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 The mission of the "Your Mark on the World Center" is to solve the world's biggest problems before 2045 by identifying and championing the work of experts who have created credible plans and programs to end them once and for all.
Crowdfunding for Social Good
Devin D. Thorpe
Devin Thorpe

Monthly Archives: April 2018

The Cure For CTE

This is a guest post from Cameron Siskowic.

My name is Cameron Siskowic. I am a proud Las Vegas citizen and I played in the NFL and CFL. In 2017 I organized 14 different charity events in 10 countries. I have raised over $550,000 building five fully functional government schools and the Dan Siskowic Medical Center in Cambodia. Friends and I have also paid for dozens of kids to receive full cancer treatments in the Philippines and we most recently built The Cambodian Field of Dreams Futbol Stadium.

I come from 5 generations of College football players. In fact, my Great Great Grandfather, Sam Willaman, was the head coach at Ohio State and Iowa State where he made the bold decision to play the second African American Football player. That player was tragically and controversially killed in just his second game. His name was Jack Trice. The Jack Trice Stadium at Iowa State is the only stadium named after an African American player. The decision didn’t work out very well at the time but was the perfect lesson that showed how doing the right thing is always worth it in the end. That specific lesson gave me the courage to stand up at the Las Vegas Stadium Authority meeting in hopes of saving thousands if not millions of lives.

My Great Great Grandfather also played with the first ever Native American Jim Thorpe. He was Jim’s back up running back on the Canton Bulldogs that won the 1917 Ohio League Champion. The NFL non-profit organization was the direct predecessor of the Ohio League. I have a birthright to be enraged about what those in power have chosen to do with the game that my family helped create. However I am not spiteful, nor am I asking for any money. I simply realize there is a massive opportunity to help millions of people in our country with CTE and I am truly inspired to help the Veterans who have fought for my freedom and gave me this chance to speak out about these issues.

We are losing lives in football. Enough misdirection, lies and deceit from the NFL. We need to save the sport and work on finding a cure before we rush into building the greatest public subsidized stadium of all time. I cannot sit back and let our children’s children continue to glorify a league that has no interest in helping find a cure for the men who helped build it.

Too many of my friends are suffering from the ailments caused by repetitive football concussions that lead to the newfound disease Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). If we can find a cure, or at the very least work towards one, we can get back to focusing on all of the positive disciplines football can bring to our country.

The Raiders and the NFL have a unique chance to focus on positive steps to help millions of people find a cure and enhance both the brand of the NFL and the Raiders. I would ask for funds to come from all professional sport leagues, not only the MLS, the CFL, and Boxing but those leagues have not been proven to have covered-up vital information from the American public and profited billions of dollars because of it. I am going to start by appealing to the more noblemotives of Roger Goodell and Mark Davis and ask that they make the decision out of their own free will to fund studies before the start of the 2018 season and help find a cure for CTE.

The NFL profits 10 Billion a year so a mere 10% of that should be a the minimum the American people can accept. Everyone can agree there needs to be more studies, more information, and a cure found quickly. So here is some of the whole story Las Vegas citizens, citizens of our country, and international visitors should be aware of…

750 Million Dollars is the largest public subsidiary for a stadium in the history of the United States of America. I have seen the city grow into America’s tourism capitol and I would like to continue to see our city prosper. That is why I will not allow this city to be named, and branded as the city of the Raiders without them taking the time to truly consider what is important for the identity of our nation right now.

In a time where Roger Goodell organized one of the most profitable cover ups in human history and somehow still has complete power at a time where the great culture of the sport of football is tarnished by those who continue to hide critical safety information from the public. We need to come together against one common enemy (CTE).

Massive lawsuits are inevitably coming against the NFL while more shocking studies are released. It goes without saying that the NFL is in for countless lawsuits and claims no matter what. The public needs to consider the football mother who reluctantly agreed to let her son play with the risk of breaking a leg, not a degenerative brain disease. The public should consider: Is this this is really the league we should be paying a record amount of money to bring to town.

This is not about an absolute mess of a settlement and claims process. This is about finding a cure for CTE. That is it. The brain is the most malleable and regenerative part of our body. Let’s focus on one goal everyone can agree on. Plain and simple. Finding a cure for CTE.

HELLO! PARDON THE INTERUPTION! Herman Edwards, Tony Kornheiser, and Michael Wilbon, One hero is needed to start standing up for football players suffering from CTE. One hero in the media can change the whole world for the better 10X in a flash if they would take risk.

The public must realize this is the chance for the United States of America to Unite against one common enemy? The buck stops here. Here meaning Las Vegas. The city that said we are OK with walking away from $25 million as long as we are teaching our children to look up to brands and businesses that inspire fans for all the right reasons. The Raiders have invested 179 Million. We just rushed into investing the first 25 of 750 Million.

The citizens of Las Vegas need to have an open discussion about paying a record amount to bring a league to town that does not set forth a good example for our children. We also need to open our eyes and at the deal of the century the Raiders currently have to come here.

The Raiders are currently worth 2.1 Billion Dollars. The 20th most valuable team in the NFL. That number can go up or down in a big way over the next two years based on how they handle this complicated opportunity to change the world.

What can we do right now to have the biggest positive impact? Let’s move away from pointing fingers about what is going wrong with this complete sham of a settlement and mess of a deal and focus on one common enemy. No, not Roger Goodell. Let’s focus on fighting CTE.

The principals of football can teach lessons of discipline, strategy, sacrifice, perseverance, and extreme courage. These disciplines have flat out helped our country win wars when we needed it most. Where some see a problem, I see an opportunity.

We can spark millions of people back into living productive and meaningful lives. Or we can continue to pretend, pretend CTE is not happening and that everything is fine. Maybe it is easier for us to be sedated. I believe we should all now realize that staying quiet and saying nothing and doing nothing does not work. The worst kind of action is inaction. Since the movie Concussion came out, we should all be fighting for a cure. Two of the most common symptoms of CTE is impulse control and fatigue. It is easy to choose to just watch Netflix and drink a nice glass of whiskey in your spare time. I am asking the former NFL players and NCAA players to realize that it is probable that they have or will have these minor issues and to come together while they still have the bandwidth to stand up and speak about this glaring issue that our society should not and cannot accept.

The Father’s and Mother’s of America need to look out for their sons. Parents who were tricked, in a cover-up, into allowing their sons to play must demand a cure to save their children’s lives and the sport they loved. This article explains that the NFL Settlement is just the Cover-Up on a much deeper level. We can all continue to argue and point fingers at fraud, or we can focus on the disease itself and work quickly to find a cure. We need the funds from the NFL and the billionaire owners, who profited from the cover-up, to be bold and take the chance to become hero’s and save the day. Then again, maybe a full Boycott from the fans and strike from the players is the only thing the owners and the NFL are going to respond to before things get out of control.

It’s all about the year 2020

10% of profits going toward finding a cure for CTE before the start of the 2018 season and preventing the fire storm before it gets lit is a much better option than what will happen in 2020 when the stadium actually opens. The players in 2020 will inevitably strike if nothing is done to genuinely search for a cure by then. Imagine a future with a world class stadium and no players to play in it. We need to be proactive and push the NFL to donate a very small percentage or profits to save the sport of football and to save our city from building a stadium for a team with players who are obviously going to revolt against the NFL if nothing changes.

This is an opportunity for the Mother’s and Father’s of America to give the NFL the push they need. It is a simple numbers game. If we have 10X the players who sign up for brain mapping before they pass on, then we get 10X the brains to study 10X faster. Then, we can have a definitive diagnosis and start testing nationally for a definitive cure. My friends and most probably myself, are in a race against time. Yes, I know it may seem incredibly risky for me to speak so blatantly and publicly about this issue, but let me ask you a few questions about what you would do if you were in my shoes…

  • What would you do if you had a chance to save a million lives?
  • What would you do if you had to sit there and watch the guy blow his brains out in the movie Concussion and then be told that around 99% of former NFL players had some level of CTE?
  • What would you do to save your Best Friends life?
  • What would you do to save your own life?

I will not live in fear. I will have no fear whatsoever because I know my intentions are pure of heart. I have now been contacted by someone who works with the NFL and have been passively aggressively threatened in a very obvious manner. I will not cower. I will not stop trying to help millions of people suffering due to fear or doubt. Since posting the videos, I have been contacted by people in hopes of more information from all walks of life who potentially suffer from CTE. The response from friends who seemed to be fine and ready to improve was really shocking. Working with those who need more information about reducing the effects of CTE and finding a cure for the suffering is my only goal. Coincidentally, I am also very passionate about raising my family in a wonderful city that we can all be proud of. After doing charity work all over the world it is time for me to take care of my own backyard. I love the city of Las Vegas and I am sacrificing my time and taking a lot of risks to make sure we grow into a city we can be proud to raise our children in. All I ask is that if someone wants to take me out, that my message be carried on to change the world.

I hope we will not allow our children’s children to grow up idolizing our greatest cultural sport without the people who profited from the cover-up, at the very least, properly fund studies for all affected. America is a pretty forgiving country. We are not prosecuting or pressing charges against anyone. All we are doing is asking for a simple solution to help find a cure by funding studies for all levels of former players and current players moving forward. We can find a cure 10X faster than the rate we are going at now if we had the proper funding.

Technological advances are happening INSANELY quickly, and we have a unique opportunity to have a better understanding of the human brain and help all people who have CTE for the betterment of our country and our world. We as a society should be grasping this opportunity and advancing our countries knowledge of the most important thing on earth which our world is not possible without:Our minds.

We should be jumping at the opportunity to unlock the mysteries of the brain and help people suffering from all kinds of mental ailments: Parkinson’s, to ALS, to PTSD, to Alzheimer’s Disease, to CTE and beyond. The NFL and the owners profited and grew their company tenfold because of the cover-up. So, let’s unite our country and ask that they help us find a cure for the millions of people who are suffering from all different causes of concussions.

We cannot allow Las Vegas to be the greatest public subsidy in the country for a stadium without taking the time to honestly consider what is essential for our city and our nation right now. There should be a specific plan that lays out the community benefits plan and covers specifically where the funds will be allocated before Las Vegas spends one more red cent. Please, don’t claim the tourists pay for it when their extra tax could instead be paying for
our failing school system.

The Raiders have a unique opportunity to get out ahead of this and spearhead a movement and capture the hearts of the millions of fans by saving the minds of millions of former players and potentially military veterans. The fans they could acquire are from 4 Major Great American Cities that have Millions of fans who are on the fence…

  • Las Vegas
  • Oakland
  • LA
  • San Diego

Fans like myself who hang in the balance between…

  1. Becoming a Raider fan for the first time.
  2. Sticking with Dean Spanos and the Chargers.
  3. Cheering for Todd Gurley and the Rams.
  4. Not watching the NFL at all.

The Raiders ownership has a chance to do something different and against the wishes of Big Brother. To be BOLD and Raid the NFL. California and Nevada turned fans will unite and put the raiders in the top 5 NFL franchises. This is a billion dollar chance for ONE TEAM to make the first move and exponentially grow their ongoing financial evaluation.

In a world of corruption, misdirection, and greed I am transparently calling for an arms race between NFL teams to see who can do the most good for our world and for the sport of football. I will be a lifelong dedicated fan of whichever team that wins the race, and so will millions of others. Who will be first to offer to fund studies for their former players? Who will have a stadium named after them one day because they decided to fund studies for all levels of players? Who wants to define their legacy and adding to their total net worth in the long run?

I am sure some of the owners who were not involved in the cover up or were handed the reigns of a beast that was out of control just need someone to tell them…

The collective bargaining agreement should be revisited immediately based on new critical public safety information about the game that has come to light since 2011. The studies are real. The settlement is a complete disaster. And, while the lawyers and Goodell try to focus the attention there, we are losing lives and the current players and the former players need to come together and stand for what is right! We could have had a cure by now for millions of former players and VETERANS suffering if we would have demanded studies for all.

We are losing lives in football, and it is time to take positive action. I have a group of committed former players willing to carry on my message no matter what happens to me, but we need the American people to take their shot at standing together and showing one of the world’s biggest conglomerates what it means to be an American. The Las Vegas Raiders could be the most valuable team in the NFL once they make it to Las Vegas but they are not going to stroll in and hit the jackpot without a little bit of hard work, determination and effort.The current players and former players are hurting and we need help. We have an opportunity to ask now, and get ready to demand later that the owners and the NFL to fund studies for ALL players at every level and find a cure quickly so that we can save a sport that has helped define our nation.

The only question is what kind of a nation do we want to be defined as?

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Expert Shares Insights for Wise Philanthropy

Richard Marker has been advising philanthropists for 25 years. Today, he took time to share his insights with us! He not only shares some best practices for philanthropy he offers tips for nonprofits who seek money from them (hint: don’t waste your time building relationships with philanthropists who don’t have an interest in your cause!)

Interview with Richard Marker, the Co-principal/founder of Wise Philanthropy / Wise Philanthropy Institute.

The following is the pre-interview with Richard Marker. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

We help philanthropists and foundations make wise and informed decisions about their philanthropy strategy – as educators, advisors, writers, speakers.

More about Wise Philanthropy / Wise Philanthropy Institute:

Twitter: @WisePhilan


Wise Philanthropy is a boutique advisory company exclusively for funders, philanthropists, families, and foundations.  Our expertise is strategy, evaluation, and education. Typically our clients are in some transition, or facing questions about what to do next or how to do it better.  Many of our clients are families or family foundations dealing with succession or intra family challenges. We do not manage anyone’s investments or their administration and never accept a fundraising contract.  [The Institute is our educational arm which teaches the same market about core competencies in grantmaking including ethics, best practices, decision making, policies, and evaluation.]

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: Project or Lecture Fee for service +  p.t. academic appointments

Scale: 2 partners in Wise Philanthropy – part of larger academic staff at University of Pennsylvania

Richard Marker’s bio:

Twitter: @rmarker


Richard Marker teaches philanthropists and foundations from around the world at Penn’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy.  He is also co-principal of Wise Philanthropy, a boutique strategy advisory firm. A long time thought leader and practitioner in the field, he has lectured in 39 countries and throughout the United States.  Recently his writings on “philanthro-ethics” have stimulated new thinking on the intersection of power, equity, and social justice in philanthropy practice.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

Your Mark on the World Changemaker of the Month for April 2018: Stephanie Bowers of Jake’s Diapers

Congratulations to Stephanie Bowers of Jake’s Diapers for becoming the reader’s pick for Your Mark on the World Changemaker of the Month for April 2018!

Stephanie joined me for a discussion about her 25 successful crowdfunding campaign on CaringCrowd (a Your Mark on the World sponsor). We originally shared her story on

Stephanie shared some of the secrets for her crowdfunding success. First, she noted that one key is the need to ask for what you need. No one is likely to give you what you want if you don’t ask. Her second key: persistence.

Her organization, Jake’s Diapers, provides diapers to mothers of babies and to seniors who need them, in the developing world. She notes that buying disposable diapers can require an impossible portion of a family’s income, sometimes forcing mothers to reuse disposable diapers. This practice jeopardizes the health of the babies who wear them. Jake’s Diapers provides diapers to people who are currently forced to choose between diapers and food.

A woman with several babies

Stephanie Bowers, Jake’s Diapers

Stephanie shared her story:

Stephanie Bowers believes no caregiver, near or far, should ever have to choose between food and diapers. In January of 2011, her life was changed forever when she found herself on a mission trip to Pachacutec, Peru. While there, she visited a childcare facility where she saw caregivers who loved the children very much, and were re-using disposable diapers because they had to choose between food & diapers. Inspired to help just those 15 babies, Jake’s Diapers has now impacted more than 7,000 lives in 20 countries.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

The episode on which we shared her story was sponsored by CaringCrowd, which is sponsored by Johnson & Johnson.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

Microlending Player Microvest Focuses On Intentionality And Performance

Offering banking services to unbanked, vulnerable populations is a model for lifting people out of poverty. It is also a model for indentured servitude and even modern day slavery.

Microvest Capital Manages has invested over $1 billion in in microlending firms. Candace Smith, the firm’s head of risk, joined me to talk about how the firm ensures that it invests only on microlending companies that improve lives with a sustainable business model.

Interview with Candace Smith, the Managing Director of Risk of Microvest Capital Management.

The following is the pre-interview with Candace Smith. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

The money we raise from our investors is then lent to responsible financial institutions in emerging markets that are serving under banked populations. These financial institutions then use this money to provide financial services and products (loans, savings accounts, insurance, etc.) to individuals and small-medium size businesses in their communities. These financial services give individuals and businesses the tools to effectively manage their lives and businesses, and invest in their futures.

More about Microvest Capital Management:

Twitter: @microvestfund


MicroVest is a global impact asset manager that helps socially-minded investors do good in the world while also earning a financial return.  We do this by offering investors simple investment solutions that provide them with uncorrelated, commercial returns while also supporting financial inclusion globally. The money we raise from our investors is then lent to responsible financial institutions in emerging markets that are serving under-banked populations. These financial institutions then use this money to provide financial services and products (loans, savings accounts, insurance, etc.) to individuals and small-medium size businesses in their communities. These financial services give individuals and businesses the tools to effectively manage their lives and businesses, and invest in their futures.

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Candace Smith

Candace Smith’s bio:


Ms. Smith is the Managing Director of Risk (MD Risk) and is responsible for portfolio risk management. Ms. Smith joined MicroVest in 2005 as CFO before transitioning to COO, Chief Compliance Officer, and then to her current role in December 2014. Ms. Smith started her career in 1985 and has extensive experience in development finance and domestic banking. Prior to joining MicroVest in 2005, Ms. Smith advised clients such as the Inter-American Development Bank, Calvert Social Investment Foundation, and Corporacion para el Financiamiento de Infraestructura, among others, on due diligence, credit evaluation and other matters. As Chief Operating Officer for Triodos PV Partners, she oversaw a $50 million joint business development and equity investment program to promote solar electric service enterprises in developing countries. Previously, Ms. Smith served as Senior Credit Officer and Portfolio Officer at the Inter-American Investment Corporation (“IIC”), with responsibility for developing and maintaining corporate credit risk guidelines and oversight of a $400 million portfolio of project loans and equity investments throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Ms. Smith began her career in finance as a corporate lending officer with the former Continental Illinois National Bank. She holds a Masters in International Management from The American Graduate School of International Management (Thunderbird) at Glendale, AZ and a dual major Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish and Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Ms. Smith is fluent in English and Spanish and conversant in Portuguese. Ms. Smith is an independent trustee of Praxis Mutual Funds, a registered fund complex with faith-based, stewardship investing criteria.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

Expert Says Social Entrepreneurs Have Social Media Secret Weapon

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

Jay Baer, New York Times bestselling author and founder of Convince and Convert, says that social enterprises and nonprofits have a secret weapon they can use on social media: authentic stories.

“Just tell the story,” Baer says to social entrepreneurs. “Ideally with video because video disproportionately performs in every social network. Just take a video of you working on the water project. Don’t try to sell anybody. Let the story sell for you.”

Expanding on this point, Baer says, optimally, social entrepreneurs will get their fans, supporters and customers to post the video of themselves working on the project rather than post a polished, edited video from the business or organization.

Baer points to Charity: Water as an example of an organization that uses video effectively. The organization funds water projects in the developing world. The projects are typically conducted in partnership with local communities. Donors receive detailed reports indicating the exact location of the project they funded, often accompanies with video.

Jay Baer

People are sometimes intimidated by the idea of producing video content. Baer says there is no need to worry. “What’s interesting in the video space right now is the difference between a video crew and what you can do with a $50 light and an iPhone is getting closer together.”

In fact, he says, “under polished” video actually performs better “because it is believed to be more authentic. It doesn’t need to be Hollywood grade.”

He cautions that it can’t be terrible, either. “There is still something to be said for a video that you can actually see and audio that you can hear.”

To help anyone learn to produce effective video, Baer recommends the book Vlog Like a Boss by Amy Schmidt.

Baer is just finishing his next book, Talk Triggers, that emphasizes the impact of the things our friends say in person as opposed to social media. “If I send you a tweet that recommends something, that has weight. But if you and I have an actual conversation and I recommend something, that has even greater weight.”

This is an important lesson for social entrepreneurs who need to do something that gets people to actually talk about your work. To make his point, Baer shared the story of Skip’s Kitchen, a burger restaurant in Sacramento that was started on a shoestring.

To create an experience that would get people talking, a talk trigger as Baer calls it now, founder Skip Wahl decided to give every customer a chance to pull the Joker from a deck of cards to win their meal for free. Every day, he gives away about three meals.

Every winner is ecstatic, sharing their experience on social media and with their friends. Baer says, their marketing budget has been exactly “zero dollars and zero cents.”

Chris Moody, head of content marketing for Cheetah Digital, got to know Baer via social media. They met in person when both were speaking at a conference. Moody says, Baer is “an amazing person first and an impressive businessman second.”

Moody offers some advice of his own, based on his observations about Baer. “Don’t cut corners. Jay is where he is because of hard work and treating people how they want to be treated. You’ll never see him spamming networks to get followers or engaging in shady practices to appear more influential. Don’t be that guy. Help others.”

If you share my passion for doing good with your money, learn how you can become an impact investor with my online course, 25% off with this link.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

Tune In For This Report From The Front Lines Of Elephant Conservation

Sebastien Duffillot says he was drawn first to Laos by its people but quickly became an activist for conserving the few remaining elephants in a place known as “the land of a million elephants.”

The Elephant Conservation Center houses 30 Asian elephants. They are not required to perform or give rides. They live in a protected forest and are allowed to just enjoy being elephants.

Interview with Sebastien Duffillot, the founder of Elephant Conservation Center.

The following is the pre-show interview with Sebastien Duffillot. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

In Laos there are only 600 to 800 elephants left. About half of them in the wild, half of them in captivity. The center has set up projects to improve the situation of both. The wild population has been living in diminishing and fragmentating habitats. With food scarcity, human elephant conflicts rising, and wildlife corridors disappearing, numbers have been dwindling. The Elephant Conservation Center has taken up the responsibility, with the approval of the local government, to protect the national park in Sayaboury Province. This region still houses several groups of wild elephants. By contacting owners who no longer earn their living in the logging industry, we recover captive elephants. These elephants are rehabilitated in to coherent social groups as a preparation to being reintroduced in to the wild.

More about Elephant Conservation Center:



The Elephant Conservation Center, located in Sayaboury in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, acts to preserve and protect the Asian elephant, a species that is on its way to extinction. Created in 2011 by a team of experts, its program is set up around the well-being of the animal, the reproduction, vet care, and the schooling of mahouts.

For-profit/Nonprofit: for profit (tourism) and non-profit via our affiliation with France based NGO “Des Elephant et Des Hommes” (Elephants and People) for all non for profit programmes undertaken by the Center

Revenue model: The daily costs are funded by the income generated by visitors only. This ensures sustainability for the staff and the elephants under our care. For larger projects the center raises funds through partner organisations such as “Des Elephants et des Hommes”, a France based NGO.

Scale: 55 staff. 30 elephants. 530 hectares of elephant pastures/forest. 650.000$ annual Turn Over. Over 3000 visitors a year.

Sebastien Duffillot’s bio:


Sebastien Duffillot graduated from Toulouse Business School MBA programme in 1994. After spending a year and a half at the French Embassy in Bangkok as assistant to the regional advisor for scientific and technical cooperation, he settled in Laos in 1996 where he created Kinnary Advertising, a graphic design studio in the capital, Vientiane.

In 2001, he co-founded ElefantAsia, a France-based non-profit to protect the endangered Asian elephants, primarily in Laos. In 2002, he organises the Elephant Caravan, a 1300km long march with 4 elephants across Laos, from Champassak in the South up to Luang Prabang in the North. The objective of the caravan was to raise local and international awareness about the plight of the elephants in a country once known as Lan Xang, the Land of a Million Elephants.

With ElefantAsia and the National health Center of the Department of Livestock, Ministry of Agriculture & Forestry, he implemented the first nation-wide census of captive elephants. Mobile clinics travelled the country to microchip and provide vet care to all working elephants while building up a statistical database providing vital information about the condition of the country’s remaining 450 elephants. Mahouts (elephant handlers) were taught first aid Technics while provided with an ElefantAsia-FAO published Elephant Care Manual.

ElefantAsia also raised awareness through a national environmental education campaign consisting of books, posters, movies and elephant mobile libraries aimed at schoolchildren living in and around elephant populated areas.

In 2010 He teams up with Inthy Deuansawan (Inthira Group, Green Discovery) and Jean-François Reumaux (The Gibbon Experience) to create the Elephant Conservation Center in Sayaboury. Starting with 1 elephant and 6 staff, the Center now shelters 30 elephants and employs 55 staff. It is set on the banks of the Nam Tien Lake on a 345 hectares protected forest.

In 2015, Sebastien organised a second elephant caravan from Sayaboury to Luang Prabang with 20 elephants to mark the importance of elephants as a defining component of Lao natural and cultural heritages. The caravan ended its journey in Luang Prabang as the city was celebrating its 20th anniversary as a world Heritage city.

Sebastien is now expanding the Conservation Center’s activities to include the conservation of wild elephants in the Nam Phouy National Park. The new reserve project is strongly focusing on community based tourism as a method to improve livelihoods and include local people in the conservation process.

Meanwhile the Center has development projects in Myanmar, a country where a significant number of elephants and their mahouts are now unemployed and in need of creative solutions to secure their future.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

Her Husband Thought She’d Quilt But She Became A Bestselling Author Instead

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

When LeAnn Thieman’s kids were moving out of the house twenty years ago, she says her husband, Mark Thieman, “had this wonderful ideal thing that I was going to stay home and start quilting.” Instead, her “hobby” of writing and speaking took her down another path to becoming a bestselling author.

Working as a nurse for more than two decades, Thieman, now 68, was an unlikely candidate to become a sought-after motivational speaker and author of 21 books that have sold more than 3 million copies. What brought her into the spotlight was a story she didn’t tell publicly for almost two decades after her visit to Vietnam at the end of the war.

Thieman decided to buy a dozen cupcakes at a bake sale benefitting an organization called Friends of Children of Vietnam.” The organization primarily worked to help orphans who were fathered by American soldiers with a goal of finding them homes in the U.S. Before long, Thieman had not only joined the group but had organized a chapter in her home and was planning to adopt one of the children.

When the organization had six babies ready for adoption, she says, “I agreed to fly to Vietnam and escort them back to their adoptive home the United States. But between the day I said I would go the day before I arrived. The bombing went from 100 miles from Saigon to right outside the city limits.”

Suddenly, everything had changed. President Ford approved “Operation Babylift.” Thieman would help bring home 300 babies. She was there just five days. She and a few colleagues loaded babies three-to-a-box on a C 141 cargo jet and headed for the United States.

Among the babies was Mitch, who, though just a toddler, unmistakably volunteered to be her son. “He literally crawled across the room into my arms, my heart and our family,” she says.

After 18 years, she wrote down her story and got it published. When she started getting invitations to speak, her response was, “About what?” People, mostly from the nursing community, wanted to hear about her lessons from Operation Babylift.

So, she prepared a speech and then wrote a book. She built her career around her book, Balancing Life in Your War Zones.

Then, Thieman submitted her story to Jack Canfield for inclusion in a Chicken Soup for the Soul book. Canfield accepted the submission. She started writing other people’s stories for inclusion in the series and many were also accepted.

Then Canfield called her and asked her to co-author Chicken Soup for the Nure’s Soul. She did. And then she wrote several other books in the Chicken Soup series.

LeAnn Thieman

She also wrote, SelfCare for HealthCare, as part of a training program for nurses that she provides over a year. The book, with its 12 chapters, focuses on a new self-care habit each month. The program is supported by emails, videos and on-site progress charts. The results, she says, are impressive, showing a 16% reduction in sick days and a 13% increase in retention.

This is “because of what we’ve always known; if we take really good care of the nursing caregiver, that’s the best way to take good care of patients,” she says.

Martie Moore, chief nursing officer for Medline Industries, Inc. says she was immediately excited by SelfCare for HealthCare. “What LeAnn has developed not only can be used at the individual level but also can be scaled to the organizational level. LeAnn, in essence, has developed a roadmap for nurses and other caregivers to love and care for themselves.”

Moore explains the importance of Thieman’s work in the context of frustrating trends in the industry. “Health care is in an unprecedented crisis. Article after article has been and is being written about the level of burnout, nurses leaving the profession and the lack of personal and professional engagement.”

“Employee Engagement drives not only quality outcomes, but patient and employee safety. Leaders must create healthy work environments and foster health and wellness for their employees. This is not a nice to do, but a necessity in today’s environment,” Moore adds.

Val Gokenbach, vice president and chief nursing officer for Baylor All Saints Hospital in Fort Worth, Texas, got acquainted with Thieman through the National Speakers Association where both are members (as am I). She says her staff loves the program and they are undertaking a research project to track progress over time.

Ultimately, Thieman gave up working as a nurse—and never did make a single quilt—but her influence on the industry is improving operational results for hospitals, job satisfaction and well-being for nurses, improving patient outcomes and saving lives. I, for one, am glad she didn’t take up quilting.

If you share my passion for doing good with your money, learn how you can become an impact investor with my online course, 25% off with this link.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

Women Empowering Women And Telling Their Stories

Merrilee Buchanan and Carol Storey working to empower women around the globe. Merrilee runs Villa Leadership Group, working to consult, train and coach women to successfully take on greater leadership roles. Carol writes their stores on the Villa Blog.

Interview with Carol Storey, the Co-founder/blogger of The Villa blog.

The following is the pre-interview with Carol Storey. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

Many women feel isolated today and do not have a community to connect with or realistic relatable role models to turn to for inspiration and guidance. The Villa blog provides a forum for all women who are looking for answers and direction to support their goals and needs.

More about The Villa blog:



The Villa is our blog, designed to bring women from all countries and cultures to our community to enrich their collective experience through shared stories about inspiring, real women who are authentic, who’ve taken risks, and who have experienced as many failures as successes and possess the courage to keep moving forward in spite of the fear. Our readers may not find women we feature on the covers of business magazines as the most powerful or the most celebrated, but they will find in their stories something that will help them see that they aren’t alone in their own big dreams and self-doubts.

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: It doesn’t….yet. But it will someday 🙂

Scale: The Villa blog is a joint venture between Carol Storey L.C.S.W. and Merrilee Buchanan, L.C.S.W.. While separate from Villa Leadership Group, the blog addresses important and salient issues that all women face, and The Villa blog and Villa Leadership Group interface with each other. Our group also includes Meagan Nielsen, Business Manager, and Haley Fields, owner of Orenda Marketing, who does our digital and social media marketing.

Photo Credit: Purple Moss Photography

Carol Storey’s bio:


Carol is a clinical social worker and mom of three grown kids (two sons, one daughter).  Her favorite kid at the moment is her 2 year old grandson, Win. Her second favorite kid is Mollie the pug and she won’t say who her least favorite kid is because it changes daily.

Here’s what she likes:

Yoga, hiking, golf, photography, biking, travel (especially in Europe), reading, vacationing with her family, hanging out in her meditation garden reading and playing with Win, eating, cooking, babies, animals, especially elephants and monkeys, peanut butter, wearing shorts, t-shirts and flip flops.

Here’s what she doesn’t like:

Cleaning her house, especially bathrooms and kitchens, running as exercise, scary movies, ghosts (even though she thinks her 100 year-old house has a friendly one), spiders, snakes or zoos (even though she takes Win once in a while).

Interview with Merrilee Buchanan, the Founder and Principal Consultant of Villa Leadership Group LLC.

The following is the pre-interview with Merrilee Buchanan. Be sure to watch the recorded interview above.

What is the problem you solve and how do you solve it?

Women make up approximately 50% of today’s workforce worldwide, but only 15-24% of senior leaders across corporate, non-profit, and government organizations are female. Research repeatedly demonstrates that balanced numbers of male and female leaders in decision-making positions produces better business results and more sustainable outcomes. We help organizations build their talent pipelines with capable women leaders, promote cultures of diversity, balance and inclusion, and build environments in which everyone can thrive.

More about Villa Leadership Group LLC:



Villa Leadership Group provides consulting and development services to individuals, companies and organizations to help them build cultures of diverse and inclusive leadership. Primarily, we promote and facilitate women’s leadership and career development programs to prepare more women for senior leadership and influence. We do this through multi-day workshops, strategic consulting, executive coaching, presentations, team sessions and public speaking.

For-profit/Nonprofit: For-profit

Revenue model: Our revenue comes primarily through fee-for-service contracts and engagements for our consulting and development services. We work with large, medium and small companies, as well as individuals who seek executive coaching. A small portion of our income is generated through the sale of profile assessments; however, we generally package assessments as part of our coaching and development services.

Scale: We are a small boutique consulting operation with two full-time employees and a handful of contract facilitators who work for us on specific engagements. We typically provide 6-8 national and international multi-day programs per year (which include follow-up virtual coaching), 10-12 academy-style leadership development programs (one group working together monthly), 8-10 local/national workshops each year, as well as a variety of individual coaching contracts and public speaking engagements. We average gross sales of approximately $350k each year.

Merrilee Buchanan’s bio:

Twitter: @merrileeb


As a seasoned executive coach, organizational strategist and transformational leadership consultant, Merrilee brings more than 20 years of experience in helping individuals and companies move from “Point A to Point B”—in leadership, culture, career management, and business success.

Skilled in strengths-based talent and leadership development, Merrilee has worked at all levels of organizations from senior executive teams to new manager development. She has specialized expertise in designing and implementing women’s leadership and career development programs, and developing strategies within organizations to build cultures of inclusive leadership. She has extensive international experience working with rising women leaders from diverse cultures, ethnicities and backgrounds, and in enhancing collective intelligence in organizations for collaborative business success.

Merrilee’s experience includes work with organizations such as Unilever, the United Nations World Food Programme, Mars/Wrigley, FedEx, GE, National Cinemedia, UNS Energy, TSMC North America, MediaTek, Lee Enterprises, Myriad Genetics, Avalon Healthcare, Sklar-Wilton, vivid connections, Sheplers, The Smuin Ballet Company, and many individual executives from a variety of other organizations. She also served as part-time faculty consultant for the European Business Technology Office for McKinsey Consulting. She is the founder and principal of Villa Leadership and Chocolate Villa, organizations dedicated to developing women for senior leadership and improving gender-balanced leadership for business success.

Merrilee has a BS in Communications and a Masters in Social Work from the University of Utah. She holds certifications in the EQi 2.0, the 16PF, Hermann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI), and the DiSC.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

‘Listening’ Key To Influencing 10M People, Young Entrepreneur Says

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

Entering a new school in an unfamiliar community, feeling alone and isolated, then 13-year-old Shane Feldman took the advice of a mentor to get involved with school clubs and service organizations. He enjoyed it so much, he organized an event across seven high schools to engage other kids who felt as isolated as he had.

That event, where he hoped to get 50 students to participate, ultimately brought together 400. The following year, the event attracted over 1,000 students from 30 schools.

Those humble, but promising beginnings to Count Me In have now reached over 10 million people around the world. Feldman, now 23, describes it as the “largest youth-led organization in the world.”

Today, the nonprofit organization has 37 employees in four countries, funded by a combination of corporate sponsorships, individual donations and ticket revenue.

Drew Dudley, founder and chief catalyst for Day One Leadership, was recruited by Feldman to help with Count Me In’s first global broadcast. The variety show had viewership in 104 countries and was planned entirely by students.

Dudley not only agreed to participate but was so impressed, he has since provided Count Me In with financial support. He says:

I think the education system teaches us that the best way to look impressive and have impact is to find a way to make people say, ‘Oh wow! I didn’t know that!’ In reality, one of the most powerful gifts you can give another person is the ability to say, ‘Oh my God, I thought I was the only one’–the only one who felt something, feared something, struggled with something. Count Me In shows young people the value of engagement in their communities, but I think more importantly it lets them know they are not alone when they feel lonely, or overwhelmed, or like they simply don’t matter. It not only demonstrates to them that they are not alone, it shows them the impact they can have as a collective. Perhaps most importantly, it demonstrates to them how to begin having that impact.

The organization has helped organize service projects involving over 100 million volunteer hours valued at over $2.3 billion, according to Feldman.

E.J. Carrion, founder and CEO of Student Success Agency was so impressed after hearing Feldman speak at a conference that he agreed to join the board. He explains how Count Me In works.

Count Me In helps communities inspire their teenagers to volunteer and get involved. How they do this is by helping teenagers support existing service projects or start new ones that they care about. What I love about the organization is that they also teach students how to partner and work with existing organizations, run by adults, to make a bigger impact. To me, that skill of working together and asking for help is such a powerful skill for teenagers to learn. They also teach students to develop themselves not just their community.

Feldman sees the impact the organization has had on his personal development. At the outset, he had modest ambitions. He says, “I definitely wasn’t expecting to start something this large.” At first, he admits, Count Me In was just “another thing to distract me from schoolwork and academics.”

Shane Feldman

But, even then, he recognized that the effort made him feel good. Reflecting on all that Count Me In has done and become, he says, “We do it because it feels good because we’re spending our time doing something meaningful and fulfilling and that’s what I tapped into. I was just lucky enough to tap into it as a 13-year-old I was lucky enough to have mentors in my life who guided me who gave me the support that I needed.”

Demonstrating self-awareness more often associated with people three or four times his age, Feldman says the most important lesson he’s learned is that “you can’t do anything on your own.”

“You can’t hope to accomplish or build anything. It takes a village to raise a child and it takes a community to build any kind of company or brand. I had to surround myself with a team that understood and supported my vision and I had to allow them to take as much ownership of my idea as I was,” he adds.

Asked about his “superpower,” Feldman says, “I believe my superpower is listening.” He then added, “Looking at the growth of Count me in and everything that I’ve been able to accomplish and work towards in my life thus far, the common thread is really listening.”

If you share my passion for doing good with your money, learn how you can become an impact investor with my online course, 25% off with this link.

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Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

Time Banking Helps Build Individuals, Organizations And Communities

This post was originally produced for Forbes.

You can download an audio podcast here or subscribe via iTunes or Google Play.

Edgar Cahn, now 82, began his career as a speechwriter for Robert Kennedy. Always passionate about civil rights, a heart attack in 1980 gave him a new perspective that led Cahn to create a new tool for social justice called time banking.

A time bank uses time credits as a medium of exchange rather than money. Within the system, every hour is valued the same, regardless of who contributes the time.

Cahn says he has now documented 1,000 time banks around the world, including about half that total here in the U.S. Many operate on a software platform created by TimeBanks USA, the nonprofit Cahn founded.

When Cahn had the heart attack in 1980, his heart was so damaged that the cardiologist told him he likely wouldn’t live more than two years and would only have the capacity to function actively about two hours per day. He began thinking about all the ways he could still make a difference with his severely limited time.

This got Cahn thinking about other people who are often considered useless, seniors, children, and teenagers, for instance, who are often dismissed because they don’t earn a wage.

Cahn obviously outlived his doctor’s expectations and says he limits himself to 16 hours per day, seven days per week of work.

Mashi Blech, one of Cahn’s early disciples and TimeBank director for ArchCare, has been leading the operations since 1987, long before it became part of ArchCare. She says, “What keeps me excited every day for the past three decades is seeing the power of time banking and its substantive, often life-changing impact on individual members, organizations and communities.”

Edgar Cahn, TimeBanks USA

Cahn shared the example of someone who banks time and needs spinal surgery. Following surgery, someone else in the system will come in to help her eat breakfast, brush her teeth and hair.

Separately, in Chicago, 127 schools nearly eliminated special ed by having fifth graders help the third graders learn the alphabet. The kids earned credits that allowed them to receive a recycled computer from the system.

In another example Cahn shared, teens serving on a youth court jury in Washington, D.C., helped reduce recidivism. The young people were able to sniff out lies and get to the truth more quickly and effectively than adults. They also understood context better, appreciating challenges the other teens faced at home and school. Ultimately, the teens were granted sentencing authority and would sentence the teens to a diversion program to do community service to make restitution for property damaged or stolen. One of the harshest penalties: serving on the jury, which required teens to give up their Saturday mornings. Cahn calls that “capital punishment for a teenager.”

The program reduced rearrests from 34 to 6%, he says.

Blech says she sees similar impacts:

At ArchCare, we have worked hard to make our TimeBank accessible and engage those with more limited resources. A large percentage of our members are immigrants with very low income. Many of them are seniors in their 70s and 80s.

The TimeBank tool is equalizing the playing field, empowering people who have long existed on the fringes of society to help themselves, help one another and become much more integrated into the fabric of their communities. In addition to giving them access to services they could not otherwise afford, they feel useful and needed and report improvements in their health and emotional well-being because they are part of our timebank community.

Time banking grew out of what Cahn calls “three discoveries.”

First, was his observation that the economy doesn’t value contributions fairly. For instance, he says, “The amount of work that it takes to enable a family to keep an elder person out of a nursing home is now valued at some $500 billion.”

All sorts of things don’t get valued our current economic system, despite having tremendous value. Most notably, the unpaid work of mothers to care for, education and otherwise support their children.

The second discovery was the idea that the economic system values things that are scarce. People are plentiful, abundant, ubiquitous. Such things are virtually worthless and, in some cases, treated as nuisances. Cahn wanted to create a system that valued the intrinsic worth of a human being—and all human beings equally.

His third discovery was the idea of co-production. He points out that while working as a law professor—which he still does—he could give a brilliant lecture but the outcomes on the exams depended at least as much on the students. Viewing the students as partners in co-production of learning created a new paradigm that helped to define the time banking model.

Blech says, “We can’t achieve social justice simply by delivering services. We need to enlist those who we are helping as partners and collaborators.”

If you share my passion for doing good with your money, learn how you can become an impact investor with my online course, 25% off with this link.

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!

Devin is a journalist, author and corporate social responsibility speaker who calls himself a champion of social good. With a goal to help solve some of the world’s biggest problems by 2045, he focuses on telling the stories of those who are leading the way! Learn more at!

Never miss another interview! Join Devin here!
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