Creating A Force For Good
Our textPlus family lost a friend on April 22 with the passing of Vic Anderson, who was married to our company President and COO, Nanea Reeves. Vic was a beautiful human being, and a friend and mentor to many. He was always upbeat and positive, even during the bout with liver cancer that eventually took his life. The outpouring of support for Vic and Nanea has been inspiring to me and is the ultimate indication of a life well lived.
Nanea has been a great friend and an important colleague since I met her in March 2000. In fact, she’s been at my side for nearly every professional success I’ve had in this century. It’s probably fair to say that she’s enabled my success. And yet, for her part, success was never handed to Nanea. Certainly not growing up with a challenging family situation and very few role models. In fact, it was probably Vic’s support that first provided her the stable base from which she could apply her formidable skills to transform the world around her. She certainly didn’t succeed because of Vic, but she thrived in partnership with him. I admired Vic and Nanea and the special relationship they had. Even as I myself am blessed to be married to a wonderful woman who has loved and supported me for almost 18 years.
Last weekend, while still thinking often of Vic, I was further stunned when Nanea broke the news to me that her friend, Dave Goldberg, had died unexpectedly while vacationing with his family in Mexico.
I’d not met Dave Goldberg personally, but his brother Rob has been to our offices. I have many friends in common with Dave, including Nanea, who have always sung his praises. As I watched the outpouring of emotion and support for Dave and his wife, Sheryl, I realized I was seeing the result of another life well lived.
In fact, I’m finding a number of parallels between Vic and Dave…
Each has supported a powerful and successful woman and were never concerned about being outshone professionally.
Each displayed characteristics of selflessness and patience and a willingness to make time and connect with others when they needed that connection most.
Each was thought of as great person who lifted the spirits of those they spent time with.
And, in each case, the women they were married to enjoyed their own level of renown for offering perspectives on gender roles in the workplace and becoming inspiration and mentors for other women.
Because that level of renown was probably a little more for David and Sheryl, I wanted to shine some light on what Vic was about, and what he did with his time on Earth.
I think if you had asked Vic, he would have suggested that he was just an ordinary guy from Wisconsin. An ordinary guy who, about a decade ago, discovered Buddhism and embraced its precepts. In that journey, Vic found a new purpose — he started spending his life in service of others. In a way, it was just Vic being Vic, offering the support that was so important to Nanea and countless others in his inner circle. He just expanded the circle a bit.
In 2005, while making a spiritual trek through Tibet, Vic became convinced he needed to improve the living conditions of 150 monks he had spent time with. So he rebuilt their monastery.
Vic doubled down. His next major project was the construction of a new orphanage in Nha Trang, Vietnam. He completed that project between 2009–2012, and the orphanage currently houses 40 children, many with special needs.
After Nha Trang, Vic’s ambitions really grew. At the time of his death, Vic’s foundation was preparing several projects — a monastery in Bhutan, a philosophical institute in Tibet, a Himalayan medical clinic, scholarships for girls in India.
But perhaps the most important project to Vic in his final months of life was a school for nomad girls in Tibet. In his years married to Nanea, Vic had certainly learned that a world in which women were empowered was a world in which anything can be accomplished.
What a visionary Vic was. The US went to war in Afghanistan, in part some claim, because of the devastatingly unfair treatment of women under the Taliban control where women are not allowed go to school. But the US has done little to see their human rights vision to completion. To this day, it is bombs they drop, not books. Instead, it takes compassionate dreamers like Vic to ensure that the next Malala, or the next Nanea, or the next Sheryl may come out of central Asia. One ordinary man from Wisconsin.
Unfortunately, this ordinary man had a body that was failing him. As Vic’s illness progressed, it became clear that he would not see his last project to completion. Nanea, his daughter Sylvie, and his grandchildren made a promise to Vic that they would get the school built for him. In the last three weeks of Vic’s life, they began an active campaign to raise money for the school and have already achieved 70% of the $200K goal. Through their efforts, a coalition of compassionate people came together to let Vic know before he died that his school was going to be built.
I’ve done some soul searching these past few days, reflecting on my own purpose and my own impact on the world. I’m reminded that even “ordinary” men can have extraordinary impact, that a strong marriage can multiply the impact of each partner, and that there is time to be successful in work and yet still be patient for friends, family and those looking for mentorship.
I’m inspired by Vic to participate in his legacy. More specifically, I’m going to help Nanea get that school in Tibet completed. I’d like to believe that Dave Goldberg would have wanted that school to be completed as well. In fact, just a few weeks ago, Dave and Rob made a generous donation to the project in Vic’s memory.
Aside from the reasons I’ve outlined above, there’s one more reason to support the school: the concept of Karma. Vic called his acts of charity “KarmaBlasts.” The mission of a KarmaBlast and Vic’s non-profit Bodhicitta, Inc. is to “Create A Force For Good.”
And who couldn’t use a little blast of good Karma?
Please consider giving to the Tibetan School Project. The link to give is here:
Some words about Vic directly from Nanea: