Leadership Lessons From a 16-Year-Old Philanthropist
Michael is the son of my good friend, Paul Guggenheim, the president of Patterson Dental. He has a rare learning disorder called dysgraphia that makes it painfully difficult for him to write. He was only 12 when I first met him, but it was obvious then that this young man was not going to let anything hold him back. I just knew he was going to do great things.
I recently found out how true that first impression was.
I reconnected with Michael at Young and Motivated—he’s 16 now—and discovered that his plan to make the most of his experience by helping others is really coming together. I won’t try to explain it all here. I’ll just ask you to take four minutes to watch this clip from 2008 of him being profiled on Good Morning America:
I think it’s great that Michael has been blessed with a resourceful family that gave him every opportunity to overcome his difficulties. But what’s truly noteworthy is that those advantages did not give him a sense of entitlement. On the contrary, he took a profound disturbance in his life—one that gave him so much frustration—and turned it into an incredible opportunity that could change the lives of so many deserving kids.
That’s an admirable quality in anyone; it’s truly extraordinary in a 12-year-old. Now at age 16, he has already helped more than 200 children acquire the computer skills—and laptops—they need to get them on their way to better lives.
Let’s help Michael keep his mission alive. Four years ago, when he was starting out with this project, I donated 20 laptops to his cause. Now, he is helping families in three shelters, and I have pledged to him that I will get him 100 more.
I’m asking you to consider joining in to help him meet his goals as quickly as possible. I know many of you can get your hands on a laptop that is not being used; here’s a chance to see that it gets put to good use. Or maybe now is a good time to consider an upgrade and donate your old one (with a full tax deduction). You can find out more at Michael’s website.
I think this is a particularly worthwhile cause to consider. After all, one of the root problems these families endure is a dispiriting sense of isolation. Getting connected and getting engaged with today’s technology and its possibilities plays a big part in helping them deal with the disturbances of life in a positive, resourceful way.
If you doubt that, just ask Michael.