for every pair of shoes he sold, he world give another to a child in need. The idea was based in the depth of his human emotion (which is why it worked). He admitted that he felt like giving up many times until he saw his Mom from across the room washing a child's foot. It is the things we don't have to do that help people remember the power of the human spirit.
Today, Tom's has given away over 10,000,000 pairs of shoes to children in need.
Business and Philanthropy Can Solve World Problems
Blake didn't apologize for having a strategy behind his cause. Too often the emotion behind a not-for-profit business overwhelms the need for well-planned go-to-market strategy. If the cause is something you believe in, you should be smart about how you support it. Those critical of corporate giving would have been ashamed of their predisposition on this fine morning in Chicago.
Consumer Advocacy Begins With The Salesman
Blake told a story of seeing a pair of Tom's on a woman in public for the first time. He asked her casually about her shoes and she went on to espouse the virtue of the movement that her footwear represented.
Your customers will believe in you if you believe that the work you are doing is making lives better!
Don't Forget to Remember!