Pamela loves sharing stories about her childhood. We have gathered them together here: personal revelations about the influence of her family; the importance of values and relationships; early ventures into community service; and her passion for entrepreneurship. In many of them, you’ll find the inspiration that led her to where she is today.
CONNECTION TO LIFE
Many of us remember a time when we were ‘hit’ with the importance of getting involved globally. For me, I was 12. We were on a family vacation in Mexico, near a traditional marketplace. My father and I wandered off, just a few paces away, confronted with a cul-de-sac of unwashed, handicapped, begging children.
Having my eyes widened with just disbelief and overwhelming sadness, I simply remember the word UNACCEPTABLE flashing across my mind. I still feel it and see that word all the time. It’s simply “not ok” that millions are starving. Not only can we help, but we also have a lot to learn. I never realized how much I would receive when I first started giving!
In our home, my mom had always emphasized the power and presence of God as divine Love governing our lives. As a young girl on that street in Mexico, I felt it was only right that everyone should feel this presence of divine Love.
From my experience in Mexico, I started volunteering at the age of 12–in soup kitchens, with welfare patients, crisis counseling in the United States. And when an adult, taking on larger volunteer projects, all across the world, all in different issues. Microfinance in India, working with paraplegics in Cambodia, with farmers in Guatemala and with earthquake survivors in El Salvador. It’s been much of the most meaningful experiences I’ve had in life. It’s provided perspective. It’s instilled an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
“NOW THAT’S A PENCIL!”
At age 10 I set up a store called “Pam’s Place” in my room. I had this Dutch half door in my room. I put up a colorful sign for my new business, unlocked the top portion of the door, and swung it open. I was open for business!
Pam’s Place ‘featured’ pencils, bookmarks and magnets. I would decorate them and then try to sell them to my family. One day I tried to sell my Dad a pencil. He said to me, “Now why would I buy this pencil? You need to show me how this is special. Because I can go to Walgreen’s and buy a similar pencil.”
I scurried back to my room. I decorated it with glitter, sparkles, and felt. I came back with my ‘special’ pencil. I was breathing hard for my little body, and anticipating what my father might say….
He took the pencil in his hands and turned it carefully, looking at it, with all the goopy colorful stars smeared on it. His eyes and face lit up: “Now that’s a pencil!” he said. And he bought it for 10 cents. It was my first sale. With his support and encouragement, I kept delving into more and different entrepreneurial ventures.
My Dad taught me about value. And so much more: The value not only of a product, but also values in general. How you treat people, how you work with them, how you care for them during challenges. To this day when I face a challenge he says, ” I don’t want you to stress about this. Let me walk with you. Let me be by your side. Let me be your partner. We will solve this.” His investment of intellect, love, care are endless and make me the social entrepreneur I am today.
It started with a pencil. Make it sparkle.
EXPLORING ENTREPRENEURSHIP EARLY
Recently I was asked the question, “When did you know you were a woman entrepreneur?” I already shared on this blog about one of my earliest entrepreneurial ventures, “Pam’s Place.” And here’s where my entrepreneurial journey continued, in small ways.
We had a choice in our family regarding summer. You had to work and I found I was more excited creating opportunities. That summer at age 10, my 13-year old sister and I created “Hawley Camp.” It had 1, 2 and 3 week sessions where we had children age 3-6. Parents could sign up for one or all three sessions, and their children came from 9-1 or 2-5.
We had to create a program. We had arts and crafts where we painted, made bookmarks, and decorated picture frames with glitter. We played games such as toss the tennis ball through the hoolahoop and “Red Rover, Red Rover.” We dressed up as hobos and marched around our backyard in search of treasure. We had snack time and nap time. We played on the “Slip n’ Slide.”
We had to learn how to market. We created flyers and distributed them in our neighborhood on telephone poles, at the library and at church. We sent out the message word-of-mouth. We had quite a mix of known and new customers.
We had to learn how to budget. We were able to get deposits which secured the children in our program and allowed us to spend food for snacks in advance. We had to think of the costs for snacks every day, arts and crafts, goodie bags, games.
And we had to learn how to plan our day. How long was nap time? How long were the games? How long would they last on the “Slip n’ Slide?” I must say we also learned some valuable management lessons along the way when one child refused to play with us and began climbing the large, old, creaking walnut tree, which was off limits to them (but loved by my sister and me.) That’s management at a young age (and another story!)
IF I HAD TO CHOOSE BETWEEN CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES OR ANOTHER CONCERT, I’D CHOOSE THE COOKIE
I often write on this blog about balance. How do we balance the many different priorities in our lives? How do we separate the different–and both important–areas of work and family? This can be an especially challenging question for parents, trying to work and have time for their children.
I think my Dad “separated” these areas really well. He traveled a fair amount and worked very hard. But when he was home, he was “super present.” He was with us. He played hide and seek, running around with us in the backyard, and eating dinner every night he could with us. In fact, at his company he told his team that work ended at 5 pm and family dinner was important. And, that he didn’t want people working weekends. “When we are here, 8-5, 9-5, we’re going to stay focused and work hard. If we can’t get our work done in 8 or 9 hours, then our priorities aren’t right.”
With my Dad, I never felt work interfered, because he kept it at work and kept it away from us. When he was at home, he was present with us.
This of course becomes harder when your office is at home. Or when you are a working mom. The complexities our society presents today provide so many choices, so many ways to have it all, that it is a unique and challenging choice for each one of us, when and when not to be available.
My mom was quite different. She was and is a professional concert flutist of the highest caliber. She performed at Carnegie and has a Masters in Music from Stanford. She performed a duo concert of she and Jean-Pierre Rampal, one of the greatest flutists of all time. She continues to perform with Avedis at the Legion of Honor, a concert series she created.
When I was growing up, her ‘work’ was at home. She practiced right next door to me in the adjacent room. Sometimes I would interrupt her to see if she would come see if my cookies were done. I’ve always grown up with Mom making cookies, so they are a big part of the Hawley Family Culture. We were known for making great cookies and bringing them to all types of events. It was one of Mom’s many ways of expressing love for others.
Knowing Mom would drop her flute playing so she could help me with my cookies always filled with my heart. Every child needs that endorsement of making great chocolate chip cookies — ones that don’t burn on the bottom (my biggest fear!). Ones that aren’t too crispy. Or too soft. And often, I just needed the “OK” of a mother love. I will always remember her stopping what she was doing, to help.
I will always remember I came first with my mom. I will always know my mom loved me and her family above everything else. I will always remember how available she was and is to me. She was made to love her family. It’s her highest joy and calling, and she does it 100%, 100% of the time. I have tears coming down my face right now because her life has been a devotion to me, my sister, my father, her mother, her grandchildren. She simply lives love of others.
So then, here’s the question. How did she do it?
Her selflessness was so strong. And yet her trust must be so strong as well. She knew she couldn’t be ‘punished’ by checking on the chocolate chip cookies of her dear child. And somehow – she got it all done. Her concerts are stellar. She is always prepared musically. She cooks great meals. She is a great listener. She has her three grandchildren over at least twice per week, opening up her home and heart, cooking them their favorite tapioca pudding, and filling our home and heart with love.
She never once told me to come to her later because she needed to practice.
If I had to choose, I choose chocolate chip cookies over another concert. She had her priorities right. I just happen to be the lucky daughter who received so much love.
“GO ON NOW AND GET OUT THERE IMMEDIATELY”
This was a precious moment in my short flute career. My dear Oma, a pioneer woman flutist in the 1920s (read about her in the New York Times) began teaching me at the age of 8. She was a profound influence on my life and as phenomenal of a teacher as she was a performer.
In this photo, I am 10. That’s me, my beloved Mom, my dear Oma, all performing on stage at Stanford University. It’s my first concert, my debut.
As we prepared, my Oma always said to me, “Darling, at any time you don’t want to perform, that is all right. You just let your Oma know.”
The night of the performance. I am in the wings. I’ve seen them perform and my heart is racing. Sweat graces my palms and I am sure my fingers are going to stick to the keys. My dress feels like it is sticking to me.
“Oma,” I say quietly. “I don’t want to go….”
Right behind me, she said, “Go on now and get out there immediately.”
The show must go on :) and it did!