Monthly Archives: December 2009

Honoring Strategic Givers

Barron’s recently published a list of the 25 best givers for 2009.  Matthew Bishop and Michael Green, writers of Philanthrocapitalism, picked up the theme by offering their top five suggestions of philanthrocapitalists who they felt should have been included on Barron’s list.  After reading their list, I offered a few thoughts, and one suggestion of my own.

Dear Matthew and Michael, thank you for being encouraging of our sector, and I think adding to Barron’s list. It’s very interesting criteria, some objective and subjective.

I’d add Bud Colligan to the list. Venture Capitalist at Accel who has given so much to the community — strategically — through Pacific Community Ventures. They support small businesses and they fundraise from investors who want to invest in their nonprofit, Pacific Community Ventures, which in turn supports these small businesses creating thousands of jobs. It’s smart philanthropy, marrying business and nonprofit.

To be honest — there are thousands of unsung philanthropic heroes, and thousands more to come. Some give from a gigantic pocketbook; other give of a tremendous heart. Both are important.

This world is becoming a circle of giving. We all crave that meaning and sincerity after such a tough year; my hope is this desire to serve continues with the flywheel effect, cascading down gushing water of philanthropic good for decades to come.

Pamela Hawley
Founder and CEO

Knowing What You Don’t Know

Jeff Stibel recently wrote an article for Harvard Business Publishing about wisdom, knowledge and leaders, arguing that leaders who have wisdom will limit their knowledge.  “Why Wise Leaders Don’t Know Too Much” discusses the value of instinct and the danger of an overload of information.  Here’s a brief excerpt:

Wisdom can be shattered by too much information. Great scholars, for instance, tend to be great in very narrow disciplines. These scholars give ground on colloquial information so that they can digest more within their field. In many ways, we are all idiot savants: our expertise in certain areas necessitates weakness elsewhere.

Yet we still spend our days analyzing information and falling into traps. Decisions are destroyed by over-analysis. The brain is not intelligent because of the sheer volume of data it can ingest, but for the way it can quickly discern patterns — and then guess the rest. The more information you pile on, the less likely you are to make educated guesses. But educated guesses spring from wisdom: all of your past experiences, knowledge and knowhow, coupled with the most recent information and analysis. In other words, wisdom comes from your gut.

This led me to think about what we know, what we don’t know, and what we, as leaders, should take into consideration when making decisions.  Here are the thoughts I shared with Jeff:

Dear Jeff,

Thank you for an insightful article. I think what struck me from a macrolevel is that there is always going to be something we don’t know.

What do we know?

We can connect into timeless truths that can help us make the right decision, in almost every area. Doing the best research you can, coupled with the following, will help you be able to make the best decisions possible:

*sincere desire to move forward your partner’s interests as well as your own
*goal of creating long-term, mutually rewarding partnerships
*alignment of your personal values with your professional decisions, ensuring decisions you make in the workplace also coincide with your personal values. (This does not mean personal viewpoints or opinions; it means alignment with ethics and timeless principles of fairness)
*vision of a future that is positive and mutually beneficial for all parties involved in your decisions.

The above ramifications can help you make the best decisions in addition to the due diligence and knowledge you have prepared.

Jeff, I’d be curious to hear what you think of this viewpoint, in light of all your astute studies on intelligence. Thank you for sharing.

Sincerely, Pamela

Volunteering with the Extraordinaries

If you ever have a spare minute, you can use it to volunteer.  Waiting at the bus stop, waiting in line, maybe while getting coffee…  There’s an exciting new movement in volunteering that will let you take those spare minutes and put them toward doing good.  The Extraordinaries is a San Francisco-based group that created an application for the iPhone to make microvolunteering easy.  Do translations, catalogue photos, map playgrounds…all you need is an iPhone or a computer, and it takes just a minute.

I recently had the opportunity to share about the Extraordinaries for a feature on ABC News.  Here’s an excerpt:

For Adam Griffiths and Pamela Hawley, it is the 1Sky campaign over coffee. They are volunteering to get the federal government to address climate change.

“You have the application in your pocket and you literally have the power to change the world in the palm of your hand,” Griffiths says.

“For me, it’s exciting,” Hawleys says. “Because I feel like I am the part of a greater movement.”

You can see the video and full text article on ABC’s website: SF Website Offers Opportunity to Micro-Volunteer.  Visit the Extraordinaries site, to get started microvolunteering!

The Big Picture of Communication

John Baldoni wrote an article for Fast Company earlier this month titled “Act with the Big Picture in Mind,” about three key elements to consider when pursuing a new idea for your company.  These elements are:

One, your idea must complement the strategic direction of your company.

Two, your idea must have a strong business case.

Three, your idea must be blessed by your boss, or at least by someone higher up.

You can view John’s article for further elaboration on each point.  I shared my thoughts in a comment, also shared below:

John, thank you for a very helpful post. It’s important that people feel they can get their creative ideas out, while also viewing their sector wholistically, from many different vantage points.

It helps to think how an idea, for example, would further connect or support the different business units. Even more powerful would be to build on an existing strategic idea that is not yet fully realized. It also shows you are listening to the CEO and want to help realize the vision more fully.

Working step by step to include others but also be proactive and move forward, is helpful. Thank you for a wise article about taking initiative, and, being receptive to feedback. A balance of both is needed in a healthy organization.

Sincerely, Pamela

Expecting and Creating Good

Just the other day I read an article by Pat Olsen, on the Harvard Business website, titled “How to Survive in an Unhappy Workplace.”  The article offered valuable insights about interactions in the business world, about managing our lives, and about seeking joy, in work and outside of it.  I’d like to share with you the comment I made to the article:

Thank you for a very practical, insightful article. This is such a great approach, Pat, for most things in life are not black and white. Thank you for demonstrating life is a process, and how can we work towards greater good?

These are not easy things to feel — trying to feel more grateful, to see the positive, stay optimistic, if you don’t enjoy what you do. But life is about service, and part of utmost joy comes from serving others. For example, is there a manager that you truly enjoy working for? Can you make their day a bit easier? It’s not just about the project or providing a report. It’s about making people’s lives easier and smoother, spreading a certain kindness throughout the day. That can bring, joy, too.

The other warm way to build meaning is to think about what is going on behind the scenes. I had an employee say the other day ‘they were just doing a fax.’ I showed them what I was doing — sending a fax. Why was it important?

This fax allowed us to renew our contract with one of the top Fortune 500 companies.

Reconnect yourself, and your team, with the meaning behind the task. Nothing is ever just a fax…..

Having said that, we have a right to find what we love to do. Be grateful for the experience you have had; for right now; and for opportunities in the future. Keep expecting good. Keep exploring your passions. Bit by bit you’ll be centered more on them.

The key is to go from good to good.

Pamela Hawley