Last month, I traveled to El Paso (Texas) and Juarez (Mexico) to bear witness to the humanitarian crisis that continues to unfold and to volunteer with respite centers helping the migrants. Here is my first report — “Aren’t You Seeking a Better Life?”
In full disclosure, I lead 2 lives — distinct from each other. I have that luxury. And it is, indeed, a luxury to have these 2 concurrent lives.
Last month, the difference in these 2 worlds was glaring.
Among the many things that occur for me between the year-end and the year-beginning is the review of what I call my financial recipe. The ingredients of this recipe include my budget (actual and planned), my philanthropic contributions (actual and planned), the income forecast for the coming year, tax preparation, and an examination of the alignment of my values with my money. As with any recipe, the ingredients are all mixed up and baked together: the past year with the new year, the personal expenses with the professional expenses, the expected budget with the actual balance sheet, and the intellectual with the emotional. It is the latter – the realistic versus the irrational – that always catches me by surprise.
“Volatility is back,” a Portfolio Manager from First Fiduciary Trust declared at a business lunch last week. She, and the subsequent panel speakers, were talking about the recent plunges and surges in the stock market. After more than a year of rising stock prices and very low (if any) volatility in the market, the last couple of weeks have proven that those calm waters may be a thing of the past. Uncertainty once again rules the market, and therefore our financial wellbeing.
Years ago, when I was married to the President of a Fortune 500 company, I went to a black-tie event at the San Francisco De Young Museum. For whatever reason, it had been a bad day. As I walked into the reception, the first people I came upon were two of San Francisco’s A-List socialites who I thought, in my naïveté, were friends.
The tagline of my business is “Your values, vision, and money,” which makes the first question I ask my clients natural and obvious: “What are your values?” Ah, you say, what do you mean by values? Values are the fundamental beliefs a person holds, which can serve as a guiding force in one’s life.
A few weeks ago, I attended the AiP conference (Advisors in Philanthropy) for business professionals engaged in various philanthropic advisory practices. For two days, I was among others in the space in which I now live – helping people engage in philanthropy. I was surprised by two things:
You are a busy person. You juggle so many balls in the air, you could join a circus with your prowess. You are highly networked. You are also a philanthropist. You advocate for causes important to you. YOU are exactly the person I would ask to join my board if I was a nonprofit.
When asked what one of the bigger personal challenges a philanthropist faces, the answer often is “saying no when asked for funding, board participation, or a time commitment.” At The Philanthropy Workshop, where I am an alumna, we refer to this as the investment of our time, treasure, and talent.
Lately, I have been talking about the noise and clutter that exists in the world and its distraction from what we need/want to pay attention to. The ruse of loudness and the promise of possessions has let our eyes and minds veer from our priorities.
A year ago, my 95-year-old father called me and said, “I’m dying, come here.” This call was a surprise as he and I have been estranged for years and I thought that someone else would be telling me this news. I surprised myself by saying, “On my way.”
In June of 2013, I did a TEDx talk about the combination of principles and passion in one’s philanthropy. It was titled “The Evolution of a Passionholic.” The word “workaholic” didn’t seem to be the best description of someone who is fully engaged, so I coined the word “passionholic.”
We lost many iconic figures in 2016 – the list seems longer than usual. The fact that I am on the tail-end of middle age and thus aware of more famous people has something to do with my perception. While many of the deceased crossed generational boundaries, Carrie Fisher’s death – and her mother’s, Debbie Reynolds – seemed to be the two that hit many the hardest. The tribute to only them on the Golden Globes illustrated the point.