The Classic Pamela Positive: “You Have to Be Able to Tell People ‘Great Job’ on Things That Didn’t Work”


“You have to be able to tell people ‘great job’ on things that didn’t work.”

— J. Kermit Campbell, former CEO of Herman Miller

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Campbell has it right.  A CEO is not an expert except in one area: getting the right people. Actually, let’s add another area: values. You must be a leader who gets the best people and demonstrates the highest values.

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A Solution to Any Relationship Problem: What Abraham Lincoln Did

The_Peacemakers_1868“You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors…

Though passion may have strained it must not break our bonds of affection.”

— Abraham Lincoln

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The Classic Pamela Positive: Philanthropy at the Drycleaners


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I’ve shared before about philanthropy as “the love of people,” as a daily practice.

One day I had a pivotal experience that helped me be a better ‘daily philanthropist.’  Each day, I make a ‘to do’ list. The list might range from contacting a corporate client, to running an errand at the drycleaners. Checking off these items certainly gave me a nice sense of satisfaction! Continue reading

Einstein said it: “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.”

14 Mar 1951, Princeton, New Jersey, USA --- Albert Einstein sticks out his tongue when asked by photographers to smile on the occasion of his 72nd birthday on March 14, 1951. --- Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

14 Mar 1951, Princeton, New Jersey, USA — Albert Einstein sticks out his tongue when asked by photographers to smile on the occasion of his 72nd birthday on March 14, 1951. — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

Einstein said, “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.”
Facing a tough time at work?  A challenge in your marriage?
What got you there
          is not going to get you out of there. 
                 This isn’t just about changing your mind.
                          This is about a change of consciousness. 
If you do a  Google search for mind you’ll find:
“the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world.”
Be aware. I love that. It’s not just accept this random thought that comes to me. My mind is precious, and I can gear it to be “aware of the world.”  That means being attuned to what is happening in my relationships, the interchanges, the dynamics.  It’s not just going through the motions to be a great coworker, wife or neighbor. It’s about being aware of the world around you, and giving accordingly.
Equally, mind can mean to:
  1. be distressed, annoyed, or worried by.
Wow. All of a sudden our mind becomes our enemy.  We let it get us worried. We react or come from fear.  And it’s not anything that made it be so, it’s just that our mind can become distressed/annoyed/worried, just because.
Yet consciousness is different.  It’s the state of being awake and aware of one’s surroundings.”  And then it goes on to say that it’s “especially something within ourself.”
Now that’s different! That’s not just being aware, but also being awake. It means be alert to what your mind is telling you. And be awake to what is happening within yourself, or in other words, the still small voice.
So our mind can be positive or negative. Consciousness is the state of being awake to ourselves, to our world, and the people we affect.
So as Einstein says, “No problem can be solved from the same consciousness that created it.”
That means in whatever situation we are facing, we need to rise up to a new consciousness. A new way of thinking. A new approach!
And sometimes, that problem you think you have — isn’t even a problem!
Did you know Einstein loved to sail?  Most sailors know how to swim. Not Einstein. Apparently he didn’t swim, and didn’t think it was a problem!
So sometimes we need to take on a different consciousness. Don’t let your mind worry you. Einstein wasn’t letting his mind be worried about not being able to swim. His consciousness was “I am awake to the world! I want to be on the sea and experience the freedom, joy, mystique of nature!
His consciousness ruled, not his mind.  So can yours today.
Now imagine a world…. where our your mind is positive, and for the good. The dictionary of the public mind says it’s a “group  embodying mental qualities,” and consciousness is also “knowledge that is shared by a group of people.
In essence your thoughts don’t just affect you. They affect the world. Each thought contributes to a positive group mentality!  Adopt a positive consciousness today, and your life, and those are around you, will reflect that positivity.

Born on March 14, 1879 in Germany, Albert Einstein grew up in a secular Jewish family. His father, Hermann Einstein, was a salesman and engineer. Einstein attended elementary school in Munich. He felt alienated there and struggled with the rigid teaching style. Einstein had speech challenges, which forced him to find a passion in music. Einstein had a love for classical music and playing the violin, this love stayed with him throughout his entire life.  While attending school in Zurich, Einstein developed lasting friendships and alliances, also meeting his future wife, Mileva Maric, a Serbian physics student.
After graduating from Polytechnic, Einstein faced major challenges in terms of finding academic positions, it took him nine years to eventually find a job at a patent office. While working at the patent office, Einstein had the time to further ideas that had taken hold during his studies at Polytechnic and thus cemented his theorems on what would be known as the principle of relativity/ In 1905—seen by many as a “miracle year” for the theorist—Einstein had four papers published in the Annalen der Physik, one of the best known physics journals of the era. After many years of hard work and incredible scientific discoveries, Einstein suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm. He was taken to the University Medical Center at Princeton for treatment but refused surgery, believing that he had lived his life and was content to accept his fate. “I want to go when I want,” he stated at the time. “It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly.” Einstein died at the university medical center early the next morning—April 18, 1955—at the age of 76.

FLASHBACK — To the Early VolunteerMatch Days

What it was like to start up a “high-tech nonprofit website”

This piece made my heart smile. It was in 2000 and someone asked me to speak about my role at “a high-tech nonprofit website.”  :)

I’m so an excited about my role in a high-tech nonprofit web site. I have helped start VolunteerMatch nearly 4 years ago. Our mission is to match volunteers with nonprofits nationwide via our web site. To date we have matched more than 100,000 volunteers across the country. We have secured Internet partnership driving traffic to our site with top portals such as Infoseek, Snap! and AOL. Most recently we were announced on the Today Show and Oprah Winfrey Show as an excellent resource regarding volunteer opportunities.

Why Sacrifice is Good: The Art of Giving Up and Letting Go

blue_realse_clouds_220520_lOne of the biggest things humans have trouble doing is sacrificing.

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The art of giving up and letting go for the long haul seems almost foreign to us. Why, after all, would you give up something of value when you don’t have to? Continue reading

Why Germany is Not the Only Shining Star of the Syrian Crisis

germany refugees
Germany is praised as the shining star of helping Syria.
They have accepted more than 500,000 refugees, and is the sole European country who actively embraced the refugees from nearly the start. They have not only opened their doors, but also rapidly increased their acceptance rate.
There are lines in Austria to get through to Germany.
There are borders at Hungary that say, “No, you can’t enter.”
Yet Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel is actively accepting refugees, publicly endorsing a policy of open doors, and setting up programs to help and integrate the refugees.  More than 6 billion euros will be devoted to the Syrians.
This is in stark contrast to Britain’s agreement to bring in 20,000, and France’s agreement to bring in 22,000 —  which is over a period of two years.
This Isn’t New

Unfortunately, genocides and massive fleeing isn’t new.

During World War I, the Germans invaded Belgium. Thousands of cities, buildings, homes, and lives were destroyed. While more than 200,000 have fled Syria, one million fled Belgium in 1918More than 250,000 came to Britain (Britain was a superb example of welcome).

Armenia was equally devastated.  One million Armenians were killed: Half of their population.  It was what we know today as the first genocide.  Just think if half of your country, your population, your people, your heritage was obliterated.


“I’ve Never Heard Of That” Crisis                                                   __

Then there are refugee crises which we just don’t hear of. Columbia has had four million leaving their homes since the 1960s…that’s 10% of their population. Yet it’s not reported as a crisis because people can’t or aren’t leaving the country.

The Ongoing Refugee Crisis

We seem to forget ongoing refugee status countries. In Iraq, more than 4.7 million have left their homes since the 1980s.  Two million have exited.  They’ve gone to Jordan and Lebanon, which brings to me the next point.

The Crisis Will Quadruple: Twenty Million Need Help

While many people may be ‘getting tired” of hearing about Syria, we are not even close to nearing the end.

More than 4.7 million Syrian refugees have fled.   About a quarter are headed or heading to Europe.  That leaves 75% of Syrians still in need of a new home.  

A daunting, new, rushed move to a new land, new culture, with possible disrespect for their culture, fear of their religion and no work permit.

Potential, temporary food supplies for their families – if they are lucky.

Forget about school for their kids.

For those who have might have the option, one Syrian parent who had migrated to another country spoke of her experience: “I have to ‘un-brainwash’ my ten-year-old every night. What they say in school about history and culture isn’t correct. I don’t like the way he is being taught to think.” (paraphrase)

And sometimes, dirty looks, fear or anger from the local town. “These people aren’t welcome, we don’t know their religion, they are taking my job, and there just isn’t enough [employment].”

This is the new “home” they are forced to seek.  Three million Syrian refugees need it.

Yet 14 million Syrians in-country need safety, food, shelter, schooling and basic survival.   That’s nearly 20 million — not 4 million, who need help. The crisis is quadruple.

So expect the refugees to keep coming.

2012: 100,000

2013: 800,000

Within four months: we added another 800,000 refugees….

We are Ignoring the True Leaders
We should be grateful for Germany’s efforts accepting 500,000 refugees. It is a grand, noble and right commitment.   Yet why are we ignoring the countries who accept refugees ongoing, through no choice of their own?

Nearly two million refugees are in Turkey, a population of 75 million. That means three percent of their population will become Syrian.

More than 1.1 million are in Lebanon, a population of 5 million. Twenty-five percent of their population will become Syrian.

More than 800,000 have fled to Jordan, a population of 6.5 million. Twelve percent of their population will become Syrian.

In Egypt, there are 118,512 Syrian refugees.

In Iraq, there are 245,543 Syrian refugees.

So while Germany is accepting 500,000, their population is over 80 million. It’s less than one percent of their people.  

Countries such as Jordan and Lebanon are the true stars. They accepted refugees from the start. They are completely overwhelmed.  Who has time for policy and political announcements?

They don’t have a choice.  Refugees are streaming across the borders, programs or no programs. Food or no food, health care or no health care, school or no school. The refugees are radically changing a government’s policy and allocation of funds. It revolutionizes a country’s culture, heritage and way of doing things.  Neither Jordan nor Lebanon have a chance to plan or prepare.   They have to accept this new normal, and now.


Be Grateful

And yet, we need to be grateful.  Yes, we need to be grateful for there was a time when no borders were open.

If we look back to 1938, it was at the cusp of World War II. The Germans were aggressively advancing, invading country after country.  They had just taken over Austria. Jews were massively exiting everywhere.

A conference was held in France on what to do. Country leaders were not only concerned about their freedom, but also about their ability to take in the Jewish refugees. Thirty-two country delegates were there.

Yad Vashem describes the situation:

During the conference, it became painfully obvious that no country was willing to volunteer anything. The British delegate claimed that Britain was already fully populated and suffering from unemployment, so it could take in no refugees. His only offer consisted of British territories in East Africa, which could take in small numbers of refugees. The French delegate declared that France had reached “the extreme point of saturation as regards admission of refugees.” Myron C. Taylor, the American delegate, allowed that the United States would make the previously unfilled quota for Germans and Austrians available to these new refugees. Other countries claimed the Depression as their excuse for not accepting refugees. Only the Dominican Republic, a tiny country in the West Indies, volunteered to take in refugees—in exchange for huge amounts of money.

The Evian Conference, France

Adopt Lebanon’s Courage

Thankfully, we aren’t facing such a draconian 1938. More countries are responding. Services are being set up.  Some ongoing life integration programs are germinating.

So if Lebanon can accept that a quarter of their population are Syrians, then we can be courageous, too.  While I am not Catholic, I agree with Pope Francis:

“Every parish, every religious community, every monastery, every sanctuary of Europe, take in one family.”

Jordan and Lebanon are the true shining stars.

Read my next article on what Jordan and Lebanon are doing to cope with the crisis, and embrace their new country.