At last Monday's JESNA/Lippman-Kanfer/UJC consultation on Jewish social entrepreneurship, I attended a session on Jewish leadership moderated by Or Mars, Director, Graduate Fellowship Program at the Wexner Foundation--Or asked us all to introduce ourselves by answering a very interesting question that became an interesting exercise for me personally: who, he asked, has invested in you?
I was 3/4 of the way around the circle from where the answers began, so I had plenty of time to think about it. What I came up with was an Oscar-speech-type-litany of people who've helped me become "who I am today," (whatever that is...) which included my parents, of course. who gave me both Camp Ramah and my day school education; organizations that are making a difference and allowing me the opportunity to both play a part and expand my network and knowledge in the process, like my friends/colleagues at the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation, Center for Leadership Initiatives/ROI Summit, and Taglit-Birthright Israel, the JBlogosphere, which has effectively altered the course of my writing career by providing increased audience, visibility and opportunity; and everyone who used me when I first became a freelancer, taking a chance on me because they knew me as a friend, alumnus, community member, or employee of another organization.
And there's also Blogmama, without whom, I might not have begun blogging. It boggles the mind (bloggles?) to think about where I'd be without my blogs, which led to all the opportunities and organizations I've mentioned, and to the people there, friends and colleagues both, who have and continue to impact my life and work every day.
Another friend of mine, who founded a website/company/community that's doing great thanks to her effort and the power of social media, once reminded me that it's important to acknowledge the debt you owe to the support of other people and enumerate the things for which you are grateful. Grantees of organizations often have as part of the contractual arrangement for receiving the funds a stipulation that their materials mention the funding's source. But even when it's not contractually obligated, I think that acknowledging the investment of others--whether it's financial, emotional or a result of mentorship--is an important part of becoming who you are.
Who has invested in you? And have you expressed how grateful you are?