Sunday, November 28, 2010

When in Doubt, Look Back

A couple of years ago, I remember when I was having a hard time feeling like I was making any progress in my life and moving forward. Having been a recovering perfectionist, I often found it difficult to see my progress, because I would focus on what more I had to do and not what I had already achieved.

So often it seems we do this in life. We look at where we are headed and we only find what more needs to be done, not all that we have already done - even when we may only have 1 more thing to do and yet have accomplished 99 things. It is funny how that is.

Now don't get me wrong, sometimes when we live in this way, we end up getting so much done and achieving a lot! But sometimes at the expense of living and at moments we get so caught up in it that we get lost in it all and can't seem to see straight.

I remember back to that moment a few years ago, when a friend told me to stop, pause and look back a year in time to remind me how far I had come. As I did so, I remembered where I had been a year before and how lost I had seemed at the time and how much further I had come, how much more clarity I had in my life and how much happier I now was. It was all in just taking a few moments to collect myself, acknowledge all that I had experienced and appreciate the big accomplishments and the little moments that got me to today.

Some may ask, wait a minute, look back? What about being present and looking to the future and letting go of the past. However, sometimes in order to appreciate where we are and where we are going, we have to acknowledge and accept where we have been.

For this holiday season, I ask that we all do the same during this busy time of year. As you look forward to the weeks and months ahead and begin thinking about the year 2010 and all that you did and did not accomplish on your list and all that you hope for 2011, may you take a deep breath, take a moment to pause and reflect on how far you have come in the last year.

Remember to cherish what you really appreciate, recognize what you accomplished and truly acknowledge yourself. Consider what you would/will do differently as you move forward and remember to thank yourself and those you love for being there with you through the journey. Perhaps in doing so, may you find a few moments of pause and peace during the holiday season to appreciate all that is and all that YOU ARE!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Inspired, Inspiring, Inspirational!

Every day I wake up excited at the idea of how I will be inspired today! I wrote an article a few months ago for Inspire Me Today's blog about inspiration.

I regularly have friends, colleagues and even total strangers thank me for inspiring them. I thank them back and remind them that they inspire themselves and others.

If you start with "I", InspIratIon leads to magic, miracles and dreams beyond your wildest imagination. ~ Pilar Stella

Seriously though, we all have a choice...between fear and love, joy and pain, negativity and positivity. I have lived my life in the negative and it didn't really work that well. I was angry, sick and honestly pretty darn miserable.

So I had a choice to CHOOSE IN to life, really choose in, or to choose out. While I still may have bad days or even bad things happen to me, today, I choose in fully to my life and every day I look for little reminders, little nuggets of inspiration to keep me going.

Probably one of my biggest inspirations are youth! The youth of today have a long road ahead of correcting the mistakes that our generation and past generations have created - with environmental, social and economic trials. Yet, they are a generation that continues to push for green solutions, to give globally and to speak out for equality, justice and freedom.

I go surfing with young adults from inner city LA and while their lives are not always filled with brightness, they bring a spirit that inspires passion, excitement and joy in me every time I am with them. I leave renewed, refilled and rejuvenated - grateful for all that I have.

They remind me to choose in, every day. They remind me to take action, when I am dissatisfied or frustrated with the way things are. They remind me to never ever give up with the hope, passion and courage that they live their lives with in every moment.

So for this fall season, I leave you with a few videos that have inspired me and reminded me to NEVER EVER GIVE UP and to keep inspiring others and being inspired! May we all live in peace, love and joy! Enjoy!

Maya Angelou and Still I Rise

William McDonough: The Wisdom of Designing Cradle to Cradle

Nick Vujicic: I Love Living Life. I am Happy.

Now is the Time. MLK, Jr. Sings.

The Girl Who Silenced the World for 5 minutes.

Thank you for inspiring me and reminding me to keep going in the pursuit of my dreams. When you fail, try and try again until you get there...because you WILL get there!

Saturday, August 28, 2010

You Don't Know What You Don't Know

It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so. ~ Mark Twain

It is funny because I actually think that sometimes it is what you don't know that gets you into trouble. I recently started noticing how what we know or don't know can actually set us up for failed expectations, miscommunication or learning and growing in ways we never could have deemed possible.

The first scenario is: You don't know what you don't know. That is, that when people don't know something they often assume that something is bad or isn't possible.

I have been experiencing and watching this a lot lately. Starting my own company is one example. As I have gone all over and talked to many different people about what we are creating, I notice that everyone either a) tries to fit it into a framework that they understand (and then hence, they aren't actually capturing the true essence of the innovation we are creating) or b) look at me incomprehensibly as though to let me know that what I am creating isn't possible.

I have also witnessed that if people don't know and are faced with the unknown, they are often pushed to their limits of what their experiential minds can comprehend. When this happens
they often turn what they don't know into something bad or they immediately go to... oh, well this isn't possible. It is a funny trick the mind can play on us and it limits us to believe that if we don't understand or don't know how, then it isn't possible.

Rather, I would suggest that at exactly the moment that we hit this point of the unknown we force ourselves to recognize it and dare to ask ourselves, ok, this isn't something impossible, it is just something I don't know. In that moment, if we can push ourselves beyond to say, just because I don't know it, doesn't mean it is bad or I won't do it or I don't know how. Instead, what if in that moment, we pushed beyond our limits to forge into the unknown. Sometimes we may do this by ourselves and other times we may reach out to others and ask for support, because sometimes our unknowns are not the same limits as others and we may become instrumental to each other in breaking through any fear or doubt in overcoming the unknown.

Another scenario is: You don't realize that what you know, others don't know. This one has come back to bite me a lot in my life and to teach me some truly valuable lessons.

We all come knowing, sensing and perceiving things in different ways. We all come from different backgrounds, different families, different societies and so on. We all have strengths in certain areas and weaknesses in others. I used to think that everyone knew what I knew and had the same gifts that I had. It lead me to a lot of unintended frustration and miscommunication. When I worked with clients, I would see things in certain ways. I was often told I could see things at a global level and then take that down to the detail. For a long time, I didn't realize that this was something unique to me. So when I worked with others, I thought they could see what I saw. But when I'd get into meetings and they wouldn't get it, or they would get frustrated because I jumped from one thing to the next, I never fully realized that perhaps they weren't seeing the same thing that I saw, which lead to my own frustration.

For a long time, this lead to my own "shrinking." That is, when you have enough experiences where people don't get you, you start to think, well what is wrong with me. I know for several years, my confidence significantly dropped as I felt like no one really got me, so I must be wrong or must be misperceiving things. It took me several years to realize that actually what I was perceiving was right, for me. I began to get a whole new understanding of assessing what I know and don't know and what others know and putting that into perspective when I work with, relate to and interact with others. It also gave me a whole new sense of empathy and understanding for others. I started to drop my expectations of others, because I realized that expectations were merely my perceptions and perspectives given my own unique lens of how things should be and didn't in any way take into account others views. So I began to let go of what I thought and have really begun to listen, learn from and empathize with others.

This brings up my final scenario that: Others know what you don't know. That is, because we each have our own unique perspectives, limits, boundaries, fears and also knowledge, gifts and expertise, we all have so much to learn from each other, if we are open to and allow it!

It is when we open up to allowing for different perspectives and valuing each other, but also valuing ourselves and our uniqueness and authenticity in the process, it allows for a whole new world of possibility to open overcome our fears, to surpass our limitations and hurdle our obstacles; to look to, listen and learn from others; and to trust our own inner guidance and share our gifts with others.

This is the magic of our unique existence and our connected co-existence with each other!

You can find me at and and twitter @pilarstella.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Passion, Patience and Persistence!

Patience, Passion and Persistence...The three P's of success! ~ Unknown

As many who know me know, I have been working on creating a company, dream and vision for a few years now and it has been a combination of these three P's that have kept me going. These three P's are truly the recipe for success and they don't always come easily, but as I am starting to really get, they sure do pay off in the end.

Passion is doing what you love, following your heart, believing that anything is possible and not stopping until you see your dreams come to fruition. I have had many people in my life tell me how lucky I am that I am so passionate about what I do and that I know what I am passionate about. I have always been passionate. But I haven't always known what I am passionate about or had the courage to follow my heart and live my passions.

At some point, my life got so dark, that something inside me just snapped. Something changed and I couldn't go back any more. I have always been passionate about making a difference and have felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. For a long time, I was passionate in negative ways. I was angry at the world when people didn't get it and didn't do good things to make a difference. Most likely that outer anger and frustration was merely a reflection of my own frustration with myself for not acting upon my passions and my convictions to make the world a better place.

I do feel lucky that I am passionate. I feel even luckier today that I am pursuing my passions, living my dream and not apologizing for doing so or shrinking away because of what others think or tell me I should or shouldn't do.

For some it takes time to find your passion, but don't ever give up until you do. Then when you do, go for it! Go after it, with courage, conviction and determination and you will never again feel that emptiness, that longing, that anger or frustration, as you did when you shut it off, ignored it, buried it or stuffed it!

Ah yes, patience! I think this is for sure the most difficult for me. I was definitely not raised to be patient. None of us are in this "gotta have it now" society. That coupled with my Italian upbringing, ha, I was doomed! Patience, what's that?

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am learning what patience really is and to trust the process. My journey in creating OneGiving has been one BIG lesson in patience - really! From not being able to pay people what they are worth or even anything at all and having to wait until the things that I want or need done for OneGiving to get done until the other things on their priority list get done to seeing how something connects but having to wait until others make that connection for it to come to fruition, I am learning patience with every step.

I am learning how to be grateful for everything that comes and even accepting that it will come on it's own time if it is meant to. With patience comes a higher faith and trust that everything works out as it is meant to and the more grateful I am, the more amazing things show up. I am also finding that with patience comes the mysterious unfolding of the universe. That is, so often I want things to hurry up and happen. Yet, when they don't happen initially, but I am patient, they often unfold in ways far beyond and even better than what my conscious mind could ever have come up with. As I see this happening more and more, I am able to detach from the ways in which I want or expect it to come and am reminded to remain patient to see what magic will come about!

I think that this is something I have always been good at. Probably, sometimes to the maddening of others around me. I remember my first job out of college, I had heard about a clinic that I wanted to work at. So I contacted the director and called him regularly every few weeks before I graduated to ask if there were any openings. Every time, he would say, "Call me a few weeks before you graduate and we will see." When my spring break came about, I called and asked if I could come meet him. He said yes, but that he wouldn't know about a position until later that spring/summer. When he interviewed me, he told me that there would be a probationary period and if it didn't work out, then what would I do after having moved to a new location. I looked at him and said, "I guess go get another job." It was that simple.

He told me years later that he finally hired me, after months of contact and many calls and follow ups, because he said that if I was that persistence in getting hired, he couldn't imagine how persistent I would be in actually doing my job!

I remembered that for many years and it is has been a guiding principle for everything I do. It has sometimes driven people crazy. When I pre-released my first books, I took my years of experience in advocacy campaigns and created an advocacy campaign of my own. I created thousands of post cards with the covers of my book on them and had them addressed to Oprah Winfrey. I gave them out to people all over and asked them to mail them in and write an additional note if they desired. Finally, one day I got a call from Oprah's assistant. She said that they had received all of my postcards, that they knew about my books, and that I didn't need to send any more! I laughed. So maybe she didn't ask me to be on her show, but it certainly did get their attention.

I am still learning to find the nuances of being persistence and bugging the crap out of people. Ultimately, I am not convinced that either one is bad, because as long as your intentions are pure and you are passionate and patient with the process, the persistence will pay off.

As long as we remember to NEVER GIVE UP and to keep going with our dreams passionately, courageously and with persistence and to have the patience to allow it all to unfold as it is meant to and more magnificently than we could have ever imagined possible, we will surely succeed in the ways that matter most!

You can find me at and and twitter @pilarstella.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Hopefully Romantic

I am not a hopeless romantic, I am a hopeful romantic. ~ Byron Tuck

I too am a hopeful romantic and in my book, BEing the Present (, #25), I wrote about loving fully with 100% of yourself, not 70, 80 or even 90% of yourself, but with 100% of yourself. That is what I aspire to. That is what makes me a hopeful romantic.

I was recently totally touched, re-inspired and reminded to remain a hopeful romantic by an article written in the Huffington Post by Arjuna Ardagh about Why it is Wise to Worship a Woman!
The article was so right on!

When I read the article, I felt paralyzed. Here is this man who wrote a post on Facebook about his wife … No one and nothing comes close to the woman who is now asleep in the bedroom.
He received many responses to which he further responded and posed some insights that were deeply moving.

He wrote…
That's where the whole thing starts for all of us, when we realize that we don't yet know how to love. And that's that the big question that you have to consider: "Is that okay with me?" If not, and here's where you have to be honest with yourself, is that OK with you? Is it OK to die one day without the heart's gift having been fully given?

What struck me was that I have never loved in that way, that he so beautifully described, yet I believe it is possible. In fact, I recently asked myself that question and realized, that until recently, I didn’t love myself and so in no way could expect a partner to show up, if I didn’t start with loving myself. It has only been in the recent past that I finally fully love and accept myself that is where it starts, before being able to worship another, we must worship ourselves and not settle for anything less than someone else worshipping us. In fact realized that I’d prefer to be alone than with anything that isn’t totally additive in my life and doesn’t leave me in a place of awe, as so eloquently written as Arjuna’s love and divine worship of the feminine.

What further captured my attention was something he explained that I only recently started to understand about myself. He wrote of a time he was in Bali and was taken to a sacred temple that had many concentric circles and layers – the deeper a devotee you were, the further into the depths of the temple you were allowed and only those who had committed completely and totally were allowed into the inner most sanctuaries to experience the beauty and divinity. He likened that to a woman’s heart. I nearly fell over.

I had recently described to a friend that intimacy with partners has never come easy for me – not sexual intimacy, but real intimacy, spiritual and emotional, intimacy. I have described it in much the same way as he did. It is as though I have layers of walls around me and I let my friends in deeper than I let partners in and somehow I never fully understood it until I read his explanation and description.

The very essence of every woman's heart is the peak of wisdom, the peak of inspiration, the peak of sexual desirability, the peak of soothing, healing love. The peak of everything. But it's protected, for good reason, by a series of concentric walls. To move inwardly from one wall to the next requires that you intensify your capacity to devotion, and as you do so, you are rewarded with Grace. This is not something you can negotiate verbally with a woman. She doesn't even know consciously how to open those gates herself. They are opened magically and invisibly by the keys of worship. Step through another gate, and she will show you her outer gift-wrapping…Step through another gate with your commitment, with your attention, with the small seedlings of devotion, and she'll open her heart to you more. She'll share with you her insecurities, the way that she's been hurt, her deepest longings. Some men will back away at this point. They realize that the price they must pay to go deeper is more than they are willing to give. They start to feel a responsibility. But for those few who step though another gate, they come to discover her loyalty, her willingness to stick with you no matter what…And so it goes on. Somewhere around the second wall from the center, she casts the veils of her personality aside, and shows you that she is both a human being and also a portal into something much greater than that. She shows you a wrath that is not hers, but all women's. She shows you a patience that is also universal. She shows you her wisdom. At this point you start to experience the archetypes of women, who have been portrayed as goddesses and mythological figures in every tradition.Then, at the very center, in the innermost temple itself, all the layers of your devotion are flooded with reward all at once. You discover the very essence of the feminine, and in a strange way that is not exactly romantic, but profoundly sacred all the same, you realize that you could have got here with any woman if you had just been willing to pass through all the layers of initiation. Any woman is every woman, and every woman is any woman at the same time. When you love a woman completely, at the very essence of her being, this is the one divine feminine flame. You discover the magic ingredient which has lead every man to fall in love with a woman.

When I read this I felt renewed and re-inspired as the hopeful romantic that I am. One man wrote, "I feel my heart is closed down. I live in my head a lot…” It made me laugh, sounded like me. Particularly being an Aquarius woman, I recently read a perfect description of us Aquarian women that resonated for me in my romantic life…

Aquarians prefer intellectual partners and communication is very important…if you find conversation that fascinates them, you are three quarters of the way to seducing them. However, if you push for the physical too early, before they figure out their own feelings, it could be the end of their interest in you.

With these two articles a lot became clear, it explained a lot. I am in my head a lot and I do love an intellectual partner. It is safe, but it is also what turns me on and it is what allows a slow entry through the gates, walls or concentric circles, as Arjuna put it, into the depths of my heart, soul and being.

I am a hopeful romantic and I do look forward to that intellectually stimulating, heart opening, awe-inspiring, worshiping partner and relationship and know that it will come and that it is possible. Thank you Arjuna for your beautiful article. It served as a great reminder to me to stay true to being the hopeful romantic that I am, and to not apologize or settle for anything less.

You can find me at and and twitter @pilarstella.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Will the Western Woman Really Save the World?

The world will be saved by the western woman. ~The Dalai Lama, Vancouver Peace Summit 2009

I believe The Dalai Lama's statement to be true, particularly because I believe that I am one of these Western women that is part of being the change in this world. However, through my own experiences in creating a company to do just that – help change the world – I am realizing my own self limiting beliefs and self sabotage that whether familial, societal or just self imposed keep me from fully making that happen. I think in order for us as Western women to truly make that happen a couple key things need to shift in us, by us and for us in order for this to happen…

First, we must stop apologizing. I can’t tell you the amount of times, when I work with women, that women apologize for every misstep, missed action or inappropriate gesture. The beauty of women is that we care, we truly care and worry about others and the impacts of our actions on others. We have empathy. We can feel others and we are sensitive to anything that can negatively impact others. This doesn’t mean that we need to apologize every time we are delayed in returning a phone call or forget all together or we don’t live up to something we have committed to. I don't see men apologizing as often. In fact, I think they recognize that failure and messing up is just part of the process. If we just started to set a few more boundaries and more realistic expectations and didn’t try to take it all on, we wouldn’t find the need to apologize all the time. Save yourself and others the time and energy from apologizing all the time and set boundaries, realistic expectations and you won’t disappoint others, you won’t feel bad and you certainly won’t have to apologize so often.

We must stop doubting, questioning and second guessing ourselves. This is a big one I have experienced in my own journey, particularly in the journey to get investors for my company. I don’t know the world of seeking investors, I am learning by fire and it isn’t always easy, particularly because I wasn't raised in this world. So I second guess myself, a lot, too much in fact. Every step I take, every new experience that is unfamiliar (which is about 99% of them at this point), I question and doubt myself. When I look around in the world, I notice that I am not the only woman who does this. I don’t know if it is biology, sociology or something else all together, but it seems as though more women question and self doubt themselves than men. There is some inherent quality in men that is almost entitled, built with courage, built with an expectation of success or an understanding that failure is just expected and so with every failure comes an opportunity for success. Perhaps it is my own upbringing, but it seems to me that I am not alone in my observation, there are many women out there who suffer from this. What if we could walk into meetings with the same confidence, knowingness and self belief as our male counterparts? What if we could put aside the doubt and see and believe the end result will be at least as good, if not better than we imagined and that we are worthy and deserving of that outcome? Then the world would truly begin to experience the impact and outcomes that we are here to create.

We need to stop being afraid to claim that we are experts. Why is it that it is very easy for men to say that they are experts in an area, but rather as women we say we are knowledgeable? There is something inherent in women that we feel that if we don’t know it all, we can’t say we are an expert. Yet, when we are approached by others, we know the full expanse of an issue, the continuum of factors related to those issues and we see things from a multidimensional perspective that allow us to very often have a unique 360 degree view of a subject, we still deny that we are experts. Rather, men often times are more able earlier on to say they are experts and then fake it until they make it, as the saying goes. What if we began to say we were experts and prove it along the way with our unique world view and multidimensional perspectives?

We must stop bootstrapping. Again, I am not sure why it is, but it seems like there is some sort of underground club, that allows men to reach out and ask for more with confidence and usually get it. Rather, women, we tend to ask for less and then bootstrap our way through it and make it work, but at what cost? What if we stopped setting limitations and started reaching for the sky and asking for what we are worth and what we really need? I am always amazed at what we accomplish on the limited budgets we start out with. What if we actually started getting budgets worthy of the true vision of what we were creating? Imagine how much we could accomplish! It is kind of like Mohammed Yunnus who revolutionized microlending and gave women small loans only to show that they were the most responsible with money and the return on investment was a lot higher and paid back a lot quicker because of their keen respect for the true value of money. Can you imagine if the world started investing more in women and their ideas and visions, how much more incredible the world would be? What could we really accomplish if we stopped bootstrapping and started advocating for, fighting for and standing up for what was really needed to achieve these goals? Imagine the return on investment it would have on the world!

While each of these things may not apply to all women, I believe they are some of the reasons we are not quite there yet, but we are close, oh so close. Could you imagine what the world will be like, when we as women stop getting in our own way and start speaking our truths, living our truths and walking in the courage and confidence of all that we are and all that we are here to be and do? And what if the rest of the world started opening up to the possibilities, supporting these visions and like Mohammed Yunnus gave women the chance to truly change the world for the better?

I believe it is all possible and that believe starts with me first and foremost. Me believing in me. Me not apologizing. Me not second guessing and self doubting. Me knowing that I am an expert. Me not bootstrapping and asking for less. Me standing up with courage and strength to speak my truth. By doing this I believe and know that the world will be a better place and me as a western woman and we as western women will indeed save, or change, the world!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Thursday, July 29, 2010


One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time. ~Andre Gide

I was recently told by a friend that there is a time during delivery of a baby in which the process is so painful that the mom wants to run and hide and to do anything but keep pushing the baby out. This time is so aptly called the transition. What a perfect metaphor for our own life transitions and the transition we are in at this moment in history.

I am seeing it everywhere and feeling it all around me - transitions - from one existence we have known to one we are very unsure of, from an old paradigm to a new. These are very uncomfortable times for many. Some days it is uncomfortable for me, even painful, to go through this transition, that is until I let go or get out of my way, go inward, meditate or do something to release my grip of what I have known and allow something else to emerge.

I have likened it to any time in history in which people have discovered new paradigms and have gone against the grain.

Galileo, known by many as the father of modern science, was very controversial in his time. His studies in astronomy and science that supported the view that the Sun, not the Earth, was at the center of the universe went against the prevailing beliefs of the time. When he defended his views, he was tried by the Inquisition, found suspect of heresy, was forced to recant and spent the remainder that of his life under house arrest.

Columbus, whether you support him or not, when he set off to the west, their were conflicting beliefs at the time that the world was flat or that it had a much wider diameter. Hence, he was scoffed at for the idea of discovering new lands as it went against the prevailing beliefs. But he kept going when others didn't believe, only to (re-)"discover" the Americas and disprove existing theories.

When the pioneers in America crossed the frontier to head west and discover new lands, the same apprehension and fear of the unknown also was faced - and overcome.

There are many more stories like this over history in which visionaries, stepped out of the norm, out of the accepted and out of their comfort zones to find some unknown, that they believed was there and they believed was possible, when others dared not or feared the impossible and the unknown.

I believe we are in a transition like this and when major historical transitions like this come about, we are bound to be uncomfortable. Those of us on the cutting edge are likely to be questioned, doubted, even feared. For what we are discovering dares to question the existing paradigm, to change the current world view and to challenge what we have been taught, what we know and what we believe in.

Transitions can be uncomfortable and down right scary times for everyone. Yet we must remember in these transitions that there may be a period in which we lose sight of the shore for a long time, but we must keep going to see progress. We can not go backwards, that is no longer an option.

We have little choice but to step forward and trust that the steps will appear before us. We may want to stay stuck because we can't see the next step. But something will force us there whether we like it or not, so we might as well move forward in faith and trust, knowing that something better is coming. That is one thing we may surely have learned from history, is that in times like this, moving forward, taking one step forward in the direction of progress is much better than holding on to or standing still and staying stuck with what is no longer working.

In these times of transition, may you let go and move forward to do what it is you are here to do. Learn to trust the process and welcome in the new, rather than resist it and allow the pain, turmoil and transition to persist.

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Who Will You Follow?

When you follow your bliss... doors will open where you would not have thought there would be doors; and where there wouldn't be a door for anyone else. ~ Joseph Campbell

I remember one time I was sitting with my Kundalini Yoga guru and he asked a question to our class about businesses that if a business idea was presented that two people believed and 98 didn't, who would you follow? Many people said the 98. I said likely the two because most likely the two can see what the others cannot see, that is what entrepreneurs do. He laughed and said that it was funny that the entrepreneur in the room would say that and that I was right on.

It was an interesting reminder for me on that day, as likely it was one of the days, that I was up against the wall, uncomfortable in my life because I had chosen the entrepreneurial path. Let me tell you, some days being an entrepreneur really isn't easy. It takes courage and a stomach that many can't handle. Some days I can't handle it.

That day, my class reminded me that sometimes we can see things that others can't see or we can't see things that others can see. Entrepreneurs are often visionaries who see things before others can see them and they create solutions to solve problems, before others. Then once they are up and running, others get it. But they often think the entrepreneurs are crazy in the process.

I definitely have experienced that a lot lately in the creation of my company OneGiving and it hasn't always been easy. Yet, it has taught me a lot about following or, should I say, not following. A friend reminded me along my journey that it isn't for me to follow others but to seek my own truth within. It is something so true that I am learning to live more and more every day.

I used to look outside me for my answers and guidance. Now I may look externally to scan the landscape of what is out there and what is possible. Yet, when I am looking for answers I look within for the answers to come and to follow my truth, my path, my bliss.

I am learning more and more every day that by following my heart, my soul, my inner guidance, and my spirit guidance, that the days get easier and the path gets clearer. I am starting to see my beauty, get clarity for my vision and for my life, and be more confident with each step I take. I am learning to trust in that process that as long as I am following my inner compass, I can put one foot forward even before the step appears and I know that I know that I know that it will show up.

That is who I will follow - I follow myself and trust in my own inner guidance and spirit to show me the way. Follow your bliss and watch as the rest takes care of itself!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Trust the Process

Let’s just trust the process. If other people don’t want to trust the process, that’s fine. If other people want to abandon the process, then abandon it. I’m not abandoning the process. I believe in the process. ~Dayton Moore

Everywhere I turn, I seem to be running into people who's lives are turning upside down, or perhaps right side up. Either way, it is a time of great flux and change on the planet and the only thing that seems consistent is change itself.

As I go through this myself, I have found one reminder to keep me calm and sane during this mass process of change and shedding the old: Trust the process! That is, we are entering a time in which so much of the old and familiar is dropping away and yet the new is completely unknown. It is as though we are coming to the edge of a cliff and we can look back and see what was, but as we look forward all we see is a vast expanse of openness. The only thing that we can do to keep moving forward is to take one giant step in faith and trust that the path will appear with every step we take in the right direction.

For many this is terrifying, for others it is thrilling. For me, it just is. While I have my days, that I too freak out and wonder, is everything really changing this quickly? Has everything I know and have known gone away? If so, what is it being replaced with, what is coming? I don't have the answers and while for many months I have tried to figure it out with my logical mind, I have begun instead to let going of trying to get it and to just trust the process as to what is and what is coming.

The last few months have been particularly about letting go and surrendering to what my conscious mind thinks it should all look like and what is coming and how it may unfold. It isn't easy for someone used to always having a plan, to let go like that. But what I have been finding is that the holding on is the painful part. Holding on to what it should look like, how it should happen, the timing of it all and the expectations are what creates the stress, fear and discombobulation! Whereas, when I let go and watch what unfolds, I am pleasantly surprised and mysteriously amazed at what is appearing before me.

As I have been experiencing over and over again when I try to understand it or control it, I suffer a lot more than if I let go and trust the process.

Is your life shifting every day, on every level, in every way? If so, let go of your expectations, of what you think it should look like, when or even how, and let go, trust the process and allow it to be whatever it may become and more than you ever imagined possible!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Putting the "I" Back in InspIre

My piece written as a luminary for on May 25, 2010 ( Check it out and be inspired and inspiring! ;) p

If you start with "I", InspIratIon leads to magic, miracles and dreams beyond your wildest imagination. ~ Pilar Stella

As I sat down to write this piece, I thought about the word "InspIre." No wonder the word starts with the letter "I" and "U" is no where to be found. Yet, isn't it interesting that when we think of the word InspIre, it is often to think of who InspIres us and is even more likely to be answered with some external person, mentor or idol?

What if we began to truly see the "I" in InspIre and recognized the ways in which we InspIre ourselves and others? Don't get me wrong, it is a beautiful thing to be InspIred by others. But in some ways, perhaps, isn't it like reality TV? That is, people watch how other people live their lives in interesting, strange and often unique ways, while they sit on their couches dreaming of another life, or what their life could be like.

What if instead of watching other people live cool and different lives, what if instead of looking to others to InspIre us, we fully embraced our own uniqueness, authenticity, passion and greatness and looked for the ways in which we can and do InspIre ourselves and others?

I don't have to look very far back in my own life to remember a time when I kept looking outside of myself for InspIratIon. I kept searching for some "thing", some "it", some "one" that could InspIre me, encourage me, or mentor me to be a better me. One day I woke up and realized, hey wait a minute, if it isn't coming from within first, nothing out there will ever truly InspIre me.

That is when my life truly began to transform. I began to dream again. I began to push the envelope, live outside my comfort zone and do the things that make my heart and soul sing. In doing so, I realized I was beginning to InspIre others inadvertently in the process. I received notes and words of confidence and gratitude from friends, thanking me for InspIrIng them to be a better "them."

What it did for me, was InspIre me to keep going, to keep living more and more in my truth every day. It allowed me to open up and follow my heart, reach for the stars, dream my big dreams and shine my light brighter every day.

What are you waiting for in your life to InspIre yourself and others? What is one little step you can take today towards your dream, to waking up and living more fully in your life every day and to InspIrIng yourself first and then others magically in the process?

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

What’s Love Got to Do With It?

You never lose by loving. You always lost by holding back.
~ Unknown

I recently posted a Facebook status update, “Hey Tina, Love’s got everything to do with it!” Truly, I believe it to be so and to be the crux of just about everything in life! I just finished my next book (to be released this fall), What is the Meaning of Life? After spending the last nine months writing this book and pondering the questions and meaning of life, I realized that it all boils down to love!

Love is so many things. Love is the way someone makes you smile or laugh, the feeling you get in anticipation of seeing them or talking to them. Love is also the way you feel about yourself, the peace inside of knowing who you are and getting that it starts and ends with loving yourself. Love is loving unconditionally, unabashedly, uncontrollably. Love is that flip in your stomach, the flutter in your heart, the tingle in your core, at the simplest thought of a person.

To love is to risk not being loved in return. To hope is to risk pain. To try is to risk failure, but risk must be taken because the greatest hazard in life is to risk nothing. ~ Unknown

I was recently reminded of what love is. My heart was opened in a way I had forgotten. I was also reminded that love is unconditional and it doesn’t always show up the way you want it to. When we try to label love, or put love into a box, we ruin the simplicity of what love is. Yet when we truly honor that feeling inside and the core of love, we see rainbows and feel fairies dancing inside reminding us that we are in love and that we are love, with no conditions or strings. When we love unconditionally, we love that person for all that they are, their life circumstances, their gifts, for everything they are and everything they are not. That is love in its purest form.

Let no one who loves be called unhappy. Even love unreturned has its rainbow.
~ James Matthew Barrie

When we love ourselves with all of our being, we attract others to reflect that back. When we love others without conditions, it is a reflection back at us of the love that we are, plain and simple. What a magical feeling to be in love and to be love!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

I'm on a Boat!

I would be completely delinquent if I didn’t post a blog about my incredible journey aboard a boat, the Halcyon III, in the British Virgin Islands with the lovely Captains Gail Goodwin and Darryl Slattengren and a whole crew of hotties!

And then I thought better of it, because as you know, what happens on the boat, stays on the boat. But oh wait, we live in the world of Facebook, Twitter and blogs, so I guess that just isn’t the case!

Instead of write a whole lot about it, I thought I’d post the lyrics to the re-write of the song, “I’m on a Boat!” that we did to sum up our adventures. Unfortunately (or possibly fortunately for some of you out there), we were planning to remake the video ( with these lyrics instead, but it rained on the day of our filming. So you’ll either have to picture a bunch of us jumping around the boat, or wait for our next boat trip, because this boat trip sucked compared to our next one!

Enjoy and just know that life really can be that easy and free – with laughter, love and joy – if we let it be!

I'm on a boat
I'm on a boat
Everybody look at me cause I’m sailin on a boat
I'm on a boat I'm on a boat
Take a good hard look at the mother-huggin’ boat

I'm on a mother-huggin’ boat, watch me jive
Smooth floatin on the water, in the BVI

On the Halcyon III, straight pimped out ride
You can hug me mother-hugger cause my boat is so fly

Take a better photo, Jim, I'm on a fresh boat trip
We eatin green salad, cause it's oh so crisp
I got my breast pumps… and my flippy flippy floppers,
Anegada, playin pool, chowin vishals lobsters

I'm ridin the dingy, woops, that’s what she said,
Yoga in the mornin’, with the towels on our heads,
Drinkin sport tea, laughin, how sober can we be?
I'm on a boat mother-hugger, wanna snorkel with me?

Chorus I'm on a boat
I'm on a boat Everybody look at me cause I’m sailin on a boat
I'm on a boat I'm on a boat
Take a good hard look at the mother-huggin’ boat

I'm the king of the world, on a boat like Leo
Today really sucks, when compared to tomorrow

Gail and Darryl at the helm, and a boat full of cuties,
Donkeyote and the pirates, yo, Surrender the booty

Handstands, trampolines, straight chillin on a hammock
Just ran out of chocolate, the crew’s in a panic
Fear is an illusion and that’s a fact
But that’s okay mother-hugger, cause we got bushwacked!

Sailed past Branson’s island, who could ask for more
Cheers to him for joining us on the global hug tour.
OneGiving, street smart, front row foundation
Check out our crew, such an inspiration!


I'm on a boat
I'm on a boat
Everybody look at me cause I’m sailin on a boat
I'm on a boat I'm on a boat
Take a good hard look at the mother-huggin’ boat

Hey there friends, if you could see us now
Arms spread wide, jumpin off the bow
Gonna get wet, but I just don’t care,
Cause this crazy adventure is for us to share!

I hugged a mermaid

I'm on a boat
I'm on a boat
Everybody look at me cause I’m sailin on a boat
I'm on a boat I'm on a boat
Take a good hard look at the mother-huggin’ boat!

© Halcyon III crew May 2010

Thanks to the whole crew for the magical mystery boat ride!
Gail Goodwin and Darryl Slattengren with
Jim Miotke and Jason Schumaker with
Jon and Mara Berghoff with and
Oh yeah and you know me… and

Thank you all for the love, light and laughter! ;) p

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Total Surrender

Change is the essence of life. Be willing to surrender what you are for what you could become.
~ Unknown

I never really knew what surrender was, let alone total surrender. I was a woman with a plan. I always had a plan, and a back up behind that, and another one after that – a safety hatch, a chicken exit. Recently, I was forced totally let go and not have a plan and to truly trust in the divine order and wisdom of things.

I was on a call with a dear friend of mine, talking about my adventures with OneGiving and all that had recently transpired. You see, this thing called starting up a company is hard – really hard! I guess that is why more people don’t do it. I was telling him about the recent ups and downs – the coming and going of different people on my team. How people start out committed, but when it gets hard their energy wanes and other things take priority. It is a painful process to go through as the visionary and initiator of the dream. People come and go, and you have to let go of the attachment to what it looks like or who starts out and who is going to stick it out.

I told him how over the last month I had truly begun to know what it meant to surrender. My meditation practice had kicked up – I had gone from an hour or two a day to getting out of bed at 3 or 4 am to do not one, not two but three to four hours of meditation and yoga a day. It was the only way I could keep focused to stay the course. It was the only way that I could keep my heart, mind and soul in the game and keeping moving forward with each set back, each loss, each doubt, each fear and each delay.

As I told him the story of the last month and my incremental letting go more and more every day and surrender, he said to me, “You are doing great, yet you are still hanging on to something; you haven’t fully and completely surrendered.” I thought about it for a moment and thought, yeah, I think he might be right. But I could feel it coming on that something was coming to put me into a state of total surrender. I just didn’t realize how soon it would be.

Later that night, my team had a call, that totally and completely disintegrated and the team fell apart into exhaustion, dysfunction and mistrust. Earlier that day, I had felt totally confident and excited going into the call, thinking to myself, I have the perfect team, the perfect mix of brilliant people to pull off this dream in a way no one else has ever thought of, and yes, perhaps the perfect “plan.” Only to be foiled a few hours later. As the call deteriorated, I realized my “perfect” team and my “perfect” plan was no longer.

I hadn’t realized on the call earlier that day that total surrender would be so near, that total surrender would actually hit that night. But it did and I did – totally surrender, that is!

I didn’t grow up believing in God, religion or anything of the sort. I believed that religion was the root of all wars, conflict and trauma on this earth and so by default, didn’t believe in a God. Yet over the past few years, with my own life circumstances, with the deepening of my yoga, meditation and spiritual practice, I had begun to find peace and belief in a higher power, in universal, or divine, wisdom and even had become comfortable with using the word God.

And here and now, with so much of my life invested in this dream of OneGiving, with such a strong calling to keep going and to not give up or quit, I let go of my plan and of complete control and asked for divine guidance to show me the way. I no longer knew what the staircase looked like, just that I needed to take the next step.

When I told my friend, he told me that I had shifted from trust to faith. I guess that is what it means to surrender – to truly let go of the plan we had and to be in complete service and utter faith in that service.

That is what OneGiving has been for me – a journey in service, surrender and believing that what we are creating is not about any ONE of us, but that it is the energy of a movement we are creating. A movement to bring together many not just to facilitate more and easier giving on the planet, but better opportunity for equity, transparency and fairness in giving, in resource exchange and in economic equality. It is not about me, but is about whatever is being created.

As I surrendered into the moment, I realized I didn’t need a plan. Every sign along the journey had and has come at the exact right moment. Not on my timing and in the moment that I thought it should come or wanted it to come, but in exactly the right moment that was needed before I would go completely over the cliff. This is the point of trusting and walking in step with faith and letting go in complete surrender. I also believe it is why so many people hit the breaks just before going over the cliff because it is in that moment that we must truly believe and have faith that we will be caught and the net will appear, yet so few truly believe. This is faith. This is what total and complete surrender has become for me.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

From My Next Book...

I don’t believe people are looking for the meaning of life
as much as they are looking for the experience of being alive.
~Joseph Campbell

When was the last time you felt really alive? I mean that you felt at the core of your being just pure life, vitality and passion. When you didn’t feel lethargic, resentful, achy, sad or any sort of ailment? I bet for many, it has been a long time! I know it was for me…a few years before writing this book. Yet, thankfully, as I write this book I feel more alive and in love with my life than I ever could have imagined!

I remember reading Paul Coehlo’s book, The Alchemist—it was a real turning point for me in my life. If you haven’t read it, I would highly encourage, in fact, I’d even urge you to read it, if you haven’t. It is an amazing tale of a boy who sets off on a journey to find his dreams. The part that I remember most vividly is that along the way to his dreams he stumbles upon a crystal shop that has dusty crystal. He goes in to tell the owner that if he’d clean his crystal he might actually sell more crystal. The owner hires him and he proceeds to clean the crystal and the shop begins to truly thrive. As it does, the boy stays on longer and continues to support the owner with the shop, until one day he realizes he is stuck in the crystal shop. That is, he has stopped moving forward in the direction of dreams and has been lulled by comfort, complacency and the material gains that have resulted from working in the crystal shop. When he decides to set back out to go after his dreams, others think he is crazy for leaving the comforts and goods he has attained.

I remember at the time I read this, it hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt constricted in my throat and stomach – I too, was stuck in the crystal shop. How long had it been for me since I had truly felt alive and even dared to go after my dreams? I was stuck in the comforts of every day life, having things, acquiring things, buying things and pretty much living in a dead state. I had most of the things society deems “normal” and “successful,” but I was miserable. I was so numb I didn’t even know what my dreams were at that point. The funny thing is that I was also sick with all sorts of random things at the time. Interesting how the body let’s you know it when things aren’t right, when you aren’t in alignment.

The bad news is that it took me a while to do anything significant about it. The good news is I finally did wake up and start pursuing my passions again and living my life fully and feeling oh so alive. When was the last time you felt really alive? Are you stuck in the proverbial crystal shop? What will you do to turn your life around and start heading in the right direction – in the direction of your dreams, in the direction of your heart? Don’t get stuck in the crystal shop, because as you do, your body, mind and soul begin to wither with it. As it was said in the movie, Shawshank Redemption, “You can either get busy living or get busy dying.” May you get busy living, find what the meaning of life is for YOU, and start really feeling alive again!

You can find me at and twitter @pilarstella.

Monday, April 5, 2010

April's Latest e-Giving News

Giving keeps coming up in the news as more and more corporations jump into corporate social responsibility, nonprofits get active in social media, foundations take more risks and individuals give. All of this makes more of a case for OneGiving - stay tuned! Here is the latest e-Giving news!

You get the best out of others, when you give the best of yourself. ~ Harry S. Firestone

Global Giving
United Nations Special Envoy for Malaria Announces the Social Media Envoy Group - - UN Special Envoy for Malaria announced the formation of a Social Media Envoy group chartered with inspiring and activating social media audiences throughout the year in support of malaria control. The Social Media Envoys are using social media to keep online and offline media audiences focused on the movement, milestones and resources required to achieve the Secretary-General's goal of providing all endemic African countries with malaria control interventions.

Corporate Giving
We're Going Barefoot on April 8th. Are you? - - One Day Without Shoes is the day to raise awareness about the impact a simple pair of shoes can have on a child's life. On April 8th, Tom's Shoes is asking people to go the day, part of the day or even just a few minutes, barefoot, to experience a life without shoes first-hand, and inspire others at the same time.

Individual Giving
34 entrepreneurs who could change the world - - These entrepreneurs could change the world. By sponsoring them, you can decide which 25 will attend the Unreasonable Institute, where they will receive training, mentorship, and access to capital they need to take flight.

Nonprofits, Social Media & Giving
Several lists of nonprofit leaders & social media -
Top 25 Most influential Non-profit Tweeters -;
Top Nonprofit Leaders to Follow on Twitter -;
25 of the Best Non-Profit Websites -

After Facebook and Obama, Chris Hughes launches nonprofit Jumo - - Chris Hughes, a Facebook co-founder who helped launch the social networking phenom and then the tour-de-force online organizing campaign for Barack Obama's presidential bid, on Thursday unveiled his latest endeavor: A website to connect individuals and organizations striving to help the world.

Promoting Giving
Partying to Change the World -
Wedding Favors for Charity -
Initiative to spark engagement & innovation in effort to end hunger - and
Facebook Advertising Experiment for Nonprofit Organizations -
Twestival Lessons for Nonprofits to Engage Volunteers and Donors -

Zoetica Iphone App and Nonprofit iPhone Apps - - Beth Kanter announces Zoetica iPhone application, is now live on the iTunes store.
Mobile Benchmarks 2010: How Are Non-Profits Using Text Messaging? - - The study takes a look at how organizations in the US are using text messaging and how subscribers are responding.
The Demographics of Text-Message Giving - - Donors age 45 and younger were far more likely to make text-message donations for Haiti relief efforts than their older counterparts, according to a new study.

Giving Trends
Using curiosity to engage your community online - - How are we-as interaction designers-leveraging curiosity in our designs?

Giving Measurement/Outcomes/Evaluation
Measuring the Bang of Every Donated Buck - - Ask enough people why they don't donate and a common theme emerges - fear their money will be wasted. Measuring the impact nonprofits have on the problems they seek to solve-and, in some cases, deciding whether one cause is more deserving than another-has become a pressing issue for the multitrillion-dollar philanthropy industry.

For Discussion
iPhone App or a Mobile Website? - - Which is a Better Investment for Your Nonprofit Here are five reasons why it might make more sense to initially invest in a mobile website over an iPhone App.

Thanks for your continued contributions and gifts in the world! Keep on giving back! You can follow us on Twitter @onegiving & on Facebook Pages or me @pilarstella and

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Thankfully I Grew Up Before Facebook!

So I have been thinking about it a lot and kind of cracking up at the whole Facebook phenomenon and how it is totally transforming the face of the planet. I mean, did you know that if Facebook were a country, it would be the 4th largest? And that is across language, geographic, cultural and other boundaries! Pretty incredible. Talk about global oneness!

The one thing I am most grateful for is that I grew up before Facebook. Now I know that there are many great things about Facebook - reconnecting with old friends, staying in touch with others, learning all sorts of random, relevant and irrelevant, stories through sharing, events, and more. But the truth is, I am really relieved that I didn't grow up with Facebook in my youth, high school and college years.

I mean really, can you imagine the pool parties that used to get busted in high school or the keg stands in college coming back to haunt you 5-10 years later in a job interview? I know those of you who know me are probably thinking two things: 1) what is little miss perfect athlete, student, daughter of an Italian father (and we all know what that means! ;) talking about, she never partied? and 2) what happened to the angelic, guru, yogini?

Ok, so yes even I have some old stories and skeletons in my closet. Don't we all? And that is just the point. Youth may not know the implications their actions can have on them later in life. What a tough way to find out? While I am very glad and grateful that I don't have to deal with that scenario, I can't help but think about what this means for today's youth and how many other unforeseen and unintended consequences there are in this brave new world of social media?

One thing is for sure, it is calling on all of us to show up more authentically in ourselves and to show, and also live, the more positive and beneficial sides to our life, as the alternative might come back to bite us in the butt. While these may be the wrong reasons to do the right thing, it actually bodes well for the overall direction we are headed. It will be fun and interesting to watch as all of the other implications unfold.

Happy Facebooking all! You can find me at
;) p

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What Is Your Gift?

It is funny. A few months back for my company, OneGiving, we created a video entitled, "What Is Your Gift?" ( Over the past week, that question has come up front and center for me more than I ever imagined possible.

We all have gifts. But how many of us see our own gifts? And further, how many of us actually allow ourselves to use and share our gifts in our professional lives, in our personal lives and every day?

I know that may seem like an odd question. Yet so often we are raised to do what is practical, rather than that which allows our hearts to sing, our spirits to soar, and our gifts to be shared. I had a conversation today about Indian culture, Italian culture and other cultures for that matter and how many cultures place value on professions such as engineers, doctors, teachers or similar professions. Being an entrepreneur or working in marketing, writing, social marketing or social entrepreneurism are definitely considered more esoteric and often less valued as "not real" professions.

I was recently probed and asked the question, what are your gifts? What do you love to do? I knew in my heart and soul, that I have the gift of connecting - connecting people, visions and connecting the dots. I am a connector, that is one of my biggest contributions. I was then asked, what if rather than trying to do other work and do, do, do the "work" that I think I am supposed to do, I just be me and connect and consider that my real "work?" Wow, I was stunned. But that isn't the paradigm I was raised in, it isn't the paradigm I have known.

Yet, what if in this new paradigm and new era, this is changing? As the financial systems, education systems and other tumble around us, maybe there is a natural progression and movement in the direction of what is possible, impossible and beyond? What if we are being called out of what is stable, practical and comfortable, to truly cultivate, use and share our gifts? What are your GIFTS? And how will you share them today?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Latest e-Giving News and Resources

This was taken from our OneGiving™ e-Gifts newsletter. To subscribe, go to: Enjoy!

Giving is everywhere! In writing this month's e-Gifts newsletter, I think back to a year ago when we started these newsletters, to a few years ago when the idea of OneGiving™ was just an inkling of an idea and to over a decade ago when I started working with different sectors on strategic giving. Wow, how much has changed! It is finally time that giving is has become the norm not the outlier for companies, individuals, celebrities and others.

A recent article in the Patriot Ledger ( sums it up: "Campaigns, built around charitable efforts, have become a staple of marketing strategies for many companies... 'Once it was just this niche thing, and now it's generally recognized as part of the marketing mix,'" according to Rich Maiore, VP for public relations for Cone Inc. Below are some of the highlighted articles and news tracking these trends. Enjoy!

Celebrities & Giving
Cyndi Lauper and Lady Gaga Support MAC AIDS Fund - Lady Gaga and Cyndi Lauper love lipstick, fashion and want to tell girls all over the world how to keep their love life safe, seductive and satisfying with eyes wide open to the facts about women and HIV/AIDS. These sizzling, sensuous self-created divas are channeling their high-voltage energy to launch the new M·A·C Cosmetics VIVA GLAM campaign in honor of women who are living with HIV/AIDS. The M·A·C AIDS Fund will announce $2.5 million in donations to fund model programs that address the vulnerabilities and inequities that place women at increased risk for HIV/AIDS.

Politics & Giving
White House Aid Urges Foundations to Take More Risks - Sonal Shah, head of the White House's Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation, urged foundations to take greater risks, saying one of the lessons she learned in her first year is that the federal government is not easily able to finance experiments with new efforts to treat social problems.

President's Budget Proposes Increase for National Service - - President Obama has proposed increasing the budget for the Corporation for National and Community Service in fiscal year 2011.

Corporate Giving
Pepsi launches Refresh Campaign - Pepsi is giving away millions through its latest corporate social responsibility campaign that it launched in lieu of traditional advertising on Superbowl Sunday. This is one of many companies jumping on the wave of corporate giving and online giving campaigns to position themselves as a leader of global giving. Consumers can go to the site and vote and follow nonprofits of their choice.

Foundation Giving
Grants to Develop, Test Next-Generation Teaching Tools - - The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced 15 grants totaling more than $19.5 million to support the development and testing of classroom assessments and instructional tools in math and literacy to help educators better prepare students for success beyond high school.

Nonprofits, Social Media & Giving
3 Reasons the Future of Your Nonprofit Depends on Social Media -, Nonprofit survival depends upon committing to building and maintaining a strong social media presence. Why? Because online giving is up, corporate giving is changing and your donor are online.

5 Insightful TED Talks on Social Media - - As social media has become a game changer for industries across the board, you can bet the experts at this year's Technology Entertainment Design (TED) conference will have their sights set on peeling back the hype and getting at the core of what social technology has in store for this year and beyond. Check out 5 talks from TED's past, with a focus on social media.

Funding Opportunities
Increase Your Green Campaign - HP and have launched a national campaign for schools to apply to green their schools. Projects need to be submitted by April 22nd, so apply now.

Mobile Giving
5 Real Challenges for Non-Profit Texting Campaigns - - Close examination of texting-based fundraising reveals a wide variety of barriers for nonprofits. This Mashable article exams barriers and solutions to texting and fundraising to consider.

Giving Trends
Online Giving Trends from 2009 and the Haiti Earthquake - - 2009 proved to be another important year for online giving by nonprofit organizations. The information in this 2009 research comes from approximately 2,300 nonprofit organizations using a combination of our online fundraising, email marketing, and integrated CRM tools. The analysis represents the largest study of online giving trends in the nonprofit sector.

Millennials: Looking for More Than Just a Job - - An interesting article commenting of the new era of problem solving and social entrepreneurship as the Millenial generation are looking for work that blends sectors and structure and creates meaningful impact.

Giving Resources
10 Free Things Every New Social Entrepreneur Should Have - -A successful social entrepreneur is scrappy and resourceful. They know how to do more with less, and create a social impact while doing so. Check out the 10 resources that are free monetarily, but each is an invaluable tool for launching and sustaining a lean social enterprise.

Giving Measurement/Outcomes/Evaluation
Volunteerism: Glass Half Full or Half Empty? - - Joanne's blog about the recent report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics that revealed that volunteerism did increase, but not as dramatically as expected. Given the publicity it has received and with the high visibility of President Obama and Mrs. Obama in encouraging volunteerism, what does this mean for volunteerism? You decide.

Nonprofit Social Media Benchmarks Study - - A great blog about a social media benchmarking study to create benchmarks for nonprofits on Facebook and Twitter. The blog includes sample research by groups such as Easter Seals, Oxfam, Human Rights Campaign, League of Conservation Voters, and more.

For Discussion
The Age of the Citizen Philanthropist - - This article talks about how our new communications technologies have empowered the individual and the implications of this on the non-profit sector. Is it disruptive or helpful? What do you think? Whatever the case may be it is happening, so how do we steer it in the direction of helpful, productive and useful?

A Lost Generation of Entrepreneurs? - Social Citizens responds to a BusinessWeek article by seasoned entrepreneur and investor, Jeff Bussgang, and argues that the latest generation of entrepreneurs who may focus a little less on profits and a little more on changing the world. Check out this list of individuals with leadership experience and start-up skills that serve as role models for their peers and the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Can an Injection of National Service Heal the Unemployment Problem? - - With the private sector short on certainty and Washington short on cash, creating jobs isn't easy. That's why targeting young people makes so much sense. Jobless youth are in ample supply, cheap to hire and eager to serve. A national network of nonprofits and service organizations already exists to put them to work.

Thanks for your continued contributions and gifts in the world! Keep on giving back! You can follow us on Twitter @onegiving & on Facebook Pages.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Leadership Lessons for Living

This was taken from my Pilar Stella p-Gifts Newsletter. If you want to subscribe to get these regularly go to: and sign up! Enjoy and happy month ahead! ;) p

A few months back, an investor that I met sent me an email that said that my focus and enthusiasm was inspiring and would carry me through the hard times. Today I saw this quote that reminded me of his note, and I felt a smile wash over me.

Enthusiasm is the great hill-climber. ~ Elbert Hubbard

The last few weeks have not been the easiest for me, but I dare say it has been one of the most tremendous periods of growth for me in my life. I realized that though it has been a rough period, I feel all the more capable and able to take on all that is today and in the coming days, weeks and months ahead. In fact, I have this feeling that when I look back on this period a few years from now, I will remember these weeks as a turning point in my life. I am starting to get that the hard times and tough decisions are there to test our faith and commitment to what we believe in and to show us what we are truly capable of if we stretch beyond our comforts. For me, these weeks are teaching me to be a better leader and to be a better me.

Do what is right, not what is easy. ~ Reverend Timothy E. Tyler

First and foremost, I am learning that doing the right thing is not always the easiest thing. I am learning that being a leader means seeking and really listening to, and hearing, others' counsel. Yet it also means taking that input in and discerning what resonates internally with my intuition and inner guidance and making decisions from that space. Leaders like Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, Nelson Mandela and Martin Luther King didn't always make the popular decisions, but they listened to all and then went inward to find the answers.

For the first time in my life, I feel I am making hard decisions and taking responsibility for them - even the not-so-good decisions - and then learning from them. I used to seek input from others and then make a decision based on other's advice. When I made a mistake, I could consciously or subconsciously dismiss it as bad advice or blame others for the "mistakes," and clearly not learn the lesson. Now, I am making my own mistakes, taking ownership of them and learning from them, even if it is sometimes a painful process. Yet because I am making my own decisions, "gut" testing them with my own inner wisdom and going with what feels right to me, the decisions are getting easier and I am learning more.

Life's lessons don't need to be from the school of hard-knocks-only if we choose them to be. I am realizing that our lessons show up over and over again if we aren't getting them. So if they come to us like a big bat hitting us over our head with a hard-knock, it is probably because we have seen this lesson before but we haven't learned it, so it comes back to hit us over the head again and again until we get it. Not a fun process, believe me, I know. This can take the form of sickness, depression, loss of a job, a loved one or otherwise. When things like this start to happen around us, we may get down and frustrated, or we may look around at the signs and ask, "Ok, what is the lesson I need to learn?"

I am starting to recognize that the lessons in these past weeks have been harder than in the past, because they are lessons that I haven't gotten and learned from, so they are back to hit me over the head this time to learn from. At the same time, I believe I am finally really getting them, taking them on and stretching so that I do learn and grow to my full capability and potential. Hopefully, I can learn from them to make it easier in the future. This is part of growth, this is part of leadership. I was recently sent an article on Sir Richard Branson with some good insights and reminders about being a leader that I recommend you peruse (

What lessons are you learning? How are you growing and stretching every day in your life, out of your comfort zone? Are you asking, listening and really hearing? Are you learning to go within, trust your inner guidance and make decisions from within? May this spring be a time of inner reflection for you, that you may find your inner guidance, trust more, and truly blossom and grow into your authentic self and the leader, and person, that you are.

Leaders grow, they are not made. ~ Peter Drucker

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I Love LA!

Los Angeles is the city of angels, with magic, miracles and mystery unfolding every where you go. It is a place of possibility, opportunity and where dreams turn into reality. ~ Pilar Stella

When I sat down to write this blog, I went to look for a quote online about LA and they all had a negative connotation. It really is a shame, or perhaps, it is a good thing, because it really keeps any of the non-believers out. Whatever the case may be: I love LA!

LA has a bad reputation. For many, it is known as the land of gangs and violence, traffic and plastic, botox and Hollywood. For me, it is a place of dreams, vitality, passion, commitment and authenticity. People who live here don't live half - they live fully in every moment, with every breath, every step and every action. They live boldly and authentically in their truth.

Some external observers may criticize that people are fake and everything is smoke and mirrors - which for some it may seem that way. For me, I see people going for it. While many may hold day jobs, at night, rather than sit around and watch tv and watch other people's dreams, people in LA are doing the things they love - they act, sing, dance, and work towards their dreams and passions.

I have never experienced anything like it. I call it the land of misfit toys - it is a place where many have come because they might not have felt at home in other places, yet they get to LA and they can finally be authentically, truly themselves. I know that is very much how I feel. Everywhere else I have lived, I have felt like the odd woman out. That is, often times in other places people have said to me, "Pilar, why don't you ever stop and take a rest and take some time off, rather than volunteering, working, writing and doing all the crazy things you do?"

When I got to LA, for the first time ever, I felt like I wasn't the only one going for it. In fact, I started to feel like a slacker and I finally realized it is ok to go for your dreams, it is ok to give back, and it is ok to work around the clock - as long as it is doing your life's work, your passion and your dreams, then it doesn't feel like work!

Today, I was blessed with a perfectly beautiful day in February. I took a long walk on the beach with not a cloud in the sky and the perfect temperature of 68 degrees. Knowing about the snow that is dumping on the East Coast, I felt really grateful to be living in such a magical spot.

Last weekend I went to a nonprofit fundraiser for youth in LA and for Haiti. My friend's organization that put it on was amazing and all of the amazing talented musicians that rallied around to support his vision were awe-inspiring. It reminded me what life was really about - living, loving and giving back!

Somehow in LA it seems there is so much more of that going around. I don't care what the reputation, what the rumors...all I know is that my experience of LA is of a magical city of angels!

I love LA! Hooray for LA!

You can find me on Twitter @pilarstella and Facebook at

Monday, February 1, 2010

January-February Latest e-Giving News

Here is the latest news on giving...may it be useful in helping you to give and receive more! Life is a gift, and it offers us the privilege, opportunity, and responsibility to give something back by becoming more. ~Anthony Robbins

Celebrities & Giving
Bono's Ten for the Next Ten - Bono's incredible Top 10 list for the future - be inspired! These are his top 10 ideas to make the next 10 years more interesting, including: Return of the Automobile as a Sexual Object, Matter Doesn't Matter, Power and the Upside-Down Pyramid, The World Cup Kicks Off the African Decade and more. What are on yours?

Corporate Giving
Companies Seek Greater Returns in Tough Times - Gifts are increasingly freighted with self interest and more strategic in nature. Pro bono: The New Model for Corporate Giving - Will corporate pro bono work become the new model for corporate giving?

Nonprofit Giving & Social Media Resources
HOW TO: Do Good on Twitter - But while we know all about what Twitter is good for, is it possible to actually do good on Twitter? How do you do it? As it turns out, there are many ways to help out others just by tweeting.

An Interview with Robert Chatwani on Giving Works Trends 2009 - According to the report, the eBay community gave $50 million to nonprofits, a 17% jump over 2008 despite the ongoing recession. The program allows individuals to donate while using eBay. Beth Kanter interviews with Robert Chatwani, eBay's head of Global Citizenship, to learn more behind the numbers.

Individual Giving
Generosity Experiment Revisited - the act of giving could change you. Sasha Dichter writes about his experience of how giving more impacted his life - a worthwhile read.

How to Help Out Nonprofits and Get a Tax Break- - Lalia Helmer's blog about donating excess inventory to nonprofits to get a tax deduction.

Funding Opportunities
How to Score Grant Money from Pepsi - Got a great idea? Want money? Pepsi is launching their Refresh the World stuff on Jan 13th. It's serious money up to $1 million a month. Also more about Pepsi Ditching the Super Bowl for online giving Skoll Foundation, Social Edge: Global Social Benefit Incubator Program - The Global Social Benefit Incubator (GSBI™), a program developed by Santa Clara University's Center for Science, Technology, and Society, assists social benefit entrepreneurs in developing business plans that enable their organizations to reach increasing numbers of beneficiaries. Application deadline: February 19, 2010.

Giving Measurement/Outcomes/Evaluation
Looking Back to Predict the Future - Research that show powerful growth in just a couple of years for cause-related and corporate responsibility initiatives and may signal a positive outlook for the year ahead.
Top-Rated Charities by City and Cause - GuideStar's partner GreatNonprofits published the first-ever "top charities" lists based on user ratings and reviews. While their way of rating has raised a lot of controversy, we thought it worthwhile to share none-the-less.
Diffferent nonprofit watchdog & their standards - A look at several nonprofit watch dogs and their standards for measuring nonprofits.
Rethinking Ways to Give Wisely - a new generation of donors seek greater accountability from not-for-profits, advisers are seeking new ways to gauge the good an organization accomplishes.

Giving for Thought...or Discussion
Philanthropic Capital Needs To Take More Risks - Philanthropy is meant to support programs and organizations that contribute to social change. The "return" it seeks is social, not financial, gain. Yet most institutional philanthropy is slow-moving and risk-averse, slowing the pace of innovation in the field as a whole. This article explores where will the risk capital come from.
Six Reasons People Don't Give and What You Can Do - Here are things that block donors from giving, and what good fundraising can do about it.

Thanks for your continued contributions and gifts in the world! Keep on giving back! You can follow us on Twitter @onegiving & on Facebook Pages.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Help for HAITI

This article came from our OneGiving e-Gifts January-February newsletter, to subscribe go to to receive our monthly newsletters! This edition we are highlighting the HAITI relief efforts.

As the earthquake hit Haiti in January, we felt it most appropriate to focus the organizations of the month on Haiti. As we saw an outpouring from around the world to help the people and country of Haiti in a time of need, we received many calls from friends reaching out for the best information on who they could donate to that would ensure the money was getting to the people on the ground and wasn’t getting tied up in bureaucracy.

They also reached out to let us know that they wished OneGiving™ was officially up and running during this time of need. We had to take a deep breath as we too wished that OneGiving™ was in the space of being ready, infrastructure built, technology up and running and transparency and accountability ready to track and help more people and more lives. But alas, as has been with the journey with OneGiving™, it has been about patience and building it right, rather than rushing to get it done quickly and without ample thought, time and resources.

So, rather than focus on what isn’t, we decided to focus on how we could help those who have been asking and we decided to put together a list of a few of the nonprofits that we have donated to and/or that have been recommended as having a strong presence on the ground in Haiti - both short and long term - and/or that have strong leadership, accountability and impact.

Below is a list of different organizations. Please note that this is in no way a comprehensive list, just a list that we have pulled together from the different contacts in the nonprofit arena and globally that have made recommendations. We thank you for your generosity and outpouring of support and giving for the people and country of Haiti as it demonstrates a beautiful heart-opening of people around the world and the planet and knowing that in that giving, we are coming together more as one people, one world and one planet!

The Lambi Fund -
The Lambi Fund is an organization run by Haitian women in Haiti and has a long history in Haiti. The organization is working with the people of Haiti during this time of crisis, but has been there before and will continue to remain in Haiti after many of the relief efforts go away. The organization is a diverse group of individuals from many walks of life who work together toward economic justice, democracy and alternative sustainable development in Haiti. The Lambi Fund's mission is to assist the popular, democratic movement in Haiti. Its goal is to help strengthen civil society as a necessary foundation of democracy and development. The fund channels financial and other resources to community-based organizations that promote the social and economic empowerment of the Haitian people. The Lambi Fund supports projects that embrace: non-violent, non-partisan, community-based, promoting the advancement of women, using education and training for empowerment, and promoting the overall democratic movement.

Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières -
Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is an international medical humanitarian organization created by doctors and journalists in France in 1971. MSF provides aid in nearly 60 countries to people whose survival is threatened by violence, neglect, or catastrophe, primarily due to armed conflict, epidemics, malnutrition, exclusion from health care or natural disasters. MSF received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999. MSF is a reliable, sustainable and well-reputable organization providing humanitarian aid in Haiti, as well as providing information and the latest news and updates on the situation in Haiti. On their site, they also have a record of where their expenses go keeping transparency and accountability front and center in their work (

African Methodist Episcopal Church Service and Development Agency (AME-SADA) -
AME-SADA is the humanitarian relief and development entity of the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AME), the oldest organized African American Church in the United States. AME-SADA is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the quality of life in Africa and the Caribbean. Since its founding 28 years ago, AME-SADA has demonstrated the implementation of its mission, Helping People Help Themselves, by providing essential assistance to those in need through health, micro-credit and education programs, as wells as emergency humanitarian aid in Africa and Haiti. With its headquarters in Washington, D.C., and field offices in Haiti and South Africa, AME-SADA has a long-standing commitment to supporting the people of Haiti towards self-sufficiency. With the latest earthquake in Haiti, AME-SADA is committed to short time aid and long term assistance and involvement in ensuring sustainability in Haiti.

Partners in Health/Stand with Haiti -
Partners in Health (PIH) has been on ground in Haiti for over 20 years. They have been pioneers in providing health care for poor and have over 300 doctors and hundreds more relief volunteers to make a difference, as they understand the people, their culture, their needs and their pain. PIH works to bring modern medical care to poor communities in 12 countries around the world. The work of PIH has three goals: to care for our patients, to alleviate the root causes of disease in their communities, and to share lessons learned around the world. Based in Boston, PIH employs more than 11,000 people worldwide, including doctors, nurses and community health workers. The vast majority of PIH staff are local nationals based in the communities they serve and they are committed to continuing to serve Haiti as they did long before the earthquake.

United Sikhs Haiti Relief Effort -
The United Sikhs began in 1999 when a core group of Sikhs from NY came together to assist in the socio-economic development of immigrant communities in NY. Since then the group has expanded its efforts to pursue projects for the spiritual, social and economic empowerment of underpriveleged and minority communities around the world. The United Sikhs recognize the human race as ONE and the core of their philosophy is an unwavering commitment to civic service and social progress on behalf of the common good. The United Sikhs has created a Haitian relief effort to help with search and rescue as well as continued aid and development.

Yéle Haiti Foundation -
Yéle Haiti is a foundation started by Grammy-Award winning musician, producer and social entrepreneur Wyclef Jean. Through Yéle Haiti, Wyclef uses music, sports and the media to reinforce projects that are making a difference in education, health, environment and community development in Haiti. In practical terms this translates to over 3,000 new jobs, close to 7,000 children being put in school, more than 8,000 people a month receiving food and approximately 2,000 young people a month learning about HIV/AIDS prevention. With the earthquake, Yéle Haiti is committed to furthering its advocacy, work and voice for a sustainable Haiti.

Humanitarian International Services Group (HISG) -
HISG is a non-profit that specializes in private sector resource mobilization and management. They have been connecting resources to needs for crisis response and humanitarian developmental initiatives. Since 2001, HISG has mobilized and moved tens of millions of dollars in humanitarian aid at less than 10% administrative costs, has established institutional capability to mobilize and manage private sector resource capacity, and has networked over 45 warehouses across the USA to work collaboratively to aid around the world. HISG’s is committed to development and aid in Haiti and is partnering with private sector and other nonprofits to provide and deliver needed resources and care for the people of Haiti.

Caring House Project Foundation -
Caring House Project Foundation is a nonprofit committed to create self-sufficiency by providing housing, food, water, medical support and opportunity for the desperately poor and homeless from around the world, particularly in the Caribbean, South America, Indonesia, Africa and the United States. Caring House Project Foundation has been committed to doing work in Haiti, with current commitments including building new villages in Chameau, Mannuel, Mahotiere/Rampa and finishing villages already started in Terre Rouge, Fond Rouge Torbek and Paroty, Haiti. Caring House Project Foundation was founded in 1998 by Frank McKinney, a daredevil Real Estate "artist," 5-time international bestselling author, philanthropist, and visionary who was committed to making a difference as a result of his own success in real estate and sustainable, green building.

Tax Relief for Haiti Legislation
Several bills have come out in Congress to let people deduct charitable contributions for relief in Haiti in the 2009 tax year through March 2010, including:
Haiti relief bill HR 4462
The Haiti Action Initiative and Tax Incentive Act of 2010 (H.R. 4468)
To accelerate the income tax benefits for charitable cash contributions for the relief of victims of the January 12, 2010, earthquake in Haiti (H.R. 4467).
A bill to accelerate the income tax benefits for charitable cash contributions for the relief of victims of the earthquake in Haiti (S. 2931)
The Haiti Assistance Income Tax Incentive Act (S. 2936).

Thank you for your continued gifts and commitments to helping rebuild Haiti.

For future editions, please send in your ideas or recommendations for nonprofits, corporations, celebrities, individuals or others that inspire you and you would like to see us highlight to