Giving to Receive: How Investing in Others Helps You Soar


A 45-year-old, small plastic Mikey Mouse toy sits among 26 crystal awards of excellence in my office. It was given to me for singing the Colombian Anthem to a Mormon Missionary when I was a little girl. He presented the toy to me while pronouncing these words: "You sing with so much love and passion! Whatever you do in life always do it with LOVE and you will reach the skies." At that moment, he profoundly taught me the most powerful principle of life, "Work with Passion and Love."

In 1970, I was just an 8-year-old child living in Colombia.  My mother raised me and my two brothers as a single parent.  During that period in time, violence became common place throughout Colombia.  Guerrillas associated with narco-traffickers created both political and civil unrest while Cuba and Russia provided guns, ammunition and forces with the objective of creating political instability and promoting socialism in South America.

Most Colombians lived in fear, violence and poverty. But then, there were those who came to INVEST in Colombia, to provide defense, relief, faith, education, hope, and food. Those folks were called "Gringos" or "Americans". They were U.S. soldiers, Christian missionaries, and medical staff from the American Red Cross. 

I clearly remember seeing the arrival of wheat, sugar, rice, beans, dry milk, and other goods to a place called CARITAS, a catholic warehouse where goods where stored and distributed. There, burnt in my memory, is my first recollection of the American Flag as it was stamped on every 50-pound bag of dry food and proudly displayed on the upper arm of every American soldier.  American-Christian LDS missionaries invested in my soul, teaching me and my family about faith, Christian values, disease prevention and even music.  American soldiers invested in the country, coaching and training Colombian militia in 4th generation guerrilla defense tactics and some even gave their lives for the cause of freedom.

In the midst of such conditions, a young child like me could only observe and learn from the courageous and unselfish example of those investing in my life. I will never forget the overwhelming feeling of relief that came upon their arrival. Then, the question came to mind: Could I ever do enough to repay their investment in me? Would I learn to care as they did? Could I ever make a difference in someone else's life as they had done in mine? My life was changed forever, shaped by their acts of kindness and profoundly touched by their unselfish investment in me and my country.

Today, over 40 years later and now living in America, my life is nothing but a collection of blessings associated with the investments of others.  In 2001, and just two weeks after 9/11, I founded my own company and I became an international business leader.  By virtue of my position, influence, and the power and privileges associated with my current responsibilities, I now seek to invest in others. Fulfilling the same role that others, once upon a time, took upon themselves to make my life better.
There is nothing wrong with helping other people, but it is when we invest in them that we start to change their lives. True change happens when we go beneath the surface and expend the extra time, effort, and energy with those we intend to help.  An added benefit is that investing in others has all kinds of positive benefits for my own work.  There are four key ways that investing in other has helped me.

First, "proving" that you care builds real relationships. It is one thing to pay lip service and tell people that you care. It's quite another to roll up your sleeves and prove it. Actions will be remembered by someone because they leave a real impression. And you can bet that the person or organization I helped will be looking for an opportunity to return the favor.

Second, helping others is a great way to demonstrate my abilities. I am good at what I do, but how did I prove my talents to the rest of the world, particularly when I didn't have a long list of clients? Donating my time and abilities to individuals and organizations that needed help was a great way to "show off" my abilities. 

Third, I never know what inspiration I'll get from new experiences. It is amazing how many 'light bulbs" can go off when I put myself in an unfamiliar situation. Working with others offers me the opportunity to view challenges and prospects from a brand new perspective, and I never know where the next valuable insight will come from.

Lastly, we're all in it together.  Business is not a zero-sum game. It's in my best interest to be surrounded by thriving individuals, families, and businesses. So, the work that I do in my community pays real dividends for my business—although admittedly it doesn't happen overnight.
Investing in others is my primary obligation in my life and it has led me to a blessed life.  However, I could not have reached my spiritual and personal potential without those who have invested in me through their servant leadership. Hence, it this season of my life I take every opportunity I have to give back. To me it is simply an honor and a privilege, and for that I am most thankful.

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