A community that’s becoming stronger by the removal of those who don’t live up to their commitments
By Jay Lieberman
The existential philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre said it best, “Commitment is an act, not a word.”
It’s a word that can define the rise of a community or its demise. What’s amazing about this word commitment is it’s so strong, so determinative to the core of a group that it can become even stronger after it has been attacked.
I was up late the other night, going over the final tally of donations received from members at the last Impact Club event. I was struck by four members that haven’t honored their commitment at both events so far. I repeatedly saw them in the “not received” column.
I felt confused. I truly didn’t understand. They committed to put up their donations when they signed up. It just didn’t make sense.
Then in a moment of serendipity, I was drawn to the show American Greed that came blasting on the television. This particular episode featured Bill Mastro, owner of Mastro Auctions.
During the 80’s and 90’s they were the premier auction-house dealing in high-end sports
memorabilia. Their catalogs, auction events, offices, and the items being sold were glorious, five-star.
Bill Mastro became synonymous with words like ‘trust’, ‘quality’ and most important ‘commitment’. This guy was granite.
That trust and commitment, however, built over 25 years, was destroyed in an instant.
You see, Mastro and his firm were engaged in some of the most fraudulent activities ever seen in the industry. Shill bidding, passing forgeries off as originals, modifying items to better their condition, were just the start.
One particular egregious act of cutting the rounded edges of the rarest baseball card in existence, the Honus Wagner T206, previously owned by Wayne Gretsky, was done to increase its value dramatically. He even sold fake Elvis Presley hair – twice.
He eventually went to jail and the trust he built through perceived commitment was lost in seconds. I thought to myself, yeah yeah, just another story about a crook.
But then something amazing grabbed my attention.
The fall of Mastro Auctions sent a massive shock wave through the entire memorabilia industry. The commitment of the collectible community was under major attack. Weakening it to its core. Some thought beyond repair.
But commitment can be reforged. From the ashes came a movement to reaffirm legitimacy. The remaining industry members circled the wagons, came together arm and arm, removed the bad apples from their membership, and the collectible community became much stronger and more respected than it had been before the collapse.
The word commitment is that strong. It is the basis, the glue really, that holds together a community of like-minded individuals.
Something similar has begun to happen with Impact Club. And it’s amazingly organic.
An Impact Club member called me upset a few weeks ago. Her voice was shaky like she was on the verge of crying. She heard there were a few members that haven’t fulfilled their donation commitments to the charity at the last event.
I have no idea how she found out, but Impact Club members are like that. They’re incredibly protective of the Club and the charities it gives to.
Michelle and I had been working very hard to finalize the donations from those that were unable to attend the events. But after numerous emails, calls, and texts there came only the deafening sound of silence. No response whatsoever.
We previously sent them their membership packages. T-shirts. Membership cards. They agreed to pledge their donations and promised they would be there with us. Arm and arm, to make massive impact, together.
These non-committed members even called to make sure they knew exactly when and where the next Impact Club event was, excitement in their voices. But, when the 6:30 pm start time came on the day of the first event, they were nowhere to be found. They never showed up.
And, they never responded to requests to send their donations after the event.
Then, just as we were giving up on them, they reached out. Apologizing. They got busy. They had work, family obligations. All members of Impact Club have similar obligations, but the difference is members of Impact Club make the time. Commitment is that important to them.
Once the second event came and went, the same four folks again broke their commitment. They responded to requests for their donations with similar silence at first. Then again, messages of apologizing about work, life, obligations. Promising to send their donations. Promises that yet again were not fulfilled.
Promise…broken…promise…promise…broken promise. Over and over again.
When we all joined Impact Club we said five of the most important words that exist to each other. Five words, a promise, that immediately define the character of the person that speaks them and the character of the members –
“You Can Count On Me.”
When any single member fails on that promise, it’s a striking blow to the group and the charities. The four members that decided not to fulfill their commitment spoke those five words when they joined. We all saw it. We all heard it.
But what they don’t realize is “Commitment is an act, not a word.”
To us all, breaking the commitment to the winning charities is the same as selling fraudulent Elvis Hair or a fake high-end baseball card. Major damage, which if allowed to fester, would rot our community from the inside out.
The winning charities count on the full donation to do the incredible work they do. They make plans based on the commitments we all made to them at the events. They expect those that commit will be a ‘man or woman of their word.’
Now, I understand some folks may have a financial hardship. Life happens. We get that. That is not who I’m talking about here.
What I’m talking about are those folks that clearly have made the decision to turn their backs on the charities that were awarded our donation.
Their decision doesn’t affect our pocketbooks.
Their lack of commitment is telling Joan, who has ovarian cancer, that the program we were going to fund can’t be there for her.
Their lack of commitment is telling Suzy, who is suffering from sickle cell disease, that we will be unable to fully help her family pay their rent, while facing mounting medical bills.
The major difference between people like this and Impact Club members is we are men and women of our word. We keep our promise and commitment to each other and the charities.
And because of this difference, the membership of these four people has been terminated.
Just as the memorabilia industry was strengthened by removing those that did not adhere to their commitment to legitimacy, we are strengthening the fortitude of Impact Club by quickly removing those that have repeatedly broken their commitment to our giving community.
And again, to all my fellow Impact Club members, I say these five words to you, and I know you will say them right back without hesitation –
You Can Count On Me!
P.S. If you are not already a member of Impact Club and want to make a difference in the community, if you have a drive to make huge impact with small individual donations, you have found a home here. Check out more details at www.ImpactClubConejoValley.com.
ABOUT THEM – Jay & Michelle Lieberman have been called “provocative and entertaining,” but also “committed philanthropists”. Entrepreneurs and relentless innovators of the real estate industry, creators of the “Value-Driven Approach to Sell Real Estate”, founders of the Conejo Valley Teacher Only Program, hosts of the Conejo Valley Advice Givers Podcast Show, and attorneys and real estate brokers at Keller Williams World Class in Southern California. They feel honored and blessed every day they are able to serve their clients, their family, friends and their community. You can reach them at info@TeamJayMichelle.com.