The Dual Nature of Giving: Reflections on Philanthropy and Success

As EO enthusiastically welcomes Jamie Pujara, an EO Kenya member, as its new Global Chair for fiscal year 2024/2025, it is the perfect moment to reflect on past achievements and envision future goals. Jamie’s words resonate with EO members worldwide: “It is not just my year to lead; it is our collective year to create impact.”

Embracing the transformative power of generosity, Alex Yastrebenetsky, an EO Cincinnati member who inspired us with his thought leadership in Want to Change Lives? 7 Steps To Starting A Charitable Foundation, passionately shared how giving profoundly benefits both the giver and the recipient:

In Hebrew, the word “to give” is “natan”. Interestingly, both in Hebrew and English, “natan” reads the same forward and backward. This symmetry reflects a profound truth about giving and receiving: The acts are inherently interconnected. When we think about philanthropy and the idea of “to give,” it also encompasses “to receive.”

A Journey of Realization

Eight years ago, I joined the EO Entrepreneurial Masters Program, a three-year executive education course for CEOs who are members of the Entrepreneur’s Organization. During this time, I had the privilege of meeting Jeff Hoffman, who has become a significant mentor in my life. Jeff shared a quote that deeply resonated with me: “Our success is someone else’s miracle.” Although it struck a chord immediately, it took seven years for me to grasp its meaning fully.

Jeff’s words highlighted our profound responsibility as entrepreneurs: To transform our success into miracles for others. This notion inspired me so much that we dedicated a space in our office to the idea. We created a “giving tree” adorned with thank-you cards from families we have positively impacted.

Above this giving tree, we inscribed Jeff’s quote: “Our success is someone else’s miracle.” As an organization, we have spent the last seven years living those words through InfoTrust Foundation.

A Deeper Understanding

However, it wasn’t until this month that I realized there was a second part to that quote. My realization felt life-changing, compelling me to draft this blog post immediately. We often talk about being intentional in the present, about truly listening and absorbing the stories around us.

When we think about rites of passage—like a bar mitzvah, a quinceañera, or any ceremony marking the transition from childhood to adulthood—we see that each child’s success is a miracle for countless people. As entrepreneurs, we are never self-made. No matter how hard we work, success is a communal effort. It takes a village of people investing their hearts, love, souls, and time to create success.

The Miracle of Community

Our success, at every stage of life, is a miracle for those who have invested in us. They see the fruits of their love and dedication. There are few things more disappointing than investing deeply in something or somebody and not seeing it materialize. Conversely, seeing someone succeed—whether it is a child growing up or an entrepreneur achieving their goals—is a miracle for those who supported them.

This leads to the second meaning of Jeff’s quote: “Our success is someone else’s miracle.” Those who helped us create our success see it as their miracle. This starts with our parents. Therefore, it is our responsibility to turn our success into miracles for others. This forms a beautiful, reciprocal cycle—much like the circle of life.

Embracing the Dual Nature of Success

The dual nature of giving and receiving, of success and support, is a powerful concept. As we continue to achieve, we must remember those who helped us along the way and strive to create miracles for others in turn.

However, as I reflected on the past seven years of my life, I realized I could have done a better job embracing the other meaning of the quote: “Our success is someone else’s miracle” in my own life.

I am honored to serve on the board of advisors for HeartWorks, a non-profit organization led by brilliant doctor Tim Nelson, dedicated to curing Congenital Heart Disease (CHD), a condition that impacts close to 1% of births.

Recently, during an update call, Tim shared that their latest procedure had saved the lives of two children. While I won’t share details—it is HeartWorks’ story to tell—Tim concluded by saying, “These two kids thank you.” Although it was hard to see the faces of my fellow board members on their screens, I can guarantee that, like mine, they were all full of tears.

To everyone who has helped me reach this point in my life, where someone can thank me for even a small contribution to saving the lives of two children:

This kid thanks you.

Contributed to EO by Alex Yastrebenetsky, an EO Cincinnati member and cofounder of InfoTrust, a privacy-centric digital analytics solutions company that empowers marketers to make confident, data-driven decisions.

This post first appeared on Alex Yastrebenetsky’s LinkedIn page and is reposted here with permission.

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