We recently got connected to Greatest Possible Good's Kyle Vaughan and Kenneth Wayman. It didn't take long for us to realize how much we had in common, and how dedicated we all were to serving the community through Design Thinking. Soon after, OutGrowth began working alongside GPG to co-facilitate workshops in Human-Centered Design, collaborating to help others to build solutions that will shift their futures for the better.
GPG is fully dedicated to social impact, which is why we wanted to highlight their incredible work this month. In addition to this great Q+A with Kyle and Kenneth, you have to check out their spotlight feature in this month's En Root.
Enjoy learning more about this dynamic duo!
Social Impact has become somewhat of a "buzzy" concept. What does social impact mean to you? To us, social impact means empowering people, reducing suffering, and creating joy. It looks beyond profit motive and organizational goals toward how our operations impact communities. It means giving people the tools and resources to make their own choices about how they want to live.
Tell us about your professional journey to date. How have you remained dedicated to socially-conscious business? Kyle: I was more selfish when I was younger. Concepts like "effective altruism" and "social entrepreneurship" entered my head later in college and really took off when I worked as a delegate's Chief of Staff in Annapolis. Kenneth and I founded Greatest Possible Good when we realized we had mission alignment, and we've been working on that path ever since. We've remained focused on our mission by being willing to pivot early and quickly as we learn.
Kenneth: My problem is that I never feel completely confident that I have remained dedicated to socially-conscious business. I spent a few years living the dream, working a nine-to-five in a well-paid job, and it left me totally unfulfilled. I've been searching for the right path and feel like I'm still at the base of that mountain. Fortunately, I've never lost sight of the goal to do the best I can do with my life. However, if I am capable of helping, I want to do that.
At OutGrowth, we are committed to giving access. Talk to us about your take on the importance of supporting social initiatives within business, and how you believe this concept of access plays a role. We're convinced that as the primary deployers of capital, businesses are often in the best position to solve social ills. We also believe that for-profits have a responsibility to the people they serve and work with. Giving access simply falls under that umbrella of basic dignity. It means evaluating people on their merits and providing opportunities to those under-served by traditional organizations.
Tell us about a pinnacle point or moment when your experience with a socially-minded business or initiative had an impact on your personal or professional life. Kyle: Central Scholarship gave me financial aid that helped me attend college. I've never stopped thinking about what it means to invest in our collective future by simply opening doors for people, not telling them where to go.
Kenneth: The Well is an incubator and women's collective devoted to the needs of women of color. We've had the privilege of working with them on their membership model. Working with this nonprofit not only opened my eyes to just how rigged society can be against its members, but also how much impact a small group of dedicated people can have on that status quo.
How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook? Kyle: Well, education saved my life. And scholarships gave me a chip on my shoulder about paying it forward.
Kenneth: It reminded me that there are a lot of people who are passionate about solving the same problems I want to solve. It made me realize I am a part of a greater community. I'm not alone in the desire to do good and be useful.
What are your top three pieces of advice for students and professionals who may be struggling to find ways to create social impact in their own lives? How can they weave this into their current positions, businesses, communities and systems? 1. Start from where you are. No matter what you're doing, what position you're in, or what community you're a part of- you can still be kind to people. You can still leave things better than they were when you walked in.
2. Small changes are valuable, but big changes are sometimes necessary. If you feel obligated to do things that oppose your values, don't be afraid to say no and walk away.
3. Get buy-in for change by including the people who have to change in the process. When somebody helped create an idea, they are infinitely more likely to back it with their actions.
If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be? Kyle: Don't run on an injured ankle, dude. It's just high school track.
Kenneth: You're just one person. You don't have to do everything.
What is your favorite quote? Kyle: "Forgiveness is giving up all hope for a better past."
Kenneth: "Beware any enterprise that requires new clothes and not, rather, a new wearer."
Based on your professional experience, what are the top three career competencies that you believe can be gained/developed from more fully engaging with socially-conscious businesses? In other words, socially-conscious business are ideal spaces for developing which types of transferable career skills? 1. The ability to understand and connect with people who are very different from you.
2. Training the muscle to take full responsibility for you and your organization's actions. In a socially-conscious space, there is implicit permission to criticize on the basis of morality. We need more of that in conventional business.
3. Maximizing your impact with limited resources. When your budget is small, you figure out how to make the most of it. Extraneous purchases just don't enter the picture (hopefully).
What's next? What are your next steps toward growth in 2020? Kyle: I'm gonna keep eating my vegetables, exercising, drinking water, and trying to get enough sleep. And always asking for help when I need it.
Kenneth: I'm going to spend some time meditating in a Buddhist monastery in the rolling hills of New York.
Kenneth Wayman is Greatest Possible Good's Founder and CTO. He is a recovering software engineer with a knack for problem-solving who wants to use his skills to leave the world a slightly less chaotic place.