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Awesome Member of the Week: Arifah Aronson on Wasting Less and Saying No

GOOD is featuring interviews of devoted members each week on Arifah Aronson is a business strategist for social good and a writer.

The last time I did good

I'm contributing to others by posting comments on the blogs of companies and authors that are doing good. I'm also working on a business model for waste streams. I see waste as a resource and there's much to be gained from it. I'm still hashing out the idea and I'm tailoring it back to make it manageable and 'doable'. Tricky.

A 'Do' I want to share with the world

Learning to say "no" is an act of self-love. It's taken me a long time to learn this. It's knowing what to say "no" to that's important: certain types of people, situations, work choices, being busy with the wrong things. This "no" declutters my energy. The clearer I can be with what I don't want, the more open I am to receiving what I do. It's easier to hear my intuition.

Best advice I’ve ever gotten

From my mother: "Choose and choose carefully who and how you are going to be. How you 'use' yourself, your voice, will be yours and yours alone and it will be reflected back into your life."

Worst advice I’ve ever gotten

As an empath, I feel the emotions of others, and asked someone close to me how to cope with things. This was his response: "Develop indifference, don't have an emotional response to how others are, just observe from a distance and don't let your emotions interfere."

But, indifference is the act of disconnecting from the very core of who we are. We are here to experience, to love, to feel, to cry. True compassion for others can only be attained and given through feelings.

Book I'd recommend

Nine Kinds of Naked by Tony Vigorito; A Single Shard by Linda Sue Park, which is a young adult book, but I highly recommend it; Life is So Good by George Dawson and Richard Glaubman.

My heroes

My mother Bibi Fathima Khan-Rahaman helped more children in Barbados that I will ever know of. She believed children deserved opportunity and empowered women to become independent. She lived in an abusive home, so what she was not able to do for herself she gave to other women, and there were many times she did this quietly.

The other is Muhammad Yunus. He's leveraged the Nobel Peace Price he received in 2006, to forge incredibly large, dynamic business partnerships. He's pioneered concepts of microcredit and microfinance. He's changing how a poor person is seen and offering dignity to the neglected. In addition he's a genius with marketing social business. Quite a combination.

My manifesto

Being a catalyst, I'm driven to push past mental and environmental constraints, also the typical 'business is business' thinking. Using my skills as a Business Strategist, I can engage in active problem solving and advancing social good: ideas, community, and organizations.

Core tenant: If they screw up more than they make good...let them go. Everyone is valuable, and sometimes our energetic combinations are best served with others.

What you should care about right now

Waste. One of the artists I manage, Sayaka Ganz, uses discarded plastics to create amazing sculptures. In her words:

"These items were invented to save us valuable time so that we can spend more time with family and friends, doing something we want to do. We are just now, collectively as a society, starting to realize that convenience has its own price, and it's a very steep price. I really don't think it's very difficult for each one of us to be more mindful of waste, so the problem is lack of incentive that works for everyone. I'm trying to change our perceived value for these items that get thrown away. If we value them, we will want to keep them or at least waste less."

My biggest goal for 2014

Social good has always been a passion, along with writing and the arts. I am focused on submerging my career in my passions and not just having a toe in the water. So I'll look to use my intellect as a Business Strategist to help social good companies expand. Can't leave this out: I want to have the first draft of my book completed.

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