When was the last time you experienced a business trip that gave you exhilaration, laughs, tears, joy and a broader view of yourself and your ability to make a difference in our world? I would have said never, until a recent trip to Nicaragua with Continental Airlines and AirPlus with a combination of business meetings, training and a significant dose of humanitarian service. Under the direction of the host sponsors we were participating in Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or the donation of funds, time, and resources by companies to charitable or non-profit initiatives with the intention of “giving back” for the greater common good. The result was highly effective business meetings, lifelong bonds between participates, and a renewed outlook and awareness of on life.
Prior to the trip we were given the book The Radical Edge, Stoke Your Business, AMP Your Life and Change the World by noted motivational speaker Steve Farber. It was and excellent book with the perfect message to prepare us for the experiences ahead. The key point of the book is to “do what you love in the service of people who love what you do” and we had the opportunity to apply this to our work and personal lives through our experiences in Nicaragua.
In addition to our business commitments we provided humanitarian aid at a senior center, to children in a special a needs orphanage, and with people living in desperate conditions near the city dump. Our group brought hundreds of pounds of excess baggage filled with much needed items as well as cash donations. The recipients were so appreciative of every act of service or donation received. They were such gentle people who with very little of their own seemed to be living a life of contentment. They were warm and friendly, always smiling.
We all wondered what our reactions would be to the sights and circumstances we would be experiencing. Could we handle it? Would we break down? Well, I have reviewed over 400 of our combined photos from the trip and we are continually happy, laughing and smiling while giving to the people of Nicaragua. We later shared tender thoughts, feelings, and ah-ha moments, but you couldn’t take away our joy during the moments of giving. It was an amazing experience beyond any of our expectations and made this a business trip we’ll never forget.
What kind of CSR could you include in your next business meeting to make it an event of a lifetime?!