Face it, if everything’s going great, there would be no reason to change. But, if you have the feeling that something could be better in your life or in your family’s life, or maybe the feeling that there is something bigger that you could do – then there is something bigger out there for you.
How can you tap into that bigger, juicier life that you know you deserve?
The first thing to change is your mind, or, better yet, as Maui Mastermind co-founder David Finkel says, you need to change your Wealth Operating System[TM]. For you PC users, it’s the equivalent of installing new software and doing a control, alt, delete and everything is brand new. Or, I think that’s how it works. I made the Mac switch a year ago and have forgotten everything I knew about PCs.
In 2003, I found myself stuck. Richard and I were very comfortable with where we are, but it just didn’t seem right to put our life on auto-pilot. We could work more, but there just didn’t seem to be a point. We had plenty of money already. So, what next?
Out of that sense of the need for something bigger, Maui Mastermind was born. This is a once a year, totally over the top event. It’s for people who want to take their business up 5 levels and at the same time get in touch with their own dreams and help making other people’s dreams come true. Well, that’s a one sentence explanation for an event that changes people lives and that we almost completely sell out a year in advance. In fact, there are only three or four tickets left for the 2006 Maui Mastermind Event to be held in December.
But today I’m thinking about another big change to our WOS® that Richard and I made in 2004. Following 2003 Maui Mastermind, Beverly Sallee (international businesswoman and philanthropist) and I made an audio tape. On it, Beverly made a challenge. Instead of taking your family on a 2 week vacation to a tropical location, take your family on a 2 week trip to a 3rd world country. It’s a chance to see how most of the world lives. Richard and I took Beverly up on her challenge and traveled to India with her.
Well, Beverly is never one to just do one thing at a time. That’s why she is so successful at combining business and social purpose. She’s built a hospital in Calcutta, paid ransoms for girls held in sexual slavery, funded education and music scholarships, provided medicine for HIV-positive mothers in Africa and just generally, been in the hardest places in the world doing the most amazing things.
Anyway, we went to India and immediately were introduced to her business leaders. Not only were we introduced, we all got in cars together for a caravan tour. I had wanted to do some jewelry shopping. “No problem!” said Beverly. First stop was a jewelry store owned by an uncle of one of Beverly’s manager’s wife….or something like that. Her business leaders were delighted to hang out with business owners from the US who also invested in real estate and so we talked about a whole range of topics. Meanwhile, the diamonds, sapphire, rubies and other gems kept coming out in glittery trays. Everything was brighter and bigger than I’d eve seen before. The opulence was breath-taking. It’s quite a process to buying something in India. It’s never simply walk into a store and place an order. No, first you are served cool water. Then, your tea order is taken. Of course, you will have tea – the question is whether it’s Darjeling or Masala Chai or Oolong and with milk, soy milk, cream, sugar, or…you get the pictures, the choices seem endless.
My head still swimming from the dazzling beauty, we loaded up in our 4 wheel drives for a totally different type of destination. We drove an hour out of Delhi and turned on a dusty road. Along the dirt road we passed a murky river, lined with women and children pounding clothes on rocks. About a half mile from the river, we came to a village, if you can call it that. It was the site of an old abandoned mine and the building were made of rock with tiny little spaces, barely 8’ x 12’. The spaces had a doorway, but no doors, no floors and no windows. There was no electricity, water or sewer. Delhi is finally being rebuilt, but the government had to do something with the people who were camping out in the buildings. This was their solution – move the people out.
I asked whether there were issues with toxic waste from the mine because the standing water didn’t look right. Our guide gave me a funny look and said, “Not really.”
I looked more closely at their living conditions and the overall health of the women and children that lived there and said, “Guess it’s the least of their problems” He nodded silently.
Over 1000 women, children and a few men live in the village. There is no transportation available from this remote village and no way to get into Delhi to work. Most of the men have left, leaving women with children and only one way of making money – prostitution. There aren’t even people that travel through the village to beg from. About once a week or so a charity group will bring out food. The people are starving.
We were met at our 4 wheel drives with people holding flower leis of fragrant flowers. It was, I discovered later, to cover the stench of open and raw sewage running down the street. I had to rethink my choice of footwear in the blistering heat. Sandals kept my feet cool in the blistering heat but they kept getting stuck in the muck.
We followed our guide into one of the small rooms that honeycombed the massive walls. The only light came from the open doorway. The floor was dirt. We were led to three chairs – one for Beverly, Richard and me. As our eyes became accustomed to the gloom we saw that the room was filled with about 30 women in bright colored sari’s sitting on the floor. They asked us if we had anything to say. For one of the few times in my life, I was speechless. Thank goodness Bev was used to this and had some words of encouragement.
Later I described the meeting as seeing people that were starting at less than zero. If I handed them a check, where would they cash it? What good does a truck load of food do when they have no way to store it? And, once it’s gone – what then? It felt utterly hopeless. I remember the women, who almost angrily, begged for work. “We’ll do anything!” they said. They could sew, do fine beadwork, but they had no thread, no beads, no fabric.
Sure, I’ve seen the commercials on television, and somewhat embarrassed, I’d turn the channel. But once you’ve been there and smelled raw sewage, unwashed bodies, decaying flesh and cloyingly sweet flowers – well, I smell that blended aroma every time I see those commercials now.
We were hurried along by our guides. Only later did we discover that a political rally had been set up on the other side of the group and had stirred some of the men into a frenzy. They had started throwing rocks at our cars as we were walking through the streets. But at the time, all we noticed were that the cars were now following us closely as we walked the streets and talked to the people.
The car was silent as we took the drive down the dirt road and then the hour on the crowded freeway back to Delhi. I watched the people on the narrow highway – generally 8 cars abreast. Whole families, dad, mom with baby and toddler, rode tiny motorcycles. People were packed into carts drawn by donkeys, elephants, and tractors. Other people picked through the garbage that lined the highway. Everywhere, there were people. Everywhere, there was desperation.
The next day was the first day of Beverly’s seminar with her business leaders in India. I was slated to speak about business and investments. So much of the information is universal. It’s applicable in every country. One of the ladies who had traveled with us the day before asked if she could speak to the group about her impressions of the day. She expressed her gratitude for us traveling to India to meet them. She said she’d thought a lot about the day before. She said it was very hard. Well-off city dwellers in India often never visit the villages. The conditions were as foreign to her as they were to us. She said she’d never seen jewels like she saw while I shopped. And she’d never seen such horrible poverty. She paused and then said, “The day was perfect.” She sat down.
Okay, I was confused. At the next break I asked her what she meant. I got a philosophical explanation that shook my world. In their religion, for every high, there must be a low, or you are dangerously out of balance. So, for her to see the wealth possible as their Indian business grew, she needed to be reminded of the desperate poverty. In her kind way, she expressed her concern for Americans who are purported to stay stuck in a “everything’s fine” way of life, when nothing is fine. They don’t see the huge potential and they refuse to see the desperate conditions of others.
It opened my eyes and made the next stage of my life possible. I like to say that after India, Mexico is easy. And, it’s true. Adopting a teenager in Mexico, living in an orphanage in a dangerous border town, being questioned by police, having my life and the life of my son threatened – all of that was so easy compared to what I had seen in India.
I also started studying more closely some of the people I admire for their business and philanthropic success. For example, Bill and Melissa Gates always visit the countries and projects where their money goes. On the day of their wedding, Bill’s mother sent him a note that said, “With great wealth, comes great responsibility.”
It takes a special person to step up to that responsibility and create huge abundance of wealth. And, then, give a bunch of it away.
For Richard and I, we have the goal now of making a ton of money and then giving it away.
As a sidenote, back in India, I had an envelope for Beverly from Amy (from TaxLoopholes) that I kept forgetting to give to her. The night after our visit to the village, I saw it in my briefcase again and went out into the hall to slip it under Bev’s door. The next day at breakfast, Beverly was overjoyed. The envelope from Amy contained a “Thank You” for the personal inspiration Beverly was to others and a check from Amy for $500.
Beverly had already made phone calls. The $500 had put her into action. She had contacted wives of her business leaders in India and already mobilized a team to sell whatever the ladies in the little mine village could create. Beverly had someone coming later that day to pick up the check and buy beads, thread, needles and fabric. They also had patterns and pictures of samples that Bev had pulled off the internet and from her network of people.
There is now a thriving micro-climate of economy in the village by the mine. They call it “Amy’s Fund” for a woman they’ve never met.
Don’t be afraid to see what it really means to be wealthy. Don’t be afraid to see what it really means to be poor.