Taking it Higher

March 28, 2012 
Taking it Higher - Randy Lewis and Kyle Maynard Two leaders who have pushed the boundaries for persons with disabilities 

The 11th BLN Breakfast Series Event sponsored by TD Bank Financial Group and On the Park Conference Centre 

The Ontario JOIN Spring BLN Employer Breakfast Series event was sponsored by TD Bank Financial Group on March 28, 2012 and featured two amazing speakers who held the audience captive as they were able to share how they were able to “Taking it Higher” through organizational commitment and personal commitment pushing the limits on pre-conceived notions and boundaries for persons with disabilities.

Amy Hanen from TD Bank welcomed all BLN members and guests to the morning’s event. Her thoughts echoed our speakers, “This event is very aptly named, ‘Taking it Higher.’ It speaks directly to what we want to accomplish in our workplace by constantly moving our agenda forward and up. Diversity is a strategic priority. It is part of our talent agenda, and we know that a diverse workforce enables us to better understand our customers.”

MC, Stefanie Marinich-Lee then introduced Randy Lewis, Senior Vice-President of Supply Chain and Logistics for Walgreen’s.

Randy has a son who lives with autism and he shared some personal stories about his son. Some highlights from Randy’s address: “No Greatness without Goodness:”

Needed to do something big, something good, something that calls out the better person in us. Something that we look back upon as the best work of our lives. Something we want to tell our children about and it is not necessarily complimentary to business objectives, we have found it to be integral in achieving them.
We didn’t have to have all of the answers before we started because we had seen a couple of people that go down the planning door, “Let’s get all the processes in place, let’s get everything laid out.” I have never seen anyone come out of the planning door. They get lost in there.
And we went all the way across the chain. We have over 1,000 employees with disabilities already.
We studied four months of data across 1,000 people, people with disabilities and without disabilities in four different centres. As far as safety, better safety, better accident records, reduced absenteeism… no surprises. To more important things, we found out. Great employees with great engagement. Our managers – To be successful in our buildings as managers you have to treat each person as an individual. Once you start doing that with people with disabilities you do it everywhere. You don’t put yourself in a box. Everybody benefits from that.
As typically abled people we work very hard to hide all that brokenness and that littleness inside of us. And to realize that that person is worthy so can I be worthy – that is a huge liberating thing. To put everybody on the same field, we are so much more alike, it is our brokenness that unites us and not our strengths, that is the power of our buildings.
And because of this we are moving this out to our stores. We have 8,000 locations in the United States and have an objective to hire one of 10 new hires to be a person with a disability.

The second morning keynote speaker, Kyle Maynard, bestselling author of “No Excuses” who, for the past seven years, has travelled to five continents and speaks to many organization, supporting injured American veterans and has shared the stage with the world’s greatest minds and business leaders, politicians, historians and stars. Whether he is in front of a middle school classroom or thousands at a major convention centre, Kyle says his deepest passion is helping the audience reach their highest human potential. In the early part of 2012, Kyle was the first quadruple amputee to reach the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro – he crawled to the summit with several other climbers carrying the ashes of a fallen soldier to remind him of why his journey was so important. During Kyle’s address he highlighted:

The hardest part of this whole thing to me is to break outside of my comfort zone. Moving out of our comfort zone and doing something (as Randy said) that we know is good. We know deep down in our hearts it is going to help change lives and to improve people in our companies and organizations as a whole. There are so many benefits to this.
I will tell you there will be an effect on the people around you in the organization. The people that are influenced by watching someone else go through their battles with disabilities. That is the difference. That is where it can have that catalyst to be able to go and move and effect the organization in a powerfully profound way.
What happens if the interaction is not perfect? Well, guess what… it is never going to be. There is never a perfect time. You have to choose to go and start. My book, “No Excuses” says the root of the excuse is really taking the blame away from ourselves and putting it on something else. We all do it and in effect this creates a disability. It creates a disability and subsequently every one of us in this room, every person on the planet has a massive disability, because I guarantee there is one debilitating excuse you are making in your life right now that is affecting every area of your life.
It doesn’t matter how successful or unsuccessful you perceive yourself to be or where you are on the scale, there is always those excuses. Are those big enough to keep you from the things you want to do most. I challenge you to go and say that this excuse right now dies in your seat. You walk out these doors and no longer have to be controlled. Choose one thing, one action you will take away from here. Go and change your life.
If in some small way Randy and JOIN and I and the people gathered here today can help you move from that place of fear it will absolutely change the world. Find your way and your truth and realize then that there are NO EXCUSES.