New Year’s reSOLUTIONS: Making a Positive Difference in 2015

John Trierweiler Foresight, New Year's reSOLUTIONS Leave a Comment

CMO John Trierweiler explains why this year his focus will be on giving rather than receiving

BNewYearsReSolutions_15_smally John Trierweiler

Two observations have come into focus as 2014 ticks closer to its end and the time for contemplating a new year begins:

1. I’m not sure we can successfully track down the origin of the phrase “Give until it feels good”—a wonderful twist on the old adage to “Give until it hurts”—but the first time I heard it was during comments by Stephen M. Ross after he made a $200-million gift to the University of Michigan.
2. Our new Michigan Ross business school mission—to develop leaders who make a positive difference in the world—has resonated strongly with people and organizations looking for a path and a toolkit to find deeper meaning in their lives.

“Certainly, giving is a direct and powerful way to make a positive difference with your family, your community and your place of work. But there are so many other ways to make a positive difference.”
The question is how these two areas—giving back and making a positive difference—overlap, and how they can be meaningfully expressed in my own life and in the lives of those around me. It is my hope that these ideas might resonate with others as well.


Anybody who has given freely knows that it does indeed feel better to give than to receive (though receiving isn’t so bad, either!). Think of areas via which you might be able to give in 2015:
Volunteering. Personally, I have made a resolution to give back by accepting a volunteer board position for an Ann Arbor-based non-profit organization (NEW; check them out at NEW’s mission is to enable dozens of other non-profits to accomplish their missions. This “multiplier effect” of being able to give to a multitude of mission-driven organizations by actively supporting one organization is highly appealing. Think about how a small amount of your time for volunteering can be used to really help others, and go ahead and craft a plan to make that time available.
Donating. It could be a monetary gift, to be sure, but if we think more broadly there are so many other ways to provide the resources needed to improve the lives of people, institutions and others who could use a helping hand. Whether it is providing, creating, organizing, participating or sharing (and don’t forget the simple and precious gift of donating blood), the opportunities to give back are much broader than reaching into one’s wallet.


Make a Positive Difference

Certainly, giving is a direct and powerful way to make a positive difference with your family, your community and your place of work. But there are so many other ways to make a positive difference. All you need is a bit of creativity, willingness and determination. This occasional mirror-check can be useful:
• In my own life. Am I an “energy giver” or an “energy drainer?” Do people seek me out? Do people smile when they see me? Do people feel an inner warmth for time spent together? Or not?
• In the lives of others. Am I focused on me, or am I focused on those around me? Am I thinking and actively shaping and supporting the next generation to be even more responsible and others-focused than my own? And am I doing the same for the current generation so that people with fewer opportunities are allowed a more level playing field, providing them with a chance to bring their best selves forward?

Watch the Magic Happen

Studies conducted by Adam Grant (Penn/Wharton), Wayne Baker (Michigan/Ross) and many others have proven that people enjoy giving, that people will give far more than you expect, and that the very act of giving creates a contagious “rising tide” of not just happiness but also fulfillment and productivity, strengthening relationships, workplaces and communities. In other words: Try it, you’ll like it!


JTrierweiler Portrait - Bonus Pic 2John Trierweiler is Chief Marketing Officer of the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. He was featured in Issue No. 8 of Forefront magazine

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