SAVE THE DATE: Sleep Summit Oct 8-11, 2024

Turning Tragedy into Triumph – The Roger Magowitz Story

Roger Magowitz, executive for the Seena Magowitz Foundation joins us for episode 7 of Just Stories with BT, a new podcast hosted by Brett Thornton.

Watch this show → 

Each season of Just Stories has a different eight-episode theme. The show kicks off with “Recycled Dreams,” featuring eight CEOs who have woven giving back into their business strategies.

These episodes will give you a blueprint for doing the same in the most efficient way possible, which is making their learnings your reality.

Solutions to problems tackled on this episode:

  1. Fill in the void and depression you feel when you lose a loved one.

2. How to jump in with two feet into fundraising!

3. How to turn tragedy into purpose.

This episode is all about the CEO of the Seena Magowitz Foundation, a nonprofit that has raised over $12 million dollars for pancreatic cancer research and clinical trials. Roger Magowitz was a very successful entrepreneur, ultimately selling his business for a huge sum of money, but for Roger that didn’t matter. He lost his mother to pancreatic cancer and he decided to dedicate his life to finding a cure. This episode was powerful and will motivate you to never lose hope and count each day as the blessing it is.

Season 1 of the podcast is titled “Recycled Dreams” because each episode focuses on CEO’s who have utilized giving back as a part of their main business strategy. The purpose is to use the art of story telling to motivate our business communities into giving back more because when you do, everybody wins!

Be sure to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts and never miss an episode.

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Google Play

Full Transcription:

Brett Thornton: All right, welcome back. It is another exciting episode of just stories with Beatty. Once again, we’re in the middle of our eight-part series called recycled dream, where we are talking to CEOs who either utilize giving back as part of their business, or they are the business that people are giving back to, which is the case today. So, I’m really excited to announce that I’ve got Roger, who’s here to talk about the Seana Megawatts foundation and all things giving back so welcome.

Roger Magowitz: Thank you, Brett. Happy to be here. 

Brett Thornton: Yeah, it’s going to be exciting. So, the way I kick these episodes off is a little different than a lot of podcasts because podcasts are generally asked the guests will tell us tell the audience about you, know, and all this stuff. And the problem is, that some guests don’t know how to like rein themselves in, so they go off on these hour long tangents and then the whole episodes gone. So, to save yourself from you in case that could have been you Roger, I’m going to introduce you for you. And then you tell me what I missed. Sound good. 

Roger Magowitz: Okay. All right, like a player.

Brett Thornton: Okay, so here we go. All right. Roger was born Montecito, New York, but he moved to Brooklyn when he was two years old. As he was growing up, he actually nannied for a little while three boys on Fire Island where he learned an important lesson in life, which was not everyone lived in a little apartment. Some people had a lot of money, including multiple houses. As he grew up, he was on the wrestling team. throughout high school, he realized after he graduated, he didn’t want to go to school. He actually went right into the USMC. After doing that for a couple years, he ended up leaving that to go get into furniture leasing in Washington, DC. And he also started selling mattresses part time on the holidays, realized, oh, wait a minute, I can actually do this thing called sales. And so went to mattress discounters at the time and elevated himself got promoted, got into district manager role, and ended up buying stores from them to run in 19, which was a 1983. In 1985. He met Jan gene, while we’re all to ask you about that. His wife and they had two kids, one son and one daughter, in 1993 was a big year he opened up a bunch of stores in Atlanta, but unfortunately in 1996, actually went bankrupt, lost those stores, but didn’t let that get him down, came back swinging and went and opened up a chain of successful stores in Arizona. But unfortunately in 2001, tragedy struck which was his mom passed away of pancreatic cancer, which launched Roger into research and figuring out what is going on with this disease. And he launched and became the CEO of the Siena maggots foundation to fight pancreatic cancer in 2002. He went on later to sell all of his stores to Mattress Firm. So he can focus full time on the Foundation, which has now raised over $12 million for pancreatic cancer research. How to do?

Roger Magowitz:  Well what you missed, it would be Monticello, New York. And for a month of Salchow at two years old move to Brooklyn, and spent the next 15 years in Brooklyn, until he, as you said, enlisted in the Marine Corps. And at 18, you know went right off to the Marine Corps after graduating high school.

Brett Thornton: And so get your wife’s name. What, How do you pronounce her name? 

Roger Magowitz: Genie. 

Brett Thornton: Nice. And you have two kids? What are their names? 

Roger Magowitz: Craig and Melissa.

Brett Thornton:  Awesome. And so right now, if you’re just listening to podcasts, you’re not watching on video, you’ll notice that Roger seems to be very relaxed and has a beautiful setting behind him which should because he’s in Hawaii. So, we’re all extremely jealous. And you said your family’s there with you too.

Roger Magowitz: Melissa, her husband Josh and my two grandkids. Emma and Blake, actually, they’re living with us right now until they find the house. 

Brett Thornton: Nice. Hey, well, no better place to be. I you probably appreciate this. But you know, I’m somebody that in my line of work, legitimately traveled, you know, on an airplane, went on trips, probably three to four times a month for over a decade, right for work during my you know, last 1015 years. And the last flight I was on was last year in February to Hawaii. So I was having a birthday. And so, my buddies, we all flew and one of my best friends from college lives in Hawaii. So, we went stayed at his house for a week. And every day it was like the news and the pandemic was getting a little more serious and a little more serious. And then it was like by the time we were flying out they were already getting ready to kind of shut things down as well. And I haven’t been on a plane since which is just mind blown. So what was that?

Roger Magowitz: I said a year blew by.

Brett Thornton: It did. And so we’re going to get into talking about your foundation, and kind of what you guys are doing. You know, but I really before I get into that, and we get into talking about how businesses can give back and how they can get involved in this type of thing. I really want the listeners to get an opportunity to get to know you a little bit, you know, and I like to do that through storytelling, and so before we get into the serious stuff, you know, I always like to ask, you know, think of a time or story when you think back at your career, whether it’s when you’re selling mattresses owning business, whether it’s with the foundation, you know, you have any really funny or entertaining memories that just always come up when you think of that.

Roger Magowitz: Well, it might not be the perfect situation, but we were actually vacationing in Nashville. And we ordered room service. We had come in late; I bought a room service. And the room service guy looks at me and says, do you know who I am? Not a clue. He said, I used to work for you at mattress discount as a Virginia Beach. I’m like you did? He said, Well, you probably I wasn’t there that long. But he said, I justifiably got fired. He said, I was caught sleeping in the adjustable bed after I was just working for you guys for two weeks. And obviously it wasn’t his story. But it was like What a small world and I’m vacationing in Nashville, room service, Tom. And the guy looks at me, and I really had no clue who he was. He hadn’t been that long. But he knew who I was, like, the moment I said no, he said, Well, he said that actually helped me. He says I got fired. And I had to do something at that point. My parents were going to kill me. And I think he said he wound up going to school and in back to school in Nashville and was in school was working in a fine hotel. And he said, because of that his life and I actually gotten back on track. But it’s a small world where he saw that he never, you never know who’s who you’re going to bump into. And I would arraign him over with a car. I certainly wouldn’t have known who he was. 

Brett Thornton: Oh, man. So the question is obviously what everyone’s thinking is, did you eat the food? Did you think he was going to?

Roger Magowitz: That was a question. But when he told me his life had gotten on track because he had gotten fired. I said, okay, honey, I think we I think we could eat the meal because he actually seems to be pretty good, pretty good mood, and was actually looking like we have helped him along his life lesson. So, I said if we could eat the meal, and we never got sick, and it was just ironic that, you know, you meet people in funny places.

Brett Thornton: Yeah.Well, I would say that, you know, the only thing that story that seems a little harsh is that, you know, lane adjustable base, especially when you got them sod go in and your feet are up. I mean, I can understand how someone could fall asleep. I mean, it’s the most comfortable position to be in is on a bay. 

Roger Magowitz: Yeah. You know, he fell to the same problem that many of the salespeople did, and wound up in the same place which was being fired. Because it was not uncommon to have that story happen. In fact, that photo was another story where a good friend of mine worked for us. And this was in Atlanta. And he called and said, the reporter came to him one day and said, hey, what hours do you take your now? And my friend who is the new store manager said, what do you mean, what I would do I take my nap. And he said, well, the old store manager would nap between three and five and the back and I would go in the front and work the store. And the guy was like, well, I don’t I don’t think that’s right. And I don’t take naps so you don’t have to worry about me while the guy goes in the back and takes a nap. So unfortunately, I think a lot of people fell to the humming of an adjustable and so why the guy?

Brett Thornton: So the guy legitimately had a nap break worked into a schedule. 

Roger Magowitz:  Yeah. He did. And had and had the porter train that you work the front, you answer the phones and I take my nap. I said Life is good.

Brett Thornton:  Yeah. As I used to have a boss back in the day when I was at sleep train a long time ago and he was famous for saying that’s a good way to get promoted to customer.

Roger Magowitz: Well, he did you know that that happens very quick and, and very easy. And I bet you could do a podcast just about stories, though. Who was on an adjustable base and what happened to him and why?

Brett Thornton :

Yeah, I actually like one story comes to mind that I’ll just tell real quick Which was I was running a store. This is, you know, 15 years ago by myself or 16 years ago. And it was a real small volume store, you always work by yourself, you know, one person worked the whole shift, you know, 11 hours. And there was never anyone in there. But I had a couple sets of guests coming in, at the end of the night, of course, after not seeing anyone all day, and then I’m trying to deal with them. And this one lady had been trying a bunch of beds, and she’d been laying on beds for like an hour, which is pretty long time for someone to be like laying on bed, she really was like, I really want to get the feel of it. And we used to have these things called bed-education centers. And they were like these in it. And this is back with sleep train. So Dale had these, you know, trained on them and all this stuff. And they were kind of right in the middle of the store. And they had the inner springs around them. So you could kind of show the guests well, where I was sitting on my desk and where this bed-education Center was the lady who was trying these beds, when I was talking to another guest, I thought she left. And I heard I could have sworn I heard the door time I thought she left so apparently she didn’t leave. She goes behind where I can’t see her. She’s laying on his bed. So, she falls asleep. I don’t know. No idea. She’s there. So I like finish up with the other customers. They leave out the back and wrapping everything up. I go around and I hit the alarm. And then when you hit the alarm, you got to like run through the store from the front all the way the back to get out before the 30 seconds. It’s like beeping, and right when I get to the back of the store, I hear this like Hello, hello. And I like panic. You know, I’m like, oh my god, what’s happening? Like what was in disguise? See the space setting up? And I’m like, Oh, no. So, I sprint back to the front to get the alarm before it starts. You know, blaring is huge. It was so fun. She was so embarrassed. She’s like, Oh my god, I don’t even know what I’m doing. Its boy fell asleep. It was a classic.

Roger Magowitz: But yeah, maybe you want to use that story. 

Brett Thornton: Hey, you know, this. 

Roger Magowitz: There’s a million of these little antidotal stories like my brother in law worked for me. And we had like a small truck. Well, he normally didn’t drive the truck. But he drove the truck and was heading to the bank. He forgot he was in a trust and went through the drive thru with a bank with the truck. And of course, like took out the bank, because it was the drive thru and in the truck, and I’m like, john, what we had Michael, he was like, I wasn’t home. So I’m so embarrassed. The police come, you know, it’s a whole obviously the truck has destroyed the bank is destroyed. He’s mortified that. Yeah. You know, he just forgot he was it because it wasn’t a big your old truck. It was like a small box truck just completely forgot.

Brett Thornton:  Alright, so that was the easy part. Right? easy questions. But I love to hear from people who, especially, CEOs, and people who have, you know, run their own companies. I love to ask about a story or two, about failure, right? Like, what was something in your life that you think back when you look at your businesses or the foundation that you was a really difficult time? And how did you get through it?

Roger Magowitz:  Well, I would probably say, the best thing that ever happened to us was bankruptcy. And I’ve heard from other people. But I think until you’ve been through bankruptcy, and you should have been walking up the mountain. And now you’re coming down the mountain. And it’s not a very good feeling. Yeah. And so you reflect and even if all your reasons for why you had to go bankrupt, were right. And justify. It teaches you a lesson that I will never, I had never thought about how bankruptcy could be the best medicine. Because that’s a lesson you don’t want to learn again. Yeah. And it completely changes your mindset of how you think about business how you think about your personal financial affairs. And it wasn’t a good place. And my only thought at the time was I got myself into this. And there’s only one person who can get myself out of this. And that’s myself. And I still believe that to be true from for me or any other entrepreneur. Like he just really had to dig deep. And take that lesson to say okay, you don’t want to be here again. And what do I have to do to make sure that I don’t get here again? Because this is not a comfortable place, especially if we have had some success in your career in your life. It’s a hard lesson. And the interesting part was all I knew was mattresses because I was young. I mean, when we opened up stores, I was 22,23 years old. And truthfully, it probably all worked because I was too stupid to know, what I was doing was wrong. Yeah, I really didn’t know what I was doing. I was 22,23. Yeah, just saying, I could do it. And so when the bankruptcy hit, it really makes you dig deep, as far as working out of the bankruptcy. And what I told myself was, if I go to all my major vendors and say, Look, I’m going to pay you all the money that I owe you. But it’ll probably take two to five years for me to pay, in fact, so would you rather go into a bankruptcy and get 10 to 15 cents on $1? Or do you want to work with me and I will pay you back might be two years, likely five years, obviously, a lot, just depends. And really just about everybody rolled with me. But what wound up happening at the end of it, you know, I was a lot stronger in the respect from all of those companies, because I certainly could have just done the bankruptcy and, you know, hurt whoever my vendors were at the time. But I knew I wanted to stay in the business. And I wanted to treat people fairly, and I wanted to be treated fairly. And so in all honesty, the best thing that ever happened to me, was the bankruptcy because you’re never going to go there again. You’re never going to let that happen again. And you learn from your mistakes. And those become one of those life’s lessons that he you take the heat and say, Boy, that was tough. But that was probably the best thing that could have happened to us. And really, it stayed with me and how we dealt with things forever, because we were a relatively small company. And so it wasn’t bank financing. It was Bank of Raja financing. Yeah, but that was just whatever money we had earned, you know, through the business. So it was a tough navigation, but I think we came out a lot, a lot better and a lot stronger, a lot wiser. And when I look back at my life, I say the bankruptcy was the best thing that ever happened. 

Brett Thornton: Yeah, I’ve heard that before. You know, and I think that it seems to be something that as I’ve been doing these interviews with different CEOs, you know, they pretty much all have these major setbacks, you know, and in the thing that seems to define them versus a lot of other people is that instead of letting something like that, fold them, they end up doubling down, like, Okay, well, it’s happened to me once not going to let that happen again, let me learn from it, and then how you know, and then go to this next. And so how did you? How did you tell yourself, I mean, just mentally, you know, like, you go through something like that you’ve got a lot of industry experience, I’m sure, you could have easily gone out and got a job and sevens are certainly, you know, I mean, these companies, you know, but how did you tell yourself like, No, you know, what, I think I’m just going to stick with entrepreneur and go do it again.

Roger Magowitz: Well, but I just knew in the back of my head, the only one who got planned for this was me, the only one who’s going to get me out of this is me. And I’m going to have a much bigger value in my myself, in my own mind, if I can navigate and work through, at the time, a horrific situation, because look, it’s, it’s certainly not pretty. When you’re going through a bankruptcy, you don’t have money. And then the attorney says, Well, you know, we need $150,000 painter and you’re like, why would you know? bankrupt? Where do you think I got? $150,000? He’s like, well, if you want to retain me, you come up with it. So, you know, look, you have to become creative. And I think the most the biggest thing was you had to have the confidence in yourself. You know, yeah, you had to know that this is the way we have to fly. And you know, life is reputation. And, you know, if your reputation is that your umbrella. I mean, who really wants to deal with you? Yeah, you know, only the desperate ones. And my feeling was, look, I respected all these people. I was in the wrong place at the right time, and it just wasn’t working in. And we also had to realize that, you know, it’s not easy to wake up one day and say, I think we’ve had enough. You know, we believe in how do we get out of this? 

Brett Thornton: Yeah.  No, I get it. So tell me, you know, so you’re got these stores, the chains going well in Arizona, and then just kind of walk us through, you know, the events of 2001. How does Steena megawatts foundation get started? Just that whole kind of transition period.

Roger Magowitz: We’ll see Saina megawatts foundation. That’s not like everything else. They just don’t want to happen. Certainly, it wasn’t a plan to, to lose your mom. Certainly, when it happens, at least in my case, you go into a depression. I mean, my parents were divorced when I was two. My mom was Dad, Mom, and everything to me. So when you sort of feel like they lost your whole world, and she was young, she was only 64. And we lost that. That’s pretty young, considering I’m 61. You know, 64 doesn’t seem to be that old. And so really, what Apple was going through a depression for a year, and then sort of just like the bankruptcy said, You know, I just have to do something. And the, and in my head, I couldn’t figure out why she wasn’t here anymore. You know, what, did she do something? Well, you know, why did the guy upstairs decide to take her? And so, in my mind, what I rationalized was, if I had to lose my mother, who was my world, then I had to make something big animal, then I had to take that problem. And say, well, what I’m going to do is help other people, because of the loss of her. And, and really, that’s what we did if I had to have a way to justify her loss. And the way I justify her loss was saying, okay, I lost my mom, but it’s empowered me to help hundreds, maybe 1000s of people in their life, and in their bad or pancreatic cancer. And that was sort of how we got into it. I had to come up with a reason why I lost my mother. And then like, being an entrepreneur, you just sort of jump into it. And the first year I looked on the internet, there’s a woman doing a golf tournament. Hey, I’d like to join you. Okay, well, she raised $10,000. That year, I had never done one. So I really didn’t know what that was a lot, a little, a lot. And so I told her to Hey, how about next year, you put the event in my mom’s name. And let me see if I can pull a bunch of friends and see what they would do. Well, so she said, okay, and she put to them my mother’s name. And that year, we did 50,000. And that was really off first year as seen a mango, its foundation, even though it wasn’t a foundation at that point. And that was really how we, how we started and, and then the year after we did that, the woman told me, hey, each year, we’re going to change the name. I said, huh? I said, Well, why would all of my people come for somebody that they don’t know? And she said, well, that’s how we’re going to do it. We’re going to be fair. And actually why I tell you what, rather than us argue, and I’ll bet you do your deal. And I’ll just take a shot, to do a golf tournament on my own, without URL, which was nothing. Yeah. And do it by myself. And really, that’s, what we did. And that was the start and really just had a bunch of friends and family who were more than happy to help and step out and just met a bunch of great people and patients, and doctors, and it just all started moving into the, to the right direction. And most importantly, it made me feel good. Because in my mind, I was justifying the loss of my mother, to empower me to help others. And that gave me a lot of relief. I mean, it was like, Oh, it was like a big sigh of relief that I can help other people. And we can I mean, we do it daily.

Brett Thornton: What was what was can you think of one story in particular with maybe a company that sponsors the event or comes in donates or whatever that you know, you saw them donate or you saw them being touched by what was happening you thought yourself like I can’t Wow, like, I can’t believe how big this has gotten? Or like, I can’t believe how much people are donating.

Roger Magowitz: Well, you know what, when you do it without really being on the philanthropic side of stuff, you know, all of a sudden we’re having million dollar events, and really moving the needle, and really making a difference. And really then seeing patients who went on those trials that you and all your friends sponsored. And they come up to you and say, thank you for my life. I’m alive because of that trial. And I’ve gotten to see grandkids, and we’ve had wedding anniversaries and birthdays. And without that, I’m not sure I would be here today. So, thank you. That becomes pretty, powerful. And the truth is, we almost do that kind of stuff daily, but and so it is a powerful moment when those kind of things happen. And they happen fairly frequently. And of course, that’s what, gives you the drive. Yeah, because certainly fundraising during a pandemic, not easy. We had a completely switch from a virtual world. You know, so like, any charity, you had to change the way you would do a business and really, it made me probably double down my time on the foundation. Because not now we were in a whole new world. They’re on now we weren’t in person touching the flesh, meeting people. Or for that matter, I couldn’t get I couldn’t talk to you and say, Hey, I’d love to involve all Machado in a program. And how about I fly in? And how about I meet with you? And how about I bring a patient? And how about, I come with one of our doctors, and we explained the whole program that would do him breakfast, we really are making a difference in this world. And we’d like you and I’m a powder to be fought. You know, the zoom call only goes so far there’s, you lose that interpersonal relationship, that battle, we make all of these relationships at these events, it’s no different than going to a betting conference, or a leadership conference or a furniture market. It’s all called networking. The same the same practice that follows business follows charitable giving, you know, it’s those same steps. 

Brett Thornton: Yeah, for sure. I imagine it’s been crazy. But I also think that, you know, I’ve seen a shift in my mind, especially, you know, on social media and with people I interacted with, and especially the younger demographic, Millennials are now 30,35. What I’m seeing is, I’m seeing people with a huge need, and a want to work with companies to work with individuals to work with products who have this kind of story of giving back. You know, I think that you know, it’s becoming a, we’re at a crossroads where I think that companies who just don’t even do any full philanthropic work, I think people are going to be like, I don’t even want to really do business with you. Because there’s so many different things you can do. You know, obviously, people can work with you. They can there’s foster kids, there’s this, I mean, there’s so much need in the world. And so like, what have you seen just over the last few years? Have you seen a shift and more people wanting to get involved in this type of thing?

Roger Magowitz: Oh, I don’t, I don’t think there’s any doubt in my mind. If a customer shop, they three stores, and one of those three stores had a charitable arm to what they did. And it was real, it clearly wasn’t, you know, baloney that somebody made up and today, you know, we give you know, 2% of all on gross sales to whatever the charity is. And you know, we would stay at firsthand even in Virginia Beach at mattress discount, and we would take a look about Randy Pausch. That was really the first sort of face and voice of pancreatic cancer. And we would put his book up on the counter. Well, what would happen was, you know, now people are getting ready to leave and you’re talking to them trying to close them, you’re going to give them an estimate of what the price would be. And the guy said, well, what’s the book? Well, we said that’s the last lecture on we’re involved. We have a foundation for pancreatic cancer. And I was just watching the sale do this. And he goes through the whole presentation on why we have the book who Randy Pausch is talking about pancreatic cancer. And this guy was a real asshole. I mean, he was not a pleasant customer. He was just one of those guys that he was going to bust shoes all the way. And all of a sudden at the end now what about a charity? He in two seconds says, You know what I appreciate what you guys are doing, just write it up. And that was sort of the tipping point my head. That was that moment of, you know, I knew it, people are charitable and hot, people want to give and look, I’m going to buy a bed for 2000 bucks. And one guy is telling me they’re heavily involved in a charity. And all across us all we would have posters and materials, why wouldn’t a person want to help the people out to help their community? For somebody that’s just taking all the rewards and putting it in their pocket? And, you know, look, when you think about cancer, who hasn’t been hit with the might not be pancreatic cancer, but I guarantee you that few to know people. If you had 1000 people in a room and said, Hey, raise your hand, if a family member or friend has any form of cancer. I mean, 999 hands up, probably going to go up. So even though people might not have been pancreatic cancer, but they know the pitfalls and the tragedy of a family member getting cancer, and what they have to go through what people certainly appreciate them, especially when it affects their community. It’s a big deal.

Brett Thornton : Yeah, and what do you see, you know, so in having a foundation like this, you know, that’s, that’s obviously it is specific to one area, you know, and you’ve got these amazing doctors and these in these unbelievable stories. You know, what, how do companies get involved with you? Do they just, are they just straight donating? Are they doing, you know, percentage of their the funds? Like, how does it work?

Roger Magowitz: Well, you know, what’s really been across the board, you know, some people will be cash some people, it will be, hey, not only are we going to get corporately, but I’m so committed, I want to get personally as well. And I’ll give one classic example is like in a flat, last call, CEO, president of Leggett is very involved in what we do. He’s been involved almost probably since day one. And he’s been involved for a reason because he believes in it. He believes in me, he believes in the doctors, and he’s never had pancreatic cancer in our family. But he sees the differences that we’re able to make in people in funding clinical trials, and in making a difference in the community. And the world. And I want to say it’s called I should call you Okay, with me. Putting it out, that Leggett is doing this, and you’re going to do stuff personally. Because I, you know, certainly he’s, he’s doing a great deed, I don’t, you know, I don’t want to hurt them. And if I’m lugging them flat, I got a million people calling me for money. Yeah, and I don’t think like it gives getting left money out too easily. And call said to me, you know, somebody could show me the program that you have. And someone could show me the quality of Dr. van Hoff, who is who heads up the program for us. He said, I’ll do the same thing. He says, so I’m not worried about you doing it. Because look, if you publicizing it helps the cause, then, then I’m all in. And so, we’ve done program early with mattress Pro, where we did the round up good knowledge, and always around up your dollars, and not even every school was doing it. I think we raised 380,000 like, in four months. And as you know, there was some store killing it. And other stores never, never got a nickel. But the people that would do when it did it, did it really well. And a lot of what happens is by me manufacturing it, where I call Brett and said Hey Brett, you know who did avocado, you know who are they charitable with you know, why are they charitable? Is there a call? Is there charitable, cause near and dear to somebody, you know, a CEOs thought you know, it’s really it’s me, no one having the connection and going out there and saying hey bread or anything you think you could do or can you Come to our event. And really that’s what happened with Steve Stanger. And Steve Fendrick. Very early on, because I didn’t know it. But when they were buying my business, one of the things they were looking at is they did not have a charitable cause at that time, and I remember Steve and Steve flying to Arizona, to meet with the doctors to speak to him. And Steve got that moment. Most of them did. Yeah. And they said, We like this. Well, I didn’t know what they were doing. Because when Mattress Firm bought me, they weren’t even public at that point. And so but they had that moment that, okay, we could we could use this people could buy into it. We love what you’re doing. And really what we do is we raise money for clinical trials. And clinical trials are important because the standard of care really doesn’t work, and really doesn’t prolong life. So most of the time, if somebody is diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, unless they’re on a clinical trial, and maybe they’re real lucky. They don’t have a long time.

Brett Thornton : Yeah. No, I know, I know, the numbers are staggering. So, you know, to kind of like, close the book on this, you know, one thing I want to one last thing I want to ask you about is a theory not theory, but a practice that I call experiential giving. And so what I’m a firm believer in is that the best possible way of giving that any organization can do is experiential. And what I mean by that is that a guest, you know, comes in to your store, online, whatever it is, and they make a purchase, right? And this purchase then, you know, equates to some type of giving. So let’s say it’s with you guys, right, let’s say we say, hey, you come in, you’re going to buy this bed, we’re going to donate to, to the Siena maggots Foundation, right? And so what happens is that the  employee, right, who’s showing this bad are showing this spa or whatever you’re selling, right? They do a great job, they make the sale, they feel good about what they’re doing. But they also did such a good job that it was this item that has this attachment to see the magazine, right? Then the consumer who came in, they were going to come by whatever anyways, right? They’re going to get their spa like they came in, I’m going to buy this thing today, it’s going to happen. But then they were presented with this thing, hey, if you buy this also, just so you know, we’re donating this cool to this charity. And then what you didn’t know is this guests, mother, dad or spouse at cancer maybe died, or you know, so something triggers. And now they’re like, Oh, I can buy this thing. And I can help someone. Right? And then obviously, the money on the back end actually goes to you guys, it’s you know, maggots, right, then it were able to pay the doctors and able to do all these things for these more clinical research. And we can we get closer to curing cancer, you know, and so it’s this circle, right? And everybody wins. And what I’m starting to find out over the course of this last five years of doing this, both at my jobs and talking to people is that this experience Oh giving, it drives just as much or more revenue and guess then putting things on sale. And so I’m becoming a believer in like, man, you’ve got to start rotating in giving campaigns into your normal ad promotional calendar, because it drives in just as many people. And yet, instead of taking all the money off products that you would normally discount, you can put that towards your giving event. Does that make sense?

Roger Magowitz: Well, it does. And, you know, you got to remember, the salespeople have, you know, their job is not so easy. But when you have a charitable arm, and they feel good about even if they were trying to figure out who were they going to work for, I need a job. It’s the same way if we took those same three customers, well, if I needed a job, and somebody explained to me that we feel not only are we selling mattresses, and making people sleep better and have a healthier life, but we’re also giving back to the community. We’re going to take X percent or give X dollars towards pancreatic cancer. Well, first of all, some of those people have cancer in their family. Maybe somebody has pancreatic cancer. Well, now that salesperson is all charged up, Brent, because now he feels so good about his company. It goes back to all you needed that one person that finds that salesperson saying you know what, thank you. Not only was it a great experience in the store, and it gave me a great deal, but I greatly appreciate what you do. Because a lot of times the buy in and we would have you know like 96% were all of us are strong people would donate to the foundation. So everybody became part of it. I mean, it wasn’t just the kind of for years, it was the salesman, it was the office staff. And so everybody that went into this, and then when we would have that one big event the year, it was sort of like a Mattress Firm Leadership Conference. I mean, we bring everybody together, we have the great meals, we have outside activities, we have known as mix mixing with patients and patients mixing with taxes and doctors mixing with the nurses. And you know, and the patients get to see the doctors in a totally different atmosphere versus going to the clinic, and having to worry about, you know, am I going to get a surgery today? Am I going to get bad news today, and I get to meet the spouse? It’s a totally different feeling. And the bottom line is, everybody doesn’t learn. And it’s awesome. And I believe, when you go through that full circle, everybody is the one that somebody is sitting out there not doing anything. Yeah, well, the community and it’s really full on self. People certainly take pride in it. I take pride in this anybody that’s part of any charitable giving program. They certainly feel good. And like I said, you have that one patient come up to you and say, Brett, thank you for what you do it saved my life. Or maybe their kids come up to you and say otherwise, for what your company is doing. Mom would have been dead A long time ago. Well, it certainly puts a lot of popping. Yes. And you know, you want to do more. And that’s how it worked. That’s how people become creative. Yeah. And that’s, I look, that’s how you get vendors first, on the vendor, Steve, and good that you’re doing. Look, they might have said, Hey, I can give you $1,000 this year. But if they really see something positive happening, I can guarantee without me saying anything like next year, we’ll do five pounds. Yeah. And they themselves will move up the ladder each year. Well, now that that salesperson all charged up, Brett, because now he feels so good about his company, it goes back to all you need is that one person that finds that salesperson saying, you know what, thank you. And not only was it a great experience in the store, and you gave me a great deal, but I greatly appreciate what you do. Because a lot of times the buy in, and we would have, you know, like 96%, where all of us are strong people would donate to the foundation. So everybody became part of it. I mean, it wasn’t just the customers, it was the salesman, it was the office staff. And so everybody that went into this, and then when we would have that one big event the year, it was sort of like a Mattress Firm Leadership Conference. I mean, we bring everybody together, we have the great meals, we have outside activities, we have known as mix mixing with patients and patients mixing with taxes and doctors mixing with the nurses. And you know, and the patients get to see the doctors in a totally different atmosphere versus going to the clinic, and having to worry of, you know, am I going to get a surgery today? Am I going to get bad news today? And they get to meet the spouse? It’s a totally different feeling. And the bottom line is everybody does one. And it’s awesome. And I believe when you go through that full circle, everybody is the one number that somebody is sitting out there not doing anything. Yeah, well, the community and apparently for themselves. People certainly take pride in it, I take pride in this anybody that part of any charitable giving program, they certainly feel good. And like I said, you have that one patient come up to you and say, Brett, thank you for what you do it saved my life. Or maybe their kids come up to you and say, if it wasn’t for what your company is doing, mom would have been dead A long time ago. Well, it certainly puts a lot of popping except, you know, you want to do more. And that’s how it works. That’s how people become creative. Yeah. And that’s, I look, that’s how you get vendors first. All the vendors see the good that you’re doing. Look, they might have said, Hey, I can give you $1,000 this year. But if they really see something positive happening, I guarantee without me saying anything like next year, we’ll do 5000 Yeah. And they themselves will move up the ladder each year.

Brett Thornton: So can you leave us with? Is there any one story that sticks out in your mind of a survivor that went through one of the trials and just kind of always get you that you think about?

Roger Magowitz:

Well, you know, what gets me is I spoke to a friend and a patient fills a blusky. And Phil was in hospice. And we were talking and literally he passed days after we spoke. But he was so thankful. But he was able to live about three and a half years from the time I was making diagnosis. And that he was part of clinical trials, himself donated pretty heavily to the foundation. What was like I have no regrets. And I want people to know what I’m doing. Because I want more people to do this. And, you know, it’s very interesting when you’re speaking to people days before they’re dying. Yeah. I can’t even say it. I can’t even put my mind wrapped around. What are they really thinking? You know, when he is somebody telling me he was just so happy. He was part of the foundation, that he was part of the process. And that he had a lot of birthdays and anniversaries wish, wish he had a whole bunch more. But the clinical trials, you know, when we look at pancreatic cancer is really what’s greatly needed to make the difference in this world. So I guess in a little close when you can speak to people who were in hospice, and they’re thankful, and they’re happy, and it amazes me, because what would we all think well, you have to be Sure there boohoo and as well. But see people with the head so high.It gives you a special note, you’re doing the right thing. And you’re not helping people when you think about what I looked at when you’re looking at one bad action in this world. How many people that affect, you know, like, a drunk driver hit somebody? Well, they didn’t affect the person that they hit. They was chosen. There was mother, there was father they will Ainsley was uncles, they will award flights, Why thank you, same thing we could spend to be positive. If we’ve all go out there and try to do something positive for our company, for our communities, what the world just be a better place. It will be. 

Brett Thornton: And you think about the ripple?

Roger Magowitz: It’s the same ripple, when you do a good action. That’s where kids infects their thing. It just it just keeps rolling, you know. And really, that’s, and that’s what I love about doing this, you know, I love when somebody just calls me out of the blue, and said, hey, I’ve been involved, but I want to be more involved, or what unfortunately happens, they will slit on the peripheral edge of the being involved. And then they get pancreatic cancer in their family. Yeah, then it really changed. Of course, then they really want to dig deep. And you know, what could I do? And how can I help. And I tell people help is a disease to be, you know, the one person $25 is a lot, another person has a gift card that they could repurpose another person to write a check for $100,000 bread, and that doesn’t change anything they do or their own foundation. You know, and look, when I even look at my life and my career. I’ve told people, no one is going to remember me for how many mattresses I sold, no one’s going to remember breakfa that no one’s going to remember Markova. But one thing they will remember Roger about? Here’s what he did for pancreatic cancer. Yeah, and, and I really believe that because it’s not going to be on my tombstone. You know, look at how many mattresses he sold and how many stores he had. I think all that really at the end of the day is irrelevant, right? And I think that’s, you know, what did we do this to help community? What did we do to help our family? What did we do to personally take a stand and try to make the difference in by making a difference? were we able to engage other people and mobilize corporate America and mobilize looksee you never know who you’re talking to? I mean, I could be sitting on a plane sharing a business dog with somebody. And I’ll go home and Google one was, Oh, my God. Yeah, no, I, got to give this guy you know, I got to give this guy, Paul. And what’s happened, we’ve been fortunate, and people have been very, loyal to what we do. But they’re loyal. Because up until COVID, we didn’t have one paid employee breath. We have no breath. And we had no paid employees. It was just three of us working. No pay, no nothing. And so, every dollar somebody gave us and gives us really go to the bottom line and pause. And, that meant a lot of people. So, you know, we weren’t having to, we didn’t we had no overhead. So you weren’t having to worry, like, okay, for every dollar, how much is really hitting the bottom line? Well, if I have no overhead, yeah, maybe we have any event we had to pay for the event. And I think that’s really what all of our life’s are about is, you know, what did you do in your life? To make a difference. And again, it’s not going to be what company you worked for, how many mattresses? It’s really going to be? How did you help the guy next door? And look, when I hit connect people, I give, I put my cell phone all over the internet. So I guess people call me because I have no clue who they are. Yeah, but I guarantee you, I could help them. I could make their life a lot easier. And I could put them into world renowned doctors by just placing a phone call. But that becomes very powerful. I could save somebody’s life by just knowing who to call. 

Brett Thornton: Yeah, I mean, that you could save someone’s life by just someone listening this podcast and having some more to go, you know, and that’s and that’s really, you know, that’s the perfect way to end it. Because I know, we’ve already been at an hour and, you know, but I think that the reality is this, you know, as I’ve listened to you, you know, a couple things really jumped out at me, you know, and I think that, you know, you’ve been super transparent and talking about your mom. And you know, going into that year of, you know, depression after I think is really important, because I think there’s so many people right now who are going through loss, and that there’s this natural kind of depression that comes from it and trying to figure out how to fill that void. And as a society, you know, I think we’re really good at just dumping things to fill it, you know, like, let’s fill it with media, with social media with TV with this, like, whatever I can to quiet the noise, because I don’t want to deal with the pain, you know, because people don’t want to. And I think that is something that you did, and that I hear from other people is that that void never goes away. It doesn’t just disappear, you know, but you can fill it with good. You can and that when you fill it by doing things for others, you know, that’s one thing that it’s never going to bring your mom back. But it sure is going to make your mom proud wherever she is, you know, and it’s going to help someone else. And I think that, you know, if we can just keep encouraging more and more businesses, get out and do something, I don’t care what it is, I’d love it if they go work with you, with anyone foster kids military, like, it doesn’t matter. There’s so many different things. You know, I always tell people I, you know, I did this documentary film and about the genocide going on in Burma when I was in my 20s with my brother in law and my and one of my other best friends. And we were in Washington, DC, raising money and doing all this stuff to get over there to shoot this film. And people used to always tell me, why are you, why do you care about people halfway on their side of the world? We got enough problems here. And I always answered them with the exact same thing. I’d say, Oh, I know. Absolutely. Tell me about what organization you’re dealing with here. Tell me about what you’re doing. Never once did I ever have someone be able to come right back and tell me what they’re doing? You know, and so like, what I always tell people is like, just get out there and do things for others, because it’s going to make you feel better about your situation, no matter what that situation is.

Roger Magowitz: Well, and I think people will, you know, when you dig deep into, you know, what, why are we here on this earth? You know, what are we doing? Where are we going? What are we going to be remembered for? In what will our family remember us for? And, you know, we’ve certainly touched probably 1000s of people. And a lot of them, I don’t know who they are, you know, they just called but you know that that’s the beauty of it. You I love doing that when somebody calls me that. I don’t even know and somehow, they found us all over the internet. You know, I’m treating them the same way because of course but my hope is, if I help them when you can you’ll help the foundation and you do wind up making a difference that and you know what, what do you wake it up in the morning for? It’s not just to work. I think it’s a lot of you got to give back. Gotta make the difference. You do and I thank you for having us and hearing our story about the wood’s foundation.

Brett Thornton: I know this was awesome. So, I had a blast. I learned a ton. You’re really motivating. I appreciate it. So, we will end there. Roger, this is phenomenal. So look forward to seeing you and hopefully make it out to the tournament. We can all be back in person hopefully next year.

Share the Post:

Related Posts