Last fall I received a phone call with a very interesting proposition. Would I like to participate in a television program called "The Secret Millionaire"? I had never seen the program but I had heard of the format. A "millionaire" goes undercover for a week and meets people that have had difficult lives, as well as those that have dedicated their lives to helping the less fortunate. At the end of the week, the "millionaire" donates some money to the person(s) they feel need, or deserve it, the most.
I was very unsure about participating - mostly because the thought of being on television in front of several hundred thousand people made me feel like throwing up. But, the idea behind the program intrigued me so I decided to meet with the producers. I felt the program's concept was very much in line with some of my values, and some of the core values at Bemz. We talk a lot about giving back, helping each other, and "caring" as core values, while examining ways of working more ethically and with greater social conscience. On a personal level, I have also been making some life decisions about how I can support social causes in two areas that are really important to me: women and children in distress.
It felt like an opportunity to take a personal journey to understand what these values meant to me, while hopefully making a difference to someone who genuinely needed it.
Although I approached the process from a very rational perspective (even if my motivation was emotional) something inside me changed during that week. I really believe that my week filming The Secret Millionaire has altered me in a very tangible way.
Throughout the course of the week of filming I met some amazing, brave, fearless, wonderful people. I ended up receiving so much more from them than what I was able to give. I met women who had abandoned their lives, lost everything: their friends, family, jobs and moved to uncertainty and an isolation in a new country, whether by choice or not; women who despite it all, remained so positive and would do whatever it took to carve a place for themselves in this new society. Their determination and optimism inspired and awed me. I met teenagers who had found the inner strength and courage to resist peer pressure, to stand up for each other and to be proud of their accomplishments giving them self-esteem and self-confidence. Their talent, dedication and enthusiasm humbled me.
I met a young woman who was thrown in jail, tortured psychologically and physically, without any regard for her basic human rights. In a world where we talk about fulfillment, achievement, and ambitions, it is impossible to understand not to mention imagine. But for so many people around the world a lack of basic human rights is very real. I have been extremely fortunate to never have had to question my rights as a woman, or as a person.
I was affected most of all that week by two entrepreneurs - Sohelia Fors and Calle Björklund - who had come from incredibly difficult life situations themselves. They moved me profoundly because they had managed to find the strength and the courage to turn their devastating personal experiences into a life force which they channeled into helping other people. It was through love and determination and the experiences in their own lives that they were able to connect with others, and motivate them to move forward and find their own inner strength. They gave everything for their causes, and the people around them.
Thank you, Sohelia Fors and Calle Björklund. Thank you for sharing your lives, your passion, and your generosity with me. I have learnt more from you than you will ever imagine, and you have changed me more than you will ever imagine. You are the true entrepreneurs. The world is a better place because of you.
And to all of the wonderful, inspirational people that I met during that very intensive week - you have taken me on the most important journey of my business life.
And, especially to you, Negar- don't give up. You are incredibly brave and strong. You have made a choice to live, and to find a place where you will have your basic human rights respected. Now, you can begin to choose.
And for me - now is the next stage of my journey. I have many plans, many ideas which are moving into fulfillment. We, at Bemz, will continue to work with you, our customers to deliver great products and design while we move forward in our quest to refine what social consciousness means to us.
On a personal level, I have already taken the next step in my journey. I'll keep you updated.
Love to all, lesley