Tag Archives: India

The Pamela Positive: “If You Can’t Feed a Hundred People…” – Mother Teresa

“If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.” – Mother Teresa

Blessed Teresa of Calcutta (1910-1997), best known as Mother Teresa, was a Catholic nun known for her work caring for the poorest of the poor in the slums of India.  She was born in Albania, and joined the Sisters of Loreto as a missionary at the age of 18.  She became a nun in 1937, while teaching at a religious school in Calcutta.  She began her work with the poor in Calcutta in 1948.  In 1950, she founded the Missionaries of Charity, which presently has 4,500 sisters and is active in more than 100 countries.  Mother Teresa came to international attention with the 1969 documentary, Something Beautiful for God.  In 1979, she received the Nobel Peace Prize for her inspiring work with the poor.

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

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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.

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 in the 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 moreso) 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.

How Mahatma Gandhi Teaches Us: To Be…Love and Change, Start with You Now

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

The key word here from one of our greatest leaders is ‘be.’ Every day we have a chance to be. And the most important being is loving. Being kind, gracious, and helping others. That can start today. We can and should whisk away frustration, for every moment of frustration is one not spent on being the positive force we hope to be. What type of foundation are you building? One that crumbles from exhaustion and disbelief, cynicism? Or one of solidity, brick, by brick, with each brick contributing Principle, Love, Kindness, Grace, Strength, Truth, Joy…? As Gandhi says… the other key word here is ‘you.’ No one can do this for you. Not your partner, your parents, your best friend or your spouse.  You… are the being.

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Mahatma Gandhi was a political and spiritual leader during the Indian Independence movement. He preached resistance through non-violence and mass civil disobedience. He led the Indian National Congress and advocated for the end of poverty, for women’s rights and for independence from Britain. Gandhi was deeply inspired by his Hindu faith, while also drawing on other religious philosophy, and advocating religious tolerance.

“You have to get people talking the same language before you get them around the table” – Pakzan Dastoor

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“You have to get people talking the same language before you get them around the table” – Pakzan Dastoor

What a wonderful insight from the Dasra Foundation!

Dasra is an innovative foundation working on extreme social change in India.  I just heard them speak at an amazing conference at Stanford focusing on Indian philanthropy. Local Indians and Silicon Valley Indian entrepreneurs gathered together to discuss how to give intelligently.

Dasra’s strategic approach to social problems has dramatically increased the impact and scale of social change in India.  They helped take nearly 1000 nonprofits and socially conscious businesses to the next level. They have more than 28 research reports ranging from adolescent girls’ empowerment to child malnutrition and sports for development.

And Pakzan is right.   The Advisory Leader of Dasra knows that we need to collaborate, listen, and support one another in order to achieve true success.

So the “right language” is not really about a dialect.  It’s about our motivations.

Before we come to the table, we need to be on the same page.   That means our motives and aspirations are aligned.   Then we are really listening!  And the conversation builds to higher levels to serve the world, our communities and our partnerships.

Are you facing a challenge in philanthropy today? Or how about your own life?

We can take Pakzan’s advice.   Let’s slow down. We can make sure we are listening.   Are we speaking the same language? You might both be speaking Hindi.  But if you don’t have the same values, your words will blow right one another.

To truly scale we must have the same values.      

We can be great social innovators, communicators and doers by speaking the same language: Listen, love and support your partner.


As India’s leading strategic philanthropy foundation, Dasra actively shapes the process of social change by forming powerful partnerships with funders and social enterprises. In the past 15 years, Dasra has been working towards building a ‘thriving ecosystem’ that enables knowledge creation, capacity building, strategic funding, and collaboration in order to touch and transform the lives of 800 million Indians. 

“That incident taught me to think independently and is giving me courage even today.” – Prithvi Mattur

At UniversalGiving, we ask important questions of our Interns and Returnees during the interview process.  It helps us understand more of who they are and their motivations. We can then provide them a superior Internship or Returnship experience. It also helps them gain clarity and purpose as to why they are joining us.
Below is from new team member Prithvi Mattur. She’s from India, and helping us with our Executive Assistance and Social Media.
Here’s her answer to one important question:
Please tell us a challenge you faced and what you learned from the experience
  
“A very common problem an Indian girl faces is discrimination. Women in the Indian society have been considered as inferior to men for many years. Due to such inferiority, I  have to face various issues and problems in my life. I am an Indian classical singer and I wanted to audition at National Radio Station. I was not allowed to audition or sing on TV (because I was a girl). This time I didn’t keep quiet and I went to the audition without anybody’s permission. I took a very bold step, which resulted in my selection. Out of 300 people only 4 were selected and I was one among them. From that incident, I learnt not to withhold my desire to achieve something in my life. That incident taught me to think independently and is giving me courage even today.”
 Singing
May we all have the courage of Prithvi. May you accept that challenge today — and break down the barrier you are facing.
Do not do it just for yourself, people need your example. Everyone’s life helps others have courage, have hope.
You can make that  8 mile hike.  You can make an intimidating sales call.  You can fight the discrimination, forgive the person you think you can’t, love the neighbor you just don’t think you can.  
Yes you can.
Get up on that stage, just like Prithvi, please.

“In India, When We Meet and Greet and We Say “Namaste,” Which Means: I Honor the Place in You of Love, of Light, of Truth, of Peace”

holi-594333_640In India, when we meet and greet and we say “Namaste”, which means: I honor the place in you where the entire universe resides, I honor the place in you of love, of light, of truth, of peace. I honor the place within you where if you are in that place in you and I am in that place in me, there is only one of us. – Ram Dass

Come down from your energy high, your doerism, your list. Your take-care-of -the-top-priorities-at-work, and get-done-with-all-your email focus.  Don’t go to the drycleaners or grocery store.  Stop cleaning your home, pushing yourself on your career, helping your kids (for a moment), trying to have kids, networking, volunteering, or getting a match.com date. Continue reading

The Classic Pamela Positive: “If You Can’t Feed a Hundred People…” – Mother Teresa

children-306610_640“If you can’t feed a hundred people, feed just one.” – Mother Teresa Continue reading