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Year: 2014

On October 11,  brilliant makers, doers and innovators in 30+ cities gathered for The Feast Worldwide. The goal? To bring together the movers and shakers making Progression a reality in their city and spark new initiatives, conversations, and collaborations.  From Athens to Jakarta, we put our heads and hearts together to move our world forward.

Check out a few of our favorite clips below! We’ll be sharing stories from all 30 dinners over the coming weeks. A very big thank you to Feastly for making our global feast possible. Be sure to check them out for your next dining adventure.

Rio de Janeiro

Organized by the wonderful maestro Rachel Corrêa

Chicago

Organized by the incredible Pilu Sanchez

Nairobi

Organized by the power team Brenda Wambui and Mark Kaigwa


Hungry for more? See photos, tweets and other moments on The Feast Worldwide page. You can also join our newsletter to stay tuned for updates and find a dinner near you by.

Andrew Yang - VFA

The Feast and GLG have partnered to bring you the stories of today’s brightest social entrepreneurs. Global, technology-driven, and nimble, GLG is the world’s largest membership for professional learning and expertise. GLG Social Impact connects social sector organizations with experts across industries and geographies for perspectives and expertise to accelerate the impact of their work, including through the GLG Social Impact Fellowship. Come back to feastongood.com every Monday for a feature on their Social Innovation Fellows.

Andrew Yang is Founder and CEO of Venture For America, an organization that equips the best and brightest college graduates with the skills and experiences needed to become successful entrepreneurs by sending them to start-ups in major cities where the fellows help grow the company for two years. In 2012, Yang met with President Barack Obama as a Champion of Change for Youth Entrepreneurs.

What inspired you to start your organization?

I knew that there were thousands of smart and driven young people who wanted to get into entrepreneurship but didn’t know where to start. At the same time I knew that there were dozens of growth companies all over the country who needed talent to reach their potential. If we could connect these two groups, the value creation would be enormous. I’d also learned myself by working with more experienced entrepreneurs, and I wanted to create that experience for others.

At what point did you realize that your vision and had legs?

I had a lot of confidence in the idea of Venture for America. But being invited to the White House to meet the President in our second year was definitely a good sign

What has surprised you most about being an entrepreneur and building an organization?

The biggest surprise has been the relationships we’ve built and what the organization means to people. You can’t anticipate that.

What has been the biggest catalyst for your project and in what way?

The individuals who bought in and joined the team early on. With the right team you can accomplish anything.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered? Can you recommend any strategies that helped you overcome it?

Non-profits aren’t typically big growth organizations themselves. We’ve overcome that by building relationships with people and institutions that have very high levels of resources.

Is there a basic principle or value that guides what you contribute to the world? What is it and why?

“What drives me is that most people aren’t in opportunities or organizations that bring out the best in them. If you can address that, you can change the world and solve most other problems.”

What is most exciting about the world of social innovation for you? Are there pockets of hidden potential you see?

What are the engines of character in our society today? What forms the values of our young people? There’s the potential for someone to help answer these questions.

In your area of work or interest, what do you think is most needed? How could other entrepreneurs or initiatives contribute to the answer in collaborative or parallel ways?

“We need to genuinely encourage experimentation and failure. Our institutions may talk about it but they don’t reward it at all. Entrepreneurs should be more direct about just how fraught the path is.”

What is your theory of change?

If you put people in position to build something, they’ll take on the challenge and become better people as a result. Sometimes, they’ll even create a few jobs.

What is the long-term vision for your organization and how it impacts the world?

We need to create more disparate paths and visions of success and achievement in our society. If you create value you should be rewarded. If you don’t, less so.

My vision is that more people throughout the U.S. are able to do something much closer to what they’re designed to do without having to overcome a host of external factors and pressures or feel like misfits.

When do you feel you are personally at your best?

I get most excited when I see someone else find an opportunity that helps him or her grow.

If you could give one piece of advice to a budding social entrepreneur, what would it be?

“Sales is going to be a significant part of your role. If that’s not something you’re comfortable with, you might want to find a partner.”

The Feast’s weekly round-up is a mixture of useful information and extraordinary inspirations. Is there something that should be on the next list? Let us know!

 

Can the non-stop tech connectivity make you feel disconnected sometimes? Learn how to balance technology with human interaction for better results.

Creative partnerships often make the most fruitful outcomes for your mission. The clip isn’t new, but this piece resurfaced it to make an important point: “when you let creative people do their thing, you’ll get something good out of it.”

Take advice from those who know best. Clients and people in your community may hold all the answers or ideas you need, you just need to ask the right questions.

An experiment in user experience may just have just found a promising new approach for the tricky world of news and content. Syria Deeply, and now Ebola Deeply, have not only used design to improve engagement and education among masses, but its also exploring new ways forward to stay afloat as a publisher.

Why we should do away with the term social entrepreneur. It’s time the concepts of entrepreneurship and positive impact become synonymous.

How you tell your story can be more important than the story itself. Learn about the single most effective way at telling a compelling story.

Not a morning person? Here are 6 simple things you can do before work to kick-start your day.

Put play into your purpose. Take it from us, just because your company is trying to achieve serious things doesn’t mean its strategy can’t be playful.  Add some well-placed ‘fun’ to your brand.

Need to mix up your daily routine? These suggestions could make you more productive and fulfilled.

Eugenie Teasley Spark and Mettle The Feast GLG

The Feast and GLG have partnered to bring you the stories of today’s brightest social entrepreneurs. Global, technology-driven, and nimble, GLG is the world’s largest membership for professional learning and expertise. GLG Social Impact connects social sector organizations with experts across industries and geographies for perspectives and expertise to accelerate the impact of their work, including through the GLG Social Impact Fellowship. Come back to feastongood.com every Monday for a feature on their Social Innovation Fellows.

Eugenie Teasley is Founder and Chief Executive of Spark and Mettle, a charity that uses coaching, tech and collaborative events to build character strengths, soft skills and networks in young people.

there was a such a stark contrast between opportunities available to affluent young people and those from less privileged backgrounds. The economic crisis was making it a lot worse. I vowed to do something about it…

What inspired you to start your organization?

I had been a teacher in south London, I’d done a Masters in Education at UC Berkeley, and I had worked at inspiring non-profit 826 Valencia in San Francisco. When I returned to the UK in 2009, I felt that there was a such a stark contrast between opportunities available to affluent young people and those from less privileged backgrounds. The economic crisis was making it a lot worse. I vowed to do something about it, however small, and decided to focus on building the character strengths, soft skills, and networks that we all need to succeed and flourish in both work and life.

At what point did you realize that your vision and had legs?

When strangers started to sign-up to volunteer and support the idea within the first few weeks of my posting about it online, I felt I might be onto something. When young people applied to our first leadership development programme, it made me think we might be doing a good thing. And when we had our first chunk of funding through (from the Dulverton Trust) I suddenly felt that I wasn’t going completely insane and that maybe this little tiny potato of an idea could be a real goer.

What has surprised you most about being an entrepreneur and building an organization?

How relentless it is! The responsibility is occasionally overwhelming, but having great support in place (from the likes of my board, advisors, funders and now GLG) makes it a lot more manageable. I am also learning how to put trust in others to lead on projects, while also being present enough to support and guide. But with the responsibility also comes the joy of seeing great successes being had by our young people. Recently one of them, Seyi Akiwowo, has just become the Labour Party’s youngest ever councillor in the London Borough of Newham. Others have found jobs thanks to us. Whenever the admin of building an organisation grinds me down, it’s these moments that build me back up again.

What has been the biggest catalyst for your project and in what way?

It’s a boring answer but funding. The UK philanthropy world is different to that of the US. The pots tend to be smaller, but securing funding to cover our core costs and test out a range of different projects and programmes has enabled us to demonstrate where we make significant impact and to learn what we can do better.
Aside from money, the biggest catalyst is the range of brains that we have in on designing and shaping the work that we do. Our young people co-create programmes and projects with us, which makes them much richer and more relevant and useful. Those development sessions are some of my favorite elements of the job.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered? Can you recommend any strategies that helped you overcome it?

Focus. I love experimenting with different projects to see what works best, and I can sometimes stretch myself too thin. I’ve worked closely with the board recently to make sure that we run projects that cement our core work, and we are developing ways to share our learning and methodology with other organisations so that they can experiment on our behalf!

Is there a basic principle or value that guides what you contribute to the world? What is it and why?

Yes! That it is fundamentally unfair—wrong, in fact—that opportunities in life are available on the basis of your background and circumstances, and that the less privileged you are, the fewer opportunities there are. We believe that everyone has a unique set of strengths and talents that should be allowed to flourish, and our work centres around enabling these to emerge amongst less privileged 18–24 year olds so that they can fulfil their potential and thrive.

it is fundamentally unfair—wrong, in fact—that opportunities in life are available on the basis of your background and circumstances, and that the less privileged you are, the fewer opportunities there are. We believe that everyone has a unique set of strengths and talents that should be allowed to flourish, and our work centres around enabling these to emerge amongst less privileged

What is most exciting about the world of social innovation for you? Are there pockets of hidden potential you see?

I love the blend of social good and generating some form of income—there’s a chance to be self-sustaining rather than to just always seek donations that I find really appealing. I also love what a genuinely collaborative and complementary space it is. It feels like a tribe of people trying to work together to find a new way to have positive impact collectively.

In your area of work or interest, what do you think is most needed? How could other entrepreneurs or initiatives contribute to the answer in collaborative or parallel ways?

We need companies and organisations to think beyond narrow academic parameters and success criteria when looking for new young employees and to embrace diversity in all forms. We also need them to be willing to pay all interns a fair, living wage. Together with other organisations who are also working with exceptional young people from marginalised backgrounds, we can try to create a tipping point when companies are excited to hire diverse young people and to relish the cognitive dissonance they may bring.

We need companies and organisations to think beyond narrow academic parameters and success criteria when looking for new young employees and to embrace diversity in all forms.

What is your theory of change?

Eighteen to 24 year olds from less privileged backgrounds often are not able to articulate, demonstrate or develop the key character strengths and soft skills needed to succeed in both work and life. Our programmes, workshops, and events trigger new ways to recognise, nurture and showcase their talents through a mix of coaching, personal reflection and networking across and among different social groups. Through this process, young people become more confident about what they can bring to the world and are able to identify and move along the next stages of their career plan.

What is the long-term vision for your organization and how it impacts the world?

We want to be the global heavy hitters for the soft stuff, but we want to do that by sharing our approach with the world and seeing how others want to take and use it for themselves. We particularly want to support other organisations working with young people to find neat ways of quantifying this nebulous soft stuff, so that they can show the real impact they are having.

I love being the conductor of the orchestra, helping everyone play their best notes alongside everyone else.

When do you feel you are personally at your best?

Working with a mixed group of people to develop or review a project or programme—that gives me so much energy. Or being in a room full of a cross-section of people—from professional lawyers to recent school-leavers—and setting it up so that they are working collaboratively together. I love being the conductor of the orchestra, helping everyone play their best notes alongside everyone else.

If you could give one piece of advice to a budding social entrepreneur, what would it be?

Set up a CRM database right from the start and if you aren’t a process person, find someone who is who wants to help you! Surround yourself with people who encourage you and who provide useful and constructive challenge. And whenever you get a chance, to take some time off, actually turn off your phone, or at least your email. Your organisation is at its best when you are at your most energetic, and even us idealists need to recharge our batteries every once in a while, too.

The Feast’s weekly round-up is a mixture of useful information and extraordinary inspirations. Is there something that should be on the next list? Let us know!

Do new technologies facilitate or encumber your creative process? Seven speakers give their input.

The best design is adaptive design. This house rises with water levels.

What does parenting have in common with social marketing? This dad sees examples everyday with his 4-year-old.

How do you engage with ‘smart’ products? Our expectations and level of control over these products seem to be changing.

Some say culture beats strategy. Learn how to create a great culture brand in your company from an unlikely source.

New business plans don’t always work. Here are some insights into why and how to make them more successful.

Feel awkward at big networking events? Here are some ways to focus on your strengths and make connections.

Does confidence trump skill? Research says self-confidence plays a crucial role in your career path.

While smartphones are getting bigger, some are going the opposite direction.  A tiny wearable smartphone might become a reality with ‘Puls’ designed by will.i.am.

Is it time to go beyond cross-disciplinary? The MIT Media lab is going a step further than busting silos, it’s not acknowledge them at all. Read why they are going antidisciplinary.

The best entrepreneurs know how to fail. Get tips on how to be good at failing from Kuli Kuli’s Founder, Lisa Curtis on The Unreasonable Institute’s blog.

We had an incredible poem crafted for us by The Haiku Guys for a dance transition at The Feast 2014, led by The Windmill Factory. Below is the full text – read, breathe, and enjoy:

The day is over for us to keep quiet.

We will not let things run their course.
It’s time to sharpen our tools and cut out the poisoned irreparable sections.
Excise the tumors, dislodge the splinters.
It’s time to look at what we can salvage, and dream up fantastic solutions to expand the box.
It’s time we lash together the new beams, and rub sap into the corners.

Every detail remembered.
Every skill tapped.
Awaken every sense.

Take our passion and make it happen. What a feeling, progress.
We learn, grow, adapt.

Our heart beats strong as we make our future…
We will plant flowers along the paths, still moving forward.
We will test weights, build bearings, still moving forward.
We will teach the best paths, call out clearly the steps, moving forward
It doesn’t matter how fast we walk, run, fly…
It only matters.
How many hands and feet. Together we are powerful.

We declare a world in which… People love the work they do.
We declare a world in which… People live well, are well.
We declare a world in which… People thrive in the face of change.

We will create the course.

Today we will be heard.

Zach Rosenburg - SBP

The Feast and GLG have partnered to bring you the stories of today’s brightest social entrepreneurs. Global, technology-driven, and nimble, GLG is the world’s largest membership for professional learning and expertise. GLG Social Impact connects social sector organizations with experts across industries and geographies for perspectives and expertise to accelerate the impact of their work, including through the GLG Social Impact Fellowship. Come back to feastongood.com every Monday for a feature on their Social Innovation Fellows.

Zack Rosenburg is a co-founder and CEO of the St. Bernard Project, a national long-term disaster recovery nonprofit working to create housing, “prompt, efficient, and predictable” post-disaster aid, and jobs for community veterans.

What inspired you to start your organization?

My then-girlfriend, now wife, and I came to NOLA from DC in 2006, six months after Katrina. To be honest, we thought we’d miss the worst of it. But what we saw blew us away – the luckiest folks were living in FEMA trailers. Others were living in cars, attics – it was horrible. Our original plan was to raise money for organizations that were rebuilding affordably and efficiently, but we just didn’t see that happening. So we stayed and started to build houses.

SBP

At what point did you realize that your vision and had legs?

“When folks quit their jobs to volunteer with us full-time. And then when within 14 months of work we had rebuilt more houses than any other organization in the area.”

What has surprised you most about being an entrepreneur and building an organization?

How much thought and energy goes into building and developing a team, while at the same time the catalytic impact of building and developing a transformative team.

What has been the biggest catalyst for your project and in what way?

Without a doubt, our the partnerships and alliances we’ve developed with companies like Toyota, UPS, Zurich Insurance and Farmers. We work with companies that invest not only their dollars, but their “sense.” Financial support is crucial to our ability to bring more families home, but so is the capacity-building support our partners provide. Toyota helped us bring our construction time down by 48%. Tremendous skills-based support from Zurich is helping us identify communities that are vulnerable to disasters so we can work with homeowners and small to mid-sized businesses in those communities to help them understand and mitigate their risk. These are just a couple of examples.

What is the biggest challenge you’ve encountered? Can you recommend any strategies that helped you overcome it?

The biggest barrier SBP has encountered is, quite simply, the firmly held practices long utilized by well-meaning people and institutions.

“America’s model for post-disaster recovery has not changed in over 30 years; it is clearly inefficient.”

In order to cause the most impact, we must find a way to create allies out of institutional actors who have the most surface area and capability to cause impact.

Is there a basic principle or value that guides what you contribute to the world? What is it and why?

SBP is built on four core values: problems are solvable; all people have an innate desire to prevent harm, solve problems, and to help others; our clients should be treated in a way that we would want our loved ones treated; and we practice constructive discontent.

What is most exciting about the world of social innovation for you? Are there pockets of hidden potential you see?

Disruptive ideas that revolutionize an industry in a way that causes human impact that wasn’t seen as possible. There is potential everywhere. SBP’s has a core value that states that there is an innate human desire to help – we need to tap into this.

In your area of work or interest, what do you think is most needed? How could other entrepreneurs or initiatives contribute to the answer in collaborative or parallel ways?

Our industry needs to become more open with talking about problems and embracing the ethos of constructive discontent.

“We need partners that simultaneously invest their dollars as well as their ‘sense.'”

What is your theory of change?

SBP seeks to change the way America recovers from disasters. Communities/organizations that implement our scalable, proven-effective model for affordable, post-disaster rebuilding are rebuilding more quickly, efficiently and affordably than those who follow traditional paths to recovery.

What is the long-term vision for your organization and how it impacts the world?

SBP seeks to cause transformative change in the disaster recovery realm because the price of delay can be tragic and devastating. SBP has seen firsthand the toll of delay in post-disaster recovery – clients have died waiting, seniors have had their “golden years” irreparably tarnished, and young people have spent their formative years living in untenable living situations.

When do you feel you are personally at your best?

Honestly, I feel my best when I’m sleeping. You can’t make mistakes when you’re sleeping.

If you could give one piece of advice to a budding social entrepreneur, what would it be?

“Embrace constructive discontent.”

Updates with the latest and greatest from THE social innovation event of the year: The Feast 2014.

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Change, community, sustainability: Jerri’s closing remarks touched on a many different themes tonight, but The Feast’s final talk was imbued with a sense that anything is possible if we combine our talents.

In addition to today’s amazing talks and tonight’s dinner, 30 more Feasts went down this Saturday, from Madrid to Auckland to Bologna to Hong Kong. People are coming together with a larger view in mind.

“Tell the story of what is happening, you and your ideas — are all limitless,” Jerri said. “We believe that all of you –and everyone out there — is more talented and capable than they can even imagine. We ask that you offer your plenty and we will respond with our own in abundance.”

And now … we feast! See you guys in 2015.

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How can we use the power of the internet and social media to celebrate fruits and vegetables?

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SATURDAY AFTERNOON:

Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry’s and Stamp Stampede

We were, quite simply, floored by Ben Cohen’s powerful speech about his mission to take money out of politics. Cohen shared the origin story of Stamp Stampede, the organization he founded to reduce campaign contributions by corporations (famously referred to as “legalized bribes” by John McCain).

According to Cohen, 90% of citizens contribute 0 dollars to politicians, and the richest 1% give an average of $3,600 a year. By contrast, the 100 largest corporations in American give an average of six million dollars each.

Who do you think the politicians are listening to?” he asked.

Stamp Stampede seeks to correct the cash imbalance by spreading awareness. It sells $10 stamp kits (26,231 so far!) through which supporters can stamp dollar bills with powerful messages such as, “Not for bribing politicians.”  Each stamped bill is seen by 875 during the 2 years it will be in circulation.

The organization’s end game, Cohen says, is to push forward a new constitutional amendment demolishing the legal standing of businesses as a ‘person’ so corporations will loosen their grip on politicians. So far, 16 states so far have voted in favor of this practice, and 150 members of Congress support it.

Want to know more? Check out stampede.org and follow Ben Cohen on twitter at @yobencohen

 

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“The content matters much less than the form of discussions in all relationships.” @estherperel #feast2014

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SATURDAY MORNING TALKS

Welcome back to The Feast! We’re so excited to share this morning’s talks!

Ester Perel, renowned author, psychotherapist, and organizational consultant

What would happen if we put as much unfragmented attention into our relationships as we do into our work? Esther Perel delivered a funny and moving talk this morning about intimacy.

As human beings, Perel said, we crave both security and freedom, and these conflicting desires can take a toll on our relationships. The secret to keeping things cool with your partner is to appoint yourself an active participant in his or her happiness. As an example, she advised creating a separate email or phone number through which couples only communicate loving thoughts rather than messages about bills or chores.

During an argument, Perel encouraged us to ask the question: do I want to be right in this moment, or do I want be with this person for a long time? “It’s very easy to be right, but then you can be right and alone,” she said.

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Gary Huswit and Jon Pack from Olympic City Village

What happens to Olympic Villages after they die? Gary Huswit and Jon Pack started The Olympic City Project to find out. From abandoned structures to punk music venues and Korean mega-churches, the artists spoke about their incredible discoveries. You can follow them on their adventure here: olympiccityproject.com 

 

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So many amazing ideas from the #hackathon: projected whiteboards for post-disaster pop-up schools! #feast2014

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Meredith Lee, AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow, Department of Homeland Security

Two years after Hurricane Sandy, the communities of Red Hook, Brooklyn are still recovering and adapting to the devastation. Meredith Lee talked about the changing face of disaster relief before introducing the amazing presentations from the civic hardware Hackathon.

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“Purpose. Unity. Change.” Way to tell it @chesneysnow #FEAST2014

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FRIDAY WRAP UP

Wow, what a day. Today’s visions for the future blew our minds! (Seriously, how much inspiration can the human brain hold, anyway?) Thanks to our amazing speakers for a spectacular Friday. A few key takeaways: Communities that place a high value on education and innovation rock at resiliency.  To uphold and improve their independent livelihoods, freelancers must work together to redefine how our society views work. Strong mind-body connections will empower us to enact meaningful change now and in the future.

 What’s next

We’re so psyched for tomorrow’s theme: transforming the present. Speakers will include TED super star Esther Perel, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s, Ben Cohen, and many more. See the full schedule here. We’re also incredibly jazzed for the Feast Fest, a musical and culinary showcase in celebration and support of resilience in the Red Hook community. See you guys tomorrow! The spread at tonight’s cocktail reception looks mighty incredible … — 

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  Lunch break! Grab your grub and head out to the garden @pioneerworks. Courtesy of Roquette Catering.   View on Instagram

 

FRIDAY AFTERNOON TALKS

The body-mind connection was a prominent theme in Friday afternoon’s conversations. Jonathan Ford, Founding Partner and CCO of Pearlfish, discussed our ever-evolving view of the human body and how we can use the latest research findings to optimize our health in the future.

Wendy Suzuki, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at New York University, shared exciting findings about brain plasticity: aerobic exercise actually stimulates the production of brand new brain cells, which are critical for long-term memory. As part of her studies, she even conducted research on her very own students.

“I’ll never forget the day I came to the first class decked out in Spandex,” she said.

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Andrew Zolli: “Resilience is not about building higher walls.” #Feast2014

 

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Another theme? Bracing ourselves for a constantly changing future. Andrew Zolli of PopTech said, “Resilience is the ability of people, communities, and systems to thrive in the face of disruption.” To bounce back from unprecedented change, we must build strong connections. “We must overcome the divisions between us and them,” he said.

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  Welcome to The Feast Conference 2014! Founder Jerri Chou takes the stage in sweet threads by @theslowfactory. @jchou @pioneerworks #FEAST2014   View on Instagram

 


FRIDAY MORNING TALKS

In the first round of talks, the theme centered on the importance of  knowing yourself and working with others to make good ideas happen.

Jerri said, “The Feast is about abundance—bringing all of our talents and skills to bear.”

 Jim Rutt, Trustee of the Santa Fe Institute, delivered a rallying cry for using our talents to “work on big institutional problems so we can have a new and better world.”

“Engaged citizens must think both locally and systematically,” he said. Our society should be centered around promoting self-actualization for ourselves and others rather than the ethos, “he who dies with the most toys wins.”

Harley K. Dubois, co-founder of Burning Man, outlined the 10 principles of the event, including radical self-expression, radical inclusion, and gifting.

“When you’re involved with your community at Burning Man, you’re not valued by your status but by what you contribute.”

Ben Huh, founder and CEO of Cheezburger, a collection of cultural web properties that receive over 200 million pageviews monthly, emphasized an alternative way of progressing through life beyond focusing on getting promoted.

“Only those that live forever act like they have time to waste,” he said. “Once I started living life like it was finite, I started thinking very differently about what I want to do next.”

James Bowthorpe, Founder of the Hudson River Project talked about how he will build and sail a vessel this weekend built out of waste from The Feast.

“My boat is made out of string and optimism,” he said.

WELCOME TO THE FEAST 2014!

The Feast 2014 is finally here! It’s a gorgeous fall morning here at Pioneer Works in Red Hook, and we’re so pumped to find out what our community of innovators has to say about revolutionizing their industries and igniting social impact.

Our very first round of speakers will be talking progression: how we learn, grow, and adapt as we strive to do meaningful work we love.

Dustin Yellin, Founder of Pioneer Works

Jerri Chou, Founder of The Feast

Jim Rutt, Trustee at Santa Fe Institute

Harley K. Dubois, Co-Founder of Burning Man

Ben Huh, Founder and CEO of Cheezburger

Stay tuned for snippets of the best ideas they had to share …

Rachael Chong - Catchafire

The Feast and GLG have partnered to bring you the stories of today’s brightest social entrepreneurs. Global, technology-driven, and nimble, GLG is the world’s largest membership for professional learning and expertise. GLG Social Impact connects social sector organizations with experts across industries and geographies for perspectives and expertise to accelerate the impact of their work, including through the GLG Social Impact Fellowship. Come back to feastongood.com every Monday for a feature on their Social Innovation Fellows.

Rachael Chong is Founder and CEO of Catchafire, an organization that pairs talented individuals with nonprofit organizations to catalyze the formation of meaningful volunteer experiences and to unlock the potential of the social good sector. See Rachael Chong backstage giving insight on what strategic planning nonprofits and individuals want, and how Catchafire is changing the world one match at a time.

What inspired you to start your organization?

Working in the for-profit and nonprofit sectors exposed me to how difficult finding meaningful volunteer experiences can be and how desperately nonprofits need access to top talent. I founded Catchafire to change the way people approach service by making it more impactful, more efficient and more meaningful to both the volunteer and the nonprofit. I started our organization to connect talented professionals with a bigger purpose and to transform the social good sector where a nonprofit’s potential will no longer be limited by budgetary or staffing constraints.

At what point did you realize that your vision and had legs?

My experience helping to build the US affiliate of BRAC, the largest poverty alleviation nonprofit in the world, was the catalyst to starting Catchafire. With a limited budget and only me and the President & CEO, I had to get crafty. From the beginning, we knew that we’d need outside help to accomplish BRAC USA’s lofty fundraising goals. So, we took a step back, identified the organization’s key needs, and strategized on how to leverage our network to get the job done. We structured our needs as specific, scoped tasks so that our friends could actually take the time to help. Our volunteers came from McKinsey, AOL, Nike, Goldman Sachs and other esteemed companies. Their help freed up staff time and addressed some of BRAC USA’s biggest needs.

Through the process I realized that these professionals truly enjoyed volunteering their skills and were going back to their day jobs rejuvenated. Their contributions increased my capacity to serve BRAC USA. At the end of the first year, we had raised millions of dollars, set up our board of directors, established our brand and messaging, and launched the first version of our website.

What has surprised you most about being an entrepreneur and building an organization?

One has the power to control her own destiny. There are lots of things one can’t control such as luck and circumstance but, you have the power to control your strategy, who you work with, who you partner with, how you spend your time, and your attitude.

You have the power to control your strategy, who you work with, who you partner with, how you spend your time, and your attitude.

Is there a basic principle or value that guides what you contribute to the world? What is it and why?

Gandhi says be truthful, gentle and fearless. Being truthful and fearless are qualities that most people think about in regards to leadership.

Being gentle is an underrated and extremely powerful quality for a leader to aspire for.

In order to be gentle, one must be grounded and secure in her own values and beliefs but also be open to others differing opinions. To be gentle, one must be empathetic and compassionate. To be gentle, one must be able to listen and absorb. I believe in a quiet, strong and grounded leadership. I think some of the best leaders are those whose work is widely known and respected but who, themselves, are relatively unknown. An example of this is my living hero, Fazle Abed — the founder of BRAC — a deeply humble and gentle leader.

What is the long-term vision for your organization and how it impacts the world?

Catchafire is revitalizing the ethic of service in a society that has the tendency to lose sight of its value and importance.

We are striving to create a world where it is commonplace to serve the greater good, a world where everyone has the opportunity to use their talents for good and be transformed by that experience.

We are striving to create a world where it is commonplace to serve the greater good, a world where everyone has the opportunity to use their talents for good and be transformed by that experience.At the same time, we are working to create a more efficient and effective social good sector where all social good organizations have access to top talent.

Rachael Chong on Twitter: CatchafireCEO

TEDx Talk: “The key to true generosity

With so many services and opportunities increasingly accessible only online, the U.N. declared internet access a human right. In developed communities, we’re nearly completely reliant on it. Yet, we’re subject to the inefficiencies of internet service giants, often having to wait weeks for assistance when service is disrupted. When this happens, most of us feel powerless to do anything about it and abide the time racking up the bill for all the data we can on our mobile phones. Red Hook residents Rob and Eric Veksler decided to do something about it and launched Brooklyn Fiber.

Brooklyn Fiber Internet Provider Red Hook The Feast

Brooklyn Fiber provides high speed internet service for Red Hook, Brooklyn. CEO, Eric Veksler, said, “We believe broadband internet service to be a priority, not a luxury reserved for those with money or those lucky enough to be in a ‘broadband zone’. We believe in fast, personalized customer service. We believe in keeping our prices low and fair and never, ever springing surprise charges on our customers. Lastly, we believe in patient, sustained growth.”

Not only is Brooklyn Fiber freeing Red Hook businesses and residents from the dependence on big providers, but they’re making waves in a nearly monopolized industry with costly up-front investments. According to this Motherboard piece, “Their lowest tier commercial plan costs $75 dollars including taxes and a modem, five dollars cheaper than the lowest advertised price of Time Warner’s Business Class service before taxes and equipment rentals.” Not only is their service easier and cheaper, it’s faster and more reliable, too.

bkfibermap

Nowadays, the word innovation is often used for a new and flashy approaches that look nothing like what we’ve seen. In all the excitement, it’s easy to forget there’s a lot of room to innovate existing systems in ways that may not be as novel but have the potential to have real impact. Brooklyn Fiber is one such example. We’re ecstatic to partner with Brooklyn Fiber to power the brilliant online dialogues we’ll be having at Pioneer Works for The Feast. Read more about the Brooklyn Fiber story and join us at The Feast October 9-11th.