Save the World at Work

Addition – Jan 23, 2009 – you must see Tim tell this.  Click here to check it out.

Tim Sanders mailed me a copy of his newest book recently and you must pick this up.  Aside from providing thoughtful, actionable ideas on how we can all join what he calls “The Responsibility Revolution” it has some truly inspiring jump-into-superhero-action stories.  Try this passage about the Timberland global sales meeting in New Orleans.  Where we enter the story, the team has been touring the Ninth Ward.

…one rep noticed a makeshift community gathering spot constructed of tarps and rotten wood where a middle-aged man in a baseball cap was taking notes on a clipboard.  The sales rep started a conversation with the man and soon discovered that he was a volunteer community organizer who had lived in the Ninth Ward pre-Katrina.

Moved by the moment, the rep asked the volunteer what the community center need most.

“Shoes,” the volunteer replied, pointing to a clipboard that listed shoes at the top of the Please Drop Off list.  “Used ones, new ones – we need shoes.”  He then explained that many of the community service volunteers were working in flip-flops and soleless shoes in an area littered with rusty nails and splintered boards.

The Timberland employee immediately bent down, unlaced his boots, and handed them to the volunteer.  He then walked barefoot back to the buses, where employees were loading up for the ride to the hotel.

A coworker, who noticed the sales rep wasn’t wearing his boots, asked why. “That man there told me that they needed shoes,” the sales rep replied.  “I gave him mine.”

The coworker stood up, left the bus, and gave the volunteer his shoes, too.  The others watched, and acted: In the next ten minutes, the buses emptied out as all two hundred sales reps walked to the community center and donated their shoes or boots to the Ninth Ward, even though, for many of them, these Timberland boots were prized possessions.

The volunteer, overwhelmed, scrambled to keep pairs matched together, tucking laces into boots and organizing them by size.  All he could muster was a repetitive “Thank you, thank you” to every Timberlander.

The trip back to the hotel was silent, as employees reflected on what they had seen that day.  A senior meeting planner later recalled, “It was the quietest twenty minute bus ride I’ve ever been on.”

These are saver soldiers.  And Tim is on a mission to touch as many people as possible and affect positive behavior change in the world.  Thank you Tim.