Sophie Tarnowska (She/Her)
Inclusion designer > Empathy builder > Strategic idealist.
Sophie Tarnowska is a strategic idealist and an inclusion designer. Her mission is to build bridges between citizens in order to counter social division and to address systemic social issues, together.
She currently leads the Participant Experience team for C2 International, designing meaningful, brand-aligned experiences for attendees of international conferences around the world.
Sophie is also launching Versus, an empathy-building program aimed at transforming systemic spaces such as schools, workplaces and institutions into dialogue-building middle grounds where citizens can come together across lines of division, to collaborate for social healing.
In 2015, Sophie founded the non-profit WeDoSomething.org with the objective of using bad news to do good things, by being the answer to the question: what can I do to help? WeDoSomething worked with nonprofits to create 18 ‘fun-raisers’ that brought together communities whose paths would never cross otherwise: the homeless with the mortgage-bound, Indigenous with immigrants, refugees with locals. Five years later WeDoSomething has raised awareness and over $150k for small and large organizations, from Doctors Without Borders to Je Passe Partout and the Native Women’s Shelter.
The pandemic has shifted WeDoSomething’s focus towards designing long-term, community and brand-building shared value collaborations between businesses and non-profits that need each other, but do not know one another.
Sophie is a bilingual public speaker, coach and workshop designer and has worked around the world in the pharmaceutical, advertising, and public art industries as well as journalism, to name a few.
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Olivier: [00:00:00] Find the good news in the bad news to help find the answer to the question. What can I do to help? Hi, I'm your host and today we're joined by Sophie founder of we do something, a strategic idealist and inclusion designer on a mission to counter a social division and address systemic social issues. In this episode, we explored the aha moment up and downs of her journey and so much more.
Hi, Sophie. Welcome to business, not 1 0 1.
Sophie I'm happy to be here.
Olivier: Thank you. Okay, let's get this started your sixty second business pitch about yourself and your project.
Sophie Wow. Well, I'm an impatient idealist and a very strategic idealist. So I had founded a nonprofit called we do something. And from that has emerged a new project.
called. And versus takes on the, not so small task of creating a middle ground [00:01:00] between people who are divided. So the idea of verses is to build empathy into public life, to teach us and show us how we can actually talk to so-called others across lines of division.
And I think that our latest news headlines would show that that's no small task.
Olivier: Yeah, that's very true. So where did the idea come from?
Sophie Actually I've had this idea the project versus has been in my mind for over 10 years and it began. When I used to organize something called the subtle speakers. So I used to organize this conference that would attract Quebec elite. The idea was that they would invite a speaker from a global speaker, like the former prime minister of Spain as NAR or this great British intellectual Christopher Hitchens.
Who's now passed away. And the, the big names of Quebec were in the room to listen to these great minds. Talk about the future of Europe. And this was, [00:02:00] this was way before, you know, we knew before Russia began to, you know, before Putin, before the rise of Islam and so on. And I remember being shocked that these very intellectual people would come and speak to us.
And people would have a really hard time accepting what they were saying. Like, although we were sitting in the room with the top elite people didn't enjoy discussing ideas. They just received them from?
the speaker on stage, but they got really offended if this person said something that they didn't like.
And I remember thinking, wow, we really don't have a culture of engaging with uncomfortable, like. And I noticed them that we, that even though we were in a room of great intellectual and business minds, it wasn't part of the way that we do things. And I thought this is a bit scary. Cause we have to talk about these things.
We have to talk about the biggest issues that are facing society. So I had this idea that, well, could I start a debate series? And then I thought, oh, you know, [00:03:00] Debate is not part of Canadian culture. It's very European in Britain. You see it in France, like it's normal to discuss and have strong discussions over dinner parties.
And, but if we do that here, it's, it's quite tough. So then I thought, oh, I'll start a show and I'll be the host and I'll take a divisive issue. The Palestinian Israeli crisis and I'll go and I'm pro one side, I'll go and find the other side and we'll discuss our ideas. And anyway, for long time, I really looked at ways to do it.
And then I just got scared and everyone said, why would anyone be interested in this? You know, and I really, I, I didn't feel that I was. ready to take on the challenge. So I stopped I ended up working in, I worked in advertising. I worked in public art production. I founded my nonprofit, we do something and I started for five years.
I designed ways to give, to get strangers, to care about each other. We do something would bring communities together [00:04:00] that didn't know each other. And I, and I learned by doing that. How to design experiences. And that's now my, my main job at the moment is with C2 experience design. How do you design ways for people to engage with, with strangers and That's the heart of versus how do you design ways for people to engage with strangers and to feel good about it?
Olivier: That's really interesting. Yeah. And so that's, that's quite a bit to take in when you look at it, when you look at it, do you feel that from going like sort of a Ted talk type atmosphere or somebody talking to an audience versus where people are interacting with each other, so more of a networking experience.
Do you think people are more open to conversations that are a bit harder in that realm? Or do you feel that people are better just to listen to it and then sort of taking the information and think about it
Sophie That's a really good question. I think, I honestly think that, you know, there are a lot of people working on this issue, [00:05:00] you know, in Canada, the government is putting a lot of money into fighting fake news and disinformation, which is a great source of division. You know, there are great academic minds, even here at Concordia project.
Someone is this incredible project that looks at how extremism and hate grows. are so many people working in their silos on this issue. And what I've noticed is that it's not so much about whether it's you know, one person on stage sharing an idea and the audience listening, or whether it's, you know, a group of us sharing ideas.
I think that the key is the. We are not educated and taught to engage with other people. We're not taught the tool. We're not given the tools of understanding our own reactions or even our, I mean, you know, we're not even taught like our biology in the sense of understanding how much of the way we treat each other is unconscious.
So I think it's actually the, the question I would ask is like, we have to go back a [00:06:00] step, forget standing in a room and sharing ideas. First. I think people, we need to be introduced to our bodies and to our minds and to the way that these things come together, like our biology, but also our backgrounds, those two pieces, they're your foundation for which conversations you can have and which conversations you will never want to have.
And you might not even be conscious of. So for me, it's first introduce people to themselves and give them the tools like the self-awareness to go. Ah, wow. I didn't even realize that I overlook this kind of person or this situation I'm close to this, but not even conscious.
Olivier: Well, that's a good point. I don't know if I would just walk into an environment and suddenly you feel very open. I guess you would have to create a safe space, but allow me to climatize to this situation and then to be able to open up.
And it's interesting because we've done a lot of like sort of talking about racism. We did courses, we did sort of workshops to educate ourselves and I found the problem with them personally [00:07:00] is that you didn't change your own self. Do you feel that there's a space or a way to create that, that you have something now that can say, Hey, you know what, I'm going to create this space. And through this.
Sophie And, and, you know, that's what verses is for it's it's. I mean, it's comes from, we do something in the heart of what of my work with we do something has been inclusion. So now we're talking about diversity equity and inclusion programs. We're talking about like, companies are formalizing this, but many of us have been working in these spaces already.
So it's, it's, I think also what, you know, with these DEI projects, a lot of the times. They come to you and they teach you in your office and you're never displaced. And you're never asked to step out of the office or out of your comfort zone in a fun. And it doesn't have to be a sort of finger-wagging oh, you should go and visit other neighborhoods.
It could actually be a powerful experience to give us access to other parts of our city, because there's [00:08:00] something about immersing and being immersed in other people's worlds. Already acts on the body. Like biologically, there's a response because we're exploring, we're noticing things differently. So although I'm sure there are so many great programs out there, and I have nothing negative to say about them.
I believe deeply in the, in storytelling, I believe deeply in listening and hearing the stories of others as a first step towards, without being asked to do anything, but just hearing other people is a way of, okay. Letting them know that they're seen, but it's also a way for us to receive information without being forced to engage.
So it's like a first level. And then I would say, as you, you know, one of the parts of versus is taking people to other neighborhoods and actually having these discussions, like aligning the theme of a, of a topic with the location. So for example, if we were going to talk about DEI for big office, maybe if I knew I was [00:09:00] working with a group of say, 30 people.
The night before I would send a text and they would be asked to show up at a certain location and that location wouldn't be in their neighborhood. It would be like the basement of a mosque in park X. And that's where we'd work together. But it's to make it like playful and a little disorienting and a little, oh my gosh, what are we living?
Bonding the team. So you all look at each other and you're like, where are we? And then also allowing them to explore a little bit and to be in wonder. So I think. I believe very much that we, we have to be taught without shame without guilt, I really have no space for shame and guilt. I think they shut down the parts of the brain actually that are creative and open.
So if you start that way and you start using that usual language, as you said, you can almost tell what the instructor's going to say sometimes. So how do we reach people in ways that change them while it's usually your emotions that actually lead to the biggest thing? So it's teaching into [00:10:00] the gut.
The gut is the second brain. So how do I make you feel something alleviate? If I come to your office without manipulating you without cornering you, that's the art of what versus offers. And that's what I love doing. Balancing the rational mind with the experience with emotions, so that you're actually exploring yourself as you explore this.
Olivier: That's very interesting. Do you believe that certainly in net, we're talking about an employee setting in the company setting, let's say, is it really important for the C-suite to join in on this and to be part of it for any real changes? Or do you feel it could be. Just non-employee levels within your
Sophie That's a wonderful question. I think, I mean, the ideal is that this starts at the top because you know, most companies are quite hierarchical and we all, we've all been in a company where. Things are set at the top, but we know a little bit lower down the wrong. Like there's a bit of an eye-rolling where you're like, but that's not actually how it is.[00:11:00]
So I, I think I would say definitely at the top, definitely the middle directors who are squeezed between the top and then their employees, they have the most pressure, you know, ideally it would start from the top, but I think, I think also that it can, it can be a powerful team building approach too, because if you.
Take a group of employees and give them permission to engage to, first of all, be curious and a bit uncomfortable and to actually examine, you know, how they engage like I'm versus is built for offices. It's built for schools and it's built for cities. And the idea is that if you take versus into an office, we're here to either help you dig deeper into an issue, you know, Like, let's say, why isn't the DEI working?
Why are my employees quitting? There's so much attrition right now. What are the issues with our culture? Like we're doing everything we can or it's to bring [00:12:00] versus into an office to actually dig up what you haven't figured out. Cause you know, something's not right. You know, your employees might not be happy, so we're also there to help.
But the idea is to make a space, to have these courageous conversations. But you don't just start in it. You don't just open a door and say, all right, we're going to have this really awkward conversation together. It there's, it's a three there, three workshops, and it's really first build trust in yourself, expose you to who, you know, your own mind and your heritage.
The second part is, understand your media consumption. Like how does your information diet either constrain your worldview or expand. Like in what ways are you making yourself stay where you were and it, or, or perhaps you're making an effort to move towards other ideas and perspectives. And then the third piece is like a gym, a dialogue gym.
Like if we want to be strong, we go and work out and we lift weights. Well, if we want to be good at talking to each other, [00:13:00] then we have to practice the skills of discussion. And there's so many ways to make that. There are so many ways to do it so that no one is put on the spot or, you know, forced to pick a side and name it.
That's where my joy comes in.
Olivier: Yeah. That's, that's really a great point. It's something I always think of is inclusive. language It's something that I've only recently started to use instead of he or her. I used they & them, it's something that you don't realize the impact because at the beginning for myself, I felt that was almost a fraud using it because I didn't understand it fully.
And I actually had to go on LinkedIn, find somebody who had he or she and her and ask, what do you use this for? What's the purpose of it? And it was a really strange conversation. Well, I find it important. I was like, why is everybody putting this on their profile?
And some people on LinkedIn, some other social media, but I really want to understand it from a point of view, not from just Googling it,
Sophie but you bring up something that really touches me. And it's one of the reasons that verses exist is I think that [00:14:00] there are not many middle ground spaces. The idea is to become, is to create a middle ground in which you're allowed to admit what you don't want. And in which you're allowed to say, aye, why is it why do we say, you know, all lives matter, black lives matter, sort of all lives matter.
Like I, and I'm saying this out loud on a podcast, you know, I think it's important. We have to talk about these things. If you can never admit. What you're thinking, then you'll never have a chance to have a discussion with someone who will say, actually this is why it's important that it's black lives matter because our lives have not been, have not mattered.
They have not been treated with, with equality and inclusion, but you know, you went and sought out this information about gender pronouns. Good for you. I mean, It takes courage to be courageous curious, and I'd like to reward people's courage and make it like really satisfying and nourishing. Like this is a safe, not a safe, a brave space for us to go a little further towards one another.[00:15:00]
Olivier: I think it's also, it was a subject that wasn't intrusive on anybody. It was, it was an honest question. I don't know if we could, I could do something that. Right. So if there's certain limitations where I'm willing to go publicly mask and other ones, I'm going to wait until somebody brings it up to me.
And I, I believe that's just. Sort of art, my upbringing and sort of like just our culture, certainly in Canada. I think we just very polite. We don't say anything, but we
Sophie i agree
Olivier: a lot in, so perhaps we need to live more out, but it sort of leads me to another question. If you, when you started at all this, if you can go back and leave yourself a 30 second voicemail from you in the past to say, Hey, be careful of this or do this instead. Is there anything that you would say to yourself
Sophie actually. I mean yes and no. Like yes. In the sense that if I left myself that sort of watch out for this voicemail, it would be, you know, I would actually say to [00:16:00] myself, you are really like, I you're a special, you have a special perspective, Sophie. Like I come from, I come from, you know, my father was a war correspondent.
He lived. You know, I was born in Rome, brought up in the middle of a civil war in Argentina then here and then he, he went to Lebanon to cover the war. He went to communist, Poland. He went to India, he went to Cyprus. So That's where I spent my breaks my holidays. So, and all my family is everywhere else.
And we're all immigrants. So I think in some ways I didn't trust myself. Perspective like this outsiderness although I have all the privileges, you know, of being a white woman I also have the perspective and outsider, and I should have trusted that earlier and, and trusted my intelligence and my abilities, but, you know, for all the reasons that we know that thank God for therapy, that it digs up.
You know, we don't necessarily, we're not kind to ourselves, so that would be my voicemail. And [00:17:00] the other one would be. was good that I took the circuitous path. You know, all of the jobs I've had you know, have built me into the person who can sit in a room and who can I can, I can help, you know, I remember giving a talk at Sidley.
I can make 450 people like cry, but with joy, not by. Making them sad that they're bad people are in, you know, so this is this is my superpower. I wish I'd realized it and taken it seriously.
Olivier: That's a great point. You know, that sort of leads to another question is what makes you unique as an entrepreneur, but also as a person. And I think that that's sort of a great that's your superpower. But do you think that it's all your experiences brought it out and expose it more than it was something
Sophie Well, I read somewhere that.
we teach what we most needed to learn. And I thought about that and I'm like, Oh, isn't that interesting.
You know, [00:18:00] I, I design experiences for a living. I teach at factory the school of creative leadership. I teach deep listening. And I teach eeky guy, which is how to find your purpose.
And that is hilarious to me because I, I come from a family where listening was not part of the program where I am a person who couldn't find her purpose for a long time. And it's the first thing I say to the kids, like, please take the pressure off. Cause we're all figuring it out, you know? I think that actually I've been drawn to conflict resolution to how to introduce strangers to each other so that they care.
I care about inclusion because I have felt excluded. Even though, as I said, I have all the privileges of a white woman, but I have often spent time in countries where I didn't understand the language of the culture. And I still feel a bit like an outsider here. Not because Quebec is not a good place, but my roots aren't here.
And I don't even know where they are. I think that
A lot of my background is, you know, we are [00:19:00] darkness and light, so my weaknesses are also my strengths. Like this outsiderness is why I can sense in a room who doesn't feel included. Who's not. Okay. And how so when I designed these moments specifically with versus, or, you know, even in my, my job at C2, I always think like, how do we design for the human being in the room?
Who might feel the least. At ease right now, keep that person in mind and don't start up here because everyone has a part of them. They like, you know, it's like in class when someone would ask the question, they'd be like, I think it might be a dumb question, but everyone was so relieved that they asked the question because in the end we all just need permission to be like, actually, Yeah, I didn't know that, or I'm not so comfortable.
You know, we all just are waiting for permission to show ourselves. I think.
Olivier: Yeah, that's brilliant. I actually really enjoyed the part where you said you designed for the person who will not partake the most. I always, when I go to events tend to wait [00:20:00] a little bit and it takes a long time for me to get out of my shell. And I think so many experiences, you see people throw themselves in and I said, well, that's good for them, but what about the rest of us are aligning around the wall?
Like the wallflowers. So I think that's brilliant designing for the person who is least likely joined for some people are going to join. I'm going to join. So I love that. So I'm going to switch gears a little bit. I'm going to ask more about you now as an entrepreneur what makes you really productive?
Sophie I need structure, you know, I I've thought for a long time that. I I'm a very creative mind and I always, you know, would say, oh, you know, I hate spreadsheets. I hate this. It's not true. I've, I've really understood. I need, I need to have a deliverable. I need a deadline. I need to work with other people. When I work alone for too long, I, I spin and I get a lot less done.
I think there's that saying? That says, you know, give, give it, if he wants something done, give it to a busy person. I have been working flat out since January started this new job. [00:21:00] And on the side, I am, you know, designing the vs website, working on the curriculum. Like I've never gotten so much done in such a short time.
Olivier: Yeah. That's a great point. So what makes you unproductive? What's something that it's a, maybe a personal pleasure that you say, oh, you know what, but it really SAPs your time. Like me, TikTok
Sophie oh my God. I mean, social media, I did during the pandemic. I, for the first time I started deleting Instagram for my phone for two to three weeks at a time. And it did meet a world of good. And actually I'd say that's one of the key ones. Because I've also started to go silent on social media. It's I there's so much happening in my head and in my work that actually I'm doing a terrible job of communicating it until I'm ready.
I will. I mean, I think also that I choose to be unproductive now more in the sense of there's this movement that I'm seeing growing, which is and I think it comes a lot from the BiPAP communities and from, I see it in a lot of sort of black leaders who are. Quite [00:22:00] rightly bringing up the fact that as specifically with those communities, the act of taking time to rest is in fact, an act of resistance and of committing to the future to being able to last and to saying like, I actually, I don't, in fact, even the word productive kind of, you know, gets on my nerves.
Cause I, I feel this resistance of, you know, we're, we're doing our best. We've gone through this pandemic. So I think there's a part of me that is also like, you know, what, if you don't feel like doing something right now, I've been reading a lot. I read a lot. I love, I love myself a good Netflix. I love some, you know, watching something, but reading is my joy or cost entry, skiing, or walking or friends or dinner parties, or unfortunately Instagram, which is my least favorite productive unproductivity.
Olivier: Yeah, but productive too at the same time. Cause it's also good for social media. Your business needs it. Yeah. And so interesting. You had me except for cross country skiing. I hate it. You have to [00:23:00] do it in high school. And I just hate it downhill. I
Sophie I love downhill, but it's like, you know, it's not something I find cross country you can do on your own. You can do it no matter what, you just get out there. Whereas downhill requires so much more planning, but I'm a fan I support.
Olivier: Yeah. Yeah, it's true. Talking about wellbeing, cause this is a great point. So one of the question I started to ask recently, because it's something that really touches me is how do you. For yourself, create your wellbeing , in large corporations, they have a, you know, sort of groups of people that take care of this, but so how do you create this wellbeing space for yourself? Because you're still a business person you're still running a business. How do you create your space for
Sophie Well, I have two things to say about that. The first is that for myself, I find that more and more. And this is a big privilege, but I ask for help from people who like, I, I make space in my life for, you know, an osteopath acupuncture, like things that actually have a physical impact on my body that let my, that signal to my body [00:24:00] directly.
Like without my brain having to decide, you can calm down, you can come down, like you're, you're safe. You're good breathe. And I think. Like investing some of my time and budget into help. Like that has been really good for me. Writing, writing
Walking, like strangely walking at the pace that I want my soul and my breath to slow down too.
Sometimes I'll notice that like, you walk fast, everything's fast inside you, you slow down and walk slowly. And I'm like, oh, everything has just slowed down. So these simple things, I mean, And I'd say for offices too, you know what I would love to see more of, and that I having worked in, as I said, you know, I've worked in pharma and advertising.
Like I've worked in the corporate world. There needs to be a lot more open conversation. Like I don't want to hear that the boss took a course on mental health. I'm glad they [00:25:00] did, but I would, you know, to your point, like we want the executive suite to take these courses that help, but what I'd like is for them to send an anonymous survey to all of their employees asking three or four questions, like what's keeping you up with.
How are you doing? Are you, who are you taking care of other than yourself and making those anonymous answers the basis of a group conversation, because then no, one's having to, you know, their finger pointed at them. Like, I'm not saying, you know, a year, I heard that you are going through this it's well, here's some of the stuff we learned from you guys.
So we're invite you if you want to use that, as it becomes a beautiful basis for discussion and nothing, nothing takes care of people's wellbeing. Then a chance to talk and be heard nothing. It's the foundation. And we overlook it. We go for structures, workouts, like w we look for something much more complex, but the first act of connection and of healing is to talk and be heard.
Olivier: That's really interesting. Yeah. And I think that's a growing trend is using [00:26:00] applications to go and feel out how your employees and your team is feeling and getting almost like instant feedback, talking about structures, being able to go and see, okay, is my, is my team's mood dropping is a raising
what's going on to be able to really understand and to retain your employees if they feel like you're actually
Sophie But the next step, you know, even with those apps and those softwares, which are so clever and I'm So happy they exist, but the step that's missing for me is, okay, you got the info, but are you having the open conversation now? Because often we just gather the info and we put in another coffee morning or another really well-meaning thing, but really it's like, just listen to us,
But it's not the end. It's just data until you use it for people too. And that's how you create real, a real culture and a real sense of connection and, and stay. Is I was, I spoke, I was heard. And again, if it's done, if you have anonymous feedback, then you can bring up what the feedback.
And I've done this with groups online with, you know, 50 people. Like I got them to do a [00:27:00] survey, and then we talked about it. And in doing that, people start to share more and more because it's not specifically them who have been named as giving that feedback. It's a safety zone that.
Olivier: Yeah, I think it's important. That's great. So where do you see that your industry going what's like one of the trends you're excited about or worried about in your particular industry? Certainly it's, it's, it's a very volatile time and as we know, but as well, I think a lot of people are trying to pay more attention to what you're doing or your type of industry.
Sophie Well, I think I have, you know, I have two worlds, a little bit. One is that I'm in an, like in my day job right now, I work in. Design, you know, these are business conferences. It's I'm what, what we see a lot there is that, you know, there's this request for, how do we make it more digital with pandemics and so on?
How do we gather people? Not in person and yet make it meaningful and yet feel that sense of connection. That [00:28:00] is one of the biggest challenges is how can we use new technology in way? That doesn't make technology the point, you know, that's what a good tool is. We have to remember tech is, it is a tool.
It's not the point. So, you know, when we go to the movies, there's tons of technology at play, but we forget it because we're immersed in the experience and that's good technology. So that's the challenge in the, in the event design world is how to create. Connection and meaning, and you can do incredible things in in VR, you know, even the simple thing of, you know, and this, this doesn't come from me.
This comes from one of the people in my office and they have incredible insight on this, but people are amazed when they get to play in VR and you, and you actually encourage them to make a line and hold hands or hug, and then you get them to discuss it when they come on. And that's, and that's where they get to actually feel the emotions.
And so you can take tech and do things with [00:29:00] it. But I would say my industry, if we're talking about versus I don't know what my industry is. I think my industry is honestly like a sort of it's team building. It's inclusivity, it's social healing. It's creating bridges between us and then. Look at the polarization of the, of this freedom convoy, look at the anger.
You know, that's such a perfect example of, of why we need this. I see one group who feels like this is a, you know, tidy zone, betrayal of everything we've been trying to achieve for almost three years. Like, let's just get through let's we're vaccinated to keep the masks on like, Come on, let's stick through.
And like we're almost there. And then the other group who sees this and I won't go into the, to the groups that are white nationalists and so on, because there's nothing good to be said there. And they are growing statistically, but the other group who is not white nationalists, but who is supporting this field.[00:30:00]
But I've been home so long that I don't even remember why I should be caring about the other person. Like why should I wear a mask for a person I haven't seen in two years, you know? And and also I need community. So actually these protest movements offer a sense of belonging and a sense of community.
And so people will join things and then ignore the details about like, okay, there's some white supremacists in there, but what they're missing is I feel like I was powerless and now I'm taking action and that feels incredible. And I have a community, whereas I felt disconnected. I would like to bring these two perspectives and create a space in which we can figure out because we actually have a lot in common.
You know, so I don't know where that world is going, but I know that more and more governments are investing in this more and more cities as municipal officials are abused online. More and more offices are seeing that their employees need this.
Olivier: All right, I'm going to just change the mood a bit, but I'm going to go to Mike.
One of my favorite questions is what is one [00:31:00] book that you read that's helped you in your business career?
Sophie The most recent one I read.
that really has blown my mind is called manifesto for a moral imagination. And it's by a woman named Jacqueline Novogratz who was a banker and ended up founding something called the acumen. Which you know, is in the impact investing space, except that she doesn't do impact investing in the standard way.
They fund only entrepreneurs who are focused on solving the world's most difficult problems, things like, huh. You know, much of the African continent doesn't have access to electricity and people don't have. So they fund the guy who goes and build solar lights that are chargeable, like a soccer ball that rolls around.
And then that, that somehow powers the light. They found, they fund incredibly ambitious projects, like finding housing and [00:32:00] Pakistan, but all over the U S she is brilliant. And what touched me is that this is my social activism side. She uses the capitalist model, but she takes what she needs from it in order to. Counter it. So she teaches her investors about patient investing. Hey, you're not going to have a 10% profit. You're not going to get 10% back on your investment. You're going to get 8% and it's not going to come in five years. It's going to come in 10 years, but you're contributing to, there are other KPIs.
So that book is sort of straddles the line between a real business book that looks at the business model and capitalism and. brave moral imagination about what business could actually achieve in the future. Yeah.
Olivier: Excellent. All right. One question that I like also is if you can ask anybody for a coffee to pick their brain who would it
Sophie it's her like right now, it would be?
it would be [00:33:00] Jacqueline Novogratz. I would, yeah, I would lock the door and be like, you're hanging out with me all day, please. Your it's something I care about a lot is, is having. You know, this is more on my, we do something days, but having worked in the corporate world and now having worked in the community sector, There is an intersection between those two worlds, like businesses are increasingly under pressure to have a purpose and to contribute to the community building.
And and the social issues that are out in the world affect their markets and affect their consumers and their employees. But the ways that we're engaging with one another are still so old school philanthropy and many CSR strategies are amazing, but most of it is always based on one thing. And that's a giver receiver dynamic, you know, it's often like it's not equals, we're not, it's not the community leader and the business leader, you know, exchanging ideas and finding the best way to work together.
It's we [00:34:00] have something to give who wants it. So that's where the listening comes in as well.
Olivier: really interesting. All right my last question is how can people reach you? How can they connect with you? What's the best way they
Sophie Well, the best way to do so is to email. To email firstname.lastname@example.org. But I'm on LinkedIn. I'm on Instagram, we do something is on Instagram. We'll be launching versus soon. The new we do something website we'll be launching, I would say end of March, beginning of April. so. I'm hoping that they won't have to look too far.
It'll be easy.
Olivier: perfect. And we're going to put that all on the details of the show. Well, thank you so much for joining
Sophie was a real pleasure. Thank you. Olivier
Olivier: I want to thank you for joining us today. We hope that these podcasts give you some insights from the stories and experiences of the founders, entrepreneurs, and business owners who share with us. And we hope that you find some useful takeaways that help you along your own business journey. [00:35:00] Like always please follow and leave us a review until next time.