“Success unshared is failure!” John Paul DeJoria exclaimed at the 2nd Annual Austin Gives luncheon at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin. “JP,” as he often refers to himself, spoke at the luncheon as a key speaker citing examples and telling stories that simply prove “It’s good business to give.” This ideal is merely one reason that brought many of Austin’s local businesses together to celebrate and highlight companies that have given back to the community in a big way as part of the Austin Gives organization.
An Austinite of over 14 years, JP is a self-made billionaire famous for creating the hair care line John Paul Mitchell Systems, John Paul Pet and continues to help build Patron Spirits as the leader of high quality tequila products. Raised by a single mother, along with his brother, in Los Angeles, JP found it hard to get ahead early on in life. Now, JP is one of the wealthiest people in the world and one of the most giving too. His passion for helping others was sparked from a special memory he shared with the crowd at the Austin Gives luncheon.
On the busy streets of Los Angeles during Christmastime when he was a young boy, his mother gave he and his brother a dime (each of them instructed to hold one half of the tiny coin) and drop it in the Salvation Army cup. The boys did as they were told, but wondered why she had asked them to do this when they themselves needed money . . . a dime back then could buy many things the boys would have loved! She told them that no matter how poor or how much struggle you may be going through, there is always someone else less fortunate than you. JP has taken this memory and this ideal from his mother, and with his business savvy ventures, has helped millions of people around the world to live better lives with his generosity. From feeding the hungry to helping young girls escape the sex trade. What really differentiates JP’s programs and giving nature from many other givers is he doesn’t just blindly give “hand-outs” to people in need, instead he helps them learn skills along the way to live self-sustaining lives.
In other words, instead of handing out food, he teaches the hungry how to grow and cultivate gardens through his various programs and organizations. Instead of handing out money, he teaches the poor to make their own money by integrating time-tested business practices. He advocates that we must “get people involved to help themselves” instead of merely handing out money, food or assistance. “Businesses have the power” to do this and make a large impact on helping others. We as business owners and everyone that makes up each business must get involved. JP likens the gift of helping those in need to “paying our rent for living on planet Earth.”
Other notable speakers at the luncheon included Austin City Mayor Lee Leffingwell, KEYE TV news anchors Judy Maggio and
Walt Maciborski and Austin Gives Chair, Bobby Jenkins of ABC Home & Commercial Services.
Austin Gives is a nonprofit organization committed to encouraging and recognizing business philanthropy in Austin. Austin Gives was founded just two years ago and has already surpassed members numbers experienced by similar programs in Denver and Minneapolis, which have existed for 20 years or more! Over 200 local Austin businesses that are a part of the program donate at least one percent of pre-tax earnings to philanthropy, plus their time and other non-monetary value. Austin Gives will continue to promote and grow the organization to include dozens more local businesses to be a part of helping others in our community and around the world.
The list of Austin businesses and the nonprofit organizations they help support are far too many to note. Among them however is Silicon Laboratories supporting National Center for Missing & Exploited Children; MELLY Collars (One for you. One for them program which gives shelter animals collars) and Hotels for Hope (Book rooms. Change Lives program, which donates money from each room booked to help children live happier lives).
Every single one of the businesses playing a part in the Austin Gives program works hard to strengthen and grow their businesses while at the same time integrating creative ways to help others in need. Three companies were under the spot light as winners at the awards luncheon.
Zuma Office Supply is the winner of the Charitable Champion Award (under 50 employees). The company business model is structured to donate over 50 percent of the company’s yearly earnings to 10 nonprofits each year, which are selected by the company’s customers throughout the year.
Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf is the winner of the Big Heart Award (50-250 employees). Their Caring Cup Wristband Initiative is a fundraising campaign that is completed four times each year. One nonprofit is supported during each of the four events. In 2013 alone, donations from this program totaled over $110,000!
eBay is the winner for the Bold Giver Award (over 250 employees). Their program allowed employees to team up in five groups and donate their skills to six nonprofits. In addition, eBay matches all employee donations of up to $2,500 per year; creates grants from their own foundation and has its own philanthropic committee in charge of creating charity projects each quarter.
It’s true, many years ago John Paul DeJoria co founded John Paul Mitchell Systems while living in his car with a $700 loan. When he received his first paycheck, he decided to have lunch to celebrate the beginning of his success. He noticed a young, single mom and her many children sitting in the restaurant.He secretly told the waiter that he would be buying their lunch that day and they can order whatever they want. Later, after the woman realized this good deed committed by an unknown giver, she stood up and shouted, “God bless you, whoever you are!” JP says it’s one of the greatest highs in the world to give back whether it is acknowledged by others or simply given silently and secretly. This is just one more reason JP gives and helps others in need and continues to inspire other individuals and businesses to play an active role in helping others as well.
The Austin Gives program has high expectations to grow and involve many more Austin businesses to participate and give back to our community, while at the same time as a natural benefit, grow local businesses and our general economy in the Austin area as a whole.
If you are part of a business or know of a business that supports a nonprofit or wants to support a nonprofit, you may join the Austin Gives program too!