Entrepreneur Hunter Perret uses his work as a philanthropist as inspiration when doing business as well. We asked him if taking a break from thinking about business to focus on others sparked new ideas and moments of creativity, to which he responded, “We are involved in many different types of organizations, but it all boils down to service. My businesses and organizations are all about people, the culture they set forth, and how they affect the clients they serve. Bill Belichick says, ‘Leadership means caring about everything going on in the lives of your people.’”
The definition of a philanthropist is someone who seeks to promote the welfare of others, especially by the generous donation of money to a good cause. As Perret mentioned, focusing on people can also affect the business for the better.
“I think hard work, communication, and empathy among employees does produce creativity – if it doesn’t, change HR or leadership,” he explained. “People who are a ‘boss’ want to talk all the time – they think they are the wealth of knowledge in situations and they think that is what fuels the ideas for growth, scalability, and creativity within their organization. It’s easier for me, though; I’m not that smart so I always anticipate, even with menially paid employees, that I’m the least significant person in the room. Out of this behavior breeds comfortableness to share ideas and spark creativity and new idea development on how to better serve within organizations and businesses.”
Self-deprecating humor aside, by cultivating a culture of openness and creativity Perret has helped not only his employees but also his business model. Two studies conducted on the importance of company culture showed there is a relationship between employee happiness in the workplace and general productivity, and that providing opportunities for lively, high-energy interactions and collaborations encourages employees to invest their lives and future into their place of work – boosting the bottom line.
Having such an interest in people, we asked Perret if his investment strategies focus on building up local organizations and entrepreneurs. “We do have investment companies for startup or venture capital and yes; I am a big believer in people, local organizations, and entrepreneurs,” he shared. “I truly believe in quality leaders, quarterbacks, cheerleaders – super managers; this is an innate ability for people to lead in a way that others follow. I’m always looking for leaders and entrepreneurs that can stir up life within people and make them want to take up arms and fight for and with that leader.”
Studies have shown that leadership development can make a bigger impact on an organization’s success than innovation and that the more a company focuses on internal leadership development, the better it meets its objectives. Not all leaders are the same; some leadership attributes and management styles are more effective than others.
According to Perret, leaders who inspire people to take up arms and fight alongside them are the ones he looks for. “This is a special characteristic, and when I see it within a business or person it drives me to want to help them in any way possible. We currently have three startup funded projects right now, two in healthcare and one in energy, and they are all focused on the ID of the ‘right person, leader, or entrepreneur’ that will make any idea or organization better. I have historically and maybe incongruously favored entrepreneurs that are engaged locally in their community – there is a sense of organic growth and loyalty there, and that, I think, is very valuable.”
Perret doesn’t only focus on businesses and entrepreneurs, though. One of his major interests is supporting athletes from underprivileged homes. “Candyce, my wife, and I have always supported Catholic education – the support we’ve provided has given us the opportunity to focus on things that we’re passionate about as a family, and we are humbled to have the opportunity to be involved in a student athlete’s life – someone who values family, friendship, and faith.”
The Perrets say they have been honored to participate in the University of Notre Dame’s Joyce Grants in Aid program, which offers benefactors the opportunity to engage with student athletes on a more personal level, as mentors and role models in the athletic department’s “inner circle,” according to the university website.
“Our gift with the athletic department has given us the opportunity to focus on things that we’re passionate about,” Perret explained. “Over the last couple of years, we’ve been most proud of our student athlete for the way that he has evolved – not just as a leader on the football field but as a role model for my children. We are humbled to have the opportunity to be involved in his life.”
As both a philanthropist and an entrepreneur, Perret has done some amazing work and helped many people and companies develop more effectively. Inspired by people themselves, Perret has dedicated himself to helping others.
What inspires your work as an entrepreneur or business owner?