Passion, exploration and dedication. These are the three words that come to mind when we think of Shridhar Sethuram. Read his service journey, check out his travel photos and be inspired by all the amazing work he does.
What drives you to give back?
While exploring the nooks and corners of life, one realizes that the most important mandatory acquisition, to live a Teflon-coated journey through life’s vicissitudes, is your ‘Dharma’ balance, which is the balance of unsolicited gratitude that comes your way from people, esp. strangers, whose lives you have impacted and brought joy, This is possibly more valuable and useful than even a billion dollars in the bank. Sharing your divine grace (not only money but also your thoughts, experiences , network and time) is the best multibagger investment I have ever made. Inspiring other souls to enrich their lives ( be it in PE , backpacking, marathon, cycling, meditation, entrepreneurship or philanthropy) has helped discover nuances in the meaning of my favorite word ‘Serendipity’ When you look around, all parents assiduously save for their progeny and family. However ironically, the wealth, more often than not, goes waste. Either the inheritors are fighting over it or feeling jealous over the allocation or have no use for it or worse, it goes to their heads and leads them into a wastrel life filled with vices or hubris. So might just be prudent to use it to improve life of others and bequeath ‘Dharma’ balance into accounts of your family. And since it’s your hard-earned wealth, it may just prudent to give most of it away while alive and enjoy the bliss yourself. In a country like India, it is impossible for the government alone to eradicate poverty, The only solution is for private philanthropy to dedicate capital to focused efforts which provide education, skills, health and dignity to people less privileged than us.
How does one strive to live a life of service?
** Insist on anonymity: While one is always selfish while serving others, the insistence of anonymity ensure that the optics and limelight don’t corrupt your soul and energy.
** Find a cause that you are passionate about and be strategic about the intervention. When you are passionate about something, it is easier to stay motivated and make a difference.
** Start small and invest time . Don't feel like you have to do something big to make a difference. Even small acts of kindness can make a big impact. And investing structured time with social entrepreneurs is sometimes more valuable than donating a million dollars. If you structure your interactions, the entrepreneurs get inspired to raise multiple millions from others without any pecuniary contribution from you
** Be consistent. The key to living a life of service is to be consistent. Make it a habit to help others, and you will make a real difference in the world.
If you had a million dollars to contribute to a cause, where would you choose to donate?
Education and empowerment of Women from disadvantaged communities. I strongly believe that women hold the soul and values of human society and they have been subjugated by patriarchy for centuries. It’s time we gave them an equal footing so that “Man” kind does not destroy the universe with his hubristic and egotist ways.
How did you help your community this year?
Since July 2020, I have been co-creating Ujwal Impact Advisors.
Ujwal Impact Advisors is a pro-bono ecosystem intervention endeavouring to build a collaborative of
a) a community of social entrepreneurs with catalytic alliances with
b) large philanthropists & CSR donors to improve impact on donor philanthropy investments
c) Professionals wanting to invest part-time time in the social space and
d) large domain/ social sector organizations for mutually beneficial alliances with the community.
UIA is a pro-bono notional virtual non-legal endeavour. The social purpose endeavours incl. For-Profit, Not-For-Profits & Hybrids.
In April 2023 UIA has 35 enterprises and 10 corporate professionals who contribute time as UIA partners with a deployment of US 70 MM. In addition, there is UIAPwD, a focused vertical on people with disabilities with 5 more corporate professionals and 10 enterprises with a deployment of USD 10 MM http://bit.ly/3GbJI2s
What is the value of giving back to the community?
Dharma balance from blessings of others is more important than material wealth. It is the feeling of satisfaction that comes from knowing that you have made a positive impact on the world. It is the gratitude that you receive from those whose lives you have touched. It is the sense of purpose that comes from knowing that you are making a difference.
How do you choose which social causes to donate to?
The aspiration and customer obsession of the founders in the area of Education and Empowerment of Women from disadvantaged communities
What is your proudest accomplishment?
My proudest accomplishment is that I enter my 27th year of meditation in May 2023. Rarely has a day gone by when I would have missed spending an hour with myself and the universe. I have experimented with various forms of meditation. And am divinely blessed to be on the journey, as most humans struggle to keep their eyes shut for 5 mins.
It has helped me to be on an incredible adventure of sensing and feeling the patterns and interconnection of various forms of energies in the universe.
1000 Spotlights: Why We Give reflects our mission of giving back, to mentor and to inspire those around us. Through a series of interview questions, we explore intrinsic motivations behind why we give, and talk with those inclined to make a difference in the lives of others. If you are involved in charitable activities, volunteer and paid academic engagements or in community service, we want to talk to you.
Write to us to nominate someone exceptional who is making a difference in extraordinary ways.
1000 Spotlights is part of UGSI that also owns SpeakerPost.com, a free social impact global platform that connects educators with industry experts and with other educators for volunteer guest speaking in college classrooms. If you are looking for a guest speaker for a student-focused event, or want to explore ways to share your career journey with students, please reach out and request your free invite code via SpeakerPost.com.