Creating Social Value Blog / Social Innovation

Qualities of a Changemaker

By Cheryl Kiser, Executive Director of The Lewis Institute and the Babson Social Innovation Lab.

As we prepare to go to the Ashoka U Exchange this week at Miami Dade College, I find myself reflecting on nearly 8 years of being a member of the Ashoka U network of Changemaker Campuses. Over that time, I have seen our students’ eyes light up when they talk about an idea close to their hearts and realize they have the ability to start right where they are to take action on that vision. I’ve seen students take their ideas forward just as they originally envisioned, or with tremendous pivots as the concepts evolved throughout the Entrepreneurial Thought and Action® journey.

What has emerged for me during this time is a strong belief that successful changemaking is about an orientation toward the world and a set of qualities all changemakers share. First and foremost, they have an optimistic commitment and a strong personal belief that what they are trying to do will make a difference and be successful. They are extraordinary boundary spanners and collaborative networkers. They are visionary thinkers. They have tremendous peripheral vision to see new ideas or opportunities bubbling up on the outskirts of society and industry. And, they have personal maturity.

I asked 3 members of the Babson community (2 current students and 1 alumni) to share the qualities they embody to drive change and challenge the status quo:

What was the thing in your life that gave you the confidence to be a changemaker?

Coming face to face with people who are doing the things you want to do cannot be underestimated. I had this experience as a student…looking up to Daquan Oliver. Believing that what you are trying to do is possible is a hurdle every social entrepreneur has to overcome early in the process. – Josuel Plasencia ’17, Co-Founder of Project 99.

My upbringing and my peers. My parents helped me understand from a young age that true leadership comes from service. At Babson, I was surrounded by people acting on problems, not just talking about them. I am lucky to have friends who helped me internalize that change happens only when we make it happen. – Carlos Granados MSEL ’16, Author of Tales of A(d)Venture.

What fuels and continues to sustain you on this journey? 

In the journey towards pursuing my purpose, I found dignity, humility, and happiness. The insurmountable support that I have gotten from femtors and mentors as well as family and peers energizes me, because it reminds me that, at the end of the day, people are good, and that we must fight to showcase that goodness despite the injustices that surround us.” – Yulkendy Valdez ‘17, Co-Founder of Project 99.

Yulkendy Valdez ’17 and Josuel Plasencia ‘17, Co-Founders of Project 99.

Project 99 is a leadership development company that develops immersive experiences that help the Fortune 500, leading service firms, and other organizations bridge the leadership gap by recruiting, retaining, and promoting diverse talent. We are a movement by millennials for millennials focused on diversifying leadership from the bottom-up. By 2030, Black and Latinx leadership must be 30% in order to better reflect fast-changing demographics. and

Carlos Granados MSEL ‘16, Tales of A(d)Venture

Tales of A(d)Venture covers seven entrepreneurial pillars as defined by movers and shakers around the world, each one with its own fable and animal. It offers entrepreneurial advice that speaks to the inner child of those who want to shape change, not witness it.