According to Frank Blake, he surprised everyone – including himself – when he became Home Depot Corporation CEO. During his tenure from 2007 through to 2014, Mr. Blake became well known for engineering a remarkable corporate turnaround during an economic downturn. However, this significant achievement was not the only reason he remains a pillar of the Home Depot Corporation. Mr. Blake was widely respected for his unique leadership style; a style he breaks down to a simple phrase: you achieve what you celebrate.
Mr. Blake lived and breathed this philosophy, celebrating the minor and major accomplishments of his associates. Once retired, he didn’t stop pursuing his mission to inspire others. Fascinated by philanthropy, Mr. Blake started on what he describes as a “Journey of Generosity”. As a long-time donor to the National Foundation for Cancer Research (NFCR), Mr. Blake shared this journey in his keynote speech at The Apra Maryland Virtual Fall Conference. Mr. Blake highlighted several important lessons he had learned along this journey, which led to more fulfillment through generosity.
Lesson #1: Flipping the pyramid
With years of experience as a businessman, lawyer, and CEO, Mr. Blake learned that a successful organization ‘flips the pyramid’ and places the customer or donor on top. Flipping the pyramid doesn’t just mean recognizing that these groups are the organization’s heroes by putting effort into pushing messages and communication upward; it is also about expressing gratitude and celebrating each individual and each accomplishment.
This important message highlights the role the organization plays in the journey of generosity. NFCR takes this lesson to heart, knowing that our mission is only possible through the generosity of our donors. Every game-changing discovery and life-saving breakthrough is because of our donors.
Lesson #2: Generosity is one of the greatest qualities
“Giving back is one of the most amazing things in the world,” Mr. Blake said. “I have realized that the people I’ve met in my life who are most impressive are unbelievably generous.”
According to Mr. Blake, generosity does not necessarily stem from great wealth. He, like many, has met extremely generous people from all walks of life. Whether it stems from a specific gene that some people are simply born with or if it’s something people learn along the way, generosity enhances people’s lives. The act of supporting others sparks feelings of inspiration, fulfillment, and joy.
Mr. Blake states that in his retirement, he is invested in learning about generosity and how it impacts both the greater community and the individual donor. He shares a touching story of his accomplished son donating a relatively small sum of money to a publishing house that published stories by returning veterans. Prizes were given to veterans with the best stories, and it was a wholesome project. To everyone’s surprise, a major publishing house learned of this, picked up the project, and printed a book of all the stories. This seemingly small act of generosity remains the thing in which Mr. Blake’s son takes the most pride. He keeps a copy of the published book near to him at all times, and it always brings a smile to his face. Generosity is one of the few traits that truly enriches the lives of everyone.
Lesson #3: In the journey of generosity, we all play a role
Each individual and organization plays a vital role in the journey of generosity. An organization is only as powerful as its donors. Similarly, donors cannot drive meaningful change without an organization that shares their passion. It is only by working together that we can unleash generosity in the most profound way.
NFCR is uniquely placed in the journey of generosity. Donors drive meaningful change by supporting innovative researchers, who in turn offer their undying dedication to the cause. This generosity binds together to save the lives of cancer patients across the world. It is an ever-flowing cycle of generosity and support, proving that the world can in fact be changed through philanthropy.
The flow-on effects from the pandemic have carried over into 2021, demonstrating the need for generosity now more than ever before. In celebration of World Cancer Day, NFCR invites each of our readers to join the Journey of Generosity. Help create wonderful change by thinking with generous mindset and allowing NFCR to be a part of your journey—to support you and celebrate you, as you change the world.
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