Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, Photographer, Author & Traveler
A tough-minded businessman who made a fortune by seeing opportunity where others haven't, Bobby was a driving force behind the spectacular growth of Gordon Brothers Group. Bobby joined Gordon Brothers in 1986 when it was a small Boston-based jewelry business. Today, Gordon Brothers is a preeminent global financial services business conducting over $10 billion of transactions annually, with 10 offices in North America, Europe and Asia. Bobby currently serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Polaroid, which is one of Gordon Brothers' investments.
Making a Difference as a Family In 2000, Bobby and his wife and kids founded the Sager Family Traveling Foundation & Roadshow. Three dozen trips later, the Sagers have established their own special brand of hands-on, eyeball-to-eyeball philanthropy. For an overview of initiatives, see teamsager.org.
Helping People to Help Themselves With Bobby, there's no handouts, no charity. His philanthropy uses business principles and business accountability, whether it's fostering entrepreneurship in Rwanda and Palestine, training teachers in Pakistan or a leadership program for Tibetan monks.
Business Leaders as Change Agents Bobby has been a pioneer in catalyzing Young Presidents' Organization (YPO) as a platform to make a difference. YPO is a global network of 20,000 business leaders in 120 countries whose companies' sales are equivalent to the world's third largest economy. In 2001, Bobby was a founding chairman of the YPO Peace Action Network, which convenes business leaders from different sides of conflicts. That network has now grown into eight Social Enterprise Networks with 6000 members who are engaged in making a difference all over the world. He has served as moderator for both the India-Pakistan Action Forum and American Arab Action Forum. YPO recognized Bobby as the first ever recipient of their Global Humanitarian Award, and he recently won YPO's most prestigious Hickok Award for distinguished service. Bobby is also the founding chairman of Presidents' Action Net, an international network of business leaders that maximizes their philanthropic impact by sharing advice, contacts, best practices and resources.
Bobby's photographs have been featured in numerous publications and have been seen by over 4 million people at concerts and events around the world. Bobby uses his camera as a way to connect with people, and the results are often dramatic portraits that focus on people's eyes. Bobby's publisher Chronicle Books wrote: "In war-torn countries around the world, philanthropist and photographer Bobby Sager has discovered the transcendent power of hope through the eyes of children. Despite unthinkable violence and destruction, his portraits reveal joy, innocence, and strength."
Bobby is the author of The Power of the Invisible Sun (2009), a book about the power of hope, thankfulness, and Bobby's approach to making a difference. His book was featured on NBC's "The Today Show" and ABC World News, and UNICEF selected Bobby's book as one of its featured publications. Bobby is also the author of Beyond the Robe (powerHouse Books, 2013), which tells the story of his foundation's Science for Monks program teaching Western science to Tibetan monks and nuns. Science for Monks represents the first time in the approximately 1,500-year history of Tibetan Buddhism that Western science is being taught in the monasteries.
In his speeches for business leaders, Bobby talks about how to apply the entrepreneurial skill set to maximize philanthropic return on investment. He also shares his family's experiences doing hands-on philanthropy. Bobby has given speeches at venues all around the world, including the General Assembly Hall of the UN and the Sydney Opera House. Countries include Afghanistan, Argentina, Australia, China, India, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Oman, Palestine, Pakistan, Rwanda, South Africa, Syria, Thailand, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Zimbabwe.
Bachelor of Arts degree in economics from Brandeis University, and Master's in Management from Yale University. Executive Producer for "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints" (2006), winner of Sundance Film Festival's Special Jury Prize and Venice Film Festival's Critics' Week Prize. Bobby's philanthropy was the inspiration for the NBC prime-time drama "The Philanthropist" (2009). Honorary Consul General for the government of Rwanda. Honorary Consul General for the government of Nepal.
Bobby talks with groups of leaders with the goal of inspiring them to use their own unique skills and gifts to make a difference. Bobby can customize a talk incorporating a combination of these themes depending on the audience.
1. How to apply your entrepreneurial skill set to make a difference (for business leaders)
Bobby believes that business leaders have the ability to make a powerful difference in the world, but not by using their checkbooks. He believes that the entrepreuneur's skill set -- the ability to do deals, to tap into a Rolodex of influential contacts, to see opportunities, and to get things done - can make a unique impact. Bobby talks about his own experience as a successful entrepreneur who decided to refocus his skill set on making a difference.
He encourages other entrepreneurs to use themselves as the "currency" - to contribute their time, energy and talents rather than just their money to maximize the return on investment they get from philanthropy. He offers examples from his foundation of using business as an agent of social change though microcredit and social enterprise initiatives.
2. How to use Young Presidents' Organization (YPO) as a platform to maximize the impact of your efforts to make a difference (for members of YPO)
Bobby has a particularly powerful message to the 18,000 business leaders in 110 countries who belong to Young Presidents' Organization: that YPO's unique combination of intimacy among members, entrepreneurial skills and global network makes it a platform to do tremendous good in the world. Bobby talks about strategies for YPO members to maximize the impact of their individual efforts to make a difference by leveraging YPO as a platform. He offers the example of YPO Peace Action Network, which convenes business leaders from different sides of conflicts into confidential forums that generate insights and shared solutions to impact the conflict.
3. Themes from The Power of the Invisible Sun
Bobby often presents the images and messages of his book The Power of the Invisible Sun to groups of leaders.
Hope is a Game-Changer Bobby presents the remarkable photographs that he has taken of children he met in war-torn areas such as Afghanistan, Rwanda, Pakistan and Palestine. These images, seen by over 4 million people on the 2007-8 The Police reunion tour during their song "Invisible Sun," show the transcendent power of hope in the eyes of children. "Hope is the most important thing that people need to move forward. The slightest ray of hope can ignite the human spirit's ability to overcome: the power of the invisible sun ... Hope isn't just nice, it's a game-changer."
Eyeball-to-Eyeball Philanthropy "Far from the tradition of writing a check and going to the annual dinner, being hands-on, looking people in their eyes, feeling their humanity, and letting them feel yours isn't just helping, it's a way to live life to the fullest. And that's the best return on investment I've ever gotten by a long shot."
Be Selfish, Go Help Someone "By being on the ground, face-to-face with the people we are trying to help, my family and I get to live amazing life moments, learning, feeling and accomplishing. That's what I mean by being selfish."
SELECTED PAST SPEAKING APPEARANCES
United Nations General Assembly Hall, Concert for Pakistan
Sydney Opera House,
Young Presidents' Organization Global Leadership Summit Young Presidents' Organization, various including Presidents' Universities and Global Leadership Conferences
Harvard University, Harvard Business School
Brandeis University, Heller School of Social Policy and Management
Celebration of Entrepreneurship, Dubai
Jewish Communal Appeal, Sydney
The One Planet, Dubai
The Paley Center, New York
Tribeca Film Festival, New York
Grand Mosque, Oman
Aiwan-e-Sadr, Residence of the President of Pakistan
Global Action Forum, Los Angeles
International Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas
ARTICLES, FEATURE STORIES, TELEVISION AND RADIO APPEARANCES
Articles about Bobby, his entrepreneurship, philanthropy, photography and the Sager Foundation have appeared in countless publications, syndicated newspapers, television and radio shows in the United States and internationally. Here is just a small sampling of press received:
The Boston Globe
ABC News Person of the Week
BBC World News Radio
British Airways Magazine
The Today Show
The Washington Post
The Chronicle of Philanthropy
American Way Magazine
Finch's Quarterly Review
Wall Street Journal