Leadership: The Power of Being Human and Inspiring

By Mark Vivien, Chairman of the Board, Blind Institute of Technology

At Softchoice’s Annual Sales Kick Off a few weeks ago, there were the usual conversations and trainings around strategy, new offerings, team alignment, and of course the celebration of our 2019 successes.

What we did not expect was the company focus on “the power of being human and inspiring.” In the keynote delivered by DearWorld.org, they shared amazing, real-life examples of the impact that is possible when we live and experience life, lead, and interact with others from a human and inspiring core.

What If

This had me think about the February 8th Dining in the Dark fundraising gala, that I am part of hosting, for the Blind Institute of Technology (BIT). We hope to raise as much money as possible to fulfill our mission of reducing the unemployment epidemic for people with disabilities by preparing them, and the employers who hire them, for success in the workplace. However, the long-term fulfillment of our mission is not ultimately dependent on organizations and individuals making a financial contribution from time to time.

The success of the gala and every activity we do on a day-to-day basis is ultimately measured by our ability to influence others to:

  • Help others to understand the human story behind why BIT exists, how the employment epidemic impacts our candidates at the most basic of levels, and what makes our candidates uniquely qualified.
  • Take the time to truly understand everyone’s story – how it drives, motivates, and influences us – how it drives why we show up every day – as a friend, sister, brother, parent, salesperson, engineer, coworker.
  • Create a world where we develop relationships, make judgements and decisions based off of being genuinely human and inspiring

Can you imagine the impact the gala will have for BIT, our attendees, and the lives everyone touches if the gala drives us to live and experience life based on this core?

I surmise that the unemployment epidemic for those with disabilities stems from the lack of knowledge on how to:

  • Understand why accessibility is a reasonable accommodation and sometimes an inexpensive solution.
  • Understand that many job application portals and recruiting tools are not accessible to all job seekers.
  • Understand that people with different abilities come to the interview with unique strengths, many of them invisible at first, that can benefit your team and your company.
  • Understand how those labeled as “disabled” can truly solve many of the problems hiring managers face, such as low unemployment rates and frustrating high turnover.

Personal Introspection

Am I coming from a human and inspiring core as a technology and services salesperson or am I just focused on the next sale?

I am most successful and fulfilled when I take the time to understand the real story behind my customer’s business priorities, the impact on their customers, and the impact on the specific team I am working with. It is amazing how much technology can unleash the potential of people when you understand the real, full story.

One of my customers and his wife adopted three children from China with disabilities. The youngest is blind. Thanks to understanding his story, I connected with him as a father, not just a customer. Thanks to BIT, I  introduced him to our Executive Director where, with his wife, they were able to talk about the challenges of raising a blind child and how to help make sure she was prepared to succeed because of her disability instead of in spite of her disability. Talk about a truly beautiful and inspiring moment. That experience gave me a new sense of worth, and I hope to continuously serve others similarly.

Call to Action

So, my call to action is simple.

For the next 90 days, take the time to live life, aim to become more human and inspiring. And share with me how you were able to positively impact the lives of others and how you felt afterwards as a result.