On Spending A Week With 160 Change Champions

My takeaways from the week with my cohort at Penn are many, but first I’ll share my renewed commitments.

I'm committed to using any new knowledge in service, not just in service of myself but in service of the marginalized communities to which I belong.

I'm committed to bringing my full self into my work and into spaces where it has been suggested or implied I could never go.

Most importantly, I'm committed to paving ways or creating pipelines for people who have been told by this society that their gender identity , sexual orientation, or race should limit their trajectory. 

It was a privilege to be at Wharton and on the larger Penn campus with so many people from around the world who recognize our common humanity and the potential in that, who are working for social change not to be praised but because it's their calling. With privilege and access comes responsibility to those without it. And I take my responsibility seriously.

As I stated, there are numerous takeaways from our convening that I could share with you. The experience didn't only make me a better soon-to-be founder, it made me a better person. What sticks out though is that I now understand this: you have to surround yourself with people who are solutions-oriented, mission-driven, committed to finding clarity of purpose, and who value your creativity and audacity. That's not just good advice for social entrepreneurs. Your core group, the folks closest to you or who you spend the most time engaging, should be genuinely excited about your work and your growth. They should also be growing and working for better. What you need is a creative and courageous community, maybe not as large but quite like the community I’ve found through the Penn executive program in Social Impact Strategy.

It’s also important to remember that no matter what mission you're on, no matter how you package and attempt to sell yourself, or what you're offering, some people aren't in the market for what you bring. It could also be they simply don't want it from you or your brand specifically. You won't convince them and that's okay. But the world is a big place, so there's certainly space and need for your idea or work. That’s not to suggest your idea or work won’t need to evolve or pivot. Let your idea, whatever it is, grow and let it grow you. Be moving around and always meeting new people who will provide candid feedback. Be adaptable or responsive to stakeholders and to the market. Be intentional in all you do. Be excited about your idea, your work, and your story.

If you have the audacity to step forward and declare that you want to change this world for the better, count me as one excited supporter.



Dana Vivian White