Just a few weeks ago, I was asked to write an article for Kellogg’s newspaper: the Merger. There were a lot of good articles submitted, some about Ski Trip, others describing the Photo contest and others about DAK. But like most editions, I was tapped to write something a little more serious. I was asked to write the inspirational New Years article. So I considered possible topics, pondered New Years resolutions and surveyed the past few months to come up with ideas. And upon reflection, I propose that 2012 will be the year of movements.
See below for my article.
Three years ago, I HAD A DREAM. I was about to submit my application to Northwestern and I had just talked to my friend Leland Cheung about his successful City Council campaign. He told me how he leveraged momentum from the Obama election to build a movement himself. As an aspiring social change agent, I was in awe and wanted to do something similar. I dreamt that I could also start a social movement. In fact, my dream nearly took me away from Northwestern to his program: MIT Sloan and Harvard Kennedy joint program
Then the following year, I watched an even bigger movement take place when my friend built a social network and then ran for Congress in California. He brought together a great team, raised a lot of money, and created more buzz than anyone thought was possible. And I realized that with the right planning, it was possible to be part of a movement despite being a single person.
Inspired by these movements, last year I pitched an idea to a local foundation to build a social platform to campaign for the importance of education. One pitch turned into a few meetings with volunteers and advisors. It also led us to find a prominent website developer, submit a few applications for funding and seek out a campaign manager. And today we have a full-fledged idea and nervously await as we hope to launch our project in the upcoming weeks.
But for now, more important than my idea is that 2012 is shaping up to be the year of Movements. The year people mobilize around issues more than ever before. The year that we can reach considerably more people in significantly less time. And year that even a single individual can do something that matters.
But don’t take it from me; take it from the Movements taking place all around the world today. The Occupy movements which started as a single blog post before making their way to New York City and then to nearly 100 cities and countries around the world. The It Gets Better Project, which started as a YouTube video by a single blogger, but today that has more than 30,000 uploaded entries, with more than 40 million views. And most recently the SOPA protest, which started as a single petition before dozens of organizations joined it, collected millions of signatures, and eventually got support from companies like Google and Wikipedia.
And how interesting that SOPA comes right after MLK weekend, which celebrates one of the biggest movements of all time. One that started with a dream but ended up changing hearts and making history. And that movement took place without the Internet.
Now more than ever, the world needs us to HAVE A DREAM. A dream about how to make things better and about how to use our skills to make it happen. Fortunately, getting an MBA Kellogg equips us well to do that. The classmates we have access to. The professors that want to help. And our training not just on business principles but also organizing and leading teams. They can all be priceless resources.
So today, as many of us are spending most our time thinking about recruiting I propose that in 2012 that we also think about the movements we want to support. And as we have dreams about landing top marketing and consulting jobs, we should also continue dreaming about our other passions. Whether building the next great social startup. Volunteering in rural communities abroad. Raising awareness around an issue you care about. Taking part in the upcoming Presidential election. Or taking a stand in the education conversation to say that Education Matters. Because in today’s Internet driven society it’s easier than ever before to have your voice be heard.
Now more than ever, the world needs us to create a movement. So while the rest of the world is paying close attention, let’s leverage the rest of our time at Northwestern to start one.
What is your dream for 2012? I know what mine is.