I fought the urge to make grand gestures to thank them, knowing anything I do would be inequivalence of infinite proportion. More to the point, I know both of them are so grounded that they would never want anything in return expect for me to make the most of my life. I decided the best way to do that was to use my strengths to help others.
I’m writing this to show how deeply an organ donation impacts not only the recipient like me, but others I know and don’t know, most with exponential degrees of separation.
In 2020-21, I worked as a consultant leading brand strategy for the healthcare technology company Cerner. As part of an industrious team we refreshed Cerner’s global brand to position Cerner to help make the complexity of healthcare simpler for patients. Anyone who has had an illness or injury that required more than just their primary care physician knows the maze of paperwork, online forms, records, lab results, approvals, referrals, insurance claims, deductibles, co-pays, hospitals, doctors' offices, surgery centers, rehab centers, patient portals, e-mails, voicemails, bills, etc. one has to deal with during a period all they really want and need is healing and relief from anxiety. Our work aimed to help patients navigate that maze more easily. An invaluable by-product of working with that team was building lasting friendships beyond our time together.
In 2022, I was hired by a good friend to work with yet another team of incredible professionals at Edelman Financial Engines to launch and market a financial wellness product called Momentum. According to the Global Financial Literacy Excellence Center, four in five adults in the United States say they never had an opportunity to learn about personal finance. Momentum provides guidance about budgeting, debt reduction, college planning, home mortgages, retirement planning, Social Security and more. It has been a mission-centric effort for our team, which is spread out in Boston, Charlotte, Denver, Salt Lake City, Charleston and Kansas City. Despite the lack of geographic proximity, our team became close in what matters most, purpose and spirit, which also has led to enduring friendships.
In late 2020, I met an educator who was teaching music to middle schoolers and was wavering whether to pursue a Master’s Degree. I’ve always had a passion for education, life-long learning and mentorship so we discussed her career and life goals. She says those talks influenced her to apply for and start the Master’s in Music program at the University of Missouri. She will graduate next May. Although she calls me her mentor, she has guided me in many ways as well and the mutual inspiration has fostered a close friendship.
This year, that friend asked if I would talk with her friend, a senior soccer student-athlete at Columbia College who aspires to a career in sports administration. For years, I’ve volunteered branding and strategic counsel for University of Missouri Athletics and several other universities across the country. Those relationships allowed me to connect her with a senior administrator for an informational interview that we hope will be her first step to becoming a graduate assistant while earning her MBA. She continues to seek mentorship and I will continue to coach her. She is well on her way to achieve her goals.
Without that gift of a lifetime, much of this would not have been possible. Not only am I grateful for the chance to help others, but the best part is the relationships borne during each endeavor. Each has been priceless. Just like the gift from Ryan and Traci that enabled it all.