CEO Weekly INsights
Current Thoughts on CSR
By Engaging in CSR as an Executive May Lead to
Your Greatest Achievement Later
March 28, 2018
There is a rapidly growing demographic of people coming to the end of their business careers and are looking to do more. Many are individuals who have built a company and now have either recently sold that company or are thinking about selling that company. Typically, much of these individuals’ identities were connected to their businesses. Now they are faced with the daunting prospect of “what’s next”.
Thought leader and philanthropist Barry Kahan challenges them to ask themselves a big question – “Have you considered the possibility that your greatest achievement still lies ahead of you?”
“Most people are taken back when I pose this big question to them. However, if you think about it, these individuals have developed skills, expertise, and resources that they didn’t have when they started to build their companies years ago. And, now that they have these resources, I ask them to consider the possibility that the building of their businesses was just preparation for their true and larger purpose in the world.”
Barry’s passion is making a significant contribution.
Barry took over Kay & Sons, LLC at the age of 23 when his father passed away, and built it into the leading commercial solar shading system organization in the country. One key to success was building a strong company culture around a guiding sense of responsibility to the customers, the employees and the community – a true example of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).
There came a time, after reaching a level of success, that Barry began to experience more satisfaction from his philanthropic experiences than he did from his business ones. He knew at that point that he had finished what he started in his business life, and it was time to move on and use his “gifts” to make a difference in the world.
Today, he and his wife Susan are individual philanthropists involved in multiple initiatives.
One of these is RISHON (in Hebrew, this means “the first”), which Barry founded. RISHON is building a network of Angel investors/mentors who are helping Jewish Social Start-Ups founded by local millennials he calls “Spiritual Entrepreneurs”. By connecting these investors/mentors with these young adults, both parties can realize their dreams. The Spiritual Entrepreneurs are building strong global communities of young Jewish adults around “helping others”, and the investors/mentors get the opportunity to realize a new purpose and to make a difference by helping to build something new and sustainable.
“I want to inspire others to engage in something they care about to make a difference.”
“When I speak with people I remind them that I was in their situation – having built a company and asking myself, ‘what now?’ Learning from my business life, I realized that you just need to get started working towards something that you care about and believe in. Whatever that is, and to whatever degree you want to do it doesn’t matter – you just need to start. I feel truly lucky to be on the road to helping make a real difference about something I care about in the world.”
Why the Kahan Family Fund decided to join the Satell Institute.
Barry says, “As a CEO, I believed in order to develop an extraordinary company it was important to have a strong culture, as that provided us with a competitive advantage. A corporate mission with a sense of responsibility for others successfully attracts the best talent, the best customers, and the best vendors, and helped us take the lead in our industry. It is a prime reason I am so supportive of the Satell Institute and its commitment to grow CSR.”
“It is truly an honor to be part of this prestigious Board of successful individuals who are ‘acting’ to make a difference. The vision of the Satell Institute is a simple one, we all have a responsibility to each other and to support each other’s success – as we are all one community. Whether you are a for-profit, nonprofit, academic or cultural institution, or an individual – in the end, no one can win at the expense of the others in the community, as we all win or lose together. I look forward to contributing to this effort and to help build this culture in Philadelphia.”
In joining the Satell Institute, the Kahan Family Fund pledged a yearly sum for four years to the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC). Barry is highly involved with other impactful global and national nonprofits, as well as local funds that support the most vulnerable in the Philadelphia community.
“When talking about my life, I don’t want the focus to be on the company I built, though I’m very proud of it. I want it to be about the difference that I made in the world.”
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