Spiffy here! I’m back with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only Interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Chris Bolman, founder of Brightest. Let’s see what he is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Welcome, Chris! I brought my sunglasses along! Can you tell me what challenges you’re addressing through your work with Brightest?
Chris: I’d love to, Spiffy! There are lots of different groups and organizations working on positive social progress and doing good around the world, including non-profits, governments, activists, schools, foundations, and others. The challenge most of these organizations face is that "doing good" can be very hard to measure, even though it's important for communicating what you do and understanding where and how you can improve. Brightest exists to make it easier for organizations doing good to understand what's going on, and count and measure their positive impact.
Spiffy: This sounds promising, Chris. What motivated you to hone in supporting organizations to measure their impact?
Chris: I've worked in lots of different areas, including climate, politics, advertising and marketing, and teaching. I keep seeing the same challenges that so many people face in a world with unlimited information: what actually matters? What's most important to pay attention to? How do you turn a small organization doing good into a big one? How do you overcome complexity? Those are really interesting, exciting challenges for me and my company Brightest, because if we can solve these challenges, we can help people and organizations who are doing good make better decisions, save their time, and be more productive.
Spiffy: How would you say Brightest is working to create a more equitable world?
Chris: Our goal is to help other organizations who are working toward a more equitable world work better. That's one of the great opportunities about technology—it's accessible to anyone over the internet, so we can help hundreds or even thousands of different changemakers at the same time. Our goal is to have zero carbon or climate footprint, so we also plant trees every time organizations and people use Brightest. We've already planted over 12,000 trees, and hope to do even more as we grow.
Spiffy: That’s exciting! Do you have milestones you’ve reached? What impact does that make?
Chris: We built a system that lets impact organizations create, see, manage, and measure impact through partnerships on Brightest—we've already had some of our customers use it to form new partnerships! That's exciting for us because collaboration and working together is so important, particularly when working on big social problems like inequality, poverty, injustice, or our current climate crisis. We're better, stronger, and smarter when we work together.
Measuring social impact with Brightest. (Photo credit: Brightest)
Spiffy: One thing I always need to ask: have you ever faced failure? What did you learn from failure?
Chris: When 2020 started, many nonprofits used Brightest to volunteer in their community, or come together at events like climate marches. When the pandemic happened, it suddenly became unsafe to have those types of big public gatherings. So one of the most popular ways we were helping organizations disappeared. We had to be creative and think about what problems really existed, how we could contribute to pandemic relief and aid, and figure out a new way to support organizations. Fortunately, we persisted, stayed healthy (and safe), and helped organizations find virtual ways to do good while we expanded our software product and apps to do new things.
Spiffy: What’s something unexpected you’ve learned recently?
Chris: The one thing I'm constantly reminded of, particularly in social impact, is the importance of focus. There are so many problems and opportunities in the world, but we can't do everything. We just don't have enough time. What's most important? What's the #1 or top three things you need to do right now? If we have the privilege or opportunity to pursue different things, you still need to do them once at a time and focus your energy. Time is precious.
Spiffy: Before we sign off, Chris, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Spiffy: I’m going to check it out right now! Thanks so much for talking to me today, Chris, it’s been an honor.
Chris Bolman is the founder and CEO of Brightest, the leading software company for social impact measurement. Chris has virtually taught over 15,000 students on strategy, marketing, brand development, communications, and social impact, and his work and writing has been featured in publications like Harvard Business Review, The Washington Post, VICE, and Scientific American. (Nominated by Impact Hub New York. First published on the Ladderworks website on May 20, 2021.)
© 2021 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Jill Landis Jha. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. Follow Spiffy’s interviews of founders building a more equitable world here.