Thursday, 01 December 2011 12:40

The power of philanthropy

At Ernst & Young LLP’s recent Strategic Growth Forum, the largest gathering of high-growth entrepreneurs in the world (more than 2,500), myriad issues facing business today were discussed.

The annual forum serves as an idea marketplace where the best and brightest minds share what works, what doesn’t and what’s next in the wild world of business and entrepreneurship.

One common theme that arose from participants during the forum was the importance of giving back to the community.

Entrepreneurs passionately believe it is their responsibility to help strengthen the communities where they and their employees live and work. They believe that since they have the means to do so, it’s important to carry that success forward and help those who are in need. And they believe it’s imperative to supports causes that align with the missions or beliefs they and their employees hold.

I was honored to spend some time at the forum with Amy Rosen, president and CEO of the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship. We spoke at length about how NFTE works nationwide with inner-city schoolchildren to teach them entrepreneurial skills and create the next generation of high-growth businesses.

Many of you might not have made the connection, but here in Northeast Ohio, we have an affiliate of NFTE in Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU). This connection resulted from YOU’s merger with E CITY, a program that serial entrepreneur John Zitzner founded several years ago.

As you might have noticed, this month’s edition includes coverage of the 2011 Medical Mutual Pillar Award for Community Service. We received a record number of nominations — nearly 90 — which represents how companies are working with and supporting the nonprofit sector, how executives are donating their time, talent and money to causes on the boards of nonprofits and how nonprofit leaders are applying for-profit business savvy to make their organizations that much stronger.

We, at Smart Business, were so impressed by the record number of nominees and the work they are doing that we felt we would be doing a disservice by only telling you about the winners. Because of this, we have expanded this issue so that we could tell you about every organization that submitted a nomination.

As you read, we hope you walk away with the same level of new inspiration as we have received.

Dustin S. Klein is publisher and executive editor of Smart Business Network Inc. Reach him with your comments at (800) 988-4726 or

Published in Akron/Canton
Tuesday, 09 August 2011 17:18

Growing a social enterprise with service

Marjory Pizzuti measures the success of Goodwill Columbus through stories — like the one about Kurt, who has a mild developmental disability, and took a step toward independence by moving out of the house he had lived in with his mother for 50 years and into his own home through Goodwill’s Supported Living program.

But you could also measure the organization’s mission of “building independence, quality of life and work opportunities for individuals with disabilities and other barriers” with numbers — like the 1.2 million hours of service it provides every year to more than 3,300 clients or the 13 new donation centers and two new stores it recently added.

Because of this, Smart Business, U.S. Bank and Blue Technologies named Pizzuti to the 2011 class of Columbus Smart Leader honorees. She shared how she overcomes challenges to help disabled individuals gain independence, enter the job market and support the local economy — all the while making her company a great place to work.

Give us an example of a business challenge you and/or your organization faced, as well as how you overcame it.

Shortly after I arrived at Goodwill Columbus in January 2005, it became apparent that we needed to diversify our revenue sources to ensure the long-term financial viability of our agency. With the full support of our board of directors, we launched a strategic growth initiative for our retail stores. The goal of the business plan was to generate additional earned income to support our mission-related programs and services that serve individuals with disabilities or other barriers.

In the past three years, we have opened 13 new attended donation centers and two additional stores. Our focus is on high-quality, gently used items as well as excellent customer service in clean, neat and well-stocked stores. The strategy is working, as we plan to open our sixth store later in 2011 and continue to expand our retail business operations as part of our strong and successful ‘social enterprise’ model.

In what ways are you an innovative leader, and how does your organization employ innovation to be on the leading edge?

I believe in a servant-leadership style of executive management and encourage participation and inclusion by all employees and stakeholders. Clearly, the most valuable resource at any organization or business is our human capital, and we must focus energetically on ways to invest in our staff.

All of our employees receive a full-day orientation where they receive safety and disability-awareness training. The orientation also focuses on customer satisfaction using FISH! training, the world-famous Seattle Pike Place Fish Market program that helps employees make a personal choice to bring amazing passion, playfulness, commitment and positive attitude to work every day.

The Goodwill Health and Wellness Center offers two state-of-the-art workout facilities free of charge to employees, as well as for our on-site and residential day program for participants with developmental disabilities.

I also welcome small group ‘Conversations with the CEO’ where employees may ask questions that are printed with a response in the employee newsletter, as well as participation in Vision Forums that are held at least once a year. These sessions provide an opportunity for all staff members to participate in a series of presentations on Goodwill’s strategic plans to encourage and inspire a collegial and collaborative environment of ‘One Goodwill.’

All of these efforts demonstrate a focus on employee satisfaction, which leads to better customer service and client interactions. A survey conducted in early 2010 indicated that 93.2 percent of employees believe that Goodwill Columbus is a great place to work, and we continue to seek feedback from our staff as part of our organization’s culture of continuous improvement.

How do you make a significant impact on the community and regional economy?

Goodwill Columbus is a $35 million agency with nearly 900 employees, which ranks us as the 62nd largest employer in Franklin County. Our 16 programs and services provide dignity and enhanced quality of life opportunities for more than 3,300 clients each year, representing more than 1.2 million hours of service to those individuals. We serve participants with developmental disabilities in both our day and residential programs. Job training and placement services are provided for our clients with disabilities or other barriers to employment. Goodwill believes that every citizen deserves the opportunity to earn a paycheck. The unemployment rate for individuals with disabilities is significantly higher than for the rest of the population. By focusing on helping those individuals enter the job market, we provide them with dignity and independence, as well as the opportunity to become taxpayers who support our local economy.

How to reach: Goodwill Columbus, (614) 294-5181 or

See all of the 2011 Columbus Smart Leaders on the next page.

Together with U.S. Bank and Blue Technologies, Smart Business named the following honorees to the 2011 class of Columbus Smart Leaders:

*Indicates Women Presidents’ Organization Breakthrough Business Leader

Published in Columbus