Send the Elevator Back Down

Our success isn’t just our own. It’s a culmination of dedication, happenstance, hard work, loving support, sometimes a little luck, and opportunity.

I recall a conversation I had years ago with a colleague about “sending the elevator back down.” Meaning, that each of us has a responsibility to share our success with others. As we achieve successful new heights, reach down and lend a hand to help others rise with you.

An Amazing Opportunity

I remember a Spring day when I learned that Augie Ray had recommended me as a guest speaker for Dr. Daradirek (Gee) Ekachai’s social media course at Marquette University. I knew of Augie through professional and social circles. Honestly, I had no idea that he knew me, let alone would recommend me as a speaker.

After joining Gee’s class on multiple occasions she offered me an opportunity to become an adjunct instructor and take over her class on Emerging and Social Media. Her offer blew me away, I never expected such an opportunity to share my experience with others.

Fueled by caffeine, I found the long days or weekends preparing for the course or grading assignments rewarding in their own right.

Every semester I met new students that were eager to learn and share their perspectives with me which resulted in one of the greatest gifts – learning from them and in some cases, making life long friends.

Enjoy the personal reward of supporting others and helping them reach their goals. The kindness you share today could make a world of difference to someone else.

Sharing With Others

Reflecting on the first speaking opportunity Gee gave me, I returned the favor by opening my classroom to the colleagues and co-workers that I admired and respected most. I even incorporated opportunities for real local businesses to join the course. From small startups to established businesses, students developed social strategies for each company and in return they had an opportunity to make even more connections in the community.

The ultimate reward came when I asked Abi Gilman, a colleague at Laughlin Constable, to help me teach the course. As a favor she took over a semester for me. But my favorite experience was teaching the course together.

Augie recommended me as a speaker. Gee offered more speaking opportunities and her class to me. And I shared those same speaking opportunities with others, eventually having Abi share the course with me.

In each instance others gave up something valuable and shared it with someone else. It’s not always easy to give up something you value or own. But I can definitively say that sharing those opportunities always felt rewards.

I’ve been very lucky to have a loving family, supportive mentors, and patient co-workers that have helped me achieve success. So I encourage you to find a way to give back, pay it forward, or send the elevator back down.

It Feels Great to Give Back

It may start with a simple gesture. Partner with a local college or group like United Adworkers to review student resumes or portfolios. Take a moment to have coffee with someone looking to start or change their career. Mentor a young colleague. Share your speaking opportunities with colleagues. Listen to the new business pitch from a startup – you may not buy, but you may help them sell.

Enjoy the personal reward of supporting others and helping them reach their goals. The kindness you share today could make a world of difference to someone else.

How have you helped others? I’d love to hear your stories and suggestions in the comments below.


I encourage you to write more and join Januwordy, a daily writing challenge that kicks-off in January 2019. Today’s writing prompt is/was cascade.

cascade / cas·cade / kaˈskād / noun
a process whereby something, typically information or knowledge, is successively passed on.

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