Dr. Mandeep RaiDr. RaiIn a recent salon with MY HERO’s Eva Haller, Broadcast journalist Dr. Mandeep Rai, a global authority on ideals, explored and discussed how embracing values from around the world can enrich our lives and create the kind of humanitarian legacy we, as individuals, wish to leave.
Dr. Rai began her career in private banking at JPMorgan and later worked for the United Nations, the European Commission, and grassroots NGOs before setting up the UAE’s first Media Venture Capital Fund. She has traveled to multiple countries and reported as a journalist for the BBC World Service, Forbes, CNN, and Reuters, amongst others.
Dr. Rai studied philosophy, politics, and economics (PPE), has an MSc in International Development from the London School of Economics, and completed an MBA at London Business School, with a year at Harvard Business School and MIT. She also holds a PhD in global values.
‘The Values Compass’
Determined to understand how values shape nations, societies, and organizations, Dr. Rai has traveled extensively, interviewed people around the world and distilled a ‘value image’ for over 101 countries, which she explores in an award-winning and internationally best-selling book, ‘The Values Compass.’ The book, which has won a DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) award and was winner of the 2020 Nautilus Book Award, takes us on a journey around the world, highlighting a single, unique value that has defined each nation's history, culture, and global influence - and explores how we can apply these values to better our own lives and make decisions more effectively.
Eva Haller Salon
The Eva Haller Salon Series is a weekly event where 91-year-old activist, philanthropist and holocaust survivor, Eva Haller brings together artists, scientists and media makers from around the globe.
Eva Haller Salon with Dr. RaiMY HERO
On Saturday, May 21st, 2022, Eva opened the salon with an invitation to Dr. Rai to help us understand how studying the values of other nations can help us, as individuals, to find purpose and fulfillment in our own lives.
Dr. Rai commenced by quoting Gandhi: “Your beliefs become your thoughts, Your thoughts become your words, Your words become your actions, Your actions become your habits, Your habits become your values, Your values become your destiny” and explained that it is only when you unravel all of the above, that you can then uncover your ‘modus operandi.’
Said Rai: “Aligning our lives to our values can lead to greater happiness, contentment, and achievement. And once you get your values key or core to what really matters to you, then you are much more likely to be living your destiny or becoming closer to the legacy that you want to leave.”
The original intention for the book, explained Rai, was to take the reader around the world to discover the many varied and unique values that have defined each nation in order to entice the reader to unearth their own set of core values: “You take a journey outside to take a more fulfilling journey inside and get closer to your purpose and meaning.” But, she revealed, it has been utilized in “so many more ways than I could have imagined,” Rai told the participants.
“What I didn’t expect,” she shared, “was how closely these values would reveal themselves in our everyday living. For example, when this book came out the Pandemic hit and every country responded differently according to their value system. And now more recently with this war upon Ukraine by Russia, the Ukrainian value of freedom has been upheld very strongly – I wrote about Ukraine years ago, identifying Ukraine’s value as ‘freedom’.”
In the salon, we learn that Hungary was so taken with the proclamation that their core value was 'competitiveness' that the head of the Hungarian Central Bank approached Rai's publishers, bought the rights for the first translation, published it in Hungarian, and issued it to everyone at their Central Bank: “in order to hone and celebrate their competitiveness.”
The book was also chosen by the Japanese (whose value is ‘respect’) during the Olympics because they wanted every country participating to be respected and honored and to “be known for something positive, unique and inspirational.”
Values that define other nations, ascertains Rai, include ‘compromise’ for Morocco, ‘survival’ for Armenia, ‘entrepreneurship’ for America, ‘silence’ for Finland, ‘solidarity’ for Madagascar, ‘togetherness’ for Kenya, ‘love’ for Brazil and ‘diversity’ for Colombia.
Rai admitted that her findings could be considered subjective, but after a decade of extensive research, she has found that people have resonated with her outcomes: “thankfully!” Said Daniel L. Shapiro, Founder and Director of Harvard International Negotiation Program: “The Values Compass offers powerful lessons on how to live a more meaningful life in our modern era. Rai takes us on an intellectual and emotional journey…shining the light on values that define our world and ourselves.”
The book currently covers 101 countries but on winning the DEI award, Rai admitted that she ‘panicked a little’ and did ‘a mad dash’ around another 84 countries and is hoping to visit the rest in the future in order to bring us a world version. “Some countries will be difficult, though,” she confessed: Yemen will not currently allow access as the ambassador has said it is too dangerous and, clearly, she would not embrace having to befriend the Taliban in order to visit to Afghanistan.
Dr. Rai has also developed a set of 101 values cards, described as ‘a compass that can keep us on course.’ The cards name 200 values and are easily packaged so that they can be used at home or in the workplace, and perhaps present a quicker vehicle for individuals, couples, teams or organizations to explore and understand the notion of this value system in order to uncover what is truly important for oneself, one’s family or one’s place of work.
In the salon, Rai urged that whether using the cards or the book, we try to focus on just five core values (“you will be able to knock out 80% quickly”) and, importantly, to prioritize them. She explained that, whether we acknowledge it or not, we make decisions based on what we believe in and so it is important to take time to identify what it is that we do believe in truly, and what values are important to us: “Understanding what makes us and guides us, will help us make active choices, which is better than being a reactionary machine.”
On being questioned about her own values, Rai confided that 'freedom' is the most important and that she has always been aware of this, which is why she has traveled so much. She reveals that during the Pandemic knowing this was helpful for her self-preservation - she chose to use the term ‘circuit-breaker’ rather than ‘lockdown’ as she found the latter suffocating and claustrophobic.
Other core values, she revealed, include family, communication, and connection. Family is clearly key as, when asked at a later date who Dr. Rai would consider to be her hero, expecting it to be Gandhi, surprisingly and without hesitation the response was: “My parents. They are next to gods for me. They support you from day one and continue to do so for the rest of their lives.”
The Values CompassDr. RaiValues in Schools
When not traveling, Rai lives in London with her family. Every Tuesday children of all ages are invited in where she orchestrates multiple workshops, some of which are conducted by students: “Children can support and help younger children. My children are 9 and 10 and already run classes successfully.”
Each week the groups examine an individual value practically and discuss how it could be embodied into their lives. “Working with students has been extraordinary,” she enthused. “Children are able to get this so fast and so well.”
Dr Rai also visits schools across the UK offering complimentary workshops as she passionately believes that not only is it helpful for students to make academic choices based on what is important to them but also because “analyzing values can help form the type of human beings that we want running our planet in the future.
The school visits began accidentally and have developed ‘organically, by word of mouth,’ Teachers have found them to be particularly valuable at the ages of 15/16 when UK students are making impactful academic choices. The workshops and the book are also pertinent tools for Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) in the USA and Personal, Social, Health and Economic (PSHE) education in the UK.
Throughout the salon, it became clear that Rai believes that all of humanity share similar values – when researching the Democratic and Republican Parties in the USA, she revealed that their core values were almost identical. So, when asked about the evil in the world said Rai:
“Who am I to say that one value is better than other – ‘one man’s freedom fighter is another man’s terrorist.’ People who are really disenfranchised, react out of desperation. I believe if we all truly dropped our judgment, we would treat ourselves with greater kindness and compassion and so would others. Fundamentally, what human beings crave is not very different, whether you are sitting in one part of the world or the other…Yes, their needs may be different but that doesn’t mean that the core fundamental values aren’t the same.”
This message is clearly elucidated in the book, as on reviewing ‘The Values Compass,’ said Annette Richardson, former Senior Advisor to the UN Office for Partnerships, “Rai brings us into the hearts, minds, and traditions of cultures and people from around the world, to deliver a powerful lesson that we are more connected than we are divided.”
The Values Compass is, clearly, not only a toolkit for each and every individual to better understand themselves, but also a powerful doctrine that can make the world a better place. As the Dalai Lama acknowledges, “The Values Compass takes us into the hearts, minds, and traditions of the cultures and people of the world. It demonstrates how interconnected we are and how the divisions that exist between us stem from acting with narrow self-interest rather than concern for the good of our human family. I hope that the book will contribute to making our world a happier place.”
When asked what’s next, Rai stated that her aim is not to dwell on what's next but to live in the here and now: "To enjoy the here and now, right now, and to truly relish in this values-based work that I hope is my lifelong pursuit...to explore values in all of its rich variety and dimensions and to have other people do the same."
To find out more go to: www.mandeep-rai.com
To buy the paperback version of ‘The Values Compass’ go to: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1529366135/ref=cm_sw_r_awdo_A3EN80CHGPQZ2AFGY9S_nodl