Speaker: Parag Shah

A Different Kind of R.O.E.

As a diamond merchant and savvy businessman in Surat, India, Parag Shah used to look for R.O.E. -- return on equity. While running one of the most successful companies in the industry at its peak, Parag felt that his cup of gratitude overflowed, and so he started doing lots of philanthropy. Among his many projects was an International Baccalaureate school, which is now one of the premiere schools in India with 1500 students. In his words, however, while his philanthropy shifted his attention away from monetary return, it continued his focus on building up another form of "R.O.E." -- return on ego.

After a few years of unlearning, particularly after being deeply touched by the teachings of J. Krishnamurti, Parag began to feel that every accumulation was hollow unless it was accompanied by a deep inner transformation. That attention to the inner journey has led him to another kind of R.O.E. -- return on equanimity. It's a metric that is shifting not just what he does, but how he does it.

Thus began his experiments with a new form of living. At his International Baccalaureate school, Parag experimented with a gift-economy book store; when his community hosted Karma Kitchen, he volunteered to do the dishes. With friends, he does 21-day kindness challenges and local retreats. Every week, he attends a local Awakin Circle, where he is often silent but deeply tuned in. These are the many small ripples that are adding up to a immeasurable field around him. Savji Dholakia, a billionaire diamond merchant, has been among those touched by Parag. Known for gifting cars to all his employees, Dholakia not only started giving out thousands of Smile Decks (in Gujarati) but most recently, he and his son swept neighborhood streets and served people tea on the roads -- just to spread love.

Most of Parag's recent acts of service go unnoticed, and that cloak of invisibility is what he prefers. Any value that comes his way quietly gets multiplied before going out farther into the community. He inspires with his own example, with many small acts of kindness. To support others, he has been a visionary behind Laddership Circles, which help change-makers think from a lens of inner transformation.

With his vintage one-liners and humor, Parag is gently supporting many ripples in ways that perhaps can never be fully counted. Yet just ask his wife, or two sons, and they'll tell you why. Siddhant, his oldest son now in his mid twenties, says it plainly, "I speak to my Dad every day, even when I studied abroad. He always has time for me. I just love who he is, and I want to be like him when I grow up."

Join us in conversation with this humble and beautiful ladder!

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