Devin Thorpe, founder of the Your Mark on the World Center, calls himself a champion of social good. He writes about, advocates for and advises those who are doing good. He travels extensively to share his message as a keynote speaker, emcee and trainer. As a Forbes Contributor he covers social entrepreneurship and impact investing. His books on personal finance and crowdfunding draw on his entrepreneurial finance experience as an investment banker, CFO, treasurer, and mortgage broker helping people use financial resources to do good. Previously he worked on the U.S. Senate Banking committee staff and earned an MBA at Cornell.


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Rotarians Rally India To Remain Vigilant, Keep Immunizing Against Polio

Today, I joined a rally for polio immunization organized by Rotary here in New Delhi, India.

Let me tell you, it was quite a production. After a fair bit of formal, reciprocal congratulations among Rotary, the World Health Organization, local political leaders and others present, local performers danced for the dignitaries.


Following the dance, the Rotarians marched through the neighborhood with a few hundred school children in tow. Visiting Rotarians from England were seated on horses for the parade. A band played loudly to accompany the march. Everyone came out to see what was going on!


Children came out of their homes to see what was up; some even joined the parade.


One of the British Rotarians, Mike Yates, explained that there are three reasons that he’s been coming to India at least twice each year for the past ten years to support the fight to end polio rather than just send the money:

  1. Rotary is a service organization and not just a money-raising one; as a matter of principle, he says he feels he needs to do service.
  2. The local Rotarians get a boost from visiting international Rotarians. He notes that for local Rotarians, the polio fight is constant and they need emotional support.
  3. When international Rotarians visit, more children get vaccinated because people come out to see the odd-looking visitors.


Rotary and its partners, the World Health Organization, UNICEF, government and the Gates Foundation, are committed to continuing to immunize children against polio until the disease is eradicated from the entire planet.

'We're This Close' To Eradicating Polio Globally

The Rotary mantra in the fight against polio globally is “We’re this close.”


Devin Thorpe, Michelle, Kloempken, Mona Kharran, Deepak Kapur.

Inspired by our discussion about the remarkable global milestone in the effort to eradicate polio, we posed with a poster of Archie Panjabi to signal our belief that we are in fact “this close.”

Deepak Kapur may be the single individual most responsible for eradicating polio in India. For the last 13 years he has served as the National Chair of PolioPlus in India as a Rotary volunteer. I’ll share more of his insights in an upcoming Forbes piece.

Following our visit with Mr. Kapur, we met with Dr. Sunil Bahl of the World Health Organization. He’s been actively engaged in the fight for 20 years and feels rightfully proud to see polio defeated here in India.


Dr. Bahl is the manager of the National Polio Surveillance Project for India. He’s led the effort to track every case of polio, allowing teams to react quickly to each and every one.

Finally, we met with Nicole Deutsch, the Chief of Polio for UNICEF. She is new to India, but not to polio. She previously worked in Nigeria and was able to help us identify some of the unique challenges and applicable lessons for ending polio there.


Nicole Deutsch

Ultimately, a busy day ended on a positive note. “Yes, we can do this,” Deutsch said of ending polio in Nigeria. 

How Kokua Hospitality Made Their Mark in 2013

This is a guest post from Phil Tufano, Chief Operating Officer of Kokua Hospitality.


Phil Tufano, Chief Operating Officer of Kokua Hospitality

In the Hawaiian language, the word kokua translates to mean, “extending loving, sacrificial help to others for their benefit, not for personal gain.” At Kokua Hospitality, a hotel management firm based in Chicago, we are proud of our name and proud of the mission it represents – Giving to others. This is a mission we’re determined to live up to each and every day. For this reason, we are extremely proud of the accomplishment we made in 2013 through our philanthropic program, No Reservations Giving. In collaboration with Chartres Lodging Group, Kokua’s employees extended kokua to their communities through the No Reservations Giving program. It is an exciting new platform we launched for our staff and guests to help other people in need. The name of this program means let’s not hold ourselves back when we come across someone that can benefit from our help. Our mission is to leverage our hospitality management and investment expertise by supporting nonprofits that provide food, shelter and education to enhance the well-being of those in need.

Our employees are at the heart of No Reservations Giving. They are asked to “pay it forward” by volunteering their time and energy to groups that service our larger community. The company supports 20 paid volunteer hours per employee to benefit this worthy cause through building projects and fundraiser planning in each community. Each of our locations also sponsors annual “Volunteer Days” to promote our mission. Based on employee interests, our foundationengages in grant making, in which we match donations and regularly organize fundraisers. Our clients will be called on to support our causes through resource conservation in our hotels and donating funds that support our projects.

In 2013, No Reservations Giving supported organizations from food banks to Habitat for Humanity. As a result, the Kokua team volunteered more than 2,000 hours (equivalent to 83 days!) and donated approximately $15,000. Our donations helped families find comfort, security, and sweet dream in a home they call their own.

Past philanthropic efforts include raising significant funds for relief efforts at home and abroad, including New Orleans after the hurricane Katrina, Mumbai after the terrorist bombing of a hotel, and in Japan after the earthquake and tsunami. With 8 hotels currently under management/receivership, Kokua has matched more than 250 employee donations to a variety of charitable causes in all the markets it manages hotels including Chicago, San Francisco, Washington D.C., Honolulu, and Baltimore. We hope to continue to make our mark through No Reservations Giving and look forward to supporting other organizations that our team is passionate about.

Current participants include the DoubleTree by Hilton Chicago Magnificent Mile, The Allerton Chicago, Inn of Chicago, Aloft National Harbor, Embassy Suites Baltimore- Inner Harbor, and Hyatt Place Waikiki Beach. We encourage guests to inquire their front desk agent at our hotels to make a donation and to learn how they can help.


Indian Rotarian Devotes 30 Years To Polio Fight

Sajjan Goenka has been fighting polio since 1983. With polio eradicated from India—and all but three other countries in the world—he confessed to me today that when he accepted the Rotary International challenge to eradicate polio, he didn’t believe it could be done. No one did, he says.

imageDr. Mona Khanna of Fox 32 Chicago with Sajjan Goenka, photo by Devin Thorpe 

Goenka joined Rotary in 1968 and was first exposed to Rotary’s plan to end polio in 1983. The effort was formalized in India in the late 1980’s and Goenka was there to help organize the first rallies to bring attention to the need for universal immunizations. Over the years he has served as both a Club President and a District Governor.

In the early days, he says, Rotary took 100 percent of the responsibility, providing the volunteer manpower, the money and all of the infrastructure. Over the years, the Indian government has built up its infrastructure and the Gates Foundation has provided funding to help in the war on polio. Rotary continues to provide volunteers to staff and support the effort.

Goenka is a successful entrepreneur who says his company Texport Industries PVT. LTD, which exports garments to the U.S., does about $85 million in annual sales. He is a classic philanthropist who has devoted much of his time an energy to service, most often with, through and for Rotary.

His office is full of Rotary recognition and little else. In addition to the fight against polio, he and the Bombay West Rotary Club operate a health clinic here. He donated a school in his home town of Rajistan. Most recently, he is funding the Management Institute of Media Studies, a college-level program in both news and entertainment media.

His family foundation also operates health camps for poor people in Jhunjhunu, near Rajistan. The foundation provides health checkups, often in cooperation with the local Lion’s club, focusing on eye health and providing cataract surgeries. They also bring in heart, cancer and other specialists who see patients.

In cooperation with Rotary, Goenka funded the Rotary D.G. Goenka Blood Bank, named for his father. The bank collects and distributes 5,000 units of blood each year, serving ten hospitals in Mumbai.

Goenka is a remarkable Rotarian; it was a pleasure to meet him. I’ll be sharing more of his insights for finishing the global effort to end polio in an upcoming piece for Forbes.

Please forgive the following travel note.


As we zipped around Mumbai today, I shot the above photo that suggests the reverence Indians give cows. This one was wandering the streets apparently alone and unmolested.

New Venture Fund In Portland To Focus On Social Impact

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Carolynn Duncan is not your typical venture capitalist. No Harvard MBA. No Stanford pedigree. This music-major from Brigham Young University is marching to the beat of her own drum and making a difference while she’s at it.

Duncan is launching a $20 million venture fund, Northwest Social Venture Fund, to invest in technology startups with a social mission and less than $1 million in revenue. She plans to invest $500,000 to $3 million in series A rounds with such companies, according to Sustainable Business Oregon.

On Monday, February 17, 2014 at 1:00 PM Eastern, Duncan joined me to talk about her strategy for investing.

Tune in and listen while you work.

Duncan provided this overview of her firm and background:

The NorthWest Social Venture Fund is an impact fund that focuses on reducing suffering in the world through maximizing social & financial returns by investing in scalable social business opportunities. NWSVFund is aligned with the White House Grand Challenges mission, to tackle “ambitious but achievable goals”, and to work in partnership with entrepreneurs, engineers, and impact funds to identify and resolve civilization-afflicting problems.

Carolynn Duncan is the Founding Partner of the Northwest Social Venture Fund, and is also the CEO and Marathon Program Facilitator for TenX, an education company which runs and licenses financial literacy programs for high performance entrepreneurs & business leaders throughout the U.S., with program offices in the Northwest and Bay Area. Under Carolynn’s direction, TenX alumni have generated more than $24MM in revenues and funding since 2009.

Prior to TenX, Carolynn was affiliated with EPIC Ventures, a Salt Lake City-based venture capital firm, developed an entrepreneurial finance program and ran LivePitch events for FundingUniverse (now Lendio), assisted in launching the Eastern Idaho Entrepreneurial Center in partnership with BYU-Idaho and EPIC Ventures, founded the Hundred Dollar Business, was a founding employee of TagJungle, and worked at $3MM seed fund Provo Labs.

Prior to working in entrepreneurial finance, Carolynn worked as a communications specialist for DeseretBook, Granite Publishing & Distribution, Cedar Fort, Schooled Magazine, and Nomen Global Language Center. She has worked with at-risk youth through Utah Youth Village and the Casey Life Skills Program, volunteers as a “Big Sister” with Big Brothers, Big Sisters, is an advocate of Pathway, a distance learning program developed by BYU-Idaho, and has taught financial & employment literacy for young adults in the LDS Church. Carolynn has a Bachelor’s in Modern Dance, Music (Violin), and English (Literature/Creative Writing) from Brigham Young University-Idaho, and has done graduate work in entrepreneurship studies at Brigham Young University.

Arrived In India In Need Of A Shower

After nearly 30 hours of travel, I arrived in Mumbai, India this evening ready for a shower. This would be the perfect time for a selfie, but I’ll spare you the weary traveler photo.

Photo credit: Wikipedia

For better or worse, I remember when international travel implied a certain level of being disconnected from regular life. That is no longer the case. 

The hotel wifi connected easily, of course, my phone gets service here and so I have no excuse it seems. I found the 100+ emails in my inbox almost overwhelming. The fourteen hour flight suddenly seemed even longer by reflection.

Tomorrow I start my work with Rotary in earnest. We have several meetings planned with folks who can really help us understand just how India has been successful in eradicating polio.

The lessons from India are critically important. This isn’t just about congratulating Rotary, the Gates Foundation, the Government of India, UNICEF and the World Health Organization. The issue here is to understand how they did so that relevant lessons can be applied in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Nigeria, where polio remains endemic.

Beyond that, we need to understand which lessons from the eradication of polio can be applied to similar battles with HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. 

The world proved with small pox that we can eliminate deadly diseases. The work ahead is to figure out how to do it again and again, first with polio and then many other diseases.

Off To India To See The End Of Polio

Today, I am on my way to India to learn more about how that country eliminated polio. Its last case of polio occurred three years ago; as a result, the World Health Organization has declared India polio-free. Only three countries, Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan are considered polio endemic today.

Over the next ten days, I hope to post daily updates from my travel. I hope to do more than provide a travelogue, but reporting on my daily travel will be a part of my reports here.

The primary purpose of the trip is to write a report for Forbes that will not only review how Rotary, the Indian Government, the World Health Organization and the Gates Foundation worked together to end polio in India, but how those lessons can be applied in Pakistan, Nigeria and Afghanistan. I also hope to draw insights that will help the world deal with other scourges like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.

My travel began this morning hopping on the Trax light rail system in Salt Lake City, which runs conveniently from my home downtown straight to the airport. I still think it was unbelievably kind of the Federal Government to build me a personal shuttle to the airport. I was pleased to see hundreds of other people on “my” train this morning.

When I arrived at the airport, I was reminded of the nature of first world problems; the United Airlines reservation system was down for the first 30 minutes after I arrived, literally no one was able to check in for any flight.

Finally, the United personnel began issuing hand-written boarding passes. Having arrived 87 minutes before my scheduled departure, I wasn’t worried about making my flight—at least at first. Ultimately, the airline made a deal with TSA and I was scurried through the TSApre (super express) security line and got to my gate 30 minutes before the scheduled departure to Denver. The flight left 30 minutes late, but left me calmly approaching my connecting flight to Newark, where I will meet up with the rest of the little press contingent heading for Mumbai tonight.

My luggage was tagged with handwritten notes as well. It will be interesting—to say the least—to see if my bags arrive in Mumbai with me.

All things considered, I look forward to the experience of visiting India with an eye toward gaining even greater perspective about the nature of real problems.

Community Foundation Of Utah Makes Grants

On Valentines Day, the Community Foundation of Utah created a live competition for grants to Utah nonprofits. I was honored to be one of the 18 judges who evaluated the live pitches and helped to make the decision.

There were six finalists and all were impressively prepared and ready to go. Every organization that presented was doing something worthwhile.

The Community Foundation focused the competition on finding organizations that would use the grant to fund a new program that could become financially self-sustaining.

The Green Urban Lunchbox is a local nonprofit that has created a new program of gathering fruit from backyard urban fruit trees using volunteers. The fruit is shared with the tree owners, the volunteers and the balance is donated to local food banks. B-grade fruit is used to produce jams and jellies that are sold to help fund the program. The organization also prunes and treats the trees for the owners to improve the health of the trees and yield.

The Lunchbox requested $10,000 but the Foundation awarded the organization $20,000 to signal strong support for the new program.

The Salt Lake City Bicycle Collective is a local nonprofit that has become a best of breed organization, running a program called Earn-A-Bike for local youth. They come in to the shop and are given a bicycle frame. Over a period of several weeks, the youth learn how to repair a bike by rebuilding one—one they get to keep. The Collective generates revenue by receiving donated, used bicycles, restoring and selling them.

The Collective requested and received $20,000 to support the earn a bike program. 

It was both a pleasure and an honor to be a part of the process. It is wonderful to see the great people working to make our community better.

Brave Chick Partners with Not For Sale to Help Battle Human Sex Trafficking

This is a guest post from Jasmine Stanley.

Statistically, women are projected as the next generation of entrepreneurs and small biz leaders. They are also noted as fastest rising demographic of philanthropists, but what’s next? The newest faces in social enterprise, Brave Chick co-founders Janet Williams and Lejoi Reese Kinsey are combining fashion, life experiences and philanthropy to help educate and support minority women and bring attention to the social issues affecting them across the globe including the ever growing industries of modern day slavery and sex trafficking.


Pictured: Lejoi Reese Kinsey (Left) and Janet Williams (Right)

The concept of Brave Chick, an uplifting, positive collective that empowers every woman to be her authentic self, was originally inspired by the challenges that women of color face, but has since expanded to supporting women from all ethnicities. Described as a woman who is uniquely interesting and developing her inner and outer beauty, a Brave Chick is a modern woman who is growing, becoming self-aware and overcoming her fears.

Friends for more than 20 years Lejoi and Janet have always shared a love for style, fashion and creative things. While interacting with friends, family, colleagues, clients and patients in their respective fields over the years, they’ve realized that many women from all walks of life are privately struggling with issues that are negatively impacting them. Perceptions of women, standards of beauty, popular music, media, cultural pressures and norms are strong influences that often affect women negatively and can be difficult to deal with.


Brave Chick supports causes that find women and girls who are minorities within a minority and help them to become their truest, strongest and most beautiful selves. A vital part of the Brave Chick’s mission is to give back in a meaningful and tangible way. The concept is simple, for each product sold a portion of the proceeds will be gifted to a charitable organization or cause that supports the well-being, growth and development of women and/or girls. Currently partnering with non-profit Not For Sale each Brave Chick purchase helps bring restoration for the exploited, empower survivors of human trafficking and bring freedom to those who are enslaved. Not For Sale’s mission is to create a world where no one is for sale.

A social movement as well as a social enterprise, Brave Chick hosts informational workshops, power lunches and seminars in an effort to create a platform for open discussion among women sharing similar struggles. Some of the company’s most notable programming and campaigns include the annual B.E.A.M (Bravery Empowers and Motivates) Awards honoring influential fempreneurs and weekly Twitter #BraveChickChat that focuses on discussing controversial issues from images of women in media to financial literacy. Brave Chick believes that in order to realize one’s true potential it is essential to be your authentic self, especially if you’re going against the grain. That takes a great deal of courage and support and Brave Chick is in business to support that courage and strength that is required.

For more information about Brave Chick, check out our website, Follow us on Twitter (@BraveChickTweet),  and Instagram (@BraveChicks)! 

MWCN Executive Director, Cheri Farnsworth, Explains Mission

The MountainWest Capital Network is a Utah-based organization that seeks to expand capital markets for growing businesses in the state.

On Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 11:00 AM, MWCN Executive Director Cheri Farnsworth with join me to talk about the organization’s mission and upcoming events.


Tune in and listen while you work.

MWCN will recognize Tom Dickson, founder and CEO of Blendtec as its 2014 Entrepreneur of the Year. The celebration will be held on Thursday, February 20, 2014. Register here.

MWCN is holding its first ever Business Boot Camp, an intensive, all-day training event with some of the most experienced business leaders and thought leaders in Utah. (I’ve been invited to provide an intensive 30 minute session on equity crowdfunding to kick off the day. The event will be held Thursday, March 27, 2024. Register here.

Change The World With Your Own Hands: Artist and Activist Turns Trash to treasure

This is a guest post from Tatiana Pages of Greencard Creative.

Have you ever wondered what you can do to help save our planet? Many of us have the desire to make a positive impact on the environment so that our children and the generations that follow can enjoy the world as we do today, but we are not sure where to start.

It was this passion for social change that led New York-based activist and designer Tatiana Pagés to start a movement called Origomu. Pagés, Chief Creative Officer for branding and design firm Greencard Creative, incorporate art and design into every aspect of her daily life. Through Origomu, which is Japanese for “folding rubber,” she has transformed the simple act of recycling plastic materials into a form of creative expression.


Photo Credit: Tomas Reyes

Around the world, our oceans are littered with plastic debris. Today, more than 46,000 pieces of plastic litter are floating on every square mile of ocean. As a result of this growing problem, millions or sea birds and marine animals are harmed or killed. Many of these helpless animals get entangled in plastic six-pack rings.

Through her movement, Pagés aims to keep plastic off of our shores and inspires this environmental action through design by teaching and encouraging people to transform these six-pack rings into wearable art. To date, more than one million six-pack rings have been recycled and reused to create beautiful works of wearable art.

Origomu forces people to change their way of thinking and to become more open to possibilities. What one person might consider garbage, another considers a work of art. The Origomu philosophy is to inspire creativity and environmental action through design. Origomu goes beyond design and aims to empower low-income women and members of local communities to see beauty and potential in what others might dismiss as “junk.”

Origomu from Greencard Creative on Vimeo.

Greencard Creative uses Origomu as a business model for low-income women in need, particularly ex-convicts who needed a second chance, demonstrating that all people can be creative. Within the framework of the Origomu movement, Tatiana teaches workshops to female ex-convicts in New York City and is using the same model in both Ecuador and the Dominican Republic. The purpose of the Origomu workshops is to not only educate and teach high-end design skills, but to go beneath the surface to ultimately inspire creativity, motivate and encourage these teenagers to go beyond their limitless potential and bring optimism through the power of art, reinforcing self-esteem and a sense of community.

You can get involved too! Tatiana is asking you to send recycled six-pack rings here to help keep our shoes clean and protect our planet. You can also support the movement or become a sponsor by donating funds, hosting an exhibit, spreading the word, or even teaching your own workshop.


Photo Credit: Tomas Reyes

Today, you can make a difference - no matter how far you are from the nearest shore.

For more information on the Origomu movement please visit


Innovative Film Distribution Model Gives Money To Charity While You Watch For Free

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Last month, my local Rotary District 5420, joined the premiere of the new documentary film Beyond Right and Wrong. The event was organized by social entrepreneur Scott Windes of CauseBrands. The film was jawdroppingly inspiring. Centered around the lives of multiple people who have forgiven and befriended people who murdered family members, the film gives new meaning to the word “forgiveness.”

The film will be distributed initially in an inspiring way. A $500,000 pool of donations has been set aside and will be donated according to the direction of the first 1 million people to watch the film for free. Whenever people watch the film, they get to direct their share of the pool to one of several different approved organizations that is working for peace in the world. The organizations include The Malala Fund, Women for Women International, the Anasazi Foundation, Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory, Free the Children, and Peace Players International.

On Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 7:00 PM Eastern, I will be joined by filmmaker Lekha Singh, producer of Beyond Right and Wrong; Kweku Mandela, co-founder of Africa Rising and grandson of Nelson Mandela; and Lindsay Hadley, of Hadley Impact, who developed the plan to donate funds based on the choice of the viewers who watch the film for free. You can watch our live discussion below.

Tune in and listen while you work.

Nelson Mandela Statue – South African Embassy 34019 (Photo credit: tedeytan)

Singh’s bio:

Fine-art photographer Lekha Singh’s work offers insight into the human condition around the world. She contributed photographs to National Geographic’s The Other Side of War: Women’s Stories of Survival and Hope, and her photography books include Call to Love: In the Rose Garden with Rumi, Bhutan, and Pop-Up Pianos. She also executively produced the documentaries Squareand Midway. Singh made her directorial debut with the documentary film Beyond Right & Wrong.

Mandela’s bio:

Kweku was born in Transkei, South Africa and grew up in America only returning to his homeland in 1993.
He attended APA International Film School in Sydney with long-time collaborator Stefan Vincent. They are currently working on a number of projects together.

Kweku is very active in the South African Film and Entertainment industries, directing and producing projects with his South African production company Out Of Africa Entertainment and working on a variety of other locally produced films.

Recently, Kweku Executive Produced acclaimed Novel “The Bang Bang Club” into a feature film, was released in early 2011. He has worked with and Supported Oxfam Australia and Make Poverty History. In mid-2009 he co-founded Africa Rising with his cousin Ndaba Mandela and their dream of changing Africa’s image and fostering young leadership and partnerships around the world was started.

Hadley’s bio:

Lindsay Hadley has lived in Australia, Russia, and China and traveled to more than 35 countries. Early in her career, she facilitated dozens of international humanitarian projects in Kenya, Peru, Mexico, and Thailand. Since then, she has raised more than $20M for social causes. 

Lindsay executive produced The End of Polio Concert in Perth, Australia, and the Global Citizen Festival in 2012 and 2013 in Central Park, which – with a live audience of 60,000 and a worldwide media reach of more than 3 billion — is the largest charity event syndication to date. The mother of two small boys and the wife of a loving and supportive husband, Lindsay knows that relationships are most important in this life.

SECFC14: Let’s Scale Some Good

SECFC14, the most important conference of the year for do gooders interested in learning more about crowdfunding for accelerating and increasing social impact is coming!

The second annual Social Enterprise and Crowdfunding Conference is scheduled for September 26, 2014 at Snowbird, Utah. Be sure to save the date!

The theme for this year’s conference will be, “Let’s Scale Some Good!”

"Devin put on an amazing conference! Informative speakers…. genuine authentic people. .. great connections…. awesome food and snacks.. do whatever it takes to come next year. That is the best tip I ca give you. See you there." ~Wendy Robbins, CEO of RedCapes

"It was great to have so many bright and like minded people in one place. Intriguing conversations and presentations." ~Jeremy Lund, Impact Investor and Philanthropist

"The conference was filled with innovators and change makers! Definitely something that everyone should attend and become a part of." ~CEO of ReturnonChange

"The SECFC13 was a wonderful experience. I am so glad I had the opportunity to participate, and I can’t wait for next year! Thank you, Devin, Richard and team for a first rate event." ~Cheryl Snapp Conner, CEO & Founder of Snapp Conner PR

Beginning today, you can register for a VIP pass that includes access to the reception for speakers and sponsors and the VIP dinner for just $99. A conference only ticket is just $45. Register today!

Facing Critics? Consider The Source

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

As a social entrepreneur you are likely to face a criticism. In fact, if you are a person who does anything—or nothing—you will face critics.

One of the great lessons I’ve learned in the last few years as I’ve embarked on a new career in the second half of my life, is that your friends won’t tell you the truth you need to hear—they’ll praise your effort when you stink and flatter you when you are mediocre. Strangers provide an invaluable service in appraising our work honestly, allowing us to see what actually needs to be improved.

To that lesson, however, must be added the corollary. Some critics are idiots.

You must ponder every piece of honest criticism to make your own judgment about its worth to you. The information you need to fix your process, refine your device, polish your delivery or otherwise perfect your product may be found in honest feedback.

On the other hand, if you spend all of your time practicing your pitch, you’ll never actually do anything. Some advice must simply be ignored.

Consider the following reviews. All of the following are copied verbatim, spelling and grammatical errors included. Every review is for a book that is hugely popular and/or widely considered a classic. Most reviewers used pseudonyms, which I have linked to the original review on Amazon.

various e-book readers. From right to left iPad (Apple、2010) kindle DX (Amazon、2009) kindle 2 (Amazon、2009) kindle 1 (Amazon、2007) PRS-505 (Sony、2007) PRS-500 (Sony、2006). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“Maybe I am just a partially effective person.”

“This was not helpful for me. Maybe I am just a partially effective person. Not sure. I may go back and skim the book periodically, just to be proactive, but probably not, because I don’t want to bring my iPad into the bathroom.” J. Unger on The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, with 15 million copies sold.


“Great book, but way overpriced.” Gus on How To Win Friends and Influence People, for which Gus likely paid the list price of $2.99 and which has sold more than 15 million copies.

“The guy babbles on…”

“This Book Was A Waste Of Time. The guy babbles on about a ‘secret’ that he says he will not name, but instead will give you a bunch of stories of people using the “secret” to succeed. The ‘secret’ this book is based on is ‘determination’ and truely believing you can acomplish something. so if you’ve ever read the definition of determination in a dictionary, you can skip reading this book.” Bookworm Danny on Think and Grow Rich, one of the bestselling books of all time.

A sucking piece of crap

“It sucks! I thought that this book was the worst peace of literature to be put out on the book stands. it was a piece of crap!” on All the President’s Men, which Time called “perhaps the most influential piece of journalism in history.”

“Ended up playing solitaire”

“I tried and tried to read this book but ended up playing solitaire every time. Unless you are into extreme running and the anthropology of an obscure Mexican tribe, skip this book.” Diverse Interests on Born to Run, which was on the New York Times bestseller list for four months and is listed among Amazon’s 100 must reads.


“This is a terrible book. I read this for a leadership class I was in and it was one of the most unteresting books I have ever read.” Paul Miller on Man’s Search for Meaning, which is today one of the 100 bestselling books at almost 60 years after it was first published.

“Boring” and “rambling”

“I don’t know why this book is supposedly literary genius because I found it to be very boring. Most of the book was rambling rather than anything to do with the plot.” Boring on The Great Gatsby, a book that has been described as “The Great American Novel.”

Not factual enough

“This was not a book. It was nothing more than a long newspaper article. Not only was it a surface most brief coverage of the topic, it was suspect in some of its ‘facts’ Total rip off!!!” Bo on The Hunger Games, an extraordinarily popular work of fiction that led to a similarly popular movie.

“Snot-nosed monster”

“I cannot believe this book is a best seller. Max, the protagonist, is a wild, rude, annoying, little snot-nosed monster. The last thing I want is for my child to model her behavior after him! My daughter received this as a gift and it is now in the trash because I could not bring myself to give it away to another child.” A Customer on Where The Wild Things Are, the classic children’s book included on Amazon’s list of 100 favorite books.

“We should try to get this book banned”

“Ugh! This book if full of horrible, contradicting stories! The people in this book are very degrading to women and seem to have sex with whoever they want, whenever they want. And women are the property of men? Gag me. And this God character is supposed to be loving and kind and forgiving, but he makes those two bears rip apart all those children in a bloody massacre – just because they made fun of some bald guy?? What happened to forgiveness and turning the other cheek? This is a horrible book full of immoral stories and atrocious “teachings”. We should try to get this book banned from all libraries!” E. Taylor on The Holy Bible.

Of course, almost everyone who reads this article will agree with one or more of these reviews. That’s fine. You—and they—are entitled to your opinions. The books have been fabulously successful despite the criticism, fair or not. The point here is not to debate literature, but to recognize that if you are trying to do something—especially if you are trying to do something good—you must be prepared to receive criticism and then move on. Your success and the impact you seek to have in the world depends, in basketball terms, on your ability to pivot when necessary and shoot when you can. As Michael Jordan said, “you miss every shot you don’t take.”

Social Entrepreneurs In Seattle Are Scaling To Change The World

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Michael “Luni” Libes is the founder of Fledge, an accelerator for social entrepreneurs in Seattle that has already launched some remarkable social enterprises.

Community Sourced Capital is one the “Fledglings,” the startup companies launched at Fledge. The company created a crowdfunding platform for making zero interest loans for local, community-based businesses.

Close to Home, another Fledgling company, is a marketplace for post-disaster shelters designed to keep people in our near their homes during reconstruction. Close to Home has three models, including one with kitchen and bathroom that can be used for up to two years.

On February 3, 2014 at 6:00 Eastern Libes will join me for a live discussion with some of the executives from his Fledglings, including Casey Dilloway and Rachel Maxwell of Community Sourced Capital and Rachel Stamm and Jennifer Williams of Close to Home.

Tune in and listen while you work.

Libes’s bio:

Luni is a serial entrepreneur who over the past two decades has helped build six start-ups, five of which he founded: Ground Truth (mobile analytics), Medio Systems (mobile search), Mforma (mobile gaming and applications), 2WAY (enterprise collaboration), and Nimble (pen computing).

Luni is an Entrepreneur in Residence and Instructor at the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, and author of “The Next Step: Guiding you from Idea to Startup”

Luni is a co-creator and organizer of #SocEnt Weekend, a hands-on, action-based, 50 hour weekend event for creating impactful companies.

Most recently, Luni is the founder of Fledge LLC, the “conscious company” incubator. Fledge accelerate companies meeting the needs of the large and growing number of environmentally, socially, community and sustainable conscious consumers.


Michael “Luni” Libes

Maxwell’s bio:

I’m all about giving back to communities. We need to move capital in the direction of things we value. CSC helps everyone create real value with their money.

DIlloway’s bio:

Right now, I’m focused on building a sustainable finance company that helps small businesses borrow money directly from people in their community. We launched the business in the summer of 2012 with the help of Fledge, the conscious company incubator.

Besides CSC, I’m excited to be part of some of the most vibrant socially and environmentally-focused business communities in Seattle including the Bainbridge Graduate Institute, HUB and Social Venture Partners.

Stamm’s bio:

Rachel has an MBA in Sustainable Systems & a Certificate in the Sustainable Built Environment, both from Bainbridge Graduate Institute, & 13 years experience in housing people as a Seattle Real Estate Broker.

An advocate for the necessary shift toward a sustainable built environment, Rachel understands the impact that the space in which we spend our time has upon our health, mindset and spirit. Rachel is invested in making the business case for sustainable, healthy housing that supports, in multiple ways, the people in need of emergency housing. She believes this work is a social justice issue.

Williams’s bio:

Jennifer has 18 years experience working in the mental health field (providing various clinical services such as therapy and care management.) She understands the importance of listening to clients’ needs as a way to assist them in discovering solutions and meeting goals. Here at Close to Home, she feels her role is very similar: tuning in to customer post-disaster housing needs and problems and matching them with the most appropriate shelter solutions.

Jennifer is excited to be a part of Close to Home because she believes disaster housing can be accomplished in a more cost-efficient, humane and sustainable manner.


Please help me continue this conversation below, on Twitter or on my personal website.

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