Kavita Ramdas Takeaways: Empowerment, The Circle, Lady Gaga
Kavita Ramdas, the brilliant, sari-laden, well-spoken, and remarkable former CEO of the Global Fund For Women held a fireside chat yesterday in my residence’s lounge. I have been impressed with her ever since her answers at the 2008 Stanford Roundtable on Leadership for the 21st Century. A few notes from her chat yesterday that I found particularly compelling:
- Our relative position, as a country, should not be important. We should not view ourselves as standing at the head of line trying to stave off competition, with poorer countries at the back. We are a circle of countries, and in a circle, it is much harder to let your counterpart starve, suffer unemployment, endure conflict, etc.
- “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed” – Gandhi. While capitalism has many benefits, there need to be other criteria of what defines a ‘good company’.
- “Power can be given, not taken” – therefore, ’empowering’ someone is a misnomer. We can never really empower someone, but can only set up the environment or can only give them the tools for them to empower themselves.
- As the world is becoming more and more connected through technology, we are becoming more tribal. We need to truly listen to those who are “different” than us (despite the fact that they all listen to Lady Gaga, eat McDonalds, and like the same sports) to understand who they are, what moves them, and what issues they face. We should come in with the mindset of “I don’t know anything about you”, not “here is what we think”.
- The USA probably wouldn’t like it if 10 women from Afghanistan told us how to dress, so it’s tough to justify why they should listen when we do the same.