10/08/2013 06:35 pm ET Updated Dec 08, 2013

One Young World: Beyond Business-as-usual

One Young World: Beyond Business-As-Usual

An Activist's Impressions of the 2013 One Young World Summit in South Africa

I've worked for two of the most philanthropic billionaires in the world (Jeff Skoll and Pierre Omidyar). I've helped develop and manage grassroots social action and advocacy campaigns for award-winning films and organizations. I have and continue to mobilize hundreds of thousands of people around the world through the Million Hoodies Movement for Justice. And just last month, on the eve of my 26th birthday, I launched my own company, M-PWRD, a hybrid strategy/creative agency working to empower the next generation of global citizens and change makers.

Needless to say, I've been around the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) or "Double Bottom Line" block and I know how to spot a fake -- it's not hard, there are lots of them. So when I first heard about One Young World I was skeptical to say the least. So I decided to investigate -- guerrilla-style: I went on the inside. I started working for David earlier this year and this week I attended my first One Young World Summit in my hometown of Johannesburg, South Africa.

I'll admit I was on the fence at first. But eventually I was won over by the quality of the speakers and the substance of the conversations that took place throughout the week. I'm now a believer and here are 10 reasons why you should be too:

  1. The panel opened with Blake Mycoskie of TOMS Shoes, who is at the center of a heated debate about the one-for-one model that he inspired, first with shoes, and now with eyewear. Numbers don't lie, and Mr. Mycoskie brought the numbers: TOMS has put over 10 million shoes on people's feet and improved the vision of over 120,000 people around the globe. Philosophical arguments aside, TOMS has had a positive impact on millions of people's lives, and that's no small feat.
  2. Arianna Huffington advised us to "sleep our way to the top." No really, she did. Preferably 7-8 hours a night if you can get it.
  3. The panel introduced us to a new generation of business innovators and change makers like Saurabh Madaan who is working on education and empowerment in India, and Monde Nkosi who is helping to bridge the gap between business advocacy organizations and entrepreneurs in his home country of South Africa.
  4. The 1200+ young delegates and I all received free business advice from the one and only Sir Richard Branson. Sir Richard also spoke out against corruption in all of its forms. #ScrewItJustDoIt
  5. Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, gave a shout out to the Occupy Movement, saying, "There has never been a better time to make the world a better place."
  6. Arianna Huffington is AWESOME!!!
  7. KPMG highlighted how they are moving from CSR to "Corporate Citizenship", which is a great example of how Shared Value Creation (SVC) is positively shifting the conversation around business growth and social impact.
  8. Three out of four speakers were women and two out of three questions came from women. They asked great questions, like: How do we challenge the definition of success so that the conversations about social good happen more organically? How do we tackle corruption while promoting business development in countries like South Africa? If management is not taking the lead, what are some tangible steps that we can take to hold our organizations accountable?
  9. One Young World Co-Founders David Jones and Kate Robertson are entirely authentic, down-to-earth, and, most importantly... fun!
  10. I love Arianna Huffington!!!

In the words of Carol Stone, "This is One Young World at it's best." We can all look forward to next year's One Young World Conference in Dublin. Count me in!