According to Stephen Hecht, Nichol Ng, and Alain Chetrit, peace has three very different and personal meanings for these YPO members but one purpose – to create a more sustainable and equitable world.
In line with 2021’s International Day of Peace theme, these global leaders are helping their communities recover, build resilience and become more just, equitable, inclusive, sustainable and healthier through their respective organizations – Million Peacemakers, X – Inc PTE Ltd CEO, The Food Bank Singapore and The Knowledge Pledge.
As purpose-driven leaders, it was not surprising that both Ng and Chetrit were both raised with the value of giving back. As a child, Ng was helpful and compassionate, and her grandmother encouraged this trait. She also shared a bit of wisdom that still guides Ng today, “it is a privilege to be able to serve and to give, than to take.”
Chetrit shared a memory of his father and grandfather reviewing balance sheets from the family business and always allocating money to local charities and causes first before splitting profits between themselves and their partners. This simple practice gave Chetrit perspective on how business with purpose can give meaning to work and how business is connected to a larger community.
Peace and the Pandemic
The connection between business and community has been amplified by the pandemic. Ng recognized that supplying food for those in need through The Food Bank Singapore offered more than simple nourishment. It also created more peace amid the ongoing pressures and stress of lockdowns, Zoom meetings, and home schooling.
“So, imagine for the families and the people who really cannot afford to even put three square meals on the table, especially for kids. The amount of unpeacefulness or lawlessness at home, in society, you can really sense it. Over the last 18 months or so when the whole entire world has been in chaos, hunger became not something just about filling the tummies, but we wanted to be sure that we nourish their souls as well,” says Ng. Last year, The Food Bank Singapore redistributed 1,600 tons of food, which included both everyday staples and “happy snacks” like candy and bowls of fried noodles.
The pandemic motivated Chetrit to join other YPO members to cofound The Knowledge Pledge, a nonprofit organization (NGO) that unites global leaders and social entrepreneurs to scale positive impact. He explained that solutions created by The Knowledge Pledge are always filtered through the lens of compassion.
“We need to be more compassionate, to find collaboration, curiosity and learning, and optimism in things we do. Compassion is an essential ingredient of peace,” Chetrit says. He believes that it is imperative to remove barriers like religion and borders, since COVID-19 has made it clear that everyone is connected. Chetrit continued, “the pandemic was a wake-up call and reminded us that the world is one, and we really need to take care of each other.”
I think that authenticity and transparency are imperative to building bridges and connections.
For YPO members like Hecht, who is also the 2021 – 2022 Network Chair of YPO’s Peace Action Network, the importance of inner peace and family peace rank just as high as the political or national definition. For Ng, who works alongside her younger brother in their family business, communication is key to preventing conflict and maintaining a peaceful work life. She also believes that family care is essential and that effective leaders should extend this level of care to his/her/their employees. “Kindness and graciousness should start from the most intimate people around us. And for us, it’s actually the greater team that works for us,” says Ng.
For Chetrit, open communication and sharing in YPO has been influential for advocating and amplifying peace. In a community of lifelong learning and trust, he feels obliged to share what he’s learned in YPO with those outside YPO with the purpose of helping others. “I think that authenticity and transparency are imperative to building bridges and connections…as we speak from the heart, as we get to share our pains and fears, we create compassion. All those things lead to a peaceful world and less conflict,” says Chetrit.
When we do get to know each other and go eyeball-to-eyeball, we discover that we all want the same thing.
The pandemic will eventually subside, but Chetrit and Ng pledge to continue advocating for purpose in their businesses and peace in their communities. For instance, Chetrit wants to redefine P&L (profit and loss statement) to mean “Purpose and Legacy” and to continue shifting the focus to what creates the most value. “The future of humanity and our planet is in our hands, and we know these problems can’t be solved by just one person working alone. The Knowledge Pledge can unlock our human capital and spirit of billions of people today and empower the progress for future generations,” says Chetrit.
This year, Ng’s starting with her peers in YPO. As YPO Singapore’s 2021-2022 Chapter Learning Officer, Ng is committed to “putting back the purpose into YPO”. Her programming will focus on environment, social and governance (ESG) strategies like giving back, food and environment. For small to medium sized enterprise (SME) leaders, she thinks this will be particularly valuable since they are often unclear about how to incorporate purpose into their businesses.
For Hecht, the future of peace is personal connection, which he hopes will see a revival after the isolation of covid. He says, “when we do get to know each other and go eyeball-to-eyeball, we discover that we all want the same thing. We all want to live in peace, we all want to feel safe. We all want to have hope for the future, for ourselves, for our children and grandchildren.”