The Gift Of Giving: The Channel's Silent Heroes Make A Difference

John Convery

Winston Churchill said, "We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give."

This column is dedicated to those silent heroes working in the channel who do the simple things each and every day to be powerful agents of kindness.

Let me introduce you to one of my silent heroes: Jane Cage from Heartland Technology Solutions. Jane is dedicated to her community and, when a devastating tornado hit Joplin, Mo., in 2011, she stepped up big time. I have known Jane for a number of years and have worked with her as part of the advisory board for The Channel Company's XChange events. Leadership is in her DNA, both professionally and personally. She has gained the respect of her IT channel peers, and certainly from her local community.

Jane received the Rick Rescorla National Award for Resilience following the 2011 tornado from then-Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. Secretary Napolitano said this award recognizes "outstanding response to catastrophic incidents and leadership fostering resilient and prepared communities." Rick Rescorla is the 9/11 hero who is saved hundreds of lives in the World Trade Center Tower 2.

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Another silent hero during the aftermath of Joplin tornado was the contribution from Hewlett-Packard and one man's individual efforts to support Jane and the channel. HP's Matt Smith stood tall and led the way to encourage HP to support the victims of the Joplin tragedy. Together, they made a difference.

My next silent hero is a team effort: Channel@Work, which is the charitable component of XChange designed to support local communities through contributions of time, items and donations. I have witnessed first-hand the love and efforts of the XChange team in supporting the Make a Wish Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Build a Bike and numerous other local charities. Silent heroes such as that XChange team, Microsoft's Eric Martorano, Samsung's Richard Hutton and hundreds of other volunteers have made a difference.

One of my biggest silent heroes is Majdi "Mike" Daher, founder of Denali Advanced Integration in Redmond, Wash. I have experienced up close the kindness from this man and his family in touching the lives of his employees and local community. As you enter the lobby of Denaili's Redmond headquarters and its Plano, Texas, headquarters, you see the Wall of Giving. This wall is a collection of thank-you letters from hundreds of local charities. Denali's Annual Charity Golf outing each year donates thousands of dollars to great causes like the Todd Stablefeld Foundation, The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research and Children's Hospital. And, at the company's annual holiday party, Denali recognizes the employee who has made the greatest individual contribution to his or her favorite charity.

Majdi and his lovely wife, Dana, have donated flat screens to the waiting rooms of many local hospitals so children can enjoy movies waiting for their families in need of care. To quote Majdi, "It is the right thing to do, to give back to our local community where we live and work."

I also have the honor to know and work with Kelly Ireland, founder and CEO of CB Technologies in Westminster, Calif. I have seen her love and kindness for her employees, and for the local community. CB Tech just held its 10th Annual Charity Golf Event, with a record donation to Hollygrove, an EMQ Families First Agency that helps youth overcome complex behavior health challenges. CB Technologies has donated more than $100,000 over the 10 years it has supported local charities. In addition to Hollygrove, CB Technologies has supported Women for Women International and Children's Hospital.

Kelly has said, "It is a pleasure to take a day to focus on supporting children and families in need." I know Kelly, and I can assure you it is more than just a day, it is each and every day of her life.

These are just a few of my personal heroes, and I have seen their silent efforts to live the gift of giving as part of their daily leadership. There are thousands of stories where our IT channel, vendors and distribution executives quietly work behind the scenes to change the world and contribute to the local communities in which they live and work.

At holiday time, it is especially important for us to reflect on the love and kindness of our peers in the channel. Take the time during this holiday season to hug your loved ones and look to 2014 as the year of kindness and giving gifts that can change the lives of others.

John Convery is president and CEO of Seattle-based John Convery Consulting. In addition, he is a member of the HP Enterprise Server, Storage and Networking advisory council, and serves on The Channel Company's XChange and Best of Breed (BoB) advisory boards. He previously was executive vice president of vendor relations and marketing for Denali Advanced Integration.