Happy New Year!

Thank you to all our social media followers and everyone who has supported “A Million Dollars In Change”. We’re grateful for your help in sharing the message of the book with the world. 2018 has been an incredible year. We’ve met people from all walks of life, diverse industries and backgrounds since “A Million Dollars In Change” was published in March. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you all and hearing your stories. We’re excited for 2019 and the opportunities that lie ahead for advancing social good and making the world a better place.

Happy New Year! May it be a successful one filled with peace, happiness, and good health for all.

Gratitude Challenge

In the USA, November is a month when we find ourselves contemplating gratitude more so than we do at other times of the year.  The Thanksgiving holiday reunites us with family from near and far, and social media is filled with posts about the "30 days of thankfulness" or similar challenges aimed at making us focus more on our blessings than our problems.  But what happens after November? If you're like most of us, you slip right back into old habits.  The challenge ends and with it ends our practice of focusing on our blessings.

Now, I'm not going to pretend that I have the gratitude thing nailed.  I definitely don't.  But I will say this, I am much happier when I make it a point to practice identifying something to be grateful for every day.   They key, of course, is making a point to do it every day.   Sure, it's easy peasy when things are humming along in our lives.  It's when we hit roadblocks, unexpected illnesses happen, or we suffer losses that it becomes almost impossible to find something to be thankful for.   But we have to try. 

You see, there is a lot of negativity in the world.  People are at odds with each other.  Many have forgotten the importance of connecting with another despite differences of opinions and thoughts.   Social media has made more people feel isolated and alone than ever before.  People compare themselves to others who appear to have the "perfect life"... or the illusion of a perfect life.  Now more than ever, we must practice gratitude for the good things in our lives.  It helps keep us grounded.  It reminds us of what is really important.  In practicing gratitude, we help others see the good things in their lives, too, and the good in people in general.   

Start right now.   What are you most thankful for today?  It doesn't have to be something poetic or deep.  It could be something as simple as "I am thankful for this delicious cup of tea because it is helping me unwind after a very long day".  Boom!  Simple, relevant, easy.  Start with the little things.  Before you know it, you'll find you have more to be thankful for than to be upset about. 

Try it. Start with a week. Then extend it another week. Then another. Keep it going until it becomes a habit. You have nothing to lose and everything good to gain.

Faith - Hope - Strength - Courage: Making Strides Against Breast Cancer

Last weekend I worked at the Making Strides Against Breast Cancer Walk. As a corporate sponsor my company has a booth at the walk. The weather this time of year in New York is typically cold so we're used to it being chilly, especially at 6:30am when we arrive to begin setting up our booths. Over the years we've seen it all in terms of weather: rain, high winds, even sleet and hail one year! On the rare occasion we've had warm days in the upper 60F temperature range. Last Sunday, October 21, was not one of those days. While the thermometer read 40F it felt more like 20F with the blustery wind coming off of Zach's Bay at Jones Beach State Park. The whipping winds made it feel like January. In fact, a few times we thought our tent might go airborne, and by 10:00am we were pretty much numb. I suffer from Reynaud's so it was especially challenging and very painful for my hands (even with gloves to protect them from the cold). While the weather conditions were less than ideal, the smiling faces of survivors and the thousands of others who turned out for the walk kept us going. It was a great day supporting a very important cause.

There are over 200 Making Strides Against Breast Cancer walks across the USA with many of opportunities to get involved. Whether you contribute via a corporate sponsorship, walk in support of someone battling the disease or in memory of those lost, or volunteer to help on-site, there are many ways to make a difference. It’s easy to make an impact and help raise awareness at the same time. Look for a walk near you and sign up today. Together, we can help make breast cancer a thing of the past.

The Quest for Empathy

Empathetic leaders are in high demand and for a good reason. Studies show that employees who view their managers as compassionate tend to be more engaged. The reason is that employees want to feel that their needs are being met, they are being heard and they are valued. They want to know that their manager has a vested interest in helping them succeed that goes beyond the company’s bottom line.

Recent research by Businessolver found a staggering difference between how CEOs viewed the level of empathy at their company and how their employees viewed it. Specifically, 60 percent of CEOs viewed their company as being empathetic, compared to only 24 percent of their employees. This huge difference points to a big disconnect between executives and their workforce. But how important is empathy to the overall success of a business? Is it really that big a deal?

Follow the link below to read my full article:


Change Begins With Us

"If you wanna make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and then make a change" - Michael Jackson

"Man in the Mirror" is one of my favorite songs.   The lyrics are so powerful.   It resonated with me from the minute I heard it, all those years ago.  Michael Jackson's lyrics, while deeply personal, speak to the dilemma we all face as humans.  We acknowledge that there is so much suffering in the world.  We realize that so many are in need of help, that so many are alone.  We want desperately for the situation to change.  We wish for the world to be better.  Yet when it comes to taking action, we look to others to make it happen.  We discourage ourselves from acting because we doubt ourselves.  We think we're "just one person" and that our voice is "too small" to be heard.  So we do nothing.  We say nothing.  And the suffering continues.

The reality is that each of us has the power to change the world.  Each of us can do something every day to help someone in need.  No act of kindness is too small. 

Is there a homeless person that you see on your way into Starbucks or the pizza place?  Maybe you can buy them breakfast or a slice of pizza.  Do they have a pet?  Dog or cat food, or supplies for their pet would be greatly appreciated.  Many would forego a meal themselves in order to feed their pet.   Winter will be here soon, and socks are a clothing item that is rarely donated but in great need among the homeless.  Another item is thermal undergarments (long johns).  Consider gifting a few pairs to someone you see on the street.

We can all make the effort to perform one act of kindness daily.  It starts with the individual.  The person looking back at you in the mirror.   

Here's a link to "Man in the Mirror" on YouTube.  Listen, be inspired, and make that change!


With Gratitude

I want to take a moment to thank all of my followers, readers, and supporters.  This journey has been incredible, and you have all made it so much more rewarding than I could have ever imagined. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the way "A Million Dollars In Change" has been received.  What's most exciting for me is the thought of all the good it can inspire.  I look forward to hearing from you as you read the book, and begin your journey of making your company a great place to work by making your community a better place to live!  I am always happy to connect with my readers and fellow writers/authors, so if you’re on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or LinkedIn give me a follow!  I promise I’ll follow back :)

To my fellow authors, those published and those who are still on the journey toward publishing their first book – have faith, stay the course, and remember the goal: write what you love.  Write because you have a story to tell and knowledge and experience to share.  Don’t write to become “rich and famous” (authors rarely do).  Do it because you have a burning desire to connect with people and make the world better.   If you stay true to your purpose the journey, even with its ups and downs (and there will be ups and downs), will be amazing.

PS – I just set up a YouTube channel for my videos.  You can access and subscribe to it here:

Alessandra Cavalluzzi - A Million Dollars In Change

Demystifying the World of Corporate Giving

There are so many different things to consider when starting a charitable giving program.  If you're new to the world of corporate giving, it could be quite overwhelming.  I recently wrote an article for CEO World magazine about this very topic.  In it I discuss some things to keep in mind as you begin your journey to help you stay the course - and keep your sanity!

Follow the link below to the article.  For more tips, pick up a copy of "A Million Dollars In Change" on amazon.com by clicking on the "Buy the Book" link on this site.  


Purpose Is Key

How well do you know your company’s purpose, its reason for existing? Knowing your company is more than just knowing what types of products you manufacture or sell, what kind of services you offer, or the benefit plan your employees receive. What you need to know are your organization’s goals and objectives. You must understand your corporate culture, and why your company does what it does.

The reason it’s so important to begin with understanding your company’s purpose is because your program’s goals and objectives will need to be aligned with your company’s goals in order for you to create measurable and sustainable impact in your community.  You should take the time to get to know the decision makers at your company if you don’t know them already. What is their leadership style? Are they receptive to new ideas? What do they think about charitable causes and community service? It’s time to start these conversations and ask questions. Think of it as a fact-finding mission to gather intel you’ll use to create a community involvement program that will engage your employees and create impactful and measurable change in your community.

If you’re in an HR leadership role, you’ll be able to tap your senior leaders for their input and for the data you need. If you’re not in human resources, a good place to start having a conversation about starting a charitable giving and volunteer program would be with your HR leaders. First find out what, if anything, your company is currently doing on the philanthropy front.  Your colleagues are another excellent resource, and knowing what they think will help you tremendously.  Charitable giving and CSR help strengthen the connection between employees and their company. So you’ll definitely want to include employee feedback as part of your strategy. It will also help you determine the type of program that would be best received by employees. Once your program launches, you’ll need supporters, and showing your peers that you value their thoughts and opinions early on will help create that support team. Those supporters will play a key role throughout your process, from program launch to embedding giving into your company culture. Tell a group of your peers about your ideas and ask them if you can pick their brains a bit.

A word of advice: begin at the beginning. If you’re starting your program from scratch (which is where I was starting from), you’ll probably want to hold off on going the full CSR route, as that would be like going from a bicycle to a Ferrari, and it’s likely to get nixed by your leaders.  I go into detail about the difference between charitable giving and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) programs in my book, "A Million Dollars In Change".  Start small. Identify the resources you already have at your disposal, and build from there. The big splashes will come later. Remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. If you want leadership to buy into your idea, you have to show that it’s doable, and more important, that it’s doable without breaking the bank. Remember, we’re going for a million dollars’ worth of positive, impactful change without having to actually spend a million dollars to achieve it!