From Reddit’s retail stock raiders to companies making better water and healthy food a priority to leaders who believe their company’s greatest asset is to improve the lives of their employees, and of everyone in their communities, a powerful coalition is forming around an important but oft overlooked element of Social Capital.

Ladies and gentleman, the real “Revolution” is here. But it is not about the right or the left. In fact, it’s not political at all. And though it has economic overtones, it’s not about rich versus poor either.

So what is really happening in America?

It’s about one simple yet incredible powerful word -- access!

The feeling of ineffectiveness in politics and government, the income inequality gap in the last twenty years, the inaccessibility of equal, quality education, the lack of adequate healthcare alternatives, and the proposed fixes to all these systems that don’t really fix them at all but often seem to make matters worse, all have one thing in common. They are an indicator and criticism of a disturbing reality: that so many are often shut out by a very slim minority of individuals who seem to control “access” to so many crucial rights or resources.

In the past, many have looked to government to solve these issues, but as explained above much of these problems seem to either be beyond the scope of government to solve or, at its worst, made worse by it.

But lest we forget the founding idea of our Social Capital section, let’s remind ourselves that we believe wholeheartedly in the power of visionary and dedicated thought leaders in our business community to make the world a better place through Capitalism done right.

Of course, in order to do so two important motives are needed: the hunger to do good, and the business ability to run a profitable business that enables the economic power, the logistical leverage, and the visibility to make a difference in a big way.

Enter our Top 10 Social Capital CEOs for February -- a cavalcade of visionary and compassionate leaders who realized somewhere along the line that everyday people longed for and deserved greater access to some service, idea, ability, or right that those in the upper echelon were hoarding, and they were upset enough about to do something big about it.

They are using their powerful positions to help their employees, their customers, their clients, and others throughout our society to grow, improve, and to help others do the same.

Ultimately, these CEOs are part of a new breed of cultural shepherds looking not to herd us into their fields of dreams but to lead us confidently out of bondage and into our own.

SocialCapitalCEOs- February 2021 Social Capital CEOs for February 2021: Steve Huffman, Alexis Ohanian, J. Lyell Clarke III, Hubert Joly, Bob Chapman, Kristin Groos Richmond, Kirsten Saenz Tobey, Soraya Darabi, Marina Hadjipateras, Marshall Goldsmith. Photo: IBT graphic

Steve Huffman and Alexis Ohanian: Reddit

When Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian was in college, he told one of his professors he “wanted to make the world suck less.” That led to him and his roommate and co-founder Steve Huffman in 2005 to creating a “place where open and honest discussion can happen."

During spring break one year, after they had attended a lecture by programmer-entrepreneur Paul Graham, Graham invited them to apply to his startup incubator Y Combinator. After a few rejected ideas, they came up with the idea for what Graham called the "front page of the Internet," and they launched Reddit in June 2005, funded by Y Combinator.

“The day I woke up and Reddit was working on its own was just the most incredible feeling,” Huffman says. “It was, like, holy shit … we’ve got a thing that’s making a difference in people’s lives!”

Talk about a focus on Social Capital! Since then, it’s exploded into a vast network of thousands of “communities” that share info on everything from news, sports, and politics, to support for special interest or special needs groups, such as their unemployment community, which has been of particular importance to the hundreds of thousands of Americans who have flocked there for guidance and support after losing their jobs during the pandemic.

But it is the wallstreetbets subreddit that recently thrust Reddit into the front page of mainstream news sites that makes them of particular significance to Social Capital this month. Millions of retail stock investors have banded together there to wage nothing less than a battle against hedge fund traders trying to short their favorite stocks, especially GameStop and AMC. Reportedly fed up and angry with the super-rich getting super-richer by destroying companies instead of investing in and building them, they took to the online chat forum to unite and form a powerful movement to fight the shorters and profit for themselves at the latter’s expense.

The high-risk, super-speculative nature of their actions notwithstanding, nor the SEC’s concerns over the collaborative nature of it and the debatable wisdom as well, they have definitely demonstrated how Redditt lives up to the Social Capital criterion this month in particular for creating access.

What was previously the opportunity of only the upper echelon of the investment world to share and discuss mass movements of money and information because they were “in the know” to the inner workings and manipulations of the stock market is now available to the everyday retail investor in an incredibly dynamic way.

Or, as Huffman worded it in his testimony to Congress recently, “ A few weeks ago, we saw the power of community in general and of this community in particular when the traders of wallstreetbets banded together at first to seize an investment opportunity not usually accessible to retail investors, but later more broadly to defend all retail investors against the criticism of the financial establishment.”

It was Huffman’s very purposeful reference to what was at the heart of that power and community that cuts to the heart of the access issue we are talking about this month in a huge way. He took no prisoners when he went all in to defend and celebrate that access, explaining it was at the heart of Redditt origin and stating proudly, “That dedication to giving voice and access to the voiceless, the unincorporated, and the everyday people out there who wanted and needed a place to share real thoughts and ideas has been a cornerstone of Reddit since the beginning.”

Huffman’s dedication to those ideas was why he returned to Reddit as CEO after having left the company he founded after selling it to Conde Nast in 2006, a decision both he and his co-founder Alexis Ohanian have repeatedly said they regretted..

As for co-founder Ohanian, though he left Reddit for good last year after spending years on the board dedicated to the site’s founding ideals, he is now increasing access to the formerly buddy-buddy world of venture capital investing by tech professionals who might otherwise not be able to enter the space. His new company 776 (named after the year of the world’s first Olympic Games) with its "operators in residence" program is all about training a new breed of venture capitalists who will be ready and willing to create great companies that respond to the new needs of our changing world so that Ohanian can continue to truly “make life suck less.”

And in particular, he wants to improve access to the wisdom and insights of those who have been there to help future leaders avoid the mistakes he and Huffman made when they sold Reddit.

“All these mistakes are just lessons and opportunities for growth, and I hope to do a better job guiding the next Alexis Ohanian, 22 and wide-eyed, who is running a startup that I hope will make MUCH better decisions than I did,” says Ohanian. “Every single company I back and every single CEO I mentor gives me a chance at a little redemption.”

 J. Lyell Clarke III, Ph.D.: Clarke

Water. Quality of life. If you think the two are not connected, try going without the first one for a few days -- or living beside a body of it that reeks of foul odor and is filled with types of microbial life that is anathema to our own.

Since our feature article this month looks at the Social Capital aspect of ensuring people access to a better life and water is a basic element in that equation, J. Lyell Clarke was pretty close to top on our list because he dedicated his company and his life to that equation. But he also empowered and inspired his employees by asking them for and taking their advice to dedicate his company to that noble and important goal.

Let even the purest of water -- rainwater -- sit stagnant for a while and it will become a breeding ground for mosquitoes, with a scourge of diseases around the world. Clarke, the company, got its start in mosquito control. But Lyell Clarke saw greater opportunity and began addressing water quality issues even in our own domestic lakes and rivers after he asked his employees what they thought the company should devote itself to.

“The health and quality of our water is directly linked to the well-being of people, pets, and the planet,” Lyell maintains, which is why he leads his company to research, develop, and provide products and services that support the safety, livability, and comfort of our communities.

Lyell took on the leadership role for his family’s company in the mid-1900s. He -- and the company -- were successful, but he began to feel there was something missing. “We were doing well, had significant market share, but I wasn’t feeling satisfied. I began to ask myself, ‘What are you handing over to the next generation?’ We’re a third-generation service and distribution company going back to 1946. Is there something else I could hand over that this millennial, my son John Lyell Clarke the 4th, would want to be part of?”

Lyell’s entire career has been in the field of Entomology, in which he holds a Ph.D. from Iowa State University. Acknowledging the dichotomy of Clarke being an insecticide company but environmentalist at heart, he believes that is what allowed the value systems to align. “I began to realize that there was a pent-up desire within myself to create a company with greater purpose.”

He wasn’t just considering his own desires but also the values of all the people who work at the company and the value he places on them. He held a company-wide retreat -- about 160 people -- in 2008, bringing in even those who were working in other countries to find out how they felt about changing the company’s direction. He learned that the people who worked for him shared his desire. “ They didn’t want to work for a mosquito control company; they wanted to work for a public health company, that, as we now say in our mission statement, ‘helps communities around the world become more livable, safe, and comfortable.’”

In other words: access to a better life, our Social Capital focus this month.

That Social Capital agenda not only reaches out to the world but into the heart of the company as Lyell recognized that for most millennials, the main driver is not money but rather is what a company stands for. “ It’s a sense of larger purpose that not only allows them to bring their deepest and best selves to work, but also lets them maintain a lifestyle that they like doing not only for themselves and company but also for the globe."

Lyell also created the Clarke Cares Foundation, a nonprofit organization that aims to save lives and reduce suffering from mosquito and water-borne illnesses such as malaria and lymphatic filariasis . Its first project, Net for Net, launched in 2011, set out to replace nets in water beds and ultimately shipped 17,000 nets, helping improve the lives and futures of an estimated 482,500 people. In its more recent partnership with the Pure Water for the World foundation, Clarke helped bring access to clean drinking water, safe sanitation systems, and hygiene education to remote communities throughout Central America and Haiti.

People at the door leading to the light - Social Capital These CEOs are part of a new breed of cultural shepherds looking not to herd us into their fields of dreams but to lead us confidently out of bondage and into our own. Photo: iStock

Hubert Joly: Formerly of Best Buy

Hubert Joly’s record at Best Buy would make any business leader proud, but it’s what he did for his employees and his customers, and his ideas about how business can and should give everyone access to the prosperity, possibilities, and experience of a successful life that made us happily include him in this month’s list.

Taking the reins as CEO in 2012, he initiated a “Renew Blue” transformation (a reference to the color of the shirts worn by sales associates), bringing the company back from its spiral of declining revenue and profitability, and causing the stock to triple in 2013, and he did it without laying off employees but instead investing in them.

Hubert immediately tapped the employees for suggestions on how to improve the inventory search engine, he reinstated employee discounts, and he retrained employees to become experts in new tech such as virtual reality. Hubert’s cost-cutting reforms hit the company’s SG&A (s elling, general and administrative) expenses first as he doubled down on delivering on Best Buy’s customer promise -- provide a low-price guarantee, the latest and greatest devices and services in one place, impartial and knowledgeable advice, the ability for customers to shop when and where they want and have support for the life of the product.

“ If you can connect the search for meaning of the individual with the purpose of the company, then magical things happen," explains Hubert. He believes in what he calls “human magic”: mobilizing people to give their best effort and having that, then, translate into extraordinary performance. So, the first concern of a business leader is how the people in the organization are doing. Checking on how the clients are being served comes next. Lastly in this hierarchy are the financials. In Hubert’s view, “If you start with finances, you’ll never get to people and clients, and at the end of the day, it’s those two things that truly drive the business.” 

One of Hubert’s central beliefs turns traditional Capitalism on its head: The purpose of a business isn’t to generate revenue or increase the bottom line but rather to make people’s lives better. And he believes in organizations using that platform to make the world a better place for people to live in. This was, in fact, part of his successful turnaround strategy at Best Buy: He insisted management help create meaning for the employees and actually literally listen to their dreams rather than treating them as costs to be minimized. He recounts seeing one of his managers put this into play: “ "I watched the head of [this store] ask his employees what their dreams were. One said he wanted to buy a house for his family. The manager told him that they would work together to help him develop his skills, move up in the company, and make his dream a reality."

And there you have that Social Capital commitment -- in this case to “access” a better and more fulfilling life.

He stepped down as CEO in 2019 to become Executive Chairman then left the company completely in 2020, although he is still an advisor to the current CEO and board of directors. Now, as a Senior Lecturer of Business Administration at the Harvard Business School, he is helping inspire the next generation of business leaders with a new, better view of business and Capitalism founded on purpose and humanity -- the Social Capital philosophy we love so much!

Hubert’s upcoming book, due out this spring, The Heart of Business—Leadership Principles for the Next Era of Capitalism, highlights his belief that the heart of successful business lies in pursuing a noble purpose, putting people at the center, embracing all stakeholders, and treating profit as an outcome. And for Hubert, that is far from a lofty philosophical argument, as he uses multiple vivid and concrete stories from the remarkable resurgence he led for Best Buy to illustrate his leadership principles. A central theme of Hubert’s that we really love is his belief in every single human being’s right to be treated fairly and to have “access” to the experience of human worth.

His experience as a leader couples that belief with a view of work as a good thing and a way for us to do good in the world. The role of business, then, not only can be but needs to be as a force for good.

“When 88% of the people who have jobs feel like they work for an organization that does not care for them, they do not feel valued,” explains Hubert. “They feel used for someone else’s gain. In business, in politics, in our neighborhoods and communities, so often people are not treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. In turn, it is difficult for those who do not feel cared for to care for others.”

Hubert was elected a Global Leader for Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum, twice named one of the 25 Most Influential Executives of the Business Travel Industry by Business Travel News magazine, voted to the top 10 on Glassdoor’s 2018 Top 100 Highest Rated CEOs and that same year named one of the "Best CEOs In The World" by the CEOWORLD magazine, one of the "World's Best CEOs" by Barron's, and one of the "Best-Performing CEOs in the World" by Harvard Business Review. He is a Knight in the French National Order of Merit and was awarded the French National Order of the Legion of Honour, France’s highest honor for civil merit. To this distinguished record, we are pleased to honor him this month as one of our Social Capital CEOs enabling access to a better life for employees and customers.

Bob Chapman: Barry-Wehmiller

Bob Chapman is c hairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller, a capital equipment and engineering consulting firm that owns a whole lot of companies and employs nearly 8,000 team members worldwide. Impressive to be sure, but it is his unusual management philosophy that made him stand out to us -- he believes the purpose of a successful company is to make its employees successful.

Assuming control of his family’s company unexpectedly upon the sudden death of his father, Bob began as CEO leading per the traditional model he had been taught at the University of Michigan business school: create shareholder value, manage people, focus on profit. “I did that for many years but, eventually, it felt like something was missing.”

He had already turned around what had been a struggling bottle washer business when he inherited it in 1975. But while reflecting on his success, he had an epiphany: He was not in business for the sake of the company, but the company was in business for the sake of the lives involved with it, not just employees but the community in which a particular plant is located.

Bob has grown what was a single-market company into a far-flung corrugating, packaging, and paper converting equipment and consulting conglomerate of more than 70 acquired companies worldwide that can boast a continuing pattern of compound growth in both revenue and share value. He has accomplished this through strategic acquisition and operational expertise while never deviating from the commitment he expresses to “the lives under my care.”

This goes much further than simply offering people employment. He believes people deserve more than just having a job and getting perks. He believes everyone needs to know that who they are and what they do matters. And he has actually built that imperative into the structure of his company to include open communication, respect, trust, and the pursuit of freedom to act, supported by a framework of responsibility and a desire to always improve. “We now have a new way of defining our success,” Bob says. “At Barry-Wehmiller, we measure success by the way we touch the lives of people.”

He argues businesses today “need to move from a me-centric culture to a we-centric culture,” placing the emphasis on helping people flourish and be appreciated -- specifically not managing them in a way that drags down morale, their lives, their productivity -- within the company and, through the ripple effect of their interaction with their families and then their families with their community, society as a whole.

That’s one of the reasons why, when Bob acquires another company, he doesn’t milk it for the assets and toss out the leavings; he incorporates it into the parent company and welcomes the new employees with the same philosophy.

One of many telling anecdotes Bob shares in his book Everybody Matters addresses the common job insecurity of employees at businesses acquired by another. He was addressing the assembled employees of a new Barry-Wehmiller acquisition and assuring them their jobs were not in danger as he explained the employee-centric culture of his company. It seemed too good to be true to at least one listener, who, incredulous at what she was hearing about plans for the future of her job and her company, turned to the BW executive sitting next to her in the audience and asked if Bob was for real.

Bob shares another story of an employee whose life was turned around through the simple act of listening. “It was a release valve of pent-up frustration,” Bob says, noting that listening is the simplest way to “begin to start” honoring the dignity of others. “Once Steve was listened to and his expertise was utilized, he felt valued. He felt like he was making a difference. He felt like he was worth something. And when his advice was utilized, things in his workday got better. He wasn’t frustrated. He went home fulfilled and happy. He treated his family differently. This is how we can start to heal our brokenness -- by ending the hunger for dignity and sending people home as better spouses, parents, children, friends, and neighbors.”

Through speaking and writing -- not to mention his best-selling book Everybody Matters -- Bob continues to be an advocate for this people-first style of leadership, what he promotes in his BW Leadership Institute (to which all Barry-Wehmiller employees are welcome apply) as Truly Human Leadership.

Bob’s goal for Barry-Wehmiller is to foster a dignity-honoring culture that he believes goes deeper than just giving people respect. He actually gives them his cars! There is no doubt that honoring an employee at work is good for morale,but Bob finds ways to make that honor more visible. One way he does this is to hand over the keys to a car from his collection to the employee being honored for some level of achievement, and as that employee drives through his or her community to and from work, shopping, visiting friends -- all the errands and outings of everyday life -- he or she can bask in that public affirmation.

“We in business are exacerbating this poverty of dignity in the world because we see people as objects for our success,” Bob says, noting that business leaders, for 40 hours or more a week, have the opportunity to change the world through their decisions, actions, and example. “This is how business can be a powerful force for good, by caring enough about their people that they restore, honor, and protect the sense of dignity that is a basic human need.”

This is the epitome of what we celebrate as Social Capital as we honor this month those leaders who are working to ensure people access to a better life.

Key Access - Social Capital We believe wholeheartedly in the power of visionary and dedicated thought leaders in our business community to make the world a better place through Capitalism done right. Photo: Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Kristin Groos Richmond and Kirsten Saenz Tobey: Revolution Foods

Kristin Groos Richmond and Kirsten Saenz Tobey founded Revolution Foods in 2006, and they have been giving millions of children across America access to nutritional meals ever since.

This dynamic duo met as fellow students at Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley, both working toward their MBA. But far from typical MBA students, they sought out an incredibly ambitious schedule of extracurricular ambitions and achievements before and after they graduated, all indicative of their obvious and laudable desire to help children.

Kirsten has been a teacher, researcher, and garden educator with Earthjustice, the School for Field Studies, and Phillips Academy at Andover, and has led experiential education programs in the U.S. and Ecuador as well as evaluating the scalability of school feeding programs with the U.N. Hunger Task Force in Ghana. 

Kristin’s career spanned from corporate finance to education reform. In fact, she left behind a lucrative career on Wall Street to co-found the Kenya Community Center for Learning. She served on President Obama’s White House Council for Community Solutions, and, as its vice president, grew another company, Resources for Indispensable Schools and Educators, to a nationally scalable model. She was an Aspen Institute Entrepreneurial Leaders in Public Education Fellow, an Education Pioneers Fellow, and an Advisor to the Kauffman Foundation Entrepreneurship Program.

The two women shared a do-er’s energy, a caring for others, and an interest in providing students in need with nutritious meals. “I saw firsthand what a difference good nutrition makes for students in and out of the classroom -- how it affected their academic performance and energy and ability to succeed,” Kristin explains, drawing on her experience helping start a school in Kenya,

Together, they worked on a business plan for meals with fresh ingredients at a manageable price. That was the genesis of Revolution Foods , which Kirsten and Kristin launched as a pilot program with three charter schools in downtown Oakland. Their goal, as Kristin describes it, was to “completely transform the quality of meals offered to students” by reinventing school lunch.

In a twist on the proverbial garage startup story of many famous companies, Kristen recalls, “We prepared 300 meals daily in a rented kitchen.” Success fed on success, and, after expanding in California, they launched in the Washington, D.C., area. Since then, they have taken their revolution to Denver, Houston, New Orleans, and all over New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.

At the heart of their model was their belief that introducing kids to proper nutrition in their school years would instill healthy eating habits that would follow them throughout their lives -- upholding in a very unique way our Social Capital ideal of providing access to a better life.

“Kids deserve the best possible food they can get, particularly at school where many of them are eating every day,” says Kirsten.

So she and Kristin decided to totally rethink how school food works -- they brought trained chefs into the process to “design” the food that kids eat every day and set out to transform the school lunch line, so that it would no longer be the necessary evil of the school’s budget, serving the cheapest food available.

They also recognize the opportunity food represents as a cultural expression and try to incorporate diverse “food traditions” from region to region, and school to school, which adds an element of comfort through the familiar. “The menus are based on the age of the kids, based on the location, and whether we’ve developed any specific dishes for the population they’re serving,” says Kirsten, “in addition to seasonality.”

Revolution Foods has grown more than its menu since its humble beginnings. It has expanded its mission beyond school children to include other vulnerable populations, such as the homeless, seniors, and the homebound. Active now in 400 cities nationwide, the company distributes several million meals per week. And school closings over the past year caused by the pandemic added greater urgency to fulfilling its mission. The reality for many families is, school lunches are a primary source of food, so Revolution Foods responded to the crisis by partnering with cities to create new distribution models.

Their heroic efforts might not have made them into a household name, but they have almost certainly transformed many households by bringing life-changing and often life-saving nutrition to their most vulnerable inhabitants.

Soraya Darabi and Marina Hadjipateras: TMV

Even though we said this month’s article was not about the rich versus the poor, the availability of funds is, obviously, a real issue, and Soraya Darabi and Marina Hadjipateras are devoting their lives and their companies to making sure that other like-minded Social Capital CEOs and founders have access to the money they need to get their great ideas off the ground -- because the consumer demand is there, if you can find the resources to get the ball rolling.

Or, as they put it, “We invest in purposeful startups reimagining the future … We are in the middle of a profound cultural sea change. Long gone are the days where hype and marketing jive alone will triumph.”

Incidentally, that’s incredibly coincident with the sentiment in our Social Capital feature last November all about marketing over meaning.

Soraya and Marina’s early-stage venture capital fund, TMV, invests in mission-driven businesses and founders who reflect the remarkable diversity of founders and noble ideas they see possible in our world. With $45 million assets under management, TMV's investments reflect a portfolio that’s 65% women- and minority-owned, pointing to the team's continued commitment to investing in diverse companies, not because of a mandate but because it’s simply good business. At the same time, their focus on sustainability and positively impacting the environment is rooted in the simple belief that, as Marina bluntly states, “We only have one earth.”

But well beyond those big-blanket ideas, they get down deep into the nitty-gritty of how to help people -- and especially right now, focusing much of their energy on supporting companies that improve health and well-being: Parsley Health is a primary care site that focuses on overall health, not just treating current disease. Goodr focuses on alleviating hunger through logistical management. Thryve is the world's first company built around a gut health program with personalized probiotics testing. Avaline brings the importance and purity of organics to the mainstream wine market. Kindbody is focused on women’s health, fertility, and overall wellness. Avalow provides consumers with a whole program for growing a real food-producing garden at home, empowering you to eat fresh healthy food that you have grown every day of your life.

The list goes on of literally dozens of companies that are setting out to lead people to access to a better life at a time when we need more help than ever.

Soraya launched her career as an intern at The Washington Post then moved to Conde Nast, before landing at The New York Times. But very early in her career, she became determined to help others, and to get others to do the same by bringing attention to important issues. A tragedy in early 2013 that killed 400 Bangladesh garment workers drew new attention to working conditions in the garment industry and Soraya was inspired to create a solution -- a new company she co-founded then called Zady that enabled consumers to purchase beautiful products made by talented artisans, and to know exactly where those products were coming from and how they were produced. “The fast-fashion frenzy has come at the cost of the quality of clothing and fair working conditions for factory workers. We see it over and over again in factory disasters around the world,” Soraya explained at the time. “People care about where their clothes come from, and they want to know the story behind the label.”

After her experience creating and building Zady, Soraya became immersed in the world of venture capitalists and tech founders, investing in companies that were interesting, audacious, non-obvious, and, most of all, impactful, ultimately setting her on the path to where she is today as the co-founder of TMV.

Marina began her career in maritime shipping, working for her family’s 200-year-old business. She credits much of her drive in business to her Greek grandmother, a pioneer and one of the first and only women to rise through the ranks of a male-dominated industry, who mentored her from her early years.

To understand better how to innovate in the age-old industry of shipping, she needed to know more about the real workings of it, so, incredibly, she entered the United States Merchant Marine Academy after graduating from Georgetown, earned her “STCW Certificate” and then moved to South Korea to get hands-on experience. “ I learned how to put out fires both literally and figuratively, worked in the engine room, connected with the community of crew members, and watched how ships were actually built,” she relates. “It was in Korea that I began to fundamentally understand how the disparate elements of the business work together; it was the most meaningful crash course I could ever have experienced, and it enabled me to help take my family’s company, Dorian LPG, public on the NYSE.”  

And that’s exactly what she did, landing in New York to lead in-house investor relations and help support the Dorian LPG IPO. It was at that point that Marina began to see a critical need to bridge the gap between heritage industries and new technology and, more importantly, new ideas, ultimately leading her into first investing and then venture capital. Marina launched Dorian’s Family Office, and reconnected with Soraya, whom she knew from their undergraduate days at Georgetown University.

Since founding TMV in 2016, Soraya and Marina are continuing to build a steadfast portfolio of pioneering startups that are changing the world as we know it. The duo also helped create Transact Global two years ago, which is a peer-led organization of emerging female managers dedicated to supporting each other with introductions, deal flow, best practices, and lessons learned on all things related to fundraising and fund management. “ We are now among the largest groups of emerging fund managers globally, and growing each and every day,” says Soraya. “It’s a community, a resource, and an opportunity for all of us to grow together and win.” 

To aspiring entrepreneurs, Soraya advises, “ Remain confident in your idea. Many will tell you it's no good, it won’t work out. Perseverance and determination are 90% of success. Forge ahead with your passion and your dream!”  

Expressing the positive view of the future that we believe is an indispensible component of improving the world in terms of Social Capital, Marina says, “While nothing is ever guaranteed and although things can shift on a dime, as an investor I’m keenly aware of promising changes on the horizon when it comes to innovation and ideas that will move us forward.”

Please come in/ access -- Social Capital These CEOs are using their powerful positions to help their employees, customers, clients, and others in our society to grow, improve, and to help others do the same. Photo: Artem Beliaikin from Pexels

Marshall Goldsmith: 100 Coaches

We don’t put many coaches on our Social Capital list, and, in fact, this is our first. It’s not that they don’t belong here, as the nature of coaching others to be better, do better, and contribute more to the world around them is totally aligned to what we are essentially all about. The challenge is finding coaches that actually do that for all the right reasons.

So when we heard about Marshall’s 100 Coaches Project, we felt it was indicative of the fact that he was 100% in line with Social Capital. His intent was to bring together and assist some of the world's leading coaches, top business thinkers, and thought leaders in a communal effort for them to donate their services in order to prepare, develop, and energize other future-inspired leaders.

The apple-seed effect of their corporate collective of caring and mentoring is downright dynamic and irresistible, so much so that it’s attracted the support and assistance of some of the most effective and caring business and societal leaders ever, such as Frances Hesselbein, former CEO of the Girl Scouts, recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and chairman of the Leader to Leader Insitute; Alan Mulally, former CEO of Ford, an early hero of many of the Social Capital concepts we talk so much about throughout his career; Dr. Jim Kim, president of the World Bank; and Hubert Joly, former Best Buy CEO whom we have honored this month, to name just a few. Along with dozens of other established as well as up-and-coming thinkers and doers, they are looking to make the world a better place by sharing their knowledge, expertise, and ideas, allowing others to have access to all of it so they can teach it to others.

The idea came to Marshall when he was attending a leadership program led by his friend Ayse Birsel, one of the world’s top designers, called Design the Life You Love. At the program, Ayse asked the attendees to write down the names of their heroes and why they saw them as heroes.

“I wrote that they were all ‛great teachers’ and ‛very generous,’” explains Marshall. “She then challenged us to ’be more like them‘ in designing the lives we love. It’s f rom this fantastic program that I came up with the idea to teach people everything. These people would ‘pay it forward’ by doing the same thing for others.”

Marshall is the only two-time winner of the Thinkers 50 Award for No. 1 Leadership Thinker in the World, ranked the No. 1 Executive Coach in the World and a Top Ten Business Thinker for the past eight years. He’s written and/or edited 36 books, three New York Times bestsellers, and sold more than 2.5 million copies, including What Got You Here Won’t Get You There and Triggers, both regarded in the Top 100 Leadership & Success Books Ever Written.

So, when Marshall offers to teach you “everything,” that’s no small offering considering what he has accomplished and what he knows. The end result of this cannot truly be described here, since we will only see the ripple of it years from now as these coaches spread their goodwill, their great thoughts, and their altruistic efforts out into the ether of intellectual offerings and practical ideas for making the world a better place.

Yet neither can it be overstated.

In fact, Marshall and his 100 Coaches may be the perfect period on this month’s list because of the infinite nature of the project itself. For it is the endless ripple effect of the entire idea of Social Capital that Marshall is setting into motion here in a potentially exponential way. Where and if it ends nobody knows, for each of these 100, and the 10 or 20 or 100 or more whom they help, can and will light a fire of Social Capital.

And that is what we hope will happen for all the Social Capital CEOs we recognize, this and every month, and for all their empowered and respected customers and employees, and the readers who read about them here.