February 2, 2023

Companies, communities, and, indeed, our world are calling out for a new type of  leader. A leader who is resilient, creative, collaborative, and optimistic. A leader who can work across sectors and hierarchies and defies stereotypes and the status quo. A leader who is ready and able to create the future. Gone are the days when a leader should aspire to be a boss –someone who leads by telling others what to do. There’s  a fresher, more inclusive and aspirational leadership style, and it’s accessible to everyone, no matter our formal title or authority. Every one of us can become a changemaker.
A few years ago, I spent a day in Los Angeles, coworking at the offices of Tala, a fintech startup based in Santa Monica, founded by Shivani Siroya. We took a morning walk together, coffees in hand, as the fog melted away and the Pacific Ocean gradually emerged from behind its mask. Shivani told me about her life and her work, and while she talked, it became clear to me that the labels we often use to identify people who are successful in business: entrepreneur, founder, and leader, didn’t entirely capture who she was. She was each of these to be sure, but also more than these. 
During our walk, the concept of a changemaker came alive to me. Just as I saw these qualities in Shivani, I began to recognize how they also show up in so many other people all around me, even those who might not yet consider themselves changemakers.
The following is an edited excerpt from my new book, Becoming a Changemaker: An Actionable, Inclusive Guide to Leading Positive Change at Any Level. 
I realized on that walk that we often ascribe the success of leaders whom we admire to their more tangible skills–such as Shivani’s financial acumen–as we seek to replicate their success. But the personal qualities that truly make Shivani the impactful leader and founder she is are changemaker qualities. They are attributes of character, hustle, heart, passion, and persistence. And these changemaker qualities can be learned and practiced by anyone, no matter who we are or where we might have been.
At that moment, my perspective on the concept of change…well, changed. Up until that point in my life, I had always assumed that change came solely from one or two huge organizations–think the Red Cross or the World Bank. What I came to realize was that positive change is actually made by each of us pursuing it in our own way, leading from wherever we are. Change isn’t reserved for a special few. In fact, change calls out for all of us to lead from wherever we might be and in whatever form is true to who we are.
However, I also realized firsthand that there were simply too many barriers, both systemic and individual, getting in the way of all of these emerging leaders making their desired changes a reality.
I began imagining a world filled with, and led by, changemakers. Where positive change happens both in corporate boardrooms and at kitchen tables. Where changemakers spring to action both from behind a laptop and on the streets. Where changemakers of every possible background and experience, passion and interest, have the mindset, leadership, and tools they need to go make change happen.
Since that walk with Shivani, I’ve become obsessed with understanding what it takes to be a changemaker, which I define as someone who leads positive change from where they are. And I’ve studied what most often holds people back from becoming one. I’ve made it my life’s mission to help others create their own personal versions of Shivani’s story. To activate their innate ability to lead positive change from where they are, for themselves, their organizations, and their communities. To help all of us, and each of us, become changemakers.


Leave a Reply