Thursday, November 26, 2009


My Mom and Dad

On Sunday I spent the day at the Vancouver SunRun Leader Volunteer Orientation day.

It was an early start and I knew it would be a long day, since I had to renew my CPR training. Honestly, I wasn’t that enthused, believing my Sunday would be enjoyed much more with my husband and kids hanging out.

Then, I got there. Hundreds of other volunteers, old faces and new, all smiling, enthused, sipping coffee and lots of lycra, I was reminded why I volunteer. No, not for the t-shirt, as many would believe. It makes me feel good that I am contributing to my community, making a difference.

I learned about volunteerism and the benefits it has on my life and others by my dad, Elmer Helm. Last week he was awarded the Good Neighbours Awards presented by the Association of Neighbourhood Houses, where he worked for 37 years. Although retired for 20 years and 83, he still sits on the board! The Awards offer an opportunity for staff, volunteers and clients to come together to celebrate and honour those who have made significant and long lasting contributions to our Neighbourhood Houses and communities in which they work and live.

The highlight of the evening for me was when, after he received a standing ovation, he sat down and my mom, his wife of 59 years, leaned over and kissed him, as tears came to her and his eyes, together they smiled.

I am grateful my dad is being recognized while he is alive as often we hear how a person impacted our lives only at their funeral. When I shared this with my dad, he laughed, agreed, and mentioned how each time he hands out the Elmer Helm scholarship (instead of a gold watch upon his retiring, he requested a scholarship be created) the recipients usually comment, "Oh you are alive, I thought you were dead!"

Volunteering is easy and can be done easily and without the huge time commitments as many may think. Volunteer by sharing your knowledge, share your successes and challenges with young entrepreneurs, pick up the candy wrapper off the street and put in the garbage, smile while driving- you will be amazed how volunteering a smile spreads happiness to others.

To those who took and continue to take the time to encourage, support, and volunteer their time with me, thank you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Value of Meaning

In a recent article in The Financial Section of The Vancouver Sun, Growth Guru, Rick Spence shares the story of Chip Conley, CEO and founder of Joie de Vivre Hospitality, a chain of popular hotels in the Silicon Valley area of California.
(My dad, an 83 year old entrepreneur at heart, cut out the article for me and suggested I give both of these guys a call.)

In the aftermath of the dot-com crash, Conley was looking for help with his business and found inspiration in an unexpected place. After re-reading Abraham Maslow’s text he’d studied at Stanford 20 years ago (Maslow is best known for inventing the hierarchy of needs), Conley changed his business and his life as he created a system for employees, customers and investors - his own pyramid for unmet needs in his workplace. (To read the entire October 6 article, click here.)

In a nutshell, Conley states that your staff works for the money, but they stay because your company supplies their need for recognition and because their work may bring meaning to their life.

Conley also suggests that your customers stay because you fulfill expectations, desires, and fulfill unrecognized needs; you create trust and confidence for your investors and you create a pride of ownership.

The article goes on to say that although the recession hit the Bay Area, Conley’s company is gaining market share due to its’ investors’ patience, employee involvement, and customer loyalty.

Chip Conley’s latest book, Peak: How Great Companies Get their Mojo from Maslow, should be a great read.

I am off to make a couple of phone calls.

Thanks Dad!