The Battle of Mind and Heart: Business Growth vs. Philanthropy

By Kevin Huhn

How do you stay on top of the relentless change in the marketplace and juggle the pursuit of business growth and be philanthropic? Is the key to wait until you have success and money, whereby you have created the freedom to now be a go-giver? The answer, I found was not exclusive, but inclusive of mind and heart.

There is this idea in society that you must become successful before you can be philanthropic, when in fact the two do not need to be mutually exclusive.

The word philanthropy originates from the Greek word philanthropia; phil- “loving” and anthropia “mankind”. Loving Mankind.

How can being philanthropic become the driver to growing your business? There is a myth in society that you must first become successful in business before you can start to give back and be a philanthropist.

The skill of building relationships is not only for the successful business owner or executive. That skill is needed to become a person of value to whomever or whatever you contribute your efforts, including as a volunteer. When you realize the people you become connected to during your volunteering have a network of people of their own, you quickly learn the business is not about what you know but who you know. And through conversations and getting to know each other – you may find that referrals, partnerships and other opportunities are one conversation away.

During my journey of wanting to ‘make it’ to pro hockey, I took on roles as a coach in a volunteer capacity. My time as a volunteer was about helping younger ones develop. I also started to build relationships with people around the team. My time was my asset and had me being philanthropic.

Do you volunteer but wish you could be more of a philanthropist? Are you carrying the definition of philanthropy as someone who can give large sums of money to make a difference?

Until hearing my friend Greg Belton, Executive Chairman of HUB International Ontario, sharing his journey from being a Liberal Arts graduate to business man, I did not comprehend that volunteering was philanthropy at its best.

In 2016, Belton was awarded one of the highest honours in this country – the Order of Canada, after being made Commander of the Royal Victorian Order by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, in 2009. “These honours came primarily from my volunteering work,” he said.

In a recent speech he made to college students, where he himself was years earlier, he started with, “How does a Liberal Arts graduate become a business person?”

During Belton’s time at university he decided to take on a role of president for a student political group. He enjoyed helping others and being a leader. That volunteer role was the start to his growth in business. By the time he was 29, long out of college and with a job, he bought his company. He found himself drawn back into helping others and volunteered again. One of the people involved in the group, was a family member of a prominent Canadian family. Belton’s involvement was appreciated and he was soon asked to take consider taking on another position with a charitable group. The chairman had stepped down and Belton was appointed chairman.

That mindset of volunteering has led Belton to a long association with the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award, where, for the past ten years he served as chairman of the International Board. The position previously held by the Duke of Edinburgh. He has been a board member of St. Mike’s Hospital for fourteen years, Palm Beach Civic Association for three years and others.

Ending the Battle

Belton shared his philosophy to help you with the myth that Business and Philanthropy are mutually exclusive.

Be Heart Focused

“Find something you love and are passionate about,” he said. “Come from the heart and not what you are told to do by your employer. Think about issues that touch your heart.”

Assess Your Skills

“What skillset do you want to leverage and how do you want to get involved?” he asked. “I enjoyed and was good at raising money, making changes and course correction with non-profit organizations. I am only interested in getting involved where change and improvement are required.”

Think Right

“You don’t suddenly become a philanthropist when you have a lot of money,” he clarified. “A person who feels good when volunteering and giving back then you are wired that way, so don’t wait to get a lot of money to make a difference. Go out today and help.”

Know Help is Needed

Belton shared a story that laid the foundation to truly understanding how help is needed in all walks of life around the world. “A couple of years ago, I was speaking with the President of Bulgaria. There are places in the world emerging from communist rule. In theory the state is meant to take care of people. In practice they failed miserably and history has shown to be that the case. This way of living was in place for two generations. Communism gutted how they lived, essentially removed one’s desire to help those less fortunate. After Communism these places have no social infrastructure and people become desperate, needing help.”

Time is Your Biggest Asset

Sitting on a board can be demanding. Sitting on multiple boards and working for a company can seem almost impossible. “Juggling my time between volunteering positions and running my own business can be a logistical nightmare,” he described. “Generally my business takes precedence. But regardless of what I am doing I have learned to be in the moment. Allow no other distractions in while I am working on or with others.”

His testament clearly demonstrates that you can create harmony between growing a business and being philanthropic in today’s marketplace.

Ask yourself: are you making a difference? do you feel good about what you do? are you using your skills?
As long as you can put yourself in situations that let you do those things, there will be no battle between heart and mind.

Kevin Huhn is the Founder of Be Your Best Today and through its mission wants to help business owners shine the spotlight on themselves and their business. To learn more visit beyourbesttoday.ca.

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