My coach, Vance Caesar, helps people like me understand the value of having both a purpose and a vision for my life.  The purpose part seemed to work easily for me – it’s always been about building fulfilling relationships, both for myself and for others.  However, vision was always a mystery, and I was clueless about its potential value for all the aspects of my life – personal, community, and also for my business.

At a 2007 retreat with Vance, he challenged me to write my “80th birthday toast”.  Having just turned 50, writing a 30-year vision seemed fitting:
The imagined scene was a ballroom of 300 people including family and many long-time friends.  It would be a very festive event, but it was only coincidentally a celebration of my birthday.  It was, actually, a celebration of achievements in Orange County philanthropy that had occurred over 30 years because of the emergence of a subculture of Difference Makers who came together to change lives for the better.  The birthday was a sideline – I was among a group being recognized for having played a role in making these achievements possible.

For the first time ever, a vision had been crafted for my life.  While this was really cool, it also totally scared me.  I really didn’t know what to do with this idea.  My good friend Bill Sanderson suggested that I just start talking with people about the idea, and after I did, a small group came together around the vision of connecting “Difference Makers”.

While it made sense that this vision helped lead to DifferenceMakersOC, where connections are created among a community of successful people who also want to help others, the real surprise for me was what a difference this would ultimately make in my business life.  This surprise is what I really wanted to share with you, as only you know how transformational your own vision might be for you.

My epiphany was that after we had our first DifferenceMakersOC event in early 2011, where we gathered 100 OC Executives for networking and to benefit a worthy charity, I looked back at my business and saw it as something completely different.  I realized, to my surprise, that my work – fitting an ideal new leader into a key executive vacancy in a client company – is astoundingly similar to connecting two Difference Makers in the community.

You see, I find the real key for ideal “fit” is to align the values and priorities of the company with the true makeup of a talented new executive leader.  When this fit is ideal, it’s like a great marriage, and the synergy provides tremendous benefit for every stakeholder of the company – all the employees, the investors, and each customer the company serves.  I was amazed to realize how well this “marriage” fits the Difference Makers vision.

I had no idea that discovering a vision for my life, one that initially seemed to relate only to serving others in the community, was really a blueprint for a more fulfilling business life as well.  I didn’t expect this outcome – just as I didn’t know the real value of a vision.  Why couldn’t I have learned this a long time ago?  I wish you all the best for finding your own buried treasure – it just may start with a vision.

Thanks for sharing time with me; as always, I welcome your feedback.  Please feel free to pass this message along to others who may find value.

Reference:  For a great story about that original Difference Makers group, you can read a recent article by Russell Williams called Six Difference Makers – A Canvas of Influence for Good, copied on my blog HERE, or visit – if you are not receiving the pearls of wisdom from Russ, I encourage you to get on his list.


Jeff Black
Partner, McDermott & Bull Executive Search

Cell: (714) 356-1949
Office: (949) 529-2672
2 Venture, Suite 100
Irvine, CA 92618

I believe creating relationships that truly fit makes a big difference in the world