Champion Profile: Interview with Jeff Raider of Harry’s
Harry’s, an innovative men’s grooming company that gives both time and money to organizations that help prepare people for personal and professional success, and City Year, an education nonprofit that helps students and schools succeed, are both committed to empowering people to get ready for challenges and opportunities.
“Harry’s and City Year share a belief that companies can and should play a critical role in making the world a better place through their people and profits,” says Christopher Mann, City Year Vice President of Corporate Partnerships.
Harry’s Co-Founder and CEO Jeff Raider, who also cofounded Warby Parker, the online eyewear retailer, shares in his own words why his company is passionate about helping City Year AmeriCorps members “get ready” both for their year of service to students and their future careers, and how his company has benefitted from the partnership with City Year.
Q: Getting people ready has always been a key theme for both Harry’s and City Year. Why do you think the experience of serving with City Year helps our AmeriCorps members get ready for their careers?
What Harry’s does is help people to get ready in the morning. When you shave, you go through this metamorphosis from asleep to awake, from the time when you’re not ready to take on the challenges of the day to a time where you are ready to venture out. That has a lot of powerful parallels in the world. We wanted to work with organizations that share the goal of helping people to get ready for life.
City Year AmeriCorps members get up at 5 a.m. to get to schools by 7 o’clock and spend a full day working closely with students and teachers, constantly thinking about their needs and helping to resolve confliicts. They are the last to leave at the end of the day, and above all, they are people kids can look up to. When I think about these AmeriCorps members, I see so many parallels to the kind of culture and leadership and work ethic we are striving for here at Harry’s.
We believe in the goals and the people of City Year, and see our missions as highly aligned.
Q: What are the different ways Harry’s employees have been involved with City Year over the past four years?
Employee engagement has been a huge part of our partnership with City Year. We’ve hosted hackathons to help City Year teams problem solve, donated hundreds of hours of professional development to the corps, and participated in City Year service days. For our team to be able to sponsor and support young adults during their year of national service — a life-changing experience for them — was a direct manifestation of this idea of getting ready for life.
What we’ve done is try to find opportunities for mutual benefit and engagement that also utilize the skills of our team in new ways. Working with AmeriCorps members has given our team the ability to get out of their daily routine and use their talents in different ways to solve problems.
That shift in perspective creates better relationships across our organization and makes people feel refreshed and rejuvenated.
Q: What about service prepares individuals for being a successful entrepreneur or working at a company like Harry’s?
Harry’s understands that the service of City Year corps members instills important values that benefit not only students and the young adults who serve, but the communities where we live and work. Perseverance, professionalism, community-mindedness, a sense of maturity and purpose, and perhaps most important, the idea of being a mentor to somebody — these are the values that also drive our work. Helping someone else to grow and learn is a very important leadership trait, and one we want to model and promote.
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