The Collaborative Impact Network – Good-Doers, Shakers, and Innovators

In the spring of 2018, I was reading a book by Reid Hoffman called “The Startup of You.” In the book, he wrote about the PayPal Mafias, the notorious group of the former PayPal team who have met in informal circles chatting ideas and pursuits to have since founded Tesla Motors, LinkedIn, YouTube, Yelp, and SpaceX.

The 2018 was the year after the Trump transition team had come into the State Department. I saw a lot of my former colleagues, mentors, friends leave government, as well as good initiatives along with it. I had also taken a few months off and rejoined the State Department after leaving for a few months as a contractor. I became involved with impact-oriented initiatives such as NEXUS, a global movement to galvanize the next generation of young social entrepreneurs, impact investors, and family businesses and Concordia Summit, a public-private partnership for social impact.

I knew there were really amazing people both in and out of government. I was working in government on a project called Engage America, a whole of government initiative to bring interesting foreign policy initiatives closer to the American people, and I witnessed an initiative, a thirst in DC in government to make good things happen.

I wanted to connect them. I wanted to make the resources available.

It was pretty quick. I went on Facebook and I wanted to create a small group. I initially added a few friends from government, the nonprofits I knew, and the investors, family offices, and the pioneers.

My fingers moved pretty quickly. I made a Facebook group called The Collaborative Impact Network after a few changes, I called it a “community of innovators, influencers, thought leaders, and mentors helping each other pursue “good” in original, purposeful, and creative ways.” I added a few more lines.

“Through a decentralized network approach, we unlock capacity for global impact through collaboration across unlikely agents across sectors – private and public. The group is based on the concept of PayPal Mafias.”

We had a few guidelines: “The network is only as good as its nodes. The group is as good as its members. Invite your mentors, leaders, and champions to be of a valuable resource for you! *Maintain ethos of sharing and cooperation. Be open and respectful when providing feedback or sharing ideas in the spirit of collective progress. *Drop a positive reaction or show gratitude for a member who spent time in helping you!”

The ideas was to build a platform and eventually a few events and a capacity to work beyond silos that our values are more aligned than we think – to activate global communities to work towards solutions across diverse sectors and industries.

I had a pretty vetted group of 400 innovators, diplomats, and social impact leaders, mostly based in DC. They shared updates and job postings, encouraging reports or studies from their respective organizations.

It was really my passion project. A facebook group, no less, but something I could pour my time into to connect people in my downtime.

My role was to elevate other people. I welcomed new members who are trailblazing their own success with innovative spirit, empathy, and leadership. Some of the members included Cameron Sinclair, former Co-Founder at Architecture for Humanity, a and the former Director at Jolie-Pitt Foundation, and now head of Social Innovation at Airbnb, Ashley Olafsen, Co-Founder of MOVE LLC and TedxYouth speaker on media diversity and self-esteem. She hosts “empowerment workshops and summer programs for girls on body image, self-esteem, mental health, and abusive relationships. Kevin Conroy, CPO at GlobalGiving, “ the world’s first global crowdfunding website for nonprofits. Scott Beale, Founder and CEO of Atlas Corps, and others.

Even now, I think I want to believe that we are good at heart. And we want to make good things happen.

We would gather thematically based on interests such as media, technology, social entrepreneurship, finance, diplomacy, and others in intimate groups of 4-5 and go around sharing one wisdom/network/resource in the spirit of vulnerability and sharing. We also host live interviews with media moguls, innovation leaders, and disability advocates: “Unleashing the Nonconformist in You,” “Harnessing Your Own Positivity,” “Eat, Accept, and Live,” and “Innovate Your Future.” We hosted various community-wide events on “Storytelling for Good,” “Innovative Leadership and Self-Empowerment,” and “Begin to Hope.” Our approach cultivates trust and credibility to build collective value, an automatic byproduct and a catalyst for common action.

In September, we partnered with the Global People’s Summit, a day-long, one-of-a-kind global digital and interactive dialogue that brings together delegation across industries to co-create solutions inspired by the SDGs. The digital platform of the summit brought together the voices of the United Nations General Assembly to foster dialogue and collective action.

Philanthropists. Impact Investors. Social Entrepreneurs. Policy Makers. We sometimes settle into the day-to-day often about how we can have more not give more. If we swap that dialogue around to creating value, that can be a completely different conversation. The given basis of our platform is how can we breathe in more value, love, and inner rich for someone else to shift the mentality from “me” to “us.” With a platform, we can co-create a shared outcome and catalyze global social impact.

Picture of the members of the the Collaborative Impact Network.

The sufficiency mindset will create something that translates into a new type of richness – the inner satisfaction and love for who we are, what we do, and the impact we can make by touching others with the same filled purpose and zest for life. The inner riches or purpose can be more fully realized through understanding that what we’re working on is often bigger than ourselves – irrespective of our own industry or field of interest. I think we can catalyze from within each to pursue the betterment of us all.