Next week marks a professional dream come true: I’m joining the faculty at UC Berkeley to teach a course I’ve been envisioning for nearly a decade.

On Thursday I will start teaching “Becoming a Changemaker” at the UC Berkeley Haas School of Business, inspiring, activating and enabling a diverse group of undergraduate Berkeley students to lead positive change from wherever they are.

I’ve put my heart and soul into creating this course and I can’t wait to get started.  

Enter the Changemaker

Companies, communities and, indeed, our world are calling out for a new type of leader.  A leader who is resilient, creative, collaborative and optimistic. A leader who can work across sectors and hierarchies and defies both stereotypes, and the status quo.  A leader ready and able to create the future.

This leader is a person I call a changemaker.  

And the world is about to have dozens more of them.  

Leading with Purpose

A world that is changing faster than ever requires leaders who can not only adapt to change themselves, but who become so comfortable in the face of it, that they can leverage, steer, and shape change to create a more just world.

My motivation comes from a place of humility: I don’t know exactly what the world needs, but I do know that it needs more individuals equipped with the mindset and leadership skills required to create positive change for themselves, their communities and the world.

I’ve dedicated my entire career to activating global changemakers and so I am still pinching myself that I now get to do so alongside brilliant UC Berkeley students.  

In developing this course, I’ve been able to look back and connect the dots (as Steve Jobs tells us in his commencement address at ‘some school’ in Palo Alto) and see that every experience I’ve had up until now has led me to the UC Berkeley classroom next week.  

From all of the ups and downs in co-founding and growing StartSomeGood.com, to helping build the social entrepreneurship ecosystem in Sweden, to volunteering with a grassroots organization in Ahmedabad, India to internships which introduced me to the power of entrepreneurship and the promise of changemakers, to starting campus groups and creating communities of many different kinds-- all of these experience come together in “Becoming a Changemaker.”   

I can’t wait to introduce students to some of the books and articles which have changed my life and to connect them with guest speakers who bring to life diverse approaches to changemaking,every single day.  

In launching this course, I am standing on the shoulders of giants — if there’s one trend in my career, it’s that I’ve been SO fortunate to surround myself with incredible changemakers— from managers, to mentors, to co-founders, to partners, to teammates, to interns.  I carry all of your stories and lessons and inspiration with me into the Berkeley Haas classroom.

The Course

The course brings together the fields of entrepreneurship, innovation, leadership and social impact and is broken down into three modules.

Changemaker Mindset.  Introduces students to the Changemaker Mindset and its connection to the Haas Defining Leadership Principles.  We cover topics like humility, curiosity, collaboration, resilience and trust through empirically-grounded lectures, inspirational examples, and experiential exercises.

Changemaker Leadership.  To change the world, we must also change what leadership looks like.  Changemaking leadership is inclusive, not elite; it is based on action not on titles; and it is built on influence, not authority.  This module will equip students to practice changemaking acts of leadership on campus, in the community, and at work—whether they are interns or CEOs, transforming from individual contributors to leaders who do their most important work through and with other people.  

Changemaker Action.  The module helps students clarify and strategically pursue the change they seek to create.  What’s your personal theory of change? How do we create systemic and sustainable change? How do we break a huge vision for change into actionable steps? What can we learn from some of the greatest changemakers past and present?  And how can we take everything we learn in class and apply it to our future careers — across both sectors and industries?

We’ll be joined by some incredible guest speakers, including:

  • Shivani Siroya, Founder & CEO of Tala (she will join us after we read a case about her).

  • Michael Tubbs, Mayor of Stockton, California

  • Ben Rattray, Founder & CEO, Change.org

  • Richard Lyons, former Dean and current Faculty, Haas School of Business

  • Scott Shigeoka, Community & Design Lead at IDEO & Founder, Saga Artist Residency

During the 15 week course, students will write self-reflection papers to crystallize their learning, they’ll do a “Changemaker of the Week” presentation to introduce the whole class to the incredible and diverse array of changemakers out there in the world, and they will put their changemaker mindset and leadership to work with a changemaker project where they will create positive change around them, whether on campus, in Berkeley, in the Bay Area, the US or the world.  

I am so grateful to everyone who has believed in me and in this course. The process of creating a new course is definitely an act of changemaking in and of itself, filled with so many chances to transform challenges into opportunities.   All of you who have looked at early drafts of the syllabus and provided words of encouragement, as well as all of you who have inspired me to create this course (even if you don’t know you did): thank you.

The world can seem like a scary place sometimes — especially right now.  But when you are feeling down about the future, remember this: out of thousands of courses offered at UC Berkeley, a whole bunch of incredible Cal students have decided to spend a semester committed to becoming a changemaker.  If that doesn’t give you hope, I don’t know what will.

Here’s to becoming a changemaker!  

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