02/17/2014 03:34 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Organic Networking: Carrie Rich Explains the Power You Can Access Anywhere, Anytime

What One Young Leader Can Teach Us about Goal Setting, Social Enterprise, and Finding Success as a Female Entrepreneur

Carrie Rich, co-founder of The Global Good Fund, Blu2Green LLC, and Teens for Technology, explains how she does it--again and again. From social entrepreneurship to leadership to mentorship, Carrie provides advice for those who seek to achieve their full leadership potential.

The energy and vision of the young leader, shaped and guided by the expertise of an experienced executive, becomes a powerful force for good in the world.

Carrie exemplifies this quote. She is the young leader behind The Global Good Fund ( whose surrounding network has directed her path of achievements.


Even as a young woman counting several early successes, Carrie's youth has brought her equal challenges in a world dominated by those her senior. Knox Singleton, co-founder of The Global Good Fund, is four decades older and a head taller than Carrie. At meetings, people assume that he's the decision maker. Questions, commentary--they are usually directed to him, but despite that fact, Carrie steers the helm of their wonderful leadership development organization, The Global Good Fund. What makes Carrie's struggle different is how she overcomes it: she refocuses her energy on gaining the trust of the very people who originally overlooked her.

Steve Mariotti: Tell me about your history in entrepreneurship--from Teens for Technology to Blu2Green LLC and everything in between.
Carrie Rich:
I have been passionate about social entrepreneurship, leadership, and development since age 14, when my peers and I founded Teens for Technology, an organization dedicated to improving computer literacy. Five years later, we raised $1.2M, funded computer literacy training on 100,000 computers throughout Jamaica, hired a local staff that is self-sustained today, established a school club network in Jamaica, and expanded to two countries.


Teens4Technology students and Carrie

In 2011, I co-founded the for-profit social business Blu2Green LLC, which produces handmade products right here in the U.S. out of recycled materials. We employ people with special needs, while repurposing medical blue wrap--waste that would otherwise rest in landfills--into accessories and clothing items. I'm really proud that Blu2Green serves as a vehicle to create social, economic and environmental value.

Prior to co-founding The Global Good Fund in 2012, Knox and I co-authored the book Sustainability for Healthcare Management: A Leadership Imperative, with our colleague, Seema Wadhwa. The book made Handelsblatt's Top 5 Business Books list, the most cited business medium in Germany. Humbling! We donate 100% of proceeds to social impact causes.


SM: Can you share some tips every aspiring young woman entrepreneur should know? CR: Here are my quick tips for young female entrepreneurs:
  1. The only person you have to please is yourself.
  2. Get comfortable with discomfort--it's key to personal and professional growth.
  3. Seek mentorship opportunities from a variety of people--be a mentor and have mentors.
  4. Network and collaborate with other women.
  5. Each year, map out and revisit personal, professional and financial goals. I work hard to stick to the plan, recognizing that life throws unexpected curve balls that require iteration.
  6. Build systems and processes that allow collaboration in untraditional ways. Some of the most meaningful lessons I've learned stem from the intersections of distinct fields.
  7. Treat every setting as a place for networking. I'm consistently surprised by the seemingly random places key players pop up!
  8. There is no such thing as dreaming too big. I generally ignore the people who tell me I'm dreaming too big and listen to the people who say I'm not dreaming big enough.


Carrie addressing the 2013 Global Good Fund Summit attendees

SM: What is the most important lesson you've learned in social business?
I've learned that it's important to model what we advocate. For us here at The Global Good Fund, that means we need to positively model what it means to be a social business leader.

As an example, my entire team (interns, directors, volunteers and other staff) is asked annually to answer questions to help set personal and professional goals. Beyond responding to the questions, we share our completed goals amongst the team to hold each other accountable and keep team members honest with each other. No area is off limits, from health goals to financial goals, life purpose goals to career aspirations, we foster an open team environment.

SM: Tell me more about The Global Good Fund. How are you impacting lives? What are the long term goals for the organization?
The mission of The Global Good Fund is to accelerate the development of high potential young leaders who tackle the world's social issues through entrepreneurship. We achieve this aim by selecting promising young leaders for our Fellowship program, which pairs aspiring entrepreneurs with seasoned executives who serve as coaches. We provide leadership assessment resources, a network of peer leaders, content expertise and targeted funding.

We've invested in 19 entrepreneurs to date and aim to double our investment next year. We believe that our Fellows are key leverage points in our global society--that if we invest in them, we'll make the most significant, long-term impact possible.


Maggie Edmunds addressing The Collegiate Leadership Collaborative

The Global Good Fund also supports The Collegiate Leadership Collaborative, designed by our summer intern, Maggie Edmunds (age 19), and piloted at Rice University in 2013. The purpose of The Collegiate Leadership Collaborative is to maximize the leadership potential, bolster self-confidence, and transform ideas into reality amongst high school and college entrepreneurs with a commitment to social impact.


Peer coaching and learning with Global Good Fund Fellow, Brukty Tigabu

SM: Why do you think you've been able to succeed in so many different spaces?
What has mattered the most in my personal development journey has been a unique combination of cross-generational power. Seasoned leaders whom I've engaged with over the years (such as my bosses and, more personally, my grandparents) have not just mentored me, but have also been there to coach me and pull me up. The impact has been accelerated personal growth that ultimately affects social change through the organizations and personal relationships.

SM: What are your final words of advice for young people hoping to achieve some of the successes you've worked towards?
I am a firm believer in the power of organic networking. I have met some amazing people, who are now largely involved in The Global Good Fund, though completely random encounters. Whether it's meeting someone in the bathroom of a wedding, in the gym locker room when I'm dripping wet wearing a towel barely big enough to cover myself, or in a crowded Visa line in Nepal, I seem to be a magnet to the bizarre networking encounters! But by welcoming these opportunities, I have met incredible people.


Carrie in Israel

Special thanks to Lauren Bailey and Maya Horgan for their assistance on this article.