Victoria Chames_1's blog

Aaron Hurst - A Lifelong Career with Impact

Aaron Hurst, CEO of Imperative and globally recognized social entrepreneur, will be one of our accomplished keynote speakers at the 2017 Net Impact Conference. As a member of the Net Impact board, Hurst has had a successful impact career through his incredible work with social entrepreneurship and innovation.

The Rise of a Thought Leader

Hurst was born in Aspen, and has lived in nine subsequent cities around the world. An entrepreneur since 16, Hurst has worked to create communities that are empowered to realize their potential. His journey to a career with impact started at the University of Michigan where he designed and led an educational program for local correctional facilities and became the first student to receive the Michigan Campus Compact Award. He has since received the highest honor given to alumni of the University of Michigan.

In 2001, Hurst founded the Taproot Foundation, which connects nonprofits and social change organizations with passionate, skilled volunteers who share their expertise pro bono. Over the next 12 years, he discovered that we each gain purpose from our work based on different psychological drivers that predict everything from our intrinsic motivations to the impact we desire to make through work. Hurst was also the creative force behind the conception of the White House’s Billion and Change campaign. Through this campaign, over 200 companies signed a pledge to increase pro bono service in corporate America. 

With a passion for purpose-driven professionals, Hurst co-founded Imperative, a B Corp advocating for purpose-oriented workers and supporting the organizations that embrace them. Hurst is currently the CEO of Imperative and works to enable everyone to uncover and apply their purpose drivers to realize their potential as employees and members of society. Since 2014, Imperative has helped over 100,000 professionals awaken purpose in their work and its Purpose Lab has led the largest global research agenda on purpose.

Widely known for his thought leadership, Hurst is a regular advisor and thought partner for many global brands. He is also an author. His book, The Purpose Economy (2014), focuses on purpose as the new driver of the American economy. 

At the Net Impact 2017 Conference in Atlanta from October 27-28, we are focusing on your Path to Purpose and helping you accelerate your impact career journey. With keynote speaker Aaron Hurst, you will see an example of how to turn a passion for entrepreneurship and innovation into a lifetime of social impact. 

Register today for the 2017 Net Impact Conference to hear more about Hurst’s Path to Purpose and view the rest of our incredible lineup of keynote speakers here.

Aaron Hurst is a leader in social entrepreneurship and innovation and a keynote speaker at the 2017 Net Impact Conference.
Aaron Hurst is a leader in social entrepreneurship and innovation and a keynote speaker at the 2017 Net Impact Conference.

Salary vs. Sanity

When it comes to a trade off between your salary and your sanity, there is only sustainable choice. As someone who went through this process, I can tell you that you might surprised by how having less money could make you better off in the long term. When I started my career coaching business, I transitioned from a cushy corporate consulting job to a start-up impact career being self-employed. Yes, this change came with a huge pay cut. However, I also became my own boss and gained unmatchable flexibility.

The thing is, beyond a certain level of income, money doesn’t necessarily make our lives any richer – in fact, it can have the opposite effect. Some of the highest earners can be poor in terms of time, life satisfaction or purpose. Not having lived a life true to yourself was cited by a palliative nurse in a popular Guardian article as the number one regret of the dying, while working too hard was the number two.

And guess what else? You won’t be alone on the journey. Many of us are now migrating from traditional career tracks to follow our hearts, make a difference and feel we’re adding value, despite the salary discrepancy. But just as there is no country in the world in which women are paid more than men – the International Labour Organisation estimates that the average gender pay gap now stands at close to 23 per cent – women moving from high-paying careers into sustainability or impact roles have to deal with an income double-whammy; first for the role, then for the gender. This may come as a shock, but the stats don’t lie: Acre’s 2014 Salary Survey found that while men’s salaries have stayed the same since 2012, women’s have dropped by £4,500 p.a. Now that’s a bit depressing!

Doing more with less

So why do we do it? Because making that choice helps us feel like our efforts are more aligned with our values, more authentic, more sane. I left two high paying jobs in my career, one from Barclays Global Investors in San Francisco and one from Deloitte in London, because, despite the great salary and benefits, I just didn’t feel the values of my team and the organization were aligned with my own. Frankly, I didn’t feel good about going to work and never making it to my yoga class. I hear this a lot from my career coaching clients and I know it’s a personal choice, one that is not easy to make. But being poorer and happier can be rewarding, forcing you to simplify your life and be freer – without the lures of consumerism and commercialism. Even more sustainable reducing, reusing and recycling more? It’s less of a challenge than you might think.

Let’s talk numbers

That said, nobody’s suggesting you survive on minimum wage, so let’s talk numbers. Acre’s CRS Salary Survey is a great resource that will give you a snapshot of trends in the impact sector in terms of salary, function, sector, etc. My company, Walk of Life Consulting, was a distribution partner for the report this year and we were invited to attend the launch event in April. Over 1,200 corporate responsibility and sustainability practitioners responded to the survey, offering an unparalleled insight to the sate of the industry. The results show that there is continued growth and high levels of job satisfaction, but in terms of money, things are looking less rosy for women, consultants, and those based in the UK and Rest of the World regions. Here are some key points:

  • The global average salaries for men and women are £67,859 and £52,201 respectively
  • The average female salary has declined compared to 2012
  • There are fewer women in higher-level positions
  • Those working in the Rest of Europe are the highest paid
  • Average salaries have risen in all regions except the Rest of the World and the UK, where they have dropped (slightly)
  • On average, consultants are paid £8.7k less per year than those working in-house

TriplePundit sum up the findings nicely with some great infographics, explaining that the average salary for different roles ranges from £98,625 at Director level to £27,645 at Assistant level. In the middle are the Managers at £60,779 and Advisors at £41,366. Note though that most of the respondents had been working in a CRS role for between six and 20 years, while none had been there for less than two.

However, respondents cited job satisfaction levels of 85%, with 82% recommending a career in the area, despite the lower than average salaries – a resounding endorsement and one that encourages us all to choose sanity over salary!

If you’re thinking about switching roles for a job in CRS or would like to position yourself for maximum income as well as maximum impact, contact me for some tried and tested bespoke advice.

This was originally published on GreenBiz.

Shannon Houde is an ICF certified executive and career coach who founded, Walk of Life Consulting, the first international professional development advisory business focused solely on the social impact, environmental and sustainable business fields.

Statistics and reasoning support why you should choose sanity over salary.
Statistics and reasoning support why you should choose sanity over salary.

Top 5 Reasons to Visit Atlanta

Atlanta is a city that has many people buzzing. Millions swing by yearly to Georgia's capital city to feel its historical significance and get a taste of it’s vibrant culture. From it colorful murals which are displayed around the city to its outstanding food selection, here are the top reasons to visit Atlanta. 

The Story of Civil Rights

Atlanta is at the center of the Civil Rights Movement and has significantly guided the progress of human rights across the world. The National Center of Civil and Human Rights opened on June 2014 to connect the present Global Human Rights Movement with the struggles of the past. Next, make sure to stop by the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site where you will get the chance to view the Freedom Road Exhibit and stop by the home where Dr. King was born.

Tasty Goods

From pizza shops, burger stands, and barbeque markets to oyster bars, steakhouses, and 5 star restaurants, Atlanta’s cuisine has something for everyone. The Sweet Auburn Curb Market houses twenty-four individual businesses, including produce and meat merchants, a full service bakery, a bookstore, pharmacy and eleven of the most popular eateries in the city. The Atlanta Food Truck Park is a popular destination where communities come together to experience food and drink, browse local art, and pick up local fresh produce. After dinner locals and tourists can be found enjoying Atlanta's nightlife culture which includes bars, nightclubs, live music venues, comedy clubs, and more.

City Pit Stops

Atlanta is a city filled with quirky, fun, and diverse areas to explore. Little Five Points is a neighborhood packed with record stores, live music and vintage clothing shops and the East Atlanta Village even has it’s own web radio station. Another hot spot is the square in downtown Decatur which features great restaurants and local outdoor events to bring the community together. 

A City of Nature

Aside from the numerous parks and outdoor spaces, Atlanta also has one of the world’s largest aquariums and a zoo that focuses on conservation. The Georgia Aquarium is a great spot to witness over ten thousand sea creatures and explore the Ocean Voyager tunnel which lets you walk right through the breathtaking underworld. Atlanta’s Zoo features hundreds of animals and for an extra level of cuteness, it even has twin panda cubs. You can also learn how the Zoo is involved with field conservation programs for wildlife and wild places around the globe, including work in Africa, Asia, Central and South America.

We can’t forget about the bigger attractions...

While in Atlanta, there are also some big attractions you won’t want to miss, the CNN Center and the World of Coca-Cola. The CNN Center is the world headquarters of CNN and features shopping, studio tours, viewing galleries overlooking newsrooms, and a large atrium food court with over a dozen restaurant options. At the World of Coca-Cola you can visit the vault where the legendary secret formula for Coca‑Cola is secured and taste 100+ beverages from around the world. 
There is also a very special reason #6 to visit Atlanta- the 2017 Net Impact Conference! NI17 is coming to Atlanta October 26-28. At NI17 all attendees will discover their Path to Purpose and accelerate their impact career journeys while exploring the exciting city with friends and emerging impact leaders. The fun actually starts at the World of Coca-Cola during the 2017 Net Impact Conference opening party on October 26.
Do you want to see those twin panda cubs up close or visit the National Center of Civil and Human Rights? We have special excursions, tours, and events to take you around Atlanta to many of these top places to visit. Make sure to register now as there are only a limited number of tickets!
Atlanta is a wonderful city to visit and explore, here's 5 reasons why.
Atlanta is a wonderful city to visit and explore, here's 5 reasons why.

CommonBond Social Impact Award: Encouraging the Next Generation of Social Entrepreneurs

Social entrepreneurship unites the passion of a social mission with business-like innovation and determination. Emerging social entrepreneurs across the world are actively dreaming up new solutions and using business ventures to bring their impact to life. 

One competition is giving undergraduate students the chance to receive $10,000 to develop their business plan to make their impact venture a reality, the CommonBond Social Impact Award. CommonBond, an online lending platform and community that is targeting the student loan space, in partnership with Pencils of Promise, is supporting the next generation of change agents through this award. 

Past winners of the CommonBond Social Impact Award include Pasture Map, which enables sustainable cattle ranchers in the U.S. to maintain responsible grazing practices; Sanlaap North America, which rescues, shelters, and empowers victims of human trafficking; and Kheyti, which builds low-cost greenhouses for small farms in India.  

Meet the top three finalists for this year’s CommonBond Social Impact Award and hear their inspiring ideas to lead change.

Piero Accessibility

Founded by Sam Lew, Piero Accessibility hopes to revolutionize how accessible college campuses are to wheelchair users with one simple device:


Danielle Jeffers founded Dough4Degrees, LLC to teach students how to earn scholarships and graduate debt-free:


StreetMate is an app created by Michael Pusik that allows anyone to find and access a shelter guaranteed to accept them after they answer four simple questions:

Judges for this year’s award include the co-founders of CommonBond, Pencils of Promise, and Birchbox, as well as Grammy award-winning artist, producer, and tech enthusiast Lil Jon. The winner will be announced July 10th at CommonBond's NYC headquarters, click here to register. If you can’t make it to the event in person the event will be streamed on Facebook Live. Stay tuned to find out which of these revolutionary ventures will take home the top prize.

Are you interested in the growing field of social entrepreneurship? Visit our Social Entrepreneurship Career Portal to find resources and events, hear from practicing experts, and chart your own career path.

The CommonBond Social Impact Award gives $10,000 to a student entrepreneur whose business idea drives social impact.
The CommonBond Social Impact Award gives $10,000 to a student entrepreneur whose business idea drives social impact.

Atlanta’s Top Instagram Spots

We can’t wait to head to Atlanta this October for the 2017 Net Impact Conference. While October 26th-28th will be jam packed with expert sessions, networking opportunities, and experiences that will help you accelerate your impact career journey, you will also have the opportunity to explore Atlanta.

With help from friends on the ground in Atlanta, this summer we’ll be sharing our top picks for things you should see and do while you’re in visiting this October.

First up, we’re sharing the top spots for you to snap a picture in Atlanta. Through Living Walls, a city project dedicated to promote street art as a form of a social and economic engine, Atlanta now has over 100 public murals. Here are a few of our favorites:

1. Ricky Watts Wall for Outer Space Project 10 Krog Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

2. Beltline HENSE Wall (Pastel Spots) Closest Address: 985 Monroe Dr NE, Atlanta, GA 30308

3. Beltline Fish Mural by Rising Red Lotus 10th Street NE (Monroe) Atlanta, GA

4. HOXXOH Wall  10 Krog Street NE, Atlanta, GA 30307

5. A Toast to Atlanta  488 Flat Shoals Ave SE, Atlanta, GA 30316 

6. Arden’s Garden Blue Geometric Wall 969 Marietta St NW, Atlanta, GA 30318 

7. Atlanta Made Wall 1183 Howell Mill Rd NW Atlanta GA 30318

We hope you are as excited to visit Atlanta as we are. Are you feeling like you can't wait for October? Register for the 2017 Net Impact Conference here.

P.s. We have a big announcement for the 2017 Net Impact Conference next week, stay tuned!

See the top Instagram spots around Atlanta, the home of the 2017 Net Impact Conference.
See the top Instagram spots around Atlanta, the home of the 2017 Net Impact Conference.

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Our Ocean, Our Future, Our Waste

There are over 150 million metric tons of plastic in our oceans and each year we add an additional 8 million tons—that’s about a truckload a minute, according to the World Economic Forum. At these rates, by 2050 there will be more plastic in our ocean by weight than fish.  For last year’s World Ocean’s Day, we focused on reducing our plastic pollution. This year, we are looking at changing the way we consume plastics, among other material goods.

Every year we lose 32% of packaging to the environment. The plastic fragments that end up in the ocean are deadly to marine creatures, from plankton to seabirds, who mistake them for food and there are further troubling signs as to what the nanoparticles from these plastics can do as they make their way up the food chain and become part of our diets.The Ocean Cleanup Project can remove half the great pacific patch in 5 years by using huge floating screens directed by natural currents to collect the plastic—but what if we could stop the trash from ending up there in the first place? What if we could stop turning plastics into trash?

That’s what organizations like the Ellen MacArthur Foundation are focusing on. This year, in a joint venture with the Prince Wales International Sustainability Unit, the Ellen MacArthur Foundation is holding a 2 million dollar design competition to keep plastics out of the ocean. The two part competition will promote innovative design solutions based on circular economics, with the goal of eliminating disposable packaging and designing packaging that is easier to recycle or can be composted. 

Circular economics is an innovative approach to plastic production and use. Today, 95% of plastic packaging material is lost to the economy after a short first-use cycle, costing $80 to $120 billion each year. With circular economics, the New Plastics Economy can turn after-use plastics back into valuable feedstock. This approach provides an opportunity to enhance the system’s effectiveness, reducing demands on finite raw material and saving $40 billion annually.

Speaking of her experience sailing around the world, Ellen MacArthur explains that what you bring with you on the boat is what you need for survival, so you have to manage all of your resources and their depletion. “You realize finite resources are exactly the same on a boat as they are within our global economy. And yet we’re using them up.”

Our ocean is a vital natural system, crucial to sustaining a healthy planet. This year, the overall theme for World Oceans is our ocean, our future. In addition to reducing plastic pollution, let’s think of ways we can reuse. Together we can change the way we consume, and protect our ocean. Visit the World Ocean’s Day website to find more ways to get involved. 

Let's change the way we consume plastics for World Oceans Day 2017
Let's change the way we consume plastics for World Oceans Day 2017

Meet a Net Impact Fellow Introducing Her Community to Human-Centered Design

In this blog series we are profiling our Net Impact Fellows; from impact design to healthy food, our fellows in this year-long leadership development program are working to better their campuses and their communities. Jasmine Wang is an Impact Design Fellow working to introduce her campus community to human-centered design. To achieve this she hosted a day-long introduction to design thinking and helped prototype solutions to community partners.

Meet Jasmine

Why did you first decide to take action around impact design?

I had been involved with social justice work for a few years - my skillset usually centered more around governance and empowerment versus grassroots organizing, but I was still very much in touch with the social systems that surrounded me. I am pursuing a multidisciplinary degree in arts, computer science, and business, and saw that design was a natural intersection of all three concentrations. The most important catalyst for my involvement with the fellowship is that I wanted to utilize my unique academic intersection to empower my peers to see themselves as active designers and engineers, as vocal creators of the world that surrounds each and every one of us at once.

What do you think is the most critical issue facing the world today?

This is a messy question to answer, and one I constantly struggle with, because all issues are intertwined with issues of race, power, and privilege. Ramifications of even the most global issues, such as anthropogenic climate change, disproportionately hurt and impact those with less social and economic privilege. AI, and job automation, is another example that will hurt those who are already working low-pay jobs more seriously. It is absolutely crucial to attract more smart people to work on intractable and serious problems; it’s even more important that we practice conscious empathy and love for our fellow human beings. The current question I’m asking myself is: how do we spread the benefits of exponential technology and lessen the wealth gap while mitigating the potential effects of such human empowerment on the environment?

If you could have dinner with any three people (living or dead), who would they be and why?

Margaret Atwood. She’s been my favourite writer for a long time, not just for her artistry (brilliant though it is) but because she leverages her platform for all sorts of social, political, and environmental advocacy. She’s also Canadian!

Martha Argerich. As a classically trained pianist, I can only hope that one day I’ll have her fire. She’s a brilliant pianist. Hopefully we can squeeze in a master class after dinner.

Leila Janah. She’s doing interesting work with Samasource that raises interesting questions for me about digital inclusion. 

If you were given an extra hour every day, what would you do with it?

I would read! Books teach you practical tools, new conceptual frameworks, and aesthetic appreciation. The cheapest, broadest, and best education costs only a yearly library membership fee.

Learn more about the Net Impact Fellowships, our four cohorts - Impact Design, Criminal Justice, Healthy Food, and Racial Equity - and all of our amazing fellows here.

Meet Net Impact’s Top 25 Under 25

Net Impact is proud to present 25 of the brightest young change agents in our community. From students leading their peers through their campus Net Impact chapter to Net Impact fellows implementing action projects in their local community, these are emerging impact leaders who are shaping the future of social and environmental responsibility. 

Visit our Top 25 Under 25 page to read their inspiring stories and read on to get a sneak peak at a few of these emerging leaders.

“I’ve met students who are inspired to change the world and Net Impact has given them the background to get started.This community has inspired me to grow and learn about new industries and practices that might help build a more sustainable world. Net Impact has also opened up a network of opportunities for me to explore, even after I graduate from NYU.”  

- Bhavya Pandyaram, 21, co-president of NYU Stern’s Net Impact chapter. 

“We’re surrounded in a world with complex challenges that require a circular understanding to create sustainable solutions. The last three years at the University of Oregon have shown me that these solutions are very attainable when surrounded by a group of driven individuals—it’s a team effort—and Net Impact is the team I want to be on."

- Brian Amdur, 20, president of University of Oregon’s undergraduate Net Impact chapter.

"As a Net Impact Outreach Fellow, I learned so much about community management, civic engagement, and how to collaborate to drive transformational change. It's been truly inspiring to work with an organization that equips emerging leaders with the skills, experiences, and connections they needs for a lifetime of impact."

- Pallavee Trehan, 23, Net Impact Outreach Fellow.

Read more on these young change agents and meet all of our top 25 under 25 here

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AngelHack: Coming to a City Near You

AngelHack is going on tour around the world. 

AngelHack is the world’s largest and most diverse global hacker community, helping to drive open innovation of tech products, platforms, and brands.

At Net Impact, we like to highlight inspiring organizations leading change around the world and this definitely describes AngelHack. We have created a two-part blog series profiling this innovative company. Read on to learn about hackathons and how you can get involved to make an impact yourself. 

Hacking to improve the world

First let’s explain what hackathons are. Hackathons are when developers, designers, and entrepreneurs compete to build, test, and launch new solutions over the course of a weekend. AngelHack is known as the “pioneers of global hackathons.” Now AngelHack is embarking on its 10th Global Hackathon Series and going on tour around the world with stops in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, the U.S, Australia, and more. 

Past themes for their Global Hackathon Series’ include, The Whole Developer, Thoughts Become Things, and Anyone Can Code. This year, AngelHack is presenting their new theme: Commit To Your Code.

“Now, more than ever we want to encourage entrepreneurs commit to their code and in turn commit to the projects they create, the team they create it with, themselves, and the prospect of making a positive impact on the world,” says the AngelHack team.

Each hackathon begins with a Fresh Code, where everyone starts coding at the same time. Teams have full ownership of everything they build at the events and are free to proceed with it as they wish. Projects are submitted online and participants must demo and present their hacks. The grand prize for the competition is an exclusive invite to AngelHack’s HACKcelerator, including a 12-week curriculum to turn their hackathon ideas into a startup reality.

AngelHack is activating a community of innovators to improve the world. An example is a project from their Lady Problems Hackathon series that focused on tackling imposter syndrome in the workplace.

Imposter syndrome is an exhausting and inhibiting condition where individuals are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud.” Alisia Stasi was still suffering with the condition when she bravely applied for AngelHack’s Lady Problems Hackathon series in London. She ended up winning the competition with an app that integrates cognitive behavioral therapy with studies on impostor syndrome and gives a daily reminder to help keep the impostor at bay and boost confidence. 

“It’s exciting to see the tech sector, including engineers and developers, getting more engaged in leveraging their skills for good. We’re seeing an increasing interesting in attending hackathons, volunteering their time to support nonprofits, and contributing to open source projects focused on social impact,” says Rachel Katz, the Director of Social Innovation at AngelHack. 

“It’s our goal to continue to encourage this behavior and help bridge the gap between nonprofits, social entrepreneurs and technologists.” 

Are you feeling inspired to attend a hackathon? Find a city near you.

Stay tuned for part 2 in our blog series where we share how AngelHack integrates social good into their hackathons and their advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. 

Part 1 of our series profiling AngelHack, an innovative company designing and developing for a better world.
Part 1 of our series profiling AngelHack, an innovative company designing and developing for a better world.

Atlanta: the Next Step on Your Path to Purpose

This is a very exciting time at Net Impact, we are actively strategizing, planning, and booking our next Net Impact Conference which will take place in Atlanta, GA, October 26-28. Whether you have been to a conference before or this will be your first (because we know you will not want to miss this event) the 2017 Net Impact Conference is going to stand out above the rest. 

First of all, this conference will be taking place in an exciting city that is home to beautiful parks and walking trails, performance halls, delicious foods and popular nightlife, and your favorite tasty beverage, Coca-Cola. Not to mention the fact that this is the birthplace for one of the greatest Civil Rights icons, Martin Luther King Jr. and that Atlanta has now embarked on a citywide sustainability initiative, Power to Change. 

We are so excited to bring our community of impact leaders together in Atlanta and for the first time ever, we are expanding the direction of this annual event to help all attendees, no matter undergraduates or experienced leaders, discover their Path to Purpose.  

This year in Atlanta you’ll find your purpose driver, learn how to identify new career opportunities, gain skills relevant to your dream job, and leave with tangible next steps and invaluable connections. One thing that won’t change is our soon-to-be-announced lineup of inspiring speakers.

Like always, the 2017 Net Impact Conference will give attendees opportunities to hear from and connect with top executives, nonprofit visionaries, and ground-breaking entrepreneurs. Past Net Impact Conference keynotes have included Alicia Garza (co-founder of Black Lives Matter), Chelsea Clinton (Vice Chair, Clinton Foundation), Yvon Chouinard (Founder, Patagonia), Al Gore (Chairman, Climate Reality Project), Doug McMillon (CEO, Wal-mart Stores, Inc.), and Jerry Strikze (CEO, REI).

We will continue working hard to plan a conference that will rise up above the rest, a conference that will not be just a single event, but a movement of change agents, and a conference that will equip you with the skills, experiences, and connections to have the greatest impact now and throughout your career. 

Register now to join us in Atlanta October 26-28 for NI17!

The 2017 Net Impact Conference heads to Atlanta this October
The 2017 Net Impact Conference heads to Atlanta this October