My interview series, REMARKABLE PEOPLE 2015 includes experts in technology, the arts, marketing, and social good. It is an exciting group of creative thought leaders and enlightened personalities. Some are extraordinary examples of humanity and social responsibility like Jennifer Zahgkuni; others are creating game-changing paradigm shifts in their market segments.
Please meet Jennifer Zahgkuni of The Forgotten International (TFI) whose transformative work alleviates extreme poverty especially among women and children who live at the edge of life and death.
Jennifer inherited a passion for doing the right thing. She has a legal mindset, is a professional administrator, a developer of Foundation and Fellowship Programs, a relationship builder, and an astute and compassionate humanitarian. She is a worldview treasure.
2015 Photo by Thomas Nazario, San Francisco, CA. USA.
Jennifer believes that lasting change can be achieved if everybody acknowledges a responsibility to repay a communal debt or pay one forward. She says, “You never know when you will be the one who needs help! It shouldn’t be from a place of guilt or obligation, but rather from a collective sense that we are all one; that we are all connected.”
“Life often isn’t fair, and terrible things happen to good people, so we must ensure a balance whenever we can.”
A lineage of compassion…
Jennifer shines a familial light on such kindness that came in 1915. The Near East Foundation was created to address the extreme refugee crisis in Armenia during the First World War. Their model of “citizen philanthropy” allowed everyday people to get involved in the relief effort, and in the coming years, they saved over one million lives that otherwise would have perished.
Jennifer’s grandfather was one of tens of thousands of orphans from that still unrecognized genocide.
That was then… Caption: 1915, Armenian deportees – women, children and elderly men. Woman in forground is carrying a child in her arms, shielding it from the sun with a shawl; man on left is carrying bedding; no other belongings or food noticable amoung effects being carried. All are walking in the sun and on an unpaved road with no means of shelter from the elements. Location: Ottoman empire, region Syria.
Jennifer said, “While a century has passed, and much is forgotten, the outpouring of compassion should not be lost in the chronicles of the historical record and should remain alive in every new generation. I very much believe that I am here today because a hundred years ago complete strangers helped my family simply because it was the right thing to do. It is always the right thing to do.”
Source: Yannis Behrakis, REUTERS
A Syrian refugee kissing his daughter while walking toward Greece’s border with Macedonia. Today’s refugees are flooding into Europe for safety from violence and persecution… eerily similar to Jennifer’s grandfather’s flight from the Armenian genocide exactly 100 years ago.
“Of course, it is distressing to see humanitarian disasters on the news day after day; nevertheless, I hope our shared response to suffering will always place compassion and kindness first.”
MARY OLSON: What kind of work were you doing before you joined The Forgotten International?
JENNIFER ZAHGKUNI: I worked for TFI on a volunteer basis when we were first starting the organization in 2007. Now that I think back on that period, I don’t quite know how I managed it while engaged full time elsewhere. I worked in educational administration for over 12 years before being able to devote myself fully to our nonprofit.
I met Tom Nazario, the founder of TFI, at the University of San Francisco School of Law. He had just returned from his first trip to India and what would be a life-altering meeting with His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. One of the first big projects we worked on together was helping to coordinate a visit to USF by His Holiness to receive an Honorary Degree from the University in 2003.
Source: The Chauntra School. Tibetan students in India with Jennifer Zahgkuni
The following summer I left USF to live and work in Dharamsala, India, as a volunteer English teacher at one of the Tibetan schools established by the Tibetan Government in Exile. We didn’t know it at the time, but this is how TFI’s Fellowship Program began, and we continue to send skilled volunteers abroad each year to Dharamsala and four other sites around the world.
It was also the beginning of our work with the Tibetan community. We have been fortunate to have several opportunities since to host His Holiness at various events in the Bay Area and even more fortunate to be able to help Tibetan organizations in the U.S. and abroad.
2014. Tom Nazario, HHDL and Debra Fischer, Los Angeles, CA. USA. Presenting Tom Nazario’s book, Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of The World’s Poor, to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama for which he penned the introduction.
MO: How would you characterize TFI when you first started working with the Foundation?
JZ: When Tom [Nazario] envisioned TFI, it was always with the intention of helping those in need that were underserved and otherwise forgotten (hence our name, The Forgotten International).
We used our early years to learn how to build and deliver truly invaluable programs and manage our commitments to the very first NGOs. Listening to those in need has made all the difference in our work abroad and at home. What has changed over time is the “how” of what we do.
Our personal connection to the programs now facilitates closer relationships with our donors who feel more involved with the projects they support. They also know that we give 100% of donors’ funds to their designated programs or projects.
MO: You touch every aspect of the Foundation in one way or another. What facets offer the most creativity…the places where you add your imprint?
JZ: I enjoy wearing many hats at TFI as it gives me the opportunity to see how all the pieces fit together and what is needed where. It also makes clear the realities of running a business and the importance of being as resourceful and efficient as possible. The most satisfying part, without question, is the giving.
Whenever we make a gift of any amount, even to an organization we have supported for years, it is the most joyful feeling, even addicting, I would say. Whenever anyone has the opportunity to give, they should jump on it. Nothing feels better. If you give, either a gift of time or money, to a person or an organization that really needs this help, you see the impact, I predict you won’t be able to do it just once.
Our Fellows learn this when they go abroad to volunteer with our programs. They all tell us how enriching the experience was personally and professionally, and when we follow up with them even years later, they say their time abroad through TFI remains on of their most treasured and unforgettable life experiences.
Jennifer Zahgkuni and Tom Nazario with Dawa Dorjee USF Graduate. Celebrating the USF graduation of a Tibetan student from India who was chosen to come to the University of San Francisco on a scholarship program Tom Nazario had started as part of the visit by His Holiness to the University.
I, for one, would never give up the two months I spent teaching in India for anything. I carry the memories of that experience with me still, and it influences all aspects of how I do my work.
MO: What do you envision for the Foundation going forward? What opportunities do you see for yourself going forward?
JZ: With TFI closing in on eight years of operations this year, my hope for the organization is that by being diligent, we have earned a reliable reputation for service to the poor. I would like to see these efforts bear fruit in increased collaborations with larger foundations and corporations that want a trusted organization to partner with so that together we can create a greater impact on our shared mission of helping more people rise up out of crushing poverty.
I would like to see my role gradually expand to be more involved in the field. With current technologies making it possible to work from anywhere, I feel more confident about stepping away from my desk from time to time whenever it makes sense for me to do so. I look forward to visiting more of the programs TFI supports and meeting the people we work with around the world. It makes all the difference to be able to spend time with the communities we try to serve and strengthen the relationships between our organization and the NGOs we work with abroad.
My interview series, REMARKABLE PEOPLE 2015 includes experts in technology, the arts, marketing, and social good. It is an exciting group of creative thought leaders and enlightened personalities. Some are extraordinary examples of social responsibility; others are creating game-changing paradigm shifts in their market segments.
I recently had a chance to speak with Liz Nightingale, the ultimate expert in relationship marketing.
You can trace Liz’s marketing mindset to every touch-point of a brand experience. I mean, personally and emotionally direct to people.
It doesn’t matter if the market segment is B2C or trade. In the end, it’s people who respond to her remarkable marketing touch. A quick look into her magical toolkit reveals strategic planning, PR, advertising, brand marketing, emotional branding and brand experience.
Philosophies, processes and creativity are the driving elements of Liz Nightingale’s world of marketing. Although she has been the ultimate leader in luxury marketing from legendary brands to global influences, everything is about building and valuing relationships.
I asked Liz recently, “You are at the top of your game. Every brand you touch increases by double digits. What’s next?” She replied, “I envision opportunities to collaborate at the C-suite level with business visionaries who understand the value of relationships. Marketing has never been as competitive as it is today. But it is not just about appreciating how to simplify complexity or creating and managing data, but about understanding and creating a relationship with your market on a personal basis.”
Liz is the ultimate example of a professional who integrates a love of relationships with digital technologies.
A deep look into Nightingale’s world and you find a master strategist who loves creating world-class brands and building lasting relationships with customers—With digital data.
I mentioned the widely held belief in the marketing world that what you knew two years ago is no longer true today. Nightingale dispelled that notion with a twist when I asked, “What do you think about the impact of technology on C-suite marketing careerists?”
She said, “It is likely that the CMO role shortly will transition to the Chief Marketing Technologist. But, remember, CMT’s need interpersonal skills and a deep and authentic respect for people. Process-wise, relating to people won’t change.”
The short list begins with Bruce Schneier, the world’s foremost security expert. Schneier’s blog is worth following. You will benefit from his new book, Data and Goliath: The Hidden Battles to Collect your Data and Control Your World.
Schneier defines the powers that do more than collect and control our personal and business data. In my opinion, we cannot manage our businesses today without this knowledge.
The Second Machine Age, Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies
My neighbor is a twenty-first century intellectual. She is an expert in the worlds of Zen, her business interests in China, and advanced technology. She recommended The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies.
I am grateful for my neighbor’s advice. This is one of my favorite books of the year.
Rise of the Robots, Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future
Lawrence Lessig’s book, Republic, Lost: How Money Corrupts Congress–and a Plan to Stop It examines how we have allowed our democracy to be co-opted by outside interests.
I began following Lessig in 2002 when he championed free software. I admired him because he studied philosophy and law and worked for two influential conservative judges while championing democracy and ethics.
You can read about Lawrence Lessig’s 2016 presidential run anywhere in the media and Wikipedia.
Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team, 4th Edition
A few books worth rereading time and again include Alina Wheeler’s Designing Brand Identity: An Essential Guide for the Whole Branding Team, 4th Edition; always top of mind. I define, design and market authentic brands and businesses in my professional life and Wheeler’s insightful toolkit showcases best practices. Since a company’s brand is its most valuable asset, excerpts on brand clarity are always worth sharing with clients.
Living on a Dollar a Day: The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor
Thomas Nazario and Renée C. Byer’s searing stories and groundbreaking photojournalism in Living on a Dollar a Day, The Lives and Faces of The World’s Poor will resonate until poverty is eradicated.
Since adding Tom Nazario’s book to my list of Best Books of 2014, Nazario has won the 2015 International Book Award for non-fiction narrative writing. Byer has accumulated awards for her work on this book including the following:
1st Place Environmental Picture Story BOP NPPA
1st Place Documentary Book, IPA (International Photography Awards)
World Understanding Award Finalist (Pictures of the Year International)
Moscow Foto Awards, HM Picture Story
Scripps Howard Photojournalism Award Finalist
International Book Awards Winner for Nonfiction Narrative Writing
Look for Nazario’s documentary by the same title to be released this fall.
The Forgotten International’s Mission is to develop programs that will
alleviate poverty and the suffering associated with poverty both in the
The United States and worldwide, in particular, that experienced
by women and children. Please support The Forgotten International.
About Buy and Give
Sign-up for Smile.Amazon.com. Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of your AmazonSmile purchases to the charitable organization of your choice. My favorite non-profit foundation is The Forgotten International.
Janine St. Germain, the American archivist, recently launched a world-class blog, CubicFootnotes.com. Her new media venture is an extraordinary treasure trove of stories and insights into collections only an archivist of St. Germain’s standing and experience could produce.
Cubic Footnotes premieres with a variety of conversations with fellow archivists, artists, fans and frequent users of archives, as well as a few individuals whose life work was preserved in archival collections.
St. Germain’s first blog produces a palpable sense of experiencing a variety of voices when the first “untouched” box is cracked open. Some posts are quiet, some are edgy and hold new insights to notoriety.
Janine’s most recent archival projects include Vassar College, Papers of Dr. Antonio Marquez, Adelaide deMenil, Papers of Edmund Snow Carpenter, Association of Cultural Equity, and Papers of Elizabeth Lomax Sturz.
Her extensive body of work includes the documentation of Frederick Law Olmsted’s designs of Brooklyn’s Prospect Park and the performance work of theater artist Robert Wilson. Janine’s work also includes artist archives of Robert Kushner, Christopher Knowles, Henry Darger and Nancy Holt and a variety of corporate archives ranging from Colgate-Palmolive and Campbell’s Soup.
Janine’s extensive portfolio also includes the personal archives of legendary Americans, including NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt, and Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Debbie Harry.
I am pleased to add Janine to my annual list of REMARKABLE PEOPLE (2015).
It is my great pleasure to recommend Cubic Footnotes, by Janine St. Germain.
According to Christopher Lightfoot, the curator of Roman Art at The Metropolitan Museum of Art and Karol Wight, the internationally renowned scholar of Roman Art, curator of ancient and Islamic glass and executive director of The Corning Museum of Glass, and contributions by others, the invention of glassblowing in the late first century B.C. was one of the most significant technological advances in the ancient world.
These advances revolutionized the glass industry under the Roman Empire, making glass vessels accessible to all and allowing producers to create a wide range of shapes, sizes, and usages. Some of the earliest vessels made by mold blowing bear the names of the craftsmen who “signed” the molds.
Two-handed cup signed by Ennion, blown in a four-part mold, 1st half century. A.D. Syria; Palestine; Northern Italy, 25-75. 66.1.36. Photo by The Corning Museum of Glass
What does glass molding and glass blowing have to do with today’s technological innovations, branding and creativity?
What if you could trace your professional lineage to a glass producer who lived twenty centuries ago? Do we 21st century strategists define, design and market premier brands any differently than an innovative master who lived two thousand years ago?
Lightfoot and Wight answer these questions with the grouping of the most innovative and elegant known examples signed by their maker, Ennion, the producer of the finest ancient Roman mold-blown glass. The name, Ennion, is featured prominently in the early literature on ancient glass, and his products were quickly recognizable. His rare, surviving glass mold-blown vessels are unmatched in the history of art, technology, design and branding.
I was extremely pleased to view The Metropolitan Museum’s marvelous exhibition of Ennion’s exceptional accomplishments.
Lightfoot explains that Ennion was quite groundbreaking. Ennion perfected the use of molds for blowing glass and making multiples copies of the glass. His work is remembered not just because he put his name in the molds, which allows us to identify his pieces, but because of the technological invention and the authentic design differentiation from all other Roman mold-blown glass.
Cup. Close-up Signature. Ennion, Syria; Palestine; Northern Italy, 25-75. 66.1.36.
The Corning Museum of Glass
Ennion knew the value of what we 21st century marketers think of as a “brand name”. He was the first glass artist to sign his works, incorporating into his designs a prominent inscription in Greek that reads: “Ennion Made [It].” He did not just sign his pieces, and he made his name a part of the work much as we experience a famous label.
Ennion, the first century glass mold-blown innovator provides a link between the ancient and the modern worlds of technology, art and branding thanks to The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Corning Museum of Glass. ENNION: MASTER OF ROMAN GLASS is must-see exhibition at The Corning Museum of Glass for modern day business, technology and branding innovators.
Shlomo Moussaieff Collection
ENNION: Master of Roman Glass,
The Corning Museum of Glass
Opens on May 16th and runs through January 4, 2016.
I have spent several decades of my life engaged in the fine arts. ISIS’s systematic looting of antiquities and destruction of ancient cultures has hit a nerve.
Islamic State militants have been destroying cultural heritage sites for over a year. The famed ancient Assyrian capital of Khorsabad, which had survived for 2,700 years, was reportedly ransacked and razed this month. This March, IS reportedly bulldozed the ancient city of Nimrud and leveled the 2000-year-old town of Hatra. They smashed artifacts in the Mosul Museum and the list of destroyed or looted treasures grow.
IS believes religious shrines heretical and consider their destruction its duty.
There is abundance evidence that monuments and artifacts are being looted on an unprecedented scale. Some believe these looted antiquities are part of a multi-million dollar smuggling industry that funds Islamic State extremists.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art expressed outrage and condemnation through various media outlets.
Gil Stein, the director of The Oriental Institute of Chicago said, “The damage is irreversible; the historical information destroyed by looting is gone forever. “Cultural heritage is a non-renewable resource.”
It seems to me that, in addition to formal condemnations, it is critical to embark on an effective social media plan of action. Many of us professionally engage in digital, web, social, mobile, video, apps, data, and geo-location. Our considerable skills could be galvanized to counter ISIS’s destructive aggressions and curtailing its outsized social media influence.
Why not create a focused communications strategy for those already engaged in the arts and culture, religion, foreign policy, counter-terrorism, NGO’s, social media companies, and the broader public?
Surely, together, we can find answers for the intractable problems facing those of us who care about culture. Let us make a commitment to affect the social, political and economic dynamics in Muslim countries, promote human understanding, and stem the Islamic State’s actions.
Managed by Marie McKee and designed by architect Thomas Phifer and Partners, the 100,000-square-foot Contemporary Art + Design Wing will include a new 26,000-square-foot contemporary art gallery building, the largest space anywhere dedicated to the presentation of contemporary art in glass. Adjacent to this new gallery is a renovated historic glass factory ventilator building that will contain one of the world’s largest facilities for glassblowing demonstrations and live glass design sessions, with 500 seats.
The new wing links three generations of glass architecture spanning 60 years. The ten-acre campus currently features a collection of buildings designed by Harrison & Abramowitz (1951), Gunnar Birkerts (1980), Smith-Miller + Hawkinson (2001), and Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (2001).
The $64 million project—fully funded before groundbreaking by major benefactor Corning Incorporated—opens to the public on March 20, 2015. Don’t miss the incredible line-up of events.
Here are my 15 BEST BOOKS OF 2014-15 beginning with Jim Signorelli’s brilliantly inventive StoryBranding 2.0 to America’s master writer Laura Brown and How To Write Anything: A Complete Guide; to Thomas Nazario and Renée C. Byer’s searing stories and groundbreaking photojournalism in Living on a Dollar a Day, The Lives and Faces of The World’s Poor; to Kellmereit and Obodovski’s account of The Silent Intelligence: The Internet of Things; to Marc Gobe’s Emotional Branding; to Joey Reiman’s The Story of Purpose: The Path to Creating a Brighter Brand, a Greater Company, and a Lasting Legacy; to Kent Calder’s Asia in Washington: Exploring the Penumbra of Transnational Power; to Paul Taylor’s The Next America; to Jaron Lanier’s Who Owns the Future? to Charlotte Beyer’s Wealth Management Unwrapped, to Blyth’s Zen and Zen Classics; and Noah Horowitz’s Art of the Deal: Contemporary Art in a Global Financial Market.
Dr Hellmich is a specialist in the Middle East politics (especially Yemen and the Arab Gulf) with a particular research interest in Political Islam, International Security and Global Health. During fieldwork in Iraq and the Yemen she has conducted extensive research into the role of Islamic preaching in the process of radicalization as well as gender relations and women’s health. Her recent work examined the contested nature of Al-Qaeda and changing notions of the Pan-Islamic ideal.
Art of the Deal: Contemporary Art in a Global Financial Market
In Asia in Washington, longtime Asia analyst Kent Calder examines the concept of “global city” in the context of international affairs. The term typically has been used in an economic context, referring to centers of international finance and commerce such as New York, Tokyo, and London. But Calder extends the concept to political centers as well—particularly in this case, Washington, D.C.
Emotional Branding: The New Paradigm for Connecting Brands to People
Emotional Branding explores how effective consumer interaction needs to be about senses and feelings, emotions and sentiments. Not unlike the Greek culture that used philosophy, poetry, music, and the art of discussion and debate to stimulate the imagination, the concept of emotional branding establishes the forum in which people can convene and push the limits of their creativity.
How the Poor Can Save Capitalism: Rebuilding the Path to the Middle Class
Grounded in a common-sense approach, friendly and supportive, How to Write Anything is Internet-savvy, with advice throughout about choosing the most appropriate medium for your message: e-mail or pen and paper. At once a how-to, a reference book, and a pioneering guide for writing in a changing world, this is the only writing resource you’ll ever need.
Living on a Dollar a Day, The Lives and Faces of The World’s Poor
Living on a Dollar a Day shares the personal stories of some these poorest of the poor, honoring their lives, their struggles, and encouraging action in those who can help. In making this beautiful and moving book a team traveled to four continents, took thousands of photographs, conducted numerous interviews, and researched information on the agencies around the world that strive to help the destitute.
StoryBranding 2.0 (Second edition) Creating Stand-Out Brands Through the Purpose of Story
Drawing on Pew Research Center’s extensive archive of public opinion surveys and demographic data, The Next America is a rich portrait of where we are as a nation and where we’re headed—toward a future marked by the most striking social, racial, and economic shifts the country has seen in a century.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is the interconnection of uniquely identifiable embedded computing devices within the existing Internet infrastructure. These devices are will usher-in automation in nearly all fields. The Silent Intelligence identifies and explores the ecosystem of Connected Cities, Connected Homes, Connected Health and Connected Cars.
The Story of Purpose: The Path to Creating a Brighter Brand, a Greater Company, and a Lasting Legacy
A proven methodology for building a purpose-powered organization
Some ideas are bigger than others, and the Master Idea—your company’s purpose—is the biggest. Whether addressing communication between leadership and associates, suppliers to manufacturers, sales force to customers, or brand to consumers, The Story of Purpose details a proven methodology for businesses, small to large, how to build a purpose-inspired organization to positively impact employees, customers, and the bottom line.
The Taliban Revival: Violence and Extremism on the Pakistan-Afghanistan Frontier
Abbas traces the roots of religious extremism in the area and analyzes the Taliban’s support base within Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas. In addition, he explores the roles that Western policies and military decision making— not to mention corruption and incompetence in Kabul—have played in enabling the Taliban’s resurgence.
In her new book, Wall Street veteran and Institute for Private Investors (IPI) founder Charlotte Beyer sheds light on the complex wealth management industry, outlines the responsibility that all investors have as ‘CEOs’ of their own wealth, and equips them with the tools to effectively manage their money.
Jaron Lanier is the father of virtual reality and one of the world’s most brilliant thinkers. Who Owns the Future? is his visionary reckoning with the most urgent economic and social trend of our age: the poisonous concentration of money and power in our digital networks.
Zen and Zen Classics, Vol. 5: Twenty-Four Zen Essays
This 5th volume of the series on Zen is a step forward in the direction of a universal Zen, a Zen which will include Chinese and Japanese Zen, and not omit that of Christian and Islamic mysticism, of Dante, Eckhart, Wordsworth, and Thoreau.
Click here to nominate your Book of the Year 2014.
My new interview series, REMARKABLE PEOPLE 2014 includes experts in technology, the arts, marketing, and social good. It is an exciting group of creative thought leaders and enlightened personalities. Some are extraordinary examples of social responsibility; others are creating game-changing paradigm shifts in their market segments.
Scott Mitchell discusses his professional background, current focus, and insights about how the world is emerging.
Profile: A 20 year Sumitomo Chemical Group Company employee, Mr. Mitchell is working to grow the Sumitomo Chemical business in the Americas with a focus on enhancing the Sumitomo Chemical brand, improving the efficiency of administrative functions and developing new business.
The company’s diverse business categories include basic chemicals, petrochemicals & plastics, IT-related chemicals, health & crop sciences, and pharmaceuticals.
C-Suite Blog: Never stop evolving and sharing knowledge.
Sumitomo Chemical’s corporate values and business philosophy extend to the Group Companies of the Americas by contributing solutions to the problems facing the global environment and society, and the enrichment of people’s lives. In order to accomplish these global needs and challenges, Mr. Mitchell is working to achieve a balance of profitable business operations, the preservation of the environment, safety, health, product quality and social activity.
Scott exemplifies the concept of harmony between the company’s interests and those of the public through his long time engagement in the company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) work.
Scott is also an active member of a number of United Nations Advisory and Workgroups. These are consultative groups that support the UN Global Compact and Global Compact Lead organizations and engage corporate CSR sponsors to work toward alleviating poverty and sustainable global development.
Through the company’s endeavors in these critical areas, Scott hopes to play a significant role in building a sustainable society and realizing the corporate goals.
Mary Olson: How have your views changed as you look back on your experience?
Scott N. Mitchell: I have enjoyed an exceptional career. I have been on an exciting trajectory for the past twenty years with Sumitomo Chemical Company.
Our philosophical business history is grounded in the concept of harmony between the company’s interests and those of the public including the environment and our global society. I have always taken my stewardship of business ethics and change and innovation to heart.
I am turning fifty in a few weeks. I have a long perspective of global business, social responsibility, and the driving forces of change.
I like to understand everything about change. I especially like to explore the points at which ideas, trends, and behavior cross certain thresholds. What illuminates the best decisions to initiate change?
Although I do not feel that my view is changing radically, I think I am becoming more practical about my/our actions.
Looking back, I was more willing to swing for the fences on every hit. I think I am more reserved and willing to accept smaller steps toward progress.
Having said that, more and more speed is necessary to stay ahead with a brand that faces today’s challenges to meet global needs and enrich people’s lives.
…if you choose to be in the race, you need to lead with change and innovation.
MO: How do you see the way the world is emerging?
SNM:It is an exciting time to be alive! Especially whenever and wherever people share responsibility for each other.
I think the world is emerging with greater complexity.
I believe the world is becoming more multi-modal. We face significant implications based on all the options available.
There are extreme cross-overs between normal and dysfunctional variances controlled by businesses, societies, and governments.
This is a time when moral competitive business processes are challenged by companies who do harm to the environment and our fellow human beings.
Globalization requires a markedly greater need of illuminated corporate cultures that society can trust.
In the global context, there are exceptional companies and individuals demonstrating responsible focus and leadership in every category, on every front.
Through my work at the United Nations, our advisories and consultative groups engage corporate social responsibility (CSR) sponsors to work toward alleviating poverty and sustainable global development.
I am encouraged on another level, because mutual well-being and respect for the public good is capturing the attention of my sons’ generation (Gen Z).
MO: What are your thoughts as you look forward?
SNM: I think we must be open to change…and not just the surface, but real change. Change requires clarity and understanding. Most ignore change because it is very difficult. But we need to make a choice. Not choosing is a choice. There are major implications of change and how we view our businesses and lives.
Defining and/or redefining ourselves (companies, products, people) is required today for going forward.
I wish we had more perfect information to make our choices, but we do not… it is the speed thing again. We must have our antennae up and our eyes open.
It is an exciting time for those of us who have an intense interest in change and innovation and producing new adaptive value—for ourselves and the brands we manage.
My new interview series, REMARKABLE PEOPLE 2014 includes experts in technology, the arts, well-being and social good. It is an exciting group of creative thought leaders and enlightened personalities. Some are extraordinary examples of social responsibility; others are creating game changing paradigm shifts in their market segments.
I am extremely pleased to include Thomas A. Nazario, an attorney and advocate for the world’s poor and forgotten, particularly women and children.
Profile: Thomas A. Nazario is a professor of Law at the University of San Francisco and the president and founder of The Forgotten International, a non-profit organization that provides poverty alleviation throughout the globe. Nazario’s expertise in children’s rights has led him all over the world documenting children’s rights violations.
Thomas Nazario is the author of Living on A Dollar A Day, The Lives and Faces of the World’s Poor, the first genuinely comprehensive portrait of unimaginable poverty and suffering that also bears witness to the human spirit. His book will surely change your life from the minute you turn the first page. I can say that your compassion and resolve will change completely.
He writes about often overlooked communities around the world and helps us discover how we are far more alike than different. Living on a Dollar a Day is about our shared human condition, and Nazario reminds us that we must all continually pull together and care about one another, regardless of whether we seemingly inhabit different worlds.”
Mary Olson: How have your views changed as you look back on your experience?
Thomas A. Nazario: When I was young, I thought it was easy for people to grow and change, but as I have grown older and looked back on the people I have met and the experiences I have had, I have come to realize that people don’t change that much, at least in their character and in the way they approach life. I once told a friend this, and after she objected vehemently, I conceded that maybe people change up to 40%., but not much more than that, unless an epiphany comes their way, and that doesn’t happen too often because most of us lead quite sheltered lives.
I have often thought that it would be great to change people over the course of their life. To make good people out of bad, generous people out of the stingy, and peaceful loving people out of the hateful and violent, but somehow, either at birth or shortly thereafter, possibly through experiences that people have when they are young, too many of us get stuck in our ways. Of course that is fine if you are born to be a sweet and loving person. I have run into children who seem to have been born angels, and as I watched them grow, they usually remain so, and I think the same can be said about children who are quite difficult and mean spirited.
That isn’t to say that nothing can be done to help us all be better people. In fact, I spend quite a bit of my time trying to encourage people to be the best they can be, I am just suggesting that it is by no means an easy task, and I have yet to find the key that will open the hearts of so many of us to the love and compassion this world desperately needs.
MO: How do you see the way the world is emerging?
TN: Although I spend a lot of my time thinking about the problems confronting the world today and those we will face in the near future, I am actually optimistic. I am optimistic despite the fact that I am constantly hearing about wars in the Middle East, starvation and disease in Africa, poverty and exploitation in Asia, and of course, global warming affecting all of us. On top of this, I am very worried about the fact that the young people, who are likely going to be inheriting many of these woes, seem to be spending too much time on their Facebook or playing video games or texting friends or shopping. Nevertheless, the 20th Century was filled with great wars, millions upon millions of deaths, and poverty that was even worse than the poverty that exists today. So when comparing these two centuries, so far it looks like we are doing better, and as long as we continue to teach our children well, make medical and scientific advances, limit population growth, and try to put aside our differences to focus on the challenges before us, this world stands a chance. For now I will put my money on that.
MO: What are your thoughts as you look forward?
TN: Let me answer this question in a personal way. I have just turned 65, and although some people think about retiring at this age, I am simply not ready for that yet. The truth is that there is too much work to do, and at least with regards to the work I do, it has all been quite rewarding. I can’t see myself spending the rest of my life playing golf or traveling to scenic places around the world, and not continuing to do more to make the world a better place. I believe such work enriches people’s lives and brings meaning to a life well lived. My foundation, The Forgotten International, encompasses much of the work I do these days. The foundation works to alleviate poverty in several countries around the world, and in that regard also helps to relieve suffering, particularly that experienced by women and children (www.theforgottenintl.org). For me there could be no greater effort. So I will continue to do this work until I cannot do it any longer. Please feel free to visit us on the web and contact me. Also please consider exploring a book we just published about the world’s poor. It’s called Living on a Dollar a Day. It is intended to introduce many of us to people who have long been forgotten and are in need of help. So if you are considering some mission for yourself in life, please give some thought to at least spending a portion of your time helping those around the world who have so little and suffer so much. You will find that you will receive far more than you give in return.