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An interview with Shari Arison

Shari Arison is ranked as one of the world’s wealthiest women on the Forbes Billionaires List. Owner of The Arison Group, a conglomerate of global companies and charitable organizations, she has created a ground-breaking and humane business model that incorporates integrity, vision and spiritual knowledge to build a new global reality.

“My goal in this book is to reveal my business-spiritual model — a new model for a new world, which will enable individuals, companies, states and nations to transform the collapse into change, to bring together the spiritual and the material and from this meeting of the two, give birth to the future.” —Shari Arison

For a preview of the book, click here.

In your new book, Birth, you say that the external economic collapse we see around us is also an internal collapse. Can you explain why this is and what we can do to reverse this?

I view everything in our lives as a reflection. Everything that we see around us is in essence a reflection of something within us. We can no longer take from one another. We can no longer exploit the Earth’s resources and think that there will be no consequences. I see the economic collapse as a good thing, because we can learn from it to take responsibility for ourselves and for our environment.

You write: “If we allow ourselves to be led by greed without taking an interest in what it is doing to the people, without caring whether they will collapse or die, then we will collapse and die.” This sounds so simple and true, yet why has applying this concept been difficult for so many in both their business and personal affairs?

It is definitely a process. First, awareness is necessary. You need to see it to understand and experience it. Only then will it be possible to take responsibility and bring about change.

Can you tell us some of the spiritual concepts that you integrate into your businesses and how they have helped your employees?

I believe the most crucial thing is the process of looking deeply within yourself and increasing self-awareness. I transmit to my employees how important it is for each one of us to look within ourselves and our interactions with each other. I emphasize the importance of caring about the environment, the community, the nation and the world; as well as understanding and assimilating the Arison Group’s vision. We’re talking about a process that certainly does not occur overnight, but I definitely see ever-expanding circles.

Why worry about spirituality in business and when bottom line is all that seems to matter?

Because if there’s no planet, there’s no bottom line.

What are two or three simple ways that individuals can transform the ways that they do business?

Every person needs to connect with himself and make decide which way best suits him or her and his or hers business. Always focus on the goal of bringing positive change to the world.

How can business continue to profit while giving back to those in need both locally and globally?

I believe that, regardless of its size and field of activity, every business integrating true and genuine values, including giving to those in need, will profit in the long run.

What ways do you see that business can bring positive changes to the world?

I don’t tend to make recommendations, but in my view, the most important thing is for every person and business to find the uniqueness within and create its own vision. Every company should think about how to combine business and professionalism with core values for the sake of a better world.

In your book, Birth, you talk about giving back to those in need, and through the Arison Group you’ve set up a variety of charitable organizations and sus-tainable “green” compan-ies. Could you tell us a little bit about each and how they are helping to make our world a better place?

There’s a great deal to be said on these topics; however, I’ll try to answer briefly. The Ted Arison Family Foundation is attentive to the needs of the community in Israel. The Foundation gives fishing rods, rather than fish, to empower individuals and organizations to stand on their own feet.

The Essence of Life Organization is based on the idea that, in order to achieve peace in the world, each and every one of us must achieve peace within himself and with his/her surroundings.

Ruach Tova (Good Spirit) works to bring people closer in Israel and throughout the world, by opening hearts through volunteering and mutual assistance. The organization functions as a clearinghouse, matching up individuals and organizations interested in volunteering and giving to those in need of help.

All One strives to generate a global conversation based on the belief that we are all one, that we are all inextricably connected, and that everything, without exception, affects everything else.

To sum up, if we want to see a better world, each one of us must do his or her best to make it happen, by helping one another. We’re not talking about the sort of help that causes dependency. Rather, it’s about providing the kind of help that leads to independence.

In Birth, you emphasize the importance of “vision work” on both individual levels and on corporate levels. Why is this important?

Many times, even when we want to bring about change, we look towards the past—instead of looking forward and creating something new as we want it to be. Only by looking to the future, then taking the steps needed to realize that future, will we be able to make a transformation.

Can you say more about the mission of the Essence of Life Foundation and “Good Deeds Day”?

The Essence of Life organization works to arouse awareness and to provide tools for attaining inner peace. The organization runs websites in Hebrew and English (, an Internet radio station, workshops, and an interactive visitors center designed for both children and adults.

The annual Good Deeds Day that I initiated operates under Ruach Tova (Good Spirit). Each year on this day, everyone is called upon to do one good deed for someone else (even giving a genuine smile, is also a good deed). The next Good Deeds Day will be held on March 16, 2010, and I truly hope that we can turn this day into an international event.

Many large corporations like the idea of creating sustainable or “green” infrastructures, but don’t want to take the time or invest the funds to do so. What made the Arison Group’s companies undertake doing this?

Sustainability is a topic that I believe in and have been talking about for a very long time. To my great joy, after many years of education and mobilization we have succeeded in instilling in our employees and companies the understanding that this is our future and we must take responsibility for preserving the Earth and its resources.

In Birth you emphasize that to achieve world peace, each of us must achieve peace within himself and his surroundings. How can someone who is suffering get to a place of peace?

This is the only authentic way, in my view, because it is possible to reach peace agreements. But what I’m talking about is peace within the heart and that can be reached with individuals, with people, and thus the circles will grow and it will be possible to attain authentic peace.

Tell me about your involvement with Center for Awareness Communication.

The media have tremendous power to create our reality. The Center for Awareness Communication concentrates on showing media people that if they want to see a better world for themselves, for their children, and for future generations, they have the opportunity and the power to focus on the good things that are happening in the world.

The problem arises from the tendency to report only about difficult and bad events, which leads to these events growing. I believe that energy grows where we put focus. If we turn the spotlight onto the good and the positive which also exist in our world, good will proliferate. . What energy would we like to see, bad energy or good energy?

In a transcript of one of your addresses, I heard you say, “Only when one is aware, confident and respects himself can he be truly liberated.” It sounds so simple, yet why isn’t the world at large able to attain this? What are the biggest modern obstacles to such liberation?

It sounds simple, but we’re talking about a journey— a journey that’s meant to take off all our chains. We’re enchained by our upbringing, stigmas, education, culture and all the things we learned throughout our lives. All of this is located within us. We need to identify these places and release them — only then will we be truly liberated.

You explain that the moment the intellect and the heart work in tandem, the new economy will emerge. Can you teach our audience methods for aligning the intellect with the heart?

I think that when there’s awareness, there’s understanding. Thus, in addition to the intellectual side, we have to listen to the heart — and that’s a different kind of listening. We need to separate between the head and the heart. One must look upon thoughts as if they were a radio, which could be turned off or treated as background music. When we stop focusing solely on our thoughts, it becomes possible to connect with the voice of the heart. Only when the inner voice is strong are we able to simultaneously hear the head and the heart; because each of them has its place.

In many of the holistic health modalities, doctors and practitioners believe that disease stems from the imbalance or disconnect between the mind and body. In the business world, do you feel we are experiencing a similar disconnect? If so, what do you believe the cure to be?

I feel that when a disconnect occurs within a person, it affects his/her health, actions, functioning, and all facets of life. I am convinced that people need to listen to their bodies, and practice inner listening.

Birth: Where the Spiritual and the Material Come Together by Shari Arison is available though Phoenix Books and Audio at ISBN 9781607477259, $21.95. Hard Cover, 192 pages, Nov. 17, 2009. To learn more about Shari Arison and The Arison Group go to: