Awakin.org

Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Awakin Calls » Randy Yeh » Blog


Transcribed Call: DR. RANDY YEH

--Sara O'Toole, on Dec 4, 2014

November 29, 2014
Randy Yeh: From CEO of Lucent to Serving Seniors


Dr. Randy Yeh and a senior lady in his care.

Host: Bela
Moderator: Aryae
Scribe: Sara
Social Media: Deven

(Audio begins below, after initial Q&A)

BELA
We’re a community of volunteers helping each other to help others. We are an umbrella organization to families for positive news stories, service, kindness stories, gift economy and the rest. We’re going to cover a lot, but before we begin we will start with a minute of silence to ground ourselves. After the introductions, there will be a circle of sharing around the seed question.

(Minute of silence)

BELA
Dr. Randy Yeh is a former CEO of Lucent, now serving seniors. We will be talking about his life journey today. The seed questions are:

- What non-financial forms of capital inspire you? Specifically, what in your early years were you motivated by? Are you inspired by connection to community, nature, or stillness?

- What process do you use to find these (non-financial forms of) capital?

When I think of these questions, I of course think of nature. I think there is much precious wealth in the natural world offered by Mother Nature as a gift. It’s up to us to take a second and recognize its existence. It makes me feel so much lighter when I do. When I’m rushing, late to work, trying to catch the bus, if out of the corner of my eye I see a gorgeous pink flower, when I notice it, it makes me feel so much lighter. Even if I can’t stop to admire it, just knowing it was there makes my heart catch its breath and re-centers me and reminds me of what is really important. Through my connection to nature, I was able to make important life decisions including moving from the east coast to the west, and marrying my husband. Trees and water inspire my mind. These are definitely forms of non-financial capital that have really inspired my life path. Also with nature and human expression – it is difficult to find words that touch even a glimpse of what I am feeling, so poetry of words about nature is very meaningful. Sometimes tears come up. So thank you for listening to my share.

So once again, the seed questions are:
 - What are some non-financial forms of capital that inspire you – others, nature, animals, community, stillness?

- What is your process to familiarize yourself with these forms of wealth?  

MISH
Hi this is Mish from New York City. While listening to you speak so eloquently Bela I was thinking about the outside thoroughfare and the cats and squirrels we care for. There are umpteen kindness acts just there caring for the animals. What also inspires me is my desire to make people smile and to evoke confidence in others. I would like to at least do no harm and hopefully inspire someone.

PRAKASH
I’m feeling very thankful today for everything. Certainly, as with others, nature inspires me and makes me come alive. Nature to me has been an evolving experience. It is now everything and everywhere there is a being. Inside, or outside, it is universal. I’m really looking forward, Bela, to listening to Randy. I had an experience yesterday. One way I feel connected is through the airway, the radio. I was listening to the radio to the announcer sharing what is happening in the world in this moment. To get a parking space, someone had to wait 45 minutes to an hour. Right at that moment I was going to connect with my friends in the open with zero waiting time and all available to connect while we played in the open. It made me think how blessed and beautiful it is to have access to celebrate life. Speaking of the non-financial capital and what was shared, it makes me think about the capital of one’s inner potential harvest and to work on one’s continuously highest potential. Thank you Randy. Thank you for this morning.

WENDY
Hi this is Wendy from Half Moon Bay. I was thinking about how appropriate and synchronistic this is for this time of the year. People were in a buying frenzy with Black Friday yesterday. It is good to sit and breathe and remember what the really important forms of non-financial capital are. It’s nice to reset after what is going on this time of year.

MICHELLE
Hi this is Michelle from San Jose, California. One of my favorite forms of non-financial capital is connecting with other individual humans, the people around us. The vehicle for connection too is getting into smaller things, the whole of the planet, figuring out how to do that. Learning about other cultures and places and ecosystems really inspires me.

BELA
Hearing how so many of us feel connected and alive is really beautiful. I have an image of a redwood tree overlooking an entire forest and all of us are in a circle around the redwood tree. That is how I feel in the circle here. Even though we are spread out across the country, I do feel the presence of everyone here. So now we are ready to move on to the next part of the call and to hear more about Randy.

ARYAE
Just in this mood of other forms of capital such as nature, other people, I feel just how special it is Randy for you to be with us in this community. The story of your life exemplifies what those of us in this community are each reaching for in our own lives.

AUDIO BEGINS HERE
http://www.awakin.org/calls/index.php?pg=guest&cid=179

BELA
Today our guest speaker is Randy Yeh, former CEO of Lucent and now he’s serving seniors. So I’m just going to hand the baton over to you Aryae.

ARYAE
Great. Thank you, Bela. To introduce Dr. Randy Yeh, he was born in Qingdao, China in 1948. His family moved to Taiwan and he grew up in Taiwan. He came to the U.S. to study at university. He got a PhD from the University of Texas at Austin in Computer Sciences. He went to work at Bell Labs and AT&T in New Jersey and rose through the ranks to become President of AT&T, Taiwan Communications. He was a corporate vice president at AT&T corporate, and then he became Chairman and CEO of Lucent Technologies in China. At some point during his career as a rising executive with a major U.S. corporation, there was that second form of capital that began to kick in, and he began finding himself engaged in being of service to seniors in China which led him to found the New Path Foundation.

So, Randy, are you there?

DR. RANDY YEH
Yes. I’m here. Can you hear me Aryae?

ARYAE
Thank you. So really there are kind of three parts to the questions I’d like to ask you in our conversation this morning. The first has to do with the story of how you became an executive with AT&T. The second has to do with what led you to found New Path, and the third set of questions I want to explore is some particulars about New Path: What do you do? How do you operate? (What are) the values, the operational principles, and so on?

So I’d like to begin by asking you, how did you get to become a senior executive and then CEO with AT&T and Lucent? What was it about you, your family background, and your early years that set you on this particular path in your life?

DR. RANDY YEH
First of all, thank you Aryae, and may I just express how warm I feel and how honored I feel to be among this community. The sharing at the beginning is really great. I feel very much a part of that among you. To answer your first question, I guess, you know, I’m just like many of my peers, working hard and have a fairly positive mindset, willing to take on responsibilities, but that’s not really enough. I think the biggest thing of all is – and I just met one of my former bosses to tell him, “I have many people help me, even a student at times, at critical moments.” There always seems to be somebody who is willing to lend a hand for a difficult part of the journey or as a mentor. So, I am very grateful I guess to the help I’ve gotten along the way and the lessons I was able to learn from them. And then, I guess I’m very much interested in the outside; that is, the trend. For instance, at AT&T, I think I am very interested in what is the company as a whole is going. So I think that allow me to have a little bit better understanding of what may be coming and what I might be able to do to enhance myself, to give what I am good at in the future. So I think that kind of helped me a little bit along my path. And of course the biggest one is always luck, but -- you cannot choose (that), you know?

ARYAE
So I’m interested in the next-to-last thing you said. It sounds like you said that your interests led you to sort of see the big picture of the company, and what was happening, and where it was going and what was needed. You felt motivated to jump in there and respond to that. Is that right?

DR. RANDY YEH
Yes. For instance, I became sort of like an executive in the Bell Labs site but (that’s only) research and development. I’m really quite interested in interacting with people. So I’m more interested in moving into different parts of the corporation. Then I saw AT&T decided or is moving on the path to have an agreement with the government. So they will not go to all the Bell operating companies and then they will be allowed to expand into internationally. I felt I had a special skill for Asia, so I had volunteered to be a technical mentor for the sales team in Taiwan. So I went there on my own time and helped the sales team. Eventually – it took a couple of years -- to achieve a fairly significant sale in one of the business units which I was in. So that sort of got me into Asia to Japan a couple of years later.

ARYAE
It’s interesting that you used the word “volunteer” which wound up taking you in such a different direction in the second part of your life. You were volunteering in your business career as well.

DR. RANDY YEH
(laughs) Right, because nobody asked me to do that. I was the technical manager for the “U.S. West Team” based in Denver but I volunteered to also take on Taiwan and nobody objected.
 
“…along the way, I fell in love with money.” – Dr. Randy Yeh


ARYAE
I saw somewhere on the ServiceSpace.org website someone quoting you as saying, “Somehow along the way I fell in love with money.” Is that true?

DR. RANDY YEH
Yes. I always…It’s not “somehow.” My dad, even though he was a Second World War hero, but he got sacked in the middle of the career. So one time when I was very young I followed him to a friend’s place and my dad would like borrow not really a big amount of money from him but he didn’t have it. So we just returned. I guess that planted a fairly important seed in my mind that money is very important. I got kinda worried about the future. So I developed a hunger for money since I then, I think (that was based on) insecurity, I guess.

ARYAE
So money became a way of restoring the security and maybe a little bit of the honor of your family?

DR. RANDY YEH
Not so much honor. I didn’t feel we were dishonored but I did feel we may be into hard times. I was very young. I was maybe 7- or 8-years old.

ARYAE
Can you tell us a little bit more about your father as a World War II hero? I think that’s a very interesting part of your story.
 

The Gaoligong Mountains – Yunnan Highlands

DR. RANDY YEH
My dad became an orphan at six. Actually it’s accidental because he didn’t have a chance to go to school, so his brother taught him some basic reading. One day he got a chance, a relative said, in a military school very very far away in China that they would provide for his schooling. So his brother sent him off, and he went off as a very young person. So he got his studies. Then he became a very good military person especially in terms of strategy and tactics in actual battles. So he was actually in the last segment of the Second World War for the battle of Gaoligong Mountain (高黎贡山). I believe that’s the highest battleground for the Second World War, over 3,200 meters, and that was a very famous (battle) in this war.

ARYAE
I understand from what you had said to me earlier that he was honored in China at that time in World War II as one of the people who really protected China at that time from the Japanese invasion.
 

The Flying Tigers

DR. RANDY YEH
Yes. I think some of you may know about the Flying Tigers. They have helped China during the Second World War and that’s the same path that my father fought the Japanese and pushed them out of the Yunnan. There is a path running from the southwest part of China all the way to India. Eventually that path allowed a major comeback and also along with many other situations in which the Japanese were defeated.

ARYAE
I’m just curious, Randy. Did you father live to see your business success?

DR. RANDY YEH
No. That’s a regret, because… No, he didn’t.

ARYAE
I can imagine how proud he would have felt of you. So I want to fast forward now to the time you got started volunteering to serve seniors. Is that the time when you were serving as CEO of Lucent, China?

DR. RANDY YEH
Correct. Yes.

ARYAE
So can you describe to us how did you first -- what led you in the beginning to start volunteering to serve seniors?

DR. RANDY YEH
Well, I started volunteering when I was in college, but at that time I really was serving my own needs even though I wasn’t aware of that. It’s kinda like a cloud coming to me and I floated away. I heard about an orphanage and the situation of the children in it, and I was really touched so I went to teach them – English, math, (I’ve forgotten what else). And then in ’71 I sort of just exited. So it’s not until when I was about 40 and this is almost 10-some years after my grandma passed away. My grandma had a major influence on me, the way she loved me. I think it’s not unusual, you know? I think many grandmas love their grandchildren very dearly, and I was one of those lucky ones. I became very grateful and really missed my grandma after she passed away. So I think I was, (laughs) I am, a very slow student of life, but I think maybe after ten-some years this love and gratitude transformed into a general love for all the elderly. So I began to have these thoughts of wanting to go into a nursing home to accompany some perhaps lonely elders. But I was very busy. In Japan I was flying all the time. In Taiwan I can do it. But I finally decided after much thought -- because I was a CEO then, also -- that I wanted to spend time to accompany my children growing up. So I let it go. When I went to China, my children were older and this is just becoming part of my life. So, I wanted it to be done. So I went to China, and the same year I found this – I guess it’s like old commune, home for the poor peasants without children and they lost their capacity to farm, so, after I went in there I stayed. That’s how I started.

ARYAE
So did I understand you correctly as saying that you wanted to be more with your children and that is what led you to step down from your business career?

DR. RANDY YEH
No, in Taipei I was very busy as a CEO. I wanted to start serving the elders, but my children were small. So I decided with the limited time I wanted to accompany them. So in Beijing they were bigger.

ARYAE
So in Beijing they were bigger and then you had time to start?

DR. RANDY YEH
Exactly.

ARYAE
Okay. Thank you. So you started as an individual. You would go visit them at this commune in Beijing. So tell us, how things evolve from the point where you as an individual were going and volunteering to serve seniors in this home to the point where you founded the New Path Foundation?

DR. RANDY YEH
Yes, I didn’t expect that. I didn’t want to do it initially. I never thought about it. But I started serving the poor elders without children. I was really enjoying my time. And then some of my colleagues, my family, my friends found out about this and they would sort of join me over the weekend. One of the foot-massage doctors I got to know in China, I talked to him just in chitchat and he decided to join. So there’s becoming a group of people. Of course people come and go. But yet there’s a group of people who stayed, also. So after maybe five years or so I saw the joy in their eyes, and in the seniors’ eyes. But I also saw it some of the volunteers, I mean, the friends and colleagues, they just withdraw with a setback. I guess gradually I put the so-called “volunteers” – because there’s no such thing as “volunteer” in China at that time – but, the so-called “volunteers” into my heart also. I wanted to support the volunteers.. So I talked to my wife then and said, “Can we put some of our savings out so we can support all these volunteers to do these kind of things?” and she is very supportive. So we just formed New Path Foundation. That’s how it is.

ARYAE
So you started just yourself. You noticed other people who were also volunteering, and then that community grew, it sounds like, kind of organically. You didn’t have any special plan for that. And then it reached the point where you also wanted to support the volunteers. So my understanding is that you have funded New Path Foundation entirely from your own personal savings. Did you actually wind up paying salaries to anybody? How did you go about expanding the work of the New Path Foundation?
 
“It sort of just naturally developed in the following sense that it was about that time also that I felt quite abundant. So I changed my mindset somehow that I very much would like to share – not just the time and experience but also the money I’ve accumulated.” – Dr. Randy Yeh

DR. RANDY YEH
It sort of just naturally developed in the following sense that it was about that time also that I felt quite abundant. So I changed my mindset somehow that I very much would like to share – not just the time and experience but also the money I’ve accumulated. So at that time decided I would just exit from Lucent. I took a very early retirement. In China it’s not easy to operate a foreign foundation or NGO. I also was engaged in helping to build schools for those poor children who couldn’t afford to go to school. So, I mean, it was a different China at that time. So I got engaged both from company-wise and also personally with Project Hope. So I got to know the leaders very well. When they found out I was out of Lucent and want to do this, they just said to me, “It’s not easy to do this. Why don’t you come and join us? Then you can operate still independently.” So we contributed part of New Path funds to this China Youth Endowment Foundation which was a special endowment with an independent Board under then. So I was, again, very lucky. At the right time the two leaders came and offered (assistance), otherwise I really wouldn’t know what to do.

ARYAE
Interesting. All of these pieces of your journey – serving the elders, serving the volunteers and then teaming up with Project Hope and organizations in China. I’m curious Randy. Did you at any point -- was difficult to let go of your life as a CEO, of the income and the perks and the prestige? Was there any part of that that was difficult to do?

DR. RANDY YEH
I think so because I’m just a common person. So I enjoy that kind of glory and platform and quite a bit of power, that kind of thing. I guess initially after the Foundation I also at the very beginning took on other things like a venture capital and also helping the large China business, the national business at that time, to transform because they were in difficulties. So I did a few different things. And then I guess after a while I found that I just naturally dropped those, one-by-one. Also I could go to another major corporation of course, but that one didn’t interest me at the beginning any more. So eventually, sort of just naturally, I felt “Oh I enjoy this New Path thing the most…” So it just became this way.

ARYAE
Yes. I’d like to ask you a few questions now specifically about New Path starting with just the scope of the operations. Where is New Path involved at this point and what are some of the projects that you’re doing?

DR. RANDY YEH
Okay, a very quick rundown: I guess after the senior program started out in Beijing there was a huge migration flow, probably the biggest in mankind, about a quarter-billion people over 20 years, (which is) still going right now, from rural to the city. So, many of the children were growing up in rural villages without parents or just one mother. So in 2004 we started another long-term accompaniment program for the volunteers (such…like) in Beijing. We would write letters to be a friend with these, what we called “Little Friends.” And they would also gather together to take the train to go to the remote villages and visit the homes of the Little Friends. So this program started in 2004. And then in 2008 I got – that’s (laughs) another long story. Somehow I went to India and found this wonderful founder who is very devoted to an orphanage with volunteer fathers and mothers. We teamed up to just lead the volunteers of Delhi of India into the slum areas for the disadvantaged children there. And then I guess 2010 I felt after ten years of New Path in Beijing, I formerly had done what I could have done, so I took half of the New Path Foundation money remaining plus the original ones left in Beijing and gave it to the seven founders who had been with me at that time five to seven years and gave it to them and, really, to the Land of China as a gift. So they, after some hesitation, took it. So in 2012 they formed independent foundations still doing long-term accompaniment services. I still visit then. Just next week I am going to go visit them as an old volunteer. But all those seven people are Chinese. They grew up there and that’s their land. Then, in 2012 I moved back to the U.S. I was very lucky. The year before, I started a senior companionship program again in Houston in one of the Westwood Nursing homes. Now it’s free (basis) we’re collaborating with one of the NGOs in Houston. I was most happy that just this year in my own hometown in Taiwan I was able to have an opportunity to collaborate with a wonderful local partner there, again to start a program for senior accompaniment. So, basically, that took us to today.

ARYAE
So you’ve collaborating and supporting volunteers in China, in Taiwan, in India and now in Houston. I noticed when reading a little bit about New Path, that two things came out at me. One was this idea of “accompanying.” You use that word to describe the relationship between the volunteer and the senior or the young person. Can you describe what you mean by “accompanying”?
 
“’Accompaniment’ to me is a period of time that we are willing to put the other person’s needs as our primary concern. That’s the key, I think...” –Dr. Randy Yeh

DR. RANDY YEH
“Accompaniment“ to me is a period of time that we are willing to put the other person’s needs as our primary concern. That’s the key, I think, to support them -- to support their needs as our primary concern.

ARYAE
You have a kind of – I don’t know what to call it – a set of guidelines or methodology that you offer to volunteers who are choosing to be in that accompaniment role. Can you say more about what those guidelines are for your volunteers?
 
Volunteer Training
“…we divide it into three parts on the journey…” Training in mindfulness: “…to understand our own inner voices and to really be with ourselves and cherish our existence…” Devoted listening and presence: “…if the choice is “Yes” then really, really be there for that person…” Be ready for a personal paradigm shift: “…at this time, the major desire of our life will become very clear and will allow us to make choices more easily….to give us space so that when others come to us, we have space for them…
DR. RANDY YEH
Very simply, we divided it into three parts in a journey, as I started myself. I started to support others with wonderful intent, but, really, I was not aware of my own needs and not capable of understanding other peoples’ needs. So my support sometimes for accompaniment does not bring good results. So in our training we try to provide our volunteers training in mindfulness so we can take time out and to really be with ourselves and to cherish our existence – to understand our own inner voices sometimes we missed; and to understand our own needs and be able to support us. Once we can support ourselves, I would say, that would lay a really great foundation to support others because we felt understanding is the foundation of support or accompaniment. Then we also focused on what we call devoted listening when we are willing to really make a choice first, because it can always be “No.” But, if the choice is “Yes,” then really, really be there for that person and to understand not just their words but the feelings and perhaps their cry of the need and to support them together. We felt with this kind of accompaniment that it can lend warmth, strength, to the other. And then, eventually, as we become understanding ourselves more, I think in my own experiences, we were able to see things more clearly, and some of the needs within us will sort of just dissolve by themselves. Sometimes we will gain new end goals inside that allow us to let go of some of the other needs as well. At this time the major, sort of, desire of our life will become very clear and will allow us to make choices more easily and also gives us more space, so that when others come to us, we have more space for them. So we will naturally be able to support them as our primary concern without too much effort.

ARYAE
What strikes me so strongly, Randy, is how the inner work and the outer work are so integrated in how you guide your volunteers. It really reminds me of the core value of Service Space: “Change yourself. Change the world.”

DR. RANDY YEH
That’s so right.

ARYAE
I have two more questions for you and then Bela I think it will be time for us to open it up. So the first question I have is that sometimes we ask in these calls, for people on this call or for people in the Service Space Community who are interested in supporting your New Path Foundation work, what can we do if any of us are interested in supporting your work?

DR. RANDY YEH
Let me think about this. I think accompaniment is everywhere. By listening to the sharing at the beginning from our host and others, I think we are already together because accompaniment doesn’t come from me. It’s within us -- all of us will experience that. It may not be for poor elders or disadvantaged youth but we will be accompanying our wives, husbands, children, parents, our work associates even in a competitive situation. We (can’t) choose to accompany, to support. So I think we are all in this. In terms of support of the program, I guess, if anyone is interested in doing the kind of things we have been doing, what I can say is just write to me, randy@newpathfound.org and I will and we will do our best to share what we know, to share our experiences. That’s, I think, what we can do.

ARYAE
Thank you Randy. Beautiful. Bela are you there?

BELA
I am here. I’m just so humbled by Randy’s response just now. It’s so beautiful. I could feel his genuine call to service from his heart. We are going to open up the call now for our guests to be able to ask Randy more questions. There’s already someone in the queue. Michele, are you there?

MICHELLE
I am. Yes, Randy, first of all (says “thank you for joining us” in Mandarin.) I’m just thanking him for joining us. I lived in Beijing for a few years in the early 80’s and have been back there a number of times. In particular I shared earlier about how my interest is in the whole…in looking at the whole of humanity. I have lived in many places around the world including China and now am very involved with sustainable development goals as a conversation that’s coming out of the United Nations being prepared now for ratification next year and how that is a conversation for alignment. I was very moved by the sharing earlier when you spoke about how you got involved with leadership in the company that you were in and about how that was about looking at the future and where we’re going and the whole of the entity. I’m sort of interested in that for humanity. So I was wondering if you saw anything about that. But particular, I was moved in your work with the elderly because, when we look at what’s happening for humanity, one of the things that’s happening is we have many more elderly people and that will continue. So we need ways of dealing with that and accompanying many people who don’t have families to do that for them. So thank you for that. So one is, do you have any thoughts about the picture of humanity as a whole? And secondly, I’m working with people now in Africa in particular in Zambia and I was hoping to maybe introduce you to them looking at the elderly there, particularly in the wake of the AIDS problems there.

  …and yet I think that every one of us can bring the light of our own just like the endless river. Each of us is like a small drop in there. We can turn ourselves to be more pure, and I think that’s all the individual life journey can become whether it’s in service or daily life. – Dr. Randy Yeh

DR. RANDY YEH
Thank you, Michelle. Well for humanity unfortunately I actually feel kind of pessimistic in terms of where we are headed as a race. But yet I feel that …and yet I think that every one of us can bring the light of our own just like the endless river. Each of us is like a small drop in there. We can turn ourselves to be more pure, and I think that’s all the individual life journey can become whether it’s in service or daily life. For humanity, though, I think the collective force is pulling us towards an undesirable direction at this time. I’m sorry.

BELA
Hi Randy. This is Bela. I would be really interested in learning – and I know you shared some beautiful stories but – connected to your response just now and the direction that we’re headed in as a human race, can you share one or two stories from your time in Delhi? I would love to hear a little bit more about the work you did in Delhi and your experience there and how that maybe contributed as well to your own path and your commitment to your own self-purification regardless of the direction that we’re headed in as a collective?

DR. RANDY YEH
Right. It really doesn’t impact me that much, but I have to say what I believe. In Delhi, let me share with you a small story. I had never been to India except many years ago I accompanied my former wife because she wanted to have a meditation in Vipassana.[i] So we went there to a mountain near Mumbai. After the session ended, we stayed in Mumbai in a very nice hotel. In the evening I went out and took a walk. There were just literally people lying on the streets. And I saw a girl or a young mother – I know she’s a young mother because even though she’s maybe just 14-years she has a baby and she’s feeding her or something. Then, I made eye contact with her, but I never spoke to her. But I carried that eye contact back with me. India is a country with over billion souls, and I don’t know a single one. So, it took me several years until the birthday of my 60th. Finally I decided the best gift to give myself is to step on the soil of Delhi. And I did. I stayed there a couple of times, long stays. Since nobody knew me, I had a difficult time to come back. Finally I got connected to this wonderful, wonderful UdayanCare[ii], and we went daily to Kanaka Durga, which is one of the biggest slums in Delhi. On our first time way in there it was just like the feeling when I first time stepped into that poor elder’s nursing home in Jiangtai village in Beijing. I knew at that time I will come back. When I saw the children, little children there, I felt I was talking to that girl, to that girl, that young mother even though I will never see her again. I knew these could be all her siblings – younger brothers and younger sisters. I knew I can come back to accompany them to grow up. I told this story to the Indian young people volunteers. I said, “Would you join me to go there?” Many of them did. That’s how I got started in Delhi. [i] Vipassana: an ancient meditation method, now with centers in the United States. [ii] UdayanCare: a distinguished NGO founded by Kiran Mode devoted to the care of orphans and disadvantaged girls in India. BELA
Wow thank you. Prakash, did you have a question?

PRAKASH
Yes, Bela, thank you. That is very powerful, Randy, thank you. I was drawn to thinking back in memory to the time with your grandmother. I was deeply touched when you were sharing about her being such a pillar of shaping your life journey and trajectory. I was going to request you to probably share if you now sit back and think about those times, what really comes into your memory space vividly – some experiences, some stories or some values that she really instilled in your life. Again thank you for everything that you shared.

 

“She was making a bento…for me”

I was naughty. So (one day), I wandered into the kitchen and I saw my grandma…very focused on doing something. I suddenly realize one thing. She is making a bento…a lunchbox, and that lunchbox is for me. All of a sudden I understood all these years, and then all the way until I graduated from high school, she is always there making that lunchbox so caringly focused. So that image is very important to me because, I think, in accompaniment, it is being there for you unwaveringly and consistently -- not changing, always the same…I think I have always had that image in me to give me strength that, I know I’m worthy of being loved. – Dr. Randy Yeh

DR. RANDY YEH
Thank you. I think there are three things I can think of. One is – again, when I was very little maybe, I don’t know, one day I should be at school but I was not. I was naughty. (laughs) So, I wandered into this kitchen or dining room sort of. I saw my grandma, and she’s very focused in doing something. I thought, “I have never talked to her that day.” I suddenly realize one thing. She is making a bento. She is making a lunchbox, and that lunchbox is for me. All of a sudden I understood all these years, and then all the way until I graduated from high school, she is always there making that lunchbox so caringly focused. So that image is very important to me because I think, in accompaniment, one thing is being there for you unwaveringly and consistently -- not changing, always the same. So that’s one thing that impacted me. I think I have always had that image in me to give me strength that, I know I’m worthy of being loved. So the second thing is my father is like that too. So I was very lucky. My mom was really devoted to making her children become better so she cares about my GPA from school, even when I was in primary school. But I noticed one thing is my academic performance – also, I was very naughty, so sometimes the teacher will tell my parents or my grandmother knew from friends that I did some bad things at school. So my academic performance also was inconsistent. But I noticed, it doesn’t matter to her. There’s no difference whatever. So that, I think, I remembered. I think I learned from her what is unconditional (love). I think this story is good enough.

PRAKASH
I want to say so how keenly and observant you were for taking that all in. So thank you for sharing that.

DR. RANDY YEH
Thank you.

BELA
Thank you, Randy. I have this image now of your grandmother every morning making you this bento box with so much love and concentrating on making sure that has everything that you’ll need for your nutrition. That’s really beautiful. So much love in something so small and simple. I did want to ask you, – I wanted to probe a little bit about your response to Michele’s earlier question and your feeling that we’re not headed in necessarily a positive direction. I think a lot of us on this call maybe commiserate and feel the same way. I would be interested in learning about your practices that help you to anchor yourself and continue onwards and give you faith that, regardless of what’s happening as a collective, you keep doing your small part in this ocean and creating those drops of compassion, those “teardrops of compassion” as one of our friends in the ecosystem says. Do you have a spiritual practice, a meditation practice, something that brings stillness within you in addition to the tremendous service that you do?
 
“I don’t have a religious belief, but I do have a spiritual belief. I feel each one of us has a choice. We are capable of being our own masters. My choice, my ideals, is to live in the mindset of love. Once that is clear to me, all the other choices of life become easier. I think…by practicing what I call “choosing love” in any situation that, no matter where I go in the future…I can already be in a peaceful, abundant and joyful state now…” - Dr. Randy Yeh

DR. RANDY YEH
I don’t have a religious belief, but I do have a spiritual belief. I feel each one of us has a choice. We are capable of being our own masters. My choice, my ideal, is to live in the mindset of love. Once that is clear to me, all the other choices of life become easier. I think and I feel more and more by practicing what I call “choosing love” in any situation that, no matter where I go in the future, which does not worry me that much, that I can already be in a peaceful, abundant and joyful state now, and that’s what I like to be.

ARYAE
Bela, this is Aryae. Wendy, who’s here with me, would like to ask a question if that’s okay.

BELA
Yes, of course. Go ahead.

WENDY
Yes, so I’m listening to this conversation and being very inspired. I’ve spent my whole career as a nurse. What Randy is describing sounds so much like Core of Nursing – to accompany someone as a path of growth. I was really relating it to how you are teaching your volunteers how to be conscious as you go through the accompaniment process and also how this is so much relationship with everyone both giving and receiving and how conscious that we have to be about this. So I was wondering if, Randy, you ever work with the staff in these facilities to help them with the same values as well as the volunteers and how important this would be to healthcare workers.

DR. RANDY YEH
Yes we do. Actually, I often share with my volunteers my own view is that we are not very important in the nursing homes because the amount of time we spend there is little compared to the staff and also the caretakers. Those are the important people. Also when we accompany, it’s equal. So we cannot be just focused on the elder that we serve. In China usually there are two to four even in a room. So while our primary relationship is with the elder we serve, if we have a loving mindset, it has to be an equal mindset. So it will have to. Our presence will make the others feel we also care about them. This goes with the staff and also the caretaker as well. For my own, one of the, I guess I call him Mr. Tzu here that I accompanied. I accompanied him for 16 years. The four years before he passed away, he was bed-bound. He even began to tell me to go away and say, “It’s useless.” So I turned to support his caretaker and we became very good friends. So when we accompany someone you have to understand what his real needs are and to support those needs. So I’m agreeing with you.

WENDY
I just think back and wish I had this kind of mentoring years ago when I went through my training. It would have been really invaluable. Thank you so much.

DR. RANDY YEH
Thank you.

BELA
Randy, I want to go back to a little bit further in your past and your transition from leading a corporation to just transitioning to 100-percent service. Earlier I wanted to ask you if you encountered any resistance from your family, but it seems that your family joined you on the path which is really beautiful. But I’m wondering, did you encounter any resistance from other peers or colleagues that made your question, “Wait. What am I doing here?” or “Am I really doing the right thing?” Or was it really just kind of a smooth transition for you
 
I’m more following an inner path, so it’s helped me to balance because I’m not looking outside as I become more mindful in my own life. I have this inner path, an inner calm which supports me. – Dr. Randy Yeh

DR. RANDY YEH
Yes, because when I explained to (laughs) to my friends what I was doing, after listening politely for maybe a long time, they were always confused (and would say), “Oh, okay. So you’re retired.” (laughs) So it’s not an (easy) thing. You know, so sometimes I will feel a little out of place I guess. My former wife was supportive but she also wanted me to continue to be in the other path, I think. She would prefer it, but she didn’t fight with me which I really appreciated. Most people say, “Why do you do this?” So, yes. It was a bit of getting used to. I’m more following an inner path, so it’s helped me to balance because I’m not looking outside as I become more mindful in my own life. I have this inner path, an inner calm which supports me.

BELA
Do you have, you know, as you grow in love, as your love, sort of, gives you that faith…do you still have challenges with your own inner fears, insecurities, other parts of your ego that continue to come up in your life? I’m not sure if my question’s clear…

DR. RANDY YEH
Oh, of course -- even today. Even today. I think the biggest gift – now I can call it a gift – but I was devastated when my former wife decided to leave me. I knew her, I loved her, since she was 19. And so after 36 years, this is devastating to me. Out of a long period of time, I finally was able to learn. I wrote a letter eventually from her because I knew everything. I knew all the things she said, I said, along the way. Eventually I spent three weeks to write a letter from (my former wife) to me saying one thing. So, after I wrote that letter, I finally understood there is a different – I mean, this is a world of many angles. When I shifted my angles, everything becomes so different and understandable. So I became a firm believer that anyone can say anything. Anybody can say anything. I don’t dare to judge because I know they must have a good reason for it now. But, still, I have to confess to you -- that only knocked maybe 50 percent of my pride out of me – a lot. I was a very proud person very, very deep inside. So, I’m still learning on this path. I’m just a student, and a slow student. (laughs) Old and slow.

BELA
Thank you. Gayathri?

GAYATHRI
Randy it is so beautiful listening to you. I really resonated with the gems that you have shared – devoted listening and accompaniment – very beautiful. I really see that, you know? Often times I visit a senior friend of mine here. It really changes their day. It brings so much joy and happiness when somebody is just there to connect with them and speak with them and just be there and help them share what they are feeling and thinking. It really makes a lot of difference. Thank you so much for bringing this all into light and making this happen for so many elders out there. So what are your thoughts or experiences on the growing gap between the younger generation and the elderly? There is so much disconnect. People don’t want to sometimes share their time or be with them. They are more like, “I want to do my own things and I’m not able to spend that time with them.” What are your thoughts and experiences on that? I would love to hear. Thank you so much.
 
“Can you be alone with yourself without doing anything? Can you feel your existence? Can you give yourself a gift of life? If not 30 minutes, how about just 10, 15 minutes to know you are here, to say hello to the world?” – Dr. Randy Yeh

DR. RANDY YEH
Thank you. I think, yes, there are generation gaps and so forth. There are different racial gaps. There are gender gaps. But, I strongly feel that at a very deep core we are all the same. We all envy. We all laugh. We all hate. We all feel lonely sometimes. So that is the level, if you can go to, then everyone can connect to everyone else. So the first thing we try to suggest to our volunteers, especially the younger ones: “Can you be alone with yourself without doing anything? Can you feel your existence? Can you give yourself a gift of life? If not 30 minutes, how about just 10, 15 minutes to know you are here, to say hello to the world?” If we can get young people to be mindful and understand themselves, then many of those kind of superficial things will melt away. I often share a story with them. When I started to serve the elders in this old commune place, they were peasants, they were much older than me, and they didn’t read. They don’t travel, so we are so different. But, as I said, once I transformed myself – I don’t know how it happened it just happened – I felt no distance from the elders, if you understand that. When you feel no distance, nobody can stop you. So I found they use hot water to soak their feet in the evening. So I just started to say, “I would like to do that for you.” They were a little shy, but when you are really…when you genuinely really care and like to do that, they can feel it. So I often say to young people “If you have nothing to say, don’t say anything. Can you just be there? Can you make a choice before you go into that room: “Am I willing to give a small piece? Yes? Maybe just an hour or an hour and a half to this person I say I care?” If you are willing when going there you choose to be there for that person.

BELA
Beautiful. Wow. One more question for you from a callers.

DR. RANDY YEH
Sure.

BELA
Hi Dinesh.

DINESH
Hi. Thanks for allowing me the time. Randy I feel like I’m mini-you as I’ve heard your stories and your life journey. I do work with a senior center in Silicon Valley. But one thing that keeps tugging me in the back of my mind is – even though I do volunteer work and I’m semi-retired and all that -- that maybe I should have accomplished more in my technical life. I should have made millions of dollars and provided employment to all these children that you are talking about rather than just holding their hand or going and giving a little contribution – that, I should have aimed higher. Like I said, I’m semi-retired and I don’t know whether I’ll get to doing that or not. But how do you – do you ever have that feeling? How would one handle that kind of a feeling?
 
I often say to volunteers, “If you are really willing and choose to be there for them, when you they first saw them, and they saw you, your service is completed.” – Dr. Randy Yeh

DR. RANDY YEH
Well everyone has to make a choice for himself. What I feel is there are plenty of people for instance in China even at that time when I started serving the elders, that they are very eager and doing wonderful work in providing poor children with money to build a school like scholarships and so forth. I think that’s equally good. What I chose is I feel, again from my grandmother, I think that knowing and feeling I’m worthy to be loved, and knowing I am loved is something beautiful to me. Whether I am rich or poor, I feel warm and happy and fulfilled and willing to reach out for my potential to see what I can do. So I think for the elderly what we can do always, time and again, coming back, coming back, in the snowy days, or in the hot summer days, to spend that time to walk in, to see that light in their eyes when they saw us, without saying anything. I often said to my volunteers, “If you are really willing and choose to be there for them, when you they first saw them, and they saw you, your service is completed.” So that’s what I chose.

DINESH
Thank you. Thank you for giving that answer. Thank you.

BELA
Thank you so much Randy. This has been such an amazing call. My heart is just feeling so much gratitude right now. I’m so grateful that I had the opportunity to host this call and share a space with you Randy and Aryae for your beautiful moderation and just all the callers that co-created this space. Randy the images that you’ve sort of left in my mind I’ll I think I’ll be carrying with me for the rest of the day. Just the image of your grandmother making your bento box and the image of you making eye contact with that child in India – it’s just that incredible human connection that you feel and that you – I can’t find the right word. Maybe not empower others to feel but, I feel that you Randy, open that up for others, you open up spaces in their hearts for them to feel connection to themselves – connection to self and connection to others and to feel worthy of love. Regardless of the direction our world is heading in and the human race is heading in, each small teardrop of compassion that we are adding to our collective ocean is just so, so beautiful and so appreciated. Just thank you. I hope one day maybe our paths cross in person and I have the privilege and honor and blessing to meet you. I think we’ll just go into a moment of silence and gratitude for Randy, for each other and for the wisdom that was shared in this hour and a half of space-time. After that, everyone will have an opportunity to say thank you to Randy. So we’ll just have a minute of gratitude right now.

(Moment of Silence)

I’m just going to un-mute everyone now we’ll open the lines for everyone to express their gratitude:

(Huge chorus of "THANK YOU RANDY!")

DR. RANDY YEH
Very honored.
 
________________________________

SCRIBE NOTE: Any errors and omissions are my own. I strongly encourage anyone reading these words to follow along via audio. That will be the only way for you to appreciate the sweetness and love in Dr. Yeh’s voice, the truly wise and insightful answers, and the humble and pure spirit that came through in his words. To have been a part of this time is a gift I will always cherish. I would also like to thank you, Randy, so much for patiently answering my several questions by email about how to spell some of the things you mentioned during the call.