As the CEO of a 50-person company, people and company culture are always at the top of my mind. The more our culture inspires people, the better work they do, and the more innovative they are. And over the years I’ve found that one thing that really improves our company culture is involvement in projects with a social mission.
Recently, a few employees and I began contributing to a great project that fits right into the culture here at Palo Alto Software.
Three months ago I was approached by Susan Sygall, the CEO of the non-profit Mobility International (MIUSA), about a project she was trying to get off the ground. We both live in Eugene, Ore., and she had heard that I was interested in women and leadership, and thought I might be able to help her out. The project, a photography book called Brilliant And Resilient, features a collection of professional images of and personal stories from 50 women representing a variety of cultures, countries and disabilities, all alumni of MIUSA’s Women’s Institute on Leadership and Development program.
Susan and MIUSA were struggling to figure out how to raise the money they needed to publish the book and get it out to people and disability rights groups. I was impressed by the photographs, but even more impressed by the amazing stories of these 50 women. I knew this was a project I wanted to help with, and I knew that many people at my company would be inspired by and supportive of it. I also felt like this project fit nicely with my focus on helping women excel professionally, as well as the focus my company has on helping organizations (mostly for-profit companies) get the funding they need.
I immediately agreed to help, and told Susan that I would start investigating whether Kickstarter would be a good place to pre-sell copies of the book and raise money for publication and the book launch. I was curious about the process of putting a project on Kickstarter, as it is a web site many of our customers have used to fund projects at their businesses. I involved a few employees, and we all rolled up our sleeves to get started putting the Kickstarter project together.
At Palo Alto Software, we jumped in and helped brainstorm how to position the Kickstarter project, as well as ways to get the word out. I was able to take some time, as were some members of our marketing team, to investigate Kickstarter from the vantage point of what it takes to run a successful campaign. It was a great way to learn about a funding source many of our customers are asking us about, and starting to use. Moreover, our employees were really excited about spending company time on a project they found inspiring, and important.
Working with the MIUSA team, we came up with what I think is a great Kickstarter project page. Once the project was launched, our content writer even wrote a great post for our startup blog Up and Running, documenting the process MIUSA went through to get going on Kickstarter.
This project is something that everyone involved has felt proud to be a part of, and many employees have told me they love that Palo Alto Software supported MIUSA and the Brilliant and Resilient book with its time and resources. Initiatives like this not only inspire me, but also the people that help make my company great. I feel like this project was a great use of my and my employees’ time, and as a woman focused on helping other women—particularly those who are challenged by obstacles yet persevere, such as the women in this book—I am thrilled to be able to be involved with the Brilliant And Resilient book project.
Getting the world to see women of all types as strong, brilliant and resilient, is inspiring. Thank you Susan, and MIUSA, for letting me and my company help with such an amazing project.