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What I Gained from Giving Back

Written by Michelle Panovich, Principal

'Tis the Season for giving.  It’s also a great time to reflect and to determine if you have done enough for others to feel fulfilled in life. There comes a point in time when we all realize how well we live and how truly fortunate we are.  At this point you start asking yourself, what's next?  It’s not about accumulating more "stuff", but more about accumulating relationships.  Relationships that are built on sharing thoughts, ideas and aspirations with others, and relationships that give back a feeling of self-worth and fulfillment.

When I was first asked to participate in the Roosevelt University Real Estate Board over 15 years ago, my initial thought was "okay, but how do I possibly fit this in to my already hectic schedule?"  I only agreed because one of my first and best mentors, Jerry Fogelson, asked me to.  After getting into the swing of it, I quickly learned I was not giving up anything. While giving time and effort to the board and students, I was receiving far more in return. I cannot tell you how many fabulous business and personal contacts I have made through this organization.  There’s also the relationships I built with the students, all so eager to understand what we in Commercial Real Estate do and how we do it.  We also offer mentorship and scholarships to students, thus giving us a rewarding feeling in return.

A personal reward I received was when I stepped into a meeting one day to discover one of those wonderful, former students was actively engaged in a real estate deal we were working on. It was such a great feeling to know that by being in this organization, I had played an integral part in this student’s life.

Giving back doesn’t have to be related to your work industry either. Years ago my husband and I determined we did not need or want to receive gifts around the holidays.  Instead, we elected to give our immediate family members funds each year, as well as a challenge to use them to do something fabulous for those in need.  This has been a huge success and every Christmas Eve our children and grandchildren give a presentation on how the funds were used for charity. In return, this has been a great gift for us as parents.  

In the next "season" of your career or life, I encourage you to consider how you can give back. It could be time to participate in a board or other charity event. I’m sure you will quickly realize that you gain much more when giving back.

Photo of Michelle's Granddaughter, Lisa, with recipients of the Panovich Scholarship. Lisa established the scholarship years ago with her Christmas funds and keeps it active with other donations. 

Michelle Panovich | Principal, Executive Vice President
Mid-America Asset Management, Inc
One Parkview Plaza, 9th Floor | Oakbrook Terrace, IL 60181
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