My Stanford Social Innovation Review series

I’ve collaborated with the Stanford Social Innovation Review to write a series of articles about our work in social innovation education. Here is the list of articles I wrote or co-wrote as part of the series, in chronological order. In July 2017, I compiled them into a little book called Your Work Begins at No, which is available on request.

1. Social Change and the Shadow Side of Passion – find out what we mean by the ‘Wound-Gift Concept’. January 2014

2. Seven Elements of Social Innovation – our social innovation framework that underpins our training and education model. March 2014

3. Looking to Nature for Social Innovation – seeing nature as a guide and mentor towards improving our capacity to be innovators. June 2014

4. From Motivated Professional to Social Changemaker – 15 insights on leadership and transition from the frontlines of professional education. August 2014

5. World Literature on Social Innovation – A Quest – a new book makes an important contribution to a field screaming out for diversity—but may also illustrate why there isn’t more diversity. September 2014

6. The Inner Journey of the Changemaker – How we manage ourselves and empathize with others are as important as professional management skills in creating social impact. November 2015

7. Decelerate to Accelerate – Sometimes the fastest way forward may be to slow down. January 2015

8. Schools Aren’t Just Buildings – Why innovation in education is about a lot more than just building schools. July 2015

9. Time to Align – We get 24 extra hours this year, a great opportunity for social change leaders to look at the connection between who they are and what they do. February 2016

10. Are You Delivering Services or Are You Providing Value? – social innovators need to ask themselves whether the products and services they offer are actually new—and whether they in fact benefit the people they aim to help. February 2017

11. How to Develop Worthwhile Internships – Four guidelines for making internships valuable to both your organization and the next generation of social change leaders. June 2017

12. Building a Financially Sustainable Social Enterprise in Emerging Markets – Six lessons on achieving financial independence in a resource-constrained era. July 2017

13. A Medical School for Changemaking – how Amani Institute is building a skills-based and inclusive curriculum for changemaking in the developing world. May 2020

Check them out and share your thoughts!  And do share it with anyone you think might be interested!

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How Do You Learn How to Change the World?

In April 2016, I was honored to give a TEDx talk at TEDxAmsterdamED. It was a thrilling experience to walk onstage at a TED event, to find your way in the darkness to that red dot of a carpet, turn to face an audience of 500 that is all looking at you but you can’t see, take a deep breath, and begin.

I spoke about the growing trend of people all around the world seeking “careers of meaning and impact”, and willing to make personal sacrifices to do so. And how this would be a giant wave of change that our education systems and organizations aren’t yet ready for. Do watch the talk!



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Choose a Career of Courage

In May 2015, I was honored to give the Commencement Speech to the graduate schools (the schools of business, education & leadership, arts & sciences, peace, and nursing) at the University of San Diego. Watch it here:

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Finding Purpose in Times of Uncertainty

During the coronavirus pandemic, I did a virtual session (from my bedroom!) for the Circular Apparel Innovation Factory as part of a series of lectures on supporting organizations in the field of sustainable fashion. My talk was on the topic of retaining purpose in times of uncertainty, and why it’s exactly these times that will provide the highest return on investment for purpose-driven ventures.

You can watch the talk below:

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Chasing Off a Lion with a Mop: Graduation advice to our previous class in India

During commencement speech season, a few months ago, I gave the following virtual speech to our class of graduating Amani Fellows in India.

You can read the full speech here.

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Managing your career during COVID-19

The India Development Review invited me to reflect on the implications of the coronavirus pandemic for careers in the social impact sector in 2020 and beyond. Here is the “straight-talk” piece I wrote for them about where I see careers in social impact going.

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A Medical School for Changemaking

As part of their series on innovations in higher education, Ashoka U and the Stanford Social Innovation Review invited us to write about Amani Institute’s award-winning Social Innovation Management program. Here is the article we wrote for them.

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The Polar Bear is Toast, and Other Lessons from 2019

Needing a break from pandemic thoughts this weekend, I re-read my 2019 journal and excavated these 3 little insights that I hope you find interesting. You can read them here as an article published on LinkedIn.

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The 8 Best Books I Read in 2019

As in 2017 and 2018, here are my top book recommendations from 2019. Paradoxically, even though I read many more books in 2019 (35 in all), I actually have fewer ones to recommend than previous years. Partly that’s because a lot of my reading was for work (i.e. books I may not have chosen otherwise), and partly because that’s just the way things go sometimes. Still, all the ones on this list were exceptional and I’d recommend them to anyone. You can read the recommendations here. 

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Success Factors That Overcome the Talent Bottleneck Across Social Enterprises in Asia

In 2019, we at Amani Institute were honoured by a big award and associated funding from Argidius Foundation to scale up our pioneering leadership development program for middle- and senior-managers of SGBs in East Africa to India and Brazil. It was a great recognition of a lot of hard work!

In this article published by the Asia Venture Philanthropy Network (AVPN), I reflect on the lessons we have learned about investing in leaders to drive business growth and scale.

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Walk Your Talk

The Walk Your Talk event series is where changemakers around the world share stories of when they had to confront adversity and make a choice about how they are going to act, what decisions they take in the face of uncertainty. It was my turn in September 2018 and here I tell a story called “The Wake Up Call”, about a peculiar and dangerous day in Nairobi back in the summer of 2014 – and how the decisions we made that day changed the direction of Amani Institute’s story. Watch it here:


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The 12 Best Books I Read in 2018

I read 23 books in 2018. With some exceptions, my reading had a conscious theme. I wanted to explore, in both fiction and non-fiction, the question posed by Yuval Noah Harari in his book on this list: “What is happening in the world today, and what is the meaning of these events?”

On LinkedIn, I shared the best 12, this time in a simple – if highly subjective – countdown to the best book of the year. I would recommend every one of them.

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6 Insights about changemaking – and the difference between knowing something and understanding it

A few weeks ago, I sat watching the final presentations from our class of Social Innovation Management Fellows in India. I was struck by 2 things. First, that in each presentation there was a deep insight, one that had the potential to actually transform the nature of the problem they were addressing. Sometimes the presenter was clearly conscious of their insight and had reflected on it; other times they used it almost as a throwaway line or to summarize a slide, without conveying they actually knew the power of what they had learned. There were so many times I wanted to jump up and yell, “Wait! Do you know how powerful that is?”

On LinkedIn, I wrote about some of the more powerful insights from that day.

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