Sunday, August 9, 2009

An Angel in Queens

Jorge and his sister Luz with Shephali and I A couple months ago, Karmatube featured a video of Jorge Munoz, a bus driver from Queens who came home EVERY NIGHT to cook and feed 150 homeless people. Since then, he's been featured everywhere from USA Today to ABC News, etc. Yesterday, Shephali and I were able to tag along with Toan Lam, the founder of Go Inspire Go and the filmmaker who shared the story, as Jorge's family was surprised with a new stove, refrigerator, and microwave! Really inspiring stuff :)

Will leave it to the video to tell the full story when its released shortly :) but suffice it to say that everyone was very moved by what was happening. One of the things that really struck me about their family was the extreme level of service that was always on their mind. One crazy example: While we are helping cook the days food inside, I notice several younger folks helping us and they don't seem like immediate family. Turns out Jorge not only feeds folks on the streets, but he also takes young kids in while they get on their feet! They also get a lesson in service as they get to help with the daily cooking process :) I was so humbled to be in the presence of this family!

This is not to mention at all the story of Toan Lam, who is the reason we were able to experience this gift! Toan is a TV reporter for a major affiliate in SF who decides to stop reporting major media news and start documenting the truly inspiring. His non-profit is all about that goal, hope Karmatube gets a chance to deepen the relationship with him over time :)

If anyone wants to help the cause, just let me know, we'll make sure you're in touch!

Shephali and I with Toan

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What is 'adding value'?

I just realized I have no idea what that statement means even though it is pretty much the implicit force behind the business world. Every business activity is an attempt to 'add value' - from company mergers all the way down to a person showing up to work. here's the problem with it: it's calculated from a monetary perspective. the implicit question is 'how does what i'm doing make myself and others more rich?'

That seems all well and good at first glance, but lets play out an example: 2 housewives, each taking care of their own child. This is done for free (clearly) by both people and both are able to tend most appropriately to their own kids.

Now imagine a swap - each woman decides to take care of the other's children, and each receives the same rate of $20K/year from each other. According to the business world, everyone is richer under this scenario (GDP rises) and both women are adding tremendous 'value' compared to the other option.

There is something wrong with a system that applauds such a scenario. We see this again and again all over the world - sports players can act however they want as long as they perform ('add value') on the field and thus make everyone money, companies can treat the environment however they want as long as they create surplus value for their customers, etc.

My goal is to personally operate under a different idea of adding value - switch the question to 'how does what i'm doing make myself and others more happy?' The attempt to not correlate 'rich' with 'happy' means i'm more likely to smile, open doors for people, generally make life a more pleasant experience for myself and others even though none of those activities does a thing to bring more money into life.

cynics say 'but you don't know what makes others happy! you DO know what makes others rich' - if you don't know the path to the right answer and know the path to the wrong answer, does that mean you should choose the wrong answer?

is a smile 'adding value'? YES ... i'm going to start with that :)