Reflections on the 2018 Net Impact Conference (warning: inspiration ahead)

I want to keep this short and let my links speak for themselves. My attempt here is to share some highlights and inspiration with you, and allow you to take them in, as best you can, as if you were living in my shoes at the conference. Hope you take a little time to do so – enjoy what took me three days in maybe one hour? Seems like a good deal.

October 25

Opening Keynote speakers highlight – Antony Bugg-Levine, Nonprofit Finance Fund


He convened the meeting that coined the term impact investing. How freaking cool is that. That was only TEN YEARS AGO.

October 26

Opening Keynote Speakers highlight: Stephen Ritz, Green Bronx Machine

This guy broke every rule in the book in his talk and in his life. He’s lost a lot of weight and made a lot of world-changing progress since this talk but it’s still enough to get you close to the inspiration.

Then there was this:


Yup, that was my great addition to the conference. Some aluminum foil and some Play-Doh.

In a breakout session titled “Designing with Empathy at the Base of the Pyramid”, Pact‘s Michelle Risinger took about fifty of us on a journey towards taking the growing “design thinking” movement in the private sector and moving this unique brand of human-centered research, empathetic listening, and prototype building based off building off the needs of a client or customer to those most in need. This was my attempt to provide a better waiting room experience for my partner, including a dance floor, a board game area, and a private booth to facetime with family. She revealed the true project that Pact had covered in the end, which was to take a plain and lonely hallway where patients awaited teenage circumcision as a form of STD prevention, while hearing the screams of the patients in the room right next door, after walking for hours to get there and with no recovery area.

We redid our assignments and thought about simpler needs, placing ourselves in shoes (or lack thereof) very different than our own. Ear plugs, slippers, blankets, going through the procedure three at a time for support, and more

October 27

It was hard to hear about the Pittsburgh shootings, but I was inspired to be able to watch this woman speak immediately after.

Opening Keynote Speakers highlight: Gina McCarthy, C-Change

She reminded me how much I miss President Obama, to say the least, he just had a real knack for finding amazing people to place in important positions, but McCarthy, as former Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, also gives me such hope for the future. Even the future of politics. Please watch.

And next was actually the final keynote I saw, but it was, rightfully so, a bit of a downer. So I’m jumping to it now so I can end on an up note. It’s a downer, but it’s among the more powerful messages delivered in a powerful way that I’ve ever seen. He is the first speaker I’ve ever seen stop the audience from cheering for his success, because he believes, like so many of us in the room, his success was only possible by winning the luck of the draw while others are deprived opportunity.

Closing Keynote Speakers highlight: Adam Foss, Prosecutor Impact

Finally, I am extremely interested in utilizing my MBA to address, well… work. Particularly how low America is in terms of the average happiness of our citizens, and the lack of fulfillment we get from the workplace.

Here are two wonderful resources I learned in great detail about at the same time in sitting in my final session, led by Aaron Hurst of Imperative and also attended by the equally compelling Jeff Hittner of Project X.

Click on these links. The first if you work anywhere or plan to work anywhere, to understand your role in the “purpose economy.” The second if you study anywhere or plan to study anywhere, you can find a way with this “purpose company.” You will be glad you did.

Hope you enjoyed your conference via blog experience! See you next year!


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