Is your life or business lacking when it comes to serving others?
Recently, Jay Shetty was joined by Home Depot co-founder, Arthur Blank, to discuss how to make the service of others an essential part of life and business. Business is something Blank knows well. He was named one of Forbes’ World's 100 Greatest Living Business Minds and Sports Business Journal's 50 Most Influential People in Sports for the past three years. He’s the owner of the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons, Major League Soccer’s Atlanta United, as well as the PGA Tour Superstore. He is also an author and is the chairman of the Blank Family Foundation. At his core, however, Arthur Blank is a man with a humble background and an upbringing that instilled in him the values he still stands on today.
Blank’s father passed away at age 44 when Blank was just 15, leaving his mother to take over the family pharmacy business. His family of four lived in a one-bedroom apartment in Queens. “We were living in a very modest way, but the one thing I remember clearly about my mother is that it was never about money,” Blank tells Jay Shetty. “It was always about making a difference and trying to give back and be involved in the community.”
His mother was fond of saying, “You only pass through once. Make a difference.” Blank wears that reminder on a bracelet every day. For him, giving back is not just about writing a check. He believes that getting connected to the individuals you serve is the most rewarding part of philanthropy.
“In my view, connection makes it all come to life and gives you more purpose than just sitting and writing checks,” Blank explains to Jay Shetty.
The lessons Blank learned from his mother’s example and from his Jewish faith fueled his desire to live a life of service.
We live in troubled times. Young and old alike are struggling more than ever before. Mental health issues are on the rise, and suicide rates have increased. Arthur Blank recently held a conference at his Mountain Sky Guest Ranch to bring together some of the smartest, brightest minds, Jay Shetty explained.
The purpose of the conference? To find more ways they can serve. Together, the group spent time brainstorming ways to find areas within their businesses and platforms that could help with the challenges the world is facing. One area Blank believes needs more attention is helping youth as they question their purpose.
“Thank heavens young people are questioning themselves,” Blank tells Jay Shetty. “‘What is my purpose? What's my purpose in serving humanity? What am I doing? How do I connect all these dots in my life journey together?’”
“If we make a difference in one person's life, that's a huge journey by itself,” Blank explains to Jay Shetty. “But the reality is these issues are of such scale, not only nationally, but internationally. They're big-time concerns that we have to face.”
Jay Shetty agrees. He was honored to have received an invitation to the conference, especially from someone so profoundly invested who genuinely cares about the challenges the world is facing.
Most people’s ultimate goal in life is to find their purpose. People often ask Blank how to incorporate that into their daily lives. They want to spring up out of bed and face the day with purpose, passion, and service to others, but they also need to work to support themselves and their families. He encourages people to find their passion and not worry about money. He believes if you are good at what you are doing, you will be fine. Money is not the main ingredient of happiness. “Doing something you have a passion for, serving others in some capacity, and being part of the greater community will bring you joy and peace,” Blank tells Jay Shetty. “I think if you can find a business that provides that kind of service, you will never feel like you are working a job,
”Blank trains his managers to create a working environment that lends itself to making their associates feel like their job isn’t work, but rather a part of their mission. He wants associates to love and believe in the organization’s values, stand for and participate in those values, and share them with others. “I think passion and commitment are what will bring a greater sense of joy,” Blank says to Jay Shetty. “I'm very optimistic about the direction that we're going, but it's not going to happen by itself. It’s not going to change by itself. We need people like yourself, Jay, who are doing incredible work to make sure those messages about finding your purpose get expanded.”
Living your purpose each day will bring fulfillment to your and the lives of those you serve.
Blank bought his first house when he was 32 for around $32,000. He made a vow to his wife to make sure the bills were paid and the house payments were on time. He never dreamed he would one day be able to pay off the mortgage in full. Blank worked at a local home improvement chain store that was in financial distress. Five years later, after he and his friend Bernis were fired from the chain for political reasons, they co-founded Home Depot. They ran with the opportunity and turned it into a success.
“It was our chance really to live our lives over again from a business standpoint,” Blank tells Jay Shetty. The confidence to take such a risk came from seeing his father and mother having that entrepreneurial passion when he was growing up. His father left the pharmacy business to start his own wholesale drug company, which his mother took over after his father’s death. There was no “quit” in either of them, and that example of extending yourself and trying new things is what encouraged Blank to take risks. “I very much believe in the notion that we all can do more than what we think we're capable of doing,” Blank explains to Jay Shetty. “It doesn't mean you do it without safety nets around you, but you can do more than you think.”
They built their first Home Depot first store in 1979. When Blank left 23 years later, Home Depot was the second-largest retailer in the world, with only Walmart ahead of them.
Blank’s business values are founded on relationships, community, respect, and giving back. “None of these key values have anything to do with what our maximum revenue, rate of profitability, or return on sales are,” Blank tells Jay Shetty. “It all has to do with behavior and how we treat the people we're serving.”
Service to others is the goal in every decision made within Blank’s businesses. They do things for the right reason, which helps create a welcoming environment that serves up a sense of caring and trust.“We're more concerned about who we're serving than about ourselves,” Blank explains to Jay Shetty.
The goal at every single site is to make people feel like an honored guest. While Blank admits that his associates are well-compensated for their work, the most significant reward, in his opinion, is seeing people smile every day and knowing they are helping make people's dreams come true. Blank uses an inverted pyramid to list the values of his companies. At the top of the pyramid are the people his companies serve, customers, fans, and guests. At the bottom, is the CEO, in this case referring to Blank himself.
“Guests, customers, and fans are on top, and I’m on the bottom,” Blank shares with Jay Shetty. “This reinforces the message that the most important people are the people we're serving. It is not a bunch of words. We embody that.”
Blank feels strongly about giving back to the community. Each business has an associate-lead fund to give back to their communities, and the associates are given the freedom to decide how much they would like to allocate to which areas. “The beauty of that is the associates feel a tremendous sense of pride, and not just in their work, which is having a purpose in terms of serving others,” Blank shares. “They're physically part of going out and doing site visits in a variety of settings, and making decisions about how we can help others.”
Blank strives to foster an environment where resources and strategies exist to create reasonable goals and provide support for employees. He does this by choosing the right people who understand the values his businesses are founded on. You might have brilliant people that don’t understand or uphold those values. That does not mean they aren't smart, it just means they don't understand your vision or purpose and that they are not going to support your organization. Orange is the primary color used in Home Depot store branding, and the orange apron is a symbol of the values associates uphold. “One of our core values is to lead by example,” Blank tells Jay Shetty. Bleed orange, if you will. “That means they understood the values. We don't make them write it down, but can they articulate them in whatever words they want? Most importantly, can they live them? The ability to understand and live our values, become a role model, and lead by example is what we look for.”
Surround yourself with the right people, people who have their own set of values, but who understand yours as well. One of Blank’s favorite quotes comes from a Nike T-shirt. “There is no finish line.” For Blank, this means there's always more to do. “I think you have to have the ability to deal with adversity, grit, bounce back, and continue putting one step in front of the other,” he says to Jay Shetty.
The culture you create in your business will elevate your success in the long run.
More From Jay Shetty
Listen to the entire On Purpose with Jay Shetty podcast episode with Arthur Blank on “How Successful People Build Their Life & Business Based On Service” now in the iTunes store or on Spotify. For more inspirational stories and messages like this, check out Jay’s website at jayshetty.me.
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