I Thought I Was Doing a Good Thing

by Patricia Karnowski, Chinese Fertility Herbalist, Fertility Formulas

  • Project: Support for an Ayurveda herbalist
  • Location: India
  • Sector: Business Development
  • Professional Designation: Personal Endeavor


Several years ago I found an Ayurveda herbalist who lives in a rural village in India. I was looking online for an herbal treatment for one of my patient’s son who had been suffering with severe constipation for 5 years.

This Ayurveda practitioner told me to have the boy drink a cup of warm milk with a tablespoon of ghee each night before bed. It worked like a miracle. I started suggesting other American and European mothers email her for help for their kids. They did and were very happy with her suggestions.

Then I suggested she start an online practice so that she could get paid for her work with these people. I am a Chinese herbalist specializing in helping women get pregnant and the women find me on the internet and live all over the world. I have made a good living like this and knew that she could too. She needed money and was thrilled with the suggestion.

I used all my knowledge of how to create a successful online practice. I created and promote a website for her. I told her what should go into the email correspondences between the mothers and her. I told her how much to charge and how to ask for payment. I felt very excited and proud of myself for helping her increase her income. I went to India to teach her everything she needed to know about maintaining the website and the online practice.

When I got there I found out what a failure it was. The doctor loved the website but she said she felt like a fraud and couldn’t use it. She thought the site looked “American”. She thought the website gave the impression that she was more impressive than she felt. She didn’t have the confidence to use the website even though she had written all the text. She also didn’t feel comfortable asking a reasonable “Western” fee even though I gave her a script to use when asking and when she used the script she got paid.  She felt more comfortable plodding along promoting her work on the web in a way that didn’t bring her the income she needed and probably never would.


The failure came from me not taking HER personality or cultural expectations into consideration. I had my American “let’s make this venture produce $$” attitude and never thought about her reality.


Select three phrases that describe this failure.

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Got something to say? Feel free, I want to hear from you! Leave a Comment

  1. josh says:

    i honestly felt you had good intentions for the herbalist however you forgot that in the context of her culture, income may not be her best motivator. we should also look into intrinsic motivators as to why people would continue doing what they do or their passion for it, may be more than gratifying than monetary benefits

  2. Michelle says:

    Please do not beat up on yourself, your intentions were good !
    Just always keep one thing in mind you were trying to help someone in there,
    Time of need ! I would be glad to have someone try to help me in my time of need,
    There is not too many people out here , that would have done what you did,
    By even just showing that you cared. And please do not feel like a Failure, because
    Her culture, income may not have been her motivator . But how was you to no that !
    Keep your chin up! And don’t stop, being the good person you are.

  3. Guido says:

    I don’t see your attempt to help her as a failure at all. Perhaps she failed to meet your expectations for her, which seem reasonable enough to me, but maybe that’s the cultural difference you noted. If anything, it seems more of a personal issue than cultural on her part, because I’ve known business men in the US who are incapable of demanding, or even requesting, a fair fee for their services. But you made a fair and unselfish attempt to help her out, so I have a hard time attaching any negative connotations to what you did.

  4. Christi says:

    Oh how we learn too late! How we grow up here in America is SO different from other cultures and you had the very best intentions. The capitalist society in which we are raised tells us that we deserve the best pay for our best work and defines our value. Hence when we are not making enough money, we feel of little value to the world. She was obviously brought up with a different value system. Of course you had no way of knowing or deeply understanding her situation. Thank you so much for sharing and I’m sorry you feel you weren’t as useful to her as you could have been. It opened your eyes into a deeper understanding and just reading this was very trans-formative for me.

  5. BCF says:

    Perhaps you should charge people for the advice she gives and pay her directly. A percentage, or whatever. She might be more inclined to take herself out of the marketing equation but still profit from a partnership with you. I think you were doing a good thing too, and it is defiantly not YOUR failure.

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