As a founder of a global brand for over 25 years, Michael Stars (I founded it in 1986 year with my husband, Michael), it would be easy for me to only focus on opportunities that made me money or elevated my company's profile. But instead, I've chosen a dual career: one as a business leader, and one as a leader in philanthropy.
Many people ask me how I am able to balance both, and I want to make it clear that it is not only possible to do both, but that each enriches the other. There is so much I have learned in business from my philanthropic work, particularly with women and women's empowerment initiatives. Being a board member to various organizations has not only expanded my network of effective leaders, but it has allowed me to take a closer look at branding and marketing. Both of which are vital to non-profit organizations and businesses.
After traveling the world, I founded my first business at the age of 25 in 1977. Subsequently, I created Lerner Et Cie, a marketing and sales showroom in 1983. My husband and I co-founded Michael Stars, where I am now President and oversee the Michael Stars Foundation to carry out our true passion of giving. The Michael Stars Foundation is now ten years old and has embraced organizations like Women Thrive Worldwide, Joyful Heart Foundation, Children Mending Heart, and a host of organizations that focus on women's empowerment and global education.
Together, my husband and I have dedicated our success to building better opportunities for others.
So many businesses can benefit from creating charitable pieces to what they do. Not to mention, so many business leaders will find that their careers are improved by giving back. Here are a few things to make your business more attuned to benevolence, and what being philanthropic as a business leader can do for you.
Partner with other organizations.
This is the key to philanthropic success -- the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. When we have partnered with other philanthropies, we share audiences, share successes and end up being more fruitful with our campaigns.
Make philanthropy a quintessential part of company culture.
Philanthropy allows your employees to think outside of their circumstances and give back. Even more -- it allows your team to bond in a way that is invaluable. The Michael Stars team works together, but we also count some of our best successes to have come from outside of the company's walls.
Philanthropy makes you a better leader. For me, philanthropy allows me to create a better work environment. It involves something far greater than myself.
Leaders bring change.
More than monetary contributions, I have always felt that it is important to really become involved and participate also. In that way, I continue to apply both managerial and leadership strategies as a board member of Women Thrive Worldwide, ACLU Foundation of Southern California, Prosperity Catalyst and Children Mending Hearts. The leadership experience at both Lerner et Cie and Michael Stars, has become an integral part in my dual career as both a philanthropist and business woman.
Changing the world begins with you. If you are a leader in your company, guess how many people look to you for guidance. This is how we shape the future, leading by example.
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