Category Archives: Doing Business

Chuck Feeney: The ‘Giving While Living’ Billionaire

“There’s no shortage of people who would need help. That’s a market that will always exist.” – Chuck Feeney (1931-2023)

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In the world of philanthropy, few names resonate as profoundly as that of Chuck Feeney. A once-secretive billionaire, Feeney co-founded Duty Free Shoppers and amassed a fortune which he then chose to donate to causes worldwide. His life and actions exemplify the philosophy of “giving while living”, inspiring countless others to follow in his footsteps.

Known as the “James Bond of Philanthropy”, Feeney made it his mission to donate all of his wealth during his lifetime. His journey began with the Duty Free Shoppers Group, which grew to become a cornerstone of his fortune. However, unlike many of his peers, Feeney chose not to hoard his wealth but instead, directed it towards causes that held significance for him through his foundation, The Atlantic Philanthropies. His final act of generosity was aimed at providing better opportunities for Northern Irish children, reflecting his unwavering commitment to education.

Feeney’s life philosophy echoes the timeless message in the film “Groundhog Day”. Just like the protagonist in the film who finds himself living the same day over and over again but chooses to use this opportunity to improve himself and the lives of those around him, Feeney too, with his immense wealth, had the capability to live a life of luxury over and over again. But instead, he chose to improve the lives of others.

His philosophy of “giving while living” also resonates with the teachings of Sai Baba, as illustrated in the Sai Satchritra – Chapter XIV. Sai Baba, much like Feeney, practiced the virtues of charity and detachment from material wealth, teaching his devotees the value of giving without attachment. Sai Baba would accept dakshina from his followers, only to distribute it entirely by the end of the day, becoming a poor fakir by the next morning. Each day was a new life for this yogi, embodying the principles of living in the present and non-attachment to material wealth. Similarly, Feeney demonstrated these principles, giving away his entire fortune not for recognition or rewards, but with the aim of making a positive difference

Feeney’s life story is so compelling that George Clooney has reportedly considered adapting it for the silver screen. His actions remind us of the timeless message – that true fulfillment comes not from material possessions but from the act of giving and making a difference in others’ lives.

As we reflect on the life and legacy of Chuck Feeney, his words remind us of the everlasting need for help and support in our world. His legacy continues to inspire us all to give more, to give sooner, and to know that the act of giving, in itself, is the greatest reward.

For an in-depth understanding of Chuck Feeney’s life and philosophy, you can refer to the following resources:

Embracing Tranquility in Leadership: Insights from Thyagaraja’s “Saantamu Leka”

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In the symphony of leadership, the notes of tranquility often get overshadowed by the crescendos of decision-making and the fortissimos of innovation. Yet, it is in the quietude of a leader’s mind that the most profound strategies are composed. Thyagaraja’s “Saantamu Leka,” a kriti in Raga Sama, resonates with this truth, harmonizing the ancient wisdom of spirituality with the modern cadences of leadership.

The Essence of “Saantamu Leka”

Thyagaraja, in his kriti, articulates a fundamental principle: without inner peace, there is no true comfort. This message is not just a spiritual axiom but a strategic imperative for leaders. The kriti unfolds this theme through its verses, emphasizing that wealth, family, knowledge, and rituals are but dissonant chords without the melody of tranquility.

Leadership Lessons from the Kriti

The blog “Thyagaraja Vaibhavam” delves deeper into the kriti, offering insights that are particularly pertinent for leaders. It speaks of “upasantamu,” a state of calm that is essential for liberation from the cyclicality of action and reaction—a concept that leaders can apply to break free from reactive patterns and cultivate a proactive mindset.

The Confluence of Music and Message

Raga Sama, known for its soothing quality, underscores the kriti’s message musically. For leaders, this serves as a metaphor for the harmony that arises from a tranquil mind—a state from which vision and clarity emerge.

In Conclusion: The Leader’s Quest for Peace

“Santamu Leka” is a timeless ode to the power of peace. It teaches leaders that the true measure of success is not just in outcomes but in the serenity with which one navigates the complex dynamics of business and life.

A Cinematic Parallel

In the spirit of movies and management, consider the calm demeanor of Atticus Finch in “To Kill a Mockingbird” or the composed resolve of Captain Jean-Luc Picard in “Star Trek.” Their tranquility in the face of turmoil is their strength, much like the peace Thyagaraja espouses.

As you lead, let the tranquility that “Saantamu Leka” advocates be your guide. It is in the silent beats of reflection that the true rhythm of leadership is found.

Sai Baba’s Timeless Wisdom on Cultivating Kindness and Respect

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Sai Baba’s enduring wisdom on human interaction and ethical conduct is eloquently captured in Chapters XVIII and XIX [1] of the seminal work, Sai Satcharitra. In these chapters, Baba imparts invaluable lessons on humility, truthfulness, and emotional intelligence, urging his followers to adopt a compassionate and respectful demeanor towards all.

In Chapter XVIII, Sai Baba emphasizes the virtues of humility and truthfulness, cautioning against the pitfalls of arrogance stemming from wealth, intellect, or power. He advocates for a universal respect for all beings, encapsulated in his poignant quote: “Unless there is some relationship or connection, nobody goes anywhere. If any men or creatures come to you, do not discourteously drive them away, but receive them well and treat them with due respect.”

Chapter XIX delves into the art of patience, kindness, and compassion. Baba counsels his devotees to maintain their composure in the face of adversity, avoiding anger and agitation. He further encourages proactive assistance to those in need, or at the very least, to abstain from discourtesy and rudeness.

The crux of Sai Baba’s teachings in these chapters is a call to cultivate a balanced and respectful disposition. He urges us to be humble, devoid of pride in our material or intellectual assets; to be truthful, refraining from deceit or manipulation; and to be patient, kind, and compassionate, even when faced with challenges or provocations.

These timeless teachings hold significant relevance in today’s fast-paced world, where the virtues of patience, kindness, and compassion are often overshadowed by the hustle and bustle of daily life. Adhering to Baba’s guidance not only elevates us as individuals and devout followers but also contributes to a more harmonious and empathetic global community.

In conclusion, Sai Baba’s teachings, as outlined in Chapters XVIII and XIX of Sai Satcharitra, offer a comprehensive guide to ethical conduct and interpersonal relations. By internalizing and practicing these principles, we not only enrich our own lives but also play a part in uplifting society as a whole.

As the saying goes in the cinematic world, “Character is destiny.” In the same vein, Sai Baba teaches us that our character, shaped by humility, truthfulness, and compassion, is the cornerstone of a fulfilling and meaningful life.

“Remember, the Force will be with you, always,” as Obi-Wan Kenobi from Star Wars would say. In the context of Sai Baba’s teachings, the ‘Force’ is the enduring wisdom that guides us to be better human beings, better devotees, and contributors to a better world.

[1] Sai Satcharitra:

Article written by the author with the help of and ChatGPT Plus