David Baum Article - December 8 2018.docx

around the world, and led to a major influx in funding and long list of people wanting to partner with the young activists. The focus of the organization expanded, too. It wasn’t enough to free children from forced labour operations – the bigger issue at the time seemed to be that the impoverished children had no education and nowhere else to go. So Free The Children began building schools. Lots of them. Entrepreneurs are hardwired to say ‘yes’. Yes to new partnership opportunities, ‘yes’ to any form of growth, ‘yes’ to all possibilities. Nothing happens in business or in an organization until someone says ‘yes’. And no leader of a start-up, ever wants to say ‘no’, regardless of whether or not they have the capacity to deliver. Those requests to say ‘yes’ were becoming particularly abundant for the Kielburger brothers. Owing to their drive, charisma, vision and dedication, many donors and businesses were lining up to ask them to say ‘yes’. By 2004 they had appeared on Oprah Winfrey’s show several times and had a commitment from her to build 100 schools in Kenya. The ‘Oprah effect’ led to seemingly unending opportunities to take on more and more work, and the young WE team hadn’t yet developed the foresight to turn any one of them down. Why would you every say ‘no’ to someone’s offer to partner or invest in you? No matter how impossible the opportunity actually was, the singularly focussed WE staff would take it on, and deliver. But that came at a cost. Long hours each weekday and working all weekend were the norm. By 2007, they had built 500 schools between Africa and South America. But even that wasn’t enough because the children couldn’t attend school if they had to walk all day to get clean water for their families. And they couldn’t learn if they had no food in their stomachs, which was most of the time. So WE established WE Villages, to create a wholistic solution to support children: ending poverty, providing clean water, enabling families to grown their own food and sustain themselves. Only once those basic needs were addressed could the children consistently attend the new schools WE had built for them. Nobody in the organization worked harder to implement and deliver on those necessities than Craig and Marc. Their entire lives were dedicated to WE’s mission. As impressive at that was, it created a situation where the senior leadership modeled an expectation for the other staff that most couldn’t sustain. It certainly wasn’t intentional – that’s just how they were wired. But in that era, the organization focussed too much on maintaining a breakneck pace with hard work and long hours, and not enough on the outcome of those efforts. Stage Two: Swing at Every Pitch

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