In many regards, Rachel Beckwith was a typical kid. But not in all regards. What made Rachel extraordinary was that from as early as anyone could recall, she wanted to give to others. And in the end, she gave more than most ever do.
A Heart-Warming Story
Rachel Marie Beckwith was born on June 12, 2002 in Issaquah, Washington, a town of about 30,000 people that sits 23 miles east of Seattle. Rachel was as full of life as you’d expect a young girl to be—and then some. She liked spending time outside. She loved to dance, jump rope and ride her bike. Rachel had straight brown hair and big dark blue eyes.
Her father’s name was Jacob Beckwith. Her mother’s name was Samantha Paul.
Rachel showed unusual concern for others early in her life. “She always had such a strong sense of empathy for others—especially other children,” explained her mother, Samantha. She was compassionate beyond her years. She often seemed more concerned with what she could do for others than what others could do for her—which isn’t necessarily a trait you find in too many young children.
When she just 5 years old, she learned about an organization called Locks of Love, which takes hair donations from healthy people to produce the highest quality wigs for people with cancer and other diseases that have caused them to lose their hair. Rachel decided to have her hair cut and sent to Locks of Love. Then she grew out her hair and cut it to donate her locks again.
I just did something. And that made me realize something. And that made me want to write something.
First some background. As I type away at this moment, it is 12:57 EST on December 13th, and I am at my mother-in-law’s house on Cape Cod, where we’ll be hosting 13 kids to make gingerbread houses in 33 minutes (oops… 32 minutes). I’m decked out in my holiday hat, and my wife is naturally taking the reigns on the prep work. 20 minutes ago she instructed me to dash over to the grocery store to get some OJ for mimosas (hey, the adults get to have some fun too!).
OK, a bit of background—a local friend, Marc Jobin, has been running the Boston Marathon for a number of years, and every year, he uses the race to raise money for Children’s Hospital.
This year, my wife Justine—who is a fitness instructor—offered to put on a bootcamp with some of her instructor friends, with all proceeds going towards Marc’s fundraising efforts.
In a show of support, I did something I’ve never done—actually participate in one of my wife’s bootcamps. This was, of course, mildly terrifying for me on a number of levels. But I faced the fear, and I’m glad I did—not just because it was a hell of a workout, but because I spotted a few great business lessons during the course of this event.
Today, for no particular reason, I decided the world desperately needs another list of someone's favorite commercials of all time. So here you go world!
#5 P&G: Thank You Mom
As the saying goes, there's no arguing with motherhood and apple pie. But even setting aside the wholesomeness of extolling the virtues of motherhood, I love the way this commercial taps into all those little, mundane moments that are part of motherhood to create a special and moving piece.
Every now and again, you stumble into an epiphany that makes life a bit lighter, that tickles you when nobody else is there to see, that adds just a tiny bit more joy to your life. I just had one of those moments, when I learned that Darth Vader could be so damn funny.
One of the gutsier (crazier) things I’ve done recently is to take up hockey as a full-grown adult. Inspired by many mornings at the rink watching my son's practices, I decided that it’s never too late to try something that seems to be beckoning you (I like to refer to this as “the path of least regret.”)
The rush of hockey is hard to describe. It’s ridiculously fast. Adrenaline courses through you when you’re on the ice. The speed and intensity has your legs quivering after being out there for 90 seconds. It’s also an incredibly difficult sport—for the very obvious reason that you’re playing while skating. For newbies like me, when everything lines up just right, and you score a goal, the euphoria is awesome. After being ignorant about this sport for most of my life, I’m truly glad I’m out there playing on Monday nights.
Maybe it’s just me. But when I decide to see someone speak about great writing at a marketing conference session, and as she brings up the topic of practice, she advances her PowerPoint slide to reveal a photograph of Allen Iverson, I know I chose the right session.
Some experiences in your life simply don’t last long enough. For me, working for Jeff Ramminger was one of those experiences.
I’ve had some good managers in my day, and I hope to have many more. I doubt I’ll ever have one better than Jeff.
For a bit of background, Jeff was the SVP of Media Products at TechTarget, and he was my manager for most of my brief stint at that comany. And my time there was truly too short – less than a full year. I was heartbroken about exiting Jeff’s constellation but had one of those rare opportunities in life that truly was too good to refuse.
I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on what made Jeff such a phenomenal person to work for. I’d like to think that one day, I can be the kind of manager that someone wishes his or her time with was too short when that person decides to abandon me to chase that offer that’s too good to refuse.
And hell, if I’m going to take the time to give it real thought, I might as well write it down. And if I’m going to write it down, I might as well share it for the betterment of the millions of my avid and adoring blog followers who are continually waiting on the edge of their seats for my once-every-eight-to-fifteen-months blog entries!
So here it is… 10 lessons you and I can take from the Jeff Ramminger school of management that will make us great people to work for.
I have some pent-up thoughts on the dynamics at work in the “group buying” space. Having cofounded a company called KangoGift (not a group-buying service, rather a service that allows people to send real gifts instantly by text message), I’ve had a lot of interactions with retailers who have been approached by and have used group-buying sites. I’ve also bumped into investors who have tried to prod KangoGift towards more of a group-buying/discounting model. I’ve given group buying plenty of thought, and it’s time for a brain dump…
Do a bit of poking around online, and you can find out that the weight loss industry is anywhere from a $35 billion to $70 billion dollar a year industry, depending on whom you believe. The late-night infomercials, the Jenny Craig pre-made dinners, the diet supplement stores. Weight loss is an unmistakable national obsession.
Ironically, on the whole, we’re only getting bigger and fatter.
But I’ve got a pretty inspirational story about weight loss. And here’s the beauty of my story: I don’t want you to subscribe to my program, join my gym or buy anything with a money-back guarantee that you’ll lose 20 pounds. Honestly, I don’t really care all that much whether you lose weight. I just think it’s worth telling the story of my father’s weight loss, because I know there are lots of folks out there who aspire to lose a lot of weight.