Ryan Allis, member of the United Nations Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council, is joining us today as a guest blogger. Since joining the Council Ryan has worked as the Co-Founder and CEO of iContact, the leading global provider of email marketing services, through the sale of the company this past spring. This summer he is starting a new mobile software company in San Francisco before heading off to Harvard Business School in the Fall.
Ryan Allis has a passion for #SocialGood. Read his latest blog about his “life mission” and learn about the inspiration he credits as a driving factor in his life.
Right before my mom Pauline Ann Middleton Allis passed away in May 2012 from a brain tumor, I promised her that I would work every day the rest of my life to be part of creating a better world.
She taught me to think globally, read, and be smart financially. She gave me so much. Now I’m on a lifelong mission to connect with others working toward change and be a leader that makes a difference and gives a damn.
With an Episcopalian priest from Pennsylvania as a dad and a Buddhist-leaning social worker from England as a mom—I learned to care about those with less opportunity from a young age. Now, after building a tech company for nine years, I’m focused on how we can use technology, business, and government to create a world without poverty in our lifetime, a world in which every human being has access to basic human needs, a world in which every being has equal status under the law, a world that is actually environmentally sustainable.
That night I wrote out my life mission on a piece of paper a few minutes after she passed. I wrote:
Become a leader across business, government, and civil society in creating an environmentally sustainable world;in which every human being has access to food, water, shelter, education, medicine, and the internet; and equal status and rights under globally accepted law.
With this mission as I guide, I have great focus.
I believe in the immense power of business to do good in the world, the power of technology to enable us to collaborate on global problems, the power of incentive structures to drive change, and the power of deeply understanding behavioral economics and internal and external human operating systems.
For now, I’m using business, technology, and angel investing in Silicon Valley and East Africa to build a platform for global impact. In the future, I hope to use the public sector as a platform for making a difference.
This is my dream — A world in which every child, regardless of their birthplace, nationality, or color of their skin has access to basic human needs and basic human rights and equal legal status. This is a dream I will work everyday to turn into a reality.
I do actually think this world I see will be created within our lifetime, over the next forty years. But to create this world will require significant intentionality, an increase in human consciousness and connection, global collaboration and effective leadership across all three sectors of human society: government, business, and civil — as well as substantial technological innovation.
Perhaps Martin Luther King Jr.’s dream has been achieved in America. But in the slums of Kibera, the camps of Kakuma, and the brothels of Hanoi millions of our children are still dying and can’t access the same basic opportunities we can. 22,000 children under 5 die every single day in the world — most of whom die from preventable disease and starvation. 2.5 billion people live on under $2 per day — while so many of us have every opportunity in the world.
The good news is, we’re making major progress in both reducing poverty and creating sustainable technologies. But to achieve our generation’s most important goal of ending extreme poverty while creating an environmentally sustainable world — we need competent, caring, serious, focused innovators and leaders. We have today a global generation of millennials focused once and for all on creating a world in which every human being has equal treatment under the law — not just Americans, not just Europeans. Every human being.
One way I work to realize this personal mission is by serving as a member of the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council, a group of entrepreneurs under 40 from various industries, including, corporate, creative community, and media, who have come together to help the UN Foundation – through its campaigns, partnerships, and programs – advance to the next level of innovation and impact.
And so I’m not quite sure whether my mom still has the ability to read this or not (who really knows?). But her energy will live on.