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No Barriers Podcast Episode 108: The Business of Elevating with Douglas Jackson



Our seventh No Barriers element is “Elevate.” At No Barriers we believe that the real essence of leadership is how we pass what we have learned on to others. Giving others the courage to do great things, and elevating those around you, is the ultimate purpose of a No Barriers Life. Our hosts speak with CEO, Douglas Jackson who embodies what it means to lift others up through his work. We discuss his career of helping others and how he found this path.

Dr. Doug Jackson serves as the President and CEO of Project CURE. Since 1987, Project C.U.R.E. has delivered equipment and supplies to hospitals and clinics in over 135 countries and was named by Forbes as one of the top 20 charities in America.

In addition to delivering approximately five semi-truck-sized containers of medical relief each week, teams of medical professionals travel abroad to provide hundreds of hours of hands-on medical care and training through the C.U.R.E. Clinics program.

Doug is a frequent motivational speaker to civic, corporate, and community organizations.

Resources:

https://projectcure.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ProjectCURE

Twitter: https://twitter.com/projectcure

 

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Episode Transcript

Doug : When you can go into a community, and you see the trajectory of that community, you know how many moms are going to pass away trying to give life to their baby. You know how many babies aren't going to make it past their fifth birthday and you can get in the middle of that story and you can change that story. You get to rewrite the future. I mean, what could be better than that?

Erik : It's easy to talk about the successes, but what doesn't get talked about enough is the struggle. My name is Erik Weihenmayer. I've gotten the chance to ascend Mount Everest, to climb the tallest mountain in every continent, to kayak the Grand Canyon, and I happen to be blind. It's been a struggle to live what I call a no barriers life, to define it, to push the parameters of what it means, and part of the equation is diving in to the learning process and trying to illuminate the universal elements that exist along the way. And that unexplored terrain between those dark places we find ourselves in and the summit exists a map, that map, that way forward is what we call No Barriers.

Dave : Today, we speak with Dr. Doug Jackson, who serves as the President and CEO of Project C.U.R.E. Since 1987, Project C.U.R.E has delivered equipment and supplies to hospital and clinics in over 135 countries and was named by Forbes as one of the top 20 charities in America. In addition to delivering approximately five semi truck size containers of medical relief each week, teams of medical professionals travel abroad to provide hundreds of hours of hands on medical care and training through the C.U.R.E Clinics program. Doug is a frequent motivational speaker to civic, corporate, and community organizations. Enjoy the conversation.

Dave : Well, I am really excited for today's conversation because I admire the work of Project C.U.R.E. I love what our guest today has to say about how you find happiness. I think you, as listeners, will really enjoy and learn a lot from the conversation that you can apply to your own lives. So Erik, thanks for joining us again, really excited to have you.

Erik : Thanks Dave, thanks Doug.

Doug : Well, thank you. This is great.

Erik : I'll kick things off, Doug, because when you look at this amazingly successful organization like Project C.U.R.E. I don't know, maybe in just my mind I take it for granted like, "Oh, it's a successful organization, and everyone knows what they're doing," but you don't realize everything starts somewhere and I'm fascinated by that process of how you grow an organization, or you grow a movement, or a cause with a lot of heart, and passion, and purpose, but a lot of struggle, and flailing and bleeding as well. So I think you guys have an amazingly interesting origin story, if you could talk about that.

Doug : Well, thank you and it's one of this interesting truths of life. I thought I knew where I wanted to be when I left high school. I was going to be a lawyer, maybe a judge, and I think we all have those ideas, don't we? And then we end up... I call it when your detour becomes your destiny, right? I think this whole Project C.U.R.E thing is really testimony to that. From the very inception, it was my dad who started Project C.U.R.E. He was the founder and his whole goal in life was to be a millionaire by the time he was 30. We grew up in Idaho. In Idaho there wasn't even a million dollars in the entire state of Idaho, to say nothing of a millionaire. And so, they moved to Denver, and my dad got involved in developing a lot of Winter Park and a little bit of Vail, and through that he made his goal, I mean, multiple times over, and became very, very wealthy.

Doug : And then figured out with my mom you can be rich and not happy. It's not that you're going to be rich and unhappy, it's just there's no correlation between how much stuff you put in your pocket and how happy you are on the inside, right? He started a foundation and they gave the money away. And that was what started my dad journey. He was doing economic consulting for free in countries like in Zimbabwe, working with President Mugabe, and then he went to President Sarney in Brazil. And his interpreter in Brazil was a medical student, and his mom was a doctor, and they used to go into these favelas, and they would do healthcare for the poor people living in Brazil.

Doug : My dad went with her one weekend and showed up at this ramshackle old house, and the only medical equipment that he had in there was an old exam table and a box of re-roll bandages. The pediatrics ward was in the bedroom next door. And they had a baby scale and some old Disney posters and it just tore my dad's heart out. And so, he came back and was telling a story to a friend of his a guy named Greg Lowe. And Greg said, "I own a medical wholesale company with my partner, Pete. We'll give you stuff." And they filled my dad and mom's garage full of stuff. And my parents shipped all those medical supplies down to Brazil, and that was 1987. So, you talk about real humble beginnings in the garage, right?

Erik : And your parents told you they're giving your inheritance away, I remember. I do that with my kids. I say to them, "I'm buying that new tandem mountain bike because when I die I don't want to have any money left over to give you. It'll ruin your life." And they're like, "Thanks, dad."

Doug : Exactly. Yeah, well, and when you're young, and they tell you that it doesn't really make a lot of sense. But when you get that first quarter tuition bill, [crosstalk 00:06:12] that money away, too?

Erik : No, no, not that.

Dave : So, the origin of Project C.U.R.E started with your father but as you mentioned, and alluded to there, you knew your path. You thought you're going to be a lawyer. How did the path of that intersect with Project C.U.R.E from your story?

Doug : Well, I hurried through school. I didn't really like school much. And so, I just did it quickly and ended up passing the bar. I was 23 years old when I passed the bar here in Colorado, and worked for a judge, decided I didn't really want to do that. So, I started into corporate and was doing a stint as an in house attorney for a big AG manufacturing company. And we started buying up our competitors. And they would take me along, but they wouldn't let me go to the meetings because I was so young. And I think they were embarrassed that their corporate attorney was still in his mid 20s.

Doug : They would leave me sitting in the hotel room with a telephone. And I just started reading and I started reading everything I could get my hands on about mergers and acquisitions, and private equity money, and all of that kind of stuff. And I got so intrigued with it, that I went back to Boulder and did a PhD in finance. And ultimately, our company got bought out by Warren Buffett. So, apparently we were doing something right. But my dad was going through this and he kept looking at me saying, "Doug, you're 29 years old. You've got to earned doctorate degrees. You have no student loans. That's a gift. And you should give back on that."

Doug : We were raised in the church. And so for us, it was the first 10% is called tithe. He said tithe your career, and I thought, "Huh, that's interesting." So I ended up out in San Diego teaching business school and my dad said I could use some help with Project C.U.R.E. So, we grabbed six months worth of money and I hired my friend Dave that I met in San Diego and my friend Doreen, and the three of us were going to come on and right size my dad's organization and help him out a little bit and then skedaddle off and go do our own stuff. That was 1997.

Erik : There's your detour.

Doug : Exactly. Dave got married, moved to Washington. Doreen moved back with her husband to Pennsylvania and I stayed.

Dave : Wow, what a great story and tell our listeners just the snapshot of what Project C.U.R.E is now today. We hear how it started and you got involved. But what is it today? What does it do?

Doug : So today, I think by volume, we are the world's largest distributor of donated medical supplies and equipment around the world. And that's everything from catheters, to CAT scans. It's needle syringes, gauze, gloves, suture, exam tables, operating tables, EKG machines, ultrasounds, endoscopy towers. I mean, everything like that, that you need to run a hospital. And we import equipment in these 40 foot semi truck trailer size containers, ocean freight containers and we ship about four or five of those every week. We're on target this year. We'll do 200 of them this year. And we're working in places where these folks are working 12 hours a day and they make somewhere between a buck to five dollars for 12 hours of work.

Doug : When you go over to a situation like that you just can't afford medical care of any kind. It's not like there's a safety net. It's there's nothing. And so, without help, I mean, these people literally die. And so, that's just what our whole goal is. And so, we've got big warehouses in seven cities now across the United States. One day I want to have 25 of them. But we're in Denver and Phoenix and Nashville and Houston and Chicago and Philadelphia. And just because we didn't have anything to do last year, we set up our seventh warehouse in Kansas City, and it's beautiful. We got a team of volunteers down there now. And then we got 12 collection centers all over the United States where volunteers are collecting stuff, and bringing it in, and we package it and distribute it and give it away and save lives.

Erik : So, I'm amazed that what infrastructure it takes to pull this off because, obviously, you're shipping supplies, but I understand you have 25,000 volunteers that are packing and shipping stuff, but also you have folks that go over to these countries and train and teach people how to use the technologies and so forth, right? So you built all that into the system?

Doug : Yeah, you don't do it all at one time. I mean, honestly, we never really thought we were going to do the Doctors Without Borders thing and take people. So, we just focused in on loads, and one of the first things I did was I told my dad is it's the same hassle factor to ship one box as it is one container. So let's just stop doing boxes. Let's only ship containers. Well, then people came along and said, "Thank you, but we don't need a semi truck trailer. We just need some stuff to take with us on our medical mission trip to Haiti over the weekend."

Doug : So, we created what we call C.U.R.E kits, and it's a really amped up first aid kit. It's 50 pounds because that's the weight limit on your luggage. So, it's 50 pounds. It's designed to take with you on an airplane and we've distributed thousands of those all over the world. There's about $2,500 worth of medical supplies in there. So, there's ample bags, and there's suture and gloves, and all of the things that you need. But that grew out of need. And then we would come back to the United States and we'd be talking about some project we were doing in Kenya or Mexico or something, and somebody, a doctor, a nurse would say, "Oh, that's the coolest thing. Could I go with you?" And then we get over there, and we'd be working away in Cambodia or whatever and, hey, do you ever have anybody that could come and help us? It's like, "I'm not really that smart. But if this doctor and nurse want to go, and that doctor and nurse needs some help, let's facilitate that, too.

Doug : Out of that was born our C.U.R.E Clinics is what we call it. And then people started saying, "Well, how do you do that?: So we started teaching. All of those training programs about how to save moms, and how to save babies and mandatory diarrhea and all that kind of stuff. We lump that in under C.U.R.E College. And so, we started going over and doing teaching and training programs and did a fun one the other day online for a bunch of doctors in Kazakhstan around mental health in the time of COVID. I mean, who would have thought, right? But they needed it, and we had some people that will be a resource. And so, we just keep trying to match pieces of the puzzle.

Dave : It strikes me that when you're you're working on something that's such a direct service need, such an immediate need around the globe. And you mentioned the volume that you're turning around and the growth you've had, but you also mentioned how much more you want to grow. That implies that despite the fact that you're doing incredible work, there's a lot more need. Is there a lot more need, and is it ever going to be possible to meet that need? Talk a little bit about that part of your business.

Erik : Yeah. And I tack on to that, Doug. I mean, obviously, you have to be very positive and constructive, as you grow an organization like yours. But there is a bit, maybe I'm wondering days where you feel like you're feeding the beast. We keep doing more and more and we're still not having... The problems are so massive that how do we ever get on top of it?

Doug : There is truly Erik that that sense. And part of that is just, I always like to say that the biggest game to win is between your ears. And so, that's when we have to focus and stay focused and just say, "Look, we've got to figure out what we're doing and keep the motivation coming from inside as much as it is outside." When we go in and we do these needs assessments, I always tell our partners on the other side... And a needs assessment by the way, we've never shipped a container of stuff unless we've been there first, all right? So, it's not like you just get on and order your groceries and Whole Foods and they show up at the doorstep. We don't do it that way.

Doug : We actually go in and sit down with the doctors and the nurses on site and say let me really understand what you need. It's about an 18 page process. It takes three or four hours to get through all of this and then we take pictures of every room in the hospital, the whole place, and that way we know that what we're sending is not dumb, right? You don't want to send maternity care products to an orthopedic hospital. They can't use it there. They don't deliver babies when they're fixing bones. So that's what starts this, and so here we have the opportunity to sit around these big table sometimes. Sometimes it's sitting at a table at the front with rows and rows of doctors and nurses, and just asking these questions.

Doug : And at the end of all of that, I always tell them, I say, "Let me define for us what perfect looks. Perfect looks like you looking at us someday and just saying thank you for showing up here. We don't need you anymore." That's what perfect is. That's our home run in this game. Because we don't want you to be dependent on us forever and ever and ever. We want to give you the tools so that you can be self sufficient, and figure this out. And in some countries, it's happened. We started working in Estonia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. They don't need us anymore. My dad and mom helped with the [inaudible 00:16:03] hospital in Tel Aviv.

Doug : I went over there on a different project working with Yad Surat and stopped by the hospital. And it was just really fun because the chief medical officer and the rabbi came in and I said, "How can I help you now?" And we've taken this whole tour of the hospital and they came out a little bit and he said, "Well, we don't mean to offend you, but I think we have it covered." And I said, "That's not an offense. You just hit a home run. That's what we were trying to do here."

Erik : That solves the ultimate problem when they become self sufficient. How do they do that? Did they start manufacturing some of that stuff there locally, or what's the ultimate solution look like?

Doug : Well, from a business perspective, I mean, you can accomplish this two ways. One way would be to give them really cheap capital loans, and we talk about that at the World Economic Forum sometimes. Basically, no interest loans to let them buy the equipment that they need to start providing the services that the community needs. That would work. We just take the currency out of the middle of it and just say, "Okay, if you're going to buy an X-ray machine, let's just give you an X-ray machine straight away." But then you need to start creating business around it.

Doug : I mean, we know there is a business called healthcare. And when you go in and you pay, then that generates revenue for the doctors and nurses and for the hospital, and maybe they can pay their staff the first go around, and then maybe they can start buying the gloves the second go around, and the third go around they can save up some money and replace the equipment. And pretty soon it spirals up.

Doug : If it doesn't spiral up, it spirals down. And what that looks like is, is when you get a doctor, and a lot of these doctors are really well trained. They've gone to school in Europe, or the United States. They've done their residency in places where... I mean, these are well trained doctors. And they've started some really great university teaching hospitals in their countries. But then they go back to their community, and they show up and the equipment is broken. The doctor may not even have a desk. There's no supplies. And it doesn't take very long for that doctor to say, "You know what, life is a lot better if I started practicing medicine in Baltimore." There's more doctors from Nigeria practicing in the United States than there are Nigerian doctors practicing in Nigeria.

Doug : And you look at it and you think, "Well, of course, I mean, what would I do if that was my family?" I'd do the same thing. So you lay that and you say, "Okay, if I could get you the supplies and the equipment and all of this stuff, would you stay?" And usually they say yes, they would. That's the ticket. In a country, for example, like in Sub Saharan Africa, if you don't have just the basic equipment, ultrasound machines, they're going to fly to Dubai and get their ultrasound, and all that cash leaves Malawi, Zambia, Mozambique, and it ends up in the United Arab Emirates. If you can keep it in Sub Saharan Africa, now you generate a business.

Dave : I'm curious when you tell the story of your father's path of getting out of the real estate business after helping build Winter Park and realizing that money doesn't make you happy. So, does this work make you happy?

Doug : It does. I mean, the thing that's really interesting and fun about it, when you can go into a community and you see the trajectory of that community. You know how many moms are going to pass away trying to give life to their baby. You know how many babies aren't going to make it past their fifth birthday. You know what happens if dad falls off the motorcycle on his way to work or gets a infected cut. And you can get in the middle of that story and you can change that story. I mean, I tell my team all the time, we have revolutionized entire communities. We have changed the course of history. I mean, we get to rewrite the future. I mean, what can be better than that?

Doug : It's still frustrating and there are times when I think, "I wonder what life would have been like doing hedge funds." But at the end of the day what's really fun is that those folks are still looking to do the same thing anyway. They just put the accumulation in the middle of the puzzle, and then they get to be philanthropists. We just decided to cut the middle out of that and just be philanthropist straight away.

Erik : I've heard you talk about the happiness hole, this never ending search for happiness through material wealth, and then a correlation between true happiness and service. Talk a little bit about what you've learned along that process.

Doug : Well, I think everybody Erik is looking for happiness at some point. And we try to fill that hole up, I like to say that the happiness hole does not come in the shape of a Mercedes Benz. It doesn't come in the shape of a wine bottle either, or a whole lot of other things that people try to do to fill up their time in their life, in an attempt to be happy. But one of the things that does make people happy universally, and they can prove this biologically, too. You can measure the level of hormones, in serving other people actually increases your endorphins and it decreases your cortisol rates, which means that you feel better, and you don't put on as much weight around your midsection by helping other people, and that's the amazing thing, and it becomes contagious.

Doug : That's why we've got so many volunteers. It's just fun. And they come and they realize that there's really nothing in it for them. They come to and they work at the warehouse for two, three, four hour shifts at a time. And the people who are going to be on the receiving end of those containers, they're so poor, they can't fly over here and say thank you. They may not even speak the same language. And so, these people are doing it just out of the sheer goodness of their heart because helping other people feels good.

Erik : Why do we think we get this wrong? Why do we get this idea wrong that we have to go and make money and get that job that's going to give us more and more and more as opposed to focusing on service? What do you think? Where does that stem from?

Doug : What's the old saying about we're spending money we don't have to buy things we don't need to impress people we don't like. I think there's some of that. And there is a lot of interest around making sure that we always feel like happiness is just around the next corner. Madison Avenue would not exist if we really understood that. We keep telling people, "Well, the reason you're not happy is because you're not putting the right barbecue sauce on your chicken at night," or whatever. You're not driving the right car. You're not doing enough of something.

Doug : And then I take friends over to these places where we work and they look around and they say, "Wow, these little kids are so happy and they don't have a PlayStation. I don't understand." Because it doesn't come from external extrinsic stuff. It's an intrinsic phenomenon. Problem is how do you sell that date? I mean, how do you get on TV and say, "Hey, 2995, I'll send you a little bit of this feel good for your inside." It doesn't work that way.

Erik : There's kind of an equation though, people trade... I've heard you talk about this. They trade their time and their energy and their expertise for something, right.

Doug : Right.

Erik : And what are those things? What are you trading for?

Doug : Right. I mean, that's the big question isn't it?

Erik : You answered that with a question.

Doug : I mean, for us at Project C.U.R.E, it really is... It's those stories that come back about... I'll give you one. We heard from a doctor in Africa and he was doing a surgery and they ran out of oxygen. The oxygen tank went dead in the middle of the surgery. And prior to the shipment that we had sent them they had no Ambu bags in the entire hospital. They walked across the room, opened up a box from Project C.U.R.E, there's an Ambu bag in there. The anesthesiologist was able to bag the patient until the doctor can finish surgery. Those are the stories we circulate around and we say, "Okay, Dave, that is a win. That's why we do what we do." Because that guy got to go home after recovery and spend time with his family. That's what it's all about.

Erik : So, you're trading that time and energy for fulfillment for a sense of purpose, a sense that you are making a difference in the world.

Doug : Right. Exactly, exactly.

Dave : How do you think we could do a better job as a society teaching people that service leads to happiness?

Doug : I think it's experiential. It's one thing to be lectured to about it. It's another thing to say, "Hey, come alongside, and let's do this together." I think in my reflection back on the last year that we've all been through, and this COVID thing, that sadly, to me is one of the things that we've lost is the opportunity to get together, to have those experiences. We had to cut our volunteer staff drastically because we were so worried about getting some of our retirees and people like that sick. I know that that created some hardship, and we lost the opportunity to invite more people to come play.

Erik : So, it sounds like COVID was pretty dramatic in terms of stopping or cutting down on your impact like most organizations in the world?

Doug : Well, for the first, probably six to eight months, we completely shifted. And what that looked like was we started emptying our warehouses back into the same hospitals that were donating things to us six months prior. We got calls from our volunteers. We got a lot of nurses and doctors that are volunteers. And these are from big hospitals in Denver, and Phoenix, and Nashville, and places like that. And they were saying, "We're out of gloves. We don't have any patient gowns. We're going down to Home Depot and buying trash bags and making patient gowns out of... I mean, doctor's scrubs out of trash bags."

Doug : So, we just said we've got to fix that problem and do as much as we can. So we started donating everything we had back to the hospitals and the frontline workers, fire departments, places like that, nursing homes here in the United States. And when we ran out, we joined up with a bunch of the professional sports teams, so the Broncos and the Titans and the Balls and the Blackhawks and Cardinals and all of those folks, and we started doing collection drives in the parking lots of these big stadiums. And people from all over the community started bringing stuff and donating. Auto body shops, well, they use N95 masks, and schools, laboratory programs at the colleges, they started donating gloves, and we turned it around and got it back out to the healthcare workers. So, about October, maybe November, the demand started to slow down here in the United States.

Doug : And so, we shifted our focus back to working around the world. And we've been shipping all kinds of stuff. We got about 22,500 beds donated from Stryker, and were these emergency relief beds. And I know Pat Stryker is a neighbor of yours up there [crosstalk 00:28:12]. And so, they donated 22,500 of these. We've already shipped about half of that already into places all over the world where... If you're watching what's going on in India, 350, 400,000 people a day contracting COVID, and they don't have testing, they don't have vaccine. So, that's really impacted what we've been doing over the last year. But then Erik to your point to try to do that on a quarter of the staff, that was a challenge.

Dave : Yeah. So with that, if I'm a medical care provider, and I want to make a contribution to Project C.U.R.E. How does that work on the provider side? And then on the flip side, if I'm listening to this, and I'm like, "I'd love to volunteer." What does that look like? So tell us about those two ways of getting involved.

Doug : So, we've tried to create a website that reflects what I call the three plates that we have to spend. The one plate is all of the products. So, everything that I was talking about. In fact, it's kind of a fun running bet. I tell friends, if you go to a garage sale someplace in Colorado, I'm going to guess that there's a pair of crutches in the corner of that garage because that's just what we do. And I'm going to guess if you ask him to donate them to Project C.U.R.E while you're grad sailing on Saturday, they probably are going to give them away because we just... Erik, you were talking about your tandem bike. That's what we do. We fall down and we break things, but any of that kind of stuff. So, that's the first plate we have to spin in so people can jump on and just donate medical supplies and equipment.

Doug : The second one you mentioned was the one of donate time, and so people can click down and I want to volunteer. If they're not in one of the communities where we have a warehouse. We've got some fun ways for them to get involved like with the Kids for Kids. These are little... It's like a soccer bag with the little... Where you put your dirty ball in when you're done with practice. We redesigned those and we came up with a list of about 20 things that every mommy should have under her sink, or in her medicine cabinet. And it's all over the counter stuff that you can buy at the local drugstore. The problem is where we work, there's no local drugstore. So, if somebody wants to get involved and do it that way, and then just mail that stuff in, that's fine. But anyway, they can log in that way. Then the third play we spin, of course, is always cash. And it's just somebody's got to underwrite getting that stuff over there.

Dave : I'm sure there are lots of our listeners out there who like the idea of dedicating their life to service or a greater purpose. Maybe they're not millionaires who can quit and donate their money. There may be just kind of struggling to put food on the table and support their families. And they might be thinking, well, that all sounds rosy and nice. But how do you actually make that happen in reality? I've got to put food on the table, and I can't just drop everything and get my life to service. Talk a little bit about that dynamic as it applies to that happiness hole and how you can fill it?

Doug : Well, it doesn't have to be anything big at the outset. I mean, we used to do this in the United States. We call them barn raisings. And it wasn't that any of those people were multimillionaires. It's that when the neighbor down the street was going to build a barn, we just all showed up on Saturday and helped get that barn up. And we can still do that. I mean, that's not that difficult. When's the last time somebody just went across the street and mowed their neighbor's lawn? That's okay. And if you get enough of that going, that creates momentum. And so, we start with the little things, and enough of the little things become the big things.

Doug : For us, we knew that we had to create a system that was inviting for people that let them get up to speed really quickly and invited them to come back when they were done. And so, we rethought our entire process to say, "What is it that standing in the way of somebody joining this effort or this movement? Let's get rid of all of those barriers? Let's move away from the things that keep people from doing what they really want to do."

Erik : Dough, what were some of the... I think I remember you talking about some mistakes along the way. Obviously, when you're building something like you have there are some blunders along the way. What would you say was your biggest mistake or biggest learning from that?

Doug : Well, we could go on this one for hours and hours.

Erik : We need a second podcast.

Doug : I'll tell you one that was sort of an aha moment. We had a board member who I dearly loved. He truly was a cowboy. He had about 30,000 heard of cattle that he was running up in Nebraska. And before he did that, he had a trucking company, and was a really successful over the road truck fleet owner. We had been using the Continental Airlines hangar out at the old Stapleton Airport. When they started to redevelop that we got an eviction notice. And they said, "You guys are going to have to move." Well, I panicked, because you can imagine how big an airplane hangar full of medical supplies is, and I didn't have anywhere to go. So I called Jean and I said, "Jean, I need some help."

Doug : We went down there to Zang's Brewery in downtown Denver at the time. And we're sitting back there having a burger and a beer. And Jean looked at me and he said, "Doug, for all of the good you do for God and country," he said, "you're a trucker. And you got to start thinking like truckers." And he said, "Truckers don't have expensive warehouses. They buy a cheap warehouse way out in the middle of nowhere. And then they augment it with little remote facilities through town. That's what you got to do.: So we built an entire model around that. And I'll say this, but what I discovered was the volunteers don't want to drive to Brighton, Colorado. And so, we had a warehouse where for, I mean, days and days, sometimes a week, nobody would ever even go up there because it was 40 minutes up there and 40 minutes back, and if I wanted to take a donor up there the donors didn't really want to drive up there.

Doug : We had to buy lunch at the Mexican restaurant there in downtown Brighton, which was the highlight of the trip. And then it was a long trip back in traffic and it just wasn't working. So we bought the warehouse we have now which is right in the middle of Centennial, Colorado. It's just about one stop up from Park Meadows Mall and everything changed. I'll drive up to the warehouse now at eight o'clock in the morning it's packed, and we have people coming in until nine o'clock at night working. And it was an aha moment that with all due respect to my friend Jean, we're not in the trucking business, we're in the people business.

Doug : It goes back, Dave, to what we were just talking about. How do you break down the barriers for people to come work? It was a mistake, but we learned from it. Fortunately, we were able to get out of the place up in Brighton. We made a little bit of money. Jake Jeff helped us buy the warehouse we have now and off we went to the races. But every time we put a warehouse in a city now we're looking and the question there comes, "Would my mom come down here in Mountain Standard Time when it's dark and it's 05:30 in the evening? Would she come to this warehouse and volunteer? Does she feel safe enough to do that? If the answer is yes we put a warehouse there. If the answer is no, we just keep looking.

Dave : Yeah.

Erik : Is that the future of Project C.U.R.E? Just doing what you're doing and continue to grow and maybe meet more needs in the world? Or is there something new on the horizon?

Doug : Well, I want to meet more needs doing what we're doing. So, we spread it out a little bit and grow our footprint. But I also really want to grow deep, too. And so, we're looking at a couple of things, that we're expanding our training programs to maybe branch out and start teaching people how to fix equipment, that whole biomed tech problem is a huge problem all over the world.

Dave : Doug, I'm curious, are you proud of what you've accomplished?

Doug : I feel good about it. I mean, it's been fun. It's a balance between feeling really good, and realizing to what we were talking about earlier that there's still so much more that we need to do. I'd like to say that I wish we would have come farther faster, but I think it's pretty neat to watch what happens. And then to hear the stories. We just had a volunteer of ours who just passed away, and to hear his family say, "Raymond retired and lost his purpose and you guys gave him purpose in life again. He went to 38 countries for us doing those needs assessments, and traveling and writing.

Doug : In the last few months of his life every day he would get up and he would share a favorite picture from one of his Project C.U.R.E trips. He lived in Nashville, and so we named our volunteer service award, the Raymond White Service Award and I told my team, I just said, "If we didn't do anything else at Project C.U.R.E, but help that guy enjoy his life and refind his purpose, that was enough." But when you look at story after story after story after story like that, then it starts feeling good. You just feel like you made a difference.

Dave : Yeah, I think it's interesting because there's a parallel in my mind, at least to that. The story you told about wanting to make a million dollars. Your dad wanted to make a million dollars because as the head of another nonprofit, you're heading a great organization as well. There's always more. There's always more need. We have the same problem. And so being able to pause and realize there's always more need, of course, but you got to really appreciate the power that you have on every individual that you're touching, no matter how big you become.

Doug : Yeah, that's right. That's right.

Erik : Awesome. Well, Doug, we don't want to take up... I know you have a deadline, and you got important work to do. But I want to say thank you.

Dave : I just want to remind our listeners that as always, you can check our show notes for references to any of the things that were mentioned in today's podcast. And Doug, can you tell our listeners where to go if they want to volunteer, donate, contribute?

Doug : It's really easy. Go to projectcure.org, and it should all be right there.

Dave : Wonderful. Well, enjoy this conversation. Please share it with someone else and get out there and volunteer or contribute to this great cause. Thank you so much for your time. Thanks, Erik, for your time as well.

Erik : Fill that happiness hole.

Doug : That's right.

Erik : Thank you, Doug. Appreciate it.

Doug : Thanks, gentlemen. This is really fun. I appreciate it.

Dave : Take care, no barriers. We would like to thank our generous sponsors that make our No Barriers Podcast possible. Wells Fargo, Prudential, CoBank, Aero Electronics, and Winnebago. Thank you so much for your support. It means everything to us. The production team behind this podcast includes senior producer, Pauline Shaffer, sound design, editing, and mixing by Tyler Cottman and marketing support by Heather Zoccali, Stevie Dinardo, Erica Howey, and Alex Schaffer. Special thanks to The Dan Ryan band for our intro song, Guidance. Thanks to all of you for listening. If you enjoy this podcast, we encourage you to subscribe to it, share it, and give us a review. Show notes can be found at nobarrierspodcast.com.


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