Episode 29 – The Change Maker Journey with Mentor Dida Part 2

In this episode, Mentor Dida of the International organization Ashoka explains how he and others developed the Change Maker Journey template that is utilized around North America in the K-12 Education system by Ashoka to create change makers.

Biography of Mentor Dida

I’m a people person who always gets excited about new ideas and possibilities to design meaningful solutions to advance humanity. Advancing humanity is dear to my heart because after having lived through the 1999 Kosovo war, I realized that the real problems were not the people who caused the problems, but those who did not do anything about them. I’m a firm believer that all of our problems are just opportunities that we have not designed the right solutions yet; what we need is some more empathy, sophisticated teamwork, collaborative leadership, and changemaking.

During high school, I found a deep appreciation for physics. It is a science that aims to make things simple and explain why things happen the way they do. That was the reason why I chose to study engineering, and I ended up graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Alternative Energy Technologies from Arizona State University (ASU).

While I was an engineering student, I had a realization that moved me profoundly and was the reason why I chose to dedicate my time on advancing humanity. That moment triggered an inner drive in me to take many leadership roles including co-founding 5 student organization, leading a university initiative, serving as a student senator, and co-founding two non-profit organizations. I continued to pursue a graduate degree in Global Technology and Entrepreneurship at ASU. My graduate thesis was studying the human-centered design approach to problem-solving; where I got to explore ways people come up with powerful ideas. ASU provided incredible recognitions including Valedictorian, Graduate Commencement Student Speaker, the prestigious Pitchfork Award as the Outstanding Graduate Student Leader, Lean Six Sigma Black, and Green Belt, and more.

All of this led me to Ashoka, the world’s pioneer network of system-changing social entrepreneurs, and its mission to catalyze a future in which everyone has the necessary tools and knowledge to drive change for the good of all.

LInks

www.ashoka.org

www.asu.edu

https://changemaker.asu.edu/front

Episode 28 – The Change Maker Journey with Mentor Dida Part 1

In the next two episodes, we learn about the Change Maker Journey with Mentor Dida of the International organization Ashoka.  Mentor shares his personal journey through growing up in a war zone to his transformation into a change maker and then to a change leader. In this episode specifically, Mentor shares his own change maker journey.

Biography of Mentor Dida

I’m a people person who always gets excited about new ideas and possibilities to design meaningful solutions to advance humanity. Advancing humanity is dear to my heart because after having lived through the 1999 Kosovo war, I realized that the real problems were not the people who caused the problems, but those who did not do anything about them. I’m a firm believer that all of our problems are just opportunities that we have not designed the right solutions yet; what we need is some more empathy, sophisticated teamwork, collaborative leadership, and changemaking.

During high school, I found a deep appreciation for physics. It is a science that aims to make things simple and explain why things happen the way they do. That was the reason why I chose to study engineering, and I ended up graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Alternative Energy Technologies from Arizona State University (ASU).

While I was an engineering student, I had a realization that moved me profoundly and was the reason why I chose to dedicate my time on advancing humanity. That moment triggered an inner drive in me to take many leadership roles including co-founding 5 student organization, leading a university initiative, serving as a student senator, and co-founding two non-profit organizations. I continued to pursue a graduate degree in Global Technology and Entrepreneurship at ASU. My graduate thesis was studying the human-centered design approach to problem-solving; where I got to explore ways people come up with powerful ideas. ASU provided incredible recognitions including Valedictorian, Graduate Commencement Student Speaker, the prestigious Pitchfork Award as the Outstanding Graduate Student Leader, Lean Six Sigma Black, and Green Belt, and more.

All of this led me to Ashoka, the world’s pioneer network of system-changing social entrepreneurs, and its mission to catalyze a future in which everyone has the necessary tools and knowledge to drive change for the good of all.

LInks

www.ashoka.org

www.asu.edu

https://changemaker.asu.edu/front

Episode 27 – Strategies For Change Making with Josephine Balzac

In this episode, we explore some interesting courses called Strategies for Change Making, Be The Change, and Intrapreneurship taught by Josephine Balzac of Rollins College.  In these courses, students learn the necessary skills to bring about lasting change in their communities.  We also dive into Josephine’s own journey into change making and how she approaches her work as an attorney, professor, and activist.

Biography of Josephine Balzac

Josephine M. Balzac is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Social Entrepreneurship. Professor Balzac is a licensed attorney admitted to practice in Florida and the U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida. She focuses on environmental law and was the President of the Law Office of Josephine Balzac, P.A. from April 2014 to June 2018. In 2017, Ms. Balzac was appointed to serve on the City of Orlando, Mayor’s Green Works Task Force. She also serves her community as the Vice President of the Board of Directors for IDEAS For Us, the Board of Directors of ACLU Central Florida, the Legal Advisory Board of the Center for Earth Jurisprudence, and the Public Interest and Law School Liaison Committees of the Environmental and Land Use Section of the Florida Bar.

In October 2017, she was recognized by U.S. Representative Darren Soto as a community leader as a part of Hispanic Heritage month. While at Rollins College her greatest honor is receiving two teaching awards, a Student Government Association’s Outstanding Faculty Award and the Walter E. Barden Distinguished Teaching Award. She also received the 2017-2018 Algernon Sydney Sullivan Foundation Faculty Fellowship. She holds a Juris Doctorate (J.D.) from Florida A&M University College of Law where she graduated as valedictorian of her class. She received her Masters of Law (LL.M.) in International Environmental Law at The George Washington University Law School. While attending GWU Law, she served as a Randolph C. Shaw Research Fellow for the Associate Dean of Environmental Studies and interned at the Environmental Protection Agency. Ms. Balzac is actively involved in the local community, frequently educating and advocating as an avid speaker on environmental laws, sustainable development, climate change, human rights, food, and social justice issues.

 

Links

Josephine Balzac: Instagram: @josiebgreen, Facebook: Josephine Balzac, Twitter: @josiebgreen

www.ideasforus.org

www.ashokau.org

www.rollins.edu/social-entrepreneurship

www.designkit.org/human-centered-design

Episode 26 – Building Community With Micki Meyer

In this episode, we dive into what it means to be in community with others and how to foster community in your world with Micki Meyer of Rollins College.  Micki shares her journey to community building from her early days in Orlando and her almost 20 years at Rollins College.  Learn what Micki says are the three building blocks of community and how self-discovery and mindfulness are essential elements of a happy life.

Biography of Micki Meyer, Lord Family Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs and Community at Rollins College.

Micki Meyer serves as the Lord Family Assistant Vice President for Student Affairs & Community at Rollins College. She holds an Endowed Chair position funded by the DHL and RNR Foundations to build capacity around engaged scholarship, high impact learning, and student engagement. Micki oversees areas of campus that work directly with leadership education, social innovation & entrepreneurship, civic engagement, service-learning, diversity and inclusion, student involvement, and college access.

Over the past 19 years, Micki has worked closely with faculty, staff, students, and community partners to make purposeful connections between campus and community that make meaning of a liberal education in the 21st Century. Micki serves as a Certified Scholar for Florida Campus Compact and as an Engaged Scholar for New Perspectives in Higher Education with Campus Compact. Also, Micki has been active with Ashoka U Changemaker Campus Network.

Micki has been the recipient of honors and recognition for her work within communities. This year she received the Robert D. Bradshaw Small Colleges Student Advocate Award from the National Association for Student Personnel Administrators for her demonstrated commitment to the mission and goals of small colleges and her work “above and beyond the call of duty.” Also, Micki has been honored with the Thomas E. Gamble Service Legacy Award and Community Engagement Educator Award for Independent Colleges and Universities from Florida Campus Compact. In 2017 Micki was named a Winter Park Influential by Winter Park Magazine and one of Orlando’s 40 Under 40 by the Orlando Business Journal.

Throughout her career, Micki has been engaged throughout Winter Park and Orlando and currently serves as a board member for the Downtown Orlando YMCA, Healthy Central Florida Winter Park, and is active with the Audubon Park School. She is a graduate of the Leadership Orlando and Leadership Winter Park. Micki received her Bachelor of Science in Human Communications and Media Management from the State University of New York College at Fredonia and Master of Arts in College Student Personnel from Bowling Green State University (OH).

Links

www.rollins.edu

www. mindful.org

Episode 25 – Productivity with Business Strategist Deana Kalakay

The ever elusive concept of productivity is explored with Workflow Management Strategist and Productivity Coach Deana Kalakay on this episode.  Deana has been helping professionals and businesses build confidence and take action using the science of consistency and workflow mastery.  Her clients overcome chaos and inconsistency by getting organized, becoming confident and taking the massive action required to meet and exceed their objectives.  To learn more go to her website at https://www.bepowerfullyproductive.com/

Episode 24 – Pursuing Your Passion with Student Guests

Passion is a difficult concept to articulate for most people let alone follow towards a career or vocation.  On this episode, Jerrid explores what it takes to pursue one’s passion with student guests Todd Bernard, Robert Manfreda, and Tatiana Fritz.  The Valencia College students, participated in the live radio podcast, while their classmates tuned in to the broadcast live from the classroom via Facebook Live. Students also enjoyed communicating during the program through Facebook’s chat feature, engaging in witty, fun and informative banter.

Episode 23 – Building Supportive Networks

In this episode of Teaching Change, Courtney and Jerrid discuss the importance of having a supportive network. Supportive networks involve a person or group of people you can rely on for comradery, advice, or just a simple sounding board.

Courtney immediately mentions her Toastmasters club as a major supportive network in her life. When Courtney sought to further develop her leadership and communication skills, she joined Weekend Toastmasters. Her club, which is a part of Toastmasters International, provides a nurturing environment of learning and ongoing opportunities to become your best self. Every Sunday Courtney takes on roles such as the prepared speaker, evaluator, timer, and counter while receiving valuable feedback and, yes, the support she can use to improve for the next meeting.

Jerrid brings up the competitive aspect of Toastmasters and asks if this colors her experience when she doesn’t win. Courtney assures Jerrid that the contests are all in good fun and are meant to be learning tools as well. For each meeting, a member is awarded a certificate for best speaker, evaluator, and table topics speaker. Even if she doesn’t win, Courtney is able to gain valuable insight into her skills as a communicator and to observe the good speaking qualities of others.

Courtney reveals that Weekend Toastmasters is also a good support network for her because it is outside of her professional workplace and allows her to interact with people on a different level. Instead of having on her librarian hat, Courtney is able to engage other areas of interest. Jerrid agrees with this particular aspect of supportive networks. He once was a part of a close-knit group at work that would hang out on their personal time. Ultimately, their conversations would turn to work-related matters and Jerrid felt like he was still on the clock. Therefore, this particular network did not provide Jerrid with the downtime he needed away from his daily job duties.

Luckily, Jerrid has since built other supportive networks that give him the community and guidance he needs. As previously discussed, Jerrid is a husband and father of three children. Thanks to his lovely wife Deana, who sets Jerrid up on husband dates, he is able to connect with other husbands to exchange stories and seek advice. This is just one type of supportive network for Jerrid. He has also found networks that help him care for his aging parents, guide him through professional decisions and many other life situations where it is of benefit to have a second opinion.

This episode marks the end of Courtney’s stint as co-host on Teaching Change. She thanks Jerrid for giving her the opportunity to explore the world of social entrepreneurship and to share her own experiences with the audience. As a fan of the show, she is looking forward to listening to future episodes of the podcast.  

Episode 22 – Self-Care

 

On this episode of Teaching Change, Courtney and Jerrid discuss the importance of self-care. This is a buzzword that has been bandied about lately because it is vitally important to check in with yourself to make sure everything is okay. By self-care, the Teaching Change hosts are referring to taking the time to nurture your well-being both mentally and physically to ensure you are being mindful of your own needs. People in the social entrepreneurship field are driven by their passions to improve the lives of others and their communities. So much so, that they may not pause to do a self-assessment of what they need to function at the most optimal levels. This could lead to burnout.

While Courtney has never ventured into social entrepreneurship, she had her own bout of burnout as a middle school Language Arts teacher. Her downfall was that her unique circumstances did not allow for adequate downtime in which she could rejuvenate her mind and spirit and gear up for the next day. As a public school teacher, Courtney felt like her work followed her everywhere and thus she was constantly on the clock. Whether it was grading papers, preparing lesson plans, or classroom management, her teacher responsibilities took over her identity until there was room for little else. Thus, she burned out after only two years.

Your career choice and workplace can greatly affect opportunities for self-care. Jerrid recounts a work environment where employees felt they needed to work long hours in order to demonstrate their value to the employer. This did not quite mesh with how Jerrid wanted to live his life as a dedicated father, husband, and family man. He made the difficult decision to quit, which carried its own pressures so he could lead the type of life he’d envisioned for himself. This turned out to be a great decision on his part. It was, after all, one of the roads that led him to Valencia where he feels very fortunate to have landed. At his current place of employment, Jerrid has the freedom to explore his varied interest and still maintain a healthy work-life balance.

The show concludes with Jerrid’s account of a friend who suffered years of unfulfillment at the job before he’d finally had enough. Although the friend was making a six-figure salary, the company’s culture and mission were not aligned with what he needed to be motivated in the work. Twenty years later the friend finally resigned from the position and began working for a nonprofit that fits better with his purpose. Although Jerrid acknowledges the friend probably took a sizable pay cut, the purging of a toxic work environment and philosophy more than made up for the difference.

Would you be willing to make that decision? Questions such as this one are important to consider as we continue the conversation. Difficult decisions and sacrifices may have to be made in the name of self-care. For if we don’t take care of ourselves first, we won’t be of any use to those we aspire to help.

Episode 21 – Dealing with Setbacks

People welcome setbacks like they would a trip to the dentist or a flat tire. In other words, they do not. Setbacks are understandably viewed as impediments to progress and dream crushers. Yet they are an inevitable part of life. We cannot all be perfect one hundred percent of the time, can we?

On this week’s episode of Teaching Change, Jerrid and Courtney talk the good, the bad and the ugly of setbacks. Setbacks are awful by their very nature and are often accompanied by feelings of disappointment and failure. Yes, setbacks suck! This is something most of us know from life experience. Due to the negative connotations of setbacks, we try to brush them off as quickly as possible and move on with our lives. However, as Jerrid and Courtney discuss in this episode, it is vitally important to acknowledge the setback and to embrace the emotions it solicits. On the surface, this may make people uncomfortable. No one likes to feel down in the dumps if they can help it. Nevertheless, confronting the emotions head on allows you to process what happened and to forge a clearer path forward.

Courtney divulges that she is not above a good, old-fashioned pity party. Darken the room, pop in a sad movie and she is all set. This is Courtney’s cathartic way of working through her emotions so that she can gear up again and tackle the issue at hand from a more wizened, informed perspective.  

 

In their discussion of setbacks, Jerrid shares Thomas Edison’s quote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This quote highlights the silver lining in weathering a setback. Jerrid explains that we will all eventually fail at something in our lives but it is how we react to those failures that make all the difference. Jerrid recalls an interview he conducted while working on his dissertation. An entrepreneur depended heavily on a government grant for his business operations. The grant was rescinded, and he was forced to lay off a sizeable portion of his work force. This experience taught the entrepreneur that more diversification was needed in his funding sources to prevent the same situation from happening in the future.  

This is where the ability to reflect becomes an essential business and life skill. Both Jerrid and Courtney believe reflection is an important component of achieving success: review what happened, analyze cause and effect, and devise a plan of action. Courtney mentions the traditional business reflection tool SWOT which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Jerrid mentions the point system which derives from the creative design philosophy. He also discusses the traffic light activity. After a program or project, Jerrid and his team place their observations into three categories: green, yellow and red. Anything that went fantastically well goes in the green column. Things that were okay but could be improved are reserved for the yellow column. The red column is for items that need to be totally rethought or reworked.  

Ultimately, an organization that presses pause and allows time for reflection will build resiliency in its system. Thus, mistakes and setbacks will be viewed as part of the process and not the end.