social entrepreneurship

The Stories that Change Us, Jackie Biederman, Changemaker Podcast

Changemaker Podcast tells social good startup stories, inspiring life lessons, and unexpected ideas.

Jackie Biderman, Changemaker Podcast

Jackie Biederman, Changemaker Podcast

Why do people and businesses want to learn to tell stories? According to Jackie Biederman, host of the Changemaker Podcast, “That’s how we’re wired as people. We want to tune in to stories.”

Stories move us. They take us out of our logical brains and help us to connect with one another.

When people hear stories of social good, they are engaged, informed and inspired.

Because social entrepreneurs are everyday people like you and me, when listeners hear their stories, they see themselves as possible changemakers too.

The stories inspire people to act. Listeners are more inclined to give time, talent, and treasure to help a cause. Or, they take the leap and become changemakers themselves.

The circle expands and encourages more social good and more stories that need to be told.

So, more social entrepreneurs telling their stories to more listeners equals more social good in the world.

According to Jackie, the mission of Changemaker Podcast is “To inspire people to dream and empower them to act so that, together, we can change our world for the better.” How do they do that? Jackie says “By sharing stories, ideas, and lessons about people who are solving some of the world’s biggest problems.  By focusing on the power of an individual and the power of business to drive change.”

Jackie grew up in the suburbs in Minnesota with her parents and 2 older sisters. “My sisters are brutally honest and have told me their candid opinions of all of my business ideas,” she laughs. “They love Changemaker and have been so supportive in providing feedback to make it better, so I know that I’m onto something!”

Jackie started Changemaker to spark a sense of hope. “There are so many problems all around us.,” she explains. “It can feel hopeless and leave us feeling defeated.  I get depressed when reading the news, but it’s helped me to decide to be part of the solution. I’ve realized that small actions can drive positive change.”

Instead of focusing on negative news, Jackie decided to focus on solutions. “I’m driven to amplify the positive stuff happening in the world in the midst of negativity. When I came across social entrepreneurs I thought, ‘that’s who I want to help.’”

Jackie joined online forums and groups. She found people who were new to business, and yet wanting to make a difference. “While there are resources, they can be overwhelming and dry,” Jackie says. “Since I didn’t know much about this area or running a business, I decided to enlist the help of people who are a few steps ahead.”

Jackie Biederman, Changemaker Podcast

Can a suburban mom change the world? Jackie Biederman thinks so. When she needed a quiet place to record her podcast, she chose her closet.

For Changemaker Podcast, Jackie collected stories and lessons from social entrepreneurs, “so we can learn from each other. I want to make it easier for people to make a difference.”

Looking back, Jackie wishes that she would have acted sooner. “What didn’t work was living in my head. Thinking through ideas and doing research is important but can harbor the insecurities I have for putting myself out there and publishing my work. There’s risk in getting uncomfortable, but that’s the only way to help.”

She was eventually inspired to make progress instead of waiting for perfection. Jackie likes to quote Seth Godin, “Waiting for perfect is never as smart as making progress.” To begin, Jackie created a pilot program with two women, Ashley and Maria. “It wasn’t perfect, but it gave people something to comment on and understand more clearly what I was attempting to do. It also gave me a starting point that I could refine and make better.”

“I’m inspired by how much good there is in the world,” she exclaims. “People are giving their time and using their talents in ways that is truly driving change. They are starting with nothing to create solutions. To discover their stories and creativity and hear about their dreams is what gets me so excited!”

What can storytelling teach us about business?

To hone her craft, Jackie has studied storytelling. Here are a few tips that Jackie shared about the power of stories:

  • “Have a focus. If someone will take away one thing from what you’re trying to say, what would you want that to be?
  • “Be authentic. People want to connect with you as a person. Some tips that are used in radio or audio storytelling are, to keep sentences short. If you listen to how you naturally speak, there are a lot of short phrases. There are a lot of dashes or pauses.
  • “Take people with you and raise questions – get people curious and wondering what’s next. Read a good book and there’s motion in it. This happened, then this happened, then this happened.
  • “Don’t be afraid to kill. Ira Glass said, ‘By killing, you can make something even better live.’ That’s really hard to do because we’ve invested so much. But it’s something that can make your product even better in the end.”

Season one of Changemaker Podcast is now available. You can find it at

Social Entrepreneur Quotes by Jackie Biederman:

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We have this innate feeling to tune into stories.” @JackieBiederman @changemakerpod”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I strive to tell a story with each episode.” @JackieBiederman @changemakerpod”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“If you can’t summarize what your focus is in one sentence, you need to rework it.” @JackieBiederman @changemakerpod”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“People want to connect with you as a person.” @JackieBiederman @changemakerpod”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Don’t be afraid to kill.” @JackieBiederman @changemakerpod”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It wasn’t a phrase that I’d heard before.” @JackieBiederman @changemakerpod”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Business owners and entrepreneurs are some of the most amazing and creative people.” @JackieBiederman @changemakerpod”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Social entrepreneurs were even more exciting.” @JackieBiederman @changemakerpod”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“What if I could interview people who are a few steps ahead?””]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It takes around 150 to 200 hours.” @JackieBiederman @changemakerpod”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Start small and take a step.” @JackieBiederman @changemakerpod”]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


These Intrapreneurs are Feeding the Hungry, with Megan Shea and Chip Heim, The Soulfull Project

The Soulfull Project is a certified BCorp. For every serving of cereal purchased, The Soulfull Project donates a serving to a food bank.

Megan Shea and Chip Heim, The Soulfull Project

Megan Shea and Chip Heim, The Soulfull Project

The latest data from the Economic Research Service at the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) shows that 41 million people in the United States are living with food insecurity. 13 million of those are children. When children are hungry, it impacts their health. Poor health can make it difficult to learn. And a lack of education can trap another generation in poverty.

According to Megan Shea, co-founder of The Soulfull Project, “Food insecurity is more than just a number. It affects every community.”

In the past year, Megan and co-founder Chip Heim have traveled the country to see hunger first-hand. “As you get into each community you see, the one thing that is the same is that there is food insecurity everywhere. But, how and why each community is struggling with it is different and how they respond is different.”

Chip adds, “What I did not know when this started is, who uses a food bank. It’s not just people who don’t have homes. Most of the people who use food banks are the working poor…It really hit home, seeing who uses the food banks and realizing it could be me one day who needs a food bank. What kinds of foods would I want to eat?”

The Soulfull Project uses a buy-one-give-one model to reduce food insecurity. For every serving of cereal purchased, they donate a serving of cereal to a food bank in a local community.

The Soulfull Project launched last year with a pilot program. “We were focused on the area we’re in, right outside of Philadelphia,” Megan explains. “As the company has grown, we’ve grown our partners. We’re now partnered with over 200 food banks around the country.” They have set an ambitious goal for their new company of providing one million servings in 2018.

A Broken Promise Leads to a Breakthrough Idea

In 2015, Megan and Chip found themselves in a neighborhood near Dallas, TX. As employees of the Campbell Soup Company, they were conducting ethnographic surveys, talking to people about what they ate and how they lived their everyday lives. “We were meeting with families that were in a higher income bracket,” Chip remembers. “Completely by chance, we ended up meeting this family that had no food in their cabinets, nothing in their fridge. For me, that was the moment, when we walked out of that home and realized the situation that family was in and that we might be able to make a difference and help families in need.”

“They were dealing with hunger on a daily basis,” Megan adds. “We made this promise that we were going to help them: more than give them extra food and money but help them in a really meaningful way. But, we never followed through on that promise. We had the best of intentions, but life just got in the way.

“We came back from this trip. We came back to our jobs and our families A day turned into a week, turned into a month. A year later, we had never done anything.”

About a year later, Megan and Chip were reminded of that promise to help. Chip tells the story. “Campbell has a warehouse in Camden, NJ. We were working late on a Wednesday night. A mom knocked on the door of the warehouse. She had three kids with her. She asked if we had any food because she needed food for dinner. We gave them food. And we came inside. We said, ‘You know, we never did help that family. We’ve got to figure this out.’”

Chip and Megan sat down then and for the next hour sketched out the idea that would become The Soulfull Project. Chip says, “It was the greatest thing to come up with this concept, but the scariest thing to try to figure out how to do it.”

From Employees to Intrapreneurs

“Neither Chip nor I had ever set out to be entrepreneurs or social entrepreneurs,” Megan describes. “We had no idea how to start a business. It’s been a real learning process. Working inside Campbell, we did the most logical thing, and we didn’t tell anyone about it for a while,” she laughs. “We did this at night and on the weekends.”

Megan and Chip began researching the causes of hunger, the solutions, and how to shape a business model to make a difference. “Beyond the business model, we did a lot of research with our first giving partner, The Food Bank of South Jersey.”

Chip Heim and Megan Shea at the Community Food Bank of South Jersey

Chip adds, “Honestly; our biggest nightmare would be to make something and donate something that people don’t need. So, we went right to the source.” When Megan and Chip approached the food bank, they were not sure what to expect. Chip says that “We’re not the most optimistic people…We weren’t sure they were going to like the idea. We presented it to them, and they absolutely loved it. Our four-grain hot cereal was developed with The Food Bank of South Jersey.”

With the business model, the input of the food bank, and the design of their first product, their side project started looking more and more like reality. Megan says, “We kept working on it until it got to the point where we were ready to go. We had our first three giving partners lined up. We went to our first customer in the Northeast, Wegmans, and asked them to partner with us on a test and they agreed.”

Finally, it was time to approach Campbell Soup Company and pitch their idea. “We knew that to build a model like this that is sustainable for both the mission and to continue to grow, it had to be approached just like any other business,” Megan explains.

As it happens, Megan and Chip had a meeting with the heads of finance and the divisions of Campbell Soup Company. Megan tells the story. “We had a long meeting with them one day in October. We showed them our day-job project. While they had an hour for lunch, we hijacked their lunch. While they were eating, it was the first time we showed them The Soulfull Project.

“We said this is the idea, this is the company, and this is what we want to do. I remember the President of the Americas said, ‘I don’t hear a question. It sounds like you’re telling us, this is what you’re doing.’ The reaction was immediate.” The executive team agreed to provide a small investment to start the company.

“It was a learning process for everyone,” Megan says. “I don’t think there are a lot of examples of startups operating within large companies.”

“What’s interesting about this company,” Chip says, “is that it came out of the need. We said, what is needed? And, let’s work from there out.”

Today, The Soulfull Project is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Campbell Food Company. To ensure outside scrutiny of their work, they went through the arduous process of becoming a Certified BCorp. They have an ambitious goal of providing one million servings of cereal to their 200 food bank partners.

Social Entrepreneur Quotes by Megan Shea and Chip Heim:

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It’s more than breakfast for yourself.” @megandshea @thesoulfullproj”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“They were dealing with hunger on a daily basis.” @megandshea @thesoulfullproj”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We made this promise that we were going to help them.” @megandshea @thesoulfullproj”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Food insecurity is more than just a number.” @megandshea @thesoulfullproj”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It’s been incredibly inspiring and eye-opening.” @chiph404 @thesoulfullproj”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We’ve got to figure this out.” @chiph404 @thesoulfullproj”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It’s been a real learning process.” @megandshea @thesoulfullproj”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I dusted off my old business school textbooks.” @megandshea @thesoulfullproj”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“If you start your day with a donut, your whole day is shot.” @chiph404 @thesoulfullproj”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We didn’t know that much about cereal. It was the idea.” @chiph404 @thesoulfullproj”]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Journalism as a Force for Good, with Tina Rosenberg, Solutions Journalism Network

The Solutions Journalism Network is supporting rigorous reporting on social problems, with an eye on what works.

Tina Rosenberg, Solutions Journalism Network

Tina Rosenberg, Solutions Journalism Network

May 3 is World Press Freedom Day. Around the world, journalism is experiencing a watershed moment. According to a Knight-Gallup survey, 84% of Americans believe that the news media is key to a healthy democracy. Less than half, 44% can name an objective news source.

Mobile, social media, and the ease of online publishing have disaggregated the news into billions of channels. 58% of those surveyed say that more sources can make it harder to stay informed. 73 say that the spread of inaccurate information on the internet is a major problem.

Local and regional news organizations face financial challenges. The rise of free classified ads, such as Craigslist, and job boards, such as Monster, have siphoned off critical revenue sources, leaving local news organizations to do more with less. Last month, the Denver Post published a picture illustrating the decline of staff levels from more than 250 in 2013 to fewer than 100 five years later.

According to the Edelman Trust Barometer survey in the UK, people are consuming less news media. Why? 40% report that the news is too depressing. But does news have to leave consumers feeling depleted, powerless, and cynical?

Tina Rosenberg is a Pulitzer Prize-winning author and journalist. She is the co-writer of a column in the NY Times called Fixes, which looks at social problems with an eye towards solutions. She is also the co-founder of the Solutions Journalism Network.

According to Rosenberg, since the 1970s Watergate era, serious journalists have “defined our jobs pretty exclusively as uncovering wrongdoing.” What is the consequence? “It has been such an exclusive focus on what’s wrong, that we are distorting people’s view of society. We are not covering the other half of the story, which is how people are solving those problems.”

The Solutions Journalism Network is attempting to legitimize and promote journalists covering solutions. “We should be writing about how people are responding to problems and what evidence there is of success.”

Rosenberg says that consumers of news can spot a story written from a solutions perspective in two ways. “It would be a story that probably talks a little bit about the problems, but also looks at how someone is trying to solve it.”

She adds, “In a way, you’ll know it’s a solutions journalism story because it will have a different psychological effect on you. With traditional journalism, which is problem-focused, the effect it has is, we tend to want to go to bed and pull the covers over our heads.” However, “If you’re reading a solutions story, it makes you feel empowered, it makes you feel excited, it makes you feel like, hey, there is stuff going on out there to change things.”

Solutions journalism describes a problem, for example, the rise of opioids, or contaminated drinking water. However, the reporting does not stop there. Solutions journalism asks the question, “Who does it better?” Who is in a similar circumstance to us, but is taking action and creating results? “That’s what solutions journalism is,” Rosenberg says. “We’re going to report on this problem, but let’s also report on who is doing a better job, and how they’re doing it.”

Journalists need not give up their role as a watchdog to practice solutions journalism. In fact, Rosenberg assets that solutions journalism is an effective way to bring about change. “If you want to have an impact, if you want to bring about change in your city, it’s great to add that solutions component. Nothing embarrasses a city official more than being told, ah-hem, fifty miles away, they’re doing a much better job with the same resources.”

The Solutions Journalism Network is increasingly working with local and regional news outlets. “A lot of local news organizations have closed. The ones that haven’t closed have cut their staff. We’re working with one paper in Alabama, for example, that had forty people, fifteen years ago, and now has seven.” The Solutions Journalism Network is helping smaller news organizations to collaborate with nearby news outlets to work on stories. “One of the things we’re trying to do,” Rosenberg explains, “is get readers, and viewers and listeners in those areas reengaged in the news.”

What is the impact of solutions journalism? Rosenberg offers several examples of cities acting, based on solution stories. She adds “Solutions journalism increases trust: not only trust in our news organization because we have a better relationship with our city when people know we’re not just doing gotcha journalism…It not only increases trust in journalism. It increases our trust in each other.”

Social Entrepreneur Quotes by Tina Rosenberg:

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We have defined our jobs, pretty exclusively, as uncovering wrongdoing.” @tirosenberg @soljourno”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It has been such an exclusive focus on what’s wrong, we are distorting people’s view of society.” @tirosenberg @soljourno”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We should be writing about how people are responding to problems and what evidence there is of success.” @tirosenberg @soljourno”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“You’ll know it’s a solutions journalism story because it will have a different psychological effect on you.” @tirosenberg @soljourno”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“They’re thinking, ‘this is not real journalism.’” @tirosenberg @soljourno”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Real solutions journalism is going to a place and reporting on what they’re doing.” @tirosenberg @soljourno”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We are not covering the other half of those stories, which is how people are solving those problems.” @tirosenberg @soljourno”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Solutions journalism increases trust.” @tirosenberg @soljourno”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“You have a lot of newspapers that have been bought up by hedge fund managers.” @tirosenberg @soljourno”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We have to produce a product that matters to people.” @tirosenberg @soljourno”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It’s really having an effect.” @tirosenberg @soljourno”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We have to be thinking through what matters to our audience.” @tirosenberg @soljourno”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“[They] don’t trust the news because they don’t see themselves reflected or respected by the news.” @tirosenberg @soljourno”]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Focus on Purpose, with Meghan French Dunbar, Conscious Company Media

Conscious Company Media is the first multimedia organization in the country that specifically focuses on purpose-driven business.

Meghan French Dunbar, Conscious Company Media

Meghan French Dunbar, Conscious Company Media

Meghan French Dunbar grew up in the mountains of Colorado. She saw early examples of how to run a business. “Both of my parents started and operated their own small businesses and were incredibly supportive of everything my brother and I did,” she explains.

She was driven to succeed from an early age. “I was an achiever. I idolized my older brother and was obsessed with excelling in all sports, especially soccer and basketball. I was always driven to achieve academically as well and saw everything as a competition.”

Meghan also saw the importance of making a difference in the lives of others. She says, “My mother is an occupational therapist and works with kids with severe disabilities. When I was young, my mom took me to work with her often and had me watch children my age who were struggling with very sincere challenges. It planted in me a deep desire to want to help.”

Eventually, Meghan discovered the power of business to do good through her work at the Environmental Defense Fund. And she deepened her sense of purpose while attending Presidio Graduate School.

After graduation, Meghan edited magazines. However, the work did not go well. One evening, Meghan and her friend Maren Keeley talked about an idea for a magazine that focused on purpose-driven businesses. It was a fateful conversation. Three hours after Meghan and Maren had this conversation, Meghan lost her job.

Meghan and Maren decided to launch Conscious Company Magazine. But there was a lot to do. They cold-emailed a list of influencers and, to their surprise, most of the people they approached agreed to be interviewed.

To fund their first run of the magazine, they launched a Kickstarter campaign. They hoped to raise $50,000. Unfortunately, they fell short of their goal. Because of Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing model, after all of Meghan and Maren’s efforts, they received none of the pledged money.

Instead of giving up, they decided to try again on Indiegogo. This time, they succeeded in raising $20,000.

Their first issue of the magazine was picked up by every Whole Foods in the US. “From there, we got the word out by hustling,” Meghan explains. “We sent magazines to every conference we could think of, we attended as many events as possible, we sought speaking opportunities, and did anything we could to tell people about our work.”

Meghan admits that they did not get everything right. “The biggest thing right out of the gate was not focusing more on marketing and sales. We also totally overestimated our growth in the first two years, which threw off our projections.”

Still, they kept moving forward. “We continued to push for distribution in more retail stores and added Kroger, Barnes and Noble, and many more. In 2017, we added events to our product line, and that helped us get the word out even further.”

Conscious Company Magazine has firmly established itself as the authority in the conscious business movement. The brand has continued to grow beyond the magazine. Today, Conscious Company Media is the first multimedia organization in the United States that specifically focuses on purpose-driven business. In addition to the magazine, they produce the annual Conscious Company Leaders Forum and World-Changing Women’s Summit.

The Conscious Company Leaders Forum will take place June 6 through 8 in Scotts Valley, CA.

Social Entrepreneur Quotes by Meghan French Dunbar:

[spp-tweet tweet=”“The path was insane.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“This is what I was put here to do.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We didn’t have a lot of money, but we had a lot of love.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I always wanted to help.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“They were telling us, don’t even think about going into magazines.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I saw this collaboration between environmental groups and companies.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I was hooked.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I went in open and curious.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It was one of those questions that change your life.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Things unfold if you start taking steps in the right direction.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“At that moment, the sky was falling.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It was the gut-check moment for me.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I viscerally remember walking into Whole Foods and seeing our magazine.” @MegFrenchDunbar, @ConsciousCoMag”]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Used Bikes, Big Impact, with Calla Martin and Mary McKeown, Express Bike Shop

Express Bike Shop is a learning lab where young people develop the habits and skills for work.

Calla Martin and Mary McKeown , Express Bike Shop

Calla Martin (L) and Mary McKeown, Express Bike Shop, receiving the 2018 Community Impact Award from Minnesota Business Magazine 

Today might be a good day to ride a bike. In fact, almost any day is a great day to ride a bike. Biking can be fun. It’s great exercise. It reduces your carbon footprint. The environmental impact of manufacturing and maintaining a bike is far below that of a car. The only thing better for the environment than a new bike is a used bike. And the only thing better than a used bike is a used bike that provides jobs for young people with a barrier to employment.

Express Bike Shop in Saint Paul, Minnesota is a full-service repair shop that also sells refurbished bikes. Profits from bike sales and repair go towards a youth apprenticeship program. Express Bike Shop is a social enterprise owned by a nonprofit organization, Keystone Community Services.

Bicycles are considered hard to recycle items. When you donate a bike to the Express Bike Shop they either strip the bike down for parts or build the bike up for resell. Since their inception, Express Bike Shop has collected and refurbished more than 20,000 bicycles. They sell between 500 and 600 bikes per years. Components that cannot be reused are recycled. Each year they recycle between 15 and 18 tons of metal and three tons of rubber.

100% of the revenue from the bike shop is reinvested in youth employment programs. The shop serves as a learning lab where young people learn about work and business. They believe that early work experience is the best predictor of later work experience. They have a saying at Express Bike Shop. “The best work readiness program is a job.

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


The Many Side-Hustles of Sherrell Dorsey, ThePLUG and BLKTECHCLT

ThePLUG is the first daily tech newsletter covering founders and innovators of color.

Sherrell Dorsey, ThePLUG

Sherrell Dorsey, ThePLUG

What do these people have in common: Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Larry Page, Tim Cook, and Larry Ellison? Yes, these are all icons of the tech industry. They also happen to be white men.

Sherrell Dorsey of ThePLUG says, “Part of my personal and professional growth was staying abreast of what was happening in the news.” However, she noticed a gap in tech news. “The daily business and tech news cycle is filled with the stories and work of white men building the future,” she says. “Rarely are we recognizing the work of black, brown, or female-led companies that are powering our future.”

As Sherrell investigated why this gap existed, the common explanation that read was that there were no black or brown people in STEM. “It was just lazy journalism related to the problem,” Sherrell contends. Working in the tech industry, Sherrell saw first-hand the contribution that people of color made to the field. But where were their stories?

Sherrell’s answer is ThePLUG Daily. She and her team curate some of the best news stories about founders and innovators of color. They also create original, well-written content.

Where Social Justice, Entrepreneurship, Tech, and Journalism Collide

Sherrell Dorsey grew up in Seattle, surrounded by a family of activists and social justice leaders. “Much of my work is inspired by their early commitments to black, brown and marginalized communities being treated with humanity,” she explains. Sherrell’s work would eventually follow in these same social justice footprints. “I remember going to those board meetings where my mom was working on issues. I hated it back then. But now I’m like, ‘Oh my god, she created a monster.’”

Sherrell was also an early entrepreneur. Sherrell’s mother instilled in her a sense of independence. She insisted that Sherrell find a way to earn money to purchase the extras she wanted. From the age of 12, Sherrell gave tap dancing lessons. As she grew up, she took on more and more clients. Eventually, she convinced the studio owner to give her a key to the studio so that she could provide private lessons at a higher price.

She also worked at her aunt’s hair salon. “I got to watch these incredible women who were providing such a tremendous community service,” she explains. “I watched the way they interacted with their clients. I watched the way they ran their operations. It gave me this idea of, wow, I can do whatever I want to do.”

Not only was Sherrell an early entrepreneur, she had an early start in the tech industry. She was an intern at Microsoft while she was still in high school. After college, she spent time working with Uber and Google Fiber.

Sherrell also honed her writing skills. While she was still in college, she launched OBV Media, a multimedia content platform serving a community of eco-conscious multicultural women. She has also contributed to Fast Company, TriplePundit, Black Enterprise, Redox, and others.

Today, Sherrell is a data journalist and entrepreneur. Her interests have come together in ThePLUG and BLKTECHCLT, Charlotte’s only inclusive and immersive tech center.

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Sherrell Dorsey

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Having access to resources helped me to have choice and freedom.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“My family supported me, but I had to look outside for influence and guidance on business.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It’s definitely been a nonlinear path.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Every decision I made was about, what do I want to learn?” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I learn hands-on.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I began to explore that through writing.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I knew I wanted to work with super-smart people and people who would challenge me.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I stayed on my aunt’s couch for three months.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I started hacking with a Goodbits account and MailChimp.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I didn’t have a logo. I didn’t even have a true voice for the publication.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I wasn’t sure what it was. I just knew this service should be out there.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I was up at 5 AM putting together the newsletter.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It really forces you to go back to your original Why.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Now we’re looking at original reporting.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We’re very excited about turning data into stories.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“For us, there’s that public interest piece that’s important.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“How do we drive inquiry into how tech applies to our communities?” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I’m starting to understand and respect the purity of what journalism is supposed to be about.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Persistence, grit, and endurance matters.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“If you feel like you don’t have the skills to take it to the next level, get some help.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We derive a ton of value from constantly serving our audience.” @Sherrell_Dorsey @_theplugdaily”]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


How To Make a Living without Losing Yourself, with Sharon Rowe, The Magic of Tiny Business

The Magic of Tiny Business is now available for preorder.

Sharon Rowe, Author, The Magic of Tiny Business

Sharon Rowe, Author, The Magic of Tiny Business

Sharon Rowe is a pioneer in social entrepreneurship. She launched her company, Eco-Bags Products, almost thirty years ago. Her company produces ECOBAGS, the original reusable bag.

When the daughter of a friend approached Sharon looking for a book on how to launch a business, Sharon looked around and didn’t see what she wanted in the marketplace. Like any good entrepreneur, Sharon decided to fill that gap. The solution is her new book, The Magic of Tiny Business: You Don’t Have to Go Big to Make a Great Living.

Sharon first told me about her book exactly one year ago when she first appeared on Social Entrepreneur. You can hear her interview here:

When I asked Sharon who she had in mind when she wrote the book, she quickly responded “Me. Thirty years ago.” She wrote the book that she wishes would have been on the market when she began.

Sharon takes on the myths that keep aspiring entrepreneurs from starting. “There are too many cultural myths out there that say; you can’t get started unless you have…this,” she explains. “I wanted to take the cover off the mystery called business.” The book provides practical advice on how to start without becoming overwhelmed. “I wove into this book a lot of takeaways that you can easily and readily apply,” Sharon says. “I wrote it to be accessible, applicable, and fun.”

The Magic of Tiny Business is available for preorder today.

Quotes from Sharon Rowe

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I built a business that fit my life.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I decided to write the book to get clearer on my why, and then to figure out, how did I do it?” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Along the way, there was a lot of failures.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It was time to start sharing what I’d learned.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“There are too many cultural myths out there that say, you can’t get started unless you have…this.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I wanted to take the cover off the mystery called business.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It’s a lot of work to get the work you don’t want to do.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Without profit, you can’t proceed.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“This is not another book about ‘get confident and go.’” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“If you can identify your why, you can stay on the right path.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“You’re going to fail at least 20% of the time, so just let it go.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It’s not about making a killing. It’s about making a very good living.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“A book, you can share.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I am still pretty attached to my pen and my paper.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It’s kind of like a birthing process.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I wove into this book a lot of takeaways that you can easily and readily apply.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Preorders really matter.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I wrote it to be accessible, applicable, and fun.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It’s about becoming a part of many different communities.” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“What’s your why?” @sharon_rowe_ @ecobags”]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Beyond Autism Awareness, Thorkil Sonne, Specialisterne

Specialisterne is creating one million jobs for people with autism

Thorkil Sonne, Specialisterne, World Autism Awareness Day

Thorkil Sonne, Specialisterne, at the United Nations for World Autism Awareness Day

April 2 is World Autism Awareness Day. Autism affects 1 in 68 children, and the prevalence is growing. In fact, it is one of the fastest-growing developmental disorders in the U.S. Though no two cases of autism are alike, autism impacts social interaction, cognitive function, and communication. 40% of children with autism do not speak.

These differences in people who experience autism can lead to social isolation. Most are locked out of the workplace. But does that have to be the case?

According to Thorkil Sonne of Specialisterne, autistic people have capabilities that make them ideally suited for certain specialist jobs. The name Specialisterne is Danish for “specialists.” Thorkil describes it this way. “This is a group of people who are not thriving on the paradigm of a generalist. But they can thrive under the paradigm of specialists.” He has a goal of creating one million jobs for people with autism.

“Autistic people have many talents, like everyone has,” Thorkil explains. “They have attention to detail. They are very structured. They have pride in what they do. And very often they come up with ideas that no one else has thought about. This is what so many companies are looking for.”

According to Thorkil, one barrier to employment is the ability to sell themselves to recruiters. “How can we help recruiters understand the talent, rather than how good this person is at selling himself or herself?” That’s where Specialisterne comes in.

“Typically, we will have conversations with a company. We’ll ask them where they have challenges to recruit talent,” Thorkil says. “Do you have jobs that could benefit from attention to detail and some ideas that no one else has thought about? I’ll bet a lot of jobs would benefit from people like that.”

Specialisterne screens employers for a good fit. “We don’t want to work with just any employer,” Thorkil describes. “We want to work with companies that understand that you have to adapt to settings where autistic people can thrive.”

They look for companies with four primary values:

  • Diversity: They value diversity on their teams. They recognize that diversity makes teams stronger.
  • Accommodations: Companies recognize the need for accommodations for the individual.
  • Clarity: Set expectations. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. Expect that you will have honesty in return.
  • Accessibility: If employees need guidance, they know where to go and get it.

Not surprisingly, Thorkil explains, “What we see is, a place where autistic people thrive, will be a better place to work for everyone.”

Because Thorkil’s background is IT, Specialisterne has a strong relationship in the IT industry. However, they have placed people in jobs from pig farming to cybersecurity and everything in between. “These are the specialists that your company needs, and we can help you.”

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Thorkil Sonne

[spp-tweet tweet=”“How would you describe a non-autistic person? We’re all individuals.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It felt like a catastrophe.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I felt it was so unfair that people like that don’t get a chance like everyone else.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It’s also unfair to the labor market.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We have created barriers that keep so many talented autistic people out of the workforce.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“My son was the same kid the day before and the day after the diagnosis.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We had to accept the way he is, and then try to influence our society.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I did not spend my time on risk analysis.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I asked my wife if we could mortgage the house because I needed to do this.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We don’t have an exit strategy until we have changed society.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

[spp-tweet tweet=””When you create the right environment, the ‘dis’ disappears from disability.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“These are the specialists that your company needs, and we can help you.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“Dedication and family support are more important than risk analysis and business plans.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“It is difficult to solve a social challenge through a business model.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We can all be changemakers.” @spfnd @Spfnd_USA”]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


Create Talks that Move the World, with Sally Koering Zimney, This Moved Me

This Moved Me helps purpose-driven changemakers speak with confidence, clarity, and authenticity so they can create talks that move the world.

Sally Koering Zimney, This Moved Me

Sally Koering Zimney, This Moved Me

Moments become movements when meaning can be transmitted from one person to another. Whether it’s the #MeToo moment, or a new era of civil rights, important ideas are spread from person to person.

Humans are fortunate that we have language to convey these important ideas. However, unfortunately, many of us have preconceived ideas about what it means to speak in front of others. Many of these ideas are unhelpful.

That’s where Sally Koering Zimney comes in. Sally is an award-winning speaker and a presentation coach. She helps people create talks that move the world through her company, This Moved Me Productions and her weekly podcast, This Moved Me. Sally is so unconventional in her approach, she even has a TEDx talk on being an Un-Speaker.

Sally’s Path to Becoming a Speaking Coach

Sally’s love of moving audiences started early in life. In a recent interview, Sally described her childhood this way, “Middle class, middle child, middle America!” Her parents were both beloved teachers. Her mom focused her later career on adult education as an administrator helping immigrants learn English and take citizenship classes.

Sally Koering Zimney, This Moved Me

Sally Koering Zimney, This Moved Me

“My three brothers and I would drop in to my mom’s night classes, meeting people from all over the world in our fairly sheltered suburban city. Our lives were by any definition ‘privileged’, and yet, we were raised on values like inclusion, compassion, social justice, and the belief that education is the way to change the world.”

As the only girl with three brothers, Sally was a bit of a tomboy. “I loved sports when I was young and would eagerly jump into whatever activity my parents signed me up for.” From an early age, Sally loved to sing and was drawn to creative expression. “I loved to swing on my backyard swing set, and sing and sing and sing. My Dad turned his storage shed into a playhouse and schoolhouse for my imaginative playtime. It was a creative and imaginative place I would spend hours in every day. I was a happy, busy, extroverted and messy little tomboy who felt loved and supported. It was a wonderful childhood.”

As Sally grew up, she found her home on the theater stage. “I was in high school speech and won the National Championship of Original Oratory and had defining moments on stage in theater. There were heartbreaks and setbacks as well, of course! – but looking back on it now, it was such a positive experience overall.”

From the beginning of her career, Sally coached her colleagues on their presentations.

“The problem that bothered me was that most presentation coaches were setting out a formula for an ‘executive presence’ or ‘perfect and polished presentation.’ I wanted to help speakers to bust through these old and plastic definitions of speaking to find their more ‘authentic’ voice, which is a much tougher, messier, and less defined approach.”

“Too many presentations were just plain bad,” she explains. “Yet few were surprised or bothered by that. It was just kind of accepted. ‘Yeah, we just do slides like that. Yeah, these meetings are always boring. Yeah, that’s just the corporate lingo. Yeah, who cares!?’ Authenticity changes all of that. It asks us to do so much more with the moment but offers so much more to the audience.”

Sally’s Work Today

Sally’s purpose derives from a belief that we can move the world with a talk. “It has happened, and continues to happen,” she says. “Sometimes in a sermon, or from the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, or on the TED stage, or in front of the boardroom.”

Sally coaches presenters both inside and outside of corporations. “An internal presentation to your colleagues can change the direction of your business, and the world. It happens in the big and little moments, and so it’s worth preparing for them and investing in making sure they matter to your audience.”

But, why does she emphasize authenticity? Her focus is not just on the speaker, but on helping the speaker to create an experience for the audience. “Authenticity is challenging to define, and even harder to find in oneself and then share,” Sally admits. “But ironically, it’s easy to identify from an audience’s perspective. And it makes the process of creating, practicing and delivering your message both more impactful and much scarier.”

What Sally Got Wrong

Sally admits that she did not always get her coaching practice right. “My biggest mistakes early on in my coaching career came from how I gave feedback. As is typical starting out, I was so eager to prove myself and my expertise. I wasn’t thinking about how the feedback would be received. I was only thinking about how on-point it was. And the speaker paid the price.”

How badly was she off the mark? “It was brutal. I even used grades, for goodness sake,” she admits. “These poor speakers, who didn’t have any choice in working with me, took big hits to their confidence levels, which is never good.”

Eventually, Sally modified her coaching style. “It didn’t take me long to realize that even if I was right in my feedback, it didn’t matter. The speaker felt less ready to get up and try again. A speaker’s ego is an essential part of their ability to get up and own the moment. I had to slow down and give only the feedback that would be helpful to them in this moment. I started my feedback mantra ‘honest and helpful.’”

Something unexpected came from giving honest and helpful feedback. “I discovered that giving feedback became this wonderfully vulnerable and relationship-building experience,” Sally explains. “I don’t like conflict, but I had to walk into it again and again as a coach. And eventually I saw that giving empowering feedback not only worked, but it was fulfilling for the speaker and me. One of my speakers said that through the process, they felt truly seen and loved. That really touched me, because I know how hard it is to receive feedback. ”

Sally’s Work Continues

Sally is building self-guided content for speakers in what she is calling MoversUniversity. Sally describes MoversUniversity as “an online platform of training modules for speakers to help them develop clearer content, deliver more authentic presentations, and master a speaker’s mindset. It’s been a long-time coming, and I’m excited to launch it in the next several months.”

BONUS Material

This interview contains bonus material where Sally discusses:

  • How she learned to be a speaker and coach.
  • What she got wrong about coaching.
  • Her personal mantra as a coach.
  • How feedback can be a gift.

You can find the bonus episode here:

Social Entrepreneurship Quotes from Sally Koering Zimney

[spp-tweet tweet=”“The people who find me are mission and message-focused.” @thismovedme”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I talk about editing as one of the most underutilized, underrecognized skills that we need as leaders.” @thismovedme”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“What am I willing to stand up and put myself on the line for?” @thismovedme”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“What is the new thing I have to say about this old idea?” @thismovedme”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“You can write a great speech, but then what do you do?” @thismovedme”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We want to speak fully integrated physically.” @thismovedme”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“The biggest role I play as a coach is pushing people up on their feet faster.” @thismovedme”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“I spend a lot of time breaking down people’s ideas of what speaking really is.” @thismovedme”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“People want to connect with a speaker. I want to know who you are.” @thismovedme”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“We have to show up, and for people to feel connected.” @thismovedme”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“My mantra now is, ‘honest and helpful.’” @thismovedme”]

[spp-tweet tweet=”“This is an art form more than it is a science.” @thismovedme”]

Social Entrepreneurship Resources:


BONUS Interview, Sally Koering Zimney, This Moved Me

This Moved Me helps purpose-driven changemakers speak with confidence, clarity, and authenticity so they can create talks that move the world.

Sally Koering Zimney, This Moved Me

Sally Koering Zimney, This Moved Me

This interview contains bonus material where Sally discusses:

  • How she learned to be a speaker and coach.
  • What she got wrong about coaching.
  • Her personal mantra as a coach.
  • How feedback can be a gift.

You can find the full interview here:

Social Entrepreneurship Resources: