The recent passing of Eunice Kennedy Shriver jogged my memory about the first and only time I had the pleasure of meeting this extraordinary woman. We were both main platform speakers at the Million Dollar Round Table’s (MDRT)national convention of 14,000 superstars from the insurance industry. The MDRT is the trade association composed of the world’s top producing insurance professionals. At the time I was approached about the speech, the head of the speaker selection committee informed me that this was my “opportunity of a lifetime,” and I would be on the same platform with Eunice Shriver of the Special Olympics. I explained that I had never heard of the Million Dollar Round Table or the Special Olympics. He then gave me an earful. . . .
Given the accolades he used to describe the MDRT and the Special Olympics, I wondered why he would want me to speak. At the time, I was a college professor at Georgia State University. It seems that he and his colleagues had read a Wall Street Journal article about the research I had conducted on the under prospected, blue collar type millionaires [Ed Bean, “Riddle: Why Won’t a Typical Millionaire Take You for a Ride in His Fancy Car?”, The Wall Street Journal, Friday, May 10, 1985, p. B1.]
Up until the time I heard Mrs. Shriver speak, I still wasn’t sure why the attendees would be so very interested in her and what she had to say about the Special Olympics. But she got a standing ovation. Mrs. Shriver provided a wonderful opportunity for every member of the audience. Each could help sponsor a Special Olympics event in his/her own community. There is a direct relationship between success in business and the amount of time and money people allocate to noble causes. Over the years, I have found a strong correlation between giving (time and/or money) to noble causes and economic success. For example, within the same high income/age cohort, people who donate 10% percent or more of their income each year have a significantly higher net worth than those who give 1% or less. Those who give have a lifestyle that reflects true success and moderation when it comes to consumption. If you want to succeed in business, give and associate with givers.