By Laura Muranaka
Making life and making a living is at the forefront of everyone’s minds. In this brave new world, taking care of children, elderly parents, and loved ones have taken on new meaning for women who are frontline workers. The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting millions of people in the United States and billions worldwide, but one fact remains true – we must come together as one with heart, resilience, and courage.
Humanity has a once in a lifetime opportunity to reflect on what matters to us most, and change. Human health is tied to the health of the planet. Our health depends on how we as a collective create the world we want while designing smarter cities and nations where animals and humans can thrive, and Mother Earth can flourish. Biodiversity is crucial. Here and now, as Kunal Sood states we don’t have a resource problem, but rather a leadership problem. We, as a society, must cultivate better leaders that can build a better future.
“We as humans must go beyond ‘We The People,’ and focus on something that is larger than ourselves. As a collective, we must be focused on We The Planet,” says Kunal Sood.
Sood’s work has all been possible given the fact that his mother had undying faith never giving-up on him. His parents made a courageous decision to stand by their son and allowed him to go the distance despite failure after failure as a child in India. “Mom & Dad stood by me through thick-and-thin, allowing me to learn from my failures.” he shares. “Mom kept telling me, “Son, if blood is thicker than water, then the only thing that is thicker than blood is love”, … and is that love that has shaped my life’s journey in dedicating X Fellows and We The Planet’s purpose towards making the impossible possible and transforming the world”.
Rupa Sood is a mother of three with an incredible eye for beauty and art. As the Co-Founder of Nayaab, she is preserving ancient techniques for creating heritage textiles in India, practices that create dignified work for female entrepreneurs in rural villages while protecting life on land. Her love for humanity and open heart translates to how she raised her three children. Thinking big and caring about the global community is what inspired her youngest son to create something larger than himself for the planet.
Kunal Sood’s mother inspired him to study the human mind in the US after he lost his mentor. TJ Cherian to suicide. At CIIS’s Integral Psychology program in San Francisco, Sood began transforming his own mind and long-held beliefs about the human condition, while completing his practicum internship to understand death and dying. Sood counseled end of life patients in the palliative care ward of Sutter Health’s Institute for Health and Healing – many of them AIDS patients – and this remains one of the most transformative experiences of his life.
As Co-founder of We The Planet along with Laura Muranaka, Sood is working relentlessly to bring hope in a time of despair to many on the planet during the COVID-19 pandemic. Today, he focuses on inspiring people from all nations to find and live their massive transformative purpose, and positively impact a billion lives over the next decade. Sood earned five Master’s Degrees in his journey to strengthen his life-long love for learning another valuable character trait his mom instilled in him. Something that was seen as next to impossible as he grew up with ADHD coupled with obesity which influenced worldview and his mother taught him how to relate to people with deep compassion and live life with extraordinary resilience.
Sood’s next step was to train as a Global Health scientist at UCSF. He focused on Global Mental Health working in the trenches in the slums of Mumbai with Harvard, as a researcher at PUKAR, the NGO. Here too his research found what profound role mothers played both in the home and within the community at large. There was a profound understanding of how mothers and women made sure that their children’s needs are always taken care of despite the adverse conditions they have to endure on a daily basis.
This experience in the slums of Mumbai opened the door for Sood’s next endeavor, where he pivoted to earn his MBA from the Kellogg School of Management and become a social entrepreneur. In 2013, he curated TEDx at the United Nations, where he developed his talent in creating and designing extraordinary experiences and bridging the world of power and influence with purpose and meaning. While in the slums he learned first-hand in his focus groups with the women that they didn’t have a voice and needed the basic resources like potable water, food, and shelter to help them live a life with dignity.
On the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, We The Planet launched their first-ever digital global campaign #WeThePlanetto unite the youth and the elders with a call to action around making the impossible possible from COVID-19 to Climate Change. To give everyone on the planet a voice from the bottom to the top with grassroots experts and pioneers sharing their vision for a better world post-COVID-19. Looking ahead, it is important here and now that women become an unstoppable force for good in our world. Last year Sood launched a project called First Woman inspired by his mother and all the women of the world that have shaped a better future for the planet. We can work towards creating a world where individuals can pursue a life of deep meaning, purpose, and accomplishment while protecting all life on the planet. When looking back at life, Sood reflects that his mother taught him to rise up and defy the odds often using the quote below as a source of inspiration his mother told him that perseverance will always conquer talent.
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs… Who at the best knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”
– Theodore Roosevelt
On Mother’s Day 2020, We The Planet will host a special broadcast online to celebrate extraordinary women (and a few good men) to honor Mother Earth and Every day as Mother’s Day – for human beings can be stronger together. Speakers include Rupa Sood, RoopalLuhana, Susan Rockefeller, Jane Seymour, Katie Flynn, Marianne Williamson, Yasmin Padamsee Forbes, Oona Chaplin, Nancy Conrad, Alexandra Cousteau, Sarika Batra, Yashi Brown, Nahema Mehta, Lakshmi Pratury, and Raghava KK, Co-hosted Laura Muranaka, and Kunal Sood. Join live at www.wetheplanet.io starting at 10:30 am EST on Sunday, May 10th.
(The author Laura Muranaka, Executive Director of NOVUS hails from Bainbridge Island, WA, draws inspiration from writing stories, particularly stories that educate and ignite new ideas. Laura studied business and literature, graduated Phi Beta Kappa, went on to law school, and now lives and works in New York. ORANDA Ventures is her initiative using creativity and common sense to offer young women a real-world financial education.
Kunal Sood is an internationally renowned social entrepreneur, impact investor and curator of the future. As founder of X Fellows, #WeThePlanet and NOVUS, Kunal is focused on positively disrupting the human experience.)