As a leader, it’s really incumbent upon you to be totally involved with, and invested in, your organization & your company.

And your people.

Oh, you can be the greatest thing since sliced bread while you’re on the playing field, at work, during business hours, but your responsibility to the organization…and, most importantly, to your people…extends well beyond the constraints of your office or cubicle.

In addition to being an active participant in company outings & events…the company picnic, a team outing, the holiday party, etc…I strongly believe that you need to be involved, as a participant and as a leader, with various charitable & community endeavors.

You do these things primarily to help others not as fortunate as you.

To give your time, effort & money to causes that are invaluable to other members of the community.

But as a leader, your participation & leadership with these activities demonstrate your sincere desire, your drive, to be a true leader ‘round the clock. To show your people, through your actions as well as your words, that you’ll be out in front, helping to provide the direction & example that’ll help others to join in.

When people see leaders personally invested in the most worthwhile efforts, it serves as an endorsement…in their eyes…of the legitimacy & value of these charitable efforts.

“Follow me!!!”

It shows your commitment, validates the whole purpose behind the cause & allows your people to trust you yet again.

I always tried my very best to set a good example for my people.

Always actively participated in the USCC annual Food Drive & co-chaired our entire program one year (when we were the #1 company in all of San Antonio & increased our overall donation from 12,000 pounds of food & supplies the previous year to well over 35,000 pounds!).

Always donated to the annual Citibank United Way campaign & served as the USCC Chairman for 2 years when we DOUBLED our contributions from the previous drive, then increased it another 50% over the incredibly-successful year!

In fact, to this very day, I sincerely regret not accepting United Way’s offer to serve as a full-time volunteer for the entire San Antonio chapter of United Way. I had so many reservations about leaving Citi for a year & too worried (probably, foolishly) about my career to take them up on their offer.

I never really discussed the proposal at any great length with Citi’s Senior Directors or the USCC CEO to get their input & advice. What I’m most disappointed in with myself was that I didn’t follow a logical, well-thought out process to arrive at my decision.

That’s not how I normally operated & especially when it came to dealing with my people.

“I’m not overly concerned when you make an error or when your decision eventually turns out to be the wrong one.

“I’m way more interested in your  thought process that lead up to that action or that decision.

“What what you thinking?

“Did you utilize all your available tools & resources?

“What did you do in similar situations in the past?

“Did you consider actually asking for some help?

“How “sure” were you about what you did/said when you were put on the spot?

“Would you make the same decision today? Why?”

Just so pissed…in retrospect…that I didn’t follow the EXACT thought process that I certainly would’ve recommended to a buddy or associate of mine who was on a similar quandary!

$ & @ % ? # 🤬

I’m sure I would’ve learned stuff & experienced things that would, and could, have truly changed & shaped my life forever going forward.

Damn. Damn. Damn.

Always took part in the March of Dimes walk…the Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure…helped build a lot of houses with Habitat for Humanity, volunteering on other teams in addition to my own…headed up the Ronald McDonald House charity effort to buy toys & gifts for the kids in St. Petersburg’s Children Hospital as well as their families staying at the center…chaired the annual Thanksgiving Food Drive to help feed St. Pete’s poor & undernourished…helped lead the Harvest of Hope charity effort in Nebraska & purchased LOTS & LOTS of items at the silent auction (most of which I donated right back to the charity)…participated in the Columbus Food Bank & Furniture Bank charity drives.

Actively donated at every Blood Drive at Citi & actually donated ~5 times every year when I worked in Long Island. Seems we had the LI Blood Center right down the block from us so I didn’t have to wait for the Bloodmobile to come around & visit the site. I always gave my people “free time” to make donations as well.

Unfortunately, a few years later, after I had donated several gallons over the years, I was permanently barred by the Red Cross & the NY Blood Bank from ever donating again…even to myself!…as they discovered something in my liver on 2 separate occasions.

I’m actually in contact as we speak with the Blood Bank people, after ALL these years, to determine exactly what that condition was. I had been given a formal letter by them at the time, detailing everything, but I was already in the middle of my 20+ year moratorium on actually having a primary care physician, much less actually going for a check-up!

*goes off on a tangent*

In fact, after Laurie passed in Sept ’01, I decided to finally get my act together (I was gonna say, “get my shit in order”, but…) & made an appointment for my 250,000 mile tune-up with her doctor, the esteemed Dr. Sybil Morgan.

Very interesting.

She ran a battery of tests on me, then we made an appointment for the following week to review my results.

I wish I had studied.

“So, Mr. LoRusso, do you have immediate plans to meet up with Laurie, you know, 6 feet under the ground?”

Surprised & astonished (appalled?) would be a major understatement!

Dr. Morgan was a very distinguished, very experienced, very thorough general practitioner, probably in her late 50s/early 60s. With a head full of shocking silver hair, she would always put Laurie at ease with her calm, yet direct, demeanor.

“I have been practicing medicine for quite a few years & in all that time, I have NEVER, EVER seen anyone with the numbers you have now!

“At least, no one who was still alive!”

Blood sugar out of sight.

Cholesterol off the chart (that is, my “bad” cholesterol.) My “good cholesterol…the stuff that actually helps prevent heart attacks…was barely measuring. I never even knew there was such a thing!

Triglycerides (to this day, I still don’t know what a damned triglyceride is) were in outer space somewhere.

Seems like every mineral or ratio (creatine this/gobbledygook that) they measured was at the wrong end of the spectrum.

“I don’t understand, Dr. Morgan! It seems like Heather & I have been eating nothing but fruit…we keep getting all these fruit baskets delivered…every day. And I’ve been dieting the past month or so & have lost about 15-20 pounds!”

“FRUIT?!? You’re severely diabetic! Fruit is one of the worst things you can eat in your condition!”

“But you always see fruit in those food pyramids in your biology textbooks.”

Man, she was relentless in getting me into shape…and not just with my weight.

I went from never taking a pill, not even a daily vitamin, to gobbling a handful of whatever every day!

She was GREAT & within a short while, got all my numbers back under control.

Except that damned pesky low “good cholesterol”. I was taking Niacin pills, but it wouldn’t budge. Besides, just how much salmon can one boy eat?

Back to our original story…

If there was any type of charity effort going on (and I haven’t mentioned dozens of other charitable & fund-raising efforts here), I made it my business to actively participate.

Could I have done more?

WITHOUT A DOUBT!!!

Could have, and SHOULD have, taken a much larger & more permanent role with many of these various community activities.

Similar to my missed opportunity with the Bexar County chapter of the United Way, these will always remain some of my biggest regrets in life.

Everyone should get involved, in one way or another, with some charitable efforts…if, at all, possible.

They don’t necessarily need to be work-sponsored.

But it’s extra important if you’re a leader of people to champion these causes, demonstrate your commitment & serve as a shining example for others.

And the wonderful feeling you’ll derive, aside from the actual help & assistance provided to those less fortunate, is the best part of all.

Step up, step in, show ‘em how it’s done!

 

As always, thank you so very much for listening!

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