New York based Meera Gandhi has been a banker, fashion buyer at Macy’s, zardozi entrepreneur, the one who bought Eleanor Roosevelt’s brownstone at Park Avenue, is a proud Mom of three and Founder of the Giving Back foundation. The Foundation among other things awards and honours film makers for social change at Woodstock, (awardees include Mira Nair, Mark Ruffalo), helps girl’s education in India, funds South Asian students to a college education in New York and collaborates with several other foundations across the world. Mindfulness and wellness are very much a part of Meera’s approach to Philanthropy .

With a TV show, a Giving Back book, a fragrance ‘Giving’ that will raise funds for her foundation, a Giving Back line and a host of Humanitarian and Philanthropy awards she focuses on her motto: We are to the Universe as much as we give back to it.

She shares some of her life and views with Geeta’s list.

At the Core

I started the Giving Back Foundation in 2010 and wrote a Giving Back book to illustrate how we can liaise with other charities (the Foundation has been associated with the Cambodian Landmine Relief Fund, The Cherie Blair Foundation, The Robert F Kennedy Centre for Justice and Human rights and many more ) to make a bigger impact.

The book sold out and we did a second reprint in 2013.

The philosophy of the foundation is simple - Do what you can for whom you can no matter where you are. Our motto is - We are to the universe what we give back to it .

These are words that are infused into the Foundation’s very core, and guide all our activities, actions and projects.

I am working on another book called 3 Tips, which is better than anything I have done so far! So please do stay tuned.

Wellness and Philanthropy – two hats or one hat, two ways?

Wellness, both physical and mental is the first course of action and should be a human’s priority. Once we prioritize health, the rest will follow. When the mind is clear the path is always clear. It has taken me half a lifetime to fully understand this and this advice should be taken seriously, as it will benefit you emotionally, physically and financially!

My TV show for example, was a natural progression when I realized that stress is not a natural way of life, and that employers, advertisers, friends and even partners had begun to create stress.

Stress is causing cancer, anxiety and is not the journey we are intended to take. I tried to provide tools in every episode and it went into reruns on B4U TV network. Episodes are now on the

All my TV shows were extremely enjoyable- The climate change interview and creativity as well as the importance of simply enjoying accomplishment are among my favourites. Each episode was a great journey in learning and discussing topics that should be talked about regularly and openly.

Is doing it all and being it all putting unreal pressures on women?

We can count this as an opportunity for women to come out and prove that it is possible to handle all these aspects together successfully. It is important to first and foremost have utmost faith- You Can Do It !

The only time it is stressful when we don’t ask for help, and try to do more than we are physically or mentally capable of. We must learn to forgive ourselves when things get tough, and pull ourselves back up, sometimes with the help of others. When that happens- here’s advice given to me by Hollywood director and actress Phylicia Rashad, “If you can’t do something or it feels wrong or too much- just say No.”

Balancing it All

Most truly successful people have a balanced life. Success can only be sustained by right thoughts, right action and right deeds. A runaway materialistic life usually gets people into trouble sooner rather than later.

Tips here to my readers- treat every single human with respect, no matter what. Once you believe every life is super important, you will not even have to think towards love, respect and empathy. This will be automatic! This will be your true vehicle to success not material acquisition.

On awards

I feel blessed with every award. The Mayor of New York’s Humanitarian award and citation were special. Marc Anthony’s Humanitarian award, Society NY Achievers awards are some others that come to mind. But each and every contribution these organizations have made to acknowledge the Foundation’s work is special, and motivate me to carry on.

Meera’s List: Five top spots in New York

  1. The William Vale hotel rooftop in Williamsburg at sunset .
  2. Sitting in the new Domino Sugar Factory River Park in Williamsburg at dawn.
  3. An excellent relaxing Italian Coffee at Via Quadronno on 73rd and Madison
  4. Dinner at Come Prima Ristorante at 903 Madison – a great favorite Woody Allen and Robert Di Nero
  5. As for my 5th place, it would be “My happy place” . We should all have a happy place we can escape to when we are in deep need to calm down, a place we can reach within us no matter where we are physically deep hum- breath at least 3 times a day to say , “Thank you for creating me. I am human and I am special indeed! No matter what is happening in my life! Tough times don’t last but tough people do!”