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A space for women entrepreneurs seeking to expand their influence while staying true to their values.

welcome to the
Bright Voices in Business Podcast WITH CHLOE DECHOW

Get ready to build your business on your terms

Join your host Chloe Dechow as she interviews industry thought leaders, shares her expertise as a thought leadership strategist and consultant, and pushes you toward sharing your opinion on a global scale. 





“Think about what you are excellent at, and figure out how to contribute some of that back to the world. Whether you call it social impact or not, there are ways to be a change agent wherever you may be.”

-Charmion N. Kinder

In today’s episode, I had a chat with the incredible Charmion N. Kinder, a social impact advocate and corporate responsibility strategist. We dove into the world of social impact and how you can weave this powerful concept into the fabric of your business, no matter the size.

During our conversation, Charmion shared her inspiring career journey, from working on the Obama campaign, to Disney, and now the Peace Corps. We explored how standing for a cause not only aligns with your values, but also attracts like-minded talent and clients. Charmion also gave us practical advice on making a difference in what matters to you – even without a hefty budget.

Join us to hear more about:

  • Charmion’s background in advocacy and her transformative work
  • The magnetic power of aligning your business with your values
  • Creative ways to contribute to social change without extensive financial resources
  • The connection between social impact and establishing thought leadership
  • The importance of authenticity and sharing personal stories in business

You don’t want to miss hearing about Charmion’s story – it is a testament to the huge power that advocacy and strategic communication play in making a difference.

Remember, no matter where you are in your entrepreneurial journey, you have the power to be a change agent. Let’s take those small steps together and watch the ripples of impact spread far and wide.


FREE GUIDE: Steps to Building Your Authentic Authority

The Minority Leaders podcast episode with Charmion N. Kinder

University of Pennsylvania Social Impact Strategy program

University of Georgetown School of Continuing Studies Social Impact Storytelling online certificate


West Haven Website: www.westhavencoaching.com

West Haven Instagram: @westhavencoaching

Chloe Dechow LinkedIn: @chloedechow


Website: www.charmionkinder.com

LinkedIn: @charmionkinder

Instagram: @charmionkinder


Charmion N. Kinder (00:00:00) – Solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, people who are working corporate jobs, people working in government. Whoever you are, wherever you may find yourself, really think about what you are excellent at and figure out how to contribute some of that back to the world. I think that whether you call it social impact or not, there are ways to be a change agent wherever you may be, and we need you in the game to save humanity. There is so much suffering and sometimes small steps create big ripples.

Chloe Dechow (00:00:33) – Hi, I’m Chloe Dechow and with more than a decade of experience working with thought leaders, I’ve witnessed firsthand the impact of conviction combined with purpose driven entrepreneurship. This podcast shows you how to authentically bring together leadership, equity, and marketing to build your authority so that you can grow your impact and scale your business. This is a space for elevating women’s voices and redefining what it means to be a thought leader. Together, we’ll unlock the potential of our bright voices and create a ripple effect of change that resonates far beyond the realms of business.

Chloe Dechow (00:01:09) – This is the Bright Voices and Business podcast. Now let’s dive into today’s episode. Welcome back to the Bright Voices in Business podcast. Today I have a guest that I’ve been really excited to bring on to talk all things social impact. Charmion N. Kinder is a master communicator, social impact advocate, and corporate responsibility strategist with two decades of experience promoting transformational change for the next generation of American leadership. She is the founder of CNW Kinder, Inc., a social impact incubator, and the director of the Office of Communications at the Peace Corps. Hi, Charmion.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:01:54) – Hello. How are you, Chloe? Glad to be here. Thank you for having me.

Chloe Dechow (00:01:58) – Of course. I’m so excited to have you here. I am really interested in the work that you do. And I know you and I have known each other for quite some time now. And I’ve always been inspired by your journey and the fact that you have such a heart for supporting people, like you’re definitely a human first person. And so because the women that I’m at most excited to work with and the business owners I’m the most excited to work with are those that are very impact driven.

Chloe Dechow (00:02:25) – I thought you were the perfect person to bring on to talk about impact. And so before we dive into kind of more around the practical how tos of social impact, would love to just chat a bit about your professional journey, because I know you have worked in a lot of different places and worn a lot of different hats, and would love to just kind of hear about how you ended up doing what you do today.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:02:50) – Yeah. Well, again, thank you for having me. And, you know, one of the things that I figured out probably ten years into my journey is that I’ve been on a journey to inspire young people towards excellence. And so most of the things I’ll start talking about now, really what came to mind with me thinking about ways to inspire my younger self and people that I went to high school with and people that I went to elementary school with, and it really came out of the spirit of people underestimating us, sometimes thinking that we were unable to sort of do big, broad, bold things.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:03:23) – And I’ve always wanted to be a champion and advocate for that. So that journey started at Howard University. I majored in public relations and minored in fashion merchandising and started my career really in the 2004 nonpartisan campaign really focused on voter education and registration in Washington, D.C. my first job was at SEIU, which was a labor union where I really learned about people advocating for their rights. But what was most important was that our president and CEO knew the name of every single person in our building. More importantly, the people who kept the building clean first. And so I learned a principle of putting people first very early in my career, that everybody in the building has something to do with making the entire operation run well, even down to the contributions that they are making. And I’ve carried that spirit throughout. And I took an internship at Edelman, which turned into a job. I started on healthcare PR and then went over to corporate social responsibility. What I learned there was really the importance of not just impacting press from a publicity perspective, but thinking holistically about campaigns.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:04:26) – So how are you influencing Congress? How are you influencing real people who are behind the screen? How are you talking to, you know, multi-media companies who are thinking about messaging and actually shaping commercials? How are you actually talking to people who are in advocacy groups? So anytime we put together a campaign, it included all of those components where you think about a round circle. If you think about a stakeholder circle, we include it in our strategies. How do we influence all of these people so that we can actually get our actions done? And I love that and ended up at the AD Council. And the AD Council is a brilliant place. They produce about 40 campaigns a year. They’ve been doing so since World War two, I believe. And if you remember the image of that, we can do it. Lady. They’ve always sort of partnered with governments, partnered with NGOs, partnered with grantmaking organizations to put good messages out in the world to really try to influence people to action so that they do great things.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:05:17) – And so I love that. I worked on play 60 when we were launching it with the NFL. When we were first thinking about childhood obesity prevention, I worked on diabetes education with the American Heart Association. I had a chance to work. On a few other projects there, and Barack Obama was running for office. And so I loved the Obama family. They reminded me very much of my own family. My parents have been married for 55 years. They fled on the South from segregation and moved to New Haven. Really raised me and my brother with a high level of intention to contribute. Just like most people who are immigrants here in the country, and to contribute to this fabric and to this country. And so I haven’t gone to an HBCU. Having come from the parents that I come from, I felt it really important to work on this campaign because I believe that Obama would be a brilliant president for the United States, and a lot of people just weren’t across the line yet. And so I wanted to use communications, really, to help that campaign move forward.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:06:15) – And I did so. And we won that election. I moved back to D.C. and my first time walking in the white House, seeing Barack Obama and calling him Mr. President, I might have been one of the proudest moments of my life, mostly because it just felt like an impossible task before we went and did the thing right. I think Nelson Mandela always says “It always seems it seems impossible until it’s done.” And that was that entire era of, you know, walking into the white House with my head high, working in the first lady’s office, coming up with innovative campaigns left, the administration went to Disney. Believe it or not, Mickey Mouse is more popular than the Obamas. If you show up with $1 million in Mickey Mouse, anybody 90 to 9 years old is going to love you. And so I had an amazing time in that job. We really working with organizations like Kaboom and Make a Wish, and we did some stuff with the Boys and Girls Club of the year competition, a lot of different organizations that really are purpose to make the world a better place.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:07:12) – And I got to work on all of those campaigns to think about new ways that we could promote them at. My father got ill and I learned, you know, that family is more important than work. I think that people innately know that. But sometimes in PR or in social impact, you don’t pause, hit that pause button, put your family first. And so that was my pause button. And I moved back to the East coast. My father is still alive. Thankfully he had surgery, but he’s doing very well. And I worked at Discovery Education, where that organization really provides education technology to children all around the world. My favorite part about discovery education is they provide what you call virtual field trips. And so we would go into companies like Facebook or Meta or other organizations and actually tape, you know, have a conversation with the employees there. And being that back in the classrooms all around the country, so young people could actually see, you know, what it might be to work in tech or to work in Stem or to build bridges or to do whatever have you.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:08:12) – So I love that role. And as with all things in media, that company emerged. So at that time, I started a company and decided to focus on social impact. And one of my very first clients was Global Citizen, where I was able to kind of take some of that learning I did with traveling and working with First Lady Obama, and really think about the lens of a global environment, a global scale. Two months after I started the job in New York, Covid 19 hit and we found ourselves working with anyone from the W.H.O. every day World Health Organization to Lady Gaga, who was also working with 60 different CEOs from fortune 100 companies, really asking them to pitch in so that other people around the world could have access to the vaccines they needed during that pivotal time. We know that the United States of America was probably going to get exactly what they needed. But when you talk about the Global South, when you talk about places in Africa, we talk about other places in Brazil and all around the world, Haiti, all of these places really looking after.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:09:08) – To your great point, really earlier, Chloe, humanity, right. When we’re in a bind like Covid 19, you know, as much as we want to be selfish, we really do have to think about each other because you were only as strong as everyone, right? And we learned that, I think, during that time. So we worked on a number of different campaigns. I love that because it brought together the spirit of everything I had learned on the Obama campaign, everything I had learned at council, everything I had learned in the first lady’s office and allowed me to think about globally, you know, how do we continue to pull these levers so we can continue to talk to each other and work together? And Global Citizen continues on? It’s a great organization. But I got a phone call to come work back at the Peace Corps for the Biden-Harris administration. So that’s where I am now. I run the Office of Communications, and we are currently recruiting people to join the Peace Corps. A lot of people think the Peace Corps is no longer functioning, but it indeed is.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:10:01) – We currently have 2500 volunteers out in the field. We’re trying to get to 7000. We have something called the Bold Invitation that I’ve worked with a dynamic team to create, and it really just says, similar to what I’m talking about throughout this entire conversation, Chloe, that we want, everyone included. I think a lot of people think that Peace Corps is just for one demographic of people who may be privileged or, you know, may have had an opportunity to travel in the 60s, but what we are doing is turning that on its head and say, whether you are young or young at heart, we want you here. We want you. Going around the world. We want you learning languages. We we want you teaching English and other languages that you know. And what is the crux of how we can exchange world peace and friendship and understanding so that as wars and different things are breaking up, we have friends around the world that we can actually talk to about our differences and our similarities. So that’s really what I do with the Peace Corps now.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:10:54) – And I’m just in midway through the journey.

Chloe Dechow (00:10:56) – I feel like a really long silence just needs to like, follow, to just soak up how incredible your journey has been and quite frankly, the immeasurable impact that you have had on this career path of yours, from our youth to our young at heart, as you called them. It’s truly inspiring. Charmion. So thank you so much for sharing your journey and doing this, this work. Because it’s not easy work either.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:11:23) – No, it’s.

Chloe Dechow (00:11:24) – So if we could, I’d love to just talk a little bit about what social impact is, because I think that can be really helpful for people to have kind of a definition to hold on to. So I’m curious when you think about social impact, like how would you define that to somebody? Yeah, I.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:11:39) – Would say it’s really thinking about really social innovation. Social entrepreneurship. What challenge are you trying to solve for and what people can you bring together to solve for large global or even national challenges or even community challenges? But, you know, how can you innovate something new that actually has a result of impacting people on the ground? And a lot of folks will sort of think about nonprofit work, or work in the faith space, or work in all types of spaces when we’re defining social impact.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:12:10) – I don’t happen to be an exclusionary person when I think about this, because we need as many people who have great ideas to come up together around issues to solve for real people. Right. And I think that that to me, that’s social impact is when you’re thinking about new innovations, things that have not been done before to solve for contemporary challenges, with the goal of creating a solution in mind and with a goal, most importantly, of being effective. You really have to really start at the beginning and say, what do we want to have happen? And then engineer the programming and the grantmaking and the communications and the advocacy groups around that result. But if you have a real social impact campaign, at the end of it, you should be able to look at it and say, how did the needle move forward? Did we progress in this area, and who did we help along the way? And if you can measure that, then it’s legitimately a social impact campaign. I think there are awareness campaigns meant to augment and support social impact, but I would consider the ones where you can measure and find effective progress to be actual impact campaigns.

Chloe Dechow (00:13:14) – Yeah. And what would you recommend measuring for something like that.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:13:18) – So for measurement, I mean it depends, but let’s say for example, right now at the Peace Corps we are thinking about recruitment. So we launched a brand new website. It’s called Peace corps.gov backslash bold. If you want to join the Peace Corps. And we measure how many people have visited our website and subsequently how many people are actually signing up to volunteer to get on a plane and go around the world. Right. So if we had 19,000 people come to us, for example, in interest, but really not as many people follow through, filled out the application, raise their hand to go to Morocco or Fiji or South Africa or different places that we are around the world to actually go. And so our measurement is both looking at who we are bringing along the way. But then also how many people did we actually get to volunteer? So that’s one just clean cut example. Another example might be for example at Disney they work with Make-A-Wish over the past 50 years.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:14:12) – So they already have established data, right, that the relationship works. But every time you launch a new campaign, we launched one called Share Your Ears, where we allow people to go into the park and buy Mickey Mouse ears. And part of the proceeds actually went to Make-A-Wish. So we measure that. We measure how many people were going on Instagram with their ears and like tagging our campaign. And so we matched all of those donations. We were actually measuring how many donations got made. And then we were measuring, really did we cover our goal? I think we set out to raise $1 million and then match $1 million, and we ended up at $10 million, which is amazing. And so that’s a good way to measure, too, because, you know, okay, if we put paid advertising here or if we have said stakeholder groups to amplify our message on the same day here, you know, what is their reach? How authentic is the message to those ancillary groups? Will those people move to action? Do you have a brick and mortar organizations where they’re more so focused on ground operations, or do you have, you know, folks with strong marketing budgets that can influence people who have never had experience with your brand? So these are all the different types of things that you can measure.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:15:16) – You can also measure stakeholders who become interested in actually supporting your calls as a support of your campaign. So there are a lot of different things. And there’s also the legislative route where Congress may start having a conversation about your topic and start. Move legislation and policy as a result. So there are all types of ways to measure. But I would just say the key thing is that it’s not just sort of, you know, impressions or just sort of social or just this is how many people saw this, right? There needs to be measurable action of what happened as a result of the campaign. And I think that is a key difference that is important for people who are thinking about, you know, entrepreneurship in this space and or looking to get grant money to support the initiatives for, for things that they may be interested in working on.

Chloe Dechow (00:16:05) – Yeah, I love that you normalise the fact that social impact isn’t necessarily just a nonprofit role or a corporate company with a large budget that can kind of afford to do more social responsibility.

Chloe Dechow (00:16:20) – I’m curious through, like the lens of more of a solopreneur or maybe a small business owner with a small team, how they could apply some of these initiatives or ideas towards serving their audience in a new way, without maybe feeling like they need to have all these resources that, you know, some of these bigger companies might have. Yeah.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:16:41) – So there are two distinct ways that I think are great to do. One is if you think about, like the Tom’s company or like Ben and Jerry, right. I encourage companies to think about what they are uniquely excellent at. So if you are in the app business or podcasting business or PR business, what? Or if you, you know, you said solopreneur, but, you know, let’s say there are three people in your stack. What are things that the three of you are or even just you are really passionate about? And how can you offer your skills and work with a nonprofit to not only serve with them, but then also amplify their mission as a core part of your business, and then even carrying that along with you? We care a lot about, you know, young mothers, you know, in our region, if you, you know, sign on with us to be a client, are you willing to offer these same rights, thoughts, considerations for the mothers that work for you? Right.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:17:36) – And so even if you are very new and you don’t have the ability to pick a check over a company saying, yes, we will adhere to your HR requests, right? You still can have that mindset of, here’s the vision, here’s the mission, here’s what we are about. This is what we were founded on. This is what we stand for. This is what we believe in, right? And that helps with not only attracting talent to your organization and clientele to your organization, but also helps people to understand exactly what you care about in the world. And that just makes for a stronger business in this environment, because people don’t want to just hear that you will contort yourself to make money for anything, anywhere. They really want to understand who they are spending their money with, who they are supporting or liking or sharing messages for. And they like when you stand for something. So I would say thinking about that, you know, what do you really care about? What is, you know, your company comprised of? What do you want people to be proud of when they join you? What do you actually care about yourself? Chick fil A is really good with this, right? You know, there are a number of companies that you think about and you don’t know why you love them, but you’re like, they’re great, right? And generally it’s because they have picked something that they actually stand for and believe in.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:18:48) – They carry it through their mission statement. They bring people on it and have them espouse the same values. They ask other people to respect their viewpoint in the world. They execute upon those things and make sure that they have a strong workforce, and then they are looking for ways to espouse those things along the way. So I would say that’s a great way. The other is I’ve been doing some vital work with volunteer work with the Howard University men’s basketball team, and Danielle, who is one of their innovation officers over there, has really been working on building character of the young men outside of just basketball. So last year they chose women’s maternal health to work on, and they went and volunteered at Mama Tutus Village here in D.C. and they went to the Congressional Black Caucus proceedings, and they went to the Hill to lobby. And they did all these things outside of the basketball court because they decided that their issue was women’s maternal health. This year, it’s going to be social justice. And so they’ve done anything from meeting with Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to going to the white House.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:19:45) – They have good conversations about, you know, health justice to, you know, they’re just learning about justice. Right. And I would say that for solopreneurs as well, if there is an area that you are just interested in, think about what you can do that not only aligns with your business, maybe you’re seeking out clients that hold those same values, or maybe you are attending sessions and making it available to your clients so they can learn more about those issues. Or maybe you are working with your staff to say, well, you know, let’s say we have a bat in the box initiative. We’re going to consider people who may not have a full college degree as long as they have the technical training they need to join this workforce. Or how can we support moms of people who are impacted? So there are all different types of ways to do it right. But I think it’s just. Really be a thoughtful about what drives you. Putting a stake in the ground there, bringing your people along, and then finding ways to actually show up in the world in that way.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:20:40) – And that’s a really great foundation for when you do get funding, because you can always pitch to a client and say, oh, and by the way, we really, really care about this issue. What do you think about it as well? So I just think that’s a great way to even have what we call a triple bottom line to a business that’s budding, as you just think about having a value in a vision and a mission for what your organization is going to achieve while it’s operational and growing.

Chloe Dechow (00:21:05) – Yeah. What I’m hearing is not just talking the talk, but walking the walk. So yes, it’s important to have a vision and values and messaging and caring about something, but actually doing the work to help, you know, solve that problem or support the people that you serve or whatever version of that looks like, like actually doing the work is just as important as talking about the work. So I think you’ve given some really good examples of how somebody could do that. As a small business owner.

Chloe Dechow (00:21:35) – This is not a small business. But as you’re talking this this example came to mind, and I know my podcast listeners will if they haven’t heard already, we’ll hear me talk about this thought leader as an example. Her name is Laura modi, and she is one of the founders of Bobby, which is a formula company, very, very high quality product. But they do a lot of social impact work, and most recently they’ve been supporting paid parental leave policies. And they’re really big advocates in making sure that women’s health after having a baby is well supported, or any parent really throughout that matter. And they have been working very closely on creating a better parental leave policy and what they did, which in theory probably didn’t cost them any extra money, was that they actually shared their policy out publicly so that other companies could see the example and adopt what they were doing, or have at least a starting place for creating their own policies. And so I also think it can sound like this can be a really expensive thing to do as a small business, but it doesn’t have to be.

Chloe Dechow (00:22:45) – There can be creative ways to make an impact by sharing something that you’ve already created or done with a greater audience, that then can use what you’re doing as an example for their own, you know, their own staff or their own communities as well. So it’s really cool to be able to get creative in this realm.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:23:04) – Well, that’s a great example because believe it or not, I think those types of actions, especially when entrepreneurs and solopreneurs can’t afford it, is more effective because there’s no barrier to entry and there’s no barrier to action. And so what that does is it allows other people to say, oh, I would love to be able to do something right. I would love to be able to write a policy like this. And before you know it, 200 people who were might have gone to a larger company before just because they need to earn a check are now living out, you know, their dreams and doing things they’re really passionate about and feeling valued where they work. And that in itself can really be a mode of impact as well.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:23:43) – I mean, we talk about quiet quitting and all the things that are happening in this shifting work environment. And I just think that the more we put humanity first and put people first, the better off we’re going to be. And that’s an excellent example of that organization doing that.

Chloe Dechow (00:23:58) – Yeah, absolutely. So I want to tie this back to the thought leadership, because I know that’s one of the main reasons my listeners are here is to really learn how to build their own authority. And I feel that social impact is a big piece of that. But I would love for you to help kind of connect the dots on how they’re related.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:24:15) – Yeah. So I would say social impacts fairly new, don’t quote me, but it’s less than 30 years old. You know, it was a budding concept and not to age myself, I was first getting out of school and I think where I really started to learn more about it, you know, was when the Obamas ran for office because it was kind of unheard of.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:24:33) – And there were all these things that we had to do to sort of show up well qualified and, you know, prepared for that audacity to even just like, run to run the country. I think the difference is really are thinking about what you uniquely want to do in the world. So when we started this, we opened up, I said, I’m entirely interested in inspiring young people to excellence. That came from me not being inspired to his excellence like I literally used to. People were like, why don’t you become a nurse instead of a doctor? Why don’t you become a paralegal instead of a lawyer? Why don’t you go to community colleges that have a private HBCU, like all of these sort of expectations that like, they had to save me from trying to like, Excel or just like, this is going to be good enough because we know what happens, you know? And so I think that uniquely comes out of me when I’m doing this work is like, I literally would send a sixth grader to space if they let me.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:25:26) – And I talked to NASA quite often, right. Like I literally went. Young people, no matter what their background is something as big as they possibly could think about being as great as they possibly can. And I say that to say the thought leadership piece and the social impact piece are because that’s uniquely me. I don’t know that anybody else is as fixated on this like it came from somewhere. Why I’ve been doing this work for so long and all of these different types of ways, because I actually care about the end result. So I really think that people have to think about what legacy they want to leave, you know, outside of their families, you know, when their time here is done, what are they uniquely suited to do? And then how would that have an impact on people? And I think that’s where the thought leadership grows from, because now you can connect all the dots of who you authentically are, what you have authentically experienced, why you were uniquely suited to sit in a space and and be passionate about saying scary things, you know, in rooms sometimes where people are like, why is this person saying this? But you have zero fear because that is your thing, right? So this is where they connect, is where you have to think about, well, what do I actually want to see happen here? And then how what do I think about that thing happening? And even if it isn’t currently happening right.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:26:45) – But you know that it can happen. That’s where I think the thought leadership comes, and that’s where you will not have to have ghostwriters, and you will not have to necessarily have other people shaping what your platforms and visions are, because you will be very clear on, hey, this is what I actually, again, to your great point earlier, you actually have to do whatever it is you’re saying, right? So you better mean it, right? It’s like, do you actually believe that this thing can happen? And then you start sharing your thoughts around how you think that can happen, right. And so for me, I mean, I don’t know if that’s the most eloquent way of saying this, but I think the point is that connecting social impact should be something that you actually feel passionately about for whatever reason, and it should come from as much lived experience as you can offer to the topic. And if you don’t have the lived experience, you walk in the walk of going to do the thing you care about so that you start to get some lived experience so that you can have new thoughts, because you’ll get there and you’ll bring yourself and you’ll say, well, this is done really well, and this can be done a lot better.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:27:46) – And here’s how I want to innovate in the middle. Right. And so that’s really what, you know, I spent probably ten minutes without a breath talking about my career journey. Really the seed of that was a lot of people actually saying, we don’t know that you can go that far, like just try this because that is just way too big, right? And so I’ve just been going places that are way too big and sending droplets back to young people like, hey, take this internship, try this job, come intern at the white House, coming to an internationally care about the world, right? And that is really where I think, and I can do a better job of this. But that’s where my thought leadership has come from is, you know, you really can’t tell me the things are impossible. Young people are too young to think about solutions, that they come from the wrong side of the tracks and don’t have enough access. You know that they are always going to be underrepresented, you know, even if you are underrepresented, it doesn’t mean you don’t have original thoughts and things that you can get into a room and shake the room up.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:28:48) – Right. So that’s that’s my unique fingerprint is I go places in the skin, I am in the background I have, and I challenge anybody who has the actual belief that underrepresented or underserved or whatever words we love to use these days, young people cannot excel in these spaces. I’ve proved time and time again that that is false. And I really feel very passionately about young people not even having that to worry about as they are matriculating through their process. So I guess, you know, for anybody who is passionate about a thing, that’s how you do it is you gotta bring your real self to the thought. You figure out what subset of things are before you that you want to try to do. You do the things and then you start to think about, you know, what is your analysis of what you’ve been walking through, and what do you uniquely see that people can continue to help you work on? And that’s where that I think spawns from.

Chloe Dechow (00:29:43) – Yeah. And for my listeners, what this brings up for me is I interviewed Kylie Peters for episode number two, and one of the questions she likes to ask is like, what is the pain? You know best? Because that tends to be where you get a lot of the conviction in your work.

Chloe Dechow (00:29:59) – And so for you, it sounds like your whole life people have been encouraging you to play small and keep it safe. And for you like that pain that you know is that people weren’t holding up a mirror to you to show a larger vision of what you could achieve. And so now you’re doing that for our youth is helping them know, like, actually, you can dream big, you can go after big things and difficult things and you’re capable. And so I love that example of here’s this pain that I’ve experienced throughout my life, and here’s what I’m turning it into. This is the impact I’m going to make from this. So just want to recognize first. Like that’s amazing that you’ve been able to do this because not everybody thinks to reframe the hardships that they go through. And so I want to acknowledge like that’s a big shift for anyone to take, but for you to be able to take those lessons and turn them into something beautiful for other people is really wonderful. Thank you. I would love to chat about and I know in I listened to your interview in the Minority Leader, which was excellent.

Chloe Dechow (00:31:00) – There was some chatter around being audacious. And so can we talk a little bit about why having audacity in the work that you do is important?

Charmion N. Kinder (00:31:10) – Well, there are always going to be people, I think, and for good reasons, that will say no, first be or you can’t or it’s not possible or we’ve never seen it before, or they are just trained to make sure that everything is protected status quo, that everyone is successful based upon what they’ve already seen. And so for social impact work, most of the time you are solving for something that is a problem. Like it’s a challenge and it’s a challenge for a reason is a challenge because it’s hard. It’s a challenge because there have been barriers. There’s a challenge because there have been lack of resources. It’s a challenge because people haven’t come together to have the proper conversations to solve for something new. And so you have to be audacious with that type of stuff, because other than that, is very easy to get caught into what was, but not into what could be.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:31:57) – And if you’re if you’re going to design the what could be, you have to have a lot of conviction and the audacity to tell people, well, I understand, and I think that that is true for where we were. Here’s what I think is possible. Here’s where I think we can change. Here’s where I think there is augmentation that can happen. Here’s what I think we can bring together to have never come together before to talk about solutions around this challenge. Right. And so it’s just imperative if you don’t have enough thick skin or you aren’t willing to develop it in, social impact is going to be very challenging because sometimes you never have enough money. The people are like arch enemies that you want to come together to solve for something. You know, there’s been conflict around the world in those spaces for thousands of years. But these things they matter for for the for humanity that is rising behind us. You know, we we have, as we all know, a climate challenge that is upon us that is not just going to end at the beginning and end of the borders of the United States of America.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:32:56) – We’re going to need to be able to talk to other countries about sharing resources on planet Earth. And if we can’t even get along enough to have a conversation with them now, while we can breathe air and drink clean water, you can only imagine the tension that’s going to happen when we have to do that under more strenuous circumstances. And we saw some of this. We work together beautifully during Covid 19, but there were some scary times where a lot of people around the world, and we lost a lot of people around the world. And so I just think that you have to be focused on the vision and confident enough to articulate it, to make other people believe you as well, because other than that, it’s very easy to sort of sail along with status quo and to look at what is already happened and to say, no, this is too much of a risk. We can’t do it. This is impossible. You know, all of these things will always come up, and you can’t move the needle forward on what you want to see come to pass.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:33:49) – So that’s why I mentioned audacity, because it just takes courage and it takes being bold. And it takes knowing with some level of conviction that your vision is valid and that other people probably will join you if you have the courage to step to the front and lead.

Chloe Dechow (00:34:04) – Yes, I love that. You know, the leadership can take a lot of forms, right? So I’m curious for you if someone was thinking about developing their leadership skills around social impact, like where could they get started in this space? Yeah.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:34:18) – So I mean, I am actually still developing in this in the new space. And so the internet has a ton of resources. I am always on YouTube looking at different companies, but more formally, the University of Pennsylvania has a social impact program where there are free resources. University of Georgetown has many resources and panels. The School of Continuing Studies that you can go to for resources. I happen to go to a more formal program at Harvard Business School, executive education, where where I learned a little bit more about social impact formally.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:34:48) – But what I love is over the past decade, there have just been a groundswell of organizations that are putting out white papers that are having public forums. LinkedIn live is always doing talks and sessions, every thinktank imaginable. Generally, they have time and resources, and they exist to think about great ideas in the world. So you have the Aspen Institute, you have Davos, you know, which is something that always a lot of rich resources come out of. I would say, you know, pick your general genre or topic. So mine happens to be sort of like community based work that includes children but not always. But I do Google alerts on some of the issues that I care about. And you’ll be surprised what comes back. When you put it like your issue area plus like social impact. That’s the right way to stay very current too, because I’m generally every day reading a new release of a new initiative that’s launched or new organizations that are coming together on around the topic or who funded it or what their goal is.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:35:45) – How is it aligned with the UN Sustainable Development Goals? Does it align with the work I’m doing at the Peace Corps? And so just really immersing yourself with resources that are online is very helpful and leadership. But I would say the best thing that you can do and the most practical thing you can do is really understand how your issue area is evolving on a day to day basis, so that if you meet somebody, you can fluently talk about it. You understand the most current news in the area and you can, you know, seek out conferences in different things that will allow you to continue to grow and just really be in the space.

Chloe Dechow (00:36:18) – Yeah, I’m hearing a lot of really getting clear and understanding the issue that you’re working to solve. So I know even something that a lot of people can forget is actually talking to the people that are facing the challenges and understanding, like what their day to day looks like, what is pressing for them, what they’ve already tried, you know, resources they’ve already tried to get or the support they’ve tried to get, what’s working, what’s not, and also paying attention to like, what’s going on in the news and the world around you can be an element of staying really in touch with what the challenges are, so that you are actually being part of the solution versus being maybe tone deaf or solving for a problem that doesn’t exist or what, you know, all those other things that we can if we’re not paying close attention, we can really fall into traps of not actually helping.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:37:06) – So, yeah, you know, one thing I want to double tap on that. You just said Chloe is lifting up the voices of people who are impacted. That’s also something I’ve been very passionate about along the way, but still even looking to do more of. I think that even if you were a person who was a facilitator of actually allowing people to speak on behalf of themselves, that would even be far and above more impactful than what we’ve seen over the past 30 years, because what you’ve seen is so many people like coming in and caring and then also speaking to and for other people, and we created language because of how grantmaking happens and how policy is written, and how you have to write law, that makes a case for a less than or a there’s a underserved or underrepresented. So now we have to come in with money or come in with policy to then help. What happens in that process is a lot of people who are not actually impacted by being in the room or on the panel or saying, hey, we don’t actually need a free playground.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:38:09) – What we actually need is water filters, because this reservoir down the street, it went south and they’re trying to charge me $200 a month to, you know, so it’s just a matter of even the council meetings and different things where people are finding those leaders, you know, in the communities where you want to impact and listening to them and asking them how you can help them. And then when somebody has a solution or some money, actually putting them on the panel is even far and above what I’ve seen happen in the space so far. Arne Duncan, who is a former education secretary in the Obama administration, is really good at this. He does a lot of work with becoming a man, which is called Bam in Chicago. And a lot of, you know, youth development, he was, you know, former education secretary. Any time he’s on a panel, he literally brings 2 to 3 young people with him, and they actually take the panel and he actually facilitates questions. But I’ve seen them do it all around D.C. I’ve seen them do it internationally.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:39:06) – I’ve seen them do it nationally. I mean, major stages. He actually moves out of the way and let the young people speak on behalf of themselves. And every time it is such a dynamic experience because you are hearing directly from some of these young people who are, you know, in the programs that are developed and, you know, going through these processes where they’re saying, well, this was great, but, you know, over here, you know, I got all this great education. And then when it’s time to go to college, I felt a little short. So I ended up down the street at the subway, you know, like, you know, you all met. Well, I had really great lexicon. Like, I read beautifully. I got a great score by SATs, but I just didn’t, you know. So there are always gaps with some of these things that we’re trying to do. And the more you can pull the people into the process, the more impactful you’re going to be.

Chloe Dechow (00:39:53) – Yeah, it’s if we actually want to solve the problem, we need to hear from the people that are being impacted by the problem. So I love that. And then creating space for them to be the ones to share versus trying to share on other people’s behalf. It sounds like he does a really good job of like moderating and creating this space, but then taking a step back and letting other people who are more directly impacted be able to share from their experience. So I love that example.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:40:20) – And even with things like gun violence prevention and things, right. It’s one thing to say we need to get guns off the street. We need. And then there’s another thing to talk to three young men who have been shot in Sharratt. Two totally different things.

Chloe Dechow (00:40:30) – Very different.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:40:31) – Oh, it’s just really powerful. Every time I’ve seen him do it, I’m just like, this is one of the directions that we need to take notes from, because it actually moves hearts and minds. And then people are like, okay, now I understand a little bit more how we even got here, right? That might, you know, spawn other ideas.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:40:49) – So I’m just a big advocate of you’re not always going to be able to do it, but I’m a big advocate of both and when possible.

Chloe Dechow (00:40:54) – Yeah, absolutely. So as we wrap up, I’m curious if you wanted a listener to take just like one takeaway from today, what would you want that to be?

Charmion N. Kinder (00:41:04) – So I would want solopreneurs, entrepreneurs, people who are working in corporate jobs, people working in government, whoever you are, wherever you may find yourself to really think about what you are excellent at and figure out how to contribute some of that back to the world. I think that whether you call a social impact or not, there are ways to be a change agent wherever you may be, and we need you in the game to save humanity. There is so much suffering and sometimes small steps create big ripples. And so I just want everyone to understand their power and agency and thinking about ways to put humanity first, wherever they are, and taking a small step towards that action. And I guarantee you, if you think about it, you will be better yourself.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:41:50) – You will make the people around you better, and more importantly, you’ll be using the resources wherever you are to make this world a better place. That’s my vision for everyone, is to just think about how they can become any change agents, wherever they are and whatever capacity they can do it in. And it just makes for a better lived experience. When you’re around people who take the time, you know, to care about others as much as they care about themselves, it just feels better. So that’s what I want people to think about doing.

Chloe Dechow (00:42:16) – Thank you so much, Charmion, for sharing all of your background, your skills, your expertise, your lived experience with us today. If somebody wanted to learn more about what you do and get in touch, where can they find you?

Charmion N. Kinder (00:42:30) – Yes, you can find me at charmionkinder.com So  c h a r m i o n kinder.com. And I’m on social @charmionkinder. Very easy. So on LinkedIn, on Instagram and Facebook and all.

Chloe Dechow (00:42:47) – Of the platforms. All naturally as a professional communicator for sure. Yes. Wonderful. Well, thank you so, so much for being here. You are incredible. You are inspiring and I am so grateful to know you and have you here to share all the impact that you’re making.

Charmion N. Kinder (00:43:05) – So thank you for having me and thank you for being you. And thank you for this fantastic podcast. And just thank you for the opportunity to share today. I’ve had a great time chatting with you, and I know we’re going to get more amazing work done together. Absolutely.

Chloe Dechow (00:43:22) – Thank you for joining me today. If you enjoyed this episode, invite your entrepreneur friends to tune in. Don’t forget to connect with me on Instagram @westhavencoaching. I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts on today’s episode and continue the conversation with you there. And before you go, be sure to download my free guide, Five Steps to Building Your Authentic Authority, which will walk you through how to grow your thought leadership in a way that’s true to who you are and what you stand for.

Chloe Dechow (00:43:51) – You can find the guide at westhavencoaching.com/steps or follow the link in the show notes. Thanks again for tuning in. Together we are changing the faces and voices of thought leadership. Until next time, keep leading with authenticity and impact.

Prioritizing Social Impact in Small Business with Charmion N. Kinder

April 18, 2024

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