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Great post from UN Foundation The ABCs of Global Influencer Concepts in 2016 (including PCDN)

Craig Zelizer

May 16, 2016


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By Aaron Sherinian - Mar 09, 2016 Crossposted on PCDN with permission from the UN foundation.

Interested in connecting with the ideas on the forefront of global change? One of the best ways is to follow the concepts – and their authors and advocates – that are making headlines and headway this year. They have caught my attention for their unique approach to advocacy, journalism, and public engagement. 

Last week I posted a list of some of the people I am following. This week I am introducing 26 concepts (and their creators, authors, and evangelists) that I am excited about this year. 

Here are 26 of some of the new ideas that changing the way we think, and shape, our world. Be on the watch for a related list next week. But in the meantime, start following these people and learn about these concepts that have the potential to change the world!


Aid Data – Because big data will help us make big decisions.

AidData Labs

The AidData Labs are changing the conversation about how much we know about international development and how we use that information. These are some of the smartest thinkers in a sector that thrives on a diet of big data but needs smart analysis to help policymakers make sense of it all. Their work, and the emerging sector of development data, is empowering citizens to hold their governments accountable. With trillions in development funding being invested around the world, the choices people make on how to utilize these resources, and the accountability around this funding, matters more than ever. “Now anyone can assess who is funding what, where, and to what effect” their website rightly boasts.


Brazil – Because everyone should be watching what’s happening in Brazil right now.

Larry Rohter’s Brazil on the Rise: The Story of a Country Transformed

When Larry Rohter, former Rio de Janeiro journalist and South American bureau chief for The New York Times, writes about Brazil and culture, people pay attention. In Brazil on the Rise, Rohter brings readers on a journey through Brazil, showing them the country’s cultural, economic, and biological diversity by breaking past stereotypes, visiting favelas and corporations alike, and touring Brazil’s beaches and rainforest. This is a must-read for anyone wanting to understand Brazil’s importance on the international stage.


Clean cookstoves – Because if Jose Andres and Top Chef are talking about them, shouldn’t you?

The Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves

The issue of clean cooking has been getting a lot of attention lately…with good reason. Did you know that the smoke and emissions from cooking fires and traditional cookstoves leads to 4 million deaths every year? Women are the most impacted, as they are the majority of the world’s cooks. Switching people from open fires to cooking on a clean cookstove can save lives, dramatically improve health, protect the environment, help mitigate climate change, and boost gender equality. The UN Foundation-hosted Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves is working to create a thriving global market for clean cookstoves with a “100 by ‘20 goal” for 100 million households to adopt clean and efficient cookstoves and fuels by 2020.  


Development Executives – Because so many of those doing good are doing it well.


The group of people working on development issues are often unsung heroes. But this community has benefited for years from an online hub that connects development workers with information and professional development about their tradecraft. Devex is the media platform for development news, and it has been a pleasure to watch the platform evolve and grow. Its stated mission is to help act as a hub for professionals to learn about news, practical information, insight, and job opportunities in the development space. It is SO much more. It is a connective tissue for the development community to learn and grow. Look for its upcoming event in Washington, DC called Devex World 2016.


Entrepreneur-in-Residence – Because she can tell you what empowered businesses can do.

Elizabeth Gore

Is it transport? Is it health care? Mobile payments?  Elizabeth Gore is working in her current role as Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Dell to help take entrepreneurship to the next level. What I love about Elizabeth’s job is that it involves listening to companies about what they need so they disrupt the marketplace. Watch and follow Elizabeth. She will help point you to opportunities and conversations that matter. Disclaimer: I had the pleasure of working with Elizabeth for years at the UN Foundation as she worked to make things happen in a big way. With her, they always do!


Fragility – Because a list that helps spotlight these issues is a list we all need.

The Fund for Peace’s Fragile States Index

The Fund for Peace has been working for decades on helping people understand the analyses, reports, and data that point to risks around the world. The index itself has evolved, and it continues to be a smart tool for people who look at the entire world, not just a piece of it. The Fragile States Index focuses on the indicators of risk and is based on thousands of articles and reports that are processed by a unique blend of software and analysis from an excellent team who comb through electronically available sources. The Fund for Peace produces this list to spur conversations, encourage debate, and most of all help guide strategies for sustainable security and development. If you know the index, you will know that it definitely starts these conversations.


Global Citizenry – Because it’s all about everyone now.

Global Citizen and the pioneers Hugh Evans and Simon Moss

The past year has witnessed the emergence of a new part of our society. A group of people dedicated to global issues not because they are fashionable, but because they are fundamental. The group Global Citizen, and the related work of the Global Poverty Project, has united millions in this community of cause. Some of their most important leaders are people who have led this community with vision and courage. They chose to bring issues to the forefront because we can make a difference. Whether from a concert stage or a concerted effort to advocate together, Global Citizen is an actor on the world stage that is helping write our global future.


Good – Because it has a name.  And a URL.  And a mission.

GOOD Magazine and Max Schorr

GOOD is more than just a word; it is a social impact organization and community cultivating a media space to advance positive progress in the world through storytelling. GOOD does more than share others’ stories, it gets is hands dirty and creates the story. Under the leadership of the unstoppable Max Schorr, GOOD was integral in propelling the Earth To Paris coalition around climate change. Schorr and GOOD helped make sustainability approachable and real, and if they can do that with the issue of climate change, just imagine what they can do next. 


Happiness – Because what happens when a nation names a minister to oversee what, frankly, matters most?

Ohood Al Roumi

Recently named the UAE Minister of Happiness, Ohood Al Roumi is a global change maker to follow. She is concurrently the Director General of the UAE Prime Minister’s Office as well as a member of the UN Foundation’s Global Entrepreneurs Council. In the Prime Minister’s Office, Al Roumi is a leader of multi-sector efforts to bring about reform, innovation, and leadership development. She has been charged with something truly unique – a ministerial portfolio without precedent…and with great promise. And in a world where there is more data and information than ever before about how and what citizens expect from their governments in their pursuit of happiness, this is an imperative with potential and purpose. I am excited to watch what her portfolio will help inspire around the world.


Insight – Because research just sits there until insight makes it do something.

Jason Boxt & the Glover Park Group

Everyone talks about the need for research, but how about the need for insight? These are words that get tossed around a lot in Washington, D.C., but someone has helped them come alive for me in my work and as I look at the world. Jason Boxt is Managing Director at the Glover Park Group where he develops communication and advocacy outreach strategies through digital and outreach research. What does that mean? He helps advocates communicate effectively to get results – and I can attest to his smarts and guts. Jason has told me things that I needed to hear, not just that I wanted to hear. I don’t always agree with him, but I like the way he explains what he is thinking.  Follow him.


Journalism – Because it means something new every day.

Journalists Resource

A sector as unique as journalism needs to constantly refresh the resources it has available for those who practice what they preach – and preach about the need for their practice. With the support of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Shorenstein Center and the Carnegie-Knight Initiative, Journalists Resource is a fascinating source of curated research and journalism from around the world. By providing easy access to deeper research for almost anything we read and see in the news, journalists now can be a part of the knowledge-based journalism movement with this deadline-friendly resource. 


Keys – Because helping others open doors of opportunity is courageous.

Kenneth Cole & Courageous Class

Kenneth Cole is a leader in fashion, but he has also long been a steward of humanitarian causes, and his newly launched Courageous Class campaign continues this trend. The editorial campaign features five social good actors who are working to use their brand as a platform to highlight how individuals can make a difference. Among this Courageous Class is Mari Malek, a South Sudanese refugee who has become a DJ and founded an educational nonprofit as a means to end war. Bryan Mooser, a humanitarian, filmmaker, and co-founder of the virtual reality media company RYOT, is also a member of current Courageous Class.


Life – Because with global attention and action we can end human trafficking and save lives.


When my children go to school, they may spend time in textbooks learning about the slavery in the United States of many years ago, but those of us in the international affairs space know that it continues today around the world – and must be stopped. Polaris is a global leader in the fight against modern human trafficking. With its three-part theory of change – Respond, Equip, Disrupt – Polaris is helping more people become free. Through the training of law enforcement and corporate leaders and the tracking and reporting of traffickers, Polaris has delivered results and saved lives. I am learning a lot from this project about an issue that is urgent because it is about lives.


Making it Count – Because purpose and sustainability are the cake, not the frosting.

Nigel Salter & SalterBaxter MSLGROUP

There is a new era of purpose-driven communications emerging. I live in this world, and I love the way it is being re-defined at every moment. I have been watching the work of the SalterBaxter group (and Nigel Salter’s leadership) as the organization announced their merger with the MSLGroup. Nigel can put his fingers on a new way of measuring when it comes to purpose and the quickly changing landscape of Corporate Social Responsibility. Their reports are online not to brag, but to teach. Their clients are leading not because of awards, but because of the rewards of sustainability. Follow this remarkable organization and learn.


New Power – Because it’s a current, not a currency… and these guys know it!

Jeremy Heimans and Henry Timms’ “New Power”

One of the most important conversations of the past few years was sparked by Henry and Jeremy’s new way to look at power. From their groundbreaking article in the Harvard Business Review to their discussions on all continents, this conversation is challenging the way we need to view our world and the people and forces around us. One of the principles they raise is the idea of Occupying Yourself.  As an organization or a person, we need to take a look at and reinvent ourselves and allow our community to speak for where we want to go. This is just one of the many ideas that their New Power theory puts on the table. These are exciting ideas, and I love being an evangelist for this new way of thinking. You don’t have to agree with every part of their theories, but you have to agree it is the conversation we need to be having NOW.


Open Source – Because the future is in transparency.


One of the most exciting and successful social good campaigns I have followed in recent years is the Open Source movement, which promotes the use of open source licenses for certain software programs so that anyone can use and improve on them. One ambitious project I follow is OpenStreetMap. In partnership with the Red Cross, the World Bank, universities, and humanitarians are hosting OpenStreetMap trainings and mapathons to help crisis management workers effectively deliver resources and find survivors when natural disasters strike. With the help of governments and locals on the ground, OpenStreetMap is saving lives. 


Positivity – Because news and culture co-exist.


I have been watching with interest the rise of HelloGiggles. Some of the freshest communities are the ones that mix top news, what’s hot in culture, and items of interest that help make everyone smarter. “Empowerment” is a word that gets thrown around a lot, and sometimes the most important way to empower people is to make sure they have a way to get all their information in that same spot. Some of the names of contributors and others on the site have included people you and I know such as Zooey Deschanel, Sophia Rivka Rossi, and Molly McAleer. I am loving getting to know everyone that contributes to this unique group of people.


Peace – Because it is at the center of the global goals.

Dr. Craig Zelizer and the Peace & Collaborative Development Network

As someone who works with global change makers every day, one organization I love to recommend is the Peace and Collaborative Development Network (PCDN). Founded friend and mentor Dr. Craig Zelizer, PCDN enables individuals to scale the social good projects they are working on by providing them resources and connecting them with the right networks to achieve their goals. From students and professionals to nonprofits and entrepreneurs, PCDN earns its name as a collaborative network. Craig and PCDN embody global goals 16 and 17 in their pursuit of peace, justice, and partnership.


Quality Client and Account Time – Because that’s what makes a winning brand.

Get Big Fast and Do More Good by Ido Leffler and Lance Kalish

Relationships matter. There is a line in Get Big Fast and Do More Good that talks about how at a trade show or a big meeting, you can only build a better brand if you are spending time with people in the right way. From choosing the right restaurant from a meeting, to personifying your brand to being the most interesting brand your accounts are dealing with, it comes down to quality time with people – your clients AND your team. Ido talks about finding the 10 people you need to know to get your brand to the next stage. He talks about listening as well as preaching. This kind of thinking has helped the campaigns and initiatives we work on and has helped re-define the way I look at some of our key relationships in the social good space today.


Reality… the Virtual Kind – Because Virtual Reality has applications to help make things a reality.

Gabo Arora

The United Nations is doing remarkable things to help make Virtual Reality a teaching, advocacy, and policy tool. He, and those who are using Virtual Reality in places as diverse as SxSW and the UN General Assembly, are getting people to notice their work and the tool. Moreover, Gabo’s “Clouds Over Sidra”, a VR film that follows a Syrian girl in a Jordanian refugee camp, has been recently acclaimed as an exemplar of how VR will change your world. VR is the media platform of the future, so why not get ahead of the game and follow the change makers? Experiencing this reality in this way can help people make decisions that will improve the reality of the future.


Spokesperson – Because what happens at the podium is just the beginning.

Stephane Dujarric

The job of the spokesperson is one of the most challenging communications roles in the world. What some of us see on television drama shows is only a tiny part of what the spokesperson deals with on a daily basis. It’s about what happens at the podium, but is also what happens as messages come together, as crises are confronted, as relationships turn into stories, and stories help build relationships. Think about being the press spokesperson for one of the most important organizations in the world – the UN. Now think about following him. I do.  And it puts some of the most important things on my screen each day. And if you want to learn about communications, Stephane is your masterclass teacher.  Follow him and learn.


Trendy – Because it means spotting what’s next, not just what’s now.

Uber Trends from Marian

Marian Salzman has been spotting trends for years. She has an uncanny ability to watch what is happening in society and pinpoint how and why people are embracing new forms of thinking, acting, consuming, and connecting. Many articles have created lists of the trends that Marian, as CEO of Havas PR and a leader in this space has brought to light and, literally, brought to our lips. What I am fascinated with lately is the trend of Uneasy Street. People indeed have a lot on their minds, and this trend of Uneasy Street is one that we should have in mind when designing campaigns, thinking about how we talk with our communities, and how we share our ideas.  Marian is a mentor and friend, so I trust her gut on what’s coming next. So I am telling all of you as friends to do the same.


United Nations Dispatch– Because it’s your world, better get good directions.

Mark Leon Goldberg, UN Dispatch, & DAWNS Digest

From in-depth analysis to impactful UN-related issues, Mark Leon Goldberg is an expert curator of the world’s most important international news. As someone who works in the international affairs space, I can personally attest that UN Dispatch and DAWNS Digest are two tools that have been invaluable to keeping my team informed. Moreover, Mark – and all the incredible members of the UN Dispatch team – is an expert at highlighting issues and champions that get less attention in the media, something that helps his followers stay ahead of the game. Sign up for Mark’s listservs and be in-the-know.


Vote – Because everyone’s voice deserves to be heard.

VotoLatino & María Teresa Kumar

Since it first began in 2004, VotoLatino has expanded from voter registration campaigns to include programs on civic engagement, leadership development, and issue advocacy. Led by leader and mentor María Teresa Kumar, VotoLatino is a defender of equality and aims to build a more inclusive democracy. I am always elated to hear about the wonderful work they do and the great list of supporters they have brought to this issue. I am proud to count myself as one of them.


Web – Because decisions taking place about the world really are at your fingertips.


Could not make it halfway around the world for that development event? No problem! The United Nations Web TV is a great resource that I use to keep up on UN events and developments. From pivotal moments, such as the UN’s announcement of the agreement at the Paris climate summit, to wonky announcements about niche international issues, UN Web TV is one of the best ways to follow the UN General Assembly online. Be sure to tune in! 


XX – Because we only have part of the picture. And that hurts.


Named for the power of women to multiply progress in their societies, Data2X is leading the efforts to incorporate data into the gender equality movement. Housed by the United Nations Foundation, I am proud to be a part of ongoing efforts to close gender data gaps so we have accurate, reliable, and plentiful data to inform and guide policy. Good data is an essential part of knowing how to make the sustainable development goals a success, and by igniting a gender data revolution, we can identify how best to pursue that success.


92Y’s 7 Days of Genius – Because good ideas should be shared with the world.

The world-class cultural and community center 92Y is at it again – making history and bringing  people together to learn and think big through its “7 Days of Genius,” a global conversation to explore the power of genius to make a positive impact on the world. The truly global movement features a festival, digital outreach, as well as innovative ideas in entrepreneurship, design, and religion. As part of this, 92Y is highlighting the power of female geniuses and scientists in collaboration with UN Women in efforts to reach gender equity. It all culminates into the Ultimate Genius Showdown hosted by MSNBC, so go online and vote for who you think the Ultimate Genius should be today.


Zero – Because the best leaders do the most with the least.

Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business by Nancy Lublin

Nancy Lublin knows that the model for corporate success cannot map onto nonprofits because she learned firsthand that no one is more qualified to lead than those who thrive on a shoestring budget. “Zilch is what drives us to be more innovative, more passionate, more creative,” Lublin writes in Zilch, a guide for those of us leading organizations on a limited budget. Lublin’s expert advice has helped me in my work in the profitable nonprofit world, and if you’re reading this, it will likely help you, too.

These are just a few of the concepts (and I fully acknowledge that I repeated a few entries under a few letters) that I am watching this year. Watch next week for a list of some of the global voices and mentors who are changing the face of how we think about social entrepreneurship and global engagement in 2016. 

- See more at: http://unfoundationblog.org/the-abcs-of-global-influencer-concepts-in-2016-second-in-series/#sthash.4CRRZHWU.dpuf


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