Tag Archives: C4

Pearls of Wisdom

We have all garnered skills, character traits, and pearls of wisdom during our experiences, successes, and challenges in life.  We all possess valuable truths inside of us.  No matter what our job, background, or social status, our knowledge and truths are important.  I believe it is vital to share our truths with others and as essential to listen to them from others.  Sharing, teaching, listening, being open-minded, and learning, is how we connect as individuals and how we grow and mature on our journey in life.

I had a significant sharing and learning experience earlier this year, during a trip with my spouse through Corporate AllianceCorporate Alliance is an organization who helps people create and manage successful business relationships.  CEOs, COOs, presidents, and owners of companies, and their respective spouses, attended the trip.  We had a memorable time, with a valuable service project aspect (which I wrote about here) and some great ‘getting to know you’ activities and opportunities.

One could have felt daunted surrounded by the company of such highly successful and driven individuals.  Fortunately, however, I did not.  This may have been partly because my companions did not look intimidating, the relaxed dress code calling for shorts and t-shirts.  The service project aspect of the trip certainly helped too; standing shoulder-to-shoulder, covered in sweat and paint, alongside an individual is a sure way to create a level playing field.  It was also due to my philosophy of treating and valuing people equally, no matter who they are or what they do, and thus my motives, or lack thereof, behind my interaction with the other attendees.

This brings me to one of the beauties of this trip.  One of the key ethos at Corporate Alliance, and one I have always strived to follow, is to avoid relationship arrogance.  This is such a powerful and worthwhile concept to me, I want to share it with you.  Relationship arrogance is to have ulterior motives in relationship development.  It is prioritizing relationships based on a forecasted return on investment, i.e., figuring out whom we perceive to be the most beneficial people to interact with, and pursuing those relationships.  Relationship arrogance is to dismiss those who we do not consider worthwhile to us.  This can happen in business, but just as easily when interacting with others on a social level too e.g. other parents at your child’s school, adults in clubs/groups, those who serve us at restaurants, sit next to us on public transport, etc.  Is judging or preconceiving relationships something you do?

To avoid relationship arrogance is to treat everyone with respect and as someone who is important.  I believe that when we interact with people they can feel if we have an ulterior motive.  It is more real to interact with people on the pure basis of kindness, friendship, and common human decency.  It feels good to both parties.  In the book City of Influence: A Business Tale, written by Corporate Alliance founders Jared & Sarah Stewart, they share “The way you judge people affects your ability to build a relationship with them, and it’s arrogant to make assumptions before having any meaningful interaction.”  If you make your interactions genuine and with good intent, you will be surprised where it takes you.  You can often find help and support from the least expected of people.

Another important takeaway is developing relationships ‘just because’– also a core value of the Corporate Alliance organization.  The President of Corporate Alliance’s Salt Lake City hub, Katie Holland, shared a wonderful story with us, which demonstrated relationships ‘just because’.  The story is based on author Kent Nerburn’s experience as a cab driver, and a particularly special journey taking an elderly woman to hospice.  It is a touching tale and reminds me to be gracious and giving to all whom I come across.  Read it here: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/kent-nerburn/cab-ride_b_1474147.html.

As the trip progressed, I heard other stories and pieces of advice from my companions that I thought were worth noting.  One of these was to be present in the moment.  In today’s society, I feel this is ever more important.  There are so many distractions, one can be sucked away from real face-to-face interactions, into virtual/electronic worlds (social media, gamming, TV, etc.).  We can forget the importance of those around us.  Being on the receiving end of this can make you feel invisible and worthless.  There have been some great impactful short videos recently to remind us to ‘disconnect to connect’ and ‘look up’ (I urge you to watch them here and here).

I remember as a child my mum insisted if we wanted to speak to her that we stop what we were doing, and come to talk to her face-to-face; we were never allowed to shout to her from elsewhere in the house.  I am glad she did this, it shows respect, and that we find the other person important.  During the Corporate Alliance trip partners working both within and outside of the home, shared with me that they remind themselves of the importance of being present with each other and with their children and loved ones.  They leave work at the door or leave chores until later, and fully engage with each other.  I personally know it feels so great to be on the receiving end when someone gives you his or her full attention, so this is something I strive to give too.

This leads me on to another perspective shared, that multitasking is overrated.  Often the ability to get several things done at once is considered a positive trait.  Women are said to be better multi-taskers.  Parents often rely on it to get everything done that they need to do during the day.  However, when multitasking, are we doing everything to the best of our ability?  On the trip, one CEO shared with us that he asks potential employees if they are good at multitasking, and if they say “yes,” then they might not find themselves employed by his company.  He shared an example of someone who tries to write the alphabet and a sequence of numbers 1-26.  If we do this separately, we could do it quickly; however, if we tried doing both tasks and alternating between one letter and one number, it would slow us down considerably.

I also read a book recently called Rewired by Camille Preston (which I would highly recommend).  In her book, she discusses the downside of multitasking and loss of productivity.  I concur personally with her words, that when we start a task and another sidetracks us, the interruptions can cause a significant delay in getting back to being fully productive in the original task.  She shares the results of a survey, which shows how multitasking costs the economy billions of dollars a year.  Having the diminished performance and loss of focus in multitasking pointed out to me, it has changed my original notion of it being a positive skill.  Preston advocates being present in the moment and recommends that we are mindful, that we ‘unitask’, and focus on one thing at a time.

The final pearl of wisdom that I want to share is aligning your principles (beliefs) and actions (behavior).  A friend I met on the trip shared this concept with me and that you could consider it in a venn diagram (which I love being a Econ/Math major).  On the one side you have your beliefs and on the other your behaviors.  When these overlap and we act according to our principles, then there is unity, we are in balance/compliance and experience joy.  However, when our behavior falls outside our beliefs, there is not.

Venn Diag






I like this concept.  It resonates with my heart.  I have personally experienced it.  I know if I act and behave (in the way I talk to and treat people, the way I approach situations, etc.), according to my beliefs, then I feel good.  I am joyful.  If I do something out of line with my principles, then I do not.  Do you make sure your behavior aligns with your beliefs?

As I reflect on these pearls of wisdom, it reminds me of many things.  It reminds me of the importance of relationships, to value them and to approach new ones with an open heart and mind; it reminds me to be mindful, present, and focused on who I am with or what I am doing; and it reminds me to act according to what I believe to be right and true.

I am so grateful to have been part of the experience with Corporate Alliance, for the opportunity to learn and grow, to be renewed, fulfilled, excited, and with a new set of people to call friends.

I encourage you to fully embrace and be present with relationships and experiences, and face them openly and honestly.  Follow your beliefs.  Share your truths with others, and be willing to learn from theirs.


Perspective and Simplicity

I watched a young boy with bare feet run in the dirt, dragging behind him a simple handmade toy.  It was fashioned from an empty milk carton, a piece of string, and scrap-wood spindles and wheels.  It resembled a dump truck – the carton lying on its back with the top side removed and its insides filled with gravel.  As he ran, dust kicked up from its wheels and under his naked toes.  A smile spread across his face, he ducked around our bright yellow passenger van, and continued pulling his toy down the street.

I nudged my husband.  “Did you see that?”  I asked, as the boy disappeared.  We marveled at the smile of this local Dominican child and the simple pleasure from his humble toy.  We reflected on the contrast between this and the expensive toys and gadgets children have back home.  Moreover, the sad fact that many are ungrateful for what they have.  As toddlers, even children in the developed world garner joy from such simple things as empty boxes.  When along the way does this love of simplicity diminish?

Our conversation happened during a service project in the Dominican Republic.  Two dozen top business people in Salt Lake City, and their spouses, joined us.  Corporate Alliance brought us together – they are an organization who help people create and manage successful business relationships.  I was thrilled to be part of this trip and in particular, greatly looking forward to the service project aspect.  My husband and I attended a trip with Corporate Alliance last year, where they took us to a shelter for girls in Jamaica.  (I found it to be a rewarding and thought-provoking experience and wrote about it in my blog post here).  This year we were to supply educational materials to a school in the Dominican Republic, and repaint it inside and out.

As my companions and I pulled up to the school in our comfortable, air-conditioned transportation, the poverty in the area struck me.  The roads were dusty, iron bars covered every window and door of the nearby homes, and there was laundry strung over gates and from pieces of rope on rooftops.  The buildings were rudimentary, made from cinder blocks and scraps, with rebar sticking out of multiple crevices.  Around the corner, an elderly man sat on a plastic chair in the shade of a car repair shop, its spare fenders hanging precariously from its roof.  The children scrambled in the dust and gravel, with nothing but the simplest of shoes covering their feet.

We entered the school gates, our arms full of supplies, snacks, and water, and were met with wide grins.  To see the smiles on the faces of the children, and their teachers and parents, as they interacted with us, and as their school was improved, was heart-warming.  Some of our team got to work on re-painting the school and building benches, while others of us interacted with the children and taught them games and songs.  The Dominican children were friendly, respectful, and helpful.  We were touched that they wanted to join in and paint their school alongside us.  They grabbed brushes and paint cans of their own volition.  In their enthusiasm, some children splattered their arms and faces with raindrops of the same hopeful, sunny, yellow paint that was coating their classroom walls.  Rather than just be helped, they wanted to help themselves.  This was powerful to me.

The school itself was very basic: a lean-to wooden shack, and a tiny two-room building: each room with a chalkboard, slatted window, concrete floor, and half a dozen simple wooden desks.  An outhouse stood close-by.  The playground, which also served as additional teaching space, consisted of a dusty expanse with a couple of trees for shade, and a fence cobbled together from corrugated scrap metal, chain-link, barbed wire, and wooden pallets.  I imagined the schools in our local area, with their carpeted floors, and filled to the brim with books, computers, sports equipment, and art materials.  This was a stark contrast.

It was humbling to witness how little these people have compared to the excesses of a First World society.  A reality check for when we complain of our First World problems.  I recently saw a spoof about First World problems, which sums it up in a humorous way, but reminds us of how ridiculous our ‘problems’ sometimes are, for example, complaining about having to eat leftovers, or not having the latest phone (see skit here).  Do our excesses cause us stress?  Does a simple life bring more happiness?

This brings me back to the boy with the milk carton truck, and his simple joy.  The Dominican’s people happy outlook might seem at odds with what little so many of them have, but perhaps is because of it.  We often assume that people in developing countries want what we have.  However, maybe some can see beyond the luxuries of a developed world, to the problems they bring.  There seems to be a certain level of peace and calm that comes with a simple life.

In our busy, distracted First World society, we are always coveting after material possessions and wanting more.  It begins in childhood.  The media persuades us to long for items we do not need.  Children have advertising directly marketed to them.  Even for the most thoughtful and diligent parents it is a battle.  As adults, we fall into the yearning trap too.  We can learn from countries such as the Dominican Republic.  For children and adults in developed countries to consider what their peers in developing countries possess, and their level of happiness, is so worthwhile.

Participating in a project like this is humanizing.  It enables us to think about others, to be compassionate, understanding, and giving.  It offers us perspective.  It helps us to be thankful for what we have, and to realize we do not need all that we have.  It reminds us of the child in us, happy playing with an empty cardboard box.  It encourages us to reflect on the important things in life, and that simple things are what matter and what ultimately make us happy.  When we take part in a service project, not only do we help someone else, but it helps us too.


I am so grateful to the group we travelled with, Corporate Alliance.  Beyond the service project, I learned a great deal from their organization’s ethos and values, and from the fascinating people with me on the trip.  I will tell you about that in my next blog post: Service Project Part II –Pearls of Wisdom.

Some of my photographs from the project:

The Dominican Republic School (Escuela)

The Dominican Republic School (Escuela)


Some of the pupils.

Some of the pupils in front of the corrugated metal and scrap wood school fence.


Precarious bumpers at the car repair shop.

Around the corner precarious fenders (bumpers) hang from the roof at the car repair shop.


Laundry on the gate.

Laundry on the gate of a nearby home.


... or rooftops.

… or rebar and rope constitute a washing line on the rooftops.


Under the shade of the trees.

One of the pupils under the shade of the trees.


One of the pupils.

A beautiful Dominican child.


A student helps with the painting.

A student helps paint his school a cheerful yellow color.


The local children were happy and helpful.

The local children were happy and helpful.

My husband and I with some of the children.

My husband and I with some of the children.

Corporate Alliance group at our service project in the Dominican Republic.

Corporate Alliance C4 group at our service project in the Dominican Republic.