Social Impact Heroes: Author Sheryl Green aims to show why every business should become a social impact business

Spread kindness. Kindness to animals, kindness to people, kindness to our environment, and kindness to ourselves. There’s a lot of work to be done in this world, but if every single person would roll up their sleeves and do something, together, we could put this world back on track. No act is too small. As part […]

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Spread kindness. Kindness to animals, kindness to people, kindness to our environment, and kindness to ourselves. There’s a lot of work to be done in this world, but if every single person would roll up their sleeves and do something, together, we could put this world back on track. No act is too small.

As part of my series about “individuals and organizations making an important social impact”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sheryl Green, writer, speaker, and animal rescuer. She is the author of four books including Do Good to Do Better: The Small Business Guide to Growing Your Business by Helping Nonprofits and serves as the Director of Communications and Cuddling for Hearts Alive Village Animal Rescue in Las Vegas.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I went through a very difficult divorce back in 2018. I moved across the country to live with my parents and went through a deep depression. My lowest moment was curled up on the bathroom floor, crying onto the tile. When my stepmom found me, she picked me up and gave me the best advice in the history of advice: “Go do something for someone else.”

I chose to lend my time, talents, and voice to animals and animal rescue. I began volunteering at adoption events and hosted a yard sale to raise money for a rescue that protected pets left behind in foreclosed homes. Over the years, I got more and more involved with rescues until 2016 when I put on a community event called Paw it Forward as part of a High Performance Leadership project for Toastmasters. We raised $5,000 for Hearts Alive Village and spread the message that everyone can do something to help animals.

Since that event, I’ve served as the Director of Communications and Cuddling for the rescue (it’s hard volunteer work, but someone has to do it!).

When I started my own speaking and writing business, I realized that volunteering and service brought so much joy to my life, it could probably help my business as well. When I discovered the term “Cause Marketing” it completely changed my world and now I help other businesses change theirs as well.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

After I wrote my first book, Surviving to Thriving: How to Overcome Setbacks and Rock Your Life, I began speaking at the Unstuck Happiness Conference. Basically, we’ve all been through something traumatic and overcame it, so now we bring inspiration and tools to others.

In 2018, we held the conference in Houston. I decided that just sharing the proceeds from my book was not enough help for the animal rescue community and I wanted to do more. I reached out to a rescue in Houston, Rock-A-Bully and Friends, and asked if they’d be willing to bring an adoptable pup to the conference.

Two volunteers showed up with Porsche, a beautiful bully mix that had a really rough life until she ended up in their care. Towards the end of my speech, I brought Porsche up on stage, introduced her and explained that the audience members could help her in a few ways: adopt, volunteer, donate, or buy my book and I would donate to the rescue.

When my speech was done, I had a line in the back of the room (okay, the line to meet Porsche was bigger, but that was cool too!).

This experience reinforced that there were other ways to help the animals. I could share my platform and be their voice. I also realized that people really do want to help, and Cause Marketing gives them an easy way to do so.

P.S. The rescue has kept me in the loop about Porsche’s situation and she is now living with an amazing forever family!

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Well, it wasn’t funny at the time, but looking back, I can laugh at it.

As part of the High Performance Leadership project that became Paw it Forward, I had to announce the project to my Toastmaster club as a speech.

The reason I chose this project was in honor of my friend Kelly’s service dog, Pele, who passed away from cancer a few months prior. I wanted to honor him (he was such an amazing dog) but raising money for a rescue.

I practiced this speech about 50 times and was ready to go. But I’d invited Kelly, the founder of the rescue, my parents, and a bunch of other people that loved Pele very much. We’d even made a photo collage about Pele to display.

I got up to the front of the room, leaned the collage against the wall, caught Kelly’s eye. As soon as she realized what was happening, she started crying which made me start crying. I cried through a 6-minute speech, trying to choke out the words.

I learned that day that emotions and vulnerability are unavoidable in animal rescue. Rather than fight it, just keep talking through the tears and then go squeeze an animal for support.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

For every book I sell and speaking engagement I do, 10% of my proceeds/fee is donated to Hearts Alive Village Animal Rescue (unless I’ve connected with another rescue on the road, then I’ll donate it to them).

Whenever possible, I bring an adoptable dog up on stage with me so they can get some attention and love from the audience (and maybe a home), and I take adoptable animals on television to find them families.

But, I’m just one person. Which is why I was so excited to publish Do Good to Do Better: The Small Business Guide to Growing Your Business by Helping Nonprofits. I believe that as small business owners, we have not only the ability, but the responsibility to tackle society’s problems.

Like I said before, (most) people really do want to help. Unfortunately, a lot of them don’t know how to get involved or what to get involved with. When a small business lends its time, talent, and treasure to a cause, amazing things happen! The cause gets awareness and the help they need to carry out their mission, and the business grows because they are attracting like-minded customers, strengthening their brand as a business that cares about more than money, and reaching audiences they never would’ve reached without the nonprofit. It’s a win-win for all. Corporations have known this for years. Now it’s time for small businesses to learn.

Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted by your cause?

There are so many great examples, but Bessie comes to mind.

One of our volunteers found Bessie wandering the streets in the cold and rain. When they brought this 100+ pound bully mix to our rescue, the dog had diabetes, tumors hanging off of her, eyes crusted shut, nails hadn’t been tended to in forever, and a variety of other health issues… not to mention she was around 30 pounds overweight.

We got her to the vet and got her health straightened out, but her emotional health had to be dealt with as well. Volunteers to the rescue! She had round-the-clock company. Volunteers came in to give her sponge baths, manicures, cuddles, walks, and so much love! It took awhile to find the perfect family, but this baby is now healthy and loved. She’s living the life she deserves.

From neglect to outright torture, our animals have been through so much. But the loves of our fosters and volunteers brings them back to a happy life.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Paw it Forward comes to mind here because everyone can do something.

When it comes to pet overpopulation, individuals can volunteer to walk shelter dogs or socialize with kitties, help out at events, create drives for supplies donate funds, foster animals, and adopt… don’t shop.

Politicians can start passing (and upholding) legislation making it illegal for pet stores to sell animals (which come from puppy mills — no matter what they tell you) and requiring pet owners to fix their animals.

Something that every single individual can and should do… please spay or neuter your pets! Yes, puppies and kittens are adorable, but there are not enough homes for all of these furbabies and that leads to pets languishing in shelters, living on the streets, or being killed because there isn’t enough space.

When it comes to the other issues we face in society, if every individual and every business chose a cause to stand for and lent their energy and funds to fixing it, we’d be in a much better situation.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

While you can have a title that gives you authority over others, true Leadership to me means living your life in a way that inspires others. What do you do that encourages others to follow suit (in a positive way)?

When you work in a volunteer setting, you understand the true power of this type of leadership. While most of our “workers” at the rescue are unpaid volunteers (and until last year, that was everyone), we do the work that needs to be done and follow Christy’s guidance — she’s our founder — because she inspires us to be better people and achieve a common vision. We follow her leadership, not because of a paycheck, but because of her passion.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Hmmm. Five things I wished someone had told me when I first started…

  1. Keep a pack of tissues with you at all times. Animal rescue is emotionally trying. Whether it’s seeing the difficulty that the animals have gone through or seeing well-meaning people that just don’t have the resources to care for their beloved pets. A few years ago, I dropped off pet food for a veteran who couldn’t afford to feed his service dog. The veteran was living in a pay-by-the-week motel and had been sharing his ramen noodles with the pup just to keep him alive. I held it together while I made the drop, but when I got back to my car, the tears came pouring out.
  2. There will always be haters. To be honest, I’m still learning this lesson. When it comes to rescue, and I’d imagine any type of nonprofit work, everyone has an opinion. People will tell you that you’re doing things wrong and make you feel awful about trying to do good, even though they aren’t in “the arena” as Theodore Roosevelt said.
  3. You can’t be everything to everyone. When the rescue first started, there were just a handful of us wearing about 42 hats each. As we got more volunteers on board, we each had to learn to let go of some of the responsibilities so we could focus on doing better on others. Delegating is a learning process.
  4. You need to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. With my PR and event planning work, I don’t have as much contact with the animals as some of the other volunteers. Sometimes, I have to spend some quality cuddle time with the animals to remind myself why I’m doing it all. There’s nothing like Fur Therapy to get your head on straight.
  5. Focus on the good because the bad will eat you alive. When you see the worst that society has to offer and the horrible things that they’ll do to an innocent animal, it’s really difficult to avoid hating people. Instead of focusing on the bad, look at all the good. The volunteers that spend their weekends at adoption events or freeze their butts off to trap feral cats in the middle of winter, or the donors that will forgo their own luxuries to provide food or litter or funds for medical care to the animals. You’ll see what you look for in nonprofit, so you might as well look for the good.

But seriously… always have a pack of tissues handy.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Spread kindness. Kindness to animals, kindness to people, kindness to our environment, and kindness to ourselves. There’s a lot of work to be done in this world, but if every single person would roll up their sleeves and do something, together, we could put this world back on track. No act is too small.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’m not sure if someone said this before the band Wookiefoot, but my favorite quote is:

“The purpose of this life is to live a life of purpose.”

That’s why we’re here, folks. To help others and to make a difference.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Just one!?! Okay, John Paul Dejoria, the cofounder of Paul Mitchell Haircare Systems. Not only is he a huge animal lover who refuses to test products on innocent creatures, not only does he have a company with practically no turnover (because they treat their employees with respect and kindness), not only does he donate to animal causes, not only does he have a nonprofit called the Peace, Love, and Happiness Foundation, but he learned from a very early age that no matter what you have, you always have something to give to someone else. He does business (and humanity) right and he’s truly one of my heroes.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

They can find me on Facebook at

Instagram at

and LinkedIn at

or check out my website at

This was very meaningful, thank you so much. We wish you only continued success on your great work!

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