• November 2014

The Business of Counting Your Blessings

What are the top three blessings in your life? Your children and family? Your business? Your health? How about your human rights? For many of us, our freedom is an inalienable right. But for so many around the world, that is not the case.

We couldn’t think of a better person to talk to about human rights than Karen Hanrahan, who works in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Hanrahan has long been a member of our Inkandescent Speakers Bureau, and for years we’ve had the privilege of talking to her about the work she does internationally.

What exactly are human rights? And how can small-business owners make an impact and a difference? Scroll down to read our Q&A with Hanrahan, and click here to listen to our podcast interview with her on the Inkandescent Radio Network.

And don’t miss insights on the science of gratitude by Stanford professor Dr. Emma Seppälä. “Research suggests that, in general, we actually have three times more positive experiences than negative ones,” she says. “However, burdened with the problems that we inevitably face in life, we often fail to remember the blessings and give too much importance to the problems in our lives.” Psychologists have found two reasons for this habit. Click here to learn more.

Also in this issue:

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, our columnists take stock of the many blessings in their lives and businesses, including:

  • Estate Planning attorney Lisa Hughes teaches us how a trust is different from a contract, and answers the top five FAQs about trusts.

In celebration of Compassion Week, November 10-16, we leave you with this parting thought from “Do It Anyway,” “People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Do good anyway. If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.”

Here’s to your incredible, indelible, Inkandescent success. Happy Thanksgiving! — Hope Katz Gibbs, publisher, BeInkandescent.com

Human Rights Are About More Than Values; They're Strategically Important to Global Security

COVER STORY: NOVEMBER
2014

Obama appointee Karen Hanrahan believes that human rights are at the core of the human experience and that human rights consist of fundamental rights and freedoms that every person is inherently entitled to—simply by virtue of being a human being.

By Hope Katz Gibbs, Publisher
Be Inkandescent magazine

Photos courtesy of the US Department of State

The doctrine of human rights has been highly influential within international law, and within global and regional institutions.

But what, exactly, are human rights?

And why are these rights too often nonexistent for so many women and girls, and other populations, around the world?

To better understand this issue, we turn to Karen Hanrahan. An appointee in the Obama administration serving as deputy assistant secretary in the State Department’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, Hanrahan began her work for the administration working with the late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke as the US coordinator for International Assistance to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

From there, Hanrahan went on to design and run the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review for then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She also served as the chief innovation officer for the UK Department for International Development (DFID) in London.

We met Hanrahan back in the spring of 2008—before she had stepped into these top jobs. Looking back at the years since 2008, she explains that the common denominator for all of her work has been her goal to help US government agencies improve the plight of people around the world.

Scroll down for our Q&A. And click here to listen to our podcast interview on the Inkandescent Radio Network.


Be Inkandescent: By definition, human rights are moral principles or norms that describe certain standards of human behavior, and are regularly protected as legal rights in national and international law. How do you define human rights, and how are they defined by the US government?

Karen Hanrahan: Human rights are at the core of the human experience. They are the basic rights and freedoms we are entitled to just because we are human. They protect all people, regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, language, or other status.

Human rights include civil and political rights, such as the right to life, liberty, and freedom of expression; and social, cultural, and economic rights. These include the right to participate in culture, the right to food, and the right to work and receive an education.

The most basic rights are laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and they are protected and upheld by international and national laws and treaties.

These rights and freedoms provide the foundation for human dignity, and they belong to all of us. Where these rights are not protected or respected, abuses occur, including torture, discrimination, slavery, rape, killings, and other forms of injustice. These things are happening all over the world, despite the strong legal framework and system that defines and promotes human rights.

I would also change at least one part of the definition you cite above. Human rights are not just moral principles, and they are not just about values. They are strategically important to global stability. We in the Obama administration, and particularly under the leadership of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, recognize that human rights are both a value and a critical element of our strategies for international security, stability, and prosperity.

The past decades have shown us that people rise up and fight when they reach their limit of injustice and abuse. Particularly in today’s interconnected world, people are learning about their rights, organizing and taking action to demand better treatment. More governments are challenged today than ever before by popular uprisings rooted in a demand for justice, equality, and a better life.

Be Inkandescent: The plight of women and girls, and the millions of other groups who are persecuted around the world, is a daunting issue to understand, let alone solve. How are you working to help?

Karen Hanrahan: Women and girls do face particular challenges around the world—from sexual and gender-based violence, child marriage, and trafficking to systematic discrimination. The problem is particularly acute during wars and conflicts, and I encourage everyone to learn about the situation of women and girls in the world, including the critical positive role they play in pulling societies out of poverty and out of conflict.

That said, violence and discrimination against women and girls remain a major challenge, even in our own country. A few months ago in Kenya, I spent an afternoon at a clinic for victims of sexual violence.

Half of them were girls, one only 10 years old. Their stories reminded me of all the hurdles we and they have, including cultures where rape is not viewed as a serious crime, nor punished as such; and systems that continue to victimize women and girls when they seek help.

In most places, in addition to women and girls, most minority groups have an uphill battle to avoid abuse and secure their rights. These groups includes ethnic and religious minorities, the disabled, and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals, to name a few.

How can I make a difference? Every day on the job, I have the opportunity—and the responsibility—to educate, to influence, to support, and to mobilize voices to advance human rights around the world.

Don’t stop now! Read more of our interview with Karen Hanrahan. Listen to our podcast on Inkandescent Radio. And dive into the Science of Gratitude.

What Can Entrepreneurs Do to Fight for Human Rights? Karen Hanrahan Explains

TIPS FOR ENTREPRENEURS: UNDERSTANDING HUMAN RIGHTS

“I spend most of my time shaping US government policies, influencing foreign governments and businesses, providing support to human rights advocates and civil society, and crafting solutions that will increase protection of human rights around the world,” explains Karen Hanrahan, an Obama administration appointee who serves in the State Department as the deputy assistant secretary in the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor.

“Every day on the job, I have the opportunity—and the responsibility—to educate, to influence, to support, and to mobilize voices to advance human rights around the world.

“Almost every one of the foreign policy issues you see today is impacted by an issue of human rights and democracy—including the battle against ISIS and other terrorist groups, violence in the West Bank and Gaza and Africa, Russia’s actions in Ukraine, protests in Hong Kong, and more.”

Why does Hanrahan feel that advancing human rights is a critical aspect of US foreign policy? Scroll down to read more.


Be Inkandescent: What do you like best about your job?

Karen Hanrahan: The best part of my job is getting to work with the courageous advocates who defend human rights around the world, even under the most dangerous conditions.

Sometimes these are organizations and professional human rights advocates, but increasingly I’m seeing individual citizens taking action and joining with others to demand their rights and better governance. It is these local voices on the front lines that I work hardest to support.

I’m also working more and more with large companies to try to synchronize efforts to advance certain rights, including labor rights and the rights of women and girls. Businesses play a key role in the treatment of citizens abroad—both in their own workforces and in the broader communities and countries where they do business.

Some of these companies have integrated solutions into their businesses models, from hiring more women and other minorities and outsourcing ethically, to institutionalizing strong labor practices and ensuring their private security services are well-trained and that they protect human rights.

But there is a long way to go to leverage all that such businesses can do in this realm. For example, Bangladesh has proven to be a challenge for many major apparel companies over the past two years. Poorly run and unsafe factories, some of which are used by global brands that most of us buy, have resulted in thousands of deaths.

I’ve worked with a number of companies to build a collective effort to make factories safer and to protect workers, goals that also protect the brands of these companies. More recently, I’ve been engaged with a number of companies in Myanmar to try to get responsible investment practices in place from the start as US companies begin to invest in that country.

Be Inkandescent: In the decades that you have been working on human rights issues, have you seen any improvement?

Karen Hanrahan: When I look at the human rights movement historically, I see great progress over the past century. Even over the past few decades, particularly now when people are so connected, I also see progress.

I’ve seen more people who are learning about their rights and demanding them from governments; I’ve seen more laws and constitutions enacted that enshrine human rights protections; I’ve seen women and girls gain status in governments and societies; I’ve seen accountability mechanisms bringing former leaders to justice for war crimes and atrocities; I’ve seen an increasing number of everyday citizens organizing and demanding justice and more democratic governance; and I’ve finally seen, under this administration, greater attention being given to the rights of LGBT individuals.

At the same time, the world is full of challenges, and there is much work still to be done. Women and girls—and children in general—continue to suffer severe abuse, discrimination, and injustice. I am troubled by the rise in the number of new laws that limit free speech and attempt to weaken civil society. I’m also troubled by the conduct of security forces around the world that regularly commit human rights violations, increasingly in the name of fighting “extremism” or “terrorism,” and often fuel such problems. Conflict and terrorism generate major abuses, and I do not think we have figured out how best to address such violence in a sustainable way. We have much work to do to understand how to prevent terrorism and conflict.

Be Inkandescent: Our audience of small-business owners are often altruistic in their thinking, but when it comes to human rights, the topic seems so overwhelming. What are some steps that SBOs can take to help make a difference?

Karen Hanrahan: The first thing businesses can do is to examine their own business models, products, services, supply chains, and practices to ensure they are not part of a human rights problem. Sometimes companies are not even aware that they are buying components from or outsourcing to another company that exploits its labor or gets materials in unethical and abusive ways. Large and small companies are already finding ways to integrate socially responsible business practices into their business models.

Another great way to contribute is to help raise awareness among your customers, suppliers, and others about human rights issues relevant to your industry. Also, look for campaigns to stop global slavery, protect women and girls, or other causes, and contribute in any way that you can—financially, or by spreading the word, contributing products, sponsoring events, etc. If you’re feeling ambitious, join forces with others in your industry to try to make a difference on an issue.

There are also well-established human rights organizations that always need funding and sponsorship, including Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Human Rights First, as well as niche organizations that cover a narrower set of issues, such as the Center for Reproductive Rights.

Be Inkandescent: What do you see as the future of human rights—domestically and abroad?

Karen Hanrahan: I am optimistic about the situation of human rights in the world. The human spirit cannot be held down for long. An increasing number of people are engaged in human rights issues around the world, particularly young people. But given the tough challenges that remain—from autocratic rulers and conflict to widespread discrimination and corruption—strong leadership is needed. The United States must continue to play that leadership role, but so must average citizens.

The future of change lies with ordinary people. Particularly in a world that is increasingly connected, change will be driven by organized, popular movements of individuals who know their rights and demand protection of those rights from their governments. These kinds of movements cannot be ignored for long.

Along with citizens, I think that businesses will also play an increasing role in human rights. As the world has become increasingly interconnected, business is affected by the stability, prosperity, and the human condition in other countries. Thus, companies have already been getting smarter and more creative about their role influencing positive change. And I can’t talk about the future without mentioning technology.

I think there is great untapped potential in the use of technology to empower people and to help address human rights abuses. We’re already seeing great things being done to track trafficking networks, to permit anonymous reporting and information sharing, to allow visibility in places that have historically been impossible to see, and more. At the same time, we are seeing some worrisome trends in technology, such as unmanned aerial vehicles, biological weapons, and robotic technology—all advances that need to be debated and regulated.

Be Inkandescent: How does the United States rank when it comes to human rights? Are other countries more active in defending human rights around the world?

Karen Hanrahan: The United States remains a global leader in the promotion and protection of human rights. It ranks high when it comes to human rights, but it does not have a perfect record. Fortunately, many organizations and institutions in the United States, including the press, act as watchdogs and work to hold our government accountable.

These include organizations that seek to influence foreign policy. My colleagues and I hear regularly from American organizations—from churches and NGOs (nongovernmental organizations) to organized citizen groups—that try to influence us to take stands and make policies that support the human rights agenda. We are regularly questioned by our free press about the decisions we make and the stances we take. The questions they ask often help direct our attention to a particular political prisoner or abusive situation.

Be Inkandescent: Talk a little about your background. What inspired you to want to work in the field of human rights, and what gives you the most hope about what you are seeing worldwide in this area?

Karen Hanrahan: I was fortunate to know at a relatively young age that I was interested in international justice. I’ve always been attracted to working on protracted conflicts and problems in the world that seem impossible to solve. And I’ve been motivated by the people I’ve met along the way who show tremendous courage and leadership in fighting for freedom.

My mother taught me at a young age about social justice and equality. She introduced me to figures such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Betty Friedan, and others. This and some formative travel experiences, including to the West Bank and Gaza Strip, instilled in me a clear sense that I wanted to be part of the human rights movement. The educational and professional choices I’ve made since then have been driven by this desire to be part of the historical movement that is advancing equality, justice, and freedom.

Do you have questions for Karen Hanrahan? Send her an email.

If my mind can conceive it, and my heart can believe it, I know I can achieve it.”

– Jesse Jackson

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

– Winston Churchill

Happy are those who dream dreams and are ready to pay the price to make them come true.”

– Leo Jozef Suenens

Everyone is a mirror image of yourself—your own thinking coming back at you.”

– Byron Katie

You don’t love someone because of their looks or their clothes or their car. You love them because they sing a song only your heart can understand.”

– L.J. Smith

He who knows he has enough is rich.”

– Tao Te Ching

When a dog runs at you, whistle for him.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask, and that’s what separates the people who do things from the people who just dream about them.”

– Steve Jobs

There is only one success – to be able to spend your life in your own way.”

– Christopher Morley

Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

– William Butler Yeats

Permanence, perseverance and persistence in spite of all obstacles distinguishes the strong soul from the weak.”

– Thomas Carlyle

The critical ingredient is getting off your butt and doing something.”

– Nolan Bushnell, founder, Chuck E. Cheese's

Instead of loving your enemies, treat your friends a little better.”

– Edgar W. Howe

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.”

– Jalaluddin Rumi

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.”

– Mark Twain

Try not to become a man of success but rather to become a man of value.”

– Albert Einstein

Friendship is the only cement that will hold the world together.”

– Woodrow Wilson

The important thing is not being afraid to take a chance. The greatest failure is to not try.”

– Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields Cookies

What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?”

– Magical

If you want to be busy, keep trying to be perfect. If you want to be happy, focus on making a difference.”

– Lisa Earle McLeod

Successful people are always looking for opportunities to help others. Unsuccessful people are always asking, ‘What’s in it for me?’”

– Brian Tracy

Your own words are the bricks and mortar
of the dreams you want to realize.
 The words you choose and their use establish the life you experience.”

– Sonia Croquette

You must have chaos within you, to create a dancing star.”

– Frederic Nietzsche

But all the while I was alone, the past was close behind, I seen a lot of women, but she never escaped my mind, and I just grew, tangled up in blue.”

– Bob Dylan

There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”

– JFK

We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

– Joseph Campbell

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly. Hold fast to dreams, for when dreams go, life is a barren field frozen with snow.”

– Langston Hughes

We make a living by what we get; we make a life by what we give.”

– Winston Churchill

Destiny is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.”

– William Jennings Bryan

Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.”

– Steve Jobs

A man without a smiling face
 should not open a shop.”

– Chinese Proverb

The young man knows the rules, but the old man knows the exceptions.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., U.S. Supreme Court justice

The follow-your-gut mentality of the entrepreneur has the potential to take you anywhere you want to go or run you right out of business.”

– Bill Rancic, "The Apprentice"

The biggest flaw in our existing theory of capitalism lies in its misrepresentation of human nature.”

– Muhammad Yunus

Look at everything as though you were
seeing it either for the first or last time.
Then your time on earth will be filled with glory.”

– Betty Smith

A people who mean to be their Governors must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives.”

– James Madison

The journey is the reward.”

– Greg Norman

A man who strikes first admits that his ideas have given out.”

– Chinese Proverb

‎No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.”

– Charles Dickens

Persist and persevere, and you will find most things that are attainable, possible.”

– Lord Chesterfield

Find somebody to be successful for. Raise their hopes. Think of their needs.”

– Barack Obama

Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes.”

– Benjamin Disraeli

A warrior cannot complain or regret anything. His life is an endless challenge, and challenges cannot possibly be good or bad. Challenges are simply challenges.”

– Carlos Castaneda

Ripeness is all.”

– William Shakespeare

I may not be able to change what takes place, but I can always choose to change my thinking.”

– Michelle Sedas

Who cares if my glass is half empty or half full; I still have something to drink.”

– Optimism rules

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.”

– Charles Darwin

The dove descending breaks the air / With flame of inkandescent terror.”

– T.S. Eliott

Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity.”

– Ray Bradbury

Entrepreneurs need to search purposefully for the sources of innovation that indicate opportunities for success.”

– Peter F. Drucker

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