“We make a living by what we get, but we MAKE A LIFE by what we give.”
-Winston Churchill

This past December, I celebrated my 40th birthday…wowzers! And while I would have loved to bring all my friends and family to my dream destination (Havana, Cuba) for a giant celebration, I had something much more meaningful in mind.

So, this post is all about how I spent my 40th – it may be unconventional, but I hope it will give you the inspiration you need to make your next celebration one that has a positive impact in your life and in the lives of others.

The Challenge
Instead of asking for (or expecting) gifts for my birthday, I challenged my friends and fellow entrepreneurs to join me in celebrating my 40th by helping me give back. That’s because for me, the greatest celebration and gift I could possibly receive is to help a female entrepreneur in need.

Who is that female entrepreneur? She is someone who is building a business – but probably can’t afford to pay for the help that someone would provide her. So, I asked for people to donate their time, services or money to help one female entrepreneur they identified as needing support.

“This will become a gift to me when you share your stories, pictures and experiences in helping this female entrepreneur,” I explained. I sent my Facebook friends an invite to a closed group where they could share their experiences if they felt comfortable doing so and I encouraged people to email me with their stories, too.

The Outcome
birthday loveIf I could describe the impact this challenge had…wow…I was in absolute AWE. Talk about mega-inspiration!

One person offered extra business coaching to someone who wasn’t even able to pay for basic needs.

Another chose to make a donation to the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps – Count Me In, an organization that helps women veterans or women family members of veterans in supporting their start-up businesses.

Someone else decided to promote the new small business of a woman who was recently laid off in mid-life.

Yet another said she was helping her creative friend by sharing her own “techy” skills.

Someone who said she initially had a difficult time identifying what she might offer another businesswoman took the time to help out her friend who owns a small concierge business. One thing led to another, and through her friend, she decided to volunteer her technology skills, time, contacts, and specialized training to help a small local woman’s organization.

“Sometimes we get so bogged down in our own lives we forget to turn around and pass it forward,” shared a friend of mine on Facebook.

And one generous woman made a Kiva loan in my honor to a borrower in Cambodia to cover her university fees from the first to the fourth year, for a BA in Accountancy.

The stories you just read are a small sampling of this amazing celebration. This whole experience has touched my heart, humbled me, and inspired me in so many ways. I heard a lot of statements surrounding the truth behind “It’s easier/better to give than to receive…” Yes, it’s SO TRUE!

Your Turn!
workwithme-img1You’ve read my story…now I want you to get creative, positively impact, and have fun doing it! You don’t have to wait for your birthday to make this happen. Celebrate a holiday that has special meaning for you, do it to honor a late friend or loved one…you get the idea.

There are countless ways you too can make a difference in someone’s life. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Offer your talents and skills by providing your services. For example, legal, graphic design, web development, copywriting, bookkeeping, empowerment programs, business coaching, etc.
  • Purchase supplies that might be needed, like business books, training courses, equipment, etc.
  • Identify a female entrepreneur in need of your support and lend money to her through an organization like http://www.kiva.org/.

Here’s an idea you might have overlooked: Give someone the gift of your full presence…a few moments of your time where you’re actively engaged and listening. Especially in our crazy-busy world, never underestimate how much it may matter to a person to simply spend some time listening to her.

Oh – and about that question (is it really better to give rather than to receive, even on your birthday?)…well, I think you know the answer to that by now.