The 'Inspire your Life' Podcast with Arthi Rabikrisson

S2E3 In conversation with Nadine Hack: Humility and Connectedness

February 17, 2022 Arthi Rabikrisson and Nadine Hack Season 2 Episode 3
The 'Inspire your Life' Podcast with Arthi Rabikrisson
S2E3 In conversation with Nadine Hack: Humility and Connectedness
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In Episode 3 and as part of spotlighting the focus on Black History Month, Arthi is joined by guest Nadine Hack, to talk more about Humility and connectedness.
Nadine recounts her awareness of ubuntu (the African philosophy of 'I am because we are') as something that she came into the world into, and thereafter being drawn to other  people who imbued connectedness as the key to meaningful life, and who exuded humility in their power as changemakers. These global icons such as Nelson Mandela, Oliver Tambo, Shirley Chisholm - to name but a few - impacted her towards her purpose of coalition building and harnessing the power of connectedness through humility across the globe.

Key words of wisdom shared by Nadine include:
"I'm going to be about building coalitions about bringing people together about building bridges. Because that's what our world needs."
"it's a healthier way to live to be a voice of life, light and to amplify other people who are voices in light"
" Think, reflect, act - and Listen, Learn, Lead"

Listen in to hear deep stories, real ideas and feel inspired by the richness of Nadine's journey and ongoing support of connecting people for the greater good.

About Nadine Hack
Nadine was named Top 100 Thought Leader Trustworthy Business Behaviour often enough to earn Lifetime Achievement Trust Award. She advises business and nonprofit executives, heads of state, international leaders/organizations on clarifying goals and tackling obstacles to achieve them, with particular emphasis on global citizenship, entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership development.  She was the first woman Executive-in-Residence at IMD Business School, where she maintains an active affiliation to focus on responsible leadership, diversity, sustainability, human rights and other social issues for 21st century business. Prior Board Chair of Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation, she’s served on executive committees as a board director of many other nonprofit and business boards.  She’s writing a book, The Power of Connectedness, with a foreword by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Desmond Tutu. 

Connect with Nadine at
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Arthi Rabikrisson  0:15 
Hello, everyone, and welcome to the inspire your life podcast with me your host Arthi Rabikrisson.

I believe we find inspiration all around us, especially from the stories that we all have in us. My aim with the inspire your life podcast is to bring some of those real stories to light stories of my guests that resonate with you. And it's by listening to these stories that we can be inspired and motivate ourselves to overcome find a new path and rise even higher than we thought possible.

Joining me on the show today is Nadine Hack and we will be talking about humility and connectedness. Now, Nadine is someone who you can call a change maker and in fact, Harvard University and IMD business school have called Nadine a master bridge builder. I absolutely love that term Nadine because of her work with, excuse the pun because 'Because' is the name of Nadine's company.

Nadine was named the top 100 thought leader in Trustworthy Business Behavior. And it's been done so often she's actually earn a Lifetime Achievement trust award! That's just incredible, an award just for you, because you've gotten that so often Nadine, it's incredible.

So she consults for and trains senior leaders from all sectors across the world, to really help them to clarify their goals, tackle those obstacles in their way and really emphasize the importance of creating and sustaining relationships. Nadine's currently working on her book called "The Power of connectedness" with a foreword by the recently late Nobel Peace laureate, Arch, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu. And I know you you really must have been, it must have been such a difficult time for you Nadine and we'll talk about that. Now, of course, I've mentioned Nadine's company. It was also named the best stakeholder engagement fund but she's also got a sister nonprofit called Global Citizen Circle which convenes 10s of 1000s of people across the world to tackle problems like leadership, diversity, equity, sustainability, all of these things happening in the 21st century.

Nadine is also the first woman Executive in Residence at IMD business school, what an accolade and she served on boards for so many profit and nonprofit enterprises, including being Chair of the Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation.

Nadine, you've won so many awards and honors internationally. Incredible, you do hear your insights on talks and platforms, like TED talks, Forbes councils, and so many others. You know, I can go on and on and on about you are truly an inspiration and a remarkable woman. So needing absolute pleasure. And welcome to the show today.

Nadine Hack  3:37 
Thank you so much. Arthi, it's a delight to be with you. Thank you.

Arthi Rabikrisson  3:42 
And, you know, we obviously know there's a bit of a South African connection because of your work with the Archbishop, the late Archbishop, and you've met so many people in the work that you've done. But, you know, I think one of the things I want to touch on with you, and I kind of want to go straight to it, because there's so much of interesting things here is you know, you've actually had so many experiences with dealing with being in the presence of humility, and particularly in the year 1994. So I want to know more about that. And I wanted to share that with our listeners if you could share.

Nadine Hack  4:16 
Certainly so in 1994, my husband Jerry Dunphy and I were profoundly honored and deeply humbled to be invited as guests of state to Nelson Mandela's 1994 inauguration and we stayed at the home of Sis Adelaide Tambo with Kenneth Kaunda and we were seated in the family section with Joe Slovo, Tokyo Sexwale, Sheila Sisulu, other South Africa luminaries which was all incredibly humbling. And it was such a moment. I tried to explain to people that it was historic not In the sense of history books, but more like the biblical sense, like when the red sea split open to let the escaped slaves free, clear cross with Mariam, leading the way singing a song. And I wrote in my journal that week, that it was difficult to pinpoint the moment of most profound recognition of this remarkable event. Perhaps it was watching Madiba with his hand over his heart as we sang Nkosi Sikelele iAfrica at a hymn that until then, as you know, was the banned Black, African national anthem, and then keeping his hand over his heart as we sang Die Stem van Suid Africa, which until that day, had been the Afrikaner national anthem, the official song of the apartheid state. And along with the new flag, which melds the colors of every each of the country's main political parties, both songs were now joined to become a new national anthem. And it was just, I'm getting goosebumps, even as I describe that.

Arthi Rabikrisson  6:09 
I'm feeling goosebumps hearing you talk about it. I mean, I mean, I obviously was, was there but watching on television is very different to actually being in the thick of this, as you said, historic moment, and I was so much younger, so I was still kind of figuring out and understanding. But wow, what an incredible, incredible time for you to have been there. What did it feel like for you being in the being at that moment when this big tide of change was happening?

Nadine Hack  6:38 
Well,it was truly extraordinary. Because if you had even asked us a decade earlier, like literally just one decade, you know, will you be standing at Nelson Mandela's inauguration, most people would not have been able to envision that as being a possibility. I mean, having supported the anti apartheid movement since the 1970s, which was a natural outgrowth of our work in the US Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. And by the 1980s, we were working directly with Oliver Tambo, or, as we call them, OR, who, as you know, was president of the African National Congress that entire time that Madiba was in prison, and we were working with the ANC executive committee in exile primarily in Lusaka, Zambia, but in many other places, helping to support the families of their many fallen comrades by setting up an education scholarship fund for for their children. And so a moment that really sticks with me is it's December 1988, and we're in a muddy Lusaka, Zambia graveyard. As the wind was so strong, it almost blew everybody off our feet. Jesse Jackson, Jr. My husband and I were the only Americans other than members of the media at the funeral of Johnny Makatini, who was such a close friend, and he had headed the ANC mission to the events starting in 1977. And then the ANC international affairs department, which later Thabo Mbeki took over, starting in 1983. And Johnny I think is probably exemplary of what we feel we learned from South Africa and the whole idea of Ubuntu, I am a person through my relationships with other people. He was gregariously warm to every human being he met, and and he constantly was expanding his global support network, we became like family and if I was woken up at 3am call before even answering I knew I'd hear from the other end of the line. "Hey, man, I was just thinking," and it was always Johnny, you know, calling from Cairo or some other distant place on the planet ready to brainstorm completely oblivious to timezones.

To me, he embodied what it means to be a connected leader. And with his death, I realized even more deeply what a powerful force he had been in movement building, convening people from around the globe to work together on behalf of a larger purpose and one person sparking 1000s of others. And I think we can all learn from that lesson because no matter what it is, we do like Arch Tutu always said, it's all the little small bits put together that that make the big change. And that's really true. And if I have any message that I think I've learned, and I try to remember and I'd like others to hold in their heart is do whatever you can wherever you can, however you can, because your little bit is a stone in a pond and the ripple effects there's just no way for you to really know how profound those ripple effects can be, because we are truly so inextricably interconnected to each other.

Arthi Rabikrisson  10:09 
Hmm, beautiful, beautiful words, I can't agree with you more Nadine, you know, and we've seen the effects and the impact of, you know, having that movement of interconnectedness actually happening, and how it can stimulate change and, and growth and development and all of these positive things that we want. And of course, we're seeing it in other spheres, too, right? Even on topics like sustainability and climate change, where we get people together like that, you know, things happen. decisions that were

Nadine Hack  10:43 
honestly. Yep, sorry.

Arthi Rabikrisson  10:45 
Yeah, it's cool. Go for it.

Nadine Hack  10:47 
Honestly, I think that whether you're talking on a familial level, I mean, think about how many families rupture for like, ridiculously small things, and they don't, you know, or on a kind of community, tribal level, and or on a national or social or in the work sphere, I mean, sustaining hold it creating and sustaining relationships, yes, is what makes everything possible. And it's not, it's see, it sounds duplicitous, we simple, but it's actually hard work, it's actually keeping that in your consciousness at all times, like always knowing I have a choice, I have a choice to try to engage with someone who comes from a different background than me, who has a different political perspective than me, who is in a different sector than me, you know, whatever, whatever the differentiation is, I have a choice. And actually, since I've been building multisector, partnerships, since the 1970s, you know, bringing together business, government, civil society, engaged citizens,

I really know that no one individual, and no one organization or entity in and of itself, can solve these problems that as you said, cross their cross national, their cross border, their gross gender, their cross, racial, I mean, climate change doesn't, you know, recognize the map, nor does the globe, do global pandemic, or anything else, actually, everything is connected. And so the work of and also is the thing that I think people forget the most, they tend to think of it as a soft skill, you know, like human relationships, or, you know, we've got the hard, you know, the financials, and the quarterly reports and the marketing, and no, unless you have the people, you can have the most beautiful, brilliant strategic plan. But unless you have the people who have the buy in and feel the ownership of it, to actually execute against it, it's not gonna happen. And people tend to underestimate how important it is to invest in that engagement. And in involving people in decision making processes, there's actually a lot of research that shows that if people are conferred, if they're part of the process, even if the ultimate decision is not what they their choice, they're more likely to go with it, then if a choice is made, which is what they would want, but they weren't involved in it, in the decision making. So So you know, it's good from a moral spiritual, karmic, kind of, but it's also good for the bottom line. I mean, to get things done, you need other people, no one can do anything on their own, regardless of how brilliant they are.

Arthi Rabikrisson  14:06 
Absolutely, I mean, isolation, yeah, there's only so far that you can go and, you know, I'm listening to the, to the depth, you know, as you're talking about interconnectedness. And, and I know, You've borne witness to such, you know, historic events in in history, and you've just, you know, you've taken us through one of them. But But you've also seen all of these phenomenal people, these, these changemakers if I if I can call them, you're watching it, but you've watched them, you know, fight for freedom, you know, bring people together. And I can only imagine the impact it's had on what you do today. And I'd love to know more about that and that journey on your end.

Nadine Hack  14:52 
So I'll start with a story from when I was six years old. because a lot of it I learned from others, but there's was also something in me that made me drawn toward the people who I learned it. So my husband is Irish Catholic. I'm Russian Jewish. We were married by arch tutu, who's in anger, can he perform the ceremony? Casa? So, you know, we're very eclectic. When I was six, my universe was Jewish. And I went to Hebrew school. And my Hebrew school teacher was teaching us about the Jewish High Holidays, which for those who don't know, it's Rosh Hashanah is the beginning of the year, Yom Kippur war is the unrighteous Shanna God writes in the book of life. And it's a kind of karmic principle, based on what you did in the last year, you know, good or bad, is what's written into the book. And then you've got these 10 days of reflection, and prayer, and repentance, repentance, as in coming back to yourself, and isn't going to those, you know, forgiving those who have trespassed against me as I forgive them, you know, and asking to be forgiven. So for anything that you've done that you don't think was fair or right, and then you don't keep court, the book is sealed, okay? And so I raised my hand and I say, Oh, what about the Gentile? Because at that point in my life, not only do I not know, Buddhists, or Hindus, or I don't even know the denominations of Christianity, I just know do Gentile that's all I've been hearing, because I said, What about the Gentiles? And my teacher says, Oh, don't worry about that. Nutana, which is my Hebrew name. Were the chosen people. Hmm. And I found that answer, so profoundly disturbing. So disturbing, that for the whole 10 days, my six year old prayer went something like this god, I'm praying for all the Gentile families in the world, because they don't know what they're supposed to be doing. So it's not their fault. You have to forgive them because they don't know the Jewish families now, and they're out there doing what they need to do in there. Okay, so I'm praying for all the Gentiles.

So obviously, there was something in the spirit of Ubuntu in the like, I came into the world with it. But then that also made me drawn toward people like that. So I was very fortunate that in my teens, my two mentors were Shirley Chisholm, who was the first black woman who ran for president of the United States. But I met her in the 60s when she was early 60s, when she was first running for the New York State Assembly. I lived in Brooklyn. And and Bella Abzug, who is in America, one of the kind of founders of the second wave of feminism, you know, in America, we call the first wave, the suffragettes and the second wave, you know, the ones in the 60/70s. And then there's a third way, and I'm sure now there's many more ways of wonderful feminists and feminists do not have to be women. Anyone who cares about equality is a feminist. Yes. But But surely, and Bella taught me that issues of racism, sexism, classism, militarism, were inextricably interconnected. And if one wanted to solve any one of those issues, one had to deal with all of them. That's what today's organizers called intersectionality. This was long before that term was in the lexicon. But it was, and I just, you know, took it in like, it just was like, Yes, this is this is what I'm going to be about building coalitions about bringing people together about building bridges. Because that's what our world needs.

Arthi Rabikrisson  19:01 
Yes. I mean, it's, it's incredible, incredible to note, that, you know, these are themes and issues that just continue through each sort of decade, you know, building on and, and you've, you know, you're talking about some phenomenal woman and men and these experiences that you've had with them in terms of the humility you've seen in others, and of course, you yourself, imbibing and, and, and putting forth so much of humility in what you do meeting, you know, maybe help us and the listeners and subscribers to understand, how does that connect with this idea of Ubuntu and interconnectedness? How does it work hand in hand?

Nadine Hack  19:47 
So I think that when I was young, I really believe that we're going to change the world totally right then and there was a moment remember I was young and then In the early 60s, and the movement, you know, just got stronger and stronger through the late 60s of, you know, the civil rights movement, the women's rights movement, the UN, as I say, that led to work on human rights issues globally, and, and social justice movements internationally, it was a moment in the world, and I really do, we were going to do it right then and there. And so I had, I thought, as a sprint, I had to run as fast as I could, as hard as I could, because like, everything was going to get done now. And then a few decades into that, I began to see that many people who worked on social justice issues and liberation movements became extremely burned out, because you're exposed on a daily basis to the cruelty of humanity. And, and, and, and you're trying to help people who have suffered horrible injustices, and it can really wear your soul down. And I just had a recognition that I needed to find a way to learn how to renew myself and replenish myself and I look at it more like a marathon, you know, that that I would be in it for the long run. And then even more decades went by, and I began to see it as a relay race.

And I realize that I will not see in my lifetime, the complete fruition of everything that I've worked for. However, I have a sacred obligation, as long as this breath in my body to keep carrying the torch forward, because people before me, advanced things are quite where I could pick it up. And people after me, I am so inspired by young organizers. It's where I get all my hope. I mean, wow, the things they're doing are just extraordinary. So there's several generations after me who are doing it, and I'm still in the relay race. And just knowing that, that in that relay race, we're not only connected cross the, not all the other ways, but we're connected intergeneration racial intergenerationally. And it's like a kind of perpetual human cycle where there's always voices of darkness of control of fear of the other, you know, the least disparage them, at the worst destroy them. But there's always been voices of light and hope and openness and take in the hungry feed, you know, shelter people be generous, warm. And I just decided that it's a healthier way to live to be a voice of life, light and to amplify other people who are voices in light. And that's what I urge everyone to do. It's the best we can do.

Arthi Rabikrisson  22:58 
Beautiful. And I mean, you were talking as you were talking about, you know, what was happening a few decades ago, on burnout. The parallels are similar to what's going on, over the last couple of years since COVID-19, re edited people running around, trying to figure things out sometimes on their own, not necessarily with support. And I'm just wondering, have we had we actually come to a stage where we're bringing more connection and interconnectedness? Could this have played out differently? And and I'm wondering, what's your thoughts about this in terms of, if we have to bring it into our lives today in this global pandemic? What benefit could this have going forward?

Nadine Hack  23:42 
So at the end of December, I wrote an article on LinkedIn, it's very easily accessible, evading hack, and I called it the importance of self care during the time of COVID, and other during COVID, and other times of duress, right? Because people are fatigued. It's been our isolated, people feel alone, people need ways to nourish and to connect, and you know, some of the Zoom like what we're doing right now, I'm feeling very connected to you. And I sense that you're feeling connected to me. And so anytime I organize any type of online event, I try to create that intimacy rather than webinar fashion where it's just talking heads, and you know, and it because if we're just sitting in our chair, watching things be broadcast at us, it can be very tiring. So I always encourage interaction, like if we had more people on this call, like, I would have said something and then ask people so what do you think about that? And try to bring them into the conversation because I think that that If everybody is hurting in different ways, obviously some fire greater than others, and unfortunately, disproportionately people of color. People have less financial means. And, you know, this is true across the board, it preceded COVID, it will follow COVID. You know, but it's exposing it's exposing the inequities that exist globally. And there's a, I feel like there's a growing movement of people who are getting committed to saying, we need to address these inequities access to healthcare, access to education, access to housing, you know,

Arthi Rabikrisson  25:40 
yes, and, I mean, I feel it too. And, and, you know, I'm hoping my generation and the younger generations, we're seeing it, we're seeing that momentum starting to build, it's just not good enough now, to sit and just talk about these issues, as you're saying

Nadine Hack  25:56  
exactly, exactly.

Arthi Rabikrisson  25:57 
Action is required. And, yeah, when you see, when you thinking,

Nadine Hack  26:03  
Think, reflect, act, listen, learn lead. That's one of the taglines of global citizens circle, listen, learn, Lead.

Arthi Rabikrisson  26:13  
Absolutely. And, you know, I'm glad that you've you mentioned Global Citizen citizens again, because I know, You've been busy with projects, I'm sure you're busy with projects at the moment. I mean, what are some of the key things you're doing at the moment, and you'll be pushing for in the year head Nadine?

Nadine Hack  26:29  
Well, global citizens, our goal is approaching its 50th anniversary. So we have a power to 50 campaign over the next year. Our next global citizen circle will be on February 3, it's on climate change and as a social justice challenge, and, again, just type in global citizens But even if you don't do, to get there, you can click on the link to register, anyone can register from anywhere in the world. It's it's conducted 10am to 11:30am. Eastern Time, us, which is for me, for four to 530. In European time, I know it's a little late for people in India, in other parts of Asia. And it's very early for people on the West Coast of the US, but we usually try to do them. This particular one, I think was scheduled for 10 Rather than nine because it's just the time that it seems that the largest number, and in fact, hundreds of people from all over the world and exactly the way I described, they'll all be on the screen. And the discussion leaders.

One is from South Africa by Bobby Peek, you may know me as a climate activist from South Africa,

Arthi Rabikrisson  27:51  
yes, beautiful.

Nadine Hack  27:53 
But they just open with like five minutes of opening remarks. There's three of them. And then the 90 minutes is a facilitated dialogue among everybody who's on and it's not just like, the kind of webinar where like, you know, at the end, they have 10 minutes of q&a. No, it's like, the whole thing is dialogue. And it's not like where the moderator says, oh, so Arthi from South Africa wants to know that, you know, they go Arthi you have a question on your mind. But everybody gets to engage and interact. And afterwards, we always get amazing feedback. Like, I felt like I was in the room, I felt like I was part of a global community. I didn't feel alone, I felt supported. And because I came I connected to another person. I mean, we had one where we had a former neo Nazi is on healing and, and, and, and there was a woman in in in participating who was the first black woman, police lieutenant in the New York City Police Department. And she said, I'd really like to follow up with Tony McAleer the former neo Nazi white supremacist, and we put them together and a whole set of activities happen from that. And so that's what we're about is convening, connecting, and letting the ripples go out to the world.

Arthi Rabikrisson  29:18 
That is impactful, purposeful. Well, thank you so much for sharing that I'm, I know I'm going to be dialing in and wonderful. And I'll definitely make sure it's available for subscribers to sell, put it into the show and

Nadine Hack  29:32 
put the link and I even have a I created a shorter hyperlink so I can send you that you can put in so people can easily find it.

Arthi Rabikrisson  29:42 
Beautiful. Thank you, Nadine. Appreciate that. And, you know, you've you've given us such wonderful stories, you know, and we're sort of coming to the end, which is a pity I would love to continue. But you know, I think as a way of rounding up because there's so many interesting inspiring motivating bits in each of the little stories. And you've already given us some nuggets in terms of what we should be thinking about when it comes to the power of interconnectedness, you know, to take the name of your book. But what, what pivotal piece of advice, would you want to share with our listeners and subscribers today about how they can find the true path, you know, their own freedom? And how can they harness this power of connectedness for themselves and their well being, as well as for the wider societal impact that it can have.

About Nadine Hack
Welcome Nadine!
Nadine's experiences of being in the presence of humility
What it felt like for Nadine, to be part of history, at the inauguration of Nelson Mandela as the first democratically elected president of South Africa
Nadine talking about creating and sustaining relationships
Nadine's story of how she was born with elements of ubuntu in her
Nadine on being drawn to people who exhibited ubuntu
The impact of having mentors who shaped Nadine's journey to coalition building
How humility works with ubuntu and interconnectedness
The benefits of being connected with others in a cyclically Covid-19 pandemic world
Exposing the inequities that exist globally
Think-Reflect- Act. Listen-Learn-Lead
Nadine's upcoming projects
Pivotal piece of advice on how to find your true path and harness the power of interconnectedness
Inspirational song that motivates Nadine
Thank you Nadine for joining the show!
Thank you listeners!