A Conversation with Ashoka Founder Bill Drayton on Social Entrepreneurship

Jun 17, 2015

For millennia, the world was organized around efficiency and repetition, says Bill Drayton, but now this system is  being replaced by a world organized around the opposite principle: change. That has profound implications for every aspect of our lives, including ethics. This is the first generation when everyone must master cognitive empathy-based living.


JULIA TAYLOR KENNEDY: I'm Julia Taylor Kennedy. Welcome to Ethics Matter. I am also vice president and senior fellow at the Center for Talent Innovation here in New York. We are a think tank that looks at gender and diversity in the workplace. I host a podcast here at the Carnegie Council called Impact: Where Business and Ethics Meet.

But I am no stranger to Ethics Matter either, because I actually helped to design and run the program in its inception. We founded it to have conversations with the public about great ethical ideas with the people who are their vessels, who have imbued their lives with a sense of morality and values.

There is no better person to include in a series like that than Bill Drayton. Here's why: He has been a changemaker his whole life. He worked for the EPA [United States Environmental Protection Agency] and introduced the concept of emissions trading. He then went to McKinsey and consulted for the public sector and private organizations to make them more efficient. He started innumerable organizations. The most renowned is Ashoka, where he supports more than 3,000 fellows around the world in 70 countries who are looking to change their societies for the better. Bill Drayton has won many accolades for this work, one being that in the 1980s he was one of the first recipients of the MacArthur Genius Grant.

But perhaps his greatest legacy is that of popularizing the idea of social enterprise, of bringing together capitalism and idealism and understanding that they can be symbiotic, not necessarily antagonistic, inspiring a whole generation of young people to see socially conscious work in a completely new light.

So it is my great pleasure to welcome Bill Drayton to Ethics Matter. Thank you for joining us.

BILL DRAYTON: Thank you.


JULIA TAYLOR KENNEDY: What makes you so passionate to work with these young people who are out to change the world?

BILL DRAYTON: We live in this extraordinary turning-point moment in history, probably the biggest that we have ever seen. For millennia, the world was organized around efficiency and repetition. Think assembly-line law firm. But that world is falling apart because since 1700, the rate of change has been going up exponentially and the demand for repetition is a narrow curve going downward. Those are just facts. We are now at the point where this whole system of repetition is failing and it's being replaced by a world organized around the opposite principle, change.

That has very profound implications for every aspect of our lives, but very specifically including ethics. Up to now, almost everyone could be effective as a good person by diligently following the rules. As you go up this rate-of-change curve, the rules aren't there. They haven't been invented. They are in conflict. You are being thrown into together with all sorts of unpredictable teams of teams. This is the first generation that any child, any young person who does not master, really master, cognitive empathy-based living—and that is a very complicated thing to do—is going to be marginalized. They can't be a good person. They will hurt people, they will disrupt groups, and they are out. That, of course, has major social implications.

So we have a whole series of choices that have very profound ethical implications. That is only one example. What I would like to do, if it's okay, is sketch out what this change is so we can have that as a framework.

Major turning points always come as a surprise, because the old system has been going on for a long time, and you get to these tipping points. They come very quickly. If you miss them, it is a really bad thing. Think Detroit. Think Darius and the Persian Empire—just gone. On the other hand, if you see them, it is hugely powerful.

Let's see if we can understand that together and then explore three or four of the major dimensions of ethical implications and what that means for each of us.

How does Ashoka get to see this? As you mentioned, we have 3,000 of the world's leading social entrepreneurs. A social entrepreneur—this is very appropriate to this group—there are many entrepreneurs in it for their own interests, for the shareholders' interests, for an ideological or religious point of view. They are just lazy. They don't think about everything. The social entrepreneur is in it for the good of all, from deep within. So they bring major structural change, but for the good of all. Three thousand of the best social entrepreneurs—it's very powerful. Let me just give you quickly two examples.

It is very important, I have just been saying, for children to master empathy. A Canadian fellow has figured out how to do that. The results are very dramatic. Bullying rates come down, and four and five years later, they are still down. What does she do? She brings an infant at the beginning of the school year—she comes once a month. The infant is two to four months old at the beginning and wears a T-shirt, "The Professor." The first-graders or the third-graders have to figure out what the professor is saying and then what the professor is feeling. They are, of course, observing and absorbing another child's empathy level right in front of them.

I can give you lots of examples. A series of tests show that 30 to 40 percent of the pharmaceuticals in West Africa are fakes, compliments of China and local production. That has pretty major implications. Another fellow figured out, now people have cell phones, work with the phone systems, work with the pharmaceutical companies, and now they can check.

That is what a social entrepreneur is. Three thousand of these people is really powerful. Over half the Ashoka fellows have changed national policy within five years of launch, and three-quarters have changed the pattern in their field within five years.

We would just be blind if we didn't see patterns. Thinking about young people, there are 750 Ashoka fellows focused on children and young people, and 95 percent of them put the kids in charge, which parenthetically, you will note, is not the dominant mode in how we deal with young people. Just hang onto that fact for a moment and you'll see how it fits. We are able to see these patterns pretty easily. We are just in a very unique position to do that.

What is this major turning point that we are now all faced with? From Rome to 1700, there was no growth in average per-capita income. It just went up and down with weather cycles. Then the first of the two curves I have described to you started going up, and it accelerates faster and faster, rate-of-change curve. The other curve, going downward, has been accelerating just as fast: that is demand for repetition. It started getting rid of physical repetition, because that was what most work was, and now it's getting rid of intellectual repetition.

Alibaba launched a lending operation four or five years ago, up to $10,000. They have $4 billion or $5 billion of loans outstanding. They have 0.87 percent don't-pay as versus the Chinese norm of 0.95, so that is doing very well. That's an awful lot of loans. How many lending officers do you think they have? Zero. There are no managers of the nonexistent lending officers either. It's a self-correcting algorithm. How many millions of bank jobs just disappeared right in front of your eyes?

LIDAR, according to The New Yorker, just three years ago replaced about 85 percent of what field archeologists do. The Watson technology, IBM thinks, will do away with 50 to 60 percent of what doctors and nurses do. We all know these examples.

We are faced with two facts: rate of change going up, demand for repetition going down. And, of course, they are linked at the hip. Those are the facts.

Now, the way the world has been organized is that we give people training as a barber or a banker and then they are supposed to repeat that for the rest of their lives. As long as things don't change, that is actually reasonably efficient. Work is organized in stovepipes, with walls to keep people specialized and focused and repeating. And a few people tell everyone else how to repeat together efficiently. That is the system we have had. It is still dominant, but it is dying. It is being replaced by Silicon Valley and Bangalore. Google is 3,000 small-medium teams.

What is the new world that we are in? It is going to be totally dominant in 5, 10, 15 years. It's a world not where A fits B because they keep doing the same thing. Forget that. A changes and bumps B through Z, and they bump everyone around them. Because of the web and all these other things, the amplitude of bumping is extending faster and faster. So you don't have stable clients. Forget that. The world is now a kaleidoscope of everyone bumping everyone else faster and faster and broader and broader. You have to organize differently for that world. You need a no-walls, internal or external. The idea of internal and external goes away. You need everyone in your team to be able to see the world they are dealing with, that part of it, the changes, what they need to do, what you need to do to adjust. You need everyone seeing the opportunities.

Then your 1,000 people, or whatever it is, have to be able to think together really quickly. There is a big new opportunity for value creation over here, and we are going to create a new team of teams. It has to be new because it's a new task for new clients.

It used to be, not so many years ago, you saw one of those things and you got to repeat it for at least a couple of decades. No more. You set up this new team of teams, and the environment around it has changed the next day.

I am just describing to you a radically different environment that is the new reality that everyone is going to face. In this world, I have just described the types of skills you need everyone on your team to have. You can't afford to have people who can't do these things and can't play in this game. There are going to be no jobs. There is no role for people who don't have these skills. If we allow a society to develop where some portion of the society doesn't have these skills, we are going to have a more deeply divided, more angry, more dysfunctional society than we have ever had. The prejudices will get worse.

This is a very, very profound choice we have to make. Are we going to be in an "Everyone a Changemaker" world, which is our objective, or not? Any society that chooses not, consciously or unconsciously, cannot compete. Google can hire 3,000 engineers who are very creative, but how far down into the economy can that go if we only have 1 or 2 percent of the population that has those skills? You just figure this out.

This is the change that is happening. It's all around us, and it has very, very profound implications.

I'm going to start, as you suggested, with children and young people. Any young child that does not master cognitive empathy-based living, living for the good of all and having the skill to be able to do that, is going to be marginalized. It's the worst thing you can do to any human being. You have no role in society.

Here's how that works. If you are a great astrophysicist and you hurt me, I really don't care how good an astrophysicist you are; I want you out of my life, and it's your fault. You belong to a group that I am now suspicious of. So prejudices go up, not down. You need cognitive empathy to deal with this.

Now, I'm using these words very carefully. Mirror neurons, we have those, but we also have a cerebral cortex. I feel your pain. What happens? I feel pain. That part of my brain lights up. Then what do I do? I focus on my pain, because I am feeling pain. Then people around me, who only have the mirror neurons "I feel your pain" thing, they get it and they start focusing on their pain. This is not very helpful.

But if I look at you and say, "Why is this lovely person in pain?" and I assume that I can do something about it—and I want to because I am living life for the good of all—now the pain things in my head don't light up. Instead, pleasure and helpfulness light up, because I am expressing love and respect in action. I know I can do that because I have this skill, because I was given that skill. Everyone in this room has this, but imagine what it's like if you don't understand this, you can't see it, you don't have these skills, and the world is moving in this direction faster and faster. It's terrorizing. That is what is happening to many people in this city and all around the world at the moment. If we don't make sure that every young child masters cognitive empathy-based ethics, that's it for them.

Then teenagers—the brain rewires around 12—Bar Mitzvah, Confirmation, the Hindu Sacred Thread Ceremony. All across history, we recognize that fundamental change. At that point, it is essential for every young person to practice and practice being a changemaker, which means cognitive empathy-based ethics is the foundation, then sophisticated teamwork, new leadership, changemaking.

I want to tell you a story quickly here that will illustrate this. We have a program for young people. There are about 12,000 young people in 40 countries that have had a dream, are building a team, and changing their world. We want that for everyone. At a meeting for 350.org, sitting at dinner, this very tiny young lady comes down and sits down to my right. She introduces herself and quickly says, "I'm 12," because she is tired of people thinking she's 8.

I say, "All right. What is your venture?"

She says, "My brother is autistic, and all through school, I would cry when he was mistreated. But now we fixed that."

"Oh, how did you do that?"

"We get together whenever we see a special student not being treated well. We figure out how to intervene, and we do it and we are very persistent."

If you were there, you would not have had one cell in your body in doubt that this woman is a changemaker. She knows that. She is not going to be afraid of anything in her life. She has just changed her world. She had a dream, she built a team, she changed her world. She brought a whole team of other kids with her.

Let's do one other question: How many student groups are there in Shirley Middle School, which is a very poor, rural school in an Appalachian-like setting that people flee as fast as they can? Over 50. What happened to her was that when she went into that school, she walked into a miniature of the "Everyone a Changemaker" world. All the other kids said to her, "You got a problem. There's an obvious solution. Think of a solution, build a team, and go and do it. That's what we do. Look around."

That is what happens at certain elite schools. That is why we have the 1 or 2 percent. At Andover there is a student group for every nine students and almost no faculty advisors. We need that in every middle and high school. That is a very profound change that has to happen. We are going to have a very deeply divided, ineffective, and poorer society if we don't make that change.

There is more to this transition, but I wanted to drive that one home. Here are some of the ethical issues. I have already pointed out that if any child doesn't master and practice cognitive empathy-based living, if they don't live for that, that's it for them. That is profoundly the worst thing you can do. It would be criminal if we knew what we were doing.

Second, there are very profound implications for religion here. Why do the great prophets come up? Because of the agricultural revolution, surplus. You get the cities, the poleis of the Eastern Mediterranean and North India. You have an outbreak of "Everyone a Changemaker." That's why our culture is still rooted in the thinking of the Greek poleis. You come from Washington, as I do—all those Greek temples that we look at all the day. There is a reason for that.

Then there was a need for a small part of the population—the rules were not enough for them. There was enough change that they needed empathy-based ethics. Whether it's Buddha or Confucius—they were contemporaries—or Christ a few centuries later, they were all basically serving that need. Half the parables in the Christian Bible are about empathy, empathy-based living.

Religion, I think, now has a choice. You can do calming ritual and die, you can do reaction and not be calm and die, or you can commit to fulfilling the original purposes, the original prophets, whatever the religion is, and help everyone be able to live a life for the good of all, with the skills to do that. That's a role that religion could really make a difference in.

More broadly, we all can play a role in helping this new world come about. Transitions are always difficult and painful. They could be a lot more painful or a lot less painful, the faster we help everybody see this so they know how to play the game. The mom of a six-year-old, when the six-year-old hits her younger brother, if that mom knows that it is critical for all six-year-olds to be mastering cognitive empathy-based living, they can do the rules and enforcement if they want, but they can also put their arm around their daughter and say, "How do you think your brother felt when you did that?" You have to do that more than once, but moms will do that, and dads will too, if they know that this is critical for playing in this new game. All of us can contribute to that.

This is a much, much better world. There is no way problems outrun solutions when everyone is a smart changemaker and we all know how to work together and we are all in it for the good of all. Societies that work are much easier to lead ethical lives in than societies that are divided and angry and failing.

Second, when everyone is a changemaker, everyone is able to give, has that power, it is inherently a much more—much more—structurally equal society than the world where Henry Ford tells everyone else what to do.

Finally—and this is, I think, the most important point—we all have the privilege of being able to express love and respect in our interactions, in our leadership, in all different aspects of society. We were given the gift of being able to give. In this world everyone will have that, not just a few. In many ways, that is the most important ethical commandment, I think. We should make sure that everyone has the ability to be a giver.

JULIA TAYLOR KENNEDY: Well, there's a lot there to unpack. You delivered what you promised.

What I heard over the course of those remarks was that changemakers are not necessarily born; they can be made. My question to you is, are you a born social entrepreneur, or a born changemaker, or a made one?

BILL DRAYTON: I can tell you some of the elements. Both my parents did something totally unreasonable when they were 19, one in America, one in Australia. I benefited from that. I can trace on both sides of the family patterns that I repeat. We are all children and grandchildren, great-grandchildren of our families.

I grew up here in Manhattan. What an amazing privilege. Once you are allowed to cross the street, you have a free bus and subway pass as a student; you can go anywhere—no station wagons, none of that stuff. I grew up at the time of the Civil Rights Movement, which is a Gandhian movement. Our country had failed for almost 400 years to deal with the original sin of slavery. We had a civil war. We used violence, 600,000 people killed. We occupied the South. The moment the troops came out, it all snapped back to where it was before, and the North and the South hated one another even more than before. Intermarriage between North and South went down.

But in the Civil Rights Movement, we did something different. It was a Gandhian movement. Millions and millions of people were given the challenge: Do you want to live your life according to empathy-based ethics, which you, by the way, have to now if you are going to be a part of society, or are you going to continue these outrageous behaviors?

Many of you saw the film Selma. Bayard Rustin, who was someone I actually knew, introduced me to some of the key Gandhians in India. He was in Gandhi's ashram. He understood this. He worked very closely with King. They talked every day, every other day.

You think about Selma. Why did they choose this place? There were many, many other nothing places they could have chosen which were equally horrific. But there were two churches there that had the leadership that would be able to keep the community loving and respecting, and not hating and not being violent, in the face of the worst behavior. But they also knew that the sheriff was a jerk. So they could create a drama for months. The march on Montgomery is analogous to the Salt March in India. That wasn't an accident. That was a conscious process.

I grew up at a time when the Civil Rights Movement was very important. I had the benefit—and I was part of it, in small ways, in high school and was part of the Northern Student Movement in my early years at college. Being a part of a Gandhian movement where you actually see people changing in front of your eyes and you feel yourself changing is very, very powerful.

Since I was in elementary school, I wanted to go to India. I finally got there. The statistics of a 100-to-1 difference in per capita income became people that I knew. You are a sophomore, so you don't control anything. So you ask—and that is where the Ashoka idea comes in.

So there are a lot of elements. I am very, very grateful that I had the parents I did. I had a principal in elementary school here in the city who made a lot of adjustments. I started a newspaper. Then it became a newspaper that got bigger and bigger, and I had to get more ads and I had to get people from other schools. I couldn't be where I was normally supposed to be. He didn't make this a big conflict. So there were a lot of things that were really helpful to me, and I am just grateful to everybody.

I also see this in the Ashoka fellows. Over 80 percent of the Ashoka fellows started something in their teens, usually early teens. No surprise, actually, that they are who they are today. You give anyone the power that this young woman I described to you—she has her power for life at 12, and she is going to keep getting stronger and stronger once she has it. We can give that to everyone. I was very lucky. A set of circumstances came together with me. It shouldn't be a matter of being very lucky. It should be normal for everybody.

JULIA TAYLOR KENNEDY: When did you start to see this concept of entrepreneurship that has, originally, some "ruthless capitalist" connotations to it as complementary? Why did you think that was a good idea to adopt for changemakers?

BILL DRAYTON: There are social entrepreneurs that predate Mr. Carnegie, with all due respect. Think of Florence Nightingale, Maria Montessori.

JULIA TAYLOR KENNEDY: But do you think they saw themselves that way, necessarily?

BILL DRAYTON: Well, they didn't use the language because we hadn't invented it, but that's what they were.

Up to 1700, there were a few outliers, but it was not systematic. Then business did something really radical. It said anybody with a new idea, if you implement it, we're going to make you rich and happy and respected—and, oh, by the way, we're going to copy it. Keyword, "anybody." This was the end of the old order. This was the beginning of the "Everyone a Changemaker" world. But for a variety of structural reasons, the citizen sector and government didn't participate.

The citizen sector broke free of the premodern world around 1980, which is why we set up Ashoka in 1980. We could see that that ice dam was breaking. There are a variety of reasons for that. For example, independence came to most of Asia around 1948. You add 30 years and you get to 1978. The first post-independence generation was coming of professional age. We could see the first social entrepreneurs coming up.

Between 1980 and now, this amazing thing has happened. The citizen half of the world's operations has caught up with business in terms of productivity and scale and now globalization. We are not business. Social entrepreneurs are in it for the good of all. We are not trying to capture a market and dig a moat. That isn't the point. So we are able to work together in ways that business cannot. That is a huge power we have.

I am talking as if there were walls. There are historical walls. What has to happen is that all of us, including the citizen sector, have to become part of the universal, open, fluid team of teams, where all the pieces come together as needed for whatever the opportunity is. We are not going to be more like business or art. We are going to be something very different. That is the ultimate type of integration.

It is going to be around, I believe—everyone operating for the good of all—because that is what is really required in this world. When everyone is powerful, you can't afford to have someone powerful swinging around there who isn't in it for the good of all. It is just way too destructive.

This is also what people want. All the prophets told us, all the scientists keep telling us that it's when you express love and respect in action and you are in it for the good of all, that is what makes you happy, healthy, long-lived, etc. So this all fits together totally coherently. Entrepreneurship can be selfish, but social entrepreneurship, by definition, is entrepreneurship for the good of all. That's the distinction.

JULIA TAYLOR KENNEDY: I'm very glad you just defined it. I have taken a business class in social enterprise, and they started with a range of readings that defined that term in so many different ways. I wonder, since we have the opportunity to ask you, what you think about different businesses who are very much for-profit using that term to describe themselves and all the different ways that it has been defined and interpreted over the years.

BILL DRAYTON: Social enterprise is not social entrepreneurship. Social enterprise has a fuzz of definition around it. It's very confusing. I just illustrate the confusion. I like being able to go to the store and buy the same socks that I bought several years ago and know that they will fit and they won't fall apart. I don't want to have to make socks. I think that is very useful. Why isn't that social enterprise? I think there is a lot of confusion here.

I understand the spirit of the idea, that we want businesses to not only worry about the shareholders or maybe the interests of the managers. We really want everyone to be in it for the good of all. So we are encouraging institutions that have been institutionally structured for narrow interests to think more broadly. The intent is really good, and it's a step on the way. But it is also, like many of these in-between things, confusing.

JULIA TAYLOR KENNEDY: Well, yes, and it must be frustrating to think the person who runs something defined as a social enterprise is not necessarily a social entrepreneur, right? It's frustrating.


QUESTIONER: Maria D'Albert. I'm from Brooklyn.

I had the pleasure of attending last week's discussion with Ethan Zuckerman about the Internet and the state of the Internet and many of the ethical issues involved. We talked a little bit about the challenge of getting global voices engaged in the Internet and some of the aspirations about how empowering that would be in the early stages, in the inception, what was the potential, and the challenge of creating that engagement. It struck me that there was a parallel to the aspirations of getting "Everyone a Changemaker" when we are living with rapid technology—that is the most rapidly changing environment that is in evidence.

How do you reconcile what in some ways has become a very narcissistic medium but also one that bears with it in parallel, simultaneously, great potential and has facilitated great collaboration that can, in fact, be the instruments of change? Do you see those as competing value systems or do you see them as something where, in fact, my 12-year-old daughter, who is on Instagram an inordinate amount of time—she's not supposed to be—is still developing in parallel these empathetic values that will allow her to be one of those changemakers?

BILL DRAYTON: The dilemma is not new. The Roman circuses had the same problem. I just gave you the example of the African use of mobile devices to attack the 30 to 40 percent likely fake pharmaceuticals. There are so many really powerful uses.

Why has the amplitude of bumping speeded up? Why is it that an idea in Bangladesh that wouldn't have traveled to Brazil 20 years ago now is there in a flash? Why is it possible for us to have meetings, for fellows to work together on these things from all around the world with almost no cost? These are extraordinarily valuable things that weren't possible even a few years ago.

Does the technology control or do we control? I'm very optimistic that a world where everyone is really empowered, has the ability to lead a life for the good of all, which people want to do—given a choice, they will do that. They have to have the skills to do that. The institutions have to support it, not fight it. That is a very coherent world. In that world I suspect we will have fewer circuses and a lot more useful use of the 'net.

Would you agree?

QUESTIONER: Yes, I do think that we need to support that value system, because it is one that—the desire to promote and to see oneself in that world can remain surface if we don't really promote those values, and it can become a bit of our own little fishbowl, where we are looking at ourselves and our friends and our inner circle, but without considering what the messages are from a broader society.

BILL DRAYTON: What to do.

QUESTION: My name is Peter Burgess. I run an initiative called True Value Metrics. I'm an engineer/accountant, half my career corporate, half my career international development.

I love the analysis of the problem. I think it's absolutely on target. But you talked about youth. Basically we have 3½ billion or 4 billion youth who are essentially heading into unemployment, inability to pay bills, and a social ethical system that absolutely can't use them, as you described.

My question is, how on earth do you move from where you are to where you need to be or where the world needs to be? How do we get, not 3,000 Ashoka fellows doing this stuff, but essentially 4 billion of us doing this stuff?

I have a solution, which is to have accounting that doesn't only deal with money. How do you quantify the really important things in life and make it normal for everybody to think as much about what they are doing about good as what they are doing about money?

BILL DRAYTON: Let me just give you two measures, impact measures, that we think are really important for teenagers, since you focused on that group. What proportion of 12-year-olds or 17-year-olds know—keyword—that they are changemakers? They don't know it unless they have actually done it. They know they have the skills. The young woman I described knows that she is a changemaker. You can compare at the beginning of the year and the end of the year for a class. You can compare schools. You can compare cities, groups, countries. So that is one impact measure.

A second impact measure is, what proportion of the stakeholders in middle and high school know that their school, in very significant part, is failing or succeeding depending on whether or not it is an "Everyone a Changemaker" culture? Her school is an "Everyone a Changemaker" culture. That is what made the difference in her life.

We can do that. This does not upset the unions. It does not cost money. Quite the contrary. Living in a school where everyone is taking initiative and is turned on and is motivated is great for the teachers and administrators and janitors. But the key here is that you can't do this by trying to go and work school by school. You can, but you will never get where we want. I have been describing islands that we have been able to create or others have. To actually get the society to tip is the challenge.

There are three different levels of impact that—I find this analysis very helpful. There is direct service. You really do need teachers in the classroom. The measures for that are how many kids you educated, etc., etc.

The next level is pattern change. The measures I gave you for Ashoka fellows are pattern change measures: What proportion within five years have changed national policy, have changed the pattern in the field? That is appropriate for entrepreneurship.

The third level is mindset change. That's a different game again and it has different measures. I have just given you two measures that are mindset-change measures. We have to help the whole society go through an understanding that we are now living in an everything-changing, and therefore "Everyone Must Be a Changemaker," world. That's this curve going up, rate of change; demand for repetition going down. Those are facts. When people say that out loud, when they recognize that and the people around them do, then they are empowered to parent differently. So when the 12-year-old comes to you and says, "Dad, the way immigrant kids are treated here is terrible," or "No one listens to us," or whatever, you have one of those great parenting moments or grandparenting moments. Put what you are doing down and focus. "How do you think you could solve that problem?"

"Oh, that's an interesting idea. Why don't you get your friends together and do that?"


"Well, yes. And this is really important. This is why it's important: because if you do this, you will really have the skills you need to succeed in a world of change."

Any parent can do that. But they can't do it until they see that this is what the new world is and it is really critical for their son or daughter to have these skills. You have to see this. This is a mindset-change process. That is our number-one goal.

Ashoka very consciously went about the business of mindset change, of introducing the concept of social entrepreneurship. We created the word. We played with different words—"public service entrepreneur," etc.—and eventually settled on that. That word is now very commonly used—frequently misused, but okay. It is very empowering. The fact that there is a category and there is a whole series of carefully chosen role models—who are very powerful people, parenthetically—that is empowering to everybody, which is exactly what we intended.

This is a much bigger change. As I said, everyone here can contribute. You can help your friends see it. People here know people who are writers, who can influence in other ways. Just being comfortable saying out loud this is the new game, that is so powerful.

QUESTION: I'm Isis Fabian, from Philadelphia.

From what you were saying about the rate of technological change and the interests of profit maximization, it seems like most of our activities, whether it's human work or day-to-day tasks, will become obsolete as a use of time. What do you see as the role for human effort after production of goods and services, as we know it, is no longer in our hands and we have billions of people who need no more vocational training, no more skills to learn in the traditional sense? What is it that we have that technology will never achieve? How do we leverage that in the future when we are not working anymore?

BILL DRAYTON: Humans never seem to have trouble figuring out more things that we want. We do have tremendous needs. Just look at what's happening with children and young people. It's a large part of the population. How many of them are getting the sort of care that we have just been talking about?

This is very satisfying work. It's hugely important. Your work in terms of talent—every institution now has to recruit for a different set of skills and has to continuously develop. This is one of the characteristics of this world. The level of empathetic skill that was brilliant in 1960 is utterly inadequate today.

Every year, as the rate of change accelerates and the complexity of contacts increases—a few decades ago, in a typical life, you had one job and you lived in one community, in one religious house, and if you could understand four or five contacts, you could basically figure this out. Forget that. Teams of teams being formed and re-formed and overlapping—it's such a different world. To be able to understand how to be contributive to the individuals, the groups, the combinations of groups, and to be able to look further and further into the future because it's in your lap, that is very sophisticated. It is probably going to take a lot of work all through society to help people be able to be good people, starting with children and young people, but certainly going into the workplace.

You think about the whole array of the arts. That is a sector that hasn't been doing very well recently. The person who ran YouTube for Google for many years—their whole strategy has been to try to attract creative people there. But it's hard.

If we had to work less, that wouldn't be a catastrophe. What would we do? We would be expressing love and respect in other ways. It is the question: Do we monetize it, which I think is actually a very good idea.

QUESTION: I'm Laura Koch, from Argentina.

Obviously, what you are saying is fantastic, but my concern is climate change. Will the CEOs of companies actually change at the rate that's necessary so that there is a more empathetic world and more open, with all these new platforms—Uber, Via, and all these amazing companies that are taking the jobs of millions, like BlaBlaCar and all these? How do you foresee that we will live in harmony with the old guard that is now in power, politicians? Obviously you are doing a great job with education, but how will that match? Then how will the media help with this movement, given that the media is always describing horrible things, because that is what media sells, and not the most amazing, beautiful things that you are talking about? People don't know about all these things as much as they should.

BILL DRAYTON: Dealing with the media first, news has been historically what happened yesterday. In a world where the future is coming at you faster and faster, people want to be looking into the future. The news has been for people who are passive. You are on the assembly line or an assembly line in the law firm. But now everyone needs to be an actor, a changemaker. They need news that helps them do that, which is why the business pages, parenthetically, have had a lot more about the future and how to do things than the rest of the newspapers. It is not a mystery that Huffington Post and YouTube and now Forbes.com are talking more about the future and there is a lot more about how to do things. They have opened it up so that anyone, basically, can contribute. They are trying to figure out ways, in all three cases, for more involvement, active involvement.

The press has been biased against the future, for a variety of structural reasons. A big mistake, because we need a discussion of the alternatives of the future, not what terrible thing happened yesterday.

What we have just been talking about here is the big news story. This is the big change. This is a historical fact. Fact: rate of change going up, demand, etc. Those are facts.

The Economist became the dominant English news magazine because in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, they unapologetically said economic, social, political liberalism is here; it's a good thing. Every week they kept telling you, oh, this thing happened and this is why it happened. People didn't buy The Economist only for nice commodity news in good English, which they do, but they were covering the big news stories.

Whichever publications' journalists see this and get on this early will be doing a big contribution, and it is the big news story. But it is the usual story in the tipping process. Until you see it, you don't see it.

It's fascinating. We looked at the Civil Rights Movement and the women's movement—the same pattern. This is New York Times reference to civil rights, all the various euphemisms, which change from time to time: flat in the 1920s and 1930s; World War II comes and it goes up; in the 1950s, it goes up 300 percent; and the tipping years, 1960 to 1965, it goes up 600 percent, and then it falls away. Why? Because during that slice of time, the whole country was trying to figure out, "How do I deal with this? I have to deal with this." The press was providing the daily anecdote. That's what Selma was about. The NCLC [National Consumer Law Center] was providing the daily anecdotes.

I think we are at absolutely one of these transition points. If any of you knows a courageous writer or publisher, you have an opportunity to give them the scoop here.

I think the point about the news is really important. For business, a lot of businesses aren't going to make it. It's very clear. There are some that are beginning. Certainly Google understands this very consciously. We have been talking with them. They actually see their organization and our organization as being strikingly similar, in a funny sort of way.

Some existing corporations—strangely, the "Kremlin on the Ohio," P&G [Procter & Gamble], some seven or eight years ago, figured out they can no longer succeed if their new products and services are developed only internally. So they now are looking anywhere in the world, any sector. IBM is doing the same thing. You can see that pattern emerging especially for new products and services.

It's going to have to go deeper and broader. Some companies will make it. Many won't. If you care about a company, this is the challenge. It is not an easy challenge. We are going through this sort of organizational change inside Ashoka, and I assure you, it is not easy. But it is essential. When you make that transition and you have an "Everyone a Changemaker" workforce, which is what you have to have if you want a changemaker world, that workforce isn't going to be really happy with you if you are only focused on the shareholders and you are not taking the whole thing into account.

We are in a very awkward transition at the moment. Kuhn's book on innovation makes the point that when you are in this transition, most institutions are still doing the old stuff. Worse than that, in our heads—my head, your head—we live most of our life in the old system. We have patterns of thought in our own heads. It is very hard to get rid of. But we have to, and that is a key part of the challenge for us.

QUESTION: My name is Kennedy Ihezie.

Sir, it is an honor to meet you today, Mr. Drayton. My question is threefold, actually. I don't know if you follow this. There is a Zambian economist called Dambisa Moyo, just a fascinating scholar, really, trained in Cambridge University in the UK. She talks about "dead aid." She talks about how the West has lost its power, really. She talks about, Africa doesn't need any more aid; Africa needs change. [Editor's note: See Moyo's Carnegie Council talk on "dead aid."]

Bono, and Bill Gates went after her, like, "Aid? Are you kidding? We've given the money to you."

But she said, "No. What we want is the power to create wealth."

I think that's where your work on social entrepreneurship comes into play here. To me as an African, and having lived in Africa as well, I see these days just how much social entrepreneurship is taking off right now. Tony Elumelu, who is a philanthropist and an amazing human being, a global citizen, came up with the word "Africapitalism." That is just saying that the public sector in Africa has the power to bring about social change.

But my question for you is, as a public policy minor at NYU Wagner, it was so annoying to me to see the whole policymaking process and the politics that takes over policymaking. If you have a social entrepreneur, for instance, who has a great idea, wants to solve a big problem in society, but they don't have the influence that the policy actors have, how do you create a balance? How does the social entrepreneur—a 24-year-old guy who has no voice, really, but has a great idea—how does he bring about policy change? I know you talk about [inaudible] and changing the framework, but how do you bring all these together to play? I would like to know your thoughts on that.

BILL DRAYTON: Specifically in housing?

QUESTIONER: Yes. In the United States, it is very politicized where in Africa, god help you if you can get policy to move even any further than you want it to. But I want to know, with your experience in Africa especially, how much have you seen policy change with your social entrepreneurs in your Ashoka program?

BILL DRAYTON: On Africa specifically, Africa actually has a slightly higher ratio of social entrepreneurs that we can elect relative to population than most continents. It is a very encouraging sign.

Social entrepreneurs are very powerful people. They start as just a person with an idea, but they have thought about it a lot. It comes out of their life. The ideas are very well thought through. They have to do what every entrepreneur, regardless of sector, does. They have to figure out, what's the least number of forces that I have to set in motion that will become self-multiplying? Then how do I do that? Every single one of the fellows does that. That's true regardless of sector, but it's certainly true for social entrepreneurs. Again, in terms of policy, over half have changed national policy within five years, and that statistic applies to Africa.

The only place in the world where the statistic is not at that level is the Mideast, which is 29 percent. Africa has got many different countries with different environments. It is very hard to generalize. In some places it is really hard to get policy change, but in others it is actually not that hard.

QUESTION: Ron Berenbeim, Bill. We knew each other many years ago.

I'm sitting here listening and I'm saying, yes, yes, yes, this is what is happening. There are a lot of people that see that and don't like it. They have put forward very authoritarian models of typically governance, like China and Russia and also maybe commodity-based regions, like West Virginia, where mining does depend on repetition and people will continue to want commodities.

How do you deal with this? Are you really serene about the future? Is there a way of engaging these—another is fundamentalist religion. They are in reaction against these kinds of trends, which they see and perceive as a threat. How do you engage with them? What are your feelings about how you would deal with that issue?

BILL DRAYTON: I think we are going to have a lot more reaction as long as we delay helping people see what the alternative is. Once people can see, okay, this is what this new world is, it's a lot better in every way that we have described, then you have King's speech, "I Have a Dream." He could articulate what it was. He gave that speech thousands of times. We have to articulate what the dream is: a world where everyone gets to express love and respect in action, which is structurally more equal, where the problems cannot outrun the solutions, where we do not have a divided society with a whole bunch of people being marginalized.

This is a much better place, but right now people don't see it. Our job, I believe, is to help people see it and see what the implications are. Once people can see this is where the world is going—that is a fact—it is a much better place, here are the implications for me as a leader, a parent, young person, whatever—religious leader—they are going to do it and the people around them are going to do it. The tipping process is really quick when you get there; 1960 to 1965 was very short. Think about the tipping years for the women's movement.

Right now we don't have it articulated. We have to give our version of the "I Have a Dream" speech a lot.

JULIA TAYLOR KENNEDY: I can't think of a better note to end on. Thank you so much. We really appreciate your being here.

BILL DRAYTON: Thank you.

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