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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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.

Hooked on giving

This is a guest post from Meredith James, Program Director of the One Percent Foundation.

Why do we give?

This question flummoxed Darwin and puzzled social scientists. Parts of evolutionary and economic theory are based on the principal that in order to survive and be successful, people must put themselves first, so why do we forgo our personal gains for benefit of others by engaging in charity?

Quite simply, giving feels good.

Members of the One Percent Foundation (OPF), regular Joes and Janes, willingly part with at least 1% of their income each month to participate in an online giving circle. They pool their resources with peers who are passionate about the same causes and decide collectively how to award the money. The collaborative nature of giving circles both amplifies financial impact and fosters a chance for members to share and learn from each other. It’s social, fun, and comes with the warm, fuzzy feeling of doing good. The potent combination of benefits has members hooked.


“Simply put — I’m addicted,” exclaims OPF member Marian Zizzo. “Becoming a partner at OPF has taught me how to give wisely and has exposed me to tons of nonprofits doing amazing work in this world. When I see how a small amount of money can make a big impact through our collective power, I get an overwhelming feeling of happiness. Today, philanthropy is a part of my everyday life and I crave it as much as a daily cup of coffee.”

Research from a recent study backs up what OPF hears anecdotally from members. It turns out that fuzzy feeling has a scientific basis and is very real. Dr. Bill Harbaugh at the University of Oregon researched how the brain activates during acts of charity, and was specifically looking for evidence of the “sense of agency associated with giving,” or in less technical terms, “warm glow.” According to Dr. Harbaugh, brain scans revealed that when study participants decided to be philanthropic, there was a neural response similar to that of receiving money. Further, the part of the brain that controls cravings for food and sex also activated during acts of charity. In a nutshell, the desire to help others is controlled by the same part of the brain that controls the desire to eat and procreate.

A separate study by Dr. Jordan Grafman showed that the brain might reward philanthropy so favorably because altruism and social relationships are connected. This makes sense because the benefits of social bonds motivate people to behave unselfishly. The OPF model taps into both giving and social networks, allowing members to not only connect with the causes they are giving to, but also to the people they are giving with.Former OPF circle member Janet Daly Bauman explains that she and her husband “like the feeling of community that comes with a giving circle because we can create friendships and have benefits beyond writing checks.”

The good feeling of giving can, quite literally, be habit-forming. Research shows that people who begin giving young are more inclined to give throughout their lifetimes. The OPF vision is to build the next generation of philanthropists and our circles are great places to start.Janet explains that prior to being in a circle, they rarely gave in an organized manner, but after joining OPF, “we were able to make philanthropy a habit and build it into our monthly budget.”

They have left the OPF circle, but are still actively involved in giving. “Now that we’re used to setting aside 1% annually, it’s easy to keep that going,” Janet notes.

Are you still unconvinced that giving makes you feel good? OPF operates a giving circle platform, where any group of people — from a book club, to a kickball team, to an alumni chapter — can sign up and donate together. Start your own! Or, take one of our established giving circles out for a spin. The Next Gen Circle, a national circle with rotating issue areas, is a great place to start. Start small, with 1% of your income, and experience for yourself how great it feels to give.

Meredith James, Program Director

Meredith holds a Masters of Public Policy from the University of Maryland, where she spent two years working as a graduate assistant for the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership. Currently, she is on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Road Runners Club. Prior to graduate school, Meredith worked for two years in the private sector for a print marketing firm. She has a dual-BS in International Business and Marketing from the University of Maryland. A Maryland native, she now resides in San Francisco, where she enjoys running in the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge and sampling the finest coffee and chocolate the city has to offer.

The Nature Conservancy CEO On Entrepreneurship For The Environment

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

When Mark Tercek took the reigns as CEO of The Nature Conservancy in 2008 he brought a new perspective. As a Managing Director at Goldman Sachs, Tercek’s career evolved into a focus on sustainability, recognizing the vast economic value of nature and the ability of business to actually contribute profitably to the health of the planet.

In Tercek’s book, Nature’s Fortune, How Business and Society Thrive in Nature, he explains how his experiences at Goldman Sachs and at TNC prove that protecting the environment makes economic sense. For example, he called attention to a shift in attitude at CocaCola, noting that in 2002 water was not listed as an important input in its annual report and by 2012, water had become a key focus. CocaCola has adopted a policy of “replenishment,” with the goal of creating ecological means of returning as much water to the environment as the company uses. Not to be outdone, Pepsi has promised to become “water positive.” Tercek explains the economics that have driven the shift and how preserving and restoring the natural environment can be much more affordable than “gray infrastructure,” man-made remedies like levies, dikes and sea walls.

On Monday, February 3, 2014 at 3:00 Eastern, Tercek will join me for a live discussion about the role of business and entrepreneurs–and others–in the effort to protect the environment and turn back climate change.


Mark Tercek, CEO of the Nature Conservancy (Photo credit: Fortune Live Media)

Tune in here and listen while you work.

According to a Nature Conservancy Magazine article about Tercek, first sought to leave Goldman Sachs in 2005 to pursue work focused on the environment, but Chairman Henry Paulson convinced him to stay by inviting him to form a new group, the Goldman Sachs’ Environmental Strategy Group, where he could work on his passion. When the opportunity came up, however, to head The Nature Conservancy in 2008, he jumped at the chance.

Tercek attributes his desire to work for the preservation of the environment to his role as a parent. “I want to be able to look my kids in the eye,” he says, “and tell them I did all I could to leave the world a better place.”

Before beginning his 24 years at Goldman, Tercek completed an MBA at Harvard after earning a BA at Williams College.

This interview is part of a series that will examine what can be accomplished in the fight to solve the world’s biggest challenges within the next thirty years. The solution to every big problem also presents opportunities entrepreneurs will exploit to change the world. From this series of interviews, a book, working title: Thirty Years to Peace, will emerge.


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

Where Does Crowdfunding Go From Here? Experts Explain

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Crowdfunding is a genuine phenomenon. If you include—as many people do—the newly created market for “private issuers publicly raising” or PIPRs using the new SEC rules allowing general solicitation of accredited investors allowed under the 2012 JOBS Act signed by President Obama, 2014 could see over $10 billion of crowdfunded transactions. Crowdfunding is going mainstream.

Beyond scale, the impact on the economy, the venture capital industry and on entrepreneurs—especially women and minorities—is intriguing. Slava Rubin, the founder of crowdfunding giant Indiegogo, put it this way:

2013 was a banner year for crowdfunding as we saw the world grow increasingly comfortable voting with their dollar to fund what matters to them. At Indiegogo, the number of campaigns on our platform grew across industries and geographies. Since equity crowdfunding hit the national agenda two years ago, Indiegogo has grown by more than 1000%, clearly demonstrating that democratizing funding is a great thing for our economy.

Last week VentureBeat published a list of the 100 most influential thought leaders in the crowdfunding community. They identified 800 people and ultimately ranked 30 as the most influential people in rapidly growing industry. I was excited to be included on the list at number 16 and took the opportunity to reach out to several of those on the list, including Rubin, to get their take on crowdfunding’s future.


English: , founder of venture capital firm Draper Fisher Jurvetson, widely recognized creator of “viral marketing” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In order to get a read on the impact that crowdfunding will have on the venture capital industry, I asked famed VC Tim Draper of Draper Fisher Jurvetson to comment.

I am excited by the possibilities of a broader marketplace for capital. I believe that there is a better way to raise money for startups, and crowdfunding shows great promise.

I expect a lot of entrepreneurs will have an easier time getting money for their businesses, and I expect venture capitalists to have more competition from angels. I also expect over the long haul that companies may be able to go public without actually going through the investment banking gauntlet.

I am excited to see the opportunities that crowdfunding creates. I expect venture capital to be completely transformed over the next decade. I hope the government gives clear direction here. We voted in the JOBS Act, but there is not clear direction on all the aspects yet.

Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-NC) receives much of the credit for helping to pass the JOBS Act in 2012 with broad bipartisan support in the House of Representatives. The historic legislation completely changes the landscape for small investors, including accredited investors who have not traditionally invested in privately issued securities. I reached out to him to gauge Congressional interest in tweaking crowdfunding rules. He seems ready to go.

Friction and costs determine which securities exemption our nation’s startups and small enterprises exercise when raising capital – or whether they can to begin with. Attentive to the comments and concerns by leaders in disruptive finance, who have expressed to policymakers and the Securities Exchange Commission that the Commission’s crowdfunding proposal shortchanges our nation’s potential to democratize finance and unlock opportunities for everyday entrepreneurs, I am prepared to revisit and rectify legislative missteps of the JOBS Act.

I firmly believe that the power of crowdsourcing and equity-crowdfunding has only scratched the surface as a democratic means to discovering our nation’s best and brightest. As charitable and donation-based crowdfunding continually matures and invests billions of dollars in small enterprises, I am ready to defend well-designed rules for equity-crowdfunding that empower traditionally overlooked innovators – such as women and minorities – and propel the democratization of finance, unlocking new opportunities for investors and startups for generations to come.

Indiegogo’s Rubin is certainly one of the most prominent voices in the crowdfunding world. He commented for Forbes on the company’s recent results and future strategies:

The potential for equity crowdfunding is very exciting. Indiegogo has been strongly in favor of equity crowdfunding since we pioneered perks-based crowdfunding in 2008. Equity crowdfunding is a key step on our mission toward democratizing finance by allowing people not only to fund, but to invest in what matters to them.

We certainly expect that equity crowdfunding has the chance to be a major part of our business. Adding equity crowdfunding would allow Indiegogo to welcome a new segment of funders motivated by profit. That said, we have a robust and rapidly growing perks-based business at Indiegogo without equity. Since one of the biggest reasons people turn to Indiegogo is to raise non-dilutive capital, we expect such range of needs to remain wide in a post-equity crowdfunding world.

We have been doing research on how to use equity crowdfunding since our inception and even represented the crowdfunding industry at the White House during the signing of the JOBS Act. Since then, we have played a crucial role working with the White House and the SEC to finalize the rules and regulations. Today, we continue to do research and seek clarity as we look to move forward.

At this point, it’s too early to tell how Indiegogo would incorporate equity crowdfunding into our platform. We are actively involved with the SEC and other key stakeholders, but will need to learn more before deciding how we might implement equity. This is something we plan on actively exploring in 2014.

Indiegogo will continue on its path toward becoming a permanent fixture of the financial ecosystem. We envision a world where access to capital is democratized and passionate people around the world are empowered to bring their dreams to life with the help of like-minded individuals. The pending change in regulations to allow equity crowdfunding will certainly expand opportunities for people within the United States. We have been consistently taking feedback from our customers and the general public about how we can improve Indiegogo, as it relates to investing and other forms of fundraising, and we will continue to optimize and modify the product with this customer focus.

Kendall Almerico, founder and CEO of FundHub, a firm that provides services to the crowdfunding community and operates his own crowdfunding site, ClickStartMe, commented on his passion for crowdfunding and the surprises he says we shouldn’t expect:

I have spent many years as a lawyer helping people start businesses. Before 2008, I could call a bank and help an entrepreneur get a line of credit or I could go to angel investors and arrange for startup capital. When banks stopped lending and angels moved away from startups, it left everyone who wanted to start a small business without startup capital.

When I read about the JOBS Act, I knew that equity crowdfunding done the right way could bring back the American Dream for those new small businesses. Since then, I have worked hard to educate the public about crowdfunding and the opportunities it brings for businesses, everyday investors and the economy in general. The thought of democratizing the investment process while building new businesses really excites me.

I constantly hear naysayers argue that selling securities online to everyday people through equity crowdfunding, instead of just to sophisticated investors as in the past 80 years, is going to create a great deal of fraud. I don’t believe it will. The SEC and FINRA will set in place safeguards making it difficult, and expensive, for anyone to raise funds for a fraudulent company. More importantly, “the crowd” has done a very good job policing fraud on rewards-based crowdfunding sites, and in equity crowdfunding offerings abroad. I think the instances of fraud occurring in equity crowdfunding will be few and far between.

Taken together, an interesting trend emerges. Traditional capital flows from nonprofits to investment banking are being disintermediated. People, causes and businesses that need capital have access through the internet, social media and crowdfunding platforms to capital that they simply could not access before. As this trend grows, crowds will demonstrate a different sort of wisdom, sometimes funding causes that foundations wouldn’t or entrepreneurs that VCs wouldn’t. Traditionalists argue that the crowd will simply make mistakes. We’ll see, won’t we?


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

Founder Of Authentity, Scott Tanksley, Working To Bring Good To Corporations

By working with corporations to engage employees in causes they actually care about, Authentity aims to change corporate social responsibility programs for good.

On Thursday, February 13, 2014 at 4:00 Eastern, Authentity founder Scott Tanksley will join me for a live discussion about the startup’s drive for social impact.

Tune in and listen while you work.

Scott’s bio:

Scott has 5 years experience in corporate real estate, 10 years in management and leadership coaching.
He loves a good game in almost any sport, and rarely meets an ice cream he can’t become best friends with. Scott and his family reside in Atlanta, Georgia.

Weirdest Food You’ve Eaten? Chocolate-covered ants and something in Romania I’m still not sure about.

First Music Concert? I think I was 10. Went to see Kenny Rogers with my mom and sister. Gambler!
Biggest Daring Thrill? Flying a fighter jet with a former Navy carrier pilot. Ready to go again!
Things That Make You Go, “Hmm?” Why is there only the word discombobulated? “I’m in a groove. I’m completely “bobulated!”

Video Interview Firm HireVue Launches WorldVue Project

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

Salt Lake-based HireVue is an Inc. 500 company that provides digital interview services at enterprise scale to nearly 20 percent of the Fortune 500. The company is launching a new service package called WorldVue that will be absolutely free of charge for qualified nonprofits, allowing them to use the platform for hiring and other strategic interactions across time zones and around the globe.

On Friday, January 24, 2014 at 7:00 PM, HireVue CEO Mark Newman will join me for a live discussion about the new offering.

Tune in and listen while you work.

At the scheduled time, the video will be embedded here for live viewing. A replay will be permanently available.

“Technology should help facilitate social good. Non-profits have suffered just as much as enterprise companies when it comes to archaic ways of identifying, interviewing and interacting with the best talent,” Newman said. “WorldVue can help build the world’s best non-profits by allowing volunteers to better identify how they can contribute, and by creating a better volunteer experience along the way.”

According to the company, WorldVue is already being implemented by VSO, a leading international development NGO that fights poverty through volunteers, which recruited nearly 700 volunteers last year for placements in more than 30 countries worldwide.


“Volunteers are at the heart of our organisation. We bring volunteers together with local partners to develop health and education services, opportunities to earn a living and to give poor people a voice. They share skills and experience to create lasting positive change worldwide,” said Ian Moffett, Selection and Induction Manager, VSO. “It’s important that volunteers have an excellent VSO experience from the moment they apply and that their skills are matched according to need with our local partners globally. WorldVue helps us achieve both missions.”

Can Your Coffee Save The World?

Thrive Coffee is working to change the world by helping peasant farmers growing coffee to participate in the ownership of the distribution channel, allowing them to share in the wealth they create.

Founder and CEO Michael Jones will join me on Friday, January 24 at 5:00 Eastern for a live discussion about their revolutionary work.

Tune in and listen while you work.

Michael’s bio:

After exiting a healthcare services company in January of 2011 that he had started ten years prior, Michael had planned to spend some long-needed time with his family while deciding what his next course in business would be. It was during this time that he was revisiting a conversation with his father-in-law, a long-time Blue Mountain coffee farmer in Jamaica, about the severe disadvantages in the value chain of coffee, that ultimately led to the creation of THRIVE Farmers – an innovative platform to change the world of coffee and align the interests of producers and consumers for the first time.

Michael is the quintessential entrepreneur, having founded and operated several privately held companies. He has managed high growth companies and has been successful in building significant market value for shareholders. Most recently, Michael founded Implantable Provider Group (IPG), a provider of market-based medical implant solutions that is delivered to payors, manufacturers, providers and patients. In his role as President/COO, Michael was named one of Atlanta’s top 25 entrepreneurs by Catalyst Magazine in 2008 (#4). Jones was selected because of his role in founding IPG and turning it into one of the country’s fastest-growing businesses. In 2008, Inc. Magazine ranked IPG as the sixth-fastest growing healthcare company in the country (1,500% three year growth rate) and the 138th fastest-growing overall. FORBES Magazine recently ranked IPG at #5 in its list of 100 Most Promising Companies in America.

Michael has been instrumental in raising capital from high profile private equity firms including Sequoia Capital, arguably the most revered venture capital firm in recent history due to its investments in Apple, Atari, Oracle, Cisco, Yahoo, Paypal, Google and others, who invested in IPG in early 2010. Michael’s background prior to IPG includes an early career in the financial services industry in corporate finance. He then segued into healthcare in the mid 90’s pursuing two other ventures.

Michael is married to Sharon, and they have three boys. They enjoy travel, cooking, and snow skiing.

Could We Incentivize Impact Investing?

UCLA professor Bhagwan Chowdhry thinks he’s got an idea that deserves some attention. He thinks he’s figured out a way for issuers of securities to impact investors to provide a guarantee of the social impact that would yield higher financial returns if social impacts aren’t met.

On Friday, January 24 at 1:00 PM Eastern, Professor Chowdhry will join me for a live discussion about his idea.

Tune in and listen while you work.

Professor Chowdhry’s bio:

Bhagwan Chowdhry is a Professor of Finance at UCLA Anderson where he has held an appointment since 1988.

Professor Chowdhry has also taught at the University of Chicago, University of Illinois at Chicago, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the Indian School of Business. He received his Ph.D. in 1989 from the Graduate School of Business at the University of Chicago. He also has an M.B.A. in Finance from the University of Iowa and a B.Tech. in Mechanical Engineering from Indian Institute of Technology.

His research interests, on which he has published several papers in finance and economics journals, are in International Finance and Corporate Finance and Strategy. He has been on the editorial board of a number of finance journals. He teaches International Finance, Corporate Finance and Financial Institutions at Anderson. He has also organized and taught Executive Education programs on Financial Derivatives, Corporate Risk Management and Valuation in Los Angeles, Singapore, Hong Kong, Mumbai, and Hyderabad.

Microfinance has been his recent teaching, research and applied interest. He has supervised several MBA student projects in Microfinance in the last several years and has taught an undergraduate seminar class and an MBA elective on the subject. He has developed a new model for “Franchising Microfinance” on which he has written a research paper and is studying the feasibility of implementing the model with a Microfinance Institution.

Professor Chowdhry has recently proposed Financial Access at Birth (FAB) initiative in which every child born in the world is given an initial deposit of $100 in an online bank account to guarantee that everyone in the world will have access to financial services in a few decades.

You can read about the initiative by clicking here..


Ph.D. Graduate School of Business 1989, University of Chicago
MBA Economics, Graduate School of Business 1989, University of Chicago
MBA Finance, 1983, University of Iowa
B.Tech. Mechanical Engineering, 1981, Indian Institute of Technology, India


Microfinance, Corporate Finance, International Finance, Strategy

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