When will the world start to turn with kindness?
Doesn’t it sound good to hear about companies whose main aim is to help those in need, to support them and to really understand the importance of this and to truly do this wholeheartedly to the very end? Well, that’s the kind of happiness and honor we are living up to here at Tider. In this week’s article, I have reserved aside the story of two young directors and how the help of our new General Manager has supported them.
In May of 2010, we setup our club society with the name of Food Banking Society. You can read about how we established this society in my past writing piece at this link:
At that time, we faced the realities of life when we setup our food bank society, which was on behalf of 8 food banks, which had the target of setting up a good bank framework. The food banks which were in contact with, and the ones contacting us from different regions of Turkey generally said “send us the goods and we’ll take care of the rest”. And we were relaying to them the procedures that are required for food banking, the high standards, the unbiased and transparent principles and our waste management missions.
However, we were not speaking the same language. At that time, in order to be beneficial, we would send out our goods through channels that we thought were most logical and appropriate. We followed and continued this model for 4 years.
Our first society General Secretary was Mr Ugur Uralcan. He was quite decent and honest. The only thing we couldn’t agree on was the fact that he was not open to change. He was against anything that was beyond the classic food banking model.
I, on the other hand tried to explain that we should try different things to continuously make suggestions to improve the current model. Talks like this continued for 4 years. In one way, I understood why he was so conservative. In an environment, where cash donations were minimal and him being conservative with money, in order to sustain the financial situation, he was always on the slow business model.
2014 turning point
In the meantime, please don’t get me wrong. We were doing very beneficial things. In the first 4 years, we signed up to maybe million Turkish liras in donations. But this still wasn’t satisfying me.
But the bull lost its tail in the year 2014. That year, from my suggestions, our team was on the road to expansion. Based on my opinions, our society needed fresh blood. The interviews I conducted at that time caught my attention to two young starters. One of them being Selen Gokdeniz and the other Ezgi Ozkok. Both of their interviews went well. Because I liked both of them, I gave them both an offer. At this stage, Mr Ugur left the society on his own accord.
Selen was the first to jump on the ship. There was immediate action from the moment of her joining the team. We were speaking the same language. As she had high motivation, if I told her to do ‘one thing’, she’d do ‘three or five’. She went above my expectations. When I started to see this, I gave her extra work. And she’d manage it all rather well. The things at the society were finally starting to fall into place.
On the other side, we had made an agreement with Ezgi. When she told the civil company she was working for that she is leaving, they didn’t let her go; by saying they needed her, they gave her quite a significant pay rise. Then they gave her a higher position and transferred her somewhere else. She then asked for forgiveness from me by saying ‘I’m sorry but I can’t leave them stranded’. I still didn’t let her go. We continued our communication. She also continued to volunteer in some of the society’s activities.
Laying the foundations of Soma
At this period, you could hear the sounds of change at the society. All of the board members were giving the green light to change. This was instead of just supplying the fish; we used the model to also teach them how to catch that fish, which required changes to our regulation, name and model. In short, we made changes from top to bottom. Two days after this board date, the explosion happened in Soma. Without any hesitation, 6 of us got in the car and went to Soma. We were the first group to go there with our society’s Board of Director member, Alp Armutlu, and Selen, Ezgi and I on behalf of Tider. Of those who may remember that period, things were crazy in the surroundings. The police were not giving access to Soma. They stopped our 34 plated cars at the entry. So we decided to go to plan B and called our wind energy technician friend who worked in Soma. Thanks to him, we were allowed entry into Soma ‘as his friends’. After we went in, we went to each and every village in that region. As we had always planned, to the opposite of other Civil Society organizations, we instead asked ‘what do you need?’ and after whatever they needed, we provided to the ones in need. As a result, to cover the needs of things required, we were the best civil society organization in Soma by providing work and scholarships for children and the young (the data we obtained here, we passed onto institutes like Darussafaka) and by carrying out the rural reconstruction project in the Yirca Village. With an unbelievable level of positivity, humane and willing spirit, Soma continued to become crowded with our supporters, which we managed rather well. Below you can watch a video truly reflecting the great spirits of Selen and Ezgi:
And these are the photos of Soma left in our mind:
You can read in detail all the things we did in Soma in the below article I wrote:
In the same spirit, we tackled things with Tider. Although there were many stages of difficulty, we still managed to open the first Support Market in February 2015 in Maltepe. Today, Tider has reached a point of helping 5000 families in need and has ambitions to target reaching out to 100,000 families with the opening of the Support Market in Bagcilar, along with growing all over Turkey with the Support Market and its accreditation system we have formed, as well as providing help and employment, our institute has become more effective with the use of new and improved technology. And then in March, we received an innovation award for all our hard work from the world food bank being GFN, which was the icing on the cake. You can read my blog regarding this award at the below link:
Continuing the strong links with Ezgi
About 1.5 years ago, I received a message from Ezgi. It said she wanted to meet with me. She came to see me. She told me about her future life plans. She had plans to study abroad and if possible gain some experience by also working. She advised she’d like to study at Harvard. She completed the applications and got a notice of acceptance. The Harvard program required 1 year of studies away and 1 year in Boston. She started the program in Istanbul however was looking for a scholarship for the second term study in Boston.
The fact that she wanted to improve and develop herself in this way made me want to also help her. In the end I made her an offer to both suit my heart and mind (my best decisions are made when my heart and mind act alike) “I will provide you with the funds required for you to go to Harvard, but on your return, I’d like for you to work amongst us, at the club society”.
She accepted my offer. Infact she said ‘I was going to continue working with you regardless of if you gave me a scholarship or not’. We were able to agree to all the details. Ezgi went to complete her ‘Masters in Business Administration’ program and for the Non-Profit Organization Professional Certificate program. A long with her business classes, she strengthened her studies with the additional subjects below to compliment her ‘non-profit’ organization establishment management program:
- Principles and Practices of Fundraising
- Managing Financial Resources in Nonprofit Organizations
- Strategic Planning and Fundraising for Nonprofit Organizations
The combination of practice and theory
In the first term, she continued her studies at the Boston campus as a full time student. Towards the end of the term, she called me to advise that in the second term there would be an alternative to work on a social business venture in Mexico, and what I thought about this. I replied “Don’t even think about it, go to Mexico. The theory you learnt at Harvard, you can put into practice in Mexico which will be fantastic”, which gave her courage. She decided to go to Mexico. In the meantime, for her term holiday (this year in January), she came to Turkey and paid as a visit. At the end of last year, Yasemin Uyar, who had really made some great contributions, left us and from this, we made some decisions about the board management team. My first priority was to ask my close friend and who is I believe on of Turkey’s most detailed and experienced CSO professional, My Uygar Ozesmi ‘to work with us’, since I had just heard that he left working for change.org. He then, making a quick decision, agreed to work with us part time as the Executive Director (in other words, it can also be referred to as the Executive Board president or the director of the club society, as part of the board of professionals).
During our conversations, as he loved the idea of bringing up and educating the youth, with a reflex of this he said “let’s have a young general manager and bring them up under my mentoring”. He described me a profile in mind. And to that I said ‘I know this person’. Infact, two days later I met with Ezgi and invited him also and introduced them. After that first meeting, we met again and made her the offer. And of course, Ezgi’s smile was ear to ear.
Fast paced steps of patience
Uygar couldn’t believe how quickly this step was achieved. Within 5 days, I had made an agreement to appoint Uygar as the Executive Director, and have Ezgi as our General Manager on her return from the US and Mexico. The team was ready. All we had to wait for was the next 5-6 year period. In this period, like before, things were not going to happen overnight. The time I was spending at the club was more than the normal hours, which allowed Tider to flourish in the way it did. Infact, we were able to crown this period with an Innovation Award from GFN. Also at this time, Ezgi was able to put her theory into practice in the 4 months she was studying social enterprise in Mexico. These were:
- Forming all financial management periods and procedures
- Financial tables and analysis
- Developing sources of potential donation, analysis and planning
- Strategic plans for growth
After this unbelievable experience, Ezgi returned back home almost 2 weeks ago and as of yesterday, literally became the General Manager of Tider.
A new position of many ‘roads’ for Selen
Selen, who as always worked with a whole heartedly attitude, moved into a new position that she deserved. All the sacrifices she made up until now, was combined with her new position at the club society as ‘Corporate Communication & Source Development Responsible Manager’. I wish both of them the best of luck from the bottom of my heart and I believe we will work together to take steps in further successful projects. The model we developed not only for our country, but also for the world, will for many more generations, without a doubt, serve people and nature.
I’ve always loved intelligent people who work with their heart. This was the same for both my work and private life. For example, it’s not easy finding someone who can do their work properly, and also be honest, talented and know their job well. When I find someone like this, I don’t let go.
When I come across qualities like this in youth, I try and support them as much as I can. Ezgi and Selen are two very good examples of this. But unfortunately, these types are rare and life isn’t always pretty and rosy. The youth that I meet unfortunately are either not qualified enough, don’t have proper education, bad willed, only after money, making minimum effort for maximum result or wanting senior positions without trying and not fully understanding what it means to make great effort, overly confident, act sheepish but deep down they are wolves. On the other hand, the good willed ones either cannot be responsible or result orientated, lazy and hopeless, even if the world was to end today.
Full support to the end for the right reason
When they asked me ‘do you support young entrepreneurs’, I generally laugh. The answer is always ‘Yes I do, but only the ones I choose’. I have had two bad experiences with the ones I’ve helped. As I said, for me having a good genuine character is not an option. And this is a quality that doesn’t show itself well at the beginning. But someone who does have a bad character will eventually crack in the end. I immediately pull away my support the minute I see this.
All the bad negative things that are happening in the world today come from capital and power that bad charactered people have. So I definitely would not want to reach out to those people who will affect the future negatively. Opposing this, I will fully support people who try to make the world a better place, people who have decent characters and make contributions to humanity, someone who can reflect positivity to people around them, both in their work and personal lives, will always have my support and place in my life.
I do believe there are people also who think like me. We should altogether reach out to decent and good willed youth, so we can eliminate them living problems of the world we experienced.
In other words, while it may take several generations for our world to turn with kindness, if we give the right people support without losing any further time, the world will be a better place to live for our children and generations to come, for which we have laid the foundations for.
In saying all of this, I’d like to take the chance to invite everyone to attend the Wellness Festival in Macka Park tomorrow. I also recommend you view the invitation Good4Trust below.
As the motto for this Good4Trust vision goes, founded by my friend Uygar, we wish ‘the growth of goodness by sharing’.
See you at the Wellness Festival…