Students attending the University of New Hampshire’s (UNH) Social Innovators of the Year Awards probably weren’t expecting that advice.  Nor were they expecting a surprise offer to change their lives.

Last month, Alan and Harriet were presented with this prestigious award for their business model and philanthropy.   The award “recognizes leaders with a demonstrated commitment to social innovation.  Social innovators combine the passion and purpose of a social or environmental mission, with the rigor and accountability of a financially sustainable, scalable model for change.”

Their keynote presentation, Courageous leadership: Changing lives, Creating Stronger Communities, and Saving the Earth, was a Q&A moderated by our friend and strategic partner Fiona Wilson, Deputy Chief Sustainability Officer and Director, Sustainability Institute at UNH.  

After sharing their personal stories and deeply held beliefs on how business and travel can change people’s lives, Dr. Wilson asked her last question:

  • What advice and encouragement would you like to share with our student and community changemakers in the audience?

Harriet started and her advice was direct, “Get out of New Hampshire! Go see the world now before you have too many responsibilities that will weigh you down.”  Alan agreed, “Travel by yourself – you will face you fears and find out really who you are.” He then asked, “Are their 20 people in this room who will travel overseas if I pay? Raise your hands.” The audience, bewildered at first slowly started to raise hands.

Alan added his advice, “Finding courageous leaders is the hardest thing in my life. If you find someone who tells you the truth.  Hug them.  Break the rules. Make mistakes.  The world wants you in a box… a small box.  Break the rules.”

To which Harriet added, “You can only be you.   It is a giant waste of time to be someone else.  Be who you are.    Make mistakes ……and forgive yourself for making them.”

By the end of the program 21 students signed up to see the world.   We will keep you posted on their journeys.