Of late, researchers and columnists have been hand-wringing about the alleged lack of civic-mindedness of the millennial generation. Don't buy it.
With millennials poised to comprise 50 percent of the global workforce by 2014, I am unabashedly optimistic. In fact, I can't wait. Saul Garlick is one reason.
Saul Garlick, 30, has been a social entrepreneur since his 20th birthday. He is the CEO and founder of ThinkImpact, on the iOnPoverty board of directors, the Global Center for Social Entrepreneurship and a triple alum of the Opportunity Collaboration. I recently went to his wedding (Emily is so bright and beautiful...and Saul was there too).
When he agreed to be interviewed for iOnPoverty, my plan was to write a clever, even complimentary, blog about him. Not gonna happen.
Instead of my insights about Saul, pay attention to his insights about social entrepreneurship careers:
On tenacity: "I was asked [by Rwandan student social entrepreneurs working against very difficult odds] at what point do you stop trying and give up. I said 'Never.' You can't give up. It's too exciting."
On networking: "Relationship-building is a get-over-yourself skill and about being authentic."
On grunt work: "The most boring, awful details are the most important elements in doing this work. You cannot be effective in this work if you cannot manage your filing system. If your desktop is just a shit show, then you're in trouble."
On sacrifice: "Don't do [social change work] if you ever think you are making a sacrifice. So what if I was not a millionaire by the time I was 28 or 29. That doesn't matter because I am building skills and network. This isn't a sacrifice, it is a learning process."
On wisdom: "Wisdom is enough experiences that you have been screwed several times, so you know when to listen to yourself."
On failure: "[I have] a sense of perpetual failure... underutilizing the resources around me."
On work/life balance: "You can be completely obsessed with your work and still make time for relationships. Once I figured out that I needed that in my life, I made time for it."
On leadership: "When you bring people on board, don't treat them as followers. Don't treat people like they are part of your pack.... You have to give people the space to be awesome."
On selling your idea: "You can't sell [social change] you don't believe in, but you cannot lead in this world [of] poverty alleviation... without being able to articulate your ideas clearly. Learn the difference between articulating ideas in long prose and marketing."
Check out Saul's conversations in full at www.iOnPoverty.tv. His unique admixture of charismatic idealism and tough-minded realism just might impel you to action.
As Saul says, "If you aren't doing it, who's going to do it? Get on with it."