Serial social entrepreneur Miki Agrawal released a best-selling book last year called Do Cool Sh*t that urged people to build their dream business around their passions in life.
As a former pro soccer player, investment banker and film producer, Agrawal has certainly done plenty of cool sh*t in her day, but there was perhaps no sh*t cooler than when she got to meet with two of her idols in the span of just a few days last month: U.S. presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and feminist icon Gloria Steinem.
"Oh, you know, just hanging out with Aunt Hills," she recounted with a laugh.
Agrawal, founder of farm-to-table, gluten-free pizza concept WILD, will be in Whistler next week along with boyfriend and fellow social entrepreneur Andrew Horn for International Day of the Girl on Oct. 13.
Open to local public and private school students in Grades 7 through 12, the couple will be speaking at Whistler Secondary School to inspire all kids, not just girls, into creating positive social change.
What is key to achieving that goal for everyone? Finding what is it you love in life and turning that into concrete action.
"The truth is that working hard is hard," said 29-year-old Horn, the founder of several non-profits, including Dreams for Kids DC. "What I really believe is that helping others... and finding your purpose is what makes it easy to work hard. That's why I think it's so important to tap into this stuff at a young age and start asking ourselves these types of introspective questions."
Horn also challenged a widely held belief that youth today are more disconnected and disengaged from the world around them than ever before — a notion that is no doubt bolstered by media pundits who point to the growing negative impacts of digital technologies.
"There are a lot of metrics available that talk about youth engagement... that actually show young people are more engaged in civic service than they have ever been," he said. "I'm very hopeful for the future and I think the more that people are exposed to important issues the more likely they are to get involved. With technology, I think that's more likely to happen."
Even more crucial, Agrawal said, is engaging and inspiring young women to follow their dreams and build careers they wouldn't have traditionally considered in years past.
"It requires girls themselves to realize, 'Wait a minute, I can be an engineer, I can be a computer scientist, I can be a CEO, I can start a business,'" she said. "If a woman is running a business, you will have better return, your employees will stay longer, and you'll have happier employees and happier customers because you're dealing with a maternal energy. Once companies start to realize that, it's going to start to take off."
But men need to be a part of the conversation as well, added Agrawal, and not view the fight for women's equality as an affront to their current status in society. And that lesson has to begin from a young age.
"It needs to come from education," she said. "As boys and girls are sitting shoulder to shoulder in classrooms, it's easier to convey that message when girls are top of their class and boys compete with them and lose."
The couple will also lead a public forum and business pitch session at Rainbow Theatre on Oct.13 starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $25, available through Ticketzone.com.
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