Tag Archives: business

Leadership Series: Mario Andretti’s Fast Lane To America, Part Four



This is Part Four of Four in the Series on “Mario Andretti’s Fast Lane to America”.  Please click these links to read parts One, Two, and Three.



Thank you for joining me on this Leadership Series: How To Become a Leader; Practical Steps to Following Your Passion.


We’ve seen world-renowned car racer Mario Andretti follow his passion since he was a teenager, and become an award-winning driver! He’s stayed grounded, family-oriented and still involved with his passion of cars.


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What do you do next?




You can give back.

Successful people find a way to help others, because they know they have been helped.

No one does it alone.

And that’s what he does!

On philanthropy, Mario states:


“You try to channel it in areas where you know it’s going to make a difference,” he said. “You try to do those things as the opportunity comes along. These are all the things that at the end of the day, it makes you feel good that I made a little bit of a difference, and that’s meaningful.”6


Mario gives back through Meals on Wheels, to help the elderly and housebound attain food security. In honor of Mario, we are also giving back — we’ve chosen Nepal Orphans Home Inc. project for fresh food and Rural Communities Empowerment Center’s project to bring technology and resources to communities in great need. In that way we honor his passion and his philanthropy.


Thank you joining us on our Leadership Series: How To Become a Leader; Practical Steps to Following Your Passion.


We are so glad you joined us in learning about Mario Andretti’s successful life. If it a world class race driver can make it by starting out in a refugee camp, you can too. Follow your passion, gain experience and then give back.


I thank you for being the great leader you are, and look forward to you sharing your journey! We will all look forward to hearing!


You’re Leading,





Mario Andretti is an extremely successful race car driver and the only race car driver to have ever won the Indianapolis 500, the Daytona 500, and the Formula One World Championship. Mario, and his fraternal twin brother Aldo, were born in the former territory known as Istria. At the end of World War II, the territory was annexed by Yugoslovia and the Andretti family left in 1948 during what’s known as the Istrian exodus. They ended up in a refugee camp in Lucca, Italy, where his father would work hard labor jobs before they received the visa to join his uncle in Pennsylvania. Mario and his brother Aldo rebuilt a 1948 Hudson Commodore and began racing it. Aldo won the coin toss to do the first race and he won. Aldo went on to fracture his skull in a serious crash, but he would return later on. In 1969, Aldo suffered severe damage after crashing into a fence during an IMCA race and he quit racing.


In 1961, he married Dee Ann Andretti and they had three children together. Their two sons, Jeff and Michael, would also become race car drivers. Following Mario’s retirement, he has spent his time in a multitude of ways—including volunteering with Meals on Wheels deliveries in Pennsylvania. With his late wife Dee Ann, he was also involved with a number of local children’s charities.


⁶ Ryan, Natem “Mario Andretti saluted for his charity work: ‘I love positive’”, NBC Sports, April 14, 2015, https://motorsports.nbcsports.com/2015/04/14/mario-andretti-saluted-for-his-charity-work-i-love-positives/
Fig. ¹⁰: Photo by Jim Culp retrieved from Flickr, https://www.flickr.com/photos/jimculp/29455644593
Fig. ¹¹: Photo by William on Unsplash

Leadership Series: Mario Andretti’s Fast Lane To America, Part Three of Four



This is Part Three of Four in the Series on “Mario Andretti’s Fast Lane to America”.  Please click these links to read parts One and Two.



Thank you for joining our Leadership Series: How To Become a Leader     


We feature real-life stories on how people became successful leaders, so you can too. We show you Practical Steps and Stories to Following Your Passion, leading you to your own success. Our feature today is on Mario Andretti, a world-class racer who started out in a refugee camp. Join us as we continue to explore his life story!


Within 20 years, Mario was a world-renowned racer. He was living his dream, and in America. He was married with children and awards and all. What to do next?


Beautifully and interestingly enough, Mario stayed true to his roots. He still lives in Nazareth, Pennsylvania and still spends time in his garages. He stays humble. He stays grounded. He still loves his cars. His life is very consistent.



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“I love spending time in the garages on either side of our house. I have 9 cars in all, including a Lamborghini and a Corvette.”5


So that’s a good lesson. Even when he can retire, he still pays attention to his cars.  He takes care of them and loves them and drives them.



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He drives to his passion and his passion drives his life.   It’s a great life partnership, one can have with one’s passion for one’s entire life!


You can do this too. You call follow your passion, and live your full life.






What a beautiful story. Let’s find our passion, and stay true to humble dreams. They will happen!


Dreams are happening for you,




Stay tuned for Part Four of the Four Part Series “Mario Andretti’s Fast Lane to America” tomorrow!


⁵ Mybers, Marc, Ibid.
Fig. ⁷: Photo by Raul Varzar on Unsplash
Fig. ⁸: Racingone/ ISC Archives via Getty Images, retrieved from https://www.mcall.com/sports/motorracing/mc-mario-andretti-indy500-1981-unser-20160512-story.html
Fig. ⁹: Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash



Leadership Series: Mario Andretti’s Fast Lane To America, Part Two of Four



This is Part Two of Four in the Series on “Mario Andretti’s Fast Lane to America”. Please click here to start from the beginning!


Thank you for joining our Leadership Series: How To Become a Leader     


We feature real-life stories on how people became successful leaders, so you can too. We show you Practical Steps and Stories to Following Your Passion, leading you to your own success. Our feature today is on Mario Andretti, a world-class racer who started out in a refugee camp. Join us as we continue to explore his life story!


The Mario Andretti family was on its way from war-torn Italy to America.  They had been working in car shops, learning, gaining experience. Heads-down, hands-in-car-parts operations. Learning, learning, learning. With perseverance, they followed their dreams.






With patience, visas came three years later. Their family migrated to Pennsylvania where family resided. Always an observer, after dinner one night in Pennsylvania, Mario and his brother saw something flashing in the distance as well as loud sounds. They soon found it was their love! It was the explosion of a car engine!



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They literally ran towards their passion, which was about a mile away and featured a racetrack. They had a high-end taste in cars due to being from Italy and their work on Formula 1 cars. While these cars were different, the boys kept showing up at the track. Experience built upon experience. It was time to build their own car for the first time: a 1948 Hudson Commodore.


To get in at the race track, they stated they were 19 and 21 years old, racers from Italy. Soon, Aldo and his brother, Mario, each won two of the first four stock-car races. 4 They won nearly $150 and used that to build their next car.5 Their passion was on their way! Instead of working on cars, they were now building them — and racing them!  



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Now Mario is considered one of the top race car drivers in the world. He’s won the 1978 Formula One World Championship races and most specifically, the top IndyCar race, 4 times. He’s known for being the only driver to win the NASCAR Cup Series, Formula One and an Indianapolis 500.



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So you can follow your passion, too, and realize success. Mario is a good man, and he did it. You can be a good person, and you can do it.


Follow Passion = Realize Success,




Stay tuned for Part Three of the Four Part Series “Mario Andretti’s Fast Lane to America” tomorrow!



³ Myers, Marc “Mario Andretti: From Italian Refugee Camp to the Winner’s Circle at Indy”, The Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-mario-andretti-one-of-the-fastest-americans-ever-discovered-his-speed-1533047673
Fig. ³: Photo by Vance Osterhout on Unsplash
Fig. ⁴: Photo by Oscar Sutton on Unsplash
Fig. ⁵: Photo by MiRo Am on Unsplash
Fig. ⁶: Amy Hollowbush, contributed photo retrieved from https://www.mcall.com/sports/motorracing/mc-mario-andretti-daytona-500-5020170221-story.html

Leadership Series: Mario Andretti’s Fast Lane to America, Part One of Four



This is Part One of Four in the Series on “Mario Andretti’s Fast Lane to America”.


Thank you for joining our Leadership Series: How To Become a Leader     


We feature real-life stories on how people became successful leaders, so you can too. We show you Practical Steps and Stories to Following Your Passion, leading you to your own success. Our feature today is on Mario Andretti, a world-class racer who started out in a refugee camp. Join us as we explore his life story!


Before Mario Andretti first came to America, his life wasn’t glamorous. His family of six was housed in a couple of rooms in a college dormitory in a refugee camp in Italy, right at the end of World War II. 






His uncle was able to find a job for his father at a cement factory and so they came over to America.Mario was grateful to be in America and felt life could only go up.



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While his father was applying for the visa to come to America, he and his brother, Aldo, happened to be playing in a cul-de-sac. One day they saw some cars speeding by. They were able to locate them at a local car shop in a parking garage across from where they lived.


The Andretti brothers had the courage to go and meet the owners. And really, that was the start of their dreams. They went to help, observe and eventually work on cars there after school.For a start, they were allowed to park them in garage. Even this gave him a feel and love of cars. He and his brother Aldo continued to work at the shop and obtained a strong love for Italian cars. Unbeknownst to the brothers they would in the future attend races such as the 1954 Italian Grand Prix, and win races such as Daytona.


What an amazing pursuit of one’s dreams.


They saw cars.


They explored.


They followed their interests.


They met the owners.


They offered to help.


They were on their way to becoming world class racers by doing the above. Above doesn’t sound overly exciting or world class, but it’s following your passion, offering help, getting experience. That’s how you achieve your dreams! It’s that simple! And, that much daily, hard work.


So let’s watch this story closely.  Humble backgrounds and they followed a lead about which they were excited. You can do this, too!  This could be you start to being a successful engineer, the first woman flutist in South Congo, a first-time CEO or a new entrepreneur. You can do it, too.


You can do it, too.




Stay tuned for Part Two of the Four Part Series “Mario Andretti’s Fast Lane to America” tomorrow!


1 Myers, Marc “Mario Andretti: From Italian Refugee Camp to the Winner’s Circle at Indy”, The Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2018, https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-mario-andretti-one-of-the-fastest-americans-ever-discovered-his-speed-1533047673
² Ibid.
Fig.1: Photo by Bailey Scully on Unsplash
Fig.2: Photo by Matt Antonioli on Unsplash

The Classic Pamela Positive: Winning Over Obstacles


“History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.” 

– Bertie C. Forbes








Bertie C. Forbes (1880-1954) was the founder of Forbes magazine.  He was born in Scotland, spent time in South Africa, and emigrated to New York in 1904.  He studied at the University College, Dundee and then worked at a local newspaper before he moved to Johannesburg, South Africa. When he moved to New York, Forbes worked a number of journals before he would leave to found his own publication. In 1917, he founded Forbes where he remained the Editor-in-Chief for almost 40 years, up until his death. Towards the end of his life, his two eldest children would join him at the paper. In 1942, he also was a founding member of the Investors League.

The Classic Pamela Positive: Keep Your Balance


I think one key point in life is to maintain balance — balance between time for work, time for loved ones, time for oneself, time for interests outside of one’s business. It’s so important to keep that balance, or we’ll simply burn-out.






I remember once when I was young in my career, and meeting with a fairly older, single woman. She was a successful venture capitalist. But I don’t know that I would consider her life successful. She traveled the world incessantly and was on every important board. But she seemed tired and joy was scarce. She told me to “Pack it all in.”

I didn’t. I kept my balance. I started a nonprofit and I did creative improv. I took care of my very young nephews and nieces. I loved life and I loved the people in my life.






We need to be renewed. We need to feel honored as whole, functioning people with families, outside interests, balanced lives, as well as our commitment to achieving the goals and vision of the organizations we run. The beauty of this balance is that I come back energized to UniversalGiving™. My mind has had “time off” and is thrilled to re-engage with our efforts to serve. I look at challenges in a new light. My energy is renewed. I bring new skills to the table; my thoughts are stronger and more helpful. It’s better for me–and for my organization.



Rough: A Social Entrepreneur’s Journey


I’ve often spoken about my journey in finding my calling. I am so fortunate to love what I do, every day.  And with that gift, I want to vigorously help others.   I am passionate about serving UniversalGiving every day, helping people connect with quality ways to give and volunteer all across the world.

I am equally passionate about helping others find something they love to do.  It lights up your life. You become the best, most sincere, intelligent, fun, and delightful person if you can engage with your calling.

People hear me speak with joy and clarity about my calling, yet they think my life to social entrepreneurship was easy.

It was the “Rough” of my life.  It was excruciating. I fought to find work I loved to greet every day.  There were some really, really low times, over many years.  In fact, I don’t like to talk about it, because I enjoy focusing on the positive.

So “Rough” is in response to many people’s request:

“Pamela, tell me what it was like. I don’t know where to start. I need encouragement.

“Can you help me?  I need to know I can make it…”


“Pamela,  you had it easy.  I wish I could have found my calling as you did!  You’re so lucky.”

I write this for all aspiring social entrepreneurs. Persevere in getting to know yourself and carve out your pathway.  You will find it. Even if takes years. It’s worth it.

Just as we should love who we marry, we should love what we do.  I’m still working on that first one. So for all you moms who crave meaning, and come to me dying for a purpose, I have that purpose, and I also will be grateful to find what you have too: precious family and children. We deserve both, and we can help each other.

pamela family

If you hear me speak or read my writing, I focus on the positive. It’s imperative to be a solid, move-forward-and-make-it-happen entrepreneur, and a happy person. I am grateful for all the good Life has opened up unto me, in conjunction with the human effort and striving I put forth.

But if you need to know my journey, so that you know it is possible for you, I will share. Here is where my story started. But my vision of social entrepreneurship didn’t manifest itself until 14 years later. And I am still working on my next vision of serving… stay tuned.  Team, we don’t stop growing, ever.

An Entrepreneur’s Journey

There are people who are bootstrapping on a vision. And there are people who don’t yet have a vision. Both are in a glorious battle.

One is striving to achieve and live their vision, to build a new way of doing things in the world. The other, I think, is in more pain because they haven’t yet found that calling.  At least the former, despite formidable pressures to launch, fundraise, hire the right people, (fire the others who need to be the right people elsewhere), fight legal battles, meet payroll, is in love. They like their day to day.

I can’t emphasize how important this is. If you dread each day, feel dead in your skills, and unappreciated, it starts to wear off everywhere else. It impacts your whole life.

Build towards vision, positive growth, enthusiasm every day. This is what you must do. Equally important is who you surround yourself with. You are building your future right now. No, it is not off two years from now, or 20. Your future is everything you put your thought and energy into, right now. And right now, and now, and…now.


So you have to keep trying.

I leave four jobs in two years out of college. I am in sales for a company for one year.  I am out of work for a year. All my friends are on a track, on track: MBA, Doctor, Lawyer.  I feel embarrassed. I am from a smart school, with smart colleagues, and I don’t feel like I am living a smart life.

I pick up any jobs I can, while still trying to pursue a love-of-my-life calling.

I work for a man who wanted an executive assistant but says I don’t deserve to be paid. He says I’m too green. I work for the experience anyway.

I work as a step aerobics instructor. I am hired and pushed out as a waitress by a frustrated restaurant-owner in Venice Beach.  I always wanted to serve others, but my hands shook while I carried the plates.  I volunteer with alcoholic men in Skid Row, helping them with life skills. I interview to sell insurance. I do real estate research for an independent couple, a marketing brochure for a nonprofit. I do all I can to provide for myself and try to make it.

Still, all the while, I was learning more about our international world, understanding social entrepreneurship and helping pave the way. I studied The Economist, read about the world, prayed, cried and asked for my life to be used.  On my knees I prayed and cried for it. The drive was that strong, as was the depression in not finding it. Ask my roommate at the time – who is now UniversalGiving’s COO. She saw it all, and it was excruciating.

I see an idea.  I get inspired and do the full business plan for a Gift Basket company that would give back to nonprofits, early CSR before I know it. I sneak into a manufacturer’s conference for Gift Basket vendors of 1000 people, to find out all the suppliers of foods and gifts. I prepared inventory, storage, a marketing plan, and first customers.


And then…

I had to give up.

It just didn’t feel right.  I just wasn’t prepared to do this on my own. I needed a partner.

I was devastated.   I had started… another non-starter in my life.

I called my Dad and let him know I was abandoning the Gift Basket business plan. What would I do next, he asked?

I thought…..I might like PR.  That’s the thing…you often just don’t know.

You have to try, and believe all the things that don’t work are gearing you exactly into what does work.  Don’t worry.  Keep going.  Keep trying.  Learn.

I tried to get into PR. I was told I didn’t have any experience. I was told I didn’t have an internship on my resume.

So I went — and got experience, for ten days. I got into Chiatt Day, and beat out college teens for an unpaid internship. After a week-plus, I put it on my resume, and was then able to get a job with a PR agency because I had ‘experience.’

I entered data for them. I was praised with the company record of stuffing the most press kits. I was so mind-tired, so exhausted by not using my mind, that I had to run up and down the stairwell to stay sane.

I went from sales, to being out of work for a year, to odd jobs, to a 10-day internship at Chiatt Day, to 8 months at a PR firm, into a Masters in broadcast journalism.  I hopped and hopped.

Then I met Peter Samuelson, and he helped change my life course. He was doing it, and he really lived.

ROUGH: Your Calling

How Do You Get There Once You Know What It Is?

Just because you have a calling doesn’t mean there is an easy way to get there.

At the age of twelve, I was struck with an early vision. In my post “To Be of Service,” I speak about witnessing poverty in Mexico with my father, and how that changed my life. It set me on a pathway to service and ultimately entrepreneurship.  However, the challenges to get there, and to understand my unique path as a social entrepreneur, were many.

I had always been very entrepreneurial. I loved to create little businesses. For some, there is a time when we move from being an entrepreneur, to being a social entrepreneur.  Peter Samuelson, film director and founder of Starlight Children’s Foundation, encapsulated that pivotal moment for me.   I first met Peter through the Leadership Institute, started by management leader Warren Bennis at USC Business School. Here’s how Peter sparked me on my path.

While the thread in my life was about helping, I was having a hard time finding an outlet. At the time, I was in graduate school, heading into broadcast journalism with the goal of changing the tenor of media news.  I wanted to see a world where we could emphasize positive developments in our world.

It’s not that we ignore the tough situations, but the murder rate is not always going up. There are places it has gone down.  Positive solutions helped get us there. Why not cover that news?

If you focus only on the negative, you’ll stay there.  Move into the new world you envision.  But news directors told me it wasn’t possible. “We operate off of eye candy, what will bring the most viewers. What you’re proposing doesn’t drive eyeballs, Pamela.”

So I was feeling blocked again. Four “careers” in four years. Now what do I do?

Peter got up and spoke about “entrepreneurial philanthropy” or “social entrepreneurship.”  “We need to make a difference in a strategic, business-like way, while serving our communities!” he proclaimed.  He essentially galvanized us with his relentless passion. I’ve never seen anyone speak like that.

My heart dropped. Tears filled my eyes. At that point I was going through my mid-life crisis at age 25. And in an instant, I knew what I wanted to do.  I wanted to be a social entrepreneur. Peter brought my vision of how I wanted to serve – with compassion and business principles – to life.

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The relief, the joy, the glory…to know… that I was made to be a social entrepreneur.

I left the Leadership Conference and ran to a payphone (yes, a payphone) and called my Dad, “Dad, Dad, I know what I want to do!” I excitedly explained. He listened with joy and support as he always does.  “That’s great, honey!  And…how…do you get paid?”


Social entrepreneurship was not a developed concept — let alone a field. There were NO:

social entrepreneurship blogs or books

social entrepreneurship job listings

social entrepreneurship events, certificates, programs, classes…

or  degrees….

or conferences.

Or thought leaders.  Or experienced social entrepreneurs, proven track records, or just any example.

Now try explaining to everyone you want to be a social entrepreneur.

“You mean a social worker?”

“What’s a social engineer?”

“Oh cool!  Wait, what do they do?”

“Oh… well, good luck with that.”

It was lonely.

What was the next step?

While still excruciating, that year I found the right people and the right idea. VolunteerMatch came into being. It was a ‘lucky’ confluence of the Web (I love scale), do-gooderism, and providing a solution to people finding quick, accessible efficient ways to volunteer. Even then, it still wasn’t my full calling, because it wasn’t global. While grateful, I had more work to do to find my true purpose.

So while I was struck with a wonderful devotion in life, it took years to manifest it. Four to reach VolunteerMatch. And then for my true calling, international, through UniversalGivingthat would take ten.

Ten years.

What you have to remember is, every passionless dead-end is still a precious part of your process.

You must commit to serving and helping others in your current situation, even when you don’t want to be there.

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In so doing, you commit to good values and build your strength. You also meet helpful people. You meet people you can help.

You learn many valuable skills. In my case, sales, PR, broadcast communications, international on the side.  All of those experiences came back into play in my effective governing of UniversalGiving.

This fight to find what I love to do, enabled me to go through my midlife crisis 25 years earlier than most. I am clear, pure and passionate about what I do and the meaning in my life. It has led me to fight for others, so they can have this too.  I am almost equally passionate about UniversalGiving, as I am about helping people find their pathway in life.

I wake up in love to live each day.  I know what it means to me, and I don’t take it for granted. Every day I get to help others, with my heart and with my mind, for the community and in business. That is what I get to do with a wonderful team. Every day.

So my efforts to serve certainly started with poverty, but now extend into striving to be a great social entrepreneurship leader; and to be available for anyone who would like to talk about their pathway. I hope to serve not just my industry and global social entrepreneurship, but also the entering leaders, to help them.  One of the greatest joys has not just been being a social entrepreneur, but also helping pave for others, for our social entrepreneurship industry.

ROUGH: Continue Giving

In my final notes to all of you who wish so sincerely for this meaning…

Please, don’t give up.

DO NOT give up.

The joy you will find is lovely, fruitful, fulfilling. It is life-giving to yourself and others. It will build you in ways you will never imagine, and bring the right people into your life. And it might be much simpler for you. If so, cherish it.  We all receive our challenges in life, in different ways.

Mine wasn’t an easy journey, but it was filled with joy despite the challenges. Making it big is not about money.  I am “wealthy” because of the joy-filled, purposeful life that I lead. I am alive, not just because I breathe. I am alive because I truly live.  I hope I can help others become “rich,” too.

From Rough to Joy.

Dear reader, I hope this helped you. It wasn’t easy for me to write, but I did it.

Love, Pamela