Be A Better Changemaker

Additional Resources for Experteering

(and anybody else applying their skills for social change)

When using your skills to create change, we find the following skills to be essential. As you continue on your path of personal development at your job at home or while volunteering overseas, here are resources to help you develop in each of these areas.


Cultural sensitivity is the pillar to working in a different context, whether it is a different city or a different country. When you are working in a different context, it is important to remember that your work isn’t only about your understanding of the subject matter, it’s about the people from that city/village you are working in. Your work will not be successful unless you stop and listen to their desires, needs, and expertise.

Poor Economics

Why do the poor borrow to save? Why do they miss out on free life-saving immunizations, but pay for unnecessary drugs? In a book the Wall Street Journal called “marvelous, rewarding,” the authors tell how the stress of living on less than 99 cents per day encourages the poor to make questionable decisions that feed—not fight—poverty. The result is a radical rethinking of the economics of poverty... and shows that creating a world without poverty begins with understanding the daily decisions facing the poor.

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If You Want to Help, Shut Up and Listen

Ernesto Sirolli recounts stories of his time in development and how no one ever spoke to the locals, and only listened to what they wanted to do. Generally speaking those projects failed miserably. Ernesto learned that talking with the locals, listening to their opinion, and respecting them led to good results. No one can be successful alone.

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The Dark Side of Volunteering

This article from Al Jazeera explains how well intentioned people, who went to Cambodia to volunteer, unintentionally helped aid in child exploitation, as a result of them not being aware of the culture.

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Human-centered Design for Social Innovation

This course on Social Innovation will introduce you to the concepts of human-centered design and help you use the design process to create innovative, effective, and sustainable solutions for social change and sustainability.

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When working in a different context, you need to be open to new ideas and new experiences. To do that, you must be humble and understand you can learn and grow from everyone around you. Being humble is important in every context, especially when volunteering abroad.


A great book by the Heath Brothers shows that successful changes follow a pattern, a pattern you can use to make the changes that matter to you, whether your interest is in changing the world or changing your waistline.

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Be Open and Humble

Daniel Epstein, founder of the Unreasonable Institute, explains the need for humility as a social entrepreneur and in life.

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To Hell With Good Intentions

The transcript of a speech by Ivan Illich addressing “dogooders” at the Conference on InterAmerican Student Project, in Mexico, 1968.

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Moral Imagination and Challenges in Poverty Alleviation

This course takes you through a variety of materials Acumen has designed to train leaders who wish to change the way the world tackles poverty, and build a world based on dignity.

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Effective communication is one of the pillars of success. That success can be in school, within a sports competition, while building a new business, and especially while volunteering internationally. The more you learn how to adapt your communication to those around you, the more successful you will be in your endeavours.

How to Win Friends and Influence People

This legendary book by Dale Carnegie has been used for over 60 years to provide advice that has helped many people reach success by teaching how to understand and communicate people.

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Cross Cultural Communication

This video provides strategies and examples to good cross cultural communication in the business context.

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Communicating While Volunteering Overseas

When trying to make an impact in a new environment, effective communication is key to success. Read about the 4C's to help build trust, and the 3R's to work through any challenge

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Storytelling for Change

This course will help you better connect with your audience, whether in a meeting with one person or in a presentation to hundred of people.

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Being a good leader is helpful in any aspect of life - professional and personal - especially for those seeking to build a better world. Volunteering your skills overseas is an incredible opportunity to develop your leadership skills in a new and exciting environment. These resources will help you:

Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Action

In this book, Simon Sinek, from real life stories, presents information on what it takes to be a truly great leader. Explaining that WHY we do what we do is the most important thing...

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What It Takes to Be a Great Leader

Roselinde Torres describes 25 years of observing truly great leaders at work, and shares the three simple but crucial questions that would-be company chiefs need to ask to thrive in the future.

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6 Traits of Servant Leaders

According to the Association of Talent Development, these 6 trends are found in the most effective global leaders: “A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves.”

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Adaptive Leadership: Mobilizing For Change

The Adaptive Leadership course is designed to help individuals and organizations through consequential change in times of uncertainty when there are no clear answers. It teaches leaders to identify and tackle systemic change through a process of confronting the status quo and identifying technical and adaptive challenges.

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When volunteering abroad, it is necessary to remember that you will be leaving eventually. The work that you do should be created and implemented with an action plan to handoff the project to any of your local counterparts. Thus, the work will continue after you are gone, and your social impact will last.

Creating a World Without Poverty: Social Business and the Future of Capitalism

The winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, Muhammad Yunus, outlines his vision for a new business model that combines the power of free markets with the quest for a more humane world--and he tells the inspiring stories of companies that are doing this work today.

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Human-centered Design

Grameen Foundation informs how to scale a project successfully and sustainably by informing organizations on how to discover and address the needs of end users.

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Human Centered Design Toolkit

This kit by provides instructions and examples on how to create and deliver solutions based off of people’s needs and not off of assumptions.

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Making Sense of Impact - Building Blocks for Impact Analysis

This introductory course to help you understand how we analyze impact in our portfolio and how you can apply the same building blocks to any socially-focused company or organization that you are personally excited about.

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When you pour your heart, time, and soul into creating a positive change, you want to make sure it lasts... Here are some great resources to help you achieve that.

Lean Startup

Most startups and projects fail. But many of those failures are preventable. The Lean Startup is a new approach being adopted across the globe, changing the way companies are built and new products are launched.

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Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates you.

This lively RSA Animate, adapted from Dan Pink's talk at the RSA, illustrates the hidden truths behind what really motivates us at home and in the workplace.

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Changemaking 101: A Student Guide to Social Entrepreneurship

For people who want to make a difference in the world, who see the same problems and want to solve them, who question the way things have always been done, and are looking for a more effective way to bring about social change.

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+ Acumen: Lean for Social Change

This course tests, validates, and adapts your vision of change to ensure you’re creating the greatest impact and investing your time in something that truly meets your stakeholder’s and customer’s needs.

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