Striking Harmonious Chords
Bill Lyons contributes his time and money
So much wisdom at such a young age.
Not that a successful 29-year-old chief executive is unheard of these days, even after the dot com utopia, but one that spends many of his “off” hours focused on charitable giving is a bit of a rarity. You get the sense that Bill Lyons, president and CEO in the Kearny Mesa area of San Diego, wishes he were not in the minority.
Lyons founded the company in 2003 and since then, business has exploded. Last year, the Internet lead marketing company -- with a core business in mortgages and financial services and now a division of the conglomerate -- reported $20 million in revenue. This year’s projections are closer to the $50-million range. Yet Lyons has remained grounded and as he and his company make more money, he increasingly has tried to remain involved with numerous charitable causes.
One in particular is San Diego-based Healing Notes, a non-profit organization founded by Allison Barkley, a musician and mother of three who saw a need for a local music therapy program that focused on hospitalized children.
Lyons was immediately impressed with Healing Notes and reached out a helping hand, even though he didn’t fully understand the impact the organization had on the lives of these children.
“When kids are in the sponge years, as I call it, there are no filters, and whatever we give them and teach them, harmonically or otherwise, they’re going to remember,” Lyons says. “It’s so critical in those years -- age 4 to age 7 --to get in the good stuff.”
Healing Notes does just that: It provides positive influence through the playing of instruments and song-writing. The interactive therapy can take place on an individual basis or in group sessions, giving the children a chance to learn and express themselves, interact with family and peers and to relax and enjoy themselves.
Influenced by Tony Robbins
“If you’re not contributing, that’s not life. It’s all about karma…what you give out there comes back,” says Lyons, who contributes to so many causes on a company and personal level, that it’s difficult for him to keep track. Lyons tries to be anonymous with much of his giving, but he does highlight a recent trip to Fiji, which really inspired him to help out.
“We found some great charity things to do there,” he says. “The hospitals, for example, are very Third World. We donated money to the hospitals, schools and villages.”
He adds that it felt good to make a direct contribution in Fiji and to see and meet people that he was directly affecting. One thing he always tries to do is have a direct impact, whether he’s contributing money, getting his hands dirty or helping an organization like Healing Notes with his leadership expertise.
And speaking of impact, Lyons also tries to convince his employees to adopt similar philosophies toward giving.
“When you first see some of these guys -- loan officers, realtors, whatever the case may be -- start to make money, some of them for the first time in their life, they quickly realize that it’s not exactly what they thought it was,” he maintains. “And once you teach them to give back, life becomes a lot more fulfilling. The only way to get fulfillment is through contribution and giving. That’s what I believe.”