Creating Opportunities for a Diverse Workforce in Tech

Krista PeryerKrista Peryer is passionate about helping women, people of color, and anyone who is underrepresented to find a way into the tech industry. Krista says, “The great thing about it is the tech industry will never tap out on jobs. There will always be new jobs and new resources and that is why the tech industry is so fascinating to me is that it’s not just workforce development and economic development, but it’s personal development as well, because there’s endless opportunities to learn new things and to make yourself more valuable and to earn more money.”

That’s why five years ago, she co-founded The Geek Foundation, Inc. and for the first four years, Geek concentrated on partnering with the library and other community organizations to put on programs to expose children to tech in ways that helped them explore future job opportunities in the industry. She herself had hit the “gatekeeper mentality” in tech when she tried to enter the field. The white males working in it discouraged her, advising that unless you’d spent your life in tech, it would be too difficult.

Krista refused to believe that. She loves tech and was a mathlete as a child. Also, every tech company needs employees. They are constantly hiring and there aren’t enough people to fill the jobs. She sought a traditional degree, but found that for what she wanted to do, she would need to go to school another six years. Then she talked to the people who hired for the tech companies. They said that as long as the applicant could pass their technical exam, they didn’t need a 4-year degree. Krista arrived at the conclusion that college degrees are great for some things, but certain positions in tech, like front-end developers and IT positions, are thought of as a skilled trade, rather than a college-bound profession.

The Geek Foundation Wins Its First Grant

In 2019, The Geek Foundation partnered with The Northwest Project, Drew Lewis Foundation and Pitt Technology Group and won the Collective Impact Grant from The Community Foundation of the Ozarks– $24,000 to develop a curriculum for a three to five month program to result in useful and relevant IT certifications to help place more low-income women into second-tier information service positions. Krista said when COVID hit, they refused to let it slow them down, so instead of having spring and fall classes, they put on two classes in June: one in online web development and a second in IT. Krista said announcements were sent out through organizations like SingleMomzRock ( and Minorities in Business. Both classes were full in two weeks. And half the students were women. Krista is really excited to see what happens when they open the classes up to the public. And the larger goal is to expand into more communities, across the nation and around the world.

The Impact of Working in Tech on Low Income Neighborhoods

Krista is a big picture thinker. She imagines that giving women and other under-represented people access to tech can transform individual lives, neighborhoods, cities and the world. She runs through the issue. Suppose someone is making the federal poverty level of $17,000 a year. Average starting pay in tech jobs is $40,000 to $60,000 a year, with health benefits. Imagine how that can transform a family and the neighborhood they live in. A larger tech workforce in the community would attract more tech companies to the city and that would create a greater need for a skilled workforce. Individual quality of life improves with well-paid jobs and economic prosperity is shared by the larger community.

The Future of Tech

Listen to this conversation for more about how Krista sees the future for tech, the maker industries including robotics, wearable technologies like Google glasses and other possible branches for positions. Dr. Nancy and Krista also discuss what stops women from going into STEM fields and why it’s all nonsense. Krista says that with social media we have more ways to change our perspective and get over artificial hurdles for women in tech. Check out The Geek Foundation website and sign up for their newsletter to receive notices of new programs when they happen. For specific questions, e-mail

Redefining Business as a Tool for Building a Better World

Stacy_Jurado_MillerNine years ago, Stacy Jurado-Miller started and built a business with her husband called the Vecino Group, which became a $100 million real estate company devoted to building a better world, one community and one development at a time. She did this with no experience or interest in real estate development, but with a belief that if you develop a business with the goal of building a better world, that business will be successful. Stacy says that the traditional model of business for profit was developed by men. This male-driven capitalism model has brought us to where we are today. Stacy calls herself a passionate communicator and says, “The thing I’m most passionate about at this moment in time is the untapped power of using business to build a better world.” In fact, she says any business can be redefined as a tool for a mission-driven business and the pandemic right now presents a huge opportunity for change.

Gender Equity and Redefining Leadership

Stacy says the question for women is do we want to change the world by continuing to work our jobs within the traditional male-driven companies or is it quicker to develop our own system and create a new path for change? Feeling frustrated in her traditional company, Stacy’s passion for nearly four years has been the lack of gender equity and how traditional business defines leadership. Male-driven business values assertive competitive risk-takers as the natural best leaders. Whereas Stacy thinks it’s very contrary to that and says, “I think if you’re a good listener, if you’re empathetic, if you can identify what people are saying and what they’re needing, and play to that, that’s true leadership.” So in January, she took a leap of faith and quit her job, even though she says she is as proud of that company as she is her children.

Work That Doesn’t Feel Like Work

Then in March COVID-19 hit along with stay-at-home orders, homeschooling and all the rest. But like a lot of us, Stacy has had time to think. And one of the things she is thinking is that if you turn your passion into your business, you can’t help but succeed. She says that when you pursue something that creates fire in your belly, you will do it every day. Work doesn’t feel like work. And barriers get dissolved.

Barriers that Stop Women Starting Their Own Companies

Stacy says that women face two sets of barriers. Our internal barriers are confidence and insecurity, and that women feel they need to have everything figured out before we will do something. Of the external barriers, Stacy thinks funding is the biggest hurdle. Women founders have trouble raising capital because of the traditional ways success and leadership are defined by men. She says that if the potential looks different, investors see it as too risky. In fact, Stacy sees it as less risky and a more solid investment.

Stay-tuned to find out where Stacy’s vision will take her next. In quitting her position at the company she helped found and grow, she realized that she could do it all again with another business. One that truly ignites her fire in her own belly in ways that feel like personal activism for female equity.

Listen to this interview for more of Stacy’s personal story and how she and Dr. Nancy believe women will change our traditions and redefine business to build a better world.

A Strong Woman’s Voice for the People in Congress

Stephanie RimmerStephanie Rimmer is answering the call to transform our government into a body that serves the interests of the people. She’s running for Congress in the 6th District in Arizona and her primary is on August 4. Stephanie is driven to fix the things she sees that are broken: lack of pre-kindergarten education, lack of healthcare for many, widespread poverty, environmental  sustainability, lack of government accountability, tax incentives for small business and entrepreneurs, effective job training and much more. As a mother of four daughters, Vice President in charge of Finance and Operations for Rimmer Lighting, LLC, which she owns with her husband and a life-long public servant, Stephanie wants to build a strong future for the next generation. She has studied and made lists of policies for 20 years that Congress could reverse and transform the wrongs that are actually hurting American citizens rather than supporting them.

Why Elect Women to Congress

Stephanie says that what has been lacking in our country is the exposure to real world problems that women are solving every day in our communities. She notes that these are experiences you can’t come into contact with while you’re busy building a resumé. You get them by volunteering for the Boys and Girls Clubs, The American Heart Association or Feed My Starving Children. By serving on boards, helping develop strategic community plans, working on international trade relations for American-made products, raising children who you protect, guide and equip to lead healthy productive lives and to be the next generation of leaders. Stephanie says that she isn’t worried about her political career, only about being effective. Simply put, Stephanie says, “We need women who are not building careers, but who are building the future. And that is what I represent.”

Stephanie Rimmer Platform

As a mom, Stephanie thinks children first. In this conversation, Dr. Nancy brought up the ERA and Stephanie responded that what the ERA would do is give everyone, not just women, equality from the first moment of life, before thought or being able to choose whether you want to be a boy or a girl. That levels the field for everyone and that is key to two of her platform issues:

  1. Medicare for infants. Stephanie says that once you have healthcare, no one can take it away. She argues that people who propose moving the age of Medicare recipients to 50-something are only tweaking the real problem, which is lack of healthcare, and a lack of care for the most vulnerable populations.
  2. Federally funded pre-kindergarten. Stephanie says that in her home state of Arizona, English as a second language holds children back. Everyone is qualified for Head Start, but many don’t know it. Their children get no pre-kindergarten education and are not ready to learn when they get to kindergarten. They’re behind before they begin.

There are many more points to Stephanie’s platform. Check out the complete list here: And check out the remainder of her website. Follow her on Facebook at Rimmer4Congress, and on Twitter and Instagram.

Listen to this interview for more of Stephanie’s personal story, and how she doesn’t feel different from other women who just do what must be done in the reality of life. As she says, “Life happened. I was never afraid to take on more and do more and I’ve never found it to be problematic and overwhelming.” Stephanie says that the hundred new people we elected to Congress don’t know the reforms we need, but she firmly believes that she does know and is ready to step forward and be a strong woman’s voice for the people of Arizona.


How Girl Up Initiative Uganda Empowers Girls to Lead

How Girl Up Initiative Uganda Empowers Girls to LeadMonica Nyiraguhabwa stored her experiences of injustice as a young girl in the slums of Kampala, Uganda, to fuel her passion to empower girls to lead, to know they are important, help them find their voices, and use their many talents to “Girl Up” similar to how boys are taught to man up. Monica’s own desire for leadership was stalled by the fact that she was too poor to have shoes and all the family’s limited resources went to her younger brother—his educational needs, uniform, etc. Girls are not a priority in Ugandan culture and most do not finish school. It wasn’t until Monica went to a Catholic high school and met a teacher who convinced her of her self-worth that she began to shine. Her grades improved and two college degrees later, she met Kimberly Wolf, a young American girl, with a like-minded passion to help empower girls. Kimberly supplied $100 as seed money and the two young women co-founded Girl Up Initiative Uganda.

“I think this has to stop and it stops with me.”

In college Monica says that her education helped transform her ideas into reality. She began to understand the issues of patriarchy and gender bias. Combined with her unmet needs as a child, she describes it as an accumulated hunger to respond to the injustices she had endured. She went to work for a women’s rights group, which was where she met Kimberly. When Kimberly addressed the problem of the lack of money, Monica said that she didn’t need money. She said, “I was the capital. I knew I could speak.” Monica used the $100 to buy snacks for children, starting the momentum with one school, as a part time effort. Today, they’re in 20 schools, with over 2,000 students and doing this program for the whole year.”

It’s important to empower adolescent girls, Monica says, while they are still naïve and haven’t accepted the limitations that culture has placed on them. The program is also holistic, supporting girls with educational and economic needs. She explains that if girls don’t have sanitary supplies during their monthly period, they won’t go to school. Also, many of them are going hungry, so nourishment is also important for Girl Up to support. Finally, they teach them skills to use their creativity and help them support themselves. And they mentor them in the way Monica herself was mentored by her teacher to understand they are worthy and important and can become a change-agent in their own families and communities.

Women are the best investment in the future

Monica says that women give the best return on investment. She says that she really believes in women because when you pass the right information on to a woman, she will share it with her children. It’s in our character. We want to speak the truth and share that wisdom with other women. In fact, she is delighted about the new Big Sisters Camp for the alumni of the Adolescent Girls Program. Read more about it and other Girl Up programs here.

Nancy expressed a concern over the lack of women in world leadership, and how if women and men supported other women in leadership, anything would be possible. Monica agreed. She said, “I believe you a hundred percent. And I think if we are to fix leadership crisis in the world, then women need to take charge of the world.” Nancy replied, “Well Monica, I think it’s time for you and I to take charge. It’s time.”

Greatest Need Is Partnerships

While Monica mentions that with the current COVID-19 crisis, Girl Up is challenged to figure out how to operate amidst the pandemic. Schools are closed; dawn to dusk curfews are in place. But she anticipates this time will be short. The biggest challenge is keeping people fed, because like in the U.S., the people of Uganda are experiencing economic hardships. Watch this video for more about what is being done now.

The organization’s biggest need is partnerships. As the Girl Up Initiative grows, Monica feels the need to partner with different organizations who are doing similar work. She says that they haven’t created Girl Up alone. They have benefited from other organizations offering them advice, support, resources and introducing them to different networks. To continue to grow, Monica says that partnerships among people working toward similar goals is crucial.

Listen to this interview for more valuable information, more of Monica’s personal story and Dr. Nancy’s views on how much better off the world would be if we would understand that we’re all equally important. Check out Girl Up website for ways to support their work, and to learn more about how they are empowering girls to lead and keeping hope alive.

Calling All Men—Stand Up and Advance Women

Jeffery_Tobias_HalterCorporate gender strategist Jeffery Tobias Halter is calling on men to put action behind their claim of being male allies. Jeffery is the leading expert on engaging men to advance women and he says it’s fine to say you’re an advocate for gender diversity and inclusion, but the follow-up question is what are you doing about it? He says that men need to do more than simply mentor or be an ally for women. They need to get out front and pull women up to advance them at the same rate as men. He points out that gender equity has been stuck in relatively the same place for 20 years, but things are changing. He reports that the white guys like himself (boomer men) are retiring at a rate of 10,000 per day. These were the figures prior to the COVID-19 shift in workforce numbers.

Jeffery says this exodus is causing a macroshift where the workforce will look significantly different than it does today with jobs being filled by women, millennials, and people of color. However, with the pandemic, companies are going to have to reorganize and restructure. Those that were operating fragile business environments and don’t get the need to strategically advance the new diverse workforce will ultimately be the huge losers and probably close their doors. To make his point he says, “When did Sears figure out it was Sears? 20 years too late.”

What Makes Men See the Need to Advance Women

Why Women bookAs President of YWomen, Jeffrey conducts business to business programs for men (no women in the room) to talk about being advocates. He says, “These are the opposite of the me-too knuckleheads. These guys are never going to make a headline. They are just great leaders and great managers.” But no matter how much most of them want to be advocates, the real motivator is a personal connection with a woman, especially if they have a daughter. He says male advocates can practice all of the other skills, but if they aren’t helping advance the women who are working with them, their daughters will face the same issues as women today, making only 83% of their son’s wages, lack of promotions they deserve and little chance of making it to the c-suite.

His book, WHY WOMEN, The Leadership Imperative to Advancing Women and Engaging Men, spells out exactly what is needed to advance women in the workplace. As the first man to write a book on advancing women, Jeffery sees women as an organization’s most valuable asset and feels it is absolutely critical for businesses to understand this and hold their men accountable for the advancement of women. He calls men 80% of the problem, but  says they are also 80% of the solution since they hold the management jobs that are responsible for bringing women up through the ranks.

More Resources at YWomen.Biz

Listen to this interview for more of Jeffery’s ideas about what managers need to do to improve their strategies for advancing women. Check out his website,, for more information, his white papers, including “Women on a Broken Rung.” and watch his TEDx St. Louis Women presentation. Jeffery invites all listeners to take the quiz on his website to find out how you rank as an advocate for women. Are you just thinking about it or are you doing something? Jeffery says just thinking isn’t enough. We all have to work together to help women advance.  Read WHY WOMEN and find out how.

Trust and Building Relationships One Conversation at a Time

Stacey EngleWhen Stacey Engle joined Fierce Conversations, there were only six people on the team. Now, with corporate offices in Seattle and Stacey serving as President, Fierce, Inc. is adapting its business-to-business training to equip both individuals and companies with the tools to have conversations to develop deep connections and trusting relationships that blend the personal-professional world of work while social distancing.

Stacey has always been a people person and a self-proclaimed “off-the-charts extrovert.” Although she didn’t know there was a corporate training industry when she began her business career, a few years later when she found Fierce Conversations, it was a perfect match. She became president at 33 and she has been a key driver to its double-digit growth, including a 30% sales growth in 2018. Stacey says that people avoid conversations, thinking they’re going to be difficult or tough. What is tough for you may not be very tough for someone else. The biggest mistake is avoiding them, because the missing conversations are the most costly. She says that it’s not about self-confidence necessarily. It’s about having “some core knowledge of self,” and always showing up as that person that creates trust.

“We All Experience Reality Differently. And There Isn’t One Right Way.”

In a typical working day, Stacey says almost any company and any professional, not just the leaders will have six conversations. She describes them as coaching, giving feedback, confronting, creating accountability and getting perspectives. Conversations become tough when we let them build up around issues we’ve avoided talking about. At Fierce, they provide tools for distinguishing between confrontation and feedback. Feedback is strictly a curiosity—naming something you witnessed without citing the impact and assumptions based on your own judgements. This is very different from the old methodologies used by companies where people are asked to analyze the issues. Stacey says there is no one right way. And everyone, especially leaders have to “interrogate” reality to really understand what’s true.

Stacey says that there is no status quo. You’re either going one way or another. People often object that their company’s culture doesn’t support certain actions that the trainers at Fierce suggest. Stacey says that when you’re having a conversation, you are the culture. You need to go ahead and have conversations that you’re afraid of. There’s uncertainty for everyone. You have to trust in yourself and go forward. There are repercussions whether or not you have the conversation.  Trust starts one conversation at a time.

Free Online Mini-Course from Fierce Inc. Now Available!

woman and his dog sitting at the kitchenStacey is excited to announce a mini-course for every single individual. Since we’re all having tough conversations right now working remotely amongst our partners, our children and our pets, the blending of personal and professional life is accelerating. Stacey said this mini-course is less work-oriented and provides personal stories from three generations of Fierce Conversations leaders: herself, the founder and CEO Susan Scott and the SVP of Learning Ronna Detrick, downloadable tools and actionable insights.

Listen to this conversation for more insights into what matters in the world of building personal and professional relationships. And check out Fierce Conversations website for more tools on their blog and other ways to engage with them and learn to build relationships one conversation at a time.

Most of all sign up for their free mini-course: In less than 30 minutes, you can learn how to have the conversations that strengthen your relationships with the people who matter most in your life. Enroll today!

The Art of Giving as a Way of Life

Sarah FergusonSarah, Duchess of York, is a global humanitarian, businesswoman, author, producer and self-proclaimed “philanthrepreneur” who firmly believes that giving saved her life. She says that she is a Celtic woman and attributes her comeback spirit to her Irish and Scottish DNA, and her “red-haired Boadicea strength.” When life and the future seemed bleak, her belief in goodness and kindness, in life and faith, and bestowing that on someone else restored it to herself. She quotes her grandmother who said, “When you feel bad about yourself, give to others.” When the Duchess felt bad, she would go out and do something to help someone else, and that would help her realize how lucky she is.

Lead by Example

The Duchess says that she does not preach to people, but leads by example. For instance, if she were a woman in a refugee camp, she would want personal hygiene for herself, clothes for her children, seeds to plant so she could grow healthy food, and something productive for her husband to do. So when she founded Tasovčići in the former Yugoslavia, she provided those things, including abandoned farm machinery from northern England, which she had recycled into candle-making equipment. The men made candles, since there was no electricity in the camp.  She said, “Those candles burned for 36 hours and what does that give–light and hope. And I think the art of giving is wanting to give hope to somebody.”

Just Show Up and Be Yourself

The art of giving doesn’t require anything special. The Duchess says that all you have to do is show up. You don’t have to bring anything. Bring yourself. People want to feel that someone is listening. In its simplest form, the art of giving is being there for someone and wanting to give them hope. When Oklahoma City was bombed in the 1995, the Duchess followed the first responders into the building and met a woman on the second floor who needed help. She asked her what she could do for her. The woman asked her to save her grandson, P.J. The toddler was 18 months old and burned over 68% of his body. To do this, the Duchess partnered with FAO Schwartz to make replicas of her doll, Little Red, which she sold for $20 each to create a fund to save children like P.J. Little Red has since gone on to save many children and has written an entire series of children’s books.

Making Giving a Lifestyle

Listen to this conversation for many ideas of how giving can become a lifestyle choice. The Duchess says to choose joy every day, and be kind to others whether or not they are kind to you. Check out the Duchess’s amazing charities, including Street Child and stay tuned for more information about Sarah’s Trust, her new tea, which she is calling “The Duchess Collection, a brew to help the crew,” and more children’s books coming from an Australian publisher.

The Duchess is particularly grateful for the American people. She says that Americans welcomed her when she joined Weight Watchers and helped her grow membership from six million to 30 million in 10 years. And she tells the amazing adventures of Little Red after Oklahoma City, including her window view from the 101st floor of the World Trade Center. Listen to hear the whole story and the fate of Little Red, “the long tale of hope,” and how her art of giving is branching out to help the world.

Relationships Are Catalysts for Success

Tish TimesTish Times teaches clients that relationships are at the core of their success, and the primary relationship they may need to work on is their relationship with themselves.

Tish is President of Tish Times Networking & Sales. She’s on a mission to help clients own their value, find sales confidence, and make life-changing income so they can transform their world to one of perpetual success.

Tish speaks from the heart about her own struggles with self-confidence and self-doubt. She had a solid foundation—a father who taught her through his own actions that, if she didn’t like something, she had the power to change it. She also had a mother who was wonderful in the service of others but struggled with her own lack of self-worth, showing one side to the world and another to her observant daughter. The result is Tish’s built-in resilience and awareness to know the difference between things you need to face and things you need to change. Most of all, Tish made a pact with herself never to change who she is. She says, “I am who I am through the grace of God. I don’t believe I could do anything else but that.” With all that she has experienced, she also says, “I am standing here today a woman with huge dreams and a lot of aspirations and desires to do great things to help change the world.”

Asking Questions Key to Getting the Right Fit

Tish defines sales as “the process by which you get someone from where they are to where they have said they want to be.” Along the way, there will be objections and considerations, but you have to ask the right questions to find out what those are and how to solve them. She says that you have to get past wearing the “sales hat,” which is all about me-me-me, and switch to the service hat, which is about helping your customer get what he/she wants.  Then it becomes a transactional sale where both you and your customer get what they want. This requires building a relationship.

Tish says that women are very good at relationship-building but tend to keep it social and have trouble getting to the sale. Men, on the other hand, get quickly to the sale, but it may be a one-time thing. On the surface, they may seem more successful and might make more money, but long-term, relationship-building produces greater rewards. She says, “The fortune is in the follow-up, but the relationship is the currency that gets us to that place of being able to follow up.”

Tips for Women to Be Successful in Sales

  1. Of course, Tish’s first tip is to believe in yourself. She says that no one is born self-confident. You have to remind yourself what you have accomplished, how you have already succeeded and become your own cheerleader.
  2. Next, women need to own their own platform. They have to recognize that they got where they are by their own merit. No one else did it for them, and they cannot allow anyone, not even themselves, to make them feel less-than.
  3. Finally, women need to put themselves out there and have the uncomfortable conversation. Whether you are looking for a job, asking for a raise or presenting to a new client, keep putting yourself in that uncomfortable conversation, and practice it over and over until it becomes more comfortable.

Unstoppable Sales Academy

Listen to this conversation for more insights into how Tish has created generational customers—those business friends where their families, their neighbors, and their friends of friends have also become customers. And check out Tish’s website,, for more information about her current Unstoppable Sales Academy training course, books, online events and other services to help you learn strategies and spearhead your business to a whole new level of success.



Why the World Needs Dangerous Women

Pat Mitchell, Dangerous Woman

Pat Mitchell, Dangerous Woman

Pat Mitchell declares herself to be a dangerous woman and is sounding the alarm to other women. She says that it’s a dangerous world and it needs us more than ever—needs our experience, our voices, our ability to bridge differences and forge collaborative alliances to right the many wrongs in the world. In her new book, Becoming a Dangerous Woman: Embracing Risk to Change the World, Pat tracks her own course from a childhood on a Southern cotton farm through confronting injustices of racism and equal rights and forming alliances to tell powerful stories as one of the first women broadcast journalists in the 70’s. Being a lifetime advocate for women and girls led her to zig-zag her way through a career in media, seeking out opportunities to tell women’s stories, and then charting many other firsts:  the first woman president of PBS and CNN Production, and winning the first Lifetime Achievement Award  from The Women’s Media Center, and over 30 Emmy Awards, multiple Peabody Awards, and an Oscar nomination along the way.

Pat says that she is on the dangerous side of 60 now, as many women are, and it’s time to speak up and use our power together. She says that women bring different approaches to problem-solving and she is working with women leaders from all sectors—elected officials, big civil society organizations, and every part of life—to help them step into the power and accept they have influence to make our world less dangerous.

Read Becoming a Dangerous Woman

Pat Mitchell, Dangerous Woman


Her book, Becoming a Dangerous Woman: Embracing Risk to Change the World, is a call to action for women to speak out against injustice, racism, sexism and violence against women. We need to speak up for the policies that matter and there are opportunities that may feel like small ways, but there is nothing trivial about injustice. This book is full of inspiration and ideas to help women see how they can help (no matter what their experience) by saying what they really think and feel. Check out Pat’s TED Talk for a brief overview of her message in the memoir.

Dangerous Women Support One Another

Pat says, “I think the most dangerous thing we can do in these dangerous times is show up for one another. Support one another.” The time for women to be polite and proper is over. Wherever women are making a difference—running for office, volunteering, organizing or teaching—support them. Campaign for them, join in and be part of that support network. She says that she has worked with women all “around the world who have truly redefined the meaning of the world community. When there’s a crisis in their community—and crises are every day now.”

Listen to this conversation for more of Pat’s story and Pat and Dr. Nancy’s experiences at women’s conferences. Check out Pat’s website and read her blog for more ideas about how you can make the world a safer place by engaging that dangerous advocate within that will speak out for change. Pat says, “I now make it a point of looking around the room, every table we sit at, and going, ‘Hmmm, who’s not here? Who’s not represented? Whose voices are not being heard,’ and speaking up about it instead of being quiet and nice about it. That’s part of being dangerous.”

How to End Poverty and Social Injustice

How to End Poverty and Social Injustice

Topher Wilkins, CEO Opportunity Collaboration

Topher Wilkins’ life purpose is to end global poverty and social injustice. And he believes it won’t be complicated if we all work together. Topher and his wife Jorian lead Opportunity Collaboration, which hosts an annual four-day gathering in Mexico that brings together nonprofit leaders, for-profit social entrepreneurs, grant-makers, impact investors and other agents of positive change to create opportunities for social, environmental and economic justice. This network of over 2,000 members and grows every year. They meet and discuss in a format that Topher calls a female model—conversational circles designed to promote listening and sharing stories to understand why people care about the causes they work for. Everyone has a voice and an opportunity to participate and contribute. The female conference model provides a space for learning and collaboration. It brings people together, rather than separating them like the traditional conference where people sit in rows and listen to the expert on the stage.

People often call it the un-conference. Instead of sages on stages, delegates themselves choose the topics. Rather than leading with a business card and two-minute elevator pitch, attendees work to build a foundation of trust and empathy with each other. The mantra is “how can we help each other.” Topher finds it amazing how much you can get done when you put aside your egos and share what’s in your heart.

Getting Over the “Not Enough Pie” Syndrome

Topher thinks the “not enough pie” scarcity syndrome is deeply ingrained in our evolutionary DNA. He says it dates back to when we killed off and ate the woolly mammoth because there might not be another one. We consume things the same way today. He says that we have the resources for humanity to thrive. There are plans to roll out renewable energy and de-carbon our economy, making the world a sustainable place. So, the scarcity syndrome has no real foundation. He suggests that people engage in the power of “appreciative inquiry.” By asking why the glass half empty person feels that way, then digging deeper, eventually, you will uncover a little diamond of truth. Once it is revealed in the light, you can start to change perspectives and behaviors because suddenly you know what’s really at the heart of their skeptical scarcity mindsets.

Topher says, “We have taken what was three billion people living under extreme poverty 20 years ago and decreased that by two-thirds. There’s now only one billion people living in extreme poverty.” While that’s a lot of people, it’s also progress. Now, is the time for an evolutionary leap and Topher thinks it’s women and men together, but most importantly he feels that women and this female energy will make it happen.

The Most Effective Leadership is Co-Leadership

Having worked as a husband and wife team and knowing several other successful husband and wife teams, Topher thinks the most effective leadership of the future is male-female co-leadership. He likes the dualism at the top of the hierarchy and would like to see that gender dynamic in leadership going forward.

Listen to this interview to hear Topher’s fascinating story about how he found his life’s purpose and more about Opportunity Collaboration. Topher invites anyone who is interested to look into the conference in October. If you’re committed to creating a world that’s free of poverty where we can all live in harmony with one another, he personally invites you to come to Cancun, Mexico. Check out their website at for details and contact information.

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