Article written by Aileron (www.aileron.org)
“The hardest resource to give is your time. As a leader, when we’re giving our time to people, we’re giving them love and we’re encouraging them,” says Scott McGohan, CEO at McGohan Brabender. We sat down with both Scott and John Meredith, President and Owner of SaverSystems, to talk about the power of giving back, including how part of taking a business to the next level goes beyond what happens in the 8 to 5 workday. Along their entrepreneurial journeys, these two business owners have both learned how important it is to give back.
Giving the Gift of Time to Others
John and Scott both say giving their time to others has helped them grow and develop throughout all areas of their lives: “Whatever you give in life, you receive,” says John. “If you need mercy, you give mercy. If you need forgiveness, you give forgiveness. If you need grace, you give grace. I need a lot of that, so I’m always trying to give a lot of that kind of stuff.” John says much of his success has been because of his mentors, so he invests time in helping other business owners to pay it forward.
“I certainly haven’t been as successful as [two of my mentors], Clay Mathile or Harry Donovan, but I certainly feel a great need to give back. You can only give what’s been given to you, and I’ve been very blessed to have a lot given to me, so I feel a great need to give back to others,” says John.
“The easiest resource to give is money. The hardest resource to give is your time,” says Scott. “Quite frankly, when we’re giving back, we’re giving people a reputation to live up to,” he adds.
“Sometimes people can look at business owners as perfect people, and we’re not. We make tons of mistakes and as leaders, when we can give, our greatest asset to give back is the asset of being vulnerable with people,” Scott says.
When a business owner can share how they, too, have had some obstacles and failures along the way, it can help other people immensely.
“Great leaders that are vulnerable let people know that they are not alone. When you’re vulnerable with people, and you’re sharing those assets and time with them, people are able to [rise out of those situations and you] hear unbelievable stories about how they’ve seen redemption and restoration through those things.” That is part of the motivation behind Scott’s program, Mentors Matter, that helps to provide inner-city students with support and guidance for life and business skills.
For ten years, the program has taken about 40 students and introduced them with 40 business leaders from the community each year. In the process, all of those involved learn eye-opening life lessons: “I can collide a generation of business leaders with young inner city students and let them know that we’re a lot more alike than you think we are. The gifts that have come out of that have just been astounding,” says Scott.
Learning From Your Peers
Scott says there is a quotation that really resonates with him: “Your brain is often like a bad neighborhood, and you shouldn’t be there alone.”
“I think a lot of times as entrepreneurs and especially if you’re leading in an organization, it’s very rare someone’s going to come in your office and say, ‘Great job today.’ A lot of times leaders don’t get to hear that applause that they are providing others. Sometimes it can wear on you!”
That’s why when leaders take the time to come together and help each other—it can be one of the greatest gifts available.
When you can be with other CEOs, presidents and leaders, and you can share with them what is going on their organization—and then, in turn, help them with their company—it can be very rewarding.
“You can get those thoughts out of your head, and into somebody else’s ears, and then they can give you constructive feedback. When this happens, the sky is the limit—you just have to get that stuff out of your head, and into somebody else’s ears and ask for that feedback,” explains Scott. “That relationship that we have with other leaders, when we’re willing to be vulnerable might be one of the greatest gifts we can give each other.”