Freeport, Illinois – In a day where banks get bailout money and CEO’s continue to get annual bonuses and big fat checks, one story you seldom (if ever) hear is the story of a CEO giving their own money back.
In today’s world where more and more people say “it’s dog eat dog out there”, (which we never knew dogs ate dogs anyway), more often if some extra moola is just about to hit your hands, it’s a hard pressed day and age to find anyone who ever turns it down.
Well, here’s a story of a local Freeport CEO who did just that.
Every once and a while we get curious and dig through things the general public never looks at. You know, things like city council meeting minutes, city budgets, various non-profit organization minutes, all just to keep an eye on what actually goes on in our city that the public may never hear about.
One afternoon while sifting through documents, we came across a little tidbit of info we thought was pretty awesome.
Much to our delight, we discovered a local CEO was up for a 10% pay increase when as we read on we noticed, “commissioner made a motion to allocate 10% increase in the CEO salary be returned to the budget to be allocated for staff bonuses“.
We had to re-read it 3 times.
A motion to return a 10% increase in a CEO salary to the budget… for staff bonuses? Could this be correct?
Yet sure enough, there it was in plain black and white and it was even signed. This particular CEO’s increase was going right back to some of the staff who works for them.
Naturally, we had to reach out to this local CEO to get the details.
When we asked why they gave the money back, they told us because the staff puts in so much time, so much effort, works whatever hours or days needed to get the job done and said they just wanted to show their appreciation through this monetary gesture.
“I thought it would be better to give the money back“, they told us. The went on to say that they simply wanted to silently show their appreciation.
We have to tell you, silently is precisely what they did.
If one were just glancing at the board meeting minutes, you might not have even noticed it. Taking up just two sentences in an entire three page document, it’s easily overlooked. What makes the story even better to us though, is who the CEO was.
While you might think sure, a bank CEO giving some money back, whoop de doo. Who cares. He has plenty right? Or maybe you think it’s the CEO of some big retail chain, or fast food chain in town. Maybe a Hotel owner or stock broker, yet no, it’s not any of those in this case.
There’s one thing we think everyone can probably agree on, and that is there is no money in public housing.
In other words, when it comes to “business ideas”, or that “gold over the rainbow plan”, we’d take a pretty safe bet and say going into the “public housing” business isn’t going to be top on your list.
That’s why this story is even more meaningful to us because that’s exactly who gave the money back. The CEO of the Freeport Housing Authority, Larry Williams.
Sure, while it might just be our view on the matter, we do have to say there is something about Larry that we find missing in most all leaders. Some may like and appreciate his charisma, others his motivation, while yet some might appreciate and respect his knowledge.
Sure, we appreciate all of those things too but what we appreciate over and above it all, is that Larry Williams truly understands what it means to appreciate things. To us, that’s a really big deal.
While we’re not suggesting that everyone live in poverty or wonder where their next meal is going to come from, we do have say that we find few and far between a man who can ever truly understand the needs of others, better than the man who came from that very thing themselves.
Maybe in our world that’s part of the problem.
You know, all these people with “ideas” on how to fix something (or someone) that they don’t have the first clue about. They never lived it themselves. They read a book, attended a seminar and perhaps watched a few videos and now, with their plaque on the wall, they stand in positions over others without plaques on the wall.
Maybe there really is truth in the statement, “it takes one to know one“, or “walk a mile in my shoes” when it comes to our leaders. We don’t know.
What we do know is, there are a lot of people in positions to help others who never take a moment to do anything for those around them.
I guess when you hear of someone who does; when you realize who and what they are the CEO of, the real model of how to authentically help others starts becoming clearer and clearer.
All we can hope for is that what happened here is contagious like a disease. It’s surely one sickness we’d love to see everyone affected by.
Kudos Larry for thinking of others.
Note: If you would like to see the documents for yourself, they can be found below.