Game Changers 2020 Essay Series: Invest in Change

Invest in Change

Kelly Hoey, Columnist & Author, Forbes

My personal motto is “invest in the change you want to see in the world.” To be frank, it sprouted out of my frustration with the endless griping I found myself surrounded by back in 2009, when I was president of a global network for women and interacting with both those incredible means and those with game-changing ideas. The griping (or venting or grumbling or whatever label you want to smack on it) centered on the lack of funding for emerging tech and other business ventures started by women. Yes, a conversation that sadly continues to dog women entrepreneurs, a decade later.

My reaction to the problem in 2009 remains the same today: We (women) are not powerless and this “problem” isn’t so problematic to solve.

As I view the funding disparity, there are abundant ways to solve it by taking action every day. Back to my “invest in the change” motto, I layer a broad definition of investment over  it (along  with a healthy  dose of role model responsibility). Investment in my mind is not only the stocks in my 401(k) and emerging tech funds I invest in, it includes with whom and how I choose to spend my time (time being the most valuable, non-renewable asset class), as well as my consumer spending. Consumer spending is investment, you say? Yes.

Consumer spending makes up 68 percent of the U.S. economy. I may be one woman however, on the basis of gender, I’m a member of an investor class (aka shoppers) who drive 70-80 percent of all consumer purchasing. Yes, a lot of the country’s GDP rests on the purchasing whims of women.

My “invest in change” rallying call to other women is to have a more intentional pocketbook focus, to align their spending with their philosophical outlook.

Investment in change is how I flip the mental “I’m one person and can’t do anything” switch on the disparity in funding or growth of ventures started by women and underserved communities. I can’t simply outsource the inefficiency of capital allocation to “nothing can be done” hand wringing. I make economic decisions daily, and I can employ those transactions to make a difference. Here’s what I’ve discovered a decade after adopting my “investing in change” mindset: It’s not that difficult to be inclusive when your lens is action and you actually take action.

Why do I believe that “invest in change” is a game-changing principle? It is positive, proactive personal responsibility – an approach frequently in short supply. It’s empowering (as tiresome as the overused word is). It doesn’t allow for responsibility shifting or finger-pointing or blame. Besides, when talk is cheaper than ever (thanks social networks!), I choose to hold my actions accountable alongside my words.

The power to effect change sits in my pocket and yours. Be your own change agent – starting today, no excuses. Let this be a wake-up call or reminder that the greatest hurdle to effecting change are those we impose on our own self-worth and ability to take action.

November 1, 2019