Skip to main content

Incorporating Purpose and Impact Into Organizations, with Melissa Jun Rowley

Incorporating Purpose and Impact Into Organizations, with Melissa Jun Rowley

Episode 154: Incorporating Purpose and Impact Into Organizations, with Melissa Jun Rowley

When Melissa Jun Rowley, entrepreneur, BBC News correspondent, decided that Hollywood journalism was not a career for her, she decided to change her path from entertainment to tech; showcasing entrepreneurs and those who did “tech for good”. On this episode, Melissa shares her journey from almost having to file for bankruptcy to working with Peter Gabriel, her experiences with groundbreaking entrepreneurs from across the globe, and how technology can be used for positive social impact. She also shares her insights on how organizations can incorporate purpose and impact without it becoming a distraction, flipping the script on social impact, as well as her experiences with diversity in tech. This episode kicks off Ellevate’s Inclusive Workplaces Program. Learn more about the launch of our new program here!

Episode Transcript

00:12 Kristy Wallace: Hello and welcome to the Ellevate podcast. This is your host, Kristy Wallace, with my co-host Maricella Herrera. How are you doing today, Maricella?

00:21 MH: Hey, Kristy. It's been a long day, lots of meetings.

00:25 KW: Yes.

00:25 MH: A long week.

00:26 KW: That happens.

00:27 MH: Yeah, but good, very good, excited 'cause we are launching our building inclusive work places program today.

00:35 KW: I know. Well, I was gonna say, you have lots of meetings because you're a manager.

00:40 MH: Yeah.

00:41 KW: And you're meeting with your team, and that can be tough, right?

00:44 MH: Yeah, it can. Thankfully, I have great team leads that can continue that, but yes, it's a lot of time spent meeting with people and with each team individually.

01:00 KW: And everyone communicates differently and brings a different piece of themselves to the workforce, so it's not just communicating tasks, but it's really about navigating relationships, communication, understanding what motivates others, and really recognizing the times when potentially our bias might be influencing some of those relationships.

01:22 MH: Yeah, it's interesting. I think, for me, it's been quite an interesting experience of growth, I would say, the last few years, just switching from more of an individual contributor to then a manager, to then a manager of managers. And it's been fascinating to see how different people work and most of my time now is really spent on people stuff, but I like it. I like seeing how my teams have grown, how the people I work with have changed, and how... Yeah, like you said, different people react different ways and different people communicate differently, but also respond differently to different things, so figuring out how to best do that. I don't know. It's interesting.

02:15 KW: Yeah. Well, our guest today, Melissa Jun Rowley is someone who... I'm just fan-girling over. She's great. She's incredibly smart. She's incredibly passionate, and she is providing a lens into a world that I think we don't often look at, and certainly don't often connect the dots between entrepreneurship, particularly tech for good, how the work that we create, not only building good companies that are good for the workforce, and good for surrounding communities, but also building products that serve a higher purpose. Doing, creating tech that maybe is disrupting healthcare or education, and particularly for those that need it the most and that don't have access to those basic critical needs in our society and globally.

03:11 KW: And something that Melissa talked about that really stood out to me is just this nature of what an ecosystem technology is. You've got funders, you have customers, you have the entrepreneurs, you have your partners. And what that looks like as we expand to a global landscape, and how critical all of those allies, all of that awareness, all of that trust building and relationship-building is to moving the ecosystem forward and to creating a greater societal impact.

03:45 KW: So, her just thoughts on that resonated with me and I bring that up in the context to what were talking about today when we talk about managers is, it is back to the basics of building the relationship and having the decision makers really understand and support those on their teams, and how we look at ways to grow from an individual manager, team member relationship within a company through to funders, through to builders and innovators, but it doesn't work if it's all not supporting one another. And at the root of that is the listening, the understanding, and the diversity of thought, and innovation that keeps it moving forward.

04:29 MH: Yeah. The listening, the understanding, and the empathy that you can actually understand where other people are coming from, which is again why I'm so excited about our program.

04:40 KW: So, tell me more.

04:41 MH: Yeah. So, our building inclusive work places program is really something that you've been wanting us to do for a while, and I'm really excited we're actually doing it because... And it took a really long time for us to really distill what this was going to be, but from all of the work that we do with companies that are leaders in diversity and inclusion, from everything we hear from our community, from our supporters and what they see are seeing in their workplaces, and what works, what doesn't when it comes to making sure the culture in a company is not just talk, but it really is an inclusive place for employees.

05:28 MH: We've learned a thing or two and really nailed down what we believe are the two things that we need to do to impact workplace culture. And really we say, one of our brand promises is to change the culture of business from the inside out. And so, to actually do that, we need to engage two groups, managers like you were talking about before. They really have the direct impact of creating workplace culture of building, not just how it feels for an individual employee, how they bring their authentic selves to work, but how they collaborate as part of the larger team. And the other group is allies, honestly, or potential allies, so those who do have political and social capital inside of business to make change happen.

06:25 MH: And what we've noticed is that if we can train managers, particularly new managers to start building inclusion into their teams from the beginning, developing that culture of inclusion and if we can help potential allies and help people who have that influence in companies to really understand what leading with empathy and the understanding of others' experiences is, we can really create change.

06:52 KW: Absolutely. Yeah, it's about that support, it's about that understanding, and it's really about that awareness of the role that each of us can play in creating better companies, better societies, better technology, and a better world. So let's get to my interview, and we will see you next week here on the Ellevate Podcast.


07:23 KW: Melissa thank you so much for joining us today on the Elevate Podcast, I'm really excited to have you here. I would love to just start off hearing a little bit about you and your story.

07:37 Melissa Jun Rowley: Sure, so I was born in South Korea. I'm not gonna give you the whole story but I was born in South Korea, I was adopted when I was five months old, and grew up in Michigan and my whole life I wanted to be either a singer or a journalist. I chose journalism because I thought it would be more stable. I don't know why I thought that because it's definitely not.


07:57 KW: Especially these days.

07:58 MJR: No, I know, it's definitely not, but it's... When I was a kid I was always... I was reading from books and telling stories to kids around me before I could even read. I was the one that just wanted to make people's eyes light up and to inform them and enlighten them in some way. And so I majored in broadcast journalism and had a couple of careers early on in my early 20s in tech during the dot com blood bath, and then I worked for CNN as a production assistant a couple of different times because I had a series of... I went through a series of layoffs, which we can get into later. But I was doing business news in New York, for CNN, business news, producing updates from the New York Stock Exchange and I really didn't know what I was talking about, it was completely over my head, I didn't really care about business at the time. And then when I moved to Los Angeles I became a field producer for CNN entertainment which is a totally different landscape.

08:48 KW: I can imagine.

08:49 MJR: I was interviewing George Clooney, interviewing Oliver Stone, having sit downs with BB King and then interviewing plenty of reality stars, when that became a big trend, and right around 2000... I think, it was 2007 or '08 when Paris Hilton, with that big scandal when she's being taken to jail.

09:04 KW: Yep.

09:04 MJR: I found myself outside her house, in the Hollywood Hills, with about 10 other TV crews and we were waiting for the sheriff to come to drive her to court. And it was 6:00 in the morning, I can't even believe what I was doing, and the next thing I know, the sheriff was escorting her to the car and one of the reporters stuck his arm in the vehicle as it was driving down the hill, the car did not stop. He nearly had his leg broken from trying to get a sound bite from Paris Hilton and when that whole story was blowing up. This was right when TMZ was becoming really popular, and I looked at my camera operator, and he said, "I think we've taken vocational wrong turns, like what the hell are we doing with our lives? We need to go get our souls back." [chuckle] And shortly after that, I had a few other things happen in Hollywood, where I just didn't think entertainment for me, at the time, was a good fit. It's one thing to sit down and talk to a director about his methods and his craft and the impact he wants to have but chasing stars was not... Just didn't feel like it was right to be in my wheelhouse.

10:01 MJR: So I moved up to San Francisco for the second time and I got really encouraged to start covering tech, which again, I thought I'm not geeky enough, I'm not tech-savvy enough, I'm not gonna understand this. But I started meeting really interesting entrepreneurs who were harnessing technology for social impact. This is when social enterprise, started to become more of a buzz word back in 2009. And this is also when social media, Twitter, Facebook everybody was becoming a social media influencer, which I still don't really know what that term means.

10:27 KW: I know.

10:28 MJR: But I was really broke, I had... [chuckle] This was 2008, so all the jobs... Right when the recession was hitting. All of the freelance gigs in TV Land were drying up and I was freelancing for CNN, Associated Press, TV, on Entertainment TV Guide Channel, I just couldn't get any work. So when I was in San Francisco, and started writing, I think I was making $15 per blog post. Luckily I was staying on my friend's couch, she was taking care of me, housing me, sheltering me, I wouldn't have made it without her. Six months later, I got summoned back to Los Angeles to segment produce for a morning show, an entertainment channel, and I threw all my things in my car, drove back down to LA, signed a lease on an apartment that I couldn't afford. Three weeks later the show got cancelled and I was so broke, I talked to my parents and they said, "Well, honey, you're gonna have to file bankruptcy," because they were already helping me quite a lot and I owed them a lot of money.

11:20 MJR: And I was never gonna be homeless or anything like that. I had friends and family to support me but I felt like a failure and I didn't know what to do. And again this was when social media was becoming the rage and I started seeing all these people creating content and blogging and creating names for themselves and I thought, "Well, they're just being storytellers. I can do that."

11:36 MJR: So I started pitching ideas to Mashable to write about tech for good. And I started writing for LA Weekly, and I just started just creating a community around that intersection of technology for social impact and shortly, some small agencies that worked with big brands started to hire me to do the same thing for these big brands, I did something with Lexus, something with Macy's. And then I started my content strategy consulting. I struggled really badly for the first few years because I really didn't know what I was doing, and I didn't know how much I was worth, I didn't know how much to charge. So for the first few years, it was still rough, that was 10 years ago. Now, I'm in a much better place. Now I can't imagine life any other way, I can't imagine going to an office every day, I can't really imagine having a boss, [chuckle] and I'm able to work remotely.

12:25 MJR: And becoming a consultant and running my own business led me to working with Peter Gabriel who I've been a big fan of, not just for his musicianship but for his work as an activist and humanitarian. We started something called the Toolbox, it was a platform that curated mobile apps that addressed humanitarian issues, and human rights. And from there, I started visiting different countries to learn about their entrepreneurial ecosystems. And it's just, it's created... I've cultivated a completely crazy lifestyle that is so rewarding and adventurous and creative, and I couldn't imagine doing anything else.

13:00 KW: Wow. So talk to me about tech for good. What is that? How do you define that? What do you think about tech for good?

13:07 MJR: I define tech for good as technology that is harnessed to have a positive impact in a group of people's community, whether that be marginalized community in the US or half way around the world, or on the other side of the globe or tech that's used to alleviate poverty, that's used to level the playing field, that's used to create opportunities for people that don't normally have them.

13:36 MJR: Anything around financial inclusion, anything around education, health. I mean, it's really broad actually, and I kind of cover the gamut of them. My, the way that I'm channeling that and trying to be more specific with it because it is so broad, and people can get confused when they hear tech for good, is I'm tapping into different entrepreneurial ecosystems in developing countries and working with entrepreneurs there to help them build their companies and also incorporate more purpose and impact into their operations.

14:09 MJR: I think that companies when they hear social impact or they hear corporate social responsibility or they hear social enterprise, they think, "Oh, well, this means that, that... That's a bit too flowery. That's a bit too granola or kumbaya for me." But I think companies can have a positive impact, not just in their product or service, but in their operations.

14:29 MJR: A group of colleagues of mine and I went to Beirut, two years ago to do a pilot program in which we created a curriculum based on the lean startup method. Youre familiar with that lean startup, getting to your minimal viable product as quickly and efficiently as you can. But we took this model, and people weren't allowed to move to the next step until they had determined how they're gonna have a positive impact or be more sustainable in each part of their process, each part of building the company. And so I think I wanna flip the way we're looking at Positive Impact. It doesn't just, like I said, it doesn't just need to be a water sanitation device, it doesn't need to be an Ed-tech service or platform, it can be, you're hiring certain people in a community that don't normally have access to jobs, it can be, you're only using clean energy to run your company. There are so many other ways that you can do something positive and put the energy back into your community that you're in.

15:22 KW: What companies are really inspiring you right now...

15:26 MJR: There's a company in Lebanon called Proximie and I haven't talked to them in a while, but they're run by a woman named Nadine, she's Lebanese and they're between Beirut and London. They're an AR platform that allows doctors to train medical professionals in conflict zones and war zones. And what I love about this in particular, is that it can be replicated in other parts of the world. They're used in the Middle East, obviously, but it doesn't need to be the Middle East, that could be used anywhere. One of the reasons that I love global entrepreneurship so much is I think some of the most innovative ideas are actually coming far outside of Silicon Valley.

16:04 KW: Sure.

16:05 MJR: Not that... There's still plenty of innovation going on in Silicon Valley. They're the leaders, but in Tel Aviv as well. The Startup Nation, is right up there, but I love going to the Middle East and North Africa, and Asia, and countries like that because these people are creating companies, out of survival. There's a group of women in Syria as well that live in Damascus and there's a nice burgeoning entrepreneurial ecosystem there, but nobody knows that, nobody... They think of Syria, they think of rockets and missiles and bombs and they think of... They think of the conflict, but the positive impact of conflict is the innovation that comes from the young people. And there's a young woman there that's created a company called Dardi. They have educational STEM kits for girls to get them interested in STEM, which that's something that's going on in the States as well but the fact that she's doing in Syria is really interesting to me. What else?

16:58 MJR: There's a lot going on in Estonia, I haven't been there yet, but I'm planning to go there in April, after I'm in Iceland to speak at an event. So I think it's important for the US ecosystem, not only to think about what's happening in places like Africa and the Middle East, but also look at some countries that are light years ahead of the US when it comes to progressive-ness. So for instance, Iceland there's a lot going on around health and people using technology to manage and control their own data.

17:33 MJR: Actually, there's a UK company called Digime that's an app platform, that allows people to do just that, to control and manage their own health data, social media data, and financial data. And they did their pilot program in Iceland. And Iceland being the gender equality leader of the world, there's a lot of programs that can be tested there. So, yeah, the world is already getting smaller through digital media and through technology, but I wanna make it even smaller through entrepreneurship.

17:56 KW: What about... You know, there's so much conversation and we hear it more in the US, but it's an important conversation outside of the US too, which is around access to capital and knowledge community and support for entrepreneurs. Because that's the big piece, is you have the idea, you wanna create change, you wanna build something, but you need the money, and the resources to do that. So how is the funding arena, how is that growing or evolving particularly dollars going into social entrepreneurship, dollars going into companies outside of the US, a lot of these up and coming or growing or already established areas. Particular thinking about women, as entrepreneurs, I know that's a big passion for yours, but what are you seeing in that space?

18:44 MJR: Well, particularly for women entrepreneurs in the States, and outside the States, I'm seeing a lot of new initiatives focused on funds targeting just women entrepreneurs. There's a company in, based in Paris, called 50inTech that I'm an ambassador and advisor for. And the goal is to get the ratio of women in tech to 50%. I'm not sure however they're gonna measure that, but my friend, Caroline Ramade started that. She actually started the first all women's tech incubator, in Paris years ago, and then she wanted to scale and be more global. So she started 50inTech. So she's working on developing a platform that will match investors with women founders and I know that there's a lot of other similar platforms developing in the US. I'm not worried really, about women getting funding at this point. I know that we still have a long way to go when it comes to the pay gap, and we still have a long way to go to get more women in leadership positions and on boards but there is so much happening and there's a lot of replication, which is good.

19:38 MJR: I would like to see different initiatives work a little bit more together. Sometimes I go to an all women's event or conference and then I go to another one three days later to speak, and I feel like I just had the same conversation last week and... But the point is still, the good thing is that it's happening and that these things are sprouting up and that... I'm really excited and I think women are actually in a very good place. Again, I know that there's still so much work to do for women in the US but put it this way, I think women who have privilege in the United States, I think we're gonna be okay, I think we're gonna be okay from things that have happened from the Me Too movement and other things. That's a whole another conversation. I'm not particularly happy with the way the media has handled the Me Too movement, or the way it's been executed in certain ways, but between that, between the record number of women running for public office, between more initiatives to get women on boards, and more women-focused funds for entrepreneurs I think we're in a good place.

20:35 MJR: Women outside of the US, not as much. I would like to see more initiatives for women in different countries, and that's a little bit more of a difficult conversation to have with people here at home about funding women entrepreneurs or any entrepreneur, male, or any gender in a developing country because they think "Why would I do that?" So my goal is to seek out and find the best entrepreneurs in places that I love to visit like the Middle East or North Africa, and basically identify them and then show that their ideas can extend to a more global market and that they can be replicated.

21:19 MJR: Because there's a lot of that, there's a lot of that going on and they're very focused on social impact. But I really wanna scale my storytelling because some days I feel like, "Oh I wrote an article about this really fascinating woman in Jordan," and then maybe a few thousand people read it. If I write something for BBC at least half a million people have read it. But then I think it's an article, it's gonna go away in a few days to a week. And so how do you scale the story telling not just the business side of things but the storytelling. So I'm working on a series around global entrepreneurship to give more of a voice to people in those places.

21:51 KW: I'm so exited, I cannot wait, please come back and tell us all about that when it happens. Something that could be controversial, but I have seen... So I'm also an investor and an advisor for start-ups and I often see the execution of social impact within startups can be a distraction in the sense that instead of layering it into everything that you do so it's just part of your DNA, it's oftentimes like, "We're gonna do this, and then we'll donate money here, and then we... " And it's like more of an add-on piece to the company so it becomes... If it's not fully...

22:37 MJR: It's viewed as charity.

22:39 KW: Yes, yeah, and it becomes... It does become a distraction. When I hear them pitching and they're talking about this business and then it's at the end, "And we're gonna do this, and we'll donate money or proceeds." And I'm not saying that that's not good, but I think it becomes finding those companies that are really focused on doing good and layering that into the business, whatever their product is, or service, or technology versus those that kind of feel like that's the cool thing to do or an important thing to do, and they just fold it on at the end.

23:12 MJR: Yeah. Well, I think that... Like I was saying earlier, I think that a company that service or product is purely commercial, that doesn't make them bad, first of all, I believe in capitalism but I think that companies that do have really strong business models can incorporate positive impact in their operations or in their hiring practices or in the energy they use. They can do that in the things that they do within their community, not just in a charitable way but...

23:43 MJR: So whether it's like we said, the using clean energy or hiring people in different communities, making diversity an integral part of their DNA, diversity inclusion are buzz words right now, but they're not gonna go anywhere because it's becoming more and more important. Especially with new technologies, proliferating the landscape. So when I was in Austria, two weeks ago, I saw a speaker talk about racist AI, so he gave an example of a soap dispenser that was basically racist when a person put their hands underneath it, it only recognized white hands. And he's Indian, so he said, "Me, being dark brown skin it didn't recognize my hand, it would not recognize an African-American skin."

24:28 MJR: And there was also another racist AI example, he gave of a company, I won't say which company, but there's a lot of things happening around the creation of technology. With diversity, if you don't have a diverse team creating it and thinking about who it's serving and making sure that it's gonna cater to everybody on this planet they're gonna have major problems. And they're starting to see that now, it's trickling in, the numbers, but I don't think it's quite as bad, and it's not bad enough yet for people to think, "Oh my gosh, I have to hire a really diverse team right this second," but it's happening and we know that the world is becoming more and more of a melting pot, we know this already.

25:08 MJR: We know that women make up 50% of the consumer audience in the United States, so I don't really know what the hold up is. There's also data, which I know that Ellevate is aware of, that when companies have women on boards, they're more successful, their bottom line is higher. So, I don't know what the hold-up is, but... Yeah.

25:27 KW: In part, I really liked what you were saying earlier about gender equality, and we are making movement, we're moving in that direction, and I wanna believe the same about D&I in tech, which is we're starting to see the... It can, at times, be more of a long-term game, where you're starting to see, over time, just more movement in that direction. And there's definitely been some companies at the forefront of that, as well.

25:53 MJR: Yeah. And it needs to be more than just a company having an unconscious bias seminar one weekend. That was a few years ago, I kept hearing about, "Oh, our company's having an unconscious bias panel tonight." But then, what happened from that? Was there any kind of programming or new practices implemented? Not that I heard of. [chuckle] And so, I think, when there's real success stories that are just knocking it out of the park, when we can get more story telling around that and spotlighting it, other companies will start to catch on. But I think the main problem is, which is...

26:31 MJR: And this is a main problem with any kind of forward movement or change, is that human beings by nature respond more to the fear of losing something than they do to the potential idea of gaining something. That's psychology 101. In everything, we do that, which is kind of unfortunate, because there's so much to be gained when you actually do change and look outside your safe zone and start to do things differently. But again, it's gradually changing. I never thought that some of the tech for good, it is becoming bigger, it's becoming more of a... It's becoming... I wouldn't call it mainstream yet, but it's becoming... At least there's a hashtag for it now. [chuckle] And again, the whole when it comes to large corporations, their diversity inclusion is more at the forefront of what people are at least thinking about.

27:21 KW: So, I wanna make sure we touch on some of your content strategy work that you do, because that storytelling piece, particularly working with companies on that, as we've been talking about, changing the narrative and getting the ecosystem and that whole system moving in the right direction. So, tell me about some of that work that you're doing and why that's so important to you.

27:47 MJR: Sure. So, I... For money. [chuckle] You already heard about what I do for love, which is go to different countries and meet the entrepreneurs and talk about Tech for Good, and write about Tech for Good, and write about global entrepreneurship and women. But for money, I do content strategy. I find it really to just be a pretentious word for writing and editorial work, but I work with companies to develop their thought leadership content and to become self-publishers, which is very important for anybody out there that wants to stand out amid all the noise. And I'm working, right now, with a big private equity and VC firm that does events in really beautiful exotic locations that are focused on digital transformation. So, the company gets different global IT leaders and CIOs from multi-national companies together to talk about their digital transformation strategy, how to accelerate their business through digital technology.

28:40 MJR: And they brought me on to... In addition to writing their thought leadership content, they brought me on to cover the events and cover them like a journalist, and they brought me on to program sessions on diversity. So, we did a really interesting event in St. Anton, Austria, about two weeks ago, and I was able to bring a Palestinian founder that I met in the West Bank in January. I went on one of the most extraordinary trips I've ever been on, in January, I was in Israel for two weeks, and I drove into the West Bank with a car filled with Israelis, and as soon as we hit the border, the Waze app came up in the car and said, "You're entering a high risk zone and Israelis are not allowed in here." [chuckle] So, Waze has our back, especially, Waze is an Israeli company, so we drove in. And the Israelis I was with have been to Palestine plenty of times, they have friends there, but it was so fascinating because I got to meet with a lot of start-ups there. I also met with a software company that's been around since 1997, and this particular software company is called Exalt Technologies, and I brought the founder, Tirek, to Austria to talk about cultural diversity because a lot of the companies his software has worked with are Israeli.

29:48 MJR: So, when my client wanted me to do a session on cultural diversity, I said, "Well, you can't get much more culturally diverse than a Palestinian doing business with Israelis." And I also brought a colleague of mine from London who's African-American, who has dual citizenship between the US and the UK, and she's done competitive intelligence for the Army and for major multi-national companies, and she had a very interesting perspective on the way services are created. She gave an example of how she was on Spotify, and a Spotify list came up for modern black women, or something like that and she could not believe the list of music [chuckle] that was on there.

30:28 MJR: And then I brought my friend, Yasmine El Baggari, who has a company called Voyage, which creates intimate cultural experiences between people in different countries and she's doing a big immigration project right now. She's Moroccan, but she lives in San Francisco. And we were... The session was the first time this firm had ever done any kind of programming on diversity. And on the one hand, I almost thought that people in the audience were kind of, like I said, looking at me like, "Who is this crazy activist journalist person that wants us to talk about diversity?" But we had the most engagement at the end out of any of the other sessions, the questions, the curiosity around it. So, there is a curiosity and a desire to start moving in a different direction, at least with the conversation, that's where we're starting.

31:14 MJR: I'm going to Venice, Italy in two weeks to do another event and my session on diversity. This time, we'll talk about age diversity. I'm flying in a young man who is in his early 20s now, he has a major global firm that does manufacturing, and digital transformation for airlines and for companies all over the world. And he started it, I think, when he was 18 or 19 years old. I saw him speak at TEDxTeen in London a few years ago. His name's Josh Valman, and he got into this business by entering a robotics company, or a competition when he was 15.

31:48 MJR: The only reason he was able to do that was because it was online, so they didn't know how old he really was. But then when they saw how talented he was they... He became... He won, and then he started his own business, and he didn't go to college, and he is a prime example of the importance of age diversity in innovation. And I tried to get someone from an older generation to come speak. I can take care of the kind of Gen X, Millennial. I'm a Xillennial, so I can take care of that part, piece of the conversation but I wasn't able to find... To book a speaker who is available yet, but I think it's important to bring that piece into things as well, because there's a lot of age discrimination for older people.

32:31 MJR: And I think the most amazing things happen through cross-generational collaboration. I have a big sweet spot for Generation Z, in particular. I think they're gonna have the most impact that any generation has had in our lifetime when it comes to social innovation. You might know of a young guy named Jack Andraka. He's probably 20 now, but when he was 15, he invented a new way to detect pancreatic cancer. He won the Intel Science prize, and I met him, and that same week, I met a young guy, I think he's in his early 20s, now, but when he was 17, he created a robotic arm controlled by brain waves. Tony Robins invested in his company, his name's Easton LaChappelle.

33:14 MJR: And so, this was five years ago, when I started seeing all of this, and I thought, "There's something really fascinating going on with this age group, and it's because they've never known a time without the internet." Some of these kids are geniuses, like Jack, who created the cancer detection device, he's a genius. But some of these other kids, they're just really resourceful and they have access to highly sophisticated tools and technology that we didn't have access to when we were that age. And they're young enough that they're not creating obstacles all the time, the way that adults do. So, yeah, I'm a big... Nothing against Millennials, but I think it's... I think the most impact is gonna come from Generation Z.

33:48 KW: Well, this is... I loved this conversation, I'm so excited, and I really appreciate you being very intentional about calling out people's names and their companies, [chuckle] and because as you're talking about amplifying the message. It starts, it's all of these little pieces that build into the big awareness. So, thank you for joining us today on the Ellevate podcast.

34:09 MJR: Thank you so much.

34:13 KW: Thanks so much for listening to Ellevate, if you like what you hear, help a girl out, subscribe to the Ellevate Podcast on iTunes, give us five stars and share your review. Also, don't forget to follow us on Twitter, @EllevateNtwk, that's Ellevate Network, and become a member. You can learn all about membership and all the great things that Ellevate Network is doing at our website,, that's E-L-L-E-V-A-T-E Network dot com. And special thanks to our producer, Katharine Heller, she rocks, and to our voice-over artist, Rachel Griesinger. Thanks so much, and join us next week.


Continue learning with this Ellevate Playbook:

Ellevate Network is a community of professional women committed to helping each other succeed. We use the power of community to help you take the next step in your career.

By sharing your email you agree to our Terms of Use & Privacy Policy

By sharing your email you agree to our Terms of Use & Privacy Policy


Thank you! Career advice and opportunities are on the way to your inbox.

Add your zip code, so we can invite you to our local events!