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The 20th guest on the xMonks Drive podcast is an entrepreneur who was struck by the love for building communities which led him to explore philanthropy. Madhavan Rangaswamy is the name of the beautiful soul in the conversation.

The man went from being a corporate slave to an independent firm owner.He founded Corporate Eco Forum, an organization dedicated to improving the effectiveness of eco-strategies at Global 500 companies. His life is dedicated to civil society,making an impact, building community and human connections.

From Corporate towards Civil Society

M.R. Rangaswamy left the corporate career at 41. The conversation drifted to explore, ‘What was his calling? What was his plan after the corporation?’

“I think I’m an entrepreneur at heart. So you know, when you start one thing, you’re always thinking of other ideas as well. Not in any kind of strategic fashion or anything like that.

That was when I started the first network. But my calling in life hadn’t kind of evolved yet. But I think it started evolving when I started the Corporate Eco Forum, because that was taking on something completely different. But it made so much of an impact on the world. If you could get large corporations to mitigate climate risk by reducing their greenhouse gases, increasing their renewable energy purchases, creating sustainable supply chains that could move the needle much faster than civil society could, or governments could. These were companies that really control the business of the world. That was my calling.”

The Philanthropic Approach towards Making an Impact

Rangaswamy works to create an impact. Serving people is one way to maximise the impact. How did he go from being an entrepreneur to being a philanthropist?

“It came naturally, I don’t think I was looking to be a philanthropist or anything at heart. I’m curious about creating things about being an entrepreneur. I found my passion was to build these networks. So it came upon accidentally, in a way, because I always liked meeting people and keeping in touch with people. It was a natural progression to do this.

The evolution was not just to do it, but do it as a force for good. So that came upon slowly, as I started building these networks, then I started realizing that these networks were doing good things. They were creating impact. They were making progress. That excited me to kind of evolve into looking at things I do. And ask myself, is that going to make an impact? So whatever I do, now, I look at it and say, does that move the needle? Does something make an impact? If I do it? If it does not, you know, I don’t do it. So there’s a very litmus test now that I use with things I do.

My whole thing is to add value and connect people to do good. And don’t expect anything.”

What is the Heart of A Community?

When humans connect, they form a community. A community marching towards a common good. M.R. believes every community has a heart that keeps them alive. Here is what he said-

“I think at the heart of all the networks and communities I’ve started is that 一everybody is committed to giving and sharing, and trusting. That’s a core part of the value system of every network I have. The analogous to that is the second quality, which is no quid pro quo. So you give without any expectation of getting anything back. Pure. If you can instill those values in a community and everyone learns to trust each other, I think you’ve done your job.

When you look at any human being, there are certain qualities we have, that we are good at, and certain things we’re not good at. Right? So inherently you need other people. That’s just how humans are. I think I’m building on that. If you admit to yourself, you’re good at certain things and you’re not good at certain things. You obviously need help. And then if other people do the same thing that then forms a community, right?”

The Mystery of Human Connection

“Communities are formed by human connection, and that is mysterious to understand. There is no science behind connection. Above that, a strongly bonded community is nothing more than pure magic”, in the words of M Rangaswamy,

“These days, when people are fixated on social media and Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn, all these different products. You know that human connection, there’s no replacement for that. When you meet someone, you shake their hands, or you see their expressions, and there’s a connection that happens. A lot of it, I think, is above you. I don’t know why it happens, that you connect with some people and you don’t connect with some people. And, you know, it’s a mystery of the world.

And maybe there’s a higher being that is making things happen. It’s hard to question and search for that. But I think that a lot of times when you meet some people, there’s a special connection. And I’m so fortunate because of all my networks to meet so many interesting people.”

About the Speaker: M. R.  Rangaswami

M.R. (Madhavan) Rangaswami is a software executive, investor, entrepreneur, corporate eco-strategy expert, community builder and philanthropist. Recognized as a software business expert, M.R. participated in the rapid expansion of the Silicon Valley software industry during his tenure as an executive at both large and small software companies. In 1997, M.R. co-founded Sand Hill Group, an investment and consulting group which made several notable investments, produced the Enterprise and Software conference series and launched SandHill.com, an online resource for software business strategy.

In 2007, M.R. founded the Corporate Eco Forum, an organization dedicated to improving the effectiveness of eco-strategies at Global 500 companies. In 2012 he founded Indiaspora to unite Indian Americans and to transform their success into meaningful impact in India and on the global stage.