George M. Tsiatis: Inspiring Change and Supporting Young Social Venture Start-Ups
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 George M. Tsiatis, co-founder and CEO of The Resolution Project. Let’s see what he is doing to make a positive impact in the world.
Spiffy: Welcome, George! Let’s jump right in. Can you tell us what challenges you’re addressing through your work with The Resolution Project?
George: It’s great to be here, Spiffy. I am a firm believer that our best way through the countless challenges facing our world today is to tap into the brilliance and ingenuity of young people. Not because they have the only answers, but because we NEED their fire, their passion, their questioning nature, and their disdain for injustice to propel us to a better place. Young people can shake us free from our complacency and inaction so we can all work together—sometimes all they need is someone to believe in them.
Spiffy: You’re getting me super excited for the future, George! Can you talk about what kinds of things motivated you to support young social entrepreneurs?
George: On the global scale, it’s the inequity and injustices of society, the irresponsibility of so many of our existing leaders, and accelerating crises like the pandemic, climate change, and forced displacement. On the human scale, I am motivated by the young people I meet and work with, and their dedication, creativity, journeys, and impact. They are astonishing individuals and demand that I bring my best self every single day.
Spiffy: They sound incredibly inspiring. Let's turn now and talk about how Resolution Project is working to make the world a more equitable place?
George: The problems facing our world are created by human behavior, and we can change that behavior. We can actually choose to be more equitable and less self-serving. The Resolution Project's work of supporting social entrepreneurs is about supporting leaders and ventures that are oriented around people, not money. Traditional ventures are aware of people but focus on capital; social enterprises have those relationships reversed. That’s a powerful paradigm shift that, when applied to both the public and private sectors, can re-center our entire society around equity.
Spiffy: Have you reached any significant milestones?
George: Well, Spiffy, we recently welcomed our 500th Fellow. Spread across 82 countries, these young social entrepreneurs have started hundreds of social enterprises and benefited millions of people with their work. Having been there when the first Fellows were selected, until now, it really struck me how important patience and dedication are to driving change in a program that is working to transform the nature of global leadership and to get changemakers started earlier.
Spiffy: Nearly every entrepreneur I interview has faced failure. What about you, George? What kind of experiences have you had with failure?
George: Working through lockdown periods has been deeply humbling. I’ve been grateful to have my health and my job, but I simply couldn’t keep up with correspondence over the course of it, and I let some important messages go unanswered for a long time—not because I didn’t care, but because I couldn’t create the space to respond to them with the thought and attention that they demanded. That’s a really tough feeling. I wrote several apology notes to people and was even more humbled by their grace and kindness. I learned that most people will forgive if you sincerely ask for their forgiveness.
Spiffy: I'm hopeful that these responses are the norm and not the exception. What is something you've unexpectedly learned from someone recently?
George: My daughter recently reminded me how important it is to acknowledge others' feelings. She had wanted to keep playing with a toy, and I told her that we needed to put it away because we had to leave. I could see she was unhappy, so I asked her how she felt, and she told me she was sad. I asked her if she wanted a hug, she nodded, and when I hugged her she said, “Thank you, Daddy.” It doesn’t take a lot to realize how important it is to live that lesson in all our relationships. She turns three in two weeks. Listen to three-year-olds, 10-year-olds, 20-year-olds—the job of adults is not to teach them, but to guide them, listen to them, and learn from them with the same curiosity that drives them to learn from our successes and our failures.
Spiffy: Before we sign off, is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
George: If you are a young person trying to create change, there are allies out there that are focused on you and your needs. Seek those out. Many people will dangle resources and money to try to get what they want, but look for partnerships that center your needs. You bring enough to the table—others should meet you halfway. And even if you're not ready to be a changemaker yourself, you can contribute to a society that values young people and their ideas. Support your peers! You might be surprised to know how much a kind word of encouragement means to someone who is doing really difficult work to change our world.
Spiffy: You’ve summed it up beautifully, George. Thanks for sitting down to talk to us about your work. I look forward to seeing the young social entrepreneurs from your program change the world! Over and out!
George M. Tsiatis is the CEO and co-founder of The Resolution Project, and a serial social entrepreneur and mentor. George received his BA from Harvard University in Byzantine Studies and his JD from St. John's University. He has been published or featured in Forbes, Vice, Huffington Post, and other outlets. (Nominated by Talent Match, Inc. First published on the Ladderworks website on August 27, 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.