Seventh Generation CEO John Replogle energized an audience of students, faculty and community leaders at the inaugural Dinners With Purpose on October 29th at NC State University. His talk, Leading With Purpose: 21st Century Business Leadership, illustrated the need for innovative and creative thinking in both the public and private sectors to address the challenges we face as a society.
The talk began with the question, “Why will the social entrepreneur inherit the earth?” Replogle painted a rather bleak picture of where the planet is heading in just a few short decades if we continue down our current path. Systemic thinking is a critical skill we all must have to tackle challenges such as human rights, the health care crisis and environmental issues, and there is a great need for leadership to solve these social and environmental problems. “Who will solve these problems?” he asked. “Us. We have to solve the problems.” He went on to explain that the hallmarks of social entrepreneurial leaders – Perseverance, Patience, Passion and Purpose – are the necessary traits to face these challenges.
While there was a good deal of discussion on businesses being a force for good, the need for innovation and creative thinking exists in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations. The business world is shifting and the line between the public and private sector is blurring, according to Replogle. That need to solve problems for others is a challenge that faces all of us. Great social entrepreneurs exist in the public sector as well as the private sector.
Replogle was particularly interested in engaging the students in the audience. He asked, “What is your purpose? What are you called to do?” and encouraged students to ask themselves what problem they want to solve and who will they serve. Cassi Zumbiel, a graduate student in Public Administration at NC State University, said, “The Dinners With Purpose event with John Replogle changed my perspective on making a change in the world. In less than an hour, John helped me realize my potential by conveying all of his. I walked away from the event in a daze trying to figure out what my purpose will be, while thinking through my mission statement and trying to lay out my goals. I felt very inspired as I sat around a diverse group of students, alums and professionals who are working and studying among the different sectors and disciplines but are all interested in social change.”
The presentation was inspirational and invigorating. Replogle shared his incredible journey and insights in an approachable manner, inviting questions from the audience and even staying around for almost an hour after the event to speak with students further. His passion for social entrepreneurship and his belief that individuals and organizations really can be a force for good made for an incredible event.
Dinners With Purpose is sponsored by the Social Entrepreneurship initiative at the Institute for Nonprofits and the Institute for Emerging Issues. A series of dinner events with world class presenters will be offered at NC State to explore topics of civic engagement, social innovation and entrepreneurship, global citizenry, and seeking purpose in work and in life. For more information on the series, please contact Elizabeth Benefield at firstname.lastname@example.org.