Real Leaders

Outrageous Generosity

Last night I got a note from Charlie Kim, the amazing CEO of Next Jump. He told me that he had given 10,000 square ft. of Manhattan office space in his building to a nonprofit called Summer Search. This nonprofit has 14 full-time employees who help find mentors and jobs for inner-city youth.

These high school students come from terrible backgrounds with little support, surrounded by crime. Summer Search’s graduates go on to college and graduate at an 85% success rate. Charlie’s group of high-tech wizard employees who were educated in America’s finest universities will serve as mentors.

The students who will intern and study in Charlie’s free office space will also have access to his state-of-the-art employee gym as well as his custom nutrition program offered to all employees. What is this costing Charlie? Well plenty of money… Manhattan office space doesn’t come cheap. Also he doesn’t know whether or not having his employees serve as mentors may cost him some productivity.

He hopes it doesn’t, but let’s face it… this is an experiment. I am pretty inspired by Charlie. What if every for-profit business adopted a worthy nonprofit business to share office space with, share their business prowess, help mentor employees, and share some resources? Imagine having thousands of businesses magnify the impact of smart charities. Now that would be a revolution! So my question is… what is your office space?

What resources do you have that might help solve a problem for others in need? This is something you wouldn’t get paid money to do. In fact it might cost you. I’m talking about giving something more valuable than just time and money. It’s your brains, expertise, creativity and energy. I know… who has the time to do that? Most of us think that giving our time to charity is something we will get to when we retire. But that’s old thinking.

Making your difference is a way of life, not a future chapter in a perfect book of your life. Someone told me that we all have time to do exactly what we want to do. He said that if we just gave up one night a week of watching television to do something more remarkable that in the course of a year we could make quite a difference. I think he’s right. I also think all of us have “office space” resources that we can invest in people who have no investors. Charlie Kim has quite an original perspective on capitalism.

He actually runs his company to make the biggest difference to human beings he can imagine. And it’s been working since he founded his company in 1994. Charlie’s not some superman; he is just a leader who’s clear on what his life is really about. Quite an example. So how about it… what’s your office space?


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