Randi Shade On Success
Mar 8 2009

Randi Shade is a friend of mine and she is currently a member of the Austin City Council.  She and I were both doing our first high-tech start-ups around the same time many moons ago.  I interviewed Randi for The University of Texas at Austin’s alumni magazine, The Alcalde, for an article that was published in the November/December 2005 issue.  My writing partner, Pam Losefksy, and I pulled these articles together and you can see them on the Success Profiles page of this blog.  You can see the full article on Randi by clicking HERE (pdf).

Randi received her BA from UT in 1988 and her MBA from Harvard.  She is currently an Austin City Council member and mother to two young kids.  She founded Charitygift, a company that allows people to make donations to charities via the Internet.  She was then the VP of gift cards for the company that acquired Charitygift.  Previously she was the director of the Entrepreneur’s Foundation and founding executive director of the Texas Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service (now called the OneStar National Service Commission).  Shade was responsible for launching AmeriCorps in Texas.

We started the article with this quote by Randi:

Success to me is living a life that matters. I’ve tried to do that, combining my experiences in government, business, and philanthropy to do meaningful work, but I feel that you never really “achieve” success. You never get to do the touchdown dance, or cross the finish line, because success is a moving target.

She then went on to say.

When I went to business school, there were many people who said, “It’s important to spend the first third of your life learning, the second third earning, and the last third serving,” as if you can cap your career off with service, and it’s something you do in retirement. I completely disagree with that. I think you need to be doing all three throughout your life, simultaneously, and I believe that is a big part of success.

I think it’s true that ‘success is a moving target.’  Once you accomplish something you can savor it for a little bit but then it’s on to the next thing.  Here in the Western world we also define success in more material terms than in other cultures although the Western influence is strong and has permeated throughout the globe.  Other cultures sometimes measure success when one achieves nirvana or a state of being free from suffering and wanting.  It seems to me that both measures of success are fleeting unless you happen to be able to sit under a tree day & night and if you don’t have kids. 🙂

It is important to mix learning, earning, and serving, but I think the definitions of what those mean to different people are as varied as the colors in a rainbow.  I am always trying to learn from my observation of people.  People are fascinating to me so watching them, reading about them, and connecting with them helps me serve them.  I also think serving can be defined not only in the typical community service point of view but also being the best parent you can be to your children.  Ensuring your children are educated and taught to respect others is a huge service to the community and humanity.  I’m sure there are many of us who have seen the results of bad parenting on our society and even if you are not earning dollars while you are a stay at home parent, you are earning huge social capital, in my opinion, by contributing good, productive human beings into society.

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2 Comments on “Randi Shade On Success”

  1. 1 thom singer said at 5:13 AM on March 9th, 2009:


    Thanks for this post. Randi is a wonderful public servant to our fine city. Austin is fortunate to have her on the City Council.

    I like her point about not compartmentalizing learning, earning and serving…. all three are equally important all through life.


    thom singers last blog post..Networking At A Multi-Day Conference – Top 10 Networking Tips

  2. 2 Aruni said at 9:39 AM on March 11th, 2009:

    @thom – Thanks. I admire her a lot. She’s not afraid to do what’s best for her no matter what other people think. I strive for that level of comfort with myself and my decisions!