Tag Archives: wisdom

Rough: A Social Entrepreneur’s Journey

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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…”

or

“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.

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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.

ROUGH: Try

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.

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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?”

Rough.

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

The Classic Pamela Positive: Give A Gift Every Day

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I hope you enjoy a new audio version of this blog!

Give a gift every day.

Send your friend’s birthday gift early.

See a gift that would be meaningful for someone you care about, and just buy it. Give it to them now.

Take the time to cook a meal for your partner or your roommate.  Take the time to cook a meal for yourself.

Smile at a person walking down the street.

Smile at a homeless person and stop and learn their name. There is the gift of knowing someone. Of acknowledging you care.

Be kind to yourself.

Get in bed early.

Say three gratefuls before you fall asleep.

Say three gratefuls when you wake up.

Believe today is special.

Take time at lunch to be grateful for three more things.

Pay the phone bill for your roommate.

Drop off banana bread for your neighbor.

Give a lot. Expect little.

Smile at yourself in the mirror.

Work hard and attain the gift of devotion to something you believe in.

Work and leave early and give yourself a gentle night off, nurturing yourself.

Stop and look at nature. Any part of nature. The expanse of the sky; drifting clouds; a vibrant flower.

Give yourself the gift of awareness of how precious and beautiful life is every day.

The Pamela Positive: “The Best Way Out is Always Through” – Robert Frost

“The best way out is always through.”
– Robert Frost

Robert Frost (1874-1963) was a highly-regarded poet known for his depiction of rural life.  He published his first poem in high school.  He attended Harvard but did not graduate due to illness; he received an honorary degree from Harvard posthumously, as well as more than 40 other honorary degrees.  Though Frost grew up in the city, he lived on farms later in his life.  He was a professor at Amherst College, and at Middlebury College for 42 years.  Some of his best-known poems include “The Road Not Taken,” “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” and “Nothing Gold Can Stay.”

This particular quote is from the poem “A Servant to Servants” (1914). Many of Frost’s poems explore the splendor of the outdoors. However, “A Servant to Servants” is a contrast to the typical Frostian nature poem. Its speaker is the wife of a hard-working farmer who feels trapped in her life that seems meaningless. She explains her monotonous daily routine. The poem is written in iambic pentameter, although it varies in meter with no apparent rhyme scheme. A constant symbol in this poem is nature representing freedom, but it is a freedom that the speaker cannot attain.

 

The Pamela Positive: “A Good Time to Laugh is Any Time You Can” – Linda Ellerbee

“A good time to laugh is any time you can”

– Linda Ellerbee

Linda Ellerbee (born August 15, 1944) is an American journalist who is most known for several jobs at NBC News, including as a Washington, DC correspondent and host of the Nickelodeon network’s Nick News. Linda grew up in Texas, and attended Vanderbilt University, although she quit without graduating. At NBC, Ellerbee worked as a reporter on The Today Show. Her first anchor job was on the prime-time version of Weekend, with the sign-off phrase “And so it goes.” In 1987, Ellerbee and her life and business partner Rolfe Tessem left network news to start their own production company, producing programs including Nick News – a news program for children that received many awards. In 1992, Ellerbee was diagnosed with breast cancer and had a double mastectomy. Since then, Ellerbee spends much of her time speaking to groups about how she fought cancer and how women need to fight not only the disease and for better medical treatments of it, but to laugh in the face of cancer as well.

The Pamela Positive: “We’re All Just Walking Each Other Home” – Ram Dass

“We’re all just walking each other home.”

– Ram Dass

Ram Dass (born Richard Alpert) is a Hindu spiritual teacher, and the author of Be Here Now.  He was born Jewish, considered himself an Atheist in his early years, and went on a spiritual search to India in the 1960s.  There he met Neem Karoli Baba, who became his guru, and gave him the name Ram Dass, meaning “servant of God.”  Ram Dass has written more than ten books and founded two foundations, the Seva Foundation and Hanuman Foundation.

The Pamela Positive: Wisdom, Philosophy, Greatness

“Keep me away from the wisdom which does not cry, the philosophy which does not laugh and the greatness which does not bow before children.”  — Kahlil Gibran

What a beautiful quote from Kahlil Gibran, a philosopher and leader who was so conscious of living in tune with nature, our feelings and our sincerest intentions.

Gibran was born in Lebanon in 1883 and emigrated to the United States as a young man.  He is best known for his work of philisophical essays, The Prophet.  He is the third best-selling poet in the world, after Shakespeare and Lao-Tzu–excellent company to be in!

The Pamela Positive: What We Can Learn from the Gentle, Observant Jain Religion

Jainism is a group that believes we should leave barely a footprint on this earth.  They believe in gentility, kindness, and care for every living creature.  It’s even to the extent of not eating root vegetables, because pulling up the roots makes the plant die.  Jains honor every living thing.

Founded in a similar time frame as Buddhism, Jainism primarily existed in Hindu parts of India.  In the present day it is a small but powerful minority among the world’s religions, with some 4 million followers in India and growing communities elsewhere in the world.  A few core beliefs of Jainism include that every living being has a soul; non-violence is the path to right thinking; attachment to possessions should be limited, and one’s life should be lived to be useful to others.

May we be gentle, respectful and observant of the preciousness of life in all its form.