I suppose it's always been there. For as long as I can remember that is. An inherent need to connect with community. To create. To engage in moments that reinforce one's sense of place and purpose. To tether myself to a greater good and bear witness to humanity rising.
Perhaps it was this inherent need that propelled me to found and launch my company, Benefit Auctions 360 thirteen years ago.
At the time, I was an artist and advocate, craving a deeper connection to my place in this world. Yearning for a more enriching life experience and a longstanding desire to in fact, be the change I wished to see in the world.
With grit & gusto to guide me, and many (did I say many?!) moments doubting my ability to lead the charge in a male dominated field, Benefit Auctions 360 was born, allowing me to channel my roots as a second generation auctioneer with my love for community engagement, and set forth on a path to propel Nonprofit Organizations forth in spirit and in fundraising. For the last fifteen years, I have had the phenomenal honor of partnering with Do-Gooder's throughout the country as a professional fundraising auctioneer and consultant, raising more than 200 million dollars of philanthropic support for Nonprofits and Foundations from coast to coast.
And throughout that time, my heart has been filled with an immense and humbling gratitude for the organizations, individuals and companies far and wide, who stand for what they believe in, and give back to their communities through donation and deed, investing in missions and moments that speak to their heart.
With time, comes the opportunity for reflection, and throughout the last year I have been reflecting on the roads I have proudly traveled with Benefit Auctions 360. The beloved change makers I've met along the way. The lifelong friendships formed. The incredibly talented auctioneers and consultants that have joined in 360's chorus throughout the years. Their dedication to a greater good, their immense talent, and unyielding drive to rise to the occasion is profoundly moving. Together we have created a ripple effect for positive impact and community investment that will continue without end.
With my continued reflection on the last fifteen years of fundraising came the opportunity to dive deeper within myself. It is said that in a mirror we find our reflection, but in our heart, we find our soul.
As I began to round the corner towards this next decade of my life, I started listening with greater intent to the beat of that internal drum of mine. It's soulful groove has guided me toward a renewed sense of place and purpose.
To live my life with a sense of place and purpose in a way that honors my own unique rhythm, at a pace that unifies my body, mind, and spirit.
To live my life with a sense of place and purpose set to a steady beat that fills this heart of mine with a continued call to action as an auctioneer, artist, and advocate.
A call to action to actually live THE 360 LIFE.
To connect community to cause.
To celebrate beauty in the world.
To craft opportunities for people to give and get involved.
To fully embrace and embody my authentic self.
To find balance.
To be here now.
With my family.
With those I've yet to meet.
To ignite a spark.
To continue standing for what I believe in.
To gather for every occasion and celebrate the art of living.
To move towards the point of greatest impact.
As I began to fully embrace the transformation that I was witnessing within, a transformation of Benefit Auctions 360 began to take shape as well.
I had once heard that real transformation requires real honesty. If you want to move forward - get real with yourself. And things were getting real.
In order to follow this renewed sense of place and purpose, both personally and professionally, I knew that Benefit Auctions 360 would need to evolve as well. And after fifteen years spent lovingly nurturing and growing Benefit Auctions 360 beyond the scope of my wildest dreams, fear of change and the unknown began jockeying for the drivers seat on my road trip towards this transformation.
Change can often be scary. But when we find ways to instead view change as transformation, the journey...well, the journey can be exhilarating, and bring forth a wellspring of happiness and endless opportunities.
As I moved closer towards this transformation, I realized that happiness for me means allowing my daily life to reflect my top priorities. Being able to be present in the moment by creating space to in fact let that moment unfold.
When I dove deeper still, I came to the realization that while the continued growth and expansion of Benefit Auctions 360 had filled my heart with immeasurable happiness, it had also in fact taken me farther from my top priorities. Running a highly successful, full scale fundraising auction and consulting firm is a remarkably fulfilling endeavor. However as one would assume, it does not happen by accident. It requires a phenomenal amount of heart, and exceptional investment of time, effort, and energy.
When I began to make space for a new point of view, I realized that what I was most passionate about professionally was my actual one on one time with clients, crafting ideas and opportunities to connect community to cause, propelling philanthropic support while anchoring an awareness of an organization's needs now, and into the future.
I realized that what I loved most about my role within Benefit Auctions 360, was the opportunity to take the stage and use my voice as a conduit for good, championing for causes that I believe in.
I realized that what I was most passionate about personally was art, auctioneering, and advocacy. Community and connection. Family and friends. Making time for the moment.
This was my truth. This was my purpose work. Yet as Benefit Auctions 360 continued to grow throughout the years, the busy and beautiful work of business building pulled me further from my truthful orbit. I longed to reconnect to my professional and personal passions at a pace that matched the beat of my heart and the rhythm of my family unit.
I knew I needed to evolve into a new state of being, and though I couldn't wait to get started, I was terrified.
Making space for truth can be daunting. And sometimes it requires that you strip down to your foundation, to your core, so you can create space for truth. On occasion, it requires that you re-model and re-configure in order to continue your forward motion. To begin anew, with sights set on that wellspring of happiness, with a clear and present trajectory to live a life you love.
I knew that I couldn't fully channel my sense of place and purpose and move towards my point of greatest impact leading a full scale firm. Benefit Auctions 360 would need to evolve into a new state of being as well.
And so it begins.
We are all, in our own way, moving towards the point of greatest impact.
Our lives filled with immeasurable opportunities to listen to our hearts and live a life we love.
There is an immense satisfaction that comes from loving what you do, and my dear friend, colleague, and Benefit Auctions 360 Vice President, Lauren Dully Clark's love for
philanthropy is off the charts. It has been one of my greatest professional honors to work alongside her in spirit and in fundraising these last four years. Her skill set runs deep, as does our friendship. As I embark upon this next chapter, I'm ecstatic for her to launch forth with her newly formed company, Raise Agent!
With 20 years of fundraising and event management experience, Lauren is one hell of a talent. Through her process of listening, guiding, and problem solving, she raises the bar, helping Nonprofits to become more mission-capable. I'm beyond blissed out to be working with her and Raise Agent on a variety of projects moving into 2018 and beyond!
To the auctioneers that have joined the cast at Benefit Auctions 360 over the years, bravo! Thank you all for bringing your immense talents to the auction block to champion for the cause. Thank you for choosing to be the change that you wish to see in the world. I'm excited to see you and your companies continue to inspire donors throughout the community to get involved and give back. To my own dynamite auctioneer parents, Randy & Annette Wells at Realty Auction Services, who have joined us at 360 along the way, thank you for giving me roots, wings, and a love for the bid callers beat!
To my longtime mentor, professional colleague, and oh so treasured friend, JillMarie Wiles - the best is yet to come! Thank you for your love, guidance, friendship. So grateful to have you as a "quarter in my life".
To Archer Mayo and Justin Timm, it has been an awesome journey to witness your talents take flight - the skies the limit!
To Candice Coleman who can wrangle any event into a seamless and stunning success - I'm continuously in awe over your event management magic making abilities!
To my ammmmmazing team of Bid Assistants, turned dear friends - Judith Rizzio, Mindy Ranik, Bud McVay, Christine Moore, Jen Shellman, Ben Carr, Bob Born, my bro Josh Wells, Jeni Rose, Celeste Hamillton Dennis, and the many more that have graciously joined us along the way - thank you for continuing to join me throughout these last fifteen years (and the many more to come!) to celebrate the art of fundraising and friendship! I'd know each of your "hip's, yip's, and yes's" anywhere! Benefit Auctions 360 was built with you and I'm forever grateful for the thousands of events, road trips, and reeeeeally good times we've shared. I look forward to seeing paddles raised high together into this next chapter.
My journey with Benefit Auctions 360 and the art of fundraising is not over.
In fact, my connection to THE 360 LIFE is just beginning.
So join me!
After all, there's so much beauty in the world to continue celebrating, cultivating, and connecting to.
I feel it with all my heart.
Cheers, Love, & Gratitude,