Les O. Magsalay-Zeller is the Founder/CEO of Pooki’s Mahi and is also a member of the prestigious Half Moon Bay Women’s Golf Club/Team.
In high tech, if you join any of the large enterprise companies or look at the annual reports of larger companies, you will see or hear about “giving back to the community” opportunities. Often times this is a way for companies to show case how much financial contributions they have made to a cause. This is admirable and should continue. The more meaningful participation is to be more active to the community and not just through paying for a tangible item where the company’s name can also be seen.
Causes I care about. There are a few socio-economic causes that I care about. They are in the areas of Technology (High Tech), Higher Education (Masters Level), and Health (Heart, Cancer, Alzheimer’s) because either my parents worked hard to provide and have fallen to one of these illnesses. For example, my dad died at 99 of Prostate Cancer, Alzheimer’s and passed on the CHD (Cognitive Heart Defect) to me. He lived a very long and healthy life and taught me to be thankful and continue to Pay It Forward (within reason).
Pay It Forward. I consider myself to be very lucky to be raised by Asian parents who immigrated (different times) and made sure I had a good education and was driven to succeed. My mom was a “Tiger Mom.” My dad was more relaxed. Not everyone is privileged to afford very expensive Masters’ level educations or have well connected colleagues and relatives in the High Tech industry to help me land connections, contacts or new roles. For this I am forever grateful. Ever attend a networking event and every person in the room you talk to just wants your business card so they can ask you for a job? This approach comes across as desperate. I believe in Paying It Forward. I do this specifically by:
Help upcoming Masters (of Science, Business Management) student graduates at one of my alma maters, Notre Dame de Namur to land their next role. Some are frustrated with me because I force them to think through the role, their skills and if there is a fit. Once we figure this out then I’m more than happy to make the introductions to the target companies.
In the case of fellow colleagues or former employees, I have them come to their senses for roles that they are qualified for (vs. want) and help them land the next opportunity. It goes beyond making the personal introduction. This includes mentoring and making sure they are in demand for their skills.
For former employees or colleagues I’ve mentored I’ve gone out of my way to find the ideal mentor or executive coach. If I believe in their skills, then possibilities are endless to what the person can conquer. Very few former employees or colleagues “wow” me. When they do, they earned my utmost respect and loyalty.
For random folks who send me a canned intro through LinkedIn I make this group work. Ever connected with someone who never reaches out until they want something – usually a job? Not a fun experience. I have my own philosophy – prove to me that you are an expert at something and you are clear on what you want before I invest any time. For example, recruiters often “spray” their databases for leads when they have a req to fill and “pray” that someone in their network will take the bite. Recruiters won’t reach out to you again – or ever! Why would you connect with this type of person who is “hunting” you for leads?
For the Half Moon Bay Women’s Club I have my network gift high tech gadgets while I provide some of my highly valued award-winning coffees, teas and other products. Last year I’ve gifted a few Kindle Fires tablets. This year we were on a roll until I had one bad experience and opted to gift Google Tablets, Fitbits and over $20,000 worth of award-winning coffees. I am a new member (less than 3 years) and most of the ladies are curious about my industry, the work that I do (in high tech and now Pooki’s Mahi) and have expressed a desire to taste my products. For this club I have helped two ladies find their next jobs.
Inspire Others To Pay It Forward and Be Better. Many former employees have told me and colleagues that I’ve inspired them to be better to “Pay It Forward” vs. are needy when it comes finding the next role. I live by rules that work for me (may not work for others). It provides focus and allows me to work on finding solutions for the right set of problems. So when you find energy to give back consider the following:
Give back to the community (however you define this) because you care and want to. Don’t do it because it makes you famous, you have money or obtain connections.
Pay It Forward without expecting anything in return. Knowing that some day whomever you Paid It Forward to will do it to you in the future.
Lead by example. Don’t talk about how many times you’ve Paid It Forward. Just do it. Over time your friends and colleagues will remember you for it.
In Conclusion – It takes a lot of energy to start a company and ensure the brand and products are rock solid. A fraction of energy is needed to Pay It Forward and to inspire others to be better. Paying It Forward is not about expecting something in return, making you famous, obtaining connections. Pooki’s Mahi Pays It Forward because we care. Pooki’s Mahi does not need to talk about it (shoulda, coulda, woulda) – we just do it!