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Otter Box’s CEO: One of Our Employees Got More Applause Than Peyton Manning... Literally!

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
August 1, 2023 3:02 am

Otter Box’s CEO: One of Our Employees Got More Applause Than Peyton Manning... Literally!

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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August 1, 2023 3:02 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, this isn't a not a knock on Peyton. It’s a testament to ethics being lived out heroically at this great American company. 

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For each person living with myasthenia gravis, or MG, their journey with this rare condition is unique. That's why Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis, a new podcast from iHeartRadio in partnership with Argenics, is exploring the extraordinary challenges and personal triumphs of underserved communities living with MG. Host Martine Hackett will share these powerful perspectives from real people with MG so their experiences can help inspire the MG community and educate others about this rare condition.

Listen to find strength in community on the MG journey on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. Sponsored at Red Rocks means dancing with a view. When you're planning your girls trip, come to the intersection of life and however you like living it. Denver, always welcome.

Plan your getaway at visitdenver.com slash summer. Sponsored by Visit Denver. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories, and we tell stories about everything here on this show. From the arts to sports, and from business to history, and everything in between, including your stories, send them to ouramericanstories.com. They're some of our favorites. And now it's time for our Do the Right Thing series about ethical dilemmas that's sponsored by the great folks at the Daniels Fund.

And today's story is from a guy named Jim Park. I come from a family of the ninth of 10 children. Prior to my generation, nobody had gone to college. And, you know, I read a book in fifth grade about the law and decided that I wanted to be a lawyer. I'd never met a lawyer and thought that maybe that would be a good thing to do in my career.

And I had really supportive parents that never discouraged me or said, well, you know, that's kind of unrealistic. But while I was in law school, I was clerking for a big international law firm and things were going really well. And I received an offer to be an associate attorney and work in the litigation area, which is what I had always wanted to do since I'd been in fifth grade. And I had this kind of moment of clarity because I was about to graduate from law school. I'm married. I've got two kids. And I look around and realize all the attorneys that I would be practicing with have kind of broken lives. And that's not me trying to be judgmental. That's many of them are on their second or third marriage.

They had significant challenges in terms of their relationships with their kids. And I had to ask myself, is that really what I want? Is that the life that I'm aiming for? The life of a litigator is brutal. And I have so much respect for people that can do that and hold everything together.

But you've got to have a fierce competitive side to do that. And it's a very contentious lifestyle. And the hours are it's feast or famine. You either have no work or else you're busy and around the clock. It doesn't lead to a predictable life where you can be there at the times that your family really needs you to be. You know, when I sat down to talk with my wife about it, I realized that there were some things that for me were more important than doing exactly what I wanted for my career. There was an opportunity for me to maybe do something that I was slightly less passionate about so that I could spend more time and put more energy into the people that I truly loved.

So for that reason, after law school, I decided not to go immediately into the workforce, but to go and get a postgraduate degree and focus in tax law. You know, one of the hallmarks, I think, of real sacrifice is that a sacrifice should get you more in the long run. It's giving something up to get something better. And it requires a little bit of patience and setting some things aside. But I think this is a really great example of that, setting something aside that I wanted in that moment for something that I wanted a whole lot more over a longer period of time. I could have been very happy as a litigator, but at the same time, I couldn't have been very happy without my family. You know, I've learned that happiness comes more from who you're with than what you're doing.

I think that's an important lesson in life. So I was practicing law in Denver and I was referred to a client up in Fort Collins, which is about an hour north. And so I started working with a wonderful couple, Kurt and Nancy Richardson, who are the founders of OtterBox. And after representing them through my law firm for a couple of years, at one point, Kurt pulled me aside after a board meeting and asked me if I would be willing to leave my law practice and come and just be the attorney for their family of companies and found that I really, really enjoyed it. You know, four out of every 10 phone cases that are sold in the country have our label on them.

That's a that's a pretty cool thing because there's a lot of people here in the US and we even have higher market share in some countries throughout the world. And about a year into that, we were having another board meeting. Kurt Richardson walked into the room and I could just tell he was kind of beat.

And he said, I'm tired. I want to retire. And I thought, oh, my goodness, I left my legal practice to come and work for this guy. And now a year into it, he's going to retire.

And I don't even know who I'm going to be working for. They said, well, you know, we should probably get started on finding who that next person is going to be. Do you have any thoughts? And he looked at me from across the table and it was a fairly long table. And I got this weird feeling and he he kind of smiled and he said, I think I'm looking at him. And my like in that moment, my heart sunk because that's not something that they teach you in law school as his attorney. I have an obligation to tell him the truth. And I had to say, Kurt, as your attorney, I've got to advise you.

That's a really, really bad idea. And he laughed a little bit. And he he said, you know, I've thought about it, but I think that's what I want to do. And he knows that I'm a person of faith. And so he said, why don't you go home and talk to your wife about it and pray about it?

And then we'll talk about it on Monday when we have more time. And I said, OK, but I really think this is a bad idea. Immediately pulled out my phone and called my wife and said, Megan, I think Kurt's having a stroke. He just asked me to be the CEO. She said, yeah, that'll never work.

That that's just not who you are. And I'd been on the phone with her for less than a minute. When I got another call and I looked down and it was Kurt, I just left the room with him. So I flipped over and he said, hey, I just talked to Nancy.

She loves the idea. We're going to announce it later. Congratulations. I got to go. And he hung up.

And so I flipped back over the call with my wife and I said, well, we were going to talk about it tonight, but I think the decision just got made. I'm the new CEO and I have no idea what to do. So I think I'm the world's first involuntary CEO. Not anything that I had ever aspired to be, but I've often wondered why he would have chosen an attorney and a young attorney.

I mean, I was 31 years old. And here he's got this family of companies that are worth lots and lots and lots of money. And he's willing to put it all in the hands of somebody that has literally no business experience.

You know, when I've asked him about it, his response was, I trust you. I've tried to live true to that, be humble enough to admit when I need help and when I need to bring in experts on things that I don't know, but also to put in the time and effort to really figure out how to do this and to be guided by not just what works best in the situation, but principles, principles that guide behavior and keep people out of trouble. And you're listening to Jim Park tell his story and what a story it is, folks. And he talks about principles right there and trust and trust in the end without it.

I don't know what other principles even matter when we come back. More of Jim Park's story, part of our Do the Right Thing series brought to us by the great folks at the Daniels Fund here on Our American Story. Folks, if you love the great American stories we tell and love America like we do, we're asking you to become a part of the Our American Stories family. If you agree that America is a good and great country, please make a donation. A monthly gift of seventeen dollars and seventy six cents is fast becoming a favorite option for supporters. Go to Our American Stories dot com now and go to the donate button and help us keep the great American stories coming.

That's Our American Stories dot com. For each person living with myasthenia gravis or MG, their journey with this rare neuromuscular condition is unique. That's why Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis, a new podcast from I Heart Radio in partnership with Argenics, is exploring the extraordinary challenges and personal triumphs of underserved communities living with MG. Host Martine Hackett will share powerful perspectives from people living with the debilitating muscle weakness and fatigue caused by this rare disorder. Each episode will uncover the reality of life with myasthenia gravis from early signs and symptoms to obtaining an accurate diagnosis and finding care. Every person with MG has a story to tell. And by featuring these real life experiences, this podcast hopes to inspire the MG community, educate others about this rare condition and let those living with it know that they are not alone.

Listen to Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis on the I Heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. In Denver, a girl's getaway to the city comes with a side of Rocky Mountains. Shopping in Cherry Creek turns into delicious Larimer Square eats. Sunny days in Wash Park lead to sizzling nights in River North and a concert at Red Rocks means dancing with a view. When you're planning your girl's trip, come to the intersection of life and however you like living it. Denver always welcome. Plan your getaway at visitdenver.com slash summer sponsored by Visit Denver. Experience the power and design of the all new, all electric 2023 Nissan Ariya.

This is the total package. Premium finishes, a lush interior, unrivaled tech and unbelievable torque, all powered by an electric heart. Nissan has been pushing the boundaries of what's possible for 90 years. Loaded with new electric and semi autonomous technologies, the Ariya is Nissan's most powerful EV ever. When you're ready to unlock the thrill of driving, do it in luxury. Do it in the all new, all electric Nissan Ariya and see for yourself why the Ariya is the EV for people who love to drive. Visit NissanUSA.com to learn more about the all new 2023 Nissan Ariya. Available features, limited availability.

Contact your dealer for local inventory information. And we continue with our American stories and with Jim Park's story for our Do the Right Thing series. And by the way, and let's return to Jim on the ethical dilemmas that he and his colleagues faced now that he was CEO of two international companies. Now we work with factories all over the world and we don't do our own manufacturing. We have contract manufacturing partners and that puts a burden on us that we've got to make sure that we are doing everything that we can to ensure that they are living by our same ethical values and standards. And every once in a while, we're surprised when they fail to live up to that. And we got reports that one of our factories had some allegations of child labor.

Well, that's not something that we're going to mess around with. And so we immediately pulled away from that factory and said, we're not going to work with them any longer. Well, they decided to send a delegation of people here to Fort Collins, Colorado, to convince us that they had changed their ways and that everything was going to be great going forward. And with it, they brought gifts for people and it was just a small box of cookies. And we have a corporate policy that people can accept gifts, but something that's de minimis in value like a box of cookies is an exception to that. Well, the head of our supply chain got home and when he opened his box, he saw that not only were there these cookies that he was excited to share with his kids, there was $10,000 in crisp, uncirculated bills.

Now, that's a challenging situation for somebody. I mean, you think you've got a mortgage, you've got student loan payments, you've got college to pay for for your kids, and that money is not going to be reported by anybody. You don't have to report it. The people that are trying to bribe you are never going to report it.

It's money that you can put in the bank. And it seems like the perfect crime. All it's ever going to cost you is your integrity. And, you know, I wonder how many people get caught in that type of a situation where for something that seems to be a big deal in that moment ends up being the thing where they choose to sell out. You know, the reason I love to tell this story is because this employee did the right thing.

He called up our legal department and he said, I don't know what to do here. Like, I opened this box. There's all this money in it. I'm scared to death.

I didn't even eat the cookies. What do you want me to do with it? And we were able to get that money and return it. And it's actually a lot harder to return a bribe than you might think.

Our financial system and our banking system isn't set up to really facilitate that type of a transaction. So filling out the IRS disclosure forms on that was a little bit interesting because we had to disclose that we were returning money from a failed bribe, which I'm sure raises some alarm bells in the government somewhere. But it's so gratifying to see employees that do the right thing. And when I heard this story, I thought, we've got to use this as a teaching experience for our employees.

The next company meeting that we had, we had this employee come up on stage and I was able to tell this story. And then we pulled out a check and we gave this guy a check for what after taxes would amount to ten thousand and one dollars to share the example and the story that it will always pay more over the long run to do the right thing. And I think that that message, you know, it's a costly lesson. I mean, that's ten thousand bucks. But at the end of the day, that's the best ten thousand bucks we ever spent.

I would do it again in a heartbeat. The other fun thing is we had introduced a new celebrity spokesperson at that meeting. It was Peyton Manning. You know, Peyton Manning gets a lot of applause, and that's pretty exciting for employees when Peyton Manning walks out on stage.

But do you know who got the bigger round of applause? It was the employee who got the check for doing the right thing. And I think if we really look at it, the heroes in our society, the heroes in our lives are not the people that throw touchdowns in Super Bowls.

They're the people that live the values that we all hope to stand by. And, you know, that's my goal is to try and live at a level where I can be one of those people, to raise kids that can be those people, to lead a company where, you know, we have a company full of people that make the right decision, that can look in the mirror and be proud of what they see. You know, the other thing about it is, if you look at it from the perspective of that employee, he sacrificed the chance to get some money in the short term. But by doing that, he gained something far more valuable over the long term. I mean, now that the company knows his character, what can't we trust him with and how many, you know, I don't even know how many times he's been promoted since then and how his career's advanced. He actually has moved on to a different company, but his career has progressed in a really phenomenal way. And it's been done in a way that is completely regret-free.

You know, that's the goal of success in life, to accomplish your dreams and not have anything to look back and regret at the end of the day. We were negotiating a contract and, you know, one of my good friends is now our chief legal officer. But we were negotiating a contract to buy a company. And as we were working through this deal, we noticed that the attorneys on the other side had made a mistake. And the mistake was going to make it so that we didn't have to pay about a million dollars of what we had agreed, in kind of a handshake on the front end, that we would pay for this company.

And it's typical that people make mistakes when you're putting a deal like that together, and that's why you trade drafts of documents back and forth. And so we kindly pointed out, hey, you made a mistake here, you might want to fix it. And they declined and said, we don't want to make that change. You know, we don't want our client to know that we made that mistake.

There literally would have been no consequences for them saying, yeah, it was a scrivener's error, we changed it, everything's good now. But they were so afraid to make a mistake that they were willing to let the contract just be signed with this million dollar mistake in it. So we had to go back to them and say, hey, look, we really need you to change this. And they said, no, we're not going to make that change. So I had to call up the person that ran and owned the company on the other side and say, look, here's the problem, we're not going to go through and sign this deal with contracts the way that they are right here. Your attorneys are not representing you well, but I'm not going to put my name on anything that looks like I'm trying to do anything unethical, that I'm trying to take something from you. And I realized that that's a million dollars that would go into our bank account, but that's not how we do business here.

You know, it's a funny thing, they got on the phone with their attorneys and pretty soon the documents got changed. But, you know, I tell that story to illustrate that even doing the right thing sometimes gets met with negative reactions. And it's because people are often more concerned about not getting in trouble than they are about doing the right thing. If being ethical and doing the right thing were always the easiest thing, we wouldn't have to talk about this, everybody would do it. If it was always the most immediately profitable thing, we wouldn't have to teach classes on ethics.

It would just be a natural incentive that existed and everybody would do it all the time. It's always more nuanced than that. And so we've got to figure out what are the situations where people are going to get trapped. They're going to get trapped when there's an opportunity for them to compromise in a way that they don't think anybody else knows about it. Where they can make more money or they can accomplish some goal and all it takes is them lowering their standards a bit. The result is always regret. And that's what you want to live without. You know, one of the other lessons I've learned in my career is you've got to hire people that have at least as high of a level of ethics as you do.

If you surround yourself with people that make bad decisions and are willing to make compromises, eventually like weight around your ankles in a swimming pool, it's going to pull you down. And so I knew this guy well, but I wanted to test him a little bit. And I said, OK, so they've given us the draft of this agreement. You know, we could make a lot of money here.

My million dollars is nothing to gloss over. What should we do? And his immediate reaction is, well, we've got to tell them that they made this mistake. And I thought, that's awesome. I've got the right person here. And then when they refused to change it and I asked him, well, what do you think we do here? His reaction was, well, I think we've got to walk away from the deal.

We can't we can't do this. And, you know, it's a lot easier to do the right thing when you surround yourself with people that are going to support you in that. Peer pressure is a real thing, not just on the playground in fourth grade, but as an adult and in business as well. And so many people make bad decisions because they've surrounded themselves with bad influences. To the extent that people are in control, they need to surround themselves with people that are going to elevate them, that are going to hold them to a higher standard, people that you don't want to disappoint because of an ethical lapse. And, you know, at the beginning of your career, that's really tough because you don't get to choose who you surround yourself with.

But the further you progress, the more control you have in those sorts of situations. More of this remarkable story, Jim Park's story, our Do the Right Thing series, sponsored by the Daniels Fund, here on Our American Story. For each person living with myasthenia gravis or MG, their journey with this rare neuromuscular condition is unique. That's why Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis, a new podcast from iHeartRadio in partnership with Argenics, is exploring the extraordinary challenges and personal triumphs of underserved communities living with MG. Host Martine Hackett will share powerful perspectives from people living with the debilitating muscle weakness and fatigue caused by this rare disorder. Each episode will uncover the reality of life with myasthenia gravis, from early signs and symptoms to obtaining an accurate diagnosis and finding care. Every person with MG has a story to tell. And by featuring these real-life experiences, this podcast hopes to inspire the MG community, educate others about this rare condition, and let those living with it know that they are not alone.

Listen to Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis on the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts. In Denver, a girl's getaway to the city comes with a side of Rocky Mountains. Shopping in Cherry Creek turns into delicious Larimer Square eats. Sunny days in Wash Park lead to sizzling nights in River North. And a concert at Red Rocks means dancing with a view. When you're planning your girl's trip, come to the intersection of life and however you like living it. Denver always welcome. Plan your getaway at visitdenver.com slash summer. Sponsored by Visit Denver. Experience the power and design of the all-new, all-electric 2023 Nissan Ariya.

This is the total package. Premium finishes, a lush interior, unrivaled tech, and unbelievable torque, all powered by an electric heart. Nissan has been pushing the boundaries of what's possible for 90 years. Loaded with new electric and semi-autonomous technologies, the Ariya is Nissan's most powerful EV ever. When you're ready to unlock the thrill of driving, do it in luxury. Do it in the all-new, all-electric Nissan Ariya, and see for yourself why the Ariya is the EV for people who love to drive. Visit NissanUSA.com to learn more about the all-new 2023 Nissan Ariya. Available features, limited availability.

Contact your dealer for local inventory information. And we continue with our American stories and with Jim Park's story for our Do the Right Thing series sponsored by the great folks at the Daniels Fund. Jim is the CEO of two international companies whose brands include Otterbox and Life Proof. Let's return to Jim on the ethical dilemmas that he and his colleagues have faced.

I have a lot of sensitive information in my office, so very few people have access to come into my office. I showed up at work early one morning, and there was a gentleman from our facilities team that maintains our buildings sitting outside of my office, and he was just beside himself. And I knew this guy kind of a little bit, but we'd never had any substantial conversations before, but I asked him if everything was okay, and he said, hey, can we talk for a minute? I said, sure, and I invited him into my office, and he said, I've got to tell you something. I did something really bad.

I'm thinking, oh my goodness, what's happened here? And he said, I was sent in to change some things with the windows in your office, and I was given access to your office last night. And he said, I came in, and as I was in here, I noticed on your desk there was some papers. And sure enough, on my desk there were some papers that I had not put away the day before, and they contained some salary data for people in the company. And he said, I knew that I shouldn't have, but I looked at the papers. The papers, I don't think, were actually moved. He just looked down at the papers. And he said, I saw information that I shouldn't have seen, and I went home last night, and I just can't forgive myself for what I did.

And I need to come and tell you, and I understand that you're going to need to let me go, but I would rather do the right thing than keep my job. I've never been more proud of anybody in business, I think, in my life. There was no consequences to what he did. I mean, he could have never told anybody, but this person had lived his life in a way that his integrity was worth so much more than his job or anything else. That he had to be square, he had to be right in order for him to feel good about himself. And I think a thousand people that that would have happened to, you would have had almost everybody say, well, no harm, no foul.

I saw something, I just won't tell anybody about it, and then it's not a problem. For him, it was more about he had violated his own standards rather than standards imposed by the company. Now, if he had seen the information and he'd gone out and talked about it with other people, yeah, that would have been a real problem. But he had set his personal standards so much higher that he wanted to do what was right by him, not just what was legal or what was in compliance with the policy. And that's a rare thing. It's a rare thing to have somebody whose integrity is their highest priority. And that's, I think, the foundation of principle-based ethics like the Daniels Fund teaches. It's having something that you're trying to live up to regardless of what the rest of the world says, regardless of what you think is best in that situation. You're more committed to principles than you are to success in any specific situation. He's a person that I now know that I can trust with anything. You know, once you realize that you can absolutely trust somebody, they're top of mind. And whenever opportunities come up, you're looking for ways to make their career better.

You're looking for ways to help them. And this individual was in an entry-level position and, you know, he's had several promotions since then. He's making multiple times what he was making at the time.

He's literally working in his dream job. You know, none of that would have happened had he taken the easy path in that instance. There's been leadership development that's happened. There's been, he's in an R&D role now that gives him the opportunity to use all of his skill sets.

And, you know, I don't think his life would be anything like what it is now had he chosen the easy path there. Music So this is a story that I tell and it's not one that I would necessarily call bribery, but it's what I would use as an example of a conflict of interest. So there was a very large accounting firm that we were not getting the level of service that we had hoped for. And it came to a point where we were looking at moving our business elsewhere. And I got a call from one of the partners that we had worked with saying, hey, I really appreciate your business. We'd like to send you and your wife to Rio de Janeiro to the Olympics and we'll pay for everything.

It'll be just a great trip for you guys to go and be there and have this experience. And we just want to thank you for being a great client. Well, the reality is what was going on there is they were trying to get me to put my personal interests above those of the company. If I get some benefit out of it, then I can accept a lesser deal on behalf of my company. I don't own the company.

I'm an employee of the company. And what that means is I have a fiduciary obligation to do what's best for the company in every instance, not what's best for me or what gives me the most benefit. I think so often in business, people get trapped in that kind of a situation where you get offered tickets to something that seems really innocuous and then all of a sudden they're asking for favors on the other side. I mean, the saying is there's no such thing as a free lunch. You know, very rarely, unless it's your grandma that's serving you lunch, there's probably some expectation of something on the back end.

And you've got to be really careful about that, not just in what you accept, but what you offer. I've got five kids and each of those kids looks at me like I am the greatest person in the world. They are proud of their dad and I have to ask myself, am I afraid of them finding out something during my life or after I pass that would destroy that conception of who I am? I have to live my life in a way that they can truly be proud of me and that if there are any surprises, it only increases their esteem for me. And more than that, I need to be able to look in the mirror and say, am I happy with what I see?

And that doesn't have anything to do with male pattern baldness. It has everything to do with the idea of, am I proud of what I'm seeing in my reflection? Are there compromises that I've made along the way that I am ashamed of that I can't go back and redo? And, you know, everybody makes mistakes, but some mistakes are a lot more complicated and a lot more costly than others.

Have I sent an email that maybe I shouldn't have sent that was harsher than it maybe should have been? Absolutely. I've not done it intentionally, but everybody makes mistakes of judgment. But have I ever done anything that would have been dishonest, that would have treated somebody abusively?

No. No, because I have to hold some lines really sacred. You know, my highest obligation isn't to the law. It's not to a board of directors. It's to, you know, a God. It's to somebody that I believe and know exists. And so there's a set of standards that I have ascribed to because of my religious beliefs.

And, you know, I've made promises to him that I'm going to live those standards. And so my first filter in any situation is not am I going to go to jail for doing this? It's not what is the board of directors going to say? It's how does this align to some of those baseline fundamental principles that are taught in the New Testament? Is this something that somebody else would look at me and say, wow, this person's a hypocrite? And what I found is that if I live to the higher standard, I never really have to worry about whether I'm going to go to jail for doing something. I never really have to worry about whether I'm going to violate some corporate ethics code. Those things become ancillary and to some extent much less important because I'm already living to a higher standard than what those things would require of me. But if people don't have that same religious background, that's OK because they can focus on living to the corporate standards or the legal standards and that'll keep them out of trouble.

I've just found for me it's a lot easier if I focus on being the best that I can be and fulfilling those promises that I've made to the higher source of accountability. And you've been listening to Jim Park and what would seem like little ethical dilemmas, right? A free trip from a great client.

What's the harm? Well, there's a harm if you're about to fire the client and you know what the client's doing, giving you a free trip right around that time. And so it was an easy decision for him, not a hard one, because of the principles he lives by. And we're doing our Do the Right Thing series brought to us by the great folks at the Daniels Fund and their ethics initiative.

Well, they dig into the core principles of life, accountability, respect, transparency, integrity and fairness and viability. When we come back, more with Jim Park's story here on Our American Stories. For each person living with myasthenia gravis or MG, their journey with this rare neuromuscular condition is unique. That's why Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis, a new podcast from I Heart Radio in partnership with Argenics, is exploring the extraordinary challenges and personal triumphs of underserved communities living with MG. Host Martine Hackett will share powerful perspectives from people living with the debilitating muscle weakness and fatigue caused by this rare disorder. Each episode will uncover the reality of life with myasthenia gravis from early signs and symptoms to obtaining an accurate diagnosis and finding care. Every person with MG has a story to tell. And by featuring these real life experiences, this podcast hopes to inspire the MG community, educate others about this rare condition and let those living with it know that they are not alone.

Listen to Untold Stories Life with myasthenia gravis on the I Heart Radio app, Apple podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts. In Denver, a girl's getaway to the city comes with a side of Rocky Mountains. Shopping in Cherry Creek turns into delicious Larimer Square eats. Sunny days in Wash Park lead to sizzling nights in River North. And a concert at Red Rocks means dancing with a view. When you're planning your girl's trip, come to the intersection of life and however you like living it. Denver, always welcome. Plan your getaway at visitdenver.com slash summer. Sponsored by Visit Denver. Experience the power and design of the all new, all electric 2023 Nissan Ariya.

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Contact your dealer for local inventory information. And we continue with our American stories and with a final portion of this remarkable story for our Do the Right Thing series about a great American company called Otter Products, whose brands include Otter Box and Life Proof. Let's return to their CEO, Jim Park, and his story about their founder, Curt Richardson. Our mission statement is we grow to give. And for us, what that means is we want to grow and we want to grow in terms of profit and we want to grow in terms of revenue and we want our employees to grow. But there's a reason that we want to grow, and that's to give back. Giving back is one of our core values.

And so we put this into action in the way that we not only structure our business and give time off for volunteering to our employees, but also we put our money where our mouths are. So I think in fall of 2017, there was a series of hurricanes that swept through the Caribbean and just absolutely decimated the entire area. And, you know, at first Puerto Rico wasn't hit. And then shortly after that, in the second wave of hurricanes, Puerto Rico was hit.

But we have an island that we have quite a few employees on, Tortola in the British Virgin Islands. And when the first storm came through, it just, I mean, it ravaged that island and every single one of our employees ended up without a home. And that island was in a really tough spot. And it was several days before we could communicate with them.

And when we were finally able to, one of them was able to get a satellite phone and call us, we found out just how dire the situation was. I mean, basically they had their entire power grid was wiped out. All of the government offices were just completely destroyed. The government was still there, but it wasn't able to function the way that it needed to. And there were no supplies, no fresh water, very limited food for the entire island.

And we're talking between 20 and 30,000 people on this island, depending on the time of the year. And because so many different areas and islands had been hit, all the international relief was going to these other areas, including Texas had been hit by the same series of storms. And so there was a lot of focus from the U.S. on helping people in Texas, not necessarily these small islands in the Caribbean. And so we realized that we had a responsibility to make a difference here.

And so the first thing we did is we said, what's the quickest way to get supplies? Well, we had quite a few boats for one of our businesses down there, and all of the boats had been destroyed in the storm, except for one, which happened to be the biggest of those boats. And we said, okay, let's send them over to Puerto Rico to get supplies.

And at that point, Puerto Rico hadn't yet been hit by the second round of storms. And so we called anybody that we could, and we didn't have any real contacts in Puerto Rico. We don't do a ton of business there. But I'm a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and there's quite an organization that goes along with that church. Everywhere in the world, there's a very standardized organization, and if you need to know who to talk to, there's that person in each area. And so we called up an individual that was the stake president who presides over that area, and we said, look, here's the situation. These are people that are not members of your faith, but they are suffering and they are in need, and we need help. We've got a boat that we can transport supplies on, but we need help getting the supplies. If we send you money, will you arrange for your members to go and buy supplies and help us load them on the boat? And he agreed to do that. So we started buying as many supplies as we could and loading them on this boat and shuttling them over to Tortola. And Kurt Richardson himself found a way down to Tortola, and he was personally involved in handing out all of these supplies. And it was just a heroic effort on his part to be there on the ground. You know, that's not something that you have to do when you are a self-made person that has more money than, you know, any other hundred people.

He could have been very comfortable in retirement, but he felt an obligation to go and help. So while he's there giving out supplies, we're doing everything we can to buy supplies in Puerto Rico and get them loaded on boats and shuttled over there. Well, because of kind of this disorganization of this amateur supply chain that's going in Puerto Rico, they end up buying a lot more than we can ship over.

And so they start storing them at the local meeting house. And we did this for a few days, and then the second wave of storm comes through and it hits Puerto Rico. And it was every bit as bad in Puerto Rico as it had been in Tortola. And after a couple of days of this storm passing and people were starting to dig out, this individual that we had been working with, the stake president in Puerto Rico, a man named President Rosas, he was going around visiting members of the congregation and realizing how truly desperate things were. And as he was going through this situation, he had this moment of despair in the cab of his truck. He prayed and he said, God, how can I help these people?

I don't have any way to help these people. And the thought occurred to him, I've already provided the way for you to help these people. All the supplies that you stored at the church that you were sending to Tortola are the supplies that you can use to help the people here. And he called us up and we said, absolutely, use the supplies to help the people. And it turned out to be a huge benefit to them, not just to the people in Tortola.

We then had to figure out a new supply chain to get down to Tortola to continue helping those people there, because for a period of several weeks, we were the only relief that was being provided to that entire island. And, you know, I think in ways that they may not truly understand, Kurt Richardson made more of a difference in that country's history than perhaps many other people have been able to, simply because he was there for them in their hour of greatest need. He fed them when nobody else was there willing to do that.

When their government didn't have the resources to be able to make that difference, he personally, because of the way he lives his life and he ran business and made money, he was able to do that. And I'm giving a lot of credit to him, but the reality is his wife Nancy was here in Fort Collins making all the arrangements, and she was the one running the coordination and the logistics of everything so that he could distribute the supplies on the ground there. One of the other things that Nancy Richardson did is she arranged, because there were several pregnant women on this island down there, I mean quite a few, and she arranged for them to be transported off the island and brought here to Fort Collins, Colorado. And then arranged for free medical care for them so that they didn't end up having their baby in basically a war zone that had just been decimated by a series of hurricanes.

There were no functional or operational hospitals there, and how terrifying would that be to have a baby in that type of circumstances? She was willing to think of even those types of details and how we can make a difference in people's lives. I mean, just phenomenal examples of what it means to do the right thing for the right reasons. You know, sometimes wealthy people get the idea that their contribution to society is writing a check, and that's great. I mean, and I don't want to diminish the value of that because that money does a lot of good things. But in a lot of cases, what helped them make that money is actually their greater contribution. So in that story with Curt and Nancy Richardson, the things that put them in a position to make all that money, the skills that enabled that to happen are the things that really made the biggest difference in that situation. It was the resourcefulness, it was the thoughtfulness, it was the compassion and the caring and the organizational skills, and just the willingness to find a way to make something happen when everything else seemed to be impossible. If they had just written a check, things would be very, very different on that island right now.

And there's a lot of people that simply wouldn't be there anymore. They are a fabulous team and they are an example of exactly what capitalism should be. Really good people living by solid principles that make a difference in the world, not just because they have money, but because of how they choose to use money to bless other people's lives. You know, here's the other thing that's so impressive is Curt and Nancy Richardson didn't ask for credit for anything that they did. There was no donor agreement saying you have to name this after us if we do this. It wasn't about what they got out of it. It was simply doing the right thing. And I think so often that's what we miss is we look at, I'll do the right thing if I'm sure I'm going to get something out of it. That's not what builds character. Character is built when you do the right thing because it's the right thing. And I would characterize that as very kind of biblical giving, giving in a way that your right hand doesn't know what your left hand is doing. There is power in anonymous giving. There's power not in having something named after you, but having the sense that you are a legitimately real person and that you're not in it for other people's acclaim or to have other people pat you on the back. You're in it because you want to live up to a set of standards that make you who you are. And the confidence that you get out of those type of circumstances is just unreal.

It really is. And you've been listening to Jim Park and he's the CEO of two international companies whose brands include OtterBox and Lifeproof. And by the way, all of the storytelling, well at least so much of it, had to do with ethical dilemmas. And that's what we do here in our Do the Right Thing series, is show you how life can be lived out by example.

Here are the principles, but here are some examples. And that's really important because that's how we learn in the end, by story. Our Do the Right Thing series about ethical dilemmas is sponsored by the great folks at the Daniels Fund.

Danielsfund.org. Our Do the Right Thing series. Jim Park's story here on Our American Story. In Denver, a girl's getaway to the city comes with a side of Rocky Mountains. Shopping in Cherry Creek turns into delicious Larimer Square eats. Sunny days in Wash Park lead to sizzling nights in River North. And a concert at Red Rocks means dancing with a view. If you're planning your girl's trip, come to the intersection of life and however you like living it. Denver. Always welcome.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-08-01 04:31:04 / 2023-08-01 04:50:08 / 19

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