MRI Lifetime Achievement Award:
PointOne President Scott Petersen

Largest Executive Search Firm Award
presented by Milwaukee Business Journal

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Paying it forward is exponentially rewarding

Paying it forward. It’s the concept that when someone does a good deed for you, you ‘repay’ the original benefactor by performing good deeds for others. All it takes is one person to start the process for a trickle-down effect that tugs on everyone’s heartstrings. You may have heard of this happening in the drive-thru line at Starbucks. A person pulls up to the window only to learn that the person in previous car already paid for the order. Feeling inspired, that person pays for the next patron’s coffee, and the trend continues.

Giving back

At PointOne, we wholeheartedly believe in paying it forward. As a recruiting company, we say we “make connections that change lives,” but that’s not just a professional motto referring to job placements. It’s a commitment to support the community through philanthropy and service. One of our seven core company culture tenets is ‘Giving Back,’ which states “We believe we make a living by what we get, but make a life by what we give.”

A unified team

Every year around the holidays, I give every employee $100. Each person has 24 hours to turn that money into an act of service in the community. Sometimes employees join forces to provide more to someone in need. One year, a team of three employees called a local church to see if any families needed assistance. The church referred him to an unemployed man who was having a hard time finding work. His truck was broken and he had no transportation for interviews. As recruiters, the trio desperately wanted to use their combined $300 to help this man fix his truck. Touched by their willingness to help, the man respectfully declined, saying that the truck needed more than $1,000 in repairs, and urged the team to help someone else from the church. The trio honored his wishes and helped another family in need by helping a mother buy $600 worth of toys and groceries for her young children.

Giving is better than receiving

Part of this special project includes a gathering after our “pay it forward” service ends so that everyone in the company can hear each other’s stories. Everyone loved hearing the story about the trio helping the family with young children, but could not stop thinking about the man with the broken-down truck. They couldn’t believe that he would pass on the opportunity to receive help when he was so down on his luck. That’s when it hit everyone in the room—that man was also paying it forward. He was the living embodiment of our mission. He demonstrated exactly what I wanted my colleagues to demonstrate through their service—integrity, compassion, and generosity. We decided to pay it forward one more time. PointOne paid for $1,500 worth of repairs toward his truck, which allowed him to attend several interviews. He now has a working truck—and a steady job.

At some point, most of us will have a day – or even a whole period in our lives – when we feel frustrated or depressed about our own situations. My advice is that when you catch yourself feeling down, commit a random act of kindness and expect nothing in return. You’ll be amazed by how much it will lift your spirits and help you see the world around you – and yourself – in a much better light.