By Ellen McGirt
December 21, 2016

I’ve been casting around for some good business news to share this week and stumbled upon this gem: The incredible true story of how a CEO of a medium-sized appliance firm managed to relocate 58 Syrian refugee families to Canada and helped them find homes, jobs, and a place in the community.

Jim Estill, 59, is the CEO of Danby, an appliance company in Guelph, Ontario with annual sales of $400 million. As he read reports of Syrian people drowning in the Mediterranean and related cuts in humanitarian assistance, he became obsessed. “I didn’t want to be 80 years old and know that I did nothing during the greatest humanitarian crisis of my time,” he says.

From the story:

“So he did some math. He checked [Canadian classified site] Kijiji to find out how much apartments in Guelph were renting for, googled child tax benefits and GST/HST rebates in Ontario, and formulated a monthly food budget. He estimated that $30,000 could support a family of five for one year. He multiplied that number by 50 and realized the total cost—$1.5 million—was one he could easily afford.”

Estill put up the money and turned to his network to help him create a system that could help Syrian families become a benefit to the community. “If you can run a company with 800 employees, then you can run an organization with 800 volunteers,” he says. The organization started with a clear plan: 50 families who work, pay taxes, buy their own groceries and speak English. The Guelph community stepped up and did their part, creating a largely self-directed network for job training and support that sounds like it should one day be a case study in the Harvard Business Review.

One of the more charming elements of the story is Estill’s business discipline. He doesn’t own a television, he reads and reviews marketing books on his blog, runs on a treadmill daily, tracks his steps with a Fitbit and works 12 hour days. He gardens in his spare time. He believes in “success habits” which involve spending time outdoors every day, and doing the right thing. He sounds like the kind of CEO that incoming innovators often want to dismiss or disrupt (if the company weren’t so successful).

Instead, he turned out to be exactly the kind of business person you want designing the systems that help people thrive.


On Point

An Oracle director publicly quits, cites Co-CEOs work with Trump transition team
In a season of open letters, George A. Polisner, an Oracle director, posted a doozy on LinkedIn to tell Oracle’s Safra Catz that he is resigning. “I am not with President-elect Trump and I am not here to help him in any way,” he said. “In fact–when his policies border on the unconstitutional, the criminal and the morally unjust –I am here to oppose him in every possible and legal way.” He’s also posted a public petition for Oracle employees to register their objections. About a hundred employees have signed so far.
Fortune
Delta Airlines apologizes to a black physician
Delta Airlines has apologized to a Dr. Tamika Cross, a black physician who was waved off by flight attendants when she offered to provide medical assistance to another passenger in distress. After being told that “we are looking for actual physicians or nurses or some type of medical personnel, we don’t have time to talk to you,” Cross posted her story with a charge of discrimination on her Facebook page. Her post inspired photos of other black women doctors to post photos of themselves with the hashtag #WhatADoctorLooksLike. Delta has vowed to “listen, learn and improve.”
Diversity Inc
More bad news from Delta: Employees toss an Arabic speaker off a plane
YouTube celebrity Adam Saleh documented his removal from a Delta flight from London’s Heathrow to New York after other passengers heard him speaking Arabic on his phone and became uncomfortable. Saleh, who is known for prank videos, appeared genuinely upset. Saleh had said he was just speaking with his mother.
CBS News
A new thesis out of Harvard shows that young women aren’t leaning in, at least not in public
The title of the paper “Acting Wife,” made me laugh, then the abstract made me weep.“Even in the 21st century, men prefer female partners who are less professionally ambitious than they are,” it begins. Three researchers, Leonardo Bursztyn, Thomas Fujiwara, and Amanda Pallais conducted two field experiments in an MBA program and noticed that when students were queried on future job preferences, women were more likely to ask for less money and responsibility in careers when they knew others would be reading their responses. “Our results indicate that single women avoid actions that would help their careers because of marriage market concerns.”
Harvard
Formerly incarcerated undergrads start a campus group to support other one-time inmates
Turns out, the qualities that get you into prison aren’t always that different from the ones that get you into college. “I’ve always been somebody who went out and got what I wanted,” says a former inmate named Danny Murillo, who now attends the University of California, Berkeley. A chance encounter with another former inmate inspired the two men to create a group to help others like them succeed. They’re also working to help currently incarcerated men find a pathway to college. A must read.
New Yorker

The Woke Leader

An essay on slavery gone badly wrong, and a teacher’s lament
Michelle R. Smith, a writer and adjunct English professor, posted an excerpt of a painful essay written by a student trying to find the silver lining in the whole slavery thing. Sure it was damaging mentally and physically, “But in the end, slavery was actually a positive thing for the world because people learned to fight for who they are.” Smith, shaking her damn head the entire time, responds with a call for White History Month, in order to flip the education narrative from victimhood to perpetrator. “[M]aybe if we taught the history of slavery and Emancipation and Reconstruction and Jim Crow and the Civil Rights Movement in terms of what white people were doing during these periods rather than what black people were experiencing,” then kids would know what actually happened.
The Bluest i Blog
Field trip idea: A museum that tells the truth about slavery
It’s a former indigo, sugar and cotton operation, and it opened to the public after years of careful restoration in December 2014. But we don’t hear enough about Louisiana’s Whitney Plantation slavery museum, and that’s a shame. Slave cabins and other buildings have been carefully restored; a series of granite stones bears the names of the enslaved people who worked and died there. As a historical site, it’s a vast improvement over the more sanitized interpretations of slavery that seek to mask its appalling reality. “You have to go inside. When you walk in that space, you can’t deny what happened to these people. You can feel it, touch it, smell it,” said Governor Mitch Landrieu at the opening.
Smithsonian Magazine
Nostalgia isn’t for everyone
Buzzfeed’s Alison Willmore has written a smart analysis of the movies that celebrate a wistful look back to simpler, more romantic times and the people who get to enjoy them. She starts with La La Land, the latest musical hit from Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, but folds in others, like Hail Caesar! and Rules Don’t Apply, a comedy that takes place in the orbit of Howard Hughes. The all have relentlessly white casts, which are occasionally part of the point. But, it’s complicated. “[I]t is, after all, a privilege of whiteness to see yourself so easily in the stars of the studio golden age,” she writes. “It’s a privilege of whiteness to feel such an unabashed sense of ownership over a genre of music as fundamentally grounded in the black experience as jazz.”(Some spoilers ahead, click with caution.)
Buzzfeed

SPONSORED FINANCIAL CONTENT

You May Like

EDIT POST