Monthly Archives: February 2012

The Pamela Positive: To Have a Positive Mindset: Build Your Mind as You Would Your Dream Home

When you build a home, you have to have a vision. A vision of what you would like to create.  If you have a negative vision of your house, then it certainly is not going to become a beautiful home!   So we need to maintain that vision, even when the going gets rough. Even if you run out of brick. Even if the paint color didn’t match the way you wanted it to. Even if you have to fumigate!  Hold the vision, and keep striving for it.

What has helped me during tough times is not just to focus on the positive, but on gratitude. Even in tough times there is something to be grateful for.  If you are having a hard time in sales and partnerships, perhaps you can be grateful you uplifted that potential client’s day with a positive smile or sincere compliment…

On an entirely different level…if a natural disaster has occurred, you can still be grateful that the sun came out, as in many countries pollution blocks the sun.  That a friend is near. That people are caring and helping.   Even in a crisis, and often especially in a crisis, the greatest goodness of people comes out.  We can find the good even when we don’t seem ‘to have or own much.’    True wealth comes from qualities of being loving, kind, sincere, genuine, giving. And how wonderful — that that wealth is available to each one of us, every moment.

The Pamela Positive: There Is a Place for Every Star, and They All Blend Together

“There is a place for every star, and they all blend together.”

–Alexandra Hawley

This is a lovely quote from my mom, which was simply a part of an email to me.  I love the analogy of stars, for they all shine, and all uniquely so;  each one has its enduring place.  The light of each star is their unique, special contribution to this world.

Here is where the star power comes in. With each star’s combined light, we create a greater luminescence which brightens everyone’s experience, and therefore the world.

Thank you, Mom, for seeing the star in everyone!

The Pamela Positive: The Energy for Enthusiasm…Is Based on Gratitude

I find that one way to keep a flow of enthusiasm going is to live in the present moment and to practice gratitude. Right now, can I think a positive thought? What is going well? No matter how tough it gets, there has to be something that is going well. Thank you that the sun is shining. Thank you that I have a great father, or a wonderful relationship with my sister. If you are in America, thank you that I have the right to vote, that I have the right to choose hundreds of places to eat from every day.

For the challenges that seem to stop that flow of enthusiasm, I have to remember, it will pass. The mountain will pass and at some point, you get to start walking downhill. So keep climbing, keep being grateful, and…keep going.

My 97 year old Oma and grandmother, one of my best friends, once told me, “Whenever I feel down I find something to be grateful for, and I find someone else who is in a worse situation and help them. It helps me be grateful.”

The Pamela Positive: Do Good, Feel Good

Do Good, Feel Good. What Kind of Ethics is That?

Do Good, Feel Good.   It’s straight from our esteemed President Lincoln, who is referring to that still small voice that tells us right and wrong. Everyone has it within…and we hear that gentle voice urging us one way or not.  So President Lincoln is not calling for a marvelous free-for-all where anyone follows their whim.  He’s calling us to listen to an internal guide of Truth.

It’s about truly doing good, authentic, down-home, core, natural goodness.   This is something which is in all of us.  And it’s available to us all.   Do Good, feel that confirmation in your heart that it is the right thing. Then you feel good, and you know it is right. And then I’d add, keep on doing whatever is good!

When I do good, I feel good; when I do bad, I feel bad, and that is my religion.   – Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln served as the 16th President of the United States, during the Civil War.  He was instrumental in ending slavery and is admired for his commitment to national unity, equal rights, liberty, and democracy in America.  He is also known for his humble background, self-education, and skill with writing and rhetoric.  He was  not a member of any one organized religion, but he frequently used Biblical imagery and references in his writing and speaking, and referenced a Providence who had a higher purpose.  The Civil War and the deaths of two of his children led him near the end of his life to more frequently speak of dependence on God.

New Orleans’ Homes Rebuilt in Other Locations: Should You Rebuild Elsewhere?

I want to share something I read by Edward Glaeser, about rebuilding New Orleans:

After Hurricane Katrina, the building boosters wanted to spend hundreds of billions rebuilding New Orleans, but if $200 billion had been given to the people who lived there, each of them would have gotten $400,000 to pay for moving or education or better housing somewhere else. Even before the flood, New Orleans had done a mediocre job caring for its poor. Did it really make sense to spend billions on the city’s infrastructure, when money was so badly needed to help educate the children of New Orleans? New Orleans’ greatness always came from its people, not from its buildings. 

Wouldn’t it have made more sense to ask how federal spending could have done the most for the lives of Katrina’s victims, even if they moved somewhere else?  Ultimately, the job of urban government isn’t to fund buildings or rail lines that can’t possibly cover their costs, but to care for the city’s citizens. 

A mayor who can better educate a city’s children so that they can find opportunity on the other side of the globe is succeeding, even if his city is getting smaller. 

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Edward Glaeser’s view on New Orleans is compelling.  Absolutely the funds must be put to use in the best way. Yet that’s the challenge: How do you measure the value of home, the value of history, the value of where you have lived spiritually, mentally, emotionally?

I support Glaeser’s efficient view, if the people of New Orleans agreed they were willing to set up home elsewhere.

The people of New Orlean must have their homes rebuilt physically with the appropriate financial resources.   Let’s realize, too, that our home can’t be measured.  What do you recommend?

The Pamela Positive: “UnConference Room” Your Meeting with a Peaceful Banyan Tree

“UnConference Room” Your Meeting with a Peaceful Banyan Tree

There are many images that come to mind when we think of Asia, from dragons to beautiful beaches, spanning varied cultures.  One of my favorite views is that of the banyan tree, for it must be strongly grounded in the earth, which also allows its larger branches and leaves to provide overreaching shade.

Banyan Tree at the Indian Institute of Technology in Chennai; picture submitted by Ranjani Shanker

It was under a banyan tree where the Buddha felt his calling to a new level of enlightenment.  Under these same trees, Gujarati businessmen hold their meetings.  It is even used as a place for political meetings: Recently in Malaysia, the state assembly met underneath the welcome atmosphere of the banyan tree.  So for much of Asia, spirituality, entrepreneurship, politics are taking place right outdoors.

The banyan tree represents solidity, rootedness, and strength.  At the same time, it also represents comfort, shade and welcome.  It is a source of power, balanced with peace.  It represents firmness, as well as welcome.

Is America’s Banyan Tree the Conference Room?

It is interesting how in America, and in many places across the world, most of our meetings take place in walled, sterile conference rooms.  Chairs are uniformly around the table.  The walls are usually plastered with notices about the company’s achievements.  Pens and pads are available so we can write and record and get our business done. Gosh darn it, I can hear the executives say, in this room we’re going to get to the solution, get down to business and ‘make it happen.’

Yet what if we looked at doing all of our business, or even holding all of our meetings, under a banyan tree?  This return to nature might help conversations flow more easily.

Perhaps this atmosphere would allow us to be more authentic. If we are surrounded by nature’s occasional stirring winds, visionary clouds floating across the sky, and brilliant beckoning sun, would we not also settle into a more authentic course of conversation? Could it lead to more natural, comfortable (and no less impactful, but rather more so) solutions?   Within this reframing context of nature, we can discuss our goals and hopes and plans and perhaps achieve even greater goals.

Here’s a thought… We can replace the pen, paper and busy scribbling of notes, with more eye contact.  We supplant the flurried white board scrawls with more thoughtful listening. What a profound impact this has to have on any business relationship, business decision, and especially, with any personal matter.

Until we can “Unconference Room” your meeting space, perhaps we can imagine all of our conversations thoughtfully taking place under a Banyan tree.  A place where comfort, understanding, and right relationships result under its strong, rooted and peaceful presence.

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The banyan tree originally received its name from the merchants who gathered beneath it to do business; in the Gujarati language, “banya” means “merchant/grocer.”  Western visitors to India observed the merchants meeting beneath the tree, and the name evolved to refer to the tree itself.  The banyan trees are given great symbolism in both Hinduism and Buddhism.  Banyan trees can grow to cover hundreds of feet, and live for over a thousand years.

“I Got My Start by Giving Myself a Start.” – First African-American Self-Made Millionaire, Madam C.J. Walker

In the 1900s, Madam C.J. Walker made her mark for black women (and all women) by becoming the first African-American self-made millionaire in America.  She had a problem herself; in setting out to solve it, she helped others.

Madam Walker was losing some of her hair.  So she created a hair product company which addressed this need, while helping women feel stronger, prouder, more beautiful.  She was a millionaire within fifteen years.

Yet it wasn’t just enhancing women’s beauty and self-esteem that made her unique.  She employed thousands of women; she shone with brilliance by being a great CEO.  And she left us with some inspiring mottos by which she lived her life.

Two of my favorites are:

“I got my start by giving myself a start.”

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“I had to make my own living and my own opportunity. But I made it! Don’t sit down and wait for the opportunities to come. Get up and make them.”

Go “start” whatever you would love to do. It can be small, it can be on the side, it can be modest.   But begin today.  You will know yourself more, giving of your “only-you” talents.  You will also be providing opportunities and inspiration for others.

In honor of Black History month, we honor Madam C.J. Walker.  She was the first self-made American millionaire who was African-American or female.  Her own hair loss inspired her to experiment with home remedies, and then sell them throughout the country. She began by selling Madam Walker’s Wonderful Hair Grower, a healing conditioner for scalps.  She traveled door-to-door throughout the South and Southeast to sell her products.  Her corporation employed as many as 3,000 people at one point.  Madam Walker also founded Lelia College to train “hair culturists,” assisting other black women to start their own businesses.  She was a Civil Rights activist and philanthropist.