A CEO’s Secret to Happiness

Jim Estill knew he had the means and the skills to make a big impact on the lives of hundreds of strangers. What he wasn’t expecting was the impact they’ve had on him — a powerful lesson Jim will be sharing at the National Arts Centre on Wednesday, May 30, as part of The Kindness of Strangers event.

Estill, CEO of Danby Appliances, has a long track record of success as a technology entrepreneur, executive, and philanthropist, stretching back to the 1980s when he was in university and started a computer distribution business from the trunk of his car. That modest business grew into a company doing $350,000,000 in sales, before selling to SYNNEX in 2004. Jim then became CEO of SYNNEX Canada and grew sales from $800,000,000 to $2 Billion over five years. Jim has invested in, mentored and advised many technology companies including Blackberry. He joined their board before they went public and served for 13 years.

Jim also has a track record of using his wealth to support people he has never met, donating to causes in his hometown of Guelph and beyond. But in 2015, he decided to invest almost $2 million of his own money in sponsoring Syrian refugees — people who were living on the other side of the world, who have a culture, language and in many cases a religion completely different from those he has known. Jim did it because, as he told an interviewer, “I didn’t want to be 80 years old and know that I did nothing during the greatest humanitarian crisis of my time.”

At The Kindness of Strangers, an evening of short, powerful and inspiring talks in support of Refugee 613,  Jim will share the story of how he mobilized his assets — corporate, community, and his own leadership skills — to create a massive resettlement operation that ultimately brought more than 60 refugee families to Guelph. By the time the resettlement operation was in full swing, more than 800 of his fellow citizens in Guelph were volunteering, running teams to cover all aspects of what the newcomers would need to ease their integration into a new life in Canada.

But that was just the beginning, for the families, the community and for Jim personally. Two years on, Jim says the experience has taught him the secret to happiness, something he will be talking about for the first time in Ottawa. The Kindness of Strangers is a fundraiser for Refugee 613’s Podcasting Project, a pilot initiative to bring information and practical advice on the Canadian financial system to refugee newcomers via their smartphones. Tickets are just $50.

Join Jim and four other dynamic speakers to hear more about the impact you can have, in life and work, simply by making time to help others.

For tickets and more information, visit: kindnessofstrangersr613.eventbrite.ca