Lately I have been a bit fixated on the issue of why. I wrote a lengthy piece a few months ago after reading a book that caused me to ask myself about my own why in life. I have since found others who have discovered their own why and I, frankly, have found it to be quite inspiring.
Robin Sharma, dynamic public speaker and author, and Simon Sinek, an equally skilled speaker and author, both share a parallel message about what makes a person successful in their own endeavors. While they have their own unique delivery, they both convey to their audience that the secret to success is first finding the underlying goal that propels and motivates a person to make a contribution. Once the why is established, the what and how must follow, of course. But the guts of a successful operation must begin with why. From that, a person or company can find inspiration to motivate. According to Sinek, "Great companies don't have skilled people and motivate them, they hire motivated people and inspire them." Basically, people who believe they are a part of a team with a meaningful purpose will work harder and with more pride if they believe they are part of an integral team working toward a larger common goal.
Two companies who have impressively discovered their overwhelming why are TOMS and Gum Project 7. As I read more about each, I find myself blown away. So...I am going to tell you about each because you really need to know.
Let's start with TOMS. Not because they are better. Mostly because I have purchased approximately 5 pairs of these shoes for my daughter and I love love love their story! Blake Mycoskie is the founder. In 2006 Blake traveled to Argentina and was struck by the fact that so many of the children did not have shoes. Rather than returning home and ignoring his observation, he was inspired to start a company to do something about it. (his overwhelming why) So he returned home, developed a company to make shoes, and created the simple concept that for every pair of shoes he sold, he would donate a pair to a child in need. One year later, he returned to Argentina with 10,000 pairs of shoes and to date has donated one million pairs of shoes. Why shoes, you ask? Simple. Not only do shoes protect the feet from injury, but they also prevent disease. And further, children are often turned away from educational opportunities if they do not have shoes.
Mycoskie has now moved to the issue of vision. The lack of sight is the seventh largest disability in the world. In underdeveloped countries, 50 percent of blindness is due to cataracts, an issue that typically can be corrected with a minor surgery. TOMS has expanded their company to donate a pair of glasses, a surgical procedure, or treatment due to injury or disease with every pair of glasses we purchase. Just think about how often we purchase glasses. Imagine how you could make a contribution to someone in need simply by purchasing your eyewear through TOMS.
Now...Gum Project 7. I was standing in line a my local Target the other day and I spotted a pack of gum that I had not seen before. I was intrigued by the label so I bought it. And I am glad that I did. When I got home I looked a little more closely and then checked out their website. It is a company started by a successful business man with a big old heart. Basically, in 2008 Tyler Merrick decided that he wanted to incorporate a more philanthropic aspect to his already successful professional accomplishments. Merrick was quoted early on saying," If people are going to buy things then let's use those things they purchase to help change the world around us. Let's make everyday products for everyday people to solve everyday problems around the globe."
So basically, Merrick makes stuff that we already buy and then they hook up with other non-profits to donate to seven areas around the world. The seven areas they focus on are HEAL~ SAVE~ HOUSE~ FEED~ QUENCH~ TEACH~ HOPE. And from their partnerships they provide financial support, increased awareness, and international education relating to their focused area of interest.
Gum Project 7 started with bottled water and has since increased their inventory to mints, coffee, gum, and t-shirts. All products are made in the USA. (novel idea considering the fact that we don't seem to make a fu#$ing thing in the USA anymore)
So, with this said, I am awarding the 2012 Most Philanthropic Awesome Company Awards to TOMS and Project 7.
If you want to glean more information from these companies and find out how you can support their goals while simultaneously shopping, I have linked their websites below.