Posts Tagged ‘charity’

Bill Austin: Businessman, Philanthropist, Hero

April 29, 2014
Businessman and philanthropist Bill Austin

Businessman and humanitarian Bill Austin

It is always an honor to interview great people who are making a difference in the world. The mission of Bill Austin, CEO of Starkey Hearing Technologies, is nothing short of heroic.

At the start of our interview for Twin Cities Business magazine, Bill told me, “As a young man, I felt I belonged to the world, but I didn’t know what that meant.” More than a million disadvantaged, hearing-impaired men, women and children around the world are thankful that it didn’t take him long to gain clarity about his destiny.


Inspired by Albert Schweitzer’s work in Africa, eighteen-year-old Bill Austin decided to become a missionary doctor. Leaving his family in Oregon, he enrolled at the University of Minnesota Medical School in 1960. To earn tuition money, he worked as an ear-mold technician at his uncle’s downtown Minneapolis hearing aid company. “As I was doing that work, I thought about how hearing aids could be manufactured more efficiently so people might hear better,” Austin recalls. “And I kept saying to myself, ‘Don’t think about those things; you’re going to be a doctor.’”

One day he was called in to help fit an elderly man with a hearing aid and was deeply moved by the man’s joyous reaction. That night, Austin laid on a single bed in his rented room at 2770 Dean Boulevard in Minneapolis and stared at the ceiling. “I said to myself out loud, ‘Bill, the reason you want to be a doctor is so you can help people. If you do this work, you’ll be able to help people and you won’t kill anyone; as a doctor, you’re sure to kill many.’”

Realizing that a business employing teams of people could accomplish more than even the most well-intentioned of doctors, Austin abandoned his medical plans. “I changed the course of my life instantly from that one looking-at-the-ceiling (more…)

How You Can Help SevaChild Save Children’s Lives

December 2, 2013

My friend Rick Carlton is the founder of SevaChild International, India’s first national association of child aid organizations. As this four-minute video explains, the only hope for the 80 million Indian children who live in unimaginable poverty is humanitarian intervention.


I got together with Rick to make this one-minute video that explains how SevaChild is saving tens of thousands of impoverished children from Vitamin A Deficiency, which can cause blindness and even death.

As this thirty-nine-second video explains, Rick started a crowdfunding campaign to (more…)

Sue Crolick—She Lost Her Voice and Found Her Way

December 11, 2009

Sue Crolick

It is an honor to call Sue Crolick a friend. Sue gave up an established career in advertising and design to start Creatives for Causes, a nonprofit charity benefiting at-risk kids. I wrote this article almost fifteen years ago but Sue and her charity—and its cornerstone program, Art Buddies—are still going strong. I spoke to her yesterday just as she was going out the door for the huge Art Buddies celebratory final event of the year.

The following article covers the origins of Sue’s charity. As soon as she has a chance to catch her breath, she’ll update me on what’s new and what’s in store for 2010 and beyond!


If not for a paralyzed vocal cord, Sue Crolick might still be an award-winning art director and designer instead of bringing joy to children’s lives as founder and president of Creatives for Causes, a nonprofit charity.

Crolick found herself at a crossroads in 1990 when she felt her passion for the advertising business slipping away. “I knew I had to make a living because I was single and had a daughter ready for college,” she explains, “but all I knew was what I did not want to do.”

Crolick was yearning for a big change. On New Year’s Eve day in 1991, she got it. Her doctor found a tumor (more…)