Story contributed by Brad Shaw, Eagle Scout and former Home Depot VP of Corporate Communications
The lessons I learned in the Scouts set me up for success in my career and in life. Now I want to share our mission to help others make “crazy” good turns in their own lives.
When you’re fortunate to rise to the C-suite of a big public company, as I did before retiring from Home Depot in April 2015, people often ask about the things in your life and career that helped get you there. In my case, the single biggest influence was my journey to attaining the rank of Eagle Scout in 1982.
Scouting taught me to lead with integrity and honesty. The more than 10 years I spent in the Scouts instilled in me a focus on hard work and results that served me well in the business world. Scouting also showed me the profound importance of helping others — something that is so well summed up in our slogan: Do a good turn daily.
So, it’s not exactly a coincidence that I now find myself hosting a podcast called Crazy Good Turns, which tells inspiring stories about people who do amazing things for others.
The idea for the show wasn’t mine. That credit goes to Frank Blake, co-creator and executive producer of the show. Frank was the Chairman and CEO of Home Depot, and he retired around the same time I did. He was my direct boss for most of my time at the company, and for someone who wasn’t a Scout, he naturally exemplifies all 12 values in the Scout Law. Plus he’s wicked smart and the best leader I’ve ever worked for.
Over coffee one day shortly after we’d retired, Frank said we should find a way to take the storytelling skills we deployed at Home Depot and leverage them for good. His specific thought was a podcast that celebrates people who have dedicated their lives to serving others in ways that are “crazy good,” and in some cases just crazy. We’re a nonprofit, funded by Frank’s family foundation, and you can give us a listen at www.crazygoodturns.org.
I think about the Scout slogan often in my work with Crazy Good Turns, namely because our podcast has exploded my definition of a “good turn.” In the Scouts, a good turn is all the stuff we’re familiar with: volunteering at a nursing home; holding a door for someone; comforting a homesick fellow Scout at camp… all the things you really can do every day if you set your mind to it.
The people featured on our podcast take this idea to a different level. They spot a problem in their community or the world at large, then they turn their lives upside down to fix it —often against tall odds.
During two seasons’ worth of episodes, we’ve met a preacher who moved his wife and daughters into one of the most dangerous communities in the U.S. in order to help sex trafficking victims. I’ve spoken with a Jesuit priest who launched the largest gang rehabilitation program in the world, helping thousands of people find a path out of violence into better lives. And we’ve profiled a writer who turned into an activist after he took a walk inside the storm drains beneath the streets of Las Vegas, discovered an entire community of homeless people there, and worked to get them help.
Given how highly the Scouts value service, it’s no surprise that I’ve ran into a few of them in leadership positions within the organizations profiled by the podcast. Earlier this year I had the chance to speak with Tim Duffy, the founder of Music Maker Relief Foundation. Tim was studying folklore at the University of North Carolina when he began to realize that many of the artists and musicians who’d helped create the musical traditions of the South were living in abject poverty. He launched Music Maker to help meet their needs and preserve their contributions to culture. Tim says his experience as a Scout directly contributed to the work he’s doing today.
“The Scouts taught me the guidelines of being a proper citizen and provided the framework that led to me helping others less fortunate than I am,” Duffy said.
Our hope with Crazy Good Turns is that we inspire and entertain our listeners with well-told stories about incredibly generous and passionate people. More importantly, as Frank puts it so well, we hope people come away from Crazy Good Turns with a need to share our stories with others as a way to just feel great about our fellow human beings — something we could all use a little more of.
Scouting Wire would like to thank Brad Shaw for submitting this story.