We are all asked to help others in the business community, and of course, we all try to make time whenever we can. I think this story shows that you really cannot predict the positive impacts to your business objectives, beyond feeling good about helping, that saying “yes” might provide.
Summer 2004

A Relationship Story
Saying “Yes” to Helping Others – You Just May Get More Than You Give

While attending a meeting of the National Human Resources Association (NHRA) in Orange County, I sat at a table next to an extremely engaging fellow named Karl Feierbacher. Karl explained that in addition to seeking a corporate Human Resources position himself, he was a U.S. Marine Corps reserve officer and his volunteer work was raising awareness about the talented individuals who are leaving the service and can be great assets for good companies.
Karl made a very strong impression on me, as he would on you. After the meeting Karl followed-up with me and suggested we connect, an idea I welcomed especially based on what a giving person Karl is himself. As we in our firm often do, I took the opportunity to share some ideas with him that I thought may increase the effectiveness of Karl’s job search, leveraging the learning from my own transition experience and what I observe that works for others.

I soon learned that meeting with Karl was more than just helping a strong individual with a few ideas – I was surprised to learn how much more it would do for me. Unexpectedly, Karl asked if I would consider speaking at an upcoming meeting of the Marine Executive Association (MEA), a group of Marine Corps senior officers who are transitioning from the service into industry.

I was honored and truly excited about this opportunity. Then the wheels started turning, and I began to see this as a special chance to accomplish a number of things important to me: first, to contribute potentially valuable ideas to a group of people deserving of my utmost respect; second, to involve and work together again after many years with my mentor and friend U.S. Navy Captain Ed Whelan – whose own experience transitioning into industry offers great insights; and third, to develop a structured speech out of the message I had been developing conversation-by-conversation since I began as a consultant with McDermott & Bull – while also providing the impetus I needed to launch myself toward public speaking opportunities, something I had long hoped for but had been too “busy” to prioritize and get done.

So, on June 17th, Ed and I were pleased to visit Camp Pendleton and address a very receptive and appreciative group of Marines. In addition, a text version of our thoughts will be shared by email with hundreds of Marines/MEA members worldwide.

Had it not been for my discussion with Karl Feierbacher about his career transition, I would have missed out on some great things. First, I got the satisfaction of contributing to the career prospects of these great Americans. In addition, I got another opportunity to work with Ed, a pleasure I had not imagined having again. And if that wasn’t enough, I have now re-shaped my messages into a “Transition to Success” talk that I now hope to share with other groups. I believe I got much more that I gave.

I suggest you keep this story in mind the next time you are asked to help. Feeling good about helping is really enough, but you just never know how you and your business might benefit.


Jeff Black
Principal Consultant
McDermott & Bull Executive Search