This story is part of our Making Business Human series. For more on the series and our mission, check out this post!
Like everyone at Olark, I spend a fair bit of time thinking about our mission statement: Make Business Human. Whenever I interact with a company—whether as a customer, partner, or observer—I’m on the lookout for business practices that feel genuinely personal, thoughtful, grounded, and...well, human. And when I see one, I usually want to share it with the world.
That was my reaction when I first stumbled on Recognize Someone, a program run by Olark customer Bennett Awards. You might remember Bennett Awards from our Olark on Squarespace blog post—they’re a small company that grew out of a family-owned fine art gallery, and that now produces unique handcrafted awards and trophies under the leadership of husband-and-wife team Bob and Alice Bennett.
Bennett Awards’ customer list is truly impressive—they’ve worked with big-name companies and organizations in almost every industry, including Facebook, Nike, the Make-a-Wish Foundation, Stanford University and many, many more. But in early 2016, founder and CEO Bob Bennett started to feel like something was missing.
“While our high-profile award recipients are all very deserving, we realized that there were also many unsung heroes who were not getting this same level of recognition,” he explains. “When we receive inquiries from potential customers, they often share stories about their awardees; many of those stories touch us personally and convince us that the intended recipient definitely deserves one of our awards. But sometimes, when we reply with a quote, it turns out that the prospective customer doesn’t actually have the resources to purchase one.
“We started to think, ‘wouldn’t it be great if we could recognize some of these people?’”
Bennett and his team decided to give it a try. They came up with a simple concept—a website where anyone could submit a nomination for an “everyday hero” who deserved recognition. Once a month, they would choose a winning nominee and feature their story on the website; the winner would also receive a free custom award.
“Given the nature of our business, we realized that we already had the infrastructure to shine a spotlight on these individuals and their contributions,” Bennett says. “We wanted to do something to give back to the community, and this was a perfect fit.”
Recognize Someone officially launched in April 2016. Since then, Bennett and his team have received about 100 nominations, and have recognized more than 20 “ordinary” individuals for their extraordinary compassion, courage, and commitment. The award winners are diverse—from a blacksmith who gave a young man with autism new confidence, to a Black Friday shopper who took a moment to comfort a stranger, to a seven year-old boy who donated the contents of his piggy bank to a vandalized mosque—but their stories share a common theme: they remind us of the power of human connection, and of the impact we can have when we go out of our way to relate to one another.
I'll let the stories speak for themselves; you can read them all here. In the meantime, I'd like to thank the team at Bennett Awards for joining the conversation about Olark’s mission and for helping us learn a little more about what it means to make business human. Bob and team, we’re honored to count you among our customers!