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Success Story Podcast

Abby Falik – Founder & CEO of Global Citizen Year | College Can Wait, Finding Your Purpose Can’t

By June 3, 2022January 18th, 2023No Comments

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About The Guest

Abby Falik is an award-winning social entrepreneur and the Founder & CEO of Global Citizen Year — a nonprofit using the power of a global immersion between high school and college to unlock curiosity, conviction, and courage in our next-generation leaders. 

A recognized expert on social innovation, leadership, and the changing landscape of education, Abby has been profiled by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.  

Abby is a frequent speaker and has been featured at forums including the Aspen Ideas Festival, the Obama Foundation Summit, the Fast Company Innovation Festival, PopTech, and The Nantucket Project.  

In 2018, Abby was named one of America’s Top 25 Philanthropy Speakers by The Business of Giving. In 2019 she was named one of Goldman Sachs’ Most Intriguing Entrepreneurs for the third consecutive year, and in 2016 Fast Company named her one of the Most Creative People in Business. For her achievements as a social entrepreneur, she has been recognized as an Ashoka Fellow, a MindTrust Fellow, and a Draper Richards Kaplan Entrepreneur.

Talking Points

  • 00:00 — Intro
  • 03:44 — Abby Falik’s origin story
  • 05:05 — What was the first thing that Abby Falik did that gives a positive impact on social media?
  • 06:40 — What was the concept behind Global Citizen Year?
  • 10:13 — What is Abby Falik’s opinion on the current education system?
  • 13:38 — How does Abby Falik teach entrepreneurship?
  • 15:20 — What is social entrepreneurship?
  • 17:48 — How does Abby Falik measure the impact of social entrepreneurship?
  • 18:49 — How does Abby Falik convince the investors?
  • 20:10 — How do we get that level of investors to follow the framework that Abby Falik has made?
  • 23:32 — What is Abby Falik’s advice for somebody who is about to start a company?
  • 26:45 — What does the quote “how can we change the world from inside out” mean?
  • 28:15 — What are the leadership lessons of Abby Falik for getting people on board with what she thinks?
  • 37:09 — What are Abby Falik’s thoughts about leadership and who can be a leader?
  • 39:59 — Where do people connect with Abby Falik and what are some of her career insights?
  • 42:05 — What was the biggest challenge Abby Falik had and how did she overcome it?
  • 43:30 — Who is the mentor of Abby Falik?
  • 44:21 — A book or a podcast recommendation of Abby Falik
  • 44:55 — What would Abby Falik tell her 20-year-old self?
  • 45:03 — What does success mean to Abby Falik?

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On this podcast, you’ll find interviews, Q&A, keynote presentations & conversations on sales, marketing, business, startups, and entrepreneurship.

The podcast is hosted by entrepreneur, business executive, author, educator & speaker, Scott D. Clary.

Scott will discuss some of the lessons he’s learned over his own career, as well as have candid interviews with execs, celebrities, notable figures, and politicians. All who have achieved success through both wins and losses, to learn more about their life, their ideas, and insights.

He sits down with leaders and mentors and unpacks their stories to help pass those lessons on to others through both experiences and tactical strategies for business professionals, entrepreneurs, and everyone in between.


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Machine Generated Transcript


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Abby Falik, Scott D Clary


Scott D Clary  00:00

Welcome to success story, the most useful podcast in the world. I’m your host Scott D. Clary. The success story podcast is part of the HubSpot Podcast Network and the blue wire Podcast Network. The HubSpot Podcast Network has incredible podcasts like my first million. My first million is hosted by Sam Parr and Shawn Peri, they feature famous guests. They discuss how companies made their first million and then some they brainstorm new business ideas based on the hottest trends and opportunities in the marketplace. Here are some of the topics he talked about. If you like any of these, you will love the show three profitable business ideas that you should start in 2020 to drunk business ideas that can make you millions, asking the founder of Grammarly how he built a $13 billion company or Sass companies that anybody can start. If these topics are up your alley, go check out my first million listen to it wherever you listen to your podcast. Today, my guest is Abby Falik. She is the founder and CEO of global citizen you’re now Global Citizen year is a nonprofit helping shape the next generation of leaders they recruit talented students to spend eight months overseas somewhere with a host family serving a local community through an apprenticeship similar to an internship attending classes, learning and participating in the culture. Abby is a Harvard Business School graduate. She is an award winning social entrepreneur. She has been profiled by the New York Times Washington Post NPR, the Chronicle for Higher Education she speaks globally. She has been featured at forums including the Aspen Ideas Festival, the Obama Foundation Summit, Fast Company innovation festival, pop tech and the Nantucket project. She was named one of America’s top 25 philanthropist speakers, she was named that one of the most intriguing entrepreneurs for three years by Goldman Sachs. And she was also named one of the most creative people in business by Fast Company as well. She has created the Global Citizen year to help shape the next generation of leaders. So we spoke about her origin story, how her time abroad growing up gave for different perspectives on the world, on different cultures, and then ultimately on social entrepreneurship. And as she tries to teach over her experiences through global citizen year we spoke about ultimately what social entrepreneurship is, what it isn’t why we have to work towards making it the defacto form of entrepreneurship, how to define social entrepreneurship. We also spoke about why education is broken, and some ideas on how to fix it, most notably focusing on things that allow you to be successful in 1020 30 years from now when the jobs that you’re going to be having and holding our jobs that may have not even been invented yet. So we have to fix education, we have to focus on social entrepreneurship, we have to redefine success, we have to redefine how companies measure success. And we have to redefine how to communicate to stakeholders. How to measure of success as an organization through impact, although profits are important, how do we measure through impact? And then lastly, how do we redefine leadership and give people agency and help them understand that they can implement and invoke change across across the globe through the actions they take whether or not it’d be building a company or working in an organization. So social entrepreneurship lessons, entrepreneurship lessons, some ideas on how to fix education and some ideas on how to just be a better person in the world and how to incorporate that into the businesses that we build. Let’s jump right into it. This is Abby Falik she is the founder, CEO of global citizen year.


Abby Falik  03:45

All the way back Well, I grew up in Berkeley, California, and had the enormous fortune of having parents who valued travel as the highest form of education. They had experienced themselves, but later in their lives as as young adults before having kids, they had taken all their savings, quit their jobs and spent a year traveling around the world in 1978. And so that goes way back. But I think that was then such a formative influence in our childhood and upbringing where we were young, and you know, following them through villages and visiting schools in Southeast Asia and South Africa and Latin America and having experiences that really just shook me out of the bubble of context. I’ve been born in and gave me a sense that the world is huge and very unequal. And I had won a birth lottery and I had no choice but to orient my life toward equalizing opportunity and figuring out how to use my access and various forms of privilege and education toward the end of creating possibility and helping other you Young people reach their potential as well.


Scott D Clary  05:02

I love that the story makes sense when you’re exposed to that. You understand you understand the, like you mentioned the privilege we have in North America being North born in North America, but not everybody does something about it either. Like I think it’s it’s it’s a lot of work to assume that you can just fix the world sometimes. So what was the what was the first iteration of, of, of you wanting to do something that did have a positive social impact? And how did it evolve over your career,


Abby Falik  05:30

I have been wired entrepreneurially from as long as I can remember. So I remember selling neckties, my dad’s old ties lawyer, door to door in our neighborhood to make some money. And then when I was in middle school started a summer camp for local kids who didn’t have anywhere to go during the summer. And so it’s always just been someone to identify an opportunity and a need a missing piece. And then sort of why not be the one to connect the dots and the resources to make something happen. And when I finished high school, I was so tired from the treadmill, I had been what I now could call an excellent sheep I had, you know, followed in line, done the things check the boxes, gotten into college, and I knew something was missing. I felt like I was letting school get in the way of my real education. And I desperately wanted to spend some time outside of classroom in the real world in a way that would shape my values and perspective and identity and sense of purpose in a way that I knew, you know, my freshman year of college couldn’t. So in many ways ever since then, since I was 18. And looking for something like global citizen, you’re I have been fixated on how to bring this into the world.


Scott D Clary  06:40

And walk people through like what global citizen year actually is. Because I think it’s a very novel concept, right? I think a lot of people explore after college after university. But that’s, that’s not what you’re looking to achieve. So tell me tell me about that.


Abby Falik  06:53

Well, the Insight is, the sooner we can develop a set of practices that help us recognize our own agency resilience, ability to take risks, insight that there’s no path, we’re forging the path as we go. The sooner a young person develops that sense, the further from the origin, they end up and in so many cases, we wait till a midlife crisis, or you know something later in life that shifts your perspective. But what if it became normative that 18 year olds had an experience that was like a rite of passage that shaped their orientation and in our view, and orientation around what they can do to line up their talents and abilities with what the world needs most kind of as a counter force, once they’re then in college of being swept along, a counterforce to all the pressures that say, optimize for your own personal advancement, maximize profit generation for yourself or your entity. What does it look like to embed a sense of civic responsibility that extends so far beyond yourself and personal gain, but to hold people in our planet as, as your bottom line? US what global system your does, which I didn’t answer at all. We’re a nonprofit on a mission to redesign a life stage emerging adulthood, so that young people worldwide have an experience of themselves in the world, whether it’s through travel and immersion, or a very intensive online leadership course that we’ve designed, that helps young people find their people their purpose, their power to drive impact, and that that is then the foundation from which they begin the rest of their life.


Scott D Clary  08:33

And you basically emulate the experience that you had, as a child when you’re pushing people out of their comfort zone, right? Because I think you you actually put them in parts of the world where they’re spending time with with other cultures, other families, and they’re not in their comfort zone. That’s part of it. Correct?


Abby Falik  08:49

That’s huge. That’s a huge piece of it. And for me, I ended up going straight to college, because there wasn’t something like global citizen here. And that I, I took a year off during college, and I was living and working in Latin America. And I wasn’t in a study abroad, I wasn’t in a formal program, I was on my own. And the experience was more formative than anything I had in my formal education. And that was a key and foundational insight for me was, the things that we give credentials and credit for, are quite disconnected from the skills and abilities that are actually most essential to building a meaningful life and to being a human who’s equipped to thrive in the world as it changes. And so my mission has been how do we create the right amount of structure, not everybody’s going to take a backpack and a, you know, book of Portuguese verbs and show up in a Brazilian city to figure it out? I mean, I’m glad I did it that way. And at the same time, there were real constraints to what I was able to learn. So what we do is take that experience and scaffold it with a cohort of peers with a curriculum with a coach and adult who guides you through the experience. We don’t want to stifle your learning, but we want to keep you in your stretch zone. And, you know, we talk about either everyone has a comfort zone, a stretch zone and a panic zone. But we only learn in one of those regions. And our job is to hold kids in the stretch so that they can become who they’re supposed to be.


Scott D Clary  10:11

What I think is interesting is, so I want to talk about education. And I want to talk about our traditional systems. And I want to talk about why I think education is broken. And then I also think you take it a step further, which is incredible to actually I’ve never made that argument before. But this is why I like speaking to you in particular, because I think traditional education is broken. And I think that there’s some merit to it. But I really do believe that just a more entrepreneurial focus education framework is important. But then you take it a step even further than that, you layer on civic and social responsibility. But I still feel like we’re two steps away, I feel like we have to like move away from traditional and entrepreneurial when that seems to be like the de facto, then, then we can start to understand how do we because we were just just before we went on, or like, how do we change social entrepreneurship into just entrepreneurship? Or how do we just make it that, and it’s not the de facto by any means. That’s why we still have conversations about what is social entrepreneurship versus just regular. So let’s talk about education. And then I also want to define what social entrepreneurship is and what it isn’t. And I think that’s an interesting point as well. What What are your opinions? Like? What are your opinions on education? What is the existing system set up to achieve? How do we fix change, modify all of that institution into something that can actually create smarter, better, more impactful, whatever that word is? People coming out of, you know, their 20s into their 30s, I guess it will actually their teens into their 20s. Sorry,


Abby Falik  11:38

yeah, the paradigm hasn’t changed in generations. It’s a factory model of education, where we see students as inputs, we see a teacher as sort of embedding knowledge, that then needs to be typically regurgitated on a final exam, and then somebody gives you a credential because you’ve checked a set of boxes. The problems with this are that we live in a world where robots can already pass the college entrance exams, literally. So we’re teaching the tests that robots can pass and every most efforts around education reform are just trying to include proof test outcomes. But once you recognize that, you know, the the metrics are actually the wrong things to be measuring on, we need to step back and say, this sort of standardized one size fits all approach, that’s breeding conformity. That’s, that’s making kids risk averse. I mean, High School is a high stakes game to get into selective college in the US today. And what that means is that kids are terrified of exploring their interest or their curiosity until they know that they can do it well, right, there’s such a fear of failure. And yet, if you zoom out and look at what the world will require of a young person, today, you know, the, the jobs they’ll hold have not been invented, yet. They need to know their own. I would call it like what you said Scott, about their entrepreneurial power. And, and when I talk about entrepreneurial, being entrepreneurial with your life or with your education doesn’t mean go out and be a quote, entrepreneur, it doesn’t mean everybody needs to start a business. In fact, you know, that would be disastrous. But what it does mean is seeing yourself as in the driver’s seat, because if you’re not in the driver’s seat, you’re in the passenger seat, and you’re just being pulled along passively. But what the world needs is everyone to know their ability to drive their own car, to choose their own path.


Scott D Clary  13:39

But when you take people out of this, this setting, and you do immerse them in a different type of education, I think it that imbues civic responsibility, but how does that teach them entrepreneurship? How does that? How does that teach them entrepreneurship in the urine, you’re in control of your own destiny. Think outside the box, learn thing, learn how to learn so that you can have a job that hasn’t been invented yet. And 10 years from now, how does that solve for that?


Abby Falik  14:05

Well, so we see the Global Citizen year as the equivalent of a year of your education, you did have your senior year of high school and then you move toward a global citizen here, but it is a year defined on your own terms. So there’s not a syllabus, there’s not a final exam, the you are in charge of finding your teachers. It might be your four year old, whose sister in the home, you’re living in a community in Senegal. It might be the physician at the clinic where you’re supporting an apprentice in Pune, India, and there’s there’s an opportunity to consider and most 18 year olds who have been sort of shuttled along this conveyor belt have never stopped to think what do I learn when it’s not required? Who are my teachers when they’re not assigned? What are the things that light me up or break my heart that I can’t not do some



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Abby Falik  16:00

think about. And so I really appreciate, Scott, that you’re making this link between a sort of civic and social engagement approach and an entrepreneurial orientation. Because I think that gets at the heart of what drives me in the world is how do we equip Gen Z, to see themselves at the intersection of those two things.


Scott D Clary  16:20

That’s where I think that that’s where I think that we have to solve for that’s what you’re solving for. That’s what I think we do have to solve for. And I want to now this is what I want to understand what what is social entrepreneurship, what isn’t. And I asked that because if somebody’s looking at, for example, like a, like an Elon Musk, and he’s, you know, putting people on Mars, and he’s creating an electric car, and he’s doing all these incredible things. And he’s like, Well, that’s advancing humanity. How is that not to the benefit, but ultimately, that’s driving incredible profits, your shareholders stakeholders, obviously, he’s incredibly wealthy himself. So how do we define what social entrepreneurship is? What isn’t it? Is there some gray area for some causes? Or is it very black and white?


Abby Falik  17:01

Oh, it’s definitely not black and white,


Scott D Clary  17:03

I think nothing is


Abby Falik  17:04

very, very few things are ever black and white. And I think that the lines between you know, what we’ve called entrepreneurship and social entrepreneurship partnership are blurring. I think the lines between the sector’s the traditional sort of nonprofit for profit, public sector distinction, also totally blurring and frankly, don’t make sense anymore. I think those are outmoded, and not useful designations in many ways. For me, my favorite definition of entrepreneurship is the pursuit of resources, the person sorry, the pursuit of an opportunity, independent of the resources under control. It’s this notion of stepping off a cliff and having confidence that you will assemble the airplane or the parachute as you before you land. But it’s a pursuit of an opportunity before you know where the resources come from. And in social entrepreneurship. I think that the opportunity you’re pursuing holds people on our planet, and in some sense of social purpose as your bottom line. I think we get tied in circles when we think about double and triple bottom line businesses. So this is probably the gray area where you know, when push comes to shove at the end of the day, and you’re making decisions as a leader of an entity, one line is on the bottom period. So we set ourselves up as a not for profit Global Citizen, you’re by design so that we could be clear that impact and not profits, at the end of the year were were the singular bottom line. That doesn’t mean we don’t raise money or think about revenue strategically. We’re fine paying customers. It just creates a clarity about To what end we will make decisions when things are murky.


Scott D Clary  18:48

Very smart, and how do you measure impact,


Abby Falik  18:52

transformative experiences for young people who wouldn’t have otherwise had them, we have a framework for training and measuring what we call the real 21st century skills. Our E A L is our resilience, empathy, agency and leadership. And leadership we define not as a position or an arrival point or a title or salaries, leadership as a practice, and their set of behaviors that we believe our leaders need to exhibit. It’s practicing curiosity before judgment, aligning your life with your convictions have encouraged to do hard things connecting across lines of difference to build empathy. And our belief is that we can embed those behaviors and practices in young people when they’re 18. And create a community that supports them in continuing to exhibit them as they move into their careers. So over time, it’s about launching new leaders who will approach their sense of responsibility in a completely different way.


Scott D Clary  19:49

And how do you as because obviously, businesses don’t operate in silos. So how do you convince the shareholders the stakeholders, the investment, the philanthropy Is how do you convince them that this is the model that’s going to move the needle in the future? Because that’s probably a very difficult conversation. That’s, that’s half the battle with social entrepreneurship, right? It’s how do you how do you get everybody on board with it?


Abby Falik  20:14

When I have an opportunity to sit with somebody, and if they are open, to listening, and to reflecting on their own lived experience, it’s pretty universal, that education was formative. It’s fairly universal, that there’s a distrust and frustration with the way that leaders across sectors are approaching their roles and responsibilities. And it’s not a leap of faith to then recognize that if we want the future to look better than the present, the input to that shared future is changing the way we approach education, the status quo will get us more of the same. And revolutionising our approach to education gives us a shot at actually preparing young leaders, a new new cadre of leaders who are more representative, more courageous, more humble, more empathetic, and who can actually outpace the existential challenges we’re up against.


Scott D Clary  21:10

Incredible so when, when you’re when you work with the so this is this is something that you’ve noticed, like it’s just a matter of having the right conversations. Like, I guess, I always hear the opposite. I always hear how do we how do we remove that that fiscal component because at the end of the day, people just care about that, that hard bottom line. And even even one of the quotes that you put out is, I think the last few years, it’s an opportunity or sorry, it may have been like a someone else’s quote, I don’t mean to misquote you. But it was the last year it was an opportunity to disrupt the status quo. But most most philanthropists just reinforced the status quo. So obviously, it’s not it’s evident if I get Abby in front of somebody, but how do I multiply? Abby? How do I get Abby ingrained in in what VC firms what you know, what? Andreessen Horowitz or BlackRock? How do I get that level of honor of investor to, to sort of follow this framework that that you’re that you’re living and breathing and evangelizing and championing because I agree with you. But it also has to be the big players, the soft banks that that also believe in this right?


Abby Falik  22:23

Well, to start, my goal is certainly not to replicate the app as I think there are.


Scott D Clary  22:28

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Abby Falik  23:13

Yes, Brittany for varied backgrounds and and exposures and experiences and minus just one slice. But I do believe that what we’re doing is create a it’s kind of like a Trojan horse approach here. When I think about you know, a nonprofit speak we talk about a theory of change, what are the various assumptions we have about what can move the needle over time. And for us, it’s that theory is foundational around leadership. It says if we can identify young people on the cusp of adulthood before they’ve landed their decisions about what to study and what careers to pursue. And we can rewire their orientation around the things that matter most to the world, that we are then seating these high achievers who are impact first oriented into positions of power and influence across the soft banks and across the, you know, all industries and sectors. So it’s really beginning through an approach that changes the sort of creates a an army, a movement of young people who can help live and act and reflect a different approach to you know, what it will take to save us on this show.


Scott D Clary  24:30

Appreciate that. It’s it’s a smart strategy. And if you are going to speak to somebody who’s earlier on in their career, and maybe they want to figure out where they should end up next in their career, they may even want to start a company. What is your advice for starting that company or, or what direction they could move it? I guess more it’s probably more applicable to if they want to start a company because realistically, if you do want to make an impact, there’s probably organizations that you would gravitate towards anyways that are that like their vision is aligned with what you’d like To, you know, to be part of your career, but starting a company like Canvas is blank.


Abby Falik  25:05

Yeah, I mean, it can be in the social entrepreneurship space as well. So I think we have way too many nonprofits in the world and way too many college students starting new nonprofits, because it, you know, seems like a cool thing to do. And we hold that up on a pedestal and, and, you know, shower, those entrepreneurial leaders with awards. And I think what’s really needed is, you know, rather than thinking of ourselves as problem solvers, can we see ourselves as solution accelerators. So if you can see a figure out what’s working somewhere, and I think this applies in the social sector, and also in the business sector, figure out what’s working and take it to where it’s needed. And it is likely that the thing you’re passionate about, and envisioning and and sort of called to bring into the world has been tried in some contexts. So before you start anything, you got to become the world’s leading expert at the intersection of all the things that you’re trying to solve for. And then from there, it’s figuring out when what’s the right form for this? What’s the goal, what’s the ultimate purpose, you should figure out your tax status, IE or your nonprofit or for profit, based on the goal, not based on whether you want to, I’m always frustrated, when young people will come to me and say, Well, I really am a nonprofit person, or I want to work in a nonprofit. And to me, that doesn’t say a thing about what you actually do want. I mean, I think the term nonprofit is diminishing of what that whole sector exists to do, we should call it the for purpose or for impact sector. But I think young people shouldn’t define their passion or path based on the again, that sort of tax status of the organization, as opposed to what is it you’re here to get done? What role do you think you distinctively can play? Are you the founder leader? Are you the first mover? Are you the first follower, which is just as important? Are you an entrepreneur? Are you an intrapreneur? So it really comes down to knowing yourself and figuring out how you align what you’re distinctively good at and what gives you energy with a problem you’re really passionate about solving.


Scott D Clary  27:08

I think that that’s probably one of the smartest ways to frame entrepreneurship a solution accelerator, because there’s too many people that try and almost reinvent a problem that doesn’t even exist. To be honest, they’re trying to solve something or they’re trying to re you know, reinvent the wheel, and they don’t have to as an entrepreneur, they really don’t have to. That’s a very smart, I’ve never heard that before. I like that. That’s like a quote that’s a quotable for sure. Solution.


Abby Falik  27:34

Good. I’m sure I did not make it up. I wish I could attribute it correctly. But yeah, anything that’s worth quoting probably came in mishmash of my brain from all the people I look up to and learn from


Scott D Clary  27:45

you. You also you speak to incredible people too, and you bring them into into the global citizen, your community, one of the like, this is one quote that just stood out. And I just wanted to understand the context for this quote, because a lot of what you do is changing frameworks, changing lenses. I think it was with a conversation with Deepak Chopra. And he it was from that conversation? I’m not sure again, I don’t know where these quotes come from, if it’s him, or if it’s you commenting on on that talk, but it was how will we change the world from the inside out? What does that what does that mean, to you to us?


Abby Falik  28:19

Leadership is an inside job, happiness, meaningful life, all of that happens, it starts from the inside out. And I believe, you know, again, it comes to my theory of change. And our organization’s theory of change is that you can’t change the world until you change individuals first. And that begins by mapping, being as committed to understanding our inner landscape as the outer context. And our schools certainly never focus on that teaching self awareness, helping young people discern between different emotional states really develop a an intimate and evolving relationship with themselves. It sounds so trite or cheesy, but really, the only way we can change the world is by changing ourselves first.


Scott D Clary  29:15

You know, it’s funny, all the things that sound cheesy, all the all the things that are true. It’s so true. Like, you know, I’m gonna ask you, I’m gonna, this is my next question to you, you always you keep speaking about redefining leadership, and then we speak about how leadership is like, you know, it is one way and this is the way that we’ve always seen leadership and but it shouldn’t be a position or a title or a salary. But when you keep saying these things, you hear them again and again, we should redefine leadership, we should be socially conscious, we should look at the world through you know, we have to fix education. And then we have to, and also this, like this Deepak Chopra, we have to fix ourselves, our business from the inside out. It’s all true, but the issue is that it’s not actioned on enough. It’s there’s not enough change Do people like speaking to it? And people? It sounds great. But then I feel like maybe either we haven’t heard it enough or we cave to cave to what we’re comfortable with or I, I’ll take myself as an example. Obviously, I feel like leadership should be one way I feel like company should be run very much in line with what you the way that you speak about how companies should be run. But as as a as a business leader. I also, you know, in the conversations with the board, you start talking about the you’re not talking about impact. You’re talking about financials, you default to what’s what’s comfortable, and what’s defensible. And what’s normal. And actually, I’m going to ask you a question on that one first. And then I just want to talk a little bit about leadership. But when you find leaders that are listening to this, and they’re like, Yes, I do want to have more of an impact, I want to take my organization in one way, but I’m in this particular position. And when I report my q1 financials, my board doesn’t, you know, care that much about the impact that they’re when we’re not making the money that we’re supposed to be making? How do you remove yourself out of that position? How do you make your situation better, so that you can focus on or prop or perhaps better educate the people that you work with about that long term vision? What’s your leadership lessons for getting people on board with what you believe? How do you change that change management? That’s tough?


Abby Falik  31:25

I think if I’m understanding, right, it starts with the foundational purpose of the entity. And I think so many businesses have been founded, with a very singular and focused and easy to measure and define profit maximizing purpose, period. And I think it’s actually really hard. It’s not just about managing change around that it’s about a whole reset that says, whoa, as an entity we exist, what do you exist to do? Because what met what you measure is what gets done, it’s what you manage toward, and the form and the function of what you’re actually oriented around, follow from? What’s that Northstar? So I would just encourage people who are thinking of starting new businesses, to be very clear about what the purpose is, and and what externalities you’re accounting for, right? So you can have I don’t mean that those sort of profit maximizing orientation is necessarily bad. I think the problem is when you’re not then accounting on your balance sheet for all the externalities or harm you may be causing. So it doesn’t work for society to have companies, you know, maximize profits for shareholders with well ignoring other stakeholders, including humans and health and the planet’s sustainability. And then out of those profits, you give some of it away to help, you know, you’ve made the money in one hand, and you’re giving it away with the other to sort of often put band aids on problems that you may have contributed to solve it. So it’s just a much more holistic way that I think we need to see the role of the corporation in society, as accounting for its positive and detrimental contributions.


Scott D Clary  33:22

Very good. I love that. And it’s something that hopefully, if you are in an organization, you can you can move towards and start to bring up those ideas so that you’re right, if it’s a large organization, it’s hard if it wasn’t founded on the on the correct principles or, or principles that should be met should matter. But ultimately, that’s the direction you should be moving in.


Abby Falik  33:42

And I thought, Scott, as you’re talking, you’ve used the word should, these are the things we should be doing should be doing. And I just hear that as a little bit of a think that’s a really hard place for as a human to respond from, because it feels like an obligation or a corporate social responsibility is our responsibility. And so there’s something that needs to shift from the should to the must, to the I can’t not do it this way. Because of experiences I’ve had because of the way I see the world. And I think that’s where the clarity comes from. And we get quite mushy or gray. When there’s a well, we do it this way, but we should be doing it this way. And so I think the language may matter, as we’re inspiring people to think about new forms and functions for business.


Scott D Clary  34:34

Just want to take a second to thank the sponsor of today’s episode Now, you know if you’ve ever received a corporate gift or swag in the past, how many of those gifts did you actually keep? Probably not many, which is probably because the stuff that you got was not so great. I’ve gotten like a lot of stuff and trade shows and from companies in the past that I’ve just thrown out the second I get it. So this is why you need checkouts. I’ve been on on the receiving end of getting garbage gifts, I’ve also worked in companies where I only had access to a really, really small inventory of stuff that I wanted to give my customers and my employees. And I knew that it wasn’t going to resonate, I knew that was going to suck. So what is Well, it’s like swag upgrade, it’s the best place to buy custom gifts and swag that people will actually want to keep. So they sent me a box, because obviously, they’re sponsoring the show. And I wanted to see what it’s all about, you know, I’ve worked in businesses that want to make sure that the quality of their stuff actually was up to my standards, because I can tell you right now, that when I get garbage, it goes right into the trash it like really goes right into the trash is that gonna get back from the tradeshow or the conference, or whatever. So I received one of the custom swag boxes from, I loved the unique packaging. So it was a beautiful unboxing experience. I love the actual products they sent me and there’s a whole bunch more that obviously they didn’t send me. But the stuff that they did send was absolutely beautiful, it was very high quality. And I can only imagine that if I actually got this when I was working for companies, I probably would have actually use it. And to be honest, I’m going to start using them for people that work on my show. And in my company as well. Because I know it this isn’t just a novelty gift that somebody’s gonna throw, it’s stuff that they can actually use, they have so many unique and customizable gifts that I’ve never seen anywhere else. They have custom yoga mats, they have custom Apple air pods, they even have branded kayaks, which I did not know was a thing. So they carry all these premium brands like North Face, Yeti, Nike, and more. And it’s all customizable. With your company’s logo or artwork with, they take care of all of your swag at their warehouse, and they ship it to individual addresses. Or if you prefer, you can just send it to a bulk location in one single shipment. It’s easy to manage from their online portal, which you obviously get access to. So if this is something that you think would benefit you if you have clients, or customers or a team, and you want to go the extra mile and you actually want to give gifts that people appreciate, which is the whole point of giving these gifts in the first place. Go to for the perfect swag and custom gifts. Right now they’re giving everybody who’s a success story, podcast listener special offer. It’s 10% off your entire order, but only when you go to and enter promo code success 10. Remember, for 10% off, go to and use promo code success 10. I agree. That’s smart. I appreciate you catching me on that too. Because I’ve definitely I’ve definitely been part of organizations that haven’t cared about this. So it’s difficult to reframe the way you look at business, I think it’s I think it’s very important that you at least if you’re using that language, you’re already understanding without even if you use that language, then you have to understand that you’re already thinking from potentially not the right perspective. If you are using too much of a shirt versus a master this is how it this is how it has to be or this is what we’re doing. Like it’s almost like I liked I liked that a lot. Okay, very interesting. All right. I want to get your perspective on on leadership because I thought that was a good point as well. So let’s talk about what leadership is and what Leadership isn’t. From your definition, leadership is is what exactly how do you how do you become a leader what is a leader leader is not just a title, or a role or a salary leader is leadership is how you approach the world is what what is leadership and who can be a leader.


Abby Falik  38:37

Leadership is knowing your ability to exert power and influence from wherever you stand. Understand, it’s being grounded in a place that only you stand and only you know from the full accumulation of your experiences and, and life and view on the world. And it’s knowing that inside of you is an engine to make choices that inspire and influence people around you.


Scott D Clary  39:08

And every single person, every single person has that inside them. Absolute definitely absolutely has that inside them and it is not a role it is not a salary. And if you feel like you cannot influence you’re incorrect. So I would say on that on that a little bit more on whatever you do whatever you do in your life, it’s important to know that you do have that power


Abby Falik  39:34

or agency to your agency which I think is so essential, actually clear word in this was I thought a bit about this but thinking about you know in an era when big tech and social media hijack our attention and sell it unless we know our ability to choose how we respond on what we attend to what we invest in with our time and energy and resources. If we are just carried along without a sense of our own independent decision making ability, we end up in a, you know, a spot where there’s a threat of authoritarian leadership, or we are the product. And we live at a time that requires every human to know. In part two indeed talks about citizen to citizen as a verb, everybody knows their responsibility to contribute to solving problems big or small. Because without all of us having that orientation, we will just get sort of swept along and swept off a cliff. We need everybody to sort of see their power as change agents.


Scott D Clary  40:58

I love that. I want to, that’s a beautiful way to sort of wind this down, I want to pivot into some rapid fire questions as well, just great sites from you. Before I pivot, any final closing thoughts on on any of the topics we spoke about, on what you’d hope people take away from, like global citizen, citizen year, any of the work that you’ve done? Also, most importantly, where do people reach out to connect with you, and go learn more socials and websites and all of that.


Abby Falik  41:32

What I would say to anybody listening, who cares about contributing to a future that looks better than the present, is that we can’t miss this moment that the pandemic andati Roy wrote about the pandemic as a portal, a door that we’re walking through from one era of history into the next and we choose what we carry, and we choose what we leave behind. And in this race, to get back to quote, normal, I think so many sectors and industries are missing the opportunity to rethink everything. And my mission is to make sure we don’t miss the moment in reimagining education, to better align what young people most need to learn with what the world needs most. That’s That’s my view. And yeah, I You can find more on LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, I’m Abby phallic across each of those. And then through our website at Global Citizen, where we are constantly on the hunt for extraordinary young people coming out of high school, for speakers to come sort of join our faculty to present and train with our students. And for supporters. You know, we we raise a very significant scholarship fund each year to make sure that our experiences are accessible. And so always excited to find values aligned. philanthropists who see this as a vehicle for investing in in the kind of change they believe in


Scott D Clary  43:05

amazing, okay, let’s do a couple rapid fire. The biggest challenge you’ve overcome in your own life, what was it? How did you overcome it?


Abby Falik  43:16

Biggest challenge has been defining my self worth based on other people’s reactions and perspectives, that leads me into a place of being really hitched to what other people think about me. And I think that’s related to a human instinct around comparing always bigger or smaller than someone else. And it’s something I’ve done a lot of work on, and really feel like I’m starting to get free of which is knowing my own worth independent of other people’s judgments.


Scott D Clary  43:46

Amazing. And that’s something I’m pretty sure everybody is now suffering from due to social media, to some extent, even before social media, obviously. But I think even even more so now, because of how easy it is to see the perfect version of someone else’s life too. So it’s easy to really get lost in your own thoughts. That’s the big one.


Abby Falik  44:09

Yeah, yeah. And I think social media puts us in a position of comparing our insides to other people’s outsides.


Scott D Clary  44:16

You say everything I say just always a losing battle. Oh. I need you to like paraphrase everything I need to just keep you around. Yeah, we’re a good team here. Okay. If you had to choose one person, obviously, there’s been many but pick one person who has been incredibly influential in your life. Who was that person? What did they teach you?


Abby Falik  44:40

There are many I look up to so many other social entrepreneurs, people who are 1020 30 years ahead in this journey of driving social change and just being relentless and putting the mission before their own personal priorities. I think


Scott D Clary  44:58

other other other people that So named


Abby Falik  45:02

leaves the Equal Justice Initiative. I Jen poo the national the Domestic Workers Alliance. Wendy Kopp, the founder of Teach for America and now teach for all people who have aligned their talents and abilities and power with the kind of change that’s moving the world forward.


Scott D Clary  45:21

Amazing. A book podcast, something you’d recommend people to check out that’s influenced you.


Abby Falik  45:28

Every morning, I read some Pema children actually have it right here. This is my current favorite. This is sort of my Bible comfortable with uncertainty. But I find that if I just open to a page at random, be where you are, it may say, Make friends with your fear. Every day, it’s spot on. It’s like a stroke of magical serendipity in the morning. So read Panama, listen to Panama. So grounding,


Scott D Clary  45:55

amazing. If you could tell your 20 year old self one thing, what would it be?


Abby Falik  45:59

Things take the time they take, don’t worry.


Scott D Clary  46:04

Good advice. And then last question, what does success mean to you?


Abby Falik  46:09

Success means aligning my life with what I’m here for spending my time and my attention and my resources and my energy in the service of something bigger than myself and doing things that bring me more to life so that I have even more to contribute What’s up, y’all?



I’m David. And I’m justice and the

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