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Two Steve Jobs Quotes That Help Us Do Volunteer Abroad Better

Posted by Randy LeGrant | Oct 7, 2011 9:08:00 AM

The Guilford GreenHere in our Guilford, CT office we look out onto a town Green that was established in 1639.  Same Green, same foot paths for 362 years.  At the North end sits the traditional New England white church with the clock tower and required bell that tolls at Noon.  On the other 3 sides of our Green sit buildings dating back to the 1700s.  Our office is in a building built in 1750.  We are surrounded by rich history.  All of us here are deeply attached to this place and we feel proud to be here.

We have four rooms in our office...and I wish every volunteer and teacher could visit us.  I'll make a video one of these days.  In these four offices are 7 desks and a conference table.  And on top of each and every desk is a stunning Apple iMac.  On 3 of the desks sit iPhones.  1 iPad.  And we have 3 MacBook Pros and 2 MacBook Airs.  We are an all-Apple office.

A photo of the Mac ClassicI bought my first Macintosh computer in 1984.  I drank the kool-aid then, and I've been drinking it ever since.  Our staff loves their Apple devices and some of them have bought Apple for their homes, having used them at GeoVisions.

I'm sorry Steve Jobs died, and at such a young age.  But more than that, I'm glad he lived.

GeoVisions invested in Apple to the point that we only use their equipment.  But we also learned something else from our association with Apple's products.  Their vision.

It is no secret, our global financial condition puts a strain on business growth.  The money people have to spend to volunteer or teach abroad is less each month.  We rely heavily on host families abroad, and times are tough for them also.  They might have an extra room and a desire to host.  But do they have the extra cash to feed another person for 3 months?  It's harder all the time.

I see a few of our competitors try to fix things by lowering their prices.  I was at a meeting in Barcelona, Spain a few weeks ago and talked to some people from volunteer projects in South Africa and in Asia who have been told to lower their fees and accept more volunteeers or these big guys said they would stop sending volunteers to them.  That's shameful.

Photo of an iMacOthers are cutting costs and downsizing to cope with our global economy.  In my opinion, what this does is promote fear at work and has a negative impact on customer service.

At GeoVisions, we have always used Apple technology and Steve Jobs quotes to help guide us to the forefront of creativity.  When Apple was struggling, Steve Jobs remarked, "The cure for Apple is not cost-cutting. The cure for Apple is to innovate its way out of its current predicament.”

We have not cut our prices, we raised them to make sure we can pay all of our bills.  We have not cut our staff.  We hired more so we can deliver stellar customer service.  We also added amazing projects in Israel, Italy and we came up with how to get spending money for some of our Conversation Corps members in Spain, and invented the most unique Conversation Partner program in France...something no one can do without us.

Photo of Steve JobsSteve Jobs was right.  Innovate your way out.  Come up with inspiring ideas that make people say, "Wow!"  We want people to look at what we have to offer the world and try to figure out how they can be a part of it.  Do we strong-arm our overseas partners?  No!  We provide them better service, screened applicants, on-time payments, excited and committed volunteers.  We deliver remarkable volunteers and teachers.  We offer innovative and unique programming.  We will continue to invest in Apple products, and we will continue to innovate our way to number one.

In a May 25, 1993 Wall Street Journal interview, Steve Jobs said something I'll never forget. It has stayed with me and guided me each day.  "Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

Written by Randy LeGrant

Randy is the Executive Director of the GeoVisions Foundation. He has spent the last 44 years managing organizations that send people abroad on cultural and educational exchanges.

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