Monday, October 15, 2018


I just returned home from a week in London. My husband and I went "across the pond" to see our son present his start-up tech company before an audience of venture capitalists, successful business owners, and supportive mentors. In total, ten founding CEOs delivered a 5-minute "pitch" for funding, all presenting a compelling vision with infectious passion and unrelenting drive. 

Many of these founders previously worked for Google, Amazon, and financial companies. They had great jobs, earning incomes that afforded a comfortable lifestyle in some of the trendiest cities. Still, they left these positions to create something of their own. As one guy said to me, "I decided I wanted to support my own dream, not the dream of my former boss."

I returned home thinking about my own dreams. The allure of being a founder is seductive. How cool it is to have your name attached to something great! And yet, instead of equating founding with success, what if I invest my time, skills, and resources in an existing organization where I can have a meaningful impact? 

This is the advice given by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn, in their book A Path Appears: Transforming Lives, Creating Opportunity. The authors remind us that we need people to invest their lives in the existing organizations. When we put our egos aside, we can experience the same benefits as the founders, just by contributing our gifts and knowing that we’re making a difference.

Cheryl Dorsey, the head of Echoing Green, a nonprofit that supports social entrepreneurs says, "The biggest need now is for the 'intrapreneur,' the person who can move into an existing enterprise or institution, shake it up, and boost its productivity." I can do that.

I returned home from London with a renewed sense of purpose and energy—to approach my work with a couple non-profit organizations with an "intrapreneur" mindset. The same passion and drive I experienced from the young people in London, I can bring to my volunteer roles. And when asked, "What do you do?" I can talk about the impact my contributions are having in the lives of people around the world. Now that sounds like a dream worth pursuing.

Copyright 2018. Patrice Jenkins. All Rights Reserved.

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