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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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 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.  

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