Goldman Sachs CEO plays Judge for Brooklyn girls at SuitUp’s (2019 Fellow) recent Business Competition.

2019 Fellow Lauren Reilly, founder SuitUp, holds periodic business competitions with real world brands, real corporate volunteers, and real office space.

SuitUp provides educational competitions that connect corporations with schools in low-income communities to increase student career awareness and marketable skills. These business competitions use real world brands, real corporate volunteers, and real office space. 3-6 teams of ~10 students experience solving a realistic corporate challenge, such as designing a new product for Nike or creating a new phone case for Apple. 80% of students want to major with finance after the competition.

In this competition, Suitup partnered with Goldman Sachs. The girls prepared a 5-min marketing pitch and were judged by none other than the CEO of Goldman Sachs.

Click here to read more.

Announcing our 2020 Cohort!

Congratulations to our 2020 Cohort of Gratitude Fellows!

Fellow Name Organization
Elekwachi Chimezie Lekwas
African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect Nigerian Chapter
Thinh Nguyen Better Life Vietnam
Dr. Selina Hasan Clinic5 (School Health Initiative)
Joseph Osuigwe Devatop Centre for Africa Development
Gideon A. Asaah Educate a Child in Africa
Gina Womack Families and Friends of Louisiana’s Incarcerated Children
Lindsay McClain Opiyo Generations For Peace
Blessing Adaobi Onyejike-Ananaba Girl Child Art Foundation
Katherine Hermans Global Changemakers
Monica Bennett I Protect Me
Samyak Jain Involve Learning Solutions
Soraya Fouladi Jara Worldwide
Yessica Flores Kantaya
Michael Abolarinwa Sunbola Lagos Food Bank
Nick Monzi Learn Fresh (NBA Math Hoops)
Dhirendra Pratap Singh Milaan Foundation
DONIA EMILLY Music Life Skills And Destitution Alleviation (M-LISADA)
Oluwaferanmi Omitoyin Panacea Project
Susan Osterhoff Project Commotion
Elsa DSilva Red Dot Foundation
Elnaz Sarraf ROYBI Inc
Duane Wilson San Francisco Achievers
Manasi Mehan Saturday Art Class
Fatma Said Kauga Shule Direct
Manoj Kumar Swain Society for Children (SOCH)
vicki abadesco! Soul Shoppe
Dr. Yared Alemu TQIntelligence
Elaine Keuper Tripura Foundation
Satish Manchikanti, Ajit Sivaram U&I
Kat Thorne The Commonwealth Education Trust

Message From Our Founder, Randy Haykin

In the spirit of the holiday season, I thought I’d share a bit about an intriguing book that a friend and Gratitude Ambassador recently introduced me to, called Second Mountain (a book by David Brooks). I loved the book and the metaphor that we all start out on our “first mountain” but at some point begin to travel up a “second mountain” in life – one that brings us more joy and satisfaction.  

The first mountain, according to Brooks, is about oneself and about filling the ego. On our first mountain, our upbringing and school teach us to obtain the things we want in life:  a job, money, possessions, and stability for our family. This first mountain is primarily “ego” focused and all about “me”. Some of use have scaled this mountain early in life and are now on a different journey. Some of us leave this mountain quite early in life.

Typically a shift from first mountain to second mountain is brought about by a change in job (boredom, unchallenging),  life (e.g. children leave home) or even something traumatic (e.g a narrow escape from death or the loss of a loved one).

The “second mountain” is more about “us” or “we”.  It’s about finding something that we want to contribute to and finding joy in giving our most valuable assets and gifts to a larger cause.  David Brooks suggests four potential commitments that define a life of meaning and purpose: to a spouse and family, to a vocation, to a philosophy or faith, and to a community. 

Second Mountain thinking resonates well with the mission and people surrounding The Gratitude Network.   In some ways, all of us that are part of the Gratitude Network (whether a Coach, Fellow, Expert Advisor, Team Member or Ambassador) are climbing “the second mountain”– whether we are later in our careers or early on—at least as far as our work around Gratitude is concerned. 

Minhaj Chowdhury, the founder of DrinkWell and a long time Gratitude Fellow, chose his second mountain in life at the ripe old age of 18, when his grandfather in Bangladesh became ill from water poisoning and passed away. Minhaj went on to study at John’s Hopkins, where he corralled numerous professors and scientists to aid him in creating a unique resin which extracts toxins from groundwater supply… he patented the technology, brought it to Bangladesh and India, where his systems are in use today impacting the lives of millions of children.

Holliday Goodreau, and her daughter, Olivia, founded the LivLyme Foundation, (Gratitude 2019 Fellow) which promotes research and patient support for those with Lyme disease.  In addition to providing financial assistance to families of children suffering from Lyme disease, the LivLyme Foundation funds studies for Lyme and tick-borne diseases research. The idea for Livelyme Foundation, which is certainly a “second mountain” effort for the mother-daughter team was inspired by Olivia’s personal struggles, at an early age, with Lyme disease.

Gratitude Fellows like Minhaj, Olivia, and Holliday truly inspire our team, because they are all “mountaineers” with a strong sense of purpose.  Many of these entrepreneurs have even managed to amass a loyal following at the “base camp” of their mountain! All of them are scaling their second or third mountain.

So…what’s your purpose…and which mountain are you presently climbing?

“If I Have to Attend ONE More Unproductive Meeting . . . .”

In the last newsletter, I wrote to you about a productivity killer called email, which is a wonderful tool when it’s not being abused left, right, and center. This time I’m going to continue along the same path with something that affects people in every industry I face: meetings that drain away our lives without contributing much value. The Atlassian study I mentioned last time found that in the U.S. alone, organizations waste $34 billion a year on unproductive meetings. That’s a staggering figure! It also explains why so many of us feel like we must take the laptop home every evening, in order to do the work we couldn’t get to during the day while we were running from one inefficient meeting to the next. It’s a problem I frequently help my clients solve, but the solutions (while very doable) require a shift in corporate culture. People must be willing to change and stop saying “this is the way we’ve always done it.”

So, what changes will transform meetings from snooze fests to high-gain encounters? Try some or all of these:

  • Eliminate standing meetings. Back in my NCR days, all of the business unit’s managers and team leads met every Monday afternoon for a three-hour time slot. We carried lots of action items, but the great majority of the time most attendees would say, “Was that mine? Huh. Well, give me two more weeks on it.” Meanwhile, what was happening with the staff all afternoon while they didn’t have access to any of us? We have to assume that some individuals might have, oh, taken advantage of the situation.
  • Establish an expected outcome for each meeting schedule, such as determining a solution to a problem or creating a plan for an upcoming project. That outcome then dictates your attendee list; rather than “all hands, all the time,” we might have more effective meetings if just the people knowledgeable about the situation and empowered to act on it were present. And if you don’t get invited to every meeting running, offer up praise! You just got that hour of your life back!
  • Meetings are not for one-way communication; we have group email and other tools for that. Instead, every person present should have an active role to play. Remember how much fun those undergraduate courses were with a lecture hall full of two hundred students and one dull professor droning on while we took notes, hoping to pass the exams? Let’s not recreate that experience down through the years.
  • Reward the good behavior of punctuality by starting on time. I encounter different attitudes about punctuality in my travels around the world. For example, I taught project management to a group of women in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, and the first 15 minutes of every day were spent in taking off the abaya and niqab and chattering to one another about their evening and their children. Could I adjust my timing by 15 minutes? Yes. When they had that opportunity and were now ready to start, they were very engaged and respectful, and didn’t allow any further delays. Contrast that respectful use of time with a meeting in which many attendees have made the effort to arrive on time, only to be told that “we’re waiting for a quorum” or “we’re waiting for So-and-so” . . . so their good behavior is punished, and the bad behavior of tardiness is rewarded. Doesn’t feel so good to those sitting there. 
  • Stick to an agenda. Sometimes the facilitator doesn’t know how to prevent an attendee from taking the meeting hostage around another topic altogether. Those of you who have attended meetings I facilitate know that I don’t allow this; I want everyone engaged and participating, but that may mean I have to help someone find their “off” button if they are talking too much, or if what they are saying isn’t to the purpose.  

As you coach people around you to re-think their willingness to fill up workdays with meetings, remember to breathe deeply, exhale in gratitude, and give yourself affirmations every day for the productivity killers you are eliminating. 

Thanks for reading.

Vicki Daughtry

Director of Coaching and Learning

Expert Advisor Spotlight: Vishal Gandhi

We are happy to be profiling one of our newer and more active Expert Advisors, Vishal Gandhi. Most recently, he joined our October Gratitude Peer Call and led a presentation on Measuring Success for our Fellows. In that talk, we covered multiple ways to approach viewing the success of a social impact organization by looking at how the solution impacts the lives of the beneficiaries served.

Vishal’s experience includes private and public sectors across multiple locations in North America, Europe, Asia, and Australia.

Mr. Gandhi’s other professional stints include social sector and international development consulting, investment banking, commodities research, and government and public policy. Vishal’s other areas of expertise include negotiation, sales and marketing, and strategy.

We are very grateful that Vishal continues to enjoy his role as an Expert Advisor for the Gratitude Network. He looks forward to engaging with more Fellows in 2020 to help them tackle challenges and expand their impact.

Coach Spotlight: Wilbur Herrington

By Vicki Daughtry

This month’s spotlight is on Wilbur Herrington, who is coaching for Gratitude for the first time this year and right off the bat, he took on two fellows! Both of his 2019 fellows started with similar issues around capacity; he is coaching them on not taking on more than they should, on improved delegation, and trusting other people. Sound familiar? In addition, Wilbur coaches his fellows on concentrating on better work/life balance. In sharing his most memorable experience as a coach, Wilbur says that it’s difficult to quantify assisting someone in seeing their presenting issue in a different light, addressing their concern, and partnering with them to discover a more complete and/or preferred way to show up in their life. He gives an example of one engagement in which his client’s presenting issue was wanting to be more effective in meetings. Wilbur was able to help her find both her voice and the personal power she previously would not accept.

Wilbur’s passion about coaching comes from a lifelong curiosity about people’s stories and how these stories manifest in their interaction with their world. Coaching for Wilbur is a symbiotic relationship. He takes their trust and the gift of their stories very seriously as he attempts to be of service. Wilbur finds that the work he does with clients also contributes to his own professional development and growth as a person, including learning from both successes and setbacks.

When asked about his outside interests, Wilbur shared that during the last year he has been working with incarcerated and recently released men through the Jericho Circle organization. Wilbur helps these men develop their emotional intelligence, and use tools
to come to terms with their inner struggles and the walls that separate them from their loved ones, communities and themselves. Finally, although it doesn’t sound like he allows himself much free time, Wilbur’s hobbies include diverse musical interests, gardening and baking; he finds all three relaxing, and they enable him to share his results with friends.

I extend my gratitude for your work, Wilbur!

African Edutainment Company Ubongo Wins Next Billion EdTech Prize

Former Gratitude Network Fellow Ubongo, a Tanzanian-based company which creates fun, localized and multi-platform educational media that reaches millions of African families through television and the webs, has won the Next Billion Edtech Prize, an award launched by The Varkey Foundation to recognize innovative technology that can have an impact on education in low income and emerging world countries.


Gratitude Award Winners Announced for 2014

The Gratitude Network is excited to present its 2014 Gratitude Award winners:  GoodWorld Solutions (Oakland, CA), The Springboard Collaborative (Philadephia, PA), DrinkWell (Mumbai, India)  and Jail Education Solutions (Chicago, IL).

Jail Education Solutions – improves inmate outcomes by incentivizing educational and vocational progress through tablet-based curriculum in correctional facilities.  Jail Education was the winner of our “Audience Choice” (by popular vote)  at SOCAP14.

Goodworld Solutions – is our winner in category of Community Development, provides the first platform (“LaborLink”) to leverage the disruptive power of mobile to give voice to the global workforce and deliver real-time data to companies like Cisco and Patagonia to align sourcing practices with worker needs.

SpringBoard Collaborative – our 2014 winner in category of Education, addresses the reading achievement gap with programs and tools for coaching teachers, training family members, and incentivizing learning such that our scholars have the requisite skills to access life opportunities.

DrinkWell – Transforms the arsenic and fluoride water crisis affecting over 200 million people across rural India and Bangladesh into an entrepreneurial opportunity by blending proprietary filtration technology with a franchise business model. They are our winner in the category of Health.

Gratitude Award winners were chosen from the Nine Finalist companies who each presented on stage at The SOCAP14 event on September 5, 2014 – details can be found on this page.  Their presentations to the SOCAP14 audience on September 5th can be found at this link.  Our nine Finalists were narrowed down by a panel of experts from semi-finalists (who were covered in this article which appeared in YourMarkOnTheWorld, a blog by Forbes writer, Devin Thorpe).

This was the 2nd year The Gratitude Awards were held and our first year in partnership with SOCAP.  More information about all our portfolio companies can be found on this page.



What Drives Social Innovation?

The Rise of Global Social Fellowship

1971-4 were big years for global social reform…but it took us 40+ years to fully realize how big. It was in the early 1970’s, that two new enterprises were formed, one in the U.S. And one on Bangladesh, that would go on to positively affect the lives of tens of millions of individuals around the world. Opportunity International (founded in 1971 by Al Whittaker, Bristol-Meyers President) and Grameen Bank (first loan  in 1974 by Bangledesh university director, Mohamed Yunis) formed  “micro-credit” organizations, offering loans, credit/savings, insurance and training for impoverished families.  These two organizations were early to innovate in the “social” or “impact” sector. Their focus as organizations.

In 1981, Ashoka was founded by Bill Drayton who recognized that Fellows through a social venture capital approach could impact many aspects of society, addressing the needs of the poor, marginalized and under-represented. Ashoka today operates in over 70 countries and supports the work of almost 3,000 Fellows, chosen and mentored as “Ashoka Fellows”.  Drayton calls these workers “social Fellows”.  For the past 30 years, Ashoka, and others that have followed their path, have sparked a movement toward the citizen-driven social innovation.

Other organizations, such as Echoing Green, The Acumen Fund, Omidyar Network, Skoll Foundation, and many more have followed Ashoka’s lead in supporting social Fellows around the world.

What’s Fueling Social Innovation?

What’s fueling the move toward Social Innovation in our world today?

Chasms and “Bankers”: first, we can all agree that there is a growing chasm between The Have’s and The Have-Nots – the disparity between wealthy and lower income classes is growing each year.  This chasm has forced Those Who Have a Lot to re-think the meaning of work, life, and philanthropy.  Many of the richest Have’s earned their money from technology and  innovation – Bill Gates through innovation in the software space; Warren Buffet in financial innovation;  Pierre Omidyar and Jeff Skoll in e-commerce innovation; Marc Zukerberg in social media innovation; and Marc Benioff in enterprise business model innovation.  Their form of philanthropy is ENTREPRENEURIAL.  “Let’s apply Fellowship to the world’s greatest problems and see if we can’t make a dent.”. The Chasm is creating consciousness and this consciousness is manifested in new social innovations.

Technological Shifts : are making the world a smaller place.  New advances in communications, networking, social networks, and other technologies have created an unprecedented array of new opportunities and have disrupted just about every business, government and learning institution on the planet.   The falling cost of Internet access and mobile communications has opened up the Developing World to instant knowledge and information, often disrupting the old ways of thinking.

Citizen Sector:  one big outcome from technological shifts has the rise of the citizen sector – people around the world are able to compare themselves with others, and see the differences. Boundaries are broken down, and real needs become well know and exposed to the world.  The Have-Nots suddenly are exposed to what the Have’s have.

Governments Failing to Keep Up: unfortunately in the conscious and technological shift we are facing, large organizations, like the government and corporate entities are falling behind – they will be forced to innovate or perish. It is becoming clear that large-format government is not going to be able to innovate quickly enough to solve our growing social problems on which they are expected to act. Something has to augment government and large corporate understanding and efforts in order to keep up with the pace of change.

Corporations Waking Up : Perhaps due to increased popular and governmental pressure (think: environmental issues and greenhouse emissions), or perhaps due to leaders of our global corporations “awakening” to the realities of pure profit motives, most global corporations have focused some attention to social issues in the past decade. Many have formed internal task forces, departments of “Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

A few leaders have made social give-back a part of the corporate culture – notable examples are Toms’s ShoesBen & Jerry’s, and Salesforce.   A few corporations have grown due to the focus on social issues, such as Triodos Bank,


Global Urgency: Against the above background, it is becoming clear that our Earth’s resources: oceans, forests, food & water supplies are in jeopardy.  An urgency in such matters as democratic change, environmental hazard/waste, global warming threats, and more – has come to the forefront of our consciousness as a people.

The New Era of Innovation

In  the last decade, a dramatic confluence of economic, technological, political and spiritual shifts appears to be  shifting global consciousness on social issues such as poverty, education, human rights, environment, and basic human needs.  In my opinion, we are now entering a new global Era for Social Awareness and Innovation never before experienced.   These innovations turn new leadership styles, business models, processes, technologies and products/services into forces of good to address the world’s most challenging needs.

The market term for this new form of innovation is Social Innovation.


Seven Forms of Social Innovation

The late Peter Drucker, in his book Fellowship and Creativity, discusses 7 forms of  innovation. These 7  explain  the background for nearly every innovation that has occurred in modern times. Today,  we are seeing social innovation occur in all seven of these areas.

1. Unexpected occurrences (serendipity, chance & surprise) – Drucker believes some inventions and innovations have come from surprise, and of course this is true.  A famous example of this is Art Fry, at 3M, who came up with the idea of Post-It Notes from the unexpected failure of a new glue that the company had experimented with.  Today, social innovations also come from serendipity – or “being in the right place at the right time”.  An example I like to use is  Founder Charles Best invented his service when, out of frustration for lack of resources,  he created a simple internet site to post the local needs of teachers at his school.  By chance, others outside the school system found it intriguing and DonorsChoose became a phenomenon after Best was featured on the Oprah Show nationally.

2. Incongruities (e.g. growing market, falling profits) – One of the most common birthing spots of innovation is Incongruity – when markets or situations are simply out of alignment, and something new is called for to take advantage of the situation.  I’ve witnessed many times, as a venture capitalist and angel investor, the affects of . An case study and example, which I use in my class at UC Berkeley is Reply Inc.Founder, Payam Zamani, realized in 2006 that hisprimary target markets (real estate and automobiles) were suffering in the economy, and his company needed to re-organize it’s business model to make products and services easier to use. Incongruities are a major driver of Social Innovation, of course, because the incongruities in many developing nations expose underlying political, economic and societal issues.  A favorite example of mine is Napo Pharmaceuticals (South SF), founded by consultant, Lisa Conte.  On a trip to Africa, Lisa saw children suffering from diarrhea and dying.   With further research, she found out some 2+ million children die each year from diarrhea-related maladies.  Yet most major drug companies found this “niche” too small and unprofitable to address.  She formed Napo to address this incongruity in the market. The company went public in , and today assists children all over the world.

3. Process Needs (e.g. linotype & advertising = desktop pub) – As a new worker at Apple Computer in the 80’s I witnessed a great example of process innovation – the rise of “desktop publishing”.   The Macintosh computer, released in 1984, represented a new way to interface with computer hardware – the roll of a mouse, the fonts on the screen – all approximated the realism of a printed page in a magazine. But the Mac went on to revolutionize the concept of self-publishing and advertising by allowing individuals to approximate the same things that expensive Linotype could do in upscale advertising, for a mere fraction of the cost using a computer and laser printer.  Today, we take this innovation for granted.  In the social innovation space, my favorite example of process innovation is happening today in learning and education.   Sal Khan (founder of Khan Academy) and others in the “blended learning” category have shown that education can be changed by bringing the homework into the classroom, and bringing the lecture to the home (videos that students can watch anytime, anywhere).  This reverses the thinking that teaching takes place in the classroom only. There is currently a revolution taking place in Education where the “old” process of teaching is being replace by the “new”, personalized process.

4. Industry and Market changes (e.g. Shifts, catastrophes, competition) – a classic example that fits this area is  In 1998, Marc Benioff attempted to convince his bosses at Oracle Corp that a new business model for providing software would address the needs of customers who were tired of paying huge prices for internals software installation and maintenance.  He was unsuccessful, so he started his own company to address the needs of mid- and large-sized clients.  His business model, today referred as “SaaS” (software as a service) is now used by most software companies on the planet.  In the social innovation sector, market and industry changes in Developing nations have prompted extraordinary new innovations.  For example,

5. Demographic Changes (e.g.changes and shifts in the world’s demographics) – the world is in constant change, and many innovations take advantage of shifts in the world’s population. An enormous demographic change in the US for our present generation is the aging baby-boomer segment of the market, who will soon be senior citizens, creating a vast array of needs in elder-care, housing, health and medical needs.  New innovative ways of addressing this demographic shift are underway.   My favorite example for “demographic change” that drives innovation in the social innovation space is SamaSource, founded by Leila Jonah. Samasource has created an innovative piece of software that disseminates work electronically to impoverished areas of the world, where qualified, but otherwise unemployed workers can earn a wage completing the work virtually.  This takes “outsourcing” to a new level. The company prides itself on bringing work to impoverished areas of the world where people can be quickly trained and made ready for meaningful jobs.

6.Changes in Perception (e.g. Health, fitness, education) – in time, human beings perceptions of life and the world we live in change. Racial, sex, sexual norms have changed in various societies.  Here in the US the perception for “Fast Food” has dramatically shifted in the past 20 years, going from a “convenience” to a national health driver. This has led to new innovations in “healthy” foods, as evidenced by new restaurants, innovative food distribution (think: Whole Foods) and new forms of weight control.  In the social sector, innovations are also driven by changes in perception.  The empowerment of women in the developing world is a good example.  In many cultures where women have been “second-class” citizens in the past, new social innovations are allowing them to become the bread-winners for their family, the leaders in their communities and even political heroes of social change.  Opportunity International, for example, supports over 2 million loans per year to family “Fellows” – 85% of the recipients are the women in the family.

7.New Knowledge (e.g. computer chips, batteries) – Moore’s law, applied to chips, communications means that new technologies are coming on the market every 2 years that are doubling in capacity and power.  Adoption curves for new technologies seem to become steeper and steeper with each successive wave. It took 20 years for telephones to become popular;  it took 2 months for Instagram to catch on fire. An early pioneer in social Fellowship,, is a great example of how new technology can be used to bridge social gaps, match Have’s with Have-Not’s.  Today, Kiva is on track to transact $1 billion in loans between the developing countries and wealthy US/European families.  This new innovation has disrupted the common form of lending by banks, and has spawned a new generation of social innovations linking those in need with those who have via the internet and mobile

We are awash today in innovations in the social sector.  So much so, that attention has shifted from large monolithically non-profit organizations (think: American Cancer Society) to a new era of “social Fellowship” (think:  which encourages “lean” thinking and enterprising approaches, both in for-profit and non-profit formats.

Have your own example of social innovation and where it fits with Drucker’s 7 forces?  I’m interested to hear it!