Happy Birthday Ashoka!!

Ashoka, you are and always will be a dream organization with inspired people, innovation, and knowledge. Thank you for truly changing the world. 

My defining moment at Ashoka:

A sharpie, a post-IT, and an empathetic colleague saved my life. It was my first week on the job, at the Changemakers 2008 retreat, and I was rapidly trying to absorb the implications of "open-sourcing social solutions" and "smash.think.build" as they applied to concepts that had previously seemed straight-forward — innovation, competitions, judges, mosaics, design-thinking, outreach — but were now 100x more fascinating when viewed through the lens of social entrepreneurship.

At this retreat there were strict rules: NO pens, NO pencils, NO notebooks. All thoughts were to be transcribed via sharpie on florescent multi-colored post-ITs and placed on the wall for all to see.

I took these rules very seriously. So seriously, in fact, that during a group brainstorm session, when a sharp pain jolted through my back (I was recovering from a dance injury), and I felt myself go lightheaded from the pain, I quickly considered my alternatives. I instinctively grabbed a sharpie and post-IT, jotted down a note, and slid it across the table, just as the room went blurry. I remember a senior colleague's shocked face as she read the post-IT and swiftly rushed over to catch me as I fainted.

I lay on the floor, slowly regaining consciousness, while the Changemakers team huddled around me, passing along the fated post-IT note which read: "I THINK I'M GOING TO FAINT."

I recovered and was overwhelmingly touched by the empathy, camaraderie, and compassion of my new colleagues. It was then I knew we would have a long, powerful future together.

Ashoka, in addition to teaching me the valuable meaning of words like intrapreneurship, hybrid value chains, discovery frameworks, skunkworks — you have changed me. Thank you for helping me articulate my vision and carry forward my lifelong commitment to changemaking. I will be, forever, a social entrepreneur.

This article was originally published on 18 October 2011
Related TopicsSocial enterprise, Business & Social Enterprise, Social Entrepreneurship


Amelia Forrest Kaye
This story was submitted to the Ashoka 30th Birthday Card by Amelia Forrest Kaye, who spent four years working with Ashoka's Changemakers program.

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