BDA CEO Talks "Secret Millionaire" Filming Experience
Last Sunday, Jay Deutsch, CEO and co-founder of top 50 distributor BDA Inc., appeared on the latest episode of ABC's "Secret Millionaire." The show is themed around millionaires going undercover and working with charity causes that are personally meaningful to them. Each episode features a millionaire who, after about a week's time working undercover with the charities, reveals his or her real identity and makes donations from his or her own funds to each of the charities featured on the episode.
Deutsch participated in the show in honor of Susan Brockert, a friend and long-time BDA employee who was murdered through domestic violence in 2011, while at a company's retreat in Hawaii. Eradicating domestic violence has since become one of the main charitable causes of BDA, which has added domestic violence initiatives to its BDA Cares charity.
Over the course of the episode, Deutsch worked with three Phoenix-area charities: Cup O'Karma, Heart for the City and A Stepping Stone Foundation. Each of the charities either deals with domestic violence directly or with issues immediately related, such as poverty and childcare. As of 8/14/13, the full episode is watchable for free on Hulu.com, which you can see by clicking here.
Below, Deutsch talks about his experiences and what he learned filming the episode.
Promo Marketing: How long did you film for?
Jay Deutsch: We filmed for six days, and they captured over 100 hours of footage that had to be cut down to just 42 minutes. There was so much of the experience that was not shown, including much of the actual volunteer work and even additional donations that were made outside of the check presentations. It was the entire week that has resulted in truly meaningful, lifelong connections with those incredible people pouring their hearts and souls into their community. It's incredible to see how amazingly selfless all of them are.
PM: How were you able to handle participating/filming this episode so well emotionally? Or did you just hide it well? Just watching at home was exhausting and emotionally overwhelming. Everyone's stories were so powerful and touching, my stomach was in knots and I was near tears for a good part of the show. How did you deal with the stress?
JD: And here I thought I came off as a big crybaby! It was definitely a very emotional experience, but every step of the way I knew I was doing it for Susan. During the open mic night with the Cup O'Karma team, I was an emotional wreck. I kept thinking about Susan and what she must have been going through, as well as all of these incredible women who have faced unspeakable tragedies due to domestic violence. I learned more about domestic violence in that discussion than I ever thought possible. Being in that community and spending time in the haven Cup O'Karma creates for victims holds immeasurable power. They always say strength in numbers, but these women, when banded together, are unstoppable.
PM: What do you think was the most important thing you learned about domestic violence during filming, and why?
JD: Domestic violence is an epidemic affecting one in every four women. It can take shape in many forms and can happen to anyone. It's important that we learn how to recognize signs of domestic violence and take steps to prevent it. You saw on the show that one of the women discussed was able to get out of her situation. Unfortunately she accepted her husband back and, three months later, he murdered her. We need to be educating boys that it is never okay to lay a hand on a woman, and empowering women to stand up for themselves. Working together as a team, we can eradicate this epidemic.
PM: A portion of the episode focuses on poverty and its effect on raising children and families overall. Did you learn anything surprising about how poverty affects families and raising children?
JD: What I've come to find is that you are a product of your environment. Heart for the City surrounds at-risk youth with caring role models to look up to who provide support, hope and the motivation to be successful. It's important we provide the youth of our nation and future generations with the education, love and encouragement to become quality people and productive citizens, regardless of their background.
PM: BDA has been active in charitable work long before the filming of this episode. Did participating in the show and working with the three charities featured change your perspective on charity work at all?
JD: Giving back to the community has always been a part of the BDA culture. I wouldn't say Secret Millionaire changed our activism, but it definitely gave our charitable fire a little more fuel. Working with so many of these individuals over the course of the show made me realize that anyone can help even on a small level. Every year we host a Day of Difference at our company, encouraging each employee to take a day to volunteer with a charity in our community. It doesn't matter what you do, but it's important that everyone take the time to give back in one way or another.
PM: What was your biggest take-away from this experience, and why?
JD: The people. I'm still close with the volunteers I was able to meet while I was in Phoenix. I continue to work with MonaLou and Cup O'Karma to end domestic violence, and I'm in frequent contact with Coach Carlos from Heart for the City. He took the money I donated and started the Glendale Youth Project to serve even more youth in the Phoenix community. My company and I have been through a lot with the loss of Susan, but all of these incredible people I met face challenges every day that they're able to overcome. April, from A Stepping Stone, had such an impactful story; it's people like her, and everyone I met in Arizona, that show me how I can truly make a difference.
PM: Is there anything you'd like to tell our readers about BDA's charity work, either with regards to Susan or in general?
JD: BDA is passionate about making a difference. We started BDA Cares, a 501(c)3, to oversee all of our charitable efforts in order to develop partnerships and programs with fellow nonprofits that share our commitment to ending domestic violence and finding a cure for ovarian cancer. We've worked with countless programs and people, to make the biggest charitable impact we can as individuals and as a company. Susan's Rock, an initiative of BDA Cares, is dedicated to prevention of violence against women and children by supporting causes dedicated to strong education of young men, stronger empowerment and networks for women and stronger legislation and enforcement of our protective laws. We started Susan's Rock in honor of Susan, and we're striving to help support the millions affected by this epidemic.
PM: Do you have any recommendations for where readers could make other donations for domestic violence charities? What about those interested in volunteering?
JD: Cup O'Karma is always looking for donations, whether it's in the form of supplies, money or time. We also solicit donations during our annual BDA Cares fundraiser in January, called Rock the Needle, where BDA employees and community members climb all 848 steps from the base to the top of the Seattle Space Needle. With the money raised this year, we were able to fund the development of Susan's Youth Center at Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County, which is going to be the largest domestic violence housing facility of its kind in the state of Washington. I would also encourage those looking to volunteer to reach out to their state-level Coalition Against Domestic Violence to see where their time or resources are needed. To make donations toward our efforts against domestic violence, visit BDACares.org.
BDA has also released a video Q&A with Deutsch about the show. It answers many questions not addressed in this interview, and can be watched here.