Pamela’s Weekly Words of Wisdom: Why Volunteers, EDs and Boards All Start in the Same Place



An article from Bridgestar titled “Starting Off on the Right Foot: How to Establish a Good ED-Board Relationship” explores what executive directors can do to lay the foundations for a solid relationship with board members. This started me thinking that developing a great relationship between a new ED and the Board actually starts with the same premise as volunteering.

What does a good volunteer have in common with a paid Executive Director or a professionally engaged Board?


Everyone needs to listen.

Everyone wants to be heard.

Often I am asked by a volunteer before they go on a trip, “How do I need to be prepared?”

And the first thing I say is to be a good listener — Build Together.

In my first volunteer trip to Managua, Nicaragua, we were scheduled to build schools and dormitories. At that time, 90% of students in the community were not currently attending school. We jumped into the project with the villagers and finished the school — but ran out of materials for the dormitories. First instincts as Americans were to brainstorm every possible way to get it done. But access to resources was severely limited. As our Nicaraguan leader stated: “You Americans just want to complete things. We want to create and nourish relationships.”

As we let these words sink in, we truly began to connect and listen to this community. We learned about their life. We built relationships, played with their children, helped cook hundreds of tortillas over hot grills for hundreds of people in the community. We embraced their daily life, and the more we did, the closer the bonds of understanding and joy grew.

It is wonderful to go to another country, complete a volunteer project, and feel that you really had an impact. But establishing a relationship with the local people is by far the most important aspect of the volunteer trip. Building true, lasting relationships results in the greatest benefit for our world: fewer barriers are formed and increased understanding is achieved. We are all a team working together to face and resolve the challenges in our world.

It’s the same principle here. The Executive Director needs to listen and learn from the team, from the board, from the interns, the funders, the accountants, everyone. It’s an important time to understand how processes work, how operations occur, how different personalities and teams functions, how the values live themselves throughout the organization.

Equally, the board can listen and learn from the Executive Director. Once the ED has demonstrated the humility to honor current processes, and understand them thoroughly, there should be an openness to new ideas, new efficiencies, new styles, new communications, if they will help the goals of the organization.

Listening… allows everyone to feel heard. To be honored. It’s the cement building blocks of any good home, and, any good relationship. From there, innovation can spring forth and thrive.

Whomever you are, at whatever state you are in, listening is a great balm to establish and maintain an effective relationship. May listening help all of us in our day-to-days… I am constantly reminding myself, too!

Meet New People and Be Changed

“I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view.”
― Eric Roth, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button Screenplay


Some people will change you.

Let it happen!

Sometimes it might be an inspiring professional talk by John Maxwell or Steven Covey. It might be how your Great Aunt gave you some advice, or your cousin who helped you see things in a different light.

It also might be your neighbor who taught you to be more selfless.
A homeless person who taught you more compassion.
A cheerful bus driver.
Or a post office worker who showed excellent joy- yes! – in taking your package in what might be considered a humdrum day.

All these things can startle you into a greater sense of living a life of love.


I highly recommend being positively affected by others… and then you yourself can jolt into joy, and be the model for someone else!

Love, Pamela

“And if you were to ask me… Do you still believe in magic?” – Chris Martin, Coldplay

“And if you were to ask me…
Do you still believe in magic?
Yes, I do
Of course, I do”
Chris Martin, Coldplay


Here’s the deal, Team Living and Giving. You can’t give up.

No matter how hard

it gets

You have to believe in magic.


That beautiful sparkly joy

Your lighted heart that uplifts another

That joy filled goodness… that gives a tender smile. 

No matter what you are facing, you can still


light your heart

be filled with joy…

and smile.

If you can’t do it for yourself… then stop thinking of yourself…

and do it for someone else.

Believe in Life’s magical ways… and be filled today.  

Trust even when…

“Our attitude should be “I’m going to Trust… even when life doesn’t make sense. 

“Our attitude should be “I’m going to serve… whether I understand it or I don’t understand it.” 


Despite all the good in the world, we face tough things in life.


The worst thing you can do is ask why.

Listen to this wonderful thought leader:

“When we face the unanswered questions of life, your attitude should be I’m going to trust…. wherever I understand it or not. [Life’s] not looking for whiners.  [Life’s] looking for warriors.  So [if I don’t understand ] I’m going to put it into my ‘I don’t understand file’ and move on.”[1]

You might not have gotten that deal or received a no from your marriage proposal.  Maybe you got turned down from the 10th school, 11th job interview, 12th apartment application, turned down from the 13th grant, from the 14th patent, the 15th venture capital pitch.

YOU may be saying,“What am I to do!’

And frustration, dismay, hurt builds…

Yet we have to stop that “internal movie” of dismay.  Stop playing over disbelief, frustration.  Create a new film.

This film trusts the process.  This film trusts Life.  This movie unrolls a new door, a new pathway of hope, of opportunity.
Trust and move forward.  None ever says you get to know all the answers.  But we do know one answer we can trust:  “I’m going to be my best today, and expect the best today.”
Life may be that simple.

[1] Joel Scott Osteen (born March 5, 1963) is an American preacher, televangelist, author, and the Senior Pastor of Lakewood Church, the largest Protestant church in the United States, in Houston, Texas.


“Everyone Communicates, Few Connect”


“I was trying to get ahead by correcting others when I should have been trying to connect with others”

– Jim Collins, Good to Great, pg. 29.

If you are a busy leader… you might fall into this trap.

We need to get things done. And with a significant proposal or partnership, you might need to correct someone working for you.

Connect with them first. Try to slow down, or tell them that the deadline is next week. You can tell them how much you enjoy their work, or even make them laugh.

Then the work flows so much easier, so much more naturally. And life and work is more enjoyable too!

Connect… then correct.

Or perhaps even better…

          Connect and recommend, adjust, ask… for their advice… work with them.

Kindhearted teamwork (even when we are under significant pressure) is the right way to go.

This quote is from “Good to Great,” a best-selling book published in 2001 by James C. Collins. This book aims to help readers understand why and how some companies go from being good to being great as was a tremendous success. He has published many well-known books that deal with successful companies, sustainability, and leadership.
Aside from being a respected writer, James Collins is an American businessman and consultant advising firms in the profit and nonprofit sectors, such as The Girl Scouts of the USA and the US Marine Corps. He is married to Ironman winner and accomplished triathlete, Joanne Ernst. He believes that “Greatness is not a function of circumstance. Greatness is largely a matter of conscious choice and discipline.” Click here to be redirected to the “Good to Great Diagnostic Tool” where you can learn about to how to start your personal path to greatness.

The Classic Pamela Positive: How Can One Love If He Believes Man is Deserving of Resentment?”

“A common mistake is for someone to believe that they can love but at the same time have a grudge, resentment and ill will towards some fellow men. They fool themselves, but certainly not universal love. How can one love understandingly if he believes man is unlovable and deserving of resentment?”
Christian Science Sentinel

Dear Living and Giving Reader –

It’s that clear.

If you truly want to love, you can’t let an ounce of resentment rise. Please heal it quickly.

Otherwise, our love becomes adulterated and muddied.


You are probably thinking:

“How does this relate to me? I am a leader. I am reading your blog to become a better leader. Well, where is the business tip!”

But this is about business. And it’s about life, too. See, if someone annoys you at work, or did something you resent, you hold that. You hold it within and people can feel it. It’s dangerous. Your office will be changed. The culture will go… downhill.

But let’s say you are amazing at keeping things inside. Maybe, the office doesn’t know at all. You are professional and joyful.

But something else is affected. Your home. Your marriage. Your kids, friendships or important outside activities. They certainly don’t deserve your negative comment or shortened patience.

For error and negativity will try to come out. So, you either need to heal it entirely; or, it will have its day. And probably on the people you love most.



So as a leader, continue in love and love only.

You know that issue that has been hanging.. so either go resolve it peacefully in your heart or have the conversation.

You know what you need to do.

Love, Pamela

“In the darkness before the dawn leave a light on” – Coldplay

“In the darkness before the dawn
Leave a light on” – Coldplay


When it’s dark, we know light is coming. That deepest, darkest, hardest hour is going to be followed by something brilliant, light-filled, beautiful.


What I love about Christ Martin’s lyrics is he says, “Don’t wait.” Why wait for the dawn?

Instead, Leave a Light On. Even in the darkness, you illuminate your situation. You don’t have to wait.

How thrilling! You don’t have to wait!


You may be facing a broken ankle, a hard at work, missing your son at college… but you can keep a light onBe grateful for your health; be grateful you are employed, or be grateful you even have a son. Turn in around and the joy fills you!