Growing up my family was sort of on-again - off-again money wise. There were years when my parents struggled to put food on the table and there were years when things were OK. As a kid, I'm a little embarrassed to admit, all that stuff slid right past me. It is only now, as an adult, that I can look back and understand that some years must have been a real struggle for my parents.
Later in my life I was graced with jobs that allowed me to travel extensively and even live in other countries. I loved my job but it was not exactly glamorous. I worked for a Fortune 500 much of that time and hazard pay and hardship bonuses were par for the course because I was often the guy they sent to the very poorest and sometimes war-torn locales.
I will never forget being called by the local sales team from Nicaragua and asked to come consult about a telecommunications site that had recently been destroyed by rebels. They were desperate to get back on line as quickly as possible. I listened briefly and told the sales team that I didn't really think there was much I could do.
"You don't understand," they said, "It doesn't matter that you can't do anything about their problem. What matters is that you come and they see they are not in this alone."
I also traveled extensively in China, India, Philipines and lived in Guatemala and El Salvador. It was during this time in my life that I saw real poverty. And again and again was hammered home the point, it doesn't matter that what you do may have little tangible impact. What matters is that you try and you let people know they are not alone.
I started The Immortalitea Company more to indulge a personal passion than as a way to make money. But over the years it has evolved into a full-fledged business. Now, this is how I feed my family and care for my loved ones. We are not a charity. But I truly believe that giving back to the communities where we operate just makes good business sense.
When you get outside of your own country and live and work with some of the people in the most difficult places in the world you understand poverty on a whole different level. Not only does my heart tell me I should do what I can to help, but my experiences tell me that this sort of inequity makes the world unstable and dangerous. I am also convinced that a business premised on taking advantage of those inequities is ultimately doomed to fail.
I am in the tea business and, as it happens, some of the best teas in the world come from some of the poorest countries. I feel good about our business because we create economic opportunity for people in those countries. Moreover, we do so in an industry that, if done organically and sustainably, is good for the planet as well. As an example you can read about our farm conversion program in Thailand at this link,
We also donate 10% of our profits to charities in the countries where we do business. Each year , we nominate a set of charities for donations and post the candidates on our Facebook page and to our newsletter subscribers. We let our customers and fans vote and I distribute our annual charitable contributions according to their votes.
I hope you will participate in this years poll when it comes around and help me let the people who help create the products that we sell that they are not alone.