Author Archives: adriennethefellow

Week 20 | Eight Core Beliefs of An Extraordinary Boss

Weeks ago I read an article in Inc.com about the eight characteristics of an extraordinary boss.  Ironically the publication of this article coincided with the news of Not For Sale’s Fellowship Director, Keturah Scott, leaving us to embark on the next stages of her life.  Adventure and new experiences were calling her name, and she and we all at Not For Sale, are very sad to see her go.  These are the eight examples of what K taught me during my time here in the Fellowship, and the memories and experiences I will take home with me as souvenirs.

1.    Business is an ecosystem, not a battlefield.

Extraordinary bosses see business as a symbiosis where the most diverse firm is most likely to survive and thrive.

From the beginning of the Fellowship, you’ve advocated about the diversity of Not For Sale’s platforms and programs and how being a horizontal organization is what empowers and makes us unique.  You taught me that to work in a continuously changing, fast paced, and progressive environment, a person has to put on and own many different hats.  You’ve helped me realize which tops to put on, fostered and nurtured each one these talents, and made sure I realized my full potential.

 2.    A company is a community, not a machine.

Extraordinary bosses see their company as a collection of individual hopes and dreams, all connected to a higher purpose.

You’ve helped the Fellows instill that every talent truly does have a role to play in this movement, and you’ve illustrated this to us by taking an event planner, a shopaholic, a scientist, a singer, a tree-planter, and a wannabe ninja, and cultivating six incredible abolitionists.

3.    Management is service, not control.

Extraordinary bosses set a general direction and then commit themselves to obtaining the resources that their employees need to get the job done. They push decision making downward, allowing teams form their own rules and intervening only in emergencies.

I recall Day Three of the Fellowship – the day we received our six-month projects.  We sat down and discussed each, but then drew a blank stare of where to go from there.  You encouraged us that “this is all you.”  WE were to set the direction of where WE wanted these projects to go, how WE wanted to see them grow, and what WE wanted to see them become.  You told us to “be the dog with the bone,” “ruthlessly execute” these projects over the next six months.  You gave us direction but you never told us what had or should be done.  You helped us “dig deeper,” “think bigger,” and even “get up and dance some inspiration out.”

 4.    My employees are my peers, not my children.

Extraordinary bosses treat every employee as if he or she were the most important person in the firm.

You’ve been my boss.  You’ve been my colleague.  You’ve also been my Paramedic.  You’ve always put your baby birds first.

 5.    Motivation comes from vision, not from fear.

Extraordinary bosses inspire people to see a better future and how they’ll be a part of it.  As a result, employees work harder because they believe in the organization’s goals, truly enjoy what they’re doing and (of course) know they’ll share in the rewards.

You’ve ingrained in us that “It’s not about you, it’s about the movement.”  This has helped me realize what I want out of my future – a future motivated by passion.

 6.    Change equals growth, not pain.

Extraordinary bosses see change as an inevitable part of life.

You’ve helped the Fellows jump over the hurdles that were thrown our way – the change of SASD, change of roles and responsibilities, relationships, six-month projects – for all the times that we Fellows were discouraged, you always reassured us that these moves were never negative, and expressed we were always “pivoting” forward.

7.    Technology offers empowerment, not automation.

Extraordinary bosses see technology as a way to free human beings to be creative and to build better relationships.

You’ve encouraged us to learn new things that we never thought we’d learn in a non-profit organization – prezi, GIS, Google Docs and Forms, linguistic analysis…

8.    Work should be fun, not mere toil.

Extraordinary bosses see work as something that should be inherently enjoyable–and believe therefore that the most important job of manager is, as far as possible, to put people in jobs that can and will make them truly happy.

No one can deny you this one.  I’ll never forget first day scavenger hunts, happy hours at BrewCo., BBQs, hiking to far off German beer gartens, BaytoBreaker’s dance sandwiches, “dreamscometrue,” chicken fights, and Battleshots that left some of us a little more wounded than others.  These times in and out of the office have really made my stay here in San Fran, and I wouldn’t have had them without you.

Keturah – your leadership and friendship has helped shaped me as an individual.  You’ve challenged me, pushed me to my limits, laughed, and cried with me, and I couldn’t thank you more for being my boss, and most importantly my friend.  Take care lady, and I’ll be thinking about you.  >hugs<

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Week 16 | Canada’s Two-Tier Wage System

One of my closest friends from Toronto came to visit me last week.  I took a day off from work so that we could catch up on 4 months of developments  – what’s happened in our lives since January, relationship statuses, family updates, cross country moves… but one thing I was extremely curious about was  – what’s happened to our country?  I honestly admit that with keeping up with the Fellowship and Free2Work projects, I’ve back-benched my love for following Canadian politics.  The extent of my involvement is a quick skim over CBC in the morning, and this is proving to be less than sufficient.  I was shocked to find out what had happened in Canada this week; this is what I found out.

We Canadians have dealt with our fair share of governmental deceptions over the past term and a half.  Under the current government – we’ve endured 1.7 billion dollars worth of childcare cuts, frozen foreign aid to some of the most economically improvised countries, and cut funding for women advocacy groups by 43%.  With all these fallbacks, we still somehow managed to invest 29 million dollars in new fighter jets. But all that aside, the one item on the agenda that surfaced this past week – that really made my heart sink – was the Conservative Government’s introduction to the two-tier wage system.

Under this new rule, employers will now be able to pay foreign temporary workers 15 percent less than the average wage.  This new system was created to “respond to local labor market demands and support Canada through economic recovery.”  The targets for this new rule were employees working in already marginalized industrial sectors – mining, agriculture and fishing – areas where labor abuses have been documented.

Employers don’t have to prove there is a shortage in many occupational categories or even post a domestic ad. Employers can undercut the prevailing wage of jobs, which in turn reduces the demand by domestic experienced workers, thereby creating a market and “need” for foreign workers.  Migrant workers already lack the rights that domestic workers have.  This new rule will inevitably open new doors for poorer regulations, weaker worker rights, and exploitation of people that already have limited legal representation in Canada.

This new system will, not only impacts foreign workers, but it will inevitably impact domestic hires as well.  While this system will allow employers to cheaply exploit foreign workers, this system will bring down prevailing wages and benefits for all Canadians, keeping skilled Canadians unemployed.  Systems like this increase attitudes of bias, discrimination and xenophobia as Canadians lose their jobs and see temporary, foreigner workers move in.

Who gains from a system like this?

Please stand up for those that lack a voice in our country.  Being a multicultural, diverse country is one of the characteristics that makes Canada so incredibly special, don’t let this new rule take that away from us. Stand in solidarity with those that are fighting for worker’s rights and keep yourself up to date on what’s happening with labor abuses and worker rights in Canada.

Adrienne | Week 13: Moving past insecurities

“For me, every day is a new thing.  I approach each project with a new insecurity, almost like the first project I ever did.  And I get the sweats.  I go in and start working, I’m not sure where I’m going. If I knew where I was going I wouldn’t do it.” – Frank Gehry

It has been almost two and a half years since I read David Batstone’s book Not For Sale.  I was visiting San Francisco for the first time and little did I know I would be back in two years to become a fellow in the Not For Sale Fellowship program.  From the first few pages to the very end, the book cultivated a sense of passion towards the anti-trafficking movement within me.  I couldn’t help but think that this is where my heart belonged, which was followed by the daunting torment in my mind that I had chosen the wrong major in school.

As I learned more about the organization, I was able to let out a giant sigh of relief.  A core belief at Not For Sale is that everyone has a role to play in the movement to end modern-day slavery.  I wanted to dig deeper and find out what my role in this movement would be.  I wanted to make my passion a vocation, and Not For Sale had the tools I could use to get there.  I wanted to be part of this opportunity so much, but anxiety set in and I began to question myself:

 What if my lack of formal education in this area holds me back?

What if I’m much older than everyone else?

What if my finances don’t last?

Everyone around me is “settling down” – should I be doing the same?

…followed by several more what ifs and yeah buts

Listening to my insecurities was holding me back.  I was making excuses for myself that had the best of intentions but were really making me a coward.  What others envisioned for themselves is not what I wanted; I wanted to love what I do, and do something I believe in.  I downloaded the application for the Not For Sale Fellowship, took the time to convey what I had to offer and what I wanted to get out of the Fellowship, then sent it in, hands sweaty, hair messy, and full of apprehension.

I’m now halfway through this fellowship and I know that I have learned new skills and been part of new experiences that I could not have learned or received from any formal education or job experience out there.  Coming into work everyday is like walking into the maternity ward where mind babies are born, and as a fellow, I get to take that baby and help push it through puberty.  It’s incredibly fascinating, fast-paced and inspiring.  These past few months have been invaluable to my growth in not only my career in social justice, but as an individual as well.  It’s helped me build my confidence, allowed me to become an expert in the field, and has allowed me to be part of a movement that is making real change in this world.  I would not be where I am today if I had listened to my fears.

Adrienne | Week 11: Montara Circle

Two weeks ago we held our third Montara Circle – an open discussion inviting fifty of the most brilliant minds in business, academia, technology, and popular culture to discuss tangible and actionable steps in ending modern-day slavery.  Here David Batstone presented sixty-five percent of a solution to a problem, with the topic being the Free2Work app.  The guests were asked to come up with the remaining thirty-five percent, over the course of 24 hours, by working together, collaborating, and juggling ideas through small working groups.  This meeting of minds was created to be a catalyst for innovative and sustainable solutions.  The ultimate goal was to create ideas that haven’t been thought of yet, and implement solutions with the hope of seeing the Free2Work app expand, grow, and be consciously used by every consumer out there.

It was invigorating to be surrounded by a room beaming with expertise.  I had attendees say to me “I have been to conferences before, but never one where every person in the room cares so passionately about the same cause.”  These people, all bringing their own skills and talents to the table, embodied the ethos of what Not For Sale is all about – everyone has a role to play in this movement, and everyone can be a part of the solution to end modern-day slavery.

This year’s Montara Circle encountered some very characteristic Half Moon Bay winter weather.  Grey skies loomed as spatters of drizzle rained down on the area intermittently.  As fellows, we acted as support for the event in any way we could, even if it meant shuttling attendees in under the safety of a single umbrella.  Standing in the rain, I relished in how incredibly privileged I felt being able to be part of this day.

As I met one guest at his car, and we walked towards La Costanera together, it dawned on me; here I am walking under the same umbrella, talking to one of the best doctors in the world, a leader and a pioneer in the medical industry.  This person has directly and indirectly helped me, and several people I care about, and he doesn’t even know it.  He did what he did because he was passionate about it, and wanted to help people have a second lease on life.  For that, I will be forever grateful.

That’s when I realized, that the way I feel towards this person, even though I was meeting him for the first time, is likely the way that thousands of people around the world feel about David Batstone and Not For Sale.  It is incredibly empowering to realize how you may have directly or indirectly helped someone recreate his or her own future through a collective passion and wanting to bring justice to this world.  Solutions to answers come in many forms, but the collective passion of people is what empowers this movement.  I know every attendee, staff and fellow got to be part of that at Montara Circle and I’m excited to see the ideas produced become actual results in the near future.

Adrienne | Week 10: Linking Human-Trafficking and the Environment

Today more than ever, society has come to recognize that the anthropogenic destruction of our planet’s sustainable biodiversity negatively impacts humankind, placing human life at risk.  The cause-and effect relationship that exists between environmental collapse and the subsequent risk to our existence can no longer be ignored.” – Romina Picollotti, Linking Human Rights and the Environment

Rarely do we associate the movement of human-trafficking and the degradation of the environment.  It is often viewed that human-trafficking is a human rights abuse, which fundamentally can be disaggregated into a political issue, or an issue of inequality.  On the other hand, the fall of the environment is seen as a problem with infrastructure, and associated with poor agriculture, fishing, mining, or forestry practices.  In the world of non-governmental organizations, we do not often connect the two; the two movements are often disparate and in turn target different demographics and actions for change.

What we fail to realize is how the two are so closely linked.  With poor human rights we often see the fall of environmental conditions.  When looking at consumer goods, we can see that poor working practices for humans can lead to environmental degradation that comes along with making the products that surround us everyday.  Here are some examples:

Mining – In the Democratic Republic of Congo, civilians (including children) are forced to mine for conflict minerals by the Congolese National Army, and various armed rebel groups.  Violence and rape are used to control the population, and people in the area are illegally taxed, extorted and coerced into working in these mines.  People are forced to work up to 48-hour shifts, in tunnels prone to soil erosion, leading to mass landslides and cave-ins.  These people are forced to mine for cassiterite, wolframite, coltan, and gold, minerals that are used in our everyday electronics, including our laptops, iPods, and cellphones.  Mining of any kind will lead to the degradation of the environment – soil erosion, contamination of groundwater, surface water and soil by chemical extractors, and poisonous tailing ponds are all byproducts that must be effectively managed.  Without proper working conditions, safety equipment and mandated protocol, communities living around this area will be hazardously exposed for decades to come.

Fishing – In the oceans around Sumatra, children are falsely promised good employment working on the some 1,500 fishing farms around Dublar Char, Indonesia.  Each farm imprisons between three to ten children, with the only exit route being a twenty-mile swim to the closest coastline.  Children are beaten, sexually abused, and are at constant risk of being swept overboard and into the ocean.  The fish caught by these children are sent for export, with America being one of the top destinations for shrimp, fish, canned tuna, and tilapia from this area.  Poor fishing practices have lead to the draining our oceans of its mass biodiversity.  Mangroves home to some of the richest ecosystems, have been wiped out due to the implementation of profitable fish farms.  These mangroves also act as a natural buffer zone for coastal impact, and once eliminated, such as around the coastlines of Sri Lanka, ramifications can be seen as in the 2004 tsunami that took its deathly toll.

Forestry – In the forests of Brazil, the vastly biodiverse areas of the Amazon were cut down and replaced by a mono crop of Eucalyptus.  This crop would be used to create charcoal to make the steel and iron we use in our vehicles and appliances.  Any surviving plants or animals in this region would soon die off as plants competed for soil nutrients and resources, and animals starved due to lack of food or consuming the noxious poisonous leaves from the Eucalyptus trees.  These trees were then cut down by forced laborers, hurled into mass piers, and burnt to make a special type of charcoal used to make iron and steel.  Charcoal camps are rampant with human exploitation, with people at risk of severe burns and cuts.  The charcoal used to make this steel and iron go into the backbone of our cars, into making of our sinks, bathtubs and plumbing fixtures.

All around us we see human value degrade alongside our environment.  But there are tangible and effective actions we can take to ensure that companies are making an effort towards implementing a slave-free supply chain.  The Free2Work App  will ensure that companies are taking action to assess their use of suppliers all the way down to the raw materials level, to illustrate the initiatives that certain industries are taking towards better protecting the rights of humans and in turn, the sustainability of our planet.

Adrienne | Week 8: ACTION 2012

The world watched the KONY 2012 video erupt this week.  Millions (27,614,955 to be exact) of people watch Invisible Children’s half hour viral campaign to stop Joseph Kony.  The video includes scenes of the atrocities that Joseph Kony has committed, a back-story of one of the founders of Invisible Children’s son, and short cameos of Jacob, a former child soldier survivor.  The video talks about what you can do — make Kony famous through the use of social media to drive governmental intervention — and — buy a bracelet to help the cause.

My 11-year old cousin was completely consumed.  This was the first time in her life that she had to face the reality that things like this were really happening in her perfect, optimistic world.  It was shattering to see, but I could see the wheels of social justice rotating in her head.  “Mommy, we have to buy this action box!”

With the viral spread of this campaign, came the viral spread of the debate towards the effectiveness and validity of the NGO.  Articles that discuss the Kony Campaign say that “By making it an end in and of itself, awareness stands in for, and maybe even displaces, specific solutions to these very complicated problems. Campaigns that focus on bracelets and social media absorb resources that could go toward more effective advocacy, and take up rhetorical space that could be used to develop more effective advocacy.”  I am not here to discuss whether Invisible Children’s approach is right or wrong — what needs to be address is now that millions have been informed, what are we going to do about it.

This campaign continuously internalizes for me that awareness is not enough.    “That’s great, but what will you DO about this now that you are aware?” is the question I pose to people.  The emphasis here is on ACTION.  We at Not For Sale believe in changing culture.  We in North America have to do that as well.  If our attitudes towards change is that “we are aware”, we have to change culture to that “we are taking action.” That is the goal behind Not For Sale’s mission.

Being able to be behind the change of economic infrastructure is the focus of many of Not For Sale’s campaigns.  That’s where change will lie.  We focus on working upstream, creating futures by providing alternative, sustainable and meaningful employment.  There are other ways to create change than intervention.  When a society is empowered, that’s when justice will occur.  We bring the concept of what you can do back home – let your purchase be your advocacy, let education be your advocacy.  Act and seek justice.

With all the debate, scrutiny, and slacktivism that has come out of this campaign, the one thing that the Kony campaign has created is an entry-point for action.  Take this and question what is next and how you can make that action happen.  When my cousin came to me to get my thoughts on what she should do next (since she had already shared the link – Invisible Children’s concept of action), I told her about the social venture projects that we are working on at Not For Sale.  She now wants to talk to her teacher at school, to give a presentation to her class, form a club with her classmates, and raise funds to directly support survivors abroad.  She doesn’t feel as though she needs the $30 Kony bracelet anymore.

If the only goal of this campaign was to raise awareness, spark conversation, and create an entry point for people to begin seeking justice in this world, then this campaign has achieved it.  I full-heartedly appreciate this campaign as it has spread the reach of people now aware that human-trafficking still exists.  Whether people realize that this is a global issue, and not an isolated case in one country, is a different blog in itself, but for now let’s move forward.  Ask yourself, what can I DO next?  Take action.  Make action your goal for 2012.

Adrienne | Week 5: A Story of a Sandwich

We were asked at the beginning of our fellowship to “pick a topic and make a point of it” with these blogs.  We were asked not to “talk about what we ate this week, unless it was really interesting.”  I am going to have to sway from these rules slightly this week, and talk about a sandwich, bear with me through this one.

Tuesday was Valentine’s Day.  We launched our new version of the Free2Work app and website, and it was a beautiful sunny day out.  Tuesdays and Thursdays, Fellows and Staff have the opportunity to work from home.  I am the commuting fellow, and have been living with extended family close to Stanford University.

Stanford University is not only the home to some of the best and brightest pupils…but it also has a great little sandwich shop!  I biked over on Tuesday to grab some lunch and as always, was dumbfounded by the exhaustive list of possibilities.  People queued up behind me, and I kept letting people go on ahead of me, “I’m not ready yet, feel free to jump in front of me *smile*!”  After 10 minutes of deep deliberation, I picked the sandwich that best suits my personality Sometimes I’m a Vegetarian. 

“Anything to drink?”

“Oh no, it’s okay, thank you!” (In my head, I once again revisit the self-aware feeling of not having a paycheck for the next six months, and how each penny spent, will be one less that will get me to the end).

“Any free drink with that?”

(In my head, “Huh?  Pardon me?”) “Oh no, it’s okay, but thank you *smile*.”

“Everything has been taken care of, Happy Valentines Day *smile*.”  … He had just given me my entire lunch for free!

This one small act of kindness changed my entire perspective of the day.  I was happier; I was more motivated; I wanted to pay that act of kindness forward.  I biked home, worked on my platforms in the sunshine, reminded my loved-ones how much they mean to me, and thought about what I will do to make a difference.  I dove into work that was needed on the fellow’s six-month projects, I reminded myself of the bigger picture, and how each small act of kindness can make the world of a difference.  How incredible a single sandwich can be to completely change the attitude of an individual.  What if everyone had received a free sandwich?  What would the attitude be if we were all having a good day?  What kind of societal change could occur then?  Be thankful and grateful for the small things, and build from the positive attitudes around you.  I know one of my greatest successes here with Not For Sale has been because I am lucky to be surrounded by an incredible group of passionate and dedicated people.  Their hope and positive attitudes, continuously helps build my own hope and positive attitude.  Be that positive attitude in society and who knows who around you will pick up on it, and maybe it will change their perspective of the day.