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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
 
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