In Bhutan, the mountains rise so high that monastery lights on remote peaks blend in with the stars above at night. On high altitude passes, misty rains are indistinguishable from clouds drifting past. Boundaries in Bhutan melt into one another, and Mountain Hazelnuts as a company is no exception. MH does not fit comfortably within the confines of social enterprise, government project, or multinational company. Similarly, the people at Mountain Hazelnuts – outliers who don’t fit the mold – are its greatest asset. Bhutan is not an easy place to reach, and those who seek it out tend to hear the beat of a different drum. Blending personal passions into the workplace not only makes them more fulfilled and willing to stay, but also enhances the allure of the company to other high performers looking for an unconventional career.
At a recent World Economic Forum event in San Francisco Klaus Schwab was asked by an audience member what it takes to be a successful leader in today’s complex and fast paced world. He responded with four characteristics that he believes are critical for today’s leaders. I list these characteristics below, and then explore how they line up with the dimensions we at the Center for Social Innovation believe are central to leading for social impact.
Six weeks after returning to Stanford from Kenya, I feel prepared to reflect on everything that I saw and did. The experience I had with Living Goods far exceeded my expectations, both professionally and personally.
In my specific role at Nuru, supporting the development of new local businesses, it is critical that I work hard to understand the people and environment where Nuru serves. I need to know the community and appreciate their needs. This call has been a richly rewarding and richly humbling journey.
An incredible summer in Kenya, both personally and professionally, came to an end on a somber note last week, resulting in pain and anguish. The terrorist attack at Westgate Mall claimed 67 lives, including an old friend, who I spent a lot of time with this summer. This incident overshadows anything else that I could possibly write about - and it is worth trying to understand what it potentially means for us going forward.
Lately there has been a lot of discussion around the letter issued by Guidestar, Charity Navigator and BBB Wise Giving Alliance to “correct the overhead myth" and redirect attention to indicators that are more accurate measures of nonprofit effectiveness. Dan Pallota’s challenge to let nonprofits pay more competitively for talent and advertise aggressively to build market share has struck a chord, validating the notion that nonprofits can move beyond a culture of self-deprivation in order to do better work.
The 'U.S. Herd', a phrase that I love and that conjures in my mind a mythical herd of cattle roaming the Great Plains, is at an all time low.
We set out with the goal of creating a device that helps small-holder coffee farmers improve the quality of their coffee by perfectly optimizing the taste characteristics during the fermentation process.
My driver for choosing where to work this summer was testing how I would feel in a place that has great social impact, but where my own impact would not be very tangible. And that's exactly what I experienced working for the Water and Sanitation Program (WSP) of the World Bank.
The last two months working for the Agricultural Transformation Agency of Ethiopia (ATA) have been a fascinating experience to gain a first-hand view of how to build a high-performing development organization in East Africa. Despite the many difficulties related to running an organization in Ethiopia, ATA is succeeding in building an organization with a clear sense of purpose, with highly motivated and talented staff, and that seeks to actually measure its impact on the country's agricultural sector. I think ATA's promising start is due to a strong leadership, an attention to talent, and the willingness to transform its environment.