Counting What Matters: 7 Life Lessons Learned

In the five days I was in Hubli, India, at the Deshpande Foundation’s Development Dialogue, the theme, “Counting What Matters” was emphasized numerous times. I took the theme to heart, and really looked at how I could do things in those five days that mattered to me, as I knew I was – and am – one of the luckiest people in the world to get the opportunity to travel across the world to something as incredible as the Development Dialogue in the middle of a snowy and cold Canadian January. Through those 5 days, the 8 flights, the overnight layovers, the anxiety of receiving my Indian visa and Canadian passport in the mail less than 24 hours before I flew out of the country – I learned some things. So without any further rambles, here are the 7 lessons I learned on my Hubli adventure, here’s my personal attempt at Counting What Matters:

 1. Creating innovative support systems like the Deshpande Foundation Hubli Sandbox or the Pond-Deshpande Centre ecosystem in New Brunswick has an impact above and beyond the power of one great business idea. Some of our finest humans are those who are the catalyst for others to achieve greatness.

2. Movements are defined as the collaboration of many, but a successful movement is made up of individuals who lives are marked by hard work and success. A movement is a support mechanism around individuals dedicated to their work.

3. Success should not be defined by growth, whether in the for-profit or non-profit world. The Deshpande Foundation does what it does so well because they don’t try to expand to dozens of countries.

4. The idea of scaling is a must, even if scale means growth within a community, or growth to serve 1 billion Indians. The idea of scale in India is astounding, I witnessed how some NGO’s have grown their impact from one village to serving millions of Indians.

5. Social enterprises are the way of the future, but sustainable funding methods are simply difficult to achieve for some types of institutions, like a rural school serving the poor, and that is ok. The funding for amazing projects like Kalkeri Sangeet Vidyalaya will come as long as projects remain innovative.

6. Following up after conferences and events is a must; I have to make it a priority. I haven’t in the past, but learning about the Deshpande ecosystem made me realize just how important creating and maintaining my own personal ecosystem of inspiring individuals truly is.

7. A best friend can form in a matter of hours; a European in a sari can go from a stranger to a close friend named Clara, if I am open to new people, new stories, new experiences, whether in Hubli or in Halifax.

If you attended the Dialogue, what were your takeaways? If you weren’t in Hubli, what big lessons have you learned on your recent adventures? Please post below in the comment section! 


With love from a student society office,


The rice cooking floor at Akshaya Patra, the world’s largest mechanized kitchen, an NGO that serves over 1 MILLION fresh nutritious lunch meals to children at schools in 17 states of India every single day

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