To date, this blog has delivered professional posts to help educate and inform my peers and clients. It’s rare that my personal life visibly crosses paths with my professional life, yet it’s no secret that as a business owner, both have a profound impact on the success of my company. Both personal and professional experiences have shaped the identity of Acrowire and continue to do so.
This past week, I had a very personal experience highlight what an impact we can make through our professional lives. My mother has an incurable lung disease called pulmonary fibrosis and doesn’t have much time. She lives with my wife and I but has great difficulty moving and hasn’t been able to leave the confines of her room in months. Simple movements that we take for granted require monumental effort and lung capacity. Not only has she become too physically weak to walk, but she is hooked up to two oxygen concentrators that require electricity, further limiting her mobility and opportunities to do the things she would like. She had accepted that her remaining time would be spent indoors, in bed, day in and day out. We all had.
During a routine visit with hospice, she casually mentioned to her nurse and social worker that she was a Star Wars fan and wished she would have gotten to see the movie before becoming bedbound. One day later, the social worker arranged the unimaginable. She took it upon herself to call a local theater for a private viewing of Star Wars for my mother. Every detail was considered and planned for including a Geri Chair that was delivered to our doorstep, medical transportation to and from the theater, as well as 4-foot oxygen tanks. Members of hospice who have grown particularly close with my family attended the movie as well to share in this special occasion. The experience was something that I will literally remember for the rest of my life and the same can be said by my two brothers, wife and young son who also attended.
So what’s the business takeaway here? You know who will also likely not forget what happened today? The employees of the theater, hospice group and medical transportation company. It was written all over their faces. They were proud to work for an organization that would make it possible for a dying old lady to have one last wish. I have no idea what core values these businesses have defined but they clearly go beyond attitude, work ethic, winning, etc. that are typical in corporate America.
As a business owner this experience has made me take a second look at my own company’s core values and the culture we’re trying to create. Creating an environment where people truly love what they do and are proud of the company for whom they work is vital, but not an easy task. I would argue that it is much more difficult than growing revenue, increasing margins, establishing brand recognition or any of those other conventional measures of success. Not only is it more difficult to create such a culture but it’s harder to directly measure and doesn’t show up explicitly on a firm’s financials. A successful culture will impact your bottom line in big ways by improving customer/associate satisfaction and retention but it’s not a line item on a balance sheet or P&L and often doesn’t get the attention it deserves.
On a personal level, this experience allowed my family to have a few precious hours where we were able to escape the realities of the inevitable. I was able to create one last happy memory with one of the most important people in my life and someone who had everything to do with who I am as human being. Ironically, the private showing was mid-morning and probably didn’t cost the theater a lot of money but no amount of money could ever buy what they gave us. Something that cost so little created a bright spot in a very difficult chapter in our lives and showed employees of three different organizations that their company cares.
The experience made a huge impact on my personal life and will forever change my perspective on core values and corporate culture. The return on investment on the dollars spent to make today possible is absolutely immeasurable. I have begun to ask myself this and would encourage you do the same: “What does your company’s core values and culture stand for?”.
A very special thank you to Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region and those who have donated to the organization to help create memories like this, Our Town Cinemas – Davidson and American Specialty Transportation (Facebook link unavailable). If you found this story inspiring, please consider donating to Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region, or giving the theater and hospice group a “Like” and kind word on Facebook.