July 29, 2008


I've been doing a little research on volunteering and charitable giving, specifically in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex. I wanted to share some of them with you:


• According to The Chronicle of Philanthropy, 26 percent of Americans volunteer.

• The volunteer rate fell in 2007 for the second straight year, according to Corporation for National and Community Service.

• 29 percent of women volunteer, while 23 percent of men.

• In Dallas/Fort Worth, the breakdown was 35.5 percent for females and 24.9 percent for males.

• DFW ranked 20th in the nation for metropolitan areas at a rate of 30.3 percent. (Minneapolis-St. Paul ranked No. 1 at 40.5 percent, while Las Vegas was last at 14.4 percent)

• Based on number of hours volunteered between 2004 and 2006, DFW was 34th. (Tulsa ranked No. 1 and Las Vegas was last.)

• DFW's breakdown for average volunteer hours during that span was 33.7. (No. 1 Tulsa averaged 60 hours.)

• On average, DFW had approximately 1.4 million volunteers, who served 15.73 million hours per year during 2004-06.

• The main activity for volunteers in DFW were "collecting, preparing, distributing, or serving food."

• While more DFW residents between 35 and 44 years old volunteered (38.2 percent), they only volunteered an average of 36 hours. (Second lowest to the 16-24 age group.)

• DFW seniors volunteer the most hours, averaging 104 hours per volunteer.


• In a study done by Intuit Inc., DFW did not make the Top 10 for "Most Giving Cities." (Salt Lake City was No. 1, followed by West Palm Beach, and Washington D.C. respectively.)

• On a positive note: DFW was NOT one of the Top 10 "Stingiest Cities," either. (San Antonio was, though.)

Men's Health listed Dallas has No. 36 on its "Most Charitable Cities." The magazine also gave Big D a Big B minus for its efforts.

• Fort Worth was graded an embarrassing D minus and ranked No. 91.

SOURCES: www.intuit.com; The Baltimore Sun; Men's Health; Corporation for National & Community Service; Chronicle of Philanthropy.

July 28, 2008


Dr. Randy Pausch died on Friday.

I finished reading his bestselling book, "The Last Lecture," two nights before he passed away. I'm glad I did.

A lot of people have asked me, "Did you like the book?"

ANSWER: "I really did. I don't know if I loved it, though."

It was short and sweet – very to the point. I think the reason I didn't love it...I simply wanted more.

What I did love were Dr. Pausch's life lessons. I loved his advice. I loved his optimism. I loved his passion. He had an amazing perspective on life – right in the middle of a dog fight with the most aggressive and deadly types of cancer.

He does a great job of making you think about your own life – from your parents to your childhood dreams. He posed a very thought-provoking question when considering the topic of his lecture: "What makes me unique?"

Randy Pausch could have easily called his lecture "Do You Need Something to Blog About? I Can Help!" There isn't a doubt in my mind that I will borrow some of his retrospective ideals, apply them to my own life, and share them on future posts.

Since I read the book, I know why Dr. Pausch agreed to give the lecture. (Don't worry...I won't spoil it for you.) But I also believe he did it to make us think – he wanted the people, who have a lifetime to do it, to start formulating, planning, and writing their own Last Lecture. 

I found this clip on YouTube. (I thought it was little more appropriate for my blog – compared to the actual lecture, which is 1 hour and 16 minutes.) If you like the clip, I've included a couple of other links below it.


ENTIRE LECTURE (1 hour and 16 minutes)

July 18, 2008


Giving back continues to infiltrate my soul on a daily basis and light an amazing fire deep inside me. 

I know that I blogged about it on June 9th ("Time to Walk the Walk"), but giving back – in any shape, form, or fashion – deserves another post. (And I PROMISE it won't be the last.) I refuse to let my blog get stale, but I will continue to address this issue on a regular basis.

This is why:




In this post, I want to share one of my recent volunteer opportunities and tell a brief story about how one company took the emphasis off profits for one day and made it a point to give back.


VOLUNTEERING: An Intimate Introduction to Homelessness

Every Tuesday night for the last six weeks, I have served dinner at Safe Haven, which is the mentally ill wing of Presbyterian Night Shelter (PNS)

The Fact Sheet provided by PNS describes Safe Haven as, "The only place of its kind in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. Safe Haven aims to establish a trusting relationship with clients, so they will utilize available mental and physical care at the nearby Mental Health Mental Retardation center."

I have volunteered at the main shelter during the holiday seasons, but it doesn't compare to this experience – with only 18 to 20 Safe Haven residents it's more personal and intimate. 

It's a very special experience every single week, because all the residents are very appreciative and aren't afraid to express it with words or a big smile.

Some of the residents are starting recognize me and remember that I'm there on Tuesday nights. They've even started to ask me questions – my favorite being, "What's your name?"

Do you know what I like about the most? NOW, I know their name! (This probably won't come as surprise to most people reading this blog, but I'm not afraid to use their name any chance I get. It's like a free pass to the other side.) 

After I help clean up at Safe Haven, I work in the main shelter's dispensary for about an hour and a half. I pass out shampoo, soap, Tylenol, lotion, Tums – anything that has been donated to make the "clients" more comfortable.

Again, this has been a tremendous experience. 

One at a time, a client sticks his or her head in the small, chest-high window and asks me for something they need and/or want.

"Dinner wasn't great tonight...do you have any antacid?"

"Please tell me you have some foot powder."

"OK...tell me what I need to help with this toothache." 

I am receiving a VERY personal introduction to the homeless community in Tarrant County. I might be passing out a disposable razor or a handful of tampons, but it's helping me wrap my mind around one of society's biggest problems.

When I drive home after a couple hours at the shelter, I think about Lawerence, Michael, Alice, Elizabeth, Lori, Benda, and the countless number who have introduced themselves and said "thank you." 

I know that I'm helping to a certain degree on Tuesday night, but I feel like I'm gathering valuable knowledge about how I can really help the homeless initiative.

Before I started volunteering at the shelter, I was introduced to a book by photographer Lynn Blodgett, which focuses on "The Face of America's Homeless."  After six short weeks, now I understand what they mean when they say, "But first: We must decide to look."


CORPORATE GIVING: Profits take back seat

a few weeks ago. 

Three words in the headline, "Social Responsibility Day," caught my attention. (Otherwise I would have written it off as another company in the midst of layoffs, coming up short on its quarterly projections, or discussing a possible merger with one of its competitors.)

I went on to read how this Chicago-based company shut the doors of its 21 offices and gave back to communities across the United States and Canada, specifically to elderly residents who simply needed a helping hand. 

Awesome, right? Just wait.

In the article, the president and CEO estimated that Convergint lost almost half a million dollars by shutting down its operations for one day. His response: A preferable outcome to "losing our heart and soul" in the pursuit of profits.

After weaving through their corporate web site for a few minutes – to find out what the heck Convergint Technologies actually did to make money – I stumbled across this verbiage: "Making a Daily Difference." 

It was like a breath of fresh air – a company that doesn't just talk the talk. Anyone can slap those words on a web site or inside a brochure. 

Will you actually close your doors?

Will you take a $500,000 hit against your profit margin?

Will you have the intestinal fortitude to really give back?

Just asking.

July 6, 2008


I don’t talk about losing.

I don’t think about failing.

I’m totally aware that both of those outcomes are realistic possibilities from the moment each one of us rolls out of bed – but thoughts of winning and being successful tend to kick-start my morning with a little more gusto.

I’ve come to realize there are some people in the world who don’t think this way. 

They give themselves nifty little titles – “I’m just being a realist” – or apply quirky descriptions to their pending thought process – “Let me play devil’s advocate.”

I’ve never been one to focus on the negatives.

This scenario recently played out when I was discussing e-Partners in Giving with one of my buddies.

I shared with him the concept of our business model and told him how I took the leap of faith – quit my “real” job and put 100 percent of my effort into e-Partners. 

I told him: “It just seems like the people that really make it, put everything on the line and take a chance. They go for it!”

He quickly asked: “What about all the people that don’t make it?”


I’M NOT LISTENING! (If you can picture me with my fingers in my ears, humming “Take Me Out the Ballgame” it really helps to drive this home.)

I know there are stories of people putting all their metaphorical chips on the table and losing everything, but I don’t want to think about those people. 

Let’s talk about the country music star who rolled into Nashville in their beat-up Toyota pick-up, $50 cash, their guitar, and a dream.

What about the former garbage man who turned a simple idea into a multi-million dollar, industry-changing corporation?

These are the stories that I want to hear!

I recently read an article in Entrepreneur magazine (“We Knew Them When”– May 2007). It told success stories of companies the magazine featured when they were just start-ups.

Entrepreneur referred to them as “big names” and “seriously successful.” 

These stories embody what I’ve been ranting about for the last 342 words. They are about winners! I thought I would share some snippets of the feature. (I think you’ll be familiar with some of these companies.)

David Liu, 41

THEN: Founder Liu talked to us in 2000 about the challenges of finding office space to accommodate the explosion in his number of employees--from 28 to 200 in one year.

NOW: Today, TheKnot.com dominates the wedding website landscape, having just acquired WeddingChannel.com in September 2006. Crediting his New York City company's success to its talented staff, Liu is now looking to grow its $72.7 million in sales by entering two new markets: In 2005, the company launched TheNest.com for newlyweds, which branched out into a magazine last year; and a site for new parents is planned for the first half of 2007. "The identity of the company, even as we get larger, remains very entrepreneurial," says Liu. "We stuck with our business plan--we didn't waver."  

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Reed Hastings, 46

THEN: Netflix's subscription service launched a couple of years before founder Hastings was profiled in Entrepreneur in 2002. The Los Gatos, California, company was just beginning what would be a phenomenal growth cycle.

NOW: Fast shipping, tons of choices and a powerful movie recommendation system have helped propel Netflix to the top of the DVD pile. In 2001, Netflix's sales were $76 million. In 2006, sales were $980 million. In 2001, it had 600,000 subscribers; today it has 6.3 million. In 2001, it offered 11,500 DVD titles; today it offers 70,000. After innovating in the DVD-by-mail market, Hastings now plans to "expand the business to deliver movies to whatever viewing device consumers want while increasing margin and profit." The company's newest service component, currently in rollout, will allow users to access movies over the internet.

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Eric Baker and Jeff Fluhr, both 33

THEN: In 2004, we covered the online marketplace for secondary event tickets co-founded by Baker and Fluhr. In 2006, we spotlighted how Fluhr had taken the company to $200 million in sales.

NOW: Fluhr grew StubHub.com so successfully that eBay acquired the company for $307 million earlier this year. Baker branched out in 2005 to launch Viagogo.com, an online secondary ticket marketplace for Europe-based events. "It was amazing to see the tremendous growth," says Baker from his London locale. "StubHub has become a brand name, and secondary ticketing has become mainstream. The concept is not uniquely American, so there was a great opportunity to pioneer this industry in Europe." In 2004, we covered the online marketplace for secondary event tickets co-founded by Baker and Fluhr. In 2006, we spotlighted how Fluhr had taken the company to $200 million in sales.

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