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Philanthropy and The Passion of Bill Gates

Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy In June 2015, about 200 billionaires, outstanding philanthropists and social entrepreneur-game changers convened in New York for the annual Forbes 400 Summit on Philanthropy. The high spot of the event was the presentation of lifetime accomplishment awards to Bill and Melinda Gates, and Paul Farmer, cofounder of Partners in Health. The invention or development should be of great significance scientifically, should be agenda setting, and undeniably must have had a chief influence, both in terms of the development of the field and its applications to advance mankind. The rule is that that the accomplishment should not have been marked by another major prize. This means that the reward should not come too long after the invention, discovery or development. This is why our winners occasionally receive the Nobel Prize and not the other way around.

Paul Farmer, Partners in Health Recalling Bill Gates’s passion for philanthropy and his ability to focus on the task at hand, Paul Farmer reminisced,

I was traveling with Bill once in Africa and we decided to go up to the top of this mountain to see the gorillas up close. We’re sitting there, and there’s this beautiful silver-backed gorilla not 5 feet from Bill Gates. And he turns around to me and goes, “Now, where were we in talking about this tuberculosis vaccine?”

Warren Buffett and Bill Gates Philanthropy In a planet with many celebrities but few heroes, Bill Gates has reached superhuman status by pledging much of his massive fortune to the improvement of global equity. He and his wife have directed the causes of health disparities between rich and poor, and their foundation has become a mainspring in international aid and in research on AIDS and other diseases. In June, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s likely influence on global health was augmented when Warren Buffett, the world’s second-richest man, broadcast plans to give most of his fortune to the foundation established by the richest one. At the same event, Warren Buffett noted the following on Bill and Melinda Gates:

When I was deciding how to give away my money nine years ago, I reached out to Bill and Melinda Gates and struck the kind of deal I usually make: they do all of the work and I sit back and watch. I’ve studied this country’s great philanthropists: Rockefeller, Carnegie. Henry Ford, you name them. None of them ever poured remotely the amount of personal time, effort, and brainpower into their foundations that Bill and Melinda have.

When the Buffett gift was announced, some observers expressed concern that aid from other sources would decline because the Gates Foundation would be perceived as rich enough to solve the developing world’s health problems.

Philanthropy and The Passion of Bill Gates Venture philanthropy has thrived general philanthropy as a controlling principle in concept and in language. The conversion further blurs the line between the private and the public. Foundations have moved away from setting general humanitarian goals and making grants to outside groups for research and for achievement programs in keeping with the foundation’s general purposes. Foundations today set more specific policy goals and then either create or seek out establishments that will carry out projects for which the significances are set by the foundation. Some of the foundations no longer consent unsolicited applications. Instead of a listing of grants, they are now titled a collection of “investments” directed toward achieving a policy goal. The foundations reinforce research that “aligns with our investment strategy.” The Gates Foundation speaks about its “program-related investments” when speaking of its payments in chase of its aims. Accepting the award, Bill Gates noted:

I have had a lot of fun jobs, but none of them has been as fun as partnering with Melinda and seeing real results. My favorite graph is the one that shows childhood death has been cut in half in 25 years, and my favorite prediction is that we’ll cut it in half again.

I see philanthropy as the venture capital tor government functions. There are certain things the private sector will never fund like fighting malaria or fixing primary health systems, because there is no profit model there. Governments want to fund those things, but it’s difficult for them to work on really long-term issues and to attract the right scientists to solve those problems. Philanthropy can take the risks, do the research and development, and fund the pilot programs to tackle some of the most critical issues in the world.

The late 19th century brought the Gilded Age, with riches created by inventions and opportunities. In the 20th century, capitalism was directed by the managerial revolution that fashioned huge corporations and personal fortunes but also repressed innovation, limited new opportunities, and widened the gap in the distribution of wealth. Executive capitalism is now being replaced by the entrepreneurial capitalism stage, a second Gilded Age, which Acs identifies as the New American Capitalism. Entrepreneurial capitalism necessitates a philanthropy (as represented by Warren Buffett and Andrew Carnegie) that ploughs fortunes into society to offer opportunities for entrepreneurs and capital for entrepreneurial activities such as business incubators. Corporate capitalism reinvigorated traditionally manly rhetoric and actions, from paternalism and self-control to the Great Father and the warrior ethos. Abstracted loyalties to gender and race intensified, and gestures of masculinization saturated American culture. Nor have they slackened much in or own post-millennial atmosphere of white male pathos and bathos. Yet it’s not enough to say that manhood developed new forms of contestation and patriarchal performativity as men’s work alienated their gender codes from their gendered bodies. The rise of large-scale organizations threatened manhood’s usefulness.

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Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Stephen Fry on Respect for Devout and Pious Members of the Catholic Church

In October 2009, English comedian, actor, writer, and humanitarian Stephen Fry joined provocateur extraordinaire Christopher Hitchens to debate against former Member of British Parliament Ann Widdecombe and the Archbishop of Abuja, John Onaiyekan on the topic of ‘Is Catholicism a force for good in the world?‘. Television and radio journalist Zeinab Badawi moderated the session hosted by Intelligence Squared held at the Methodist Central Hall in Westminster.

Fry’s passionate and emotional speech opened with a reiteration of his respect for individuals’ choice of Catholic faith and appealed for their respect for others’ choices too:

I want first of all to say that I have no quarrel, no argument and I wish to express no contempt for individual devout and pious members of that church. They are welcome to their sacraments. They’re welcome to their reliquaries and to their Blessed Virgin Mary. They’re welcome … to their faith, to the importance they place in it, … to the comfort and the joy that they receive from it. All of that is absolutely fine by me. It would be impertinent and wrong of me to express any antagonism towards any individual who wishes to find salvation in whatever form they wish to express it. That, to me, is sacrosanct, as much as any article of faith is sacrosanct to anyone of any church or any faith, in the world. It’s very important. It’s also very important to me, as it happens, that I have my own beliefs. They are a belief in the enlightenment. They are a belief in the eternal adventure of trying to discover moral truth in the world.

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Posted in Faith and Religion Philosophy and Wisdom

Four Traits of a Virtuous Company

In an article in the 23-Feb-2015 issue of Bloomberg Businessweek magazine, Susan Berfield discusses the dilemmas of a private business founded on the principals of “doing good” going public. Berfield contends that such companies must now respond to every demand of the public company relative to its mission. The article features The Container Store, founded in 1978 in Dallas, TX.

'Conscious Capitalism' by John Mackey, Rajendra Sisodia (ISBN 1625271751) Here are four traits of a virtuous company, as defined by Conscious Capitalism, Inc., an organization founded by Whole Foods Market founder John Mackey:

  1. A purpose other than making money, though the company should make money too.
  2. A focus on employees, customers, suppliers, the community and its ecosystem—and shareholders.
  3. A leader who seeks to bring out the best in people.
  4. A culture that fosters love and trust.

Berfield contends that companies that abide by the tenets of conscious capitalism have generated handsome returns for investors. Examples include

Starbucks, Chipotle, Whole Foods, Costco, Panera, and Southwest Airlines.

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Posted in Business and Strategy

Identify the Best Volunteer Opportunities

Identify the Best Volunteer Opportunities Winston Churchill once said, “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Whether it is due to frustration about the status quo of a service or a community organization, a sense of duty, or some other reason to contribute and become a better person, many people respond to the needs of volunteerism by donating their time and energy to a variety of causes and charities. There are evidently many ways for you to serve in the community. Volunteering is a great way to learn about community issues, develop life skills, expand your resume, explore areas of professional or personal interest, and meet recognized community needs.

Here’s how you can explore potential volunteer opportunities in your community and establish a match.

  1. Perform a self-assessment. Think about your motivations, strengths, interests, needs, and objectives. What do you hope to achieve or draw from the experience? What would you like to do, in what capacity? What causes interest you? What contributions can boost your self-esteem? What population and constituencies do you want to work with? How much time commitment can you give?
  2. Volunteerism Research volunteer positions available in your community. Talk to the local non-profits and civic bodies and ask for connections and referrals.
  3. Differentiate between various opportunities and the organizations you can be engaged with. Think about the expectations of the position and the precise specific responsibilities of the service opportunity. What are the hours and the time commitment required? What opportunities and causes fit with your goals, values, and skills?
  4. Ask for an orientation. Meet with the volunteer coordinator, director, or manager of the organization you want to serve and be acquainted with the organization, its mission, people it serves and responsibilities of your role.

A good volunteer opportunity is a great way to enrich your life experience, make an impact on your community, get more meaning to your life, or build your resume. Be sure to include some time to reflect on your experiences. Network and learn.

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Posted in Education and Career