thinkCSC Leadership Series

thinkCSC and the Columbus Chamber of Commerce

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Building Business Community

by Tom Hastings

csc chamber of commerceWhether you are a new business owner just starting out, or you have built a successful business in Central Ohio, you must know the many reasons that make Columbus a great place to call home for your business. Geographically, Columbus is considered a hub of the Midwest; Columbus is within a day’s drive of 50% of the U.S. population.

In addition to being home to one of the finest universities in the nation, Columbus has some of the most extraordinary minds and talents in the US. So it’s no surprise to me that Forbes recognized Columbus as one of the best cities for tech jobs and also one of the best cities for working mothers. I believe part of the reason Columbus receives these kinds of accolades is because of the support business leaders receive from the Columbus Chamber of Commerce.

Columbus is a great place to live and work, and as one of the largest business organizations in Central Ohio, the Columbus Chamber of Commerce has provided support for businesses in Central Ohio for more than a century. The evidence of their results-driven purpose is clear. As a member of the Chamber, I can say first-hand that the Chamber’s many services and helpful staff has helped thinkCSC grow and thrive. By delivering the resources, services and information businesses need, the Chamber enables companies to overcome obstacles, increase opportunities and partner together to create a better Columbus.

Creating connections to people and information is essential for finding solutions to business issues. The Columbus Chamber of Commerce plays multiple roles, acting as business coach and advocate as well as providing a strong voice to elected officials.

Here at thinkCSC, our emphasis is on technology. I believe that the initiatives taken by the Columbus Chamber of Commerce over the last several years have directly contributed to Columbus receiving recognition as a city known for its tech jobs.

When most people think of the Chamber of Commerce, they think of a traditional institution, a civic staple, something that one’s involvement with is considered an admirable civic responsibility. And it is. But the Chamber is also a pro-active, evolving organization of community development. When you pull back the bureaucratic curtain, you can gain first-hand experience of the passion the Chamber embodies. This drive is the kind of attitude that is behind real community-based involvement and in-depth holistic activism.

The Chamber prioritizes the needs of our local economy, employing the experience and expertise of its members, to implement a road map guiding Columbus businesses to success. thinkCSC is pleased to be involved with helping The Columbus Chamber achieve its goals.

Life Lessons from LifeCare Alliance

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by Tom Hastings

lifecare_logothinkCSC has a partnership with LifeCare Alliance. LCA provides a wide range of services to elderly and medically-challenged members of our community. Those services include Meals on Wheels, cancer clinics, wellness clinics and housekeeping services.

On a personal level, I have been a driver for LCA’s Meals on Wheels program since 2006.. I have many fond memories of the people that I have served over the years. One memory, in particular, always puts a smile on my face. Catherine was 95 years old and still lived on her own. Every time I arrived with a meal, Catherine would have a gift of candy waiting for me.

Catherine was an only child, and her parents and friends had long passed away. Although I was sure that Catherine was lonely, she never acted that way. She was always happy and engaging with whomever crossed her path. During many of our visits, Catherine would describe trips that she had taken over the course of her long life. She had traveled to each of our 50 states, with the exception of Rhode Island! Even at 95 years old, Catherine’s mind was sharp. Hearing her stories gave me a sense of self-awareness — so often we tend to rush through life that we pass by spectacular opportunities to hear how others made a difference in our world. Catherine passed away a few years ago, but the memories of our visits together still make me smile.

Leola, a 90-year old woman currently on my route, has weathered many losses. Her husband and daughter have both passed away, as has one of her grandchildren. She has three other grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. Leola is not able to leave her apartment very often, but she always has a smile on her face. The simplest outings make her happy. I always ask what her plans are for the week, and usually it’s a doctor’s appointment or a trip to Olive Garden for dinner. Whatever her plans, they are the highlight of her week. I have come to care about her a great deal, and if she has nothing planned, I feel a little sad. When I know that someone will be coming to take her out, it warms my heart.

I think that opportunities with non-profit organizations like LifeCare Alliance help us to truly appreciate life. Too often we tend to judge our older citizens on what we perceive as the end of their path, and we forget about the life they have lived and the people that they touched along the way. We are all walking our own paths, and, in many cases, we are unaware of the people whose lives we may be impacting. There is so much we can gain by learning from the experiences of others who have come before us.

It is easy to get caught up in the rush of our lives. But slowing down, even for a brief moment, can be a powerful and rewarding gift to yourself. If you would like to support LifeCare Alliance and their efforts, please sign up to volunteer or visit their giving page.

Connecting and Growing with a Client: YWCA Partnership

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csc_ywcaby Tom Hastings

One of the most rewarding aspects of providing technology to many different types of businesses and organizations is what happens when you build those relationships beyond the professional level. One local client that we’re closely tied to is the YWCA Columbus. In providing IT support for them over the years, we have heard countless stories about the displaced families who go there and get help – not only food and shelter but with getting back on their feet. We couldn’t help but look for ways to get involved beyond the extent of our professional services.

The YWCA is an organization that does so much for so many people. Knowing this has touched me over the last few months as I have further developed my partnership with them. thinkCSC contributes as a sponsor of the YWCA’s various annual events, including Women of Achievement, their Annual Meeting and their Women to Women event. It has been an eye-opening experience to give back to one of our clients in this way.

Jay, one of our younger engineers, works closely with the YWCA. Jay was so impressed with the YWCA’s commitment to the underserved of our community that he went to the grocery store, filled his cart with home goods and groceries, and dropped them off at the YWCA. Most people at that age are thinking only of themselves, but he spent time at the Y and was touched by what he witnessed and experienced. That resonates with me, because it speaks to our culture here at thinkCSC. When our guys take off their work hats and see how they can make a difference elsewhere with a client, it makes me proud to be working with them.

We have come to believe in what the YWCA does. Our sponsorship and individual contributions led us to find out more about them than we ever thought we would. As a business owner, it is very powerful when our clients’ mission circles back and motivates us to do more. On a professional level, our technology services help them run efficiently, so they can focus more resources on the women and families they serve, but it is the impact they’ve had on us as individuals that inspires me.

If you are in the Columbus area and would like to support the YWCA in their efforts, sign up to volunteer or visit their giving page.

The Leader in the Mirror

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by Tom Hastings

wexnerI recently attended a Columbus EO event featuring one of central Ohio’s most distinguished business & community leaders, Les Wexner.

Wexner shared many stories that helped shape both his personal & professional life. He also discussed his love of reading, and in particular, he singled out biographies. He stated that biographies help him gain insight as to how other leaders think and act. In turn, these lessons help Wexner as he continues to grow his businesses and effectively lead his community.

Wexner went on to say that every leader goes through crucible moments. It is because of these extraordinary circumstances that we are able to glean valuable lessons about leadership from others, as well as ourselves. Mr. Wexner explained that the best leaders have a lot to teach us, based on both their successes and their failures.

Les Wexner is known here in Ohio and beyond for his exemplary leadership qualities and level of perseverance. During his talk that evening, he told us about a time, after much success in business, when he looked into a mirror and asked himself a direct question: “Am I somebody that I would want to meet?” His question really made me think. Why would I want to meet myself? What character traits do I have that would make me want to get to know me better?

Can you pinpoint the precise instance a character trait became a trademark of who you are? Sometimes we have a crucible moment that shapes our character. Mr. Wexner’s story was one of learning about honesty from his father. Hearing his story reminded me of an event from my younger days which I hadn’t thought about in a long time. One of my crucible moments, much like Mr. Wexner’s, helped shaped my future leadership tenets and beliefs.

I was 12 years old when I and several friends shoplifted from the local convenience store. As fate would have it, I ended up getting caught by the shopkeeper, who in turn called the police. The shopkeeper called my parents, too, and my mom was the one who took the call. He and my mother were very good friends, but he didn’t realize who I was. When he understood the situation better, the manager felt terrible that he called the police. Right when it looked like I might not have to deal with the long arm of the law, my mom encouraged him to stay the course and let the police come because, as she put it, “My son needs to learn a lesson.” This important lesson about honesty, albeit a painful and frightening experience, has stayed with me to this day. I credit my parents, the shopkeeper and the police officer for instilling this trait in me.

What about you? What crucible moment(s) have shaped you up to this point? Are you someone you would like to meet? If not, you may be motivated by this sage advice from George Eliot: “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”