Sunday, June 28, 2009

Making Choices in Your Life

At one point in my life, every time I’d settled on path I wanted to take someone else would come along with a great piece of advice that made me feel like I should switch to an alternate path. Gosh if I had a dollar for every time I changed my mind since beginning grad school I’d probably be well on my way to becoming a millionaire. Alas since no one pays for such things I was forced to tread that old beaten path to becoming a millionaire…yup I decided to try my hand at acting. Okay, just kiddin’, although I wish I were partly kiddin’. I feel very inspired by Angelina Jolie :-).

Back to the point at hand – I felt I was getting so much advice that I really didn’t know what to do. “This would be a great application of your skills; you could make considerable money pursuing this career; you could live a fulfilling life if you did this…blah blah blah”…the list goes on. It was like I was getting advice to get clarity and then I needed more advice to make clarity of all the advice. It’s like what Barry Schwartz talks about in the “Paradox of Choice”- more choices don’t necessarily make you freer/happier but can really make you more paralyzed. That’s exactly how I felt.

It starts like this – you get advice 1, 2, 3, 4,….and so on..Then it goes “Which of these pieces of advice is good?” You get so much advice that you have to then sit down and think about which advice is best to take. Truth be told you can end up pretty confused….especially if some of that advice is conflicting.

My solution to this crazy scenario? Don’t ask a bunch of people for advice. (Ironically here I am giving you advice…lol). Have a few trusted people in your life that you turn to that can help you out in situations. These are people that you know have your best interest at heart and are relatively balanced people. Yes that means no talking to random strangers on the bus OR even random acquaintances.

I have a core group of friends and business associates that I appreciate and seek for personal and professional advice. Not all questions go to all members of the group, like I don’t ask my professional associates for personal advice. And some friends I don’t ask for business advice. I turn to those more experienced than I. Quality over quantity….remember that. Digging for diamonds in a pile of rubble is simply time consuming and frustrating.

I opted to narrow my choices by the metric of quality and it has worked pretty well for me. I’ve chosen KVI and the field of marketing and I’m very convinced this is what I’m supposed to be doing. There’s such a calm when you know you’re on the right path.

Be sure to watch Barry’s video above. It’s pretty thought-provoking.


Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Interesting Thoughts on Money and Power

I sent a link to the previous video from pastor Rick Warren to my cousin in Barbados and she was kind enough to forward me a link to a blog post I found pretty interesting. The author of the post has some interesting thoughts on money and power and the real reason people go after these things. I thought it would be a great follow up to what I wrote in my last post.

Take a read here and let me know what you think.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

MBA + Fair Trade = Purpose Driven Life

It’s an atypical path for an MBA, especially one that went to a school that is known mainly for its excellence in finance. But yet, here I am, partnering up with other social entrepreneurs (namely Glenn and Rebecca) to ensure that persons in other parts of the world can lead a better life. It’s something that’s truly close to my heart.

I believe in using the skills God has blessed me with to make a difference in the lives of those around me. And what better way than marketing fair trade products. I’ve been trained to be an analytical marketer and I intend on using those skills to help artisans become economically self-sufficient. I’m not into giving handouts; I’m into helping people use their skills to support themselves.

Rebecca’s speech at the Rochester chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) got me thinking again about why I made the decision to join her and Glenn to develop KVI. I could very well have been in hot pursuit of a corporate job which would guarantee a relatively stable income and a host of benefits. However the more and more I thought about it, the more and more I realized that life wasn’t for me.

I wanted to be able to know that what I was doing was going to make a significant impact on the lives of others. I wanted more than simply going out there and earning a paycheck. Albeit I could have donated a portion of my paycheck to a non-profit, I wanted to be a major part of the process. I wanted to get my hands dirty (in a manner of speaking).

Of course foregoing the cushy job means taking a greater risk. Paychecks may not flow as frequent nor be as high but you know what, I’ll be happy, because I will be doing what I am passionate about. And if you are passionate about something that has great potential then you’re going to see it through until you make it a great success.

Of course, along the road to success, I’m not trying to put myself in the poor house; happiness doesn’t buy groceries! However I realized I wanted to structure my life and career in such a way that I would always be delighted at the thought of what I was working on, even if that meant earning lower than what someone with my skills could command. Furthermore my trust in God is as such that He’ll provide opportunities for me to earn a decent living if I continue to do His work. And He hasn’t failed me yet!

So yeah, it’s an atypical path for an MBA, but it’s my path and I’m pretty sure it’s one I’m supposed to be on.

For those of you trying to find your path, be sure to watch the above video by Rick Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life.


Thursday, June 11, 2009

The World of Sex Trafficking – Modern Day Slavery

Many of us have been very lucky; we have been brought up in homes and societies where we have numerous opportunities. It’s often our choice how we take advantage of those opportunities. For example, in Barbados, education and healthcare are free, available to everyone at any echelon of society. I was able to gain a scholarship to come to US to pursue my MBA degree.

While many of us are lucky, many are not so lucky. There is no free education; there is no access to free healthcare and day to day survival is extremely difficult. These places are the hunting grounds of modern day slave traders who prey on the innocent. The US State Department’s “Trafficking in Persons” 2008 report estimated that at any given time around 12.3 million are in forced labor, bonded labor, forced child labor and sexual servitude. The most rampant of these is sex trafficking.

Children as young as 4 are forced to work in brothels catering to the sick cravings of the men who visit. According to, women and children from rural areas are often tricked into sexual exploitation. Many believe that they are going to the urban part of the country for domestic employment but then are often coerced into the sex trade. The reasons these horrendous incidents occur can usually be linked to poverty and lack of education. Many have no idea of the dangers and risks of the international sex trade.

In Cambodia human trafficking is big business and, according to a recent article in the Phnom Penh Post, the economic crisis is fuelling trafficking as jobs dry up at home. The US State Department reports that women and children account for the greatest percentage of those exploited through the sex trade.

This is what our supplier Hagar Designs, works hard at preventing. The company promotes social development and economic empowerment for those most at risk for human trafficking. It is a proud advocate of the social enterprise model, teaching women and children skills they can use to be economically self-sufficient. This is very important because even those who manage to escape their captors find themselves back in the slave trade as a means of survival.

All our products from Hagar Designs are made by women who are striving for a better life for themselves and their families, one that is free of physical, emotional and sexual abuse. When we say your purchase makes a difference in the lives of others, we truly mean it.


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Fair Trade can be Trendy!

Soon Rebecca and Glenn will be heading off to Fair Trade Boston. They were invited to attend after some of our bags were chosen to make a special debut at the Fair Trade Boston fashion show.

It’s indeed a great honor to be a part of a show that highlights the fact that fair trade does not have to be boring. You can be trendy while making the decision to promote social and economic development in developing nations! By purchasing fair trade you ensure that that the persons who made the products you purchased were paid a decent wage for the work they put into making your product. Isn’t that awesome!

We sell the accessories and other cool items for your home but there are plenty of other retailers out there that offer clothing and shoes that can cater to many different tastes. Some of the headliners for the show include Autonomie Project Inc., which offers eco-friendly hip Fair Trade fashion and footwear, Fair Indigo, where you can get clothing for both men and women (and even organic items for babies) and Indigenous Designs which offers classic fashion for men, women and kids.

Fair Trade Boston aims to alleviate global poverty and promote environmental sustainability by increasing the use of Fair Trade products in the Boston area. The event will take place on Saturday June 13 from 12 noon to 6 pm at the Artists for Humanity Epicenter. Organizers are hoping to raise awareness of Fair Trade, increase youth involvement in Fair Trade organizing and inspire and propel the campaign to make Boston an official Fair Trade city.

Fashion of course will not be the only area of interest; there will opportunities to sample foods and wine. You can also purchase products from Fair Trade vendors, hear speakers and listen to local bands and other performances.

If you’re in that area of Boston, be sure to stop by!! We’re pretty sure you’ll have a great time! And look out for KVI!!!