I was at an SVN conference over the weekend, with Rishi, my youngest son. “SVN” is the Social Venture Network, which I had belonged to from 1992 through 2003, during which time I was also on the board for several years. SVN is an important organization in the worldwide scheme of things. It was founded by Josh Mailman, who ranks, in my mind, with George Soros and Warren Buffet; i.e., people of substantial wealth who use their wealth consciously and strategically for the greater good of humanity, and Wayne Silby, the founder of Calvert Foundation, which he has been integral to building a socially conscious investment portfolio of over 14 billion, and a pioneer in the field of Social Investing; a man who’s grasp of the flow of the world’s economic systems is profound.
I was introduced to SVN through one of my closest and oldest friends, I will just give his first name here, John, another person who is of inherited wealth, who has used his inherited wealth as a trust for humanity, and about who I once wrote, is “the only person I know who suffers from an excess of likeability and competence”. He is now not the only person I know of for whom that is true, but I met all the others through him. John, who was/is friends with Josh and Wayne, was amongst a small group of people who were drawn together out of the isolation that they each felt from being a person of inherited wealth, and therefore, suffering the consequence of never knowing if someone was befriending you for your money or for yourself.
The decided to form a group called “Doughnuts,” where they could comfortably hang out with one another and feel safe. As these were all people of social consciousness, their spending time together led them to develop the Threshold Foundation, which they created to have a vehicle to use their philanthropy as consciously as possible. After a while they wanted to create an organization through which they could work together more through their collective “doing” rather than “giving”. They also thought it would be interesting and important to include people who had become successful as socially conscious entrepreneurs, as their interest was to work together effectively.
When I joined, the membership criteria was that one had to be an entrepreneur who had founded an organization that was socially conscious in some way, and had an annual gross income of at least $3 million, there were other related criteria for senior officers of much larger businesses, for non-profits, and for community elders like Ram Dass. I had joined through my founding of Rainforest Products and my role, at that time, as Vice President of Marketing for Golden Temple cereals. A nice thing about membership in SVN, is that once one has joined one can continue to be a member even if one’s circumstances had considerably changed. There was, and is, a vetting process through which one had to prove the social consciousness of one’s enterprise – income alone is not enough.
It was a great pleasure to be back in a community in which everyone has their shoulder to the wheel in some way, each person working to serve the greater good, frequently in ways that are quite brilliant. I have sometimes found that in the world of yogic practitioners that folks can be quite wrapped up in their inner process, in their own personal progress, with the state of the world feeling and seeming quite remote – something out there – almost as if it has nothing to do with us – like a TV program more or less. At SVN, the world is with us, humanity’s collective pain (which there is plenty of) and the state of the global environment, is real and palpable. But, this is not a place where people complain about how terrible things are, not at all, but, rather, where the conversation is more about what to do and how to do it better.
I led an abbreviated form of a Self Worth workshop there, perhaps more accurately described as an introduction to that work (rather than a workshop), with a brief dip into an interactive process, in which I asked participants, “How might your wounds be impacting your life, be limiting your ability to allow yourself to succeed in life, have abundance in all areas of life?” I was quite pleased with how it unfolded, as I felt it was the best short presentation I have ever given. It was received with much approbation, with many people coming up to me throughout the conference to thank me, or share what came up for them. I should add, that I also led a brief healing experience – as I would never open up experiencing one’s wounds without a healing of some kind.
As the conference went on, I became aware, that while just about everyone there is quite successful in the realm of doing, they are not any more successful in their personal relationships than are most other people. I spoke about this in the closing circle on the last day, mentioning what Daddy Bray said to me about “being a radiant example of how to live on the planet,” and that as we (SVN members) wish to be examples to others, we need to live our lives in such a way that people would say, about us, that they would like to live like us, that they are inspired by us; and that in order for this to happen, more inner work is required. I was blessed in that what I said flowed in a moving and compelling way. Again, many people thanked me and said that they would like to see this happen.
Now, back at home, question is how to make it real and actually begin to do something. I am attracted to bring my work here. It would be truly interesting to see what would happen if a significant portion of this important community could more fully unleash their power – a very exciting prospect.