The key to living the best life possible is by finding the true purpose of life. Most of us are not very adept at finding our purpose as we are often tricked into believing that our purpose in life is to achieve the heights of success; to accumulate a tremendous amount of wealth and power, however, a few gems like Steve Palek, have not only discovered their true purpose in life but are honoring their calling by giving back to the society every day, in every way.
A CEO with a humanitarian spirit is truly a rare find, and Steve Palek, the Co-founder, and CEO of Auxilia is just that!
Honoring A Calling
Sales is an art; an art that requires the ability to build relationships. It needs the skills and expertise to devise strategies and execute them seamlessly and successfully.
Steve discovered his vocation in sales very early on in life. He was barely 9 years old when he began to sell candy on the school bus and he came to realize that he thoroughly enjoyed closing a sale. “I loved the close… the kill!” He exclaims.
After completing his Education in Marketing from Bowling Green State University, Steve went on to make a successful career in sales and sales leadership. He started as a Sales Executive and with the help of his skills, climbed the ladder to find himself on the Board of Directors.
Throughout his sales career, Steve worked with many industry giants. He got to work and learn from the best and the brightest in the industry. “My main expertise is revenue growth and building successful sales teams. I have always loved the art of selling. At the end of the day – no matter how good a product is – if someone isn’t selling it, you are in trouble!” He shares.
Although he enjoyed his work, Steve felt a void within, upon deeper reflection he realized that he needed to be a part of something bigger.
Steve had always been in awe of the altruistic motives of the NGOs. He was touched by the tireless and selfless work they put in for the welfare of others and wanted to do something to support their work.
Steve also realized that despite his successful career he never felt professionally fulfilled. Hence he wanted to create a team that he felt a part of and ensure that his employees feel a part of the company’s fabric and success too. He wanted to focus on being a leader for all of the employees build people up by celebrating their talents.
Steve drew inspiration from his father’s work ethic and drive that he had seen growing up; he saw the hard work his father put into his companies. This ultimately led Steve to put passion into his work and create something that would make both him and his father proud.
All these factors led to the birth of Auxilia, a company that helps nonprofits grow and offers a support system for small and mid-sized nonprofits making everything worthwhile.
Oprah Winfrey once said, “There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.” And leading and running Auxilia not only fulfilled Steve professionally but also fed his humanitarian spirit. By honoring his calling, Steve started leading a meaningful and a truly fulfilling life.
More Than Just A Technology Company
Auxilia is an organization that is committed to making a greater social impact through intuitive donor management software. Auxilia’s Donation Management System is a comprehensive donor software that modernizes the giving experience, simplifies outreach and provides greater organizational transparency. It’s a modern solution that enables nonprofits to shift their attention back to where it matters most: their mission.
Auxilia is Latin for ‘helping hand’ and with their team of service-minded philanthropists, the organization bridges the gap between nonprofits and donors thus, helping them help the world.
A Team Of Service-Minded Philanthropists
Managing a workforce spanning multiple generations might be quite a task for a few but Steve understands its benefits. He states. “It was important for me to put a team in place that would give us a wide range of perspectives. My Executive Team spans four out of the five generations and from my perspective, this gives us a significant advantage.”
Auxilia’s executive team consists of former nonprofit executive directors who have had the opportunity to use a plethora of software that are currently available in the market. “They have been instrumental in the product creation of Auxilia, as well as educating our clients and prospects on the necessity of utilizing a donation management tool for organizational growth. We put the generational ideas together with the depth and breadth of experience of our team and created a platform that is exceptionally more simplistic, modern and intuitive. We are new to this space, but we strive to always be a couple of years ahead of our competition. The items we are innovating now for our clients will make a significant impact in the nonprofit space” he adds.
Auxilia also gives a Volunteer Time Off to its staff. The main purpose of VTO is to offer opportunities to the employees to give back to the community. This also allows them a firsthand experience and how and what nonprofits do and how they can help further their mission.
Happy Employees = Successful Company
Steve spends quite a lot of time with his employees and genuinely cares about them. “I watch for burnout of our team and if I feel things are a little sluggish, we will do some fun activities for our employees. This shows them we not only care about them, but we are aware. Everyone has bad days, but if employees know you have their back, we will get through those stressful days much faster and they will work even harder for Auxilia” he says.
Steve values his employees above all and it even reflects in his simplistic view of success. According to Steve, when the employees are proud to be associated with a company it is a success. When the employees believe they are a part of something special and that their voice matters every single day, it is a success. When the employees feel engaged, confident, and inspired, it is a success. When they know that they can make a difference, it is a success. If the employees love what they do, Auxilia’s clients will be the benefactors. And that, to Steve, is a success!
Steve believes the best way to build a winning and sustainable team is by fostering communication, empowering people and offering a space where people feel safe to make decisions; where each employee owns the company stock. “At Auxilia, every employee has stock, every employee is an owner, and every future employee will be as well”, he adds.
Steve strives to create an emotionally intelligent workplace, where everyone respects each other and are equal in the truest sense!
Catapulting Over Hurdles
The COVID-19 pandemic severely affected the global economy and financial markets. It brought even the most successful and established businesses to their knees and Auxilia was barely a month old when the pandemic hit. Steve faced many challenges. He admits he could have easily given up and probably would have been the right thing to do, however, with his determination and the support of his loyal partners, Auxilia sailed through the pandemic. In Steve’s words, “Today our company is flourishing. Building a business from the ground up takes determination, courage, moxie, and more. I also learned that it is important to surround yourself with people that are loyal and trustworthy. Auxilia would not be where we are today without my partners. They are the true heroes making an impact!”
Life as a CEO
The role of CEO involves a plethora of responsibilities and if the company is a start-up the CEO ends up donning several hats. Steve too finds himself performing many roles at a time. When he is not talking to the investors, working with the bankers, selling prospects, talking to the clients, figuring out how to configure new laptops for their staff, ordering lunches for the office, paying the bills, building strategic partnerships, one would find him in the conference room talking and laughing with the employees.
Steve ensures a positive and empathetic culture in the workplace by continually sharpening his emotional intelligence.
Steve is a leader who believes in building positive working relationships but understands that people might not always like him or his decisions, but irrespective of that, he strives to earn their respect. He reminisces, “I had to let someone go once and it wasn’t pretty. This individual was very successful but made some major mistakes, and the company could not look the other way. I heard a lot of negative and derogatory things that day and it was difficult. Two years later, the same individual called me to apologize and thanked me for pushing them to be better.”
Steve, doesn’t believe in individual awards but perceives this incident as his biggest recognition.
Steve also resides on four company boards, three of which are nonprofits. “My goal is to help as many as I can!” He adds.
The Work-Life Balance Conundrum
Achieving a state of equilibrium in personal and professional life is challenging to most of us. Steve admits that even he struggles to find the right balance between his personal and professional life as most entrepreneurs do. Although he does find time to decompress he believes that he is wired to love work. He states, “I am not the sit-still type of person. I always need to be doing something.” Being passionate about his work and eager to make a difference definitely makes it harder for Steve to find that balance. However, he shares that now that his children are all grown up and he isn’t needed much at home anymore, makes it a lot easier.
Furthermore, two of Steve’s children, Jarryd and Jeremy work with him at Auxilia, and he finds it to be the most rewarding part of company ownership. It allows him to spend some quality time with family while they work alongside each other to achieve their common goal. In this way, Steve is not just building a family culture figuratively but, literally!
Steve also loves to volunteer he often takes time off from work to volunteer in Denver.
A Vision to be Recognized for their Emotional Intelligence
Steve believes in a realistic and simple vision. He aims to build a culture that is focused on constantly improving their product through innovation while also ensuring that their employees feel valued, professionally fulfilled, and appropriately appreciated and rewarded for their skills, talents and hard work.
Steve aims to strengthen the relationship with their clients in such a way that Auxilia becomes an extension of their clients. He wants them to see Auxilia as their partner, rather than their vendor.
He envisions Auxilia to be one of the most admired companies worldwide that are recognized for their small impact on society because of their kindness and empathy towards others.
Steve’s future plans for Auxilia are pretty simple too. He wants to continue to innovate and solve problems for nonprofits. He wants to build a team culture that allows their employees and clients to feel accomplished and respected.
Steve is also immensely focused on his personal growth like other successful leaders, however, his goals are rather unique. He wants to be associated with and surrounded by smart people so that he gets an opportunity to learn from their points of view, ensuring his growth. He also wants to make a lot of mistakes without fear so that he gets to learn while he makes them.
He wants to continue to lean heavily on his mentors as he has done in the past as that has helped pave his path to success.
Steve thrives on constructive criticism, he believes that someone always has a better way or idea. He just aims to continue to listen. He aims to continue to make small impacts and assist others in doing so, as these small impacts create a cascade of change in the world.