Give and Gain by @SallyEkus

by Sally Ekus | Featured Contributor 

Over the past five+ years working at a culinary agency I have met so many people I admire, respect, and look up to. When I first started out I was intimidated and nervous to be anything less than 100% my JOB TITLE. I wanted to be a walking, talking, AGENT. Over the years, I have found my own groove and loosened up a bit, adding my personality to pitch letters, meetings, and even in my deal negotiations. I still take my work very seriously, but now I have even more fun doing my job since I have given myself permission to be ME.

This was actually a very conscientious decision. In 2011 I decided to share a part of my past with my present. I had always wanted to run a marathon and fundraise for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. In order to accomplish this goal I started sharing with colleagues the fact that I am a childhood cancer survivor. To be honest, I was nervous and reluctant since I thought in some way it made me less of a professional to share something personal. Turns out it was one of the best decisions of my career thus far.


Clients and colleagues came out of the woodwork to support me. I was BLOWN away. Now, as I continue to get to know colleagues on a more personal level, one thing that usually comes up before too long is my work with charity organizations. How do you find time to fundraise and run marathons and volunteer while working a full time job? My work with the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society keeps me very busy – but it also keeps me happy and sane!

As a survivor of childhood leukemia, I’ve found that giving back to an organization that was so helpful to my family and I when I was sick keeps me grateful and grounded – and it’s also provided some unexpected career benefits, like these:

  1. Pride and accomplishment: I am incredibly proud that in the past few years I have raised over $40,000 for LLS and completed two and a half marathons! (Btw, I don’t like running, here is how I got across the finish line)
  2. New friends: I have met the most incredible people and made new friendships that I know will last for many years to come!
  3. Professional opportunities: I have been invited to attend events and network with new contacts in my professional life all through volunteer opportunities.
  4. Connecting: With every “Ask” I made, people would give but along with their time or money would also come stories of how their own lives have been touched by cancer.
  5. Perspective: Talking with people going through cancer treatment really helps put my day to day stress in perspective.
  6. Creativity: Fundraising has really helped me to think outside the box!

I think it can be overwhelming to think of adding another commitment to your plate, but here are a few tips that have helped keep me motivated:

  1. Make choices: Find the one or two charities/organizations that mean the most to you and focus your energy there.
  2. Make time: I aim to set aside a few hours each month for fundraising, volunteering, or advocating.
  3. Make it count: When I step away from my desk I leave work behind for the few hours. I focus on what and who is in front of me and the incredible dedication and passion I see all around.
  4. Say no: We have all heard this before but saying no when you are spread too thin is equally as important as saying yes.
  5. $ & Time: Donate or fundraise for certain charities, give your time to others.

I choose to be an advocate for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society as well as a local community cancer recourse center called Cancer Connection. Over the years I also support PeaceTrees Vietnam and our local food bank.

What are the organizations that matter most to you? Feel free to leave a comment and help us all connect with one another.


Sally EkusSally Ekus, Agency Manager and Literary Agent, joined The Lisa Ekus Group in 2009. She represents a wide range of culinary talent, from first-time cookbook authors to seasoned chefs, professional food writers, bloggers, and television personalities. Sally loves being the liaison between an author and their publisher. She takes great pride in guiding authors towards their dreams of publication. From concept to contract, she has brokered more than forty book deals.

After graduating from Ithaca College, Sally worked in the mental health field. An unexpected turn of events, and some great food along the way, led her to return to New England (Massachusetts) to join her mother, Lisa Ekus, in the eponymous family business. Sally often credits her formal training in listening, communication, and negotiation in the mental health field as her foundation for success with her authors.

As part of the first official culinary delegation, Sally has made two trips to Vietnam where she cultivated a deep love of phở. Sally spends what little free time she has cooking spicy food and running marathons. She is a dedicated supporter and advocate for The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society and especially their Team in Training program.

The Lisa Ekus Group is a full-service culinary agency, the only agency of its kind to offer Public Relations, Media Training, Literary and Talent agency services, as well as Career Consulting, all within the culinary realm.

For pictures of tacos, phở, spicy food and an occasional sunset or tree follow Sally on Instagram and Twitter.

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