Business 101: Be Kind
“It doesn’t matter what you say you believe — it only matters what you do.” -Robert Fulghum, author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
I love that quote. Fulghum grew up in Waco, went to Baylor University, and has sold more than 17 million books in 27 languages and 103 countries. I personally believe that his success has traveled far because his wisdom travels far beyond the pages in a book and far beyond the innocence of kindergarten children and playgrounds. His lessons are good for life. And that includes life in the working world.
It’s very similar to the idea that a company shouldn’t just have a good Code of Values. The most important thing is to live those values and put them to work every day in a business. That means being kind to employees and customers. It means respecting those you interact with every single day. It means doing what’s right, not only what’s profitable.
I was reminded of that when I was invited to represent Dwyer Group and receive the 2018 national Malden Mills Corporate Kindness Award.
The most amazing organizations have received this award over the years. However, it’s the story that the award is named after that is inspirational beyond words. The national award was named after a company and a CEO that did something truly wonderful. They put their people above their profits at a time of tremendous loss. This story on “60 Minutes” tells it best: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=aaron+feuerstein+60+minutes+.
This was a time when Enron was making headlines for all the wrong reasons and corporate greed was in the daily news. But Malden Mills won the spotlight by doing something incredibly brave and selfless. This textile company in Lawrence, Massachusetts, suffered a devastating fire on Dec. 11, 1995 just two weeks before Christmas. The factory was destroyed and 3,000 employees were out of work. CEO Aaron Feuerstein was faced with a decision to let go of his people, relocate the business, send jobs overseas, or any number of options that could save the company and save the bottom line. However, to the delight of his employees and the town of Lawrence, he decided to rebuild the factory in the same city. And, on top of that, he decided to pay all of his employees their full salary for the next 30 days. Then, 30 days later, he did it again. And then again. And thus began a journey that would make Malden Mills and Aaron Feuerstein the envy of so many others.
When asked why he did it, Feuerstein simply stated, ‘Because it was the right thing to do.’ And he kept his promise to his employees for months. All told, Feuerstein paid out $25 million to keep his company afloat.
Do What You Say and Say What You Do
Just like Fulghum said: It only matters what you do. And Feuerstein and Malden Mills went to astounding lengths to prove it. They didn’t just talk about company values; they lived out those values in their actions.
That story brings very special meaning to Dwyer Group’s recent honor with the Malden Mills Corporate Kindness Award as well. It is the actions of our company, the culture of our business and the way we strive to Live R.I.C.H. with respect, integrity, customer focus and having fun in the process that really sets a stage for our business and those who are attracted to be part of it. This tribute video [ https://1drv.ms/v/s!AmQ_I6ZDYe95hAiwSY8sl13T3sUl ] from members of Dwyer’s leadership team (and a former vendor of Dwyer who happens to have the same last name) reinforces that values do bring value to what we do in work and in life. And we hope to continue to be good stewards of that mission by not only being successful, but also doing what is right in the process.
Who knew that this message would extend beyond our company? Who could have foreshadowed that our values and our motto which was imprinted on business cards would transcend into so much more? Who guessed that our journey might one day inspire others? As I think about Malden Mills, it is an incredible honor to be in that kind of company. It’s one of the kindest gestures imaginable.
Photo ID: Co-Chair of Dwyer Group Dina Dwyer-Owens accepts the 2018 Malden Mills Corporate Kindness Award on behalf of Dwyer Group. Pictured L-to-R: Dina Dwyer-Owens; Aditya Achar, student volunteer; and Meranee Phing, Partners with The Riverside Company.