Floyd Hammer and his wife, Kathy, are founders of the not-for-profit Outreach, Inc., in Union, IA.  I met them first in 2008 as they helped me establish a meal-packaging organization, then I purchased 25 million meals worth of ingredients and the equipment to package it from them. Since January 1 of this year, I have had the privilege of working for them.  The photograph above is of them at the White House where President Obama and former President Bush invited them to receive the 5,000th Points of Light Award.

Before getting into the not-for-profit arena, Floyd was a very successful businessman and brings that acumen into Outreach. He likes the phrase not-for-profit better than non-profit because he says that if a non-profit isn’t making a profit, it is just a memory.  However, a good not-for-profit makes money then uses that money to do good things.

He is the most socially entrepreneurial not-for-profit leader I’ve ever been around.  He attributes his success to time he spent fresh out of college being mentored by J.B. Clay of Clay Equipment, in Cedar Falls, Iowa. J.B. started selling farm gates out of wagon in 1898 and had Basics of Business that he taught Floyd.  Floyd passes on these business basics to us:

      1. Nothing happens until someone sells something.
      2. You cannot sell from an empty wagon.
      3. You must have a good team.
      4. You can only sell right if you buy right.
      5. The time to save money in business is when you have it not after it is gone.
      6. Meetings should never last more than one hour.
      7. When there are two people in an organization who always agree, one of them is unnecessary.
      8. Rule of three, hardly ever do ideas work the first time; try it, fix it, do it.
      9. If you make a mistake fix it, there is no substitute for responsibility.
      10. You should try to have no more than 12 words in a sentence.
      11. You can judge much about a man from his handshake.
      12. The difference between work and play is attitude.

Floyd writes, “On my last day of work at Clay Equipment, JB invited me into his office for what today is called ‘an exit interview.’  Back then it was just common sense and courtesy. We spoke for a few minutes and the last words spoken to me by JB were “I wish you hard work”. Too many people that may sound unusual, but to me it was very special gift because his last basic:

13. The people who work the hardest have “the best luck!”

I encourage you to poke around on the Outreach, Inc., site a bit more. A current article, “The Four Promises,” gives some background to how Outreach was started.

Whether you’re in a for-profit business to make money for the company’s shareholders, or a not-for-profit that makes money to provide food, water, medicine, and education for those at home and abroad, just remember rule #1:  Nothing happens until someone sells something!