Taking Care of People, Taking Care of Business, Taking Care of the Planet

Taking Care Office DepotI recently attended a conference for female entrepreneurs, and I talked about the conference offered by Count Me In (CMI) in my last blog. Office Depot volunteered their corporate Headquarters in Boca Raton, Florida for the 3-day conference. I didn’t think much about Office Depot before this…other than it’s a place to pick up printing paper and ink when I run out. The title of the blog “Taking Care of People, Taking Care of Business, Taking Care of the Planet” is their motto. So big deal; lots of corporations have mottos, but do they all live by them? Well here is what I didn’t know: Office Depot does. Read on because I’m going to talk about a really cool program and some FREE (ya FREE) business tools (and lots of them) that are available to you!

Taking Care of People:

Office Depot has donated over $20 million dollars to help people, but I am not going to talk about all of that…I am going to talk about one program that I thought was unique and insightful. The National Backpack Program, now in its seventh year, places new backpacks into the hands of children who might not otherwise have the proper tools for success. Office Depot has donated nearly 1.8 million backpacks full of school suppliers since 2001.

Why is this so important?

Let me use a real-life example. As many of you already know, I’m from Montana, (and you are probably sick of hearing about fishing), and during a recent trip home I had the opportunity to visit with a woman whose experience with this program was more personal. Ok, so she’s my Mom, and she is the current Executive Director of The Boys and Girls Clubs Endowment Foundation in Billings, Montana and the former Development Director of Family Service, Inc., a nonprofit organization there, and she said the community involvement of Office Depot made a difference in the lives of many in a Montana community of just over 100,000.

She told me the people, who use the services of Family Service, are truly the most at-risk and vulnerable in their community. Any extra expense puts these families in crisis. Back to school expenses were one of the financial stressors of the low to very low-income families served. I was told each year the wonderful associates at the local Office Depot came forward to make certain hundreds of young people had backpacks and the needed school supplies to fill them. She would watch as the families, parents and children, stood in line for hours waiting their turn to receive these generous gifts. She could see the excitement of the kids and the relief of their parents, who now had one less thing to worry about! Without the involvement of Office Depot, many children would have returned to school without the tools their peers took for granted. She assured me that having the right tools set the tone for the entire school year and that the first couple of days at school are critical.

Taking Care of Business:

Did you know that there are a lot of FREE business resources on Office Depot’s website? It makes sense – business people are their customers! They offered WebCafe’ (their version of webinars before webinars were even heard of!) WebCafe’ was launched in 2002 as part of the Company’s online Business Resource Center. These free web-based seminars provide small business owners and other professionals with the opportunity to learn from industry experts on a variety of topics ranging from marketing and sales tools to finance and technology trends.

The workshops, which are held on select Tuesdays at 4 PM EST, consist of a 40-minute presentation followed by an interactive question-and-answer session.

They have what seems like hundreds of business form templates (from sample equipment leases to IRS tax forms), and provide a small business handbook that tells you everything you need to know to run your business from equity to employees. It’s amazing and I wish I had known about it a few years ago!

I know about them now because they stand behind women in business and are committed to identifying the growing global needs of today’s businesswoman. I am posting a picture of me with Monica Luechtefeld, who is the EVP of E-Commerce and Direct Marketing for Office Depot. Since I own a business (www.mindspotinc.com) that utilizes the online space – I feel qualified enough to say that her team is doing a great job and I learned a few things from them while I was there! Monica is also tasked by the organization to leverage her relationships with women’s business organizations to expand their marketing efforts towards business owners. I can’t speak for all of the women who attended the conference last month, but I can say thank you to Monica and her organization for supporting us. And, Monica-I think you are awesome! This is why I had to have my picture taken with her (photo attached to the blog)! Hey…we all need role models.

Taking Care of the Planet:

Office Depot thinks green. They try and buy and supply green products. Okay, there are a few companies on that bandwagon. But Office Depot seems to be not only talking the talk but walking the walk. Their environmental strategy can be summed up in a simple statement; they are committed to increasingly buy green, be green and sell green. It’s pretty simple.

Yep, it seems like good business to me.

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