Archive for the ‘General’ Category

Now into June…

June 7, 2013 - 2:15 pm 1 Comment

Alas, it’s been a while since my last update! So much has happened in the last few months – I’ll do my best to summarize.

Art for  a Cause Gallery Exhibition: We raised nearly $18,000 for the DoGoodAsYouGo Foundation! Held at AppNexus gallery, we celebrated the art and photography of talented students around the world, while enjoying Mexican food and drinks. It was a real pleasure working with Alice, Jay, and Katie – I’m incredibly inspired by the ingenuity of leveraging traveler networks to train and assist communities around the world. Similar to Givology, the organization looks for sustainability of impact and empowerment of the community through grassroots bottoms-up efforts, rather than top-down externally imposed. The NYC chapter really worked hard to pull the event together, including late night gallery hanging sessions to 2 AM and e-mail blasts out to thousands. Katie and Alice really have a talent for detail – the painstaking efforts to hang the artwork and create little signs for each individual piece really paid off with an impressive final result. I like the motto of the DoGoodAsYouGo Foundation: “If you have come here to help me, you are wasting your time. But, if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mind, then let’s work together.” Click here to check out some of the art pieces that we featured at the gallery exhibition, and to purchase your prints today.

UPENN 5th year reunion: I had a fun time going back to Philadelphia for a weekend to celebrate my fifth year reunion. The reality is that not much has changed – everyone still looks the same and typically continues on working in the same industry. Furthermore, despite being five years out, I don’t feel that disconnected to university life because of all our Givology campus chapters and the influx of college students who join our team each year. Regardless, I truly enjoyed connecting with friends that I haven’t seen for years (some flew in from Asia and the Middle East!), as well as walking around the city. Notably, we attended some interesting panel discussions held by older classes at Penn that featured the stories and life experiences of social entrepreneurs, biomedical ethicists, neuroscientists, and urban developers, to name just a few. I certainly feel no nostalgia for college life – I enjoyed my classes (perhaps too much..) and delighted in my extracurricular activities, but I’m more eager to see what the next five decades bring. The pursuit of knowledge is a lifelong endeavor requiring no structured institution, but yet, there’s just something truly unique about an environment for open debate with the sole purpose of learning in it of itself, rather than a means to an end. Between the class picnics and receptions, I just had a great time.

Penn Microfinance Conference: The conversation of microfinance has certainly evolved – I remember when I attended this forum as a student in which microfinance was presented as a panacea for global poverty. How the sentiment has shifted! It was an honor to be invited back to present on the Microfinance+ panel, focusing on the links between microfinance and education, and to judge the social pitch competition. I’m truly impressed by the students who I met and the commitment on campus to bring social entrepreneurship to the forefront.

Princeton Social Enterprise Conference: Just like at Penn, the interest in social entrepreneurship has really skyrocketed, with more students willing to take a risk and pursue a different career path. In the seminar that I conducted, more than 85% of the attendees were working on their own launches, the majority technology based. I enjoyed the keynote speech by one of the co-founders of Code Academy, and his reflections on best practices and lessons learned – mainly people management. Just as I’ve discovered with the Givology, it’s so important to set the right culture and to understand what motivates people to give their time and best effort. We’re still improving our own internal processes, but in the years that Givology has grown, my role has shifted from partnerships and day to day management of our web content to just making sure that my team is engaged.

Launch of #giveinspiration campaign: Creative design can be a powerful force for change – art can be used to inspire people to think about their impact of the world, and to convey a powerful message. We’re in the process of building out our archive of interviews with artists/designers, and collecting the iconography that will be used for our product launch later this year. If you know of someone who is great for this project, please let me know!

Visit home for Dad’s birthday: It’s always such a pleasure to go home and spend time with my parents and sister. For my dad’s special birthday, I got him a heavy tome on Gravitation (his latest phase before Betrand Russell). We went to see 33 Variations at the Little Theatre in Alexandria – the story was really thought-provoking and interesting – and then went to celebrate at midnight with shaved ice and frozen yogurt. I love the experience of going home – even though my mom forgets my age and insists on treating me exactly the same way she did ten years ago, it’s sometimes nice to forget all my responsibilities and just enjoy being with everyone together.

Ice hockey in NYC: I joined a team since I missed playing too much. My skills have atrophied, particularly stickhandling and passing. My poor skates have also disintegrated into a form of Frankenskate (had to get the holders replaced, and also a new bottom for the skates since the interior rotted). Yet, still fun to play, even though I wish my games didn’t start at 11:30 PM EST sometimes! Ice hockey in NYC is so expensive – costs about $50/game + $40 for round-trip transport by taxi. Alas, it’s my one big spending splurge here.

Oh! And here’s a youtube video from our last Katra event, filmed by our talented Media Director Liza!

Givology Book – A Guide to Giving

April 20, 2013 - 7:36 pm 1 Comment

We’ve sold 1,000 copies so far since our book launch in January 2013! Get your copy here on amazon!

What is effective giving? What exactly is the meaning of giving? A Guide to Giving, written collectively by volunteers of the global organization Givology, answers these questions by delving into topics of social enterprise best practices, measuring “return on giving”, and optimizing volunteer engagement. The first half of the book is primarily a handbook for effective giving, drawing lessons from the Givology experience for budding changemakers. The second half shares the stories, motivations, and practical advice of 12 inspiring social entrepreneurs who have enabled extraordinary change around the world. Looking at statistics of global poverty, it’s easy to think, “How can one individual make a difference?” The purpose of the book is to inspire you to action to start making a difference today!

“As young as they are, the authors have realized what took me years to learn: understanding, assessing, and optimizing impact is at the core of any truly effective philanthropic act…In this book, you will find encouraging stories of giving, practical advice from amazing organizations about how to create a successful culture of giving, and a framework for how to ensure your giving yields results. I have no doubt Givology will ignite a new generation of effective changemakers.” - Bhavna Shyamalan, representing the M Night Shyamalan Foundation

The social entrepreneurs featured in the book include the founders of:

  • Shining Hope for Communities: Working in the Kibera slums of Kenya, Shining Hope runs a school for girls and a community health program
  • Circle of Peace School: For the last two decades, the school has provided high quality education to underprivileged children in Kampala, Uganda
  • DoSomething.org: Harnessing the energy and passion of young people, DoSomething advocates volunteerism as a platform for social change
  • Emerge Global: In collaboration with women’s protective shelters, Emerge Global provides a comprehensive education for girls, teaching them jewelry making skills to earn a living
  • Rural China Education Foundation: Focusing on evidence-based metrics, the Rural china education Foundation pioneers new models of education in rural China to promote effective learning
  • Peach Foundation: The Peach Foundation provides scholarships and mentorship to students in rural China, with identifying high-potential students under tough economic circumstances.
  • Starfish One by One: Catalyzing education of rural Mayan girls in Guatemala, Starfish one by one invests in scholarship and mentorship to promote leadership and achievement
  • More than Me: Working in the slums of West Point, Liberia, More than Me focuses on getting girls off the streets into schools
  • The Yonso Project: Working in the Yonso community in rural Ghana, the Yonso Project implements community-driven development and education projects
  • Colectivo TAN 473: As community art space in Guanajuato, Mexico, Colectivo TAN 473 encourages creative exploration with the goal of literacy and community development
  • Tanzanian Children’s Fund: Dedicated to improving the lives of marginalized children in the Karatu region of Northern Tanzania, the Tanzanian Children’s Fund provides comprehensive education and care to students
  • Kabultec: Championing the causes of women and literacy in Afghanistan, Kabultec promotes the development of civil society through educational and literacy programs

Happy New Year!

January 10, 2012 - 12:20 am 1 Comment

It’s been a while since my last update – 2011 finished with much needed rest and relaxation at home, while I’m ushering in 2012 with fresh expectations and anticipation for new adventures and epiphanies. Given that so much time has transpired, I’ll list the most eventful highlights over the last few months (in no particular order).

Thanksgiving at home: Since discovering a newfound passion for cooking, my dad has mastered the art of turkey roasting. As my little sister has taken a part time job at Whole Foods, we had the great joy of relishing a succulent, all-natural turkey – perhaps the best I’ve ever eaten. My little sister now drives regularly (unlike me who has a driver’s license only in name…heavens forbid that I’m actually on the road), so we left our parents at home to do our own midnight excursion for Black Friday and a (special) movie with much tradition! Dave also came to visit us for the weekend, joining us for some tasty Peking Duck and a mind-boggling visit to the Marine Corp Museum. After pulling a Flags of our Fathers marathon earlier this year (read the book, saw the movie, and then watched its compliment Letters from Iwojima), I had a better appreciation of Marine Corp history, notwithstanding all that I’ve learned from covering defense as an investor. At the museum, we even met a veteran of the Iwojima, one of the few survivors of the famous 28th battalion!

Reflections on Givology: In November, we published our 2010-2011 annual impact review that highlighted our accomplishments over the past 3 years. Looking back, I’m really proud to see us grow from just an idea to a vibrant online community of 2,500+ donors and 44 grassroots partners, raising over $225,000 to help over 2,800 students in 23 countries! We underwent a couple key core team member transitions, but I’m very confident of my new team in place and excited to see where 2012 will take us. As a 100% volunteer-driven organization, it’s inevitable that people move on as they face personal transitions, but the beauty of our network is that our supporters remain a body of knowledge and expertise we can draw ideas and inspiration from. We’re launching our Spirit of Giving campaign with the intention of publishing a book at the end of next year. In addition, with funding from the M. Night Shymalan Foundation, we’re undergoing a substantial web re-design to improve our features and engage users more fully. In December, See Beautiful selected us as their featured non-profit ($1,030 raised for the Kakenya School!), and we had chapters & individual donors organize creative fundraisers within their own communities. As a personal reflection looking back, I’ve learned so much from experimenting with ideas and initiatives on Givology – testing what works and what doesn’t (right now I’m focused on analytics and social media engagement). Moreover, in building and growing Givology, I’ve discovered so much about the meaning of teamwork, community, and friendship. Given the length of my working day, it’s sometimes hard to go back home to a cluttered inbox of unread emails and ever-growing list of tasks, but when I think about our network of partners, volunteers, team members, and supporters, I feel such a high sense of gratification and inspiration that motivates me so strongly from within.

January 28th “Night of Promise” Event at Marquee: The NYC chapter of Givology has expanded with new members and exciting ambitions! On January 28th, we’re holding a joint event with More than Me to raise funding for the construction of a community center for girls in the slums of West Point, Liberia. Since meeting the More than Me team at the Ford Global Test Drive in Madrid, I’ve been so impressed with their complete dedication to the mission and impact (check out the video below). Hopefully, we’ll make a dent of at least $20,000 to give more than 500 girls a safe place to stay off the streets and engage them with extracurricular activities & educational seminars for empowerment. In addition to a keynote speech by the founder of More than Me, we also have Skip, Katie, and Lorenzo Borghese from the Italian Royal Family in attendance. Notably, Lorenzo Borghese recently starred in ABC’s “The Bachelor” – hopefully, this will help us get more media coverage! To reserve your spot today, check out our event website and purchase advance tickets today to guarantee entrance to this unforgettable night!

More Than Me from What Took You So Long? on Vimeo.

Columbia Social Enterprise Bootcamp: I had a chance to present at the Columbia Social Enterprise Bootcamp for the second time, which was a lot of fun! The event had so many inspiring and phenomenal speakers, from the founder of Seventh Generation to key investors at the Acumen Fund. Most notably, the seminars have such an incredible level of energy since nearly all the participants have an idea in mind or have started their own enterprises already. As such, the presentations featured practical advice and hands-on experience.  If you’d like a copy of my presentation, please email me.

Life in NYC: With the winter more benign than anticipated, I’ve taken full advantage of wandering the streets of Manhattan with an occasional excursion to the other boroughs. With the city awash with Christmas lights and cheer in anticipation for the holiday season, I delighted in just walking with no particular aim. After a full year of living in Manhattan, sometime around late November, I suddenly felt like a native New Yorker. I’ve grown to truly love the city – the collision of cultures, amazing restaurants, world-class museums and exhibitions, never-ending bustle, and endless possibilities of things to do, all accessible by public transportation. Notably, I highly recommend the New York Historical Society – what a great introduction to the rich history of the city, packed with photographs, mementos, and odd curios of the past to the present!

Winter break at home: For the first time since joining Goldman, I took a week off for vacation. Rather than travel to an exotic destination, I chose to go home to fully enjoy being with my dear parents and sister. As I spend almost the entire year looking forward to Christmas, I delighted in giving my family the gifts I bought them and to celebrate all together! My dad had the great idea of taking us to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia. I was amazed at how they preserved the town and captured the history of its evolution, almost in a similar set-up as colonial Williamsburg with historical buildings to enter and explore. Notably, we learned about John Brown and the polemic of his raid – the debate over his role as either a martyr or violence-loving incendiary. I hope to return to Harpers Ferry for the hiking trails one day, appreciated by Jefferson himself as one of nature’s greatest splendors. The next day, we went to Charles Town casinos (the first casino I’ve ever been to). Grace and I had little interest in gambling, but we sure did enjoy seeing the horses! We didn’t arrive on a race day, but we got up at 6 AM to view the jockeys and trainers practicing with their horses. How beautiful they run (alas, despite the cruelty of their fate after retirement…)! My family then drove up to NYC on Thursday to enjoy being in the city for the remainder of the holiday. I booked a lot of different theatre, dance, and musical extravaganza performances, including Shake, Rattle, and Roll at Tobacco Road, a piano duel at one of the last remaining dive bars in Manhattan, which was a lot of fun! In treating my family to tasty food and fun events & sights, I had a really terrific time. In continuing with our family tradition, we wrote our New Year resolutions together and discussed our hopes for 2012! Grace stayed an extra day, which made me very happy! We went to Mitsuwa for some tasty Japanese food and mocha pounding, followed by wandering around town for some of our favorite snacks. Alas, taking a full week off left me refreshed and excited for the opportunities upcoming in 2012. Nothing really beats spending time with my parents and sister.

Actually, the holiday season for me doesn’t end until Chinese New Year. Due to timing, I’m going home early this weekend to celebrate with my family with traditional dumplings and festivities. The year of the dragon will hopefully bring many new exploits! I’m actually heading to Las Vegas right now for CES 2012…really excited about it!