This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Joel Solomon of Renewal Funds is not only a leading impact investor but also a leading voice for the impact investing movement. Based in Vancouver, British Colombia, his impact fund approaches $100 million.
Solomon says, “All of us, particularly those involved in the world of investment and finance, have something to offer. Together we have the resources to achieve what may be the greatest ethical and economic shift in human history.”
“The call right now is a big one: we need to reinvent capitalism,” he says with no hint of doubt.
Solomon notes that traditional capitalism needs to be changed, “We need to enable and encourage private enterprise to build the new businesses, technologies and industries that will replace our current methods— many of which are unsustainable at best and wantonly destructive at worst.”
Observing that government can’t or won’t solve big social problems, Solomon calls on financiers to lead the way. “It’s hard to overemphasize the critical role that those who move in the world of finance and investment can play right now. Those who provide capital and incentives for innovation have a crucial part to play in addressing climate justice, species extinction and man-made environmental disasters.”
“Severely diminished government regulation in most jurisdictions means that the shift towards what I’ve come to call ‘clean money’—impact investing, socially responsible investing (SRI), and mission-based activation of investment portfolios— represents the single most potent force for restoring the planet and delivering social equity to billions of people,” he adds.
Given demographic trends, Solomon sees younger investors as a catalyst for change. “Millennial and ‘Gen Y’ investors are demanding that their portfolios—whether self-generated or inherited— be dedicated to mission-based or ethical, sustainable and socially just investments. The Millennials, born between 1980 and 2000, already outnumber Boomers at about 85 million in North America.”
“This is a pivotal time for the rise of clean money— a conscious and pragmatic movement that is still near the fringes but moving very rapidly towards the center,” he concludes.
On Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 4:00 Eastern, Solomon will join me for a live discussion about clean money and impact investing. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Renewal Funds:
Renewal Funds is Canada’s largest social venture capital firm, with $98 million assets under management. We invest in organic food, green products, and environmental and social innovations. Our investors are individuals, families, foundations, and wealth managers, seeking to align their values with marking money.
Joel Solomon is Chair of Renewal Funds, Canada’s largest mission venture capital firm. With Renewal Partners co-founder Carol Newell, Joel spent eighteen years using integrated capital for social change as an activist family office. He is a Senior Advisor with RSF Social Finance, founding member of Social Venture Network, Business for Social Responsibility, the Tides Canada Foundation, and is Board Chair of Hollyhock. Joel was a founding member of the Vision Vancouver Municipal political party, now running for its third term majority with close friend, SVN member and Tides Canada founding board member Mayor Gregor Robertson. With a Lifetime Achievement Award from SVN, Joel was inducted with Carol Newell into the SVN Hall of Fame in 2012. His 2015 commentary on fossil fuel divestment appeared in The Globe And Mail, Canada’s largest national newspaper.
Solomon is a member of the Social Venture Network.
Your Mark on the World Center sponsor Mike Schwager is a media consultant who focuses on impact in all he does. He operates MediaMavens.com and TVtraining.tv, helping people prepare for appearances on television.
Mike explains his philosophy, “Serve companies that tell the truth about the products and services they deliver, that minimally don’t hurt anyone; and optimally serve the public good and interest. Who you represent is an extension of who you are.”
He works to choose his clients carefully, noting, “The best companies value people above profits, encouraging human development as the cornerstone of quality products and services.”
Mike offers some important advice about promoting a client that applies equally to those promoting themselves, “In promoting a book, a product or service, or an organization use news to make news; think ‘impact,’ think ‘timeliness/immediacy,’ think ‘novelty,’ think ‘relevance.'”
Like all communications professionals, Mike helps people face public relations crises. He offers this advice to others, “Organizations should admit mistakes, offer constructive solutions. Tell your clients the truth in confidence, even if they may not want to hear it.”
Mike sees real strategic value in adding a meaningful social impact to a for-profit business; he advises, “Help your for-profit clients see the value of allying themselves with worthwhile causes that can enhance their own reputations, and do some real good in the world as well.”
On Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 3:00 Eastern, Mike will join me for a live discussion about his career and insights for public relations. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Worldlink Media Consultants:
PR/Media Relations firm specializing in: speech writing, publicity, marketing communications, media interview and crisis training, creative marketing consulting and reputation repair on behalf of authors, non-profit and humanitarian organizations, companies invested in cause-related marketing, politicians, celebrities and countries.
Also advance issues such as dialogue, self-empowerment and motivation, animal advocacy, global poverty solutions, alternative energy via two websites: www.Enrichment.com, and www.EnrichOurWorld.net – and my radio show, “The Enrichment Hour” on WSRadio.com.
As a writer for CBS Audience Services, media specialist for Burson-Marsteller, as president of Michael Klepper Associates, and as head of his own two media relations firms – The Media Relations Group and Worldlink Media Consultants – Mike Schwager has been an accomplished media relations/public relations executive, with a track record of building reputations for non-profits, associations, companies, governments and authors.
His publicity efforts have helped raise millions for humanitarian enterprises; and he has successfully put organizations such as CURE International, Opportunity International, Geneva Global, National Spinal Cord Injury Association, KidsPeace, The John Templeton Foundation, The United Negro College Fund, Magazine Publishers of America and Boys & Girls Clubs of America in the public spotlight. He has introduced China to America as Director of Public Relations for The Exhibition of the People’s Republic of China, and has gained increased respect for Mexico in the American mind by developing television news stories on behalf of the United States-Mexican Development Corporation. He has spearheaded successful p.r. campaigns for such companies as Kelloggs, Data General, ABC/Capital Cities Publishing, Tadiran and World Color Press.
He has also implemented promotional campaigns for best-selling books such as Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, and created successes for such other books as You Can Heal Your Life; For Entrepreneurs Only; Remembering America: A Voice from the Sixties; The Hidden Pope; A Billion Bootstraps: Microcredit, Barefoot Banking and the Business Solution for Ending Poverty; The BEST In Us: People, Profit and the Remaking of Modern Leadership; and The Evolution of an Entrepreneur: Featuring My 50 Best Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Business.
Mr. Schwager is an acclaimed counselor to CEOs, and as a media interview trainer has prepared many CEOs, diplomats and authors for appearances on national television. He is also an accomplished writer of Opinion Editorials and speeches for executives and politicians.
As he’s travelled on his journey, Mike has come to see himself as a healer through communications. In addition to serving humanitarian organizations in media relations, he
became host of a spiritual/humanitarian radio show, “The Enrichment Hour” on WSRadio.com, and he created two websites, Enrichment.com, an idea envisioned on a walk down a Soho street in Manhattan during the winter of 1990; and EnrichOurWorld.net. Within this vision was the sense that as the world converges technologically, so is the time also ripe for a convergence and new integration between people, races, genders, religions and cultures…coming together and finding common ground through dialogue and heart-felt expression. The time is also fertile for increased opportunities for human fulfillment, and the growth of human potentiality – through service to the Earth and humanity, vocational/entrepreneurial growth, and creative/ spiritual insight, growth and self-development.
It is hoped that his radio show, The Enrichment Hour, Enrichment.com, and EnrichOurWorld.net, will inspire and help enrich people’s lives in building the better world!
In development are the creation of a new radio channel, called “The Enrichment Channel” and a new website, “United Friends of Earth.”
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Robert Steven Kaplan , the former Vice Chair of Goldman Sachs, Harvard professor, venture philanthropist, author and regular guest on my show here on Forbes, will see his new book, What Your Really Need to Lead, published on September 15.
In anticipation of a return to the show, Kaplan shared some thoughts with me about his new book.
Kaplan said, “Leadership is one of the most important aspects of our society, yet there is enormous disagreement and confusion about what leadership means, and whether it can really be learned. I argue that leadership qualities are not something you either have or you don’t. Leadership is about what you do, rather than who you are, and it starts with an ownership mind-set.”
Kaplan says, learning to lead involves three key elements:
“Leadership is accessible to each of us, but it requires a process of hard work, willingness to ask questions, and openness to learning,” he adds.
“In the book I really try to demystify leadership and outline a specific regimen that will empower the reader to build his or her leadership skills. You need to ask yourself probing questions, and then take follow-up steps that will help you develop your skills, create new habits, and move toward reaching your unique leadership potential,” he concludes.
On Thursday, August 13, 2015 at 2:00 Eastern, Kaplan will join me for a live discussion about leadership. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about What You Really Need to Lead:
Kaplan is the author of the new book What You Really Need to Lead. In the book, he writes that leaders in business, politics, and life are not naturally gifted: leadership is something that must be learned. The most powerful question anyone can ask in their daily lives is “what would an owner do right now?” If we look at the challenges and opportunities that confront us through this ownership lens, then we become leaders, and act in a way that benefits many people beyond just ourselves. Being a leader isn’t what you are—it’s what you do.
Robert Steven Kaplan is Senior Associate Dean and the Martin Marshall Professor of Management Practice in Business Administration at Harvard Business School. He is also cochairman of the Draper Richards Kaplan Foundation, a global venture philanthropy firm, as well as chairman and a founding partner of Indaba Capital Management. Before joining Harvard in 2005, Kaplan was vice chairman of the Goldman Sachs Group. He divides his time between Boston and New York City.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Andrei Cherny, CEO and co-founder of Aspiration, is creating a whole new model for financial services in America. The idea is to provide the sorts of investment strategies employed by the wealthy to ordinary, working Americans. The strategies include impact investing.
Cherny explains the companies philosophy, “We think of ourselves as a financial firm with a conscience. And there is no reason that needs to be a contradiction in terms.”
“At Aspiration, we are first and foremost in the opportunity business. We want our customers to be able to get economic opportunity for themselves and give it to others at the same time. And that’s what they want too,” Cherny adds.
“Every financial firm out there keeps yelling ‘Trust us!’ We’re the only one that actually trusts them [the customer],” he concludes.
Aspiration allows its clients to choose how much to pay Aspiration for its services, offering that as a sign of trust. Other interesting features of the new model include devoting a portion of profits to charity and giving their clients the opportunity to do the same.
On Thursday, August 13 at 1:00 Eastern, Cherny will join me for a live discussion about his plans for the novel financial services firm. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Aspiration:
One of the fastest growing online investment platforms, Aspiration offers everyone the type of investment strategies that were once limited to only the wealthiest Americans. Using cutting-edge technology, Aspiration is revolutionizing how financial services are delivered to Americans by successfully pioneering a democratized and purpose-driven investment firm with a conscience and building an unprecedented level of trust with its customers. Aspiration:
- Democratizes access to wealth creation by creating financial and investment products for the middle class, not millionaires. We bring these products directly to the consumer on Aspiration.com, bypassing traditional intermediaries. These products include:
- The “Aspiration Flagship Fund” which guards against the roller coaster of the stock market,
- The Aspiration Summit Account which is a 1% interest, no monthly or ATM fee, FDIC insured checking account, and
- The upcoming Aspiration Redwood Fund which will be a best-in-class sustainable product investing in companies that see better financial returns because of their smart environmental, employee, and governance policies.
- Features a radically pro-investor “Pay What Is Fair” fee structure that trusts customers to pay us what they think is fair — even if it is zero.
- Brings the Toms/Warby Parker approach of getting/giving to financial services by donating 10% of revenue to charitable giving around microloans and mentoring for low-income Americans to start businesses — and serving as a platform for easy giving by customers as well.
Andrei Cherny is co-founder and CEO of Aspiration, a new trust-based investment community that launched in 2014. Aspiration is dedicated to democratizing the financial world by bringing elite investments to everyday investors in a way that marries profit with philanthropic purpose. Andrei brings to this role nearly twenty years of experience as an advisor to some of America’s top companies, the co-founder and president of a media start-up, a financial fraud prosecutor, a bestselling author, a senior White House aide, and a nationally-recognized economic policy expert.
For more than a decade, Andrei provided strategic advice for companies such as Microsoft, Intel, Qualcomm, Bank of America, and American Express both at his own firm and as a Managing Director at Burson-Marsteller, one of the world’s largest communications firms.
Andrei is the co-founder and president of Democracy, a print and online public policy journal launched in 2006 to bring new thinking on the major issues facing America and the world. Today, Democracy has over 300,000 unique visitors a year. Under Andrei’s leadership, Democracy worked with then-law professor Elizabeth Warren to develop the idea of and strategy for launching the push for the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau which now promotes fairness for mortgages, credit cards, and other consumer financial products and services.
As a former Assistant Arizona Attorney General, Andrei prosecuted complex financial fraud and corporate crime with a 100% conviction record.
Working in the Clinton White House, Andrei was the youngest White House speechwriter in American history. President Clinton has called him a “critical part of the team” which brought about the economic successes of the 1990s.
Andrei has served as a Senior Fellow at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government and at the Center for American Progress. He has written frequently on economic, technology, and business issues for publications such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Investors’ Business Daily, and the Financial Times and has appeared on television programs including ABC’s Good Morning America and World News Tonight, CBS’s The Early Show, The O’Reilly Factor, and The Colbert Report.
Andrei’s first book, The Next Deal: The Future of Public Life in the Information Age (2000) examined how business, government, and community life will change to meet the challenges of the 21st century New Economy. The Los Angeles Times called the book “visionary in scope” and the Financial Times reported that The Next Deal had “become required reading” in British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s government. He is also the author of the bestselling The Candy Bombers: The Untold Story of the Berlin Airlift and America’s Finest Hour (2008) on the intersection between the end of World War II, the beginning of the Cold War, the 1948 presidential election, and the Berlin Airlift. It was called like “Stephen Ambrose at his best” by historian Douglas Brinkley and is one of the top 50 highest rated 20th century American histories on Amazon.
Andrei served eight years as an officer in the United States Navy reserve. He graduated with honors from Harvard College and from the University of California Berkeley Law School.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
Eric Stowe saw a problem in the developing world and did something about it. He saw a need for clean water in the slums and created Splash, a nonprofit organization, to solve the problem.
“While working in orphanages internationally, I became aware of the crucial need for clean water for kids on the periphery in urban areas,” Stowe explains. “Hotels and restaurants had access to clean water, but across the street, children at poor schools and orphanages did not. It was, and continues to be, an easy problem to fix by leveraging economies and infrastructure that already exist rather than re-creating the wheel.”
Stowe’s Splash has some audacious goals: provide clean water to every orphanage in China, every public school in Kathmandu, Nepal and every “child-serving” institution in Kolkata, India.
“We want to put Splash out of business by 2030. Our ultimate goal is to ensure local success happens on its own time, on its own terms, through its own talent, and with its own funding. Charity is a means to that – it cannot be the end,” Stowe concludes.
On Thursday, August 13, 2015 at noon Eastern, Stowe will join me here for a live discussion about his efforts to provide clean water in Urban areas where it is desperately needed. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about Splash:
Splash is a field-leading WASH (Water, Sanitation & Hygiene) organization focused on urban environments and, specifically, the poorest children within them. Splash works with the public, private and social sectors in Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, India, Nepal and Thailand to create lasting and local safe water solutions for orphanages, schools, clinics and shelters.
Eric Stowe is Founder & Executive Director of Splash. He has worked in the international NGO sector for the last 15 years and is much-watched for his leadership in international development, transparency practices, and business-approaches to solving conditions of poverty.
This post was originally produced for Forbes.
The world’s first-ever Development Impact Bond has been issued to support education of girls in India. This proof of concept financing could open a new channel of funding for the international development programs.
Modeled on social impact bonds or pay-for-success programs, the Educate Girls Development Impact Bond funded by the UBS Optimus Foundation will earn its return only if educational outcomes in terms of literacy and numeracy among girls are achieved.
Phyllis Costanza, CEO of UBS Optimus Foundation, explains, “Our aim is to establish a proof of concept’, showing potential donors and investors how development impact bonds can contribute to societal gains while also still offering financial returns.”
“What’s different about the Educate Girls Development Impact Bond is that is 100% focused on the outcomes achieved,” she adds. “It’s not just about getting marginalised girls into school; it’s about keeping them there – and ensuring they make real progress in literacy and numeracy.”
“Investors are increasingly looking for ways to do good with their money and the development community is placing a greater emphasis on results: the Development Impact Bond sits at the nexus of these two trends. If this experiment works, then future impact bonds could go on to create investable solutions for the underserved and those at the bottom of the pyramid,” Costanza concludes.
On Thursday, August 6, 2015 at 2:00 Eastern, Costanza will join me for a live discussion about this innovative new financing mechanism for international development. Tune in here then to watch the interview live. Post questions in the comments below or tweet questions before the interview to @devindthorpe.
More about UBS Optimus Foundation:
UBS Optimus Foundation’s vision is simple: a world where all children reach their full potential. To make this a reality, the UBS Optimus Foundation focuses on high-impact, innovative programs that help ensure children are safe, healthy, educated and ready for their futures. The Foundation can increase the reach of donations substantially by leveraging through its global network. And 100% of all donations go to the programs, because UBS covers all the Foundation’s administration costs.
Phyllis Costanza was appointed CEO of the UBS Optimus Foundation in 2011. Optimus is UBS’ in-house Foundation dedicated to helping our clients fund impactful philanthropic programs that improve children’s lives globally. She has been instrumental in reshaping the foundation’s strategy and introducing innovative financing vehicles, like the first Development Impact Bond. Prior to UBS, she was a senior executive and Board Member of the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), a UK-based philanthropic organization, linked to the hedge fund TCI. Phyllis also has more than a decade of experience as a management consultant, and also worked in the public sector as the Manhattan Representative for New York State Governor Mario Cuomo, advising on policy and politics in Manhattan. She holds a Master’s in Public Policy from Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.
In the heart of one of the country’s most conservative small towns, just a few miles from the notoriously dry Brigham Young University, ensconced in the safety of a gated community, our host for the evening introduced us to the four felons he’d chosen to run his new nonprofit, The Other Side Academy.
Sitting in the living room of Joseph Grenny’s 10,000 square-foot home with fifty other guests, I struggled to grasp the full message I was being presented. I kept tripping over the irony of the wealthy benefactor who had so successfully protected himself from ever having to think about—let alone fear—a criminal choosing to enter their world in hopes of redeeming them.
Having learned of Mimi Silbert’s Delancey Street Foundation in San Francisco, Grenny, the bestselling author, who has studied and written about influencers like Silbert, decided Utah needed something like Delancey Street.
The managing director of The Other Side Academy, which will be closely modeled on Delancey Street’s proven approach, is being built with an overarching goal: scale. Grenny, and his partner, Tim Stay, not only hope to create a successful program in Utah, but to roll it out nationwide—and then internationally.
The pair have chosen David Durocher to serve as the managing director for the Utah Center. He’s the perfect choice. Before spending eight years at Delancey Street in Los Angeles, he spent 15 years in prison over four stays with very brief stints on the outside, once lasting only 59 days. His first arrest came at age 13. His last five years at Delancey Street he served as the managing director for a facility with 250 people.
The Delancey Street model has been proven successful over thirty-plus years. The system requires that those who choose to come and stay work hard, typically at low-skilled jobs that teach them how to become constructive members of society. Most participants never have been before. Delancey Street operates several small businesses run by rehabilitated ex-convicts, addicts and others who’ve hit bottom and are willing to do the hard work required to prepare themselves to lead productive lives.
Durocher will be joined by Alan Fahringer, Lola Zagey and Martin Anderson, also alumni of the Delancey Street program.
The Delancey Street program is described on the website as follows:
There is no official staff at Delancey Street. Everyone who comes in works his or her way up into some sort of position in which he/she is learning a new job from the person over them who has held that job before, and teaching the job he/she has now to the newer resident. In this way, everyone at Delancey Street is pulling together toward the same goals. No one is simply a receiver; everyone is a giver as well.
The potential harmony of the Utah Mormon leaders, Grenny and Stay, playing with the ex-cons from Southern California rings with potential. The proven business acumen combined with the necessary track record of the operational directors leads one to conclude that it is possible to relatively quickly scale up a facility in Utah and then grow the model nationally.