Day two in Chicago. Long post but here goes... I just feel they deserve for you to know about them.
I've travelled with Rick for business many times. We never know for certain just who or what we are going to discover when we walk through the door of a new "school." When Lakeview Academy first contacted Rick and said they were in Chicago, we had conjured up images of metal detectors and crime-ridden streets. When we arrived I would say the area was not overtly an unsafe area and yet it was run-down and spoke to the harsh reality of urban city life. Lake View Academy is housed on the top floor of an older Presbyterian Church. Its an alternative school. There are 16 students and we met 3 of the staff. Did I mention its old? The wooden stairs and floors creaked as we walked. The furniture was mismatched and looked like cast-off remnants from a previous life. We sat in nervous anticipation taking it all in and secretly questioning how a school such as this was going to publish a yearbook. The numbers were not encouraging already.
But I think its safe to say we were smitten right off the bat. We sat down in a roundtable format and they shared with us what they saw in Rick's website and what they wanted for their book. And they wanted a lot. But here is what I was struck by. First of all, they researched all by themselves to find a company that fit what they wanted. Then one of the girls boldly called and talked with Rick. They would have been fine not even meeting with us when they realized how far away we were. They could have shopped around, I mean its CHICAGO afterall. But they persisted and Rick seemed curious and willing to see.
Now in most schools the Yearbook advisor is in charge and dictates quite a bit. Not here. The girls were given the latitude to decide. They were passionate, decisive, smart, organized and appreciative. They were taking charge of their education. They were fundraising to build their meager budget. And they were humble. They thanked us over and over again. They were "wowed" with the yearbook samples we had brought with us. And we were being "wowed" right back. Now, in the business world, numbers and dollars are at the core of every transaction. I could tell as they made their wish list, the numbers were not adding up in our favor but I didn't see Rick flinch or back down or even try to dissuade them, he just kept giving. Then we discovered they had used an antiquated publishing program to complete their first book the year before. They wanted more options, they wanted to learn more and see more in their book. They were hungry to learn. To do all of this new stuff the software they would need would cost around $600.00. Instead, I heard Rick offer a solution. They could purchase a modified version for less dollars. The girls thought they could raise that. As they sat pondering the extra work they would do to raise enough money I witnessed something change in Rick. I knew he knew. The only answer. We would buy the software and donate it to them.
The numbers are now so not in our favor we will lose money on this account. And its the first time I think, it put smiles on our faces knowing this. It just didn't matter. It wasn't about the numbers afterall. When we were leaving the girls were beaming. When they presented our agreement to their principal we overheard them say, "we knew they were the right ones for us, we just knew in our hearts." It turns out they were exactly right for us to.
Can I just say when you give it away it always comes back to you in another way. You have to watch for it. But if you pay attention it will sneak up on you.
We had difficulty figuring out the parking at the hotel... it required several steps we weren't used to. We were joking with the front desk people about it when we checked out. They comped our parking, on the spot as we were protesting they didn't have to. On our way home we stopped for food. It was late but we found a KFC that was open... I really just wanted a snack, something sweet maybe, but chicken would do. As we sat waiting , the drive-thru window opened and the gal asked "we were just going to throw these oatmeal cookies away, would you like to have them?" I just have to say they were some of the best oatmeal raisin cookies I've eaten in awhile.
So, I've been thinking, what do you have to put out there, to give, to share? What might be waiting for you when you do?
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