The “I’M ESSENTIAL” Project.

July 29, 2020

The “I’M ESSENTIAL” Project.

May 29, 2023

My friend and modern elder Tom Frank created something generative for society that Ashton Kutcher has been promoting on his Facebook page. Here’s Tom’s story.

A Modern Elder Epiphany: Early in the pandemic, sitting at my living room table working on a new 1000-piece puzzle, I experienced two epiphanies. The first was I HATE puzzles. The second was that I had to figure out what I need to be doing right now to make a difference. As a Modern Elder, I felt compelled to get up from my puzzle and contribute something important, something meaningful.

The government had just come out with guidelines regarding “essential” and “non-essential” workers. Soon after, many companies used the term “essential” to decide who would continue to work, who would be furloughed, and who would be fired. As you can imagine, this has been devastating for the hospitality industry that I hold dear in my heart. Just imagine those who were considered “essential” being asked to put their health on the line to show up and do their jobs. Imagine the humiliation in being considered “non-essential” and not welcome on the job after loyally serving your company. Not to mention the financial devastation.

Defining “Essentialness” as a State of Being Meaningful.

I always knew my employees were essential. As a manager and an owner, and today as a culture consultant, I have always been dedicated to making all of my employees feel essential and experience the pride, self-esteem, and meaningfulness of their essentialness.

We are just beginning to understand that many employees are far more broken than we know. Their self-worth, their self-esteem has been shaken by fear and uncertainty. Although a sticker or button will not solve this problem, making a conscious effort to provide our people with a sense of meaningfulness can go a long way to healing. Therefore, we have chosen to define essentialness as the state of being meaningful.

Praise and recognition are important but we too often overlook that many people do not have the innate mechanism to process praise into self-esteem and pride. Often the people we want to feel good about their work do not possess the ability to translate our recognition into a sense of meaningfulness and worthiness. We have decided to take back the word essential and use it to create healing in a time when so many of our employees have been traumatized.

This was the beginning of The “I’M ESSENTIAL” Project.

You will see on the website that the coronavirus is only mentioned once. Our intention is to create a permanent shift in consciousness that will last well beyond the moment and help our employees experience the meaningfulness of the role they play in getting us back on our feet and moving toward the future. This is not for profit… just purpose. None of us, me, Jon Flor, graphic artist, PJ Spielman, culture expert, and Chryssandra Maestas, social media wizard are making any money for our participation.

"Just imagine how amazing it would be if everyone in your company worked with the same values, beliefs and aspirations."

As a culture warrior and one of the original founders of P.F.Chang’s as well as 14 other unique restaurant concepts, Tom’s passion for culture and leadership development has led him to help both domestic and international companies to become great places to work for their employees. Today as a Modern Elder he shares his knowledge, experience, and wisdom as a speaker and thought leader. https://www.imessentialproject.com/

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