November 19, 2018 | By Rachel Tao
Daniela Terminel, CEO of Global Health Corps, recently gave a TEDx Talk at TEDxGeorgetown. Global Health Corps is an organization that mobilizes a global community of engaging leaders to build the movement for health equality. They are building a network of young changemakers who share a common belief: health is a human right. Sound familiar? That’s because the Beeck Center for Social Impact + Innovation, a sponsor of this year’s TEDxGeorgetown, is also an organization that brings together students and practitioners to create solutions to systemic social problems. But the similarities don’t end there. Daniela’s talk on the qualities of leaders is similar to what the Beeck Center does for its students as they think about how they want to bring social impact into their careers.
Leaders live in discomfort. They trust themselves that despite discomfort, they are going in the right direction. It is not starting when you are ready, but rather it is starting before you are ready. You have to be the leader if you wish to be a leader in the first place. Similarly, the Beeck Center’s focus on using Data for Social Good focuses on pushing its fellows and students to ask tough questions that cannot be easily answered. Beeck Center student fellows, through the GU Impacts Fellowship program, are often thrust into a foreign country where they stay up to 12 weeks, anchored by a community host organization and tackling real-world, local challenges. These students are undoubtedly uncomfortable being in a new country with little supervision, but it is this discomfort that forces new ways of thinking in order to address problems, to identify solutions, and ultimately to drive impact in communities.
Leaders live among others who are not like them, enabling an inclusive approach to problem identification and problem solving. You can’t necessarily solve problems with those who think, act, and look like you. Progress largely occurs when you work with people who both challenge and support you. Leaders also cultivate relationships with others and are mentors or mentees. Don’t forget to forge relationships with those who can invest in you, but these mentors need curious and out-of-the-box-thinking young leaders like us. The Beeck Center’s focus on Impact Investing allows leaders to cultivate relationships with other students and organizations. The Center recognizes that the private market is critical to success, and so it fosters new partnership models because problems cannot be solved individually.
Leaders are constantly in a state of curiosity. There are endless opportunities for education and growth to make you a better leader. Cherish curiosity and be ready to be flexible and evolve. Innovation happens by “mininnovations” that build upon what others have created. Only by staying curious and asking questions with no easy answers are you able to create these “mininnovations” that foster change. The Beeck Center itself has been known for innovation, especially policy innovation, and so it’s no wonder that the Beeck Center encourages its leaders to be outcome-focused and create human-centered solutions. Their students and fellows are always curious as to how they can solve problems but also become better leaders.
Daniela ended her talk with “no matter what, you should commit to staying where leaders live.” But what surprised me the most was the fact that the Beeck Center itself is an incubator for leaders, which we often look past. You don’t need corporate companies to help you become a leader. Sometimes, all you need is a small organization that is dedicated to its students to help them become the best leaders they can by throwing them into uncomfortable situations, letting them work with students who are not like them, and having them live in a state of curiosity.