Dominique Silverman, the host of the well-loved podcast Giving Warriors, gets a lot of her inspiration from her own past. But that doesn't mean that the radio show itself isn't a source of inspiration. In fact, the show -- and its many guests -- offers a way for change-makers to connect and learn about social innovation.
From here, we'll let Dominique take it away; she offers one of the most compelling takes on the conjoining of (assumed separate) non-profit and business spaces.
Four Questions with Dominique Silverman
1. How did the idea for the business come about?
The concept of Giving Warriors began years before we started. While I was working as a real estate investment manager at Affinity Neighborhoods, I was privileged to witness the power a for-profit company could have in impoverished communities. Social outreach was a driving force with Affinity, however, once I made the transition from the corporate world to the non-profit [world], in my experience I found many people in the non-profit industry lack business acumen. There seemed to be a disconnect. Where the corporate mindset was: "What's in it for me?" the non-profit mindset is an expectation on donations because of their mission. Donors wanted the staff to work for free, however, you can't attract top talent for long under that model. Little emphasis is placed on business development for non-profits because they refuse to see themselves as businesses. Make no mistake, a non-profit operates exactly like a for-profit, the only difference is where the money goes. Having attained my degree in finance and worked in the corporate space, I wanted to build a bridge between these two mindsets that appear incompatible to many.
2. How did you decide to join this sector?
This answer is mostly tied into how the idea for the business came about. I have always been inspired by companies like TOMS Shoes or Bridgeway Capital Management (which donates 50% of its profits to non-profits every year). The social enterprise industry is booming because people want more than money, they want to feel like they're making a difference, they want a purpose.
3. How do you get your inspiration?
Most of my inspiration comes from my experiences growing up in a lower socio-economic situation in Vietnam. My sisters and I used to get into fist-fights over the best spot in the marketplace so we could sell our parents' vegetables. Then we immigrated to the United States without knowing any English when I was 11. My family and I had to deal with many hardships, to all of us living in a single family house and sharing vehicles, to working for cash-only. Eventually, I put myself through college. I wouldn't be who I am today, wouldn't be doing Giving Warriors, if I hadn't had my childhood. To keep moving forward, I attend professional and personal development seminars and conferences to surround myself with the right people, read voraciously, and listen to podcasts by those who I aspire to emulate. I like to travel as much as possible, particularly in third-world countries, to remind myself how other people in the world live and to keep doing what I'm doing.
4. How do you reset yourself to be creative? Do you have any rituals?
When I was in Vietnam, we trained in Karate as our form of physical fitness. When I came to the U.S., I transitioned to cross-country running and tennis. Now, because of old injuries, I primarily do a lot of yoga, meditation, and Wing Chung to help center myself, release some endorphins, and relax. I've found that the more stress I have in my life, the more important relaxation becomes. My daily meditations keep my mind sharp and focused and when I'm finished, I find that I'm more productive. I believe in the mind-body-soul connection and like to keep all aspects of the self nourished.
If you'd like to connect and learn more, visit GivingWarriors.com to join their community and listen to the podcast.