Leadership Thanks and Giving

I pulled together a dinner at a restaurant last week.  It was a reunion for friends who had attended a life-planning retreat ten years ago. And it was also a fundraiser for one of that cohort, Kelly Rossman-McKinney, who will make an awesome Michigan State Senator. We interrogated and advised Kelly, and we passed her checks for her campaign.

Meanwhile, the check for our dinner came. I glanced at it (sitting three people to the left of me) and mentally figured 8 people x approximately $50 = about $400. I thought: “Pick it up, alligator arms. You invited them. Don’t be cheap.” I mulled and thought: “If I do, maybe people will split it with me.” “Just pick it up,” the first voice said.

I won’t bore you with the rest of my inner conversation, but when I looked up, the check was gone.  I figured Augie had slid his card down, and we could divvy it when the waitress returned. The lively conversation continued.

Minutes later, I noticed Augie signing it. I embarrassedly muttered, “Augie, why are you doing that?” Others were similarly thanking and/or protesting. But Augie stopped us.

“It comes with a condition,” he announced with the NY accent he never shook.  All ears and eyes were on him.  “All of us are lucky,” he said. “We will stuff ourselves with food, among family and friends in a few days.” Meanwhile, he said millions in this country go without food every day.  So, he said: Calculate your share of the bill for our dinner – include the tax and tip, he quipped – and send that amount to an organization that feeds people.

Augie knows what he’s talking about.  He was longtime CEO of Gleaners Food Bank in Detroit and lately has been traveling the country, doing 1-3 year stints turning around struggling food banks.  Our friend Chad who is head of the Detroit Rescue Mission was also at our table. Chad, in his soft-spoken style, said nothing, but “Thanks, Augie.”  Chad did collect a couple checks on the spot.

Maybe Augie’s inspired you, as he inspired me (and stretched my alligator arms). If you pick up a check this week, as I now will do, and you need a ready charity, Detroit Rescue Mission helps over 2,000 people a month with both basic services like housing and food as well as rehabilitation and job retraining. Send a check to Chad and tell him, “Augie sent me to,

lead with my best self.”



  • Tim an I will be celebrating our 50th anniversary next week with family and friends. Our request is not to bring us gifts but donate items to a shelter that we will deliver afterwards. We must give from our heart at this time of the year. So many people in need. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  • Sending my Gleaners, DRM and Salvation Army donations off this week. The rescue mission helped my brother when he was in need.

    There is nothing you can dream that you can’t achieve
    Have the courage to go after your dreams and believe
    Always remember you are beautiful and unique
    Never give up when going after what you seek
    Keep reminders around to remind you of your dreams
    Save the present for it goes quicker than it seems
    Give more to others than you receive
    Inspire others with all that you achieve
    Value yourself, you are perfect for you
    Individuality is important so let it shine through
    Notice the small miracles all around you
    Greatness starts from within and is in all that you do

  • Thank-you Dan, for writing this leadership letter fro many years. The benefits magnify through all of us.

    • Mark John,
      And thank YOU for being my most consistent questioner, amplifier, encourager, conditioner, and story-teller. You have made Reading for Leading consistently better and helped me to continue try to lead with my own best self!
      Happy Thanksgiving,

  • Dan,
    Inspiring tale illustrating the dichotomy of American democracy. Just think of the millions [perhaps billions] of dollars spent in election campaigns and especially on “attack” tv commercials and the lack of proper legislation at State and Federal level for the poor!
    In the last election it was the ” middle class” that was usually mentioned. Rarely heard about the estimated 18 million living in real poverty. The current tax reforms in Senate and House fall into same trap. Perhaps the motto on coinage shouldn’t be “In God we Trust” but “Take care of the rich and to hell with the rest!”
    Thankfully there are very many decent americans who do care for those less fortunate. But the need for “food banks” both in the US and UK says a lot about those we elect and what we are!
    When your troubled country needs a FDR’s new deal what do you get: a DJT’s tweets.!
    Happy thanksgiving to all the family from the cus over the water! .

  • I sent a check to Gleaners last week, Dan – I have done every Thanksgiving (and usually once more during the year) since meeting Augie at Leadership Detroit all those years ago. He was — and clearly continues to be — an inspiration.

    Happy Thanksgiving!

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