Posted by: XL Results Foundation | May 20, 2008

Living the Extraordinary Lives – Irene Miller

After seven months in the USA, based in Los Angeles XL Board Member and XL Head of World Wide Wealth Irene Millar returns to Singapore where she shares her enthusiasm and her future plans with Susan Gallagher.

I left home when I was pretty young,” says Irene, “so I’m used to picking up and settling down and starting again. I’ll be doing the same things in Singapore as I was in the US — doing whatever I can to make World Wide Wealth a reality.”

Communication is Key
Living in the United States made Irene realize that communicating effectively there is of prime importance. “Probably because it’s such a big country, there’s got to be a lot more communication to make people feel included as ‘part of the family’ and ‘part of the community,” she explains. “The art is to get that communication right — where it’s frequent enough and to the right degree in terms of length and level of detail and using the appropriate mediums. “Communication featured very strongly in the seven months I was there. Communicating over long distances can sometimes be difficult,” Irene says, “especially if you’re not actually present and aware of what’s happening. In my view, email doesn’t replace having a conversation with somebody over the telephone.” Irene is also part of the management team of XL Mexico, a role she obviously enjoys. “We basically had a voyage of discovery into Mexican culture which has been fascinating, because Mexicans are a very outgoing, gregarious population,” she says. She learned that when it comes to their making business decisions, they require a very long courting period. “They really want to get to know you on a personal basis before they’re willing to transact business. We’ve been on a ‘voyage of discovery’ about the different customs and ways of doing business in Mexico — but we’ve got a terrific bunch of XL Members in Mexico City, and we’re very much looking forward to building on that in 2008.”

EBS — There Will Be Events
Almost immediately after having returned to Singapore, she is heading o_ to Bali for the Entrepreneur Business School from April 4 to 8. “I’ll be there throughout the event,” says Irene, “so everybody will have the opportunity to come and share with me what they’re doing, and ask me questions about World Wide Wealth and our XL Social Enterprise Accreditation Programme, and how they can get involved. “For EBS, we have _very different activities planned.

Before EBS starts on Friday evening, we’ll have the opportunity to go on a full-day trip to see the John Fawcett Foundation in action, removing cataracts from people’s eyes and restoring the gift of sight. There’ll also be a half-day trip to Opportunity International, which provides micro-financing to people in Bali — we can see for ourselves the impact these micro-financing loans have on the local community. Another Opportunity International activity is their night bazaar: they’ll actually come into
the hotel during EBS with their locally produced handicrafts and sell the things they’ve been making. This income helps local entrepreneurs provide support for their families.”

Matthew Faid Forest
“But the most important activity is our trip to the Matthew Faid Forest. We’re going to have a tree-planting day, taking place on April 9. It’s an opportunity for members to see a bit of Bali — and most importantly, plant trees in memory of Matthew. By doing that, we’re actually providing the villagers with trees they can use — the leaves and _flowers, for example, in the ceremonial activities that they perform.” XL Revive, the holistic arm of XL which Irene started, will be running four programmes this year: the first one being in Bali April 9 and 10. “It’s a retreat called ‘Life Flow’, Irene says, “delivered by Country Leader and XL Life Member Menno Siebenga, who is a martial arts world champion. His two-day two-night programme will be a perfect way to round o_ the phenomenal experience that you’ll have at EBS!”

Why World Wide Wealth?
Ask Irene how World Wide Wealth actually benefits XL Members, and she’ll answer: “It’s the whole reason XL exists! When you look at Members who make the decision to join XL, they could be young, they could be old, they could be from any country or religion. They could be new or very experienced entrepreneurs. They could work in a non-profit organisation or in a corporate company, or be someone who stays home and looks after their family — so it’s a very diverse population. But the one thing that holds everybody together is the idea that we can make this world a better place — which is actually what World Wide Wealth is all about. “The benefit Members get from World Wide Wealth is the inspiration and motivation to step up and do more than we’re already doing, in addition to giving back in terms of financial contribution.

I think the word for me is ‘sharing’, because there are Members already doing remarkable work — and when
that is shared and others become aware of what’s actually happening, it creates a whole catalyst around it.
“A great example is Cathy Burke of The Hunger Project. She joined as a Member; she came to Bali with a
business plan; her business plan was selected to be worked on — and as a result of Cathy ‘showing up and stepping up’, we now have a US$5 million pledge to The Hunger Project, and the birth of the Pioneer Club. So, one individual showed up, stepped up with a plan — and as a result there is now a whole range of opportunities available for Members to give back.”

New Initiatives
Irene talks enthusiastically about what lies ahead. “We’re working on a couple of new World Wide Wealth initiatives that will enable Members to share much more easily the different aspects of the support that they’re providing and involved in,” she reveals. “We’re in the planning stages of redesigning our World Wide Wealth website.
“On that site, there’ll be a whole section on the Social Enterprise Accreditation programme, which is now also undergoing enhancements of the benefits it brings when you actually join that programme. It’s going to have a section on the latest news and what’s happening around the world in terms of World Wide Wealth — and it will have a section for Members to see what Members around the world are already doing. And then, if someone wants to do something, doesn’t know what, there’ll be a ‘reference section’ that will have criteria which can match them with specific focus areas, such as poverty alleviation.

“Our Social Enterprise Accreditation Programme is our vehicle to monitor our progress towards achieving our XL 2020 Vision. The enhancements to our programme include tools and tips, hints and suggestions as to how you can actually integrate your nominated cause into your business. The whole idea,” Irene explains, “is that it becomes much more than just a financial contribution — it becomes the reason that your business exists.”

Implementing Contribution
“As for specific ways of doing this: one of the things we’re working on at the moment is to have an international conference that’s exclusive to the members of the Social Accreditation Programme,” she continues. “This would allow them to come and hear from the non-profits; to have panel discussions; to go into work groups; and to identify how to leverage their business to support their nominated cause.

“There will also be quarterly conference calls with non-profit organisations. We have four mail focus groups — Global Health, Property Alleviation, Training and Education, and The Environment — so the idea is that we’d have at least one conference call per year lined up with non-profits in these areas.” Now that Irene is back in Singapore, we asked her about her personal plans. “I’ve travelled around number of different places,” she replied. “I’ve tended to move either to different cities or countries every two years, so I’m used to picking up, and settling down and starting again. I’ve come to realise that it doesn’t much matter where you are: you can always do the things you want to do and live your life the way you want to. I’ll be doing the same things in Singapore as I did in the United States — to do whatever I can to make World Wide Wealth a reality — plus getting some exercise, enjoying some sunshine, eating
well and having some fun. “XL stands for Extraordinary Lives, and I think we’re all living an ‘extraordinary life’.

Plus I think it’s important that we keep that focus, rather than getting caught up with all our day-to-day activities. If every day, we wake up and think, ‘I am leading an Extraordinary Life: so what can I contribute to today?’ That’s how we can make a difference!”

From XL Extra! Issue 4 2008

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