THE BLOG
09/18/2010 10:51 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Changing the World One Person at a Time

Yes, they're still tearing apart the street outside my office, but today I feel more kinship with the guys on the crew. We're all working in the best way we know how, and there's dignity in that. I want to tell them that John Gregory Dunne called writing, "manual labor of the mind," but I suspect that might be taking my "we're all working stiffs" mood a bit too far.

The workplace -- and how it's changing -- is always on my mind. For the past few years I've been writing about people searching for the intersection between money and meaning (I call us New Radicals - for more, please see archived articles). My new book will explore this theme from a fresh perspective (more about that in October).

In August, I launched a new "New Radical" series -- "Self Portraits." Each month, I'm asking someone who's making a difference through their work to speak to you directly, by answering four simple questions.

This month, Phillip Haid, cofounder and CEO of Public Inc. is in the chair. I met Phillip through a mutual friend, Julia Howell, and was immediately impressed by his fresh approach to changing the world. And, lest you think New Radicals are all boomers or twentysomethings, Phillip is 39.

1. What are you doing?

Running (usually as fast as I can) and building a social purpose business called PUBLIC Inc. We create fundraising, advocacy and volunteer engagement campaigns for social causes. And we do it by engaging people in small acts of good in their everyday life through simple, fun and rewarding activities.

Like the Get Hands On Challenge. We're launching this on September 20th with Tag, a national, virtual game of service tag to mobilize, connect and support people across the U.S. making an impact in their community.

And the Power of 2 (P2), a public led program that pits two celebrities against one another in a friendly competition to see who can raise the most amount of money for their charity of choice over a two-week period. They ask their fans to give $2 or more and get two friends to do the same to earn an instant reward and a chance at the grand prize. We will be announcing our first P2 shortly.

And the Child Soldiers Initiative. This campaign aims to build a youth force to advocate and raise money to help end the practice of using children as soldiers. It's led by Lieutenant General Romeo Dallaire (Commander of the UN Force in Rwanda during the genocide), and it kicks off on October 26th.

2. How did you get the gig?

The best way possible. I created it.

I wanted to create a company that would drive people to take simple, concrete actions, that when multiplied at large scale, would add up to a lot.

My business partners Paul Estey and Marc Lavine shared the belief that giving has to be fun, simple and rewarding. We all felt that if we could catch people in their everyday lives and routines -- buying their morning coffee, going to the movies or heading to work -- and find simple and rewarding ways to trigger an action, we could generate significant social impact.

We also wanted to create our own programs and campaigns (where charities are the beneficiaries) and really shake things up by trying new things, taking risks and infusing creativity into everything we do. There's too much finite and incrementalist thinking within the charitable sector and it limits innovation. So we set out to take a more market-driven approach and truly align the interests of everyone involved. Selling a whole lot of shoes while raising a whole lot of money (or engaging a whole lot of volunteers) for a social cause is no longer an incompatible proposition.

3. What's the best part of your job?

Two things.

Dreaming up ideas for campaigns and programs. I love the creative process. It's finding that simple twist on an idea or concept and blowing it into a full-fledged campaign that will motivate people to act.

Second, working on a diverse set of projects at any one time. Whether it's a charitable contest to be an extra in a band's video, taking part in the re-launch of an iconic hockey shrine, or motivating kids to celebrate the birthday of a beloved cartoon character with a charitable donation, we get to think across sectors, platforms and channels, all with the same motivation -- getting the public to act.

4. What would you tell emerging New Radicals?

The world is make believe so don't hold back and make it happen because anything is possible. We need more people to create, innovate, take risks and push the public good sector.

Be committed. Because it isn't easy, especially when you are trying to push the envelope and you are constantly being asked, "has this been done before"? You have to want it badly and have the tenacity (or scrappiness) to make it happen because there are many roadblocks along the way.

Finally, have fun. If you don't love it and aren't smiling, what's the point? Chances are if you aren't having fun you won't keep at it, and that would be a huge shame.

Phillip Haid can be reached at phillip@publicinc.com.

The next New Radical Self Portrait appears on October 16th.

Julia speaks at the Canadian Marketing Association "Make Your Mark" Women's Conference. If you're going to be in Toronto on October 7th, please join us.

Julia Moulden is an author, speaker, and columnist. Follow Julia Moulden on Twitter to keep track of the New Radicals, and to hear more about her new book. For more, please see Julia Moulden's HuffPost archive.