Forever a Social Entrepreneur

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 October 18, 2011
Related TopicsSocial enterprise, Business & Social Enterprise, Social Entrepreneurship

Author

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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