‘Amazing Stories’ of Social Entrepreneurs

“I realized there was a need—that young people were seeking advice and guidance on how to launch a career in changemaking—but they weren’t finding what they needed,” says Lara Galinsky ’96.“Yet, here I was, sit- ting on some of the most amazing stories and ideas and examples of people forging these paths.”

Galinsky, senior vice president of Echoing Green, which provides seed funding and wrap-around support to the world’s most promising social entrepreneurs (includ- ing Jess Posner ’09 and Kennedy Odede ’12 of Shining Hope for Communities), offered a WESeminar workshop on cam- pus in May, based on her book, Work on Purpose (Echoing Green, 2011). Graduating seniors, their parents, and alumni filled the room for a multigenerational exchange and to hear her advice.

In her book, Galinsky traces the path of five young social entrepreneurs, outlining key moments, deci- sions, and questions that led them to become changemak- ers in their generations. Her hope is that the book, like the WESeminar, “will create an opportunity for people to reflect and ask big questions—about career purpose and impact in the world.”

Often, says Galinsky, when she meets career seekers, they have a clear idea of what they don’t want to do, which they’ve discovered the hard way: by trying a career and finding that it made them miserable. However, their ideas about what they do want to do are only semi-formed. Often they simply say: “I want to make a differ- ence.” Her advice: “I ask people to go all the way back to their childhood and try to identify clues that could reveal a way forward.” She writes, “The stories of many changemakers suggest that the convictions and values forged in childhood are a foundation for a career with personal and social meaning.”

The next step, says Galinsky, is “synching head and heart.” After discovering what is most important to them, what evokes an emotional response, Galinsky asks her career-seekers to closely examine their skills and intellectual abilities.

“Synching head and heart is a choice,” she writes. “Many changemakers find that once they decide to let their entire selves be part of their work, they generate opportunities to work with purpose—to create a life that feels simply right.”

What happens when both emotional and intellectual commitment are working together, says Galinsky, is what she calls, “hustle,” a certain kind of energy. “Hustle is a state of being ‘in the zone’—impact driven and heading toward change.”

While she warns that this doesn’t mean you will never experience bad days or set- backs, she notes that this “head + heart = hustle” formula provides a high level of determination and energy that helps propel the changemakers past obstacles.

She calls her formula “a framework you can use throughout your life to create a career with impact” and notes that it has no age limit.

“The more reflective you are, and the more you pay attention to your feelings and thoughts, the bigger the payoff,” she says. She encourages career-seekers to have conversations beyond their immedi- ate circle: “engaging a larger brain trust,” she calls it, and was thrilled to see these discussions open between participants after her presentation at Wesleyan.

“Choose to be bold and to create a meaningful life, because this path will make you happy, and because you can have an impact,” she says. “The world needs you.” CONNECT WITH WESLEYAN

For further information on Echoing Green, Work on Purpose, workshops, and other offer- ings, see: echoinggreen.org.