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The Shin Fujiyama Podcast | Social Entrepreneurship | Nonprofit Organizations | International Development Aid | NGOs

Shin Fujiyama is a CNN Hero and the Executive Director of Students Helping Honduras. He lives with 30 former street children in Honduras where he runs a school and international NGO out of a tree house. In each episode Shin will be interviewing a proven social entrepreneur or NGO leader in the nonprofit or international development aid industry-- including several CNN Heroes and bestselling authors. They’re going to deconstruct their journey to explain HOW they built up their organizations. They’ll also tell us about their greatest failures, lessons, regrets, and behind-the-scenes realities. We’ll talk about their tactics, philosophies, principles, tools, and motivations to give you inspiration and actionable advice. 1) Subscribe to this podcast. 2) Turn on automatic downloads. 3) Leave me a review. 4.) Enjoy every new interview for FREE during your commute or workout.
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The Shin Fujiyama Podcast | Social Entrepreneurship | Nonprofit Organizations | International Development Aid | NGOs
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Jun 7, 2017
Katy Ashe is the co-founder of Noora Health, a tech NGO in India. When she visited the hospitals of Bangalore as a graduate student, she saw a sea of people sitting around in the hallways. Who were they? They were family members of the patients—and they were scared, bored, and lacked basic health information. Many slept outside the hospitals, waiting for days. They had nothing to do but wait.

The incredible waste of time was tragic. But Katy and her cofounders saw opportunity amidst the tragedy.

The cofounders asked themselves, what if these people sitting around in the hallways spent those hours learning about health, physical therapy, and disease prevention? After all, some people didn't even know what a pulse was, and at least 40% of the patients had diabetes.

Noora Health began by showing one health video that they filmed in a parking lot. To the surprise of the founders, patients and their families loved the video. They wanted more. But there was a problem: the founders had no money. Yet something inside Katy kept saying, “We need to go all in and become an organization and throw our lives into this.” 

For months, Katy lived in garages, attics and tents to make ends meet. She worked part time bartending and babysitting while she built up Noora Health with her professional soulmate, Edith.

The founders grew the nonprofit organization and created countless health workshops. Now Noora Health operates in 16 cities in India. They have provided training to 90,000 people and impact studies have shown a 36% reduction in post-surgical complications.

Fast Company rated Noora Health as one of the most innovative companies in 2016. They've been recognized by Y-Combinator, Echoing Green, and Ashoka. Katy Ashe was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for social entrepreneurship.

Katy Ashe's Reading List

Katy Ashe Show Notes

Katy Ashe did an undergraduate thesis project in the Amazon rainforest in Peru

She accidentally began studying environmental contamination for mercury in the illegal gold mining industry

Noora Health started out as a class project for a at Stanford’s School of Design

They utilized the Human Centered Design Practice for their project to find out what was happening in the hospitals of India

Katy Ashe discovered that the patients and their family members were not ready to go home after they were treated due to uncertainty

In India, many family members accompany a patient to the hospital. They wait and camp out outside the hospital for days

Communication between patients, family members, and medical personnel was lacking

Medical personnel rarely explain to the patients and family members follow up procedures

Katy Ashe and her team decided to train and educate the family members who were waiting around and bored

40% of the patients going to the hospital had been diagnosed with diabetes; many others probably had it but were undiagnosed

The majority of the people Katy worked with had never been to a hospital or a health class

Some people didn’t even know what a pulse was

Katy Ashe and her team were actually determined NOT to start an organization through the class project

Then they used a point and shoot camera to make a video. A nurse in India showed the video to teach a class to the bored family members

A huge line of people showed up to watch

The video showed people how to walk after surgery, physical therapy techniques, basic diet advice

The impact numbers were surprisingly positive; infection rates were lowered, satisfaction levels for the hospital increased, people didn’t need to go to the hospital as much afterwards

The Amazon rainforest project had gotten too dangerous for Katy Ashe. The gold mining mafia wanted to kill Katy

Two of the co-founders had moved onto medical school

Katy Ashe went to India for a couple of weeks but ended up staying for nearly a year

Living in India is very affordable, but Bangalore is a tech city and costs are increasing quickly. A ramen at a ramen bar in Bangalore can cost $15!

The hospital asked Noora Health to do their programs in their other hospitals

“We need to go all in and become an organization and throw our lives into this.”

The founders did not want the project to fade away

They gave themselves three months to get things going

Katy Ashe was living in a friend’s garage to make ends meet

Edith, the other co-founder, was job searching

Katy nor Edith could find jobs that were as impactful to the world, and they are impact-aligned people

They wanted to turn the dial using their lives

Katy Ashe was looking at IDEO, getting a PhD, becoming a researcher

Katy Ashe and Edith consider themselves “professional soul mates”

They started Noora Health without any money or funding

They made pitches about Noora Health everywhere they went

In the beginning, the founders didn’t know how to tell a story

At the tail end of the three month deadline, they were accepted by Y-Combinator, an accelerator for tech startups (Air B&B, Dropbox, etc.). They create a community for the entrepreneurs and create a space for accelerated growth

Katy had part-time jobs (bartending, babysitting, odd jobs) while starting Noora Health, just getting by

Katy had unusual housing arrangements to make ends meet, such as attics connected with ladders, tents, garages

At Y-Combinator, nonprofits are treated the same way as everyone else

Noora Health was the second nonprofit ever to be accepted by Y-Combinator

Y-Combinator lasts 3-4 months but you become part of the community forever

Katy Ashe went into Y-Combinator without knowing too much about it, without expectations

Noora Health shot out of Y-Combinator “like a cannon ball”

“We’ve been trying to keep the cannon ball in the air.”

Katy had to learn how to hire people, create a team, create a culture

The four founders had started the class project without naming a leader or CEO

“Every couple of months I rewrite my job description.”

Katy Ashe is currently focusing on external communication, such as writing articles and sharing their impact study data sets

Katy Ashe loves to travel, kind of like Dr. Who, to go to conferences and make pitches

She was rarely in one place for longer than two weeks

Noora Health now works in 16 different cities in India

Excessive traveling can make you confused and lose your center

The original nurse in India that helped show the first video is now Noora’s Director of Training!

Noora Health now sets up schools inside the hospitals and provide the staff with videos, flip charts, take home materials, everything they need

Their material is largely visual since many of the beneficiaries are illiterate

Noora Health has more than 30 employees now in the team

Noora Health has filmmakers and designers on the team and they create the curriculum

They are currently trying to change 5-10 behaviors

Noora Health has trained more than 90,000 family members

“You should be paying competitive wages.”

Noora Health sometimes give full time jobs to their volunteers

Being indispensable and adding value are keys to finding jobs

Katy Ashe considers herself a messy person

She is always starting new projects, reading more books, adding more tasks onto her already busy life

She considers herself “too curious”

Noora Health wants to take their model to all of India and eventually to other countries

The Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh encourages us to be advocates for world peace while working on ourselves

Apr 27, 2017

While volunteering in India as an undergraduate student, Annie Ryu fell in love at first sight. What she saw at the market wasn't tall, dark, and handsome. It was a spiky, green fruit she had never seen. The huge fruit she was looking at was the jackfruit, the largest tree born fruit in the world. 

Fascinated, she researched the fruit and ate them. Many of them. So much so that she'd soon be known "The Jackfruit Lady." The jackfruit, which tastes different in its various stages, has many nutritional benefits. It's high in vitamin E, magnesium, fiber, potassium, and manganese.

It also tastes great! The jackfruit is incredibly fibrous and has a meaty texture similar to pulled pork. When ripe, Annie describes it as, "a combination of pineapple, banana, and mango." That sounds delicious!

The meat industry is the second largest contributor to global warming. The problem is, many meat alternatives don't taste too great. But what if someone could create something that did?

Annie Ryu had an epiphany shortly after: by marketing the jackfruit all over the US as a meat-alternative main dish, she could create jobs, fight global warming, and improve human health. When she returned to campus, she said no to a Fulbright scholarship and no to medical school. Instead, Annie created The Jackfruit Company

She figured out how to start a company in India, though she had zero knowledge of the food industry. She contacted farmers, local providers, and vendors to create a supply chain for the jackfruit. She bootstrapped the operation for years, concocting flavors in her own kitchen. The flavors that Annie now offers includes: Teriyaki, Curry, Tex-Mex, and BBQ. More are on their way.

But it hasn't been easy for Annie. "I was working all hours of the day,” she said, describing her early days. "Initially, you're doing everything," she expressed. Her first three shipments were disastrous and had to be dumped. As she hired people, she realized how little experience she had as a manager. “Becoming a good manager was a whole new learning curve,” she said.

Yet Annie Ryu kept pushing her limits. “I had the conviction that what I was doing was the right thing to do, even though there was so much more to learn," she said as she thought about all the benefits the jackfruit would bring to the world.

The company grew and grew, and they now run a factory in India and is generating jobs for 50+ locals.

Annie was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for social entrepreneurship. In this episode, she also talks about her relationship with her Korean father, her aspirations, personal struggles, personality test results, and why she decided to start a social enterprise instead of a traditional nonprofit organization.

You can buy The Jackfruit Company's products online or near the tofu and meat-alternative sections in Whole Foods, Wegmans, Safeway, and other supermarkets.

This episode is sponsored by Tikker, the death watch that counts down your life (and tells the time). Use the promo code SHIN at the checkout to get a 10% discount on your purchase.
Apr 17, 2017

When Robbie was 12 and his sister Brittany was 13, they heard the story of a soldier returning from Iraq with a near $8,000 phone bill. They couldn’t believe that a man serving his country was unable to call his family for free. So they decided to do something about it. In 2004 with just $21 and some help from their parents, Cell Phones for Soldiers was born.

Today the nonprofit organization provides cost-free communication services and emergency funding to active-duty military members and veterans. They've provided more than 300 million minutes of free talk time and have recycled 15 million cell phones for the cause. Robbie, now age 25, is the recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service and was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List. 

Donate your used cell phone to Cell Phones for Soldiers here

This episode is sponsored by the Tikker, the death watch that counts down your life (and tells the time). Use the promo code SHIN at the checkout to get a 10% discount on your purchase.

Robbie Bergquist's Reading List

How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Robbie Bergquist Show Notes

Robbie Bergquist and his sister heard about a soldier who had an $8,000 phone bill he racked up while calling home while deployed.

They had two cousins in the armed services and so the issue touched their young hearts

Back in 2004-05, Cell Phones for Soldiers raised money to pay off cell phone bills for soldiers. One bill was $15,000!

Shortly after, Cell Phones for Soldiers began to raise awareness within the armed forces in Afghanistan about the different cell phone towers and the different costs associated with them

When Robbie and Brittany got distracted, their parents encouraged them to keep going

Robbie and Brittany missed a lot of school. They missed out on soccer and cheerleading practices because of all their traveling on behalf of Cell Phones for Soldiers

They were getting a lot of media coverage and attention and were going on speaking tours at age 12 and 13.

By 2006, they had collected tens of thousands of old cell phones and they didn’t know what to do with them

They wanted to send the cell phones overseas to the soldiers but after a media appearance announcing the plan, they were asked to cease and desist by the State Department because insurgents could triangulate the calls

“The Department of State told us to cease and desist our original plan. We were very discouraged.”

Instead, they decided to recycle and sell the cell phones to purchase calling cards that they could send to soldiers

Calling from landlines using calling cards is better for security purposes

Cell Phones for Soldiers has a facility in Alpharetta, Georgia where they collect and refurbish used cell phones

They determine the value of the used phones and resell them

Unusable phones will be scrapped for basic materials and recycled properly to reduce the impact on landfills

An ex-Verizon executive came on board to work for the charity.

Five volunteers work at the facility

“You’re supposed to create a business plan, a roadmap, and benchmarks. But for us, it was a lot of trial and error.”

Robbie’s uncles were in the telecommunications business and came to help, providing the idea to recycle and sell cell phones

“Our meetings took place at the kitchen table.”

“You don’t need a board room or wear suits and ties.”

“My parents were a little naive as to how much traction we were going to get. They did not know we would be in all 50 states, collecting millions of phones.”

Cell Phones for Soldiers has 4,000 dropoff locations

Supporters hold collection drives where they spread awareness

Lake Orion High School in Michigan has a dropoff location and the student body turned in used cell phones and the SGA donated $1 per cell phone collected. They raised a total of $5,000 total!

Most of Robbie Bergquist’s arguments happened with his mother over the direction of the nonprofit organization

During one interview, his sister Brittany answered a question for Robbie and the rest of the interview went poorly. Robbie got upset at his sister and they started arguing in front of other people

“We were your average college students.”

Robbie was a NCAA D1 soccer player so he hired a PR company to support Cell Phones for Soldiers

His parents were full-time teachers

“We realized we couldn’t do everything. We were burning candles at both ends.”

They researched 5-6 different PR companies to pick the best one possible. The company specialized in nonprofit public relations and handling daily donor requests

Aspire Communications from North Carolina was the boutique PR agency that helped

36creative created the website for Cell Phones for Soldiers which has a zip code locator feature for drop off locations

“I worked on Cell Phones for Soldiers in between classes, after classes, before classes. There were a lot of weekends I spent in the library working on the charity. I missed a lot of classes in college because of the work.”

After Robbie Bergquist graduated from college, he started to handle the PR and marketing initiatives himself

Robbie reaches out to military news outlets because he wants to get in front of an audience associated with the military

Cell Phones for Soldiers became a full-time endeavor for Robbie Bergquist after college because he wanted to continue the momentum and the family’s legacy

“I was not as confident as I am today.”

Robbie Bergquist still wants to get into the sports industry one day

Veterans come home with many challenges, especially with assimilating, paying bills, or getting jobs

Cell Phones for Soldiers gives emergency funding or cell phones to those veterans in need

It’s important to make the cause valuable to the supporter

Cell Phones for Soldiers has to compete with AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and other cell phone companies that buy back old cell phones. They also have to compete with online marketplaces like eBay

Robbie Bergquist went into his work with the understanding that he was going to make less financially going into the nonprofit world, compared with investment banking for example

“It was more valuable for me to support the military than have more money in my pocket.”

Sometimes Robbie forgets to tell a story because he’s told the story so many times he gets them all mixed up in his head

It’s important to stay passionate about telling the story. He stays motivated by calling the soldiers that his nonprofit organization benefits

Robbie Bergquist stayed in touch with a sailor who received a calling card from Cell Phones for Soldiers. The sailor called Robbie in the middle of the night. He told Robbie that he had heard about where the phone cards came from watching one of Robbie’s interview on TV. He had to remove himself from the room to go outside onto the deck to cry from gratitude. There were three other guys who were also crying. Robbie was a senior in high school then.

Forbes was quiet about naming Robbie in the 30 Under 30 List until the big announcement

“We don’t do this for the recognition. But when we get it, it brings so much value to our mission.”

Robbie Bergquist is starting an initiative that will give handsets and cell phones to low-income veterans. Cell phones are important for employment and medical reasons

Robbie Bergquist is passionate about self improvement. He stays in touch with the news

He tries to stay physically active at least one hour each day

Robbie says a heartfelt thanks to his family at the end of the interview

Apr 11, 2017

Most foreigners who visit Indonesia end up at the beaches of Bali. But not Adam Miller, a young conservationist from St. Louis. While volunteering at a pet shop at age 10, he came up with the vision of one day working in Indonesia to help the animals there. His vision quickly became an obsession. Many years later, Adam found himself in a remote village in Borneo, Indonesia. It’s a part of southeast Asia facing the fastest rate of deforestation in the world and the second highest number of endangered species in the world.

He lived there for six months on a total budget of $1,000 and built up a nonprofit organization called Planet Indonesia.

In this podcast episode, Adam discusses the challenges of working in a country with a culture that is vastly different. When he goes running, random fathers in the community might stop to offer their daughters as wives. And you will find out what Adam means when he says that in Indonesia, "host families will love you so much they might kill you in the process."

Adam also talks about grant writing, donor relations, using behavioral economics and incentives to promote conversation, and overcoming serious differences in the way people communicate in Indonesia.

This episode is sponsored by the Tikker, the death watch that counts down your life (and tells the time). Use the promo code SHIN at the checkout to get a 10% discount on your purchase.

Show Links for Adam Miller

The Franciscan Sisters of Mary

Mulago Foundation

Dan Pallotta’s TED talk: The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong

Poverty Inc. Documentary

Show Summary for Adam Miller

Adam was volunteering at a pet shop at age 10 in St. Louis, Missouri

He saw a bird from Indonesia that sparked his interest

Adam Miller was known as a “bird nerd” growing up

Adam Miller’s dream was to become a conservationist researcher

He began to feel inadequate just doing research, as just publishing articles didn’t feel like it was making enough of an impact

Adam Miller had an early life crisis and so jumped on a plane  to Indonesia

He ended up in Indonesia teaching English as a Fulbright Scholar

Learning about the culture, language, and the people led to him starting Planet Indonesia

Indonesian culture is very difficult to adapt to for a westerner

Conversations are much more indirect, longer-winded, and unclear in Indonesia

A donor foundation had a very strict reporting requirement and the finance team for Planet Indonesia kept assuring Adam that things were being done properly. Adam later found out that the team wasn’t doing the job as required by the foundation. They were not being honest and direct about their inadequacy

The Indonesian government is very unclear about requirements and permits for NGOs

When Adam first moved to Indonesia, there were very few foreign NGOs present

The Indonesians watch western TV and movies and romanticize the culture

The local Indonesians love to follow and take photos of foreigners

When Adam goes for jogs, fathers in the area ask him to marry their daughters

Indonesian cuisine is one of the best in the world. Especially lactose intolerant people like Adam and me!

Host families in Indonesia won’t let their guests do anything or go anywhere alone, especially for female guests

“Indonesians will love you so much that they’ll kill you in the process.” - Adam Miller

People live with their families and don’t go off to live independently as much as in the western culture

Now there are more nonprofit organizations in Indonesia

There are more than 85 nonprofit organizations in the area in Borneo where Adam Miller works

Indonesia food is usually rice, tempeh, chicken, vegetables, curries

Sambal is Indonesia’s popular hot chili sauce

Adam had dinner with a good expat friend in Borneo and in the conversation realized that it has been so hard for him to have long-term friends because expats come and go so frequently

Working for an NGO in Indonesia is not for everyone, according to Adam Miller

Meals in Indonesia cost $1.50-$2.00

Adam once lived for six months in Indonesia on a total budget of $1,000

Adam is a minimalist kind of guy and lived in a remote village

In Jakarta you can find anything you can do and buy in Europe

Very few cities have a bar or alcohol scene

Karaoke is a popular weekend activity

Men play a lot of indoor soccer (futsal) in Indonesia, Adam plays 3 times per week

Much of Planet Indonesia’s work is done on the weekends because that’s when community members (farmers and fishermen) are finally home

Dating in Indonesia is difficult and intense. By week two, marriage is already on the table. People have a lot of lovers on the side in Indonesia, before marriage.

Adam’s Fulbright proposal did not feel realistic on the ground

Adam met Novia Sagita, the co-founder of Planet Indonesia

Before starting Planet Indonesia, Adam had been offered other job options

A lot of the nonprofit work being done was not making a real impact because there was a disconnect between the NGO offices and the on the ground communities

Novia Sagita has worked in the NGO industry for 15 years and studied in Denver, Colorado. She has lived extensively abroad and can juggle different cultures

Novia Sagita started this weaving cooperative to empower village women

The weaving cooperative started with 21 weavers and now has 1,500 weavers

With four people (a conservationist, an NGO worker, a teacher, a fiction writer), Planet Indonesia began

A lot of people criticized Adam Miller for starting an NGO with people who didn’t necessarily have the “right” experience or resumes

Planet Indonesia starts communal business groups and trains them and invests in assets to kickstart the businesses of the business groups

For people to join the business groups, they are required to sign and follow conservation policies

Planet Indonesia provides the services and loans to encourage conservation practices by their nearly 24,000 participants

Another organization provides healthcare in exchange for the community members cutting back on their logging. The less loggers a community has, the bigger discounts the community gets in the health clinic

It’s important to listen to the communities

Planet Indonesia uses behavioral economics and incentives to change community behaviors

During year one when funding was low, Adam Miller had to spend $600 getting the 501 c 3 IRS status and then $1,200 to get the equivalent in Indonesia

Adam Miller only had a $500 limit on his credit card so he couldn’t even use it

Adam’s Fulbright cohort organized a secret fundraiser and raised $3,000 to help Adam start Planet Indonesia!!!

Novia Sagita said they needed $12,000 for the first year. Adam went back to the US and raised nearly $30,000!!

The help from The Franciscan Sisters of Mary has been critical for Planet Indonesia

The Franciscan Sisters of Mary was involved in stopping the Dakota pipeline case. They were the first Catholic organization to completely divest in fossil fuel

Adam was giving a talk at a Rotary Club and someone in the audience put him in touch with the Franciscan Sisters of Mary

The Franciscan Sisters of Mary causes little hassle for Planet Indonesia in terms of reporting requirements. Not every foundation is the same!

Mulago Foundation

Running a nonprofit organization in the developing world is VERY challenging and when a donor is trying to control you on top of everything, it can be heartbreaking for the staff

Out of the last four years, the past month has been the HARDEST, all time low for Adam…!

Novia Sagita and Adam kept fighting together despite all of the hard moments. They are so united.

They all work 20 hour days sometimes

The energy level of the staff dropped when the donor tried to control them so much

Adam and Novia gave a speech to the staff during that all time low to give them inspiration and to stay true to their vision despite the periodic lows

Adam hopes that other NGOs can one day adopt Planet Indonesia’s model in other countries

The Franciscan Sisters of Mary sent 90 personal letters thanking the Planet Indonesia staff, miraculously when they were at their all time moral low

The people in Adam’s office go through ups and downs in their morale. They are humans!

1-2 staff members move in to live in the communities Planet Indonesia begins to work with

Adam Miller encourages nonprofit organizations to be honest with their donors, with their successes and failures

80% of Planet Indonesia’s funding comes from foundation grants. 20% comes from peer to peer

Adam Miller is the primary grant writer for Planet Indonesia, especially because he is the only English speaker in his staff

Many people in the nonprofit and development aid industry is scared to talk about their failures

Once, the seedlings that Planet Indonesia bought were bad and a bunch of trees died

At first, they didn’t understand why the locals were capturing and selling the threatened and endangered animals

Dan Pallotta’s TED talk: The Way We Think About Charity is Dead Wrong

An expat could live comfortably in Indonesia for $15,000 and $25,000 for a family

Many of the best people in the grassroots nonprofit industry get poached by the larger organizations because of the better pay

Poverty Inc. Documentary

It took Novia Sagita 2-3 years just to convince the women to start weaving again, a tradition that had largely disappeared in the area

Novia Sagita identified a local market to sell the textile to. 70-80% of the sales are domestic

Novia Sagita built a textile museum in the area to explain the cultural importance of the textile

There were many risks involved, going for an unexpected market and building a museum, etc.

Now they are starting the textile products in Australia

There are many unexpected challenges in the NGO nonprofit world

Adam Miller gets stage fright before his public speeches and almost went down cold recently

Planet Indonesia offers internship positions to college students

Adam gives out a heartfelt shoutout to Novia Sagita and then to his family

Apr 3, 2017

How did Rachel Sumekh (founder and CEO of Swipe Out Hunger) respond when she was told "you're just too nice to be a leader"? In this episode, Rachel Sumekh talks openly about her inner doubts, challenges as a Persian-American social entrepreneur, how she responded to opposition from campus administrators.

Swipe Out Hunger is a nonprofit organization that is working to end hunger by activating college students to donate their unused meal points. Since Swipe Out Hunger began in 2009 as a college pet project, the NGO has served 1.3 million meals. Rachel Sumekh was recently awarded Champion of Change by The White House and named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for Social Entrepreneurship.

This episode is sponsored by the Tikker, the death watch that counts down your life (and tells the time). Use the promo code SHIN at the checkout to get a 10% discount on your purchase.

Memorable Quotes:

“When you have opposition, you grow stronger.”

“Every college student is insecure. We believe that food shouldn’t be one of the things they are insecure about.”

“I didn’t go on a single date in a year. In L.A..”

“How do I progress this conversation or better understand the other person?”

“Have people who will keep you accountable for a BIG vision.”

Rachel Sumekh Reading List

The 7 Habits of Highly Successful People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen Covey

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Making Ideas Happen: Overcoming the Obstacles Between Vision and Reality by Scott Belsky

Rachel Sumekh Show Notes

Students were accumulating hundreds of dollars of meal credits by the end of each semester and they were expiring

Instead of letting the meal dollars expire, Rachel convinced her classmates to buy food to-go at the end of the semester using the leftover meal credits and gave them out to the hungry in the city

Before Swipeout Hunger, students were using the extra dollars to buy a bunch of water bottles they didn’t need

“When you have opposition, you grow stronger.”

The administration didn’t like the initiative at first, due to liability issues and losing control

Instead of giving up, Swipe Out Hunger got the SGA and key faculty members involved

Swipe Out Hunger provides food closets for students who are hungry and are at risk of dropping out

Many students that Swipe Out Hunger serves are homeless

Swipe Out Hunger gives out dining vouchers to students and also supplies food pantries on 400 campuses

Swipe Out Hunger is operating chapters in 26 universities

Sometimes they work with the universities to get them to buy and donate food to a local homeless shelter or food bank. Universities get bulk prices

Swipe Out Hunger relies on the honor code, given the fact that students can abuse the system and take more food than they need

“Every college student is insecure. We believe that food shouldn’t be one of the things they are insecure about.”

14% of students in community colleges are homeless. In California, 1 in 10 students are homeless in the state school system.

33% of college students skip meals because of finances

These students were likely getting free or subsidized breakfasts/lunches during grade school

Many of the beneficiaries are former foster youth, undocumented students, immigrants, students who don’t have access to financial aid

When Rachel Sumekh graduated in 2012, she felt like she wanted to change the world

She spent a year working in the trenches with the homeless through AmeriCorps

At nighttime, she worked on Swipe Out Hunger

“What gets you excited? What gives you energy in life?”

Because Rachel is Persian-American, everyone in her ethnic community asked her what the heck she was doing as they expected her to become a doctor, lawyer, or get married

Minority or immigrant communities usually don’t see social entrepreneurship as a career option

“It takes a lot of explaining to do. Especially to grandma.”

The opposition gives Rachel Sumekh more motivation

The chapters maintain relationships with the dining company, administration, and beneficiaries. Students donate their swipes to the chapter at the Swipe Out Hunger tables

A freshman, Shannon, started a chapter at UC-Santa Barbara and became an outstanding leader for the organization, getting 3,000 meals donated per year

It’s challenging to work with college students that are so busy. Building personal relationships is key

Addressing turnover is key when seniors graduate

4-5 universities reach out to Swipe Out Hunger each month organically

Rachel Sumekh is always speaking at conferences to get the word out

The effort to start a chapter at a particular campus doesn’t always work out

The university bureaucracy is a big challenge

At age 21, Rachel Sumekh was told by her colleagues, “You are too nice to be a leader” because she was very appeasing, submissive, passive, and a crowd pleaser

She changed her leadership style

“I don’t care what title you give me. I’m going to focus on this full time.”

Rachel Sumekh moved back in with her parents in California and started her first day as Executive Director at a Starbucks

She worked 60-80 hours per week, networking with as many people as possible and even learning to code websites

She had believed in the myth that entrepreneurs have to slave away their lives to succeed

“You don’t need to work ALL the time.”

Rachel Sumekh participated in every pitch contest there was

“I didn’t go on a single date in a year. In L.A..”

Rachel Sumekh listens to The Tim Ferriss Show :)

Tim Ferriss sayid that we often mas fear as stress. Being stressed out usually means we’re fearful of something. That resonated with Rachel

She works on accomplishing just 2-3 important tasks each day that she writes down

Rachel’s biggest fear is disappointing her supporters and Board members

Rachel read The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People back in high school and listens to the audiobook in the car even today

She uses the techniques in the book to prioritize her tasks

Reacting vs. Responding. Reacting usually comes from ego or wanting to be defensive

“How do I progress this conversation or better understand the other person?”

Rachel Sumekh has to juggle herself between her startup community and nonprofit community

Rachel met with a friend’s uncle and met up at the local Cheesecake Factory. At the end, he wrote a check out for $10,000 because he believed in Rachel’s vision.

“Have people who will keep you accountable for a BIG vision.”

Swipe Out Hunger won several online voting competitions early on for funding

Grant writing became a big part of the fundraising strategy

“Call the foundation and introduce yourself.” The person on the other end will remember you and you will gain insight as to what they are looking for?

The state of California will have a bill presented on the floor soon that will allow Swipe Out Hunger to scale their program

Rachel Sumekh learned to say no thanks to the book, Essentialism

Look for people who will give you critical questions to your ideas instead of empty praise

Listening to critical feedback and being coachable are difficult

Rachel reminds herself that she is valuable and that her work matters during her moments of doubt.

Mar 20, 2017
Every morning for nearly a decade, CNN Hero Razia Jan drank a cup of water from her school's well to make sure it hadn’t been poisoned overnight by the Taliban.
 
She works in a part of Afghanistan where girls face unimaginable obstacles just to attend school. They must face the threat of getting acid thrown onto their faces, risk buying snacks with grenades hidden inside them, and make sure nobody has sprayed poisoned gas into their classrooms.

Razia Jan worked as a tailor and dry cleaner before starting Razia's Ray of Hope Foundation in 2008, a nonprofit organization dedicated to improving the lives of women and children in Afghanistan through education. She operates the Zabuli Education Center, a school that she founded in rural Afghanistan that provides a free education to 625 girls. 

Please leave a review of the episode on iTunes and/or Stitcher.

Show Notes for Razia Jan

  • Razia was a single mother when she started her own tailoring and dry cleaning shop
  • Even as a tailor, Razia was involved in community volunteering
  • Razia was the only Afghani in her entire town during 9/11
  • After 9/11, Razia sent blankets and quilts to the Ground Zero rescue mission
  • Razia sent care packages and 30,000 shoes to the US Army during the war in Afghanistan
  • Razia returned to Afghanistan after 9/11, 38 years after she had moved to the US.
  • During that visit, she could not find her old home as everything had been destroyed
  • When Razia opened the Zabuli Education Center, they started with just 100 girls
  • The students at the Zabuli Education Center learn both Arabic and English
  • When Razia Jan joined the local Rotary Club, she was the only woman, and the only Muslim
  • She simply tried to blend in at the Rotary Club and eventually became the President
  • “Service Above Self” -Rotary International
  • Razia has been a part of Rotary International for 20 years
  • “You can’t do things on your own.”
  • All the houses in the village are mud houses and the roads are unpaved.
  • There are no trees in the village
  • Drought has affected Razia’s village where many families depend on their grape orchards to make a living
  • Razia Jan lived in Afghanistan for eight years (2007-2015) so she could be present 24/7 at the project
  • In 1920, the king of Afghanistan had built a boy’s school that was later destroyed. It was on that land that Razia Jan began building the Zabuli Education Center for girls
  • The land, by then a garbage dump, was given to Razia by the Ministry of Education
  • The community wanted a boys school at first, and not a girls school
  • The community members said that the boys were the backbone of Afghanistan and they needed to improve their future.
  • Razia answered: “The girls are the eyes of Afghanistan. And unfortunately, you all are blind.”
  • The community members did not like Razia’s vision at first, but ten years later, they finally understand the importance of girls education
  • “If you educate a boy, you educate a boy. If you educate a girl, you educate the whole family.”
  • In the community, it is common for girls to get married as young as age ten
  • A family can get a dowry payment by marrying off their daughters
  • A mayor in the village decided to marry a 16-year-old girl. In exchange, he wanted to marry off his daughter (in the 10th grade) to the 70 year old father of the bride. After the marriage, the daughter of the mayor was beaten repeatedly, her ribs and nose were broken, and she was burned by the new family. She refused to stay in the marriage and in the end, her father supported her and brought her back. That girl just graduated from school and is going to a midwife college.
  • The documentary about Razia’s work, What Tomorrow Brings, took seven years to create
  • In the trailer, Razia Jan is deciding where the blackboard should go during the construction of the third story of the school building. I asked her what was going through her head at that very moment.
  • “Each brick was set in front of me. I just wanted to make sure.”
  • Razia Jan hired an engineer and countless villagers to build the Zabuli Education Center, which provided steady employment to many men
  • The construction workers who work for Razia’s Ray of Hope make about $20/day in a place where most people make about $30/month.
  • Providing jobs improves the support the Zabuli Education Center gets from the community
  • The four-year-old students in kindergarten write their fathers’ names in Arabic and in English and they give these letters to their fathers. The fathers get ecstatic and become supportive of the school
  • Only about 0.7% of the community supported the Zabuli Education Center when they first started. Now, about 99% of the community members are in support
  • Zabuli Education Center offers classes that other schools in Afghanistan don’t offer, such as international social studies, English, and computer literacy.
  • The families are excited about their daughters learning English
  • 14 students in Zabuli Education Center are engaged but they won’t get married until they graduate
  • A 7th grader and a 9th grader are already married.
  • A 12-year-old girl in the 7th grade lived with a father who was addicted to drugs and two sisters. An uncle took them in and eventually decided to marry the three sisters off to his three sons who were much older. The oldest daughter tried to commit suicide because she didn’t want to marry her cousin and getting married would be ending her education. She traded in a bar of soap to buy rat poison at the corner shop. When the uncle said she was no longer going to school, the girl drank the rat poison. The following day, Razia took her to the hospital and she survived. The uncle felt bad and allowed the girl to go back to school and postponed the wedding. But shortly after, the uncle married off the three sisters and they left the village
  • “Each drop of water delivers, and we are each a drop of water and one day there will be a massive waterfall of educated girls in the developing world.” -Razia Jan
  • Someone was against the Zabuli Education Center building a three story building because having windows so high up would meant the girls could look at the homes in the village. So Razia Jan put the windows a little higher as a compromise
  • Razia Jan focuses on the girls and not as much on the community
  • The Zabuli Education Center provides bus transportation to their students as a security measure
  • Every morning, Razia Jan drank a cup of water from the school well to make sure it hadn’t been poisoned
  • Every morning, Razia and her staff make sure that the Taliban hasn’t sprayed the classrooms with poison gas
  • Once, a suspicious car (possibly Taliban) drove towards the Zabuli Education Center and five vigilant men from the nearby shop chased them away
  • Razia Jan keeps a low profile in Afghanistan for herself and for the school, which is necessary for their safety
  • Only a few people came to the opening day of the school. One guy wanted to obstruct the construction of the Zabuli Education Center by lying down in front of the bulldozer
  • Razia Jan’s response: “I’ll be very happy if you come lie down. I will bury you here and put a flag that says, ‘this guy never wanted a school here.’”
  • People make all kinds of empty threats and bluffs
  • 9 of Razia Jan’s graduates are hoping to attend American University at Kabul
  • The first year, Razia Jan raised just $5,000, mostly through her Rotary Club and friends
  • Public speaking engagements are the organization’s best fundraising strategy
  • The Zabuli Education Center has a child sponsorship program where donors give $300/year
  • A sponsor receives a letter and photo from the child, and frequent updates
  • Razia Jan answers the critics who criticize NGOs that utilize child sponsorship programs
  • Razia’s Ray of Hope has only three staff members in the US
  • Razia Jan doesn’t get stressed out from all the speaking engagements she has
  • Razia Jan always had self confidence
  • The Zabuli Education Center now offers courses on midwifery, computer science, and accounting
  • Razia is upset with the controversy in the book, Three Cups of Tea  
  • Razia had no idea what CNN Heroes was about. And they did two years of research on Razia’s Ray of Hope to verify everything. The phone call came as a surprise and honor to Razia Jan
  • Razia Jan recently received the Rotary International Women in Action Award
  • The girls at the Zabuli Education Center are so excited that one girl said she wanted to be an engineer but she had no idea what it meant to be an engineer and said she would find out very soon what it meant.
Mar 6, 2017

As an investment banker, Andy Stein never imagined that a visit to an orphanage in Chile would change his life, and the life of thousands of others. In 2001, after 25 years on Wall Street, Andy Stein left everything behind to start the Orphaned Starfish Foundation, a nonprofit organization that works with orphaned, trafficked, and at-risk youth around the world. The NGO has built 50 vocational centers and computer labs in 25 countries.

I first read about Andy Stein on The CNN Freedom Project, a TV show highlighting projects around the world that are fighting modern-day slavery. I never imagined I'd have the opportunity to interview Andy to learn about his work, travels, and why he loves to do magic tricks during his spare time.

Reading List

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace - One School At A Time by Greg Mortenson

Show Notes for Andy Stein

Andy was an investment banker and is now a “recovering banker”

He flew around so much that he was the #1 flyer for Continental Airlines in New Jersey

He was only home for one month out of the year and flew 400,000 miles

Andy learned how to make balloon animals, so he could share a skill with the kids

Despite his busy business schedule, he spent 2 hours at an orphanage in every country that he visited

He began to spend more and more of his time helping children, instead of in investment banking

Soon, Andy made it a full-time endeavor

His children were very supportive of his career change

Andy went through a divorce but is remarried now. His new wife travels with him 80% of the time

Andy was very used to money and living a large lifestyle

“I knew this was what I was put on the planet to do.”

“The environment I was in was one that was only based on who had more.”

“Money is overrated.”

Andy was inspired by the starfish parable and named his nonprofit organization the Orphaned Starfish

The Orphaned Starfish has now helped 10,000 children

“Do it for yourself. Don’t do it for others.”

Orphaned Starfish funds itself almost exclusively from an annual gala

Many girls who had to leave these orphanages at age 18 faced a grim future

Andy Stein raised $40,000 during his first fundraiser

Now Orphaned Starfish raises $1.3 million per year

Too many galas are about the show and not about the cause, the bottomline

Andy Stein sent a shipment of computers to an orphanage in Chile but the shipment got stuck at customs in Chile and was never released!

Orphaned Starfish now buy their computers in-country

“Shit happens in life.”

In the business world, you face so many obstacles and learn to problem solve, instead of dwelling on them

In 2016 Andy Stein was on the road all but 39 days of the year!

“I call my apartment a storage facility with a bed.”

The process of fundraising and administration is the “grind” for Andy Stein

He is able to do most of his administrative work online, while traveling

The Orphaned Starfish has only 2 paid employees

Andy was featured on CNN’s Freedom Project, which covered stories of people fighting sex slavery around the world

CNN filmed Andy and his work in Medellin, Colombia

CNN did a full, three-segment piece on Orphaned Starfish

Orphaned Starfish raised a few thousand dollars due to the coverage, but less than expected

However, the prestige that Andy gained from being on the program opened up new doors of opportunities

Marisol was the first orphaned girl that Andy met in Chile. Despite the childhood abuse she had suffered, Marisol studied hard and graduated a university. She works at a bank and is getting ready for a wedding

Andy has been friends with Marisol for 15 years. She now mentors the children in the orphanage that she grew up in

Marisol is the inspiration for Andy and thousands of other girls

Andy had been to Tegucigalpa at least 10 times, initially for business

Orphaned Starfish supports an orphanage in Cali, Colombia, for children with HIV/AIDS

Andy is living mostly off of the savings that he had from his previous career

Andy’s wealthy friends from his banking career have all kinds of “toys” but they aren’t necessarily happy

Andy believes that children should be brought up by a regular family, but there are many cases where children are better off growing up in a group home.

Andy’s goal is to double his impact in the next five years

Success in family and relationship comes with sharing the same vision and passions

Andy eats a lot of ham and cheese sandwiches

Andy enjoys going for walks and staying active

For Andy, Medellin is one of his favorite cities in the world

Andy recommends Greg Mortenson’s Three Cups of Tea, though he says we should learn from the lessons taught but not take it as a nonfiction book

Andy is most grateful for his wife and soulmate

Andy met his soulmate at age 47

“Focus on and follow your passion.”

Feb 22, 2017

WARNING: If you are involved or will be involved in the medical field, this episode may alter your future aspirations...

CNN Hero Dr. Ben LaBrot began working on fishing boats in California at age 11 and always knew that he was destined to live at sea. In 2009, he began refurbishing a 76-foot-long fishing boat and named it The Southern Wind. A year later, Dr. Ben and his penniless team left EVERYTHING behind and set sail to Haiti to cure the poor. “My high school counselor never told me that these kinds of jobs and solutions existed,” he said. So he created a nonprofit organization and called it the Floating Doctors

“I pushed all my chips in the center of the table. I was all in,” he said. Upon arrival, Dr. Ben LaBrot said to himself, “I’m about to find out if this works or if I just wasted a whole lot of everyone’s time, money, and resources.”

For years, they endured endless delays, storms, 18-hour workdays, not being able to afford the light bills, and living in poverty (eating baked bread was the highlight of their week) as they provided free healthcare for people in remote coastal regions. “I never envisioned that I’d be this poor for this long," he said. Yet for Dr. Ben, “if you do what you love and you have enough to eat and a roof over your head, you’ll be happy even if you’re poor. I’ve since tested that for the last ten years and found it to be true.”

Dr. Benjamin LaBrot is a physician, social entrepreneur, and true inspiration. He is a man who is living out his dream and destiny, each and every day of his life. When reflecting back on the experience, he says, “When you’re choosing your work, don’t think about what you’re going to get paid for it. Think about what you’re going to become because of it. And choose accordingly. Because remember, we only get one lifetime. Make it count.”

The Floating Doctors have treated more than 60,000 patients in Haiti and Central America. 

Best quotes:

“Sometimes I lie awake at night wondering about challenges and future. But I never worry about the big questions. I’ve never woken up to wonder if I’m just wasting my time. I’ve never had to ask myself, should I be doing something more meaningful? Should I follow my dream and get out of this cubicle instead?”

“Our lights are going to be turned off tomorrow because we don’t have any money.”

“It was a continual emergency. Day after day after day.”

“There is something to be said for doing your watch from 2-4am when it’s just you and a sleeping boat… and hopefully a calm ocean.”

“You have to maintain a culture aboard your ship of IF ONE OF US GOES DOWN, WE ALL GO DOWN.”

“The ocean doesn’t care what you WANT or INTENDED to do. The only thing the ocean respects is what you DID do.”

“I could be a plastic surgeon or be making more money doing general practice. But my commute even on a bad day is still better than sitting in traffic.”

“When was the last time you went on a giant, hollowed out tree to work?”

“Unfortunately, they say to themselves, I’ll do the dream later. Then they look back and realize they blew it. Their one chance. We get one lifetime. No more. No less. Just one.”

“If you do what you love and you have enough to eat and a roof over your head, you’ll be happy even if you’re poor. I’ve since tested that for the last ten years and found it to be true.”

“It sometimes turns out to have been a mistake to climb the mountain. But it is always a mistake to have never made the attempt.”

“My high school counselor never told me that these kinds of jobs and solutions existed.”

“Almost anything can be done in a way that allows you to still have a family and a life, even if it means you have to work very hard to figure out how to do that.”

Reading List by Dr. Ben LaBrot

Anything written by Neil Gaiman

Anything written by Paul Farmer

Dr. Tom Dooley's Three Great Books 

Show Notes for Dr. Ben LaBrot

For Dr. Ben Labrot, getting stuck in a life-threatening storm at sea is “just another day.”

“It’s still better than getting stuck in traffic in L.A.”

Running into Hurricane Richard in Honduras was the scariest moment for Dr. Ben

Dr. Ben’s boat has also gotten stuck in the reefs

Having a strong team allows the organization to handle crazy situations, like hurricanes

Medical training in Ireland is different and more practical to use in developing countries where doctors have less access to technology and resources

Dr. Ben visited a small Masai village in rural Tanzania and the everyone in the entire village asked him to help with their medical needs

He ran out of supplies very quickly and had to work with the little he had

The experience in the village sparked his passion to provide medical care in the developing world, though he realized he needed a bigger backpack and more supplies

For an entire year, Dr. Ben couldn’t think of anything else except for his dream to create an organization

On his honeymoon, Dr. Ben and his wife went back to the exact same Masai village but with a larger backpack

The villagers couldn’t believe Dr. Ben came back

Dr. Ben and his wife treated 140 people together and dewormed the entire village

The villagers married the two in a Masai celebration where the families gave their rings to the couple and even sacrificed a goat--Dr. Ben’s highlight in his honeymoon

Dr. Ben stays in touch through phone calls to provide medical advice to the same village

The first step towards the vision was to design a boat that would be used for something that has never been done before

During the 2004 Asian Tsunami, Dr. Ben noticed that recreational sailing cruisers were of significant help in the humanitarian aid

Dr. Ben wanted to be a doctor and a marine biologist since his early childhood

The “sea mist” that comes in the from ocean in California has a strong, salty smell. The sound and the smell of the sea perhaps shaped Dr. Ben’s future at sea

Dr. Ben loved going to aquariums as a child

At age 11 he began working on fishing boats and continued to work on boats throughout his youth

Sail boats are more cost-efficient than fuel-powered boats

Dr. Ben found an old boat for sale in Florida that hadn’t been used for 8 years

It took over a year to repair the boat, and the help of many friends who learned on the fly

His friends who joined had different expectations. Some wanted to heal through the process. Everyone bonded. Their destinies changed.

“Everyone changed through the process of rebuilding the ship.”

Some people got married to someone they met in the project or changed careers

They worked 18-hour days, seven days a week

“It was an endurance match. We kept pushing back our leaving date.”

“Our lights are going to be turned off tomorrow because we don’t have any money.”

The amount of stress Dr. Ben was going through during that first year was enough to kill the average human

The day before their final departure, they had no money and owed the marine yard $1,100 for the yard fee

Suddenly, a random guy hands them a gallon of Red Bull and $1,100 so they could go!!

A lot of retired boat experts volunteered their time for free

“We arrived at Haiti without a penny. And the next day we started working.”

Upon arrival at Haiti, Dr. Ben thinks to himself: “I’m about to find out if this works or if I just wasted a whole lot of everyone’s time, money, and resources.”

Dr. Ben spent hours fixing the boat’s engine

“It was a continual emergency. Day after day after day.”

The boat could fit 14-15 people

Floating Doctors built a facility in the jungles of Panama to serve as a base. They are able to provide permanent health care. They want to replicate this project in other countries.

“If you can actually stay longer or set up something ongoing, you can achieve so much more.”

You’re working all day at the clinic and work 2-4am night shifts on the boat

“There is something to be said for doing your watch from 2-4am when it’s just you and a sleeping boat… and hopefully a calm ocean.”

“I would often volunteer for the 2-4am shift because I loved that private time with the ocean.”

People can get hurt feelings, feel overworked, if you don’t look out for everyone

“You have to maintain a culture aboard your ship of IF ONE OF US GOES DOWN, WE ALL GO DOWN.”

Dr. Ben once received a strange piece of advice: “When people are having a shitty week, BAKE BREAD. The smell will make everyone feel better.”

“I worked my crew very hard. But I always give them context. The why.”

Dr. Ben is always thinking of and organizing experiences for his team that would boost morale, like seeing dolphins. He does this all on a shoestring budget.

“My crew really looks out for me.”

Floating Doctors has had thousands of volunteers

Dr. Ben chokes up when he thinks of the group cohesion and bonding of his team. They have survived it all together.

“The ocean doesn’t care what you WANT or INTENDED to do. The only thing the ocean respects is what you DID do.”

The sea demands professionalism. You have to be on top of your game, all the time

“I could be a plastic surgeon or be making more money doing general practice. But my commute even on a bad day is still better than sitting in traffic.”

“I’m in awe and admire every single one of my co-workers. Most people don’t get to say that.”

A World War II veteran was once asked by his granddaughter if he was a hero in the world. He said, “No. But I served in the company of heroes.” Dr. Ben feels the same about his work where he watches daily acts of heroism, of people rising above what they even knew what they had in them, to deliver something for someone else. That’s a special thing to be able to experience day after day after day.”

“Sometimes I lie awake at night wondering about challenges and future. But I never worry about the big questions. I’ve never woken up to wonder if I’m just wasting my time. I’ve never had to ask myself, should I be doing something more meaningful? Should I follow my dream and get out of this cubicle instead?”

“I pushed all my chips in the center of the table. I was all in.”

Floating Doctors spent 10 months in Honduras, working near Roatan with Clinica Esperanza

The Floating Doctors are planning to expand to Haiti next, then maybe at 57 countries by the time Dr. Ben dies

The Floating Doctors retired the Southern Wind in 2016 and now travel in smaller boats, including a 47-foot, wooden canoe

“When was the last time you went on a giant, hollowed out tree to work?”

In Honduras, Dr. Ben saw drug-related crime and the child sex trade. A lot of darkness.

Dr. Ben also saw a lot of acts of extraordinary courage and humanity, which gives him hope and faith in humanity

“Some of the things you see can really make you want to throw up your hands and put your head under the pillow and not get out of bed ever again.”

Dr. Ben was a high school biology teacher in his early twenties

“Most people have dreams. And most people end up not following that with all of their heart. They end up following something that seems more sure and maybe fulfilling, but not necessarily what their dream was.”

“Unfortunately, they say to themselves, I’ll do the dream later. Then they look back and realize they blew it. Their one chance. We get one lifetime. No more. No less. Just one.”

“If you do what you love and you have enough to eat and a roof over your head, you’ll be happy even if you’re poor. I’ve since tested that for the last ten years and found it to be true.”

“I never envisioned that I’d be this poor for this long.”

“I had faith that I’d find a way.”

Dr. Ben teaches part-time for the USC School for Global Health in Panama

“By not making security the focus of my search, I’m now in a position that I’ll have security. Opportunities were created because of what I did.”

“You might be worried about the lighting bill, but you won’t worry about the big stuff, like am I wasting my life?”

In their 40s, people go through a midlife crisis because they realize they didn’t follow their dream

Dr. Ben recommends Neil Gaiman’s books

“It sometimes turns out to have been a mistake to climb the mountain. But it is always a mistake to have never made the attempt.”

“Is it that bad to fall? To fail? Is it really that bad?”

“Millennials are usually told what is not possible.”

Floating Doctors used to get hate mails in the beginning, doubting their project. Those messages stopped when they actually did it.

Chinese proverb: “Those who say it cannot be done, should not interrupt the person who is doing it.”

Dr. Ben’s wife is the Director of Operations for Floating Doctors

“My high school counselor never told me that these kinds of jobs and solutions existed.”

“Almost anything can be done in a way that allows you to still have a family and a life, even if it means you have to work very hard to figure out how to do that.”

Dr. Ben LaBrot can’t remember a time where he had a big fight with his sister, one of the founding members. They have been a united fight the entire time.

“Working with family and friends is a double edged sword.”

He’s very fortunate for his sister and his wife. He calls them the “heroes I get to work with every day.”

“Everything that is valuable in medicine can be found inside a primary care consult.”

Dr. Ben’s favorite part of his work is going on a house call to treat patients

“You don’t save anyone as a doctor but by just doing your job, you get to be the instrument by which someone’s life can be changed forever.”

Dr. Ben LaBrot was told that “I cannot do everything, but I will do something.”

“When you’re choosing your work, don’t think about what you’re going to get paid for it. Think about what you’re going to become because of it. And choose accordingly. Because remember, we only get one lifetime. Make it count.”

Dr. Ben LaBrot is most grateful for a 22-year-old staff member, Kira, this week

Feb 16, 2017

Social entrepreneur Henry May is the founder of CoSchool, a B-Corp* that's worked with 5,000 youth in Bogota, Colombia. CoSchool works to build emotional, social, and leadership skills through extracurricular programs. In this episode, Henry May speaks about his journey of self discovery, hardest moments, greatest lessons, and why he decided to make CoSchool a B-Corp instead of a nonprofit organization.

Henry May is a young teacher from England and a huge soccer fanatic. His work has been recognized by Ashoka, the world’s leading social entrepreneurship agency and by Unreasonable Institute. He is also the founder of The Huracan Foundation, a global soccer movement.

Top quotes:

“The self-doubt never goes away, it’s part of being human.”

"I saved up by eating rice and lentils every day and as I watched my friends go out on weekends."

“Without that driving force, you’ll just step aside when the hardship comes.”

“When I’m not having difficult conversations, problems start to appear.”

“If it’s going to be successful, it’s going to take a long time. 10, 20, 50 years. Let’s not try and run too fast because this is a marathon.”

*B Corps are for-profit companies certified by the nonprofit B Lab to meet rigorous standards of social and environmental performance, accountability, and transparency. Today, there is a growing community of more than 1,600 Certified B Corps from 42 countries and over 120 industries working together toward 1 unifying goal: to redefine success in business.

Reading List from Henry May

Let Your Life Speak: Listening for the Voice of Vocation by Parker J. Palmer

Helping Children Succeed: What Works and Why by Paul Tough

Show Notes for Henry May

Henry May visited Colombia as a backpacker in 2009

He returned to live there in 2012 and has been living there since

Henry did Teach First in London, UK

He then worked for Teach for Colombia through the Teach for All networkthen worked for Proctor and Gamble, and then worked for a private school in Colombia

Starting an organization is like “being born” because when you’re a baby, you don’t know what is going on around you and need help from everyone around you.

“The self-doubt never goes away, but it’s part of being human.”

To find time and money to start CoSchool, Henry cut back on on rent by moving back in with his parents. He worked part-time and worked on the weekends to save up for his big idea.

During the early years, Henry ate rice and lentils every day and watched friends go out on the weekends as he counted pennies. He started to think the decision was a big mistake

The co-founder’s mother loaned $1,200 to keep CoSchool going

As a social entrepreneur, you have to be convinced that your work matters

One of his former, at-risk students in the UK who was into philosophy was convicted of murder. Events like that give Henry the conviction that he needs to improve the education system in the world’s vulnerable neighborhoods

“Without that driving force, you’ll just step aside when the hardship comes.”

CoSchool went through a lot of iteration in the early days

The first pilot program was a 10-week sports program for public and private schools

But after observing and listening, Henry realized that the program needed to be different

The overall vision is the same, but the “how” has changed a lot

The co-founder suddenly left because he got an offer to work for another organization

Henry got overly ambitious and projected to triple in growth but when the revenue was less than expected, he had to let three employees go

“It’s all about people, nurturing relationships, having difficult conversations.”

Henry regrets micro-managing his staff and not believing in his teammates during the early days

During one team meeting, Henry confesses to having “lost it” because of his emotions. So walking out without shaking hands or storming out means that we weren’t taking ownership of our internal suffering.

The most important thing for a founder is to have those difficult conversations

We have not worked out the brain muscle that allows us to have those difficult conversations, and social entrepreneurs need to train themselves there

“When I’m not having difficult conversations, problems start to appear.”

Henry May learned those skills through experience, self awareness, and a coach

Henry May was part of Unreasonable Institute where he formed a community of like-minded people that he can go to

A retreat with Reboot was helpful for Henry May

Sebastian was one of the first participants in CoSchool’s program. He wanted to become a soccer coach. He is now coaching a women’s university team in the UK. He is getting ready for an internship at Fulham FC, Henry’s favorite Premier League team.

CoSchool sells their programs to schools and parents to generate revenue

CoSchool now makes revenue through foundations and private businesses that want to invest in Colombia’s education

CoSchool projects to break even this year

Many people have left CoSchool because they wanted a higher salary

The whole team is living close to their financial limits

There have been months where CoSchool couldn’t make payroll. Giving employees some warning can help them prepare financially and mentally

When times got tough, CoSchool found loans from Board Members and friends. Other employees helped by delaying paychecks

“Everyone goes in thinking they’re going to be the exception.”

“It’s very unlikely that the path will be smooth.”

“If it’s going to be successful, it’s going to take a long time. 10, 20, 50 years. Let’s not try and run too fast because this is a marathon.”

For Henry May, the social and emotional development of a child is just as important as academic development

Working with the public sector in Colombia is challenging due to the corruption and dark forces

One potential risk is growing/scaling too quickly at the sacrifice of program quality

The stakes are high when they only have 2-3 months of funding left in the bank

Henry stays mentally healthy by running and eating healthy. He also has a lovely, Colombian girlfriend who is very supportive

Henry started an amateur soccer team in England and named it Huracán, after a famous club soccer team in Argentina. Suddenly, the actual team in Argentina found out about the story and the club team gave publicity to Henry’s team. They played in the actual Huracán stadium and was publicized on the Fifa website!

Soon the Huracán program spread to multiple countries where teachers from Teach for All network started soccer teams. Henry used the profits from selling team t-shirts to support these teams. The program grew into its own nonprofit organization in India called Just for Kicks and works with 5,000 youth.

Feb 9, 2017

Today’s guest is social entrepreneur Doug Bunch, a full-time attorney from DC and the co-founder of Global Playground. It’s a nonprofit organization providing educational opportunities around the world. They’ve built schools, computer labs, and libraries in eight different countries (Uganda, Cambodia, Thailand, Honduras, Vietnam, Myanmar, Philippines, Kenya). In 2010, they partnered with us here at the Villa Soleada Bilingual School in Honduras to fund the technology lab in the school. Thanks to Doug Bunch and his team, our kids now have access to a computer lab full of laptops. 

You can now work for Global Playground as a GP Fellow in one of their project sites. Expenses are paid for in these fellowships! They are also accepting applications for a position where you'll get to travel to ALL of their project sites around the world in a span of two years. 

http://globalplayground.org/get-involved/

Show Links for Doug Bunch

Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure The World by Tracy Kidder

 

Show Notes for Doug Bunch

In 2006 Doug founded Global Playground with his friend, Edward Branagan

Global Playground’s first project was in Uganda

Doug recruited Board Members who had specific skills, like graphic designers

The initial Board Members were personal friends

At one point, Board Members strongly disagreed on the pace of growth of Global Playground

Ultimately, Doug Bunch decided to aim for a moderate, controlled growth rate to prevent burnout

Doug had a “moment” while visiting a project site in Thailand. He found himself on the phone dealing with a court case back at home, stressed out. He looked around in the village, the sunrise, the people growing tea, and thought about the meaning of his life.

Creating balance in life is important for Doug Bunch. He is intentional about it.

Doug is now a Board Member for the College of William & Mary

Many volunteers, supporters, and volunteers for Global Playground were from the College of William & Mary network

Global Playground organizes an annual gala in DC called An Evening Under the Stars where they raise around $25,000

They get many in-kind donations for the event, such as drinks, food, and staff to minimize costs and maximize profit

They maximize the “fun” parts of the event and have cut back on the boring parts, not bombarding them with information about the organization. They keep the speech part to 10-15 minutes total.

Such events should be a celebration, time to thank donors

Doug Bunch learned that you don’t have to be overly formal or litigious with small nonprofit organizations

An SHH Board Member found out about Global Playground while interning at the mail office for Doug’s law firm

Global Playground was worried that Students Helping Honduras was too unfocused during its early years

Through Global Playground, Doug Bunch has the plan to connect people who come from different backgrounds to erode ill-informed stereotypes

Jan 31, 2017

Today's episode is the opposite of what I usually do. I’m actually crossposting a podcast episode where I’m the guest answering questions. So the tables have turned. In this episode, I’m on the show, Failures From the Field with Jordan Levy of the Ubuntu Education Fund, and I talk about my biggest failures while working in Honduras. Definitely subscribe to their show on iTunes if you get the chance.

 
It was surreal to be on the show with the Ubuntu guys, as they’ve been a source of inspiration for me for many years. Their founder, Jacob Lief, was actually guest number 11 on my show. He cursed more than anyone else I’ve had on the show, so you know the episode was a good one. Lastly, check out the book about their work in South Africa, I Am, Because You Are.
 
Links:
 
Ubuntu Education Fund: http://www.ubuntufund.org/
 
Failures from the Field podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/failures-from-the-field/id1152595267?mt=2
 
I Am Because You Are: How the Spirit of Ubuntu Inspired an Unlikely Friendship and Transformed a Community http://amzn.to/2kmYI4r
 
Dec 28, 2016

Social Entrepreneur Seth Maxwell has the goal of providing clean water to every single community in Swaziland. And at age 28, he is on his way of doing it. A few years ago, Seth founded Thirst Project with his friends from college. Together, they set out to end the number one global killer of children: the world’s water crisis.

Since raising $1,700 at their very first fundraising event, Thirst Project has worked with students from over 400 schools to raise 8 million dollars. They've provided 300,000 people with safe drinking water around the world. Seth Maxwell is the recipient of VH1’s Do Something Award and was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for Social Entrepreneurship.

Text THIRST to 97779 to get connected to a staff person from Thirst Project.

 

Show Links for Seth Maxwell

Gary V

Patrick Lencioni

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable by Patrick Lencioni

Getting Naked: A Business Fable About Shedding The Three Fears That Sabotage Client Loyalty by Patrick Lencioni

The Advantage: Why Organizational Health Trumps Everything Else In Business by Patrick Lencioni

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap...And Others Don't by Jim Collins

How the Mighty Fall: And Why Some Companies Never Give In by Jim Collins

 

Show Notes for Seth Maxwell

While living in Los Angeles, Seth Maxwell learned about the global water crisis at age 19.

According to Seth Maxwell, 1.1 billion people lacked access to safe drinking water at the time

Women and children will spend hours each day to find water, which adds up to thousands of hours per year

Animals defecate into the same water source, causing water-borne illnesses

Drinking contaminated water kills more children under the age of five than AIDS and malaria combined

“Clean water impacts everything.”

Without safe water, other development aid initiatives loses effectiveness

Seth started a club with seven friends on campus to raise awareness about the global water crisis around LA.

Seth and his friends spent $70 to buy bottles of water. They gave out the bottled water on Hollywood Boulevard so they could talk about the crisis.

People began to ask them to speak about the crisis at their schools

Within one month, they fundraised $12,000, which sparked Seth to create the Thirst Project

They started off by sending their funding to partner organizations

Soon, they started to implement the water projects themselves after forming a technical team made up of water experts

Swaziland is small, with 1.4 million people and is known as the country with the highest AIDS density in the world

For people with AIDS, drinking contaminated water is a serious issue due to their weakened immune system

In order to provide running water to the entire country of Swaziland (100% national coverage), Thirst Project needs to raise $40 million

As a youth, Seth Maxwell was passionate about theater and telling stories on stage

Seth admits that he was arguably the most selfish, introspectively-focused human being on the planet at age 19

Learning about the water crisis shattered his world view

“There was a lot of doubt. Could I do this? How do I lead a team? How do I fundraise?”

Seth focused on finding experts who would join his team and Board

Seth faced great self doubts as he started as a young person with a background in theater

Seth no longer speaks at school assemblies anymore, as he feels his shelf life has passed

The Thirst Project presentations tell the story of the global water crisis

During the first 2-3 years, Seth focused on making the presentations himself

Soon, Seth realized that speaking so much was not a sustainable model for the organization

Thirst Project now find students who get trained and give the presentations on behalf of the organization where they speak at at least one school a day

Seth feels that now at age 28, he doesn’t resonate with high school students compared to when he was 19

About 2.5 years into the organization, Seth went on a 3-month speaking tour where he spoke at 80 schools all over the country. He never stayed in a city more than 3-4 days. It was emotionally draining because he didn’t have a sense of community being such a traveling nomad

In the last year, Seth started to work out 3 times per week to better take care of himself

Seth is protective of his weekend so he can make time for himself as a person

At age 25, Seth was overly consumed with his work and had very little going on in his personal life

Our generation is making an impact in the world but it often means sacrificing personal time or fun activities

Contrary to popular belief, entrepreneurs are not necessarily big risk takers. They take calculated risks.

“Now is the time. Take risks. Build something. Break it down. Rebuild it. Figure out what works.”

“You have to try.”

Every high school or university that works with Thirst Project does it differently.

Their 45 minute presentations have lots of media, photos, videos

The students start fundraisers for Thirst Project, like basketball tournaments, video game tournaments, dances, walks, etc.

100% of these donations go to the water projects, as the Board pays for administrative expenses

Donors get personalized thank you videos from the project sites

The team making the content for the Thirst Project presentations is very young in age, allowing them to know what will grab the attention of their peers

The Thirst Project breaks down their content into three parts: 1.) The Problem, 2.) The Solution, 3.) The Call-To-Action  

“Storytelling is powerful.”

People expect high quality content

It’s all about building relationships

Too often nonprofits look at donors as ATMS and volunteers as work horses

It’s about genuinely caring about the people behind the organization

Thirst Project communities have water committees and a strong sense of ownership

Seth breaks down the White Savior Complex issue

Seth reads business books

Thirst Project is creating a team called G20 that will support the cause in a huge manner

Thirst Project is partnering up with Key Club

“There was something exciting about that hustle.”

Dec 20, 2016

Imagine working out of a coffee shop to start an online movement for social good that gets shared by the World Bank, William Easterly, Kiva, Grameen America, Oxfam, Finca, BRAC, and Opportunity International. According to Dr. Shawn Humphrey (AKA The Blue Collar Professor), you can do it by following his four-step-plan. And for $50 or less.

Dr. Shawn Humphrey is the founder of La Ceiba Microfinance Institute, The Two Dollar Challenge, The Month of Microfinance, and The Sidekick Manifesto.

In this episode, Shawn deconstructs how he starts online movements for social good and makes them go viral.

He also talks about his favorite books, how he responds to criticism, how to connect with influencers (like Seth Godin, William Easterly, and Jacqueline Novogratz), narrative humility, his “unusual” morning routine, his inner chatter, personal finance for social entrepreneurs, and tribal teaching.

Shawn Humphrey is a Board member for Students Helping Honduras and is an economics professor at the University of Mary Washington. Check out his blog at shawnhumphrey.com and his top posts: Pumping People Up About Poverty, Packaging Poverty, Making the Poor Pay.

 

Show Links for Shawn Humphrey

To Hell With Good Intentions

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance

The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferriss

Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to Tell Your Story in a Noisy Social World by Gary Vaynerchuk

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield

The Art of Social Media: Power Tips for Power Users by Guy Kawasaki  (Author), Peg Fitzpatrick

Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire

The Courage to Teach: Exploring the Inner Landscape of a Teacher’s Life by Parker J. Palmer

Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic: How Microlending Lost Its Way and Betrayed the Poor by Hugh Sinclair

The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between the Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World by Jacqueline Novogratz

 

Show Notes for Shawn Humphrey

60 groups participated in the $2 Challenge around the world in 2016

The Month of Microfinance struck up a partnership with groups like Kiva, FINCA, BRAC, Opportunity International, Grameen America

The Sidekick Manifesto went viral and got posted by World Bank, Oxfam, and William Easterly

These movements had cost Shawn about $50 each (domain hosting)

Shawn uses Wordpress for his campaign websites

Running a traditional nonprofit organization is much harder than running an online movement

You need to “start too soon”

Shawn Humphrey emphasizes the process of: learn, make changes, iterate

It takes Shawn Humphrey about half a day to start an online movement

The four components of an online movement: 1.) platform, 2.) social media infrastructure, 3.) power network, 4.) content

The content in the online movement is the most important. What does it put on the table? An experience? Useful information?

The $2 Challenge has three levels: Beginner (3 days), Intermediate (5 days), Difficult (5 days plus randomized daily income)

For the “Difficult” level, there are also “shocks” like unexpected expenses

The $2 Challenge pulls participants out of their comfort zone

The $2 Challenge creates empathy in participants

The Sidekick Curriculum accompanies the $2 Challenge, which includes daily reading material and short films.

At the end of each evening, there is a group meeting and reading

Participants read Ivan Illich’s To Hell With Good Intentions

During the first year of the $2 Challenge, about 10 students participated and called their tent a “shantytown” which he is now embarrassed about. He later decided on the term, “makeshift shelter.”

“The first year, there were doubts everywhere.”

Shawn experienced poverty during his childhood in Ohio

Shawn describes his impression of me when I was a college student

Shawn dropped his research project to work on development aid in Honduras

Bragging and promoting oneself was not something Shawn was used to when he started the Blue Collar Professor

Shawn started attracting online trolls who criticized him for misspelled words, etc.

Several people were offended by his post, The Do-Gooder Industrial Complex

In the article, Shawn criticized the idea of in-kind donations as a solution to poverty, specifically with shoe donations. An online debate ensued.

A well-known blogger criticized the $2 Challenge and her audience rallied behind her.

Shawn has a rule: Wait 24 hours before sending an emotional email

Shawn responded to the criticism to start a conversation. That conversation turned into a friendship. Her community began to understand Shawn’s point of view.

Shawn welcomes criticism because it allows us to clarify, reflect, and question our own thoughts and methods. But it’s not easy to take emotionally.

Shawn’s PhD advisor, Douglas C. North, won the Nobel Prize in Economics through his research on economic development. Shawn applied what he learned in his programs in Honduras

Through the Sidekick Manifesto, Shawn practices Narrative Humility. How do you handle and share someone’s story? What biases do we have? How can we be their sidekicks and not their heroes?

For the Sidekick Manifesto, the Sidekick Manifesto itself was the Content. It had taken Shawn 10 years to write it.

Shawn released the Sidekick Manifesto on The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty to get maximum exposure

Shawn purchased the domain name on Godaddy for ~$10.

He hosted the site on Reclaim Hosting at no additional cost

He used Wordpress to build the site

He started the hashtag #sidekickmanifesto

Shawn already had 5 of his own social media handles pushing out the Sidekick Manifesto simultaneously

He then reached out to his power networks, including Students Helping Honduras, to build an audience

He simply asked, “will you Tweet this out?”

Who are your top 5, top 50, top 100 people in your network?

Shawn and William Easterly follow each other on Twitter and they had talked about Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J. D. Vance so he had been developing that relationship before the ask for a Re-Tweet

You need to give, give, give before making the ask

The homepage got 2,000 unique visits in two weeks

The total cost to run The Sidekick Manifesto was $40-$50

“I’ve been cold-calling and cold-emailing people since 2007. That’s how we got started.”

Shawn even emailed the marketing guru, Seth Godin. He replied back within 5 minutes.

Shawn cold emailed the founder of Kiva and started a conversation with her on the $2 Challenge. She shared Shawn’s content.

Shawn cold emailed Jacqueline Novogratz, the founder of Acumen Fund and author of The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between the Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World

Each year, Shawn will create a list and reach out to 10 influencers

It took 10 years of relationship building for Shawn to get the influencers to share his content

“It is a long, slow, patient process. One grain of sand at a time. But it does pay off.”

Shawn gets up at around 4:50am. He goes to Starbucks on his bicycle as he fights his inner doubts and chatter. He orders his tall, black coffee without sugar, no cream. He starts typing away on his laptop and works away for one hour. He rides back home as he again fights his inner doubts and chatter.

“It’s every moment.”

Shawn is constantly criticizing himself inside his head.

Shawn is now 45 years old and is asking himself: “Is this it?”

Shawn allows himself two existential crises per year

Being married and having a child gave him constraints that have helped Shawn

Shawn does not work after 5pm so he can focus on his life outside of work. He rarely works on weekends

Shawn is very protective of his time so he can stay productive

Though Shawn puts Tim Ferriss’s teachings from The Four Hour Workweek into practice, he cautions himself to not get caught up with the idea of working less and building wealth to accumulate material things or go on exotic vacations. For the social entrepreneur, doing the work (and doing it better) is the reward.

If you want to be in the social impact space, you have to be counter-cultural and accept the fact that you won’t be wealthy and find the value in the work itself. You won’t have the traditional, American lifestyle.

Shawn is getting ready to launch Tribal Teaching where he will teach students to stop seeking perfection, to re-wild themselves, to tear down the status quo, to ask why.  




Dec 7, 2016

Social entrepreneur Brandon Chrostowski was arrested in Detroit at the age of 18 and faced a long jail sentence. Instead, he received a second chance and was sentenced to just one year in probation. That was when he decided to turn his life around. He finished high school and went to a culinary institute where he peeled carrots. His relentless work ethic found him restaurant jobs in New York City, Chicago, and then Paris. It was there that he began telling himself to "quit screwing around, quit making excuses, quit overthinking things. Just do it.” In Paris, Brandon realized that "hard work doesn't have a language."

Yet becoming a successful chef was not enough for Brandon Chrostowski. He thought to himself, “I’ve got to do something even bigger with my life. It may take a long time, but I’m going to start today.” His dream was to give a second chance to ex-convicts. During his time off from his 80hr/week restaurant work, Brandon began teaching culinary skills in a local prison. He spent $2,000 of his life savings to buy all the equipment.

As his project grew, he built Edwin's Restaurant and Leadership Institute in Cleveland, Ohio. Not only is it a top rated restaurant, the staff who work at Edwin's Restaurant are ex-convicts who receive training and housing. Brandon attributes the success to his work ethic and trust in his instincts: “People think you have to rest one day. You don’t have to. You can work on a project. You can work 100 hours per week. You just do that seven days a week. When you hit it like this for a decade, things start to happen. You really chip away at what needs to get done and built.”

Brandon was recently named a CNN Hero.

 

Show Links for Brandon Chrostowski

Show Notes for Brandon Chrostowski

Brandon Chrostowski began working in the restaurant industry in Detroit before he was 18

Brandon Chrostowski got arrested at age 18 and faced a 5-10 year jail sentence. Instead, he received a second chance and was sentenced to just one year in probation.

He was a high energy child who loved to push the limits

He started working in the restaurant industry in New York, Paris, and Chicago

Back in Detroit, friends were getting killed or going to jail

The idea of race was a big issue for Brandon

“I’ve got to do something bigger with my life. It may take a long time, but I’m going to start today.”

When Brandon started Edwin’s Restaurant, he was still paying off school loans

“You can work 100 hours per week.”

Edwin’s schedule when starting Edwin’s Restaurant: 8am-10am Edwin’s Restaurant, 10am-midnight work at a restaurant, midnight-2am Edwin’s Restaurant

“You just do that seven days a week.”

“People think you have to rest one day. You don’t have to. You can work on a project.”

Brandon works from 8am until 1am six days a week currently, and 10-12 hours on a Sunday

“When you hit it like this for a decade, things start to happen. You really chip away at what needs to get done and built.”

Brandon had to figure out how to start and run a nonprofit organization

While Brandon worked as a full-time chef, he started small, by teaching culinary skills in prison. That’s how he started

A documentary about Edwin’s Restaurant will be coming out in early 2017, with 4 years of footage

“Nobody’s going to invest in you if you don’t invest in yourself.”

Brandon invested $1,000-$2,000 to purchase the startup equipment like knives

Small family foundations began supporting Brandon

One in three people have been involved with the justice system in the US

Stigma makes it hard for people with criminal records to find jobs

Yet it’s a crutch. If you have a special skill and the desire to work, there is no trouble finding a job, even with a felony. It’s hard, but that’s if you don’t have a skill.

“Hard work doesn’t have a language.” About succeeding in France

50% of people who leave prisons go back to prison eventually

In the prison program, a typical student will get trained for four hours each Saturday on the fundamentals of cooking

At the restaurant, students get interviewed and join the training academy

The first three weeks of the academy is extremely challenging. Students memorize many facts and get tested.

Half of the students quit during the training

Applicants are not judged based on previous offenses or education level

Edwin’s Restaurant will help students get licenses, bank accounts, insurance, and other life basics

Students go through an additional 5.5 month training program where they rotate through all the different positions: host, server, bartender, food runner, pastries, cold food, fish, meat, prep working, business management, etc.

The days are 10-12 hours each day of class, setup, restaurant work, meetings, etc.

Case managers help the students in their lives

“You need a MAKE IT HAPPEN kind of approach no matter what.”

Building up the self-esteem of the students is a high priority for Brandon Chrostowski. He does so by giving bigger challenges and helping them overcome those challenges, day after day

“It’s about coming together as a family.”

If a student is having problems with drug addiction, Edwin’s Restaurant will help them through rehab, sponsor programs, strengthen their network, uphold them to high standards

Before, drugs affected 30% of the students at the academy. It has been reduced to about 10% now.

“Everyone here has a life plan. And as they are succeeding in their life plan, they’re winning. And that winning is addictive... And anything that might make you lose… you’re more apt to say no.”

Some of his students were homeless and slept on couches.

In three months, Edwin’s Restaurant raised $1.3 million to build a campus with free housing, 25 beds for his students, including a fitness center, library, and basketball court.

Brandon’s mentor used to challenge Brandon to do more, teaching him the MAKE IT HAPPEN attitude

“Continue trusting your instincts.”

Brandon does not own a TV to avoid the fear-driven media

Brandon had no doubt that the project was going to work. It was simply about building it.

Brandon felt thankful everyday, and very little fear

Being a social entrepreneur is tough. Brandon went through a divorce because he wife thought he was too obsessed with the project. Twice he was left without a home.

Brandon Chrostowski feels grateful for life and for being alive

Brandon Chrostowski is hoping to add a butcher shop

“It’s a day at a time.”

The first days of Edwin’s Restaurant was like the “Wild West.”

Alvin was one of the first students. He was sent to jail mid-way through the training but he kept studying in jail. He persevered and is now running a restaurant in Detroit.

95% of the customers know what the restaurant is about when they come.

Edwin’s Restaurant is rated as the #1 restaurant in Cleveland

A hamburger at Edwin’s Restaurant costs $33!!

The cost to run the academy is offset by the profits made through the restaurant

“People will come for the mission maybe once. But they’re not coming back unless the experience is stellar.”

According toBrandon Chrostowski, the potato-wrapped grouper in a red wine butter sauce is the best meal at the restaurant

“Quit thinking about it. Just do it.”

“Shoot, aim, fire.”

“Quit screwing around, quit making excuses, quit overthinking things. Just do it.”

You don’t have to be in New York City to start an innovative program

“Sometimes the right place is where you’re at.”

Nov 29, 2016

Social entrepreneur Gavin Armstrong is the founder of Lucky Iron Fish, a social business and B-Corp aiming to combat iron deficiency. Nearly 3.5 billion people around the world suffer from iron deficiency or anemia, resulting in constant fatigue, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating at school or at work. The Iron Lucky Fish is a piece of iron cast in the shape of a fish. When boiled with food or broth, it releases enough iron to provide up to 90% of the daily necessary intake.

Turning this simple idea into reality was no easy task. Gavin started the B-Corp in Cambodia while simultaneously pursuing a PhD. He went for years without a salary. He made mistake after mistake and things didn't work out as planned. Yet Gavin kept tinkering and iterating.

The Lucky Iron Fish is a global phenomena now. Gavin was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 List for social entrepreneurship.

Many people in the developed world also suffer from iron deficiency. You can buy a Lucky Iron Fish ($25) for yourself and the company will give one to a person in need. The Lucky Iron Fish is a great holiday gift for friends and family.

 

Show Links for Gavin Armstrong

Conscious Capitalism: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by John Mackey and Rajendra Sisodia

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek

Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism by Muhammad Yunus

Gavin’s experience during college volunteering at a refugee camp in Kenya made him want to fight world hunger

Researcher Christopher Charles had a project called Happy Fish that sparked Gavin’s interest. The original thesis paper can be found here.

Chris abandoned the research project

Gavin continued Chris’s research in Cambodia

Cambodia has an extremely high level of iron deficiency due to nutritional and genetic factors

Iron deficiency is the world’s most common micro-nutrient challenge

Half of the world’s population suffers from this preventable condition

Symptoms include fatigue, dizziness, and even death

Iron deficiency leads to a loss of $70 billion to the world’s GDP

Women, especially, suffer from iron deficiency

Iron deficiency does not discriminate between the poor and the rich

Iron supplements have negative side effects and are expensive

Gavin pursued a PhD in Canada revolving around this project while starting the company in Cambodia

He spent many days on airplanes

The lucky iron fish is a simple health innovation product

You boil the piece of iron with the food for 10 minutes, which releases iron into the meal

The iron is reusable for 5 years

The lucky iron fish doesn’t change the food’s color or taste

The product is in the shape of a fish because the fish is the symbol of luck in Cambodia

The Lucky Iron Fish received $180,000 from the university to start the company

“We were very lean in the beginning.”

Gavin worked with a foundry in Cambodia to make cast iron material that met international specifications

Gavin made sure the iron was safe, bio-available, and contaminate-free

Much of the iron in Cambodia was contaminated by arsenic

They made the prototypes out of wood and approach local focus groups in rural communities to get their feedback

Rapid prototyping was key

Gavin went to all the focus group meetings

He observed people’s facial expressions

The fish’s surface area was important to be able to release the right quantity of iron per use

The Cambodians called the prototype models the “Heavy Black Fish”

Gavin wanted to brand the product better so he stamped the front of the face with the Cambodian symbol that means “good” and people began calling it the “Good Fish”

The smile of the fish is designed so that after five years, it fades away… so when the smile fades away, the families know they need to trade it in

Lucky Iron Fish is a top ranked B-Corps and not a nonprofit organization

B-Corps (Benefit Corporations) is an international certification given to social enterprises that make a social impact

Gavin was frustrated by the sustainability of nonprofit organizations, which are unable to get investments like for-profit companies

Understanding the distribution model was a major challenge

There was no established trust with the communities in the beginning

They tried a travelling road show, which didn’t work

They pivoted their model to sell the product to NGOs in the area that already had built up trust with the target communities

The NGOs are the front-line workers for the Lucky Iron Fish

These NGOs were already buying iron supplement pills, and these pills were much more expensive than the pills

The purchase price of the Lucky Iron Fish ranges from $5-$10 for NGOs

The iron pills can cost $30 per person per year

The NGOs are in charge of the distribution

They use a tuk tuk

Lucky Iron Fish has an eight-person team

Cash flow becomes critical so you can pay your staff members each month

Two big challenges Gavin had to overcome were obstacles with the Cambodian government and funding

During a low point with his work, the BBC ran a story on Lucky Iron Fish that went viral

Oprah said that Lucky Iron Fish was “off the hook”

“Success can be temporary. Failure can last a lot longer” Gavin’s outlook on humility

The families are usually concerned whether Lucky Iron Fish will affect the taste of the food

Gavin has faced criticism because of his age or sexual orientation

“The only thing you can do is to prove them wrong.” Gavin on critics

People can buy a Lucky Iron Fish and give one in the Buy One Give One model

Gavin feels very well-versed at trial and error and especially the error part

Gavin though the travelling road show was going to be a huge hit but it did not work out because he didn’t understand the market at the time

Lucky Iron Fish is expanding to India

Gavin loves going back out into the field in Cambodia to get reinvigorated and not get caught up in the mundane tasks ahead

Gavin’s favorite Cambodian food is spicy peanut chicken curry

Gavin takes time for himself to unwind. Exercising, cooking.

Gavin loved his mother’s cooking and he often helped out

Gavin didn’t earn a salary during the first few years of starting Lucky Iron Fish

“Never forget the power of one person and their ripple effect.”

Gavin feels a bit of imposter syndrome despite all of his success

He remembers the times that haven’t been easy and so is mindful of the importance of the team

Gavin is grateful for his entire team and recently he hosted a team retreat

Nov 22, 2016

Growing up as a child of Korean immigrant parents, Robert Lee experienced hunger first hand. There were times where all his family could afford was instant ramen.

While studying at NYU's Stern School of Business, he joined a campus organization that delivered leftover cafeteria food to local homeless shelters. It was there that Robert learned that one in six Americans struggle with food insecurity. Yet strangely, 40% of food in the US goes to waste.

After graduating, he worked for JP Morgan where the pay was high. Simultaneously, he started the nonprofit organization Rescuing Leftover Cuisine and ran it during the weekends and evenings. As a social entrepreneur, Robert worked doggedly. “If something is important to you, you make time. And you do it," he said.

Eventually, he quit JP Morgan so he could work for Rescuing Leftover Cuisine full time. People discouraged him, thinking he would regret leaving such a lucrative job. Yet he persisted: “I had this crazy belief that I was right and everyone else was wrong.”

At first, the NGO had very little resources and faced rejection after rejection when speaking to the local restaurants.  Robert was full of self-doubt. “I wasn’t sure if I was the right person to be leading the organization,” he said of his early days. Only five out of a hundred restaurants were willing to donate their leftover food. Yet after each rejection, Robert Lee repeated a mantra to himself: "For every no that you get, you’re one step closer to a yes.”

Robert Lee's original vision was to end food waste in New York City. Soon, the movement spread to 12 cities and the NGO is on track to deliver its millionth pound of leftover food to the hungry. Rescuing Leftover Cuisine works with partner food providers and matches them with local volunteers that carry leftover food to local homeless shelters and food kitchens. Nearly 200 cities want to start a chapter of the organization, and it's only a matter of time that Robert Lee will accomplish that.

In 2015, Robert Lee was named a CNN Hero.

 

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Leaving Microsoft to Change the World: An Entrepreneur's Odyssey to Educate the World's Children by John Wood

Show Notes

Robert Lee’s parents immigrated to the US from South Korea

They grew up poor and sometimes could only afford to eat ramen

His family never tolerated food waste

Robert went to NYU on a full scholarship

At NYU he joined a club (Two Birds With One Stone) that delivered leftover food from the cafeteria to a local homeless shelter

When he joined the club, Robert entered with curiosity

As a freshman he wanted to expand the outreach for the club

40% of the food we produce in the US goes to waste!

We produce enough food to feed everyone in the world

Global hunger is a matter of distribution

Much of land and water is used to produce food, so all that is going to waste

Food waste produces methane gas

Food waste ranks third globally in terms of carbon emissions from food waste

Restaurants are concerned about getting sued for donating food that gets people sick

Research shows that it is extremely unlikely for a business to get sued for donating food

Robert Lee worked for JP Morgan for about a year after graduating from NYU

He wanted financial stability

Robert worked on Rescuing Leftover Cuisine part-time while working at JP Morgan

Robert figured out a way to automate a lot of the delivery process through technology

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine has a tiered volunteer model

In 2013 they won $1,000 in seed money on campus to start Rescuing Leftover Cuisine

“You never have time. You make time.”

“If something is important to you, you make time. And you do it.”

200 cities wanted to start a chapter of Rescuing Leftover Cuising after the CNN Heroes coverage

They have chapters in 12 cities at the moment

Sustainable and organic growth is more important

Food waste and hunger are caused by distribution problems

Initially, they had too many restaurants partnering and not enough volunteers to transport the food

Robert Lee helped hand deliver the food himself during the startup phase

A trained lead rescuer leads the volunteer groups

A corp rescuer with a license manages all of the trained leaders

Volunteers are ordinary citizens wanting to make a difference

During Thanksgiving in 2015, they brought turkeys to a homeless shelter that had ran out of food

“There should be more individualized definitions of success.”

People told Robert that he was throwing out his degree from NYU Stern for entering the nonprofit world

He was gung-ho and according to Robert himself, somewhat delusional when he started

“I had this crazy belief that I was right and everyone else was wrong.”

“I wasn’t sure if I was the right person to be leading the organization.”
Robert lacked confidence, charisma, and persona when he first started

In the beginning, only 5% of the restaurants he approached to seek out partnerships accepted

Robert talks about his mistakes in the past, like being too aggressive and outright rude to some of the restaurants that rejected a partnership.

“My passion pushed me through all of the rejections.”

Robert worked as the pickup driver, loader, salesperson, everything!

“For every no that you get, you’re one step closer to a yes.”

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine receive grant funding from JP Morgan, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley, Clif Bar

They focused on corporate funding

Two of his main colleagues at Rescuing Leftover Cuisine were friends from NYU

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine uses Heroku and CircleCI for their website

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine uses Trello for project management

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine uses Slack for team communication

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine uses Salesforce for their CRM and email marketing

Rescuing Leftover Cuisine uses Google Ad words

To Robert, nonprofit organizations are like two separate businesses: one that fundraises and the other that creates impact

Unlike for-profit companies, a nonprofit cannot simply provide a great product or service. They have to market it and fundraise to survive

Earned revenue is critical for nonprofits nowadays

Restaurants pay Rescuing Leftover Cuisine to take the leftover food because the restaurants 1.) get huge tax deductions 2.) have to pay a hauler anyways to pick up the leftover food 3.) want brand association with RLC

The hauling industry is not transparent at all about prices

They charge 10-20% of what a hauling company would normally charge

At one point Robert was at an all-time low when funding was drying up and he started to feel like what he was doing was just a bandaid solution

Instead of trying to address hunger, RLC decided to focus on food waste

Robert Lee misses meeting the volunteers and doing the pickups like in the old days

As a social entrepreneur not making much money, you must create a personal budget and works towards gaining more earned revenue

Robert does not waste time in the morning so he can use his fresh mind’s energy towards his three most important tasks for the day

For Robert Lee “Sleep is the best medicine” to fight burnout

Robert Lee enjoys hiking and kayaking

Robert Lee is afraid of growing too quickly

It was difficult for his parents to see Robert leave JP Morgan because they had sacrificed everything for his future

His parents were one of the first donors for RLC!!

Nov 17, 2016
Social entrepreneur Nedgine Paul immigrated from Haiti to the US at a young age. After graduating from Yale, she received her masters of education at Harvard University. She gained valuable experience working for the prominent charter school network known as Achievement First and then working for Dr. Paul Farmer’s Partners in Health in Haiti. Shortly after, Nedgine Paul started the nonprofit organization, Anseye Pou Ayiti (Teach for Haiti).
 
The NGO recruits and trains local Haitians and sends them out to teach in some of the toughest and most rural schools in Haiti. In a country where she must battle constant blackouts, natural disasters, and the fact that only 30% of children pass primary school, she is fighting against all the odds in her quest to create a new narrative for her home country.
 
Nedgine Paul is an Echoing Green Fellow and was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
 

Show Notes 

“Growing up, I was the child who loved school. I was obsessed.”

Coming from Haiti, snow days were confusing for Nedgine Paul

Nedgine’s father was a school teacher before he became a priest

“It’s not enough to just take in knowledge. It’s about using it to do good.”

Nedgine worked at Achievement First Public Charter School Network for three years

“Zip code is not destiny.”

Social justice was important to Achievement First

Continuous improvement was important for the staff at Achievement First, a trait that Nedgine has taken to Haiti

People really asked for the HOW and the WHY at Achievement First

“Who are you as a leader and how do you show up?”

Nedgine Paul was active in the Haitian American community during her youth

“I want to create and contribute to a new narrative of our mighty nation.”

Her father is one of Nedgine’s north stars

The power of “one person’s quest” as a story

The organizational culture at Partners in Health is: doing whatever it takes, being local rooted and locally informed

PIH has maintained credibility and legitimacy for decades through authenticity

AT PIH it’s not about working for or with a community. It’s about being “of” the community. Nedgine hopes to bring that culture to Anseye Pou Ayiti

Staff members at Anseye Pou Ayiti spent years getting to know their communities in the beginning

PIH maintained their roots and knew how to improve from criticism

“Scale in global education has become about numbers and not about depth.”

“It’s not about scale in numbers but in depth.”

It took Nedgine and her team four years of planning before launching, talking to community members

Their approach was to be “slow and steady”

“As the Millennial generation, we want to rush to the next best thing, the next bright thing, the next thing that will go viral.”

It’s time to pause and listen, especially to our elders

“Why do we think that everything in Haiti’s educational system is broken?”

They asked for a assets instead of deficits in their communities

Before launching, Nedgine worked on Anseye Pou Ayiti part-time, during nights and weekends

Echoing Green’s fellowship and funding allowed Nedgine to pursue Anseye Pou Ayiti full time.

Nedgine Paul questioned herself a lot in the beginning

Nedgine Paul had a “brain-trust” of allies

“We have to be solvers AND learners at the same time.”

All the operational stuff was really difficult for Nedgine, coming in as an educator and not as a manager

Nedgine was told at Echoing Green that “Failure is okay in social entrepreneurship”

Many social entrepreneurs struggle with fundraising during year one

Anseye Pou Ayiti is part of the Teach for All network

Teach for All operates in 40 different countries now

Anseye Pou Ayiti is recruiting and training LOCAL teachers

Anseye Pou Ayiti went on a national recruitment campaign

Current teachers could apply at first, and now they make up a majority of the corps members

“The best is yet to come.”

Anseye Pou Ayiti has a mixed cohort approach

Corps members get leadership training and additional stipend (paid by Anseye Pou Ayiti) beyond their regular salaries (paid by the local schools)

Only 30% of children in Haiti are passing primary school

Her team was “lean and mean” in the beginning

Staying up late was critical

They did not want to be just “marginally different” than everything else

Anseye Pou Ayiti leverages partners that can provide specific teacher training workshops

Their training sessions are held in rural Haiti where logistics are “hairy” but it allows them to live their values

Past corps members come back to help with training

Blackouts are challenging

Not having a Staples in the area makes it hard to just go out and buy supplies when needed

Co-founder Ivanley Noisette and Nedgine are able to listen to and criticize each other

Nedgine’s students keep her ego in check

“The elders must be brought back into the conversation.”

Getting fellowships is a great fundraising strategy

In terms of fundraising, ask yourselves who would care about your cause

For Nedgine, giving gratitude is important

She asks herself, what went well today?

Funding was not going as well as Nedgine wanted it to recently, so she had to reach out for help

That moment of crises reminded her to be more humble, and to more willing to reach out for help

Nedgine gives thank to her professor, Dr. Lillian Guerra, who encouraged her to keep going

Nedgine is worried about the negative narrative of Haiti  

Nedgine loves hearing about the progress inside the classrooms of her fellows

Nedgine recommends books: Visions of Vocation and also anything written by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

Nov 14, 2016
Today's guest is the person who I spend the most time with (even more than my mom) over the phone/email during any given week. She is also one of my best friends.
 
In this episode, Amanda Fennell talks about getting adopted from an orphanage in Colombia, childhood in America, how she dealt with her "ugly duckling" years, the tragic loss that devastated her family, her first (tumultuous) exposure to leadership where she was called "awful", favorite books, what she REALLY thinks of me as her boss, what was going through her mind during her first trip to Honduras, how she raised $125,000 while in college, why she quit a high-paying "dream job" to help SHH, what it's really like having a location-independent work arrangement, her newest side-hustle, and more.
 
As COO of an organization with an annual budget of almost $1 million and network of 5,000+ volunteers, Amanda does it all: answering phone calls & emails, updating our website & social media, coordinating the efforts of 100+ chapters, securing new partnerships, and more.
 
She was the co-founder of the Students Helping Honduras chapter at Towson University, leading the efforts to raise a record-breaking $125,000 in four years while a student. She also served as Student Director her senior year, organizing the efforts of the then 50+ chapters of the organization nationwide.
 
Check out her newest side-hustle known as Bear Street Collective, a succulent arrangement business! 
 
 

Show Links

Show Notes

Amanda Fennell was adopted from an orphanage in Bogota, Colombia in 1990

It was around the time of guerrilla warfare, and the orphanage had bomb nets over them, and military was everywhere

Amanda Fennell grew up in New York

Amanda wants to adopt one day

She wants to visit Colombia, her birthplace, but is unsure of when and the circumstances of her situation, and facing her fears

Amanda feels a tremendous amount of gratitude for her situation

Amanda's sister, Lauren, was adopted from the same orphanage four years before Amanda was adopted

Lauren was Amanda's very first friend

She doesn't remember when she found out or realized she was adopted

Lauren was killed by a drunk driver when Amanda was a senior in high school

Amanda has a tattoo of Lauren's fingerprint together with her own fingerprint to format a heart shape

She was bullied a lot in middle school because she was outcasted as a "church kid"

Her "ugly duckling phase" lasted a while, especially since she went into college with braces

I use the word antifragile to describe Amanda Fennell

She has always been resilient and "overly" optimistic

Amanda thrives on stress and a sense of urgency

Amanda decided to attend Towson University in Baltimore, Maryland because of their strong nursing program

She wanted to be a pediatrician back then

Because of the loss of her sister, Amanda almost didn't attend college

Instead of wallowing in sadness, Amanda enrolled at Towson

In a strange way, going to college allowed Amanda to "run away" from her trauma

She wanted nothing to do with the medical field due to the loss of her sister, so Amanda majored in Family Studies and Community Development

She searched for student clubs to join.

Joining Invisible Children club was intimidating for Amanda because it was for the "cool" crowd

She then joined Circle-K service club

She ran for President as a freshman!

Amanda met two of her best friends, Kari Adlington and Jessa Coulter, during freshman year

The Circle-K initiatives were too small and low-key for Amanda, who wanted to do more

Amanda (along with Keri and Jessa) and I met at a Circle-K Convention where I gave a keynote speech

Amanda thinks that I am quirky!!! LOL

When Amanda wanted her Circle-K club to get involved with SHH, she was labeled “awful” and as the “worst President”

Leaving Circle-K to start Students Helping Honduras on campus caused rifts in friendships and personal hate against Amanda

Honduras was Amanda’s first trip outside of the US

She didn’t realize the SHH service trip would have so much of an educational component to it

Amanda met and talked to the families in Villa Soleada when the project had just started

SHH introduced Amanda to concepts like the ethics behind development aid

She helped build the Villa Soleada Education Center, which was the prototype project that later turned into the Villa Soleada Bilingual School

Eduardo “Chilo,” a small boy from the village spoke to the group to thank them for providing the education

The Education Center would provide Chilo his first books and computers ever

Amanda is careful about over-romanticizing development aid and volunteering

“I was so idealistic and naive.”

It was difficult to convince the Towson administration to let the chapter go down to Honduras, then considered the most dangerous nation outside of war zones

Dr. Santiago Solis helped as a faculty advisor and mentor to Amanda

The Towson Chapter raised $13,000 during their first year

They then returned to Honduras with 33 student volunteers

The following year they raised $30,000

During Amanda’s senior year, the chapter raised $53,000

In four years, the Towson Chapter had raised about $125,000 for Students Helping Honduras

Jessa Coulter was the co-President of the chapter alongside Amanda

They didn’t have much of a hierarchy

The chapter members became best friends

Some members spent more time on SHH than on school work

They organized 3-4 events every week

Each semester they did one massive event, like a benefit concert

Having compassionate, empathetic leadership is key

Fundraising was fun despite the sense of urgency

A lot of other chapters envied Towson and Amanda’s success

Leadership Week has fostered competition while building friendships between SHH chapters

Amanda became a community director for March of Dimes after graduation

She posted photos from Honduras all over her desk area at March of Dimes

Amanda was always interested in international maternal and prenatal health

I reached out to Amanda for help, as SHH was under so much stress due to lack of staff members and security threats in Honduras

Amanda saved up for a year working at March of Dimes and quit there to work for SHH on a shoestring salary as the Chief Operating Officer (COO)

Amanda feels really lonely while working out of her laptop in New York

At around 11:30pm one night—I was on the brink of shutting down SHH because of all the turmoil in Honduras and its consequences—I called Amanda to ask her for help and to join SHH

Amanda and I consult each other on everything just naturally, going all in together

Humility is something Amanda and I value in staff members

I needed someone to support me

Amanda doesn’t like being placed on a pedestal

Amanda is as loyal as it gets

At Towson, Amanda had a sense of community and personal success

It’s hard for Amanda to not have that sense of community as she works alone in New York

Amanda’s boyfriend Chris is supportive of her, always

Amanda’s best friends are mostly from SHH, though many of them are far away

Amanda is a social butterfly so it’s hard to work alone for her

“The work day is never over."

She’s learned to pace herself, delegate, avoid burnout

SHH could use some help with grant writing, social media, chapter recruitment

People are much more motivated when they can work face to face, instead of remotely and isolated

There is no reason to constantly second guessing herself as the COO of SHH with all the trust that I have in Amanda

Amanda has to remind herself that there is value in what she does for SHH

Amanda and Chris have started a succulent arrangement business on the side, BEAR STREET COLLECTIVE

The succulent business allows Amanda to interact with other people, something she missed doing

www.bearstcollective.com

Jessa Coulter and Amanda Fennell are like the Yin and the Yang together

Amanda Fennell drinks a lot of coffee!

Amana is a night owl, working late into the night

She likes being “zesty” with life : )

The person Amanda Fennell was most grateful for that week was her boyfriend Chris

They recently visited Denver, Colorado together

Nov 7, 2016

While studying at the University of Maryland, Melissa Frankenberry raised more than $30,000 for Students Helping Honduras. In this episode, she breaks down her process step-by-step and talks about facing her own fears when making the ask.

Show notes for Melissa Frankenberry

  • Melissa Frankenberry first heard about SHH at UMD’s First Look Fair where 500+ clubs on campus try to recruit members
  • She was actually looking for Habitat for Humanity and instead joined SHH!
  • She knew very little about Honduras
  • She remembers the upperclassmen members like Nahal, Kristin, Peter, Brandon
  • Melissa still remembers the first meeting still
  • She volunteered in Honduras four times while at UMD
  • Honduras was Melissa’s first exposure to a developing country
  • She worked at Balsamo village during her freshman and senior year
  • She worked hard selling grilled cheese in front of bars during weekends
  • Melissa used www.fundaround.com to create an online fundraising page
  • “It’s really scary asking people for money.”
  • The first thing she did was craft a long email message to her family and friends
  • She sent it out to her immediate circle
  • It wasn’t as bad as she had imagined
  • Her father’s business clients got involved and donated
  • She customized the messages of each letter to personalize them
  • Photos and videos were critical
  • At first she wrote it “straight from the heart” but it ended up being too long
  • She placed the link to her fundraising page at the very beginning of the letter and not at the end
  • The subject line of the emails was important. For example, saying Students Helping Honduras instead of SHH was helpful
  • Follow up phone calls and emails after each campaign was critical
  • There is a Fundaround “hack” that Melissa did. She used a photo collage for each of the photo boxes, to increase the number of total photos she could post!
  • Showing your passion is critical for fundraising success
  • “Don’t just half-ass on the fundraising.” -Melissa Frankenberry
  • “Don’t be afraid to ask for donations. People want to help.” -Melissa Frankenberry
Nov 3, 2016
Want to learn how to raise money for your favorite charity by traveling across a continent on a bicycle?Long-time Students Helping Honduras support Cristy Falcone biked 2,200 miles through Europe for SHH. On her daring expedition from Oslo to Paris, she got lost, stuck in rain storms, slept in her tent, and faced gear malfunction. At one point, she crashed and injured herself badly.
 
Cristy Falcone pedaled 50 miles (5-7 hours) nearly every single day for the cause.
 
Learn how she physically trained herself, learned to fix & maintain her bicycle, got the right equipment, packed, stayed fueled, slept, and built up her fundraising platform. Get an understanding of where your mind will be before, during, and after such an epic feat.
 
Check out Cristy Falcone’s Bike For Honduras.
 
 

Show Notes & Summary for Cristy Falcone

Ever since Cristy Falcone was a little girl, she wanted to go places on a bicycle with a sleeping bag

According to Cristy, I was an enthusiastic and energetic guy back in college

She had done one previous grand tour, going 1,800 miles from Seattle to San Diego

Her touring pace is about 12 miles an hour

Her plan was to do 45-50 miles per day!

Scandinavia was the hardest part of the trip for Cristy

She used the Kona Sutra touring bike

You must use a touring bike that puts your body in a comfortable position

Most touring bicycles cost $500+

She worked at Bike Works , a bicycle shop in Fredericksburg during her senior year in college where she learned the basics of bicycle maintenance

At the least you should know how to change your tires, fix a flat tire, adjust your brakes, adjust de-railers, and fix your gears

You can get panniers and strap them on the sides of your bicycles to store your stuff

Backpacks are not recommended because it makes your back sweat

She carried 25-30lbs of gear (food, water, sleeping bag, tent)

She went on an unsupported tour where she had to carry all her stuff with her!

“You basically carry your life with you."

Cycling maps are essential

GPS systems for bicycles can cost $400-$500!!

She set up a Facebook page and coordinate a Fundaround page with Colette Eustace

She had to face her fears while fundraising

Her dad gave out fundraising flyers and gave them out at his work

She was moved by her father’s gesture

You need friends and family to support you while on a grand tour

She posted photos and updates during her grand tour

Leading up to the trip, she was scared, nervous, excited, anxious

“The first day was totally ridiculous."

To fly a bike, you have to take it apart and stuff it into a box

On the first day, it poured rain and everything got soaking wet

They had to dry everything overnight on a campsite!

Advice: Put all your stuff in trash bags inside your panniers

In Scandinavia, she saw lots of farmland, coastal sea, beautiful scenery

She ate a lot of picnic food to stay fueled, and also fish in Scandinavia

She ate a lot of sausage in Germany

France has great fruit

She stayed in hostels sometimes, the cheapest ones in Europe cost about 20 Euros per night

She camped out in random places

Her two biggest threats were bike accidents and men

Her then boyfriend went along with her for the first month

She met other cycle tourists and would ride along with them sometimes

Europe has very developed and organized bicycle routes

She regrets not having a gadget to listen to podcasts during the tour

“You can work a lot of things out, alone on a bike."

She loves bicycle touring but got homesick

Her brakes kept failing on her during the expedition for an unknown reason

She got sun burn and saddle sores

In Basil, Cristy got into a serious accident and got badly injured

Her bicycle tires got stuck in a trolly track and she crashed in slow motion

She had to sit down and cry in the shade for a little while : (

She got a beer afterwards to recover

She could barely make it on the bicycle the next day

She ended up sleeping (“nestling”) in her tent in a random community garden!

The owners of the garden plot caught her and Cristy was terrified hearing them rustle around and speaking in German

The German family took her in like a little child, feeding Cristy and even gave her coffee and pastry

Her rain gear was not adequate

Scandinavia has a strong wind going against you

It gets very hot in the summer in France

She’s injury-prone and has scoliosis, but avoided any major injuries

She rode 5-7 hours per day on average

She had to end her trip in Paris and not in Spain as planned because her visa expired

At the end, she felt sadness, relief, homesick

She had to stop putting up photo updates because of a potential stalker

“I can’t wait until my next tour."

After the trip, she slept a LOT but didn’t eat too much

European coffee is very strong and bold

You’ll be scared every step of the way. But you should do it anyways."

“I was scared during the entire phase of the process."

Before the trip, Cristy was working on a farm and at some odd jobs

Her dream is to work in biotech and live on a homestead

Oct 31, 2016

"The mountains are calling, and I must go." -John Muir

Back in 2011 while at the Coast Guard Academy, Johnny Zeng envisioned climbing the 48 fourteeners in Colorado. The fourteeneers are mountains that each exceed 14,000 feet in elevation. Five years later and after many months of training and preparation, he faced his fears and self-doubts head on. Johnny embarked on the dangerous journey to raise money for his favorite charity, Students Helping Honduras, through the climb. He called the expedition, Climb for Honduras.
 
He survived the grueling expedition to tell us his tales. Learn how he prepared, trained, equipped himself, slept, ate, dealt with wildlife, and survived a life-threatening fall up on the mountains, all the while figuring out how to raise money through trial and error.
 
Show Links for Johnny Zeng

mountaineers.org

climbforhonduras.org

codefellows.org

wix.com

fundaround.com

Show Notes & Summary for Johnny Zeng 

Johnny found out about Students Helping Honduras from his classmate George at the Coast Guard Academy

He was a cadet for four years and then was commissioned for five years in Honolulu, Hawaii and then in Seattle

He was a swimmer growing up and into many physical activities

Later on in college, Johnny got into mountaineering and rock climbing

His friend Kyle told Johnny about mountaineering in Colorado and about the fourteeners

He realized that he could combine his passion for mountaineering with his passion for SHH by climbing for Honduras

Johnny focused on "scrambling" which is kind of like hiking but on steeper terrain, like cliffs

He took a year-long alpine mountaineering course through mountaineers.org where he learned skills getting getting out of crevasses

Rock fall was a serious threat

Redundancy in equipment is important for safety

Johnny worked on his cardio and leg strength for fitness training.

You must be able to run 3-5 miles consistently

Everyone handles altitude changes differently, with headaches, appetite loss, vomitting

He did a lot of camping next to his car, which carried everything he needed

Colorado has convenient camping locations and regulations

He carried a water filter with him and get drinking water from a nearby streams

He took food, water, and snacks, emergency gear with him during the climbs

Sunglasses and sunblock are important

Johnny encourages the use of trekking poles to preserve your knees, even if it's a stick you pick up on the side of the road

Johnny had gotten a certificate in fundraising from the University of Washington through a year-long course

He learned to make a website through www.codefellows.org

"Learning about fundraising in the classroom was one thing. Applying it in the real world was a whole new experience."

Johnny used Fundaround.com as the online fundraising platform

He marketed Climb for Honduras via word of mouth, Facebook

Right before the trek, Johnny felt terrified and was full of doubts and uncertainty

He knew that life was uncertain after the expedition, or even during the dangerous expedition

He brought a Honduran flag with him everywhere, including on the expedition. People signed it as he trekked along

People from his church network in Colorado helped him and even joined him during parts of the expedition

Johnny prefers climbing with his friends instead of going alone

Chicago Basin, Colorado, was the most beautiful landscape Johnny witnessed during his expedition

He worried about his fundraising while on the treks and continued to work on it during his rest days back in civilization

He would climb 4-5 days of the week and take 2-3 days off

Camping up in the mountains was peaceful, especially the places with less people

There was the threat of encountering black bears

He saw many marmots!

At one point it started snowing, even though it was August

There were many moments where Johnny felt in danger

Due to frost, Johnny fell and injured his right hip. He kept going despite the sharp pain.

He saw rain, snow, thunderstorms, and even hail

Johnny ate a lot of dehydrated food that he heated up with hot water. They were mostly stews

Johnny's favorite flavor was chicken and rice

The sunrise hikes were breathtaking

When the sun comes up, all your worries melt away

The last peak was Mt. Huron, and in preparation they had brought a champaign bottle with them

He had lost 12 pounds of weight

He loved In-And-Out Burgers when he got home

"The mountains are calling, and I must go." -John Muir

Oct 26, 2016

Social entrepreneur Sophia Sunwoo believed in her mission so much that she worked without a salary for the first 2.5 years of starting The Water Collective. To make ends meet, she worked at a bakery during the day and built up the NGO at nighttime.

Entrepreneurial at heart, Sophia built a clothing company (celebrities like Miley Cyrus wore her clothesline) and sold it while still in college.

She remained in the corporate world for several months after college. But for Sophia Sunwoo, creating social impact was her calling. She quit her job, and began working at a bakery in New York. With co-founder Josh Braunstein, Sophia created The Water Collective to help provide clean drinking water to partner communities in Africa and India. 

In this episode, Sophia talks about the challenges of working in the developing world as a female leader and dealing with petty community politics. You'll also learn what it's like to run an NGO with a co-founder and why for Sophia it's like "like a marriage without all the fun parts." 

Sophia was listed as a leading force for social entrepreneurship on the Forbes' 30 Under 30 List in 2016.

Show Links

www.omprakash.org - a site that connects NGOs, people, and projects

 

Show Notes & Summary

While in college, Sophia started a clothing line out of her dorm room with her roommate

She wanted to be a clothing designer since she was 9 years old

250 retailers

Miley Cyrus wore one of her hoodies

Despite her success, Sophia was unhappy

Sophia sold her company while she was still in college so she could do what she was passionate about

She was inspired by a professor asking his students to do something about climate change and social impact

She regimented a very strict schedule while in college to accomplish everything

She wanted to enter the nonprofit and social impact industry but nobody would offer her a job due to her lack of experience. She got rejected every time!

She returned to the corporate world, at a art consulting firm

She learned to project manage, production schedules, conflict resolution in the corporate world

Within 7 months, Sophia was ready to quit the corporate world

Her parents took a step back and trusted Sophia and her decision

Sophia met her co-founder, Josh Braunstein, at the bar on the day she quit her corporate job

Sophia worked in a bakery while starting The Water Collective

Sophia had never met an Asian American social entrepreneur for her first five years in the social impact space

Josh's Jewish network was supportive of their work. The Korean American community was less willing to support Sophia because charity is not a part of their culture as much.

Immigrant parents have a hard time understanding the risky decisions that their second-generation children may take in entrepreneurship or social entrepreneurship

You need to leverage your immediate network early on to be a successful social entrepreneur

They had many false starts in the beginning and projects kept falling through for an entire year

Co-founder Josh Braunstein had worked in the nonprofit industry, specializing in clean water. He had noticed that many projects simply did not work on the ground.

They noticed that many water systems stopped working after a few years

Maintenance, troubleshooting, and finding spare parts were largely unaddressed

Super high-tech or electric-powered water systems were problematic due to technical problems

Sophia found partner organizations in Africa mostly on-line

They received an email from a farmer in Cameroon who came from a village that did not have access to clean drinking water

They hopped on a flight to go meet the farmer in Cameroon

It's extremely difficult for NGOs to work in Cameroon, such as roads not being paved. Mud roads got washed away when it rained.

The Water Collective had dealt with much of the legal work finished during the first year to make things easier for the second year

Managing community relationships and dynamics is challenging due to competing interests that people within the community may have

Each community has a village chief and it is crucial for The Water Collective to foster those relationships

The Water Collective never fully funds a project so that the community can feel as if they are true stakeholders by fundraising and building

Working with different village chiefs is challenging, as they may or may not have the support of the community or certain members

Seemingly small relationships within the communities are important

Sophia believes that you can always create a system or process that can help you, even when managing key relationships or choosing partner villages

The Water Collective vouches each community where they ask questions, observe, and gather anecdotal data to see if the community would be a good fit as a partner

Sophia is all about testing ideas, getting feedback, and iterating

Sophia is a Tim Ferriss fan!

Sophia needed a confidence boost after being in a country where women are not respected as much and where people don't know how to handle a women in a leadership position

People gave her more authority when she told them that she was American

People from work would invite her for a meeting but would cross the line with their romantic approaches

People would make offhand comments about Sophia because she was a woman

She now does not show a hint of her feminine side when in these communities. It's awkward for her because she's all about women's rights and equality.

She picks her battles when it comes to standing up for women's issues in developing countries because she wonders if it is her responsibility and it takes away from her efficiency getting the projects done

Someone of power in Cameroon is usually overweight, since that means he is wealthy enough to eat a lot. Sophia is a tiny Asian girl, the opposite of what most leaders look like.

Demonstrating a sense of self-worth is important for women in development aid, not accepting sexist comments or unwanted advances or being treated as a plaything

The co-founder relationship is complicated, it's "like a marriage without all the fun parts"

You can go from being best friends to not talking each other constantly. It can get very emotional.

Building a startup is an emotional process

"It's always about execution. It's never about the idea."

A close staff member in Cameroon passed away recently, and dealing with death was difficult for Sophia and Josh. They considered closing down and became depressed.

The Water Collective has an important gala coming up in New York

Sophia and Josh meet at least once a week, usually in person

In one community, the intra-community problems were too deep that The Water Collective could not moderate even with the help of moderators and political leaders. The community chief did not have the support of his community

It was not in Sophia's philosophy to try and be the white knight that would throw money at the problems the community struggled with to try and solve it for them.

They had to abandon that particular community partnership

The Mundame community partnership is Sophia's proudest project

The Water Collective has a rigorous water maintenance program

They teach the communities how to fix and repair the systems so that it becomes second-nature, kind of like how everyone nowadays know how to use a smart phone

The Water Collective uses mostly water catchment systems where they will get water from a stream, and sometimes wells

It's important for Sophia that women are involved in the communities

Sophia and Josh worked for The Water Collective without a salary for the first 2.5 years

It's important to stay on the pulse when it comes to fundraising so you can evolve

It's important for an NGO to have a strong Board that can financially contribute a certain amount each year

Sophia like to host intimate, private dinners to update key donors

Sophia finds Board members that she can get along with and will support each other

They found Board members by searching for specific qualifications

Sophia likes to meditate and write down how she's feeling about certain projects

Sophia loves the Tim Ferriss Podcast!!

Sophia is currently coaching social entrepreneurs secure revenue for their projects at sophiasunwoo.com

Oct 24, 2016

Social entrepreneur Marquis Taylor started Coaching for Change by racking up $15,000 in credit card debt. He believed in his mission that much.

Marquis Taylor grew up in a rough, gang-riddled neighborhood in South Central Los Angeles. For him, basketball was the only thing that mattered. Using his talent and dogged work ethic, Marquis got a scholarship to play NCAA basketball.

After college and a number of years in the real estate industry, Marquis took a giant leap of faith forward. He left it all to start Coaching for Change to help vulnerable students become college and career ready. Coaching for Change organizes business training, mentorship, and academic support through the one thing that he loves: basketball. The organization works with low-income, disengaged high school students who are on the verge of dropping out.

Marquis Taylor is an Echoing Green Fellow and CNN Hero.

 

Show Links

echoinggreen.org (Echoing Green is a social innovation fund that acts as a catalyst for impact. With access to funding, grants, and strategic foundational support, they can accelerate the positive vision leaders have for the world.
)

 

Whatever It Takes: Geoffrey Canada's Quest to Change Harlem and America by Paul Tough

 

Never Eat Alone, Expanded and Updated: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazzi

Talent is Overrated: What Really Separates World-Class Performers from Everybody Else by Geoff Colvin

 

Show Notes & Summary

California is not all palm trees and sunshines as people may think

He saw the worst and the best of humanity growing up

Marquis struggled through school, unable to read until the third or fourth grade

Basketball was his one escape, his "one and only motivator"

Marquis describes himself as a mid-range player who was like a "gnat"

Over the summer during high school, Marquis trained three times per day

He trained under Wayne Slappy at UCLA during the summers

Marquis noticed that the NBA players focused on the little things

He worked in the sub-prime mortgage industry, kind of like as Cristian Bale's assistant in the movie The Big Short

After college, Marquis wanted to make a lot of money

When the industry collapsed, he moved to the Mississippi Delta for a new job.

Marquis felt like he was in the third world being in the Mississippi Delta seeing all the dirt roads and lack of opportunity

They call these areas Mail Box Communities because everyone is living off welfare

It was there that Marquis realized the importance of education and how privileged he was relative to the people there

Witnessing the poverty, Marquis decided to become an educator to help

He got a master's degree in education but realized he didn't want to be a teacher

He started Coaching for Change without much of a fallback plan

Marquis truly hustled to start Coaching for Change, from sleeping on couches and in his car to getting into credit card debt

"It's not rocket science. It's persistence and hard work."

The program evolved from just training high school students to become basketball coaches

Coaching for Change then helps the students get jobs, graduate from schools, and mentor middle school students

"People label these kids we work with as the bad kids. I believe that they are just misunderstood."

These kids have a lot of things to deal with at home, such as parents being in jail

"Through small successes, young people begin seeing that they CAN actually do this."

Coaching for Change started with just 15 kids

Some of his high school students had never met a person who was in college

One of his high school students was struggling in school because he was dealing with his father being imprisoned for drug dealing. He overcame immense challenges and became a mentor to middle school students and is now attending college

His kids are required to organize sporting events, like 3v3 basketball tournaments and run them like businesses, selling t-shirts, running concession stands, charging entry tickets

The learn the elements of business through a fun process

Marquis racked up $15,000 in credit card debt to start Coaching for Change and to keep his promise

He won the Echoing Green Fellowship and $70,000 award by being honest

"When you put forth the work and effort, luck will follow."

Principles, teachers, and parents have competing interests

Marquis stresses the importance of fighting for moments and embracing them

The public schools pulled out of Coaching for Change because they did not want the organization to start including charter schools in their program

Marquis hadn't realize the dark side of politics behind education system until then

They had plans to impact 350 kids from 7 schools and all the public schools pulled out of the program just because Marquis wanted to also include charter schools in the program

There is intense competition for funding between public and charter schools

They had to shut down their programs as a result

Schools are able to custom design the programs like the Nike ID Lab

The students Coaching for Change works with have a 6,000-hour learning gap (equivalent to 5 years in the classroom by the time they are graduate due to a lack of extracurricular activities compared to students who enjoy them in higher-income neighborhood

He had to start all over again, going from seven schools to just one

Instead of working district by district, Coaching for Change started working with individual schools

Marquis was inspired by Geoffrey Canada, the founder of Harlem Children's Zone

Geoffrey Canada has the ability to mesmerize a room through his story telling

People tried boycotting Geoffrey Canada's Harlem Children's Zone whey it was first starting off due to its audacious nature

The secret to recruiting busy college students is to get them passionate about the project by having them meet and spend time with the kids in the program. They also get paid, which helps.

Oct 18, 2016

Most high school students are too busy with school work, video games, and their social lives to do much else. But Chris Cao, a 17-year-old senior at Thomas Jefferson High School is raising the bar for his generation.

At age 15, CNN Hero Chris Cao became a social entrepreneur. He started Reboot for Youth, a nonprofit organization in northern Virginia that recycles, repairs, and delivers refurbished computers to youth in need.

His core team is made up of his friends who go to different high schools in the Fairfax area. Each Saturday, Chris gets the team together at a friend's basement to further their mission. Of course, pizza is essential at these gatherings.

In two years, Reboot for Youth has delivered 418 computers (as of October, 2016) to youth in the Washington D.C. area, El Salvador, Costa Rica, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Leave your comments here: www.shinfujiyama.com/ChrisCao

Show Notes & Summary

Started the operation at the basement of his friend's house

Chris Cao has several online classes at his high school

He spends his weekend like any normal teenager, hanging out with friends and catching up on school work.

Chris was tutoring a kid named Sebastian who couldn't afford to have a computer at his house

"Students in our very own neighborhood don't have access to computers."

Chris began tinkering with and fixing computers at age 10 by watching YouTube videos

Chris's parents were supportive of his interest in computers

Chris's grandfather was a doctor from Vietnam and worked in philanthropy, offering free medical care to the poor in Vietnam

The process of becoming a 501 c 3 nonprofit organization was "tedious" for Chris. He found most of his information on WikiLinks.

It's difficult to juggle school work, a social life, and Reboot for Youth simultaneously

Homework gets in the way of running Reboot for Youth

Chris has a great team he can rely on

Chris was only 14 when he started Reboot for Youth, and because of his young age it was difficult to get adults to see them as a legitimate organization

Every Saturday the Reboot for Youth team meets for two hours at a friend's house. They form an assembly line to repair the computers together. Pizza is essential at these meetings.

Families in the Washington DC neighborhood could submit a request for laptops on the Reboot for Youth website

Reboot for Youth uses Keepod USB drives to provide operating systems for the refurbished laptops.

The first international shipment was to El Salvador

Sometimes Chris focuses his attention towards his personal issues and away from Reboot for Youth, which is frustrating for him

Sometimes Chris gets overwhelmed, feeling like his back is against a wall and there is nowhere to go

It was extremely difficult for Chris to take his AP exams while Nickelodeon was filming his efforts all day

Chris Cao describes how he felt when CNN called him for the CNN Heroes program. He was happy that Reboot for Youth could finally display their work to the entire world. The showing resulted in many laptops donated.

At first not everyone believed in Chris nor in Reboot for Youth's mission

Chris felt a tremendous amount of pressure not to let down his donors, but he used it as motivation to work harder

When the Reboot for Youth team encounters a disagreement, they make decisions by voting and through peaceful means.

For the Costa Rica project, the Reboot for Youth team had to refurbish 20 computers in one week all the while they had to go to school and finish homework. They stayed up until midnight to finish the project.

Chris is learning to be a leader through trial and error.

He picked up his leadership skills while a freshman intern at an IT firm in DC. The CEO of the company taught Chris Cao about leadership, recommending him books like Good to Great.

The CEO selected Chris as a project manager even though he was only a freshman in high school, leading a team of developers to make a website for the company. He had to lead people who were older. Chris doesn't think he was a great leader when he did that.

He learned many leadership skills at the internship that he can use for Reboot for Youth

The CEO saw in Chris drive and the willingness to learn and progress as a person

Chris believes that the youth today are very inquisitive and self-motivated to further themselves

Intrinsic self motivation is important for Chris

Having parents who were not too strict has helped him

We live in a world where Asian Americans are underrepresented in the media and in leadership positions. Chris wants to be a trendsetter for Asian Americans.

Yang Yuanqing, the CEO of Lenovo tweeted at Chris after watching CNN Heroes to congratulate him

Lenovo donated 75 new laptops to Reboot for Youth, which became a turning point for Chris

Chris is now finding a new group of high school students to run the local operation so he can head out to college

Chris plans to expand the international reach of Reboot for Youth

"You're never too young to make an impact. I've met entrepreneurs younger than me."

Chris is grateful for his family and brother who have helped him along the way.

Oct 13, 2016

Ned Norton could deadlift 660 pounds. But that's one of his smaller accomplishments in life.

Ned is a social entrepreneur and a Top 10 CNN Hero from Albany, New York. He is the founder of Warriors on Wheels. In this episode he tells his story all the way from growing up as a scrawny kid (like me) and how that motivated him to become a competitive athlete and power lifter. He became a fitness trainer and trained several Olympic athletes, helping them win gold medals.

But even that wasn't enough for Ned Norton. He needed a greater challenge. Through a series of random events, he began to train a friend who had been paralyzed from an accident. Soon, many people in wheelchairs and with physical disabilities like spinal cord injuries, cerebral palsy, and traumatic brain injuries began to seek his help.

So in 1988, Ned started the nonprofit organization, Warriors on Wheels, opening a gym at his home town specialized for individuals with disabilities. At one point, he trained five members at his gym to bench press 300+ pounds.

Through his newest initiative, The Hercules Project, Ned ships free fitness and rehab equipment to individuals with disabilities in more than ten countries, including Mali, Darfur, Guatemala, and Somalia.

Ned has a saying at his gym: every person who comes in our front door will become their own success story.

Show Notes & Summary

Ned Norton was a scrawny kid growing up

When Ned was 12, his uncle gave him a set of weights, which was a great discovery for Ned

At his peak, Ned was deadlifting 660lbs

He loves going to the gym, he can't wait to get there each day (like me)

"It becomes part of your life. Like brushing your teeth."

Ned Norton is 58 years old

He got his dream job, to work at a gym. He became a trainer.

He worked with a few Olympic gold medal winners

He was a strength coach for three Olympic teams, basketball teams, football teams, bodybuilders

He learned about a 20-year-old guy who had gotten paralyzed after falling off a tree. The kid was so depressed that he was suicidal

Ned started training him at the gym, which instantly boosted the kid's confidence and self-esteem, eventually leading him to return to college and find a job

Nobody at the hospital could believe he was the same guy. This inspired 6 other people from the hospital come in to train with Ned

He had no specialized equipment

They called themselves the Warriors to have a cool name

The guys were making social and psychological transformation through Ned's training

60 people began to seek Ned for training after a story was published in the local newspaper

Ned saw the need and formed a nonprofit organization to help his disabled trainees

They get that feeling of well-being, confidence, progress, positivity

He found an abandoned floor in a public housing project which he was able to use for free for the new facility

People thought he was crazy for working in the "projects"

He charges a fee at his gym, but if people can't afford it, they don't need to pay

Less than 25% of his members are paying

When Ned got the phone call from CNN, he thought it was some kind of joke from the fire department guys

So many times things were so tough he was on the brink of closing the doors

It was on the day that Ned was contemplating how he was going to close down the gym and sell the equipment that he go the phone call from CNN Heroes

The ups and downs of running a nonprofit organization is extreme

Ned does it ALL ALONE. He runs the gym, he does the social media, the website, takes care of his family

The CNN glory gave Ned about a year of fame and funding. After that, he has had to return to the grind. "It never ends lol."

He was out meeting celebrities, movie stars, and on TV. Soon after, he was back in the projects hustling and grinding to keep the gym afloat

Raising money is the most frustrating thing about running Warriors on Wheels

Ned has a hard time asking for money (he's like a giant teddy bear)

After being on CNN, people with disabilities from all over the world began contacting him for help

A guy from Cambodia asked for help for landmine survivors and that sparked the Hercules Project where Ned sends resistance bands for free all over the world

Ned partnered up with the United Nations Mine Action Service

He will be sending workout equipment to Cali, Colombia (I'll be there during October-November, 2016)

He sent equipment to patients from a mental hospital in Somalia, where people had been chained down and their muscles had atrophied drastically

One girl in his program lost a leg to bone cancer at age 18, then at 24 she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis which put her on a wheelchair, then she was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to get a double mastectomy. Yet she still never misses a workout.

Ned has a strict morning routine where he works out at the gym and/or goes for a long run to "outrun the thoughts in his head."

To help the people in wheelchairs bench press 300+ pounds, Ned followed the strategy: Less is More. He only had them do 3-5 bench press sets per workout using his 6-8 weeks program.

Because his athletes dominated so many competitions, Ned eventually felt like he was the "evil coach" from the Karate Kid movie lol

I decide on the show to name our home gym at the Villa Soleada Children's Home the "Warrior's Gym Honduras"

Ned read up on Arnold and Franco's workout tips during his early days, before the internet was available

Arnold said to Ned in a seminar: "Don't ever do any of the workouts I talk about in the magazines. I never did any of them!"

Ned's "go-to" fitness resource is Muscle and Fitness

"Once you get hooked into enjoying it [fitness], it opens up a whole new world for you."

"You can always do more than you think you can. Never give up."

"You've only tapped into 40% of your potential."

He calls his best friends at the gym "the smelly monkey butts" lol

Ned trains people with Down's Syndrome. They oftentimes are good at powerlifting and bench pressing because they have shorter limbs.

When people come into the gym for the first time after recovering from an injury, they have terrible self-esteem

Sometimes doctors, family, and people at the rehab office focus on telling their patients what they can't do, what not to do. Whereas Ned talks about the amazing things they will be able to do after his 3-month training program.

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