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Jonathan Lewis
Jonathan C. Lewis is the Host of Café Impact-- leadership development videos for social entrepreneurs -- and also teaches a Social Entrepreneurship Clinic at universities around the world. He is also President of the Opportunity Collaboration -- a strategic business retreat and networking summit for 300 senior level anti-poverty leaders occurring annually on World Poverty Day and Board Chair of MicroCredit Enterprises –- an innovative social venture leveraging private capital to make tiny business loans to deeply impoverished people, mostly women, on 5 continents. Contact him at

Entries by Jonathan Lewis

How-To Stand Up Your Profile In Civic Courage

(5) Comments | Posted December 9, 2013 | 9:03 PM

What motivates a social entrepreneur? What motivates you?

After the hard analysis is published and the heady policy papers go unread, compassion motivates me. As philosopher Peter Singer notes, "We have to decide to what extent we shall live for ourselves, and to what extent for others." Economic...

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How-To Boldly and Bravely Bet On Yourself

(0) Comments | Posted December 5, 2013 | 8:05 PM

To describe itself to itself and to attract new converts, it is common these days for the nonprofit sector to talk in terms of investment - obscuring the legal and legitimate lines between grants and donations versus opportunities to make money by doing good (often called impact investing). Equally confusing,...

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How-To Use Ambiguity to Pioneer Change

(0) Comments | Posted November 28, 2013 | 4:23 PM

Despite crushing student loans and a miserable job market, this Millennial Generation is the most socially conscious, most globally aware and most actively committed to careers of conscience to come along in decades. College students and young professionals are eager to confront some of the world's most intractable problems --...

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How-To Figure Out Your Social Entrepreneurship

(2) Comments | Posted November 24, 2013 | 11:24 PM

"We gain something profound when we stand up for our beliefs, just as part of us dies when we know that something is wrong, yet do nothing....We don't have to tackle every issue, but if we avoid them all, if we remain silent in the face of cruelty, injustice, and...

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How-To Convert Your Convictions Into A Career

(1) Comments | Posted November 14, 2013 | 7:11 PM

Are you seeking fulfillment and happiness in the social change world? At this point in your life, are you called to give back? Ready to change careers and become a social entrepreneur?

Only 47% of Americans are satisfied with their jobs, a sizable drop from the 61% who expressed...

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How-To Reject Rejection When It's Personal

(0) Comments | Posted November 10, 2013 | 10:20 AM

In the public square of social change, rejection is intensely personal. If you believe in your mission, and if you are giving it your all, then it's always personal. Let's admit that every dedicated social entrepreneur takes rejection personally!

Every change agent and societal visionary worth a...

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How-To Educate Yourself For An Impact Career

(0) Comments | Posted November 2, 2013 | 9:51 AM

"There are alternative paths" for reaching your social justice dream job, says change agent Jessamyn Lau. She should know. Her social change career began with dropping out of high school, then moved to enrolling in art school, teaching elementary school in China, earning an MBA and finally landing a plum...

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How-To Manage Mission-Related Martyrdom

(0) Comments | Posted October 21, 2013 | 12:08 PM

Every social entrepreneur knows there if is a huge difference between burnout and bummed out. Some days, indeed most days, we in the social sector are grieving over deplorable income inequality, the pathology of poverty, grinding gender discrimination and the talent loss of economic inopportunity.

As Jessamyn Lau, formerly...

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How-To Justify Your Economic Justice Agenda

(0) Comments | Posted October 20, 2013 | 9:59 AM

Good communications skills change hearts and minds, win over naysayers, convince financial backers and motivate colleagues. In the social sector's unoriginal veneration of business plans and policy prescriptions, it is all too easy to forget that the five Cs of social change are Compassion, Community, Courage, Competency and Communications.

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How-To Shut the Hell Up and Change the World

(0) Comments | Posted October 8, 2013 | 3:32 PM

"If you're early in your [social justice] career, just shut the hell up and...and work really, really hard," John Anner, Executive Director of the East Meets West Foundation, tells new social change agents. What in the world is he talking about?!?!? He can't really mean that, can he?

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How-To Skill Up Expertly To Scale Up

(0) Comments | Posted October 4, 2013 | 5:15 PM

Change doesn't happen because of good will. It happens when people of good will do tough things.

When it comes to social action, it's all too comfortable to think in grandiose terms and bold pronouncements. Words are nice, even necessary, but they are insufficient if your mission is upending the...

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How-To Get Your Social Action Shit Together

(0) Comments | Posted September 26, 2013 | 1:04 AM

My favorite sentence in Peter Dreier's 100 Greatest Americans of the 20th Century is "No struggle for justice succeeds without organization."

Seasoned social entrepreneurs and practiced change agents are constantly organizing. Most visibly, societal institutions - business, government, schools, places of faith, health systems, etc. - are...

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How-To Instantly Unleash Your Competitive Edge

(0) Comments | Posted September 19, 2013 | 12:42 PM

Social entrepreneurs are regularly (albeit erroneously) revered and romanticized as pioneering visionaries - tenaciously overcoming groupthink, rallying followers to the cause and single-handedly building their social enterprises. The word superhero comes to mind.

In juxtaposition, collaboration, cooperation, community solidarity, teamwork, respect for diversity and playing nicely with others are promoted...

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How-To Work Your Social Change Ass Off

(0) Comments | Posted September 13, 2013 | 10:55 AM

Social change requires tenacity, strength of commitment and old-fashioned hard work. Bluntly, you may not be tough enough.

If social and economic justice is your chosen career path, you can't avoid hard work. Social change work demands rigor: rigorous thinking to start and rigorous execution to finish....

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How-To Snag A Social Justice Job Interview

(0) Comments | Posted September 10, 2013 | 1:17 PM

Are you a social sector job-seeker? Feeling frozen out of your future change-the-world job? Reluctant to enter the fray? Fear of failure stopping you from a career as a social entrepreneur?

Café Impact's latest executive leadership video, How-To Snag A Social Justice Job Interview, has answers:

Putting off the miserable process of knocking on doors is understandable. If you are in hiding, napping on the sofa or watching TV reruns, you know it. Enough said about that.

Beyond those diversions, you also might be putting off the job hunt until you have acquired this or that new skill, recovered from a bad breakup or lost weight. Waiting to undertake your social sector job search doesn't necessarily mean it will go better later. It probably won't.

Except for now, there is no ideal moment to take a first step. Looking for a job comes with only one guarantee. Guaranteed: delay means you are losing precious opportunities right this minute to learn what the social sector marketplace wants and needs.

Rejection is a pain in the ass, but taking a risk on yourself is its own reward. Each interview is practice for the next one. Each question, and your authentic answers, fortifies you against, in the words of Samuel Johnson, being "blown about by every wind of criticism."

Even if you don't get the job, the act of applying is important. Crassly, it's free advertising. Inherently, you are your own best billboard. "When I started out, I applied for every job whether qualified or not," remembers Keely Stevenson, Chief Executive Officer, Bamboo Finance USA.

"I woke up every morning and for eight hours a day surfed the Internet, wrote cover letters and updated my resume. I treated the job search as a job," she adds.

When looking for a job, "be foolishly courageous. Be proactive in your risk-taking. Anticipate the needs of future employers," advises Jacob Harold, CEO, Guidestar (the nonprofit rating agency).

"What turns me off is reading resumes," candidly cautions John Anner, Executive Director, East Meets West Foundation. The important disclosure here is that he does it anyway. As you are reading this blog, thousands of other social sector employers are reading resumes. Is yours in the hunt?

Even if you are a contentedly perfect person in every way (aren't we all?), you probably don't feel particularly perfect at the job of looking for a job changing the world. You don't need to be. You just need to give it a...

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How-To Make Your Mom Proud Of You (Or Not)

(0) Comments | Posted August 27, 2013 | 2:42 PM

If you have parents, your social activism career just might, with any luck at all, turn out OK.

For some social sector activists, parents are hurdles to be pushed out of the way. The poem Journey for Justice repeats an time-worn generational story, "i struggle between tradition and...

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How-To Listen Selfishly To Unselfishly Lead Change

(2) Comments | Posted August 27, 2013 | 10:33 AM

In the course of interviewing dozens of Café Impact social entrepreneurs from multiple continents working on a multiplicity of issues using a myriad of social change methodologies, one bit of advice emerged over and over again: Listen. Learn to be a good listener.

I know, oh I know,...

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How-To Make Peace With The Peace Corps

(0) Comments | Posted August 15, 2013 | 12:27 PM

Social entrepreneurship is a high risk lifestyle.

Axiomatically, a social entrepreneur should - indeed must - advocate for risk-taking status quo disruption on behalf of communities without power, without opportunity and without resources.

Equally true, every social change agent worthy of the name builds and leads a risk-taking organization...

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How-To Tackle Thankless Social Change Work

(0) Comments | Posted August 10, 2013 | 10:35 AM

Fighting the good fight means big challenges, big ideas, big solutions.

In humble contrast, the menial and mind-numbing grunt work required of the social change-maker is tiring and tedious. Accurately and also arrogantly, you know grunt work is below your station, below your educational accomplishments and below your self-assessed...

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How-To Give Your Inner Fundraiser More Currency

(4) Comments | Posted July 31, 2013 | 2:49 PM

This year, a mentor died. A friend moved on. A social enterprise started sinking.

Each loss leaves its unique echo of disappointment and the haunting inner voices of recrimination: I wish I had spent more time with my mentor. I wish I had said this, or not said that, to...

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