Category Archives: The Pamela Positive

The Classic Pamela Positive: “If It Is Right, It Happens…Nothing Good Gets Away” – John Steinbeck

stack-letters-447579_640Heartfelt advice is such wonderful wealth.   And it’s even more meaningful when it’s in a letter, which someone took the time to write, and shape with their own beautiful language, handwriting and style.

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The Classic Pamela Positive: “Make Each Day Your Masterpiece.” – John Wooden

woman-591576_1280“Make each day your masterpiece.” — John Wooden

Unmatched. That’s what Coach John Wooden is asking us to be.

To live a life unmatched each day — which is a masterpiece — means living according to your values.

When I usually think about a gargantuan goal, I think of something more along the lines of an Olympian. Yet it doesn’t always mean running (or winning) a marathon.

It is being your own masterpiece. That means today, you live with kindness in all the minute interactions you might have. It’s not just about doing your best, yet also treating others your best.  You, your being and presence, are the kind masterpiece that positively affects the world.

From living your masterpiece as an individual, and on this basis of values — only then can you paint another masterpiece. Pick a passion… be it gardening, being an excellent bookkeeper, being elected to office, writing a short story, exploring the best hikes and appreciating nature… And step by step, create excellence. Get inducted into your own hall of fame.

But remember, the greatest hall of fame is… treating others your best.

John Robert Wooden (October 14, 1910 – June 4, 2010) was an American basketball coach. He was a member of the Basketball Hall of Fame as both a player (inducted in 1961) and as a coach (inducted in 1973). He was the first person ever enshrined in both categories. His ten NCAA national championships in a 12-year period while at UCLA are unmatched by any other college basketball coach.  He was married to Nellie Riley for 53 years, and they had two children.  After Nellie’s death, John had a monthly ritual until his own death 25 years later, of visiting her grave and writing her a love letter.


I’ve recorded a spoken version of this blog. Enjoy!


The Classic Pamela Positive: Confessions of a Caffeine-a-holic


I used to be a Caffeine-a-holic, even when I wasn’t drinking any.  I still craved it.

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POP! Your Inspiration for the Day. You Can’t Miss with This!

“Fill your life with love.  Scatter sunshine.  Forget self, think of others.”


What a lovely admonition from Normal Vincent Peale, a thought leader in the 50s who counseled presidents, church leaders, and thousands of people needing help and advice.

People came to him with deep sadness, hurt and pain, mostly emotional.   Yet he helped “turn them around.”  He’d lift them up. Give them practical steps to change their lives.   Make it doable and inspiring.

Norman Vincent Peale was the pastor of Marble Collegiate Church in New York City from 1922 to 1974. He founded Guidposts in 1945. He published his best selling The Power of Positive Thinking in 1952. His other books include The Art of Living, A Guide to Confident Living (also a radio show), The Tough-Minded Optimist and Inspiring Messages for Daily Living. 



The Classic Pamela Positive: “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.”


“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.

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