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Friday, July 2, 2010

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Sara Bronfman, Entrepreneur and Humanitarian

Sara Bronfman has always been an entrepreneur at heart, starting her business career very early in life, owning and operating various small companies in her late teens and early twenties. Although primarily a student at the time, these initial enterprises instilled a passion for personal growth, creativity and leadership that would underlie her future endeavors.

In September 2002, in a search for more practical tools to aid her in both profit and non-profit endeavors, Ms. Bronfman attended a seminar with Executive Success Programs, Inc. (ESP), a company offering trainings in personal, ethical and professional development. There she experienced the practical applications of Rational Inquiry™, the company's proprietary technology created by founder Keith Raniere. Moved by the immediate yet profound benefits Rational Inquiry™ could provide, Ms. Bronfman decided to begin a career with the New York-based company.

Within only two years, Ms. Bronfman became one of the company's top-ranked international trainers and was elected to serve as the Minister of Humanities on the company's executive board. In this capacity, she oversaw all humanitarian activities within the company’s thirty-three-country network. In particular, Ms. Bronfman opened ESP's activities in Great Britain in 2005, and has been responsible for the organization's European endeavors. Working closely with ESP's president, Nancy Salzman, Ms. Bronfman founded the company's VIP Programs, which provide distinguished individuals with specialized training and coaching. Most recently Ms. Bronfman has collaborated with teams of highly motivated young professionals to launch ESP Centers in both New York City and Belfast, Northern Ireland.

In addition to her work with ESP, Ms. Bronfman has continued to forward her passion for inspiring a more humanitarian world through building additional businesses and not for profit organizations. In 2007, Ms. Bronfman and her sister Clare founded the Ethical Humanitarian Foundation, a non-profit organization promoting the evolution of humanity through ethics. In late 2008, Sara and Clare Bronfman, together with conceptual founder Keith Raniere, created the World Ethical Foundations Consortium, a highly directed, non-profit initiative dedicated to the building of a compassionate, ethical humanity. Sara Bronfman was Chair of the initiative’s first high-profile gathering in New York’s Capitol Region in February 2009 and was responsible for His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s visit to the region in April of the same year.

Currently Ms. Bronfman is working to launch several projects in New York City in the fall of 2010, including:  A membership based humanitarian oriented community who will have access to an exclusive events & meeting space, unique educational programs for adults, women & children as well as events which foster authentic expression, creativity, diversity, culture and education. Each of these is a separate business (e.g. The community or network, the meeting & events space, each educational endeavor and the events company) yet they all serve the greater goal of building a humanitarian community of people who can work together, trust each other and support each other in their lives and pursuits. Through various forms of education, events and experiences – focusing on entrepreneurs, women and children - each of these projects aim to build community and foster humanitarian ethics and principles in our city.  We are pleased to present her as our latest Mover and Shaker!

Peachy Deegan interviewed Sara Bronfman for Whom You Know.

Peachy Deegan: What inspires you as an entrepreneur?
Sara Bronfman: What most inspires me about being an entrepreneur is the creativity and the wonderful experience of bringing dreams to life; mine & other people’s – imagining something and working together to make it real. 

What do you find most challenging about being an entrepreneur?
What I find the most challenging about being an entrepreneur is what I find the most challenging about life! Overcoming my own fears – Fear of failing, not being sure people will like or want what I have to offer, fear of feeling limited or resource less and not knowing what to do and needing to ask for help.

What advice would you have for emerging entrepreneurs?
  1. Make sure you have a strong vision and clearly defined goals and next steps and keep plugging away.
  2. Don’t spend money before you have to.
  3. Don’t assume others hold your vision and values as you do – delegation requires more work, not less.
  4. Keep hold of your dream & vision as your guiding light so you have something to help you through the fog when you feel lost.
  5. Make sure you find good & honest people who you work well with and who share in your vision to be on your team.
  6. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or admit when you are stuck.
  7. Always find the joy in your work & have fun no matter what!
 What should people understand and know about Executive Success Programs™ and Rational Inquiry™?
Executive Success Programs™  (ESP) is a company that facilitates personal and professional development by helping people gain a deeper understanding of themselves, what is important to them and how to uphold and pursue those things in their lives.  

How are they relevant today?
I think ESP is relevant today because with the ever accelerating advancements in technology, human society is very different than it was. We have created a lot of wonderful things but we have also created a lot of problems for ourselves and in order to solve them, or move beyond them I think we need heed Einsten’s advice when he said "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." Rational Inquiry™ is a set of tools to help us examine and evolve our thinking so we can evolve our selves and our society.  

Of your upcoming ambitions what are you most excited about and why?
I am excited about facilitating ways for people to come together and get the support and resources they need to connect with themselves, pursue their dream and lead fulfilling lives. 
What or who has had the most influence on your pursuit of excellence?
I think it is safe to say everyone and everything in my life to date has influenced my path, however, most notably my father who instilled in me the belief that you can work to change the world, my mother who taught me about effort & earning, my sister Clare who is one of the hardest workers and most committed people I know and Keith Raniere & Nancy Salzman and the tools and education of ESP who and which continue to help me become more of who I want to be. 

What are you proudest of and why?
I think I am the proudest of the kind of person I am and the relationships I have earned. I think I always strive to be the best person I can be, which for me has to do with the experience people have of themselves when they are with me. I strive to help people feel safe and cared for and help them be ok with and care for themselves. I often fail but I always persist and strive to be and do better. 

What would you like to do professionally that you have not yet had the opportunity to do?
I always wanted to be a waitress or a toll booth operator because I thought you could touch so many people a day that way. 

What honors and awards have you received in your profession?
I have earned the equivalent of a green belt in martial arts which is our standard of measurement in ESP. Only 9 other people have ever earned this rank so far.  

What is your favorite place to be in Manhattan?
My favourite place to be in Manhattan is in and around my workspace in Union Square. 

What is your favorite shop in Manhattan?
I love different places for different things –for example I like Whole Foods at Columbus Circle for all my grocery and health food needs, Bloomingdales for buying basics like underwear & tee-shirts, Rag & Bone in the Village for jeans & shirts, ABC Carpet for pretty housey things, Union Square Market for flowers and baked goodies and so on…  

What is your favorite drink?
My favourite drink is water, or water with fresh lime juice and stevia. Oh, and I love tea and coffee – I go through phases, right now it’s coffee. Cappuccino with almond milk and when it’s tea it’s “proper tea” with almond milk. 

What is your favorite restaurant in Manhattan?
I’m a vegetarian so anywhere that serves good, clean vegetarian friendly food. I can’t say I like one particular restaurant because it depends what kind of food I’m in the mood for. However I can say my favourite type of restaurant is one where they put a lot of love and pride into their food, where you meet the owner and they remember your face when you come back - like Mole on Allen Street – great Mexican food - I almost feel like I’m in someone’s house in Mexico when I eat there. I love it! 

What is your favorite Manhattan book?
The Fountainhead – Ayn Rand, which was based on NYC and I loved The Good Fairies of New York – Martin Millar when I was in my teens. 

If you could have anything in Manhattan named after you what would it be and why?
If I could have anything in Manhattan named after me it would be a really cool and inviting space where people gather and build community. Where compassion and non-violence are upheld and expression and creativity are fostered, especially through music and the performing arts. 

What has been your best Manhattan athletic experience?
Running in the Run As One 4m race this year – hearing the pitter-patter of hundreds of feet running together as one – it was an amazing experience, I felt so much a part of the human team that day! 

What is your favorite thing to do in Manhattan that you can do nowhere else?
There are too many things to list as my favourite things to do in Manhattan that I can’t do anywhere else. Manhattan is like nowhere else and thus doing anything here is different to doing it anywhere else. I love to walk or run in Central Park, especially in the summer. I love that every day I encounter someone playing live music somewhere on my journey around the city. I love that every day I interact with people from all over the world.  

What has been your best Manhattan art or music experience?
My best Manhattan music experience was the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame 25 year anniversary concert last year. It reminded me of the power of music, how it touches people and brings them together, and how important it is to me. I also learned that night how almost all the musicians I love and have grown up listening to got their roots in NYC. 

What do you think is most underrated and overrated here?
What is most underrated about Manhattan is the tribute to humanity this city is. The diversity of people, culture, religions, nationalities, architecture, business and so on - the sheer miracle that we all live together and amongst each other and that it all works! I think the shopping is overrated – so many people come here to shop but I think it tends to be about quantity vs. quality of things you can get.  

Other than Movers and Shakers of course, what is your favorite Whom You Know column and what do you like about it?
I like the Upcoming Nightlight & Daylight columns, as well as the Read This column – I am always looking for good and interesting things to do and good reading tips. 

What else should Whom You Know readers know about you?
Nothing that I can think of – it’s hard for me to be objective here as I am me – what I think might be interesting or important to know about me, everyone else might find very boring and vice-versa!
How would you like to be contacted by Whom You Know readers? By email: is best. 
Thank you!

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