“Describe the most important way you have positively impacted the world?” (in 1000 characters or less)
Closing the laptop and kicking back from my kitchen counter, I realized that completing this application was going to take much more thought than I had first anticipated. I recently decided to apply to The Coaching Fellowship, an executive coaching program for emerging female leaders, and I was working on my submission. Hoping to crank out the questionnaire in an hour on a weekend afternoon, I was caught dead in my tracks by this question. “Impacted the world?” I wondered aloud.
I shouldn’t have been surprised. After all, this was exactly why the fellowship seemed like a fit. It was a clear opportunity to connect with other driven women and commit to the professional coaching I’ve been trying to figure out how to finance. And these women are rockstars: they’re top notch entrepreneurs, non-profit leaders, and innovators who work with the likes of the United Nations and Pinterest.
The question lingered with me for some time. Over a week, in fact. Finally, when talking with a colleague a few days ago, the answer emerged crystal clear:
I build networks and systems which shift people’s access to resources and education and allow them to pursue their own goals and live better lives.
This was true at Zipcar, where I worked in marketing and membership growth, ran business operations, and finally led Market Expansion in North America. In my last year, we grew into 7 new cities in 18 months, making car sharing available to cities with 10.6 million people. In all of my time with the organization, the moments that made me most proud were when a member would tell me that they were better off because of the service. When you’re building out a something that helps your neighbors save the $8000 a year that they previously spent on owning a car, that’s impact.
Today at Techstars, my work empowers entrepreneurs to bring new technologies to market. I set up new accelerator programs with corporate partners so startups have direct access to industry leaders and often describe my role as one of laying foundations and building bridges. Through this, my impact is greater than starting one company. My work is the soil for startup growth and for new connections between hundreds of people working on innovative ideas.
And that is the most important way that I have positively impacted the world.
Photo credit: Derya