Jay Deutsch and Secret Millionaire
Last week I interviewed Jay Deutsch, CEO and co-founder of top-50 distributor BDA Inc., about his recent appearance on ABC's Secret Millionaire. If you're not familiar, the show takes various philanthropic millionaires, gives them a fake identity, and places them with a handful of charities where the millionaire does hands-on volunteer work under said fake identity for about a week's time. At the end of filming, the millionaire featured in the episode reveals his or her real identity and makes donations from his or her fortune to each of the charities included in the episode.
Sound a little too sentimental and Hallmark-y? On the surface, sure. I agree and definitely see where you're coming from. Remember, I write for a living, so I'm required by trade to be cynical, bitter and like absolutely nothing. But on watching the episode, I have to tell that kind of attitude is way off base. There are a couple corny reality show tropes here and there, sure, but overall I was surprised by how alive and inspirational the show was.
Jay participated in Secret Millionaire in honor of Susan Brockert, a longtime BDA employee and friend of his who was murdered through domestic violence in 2011, while at a company retreat in Hawaii. Much of the episode revolves around domestic violence, both with a charity that combats it and Jay's own pain over the horrible murder of a friend and employee. The episode deals with such serious subject matter incredibly well. I found it to be a legitimate, serious and sincere journey through the world of domestic violence and a heart-wrenching story in trying to fix things that may very well be beyond your power. It's touching, and definitely quite sad at times, but absolutely worth watching. Not just for the entertainment (entertainment value being a weird and uncomfortable thing to acknowledge about a show that deals with such serious material, but it's absolutely there), but also personally and professionally. I'm sure the levels of charity work and exposure to domestic violence will vary for everyone reading this, but regardless of your experiences in either area, I'm sure there's something of value you can take from the show.
I've only met Jay once in passing, and interviewed him a handful of times, but he's one of my favorite people in the promotional industry. He's someone who I've found to not only be quite clever, but also incredibly sincere and kind. Years ago, Jay gave me one of my favorite interview quotes ever, which has stuck with me vividly to this day:
"I think the worst business advice I've ever got is, 'It's not personal, it just business.' I don't buy it—we're human, it is always personal. Make good business decisions, absolutely, but there is a correct way to treat people with respect and honesty."
That might not seem like much to some of you, but in my years and years of writing sales and marketing articles, I can't ever remember anyone expressing such a sentiment so honestly and directly. It's advice I hope I live by forever, and I hope I carry the lessons from his Secret Millionaire episode just as well.
Jay's episode is currently available in full on Hulu.com, and you can read my follow-up interview with Jay here.
Thanks for reading guys, and see you all next week!
MONDAY MIKE FACT: It feels weird to put a joke or something flip here after writing about something so serious. So, I'm not going to! Nyah-nyah!