Category Archives: Insider Insight

Our Opportunity is Great, & Rare –

Today I woke up and did something new, well I should rephrase that and say I did something today I have not done in a long time. (I have to admit.) I  read the mission of our practice, my mission, that I wrote, before my practice was what it is today, before what it will be tomorrow, before what it will be next year, and always moving forward.
When I look back years from now, here is what we will still be living by:
Never forget we are in a powerful position. Not many people have our opportunity. Never forget our opportunity is great and rare and make every moment count. Live with gratitude and use our position to inspire others to reach their dreams, whatever they are, always.”
About 6pm tonight I had a decision, my toughest decision yet today to make. Either dent my sea of emails (that kept flowing in), or make an impact now. We all could have tons of excuses as to why we can’t commit to make our mark now- its 6pm and this person needs a reply, I have a 7am meeting tomorrow-these are all reasons I could have used. But never forget we are in a powerful position… I didn’t need to read the rest of my mission and value proposition, to myself, again. I looked up the World Affairs  agenda for tonight.
I’ve passed by the World Affairs Council more times than I can count. Yet I have not stopped in, especially not on a workday Tuesday night. But why? An impact on myself, my education, about specifically, tonight,  “Global Poverty, What Everyone Needs to Know” sounded intriguing.
A big cause of mine already is economic empowerment, many of you know, and particularly financial literacy for children, women, young adults, and professionals (well really everyone – I’m truly happy to help impact anyone who is of high integrity and high quality). So just how great is this cause, and where are the main areas it comes from, I wondered.
A quick Google search on child poverty in specific pulled up one alarming statistic: of 35 developed countries the US has the highest rate of poverty second only to Romania (with all due respect that doesn’t say alot considering the history). One out of every five American children live in poverty.
Tom Nazario, founder and president of The Forgotten International was the speaker tonight, and here are just a few of his points:
160,000,000 women are missing in Southeast Asia. (Yes that is 160,000,000- I had to correct myself when I was taking notes I dropped down the zeros after copying them verbatim then realized I did copy them correctly- there are 7 0’s, plus two more digits to communicate factually the number of women missing in Southeast Asia.)
Yes- women typically live longer than men, most people know, yet women are currently outnumbered by men worldwide.
Women are missing for no reason any more significant other than because they are women, and thereby viewed as less tough and strong than men, young boys in particular in this case. In SouthEast Asia, it is extremely common for example after the ultrasound of a baby to determine the child’s sex these days, and use that information to abort the pregnancy if it’s a girl, and take further measures to eliminate the lives of girls. This is today, not last year, and not thirty years ago. This is right now.
Right now 19,000 children die every day for no reason other than the fact they are too poor to live.
As it stands 55% of the poor, those who are under the baseline of poverty, currently live off of the land or sea, and these 40,000,000 people  feed over 50% of the population with the food they produce.
I can’t help but beg the question – what are we all going to do as climates continue to effect our environment and cut into our crops, lakes and other bodies of water continue drying up, sea plants such as water hyacinth continue to invade and take over, and essentially make sealife unavailable all together for fishermen access, cutting off food supplies, and essentially mass migration will happen and go where?
Right now, 1/3 of the world population is  considered “moderately poor-“ that is billions of people who are making less than around $2 per day. 1/6 of the world population (still over a 1 billion people, that is 1,000,000,000 people) live off less than $1 a day.
Do you ever wonder what these 1,000,000,000 people are doing every day, what their lives consist of?
Here’s a personal story Tom spoke about: A single mother with kids was living in a home somewhere, let’s say anywhere, it was some country, a nice home, with lots of land, and a cattle, one cattle, that was all she needed. One night her cow was attacked, and by the time she woke up it was dead and its carcas was being devoured by the animals and birds out front of her home. There was nothing she could do to stop it from being devoured. She watched it devastated, and there was nothing that she could do.That was it, everything. In those moments while the wildlife was eating her cattle out front of her home, a nice home especially relative to the area, and she was watching everything she had go down the drain.
There’s multiple key roles that one cattle played: That cattle produced the milk for her youngest infant. The leftover milk she used to generate some income. If her landlord ever tried to take her home from her, she felt secure because she would just sell her cattle (she had to stay in the home, her family lived off the crop). If the crops had a bad year, she could sell the cattle, make some money, good money, or even use it to feed her family. Her youngest infant depended on that cattle for more than just milk, it was all her nutrition, and so did her other small children. By losing that one cattle, she ended up losing her youngest infant. The infant, her infant, died, from malnutrition. Nothing else. Malnutrition from the lack of that one cattle caused her infant child to die. This woman lost much more too you see, she lost everything, she lost everything from that one cattle. If her landlord came for her home, she had nothing to barter with, if crops were bad one year she had no cattle left for the children to eat, at this point you get to see how substantial of an issue this one cattle is, and there’s tons more women like her, you could continue as to why a cattle is so important to so many.
Her story begs the question: how much does a cattle cost? As little as $150. We can start an organization or find an organization already established – and each one of us donate a cattle to the cause, even just one cattle can save a life, and sustain life for many. Cattle for a Cause. (Did anyone think of that?) We could think about it as we are in a powerful position. Not many people have our opportunityNever forget our opportunity is great and rare. (We have only have 3% of the world’s population of children, and one of every second child born in this world, that is one out of every two children, is currently in poverty and will continue to live in poverty.) Our opportunity is rare. Make every moment count. Live with gratitude, and use our position to inspire others to reach their dreams  whatever they are, always.
I know a great person who I’m sure could help make our cattle dollars, cattle.
Is this important to you? If so, please visit http://www.theforgottenintl.org/donate.html
What’s your impact? Please tell us what you did. Together, let’s move mountains.
Want more information?
Check out this Washington Post article, these stats from various sources, more information about the issue of the water hyacinth and drought particularly in Lake Victoria, and this video.
Thanks, #impact

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Filed under Giver, Helping Youth, Insider Insight, Leader, Overcoming, Positioning, Rerouting, reward, Social Justice, Staying In, Vertical, Working Hard

Insight from G Rock Certified CEO Ryan Carney

Recently, I sat down with Ryan Carney, the CEO of G Rock Certified, a sustainability group based in Sausalito, California that is currently implementing a waste diversion program for Costco warehouses in Northern California. His interview is packed with insider information. See it below:

So where are you from Ryan?

San Diego, California

Okay cool, and what is your educational background?

I studied environmental studies: sustainability and social justice at San Francisco State University.

Awesome. And can you tell the audience a little bit about G Rock Certified?

Absolutely. We’re a sustainability consulting group so we work to help research, design, and facilitate broad sustainability programs for businesses, cities, and organizations.

Awesome. And how did you become a part of it?

A Friend from high school was involved with G Rock when it was first starting as the events coordinator and he knew that I had experience at the time at a non profit–I was working in art to teach sustainability and environmentalism through art and music–so I had a lot of experience working in festivals so it matched up perfectly with what G Rock was doing at the time. And so I got involved and two years later we’ve been engaged in a lot of different work.

Wow that’s great. And what projects are you working on?

Right now we’re partnering with Costco Wholesale for a waste diversion program, so we’re implementing composting and recycling throughout every Costco warehouse in Northern California, which is effectively diverting about eighty percent of what used to be sent to the landfill.

Wow that’s very impressive.

It’s large scale. We also do research and remediation of fields so we work in sustainable agriculture as well so we’re hoping to do some research projects to prove the efficacy of compost and firming compost as alternatives to synthetic fertilizers.

What is the difference between compost and virmi compost?

…Firmy is Latin for worm, so it’s essentially the castings that the worms produce after digesting compost so it infuses it with another population of beneficial microbes that work symbiotically with plants’ root systems to help bring nutrients as far as the soil quality.

So working together with both of those composts helps the soil become as best as it can be?

That’s right.

Okay. Cool. And so I assume you’ve been there for two years?

That’s right.

And how have you seen the field changing?

Dramatically. Since I’ve begun my work in environmentalism ten years ago it’s night and day. [I’ve] seen a lot of support from large corporations, from cities, from people, ordinary people, where as when it was first coming out there was a lot of skeptism as to why should we change our ways as in our relationship to the earth. And I think a lot of people have realized the importance of that.

And where do you think that came from?

That’s a good question. A lot of sources. You can point towards talking heads like Al Gore who could be called leaders of the environmental community, but I think it comes from local media–I’ve seen a  lot of news branches have reporters who are focusing just on green stories, so it helps bring a lot of attention on the local state and the state policy makers are also used in a lot of change in this scale, so it’s really hard to say how it all happened. It’s not necessarily a book that we have here in this time it’s just sort of evolved here so it’s really exciting. When I started studying environmentalism I thought I would spend the rest of my career banging my head against the wall trying to get any sort of change instigated and I’m pleasantly surprised to see how not necessarily easy it is to get these changes in effect now but how much support people are giving.

That’s fantastic. That’s fabulous. So I guess that brings me to sort of the opposite end—what is most challenging about being in the field?

It’s a good question. The way I look at it is that were instigating change. That’s what this is. And change can be frightening for a lot of people. We’re hard wired to  find a routine, find something that’s comfortable with us so helping people to develop their own intrinsic motivation, to accept, to be inspired, to find change within themselves has been the most challenging but also the most rewarding. All the answers are here as to how we can solve our environmental crises, our personal health, the answers are there—it’s just about our motivation to find it. Just like success for Success strivers–all the information is there you just need to have the will to make those changes. So the biggest challenge is to work with people, find out what connects with them, and how they can be inspired.

And so what is your typical work day like?

I don’t know what a typical work day looks like. I spend about half of my time in the field, in meetings, right now we’re focusing on Costco, the majority of our time, so we spend a lot of time working with managers, and employees, and trainings, also coordinating, collaborating with city agencies, nonprofits, for profits… so I’d say about half of my time is in the office making calls and collaborating with people via email and the other half is in the field.

And when you’re out in the field are you monitoring projects?

That’s a good question. Out in the field in the Costco warehouses right now [I’m] working to implement this diversion programs. With our research projects for sustainable agriculture its sights, it’s site management, monitoring the virmi composting, application of compost, so I’m happy to say I don’t have a typical work day. I like the change.

I don’t know if you are able to answer this but what are your future plans?

To do more of what we’re doing now. To expand the impact. Double our work, To go international–that’s always something I’ve wanted to strive for. We’ll be implementing a program in Portugal at the University of Lufthansa. To help students facilitate projects like G Rock. So G rock started with the intention of giving opportunities to students in the field of sustainability to create jobs so we like to spread that opportunity to anybody who has the will to enter this kind of field.

So what advice do you have for strivers who want to go into sustainable fields or make a field more sustainable?

Connect with what you’re most passionate about, and then bridge the gap between how that can improve the field of sustainability. And any field that you’re interested in can be applied to improve the quality of life of anybody. So anything that you want to do–whether it’s in the advertising field, which also spreads the awareness, accounting–sustainability firms need accountants, find what your passionate about, do it really well, and also look at the bigger picture of how it connects with this larger field.

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Insight from Former Fair Trade Buyer Susan Yu

Last week I had the good chance of interviewing Susan Yu, a former buyer for the respected fair trade company Ten Thousand Villages. While there, Susan traveled throughout Southeast Asia (Cambodia, Vietnam, Indonesia, and Thailand) and Africa (Ghana, Burkino Faso, and Niger) to work with and better the lives of local artisans. Around eighteen months ago, she decided to quit and become a full time stay at home mom to her daughter Lauren. Below is a Q & A about her work, but this full version includes bonuses like how she feels having worked for Walmart.com before Ten Thousand Villages:

…What is fair trade?

In the simplest term, it’s just ethical sourcing, it’s knowing where your product comes from, who makes it, and that the people behind the product is being treated fairly.

And why did you go into that business?

You know I never grew up thinking I want to go into fair trade, its just, it kind of fell in my lap. I think it was just that constant curiosity in whatever job you have you question everyday about what interests you, and so I’ve always been in retail, I graduated from Davis in 2000, worked for Gap corporate downtown, so that was my first job out of college. So I did that for two years, I was a distribution analyst.

…And what did you love most about working for Ten Thousand Villages?

Oh there’s a lot of things. It was really my dream job I think because not only did I get to utilize all the skills I had built up to that point, analytical skills, merchandising skills, buying skills, but it allowed me to travel and see where these things are made and actually talk to the people behind the product, so that was really awesome of that job I think just working with artisans one on one. And also the people in my office, you know, the people that were there were there because they wanted to be there and not because they needed a job, you know, they really had passion for this, for fair trade, and the people that made the product are the reason they went to work every day, so it’s a different kind of world than corporate.

And how did you choose what to buy?

Well we were split up by countries so we would always bring products that were exciting from our trip and part of that is looking at what was selling in that market and what people are excited about. There’s trade shows every year and so we go out to those to see what’s popular. And then we try to think about is there anything our artisans are making that would excite our customers so it’s a little bit of both, shopping here for our U.S. market and also coming up with interesting things that our artisans have created themselves.

Wow. And how did you ensure that fair trade was being upheld?

…it’s all based on relationships because we work with I don’t know how many artisan groups but there are four buyers and I think all buyers alone had close to fifty six groups that we were close with for product development and each of these groups had other smaller groups that they would work with in other smaller villages so the basis of fair trade is really trust and relationships. A lot of these relationships have been established for twenty years and they have their own fair trade organizations that work with these to certify them as fair trade, the fair trade artisan group. So it’s different in every country how they are certified but it all started with working with them and our relationship that goes back and we also visit and interview the artisans one on one without the manager just to see how their livelihood is, if their enjoying, if their being paid a living wage, so we document all these on our trips there as well along with doing product development as well so it actually turns out to be a long trip–when you go out there you have to interview a lot of people but a lot of it is just relationship building.

… What is your most touching experience working for Ten Thousand Villages?

Hmm… I think there are several. I think what is the most touching experience was really, I think what stuck out in my mind was the women in Ghana. In my second year I went to Ghana to visit a shea butter producing village in Northern Ghana and it just amazed me how hard working these women were, and they pretty much did everything for the family… these women who were pretty much the root of the family, you know they took care of the kids, they did all the work, they did all the housework, and the men were notoriously known for taking the money and gambling–I’m not saying it was all like that but it was very common for that culture to do that and it just kind of touched me that they were superwomen in a different setting and type of world that we are. And I think that was amazing and really touching to see that they can run a family, run a household, make the money, and still be happy at the end of the day. They were very happy, very joyful people… And it wasn’t just Ghana I think it was a lot of places I just realized how strong women were across all kinds of countries that I visited, especially being a mom now I really appreciate the fact that raising a child is a full time job in itself.

And is Lauren the reason that you left Ten Thousand Villages

It is. It was a tough decision for me but I know it was the right one. My family lives in California and that job was in Pennsylvania and so it was really important to be here and raise her close to family.

…And what is it like being a stay at home mom after working so  extensively?

Wow. What’s the difference or what’s it like being a mom after working for so long? In terms of energy level and everything I think a full time mom is actually a lot more work. But you know the cliché is that it’s rewarding and it is. You know everything you give to them you see it come back to you and it’s amazing just to watch her grow and I know that this time–from the time she grows up until school–is so limited, and I just really appreciate my time with her. But the difference–I think both are work. I think it’s a hard adjustment at first–you know not going into work or having adult interaction on a daily basis so I think in terms of the mental exercises it’s different, it’s a different kind of stress and stuff but yeah I really enjoy it, but I do want to go back eventually.

What are your future plans with work?

If I could go back to Ten Thousand Villages I would, but they’re based in Pennsylvania so  I don’t think there’s a possibility of working for them, but I definitely want to stay within the fair trade industry, if not career wise then at least volunteering. But I think what’s a priority in the next few years is family, raising her, so I’d like to find something that can fit within my schedule with her. I might start my own fair trade organization or company out here—which is something I have been toying around with, or I might go back and work full time around here with an organization that is involved in fair trade.

That sounds exciting. So last question: what advice do you have for strivers of fair trade businesses?

For strivers of fair trade businesses, for people who are just starting out in a career, I would say learn as much as you can. There’s really great organizations in the Bay Area that you can get involved with. There’s TransFair, that’s in Oakland. I know there’s other ones in the Bay Area–I think one’s called Global Action through Fashion… but its fair trade eco clothing so there’s things like that that you can get involved with, interviewing people… and just talk to people and go to these events and learn more about it. There’s a lot of internet resources that you can read up on and go visit a country, if you have the resources, go visit these countries and try to seek out the artisans who make these wonderful products and learn about their life and you’ll probably learn more than just from reading–that personal experience.

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Q & A with Nutritionist on Increasing Intelligence

Having smarts is beneficial in anything that you do. Here is another Q & A with nutritionist Leslie Mallow, but this one aims to keep strivers ahead of the intelligence game:

1. What foods and/or other things make you smarter?

Cold water fish such as salmon are high omega 3 oils, which are a component of cell membranes in the brain, but as of now, [there is] no definitive proof that this makes one smarter. One study on premature infants showed a slight increase in IQ later in life when fed breast milk with omega 3’s over formula without; [this] still needs mote studies. Foods with Choline, also part of cell membranes, may help memory if one is deficient in this vitamin. Eating a wide variety of foods containing all essential nutrients is the best thing one can do for the maturing brain.

2. What increases retention as in the memory?

…DHA and EPA in fish oil support brain function and some preliminary research shows they may help prevent dementia. Ginko has shown to increase blood flow to the brain and may improve memory; Choline, if deficient, may help memory; and vitamin B 12, if low, can affect memory.

3. What, if anything, stunts capacity in the memory?

Low vitamin B 12, low Choline, and being deficient in most B vitamins, especially Thiamin, may affect memory.

4. What is the deal with vitamins?

I believe that taking a multiple vitamin/mineral is a good thing as most people do not eat well enough to obtain the DRI daily.  The less expensive ones are fine (One a Day or Centrum) and sometimes the high potency ones from the health food store contain toxic levels of some nutrients. Some supplements are a scam and I would not insist that a resistant individual take them.  Many supplements are a waste of money and show no efficacy. I tell people to do research or e-mail me to do it for them.

a)      Are taking vitamins equal to eating a good meal?

No, taking vitamins is not like having a meal as there are many other phytochemicals in foods such as antioxidants and fiber that may have a synergistic affect on health. There are many antioxidants that still have not been discovered, etc.

5. What is the role of exercise regarding the brain?

Exercise increases blood flow to the brain and helps it to create new neural connections.  It has been shown to be helpful in preventing dementia.

6. How important is education to intelligence?

From what I have read, using the brain throughout life helps memory and helps to prevent dementia.  Complex thought is necessary, so education may be correlated, for those who continue to take classes and think critically throughout their lifetime. I have read that crossword puzzles and computer games help also. [Increasing intelligence] does not have to be [from] a formal education.

7. What is the significance of thinking patterns to intellect?

…My view is eat well, control stress, have close interpersonal relationships, have work that has meaning, and keep challenging yourself throughout life.

Want more? Check out Malloy’s website, this article, and this one.

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Five Places and Brands to Buy Fair Jewelery From

Many of us love jewelry, but worry about whether our purchases are fair trade and are produced in environmentally sustainable ways. It is true that some companies are fair trade and friendly to the environment, but do not pay for the certification because it costs money—and if you are one of those companies, then email me with what makes you just and I’ll add you to the below list. For now, here are five ethical places and brands:

  • Artisan Wedding Rings. According to their website, purchases here benefit fair trade abroad, living wages at home, and environmental sustainability. All wedding rings are very unique as well—with filigree designs, and the like. Read on here.
  • Celtic Jewelry. While they are of the same quality and company as Artisan Wedding Rings, Celtic Jewelry is more vast in their selection of jewelry kinds because they carry everything from beads to belt buckles to necklaces. Read on here.
  • Citizen Eco-Drive. Watch batteries cause waste, they leak, and so forth, but Citizen Eco-Drive’s are powered by light, and I’ve seen them even boast conflict free diamonds. They sell men’s and women’s, and have an array of styles. Read on here.
  • Ruff & Cut. Ruff & Cut is unique because not only do they have classy pieces, but ten percent of their proceeds go to non-profit partners. They sell men’s jewelry as well. Read on here.
  • Ten Thousand Villages. This is an established seller of fair trade jewelry, including collections, but also of home décor and other gifts. Plus Ten Thousand Villages prides itself on their relationships with artisans being based on mutual respect. Read on here.

There are many more fair trade jewelry sellers! Here is an insider list of resources and suppliers, here is No Dirty Gold, and here is an article that explores in depth “What Exactly is Ethical Jewelry?”

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Video Interview with Law School Grad turned Leather Repairman Misak Pirinjian

The other day I was fortunate enough to catch up with Misak Pirinjian of Tony’s Shoe and Luggage Repair in Mill Valley, California. Over two decades ago, after attending law school and then working in the field, he left for the leather repair business and has become the go-to man. Bonus includes advice for maintaining goods.

Enjoy!


Want more on this leader? Check this, this, and this out.

Be sure to also check out this post on shoes.

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Four Lessons for an Effective Business Card

Even when you are a student and/or are looking for a job, it is critical to carry a business card because you must be prepared for all encounters. Here are four tips for creating an effective one even when your path may be a bit murky:

  1. Limit your strives to three in one to two words each. If you are not yet sure which pathway is your primary, consider alphabetically ordering them. For example: “Interior Designer, Journalist, Marketer.” The key here is for you to present yourself in a clear, organized, and concise fashion.
  2. Include as much contact information as possible. Email is so common these days—and should absolutely be on your card, but nothing replaces verbal conversation, so your number(s) should be on there also. If you do not have an office or postal box, then do not worry about an address.
  3. Consider including your picture. Particularly if you are really into networking then you probably meet many people; chances are that the person you are handing your card to does also. Make them remember you even more by being able to see you long after your meeting.
  4. Stay practical. Some people use shiny paper and have a mosaic or other details on the back of their card, but that is costlier and can prevent you from having a clean writing space. So be sure your card is in line with your pocketbook and style.

Ready to make your cards? You can do so for free if you have a program like Microsoft Word or software like Business Card Factory Deluxe (although you still must pay for printing and paper like from Avery). Websites such as Vistaprint and FedEx are also great resources.

Want more? Check out this post or this article.

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