I'm joining Service Space because ... I want to practice being the change
A good day to me is when ... I have done an act of kindness.
My hero in life is ...Gandhi.
My favorite book is ...Siddhartha, by Herman Hesse
One thing I'm grateful for is ... opportunity to serve.
Aug 04, 2016, 1 comments, 19 smiles As a part of our 10-week summer internship, we had two bright lights join us this summer -- 15 year old Jacob and 14 year old Saheli. Every week, they would select one value, have readings and videos, reflection questions, personal practices, and local volunteer projects. It's like a Laddership Circle for youth. :) All along, they were mentored whole-heartedly by Amit, Audrey and Pranidhi with weekly 1-on-1 and group calls -- and infused with guest speakers from around the ecosystem like Zilong, Pavi and Vinit. Needless to say, it was a powerful summer for everyone involved. While the mentors were prepping ways to thanks the interns, in the final call, our two interns preempted their surprise them with this stunning video ... On the call, they each gave a "Ted Talk" on -- "If I had to choose one value to practice over the next 365 days, it would be ..." Saheli spoke sincerely about ... Read Full Story
Jul 04, 2016, 18 comments, 41 smiles [Below is an email I just received. It absolutely made my week. --Nipun] Hello Mr. Mehta, I apologize for this long email, but please if you have some time in your busy day can you please read it. My name is [Vinny] and I have had the privilege to listen to you and converse with you in Southern California and in Atlanta. I was inspired by your words then and I am still now. Whenever I am stuck in a sticky situation I remind myself to "Be the Change". I remind myself that kindness is the only universal language that people understand. Those guiding principles have helped me through life so far, and especially during my senior year in high school. At my school, there was a school shooting and there also was a girl who had committed suicide. The morale among the student body was at its all time low with suspicion, anxiety, ... Read Full Story
Jun 03, 2016, 2 comments, 26 smiles [I got this note from a friend: "Close to my Dad's heart, and the way that he has lived his life, has been our religion and faith, Zoroastrianism, which, simply asks us to do three things: think good thoughts, say good words and do good deeds. For his birthday, could you do something that falls under those categories -- either think a really good thought for yourself, someone else, or the world; pay particular attention to speaking kind, good words; or do something special - tiny or big - for someone else." Below was my contribution, earlier this week.] On the way to a meeting today, I saw a blind woman who looked a bit lost. I wanted to reach out but was a bit hesitant since I didn't want to sound patronizing. In my heart, I wished her well, and lo and behold, right as I crossed her, she blurts out, ... Read Full Story
May 28, 2016, 3 comments, 29 smiles Yesterday, I gave a commencement address that felt very special to me. Just during the processional I got teary eyed. It was special in part because it was an opportunity to (more formally) express my gratitude for people and context that have inspired me for many years -- Rev Heng Sure, Marty Verhoeven and the larger City of Ten Thousand Buddhas community. It was the graduation for DRBU's Masters cohort of 2016. Here's a bootleg transcript :) ... Let's Make Virtue Viral The ceremonies were held at Sudana Center (photo below), with a very inspiring story behind it. The crown prince of Yebo, Sudana, was so full of compassion that he could refuse no boon asked of him, great or small, from beggar or nobleman. The king, his father, possessed a white elephant that was powerful enough to defend the whole kingdom from enemies. So what did his enemies do? They bribed some wandering ascetics ... Read Full Story
Apr 18, 2016, 6 comments, 25 smiles Just this week, the video of late February’s TedX talks came out: Unlocking Multiple Forms of Capital. It had me reflecting on some recent events, what's been resonating most, and what I've been learning. During the slide rehearsal for that talk at Penn State, a volunteer in the back casually asked me, "What are you going to speak about?" I gave him the title of my talk. "Capital? Really?" "What do you mean? Did you expect me to speak on something else?" "To be honest, yes." "Really, on what?" "I don't know, something like love or peace." "Really? How did you figure that?" "I don't know. You just have this energy." We both had to part ways quickly, but that unexpected encounter touched me -- because I've always felt that our values are most deeply communicated without expression, and I would always hope that I'm living the change I talk about. For ... Read Full Story
Mar 23, 2016, 6 comments, 26 smiles [Last week, about fifteen of us had a breakout call with some visionaries of World in Conversation and Laddership Circles, around working with volunteers. Below is some of the Q&A that emerged, on the call and afterwards.] Our efforts attracts many volunteers, but we don't use them effectively. What do you suggest? The most fundamental design principle is our mindset. Typically, volunteers are used as a means to an end -- this is our mission, we need this stuff done to achieve our mission, and you can help us do these chores. ServiceSpace doesn't work that way. For us, volunteer experience is an end in itself. We believe that if a volunteer has a transformative experience, it will naturally ripple out into the world. With that mindset, everything looks different -- it makes all our processes very relational, and conducive to leveraging volunteer in a unique way. (Reference: Spirit of Service) What motivates volunteers? Sociologists tells ... Read Full Story
Jan 29, 2016, 6 comments, 38 smiles Hitting a state of equilibrium is a mystery. Many elements have to come in balance. In a lab setting, perhaps you can control the circumstances to replicate some kind of equilibrium but when you're all out in the open, it's a completely different story. Each moment of equilibrium start to feel more like a moment of grace. About ten days ago, Ram posted our financials for last year. We spent about $3K more than what we received. It wasn't much of an issue, but it was the first time we had that situation (mostly because we started paying for email, a 30% budget increase). Soon after, Ram went on a meditation retreat, but wrote me a sweet note saying, "Maybe we should start writing thank-you notes to our donors." :) Two days later, since Ram was away, I checked our mail. We had two donation checks from random, first-time donors. Fifteen thousand ... Read Full Story
Jan 08, 2016, 2 comments, 23 smiles As I browsed through a series of year-end emails in my inbox, I wondered about ServiceSpace's "Top 10 Moments of 2015". But I couldn't come up with a simple list. Every story I thought of was connected to so many other stories right below, above and around it. Bullet-pointing felt impossible. Still, I felt the great warmth of knowing that no story stands alone. At our annual Team Ladder retreat last September, we did what our ancestors across the ages have done. We gathered around a fireplace and shared stories. Stories like this one: "When I was 2-years-old, I remember climbing up a bookshelf one night. I looked out the window, pointed at the stars and thought: 'I want to go home.' Forty-three years later, I found all of you and realized this is home, and I'm here to serve." Stories like this one: "I'm going blind and I haven't had ... Read Full Story
Dec 30, 2015, 8 comments, 35 smiles Over the last month, I traveled across India, sitting in dozens of circles, and broadly tilling the soil with the spade of our values. My stops included Bangalore, Hyderabad, Surat, Chennai, Baroda, Bombay, Coimbatore, Rajkot, Pune, and Ahmedabad. My schedule rested entirely in the hands of ServiceSpace anchors. With no budget, agenda or ask of any kind a packed itinerary took shape. No matter the format, we aspired to deepen engagement. It's impossible to stockpile the value that gets generated. Like a river it flows irrepressibly into the sea of the commons. Audrey’s reflections on-the-go capture this well: Moved by Love from Surat to Mumbai to Pune. "The sole purpose of my work is to connect heart to heart," said Vinoba Bhave. In many ways, this approach has been our anchor as well. We try and hold space for a field of love, where people's minds and hearts can meet as ... Read Full Story
Oct 17, 2015, 3 comments, 31 smiles Last month, Alfred quit Google: "I need to shift from 'Don't do evil' to 'Do good'." But how exactly can we create good in the world? It's hard question to hold because all levers of social change have their side-effects, and you end up creating many new problems in trying to solve old ones. Alfred knows this all too well, as a high-level exec at Google and former CEO of Lycos search engine. Six months back, as he considered his exit, he shared some exciting ideas. But I encouraged him to go even further: "End game with traditional projects is financial sustainability and growth. You know where the growth rat-race and the monetary system leads us." He did know, but "What other option do we have?" I pressed further and suggested, "We need your gifts in the voluntary sector. Your labor, or its impact, doesn't need price tags. Let it be sustained ... Read Full Story