How did you get started? Share more about yourself and the environment you grew up in as a child… Tell us about yourself. What’s your background?
I come from a sleepy town in Wisconsin and did not grow up around business moguls. Today, I have cultivated relationships with world leaders across all sectors and have friends in more than 45 countries. Although I worked in finance for decades, philanthropy has always been my passion. In 2009, I moved to Singapore where I became more actively involved with charitable causes. During the pandemic, I created a book called, "The Vine: A Message of Hope from World leaders". Amid great change and tragedy, every human being can find hope. The arrival of the global pandemic in 2020 was the first time in history that something of this magnitude had affected every living being on Earth. In a way, there was comfort in knowing that we were all in this together.
Did you always want to become an entrepreneur? How did it all begin?
I have always wanted to be a writer. I took a test in 5th grade that somehow predicted what I would be when I grew up and it said I would be a writer. Instead of following my teacher’s suggestion I became a banker and have come full circle back to writing.
What was your ah-ha moment that set you on the path you are on today?
One day on a business trip, I had been talking to a friend who mentioned they were writing a letter to Biden. I asked him if he would be willing to write a letter to the world and that perhaps, we could gather world leaders to write a book of letters together. My friend thought it was brilliant and that if anyone could put together a book like that, it was me. So far, the book includes leaders from 16 countries, including Pope Francis, Jane Goodall, Prince Ermias of Ethiopia and Mary McAleese of Ireland. I aim to complete the book by December and the hope is that it will inspire millions as we emerge from this pandemic.
What are you working on right now?
After this book, we are discussing turning it into a Netflix series as well as other follow up books.
What core values do you hold that help guide you in business?
The secret to success is giving. By giving, you are getting the life you always desired. During my time in Asia, I learned about "dharma chakra," or the wheel of dharma used in Buddhism. I used to go to the temples near my home in Malaysia to spin the wheels and light incense. During the pandemic, I imagined a water wheel in my mind and I called it 'the wheel of giving'. Imagine a water wheel spinning. When you spin it forward, you are full of joy, and compassion because the water underneath flows back to you. Now imagine a wheel running backwards. You are closed, anxious, and lacking trust, and everything flows away from you. Not only individuals, but also governments have a scarcity mindset and this can lead to corruption. I see the wheel in everyone and everywhere.
What is the key to forging powerful fruitful partnerships in business?
Always give back. Be the person that you want to attract and keep in your word. Be humble and kind. Make sure to associate with people who are also doing good in the world and have ethics.
Do you have a book? Tell us about that.
Our book is called, "The Vine: A Message of Hope from World Leaders." Each chapter is written by various individuals across all sectors. The book as a whole is intended to be a microcosm of humanity and aims to inspire the world as we emerge from the pandemic. The book also aims to exhibit tolerance, cultural understanding, and unity. We are an official partner of Religions for Peace, which is an international coalition of religious world leaders dedicated to promoting peace. The Vine is a group book published by Authors Unite, out of Miami, Florida.
As a successful female entrepreneur, what advice would you give aspiring women who wish to become financially independent?
As a woman, I know that we tend to over analyze everything. My advice would be to focus on what you can achieve day by day and break it down into small attainable goals. Eventually this leads to achieving the larger ones. A positive mindset along the way is crucial and creates a ripple effect. Your thoughts are powerful and we mold our life every day with our thoughts and actions. There were times in my career where I felt like I was about to give up but then I realized that even if I could not change my circumstances, I could change how I felt about it. Finally, focusing on helping and giving back to my community kept me out of my own head. The karmic return of these actions have brought back more than I could have ever imagined. The more I gave, the more it came back.