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Rebuilding trust between leaders and their citizens in today’s world

Instead of trying to build trust between them and their citizens, today’s leaders should be looking at how to rebuild it. That is a more difficult predicament, especially for those who are new to the scene yet do not exactly have a clean slate, as they have to prove that they are different than their predecessors. The People (and here I capitalize “people” because they are an important part of all of this) have lived through years of built up dissatisfaction with the status quo, whether economically, politically, socially or environmentally; in their eyes, any leader today is probably no different than those they have seen… why should he be?

I believe that for a leader to start rebuilding trust, the key is to begin by admitting his mistakes, whether it is his own or those or his predecessors, for in the public’s eye, he is still “one of them”. Open, honest and transparent communication is vital, and admitting mistakes is courageous. The leader can speak about what was done wrong in the past, what motivated those decisions, how they were believed to be what is best at that time, and importantly, show how things will be done differently in the future, what difference it will make and why. Although some may argue that by doing so, the leader will appear weak, I strongly believe that the world today needs a refreshing change of honesty, humbleness, transparency and genuineness. It will help break down a barrier felt by most People between them and their leaders. The People are human beings, they know when things are said and done for an ulterior motive.

The leader should also be fair, treating his People with no prejudice, favoritism or enjoyment of personal benefits. The leader should remain objective, neutral to a degree, and though he is understanding of, helpful and attentive to his People, he should remain firm and fair.

Here we come to another important point, which is the degree of true genuineness of the leader, in terms of placing the People and the country at the forefront of all matters. The focus is not the person of the leader, but it is of the greater cause, which is served by keeping the greater good at the forefront, thus, the People. If the leader is not genuinely and passionately in love with his People and his country and if he is not willing to put them above himself, then the leader will not be able to rebuild any kind of trust, let alone lead any change, therefore nothing else matters.

Trust can only be earned, and those who seek it should be willing to “step down” per say, shed their ego, and embrace humbleness, giving, honesty, and transparency, never forgetting that it takes a long time to build trust, but it can be broken in just seconds. It has become a rare commodity in today’s world, almost driven to extinction by history, experience, deception, egotism, vagueness, greed, and the blatant disregard of both the common and greater good.

Once the leader has come clean, he needs to build credibility by consistently delivering on one’s promises. The leader is not a miracle worker, but with actions that improve the status quo on a long-term basis, he gains the People’s patience, support and trust. Since patience is scarce, and changes at a country and population level takes a long time, focusing on quick wins is a good place to start.

How can leaders begin to rebuild trust between them and their People? By admitting past mistakes, being human, transparent, genuine, fair and passionately in love with his People and country. How can they maintain this trust? By consistently fulfilling promises, keeping one’s word, and continually maintaining all of the above. However, it is a two-way street, and the People do have to uphold their responsibilities as well for the whole formula to work.

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Why I am climbing Everest…

Photo taken by team mate Basil Marji

 

Base Camp, that is. :) Still, it is a big challenge both physically and mentally, but it is all for a great cause: to help the King Hussein Cancer Center (KHCC) raise funds for its building expansion project to enable it to treat more patients.

Mostafa Salameh first contacted me in May of 2012 with his idea of climbing from the lowest point on earth (Dead Sea) to the highest point on earth (Everest) to raise funds for KHCC’s building expansion program.

I felt honored to be chosen as a member of the team to do this, and excited for the opportunity to participate in something that would give back to one of the organizations I have worked closely with over the past few years. But as I read more of his message, I started feeling anxious, worried and a little bit scared. We were talking about a 2 – 3 week trip where we would be climbing up to the base camp of the highest peak in the world…

Firstly,  I have a little bit, or maybe more than just a “little bit”, of a fear of heights. Every time I went hiking up hills which in comparison to where we are going, are tiny, I would  freeze on the way up, and when I do reach the top and look down, I would begin to cry. I am not joking. I tried to get over this fear by paragliding over the snowy mountains of Switzerland; it helped a bit, but not much, though I did enjoy the views, the peace and the calmness of being so high up. So to go up to over 5,500 meters (or approximately 18,200 feet) is a bit “nerve wrecking” to say the least.

Secondly, I had never climbed a mountain, or anything higher than what may be considered as a hill. The highest altitude I had ever been was maybe 1,000 meters when I first tried skiing last year.

Thirdly, I was worried about how much exercise and training we needed to do to be in shape and to be ready for this challenge. I had been going to the gym but had been inconsistent at that point.

Lastly, when I learned more about the effect of altitude on people, how there would be less oxygen and the possibility of getting altitude sickness, it definitely worried me!  Another fear that I have (and I think any sane person might have!) is the inability to breathe. Being up there with much less oxygen makes any activity more tiresome, and your brain doesn’t know what is going on so it is working hard to process the current situation, making it difficult to sleep. Altitude sickness is basically the swelling of the brain, and if not treated right away (best way is to descend or to take Diamox), can be fatal. To top it all off, I am allergic to Diamox!

With a lot of my questions answered, and despite my fears, I decided to proudly be one of 21 Jordanians who will embark on this challenge and adventure, the main reason being that it is for a very worthy cause.

As I mentioned, I have interacted and worked with the KHCC over the years, and I know how challenging it is for them to raise funds.  Treating cancer is very expensive, from the equipment to the medicine, to having proper hospital accommodation that separates patients since their immune system is weak, and they cannot afford infecting other patients with any sicknesses they have. From all the NGO’s I have been involved with, KHCC has the biggest challenge; their current center is always at full capacity with only 170 beds, and there is far greater demand than they can currently accommodate. This unfortunately means that many patients have to be placed on a waiting list before they can receive the life-saving cancer treatment that they need.. KHCC treats around 3,500 patients, and receives more than 100,000 outpatient visits a year. They are now raising funds to build an expansion to their facilities, which will enable them to accommodate more patients in a comfortable and safe environment by adding 182 more beds and therefore accepting approximately 5,500 more patients a year. This project costs US$ 145 million and our contribution of hopefully raising US$1 million is but a small contribution from our side to help them raise awareness and raise funds for this worthwhile project.

Lastly, accepting to be part of this climb is a personal challenge on many fronts. It is a physical challenge in being disciplined in training and preparation, on continuing and actually doing the trek and enduring all that comes with it. Mostly, though it is a mental and emotional challenge to overcome my fear of heights, in believing that the mind is stronger than the body, in looking at the world through different eyes, in living in the moment and enjoying every step of the way with the beauty of nature, people, and life surrounding me. It is a challenge in once again going beyond my comfort zone, disciplining and believing in myself to complete this challenge, and in freeing my mind and soul in the process.

There are many ways you can support us:

1) Donations – donations of any amount are welcomed, and you can contribute via our pledge page: http://www.cancerpledges.com/SelectPledge.aspx?P_ID=35

2) Prayer Flags – we have now almost sold out of the small prayer flags that are selling for USD 50 or JOD 50, but we have added slightly larger ones which are selling for USD 100 or JOD 100. If you would like to donate that amount, you can do so via the pledge page link as well, and send me the message you would like to write on the flag, whether it is a prayer, a quote, the name of a loved one you lost, or even a wish. My email is dinashoman@gmail.com

3) Concert – one of our talented team members, Talal Abu Ragheb, will be performing a musical concert on the night of March 2 at 7:30 at the IAA. Tickets are sold for JOD 30, and all proceeds go to the KHCC. You can contact me or anyone else from the team for your tickets.

4) Bracelets – we are selling affinity bracelets for JOD 2 with our team logo and “I can make a difference” on them, also sold by most team members

5) Corporate Sponsorship – If you are a company that would like to be the sole sponsor of one of the team members (with all funds going straight to KHCC of course), you can do so for JOD 25,000 and have your logo be the only one on the team member’s jacket. If you don’t mind sharing logo space, we have a proposal and different price points for you. Please contact me or any member of the team for more info.

6) Events – if you have an upcoming event through which you would like to support our cause, please contact me

7) Spreading the word – the more people know what we are trying to achieve, the more awareness we spread not just about our cause, but about the KHCC. Please help us spread awareness.

I want to thank all my friends and those who have supported us thus far, and ask you to please continue supporting us by spreading the word, donating and by cheering us on.

 

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The Means to the End of Success: Evita Perone

Evita

Successful women interest me. I have always been intrigued to get into the mind of those women, to learn more about how they did it, and how they balanced their careers and success with their family and personal life. After watching a matinee showing of “Evita” in New York, which portrayed one of two sides of the story about how she became successful, I had many questions. To learn more about the story, I would suggest looking at the entry on Wikipedia here and watching the musical, or reading about it here to see both sides of the story, which is what I did.

In summary, Maria Eva Duarte de Peron or “Eva” was born a bastard, the youngest of 5 children, whose mother was the mistress of a married man. Her father had abandoned them when she was only 1, leaving them with only the legal right to use his last name. Needless to say, Eva had a rough childhood as an outcast by society because of both her illegitimacy as well as her family’s poverty. However, she had big dreams, and at the age of 15, she left her town of Junin to the big city of Buenos Aires to pursue a career in the arts. Eva worked as an actress and model, finally becoming famous when she joined a popular radio drama, eventually co-owning that very same station. Financially stable, she began to pursue her political career.

Her fate was to meet Juan Peron (then Secretary of Labor) at a fundraiser gala. Peron took her as his pupil, mentoring her in the political arena. A year later, after Eva succeeded in organizing a protest for his release from prison, Peron left his wife and married Eva. With her help, he campaigned to become president and won by a landslide. The people of Argentina loved Eva, whom they began calling “Evita” as a form of affection, as she represented the idea that even “one of the people” can become such a huge icon in the country. Evita supported her husband throughout, cleverly managing his image, strategy and public relations. She always stressed that the people should come first, and began her own charitable foundation that helped thousands of people in the country. Evita died of cancer at the early age of 33.

Many people say that Evita “used” men to get what she wanted and move forward in her career, engaging in a scandalous lifestyle. The musical takes on that point of view, showing her as being involved with many men, pursuing a married man and causing his divorce, and never being satisfied with what he has, allowing the power, money and fame to get to her head.

Regardless, she knew exactly what she needed to do to get where she did in life; the question is, could she have achieved the same without having to sacrifice her principles? Did she take the “quick and dirty” road, rather than the longer more honest road? Did she truly love Peron, or did she pursue him for her own interests in power? Do the most successful people always have the toughest beginnings? Can we call all that she achieved “success”? Is it still “success” even if she became very sick and died at an early age? How do you define success? And do the means of success not matter as much as achieving the success itself?

I feel that a lot of sacrifices have to be made when you want to be successful, regardless if you are a woman or a man. Some of these sacrifices might be giving less time towards what is important in your life (such as spending less time with family); some sacrifices could be giving up on certain ideas, ways of thinking or even principles. Personally, I understand the need for sacrifice, but I could never go against my principles and values. In the past, I did end up sacrificing my time with loved ones, and even taking care of my health, for my career; but never any of my values. I did have to change the way I believed things should be done and the way I look at things, which was difficult at times. Success for me today is being able to balance all areas of my life while achieving the maximum of my goals, dreams and purpose of making a difference. To me, the means of achieving success is as important as the success itself, for if you are someone with a conscience, how can you enjoy the success if the means you pursued to achieve it was tainted? In addition, I am a believer that one can learn best from their experience, and going on the “longer” journey is a benefit to the soul.

Another controversial yet interesting aspect of it, is how do successful women handle and balance being both powerful and successful, with the natural ego of their men? It’s true that this issue is not as widespread today as it was in the past, and we do find some examples where the woman is more successful and powerful than the man; however, to what degree do those men really not care about that? I have a feeling that even if men claim not to be affected by it, they actually are, whether consciously or subconsciously. Evita cleverly played her role in the background, always putting her husband at the forefront; yet, for any careful spectator, they could see that she was a big part of his success and power.

I would love to hear your thoughts on this.

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I hate politics!

I hate politics. It really has never been a subject to capture my interest. Whenever I hear people discuss it, I sometimes listen, but most of the time, I get very bored, unable to suppress my yawning or my wandering mind.

My opinion about politics (and here I refer to both governmental and corporate politics) is simply this: It is a dirty, dirty game. The truth of the matter is, it rules our life, one way or another. For example, governments approve laws and makes decisions that affect each one of us, such as taxes, social security, health care, etc… Corporations decide on strategy, cost-cutting, budgets, salaries, benefits, and how socially responsible they plan or do not plan to be. This is also why I don’t believe that absolute freedom exists, but that’s another topic to be possibly discussed at another blog entry.

I hate politics for many reasons, some of which include the fact that there is bound to be lying, deceit, corruption and games. All those things disgust me, but what really kills me is the hunger for power for the sake of power. That, and people who are not genuine because they are power hungry social climbers who go for the title and whatever powers come with it.

I hate politics because it is inconsistent in many ways. Firstly, the people involved in politics are themselves quite often inconsistent, changing their point of view or what they claim to support, swaying it depending on what is in their best interest; and by their best interest, I mean what keeps them in office and serves their own needs rather than what is best for the people. Secondly, the people who are in office change often, and my problem with that is, due to the hunger for power, coupled with the sense of being the “know-it-all” on all subjects, and sprinkled with the need to leave one’s own mark, the wheel is constantly reinvented (or so it seems) each time someone new joins, making it impossible to achieve the success that would be achieved with consistency and focus.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with making adjustments or changes along the way, as it is only natural in a fast-changing playing field that is continuously affected by both external and internal factors. But, there are certain steps or decisions that a country or corporation has taken in the past which need to be followed up on and completed regardless of who Mr. CEO, President, Prime Minister, Mayor, etc… is. Change is good, but too much continuous change is bad. I would suggest that maybe 25-30% of things can be revamped if need be, but the rest should remain pretty stable and consistent with the exception of a crisis situation, which in and of itself should be contained, controlled and managed within the shortest amount of time possible.

I hate politics because, although it seems like it is a team effort (and it should be) which is put together with a higher purpose (the benefit of the country, company and the people), it really is not. Sadly, we find that most are driving or pushing for their own agendas, which of course, is focused on their own benefit, regardless if it is masked by another explanation or goal.

I also hate politics because if you want a say in those decisions that affect your life, you have to participate in them. I have never yet done so, but I am starting to see it as a reality that we cannot escape, and I think I will try to learn more about how things work and how I can make my voice heard about subjects I feel strongly about, specifically in the governmental side of politics. The Jordanian elections are coming up soon, and to be honest I have shielded myself from looking much into the changes or candidates, and I now realize I should be more active in at least educating myself and being aware of what is happening. As I will not be in Jordan for a couple of months, my promise to myself is to work on that aspect once I return. I am sure some of my very closest friends who are passionate about politics and are now reading this post jumping up and down with excitement. I cannot wait to see you once I am back, for Jordan Politics 101 sessions.

Lastly, I just want to say that I feel that if you go for what is best for the people (which can be perceived as different from what the people believe is best for them), in the most genuine, honest and true way, everything else will follow. I believe this true not just in politics, but in any relationship you have. Go for the people.

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I am selfish…

Many people think I am selfish when I tell them that I believe in putting myself first; but I don’t think that I am.
We all look at and assess different areas of our lives, prioritizing and investing into them what we believe we need to. Those priorities change over time, depending on what stage of life we are in, what experiences we have gone through, and what our current needs and wants are.
I divide my life in general categories as follows, in no particular order: Love, Family, Career, Money, Friends, and Health. Those are broad categories which encompass other subjects and areas lumped under these terms.
At least one of those categories, sometimes two, takes the lead in terms of priority in a person’s life. For example, it could be Career (and Money), whereby a person’s main focus is to advance and excel in what they do, and become successful. To another person, it could be family, so finding the right person to settle down with, get married to, and have children with could be at the top of their list, and so on and so forth.
When you read the list of categories I mentioned, did you think that there is anything missing? Yes, there is a missing part, and in my world, it is integral: Me.
If I were to illustrate how I look at the different areas of my life, it would look something like this:

Me

I didn’t always think this way. Some categories had their own priorities at different stages of my life; Career, for example, was at the very top, with the other categories falling a good distance behind, but with time, experience, and “wake up calls” from my body, I learned that, although it is true that balance is essential, more importantly, I could not give my very best to any area of my life or to anyone or anything, if the “Me” part was not okay.

How or when is the “Me” part okay? I believe it differs from person to person, and is definitely interrelated to the other categories. It is a bit more difficult to explain, and a big part of it is a feeling as much as it is a state of mind, body, and spirit. To me, some of the things it includes is mental clarity, physical wellness, and spiritual contentment; but I would also describe it as being and following your true self, being able to realize life for what it is, accept it, and learn to deal with it fully.

And what is “life as it fully is?” Life was never meant to, and never will be, perfect. If it were, it would be so boring! Life is meant to have obstacles, challenges, tests, good times, bad times, unexplainable things, ugliness, beauty, bad people, good people, curve balls, rough patches, unfairness, karma, complexity, simplicity and things that make you stop for a frozen moment in time, breathe in deeply, and breathe out with a smile across your soul. Such is life, and once you learn to accept that, no matter how good or bad things are, contentment settles in and you start listening to life more and seeing things you never noticed before. I am not perfect at doing this, I do lose my path sometimes, but I try to remember this as much as possible because I realize that it is the truth; it is what it is.

So, if taking the time to take care of Me is selfish, if keeping in touch with my true self, ensuring that my mind, body and soul are grounded and content so I can give my utmost to everybody and everything else in my life is considered “selfish”, then so be it… I am proud to be “selfish” if that is what it is. :)

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Introduction… let’s make a difference.

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Allow me to introduce myself. In summary, my background is in banking and branding, with a passion and deep involvement in Corporate and Social Responsibility (CSR), Sustainability, non-profit organizations and entrepreneurship. I am currently self-employed as an Advisor & Consultant, going with the flow of life after leaving not only my career, but also a family legacy of 82 years (but that’s another story).

So after a lot of thought and research on how to build my blog, I realized that my expertise, knowledge, interests and thoughts range in many topics, which cannot be generalized under one theme; so, I decided the best way is to first introduce myself and what I will be blogging about, and then start categorizing each post for better reference.

I have always known that my purpose in life is to make a difference in everything I do. I believe in living a balanced life, ensuring to give due attention to all areas of life (work, family, love, health, etc…). I also believe in putting yourself first, to ensure you are ok and ready to give 100% to anyone or anything you decide to do. Finding or creating a purpose in life will be a common topic in my blog, especially when it comes to branding (both personal and corporate). I believe that happiness should not be pursued, as it is only a temporary state which we experience sometimes if we are lucky, but it is to be fully enjoyed when it does happen; contentment, on the other hand, is a more logical and beneficial goal to aim for, as it is longer lasting and more realistic. I love life and I love living it, (and as a dear friend says, “I love to live and live to love). I appreciate life’s ups and downs, as it makes it that much more interesting. I seek adventure through traveling and through pushing myself beyond my comfort zone as much as I can. I have many views and philosophies on different issues on life, which change with time, depending on my experience, what I learn from life, and what is logical to me.

I am excited to use my blog to enable me to share knowledge from both a professional and personal points of view, hopefully making a difference.  Although I am a believer that experience is the greatest teacher, there is no harm in sharing knowledge in preparation for actual experience.

There are many subjects which I am passionate about, and I will be writing about them in my blog. Those include, but are not limited to, branding, non-profits, CSR & sustainability, entrepreneurship, great new ideas and initiatives, philosophy and ideas on life and business. My thinking and ideas focus a lot on values and the greater good, and you will find me asking you about your views and opinions. I like keeping the “bigger picture” in mind, and I very much enjoy a good discussion with varying point of views and suggestions. So please feel free to share your comments and opinions, I just ask to keep them respectful and non-offensive. At the end of the day, we can always agree to disagree.

Finally, the ultimate success for me would be in making a difference with my readers or in actually coming up with something actionable through our discussions. I believe in the fact that actions speak louder than words, and if on one of those important subjects we come up with something concrete, that would be amazing. Words can be good, but they remain just words unless auctioned, practiced and lived, so if I can do anything to help, I promise to do what I can, even if by connecting you to those who can help take your ideas forward.

Thank you for being part of my blog, I very much look forward to sharing with each other!

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