CHANGING THE PERCEPTION OF SENIOR LIVING
There are times when we seemingly trip over a turning point. At times they are subtler, and we miss the clues. This is an example of one of the more obvious tuning points…
By way of an example, let’s use the turning point of Scott Neeson, president of 20th Century Fox International in 2003. Forgive my pun and let’s set the stage if you will: He’d stumbled across the Steung Meanchey garbage dump in Phnom Penh, where he observed a small girl (age 9) dressed in rags sorting garbage in order to sell scraps and help her mother and sister buy food.
“The excesses of the Hollywood life came into sharp relief on his second trip to Phnom Penh just a few months after his first. He had returned to the dump and was trying to help three sick children when he received a call on his cell phone. The Hollywood agent of a superstar was calling him from a U.S. airport. “The agent was complaining bitterly about inadequate in-flight entertainment on a private jet that Sony Pictures Entertainment, where Neeson was head of overseas theatrical releases, had provided for his client.
Neeson overheard the actor griping in the background. ‘My life wasn’t meant to be this difficult.’ Those were his exact words,” Neeson says. “I was standing there in that humid, stinking garbage dump with children sick with typhoid, and this guy was refusing to get on a Gulfstream IV because he couldn’t find a specific item onboard,” he recalls. “If I ever wanted validation, I was doing the right thing. This was it.’”
That moment changed his life. He got rid of all those material possessions that had held him back. Then he moved to Cambodia, where he started the Cambodian Children’s Fund.
“You’ve got to take the ego out of it,” he says. “One person’s self-indulgence versus the needs of hundreds of children. That’s the moral equation.”
In hindsight, he admits that he misses some parts of Hollywood… But this soon-to-be golden boomer has made the right choice. Many of the children he has helped feed, clothe, educate and care for, would agree that Scott is exceptional:
“Sundays here, I’m down at the garbage dump. But I’m really happy.”
He is an exceptional person because he has found a key to happiness: helping others.
So here is a “Hat’s Off” to Scott Neeson! His ripples will indeed go far!