Amanda Waye Interview

Aug 19

Amanda Waye Interview
NOTHING IS MORE POWERFUL than an idea whose time has come.  I am delighted that conversation salons are sprouting up across the globe, and growing exponentially.  I’d like to introduce you to a new salon host in Vancouver, BC, Amanda Waye, brand strategist for DDB Canada and volunteer leader with VANCOUVER+acumen.  After reading more about her, you’ll be inspired to start your own salon as soon as possible!  A passionate woman of insatiable curiosity, Amanda’s life reflects her values of creating positive social change, locally and globally.  Here are the highlights of our interview:

Q:  Do you think conversation can change the world? What do you enjoy most about a good conversation?

A:  Listening to others is what gives us new perspective and sparks us to connect seemingly unrelated concepts together to spur new ideas. I believe it’s this creation and exchange of ideas that will change the world by innovating solutions to our challenges and breaking down the siloed thinking that segregates us.

Q: I noticed a discussion topic in your June salon was “Great Technology Alone is Not the Answer”.  What was your personal takeaway from the evening?

A: My Aha: Be conscious about unconscious technology drivers.

Joining us at this month’s Salon was a cross-section of perspectives: from finance to marketing professionals, engineers to project managers, art curators to social-enterprise entrepreneurs. Each of these individual’s felt that technology controlled them, more than they controlled it. Whether this was being addicted to Facebook or being constantly beholden to checking work email.

My personal take-away from the evening’s conversation was that we all seem to want to connect more with the people in front of us and be more in the moment, especially in social situations like dinner or catching up with loved ones. If I make the conscious choice to “power-off” more often, chances are people will gladly follow my lead and be thankful for the nudge to connect with the present, rather than what is calling from behind their screen.

 Q:  What brought you to become involved in Vancouver+acumen and conversation salons in particular?

A:  I’ve always believed in giving people a hand up, over a hand out. I read Jacqueline Novogratz’s book THE BLUE SWEATER, which documents how she came to found VANCOUVER+acumen and the lessons she learned working alongside entrepreneurs in emerging markets. The principals behind VANCOUVER+acumen – empowering entrepreneurs within their own communities, patient capital that recognizes the need for time and nurturing to grow a business, and moral leadership through treating everyone with dignity – are all principals that resonate strongly with me. On close of the last page, I immediately joined three fellow volunteers and became a founding member of the Vancouver +acumen chapter.

The concept for a Salon Series arose following a deep conversation with our counterparts from Acumen Fund. Myself and the other volunteers we were reflecting and sharing critical thoughts after reading the content from Acumen Fund’s Fellows Program. Each of us exclaimed how rare it was in our daily lives that we dig deeply into a single topic or share our inner thoughts about fundamental principals like generosity or trust. It was this moment that sparked my idea to create a forum to move conversations beyond the weather or sports, and facilitate and exchange ideas and critical thoughts about topics that make us dig a little deeper in our thoughts.

Over the next month I had the pleasure of working with exceptional colleagues to iterate this idea into a monthly conversation series partnering with local independent restaurants to host intimate dinners.  Individuals from all walks of life are encouraged to join the evening’s conversation with the objective of spurring critical thought and the exchange of ideas.

Q:  What advice would you give to anyone wanting a career with a non-profit organization?

A few years into my career in advertising, I decided that I wanted to make the world a better place and that working for a non-profit was the way to do this. I had the privilege of having the CEO of United Way Victoria as my mentor at this time. I asked her the very question you posed and her answer was this:

Ask yourself why you want to work for a non-profit. If you have experience in business and want to have a positive impact on organizations like ours the best thing you can do is continue to work to gain skills and experience in the corporate sector, and volunteer or sit on boards to share this experience back to non-profits in your free time. Your experience gained in a professional setting will give those who may not have the privilege of this knowledge be able to work through your guidance inside our walls to make the difference you want to create.

I took her advice and stayed in the corporate world and fulfilled my desire to make a positive impact by continuing to volunteer with organizations like Acumen Fund and am thankful to this day for her guidance on this direction.

My advice for anyone wanting a career with a non-profit is to first look at your motivations and then the end goal you want to achieve through your work. If a non-profit is where you should be, this will help you focus on what role and organization you can elevate. If your goal could be achieved through a different path, the answers you give yourself should open up new directions to follow.

Learn more about Amanda’s conversation salons and the good work being done by the VANCOUVER+acumen.







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  1. I bought a condo in dowtnown Seattle, my first piece of real estate long before the bubble burst. Alas though, I still wish I could go back and change that decision. Buying property at a young age not only anchored me needlessly, it shouldered me with way more debt than I shoulda had in my 20s. Nah, if I could go back, I woulda bought an ugly old, just-barely-floating boat to live on and save all that extra money for things like travel, wood working lessons, oh yeah, and security. Buying that condo, which WAS wonderful at times, prevented me from doing a lot of things at such a prime time in life. Thank GAWD we get so many mini-lifetimes in our own life so we can circle around again, so to speak. Now the plan is to retire onto a boat in 10 years.

    • I would have made my mom let me do ballet AND piano when I was 8, itnesad of having to give up ballet. I would have then become a break dancer.Really though, I’ve been doing freelance and wishing I had a full-time job. Probably because I am lazy. It is easier to have someone else find work for you. I also like having people around to critique my work immediately. This post is making me wonder if I should try to be content with my freelancing. I enjoy it, of course. Real jobs really cut into my bike riding time. This post is making me think.

    • Knowing what I know now, and as the the father of a 3 year old and 5 year, and havnig no free time anymore, I would have taken up and mastered photography earlier in life. As it stands, it will only remain a passionate but time limited activity. In my design career I did work for myself for several years pre-kids, but in fact I enjoy the collaboration of working with others and also not havnig to worry about the biz-dev side of things.

      • Yes, hindsight is 20/20, Arunprakaash! We don’t realize in our twenties how precious time is, and that we not only have only one life, but we don’t know how long that life will be, or what the conditions of it will be. We can make adjustments and we can change careers in our 30s and 40s, but it is more challenging. We like to think our opportunities are infinite, and I’m an optimist at heart, but in reality, we all have limits. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    • This may come as a surprise to some, but if I could go back and chgane the decision to go to college I absolutely would. At 22 years old, I am in an astronomical amount of debt. I know it is time for me to embrace that which I cannot chgane, but I’m still in the process of this acceptance. I never wanted to work a 9-5, I wanted to find something creative. I understand that I’m still capable of doing this, but my high monthly loan payments hinder my inspiration, and I hope i don’t end up panicking myself into a terrible job!

      • Hello Maggie, I hear you. Debt is absolutely not a fun burden to bear. Because of the financial pressures people are feeling, many people are questioning the value of a college education. I don’t think it’s a simple discussion, so would love to hear from others about their thoughts on this. I have known people who have taken both routes, and there are more factors to our financial stability and success than just whether or not we pursue and obtain a formal education. The purpose of a good education, in my opinion, goes beyond simply preparing a person for a job. Some degrees (English majors…you know what I’m talking about!) are not linked directly to a job, but they still have value.

        When I went back to school in my mid-30s, as a single Mom, it was not easy, but I chose to major in Cultural Anthropology vs Computer Science (which was all the rage at the time), because I knew I could pick up those skills on my own (technology changes so quickly, a degree in CS hardly made any sense to me). Anthropology in and of itself did not lead me to a job directly, but it enriched my life and all of the other courses in history, art, communication, statistics, math and science I took helped make me a more educated voter, a better mother, and a more informed global citizen.

        I think we need to question the direction of making colleges and universities (in fact, our entire education system) focused only on training us to work for someone else. There is so much more to life and our responsibilities as people on the planet.

        Lessons from history tell us that successful societies are those who fund high-quality, rigorous and well-rounded education so that all its citizens benefit. No one should have to stagger under huge debt just to get an education.

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