“I am driven by the power of purpose; thus it is not surprising that purpose has become a core part of Cause Consulting’s work building corporate cultures,” shared Mark Feldman as the guest speaker for Chicago’s business leaders at the Executives Breakfast Club.

“It was an honor to speak at an event where members have gathered over the past 50 years to hear from the nation’s leading executives as they reflect upon the experiences that enhanced their leadership skills, inspired their passions, and helped shape their character,” added Feldman.

In a fireside chat format, Mark was interviewed by Mary Kay Slowikowski, the first female speaker to appear nationally in her own Emmy-nominated PBS special, and Daniel Meyer, Lead Pastor and Emmy award-winning television host.  During the session, Mark engages in a personal conversation, recalling his toughest struggles and biggest triumphs throughout his career.

In this short clip, Mark discusses the role that inspired him to pursue his 30+ years in Corporate Social Responsibility and entrepreneurship.

Edited Transcription

Interviewer, Daniel Meyer:
Can you share some examples of things you did that you would never have dreamed, that are actually highly instrumental now to you being the guy you are and doing what you’re doing?  

Mark Feldman:
One of my most pivotal experiences was when I came out of college and began working for a nonprofit in New York called New York Cares. … There were two or three people working in a renovated apartment above a nail salon next to Bloomingdale’s creating the Cares Movement. New York Cares was taking young professionals out of companies, like all of yours, and placing them in hands-on volunteer activities in New York. So, at 21 years old I was in charge of projects and programs, and I traveled the ends of the subway in New York. I got to go to the homeless shelters in New York, which were known as the “welfare hotels” – I’d go in the morning because if you go after 11 am, people start waking up; they’re scary – These were awful places in the middle of Manhattan right next to the office buildings. I also spent time with border babies during the AIDS and crack cocaine epidemic and met with the nuns who cared for them. And, broke bread with guests and staff at many a soup kitchen.  Through these experiences, I learned so much about the issues and the people, and just became passionate about it. It taught me the importance of continuous learning, speaking the language of different social disciplines, bringing people together and getting curious.  These moments really shaped my desire to have an impact….   

Here are some other memorable quotes from his hour-long interview and discussion:

Purpose: “Employees seek purposeful work and opportunities. They want to feel good about what they do every day.”

Consumers: “It’s no longer enough to just have a great service or product; consumers seek more than transactions. They are looking for deeper, more meaningful experiences; therefore, companies and brands must act and communicate how they positively impact their employees, communities and environment.”

Empathy: “As we think about the people we create programs for, we need to take a step back, walk in their shoes and consider how decisions are made in that ecosystem.”

Facilitation: “Sometimes, the person with the most impact during a meeting is the person who said one thing verses the person leading it.”

Leadership: “The role of leading without authority is to get employees to willingly collaborate and participate, rather than to follow directives just because you’re “the boss”.  As a leader, it’s your job to listen and meet employees where they are, and if the environment is right, they’ll be able to drive change. The role of an executive is to create safe spaces where people can grow.”

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