Berkeley Haas - Dean's Speaker Series | Becoming a Changemaker

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(crowd chatters)

  • Good afternoon, welcome.

My name is Erika Walker.

I am the senior assistant dean for instruction here

at the Haas School of Business,

and I’d like to welcome you on behalf of Dean Ann Harrison,

who’s traveling today, to our Dean Speaker Series.

I’m excited for this particular topic today.

It’s just really wonderful to be here on this occasion

to reflect on just how much change Alex

and his changemaker class have catalyzed both on campus

and in the lives of students.

I remember when Alex was in the process

of developing this course.

I remember he was really thoughtful

and serious about how to ensure

that he would be able to inspire students

to be changemakers,

and not after they patented a new invention,

not after they secured a new job title

that was high profile,

or not after they started a new company,

but right now as immediate changemakers, right?

I was excited that we were gonna be able

to offer something like this in the undergraduate program.

Now Alex began teaching this class in 2019,

drawing rave reviews from students

in the very first semester.

Students would share

that the Becoming a Changemaker class was life-changing,

and even transformational.

They were surprised that such a course

as this was actually offered as part of business education,

and it ultimately reframed the way many students

approached their own leadership journey.

Now since that first semester,

Alex’s changemaker curriculum

has become exceptionally popular all across Haas,

among our undergraduates, our MBAs,

and even with our Berkeley Executive Education participants.

He’s found creative ways to teach changemaking at all levels

and to all types of learners.

Now students would remark on the inclusive approach

that Alex brings to his teaching,

highlighting how his unique pedagogical approach

to changemaking meets them where they are,

and specifically inspires them to lead change

in brand new ways.

He’s also pioneered some new approaches

to experiential learning,

which pushed our students outside of their comfort zones

as they explore what leading change means to them.

This is important because it is often during discomfort

that we have our most salient growth experiences.

Now as a culture champion, a Haas culture champion,

it is especially meaningful to see

that this course connects incredibly deeply

and fundamentally to Haas’s defining leadership principles,

with one week of class dedicated

to exploring the changemaking connections

to each of those defining leadership principles.

And now, it’s so exciting to see

that Alex is making the same magic

of his Haas classes available

to so many more people through his wonderful new book

that was just launched yesterday.

(Erika claps)

(all applaud) (Erika laughs)

Haas is featured prominently in the book,

from chapters named

after the Haas defining leadership principles

to stories of Berkeley Haas leaders

that have shown changemaking,

have demonstrated those changemaking principles in action.

Now knowing Alex, I’m sure it was a labor of love

to put all this hard work into writing this book,

but he did it because he so deeply believes

that every person can be a changemaker,

and he can help everyone fulfill that potential.

It’s not surprising to anyone

that even though this is his book,

he wants to use this occasion, this celebration,

as a chance to highlight and elevate the work of the impact

of the alumni in those classes.

So he’s joined today by alumni,

each an inspiring changemaker in their own right.

I’d like to take this opportunity

to again publicly congratulate you Alex.

This is really exciting,

the Haas community is so proud of you,

and we can’t wait to see what this impact will be

on all changemakers out there, everywhere.

So I’m going to now turn this over to Alex

who will lead the panel discussion today.

Again, congratulations,

and let’s give another warm round of applause.

(all applaud)

  • Thank you so much Erika, super kind introduction,

and I’m just so grateful to be here today with all of you.

Of course, my name is on the cover of the book,

but it’s a community effort,

and it’s such a joy to celebrate this book in community

with all of you.

As Erika mentioned, this book is very Haas,

and it all started with a single serendipitous conversation,

so I went to meet with Jay Stowsky,

who was our senior assistant dean of instruction,

know Jay is watching virtually,

and I was going to him for advice on a career transition,

but I think he could tell that my heart wasn’t really in it,

and so I will always remember what he said.

He said, “But Alex, what do you really wanna do?”

And I said, “Well, y’know, what I really wanna do is teach,”

and then made some excuses

for why I couldn’t possibly teach,

but to my shock and delight, he said,

“All right, what do you wanna teach?”

And in that moment, became crystal clear, I said,

“I wanna teach becoming a changemaker,”

and again, to my shock and delight,

he said, “Okay, put together a syllabus, show it to me,

“and we’ll go from there,”

and I remember literally leaping out of my seat,

so elated someone else saw this potential in this class,

in this vision, and I shook his hand,

I closed the door to his office,

immediately pulled out my phone

and Googled how to create a syllabus,

because I had no idea how to do it,

but that started this journey which is now so special

to bring all full circle here to Haas.

As Erika mentioned, I don’t want this to be about me.

I so believe in a potential of all of us

to become changemakers,

and I wanna use this as a platform

to lift up the stories and the impact

of so many other changemakers, and here’s the amazing thing,

is I could’ve chosen any of the hundreds

of students I’ve had the privilege

and joy of teaching to be up here,

but I’m so thrilled to be joined by three alumni today,

so we’ll have a panel discussion about leading change,

about positive change, about being a changemaker,

and I thought to get us started,

we’d have each of them just briefly introduce themselves

and tell us a little bit about their changemaker journey

and their impact, so Angelica, we start with you.

  • Yeah hi, just intro and what we’ve been up to,

kind of, yeah? - And what makes you

a changemaker, yeah. - Okay, okay. (laughs)

Hi, I’m Angelica, I graduated from Haas in May 2021,

I came back to walk, and I’m currently a Google APMM

so I work in product marketing there

but during my five-to-nine,

I’m also a content creator

so I make content online really about,

which segues me into my next point of my changemaking,

is un-gatekeeping the process of, whether it’s college,

career, new grad life,

I feel like that was something I experienced

when I got to Berkeley or coming to a competitive school,

there’s a lot of, just the whole process in starting

from the college admission process was a lot of, you know,

you gotta know this or these are the secrets

and very this gatekeep-y energy

that I just personally did not, you know,

resonate with and I don’t believe in

and I really believe that there’s enough room

and success and opportunities for everyone,

so I started making my content

and having these like micro-changemaking moments

which is an element in the book that is talked about

and really bringing that to scale on the internet,

I started making TikToks and Instagram

and YouTube about my experience

and the ways I want to just spread this wealth of knowledge

of like, hey, recruiting for certain positions start

in this time and like,

so many people across the country who go

to a wide variety of schools just don’t know

about these things and I just wanted to share

with people what my experiences are

and I had the advantage of going

to such a great school like Haas

that had these resources and the community

and the knowledge that they gave me, I was like,

I need to be telling everybody and not just me

and my four friends here,

so that’s kind of a little bit inside

of what I’ve been doing with my life

and my changemaking habits.

(audience applauds)

  • And a number

of my students have said they specifically chose Berkeley

and chose Haas because of the videos

that they’ve watched of you,

so you’re an amazing recruiter for us, yeah, thank you.


  • Hi, I’m Alicia.

I’m actually a fifth year, still studying here,

business and economics major,

and I guess my changemaking journey started in 2020.

I’m a swimmer as well, and the Olympics had been postponed

and I’d kind of lost my identity a little bit,

like that was everything that I was working towards,

and I remember doing my classes and my syllabus,

like getting everything ready for the next semester,

and picking this class,

and I didn’t consider myself a changemaker

or anything like that, you know,

I’d, pretty overwhelmed when I’d get into the Haas classes

and everyone would say their double,

triple majors and things like that

and how academic Berkeley was,

and it wasn’t until I took the class that I realized

that I could make a change,

and it wasn’t always just about me

and my journey as a swimmer,

and so I kind of took the opportunity after the class

to get deep into mental health,

and particularly with athletes,

and try and get on as many podcasts as I could and try

and do raffles and bring together that spirit

of the Olympics but also, you know,

that the pandemic has been tough,

and that we can make a change

from a very small point of view,

so I started with myself and just tried

to do the local swimming community

and get bigger from there,

and then regain my identity in 2021

when the next Olympics came round,

so I’m kinda still navigating it,

but this class gave me my voice

to kind of come out of myself

and stop thinking about the I, I guess,

and make a change within the wider community.

(audience applauds)

  • And Shannon, please.

  • Hi there everyone, my name is Shannon Elliott.

I graduated with my MBA in December 2020,

which seems like a million years ago at this point

but not that long ago.

It’s funny Alex, when you were just speaking,

I was thinking, I had my answer ready about, you know,

when I started my changemaking journey, and I have no idea,

sometimes you just have this memory

from long ago just spark out of nowhere.

I think my first, my very first changemaker experience,

I think I was eight or nine years old,

and I think I was on the playground of my elementary school,

and I remember witnessing some kind

of confrontation between two of my classmates,

and I remember the classmate

who had not started it had gotten sent

to the principal’s office,

and I thought that was unacceptable, completely unjust,

and I somehow,

I don’t even think I really knew what a petition was

but I distinctly remember going around

and petitioning my classmates and asking them

to sign this document in support

of my friend who was unjustly, you know,

unjustly being disciplined,

so if that counts as the beginning, maybe that’s it.

I have no idea what happened, I was nine,

I probably did not have the full story,

but I chuckle about that

because I think there’s something deep in me

from a very early age that wanted to fight for justice,

but as an adult, (chuckles) a more informed adult,

I started my career mostly in non-profits.

My background is in communications,

and so for about four years,

my first four years in my career,

I was working on mental health stigma reduction

and social inclusion campaigns,

actually here in Alameda County,

and working with underserved populations

and marginalized groups through campaigns,

through marketing, things like that, messaging,

and then over time, working in a lot of healthcare,

mission-based healthcare, non-profits and so forth,

and today, after finishing my MBA from Haas,

I’m working as the director of communications

for a fintech company

in San Francisco called LendingClub that’s really,

that’s also mission-based,

focusing on empowering folks to make their financial goals.

  • Terrific, thank you.

(audience applauds)

So one of the key themes of “Becoming a Changemaker,”

the book and the class, is this adaptability

and flexibility, so we have one other amazing panelist

who was supposed to join us in person,

but of course things happen,

and so he was nice enough to film a video for us,

so let’s also welcome–

  • And building, so I graduated in 2020

from the Haas School of Business,

and now I’m the CEO and co-founder of Blackbook U.

We’re a diversity, equity, and inclusion solution,

working to streamline peer-to-peer connection

for Black students the moment

that they’re thinking of college to when they graduate.

A huge inspiration for my education really came

from the success of the world of innovation around me.

I was born in Oakland, raised here in the Bay Area,

and in seeing a lot of, you know,

the opportunities of Silicon Valley

and how they very much overlooked the communities

that I came from,

I worked to position my education as a platform

or bridge to the communities that I come from

and the opportunities that were all around us,

which is why I eventually created Blackbook,

but a huge, huge, you know, stepping stone for me

in doing this work really came

from adopting the changemaker mindset.

This notion of a growth mindset was something

that was new to me, being able to navigate variables,

different trajectories, different pathways

to align on your solution or the outcome in the world

that you wanna see,

was something so ingrained in myself through this course.

But I think what naturally came after that was this idea

of learned optimism.

There’s so many ups and downs as an entrepreneur,

and being able to be a leader

and inspire this cohesive path forward is something

that will consistently challenge you not only

as an entrepreneur but even outside your work.

And lastly, I think that these aspects

of mindset really come into play in this idea

of a collective mindset.

For me and for many of us who are reading the book,

going through a class, you know,

having a conversation with someone,

we have an idea of the impact or vision that we wanna see

in the world, it’s not until we’re able to articulate this

and create a shared vision

that we can start to work towards the outcomes

and realities that we wanna see.

This notion of a shared vision is something

that Alex was able to create through his classes

and through his community here in Berkeley,

and with this book,

I believe that there’s so much potential

in being able to share this to folks

who might not have the privilege of sitting in a class or,

you know, might not have the, you know,

inspiration to kind of, you know,

be a part of things like this,

it’s really a stepping stone that’s scratching the surface

for many people, optimizing access,

and really it’s a huge milestone,

so congratulations to Alex,

congratulations to the rest of the community

because you know, we’re all a part of this,

and I’m really excited to see what happens next,

so thank you all.


(audience applauds)

  • Super grateful to Ibrahim for recording that.

So what we’ll do now

is we’ll have a little conversation among us

on the panel here, and then we’ll open up to questions

for you about things you wanna talk about changemaking

and beyond.

So Shannon, wanna pick on something that you mentioned.

One of the greatest joys for me

as an educator is this like magical moment

where I can literally see someone become a changemaker.

Sometimes it happens in week one, sometimes it’s week 14,

hopefully by our week at least,

but sometimes it’s by the end of the class

where they realize, oh, I can become a changemaker,

and that’s magical as an instructor,

to get to be part of that,

it’s a privilege to be part of that.

So we can start with Alicia and then Angelica,

I’d love to hear from you,

what’s the moment where you first realized

that you could be a changemaker?

Alicia, we can start with you.

  • You want me?

In the class that I’m–

  • In your life or in the class, yeah.

  • Honestly, I’d say in the class,

it was when you were talking

about the kind of growth mindset and,

versus the fixed mindset,

and then applying that to the end of semester project,

my group and I decided we were gonna do something

to get active.

You know, we were taking the class from our bedrooms online,

(chuckles) and so it was hard to mobilize the community

from a mental health perspective

and get everybody moving and to create that plan,

and I wanted to see that through,

particularly in the UK where lockdown was really hard,

and I guess that’s where it kinda clicked,

like I don’t have to just stay here and be stagnant

and not do anything,

I can start from a very small perspective

and go to my local club

and try and implement the changemaking process

that we had talked about, and you know,

I didn’t really view myself as a changemaker

or anything like that, I just viewed myself

as one of the Berkeley students taking your class,

until I managed to go home in 2021 for the first time

and do that, and implement that kind of growth mindset

with the project that we did there, yeah.

  • [Alex] Nice, Angelica.

  • I think for me, the idea of micro-leadership was, I guess,

put into words from your class,

but going back to my thing about,

I think growth mindset is one thing

but also abundance mindset is something

that I learned that was so important to my journey,

especially being at Haas, it’s a competitive program,

it’s a competitive school,

I think sometimes we get a reputation for, you know,

there’s only so many spots for this job or like a lot,

sometimes the students unfortunately

were almost pitted against each other and I really always,

even among my friend group,

thought that there was enough opportunities, enough jobs,

enough money for all of us,

and it really is one of those like, what is it,

a tide rises all,

I’m gonna butcher this phrase, something of,

all boats, yes, - Tides raise all boats,

there you go, there you go. - all boats, yes,

(laughing) and so I, you know, started

with obviously how I treat my friends

with this type of thing of like,

career mobility was like something

I was really passionate about

and helping my friends feeling empowered

and resumes and all that stuff,

and then taking that to the next level

like practicing those micro-leadership moments

that Alex talked about

and then bringing that onto the internet

and I felt that there was also a gap in the market

for someone who’s a new grad,

who’s talking about their honest experience

and someone who isn’t 20 years out of their career

but someone who can–

People gatekept where they went to get tutoring

or SAT prep because it was that competitive

and so I was like, I wanna take this knowledge

and share it with people

and get people to also adopt that mindset

when it comes to any career or even life,

like there is so much out there for everybody

and it’s not a finite number of opportunities

and people and jobs and money and all that stuff,

so even being a content creator or influencer,

that mindset could be there in that community too of like,

well there’s only this many events

or this many brand deals or sponsorships,

but that’s something that I just took on

as a micro thing in my life

and I wanted to really share that

across all my different touchpoints,

so that’s something I’m really passionate about

is like practicing in small moments

and then finding ways you can amplify that.

  • Thanks, and Shannon,

you of course talked about your earliest age

on the playground,

but how about like, yeah. - My nine-year-old self

excluded, I think I really realized I could be a changemaker

when I had that ah-ha moment

where I redefined fundamentally was changemaking was, right?

I was always, and probably a lot of us, right,

think of changemaking as big and bold and flashy and,

you know, this 20-year-old wunderkind

who found the next huge, you know,

multi-billion-dollar startup, right?

I did not see myself in that sort of image

and also I can be,

while I can be extroverted

I also very much have an introverted side,

so I’m not always out there hustling,

going to cocktails trading business cards,

I have my quiet moments too,

but I think what was so great about this class is so much

of what I’d already been doing,

I hadn’t seen it as changemaking, but really it was,

it was those smaller moments, those quieter moments,

and even if you aren’t necessarily leading this big,

bold initiative from scratch,

if you even simply create a safe space

for others to share ideas and connect

that might not have otherwise been there

had you not done it, that’s huge,

that’s moving things forward,

so I think as I’ve progressed in my career, right,

right out of undergrad, I had this big, all-or-nothing,

black-or-white thinking of what changemaking was

but as I progressed through my career,

seeing those smaller moments, quieter moments,

how can I open up doors for other people

and support them in change,

it just comes in so many forms

so if you’re ever struggling with that,

wondering if you’re making a difference,

you most likely are, take a breath, go for a walk,

zoom out your perspective a little bit,

and I’m pretty sure you’re on the right track.

  • Yeah, I so appreciate that.

In the book, of course I define changemaking,

and I define it in a radically inclusive way.

It’s simply someone who leads positive change

from where they are,

and that makes it inclusive to all of us to be changemakers.

We don’t need a formal title or role or responsibility,

all it takes is giving ourselves the authority to step up

and say, “Yes, I can do something about this”

in a way that’s true to who we are,

introvert or extrovert or beyond.

  • And I think building on that, you know,

if we’re at Berkeley, we’re probably already

very achievement-oriented individuals, right,

and I think to just get those little wins,

it gives you that confidence that you’re making progress

to keep going, right?

If your bar is all or nothing and it’s so high

and you don’t feel like you’re ever reaching it,

it can be really easy to be disheartened

and kinda walk away and give up, when in reality, you know,

you’ve actually come already so far, so just keep going.

I think you wrote, I’m going to misattribute this quote,

“Action is antidote to despair,” right?

Was that–

  • That’s not me, that’s Joan Baez that said that, but yeah,

don’t wanna take credit - I was gonna (laughs)

  • for that, but. (audience laughs)

  • I was gonna say Joni Mitchell

but I was gonna mess it up, yeah.

So again, those small, and again,

that took me time to realize.

I would not have, you know,

10 years ago would I have had this perspective, no,

but just keeping that in mind,

yeah, it gets you through the harder times.

  • Yeah, so appreciate that, so of course the subtitle

of the book is “An Actionable Inclusive Guide

“to Leading Positive Change, Any Level.”

We’ve spoken a bit on the inclusivity lens,

I wanna talk a bit about the action-oriented lens,

and so I’d love to hear from you,

what’s a lesson from the class

that you sort of put into practice,

or that you wanna teach the community

when it comes to changemaking?

Start with anyone who feels called to get started.

  • I could share the story that we talked about earlier,

that coincidentally happened - Yeah, yeah, yeah.

  • to me.

About, gosh, what was that, six months or so ago,

maybe longer, and it was kind of a, it was a tough moment,

it turned out okay, but this was actually just a moment

in life that presented itself to me.

I was not planning for it, I was out in the world,

it was not related to work in any way,

but I think this is a great example of micro-leadership

with very real human consequences,

so I was out in Oakland doing some grocery shopping,

you know, at a standard shopping center

in a Trader Joe’s parking lot,

and I was going up to my car on the second floor.

I had just left a coffee meeting

with one of my colleagues in a pretty good mood,

it was Friday, I was ready for the weekend,

and I noticed a woman who appeared,

she was lying on the ground

and she seemed to be struggling a little bit,

and I was confused and I immediately,

I looked around to see if anyone else was doing anything,

and I started to question myself,

because my eyes told me one thing but I looked around

and I was like, well no one else is helping her

so she must be okay,

and then I actually saw an individual come over,

she was in the process of being robbed

but maybe no one else had seen it

or just didn’t take action and someone came over

and actually kicked her in the stomach,

and immediately, I just went into reaction mode,

and partly panic, but partly, I just had to do something,

and it was fascinating because in real time we were seeing,

I as the first person to react,

suddenly maybe three or four people around me,

because they saw me acting, then they came in to help too,

and so Alex talks about that idea, in a less dramatic way,

but in his book about, it’s very often that first person,

that first agent of change to get others to go on board,

right, whether it’s something like an emergency like that

or even a smaller change initiative at your company

or in life, that first person is that catalyst

to get other people on board

and it makes all the difference in the world,

and thankfully she ended up being okay,

it has a happy ending, she’s doing well, but yeah,

it’s just you, it’s so easy to,

I think when you’re studying this stuff,

put it in very like theoretical context

and read case studies, it’s so applicable

to absolutely everything in life

when you’re least expecting it.

  • Thanks, I so appreciate that.

Yeah, Alicia?

  • I think for me, the first action item

that came was actually in January,

so I finished the class in December, and in January,

the pandemic was obviously still going on,

and one of my close friends had sadly been impacted

through his deteriorating mental health,

so kind of in his honor,

I wanted to swim for something bigger than myself,

and I began training, refocused myself,

and by the time the Olympics came around,

it was kind of like, oh this is cool,

like I can put on the like Team GB jerseys

and things like that, but it wasn’t the feeling

that I had thought it was gonna be,

and I kind of took the T-shirt off

and plucked up the courage to ask some of my teammates

to sign it, and you know,

like a lot of the people I idolized,

I asked for their signatures on this top

and I didn’t wear it again, I got it framed

and I decided to do a global raffle

to raffle off in Max’s honor,

and I think that was the first solidified action

that I took.

It was pretty hard because it’s so emotional but also,

these were people I looked up to,

so I didn’t feel like a changemaker in myself in that I was,

you know, asking people way above me,

but I think that when the raffle was done,

and it actually went to a little girl

who knew the person that it was in honor of,

that made me realize that it had created a change,

and you know,

obviously it created like a couple thousand dollars

that went to this charity, but this little girl,

I still email, I keep in contact with her,

she sends me cards at competitions,

but to know that she’s inspired to make a change

at eight years old was the thing

that made it all worth it to me, you know,

that I didn’t see myself like that

but it’s created a change for someone that young

and that is down to the lessons I learned

from this class, so yeah.

  • I love that.

I’m no longer mad I didn’t win the raffle.

I think she’s deserving more than I am.

Angelica, how ‘bout you?

  • Thank you.

  • I think for me, one of the hard to swallow pills

that was really helpful with both the book

and the class was really being honest with yourself,

and I know there was a section of your book

when you talk about like, you felt important

just because people were asking you questions of like,

oh, can you check my work or like, is this idea of like,

are you really making impact

and are you really saying what you’re saying or are we like,

pretending that we are because everything is lined up

and we’re, you know, basically playing dress-up

for a leader, right, or changemaker,

and even this whole thing of like,

something I’m really passionate about,

like I’ve talked about is un-gatekeeping like so many things

about, especially about like success

or whatever that means for different people,

but taking a really, like I wasn’t always like this

and I definitely have my fair share of insecurities

but I feel like that’s where a lot

of those feelings come from

and being really honest

was a big thing I know you talked about in your class

and the book is like, checking yourself of like, okay like,

why am I feeling this way, why am I frustrated,

why don’t I wanna share my resume tips with my friends,

like thinking about,

like really walking through that process of,

and getting honest

with myself was such a big wake-up call for me,

and as soon as I found that that was the root

of why so many people are gatekeepers

and so many people don’t like to share resources

and networks and whatever,

helped me like tackle that on my own

and be at a better place where I’m like,

oh, no I have X, Y, Z things that are going for me,

like feeling much more secure

about myself I think was such a, like a click for me

that was able to, why I was able to make content,

why I became so much more championing

of non-gatekeeping content and empowering others,

was because I was able to really couple this idea of like,

again, abundance mindset, growth mindset,

which all came from being very honest with myself,

and that was a big thing for me that I took away.

  • [Shannon] Can I add on?

I totally wanna go back - Yeah.

  • to that, you talked about finding your confidence, right,

and I think there was another really big moment,

where were so many big moments, so many that,

just get the book, they’re all filled with big moments,

but one person you profile in there,

we were lucky enough to have come guest lecture for us,

Cal Soon, and she is awesome, I wanna be her when I grow up,

she is a constant entrepreneur, founder,

doing wonderful things in the world,

and she talked repeatedly, she shared,

she’s very open with us,

shared her struggles of founding companies.

I think she said her father had built something up

to $1 million when she was a kid and then lost it all,

something like that, and then started from scratch again,

and I think a lot of us can identify with the fear

of failure, especially working so hard

to get to a place like Berkeley and to, you know,

whatever you think you need to do for your next career step,

and you know, it’s scary to take a risk

and potentially fail, and here she was,

completely inspirational, talking about all her failures,

and I found it fascinating, and I said,

“Didn’t the fear of failure ever terrify you?

“Did it just stop you from even trying, ‘cause sometimes

“in my past I would certainly skew that way,” and she said,

“No, in my family, you know, it was just expected.

“Failure isn’t the end, it’s a means to an end.

“You learn through the failure.

“The failure is an essential part of getting you

“to where you wanna go.

“If you stopped every time you failed,

“it would be game over, there’d be nothing else to do

“or build on,” right,

so that still sticks with me to this day,

and whenever I’m having an insecure day

or an insecure moment, I go back to that,

and yeah, just try and internalize it as much as I can.

  • Thanks, yeah, so appreciate that.

One of the highlights, I think,

of the class is bringing in a diverse array

of different guest speakers,

all who give voice to changemaking different roles

and sectors.

One particularly memorable guest speaker was Sid Espinosa.

He’s the first ever Latino mayor of Palo Alto, California,

and at the time, was the head of philanthropy at Microsoft.

And so a student asked a question,

which I think was a poignant one, which is basically,

I wanna create big system, substantive change,

but I also don’t wanna burn out.

Do you have any advice for me?

And so Sid started talking, and as he was talking,

the sort of instructor,

the professor inside of me was like uh-oh,

did he just deflate these students’ hopes?

But no, he actually gave the most empowering advice,

I think, of any of the guest speakers.

So he said, “We need to stop thinking about leading change,

“especially systemic change, as the lone person in a race.

“Instead, start thinking about it as a relay race

“that you will have 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 years of your career,

“and think about how you can take the baton

“from those who came before you,

“advance it in a really meaningful way,

“and then when your time comes,

“find ways to hand that baton off to the next person,

“and do so in a thoughtful way where you’re mentoring them,

“you’re supporting them,

“you’re setting them up for success.”

I always say that changemaking is a team sport,

and I think that’s a powerful reframe

to think about how we can all be part of change together.

So that goes back to one of the themes of Haas,

one of the defining leadership principles,

which is questioning the status quo,

and so my question for each of you is,

what’s something from the book or from the class that,

especially through the lens of leadership

and kind of how we make change, that you think,

what’s a status quo we need to challenge

and what’s maybe a tool or an idea from the class

that you think can help us question that status quo?

  • I think it’s really easy

when you are in a bigger organization,

sometimes you can kind of feel like you’re floating along,

no one really sees you, you know,

if you’re in a company of thousands if not tens,

if not hundreds of thousands of people, right, you know,

typically the bigger companies are, the more structure,

the more red tape and bureaucracies there are, right,

and it’s kind of hard to do your own thing,

you can kinda question,

am I even making a difference here each day?

Am I just coming in, clocking in and out and going home,

and am I, is what I’m doing

with my life even worth anything at the moment?

I think looking for the, again,

those quiet moments that we talked about earlier,

those really small, how you even show up in meetings,

how you show up in settings,

can you create psychological safety

for maybe some of your teammates or your colleagues

to speak about an issue they’ve been struggling with,

whereas no one else would give them that space?

So again, it might not be this big flashy change effort,

depending on how you define that or what you envision,

but just simply how you show up and relate to others

and support others

in your day-to-day can make all the difference,

‘cause you don’t know,

maybe that person was having a bad day

and was about to give up on something,

and you gave them five minutes and your attention

and some encouragement, and then they kept going

and who knows, maybe they’ll,

they’re the ones that find a new medicine for something,

you never know, right?

You just never know the positive impact

your actions can have on someone else.

  • I wanna add to that, because I feel the same way,

‘cause I just started my new grad,

I’m a year into my first new grad job

and I’m at a very big company,

and I think that’s a common thing is like,

you get there with fresh eyes and all these ideas

and things you wanna do and there’s so many problems, right,

and especially at big companies,

and you could so easily get burnt out trying to,

you can’t solve, you know, these big problems,

and you can’t change this company, you can’t change even,

you know, so many things,

but as someone who just shows up and being a new grad,

I think what I learned was the small moments,

also like setting healthy expectations of like,

what really is in your power, right,

like, again, the baton race analogy is so great

because you can only do your best for people before you

and after you and then the rest of it is kind of like,

you know, well hopefully you’ll all start to be in line

and there’s only so much you can do.

An analogy that was told to me recently was like,

you’re steering a very, very large ship, right,

and you don’t wanna be at the front of the ship

because then you’re gonna get pummeled,

but you wanna be directing it and getting allies

and getting teamwork to go so it starts

to turn into a direction and not into the iceberg,

so that was a really good thing you brought up

because I feel like as a new grad,

I face that all the time

of like I have so many things I wanna do and, you know,

feeling frustrated by, the problems are too big,

I don’t have enough power,

but like what can I do? - Politics.

  • Yeah, well that’s what really it is, but,

(both laugh)

but that’s why I think taking small moments

and pacing yourself I think is a good way definitely

to not face burnout.

  • Thanks, Alicia.

  • I think my thing I learned

about challenging the status quo

in this class was what a leader looks like.

I was a captain of the swim team that year,

and I thought leadership was this hard kind

of competitive person that needed to come down hard

on their teammates, and needed to be that person

that was instructive and not very compassionate

and didn’t show vulnerability or anything like that,

and you know, along with the challenges of that year,

but also the class and watching the clips

from people like Brene Brown, and seeing that, you know,

the more you can relate to people

and the more compassionate you can be,

the more effective you are, and you know,

that first semester, I completely failed as a captain.

I was so unrelatable, and watching those clips,

hearing from those guest speakers

and knowing that it’s okay not to be perfect

but also that you are far more relatable

if you can be yourself was something that I learned,

and I think particularly with the culture that I come from,

the status quo of being a leader is this person

that you idolize and that doesn’t show this emotion,

so trying to tap into that was my biggest takeaway

from the status quo.

  • I think building on that really quick,

I think traditionally in business

or maybe like the more old-school way of thinking was like,

don’t show emotions, you know,

don’t necessarily reach out to people and be warm and fuzzy,

right, I think nowadays,

and maybe it’s always been this way

but at least in reality but there’s more recognition

and openness about it now,

do not underestimate the importance

and the impact of emotional intelligence,

and being able to connect with people.

You can always get into the tactics and strategy later,

but if you can’t even connect with a person to begin with,

you’re not gonna have anything to talk about, right?

So always look for those connections when you can.

  • Love it, as Patti Sanchez says,

“Empathy is the key

“to leading organizational change,” totally agree.

We’ll open up in a second to questions from all of you,

so if you have a question, you can head back,

we have a microphone there,

you can line up and we’ll get to you in a sec.

We’d love to hear the questions that you all have,

so please head back and ask questions, but in the meantime,

I will ask a question to the panel, which is, in our class,

probably my favorite assignment

is we do something called the changemaker of the week.

I want every student

to leave the class having been introduced to 40,

50 different changemakers from all walks of life

to see how they have led positive change

from where they are.

Students have to make a case

for why this person’s a changemaker

and apply the concepts from class.

So my question for each of you is,

who is a changemaker that inspires you,

famous or not, and why?

  • There’s so many good ones, it’s hard to pick favorites.

Lately for me, I, in the last couple years especially,

I’ve been, become really passionate

about plant-based living, and there is a woman,

I don’t know if some of you have heard of her,

Miyoko Schinner, she recently made the Forbes’ 50 Over 50,

and she is completely just changing the game

in the plant-based food space.

She actually founded a vegan creamery several years ago

and is going toe to toe with the bigger industry

and getting, she’s been doing this kind of work

for decades now, but she’s finally at a point

where people are buying in and coming along

and you can start to see the change better for the planet,

for the animals, for health, for environment,

and she did something that I was never sure

that I would see the effects of in my lifetime

or at least not for several decades,

and it’s through all that hard work

and just believing in your mission

and making those connections,

and she’s really inspiring to watch.

  • I have one that maybe is not as obvious,

but does anyone know the podcast Dax Shepard,

Armchair Expert?

Yes, okay, so Dax Shepard is a comedian and actor,

and he’s also married to Kristen Bell, yes,

and I think that he’s a changemaker that inspires me

because he very openly talks about vulnerability,

and especially being, you know, a typical six-foot-four guy

and he has like lots of tattoos and he’s really built

and all these stereotypes,

like you would never think that would be so vulnerable,

I think that he’s doing so much

for people who look like him, people who sound like him,

people who dress like him and all those things,

because he always talks very deep into like very emotional,

vulnerable moments where even I’m like,

ooh, that was a little too honest,

but I think it’s been really enjoyable for me to listen

and I feel like he’s doing a lot for especially men

and emotional intelligence,

so that just came to mind ‘cause I love his podcast,

and I heard he thinks UC Berkeley is the best school,

so like if he ever sees this clip, then maybe he can come,

(audience laughs) but I’ve been really enjoying

the way he talks to his guests with experts

and other celebrities too.

  • Mine is a little more close to home,

but I’d say my parents are some of the biggest changemakers

that I have drawn from.

You know, they were kinda the people that pushed me

to go beyond my comfort zone and the safety net

of being in the UK, and I’d never lived away from home

or anything like that and kind of pushed me to just go

and see what was out there in America,

and I had no idea what I was getting myself into,

but they were very much like, you know,

any chances you don’t take are those that are missed,

you know, and you’re gonna fail,

you’re gonna do things that you maybe wish you hadn’t

and things like that, but do it,

and that’s kind of the legacy my mom and dad have lived by,

and so you know, looking at them as changemakers

and people who have provided for me

and allowed me to kind of flourish in another country,

even thought it is so far away from home,

is something that I’m grateful for and I, you know,

I, again, like didn’t really view people like that

as changemakers before this,

but they have made such an impact on me

and become such a powerful, like,

relationship now because of that.

  • I love it, I appreciate the wide variety

of different changemakers that you all highlighted,

so to quote Brene Brown, again, she says,

“Vulnerability is courage in you, but weakness in myself,”

and we often think that way,

and so I really appreciate that someone is courageous enough

to ask the first question, so please,

just share your name and your affiliation with Haas

and then let’s get to your question, thank you.

  • Yeah, hi.

I’m Julius, I’m an exchange student from Germany,

and I recently became involved

with the effective altruism movement,

and I wanted to know what your thoughts are

on how they actually try to like do research

and identify the most pressing issues for a society,

and if you think this is an effective way to make change,

or if you have maybe not even heard of the movement,

then I’d be happy to elaborate,

but wanted to know what your thoughts are.

  • Would you mind elaborating?

  • I can take, just really quickly,

this is the faculty member question to answer,

so I mean I think it’s really interesting,

the lens they’re taking, so first of all,

they’re questioning the status quo, they’re saying,

how can we do the most good in a limited amount

of time we have on Earth,

so I think that’s a really powerful frame.

I think an important aspect that should be raised up

in the work that they do, perhaps, is the idea of empathy,

so sometimes they go in a very calculated way,

and I think there’s a role to think about, well also,

what are the human stories as well?

There’s I think both quantitative and qualitative

that could be important.

I think they go more on the quantitative side,

so that could be interesting way to balance it out,

but I think we need more people

that are questioning the status quo,

because traditional philanthropy

and other efforts aren’t bringing about the systemic change

that we need, so I think it’s healthy

to be questioning that.

That’s my perspective.

  • [Julius] Thank you so much.

  • Thanks.

  • Hi, I’m Laura Hassner.

Full disclosure, I have the pleasure of teaching

with Alex in the Berkeley Changemaker,

but I promise he doesn’t know I’m asking this question.

(audience laughs)

This is a question that our students have asked me

to ask you for a very long time,

and that is, what is your single best piece of advice

for our changemakers?

  • Oh. (all laugh)

I think I hacked this question

‘cause I created a 15-week class with all of my best advice,

and so I think I lean into having 30 hours

of it. - Read the book.


  • I think my single biggest piece

of advice is to stop waiting for permission,

and to give it to yourself.

I think we can so often wait for someone else

to tell us that, okay, you’re ready, you can go be a leader,

you can go be a changemaker,

and if you keep waiting and waiting and waiting,

you’ll find that that probably doesn’t happen,

and so it’s very scary to put yourself out there,

but I think the most powerful thing

that begins the unlocking of your own changemaker journey,

and I hope that for many of you,

it might happen like literally right this moment,

in this room, is to say, yeah,

I could do something about this.

I don’t have to be the heropreneur, as Shannon said,

but there’s ways that I can lead change in a way

that’s true to who I am,

and it all starts with giving yourself that permission,

so this is my invitation to each of you

to take that invitation and to give yourself permission

and to start leading change,

so thank you Laura for that question.

  • And– - I love that advice so much,

we’re so proud of you, congratulations.

  • And building on that really quick, if you are someone you,

if you know you have perfectionist tendencies, right,

and you’re just like, oh, I’m just gonna wait

for that little extra bit before I start or it just,

it doesn’t feel right, right,

like try to notice when that’s happening (laughs)

and pause that thinking and just start,

because if you wait until you’re ready,

it’s kinda like having a kid, right, what they say,

if you wait until you’re ready you’ll just never have kids,

right, (laughs) so if you wait

until you really feel like you’re ready,

you’re probably never gonna feel fully ready,

so just dive in and learn as you go and iterate

and it’s a process.

  • To add to that, the best advice I got

as a content creator is done is best, right?

Putting it out there is the best thing you could do

and everything after that is secondary, so done is best,

I’m trying to also remind myself.

  • It reminds me quite a bit of the nerves I felt

on the first day of teaching Becoming a Changemaker,

so I’m a brand new faculty member,

and you often hear about what it’s like to be a student

on the first day, but not often from the faculty side,

and so I was teaching in N440,

and had no idea what to expect,

and so I’m, walked up the stairs

and walked into the classroom, kinda took a deep breath,

opened up the door, and at that moment,

what I saw nearly brought me to tears,

so I saw that not only was every single seat taken,

but there were students literally sitting in the side

of the room, on the window sills, like so many people,

they were hungry for this class,

and if I had just kept waiting for the class to be perfect,

there’s never a time a class is perfect

because there’s so much that I didn’t know at the time.

I tried to lean into the value of students always,

and sort of say, like look,

we’re gonna learn all this together as we go,

but to at least just have that sort of confidence

without attitude to say, hey,

maybe this is something that can be a value

and lemme give it a shot,

because there’s never a time that you’re perfect,

so yeah, thanks for that.

You have a question?

  • Hi, I’m Kay Dawson with the Career Management Group.

Hi Shannon, welcome back. - Hi, thank you.

  • Thank you, all of you, for being here.

Alicia, go TGB.

It’s a big week for Brits.

Some of you may have heard in the news, we have a new king.

The queen who’s been in charge

of my entire life passed away last week,

so there’s been a lot of calls for the monarchy to change.

I wanna ask all four of you,

which piece of the book would you underline

and present to King Charles,

(audience laughs) and what should he be doing

as a future changemaker in the public eye?

  • Maybe questioning the status quo is the obvious one,

but I’ll just leave it at that.

  • I think for me, I would say lead with compassion

and vulnerability.

I think the monarchy is this very staunch British entity,

and particularly Charles, you know,

he hasn’t really had to do a whole lot under the queen,

and you know, everyone’s kind of looking to William,

and I think if we can get that impassioned leader

that everyone, you know, I guess is looking at Diana for,

if he can embody that,

then I think that might be the monarchy revived,

so I would underline the sections of, you know,

how to lead with that compassion and vulnerability.

  • [Shannon] I default to the native Brit.

(audience laughs)

  • My advice is to be a network-based leader,

so again, we tend to put the single leader up on a pedestal

and look to them for all of the answers,

and I think that’s more and more an outdated concept,

and so of course, being a king comes

with about as much formal authority as you can get,

but to think about, how can I be a node, not just a hub?

How can I empower those around me to also be part

of the efforts, to think a bit about,

how do I not just shift power but share power

so that other people are part of it?

Now, I don’t know if he’d be interested

in all of my advice there, but that’s what I would like

(audience laughs) to see him do.

Thanks for that question.

  • Hi, I’m Nelly, I’m a third-year Haas undergrad student.

I was wondering, in regards to the discussion

of un-gatekeeping success,

how do you all believe that Haas and other business schools

or companies can encourage/incentivize collaboration

among students rather than competition?

  • I’m super passionate about this question.

I heard that the Haas curve is dropped, right?

So yeah, that’s, - Yes.

  • I didn’t have that,

but I think that that’s a, - I didn’t either.

  • I think that’s a huge step

in the right– - Changemaking in action.

  • Yeah, that’s a huge step into the right direction.

I don’t know what higher powers here made that happen.

I’m so happy for the Haas students.

I think another thing, so that’s a good one,

and then, think when it comes to community

and like a lot of opportunities, especially around career,

I know we have so many very competitive clubs here,

all that of which I got rejected to actually,

and I don’t know,

I think there’s just a way we can open up a conversation

of like abundance mindset of like,

maybe we don’t need to be admitting one person

to a consulting club a semester, right?

Like maybe we can open it up to five, right? (laughs)

And just opening the conversation about like,

the more people you have in organizations

or groups or clubs, these people are gonna be doing cool,

amazing things afterwards

that they’re gonna probably wanna give back to,

so the more people you can get involved,

like the better it is gonna be for everyone,

so hopefully when it comes to clubs

and recreational things here,

I want to encourage students and faculty

or whoever is listening to,

maybe we can encourage to open up some seats

and opportunities.

I know sometimes it’s a logistics thing,

but I think that’s a big part of something

that we can actually improve

is like opening up spots. (laughs)

  • I think for me, in another class actually,

we also talked about collaboration and the importance of,

you know, that conflict that’s task-oriented

and the diversity and bringing as many people together

to get these experiences,

and then we would take the final exam

or we’d do all the projects on our own,

and the importance of collaboration, but as an individual,

we would take the exam or we would take the project,

and I would’ve loved to take some more things as a group

and learn from those students

that we’d had those discussions with and things like that,

and the importance of, you know,

doing an end of year group project like we did.

Like it was like so important to me

that I got to speak to those people,

but I would’ve loved to work with them

in my leadership class and stuff like that.

  • Yeah, I think building on that idea,

there’s a really good analogy here I think

when you talk about the process

of creating the defining principles through Haas, right,

and the four, Rich Lyons went through this whole process

to get these four defining principles up,

and it’s one thing to just create them

and then stick them on the wall

or stick them on the courtyard and then walk away

and then just expect people to start implementing them,

right, but if you really want those things to be embedded

in your culture,

you need to change fundamental processes, right?

You need to figure out how you can weave, you know,

what you value, or you say is important, into processes,

into everything you do,

so if you say collaboration’s important

but you’re still rewarding individual merit

and individual talents and you know,

maybe the loudest person in the room,

that’s a fundamental break from what you say you value,

right, so however you can embed collaboration

into day-to-day activities in terms of evaluations,

in terms of clubs, like you said,

that’ll change over time if you can get there.

  • Great question, thank you.

We have time for one more question.

  • Hi, my name is Ryusei.

I’m a sophomore here at Berkeley,

probably getting into Haas, I don’t know yet.

(all laugh)

It depends.

And the question that I wanted

to ask was for all four of you,

because I think it’s very interesting,

so every time I hire someone for my startup,

I ask them this question.

What do you think differentiates a good leader

from a great leader?

I’d love to hear what you guys think.

  • Terrific question, I’ll go last.

  • There’s so many things, but the first, you know, again,

going with my first instinct, humility, right?

You do not, it’s funny, you don’t think

of the person leading change as being the first one

to say I don’t know everything,

but when you’re in that space of being honest with yourself

and others that you don’t know everything,

you open yourself up to learning more.

You don’t make assumptions, you are constantly a student

of the world and student, a student of the areas you wish

to change, and I think

that humility also creates safe spaces

for other people to come to you with their thoughts

and suggestions, you know?

Would you rather go to someone with your thoughts

if they think they’d,

you might actually make an impact and they’d hear you,

or would you rather go to someone

who you figure is not gonna listen

to you because they already know it all, right?

So I would say, start with humility

and lots of good things follow from there.

  • I’d say, obviously, humility would probably be my top one,

but I think the second most important for me is the ability

to listen, to listen, and not necessarily to talk,

and I feel like in this society,

everybody wants to get a word in, you know?

Like we all love the sound of our voices

and stuff like that, and listening to ourselves talk,

but having that leader that knows when to step back

and to listen, purely to hear people

and understand them is definitely

what makes me feel most valued, and I think sometimes,

and I get into this, you know, I have three sisters,

so we all wanna just talk at each other

and not necessarily listen,

and I feel like being able to hear each other out is one

of the most powerful things,

and I think that is something pretty rare in a great leader,

and is what makes them great and not necessarily good.

  • Very similar to what everyone has just said,

but for me, the biggest thing I,

like I’m at my new grad job, I’m only a year in,

but quickly, I can already sense, that’s a good leader,

that’s not a good leader, you know?

And the big common theme

for me is really empathy leadership.

I think the work is the work,

and I think a lot of people can do good work,

but a really good leader is someone that you feel safe with

to talk to and just kindness,

I think, like that trust thing is such a big thing for me,

and what I’m seeing especially big,

successful organizations, there’s a lot of talented people,

there’s a lot of smart people, and the leaders

that really stick out to you

and the leaders you wanna follow to their next job

or you would go anywhere with or you would really want

to like actively spend time with are people

who are really empathy-driven leadership,

and it’s not always in the obvious way of like,

people with the highest ranking

or maybe they make more money than you or all these things,

it’s really, they could be maybe the same,

quote unquote, role as you, but they could be a leader

to you because they take time to listen

and really be developing those empathy skills,

that’s the biggest thing that is like a way I’m like,

that’s a good leader and that’s a bad leader,

is those types of skills.

  • I’m really passionate about inclusive leadership.

I have a whole chapter dedicated to it,

entire week of the class dedicated to it,

and Juliet Bourke

and Andrea Espedido have done amazing research

on what makes a leader inclusive.

What they find is that there’s sort of two superpowers,

when combined, leads to increased feelings of inclusion,

exponentially so, and so that’s humility,

so I completely agree, being grounded in humility,

the second is an awareness of our biases.

When you have both humility and an awareness of our bias,

that’s where feeling of inclusion skyrocket,

and so that’s what I look for in a leader

to truly be inclusive, is both of those.

Okay, as we wrap up, just a couple of announcements.

The first is that we will be selling books in the back,

and I’m very happy to sign books if anyone would like one,

and we also have 10 copies of the book to give away

for free, so if you look underneath your seat,

if you have a Post-it Note, you win a free book.

(audience members laugh)


so if–

(audience members cheer)

If you’re one of the lucky winners of the Post-it Note,

go see Sarah in the back to pick up your ticket.

(audience chatters)

All right, so with that, let me say,

thank you so much for being part

of this book launch celebration.

The world has never been more ready for you,

and thank you for being here, thanks everyone.

(audience applauds)