We’re happy to announce the third volume of our ongoing segment, Gentleman of the Month. Here at GentlemenCare, we want to highlight talented men and women from our community who are doing great things, and changing our world for the better. This month we want to introduce you to a truly phenomenal philanthropist, Leighton Smith. We’ve had the pleasure of working with Leighton on several occasions, and the impact he has within his local community is truly of note. His involvement with 100+ Men Who Care has helped the organization grown to thousands of members across the nation. You can learn more about 100+ Men Who Care, and Leightons local chapter here: 100plusmen.org. With no further ado, let’s get started:
So Leighton, why do you live in Iowa?
I live in Iowa because of the people and the feats we are capable of here. This is a place large enough to dream grand dreams yet small enough to get things done.
What is the most important thing to you regarding personal connections and family?
The thing that makes me happiest is helping the people around me to experience their dreams. At the risk of exposing myself as cliched, the high school football movie ‘Friday Night Lights’ includes a coach’s speech on ‘being perfect’ that sums it up for me. He explains that ‘being perfect’ is about ‘being able to look [your friends] in the eye and tell them the truth that you have done everything that you could.’ People are the why, how and what for me in making a dent on the world. What’s most important to me is giving them all that I can each and every day.
What is your most important business philosophy?
Find ways to help by asking the right questions.
What is the most important thing to you regarding philanthropic service?
The most important thing is to operate from a place of caring. It’s very important to find ways to use your gifts and to meet needs, but acting out of a sincere passion is the only non-negotiable in service.
Tell us a little about ‘100+ Men Who Care’.
#ThePowerof100 is a notable movement in philanthropy today. More than 500 ‘clubs’ around the world are now making quarterly gifts of more than $10,000 in less than 100 minutes. The basic concept is that 100 or more people gather, some of those people nominate charities, three are randomly drawn, ‘pitches’ are made by the nominators, all those present vote, and the highest vote-getter receives a $100 check from each club member. 100 people x $100 –> $10,000+ gift to a deserving charity. No extra meetings, fundraisers, stuff to sell, or events to plan. It’s an energizing way to give back to the world in a refreshingly simple and efficient way. We are fortunate to have clubs in the Iowa City and Cedar Rapids area. Though the concept began in Michigan, we’ve added more new clubs in Iowa than any other state in the last year. #IowaBrag
Working on anything exciting lately?
I am really excited about a new event supporting Eastern Iowa Honor Flight. When’s the last time you saw a group of people pulling a full sized jet? Pulling for Honor: Eastern Iowa Honor Flight is a team-based event where groups of people will compete to see who can pull a FedEx jet the fastest. Google ‘plane pull’ for visuals. The Eastern Iowa Airport has been an amazing partner in making this happen. In addition to the main event, ‘they have also made arrangements for a variety of exciting opportunities for people of all ages, including flights for young people through the Young Eagles program, a variety of static displays for kids like large fire trucks, and other ways to have some fun on a Saturday morning. The end goal is to raise enough money to fund an additional Honor Flight for this region next year. Honor Flight takes Veterans to visit memorials in Washington, D.C. Save the date for August 6th and find out more here: http://eihonorflight.org/
Favorite piece of clothing you own? Why?
My favorite article of clothing is a pair of Allen Edmonds chelsea style boots. My grandpa once told me that a man’s watch, shoes, and handshake tell you just about all that you need to know about him. Truly fine watches are something I’m saving as gifts to myself after major life achievements, but good shoes are something I prioritized at an early stage in my career. Though I wear oxfords most days for work, my boots strike a good balance between my small town farm upbringing and the (slightly) bigger town life I now live.
One last thing… we were hoping to hear about a big life lesson you’ve picked up along your journey. Kindly indulge us, if you would.
I struggle mightily with impatience, but I’m learning to take a long view with my decisions and values. Legacy is something that slowly and deeply took hold in my heart as I grew up watching my parents work together to build something that can last. Warren Buffett, a large figure in our family’s financial philosophy, is known for saying that “you can’t produce a baby in one month by getting 9 women pregnant.” Though I’ve never tried to prove him wrong (smile), it seems to me that things that really matter take at least one lifetime to achieve, and often many more. I encourage people to think about what they would like their legacy to be, and I do my best each day to maintain an orientation toward the very long term. I hope that when my days are nearing an end, I will be able to reflect on a life well-lived alongside my partner in all things, my bride, Sarah.