Updated: Sep 29, 2019
Two years ago, it never occurred to me that I would start writing a blog. For that matter, two years ago I had little understanding of what a blog was, why someone would write one or why anyone would have interest in tuning in.
But this story isn’t about blogging. It’s about acts of discovery, self determination and how people feel when they discover stories of selfless acts and generosity.
Oddly enough, it was me who introduced a prospective buyer (I’ll call him Gomer) to Dave, my boss and CEO. Dave was ready to retire and was seeking a buyer for his company, not just any buyer, but one that would retain his employees. Devotion to his employees ran deep. In fact, it was hard to imagine how deep at times.
Gomer’s pitch started with just the three of us in the large conference room. The pitch was polished and entertaining, at times goofy, even comical. Still, it was clear that the acquisition made sense. Within a few days the offer arrived and my 16 years with the company would soon be marked with an expiration date.
It was about three years prior, when I volunteered to direct the development of the company’s new web site. The old one had so many issues, not the least of which was not having administration access. Another story for another time. Worst of all, the site wasn’t generating any traffic. Our SEO was archaic.
Directing or developing a new website wasn’t something that I was well equipped to do. After all, my job was selling custom engineered manufacturing systems, managing my capital projects and a territory covering Western North America. Still, our new owners wanted me to continue with the project.
I was given unlimited access to the consulting services of their former IT director, who was now contracting with them (I’ll call him Hank). An avid fisherman and a joy to work with, Hank instructed me on the importance of SEO and social media from his private fishing dock (I’m just a bit jealous). Together, we agreed to award our website development contract to an outfit local to us in Tustin, CA. To help us get on track with our SEO we contracted with a search optimization group and their local expert Steve. Once I had these contracts in place, I felt that most of my work would be complete. Oh, how wrong I was.
Together, Hank and Steve would remind me of the importance of social media and the connection to our website’s SEO. They had me convinced, but I felt that writing articles, re-posting, and tweeting while managing LinkedIn and Facebook pages would just take too much time away from my sales activities and current projects. I was already overloaded and besides, traffic on our site was way up and we were beginning to get leads again. By this time, my sales were suffering from lack of attention. I reapplied myself to my true responsibilities and watched the site’s traffic become a trickle.
Leaping forward, unemployed, I was spending more time volunteering. I’m a dog lover with two rescues that visit dog park regularly. Our local one “Best Friends” in Huntington Beach, operates entirely from donations. So, when a board member mentioned the need for new park benches, I offered to build them.
This is where I began to understand the meaning of engagement on social media. Once our first bench was completed, my oldest son Cody and I carried and placed a new bench at the park’s highest slope. Proud of my work, I took a few photos and left for home. For some reason, the next night I decided to post a photo of the bench on our local community’s Facebook group page. I had never posted to a group before, although I was following a few of them.
What happened next blew my mind. The group has about 18,000 followers and apparently, many of them like dogs or benches or volunteerism. Whatever the case, in just 12 hours it had been re-posted on multiple pages, the original had received 939 likes and 74 comments (many more today). On top of that I’ve received multiple friend requests and two, not so serious, job offers.
So, here’s how the pieces of this story tie together? I volunteered at work and learned some new skills. It cost me my job. I volunteered in my community, made new friends and learned a valuable lesson about what others value. The experiences lead me to start a company doing something dear to my heart, one that spreads positive messages and spread good in community and beyond. I may never make a living from it, but it feels right. I'm certain that good news is going to travel fast.
By Mac Bishop