Monday, November 30, 2009

The FUN Theory and JOY Conspiracy

Every day I am becoming more aware of how important it is for us to enJOY this journey called life, and not get so caught up in the drama, chaos and need to get to some unattainable destination. This is it! This is your life! So you might as well get busy living, or get busy dying - only you can make the choice.

In between goals is a thing called life
that has to be lived and enJOYed.
~ Sid Caesar

Many of you who know me, know that I am an eternal optimist. While I went through a very dark period in my own life, I woke up one day and realized I might as well get busy living. For me this journey has taken me to the place of not only living but living in JOY and FUN!

Despite the never ending bombardment of negativity in the media and world, I have recently been inspired by how people are putting a little dance in their step and a little song in their hearts to have more FUN and JOY in their lives and inspiring others to do the same around the world. So this month, I wanted to share with you a series of videos, blogs and more that have inspired me and are inspiring others to do the same. As I see videos, blogs and sites like these, I can't help but believe that truly indeed, we really are moving into new era of JOY, FUN, PEACE and HOPE. These are just a few examples below of how people like you and me are inspiring the change:

First and foremost is the site: This site and project is sponsored by Volkswagen as they have several videos on their site that show ways in which they replace normal every day activities like taking the stairs at a train station, throwing trash away at a park or recyclables away on the street with FUN activities. Their theory is that "FUN can obviously change behavior for the better." Check it out and see if there are ways that you too can be inspired to put a little more FUN in your every day routine.

Another blog,, is building the case about those who are conspiring to make this world a more JOYful place. This is the blog site of a friend of mine that recently launched in which he explains in his first blog ( that the JOY conspiracy, much like the pessimist conspiracy that is now inundating our world, news, media and beyond with fear, doubt and negativity, took years for the programming to sink in and happened so gradually that we didn't see it coming. Much like that conspiracy, he believes there is a much more powerful, and may I dare add "stealthy"conspiracy going on, involving a massive group of people intent on creating a JOYful way of life that will refuse to be destroyed. Check it out, document and share your JOYful actions and be a part of the conspiracy and see how it makes you and others feel as you spread the JOY!

Another series of YouTube videos have extended beyond to spread the FUN and JOY to the masses. Each time I get a video like these, I am refreshed and renewed with a sense of hope for the world we are living in, the possibility and optimism, and potential for change by other "joy co-conspirators!" Put a little JOY in your own life and pass it on to others and have a little FUN:
Grocery Store Musical: This video whether staged or not, definitely puts a smile on your face as these grocery store shoppers bust into a musical urging us to keep our fruit from being lonely by squishing our fruit together!
Wedding FUN: These two videos give a whole new perspective on walking down the aisle:
and the first wedding dance: Doesn't that make you want to create and innovate for your big day?
Train station dance: First came the DoReMi dance in an Antwerp train station as people bust-a-move and joined in:, then in a train station in Liverpool: and the clincher, though planned by ImprovEverywhere, is of a group of people who inundate the subways of New York with no pants: Imagine the giggles in your day and that of others! Doesn't it make you want to dance and spice up your life and that of others?
Free JOY: In these two videos we get to see the power of giving away free hugs on the street and a guy dancing his way around the world spreading the JOY:
Creative giggles: Two videos come to mind as creative types jump on the FUN band wagon to spread some laughs on a boat : and inspire some hope with stand by me for change:

Are you inspired YET? Go have FUN! Push the envelope! Act outrageously, boldly, audaciously and authentically in your truth to live fully in JOY! During this holiday season, rather than getting caught up in all the gifts that you have to purchase, perhaps instead may you be inspired to spread your gifts of FUN and JOY!

JOY is not in things, it is in us.
~Richard Wagner

Thursday, November 26, 2009

November's Latest Top e-Giving News

As Thanksgiving is upon us, no matter what your views about this day, may it bring a moment of pause for all that we are grateful for and the ways we are giving back. This month may you be inspired by our latest e-gifts news and be grateful for all that you have.

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it,
is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
~ William Arthur Ward

A recent article ( talked about a new release by noted philanthropist Charles Bronfman and philanthropy expert Jeffrey Solomon, entitled "The Art of Giving: Where the Soul Meets a Business Plan". The book posits that philanthropy must be strategic, intentional and - perhaps most importantly - fun! As I read the article and their thoughts about giving, I realized that those are all the components we are putting together as we develop OneGiving™. How right on they are that while there is a lot of giving going on in the world, which is a good thing, what if we could make that giving more strategic and intentional so that all of our individual giving efforts could not only build upon each other, but could also be put into the context of the need of giving, and ultimately can be more fun! As we create OneGiving™. that is at the forefront of our minds, while at the same time sharing with everyone the news and resources out there surrounding giving, so we may all move in the direction of making an even bigger impact on the planet! Enjoy our November latest e-Giving news:

Funding Opportunity
Chase is giving away $25,000+ to 100 nonprofits: Chase Community Giving is a program run by Chase that will allow Facebook users to vote for local non-profits, and help direct Chase corporate philanthropy dollars to eligible organizations in the following focus areas: education, healthcare, housing, the environment, combating hunger, arts and culture, human services, and animal welfare. The grassroots campaign aims to inspire a new way of corporate philanthropy.

Celebrities & Giving
Product (RED) Controversy: This article investigates Product (RED)'s $135 million donation to the Global Fund for AIDS programs and explores the controversy around the campaign and where all of the money from product sales is going, its impact and whether this is the best approach and use of resources.

Corporate Giving
Brands & Causes = Consumer Worthy:
The 2009 PR Week / Barkley Cause Survey uncovers that while consumers have decreased spending on charitable giving, 91% expect companies to fill that gap and showcase their commitment to the greater good (up from 86% in 2008). The study also reveals that cause can make strong business sense for brands by increasing trial, loyalty, sales, and even higher prices at the cash register.

Individual Giving
Volunteering or Work?:
You know the job market is bad when you can't even work for free. But while the right volunteer gig can help your job search, there are no guarantees. And in some cases, volunteer duties can actually get in the way. This article provides six tips for getting the most out of pro bono work, and making sure it doesn't take you out of the hunt.

Social Media & Giving
Social Networks & Nonprofits:

Got a tweet to spare? It could help the nonprofit of your choice. Many recent examples of how social networks have quickly become a powerful yet inexpensive tool to raise money and awareness for charities, even at a time when the economy has reduced overall donations to nonprofit groups.
10 Golden Rules of Social Media: An interesting set of rules to embrace, debate, pass around and refine regarding the growing trend of social media.

Nonprofit Resources
Helpful resources of the month that range from taglines, YouTube, online newsletter ideas, Twitter and website content:
· 13 Outstanding Nonprofit Taglines: A nonprofit's tagline is hands down the briefest, easiest and most effective way to communicate its identity and impact.
· Nonprofits & YouTube: A Must: A webinar about how nonprofits can use YouTube effectively.
· 27 Story Ideas for Nonprofits: Ideas to provide newsletter article themes you can take and run with - real newsletters examples are included.
· Top 100 Tweeps to Follow: Follow folks in specifically social entrepreneurship circle. Start with the first 20 below and see how it goes.
· 20 Twitter Hashtags for Social Entrepreneurs, Nonprofits and Activists: One of the best (and worst) features on Twitter is the hashtag. Check out this list of 20 hashtags change-makers will be sure to enjoy.
· Top 10 Things Donors Want from Nonprofit's Website: Most donors check out nonprofit websites before making a gift. Here are ten things to ask to see if your website is hurting or helping your fundraising campaign.
Giving Trends
2009 Cone Consumer New Media Study: According to the 2009 Cone Consumer New Media Study, new research released today explores American new media users' interactions with brands, their engagement with corporate responsibility practices and their support of social and environmental issues.
Donor Motivations, Income and Education: Nearly one in five donors says that the most important reason to give to nonprofits is to help meet people's basic needs. However, a key finding of the research is that, while there are differences in the percentage of people who select different motivations within each region of the country, those variations can be explained by regional differences in income and education, not underlying values specific to the region.

Giving for Thought...or Discussion
Some thought-provoking articles ranging from Twitter followers, tips, non-profit naming, likeability quotient and proposing new fundraising ideas:
· 4,000 Followers Who Don't Care: An interesting article examining the impact and usage of Twitter and other types of social media.
· 9 Advanced Twitter Tips: Twitter tips that will help you manage your everyday "tweeting."
· 6 Reasons to Use the Term "Community Benefit Organization": A debate of using the term "community benefit organization" vs. "nonprofit."
· Definitive Guide to Become Likable Online: What do you think is the most important factor to becoming likeable online?
· Want to Try Something New?: If you ran a nonprofit and your fundraising team came in tomorrow proposing to invest a chunk of your fundraising capital in a social media effort (or any other new fundraising approach), how would you respond?

What are the things that you are grateful for? Are you expressing your gratitude? How are you giving back in the world? Are you open to receiving the gifts that others are sharing with you? Try it on for size this month and enjoy all that unfolds before you!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Nobody Told Me There’d Be Days Like These….

Nobody told me there’d be days like these. Strange days indeed. ~ John Lennon

I decided to share this writing in my blog from a few weeks ago because I realized that it is critical that people know about the good and the bad days that come with starting up a company! So often we have the tendency to share the good, but I believe it critical that people also know about the hard days, as it may help them to not feel so alone as they embark on a journey to start up a company and/or make their dreams a reality...

I don’t think they make stories this good (or maybe this bad?) that often! I know this one will keep me going for a long time to come. The funny thing is I don’t know whether to laugh or cry. So I guess I’ll write about it and feel better.

If someone had told me all the ups, downs and all arounds of starting a start-up company, I never would have done it. In fact, if you asked me right now, I’d say run! Run fast and hard the other direction and don’t look back. But maybe that is because you caught me on one of the tougher days. It really isn’t always this bad. Today is one of those particularly rough days.

The funny thing is I got a fortune today that said, “Your principles mean more to you than any money or success.” I cried. It was something I heard The Dalai Lama recently say when I went to see him speak about Buddhism. He said that when you are on your path and you are committed to a higher cause, your higher purpose and to the greater good, other things don’t matter. In fact so much so, that you begin to allow superfluous things to drop away. I believe this is true, even though it isn’t always easy.

That’s how I feel about the path of creating OneGiving™ ( It started as a vision and a dream a few years ago. I never knew how hard and, yet, fulfilling it would be. Today is one of those days that seemed harder than I could have ever imagined following your dreams and starting a company could be.

I went to Colorado for investor meetings and my business partner flew out and they all got cancelled. Now I had a bunch of meetings with my contacts so it made the trip worthwhile for me, but my partner flew out specifically for the investor meetings and they were cancelled. We are at the beginning stages of raising money, so expending resources when we don’t have to is not my idea of good business. But I guess sometimes in the process, you have to allow for whatever happens and accept it for what it is.

But it gets worse than this. So because our meetings got cancelled, we decided to head to the airport to try to catch a flight a day early to not waste any more of our time or money. I dropped my business partner off at the airport to catch a flight and I went to return the rental car. When I got there, I forgot to fill the gas tank, so I had to turn around and go get gas. When I returned, I locked the keys in the rental car, so we had to wait to get it unlocked before I could get my luggage out of the trunk .Fortunately for me, it only took a few minutes and I was on my way.

I got to the airport only to find that the only flight out was in 2 hours, would cost me an additional $300 and I might not even get on the flight. I decided to go back and stay with a friend and catch a flight in the morning. I called a friend or two to get a ride back from the airport and they were busy, so they said to take a shuttle back to their place. I jumped on a shuttle…and guess my luck? I was the 10th person to be dropped off out of 10 people on the shuttle – it took over an hour to get back to my friend’s place.

As I sat on the shuttle, I started to laugh. One woman asked, “Something funny?” I laughed, I mean what else could I do at this point, and replied, “Yeah, just a funny day overall!” When I got to my friend’s house, I collapsed. I wasn’t sure whether to laugh or cry. Why was this journey so hard somedays? Why me? Why was I doing this? Why couldn’t I just stop? Yet I knew inside, I just couldn’t. This was not about me – it was about something bigger than me. I started to cry.

Most days, I feel ok, in fact I feel great, blissful, joyful and happy. I know I am on my path, fulfilling my purpose, pursuing my passion. I am strong. I am capable. I am working on something – a vision and a dream that is bigger than me. It is not about me, yet I have to be strong enough and I have to have the courage to see it come to fruition.

Most people know me for being positive and an eternal optimist. I find joy and fulfillment out of inspiring others to find the positive in every moment. I love quotes that do the same and spread that love and light to others. But in this moment, I was worn down, exhausted and I fell apart. I was tired of being the strong one and holding it all together.

My friend was a superstar—she held my hand and said all the right things. She reminded me why I was doing this and that it needed to happen. She allowed me to be vulnerable. In that moment, I realized that for the most part in my life, I am strong, committed and passionate. I am a light to inspire myself and others – most of the time. But some of the time it was ok to be vulnerable, it was ok to break down and it was ok to cry and let it all out.

If I had been told about these days, I probably wouldn’t have taken the first step. Nobody told me there’d be days like these. But then again, if they had, I may not have moved forward in following my heart and my dreams to create OneGiving™. I realized that this too would pass. I realized that I could allow the feelings to come, I could collapse for a moment, catch my breath, and then pick myself back up and continue moving forward.

The funny part of it all, was that later that night, my business partner texted me and while she got on a flight out of Denver, she ended up getting stuck in Phoenix and had to get a hotel room there and stay the night. The next day when she finally got home, the airlines lost her bag. As I said, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry, so this time I decided to laugh. What else could I, or we, do?

Not all of our days can be pretty or turn out the way we want them to, but the reality is, that I wouldn’t change a thing. If we are committed to our passion, then we are committed to the journey as well as the destination. While nobody told me there’d be days like these, I realized I could accept what was and use it as fuel to keep propelling me forward on my path and accept whatever else comes my way in this journey knowing that for me and right now it is the only thing, the right thing for me to do!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at