How Do You Think I Can Make the Greatest Impact?

I have a plan to move me from where I am to where I want to be. I sketched it out in a park in Buenos Aires in the last few hours of 2009. I’ve stuck with the plan. Working late, struggling through writer’s block and self doubt I’ve written one blog post a day, interviewed 18 social entrepreneurs and experts in cause marketing, CSR reporting and SRI, and agreed to build the non-profit network for a new social enterprise. I’m learning, sharing and implementing.

But this week I’m stuck. Out of no where the clouds gathered overhead and I felt ineffective. Suddenly, the blocks I’m building with seem too small. I want to be there already. I want to inspire and help entrepreneurs build businesses with social missions that can change the world. I want to build one myself. I want to create multi-sector partnerships that tease out our strengths and hold a bullhorn to inspiration to create something that vastly improves people’s lives. I want to take bigger risks and use my education, experience and compassion to make an impact.

How can I make the greatest impact?

Is it by continuing to write about tactics and options for a social mission? Is it by continuing to show the evidence for sustainable business? Is it even through interviews? I’m not the best interviewer, but that’s okay because it’s not my final destination.  I interview people because it’s an amazing way to learn from the businesses they’ve built, their moment of inspiration, their triumphs and their days of overhead clouds.

My hope was that the act of writing out and preparing to share these questions and frustrations would provide some clarity. And while I do feel better for giving a physical presence to my cycle of thoughts, at this moment the clarity continues to elude.

I’d like to ask you. How do you think I can make the greatest impact? Are you in your moment of impact or still searching or preparing for it? What steps do you take to get there and do you ever feel like you’re there? I’d love to hear from you, either in the comments or by email: olivia(at)

How often in life we complete a task that was beyond the capability of the person we were when we started it.  –Robert Brault

Photo credit Aspiration Magazine.


Leave a comment
  1. Noland Hoshino February 12, 2010 at 6:37 pm #


    I was at the gym reading your post on my Blackberry. I had to stop working out and get to a computer immediately to say this…

    You are doing an amazing job with sharing your knowledge and wisdom about cause marketing, CSR, and social enterprise on your blog. It’s become one of my “Must Read” blogs in the universe. Your passion, tenacity, and spirit shines with every post. If you can impact one person (me) then you’ve done your job. Never give up. Continue with what you are doing because you have a gift that needs to be shared with the rest of the world.


  2. Brad Maier February 12, 2010 at 9:00 pm #

    The fact that you posses the self-awareness to think about this type of stuff at all proves that you are very close to being where you want to be and will get there if you just keep one foot in front of the other.

    I always love these types of blog posts because they’re affirming to me that others are out there trying it too.

    It seems like you are at your best in posts when you teach and question in the same entry. I think it’d be amazingly impactful if you just went and started something (no-matter the size) and used the lessons from growing it as teaching moments on the blog. The ups, the downs, the things you’ve found that work, the things that don’t. An open window into how it all works with things that go deeper than what you can get from interviewing others.

    The win-win of building something while still leading a discussion and having an impact would be a nice bonus.

  3. Giang Biscan February 12, 2010 at 9:06 pm #

    Olivia, I agreed with Noland “you are doing an amazing job”.

    As driven people that we are, we will never feel that we are “there”. I would say that your “stuck” feeling today is a normal part of the journey that only by looking back later that you will see how it is a natural path to “there”.

    You have a great way to express your passion through your writing. You are making an impact, Olivia.

    Miss you. Hope to see you & Andrew back soon, we’ll have another BBQ in my backyard.

  4. Kirsten Winkler February 12, 2010 at 9:49 pm #

    Changing something to the better is an uphill battle and it is normal that you will be exhausted from time to time.

    The important thing is that you don’t try it on your own. Getting people who will walk this way with you, even it is just for a few steps, will brign you closer to the top.

  5. John Humphrey February 13, 2010 at 3:13 am #

    Just off the top of my head and only because you asked…
    More distribution. I can’t find you in iTunes. A guest post or two at HuffingtonPost, Alternet etc. might go a long way to building your audience. I wonder if an interview with you on Mixergy where you could talk about how cause marketing helped entrepreneurs get traction, could spark further interest in the startup community.
    I think your audience is going to take a little longer to find you, but that when they do they are going to be thrilled. Hang in there!

  6. Joanne Miller February 14, 2010 at 7:43 pm #

    Would love to chat. Your passion shines! Brave too !

    949 285.0989

  7. admin February 15, 2010 at 12:50 pm #

    Noland: thank you for your support. It’s particularly great to know I’m providing you value given the inspiration and information I take from your work. Who else would like to see interviewed? What topics covered or companies profiled?

    Brad: From one journeyer to another–good to hear from you. Where’s your journey taking you? Thanks for the feedback on posts that teach and question. Those are the ones that I probably enjoy writing the most. Agreed, that I can teach and learn more from starting a project, company, etc. Did you see the “What I learned” post from the iGiveTwice project/site I ran in December? ( Definite lessons from that one. I’m exploring other projects a bit now and will keep you posted.

    Giang: thank you. So nice to hear that other people are balancing the “there” with the journey. We always see our growth more in hindsight. It is important to have an awareness of the journey. Thanks for your support.

    Kristen: great advice to bring people along with me. I’m hoping to use the interviews to do that–to connect with people of similar interests and to share and learn with them. But I think your point is really important when starting a venture (I usually think in terms of companies, but what I’m doing now is also a venture). I’ve seen the benefits of having a team of advisors (however informal) as you start a company, program, etc. Thanks for making me think about it in relation to my current work.

    John: Excellent thoughts! There are a couple of technical things I want to do (like iTunes and Disqus). Andrew might be up for a cause marketing interview. What do you think the interest is in that (in general) for the tech/start-up community? I know there’s some overlap, but I tend to feel it’s small. Maybe they need some evidence of these programs’ benefits? Guest posts are great ideas too. I’m a fan of Fast Company’s writing on sustainable business and would love to write a piece for them.

    Joanne: Thanks for your encouragement. Can you email me more about what you’re up to at olivia(at)

    Thank you all again. It was SO wonderful to hear your thoughts, advice and voices. I didn’t expect to receive much from this post and looked at it as a personal exercise.


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