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Why Imagination and Innovation Are Such Important Traits for Entrepreneurs

Imagination is crucial to improving our current civil society, and these Track Two Podcast episodes provide examples of how to do so successfully.

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As far as business skills go, imagination and the ability to innovate cannot be discounted. Track Two Podcast features a number of episodes that focus on the innovative mindsets and ideas that are currently working to create and further a vibrant and healthy society. Hosts Sarah Gerber’s and Joanne Gouaux’s guests talk about their stories, how they came up with inventive solutions and how they implemented them in the current work culture. The diversity of opinions exemplifies the similar diversity in opportunities available to pursue creative ideas. Imagination is crucial to improving our current civil society, and these podcast episodes provide examples of how to do so successfully.

‘The Invisible (Gig) Worker’ With Robbie Warin

The discussion in this episode was guided by the current conversations surrounding the future of jobs, specifically as automation and software platforms take over. Warin’s work as a podcast producer and research assistant with the Fairwork Foundation at the Oxford Institute focuses on these people and their jobs, which are at risk of disappearing, using research to spread awareness. Workers dependent on a technological platform (gig workers) have risen in number over the past decades. In his work, Warin is attempting to give people the financial security and independence they’re often lacking. Warin is also the founder and editor of The Invisible Worker, a zine focused on bringing light to the many unheard jobs that keep our society afloat. Gig workers, for example, tend to work with little job security and complete dependency on their platform and company, deal with poorly regulated conditions and are often victims of legal loopholes. Warin’s creative methods for supporting gig workers, from research to the creation of his own zine to the work he is doing at Fairwork Foundation, provide examples of the many ways that are available to support oneself and others. 

‘Building Civil Society Resilience’ With Anna Bulakh

Anna Bulakh is a security expert with experience in synthetic media. Throughout her career, she has led teams with the purpose of stopping disinformation and online propaganda. Currently, Bulakh serves as policy advisor to Reface in Kiev, Ukraine. Gerber and Gouaux talked to Bulakh about the efforts she is making to preserve civil society and the inventive solutions she has found along her journey. 

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Bulakh was introduced to the corporate and scientific world through international think tanks. These experiences brought her into the conversation of how civil society functions in conjunction with the private sector. The topic of resilience is something Bulakh has been interested in, specifically in terms of the conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Russia and Ukraine have had a tumultuous past, and as the Kremlin continue to invade Ukraine with hybrid warfare (a term for military strategy that includes political, conventional, irregular and cyber warfare), new tools and defenses must be created to counteract the attacks. Bulakh’s work has forced her to think up creative solutions and innovative strategies in order to protect and further civil society, 

‘Lets Talk About Social Innovation’ With Branka Anđelković

Gerber and Gouaux talk to Branka Anđelković, the cofounder and program director of the Public Policy Research Center, a Serbian think tank. The conversation centers around Anđelković’s inspirations and her experiences with innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Innovation is constantly changing, and for one to keep up, one must listen to different perspectives with an open mind. As Anđelković says, “Innovation, the future of work, remote work, this is already a history; we are probably going to talk about new things in a year’s time.” Anđelković’s statement rings true when applied under broader terms as well. Gerber and Gouaux examined the statement under the lens of entrepreneurship. “Entrepreneurship is not only about economic models, but it is also really about the state of mind,” Anđelković says. As Anđelković describes, being a successful entrepreneur asks for more than optimizing economic models; the entire structure on which these models are built must be recreated.

‘Philanthropy Through Public Policy’ With Sarah Berger Gonzales

Sarah Berger Gonzales is a social and financial innovator. Using her expertise in cash transfers, she finds creative improvements for disadvantaged communities, specifically in Latin America, Europe and Central Asia. Berger Gonzales currently works as the program manager at the Basic Income Lab at Stanford University, but she used to serve as the social protection specialist at the World Bank. 

Initially, Berger Gonzales imagined herself as a lawyer, thinking she could make the biggest impact through legislation. However, when she did her Fulbright Scholarship in Chile, she saw the gaps between the reality of how people were living and the influence of legal protection. Instead, Berger Gonzales went into public policy and started working at the World Bank, where she developed and managed income support programs to better combat poverty. It goes to show the different careers where philanthropy can be realized and how creativity within your role can maximize positive change. 

‘We Are in an “Everyone Leads” World’ With Henry De Sio, Jr.

A thought leader and entrepreneur, Henry De Sio, Jr. is the CEO of Walk Free, author of the Changemaker Playbook and served as deputy assistant under President Obama. Growing up, De Sio noticed the extreme inequality between him and his school peers and neighbors, and since then, he was determined to do something about it. Walk Free, his current company, is a global human rights initiative devoted to ending all forms of modern slavery. 

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De Sio also speaks about his experience on the Obama campaign and administration. He joined Obama as the campaign was only beginning to pick up speed. He describes the chaos of unpacking computers, creating servers and having to field calls, while simultaneously not knowing anyone’s name. The experience of building a movement from the ground up is stressful, but the community De Sio was surrounded by and the values they shared were an invaluable experience. Finding people who want to do good, and having the privilege of working with them and learning through each other, has become a rare opportunity. Communities like these have the ability to promote imagination and expedite the process of realizing it. 

‘The Space of Imagination’ With Hooman Koliji, PhD

“My journey was about dreaming something that doesn’t exist out there and how to make it happen, how to make it accessible [beyond myself]. To me, that’s the most exciting part of an entrepreneur,” Hooman Koliji says.

Koliji was born in Tehran and is an architect, academic and entrepreneur. Currently a tenured professor at the University of Maryland, Koliji uses his love and vast knowledge of Iranian architecture to inspire his work and his students. Koliji is also the founder of CREO, an innovation company focused on incorporating “intelligent green ecosystems for buildings.”

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In this conversation with Gerber and Gouaux, Koliji speaks about his internal conflict during his early career. As a student studying architecture, he had to make a decision between earning money early and developing his identity. This concept is in line with another that Koliji realized when noticing the limitations of academia—the ability to teach versus the ability to do. However, creating his own company allowed him to explore these topics freely and fully realize his creative self. In turn, his unique architectural ideas have brought him success and joy as he creates a brighter future.  

‘A New System for Success’ With Justine Evirs

In this episode, Gerber and Gouaux talked to Justine Evirs, president and founder of The Paradigm Switch (TPS). The Paradigm Switch is a nonprofit digital ecosystem that centers around helping military spouses cultivate careers that work within their unique lifestyles. As a Navy veteran and spouse herself, Evirs has experienced firsthand the difficulties and differences in employment and earnings between military spouses and their counterparts. Evirs focuses on higher education, social entrepreneurship, innovative program design, educational programs, leadership development and more. Her work has centered around forcing a culture change, impacting and reimagining the roles military spouses are given. Despite the eagerness of the military community, breaking traditional roles is a complex and lengthy process. However, Evirs’ unique method allows for flexibility.

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