we have a strong sense of personal identity and a chosen
niche for engaging in the world, how can we exercise power
in a new way--a way in which a compassionate heart as
well as a prudent mind are our guides, a way in which
all people are recognized as equals with whom our lives
are profoundly interconnected?
the stories below, people seek to go beyond "business
as usual" in their chosen fields. An investment manager
works to increase global security (rather than just the
security of his clients), a community development professional
defines success in non-economic terms, and a foundation
director views grantees not as recipients of largess but
as the foundation's "customers."
Power of Shared Security
Slifka is founder/partner of Halcyon/Alan B. Slifka Management
Co., an investment firm managing over half a billion dollars
in client accounts.
a small child, I remember my father crying over losing
his money in the Crash. I felt very afraid about what
would happen to my family. Perhaps that's why the quest
for security--both personal and global--has been such
a persistent theme in my life.
in my investment work, I saw the truth behind the saying
that every investor is wrestling with greed and fear.
A man with a million thinks he'll feel secure once he
has five; a man with five thinks he'll feel secure if
he has ten, and so on. I vowed not to be that way.
my 20s, 30s, and 40s I worked to become financially secure.
In my 50's, influenced by the Jewish concept of Tikkun
Olam, "the repairing of the world," I threw myself into
supporting various nonprofits, viewing philanthropy as
a kind of venture capital for social entrepreneurs. Then,
in 1986, my life was changed by a trip to Israel.
The Middle East felt like a powder
keg, with tension streaming from two peoples struggling
for whatever power they could muster to defend their survival.
I felt powerfully drawn to focus my social entrepreneurship
on building commitment to peaceful Arab-Jewish coexistence.
started by hiring a team of researchers at Haifa
to study the need for coexistence work in Israel.
When I went back to Israel
the next year, I met with Arab and Jewish leaders, government
officials, project managers, and business leaders, and
I discovered that hundreds of institutions and social
entrepreneurs wanted to do coexistence work but that the
missing link was funding. And so I started the Abraham
Fund, to support and enhance peaceful Jewish-Arab coexistence.
the Abraham Fund is giving away about a million dollars
a year--some my own money, but mostly I raise funds from
others. We make it clear that the Fund is in no way about
rich Americans coming in to direct the show: we only use
Israeli consultants, and Israelis set the policies and
run the programs. The Fund is probably reaching 10,000
people annually and impacting over 100,000 people. The
Israeli government has co-funded many projects, which
has enormously encouraged and legitimized friendly coexistence.
of my biggest challenges has been raising funds. Everyone
says, "After we take care of our own community, then we
can support bridging projects." I tell them that if we
wait until each community has all it needs, we'll wait
forever. Educating for peaceful coexistence benefits everyone
and cannot wait.
Cherokee. I attended predominantly non- Indian public
schools, and by high school I realized that I saw things
differently from others my age. Not only was I was never
driven to "win" (because then someone had to lose), but
the whole concept of hierarchical authority made no sense
to me. My view of the world, like most indigenous people,
emphasized balance and harmony, not dominance.
1984, I helped run a micro-lending fund on Pine Ridge
reservation, making small loans to help people become
financially self-sufficient. It was challenging to convince
non-native lenders that our models were successful, because
they were fixated on evaluating success by a growing profit
line. Meanwhile, our borrowers' ideas of success was to
make enough money from their businesses to get good clothes
for their kids and a reliable car, to improve their home
life, and pay off the debt. They knew quality of life
was paramount and sensed what was "enough."
I started First Nations Development Institute in 1980,
it was to help break native people's dependency on federal
money and to rebuild our self-reliance. Last year I helped
the Institute give out $1.5 million in grants. Some people
might say, "that's a lot of power" but to me money and
power are not at all the same. Power comes solely from
my connection to what's sacred. Keeping my spiritual center
enables me to do the work with a sense of responsibility
and gratitude. I pray a lot, burn sweetgrass, and take
time throughout each day to express thanksgiving.
work constantly with our funders who are wealthy and with
our grant recipients who have very little. Because I recognize
spiritual power as the foundation of who I am and the
basis of all my connections, I can enter all kinds of
relationships from a deeply centered place: not above
or below anybody, because everyone has equal access to
spiritual power whether they understand it or not. Nothing
I do can take away that power nor give it to them.
can't be in community development to please people. Even
when I fund people's proposals, nine times out of ten
they are still displeased with me for not doing it exactly
their way. I know that both grantees and funders think
all kinds of things about me: some think I'm hoarding
or I'm trying to be manipulative; others think they can
get funded by wearing me down or wooing me over. I've
seen people be nice to my face and not so nice behind
hurts my feelings when people aren't genuine with me,
but it no longer knocks me off center or makes me doubt
my judgment. I've developed a lot of compassion for how
wealthy people can become isolated. I've also developed
clarity that people who give money to feel good about
themselves are simply setting themselves up to be used.
can't be used because my mind is not focused on me or
my ego. Instead, I am looking at what the money is going
to do, what difference it is going to make. I like having
money to put to good use. I like it a lot! To recipients
this may look like power, but the projects we support
are built on each local community's definition of success--in
their terms, not mine or any other funder's.
example, we once worked with a tribe whose goal was to
become one of the biggest economic entities in their state.
The tribe bought several big businesses and made an enormous
per capita return for their people. Two years later Harvard
Business Review wrote them up as an economic success story.
They had succeeded in their goal--but they also had developed
the highest teenage suicide rate in the state!
we worked with another tribe whose goal was to increase
the long-range well-being of the tribe. They had developed
a scholarship program, a teen center, a well-baby clinic.
By focusing their development efforts on programs that
benefited the community, they achieved their goal with
few costs--and of course, they were never written up as
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