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S03.07 From Musician to Impact Leader
Episode 727th October 2021 • Capital Musings • UN Capital Development Fund (UNCDF)
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Paul Klein, Founder and President of Impakt, explains how his background as a guitarist and arts administrator led to a career in social entrepreneurship and impact consulting, helping corporations and businesses try to solve some of society’s biggest problems. His new book, “Change for Good,” shares lessons for aspiring social entrepreneurs and change agents.

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Esther:

Hello everyone.

Esther:

I'm Esther Pansa, head of partnerships, policy and communications at the United

Esther:

nations capital development fund.

Esther:

Welcome to season three of Capital Musings UNCDF podcast, where we focus

Esther:

on fresh ideas and new innovations that serve our mandate to make finance

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work for the poor in the world's least developed countries, you can find

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our Capital Musings podcast on apple, Spotify, or our website www dot UNCDF dot.

Esther:

The theme of season three is the road to Doha.

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We will be exploring issues relevant to the LDCs ahead of the fifth UN

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conference on the least developed countries in Doha, Qatar in 2020.

Esther:

Today.

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We're very happy to be speaking with Paul Klein, founder and president of

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impact a Toronto based B Corp, focusing on thought leadership, providing advisory

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services and creating change for good.

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He's also the founder of the impact foundation for social change and

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author of the new book change for good.

Esther:

Paul, thanks so much for joining us.

Paul:

Thank you, Esther.

Paul:

What a real pleasure to be here with you.

Esther:

Please tell us about your background.

Esther:

Where are you from?

Esther:

What did you study and what led you to social impact?

Paul:

Well, That's a long story, but I'll try and make it fast.

Paul:

I'm from Toronto and I guess ultimately led me to social impact was I grew up

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in a household we're social justice and social change was a real priority on my

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father was a, architect who, among other things specialized in social housing.

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And recognized around the world for his work in that area.

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And my mother actually was, that artistic director of a.

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Folk music festival here but not only that she was, it wasn't just for her.

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It wasn't just the music.

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It was music about change a lot of the time, so music being a great way to

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communicate lots of things in particular social issues and social change.

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So I kinda came from a place of a very combination of parents

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who, made this real priority.

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And, I had the good fortune of honestly, of growing up because of

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them surrounded by some remarkable people, who were associated with

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my father's work, mother's work.

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And, just being around a kind of ethos of social justice for a long time.

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But it took me a long time, honestly, to realize how important that was.

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I started to pursue a more conventional academic path here

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at the university of Toronto.

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It was studying English literature and that was all good.

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And then after that I had a kind of awakening where I, felt because

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I had always been a musician as well, that I felt that I.

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change gears and go in that direction.

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So that led me to go move to Boston actually, where I was at the Berkeley

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college of music and studying guitar and which is still a very close to my heart.

Esther:

That is fantastic, but I feel like it's only half the story because.

Esther:

And for our listeners who don't know, Berkeley college of music is one of

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the best music schools in the world.

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So I can't wait to hear you play guitar Paul, because you must be incredible.

Esther:

So how did you go from there to starting a foundation and a B Corp

Esther:

focused on social entrepreneur?

Paul:

Well, I had no idea as I was saying, I had no direction.

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I had aside from like the old, at some point, I remember thinking, well oh, play

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in bands or something, and one of the things, as I said, though, my parents were

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super incredible environment to grow up in was not a big focus on being practical.

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Like there was never any discussion about well, what are you gonna, do in your life?

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Or how are we going to make money or what happens if you have a family or

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that was not part of the equation at all, and maybe it was just part of me.

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I genuinely had not thought about it other than thinking,

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somehow this is all gonna work.

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so as I said after I moved back to Toronto, after I was.

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Or did not get a degree at Berkeley actually.

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But I was there for two years.

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And cause I wanted to just perform and a lot of people go there for that purpose

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to dial up their ability and perform.

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Anyway, and that's what I was doing.

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And then just serendipitously I, knew someone who was in charge of

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marketing at the national ballet of.

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And she said well, they were just starting, this is in the early eighties.

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They'd started a marketing department for the first time at

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the national ballet of Canada.

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And she said, would you like to come and work with me?

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And I, really didn't know anything about marketing.

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I actually probably knew a little bit more about ballet than I did about marketing.

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but it sounded interesting, And so I thought we'll all do that,

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but I could also keep playing music on the side, I'll try it.

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And it was really interesting actually.

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And it was, a very energized time to be there.

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And there were some really inspiring people there.

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And this organization and our stability was actually, really

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accelerating and its popularity.

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We, I think did some great things.

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In spite of me not knowing what I was doing, we learned along the

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way and I was still playing music.

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And then, eventually couldn't continue to do both.

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I couldn't be up that late and then we're going to work all day.

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So actually stopped playing focused on this.

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And then, this started, again, A completely serendipitous path in

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working in arts administration.

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And where was this sort of connected a little bit to my experienced

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an interest in arts and culture, actually, a music, specifically.

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I'm working at the national , and then I, got a job at the Toronto symphony

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where ultimately it was the associate director of marketing and fundraising.

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And so that was good.

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It was there for a number of years.

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And I'll come back to that in a second.

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And then again, I don't mean to say that none of this was planned in any

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way, but bizarrely I became the leader of Canada organization called the

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Canadian parks and wilderness society, which is an environmental organization.

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And then helped start friend of mine, who I knew from the Toronto symphony

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named John Kimbell as an indigenous man started something which is now called the

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national Aboriginal achievement awards.

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He wanted help getting this thing going.

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He wanted to put it on television.

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You wonder we needed to raise a crazy amount of money in a short period of

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time, organize this whole thing, produced the event and get it on television.

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He asked me to help him sounded like something that was too good not to do.

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I did that.

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and then I was working at an agency that did what we call dead social marketing,

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which is really social change marketing.

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And that's when we were working for government smoking cessation campaigns.

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We were working for not-for-profit organizations and we were just in the

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work with large corporations was just a.

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In what we used to call corporate citizenship.

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So we were working with Hewlett Packard and Erickson and Pfizer, and.

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It was starting to come together.

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And I was something that I just felt really connected to.

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And then after being there for six years, thought well, I really liked

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the work, but I wasn't crazy about that particular working environment.

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So I quit my job and started impact first working out of our house.

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And that was 20 years ago.

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It was in 2001.

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the interesting thing is, that for me, the light bulb of working in

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this space actually happened while I was at the Toronto symphony.

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And it's a very crazy thing because there was an organization it's called

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the American symphony orchestra league and they have an annual conference.

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And while I was at the Toronto symphony, the annual conference of

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this organization was in Chicago.

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And I went there and the keynote speaker was Ben Cohen from Ben Jerry's ice cream.

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And that was probably in 1987 or 88.

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And I had never heard of Benji at the time.

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And this man gets up and starts talking about.

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How businesses could have a social purpose and contribute to social change.

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And I'd never heard that before.

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And it was just something, it was, that was the light bulb moment.

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I was like, wow.

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That's what I would like to do.

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Even though I really knew almost nothing about business.

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In fact, it was kind of anti-business if anything.

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But while I was at the symphony, part of my job was getting corporate sponsors for

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the symphony so that I heard Ben Colin, talk about that and just stayed with me.

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And then it took from probably 14 years or so from then to me starting impact.

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But, again, this was sort of happening in the background.

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I was interested in it.

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It was starting to bubble up.

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In other ways you had people like the body shop in addition to vantage areas who are

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doing this and connecting social change with business and other organizations.

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As I said, the work that we were doing for organizations like Hewlett Packard

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and Pfizer was really interesting.

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And then it, was sort of all coming together, to the point when I quit

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my job in my mind, I was thinking well, It's the perfect time to do

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this, but I was actually wrong.

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I thought, in some ways it was, the very beginning of this and what I've

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learned is you don't want to be the very first person something you want

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to get in a little bit after no, want to be the earliest adopter, but.

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It was what it was.

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And there was fairly lean times at the beginning, but I just kept going.

Esther:

So there are so many things I love about this story, Paul.

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I mean, the fact that you studied music, the fact that you're a musician

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and the fact that you've made your way through this, you know, circuitous path

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to where you are to founding impact, which for our listeners is I M P a K T.

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But also the fact that you were an early adopter.

Esther:

Right.

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That you were driven by your convictions at the beginning of this process, not now.

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And it's very easy to join what everybody else is doing and it's inevitable

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and it looks like it will succeed.

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But in the beginning when nobody was talking about this, I'm sure so

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many people told you you were crazy or it wouldn't work or whatever.

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And that's what happens to pioneers because you're ahead of the curve.

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And so you've actually helped lay the groundwork and build

Esther:

the field for everybody else.

Esther:

So thank you very much.

Paul:

You only know what you know.

Paul:

Right.

Paul:

one of the things that that turned out to be over a long period of time turned out

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to be really good about starting earliest.

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As I said, I was working here out of our house I had a lot of time, not too many

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clients and a lot of time and someone who I really respect said to me well, you

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should be writing about, what you do, you should be writing about this area.

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And as I said, I had a lot of time.

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I thought.

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Okay, I'll try and do that, and so I did start to write about this stuff and

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I found out that I really liked doing that and it was a great way for me to

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help It was a great base for me to help my self understand what it was all about

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and also perhaps communicate to others.

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And so I started writing and ultimately was writing for a lot of

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different publications, Forbes, and other business magazines and still

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do, and over a long period of time.

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That was just important to me personally.

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And I hope contributed to.

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The way other people understand as well.

Esther:

So in the UN you hear a lot of these catchphrases and two

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of them are thought leadership and enabling environment.

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And I think this is a perfect example of both thought leadership

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that you put ideas out into.

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There and in the space before other people are thinking about them.

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So you lead people to the ideas that are new and exciting, and then

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enabling environment in the sense that you are helping to build the

Esther:

infrastructure intellectual and pragmatic needed for this field to grow.

Esther:

So we talk about at UNCDF in poor countries, but you did it in Canada.

Esther:

Right.

Esther:

That you've helped build the impact investing space and the idea of

Esther:

social entrepreneurs and in Canada, which is very, very exciting.

Esther:

When you set up impact, Paul, why did you do it as both a

Esther:

for-profit B Corp and a foundation?

Paul:

Well, The foundation part came later at the beginning, it was actually

Paul:

even before a B Corp existed, honestly.

Paul:

So it wasn't a B Corp at the beginning.

Paul:

I can't remember when that came in.

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But originally started.

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Just as a business.

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And then when the B Corp movement became important it seemed as part

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of DNA or ethos of, what we're trying to do and impact it was important

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to be a B Corp, so we became a B Corp and remain very proud of that.

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and I think it's Something that, it really continues to influence

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how we do the work that we do.

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And it's just so synonymous with what our idea is of impact, which

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is helping businesses to benefit from solving social problems.

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And I think, the B Corp world is really the, exactly the same.

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Environmental and social problems in this case.

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so that was in place, and we ultimately created the impact foundation for

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social change, which is a charity organization just two years ago.

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And that came from the mistakes that I made in bringing in social

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change programs directly to impact.

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So I'll explain that.

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So we had an impact of course worked for many years, working with mostly

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large corporations in helping to develop social change programs.

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Large company is like, Starbucks and here in Canada, Petro Canada, home

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Depot, and lots of companies, 3m.

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And while we were working actually with home Depot here in Canada and helping

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them, there are social programming around youth homelessness but, in a way

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where they actually made a commitment to help end youth homelessness, which

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was a very bold move at the time.

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And not many companies were actually committing to solving problems

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instead they were committing to.

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supporting change rather than coming due.

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solving things anyway, out of that work with home Depot, we had recognized

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that one of the reasons that youth are homeless is they're not employed,

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and there's a vicious circle there.

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You've got a youth employed, nothing in their resume that can't get employed,

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that perpetuates homeless criminal activity and all kinds of things.

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And we thought, imagine if we could create uh, mechanism or platform to connect youth

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who have experienced homelessness, but were ready to be employed with entry-level

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employment at large corporations.

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That ended up in a straightening, something called higher up, which was

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the first platform I believe in the world to connect to youth in this precarious

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position with entry-level employment.

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And we got companies, home Depot is employing people, Walmart, and all kinds

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of large corporations, Nordstrom, and.

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we had without really thinking about it or understanding what we were doing impact

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that was a consulting company was now also a directly creating a social change.

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And that did not work financially because we were Financing the social change work

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we were doing out of cashflow of impact.

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but we were in it to the point that we couldn't stop it was already

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going and we were also stuck in the situation where, we couldn't

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get Charitable donations to support this cause partly it was a charitable

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activity cause we were not, a charity.

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And we couldn't get investors in this because it didn't quite qualify.

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In that respect either.

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Cause we weren't structured as a company.

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there were a consulting company.

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We were not a company.

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structured to, take people's investments and then exit from

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those investments and so on.

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So this whole situation with higher up led to a lot of experimentation.

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Honestly, at first we started a, not charitable, but in a nonprofit

Paul:

corporation and that worked for a while, but then it didn't work because

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organizations that could have provided.

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Charitable contributions need us to be a charity, could do that.

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Of course, being a nonprofit, we We couldn't create an

Paul:

investment structure either.

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So, We did get some funding so that didn't work.

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Then we decided to start a new, we thought well, this could be a corporation.

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We'll set it up like a social enterprise that people could invest.

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It turned out that after a time we hired someone to lead

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that and create a whole team.

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actually got a fair amount of funding from the federal government here.

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We created a whole new, tech platform but then we could not

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prove a good enough business case.

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So, We, couldn't get investors for that either.

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Ultimately we ended up gifting that whole platform higher up to a shared

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organization called raising roof.

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But out of all this we realized that we still wanted to be

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doing social change programs.

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We want it to be doing, providing the advisory services and consulting

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that we would all be doing.

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And uh, I met with someone here in Toronto named mark Bloomberg.

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Who's lawyer and authority on how to structure.

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Organizations for the purpose of social change.

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I told them about this.

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I said, we've got an impact.

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We've got this, not for profit organization that still existed.

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We called impact labs and they said, oh, it's easy, you need to have a charity too.

Paul:

I was like, oh my God, you're telling me now we need to start

Paul:

a charitable organization.

Paul:

Which is honestly the last thing I want, thought about doing or one.

Paul:

We ended up doing it and you know what it was the right decision.

Paul:

And it's actually been really great.

Esther:

That's so interesting, Paul, thank you so much for walking us

Esther:

through this very complex issue of how do you structure your organization.

Esther:

If you want to achieve good at the intersection of charitable giving and

Esther:

investment, we know it's not easy and we know at the United nations that there's

Esther:

a very fine line between how you use grant money to seed investments, and

Esther:

then how you attract commercial money.

Esther:

It has to be packaged in a different way.

Esther:

It has to.

Esther:

Be sold in a different way.

Esther:

There are very strict rules about what type of money you

Esther:

can use for what purpose.

Esther:

I think it's also fantastic that you've been an entrepreneur.

Esther:

You are an entrepreneur and you've built a successful business, which

Esther:

is quite different from many of the advisors in this space who have never

Esther:

themselves taken on the risk or the responsibility or the headaches of.

Esther:

Building a business themselves, but they give a lot of advice to entrepreneurs.

Esther:

So I think we can establish that you are doubly in authority in this field.

Paul:

Well, I, you know, again, it happened in a way that was

Paul:

out of necessity and intention.

Paul:

But that's how entrepreneurs work and, one of the things that I believe in

Paul:

the social change role is there needs to be a lot more entrepreneurial ism

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and not just entrepreneurs themselves, but entrepreneurial thinking in large

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organizations and corporations as well.

Paul:

But one of the things that I think is unusual about impact as it's turned

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out is by having the work that we do.

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In the consulting space with impact as the B Corp and having the charitable

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foundation impact foundation for social change is, you know when we're

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speaking with corporations, we can talk about social change in a way

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that has great Credibility, because we're actually doing that as well.

Paul:

And I don't think I mentioned that the mission of the entire foundation of

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social change is to create pathways to employment for gullible people.

Paul:

So we are doing that.

Paul:

and our experience in creating things like higher up and the other work

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that we've done since then on the foundation side has greatly influenced.

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I think not just how we're seeing, but how we ourselves are thinking

Paul:

about what we're doing in this space.

Paul:

In a way that I don't think would have ever happened if we hadn't gone

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through all that, and the other thing which is, been very helpful is because

Paul:

of the depth of experience that we've had in the corporate sector, it

Paul:

actually helps on the foundation of.

Paul:

Some of the organizations on the corporations that we've had the

Paul:

good fortune of supporting have contributed to the impact foundation.

Paul:

We started the foundation with already a fair amount of profile, in this space.

Paul:

So not like anything's easy, but it's been easier than if one had

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just started a foundation, a charity.

Paul:

From ground zero, wasn't it ground zero.

Paul:

It was like coming into a social change space at a particular level

Paul:

to start with, made it a bit easier and it made it in terms of getting

Paul:

results, made that much faster.

Esther:

Absolutely.

Esther:

And what a fantastic way to combine theory and practice, right?

Esther:

That you are pushing the boundaries of what, the thought leadership is, or

Esther:

the expert thinking is in this space, but you're also implementing directly.

Esther:

So you can immediately test your theories and you have more real world

Esther:

experience to draw from then most kind of advisors or consultants.

Esther:

So what an exciting model.

Esther:

So please tell us about your new book change for good.

Paul:

Change for good.

Paul:

Yes.

Paul:

Hot off the press.

Paul:

Sorter.

Paul:

If it's good, it's going to be out March 15th, but it's

Paul:

already available for presale.

Paul:

So, Change for good.

Paul:

The idea of change for good actually started before COVID and

Paul:

it came out of just a ongoing.

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Experience that I'd had working with corporations in this space and thinking

Paul:

about how to connect business and social change and trying to understand some

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of the things that were not working as well as I thought they should have.

Paul:

and change for good is built around a problem, which is that what we

Paul:

find is that mostly corporations Are doing as little as is possible

Paul:

to be seen to do something good.

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If that makes sense.

Paul:

And so it's something that I started calling CSR light.

Paul:

And so, you see these organizations who they know they have to do some.

Paul:

Cause you can't be your sort of conspicuous by your absence.

Paul:

So if you need, to be seen to be involved in the community, supporting social

Paul:

issues, environmental things, obviously.

Paul:

And so on.

Paul:

But there's also in the corporate sector, very often a risk in

Paul:

being in doing too much or a perceived risk and doing too much.

Paul:

And we don't want to go too far, like we don't actually be doing something

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like home Depot had the courage of doing it years ago is actually

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committing to solving a problem.

Paul:

What happens if that doesn't work, or we've been to be seen to, we don't

Paul:

have the expertise in doing that.

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we don't have enough money to do that, or many other reasons what

Paul:

happens if, we're, somehow we could have some reputational damage for

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trying actually to do a good thing.

Paul:

So what I had observed over a long time is corporations that were sort of

Paul:

stuck in this Twilight zone of doing, wanting to be seen to do something,

Paul:

but really not wanting to do too much.

Paul:

And I started thinking about that as CSR light.

Paul:

And so that's where the idea of the book came from and the idea of change for good.

Paul:

It is about how businesses that are stuck in that.

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Can shift from a place of being doing ineffectual, CSR, effectual from a

Paul:

business and social change point of view, to really making social change,

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contributing, to solving social problems.

Paul:

Problems and identified as priority as STG priorities, doing that in a way,

Paul:

which is also beneficial for them.

Paul:

So that, was the idea of it.

Paul:

And, I have spoken to a few publishers before COVID and

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ultimately found someone that wanted to work with me on this project.

Paul:

But the whole thing actually didn't get started until middle

Paul:

of COVID, which was good.

Paul:

Because, I was going to the office, so I had more time to work on this

Paul:

here than I probably would have.

Paul:

Otherwise.

Paul:

That's how it came to be

Esther:

Yet, another thing to respect about you, Paul, that while the rest of us

Esther:

spent a year sitting around in our sweat pants, looking at our computers, you use

Esther:

the time to write a book so well done.

Paul:

Well, I'll tell you one quick story about that also, because

Paul:

that got this contract with the publisher, it's called ECW press.

Paul:

It was last September.

Paul:

And I had to have the manuscript done by the end of March, this past March.

Paul:

And so I thought well, I'll just start taking every Friday off and

Paul:

I'll write all day long every Friday.

Paul:

So I started this in September and by the end of November about.

Paul:

I had taken every Friday off, I had written nothing.

Paul:

It was not working.

Paul:

So, uh, This woman who's on our board of impact foundation.

Paul:

Actually, I told her this story, she said I was never going to work.

Paul:

And she's actually finishing a PhD.

Paul:

She's doing a lot of writing.

Paul:

And she said, what you have to do is you have to start writing

Paul:

little bit, every single.

Paul:

And the very next day after she told me that I started this different program,

Paul:

gave up the Fridays, then I ended up with, actually more than a little bit.

Paul:

because I was nervous at that point, how to possibly get this done.

Paul:

So I was writing from the road from five 30 to eight 30 in the morning, basically

Paul:

every day, except one day until march.

Esther:

That's very impressive.

Esther:

Stephen King writes this in his book on writing.

Esther:

Stephen King says it's not rocket science, just do it.

Esther:

And his advice for writers is a thousand words a day.

Esther:

And he's a thousand words a day, 300 days.

Esther:

You're done with your book, right?

Esther:

And he's after that, go play basketball.

Esther:

I'll have lunch with your kids.

Esther:

Just do a thousand words a day.

Esther:

It doesn't matter if they're good or not just do it.

Esther:

And the practice of doing it gets you into the habit and then it's done over.

Paul:

Totally.

Paul:

And I'm a fairly obsessive person.

Paul:

So once I started to realize that it just became that the numbers, and then

Paul:

I had an Excel chart going day and I was thinking, okay, well today maybe only

Paul:

500 words, I'm not good enough tomorrow.

Paul:

I better do whatever it is, to reach it for the average for them at that time,

Paul:

I started to going to need to be done.

Paul:

And that was helpful for me.

Esther:

It's quite an accomplishment.

Esther:

I mean, writing a book is like running a marathon or losing a lot of weight.

Esther:

It's one of those things where you're rewarded by small effort over time.

Esther:

Right.

Esther:

And what's so hard for so many peoples.

Esther:

They don't have the discipline to keep up the small effort over time.

Esther:

They think it will be two or three big Fridays.

Esther:

You go out and, run 20 miles and then you collapse.

Esther:

But it's actually a little bit a day over a long period of time.

Esther:

And that's very hard to do so.

Esther:

Congratulations.

Paul:

Well, thank you.

Paul:

And I actually.

Paul:

I had known this sudden, and my only other experience, which I had forgotten

Paul:

about honestly, was in music, same thing.

Paul:

If you want to learn instrument it's the same thing and I've told people

Paul:

for years, it's better that people, will start to play again or something

Paul:

like well, I'm going to practice two hours a day, I'm going to practice

Paul:

two hours a day, never gonna happen.

Paul:

I always say, 15 minutes, if someone did 15.

Paul:

Every single day you get a lot farther because you never

Paul:

going to keep up the two hours.

Esther:

I'm going to tell my son that for his violin, which I don't think

Esther:

he's touched in about six months.

Esther:

So just start picking it up here.

Paul:

I could do the 15 minutes, you know, Anyway, I still, play guitar

Paul:

15 minutes every morning, actually.

Esther:

Fantastic.

Esther:

And I'm sure it helps with everything else, right?

Esther:

Like you're unleashing your creativity.

Esther:

It's relaxing.

Esther:

It's using a skill that you've developed over time.

Esther:

I'm sure it's just one.

Paul:

Well, you know, And I think that we're in a space here both of us and

Paul:

everyone who's in the social change space.

Paul:

And whether you're in a corporation or whether you're

Paul:

doing social finance or solving.

Paul:

You were still a largely in a, situation where we're inventing as we go, I

Paul:

think you have to understand business.

Paul:

You have to understand social issues.

Paul:

But I believe you also have to bring a high degree of creativity and innovations.

Paul:

What you're doing.

Paul:

One of the things I learned from you actually that I always think of that which

Paul:

I hadn't thought about before is things.

Paul:

People tend to look at things in quite binary ways I find.

Paul:

And you taught me about the whole world of blended finance.

Esther:

I'm so glad.

Esther:

I'm glad that I was the venue by which you could find out about this fall

Esther:

because you've done some fence, so many fantastic things in your sphere.

Esther:

So I completely agree with you with the creativity.

Esther:

I find that a lot of the people and not just because my degree is in

Esther:

theater directing, but I do find that people with non-traditional

Esther:

career paths, especially in.

Esther:

Yeah, you have the people who have done the NBA.

Esther:

They've been taught to think in a certain way, but if you're coming from a different

Esther:

path, you see problems differently.

Esther:

You've had different experiences.

Esther:

you call on different, contacts past influences.

Esther:

And so the way you look.

Esther:

The issue is different.

Esther:

And that's a diversity that I think people miss is that they're looking

Esther:

at the color of the person or their racial background or their gender, but

Esther:

they're not looking at how does this person think, how do they view problems?

Esther:

What is their approach to solving things?

Esther:

what are the inputs that have shaped how they see the world and the.

Esther:

Elements of diversity are equally important because otherwise you have a

Esther:

bunch of people who are from different racial backgrounds, who all approach

Esther:

the same problem, the same way.

Esther:

And then you come up with the same solution.

Paul:

well, What you just said reminded me of another thing, which is so important

Paul:

in our work and to me personally, and is really another Sort of a common

Paul:

denominator throughout this book change for good is the importance of

Paul:

involving people with lived experience and designing social change programs, as

Paul:

they say nothing about them without them.

Paul:

So, This is something that.

Paul:

from the direction that we come from, which is the large

Paul:

business sector, helping to create social change programs for large

Paul:

corporations, virtually never done.

Paul:

And that's another realization that I had because we know that the most

Paul:

successful social change programs happen when people lived experience are.

Paul:

In designing, implementing and measuring effectiveness of those programs.

Paul:

I'm sure you see this in your work.

Paul:

However, in the corporate sector it's just not, done almost never.

Paul:

So maybe that's one of the reasons why some of those corporate programs.

Paul:

And including the ones that we've done, we're guilty of that too, our

Paul:

kind of awakening in this space was when we were developing program, I

Paul:

was telling you about before I are up and we had this realization, my God,

Paul:

we're now trying to create a program.

Paul:

To address the needs of youth who experience homelessness

Paul:

and get them employed.

Paul:

We've never not been employed.

Paul:

We haven't experienced homelessness.

Paul:

We're creating these interventions that hopefully will impact people's lives,

Paul:

that this is a whole different level.

Paul:

And so we thought that only thing that would seem responsible.

Paul:

Was to bring someone in the team who had experienced homelessness, had

Paul:

experienced we were trying to do.

Paul:

And it was one of the most remarkable experiences I've ever had.

Paul:

And we ended up into the organization, covenant house.

Paul:

There was a young man who was living at covenant house

Paul:

and then was referred to us.

Paul:

It was still, homeless.

Paul:

He was living with them.

Paul:

They didn't have another home.

Paul:

And he came to work with our team of fairly educated, people had, no, I think

Paul:

he had maybe had finished high school or I can't even remember, but I'll tell you

Paul:

one thing when I interviewed him to start.

Paul:

I always ask people who want to work with or want to work with us.

Paul:

One of the questions I was asked is, if there's one thing that you

Paul:

could do that, you know, 100% that above anything else you could nail

Paul:

that you can do incredibly well.

Paul:

And very often people, like these are school graduates and lots of people

Paul:

will say things like XL or stuff

Paul:

seriously.

Paul:

But this person said chefs and I thought, oh my God.

Paul:

And he started talking about all these chess tournaments you've won.

Paul:

And so I thought this is an incredibly smart person.

Paul:

And a strategic person.

Paul:

So we hired him, his name's Cameron and Cameron was an absolute joy to work with.

Paul:

We learned so much from him and what we created with higher up just

Paul:

simply would never have been what it was without, and so that's when.

Paul:

The coin dropped for me realizing how important this is.

Paul:

And so ever since then, we have been in the work we've done with large

Paul:

businesses, bringing people with lived experience directly into the

Paul:

process of designing those programs.

Paul:

And that has meant.

Paul:

Sometimes people from large corporations going to frontline agencies to meet

Paul:

with people, having conversations and vice versa to, bring people with lived

Paul:

experience into the business context.

Paul:

And Just a at a personal level, it's an incredibly rewarding experience, I

Paul:

think for everyone involved, and this, work is extremely difficult as anyway,

Paul:

but I think it's made it, better.

Esther:

That's wonderful to hear Paul, not only that you recognize the need

Esther:

for this in development, of course, this is a prevalent problem where

Esther:

so many of the times the development program is designed to meet the needs

Esther:

of the donor and not the beneficiary.

Esther:

Nobody ever asks the beneficiary that the gift or the program, the intervention

Esther:

is just dropped into their environment.

Esther:

Presented to them, without anybody asking them what they need or what they want.

Esther:

But also that it requires humidity, right?

Esther:

It requires the giver or the person who nominally is in the position of power to

Esther:

recognize that they don't know everything, that there's something they can learn

Esther:

and that the people they are trying to help have their own needs desires.

Esther:

Authenticity and that their needs are as valid as the goals

Esther:

and priorities of the giver.

Esther:

So it's a really fascinating, and I think necessary approach to this type of work.

Esther:

And I'm happy that you guys have implemented it in your own work.

Esther:

That's a fantastic example.

Paul:

this is something that.

Paul:

As you said in the development world, this has been practiced

Paul:

hopefully well for a long time.

Paul:

the beyond that there's been very low awareness of how important this is.

Paul:

When we started the impact foundation actually are looking for an executive

Paul:

director impact foundation's work, as I said, is creating pathways to

Paul:

employment for vulnerable people.

Paul:

And we had the board Had put a priority on employment for refugees and newcomers.

Paul:

And so I really felt it was important to.

Paul:

Have someone with that experience.

Paul:

As the executive director, we ended up hiring a wonderful person named Martina

Paul:

and Barry, who came to Canada as a refugee from Nigeria is now the executive

Paul:

director of the impact foundation for social change and is doing an

Paul:

incredible job and is a wonderful person.

Paul:

and I just see that the way she speaks to people.

Paul:

About the work of the foundation and the way people listen to her.

Paul:

And if I was in that role, I could never do that would not listen the same way.

Esther:

That's an amazing story, and I think, the world has watched as Canada

Esther:

very, very generously and in an amazingly openhearted way, welcomed thousands of

Esther:

refugees during the Syrian refugee crisis.

Esther:

And afterwards, it certainly was an amazing example for your Southern neighbor

Esther:

and other countries around the world.

Esther:

But I think also one of the things that we realized in this space that for

Esther:

people who have traditionally been shut out of decision-making seeds or power.

Esther:

If you are lucky enough to be in that seat, one of your roles

Esther:

is to open the door and bring more people to the table, right?

Esther:

That's one of our obligations as people who have been lucky enough or privileged

Esther:

enough to have that opportunity maybe for the first time, maybe for the first

Esther:

generation, but then your role then is to bring other able people to that position

Esther:

so that they can speak for themselves.

Esther:

Change the way decisions are made.

Paul:

Absolutely.

Paul:

and so that's one of the things I hope when I think about

Paul:

change for good this book.

Paul:

I really hope that, try to do this to try to write change for good, in a way

Paul:

that would inspire more people to do.

Esther:

Wonderful.

Esther:

So Paul, you followed the seal for a long time.

Esther:

I'm going to ask you your own question, which is also a question

Esther:

we ask a lot here on the podcast.

Esther:

If there was one thing you could do to accelerate the progress of, for social

Esther:

entrepreneurs and the cooperation between business and the goal of achieving

Esther:

social change, what would it be?

Paul:

Well, That's not a fair question.

Paul:

I'm only, allowed to answer that question.

Paul:

No one's ever asked me, but I think if you could just do one thing,

Paul:

I think it's really what we were just talking about, which is I

Paul:

would advise corporations to be.

Paul:

Listening to involving listening to, people with lived experience, of

Paul:

the issues they're trying to solve.

Paul:

And because it's like, if you're in a, large corporation business

Paul:

at any sites, or you've got an it.

Paul:

it's unlikely.

Paul:

You're going to turn to a person who's experienced homelessness

Paul:

to solve that problem.

Paul:

Right.

Paul:

But these same businesses who decided they wanted to support

Paul:

homelessness will have no problem.

Paul:

Privileged people, highly educated people sitting in their boardroom,

Paul:

deciding how they're going to do that.

Paul:

So that to me just doesn't seem right.

Paul:

So I think that, all has to start there.

Paul:

There's a lot of things, but I feel like if you're not, starting from a

Paul:

place of truly understanding what the issue is then that's not going to work

Paul:

because I also believe that today, In terms of driving business value from

Paul:

these kinds of programs, it's not CSR.

Paul:

Like nobody cares about that.

Paul:

If there's such a ubiquitous and largely meaningless bunch of activities

Paul:

that are happening in the world's largest corporations in this area.

Paul:

So the value today is actually moving the needle on issues.

Paul:

And those are the easiest way to think about that.

Paul:

Those issues are the STGs and the most effective way of addressing those issues

Paul:

and getting business value from that is a voluntary lived experience, actually

Paul:

committing to moving the needle on them.

Paul:

as a part of doing this, if you do it in that word, being seen to be

Paul:

actually authentic and committed and being leaders, that's what will drive

Paul:

business value from Whether that's your employees looking at you differently, your

Paul:

customers or the investment community?

Paul:

It's all based on, uh, not just talking about stuff, but actually

Paul:

doing it and committing change.

Esther:

Wonderful.

Esther:

Thank you, Paul, for being such a leader in this area

Esther:

and a pioneer in so many ways.

Esther:

I hope people read the book change for good and that even

Esther:

more people are inspired by your example, as we here at UNCDF.

Paul:

Thank you.

Paul:

Esther listening.

Paul:

I'm inspired by YouTube works both ways.

Esther:

Thank you so much for joining us and thank you to our

Esther:

audience also for joining us on UNCDF podcast, Capital Musings.

Esther:

Once again, you can find us on apple, Spotify, and our

Esther:

website www dot UNCDF dot org.

Esther:

If you found this episode useful, please spread the word on Twitter.

Esther:

Hashtag Capital Musings, or leave us a review on iTunes reviews.

Esther:

Help new listeners discover our.

Esther:

So, if you enjoyed listening, please leave a review.

Esther:

Thanks.

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