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.