The Changemaker Challenge

“But wait…it gets better!”

When that’s the first line of an email, you drop what you’re doing and read it. Especially when the email is from one of your favorite changemakers.

But to tell the story, I have to take you back a week.

A week earlier, I read Room to Read founder John Wood’s latest book Purpose, Incorporated. I believe companies can only be their best by incorporating social good, and that social good can only be achieved in partnership with companies. So a book that goes beyond theory and data to highlight the stories of companies big and small who prove the point is one inspiring read.

In the middle of the week, I was among those who flocked to the offices of a hip San Francisco tech company to hear John and his co-author Amalia McGibbon talk about what they learned writing the book. The gathering was part of John’s global book tour. Sharing business-with-a-purpose success stories with a live audience makes John almost giddy. So does announcing that all profits from book sales go to Room to Read. Afterward, John graciously chatted up and signed books for a buzzing audience, which included about 25 of my friends.

At the end of the week, I read a New York Times article by David Brooks titled “Everyone a Changemaker.” It highlighted the challenge put forth by Ashoka founder Bill Drayton, who invented the term “social entrepreneur.”

To quote David:

“Changemakers are people who can see the patterns around them, identify the problems in any situation, figure out ways to solve the problem, organize fluid teams, lead collective action and then continually adapt as situations change.”

The article was the thread that wove an entire week together.

  • The numerous individuals and businesses profiled in John’s book are changemakers.
  • As an author and social entrepreneur himself, John is a changemaker.
  • As a global connector of people and ideas, I am a changemaker.

Changemakers aren’t just luminaries like Elon Musk, Oprah, and Bill Drayton. They aren’t just Millennials, the uber-wealthy or founders of non-profits.

They are you. And me.

Changemakers are every one of us if we choose to believe that we can take control of our own lives. If we choose to believe that we have agency. And changemakers inspire other changemakers. As David ends his article:

“If we could give everyone the chance to experience an agency moment, to express love and respect in action, the ramifications really would change the world.”

Which brings me back to the drop-what-you-are-doing email that ended my week.

Following the San Francisco book tour event, John and I had exchanged several email messages. He was grateful that I attended and brought friends. He was excited that book profits and reader donations could further the education of children through Room to Read. I shared my excitement for spotlighting Room to Read’s efforts in Tanzania with travelers on my upcoming CGG Experience. In different ways, we were advancing the same cause.

Then he put out the Changemaker Challenge.

“But wait….it gets better!

I met up yesterday with a very successful technology investor. He’s a huge fan of my self-published “all profits to Room to Read” strategy. To inspire people I meet on the book tour to give to Room to Read, he’s offering a $250,000 matching grant. So the goal is for me to raise $250,000 from both book profits and donations from readers by the end of March. That collective $500,000 will bring an additional 10,000 deserving young children into our literacy programs.

I could not be more excited. It was my dream that something like this would happen as a result of the book.   

Feel free to share with anyone you think the immediate 1:1 match would inspire.

This is fun!”

Exactly. Being a changemaker–and challenging others to be one– IS FUN!

All of us are changemakers. And as John is inspiring me, my wish is to inspire you. So I challenge you to do one or all of the following this month:

  1. Buy and read Purpose, Incorporated.
  2. Buy several copies (Amazon) and share with clients, colleagues or friends. Write them a note and tell them why you chose to share.
  3. Make a contribution of any size towards Room to Read. If John reaches his lofty $250,000 goal, we all double our investment in literacy to 10,000 students via the pledged 1:1 investor match.

But most importantly, use your agency. Think about the unique ways you can pass on the Changemaker Challenge. Perhaps, like me, you will share this opportunity with your social network. Or your clients. Maybe you will push your company towards an aligned corporate social responsibility initiative. Maybe you can start with your own kids, encouraging them to own an idea and organize their friends…and then get out of their way.

Here’s the thing– being a changemaker isn’t about saving the world. It’s really about saving ourselves. It’s about each of us taking control of our own decision-making. That is what ultimately makes us happy. And it feels really good.

And that’s nothing to feel guilty about.

“To be a changemaker is very satisfying because you become a giver. And we all know that being a giver means a longer life, a healthier life, and a happier life.”  — Bill Drayton


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Jodi Morris Written by:

Venture Guide to High-Achieving Seekers. Success Coach. Venture Travel Curator. Impact Investor. Traveler. Writer. Global Connector. When we connect to others' stories it changes our own. Let's Venture!