The Essence Of Giving

Each and everyone of you have given me so much this year. I want to give something back, I want to share with you a story that has had tremendous impact on my life, it has taught me the essence of giving.

Meet Oziola, a woman who exemplifies what the essence of giving is all about.

Oziola McCarthy spent her life washing other people’s dirty laundry. She grew up in wretched poverty, absolute adversity.  She faced one tragedy after another tragedy over the course of her lifetime.

The first 87 years of her life, she never left home except to walk up the street to buy groceries and to visit the church.  She never learned how to drive.  She never got married although when she was 87, she did say to her best friend that she was still looking out for a good man.  And yet by the time this woman passed away at the age of 91, she had been honored by world leaders, Prime Ministers and Presidents.  She even received an honorary doctorate from Harvard University.

So you might be asking who was this woman?

Why would she receive acclaim from Harvard, world leaders and Presidents?

But here is her story, ever since she was a young woman, washing other people’s dirty laundry, she would take the nickels and the dime and the quarters that she would make every day and she walked up through her local bank and she make these daily seemingly insignificant deposits, and this went one on day after day, week after week, month after month, year after year.

When she was 87 years old and she walked into her bank. The man behind the counter greeted her and asked her, “Oziola, do you have any idea how much money you have accumulated into your account?” She said, “No, I don’t. Why don’t you tell me?” He replied, “You have accumulated over one quarter of a million dollars. What do you want me to do with it?” Now Oziola was a simple woman and didn’t understand how much money that was, so here is what the man behind the counter did. He put across ten coins on the counter and said, “These ten coins represent your money. Tell me what I should do with it.” She pointed at the first coin and said, “I would like to give that to the church” and pointed at the next three coins and said, “I would like to give these to my nieces, nephews and cousins because I love them so much. As for the other six coins, I have something very special in mind.”

One month later a local university received a check from Oziola, for a hundred and fifty thousand dollars with a handwritten note attached to it which read:

I would like you to set up a scholarship for poor African-American students who still know how to dream.

This act of humanity turned around heads all around the world. Later when she was asked what her dream was, she replied, “I so dearly wish to see the first recipient of my scholarship on the graduation stage before I pass away. But that probably is not going to happen because of my advanced age.” And yet one month before she died, the first recipient of her scholarship did walk across the platform. After she passed away, the student was tracked down for his comments. He said, “Heaven couldn’t have gotten a better angel. She was an inspiration, a blessing and a treasure to the world.”

This amazing woman, Oziola McCarthey has shown us what is the essence of giving. In her simple perseverance to make a difference by doing a job well and by choosing to use what she had to contribute. She has shown us how leading with our own hearts, where we are, with what we have, can truly make a difference.

Happy Thanksgiving!


Story told to me by Mark Goldstein
credit: Robin Sharma

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. Terry Grahl

    22. Nov, 2010

    Beautiful story and Oziola was one amazing woman! You can never go wrong when you give from your heart. OX

    Reply to this comment
  2. michele

    24. Nov, 2010


    Several times after you spoke at the Ladies Who Launch conference, I wanted to approach you, go up to you….utter maybe a word of thanks. But my eyes kept filling with tears. And so, I didn’t.

    The day after the conference, as I was telling everyone about all the incredible women’s stories of inspiration, I found myself time and again saying…and then there was Lolly.

    You gave so much of yourself that day; your bravery has helped me to have that courageous conversation with myself.

    And so on the eve of Thanksgiving, I wanted you to know how grateful someone you don’t even know is of that gorgeous Satan with the cat-eye glasses in the library who was clever enough to give a strong curious girl sanctuary under her desk, which in turn gave this world a woman whose beauty is quite illuminating.

    Wishing you many blessings this Thanksgiving.


    Reply to this comment
    • Lolly Daskal

      24. Nov, 2010

      On the eve of thanksgiving. I feel so honored and blessed by your thoughts and kind comments.
      Thank you Michele.
      PS. I wish you would have come over. It would have been such a pleasure to meet you and to hug you.

      Reply to this comment

Leave a Reply