Givers Get

This week I was honored with a “Promie” Award for Technology Young Entrepreneur of the Year for 2005. Its an award named after Howard Stotland, a very well recognized success story in the Montreal high-tech scene. The fact that they chose me as winner had more to do with how my team makes me look, than me. Howard introduced me with a pre-amble talking about the importance of the team and how giving back to the community was a primordial sign of leadership.
So how does my team rank in the area of “giving”? Well, ICP will officially sponsor a golf tournament later this summer whose proceeds are dedicated to breast cancer, will soon begin a skin cancer fund through every single purchase of our products, has been recognized for an MS Leadership Award and participated in the May 10th “jeans day” for Cancer where everyone comes into the office wearing jeans.
Isabel Dos Santos, my incredible assistant that keeps me out of trouble (as much as she can!), walked all night on June 3rd for a cancer fund-raising event as well.
Additionally, ICP is involved with Montreal schools in robotics (we send engineers to help judge) and directly in solar vehicle sponsorship of major Quebec universities(our sponsored boat won world champion, while the car came in 8th in the last American Solar Challenge). Recently our UK division sponsored schools in Kenya that have no power to light the classrooms. And our European office sent panels to Mali to support townships which have no power to cook food.
So if you guessed the contents of this blog entry, as how much I respect the team that gives so much, you are absolutely correct. For if we forget that even a company is a living organism which operates within an environment in which it should be in harmony, then we have not understood the essence of the “living organization”.
As Arie de Geus and Peter M. Senge wrote in their book “The Living Company”, the average life span of a Fortune 500 company is less than half a century, yet there also are corporations around the world that have been in business for 200, 500, even 700 years. Arie de Geus, a retired Royal Dutch/Shell Group executive, maintains after studying both extremes that the most enduring treat their companies as “living work communities” rather than pure economic machines. De Geus writes: “Companies die because their managers focus on the economic activity of producing goods and services, and they forget that their organizations’ true nature is that of a community of humans.” He summarizes the components of the long-lived company as sensitivity to the environment, cohesion and identity, tolerance and decentralization, and conservative financing.
Is he onto something? I think he’s absolutely right. In time, the truth gets out. People hear about which companies are great not because they make the most money, but because working there is more than just work. These are companies that focus on the giving, not the getting. Givers get…remember?
So later on this year, when you buy an ICP-made solar product which comes with a “giving” coupon, know that your purchase not only helped us finance continued innovation in solar solutions, but also went to a cause where we help the “sun do good”.
May the sun shine on you today,

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