Someone we all need to listen to – Jessica Jackley

Image representing Kiva as depicted in CrunchBase
Image via CrunchBase

I like listening to interesting people.  Recently I was able to see Jessica Jackley speak.  If you don’t know her, she is the co-founder of Kiva.org, which enables micro lending to happen in the world’s poorest areas.  Successful?  In five years they have made loans in excess of $130 million to 700,000 people.  In the process over 98% of the zero interest loans have been paid back.  If you want to hear her speech here is the link to the TED website.  It is a worthwhile 18 minutes.  Here is what I took away:

  • Know your mission (what / how / why).  It helps you say no to some things and connect with people who share similar goals.
  • In order to co-create with people you have to give up control (Kiva uses volunteer translators).
  • Do iterative development:  Build it, get feedback, improve it, and remember it is okay to fail.
  • Entrepreneurs see tomorrow > today

Finally, in response to a student asking her a question about whether he should pursue a similar career track, she responded with these steps to helping others:

  1. Learn as much as you can about the person you want to help.
  2. Ask if they have a place the can go to get their needs met.
  3. When you see things/needs that are not being met, find a way to fill in those gaps.

These three simple steps could be used anywhere it is important to connect with people and make a difference in their lives.  Which is everywhere from main street to the board room to the factory floor.  It is refreshing to see someone who did not read all the leadership books succeed because they were passionate and willing to try something.  Passion is the fuel for change, and Jessica Jackley stands out as a modern-day example of that.