Maybe it’s the economy. Maybe it’s the election of Barack Obama as president. Maybe it’s just a matter of getting older. Whatever the case, in recent months I’ve found myself more interested in trying to contribute something to society.
Back in October I saw Blake Mycoskie, founder of TOMS shoes, speak at a conference. His passionate, vision and commitment are off the charts. To kick off 2009 I invited all my Facebook friends to join a group I called, “How can I help you in 2009?” A small gesture to be sure, but something I felt was important to try.
I read a lot of books – fiction, non-fiction, biography, marketing books, you name. I like to think that many of them are really good books. But rarely have I read a book as powerful, as important, as The Blue Sweater. Regardless of who you are or what you do, this is a book you should read. High school and college kids should be required to read it. Everyone at every charity, NGO, government organization, company and social cause should read it. Got a mom, daugther or wife? They should read it. This would be terrific for a book group as well.
Ok, that’s a pretty strong recommendation. That’s sounds like I’m talking about the Bible or something. Look, there are a lot of difficult challenges we face as a global society. Many of the “solutions” we’ve been relying on for years aren’t working – have never really worked – and we can’t afford to continue to keep doing them. This book lays out, in specific detail what works, what doesn’t, and why. It does so with vivid, personal anecdotes from the author, Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of the Acumen Fund. Novogratz has seen first hand what life is like in places like Rwanda, Brazil, Kenya and other developing areas. She’s lived it, not just dropped in for a tour of the ‘pretty’ areas.
Novogratz believes that charity is not the answer. She has seen the pride, commitment and discipline of the poor. She knows they don’t want a hand out, they want an opportunity. She has met with the entrepreneurs who are creatively meeting the challenges and providing solutions that are making the difference for literally millions of people.
Novogratz isn’t the only one who is thinking this way. If you don’t know about Kiva.org, go check it out. Read about Dambisa Moyo and her new book, Dead Aid. These are just a few of the people and organizations determined to do things differently, to listen rather than speak, to assist rather than simply feel good about themselves. Again, I hope you’ll take the day or two it takes to read The Blue Sweater, but more importantly I hope you’ll take action. You don’t need to solve AIDS, or world hunger or the problems of the Middle East. Just help one person. Do it now.
Here are some more reviews: