Michael Gewirtzman is the Sr. Manager of Thought Leadership at IVY, where he curates today’s most influential voices to educate and inspire the IVY community.  After a nearly decade-long career as an executive in the music industry, he discovered a passion for producing meaningful and impactful content, first for leadership minded college students across the country, and now for IVY and its members. 

As Thanksgiving begins the season of reflection, I have been thinking a lot about both giving and gratitude. Here at IVY, I have a lot to be thankful for. Our community is made up of some of the most passionate, talented, and socially conscious individuals who I have ever encountered, and they truly inspire me. When you pair this community with Thought Leaders who are making a significant global impact, you can see that it ignites a spark within them to be more socially conscious. I am reminded of some of the leaders who have inspired us, and the lessons that they shared.

Building a Business to Change the World

Lauren Bush Lauren, Founder of FEED, has a personal mantra that life is about serving others, and finding a way to give back and improve the world.” Lauren founded FEED in 2007 with a mission of creating products that would provide customers with a tangible way of being a part of the fight against hunger. In doing so, Lauren created a global movement while simultaneously connected consumers to a cause. “Life is too short and the world is too small to live in our bubbles and do nothing,” she explained to IVY members. “Find that one cause to really jump into.” Since its inception, FEED has provided more than 100 million meals to those in need around the world.

 

Think Differently — Love What You Do

Sometimes we can make a difference in non-traditional ways. Co-Founder of Movember, Adam Garone, explained to us how a mission among friends to make the mustache cool again evolved into a massive platform to raise both awareness and funds for prostate cancer research. “Naivety serves you very well to a certain point. Thinking differently — and to not being bound by the way a charity should market itself — served us perfectly,” Garone explained. “We went with our gut. We thought: let’s create a brand and an organization that we love. And if we love it, we think our friends will love it.” In the simplest, yet most poignant of terms, he summarized the process: “You can’t think outside of the box if you live inside of the box.” What a wonderful example of a positive snowball effect that can naturally occur when a unique, and fun idea can also make a difference. “People ask us how we started this movement. It started with 30 people.”

 

Transform Your Story, Pioneer a Better World

It can also be a deep personal connection that leads us to serving others. IVY member Andrew Mika was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 11 years old, and it completely changed his way of life. He explains his everyday challenges in a way that resonates: “If you go to a restaurant, and your steak sauce is different than your steak sauce at another restaurant, all of a sudden, your whole world is turned upside down.” Rather than being discouraged, he has chosen to take action to help others who battle with T1D. A member of the young leadership committee in New York for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Mika goes to Washington DC every year to meet with local senators and congressmen. “I ask the government to continue to fund this program, and they have — through good times and bad times. It has led to the largest breakthrough in technology and medicine since insulin was founded in 1920.” I am inspired by Andrew: he does not let his illness define him. Instead, it drives him to fight back to make the lives of millions of others better.

During this holiday season, as you gather with those closest to you, take time to reflect on what you are grateful for. Take time to reflect on what you are passionate about. Take time to reflect on the ways in which you can inject purpose into that passion. Find inspiration in the Thought Leaders and IVY community members who have identified a problem that they are actively trying to solve. Give thanks to those who have positively impacted your life, and think about the ways in which you can positively impact others. I, for one, could not be more excited to support you in your endeavors as you take charge, and lead the path for change.

On behalf of myself and the entire IVY family, I would like to wish you a very happy Thanksgiving. We are truly thankful and honored to have the opportunity to be a part of your personal journeys.

To learn more, meet inspiring Thought Leaders, and be part of the IVY community, please visit IVY.com.