Cultural Summit, a Mega Camp tradition for ten years, recognizes and celebrates associates in each region whose lives and businesses exemplify the KW culture.
At Mega Camp, Mo Anderson, Vice Chair of the Board, Keller Williams, and Kay Evans, a Regional Director at Keller Williams, spoke on how the company's culture has not changed with growth. There are more hardworking associates and leaders than ever before putting God and family before business, remarked Anderson.
The 2015 cultural ambassadors were selected by their peers for actively engaging in building culture on a daily basis, serving as role models of the WI4C2TS belief system.
During the Cultural Summit, Chris Heller and John Davis briefly took the stage to offer their own congratulations to this group of 64 new ambassadors. “At Keller Williams our culture comes first. We have 750 cultural centers,” said Heller, referring to Keller Williams market centers. “They improve people’s lives every day in every way. Thank you for being part of our company.”
After sharing a few of these ambassadors’ inspiring stories, Evans and Anderson welcomed the new representatives into the fold with a friendly reminder. “Your selection as Cultural Ambassador is not an award! It is a lifetime appointment.” As a member of the cultural army, ambassadors are stewards of the KW culture and charged with helping to protect and grow it.
Cultural Ambassadors are also instrumental in leading fellow associates to KW Cares in times of emergency need. Associates Barb Blackburn and Annestelle Maes’ have experienced this first hand. Both were recipients of KW Cares grants.
When Barb Blackburn was diagnosed with breast cancer, the doctors gave her a 30 to 35 percent chance of survival. She and her husband, Rex, were devastated and without insurance, they didn’t know where to turn.
She was embarrassed to be in financial need and too shy to ask for help, but her Team Leader got involved. He called on the ALC and with them formulated a plan to start spreading the word.
A large fundraiser was held in Blackburn’s honor that not only raised money for her treatment, but showed her an overwhelming outpouring of love from her KW family. “That was the night I truly became a survivor and fighter,” said Blackburn.
This fundraiser became an annual tradition. It now raises money for the Market Center’s Emergency Fund, so they can be of immediate service to any associate in a time of need. Kathy Neu, Director of KW Cares, explained that there is a dire need for emergency funds in each and every market center. “It’s important because sometimes speed is of the essence. Market centers need to be able to take care of their own.”
Annestelle Maes’ life has also been forever impacted by the support of her market center and the relief that KW Cares provided. When her husband was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, her life was flipped upside down. Members of her market center came to her aid, making sure that her business and children were cared for.
Her husband beat the odds and survived, but even with insurance, they were left with a mountain of medical bills. Referring to the grant, Veronica said, “I don’t know that he would have made it without it. Words can’t express my gratitude.”
Cultural Ambassadors, leaders and associates need to take the lead and encourage those who are enduring a hardship to speak up. “It starts at the top. Regional leaders need to educate themselves, their market center leadership and their ALC. Everyone needs to understand that we’re here to help, you just need to bring us the people,” said Neu.
Veronika Scott, CEO and founder of Detroit-based Empowerment Plan, was welcomed onto the stage by Kay Evans. Scott grew up as the child of addicts and could have followed in their footsteps were it not for her grandfather. He advised her that education was her only path out of this troubled life.
She took his advice, studied hard in school, ultimately receiving a college scholarship. It was while studying product design that she was assigned a project changed not only her life, but that of over 10,000 homeless individuals.
This class assignment was to design something that would fulfill an actual need. Her idea was for a winter coat that transforms into a sleeping bag. She spent months visiting homeless shelters and consulting on a design. What she came to realize during this process was that a coat wasn't a complete solution. Homeless individuals don’t need coats, they need jobs.
“Everyone wants to take control of their life and take care of themselves,” says Scott. So she hired the population that needed the coat in the first place to manufacture it. In just over three years, Empowerment Plan has reached ten thousand people in 29 different states and five Canadian provinces through the distribution of these coats.
More so, she has hired thirty individuals in need. Referring to her work program, Scott says “Nothing is more important than the people we hire. When someone has moved out of the shelter, it’s permanent. There is no recidivism.” Employees are encouraged to use this opportunity as a stepping stone to other skilled jobs. Scaling this employment model across the globe is part of her five year strategic plan.
When Evans asked about her “Big Why," Scott explained that the experience has changed her. “I’m a completely different person than I could have ever imagined. I’m excited to see not just where the business will go, but where I will go.”
DEEP IN THE HEART OF CULTURE
“Culture is when our actions and words are aligned and represent the WI4C2TS. When we have culture, we have a company that no one wants to leave,” said Anderson.