The Power of Passion
Adam Glickman of EO Los Angeles is Founder, President and CEO of Condomania, America’s first condom store. As President and CEO, he now oversees all of Condomania’s retail, mail order and Internet operations. Condomania and its President, currently the Chapter President for EO Los Angeles, have been cited in more than 1,000 newspaper and magazine articles.
We entrepreneurs are a passionate bunch. We are passionate about the companies we build and the families we love. We tend to approach most of the important stuff in life with unbridled vim and vigor. We instinctively focus on the bright side of things, seeing every problem as a solution waiting to happen. We all know that despite our common bonds, however, one EOer’s dream is not always another’s bowl of Rocky Road ice cream.
Armed with these insights, early last year I approached my chapter, EO Los Angeles, with the idea of producing a charity event to benefit children affected by AIDS. Like many, I have known someone who has died of AIDS; however, the issue is close to me for two additional reasons. One, I have been selling condoms and related safer sex products through my company, Condomania, for more than 16 years with the goals of making safer sex more accessible, acceptable and enjoyable. Two, my wife has been a long-time volunteer and board member of The Children Affected by AIDS Foundation (CAAF).
Combining my passion for this important cause with the activities and interests of EO presented several challenges. First, many in EO have argued that it is not the mission of EO to do philanthropic work. After all, our cause is the welfare and success of our members, not the entire world. Second, even if the chapter agreed to support a philanthropic event, we would still have the challenge of identifying a common cause and determining our level of involvement.
Fortunately, as President-Elect, I had a little extra influence within the chapter, which enabled me to make a strong pitch for the charity event concept. To be truly persuasive, I knew that my pitch had to address the aforementioned concerns.
Working with the chapter board, it was agreed that, while EO could support a charity event in many ways, it was not appropriate to use our budget to pay for the event or to make a donation. Rather, we would use other chapter resources, such as the time and effort of our members, to plan the event and drive attendance. In addition, the chapter would front all the money needed for deposits and advance costs.
Knowing that we had to appeal to passions beyond those concerning HIV/AIDS to attract a large crowd and generate funds, we built the event around an art auction concept. In true EO fashion, we thought big, collecting donated pieces of art from more than 50 Los Angeles-based artists, soliciting cash and in-kind sponsors and throwing one hell of a party in an extraordinary venue.
On 11 May 2006, the Los Angeles Chapter of EO presented City of Angels, City of Art, a Benefit for the Children Affected by AIDS Foundation. The event, held at a funky "superloft" space in downtown Los Angeles, was attended by more than 200 people and raised approximately US$45,000 through ticket sales, the sale of donated works of art and a silent auction. The evening concluded with a brief "Conversation on Collecting Contemporary Art" with noted art experts, as well as a live auction of selected works, hosted by Bonhams & Butterfields.
One highlight of the event was the sale, via live and silent auction, of 12 pieces of children’s artwork, selected from dozens of entries in a national contest open to children served by agencies that receive funding from CAAF. The winning entry, Seraphic Sunrise, by Ashley, age 12, was featured as the cover art on the event invitation and sold at the live auction for US$400.
Yes, we entrepreneurs are a passionate bunch. I value the diversity among my peers, and I deeply respect our differing points of view. In the end, however, I know what unites us as EO members is many times stronger that what could possibly divide us. When our visions are aligned, there is nothing that we can’t do.