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on January 15, 2011
Bornstein's "How to Change the World" is a love letter to Ashoka, an impressive and arguably very successful organization that identifies and supports social entrepreneurs throughout the world. Throughout the book, Bornstein provides a primer on Ashoka, its founder and methodology, as well as a number of success stories. He begins with a well-researched and interesting explanation about how the social entrepreneurship movement - or the citizen sector, as he calls it - found its sweet spot for expansion in the late 20th century. His narrative style is not nearly as compelling as first-person stories, such as "The Blue Sweater" (Novogratz, 2009), or even "Half the Sky" (Kristof & WuDunn, 2009). If each featured social entrepreneur had written a first-person account, this may have provided a more compelling read. One obviously missing component of Bornstein's vignettes is an acknowledgement of failure. On their respective roads to success, what significant missteps did these entrepreneurs take? What did they learn from those mistakes and failures?

This book may be a wonderful resource for people who are not yet familiar with social entrepreneurship or the amazing work that has been done by citizen sector individuals and organizations worldwide in the last 30 years. I appreciate the time Bornstein spent describing historical figures, demonstrating that social entrepreneurship is nothing new; it is simply finally getting the attention it deserves. However, the book falls short of its title. It is not a how-to. Although the resource list is well-balanced, and there are some nuggets of discussion of what it takes to be successful in social entrepreneurship, Bornstein falls short of providing insight for individuals who are wondering whether they have what it takes to be a social entrepreneur. Other than being passionate and obsessive, what else does it take? Do the vignettes provide actionable lessons learned for readers who are considering becoming social entrepreneurs, or who are already in the citizen sector but want to find more success? This reader was left wanting.
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on January 23, 2011
Every person Bornstein discussed has the inspired capacity for solving intricate social problems resourcefully and efficiently, and they are able to maneuver around seemingly insurmountable obstacles to accomplish their goals.

James Grant of Unicef is particularly striking. His story illustrates how the provision of social services on a grand scale will be met with resistance, even if it is an easy one to distribute, is relatively inexpensive and could save thousands of lives. Grant never faltered, and activated his limited resources. As a result, he changed the world. Yet, there is a long road ahead on the mission towards immunizing all children against preventable diseases. Governments, investors, and all concerned citizens want to know the value of enterprises such as Unicef. Bornstein emphasizes in his conclusion that metrics for analyzing social value need to be developed in the civic sector in order to accurately evaluate the organization's ability to create social value. In the public health world, value is created in the number of sick individuals. The statistics that followed Grant's initiatives indicated lowered child mortality and improved qualities of life across the globe, which speak to the value of his work.

Each entrepreneur exemplifies the nature of their work in different ways. Bornstein succeeds in drawing connections between each Ashoka fellow and teases out a skeleton of what an effective social entrepreneur might look like. A new generation could be in the grooming process of inheriting the legacy that these fellows have built from scratch.
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on January 23, 2011
Bornstein's book might not be what people are looking for when they initially pick it up, however, overall it has a diverse plot. The sections are all very different and cover a variety of different people and places. One of my favorite chapters was chapter 10, Are They Possessed, Really Possessed, by an Idea? I liked where the writers bring up a strong point about the term, 'social entrepreneurs.' The term social entrepreneur is new to many people around the world, I remember saying it to my roommates and they looked at me like I was mildly crazy. However, the term is relevant to a lifestyle and purpose of life for many people who live it. The lifestyle explained by Bornstein in this chapter explains the character of the entrepreneur doesn't announce themselves, they work hard to gather important and relevant information for the good of the project, not for the good of themselves. They want this earth to be a better place for the earth, not for themselves. This was a great point and helped me to view the book as extremely helpful. It shares a variety of different stories, and helps to put cultural differences into perspective. I am enjoying this book very much!
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I read a lot, almost totally non-fiction, and for the past several years, after accidentally becoming a top Amazon reviewer on the strength of 300 reviews lifted from the annotated bibliographies of my first two books, I have been dedicated, as a hobby, to reading in the service of the public. My goal in life at the age of 55, what I learned from this book is called an "encore career," is to be intelligence officer to the five billion poor, and--I now realize from this book--to the social entrepreneurs that are changing the world on a scale and with a speed that governments cannot match.

This book blew my mind, literally. It has not altered my course, but it has dramatically accelerated my ability to make progress by illuminating a path I thought I would have to discover. This book is the first "map" of a completely new form of endeavor, profoundly individual in inspiration and global in scale, that of social entrepreneurship, not to be confused with non-profit or non-governmental, more traditional forms.

The author, apart from mapping examples (33, focused on education, health, protection, and access to electricity and technology), provides what I consider to be the single best preface/introduction I have ever read. Here are a few of the underlined bits:

+ hidden history unfolding
+ landscape of innovators
+ ratio of problem-focused information to solution-focused information is completely out of balance
+ reality distorted, people deprived of knowledge they could use
+ individual social entrepreneurs advancing systemic scalable solutions
+ new sector of social entrepreneurship now being taught, funded, and respected
+ two Nobel Peace Prizes (2004, 2006)--micro-finance now micro-everything
+ Ashoka, founded by Bill Drayton is the spine of the book
+ conceptual firewalls coming down, "whole brains" being used
+ influencing conventional businesses (going green, good) and governments (adopting unconventional education, kids teaching parents, etc)
+ "social entrepreneurs are uniquely suited to make headway on problems that have resisted considerable money and intelligence"
+ government are looking at problems from the outside, social entrepreneurs see problems--and solutions--from the inside
+ scale still a challenge, but coming
+ Students and local groups actively interested in hearing about this now
+ Students are leading the way, pushing for change in curriculums
+ optimism, hope, energy are being unleashed as never before--but not being properly mapped, reported, or appreciated outside small circles
+ new pathways being discovered every day in every place
+ changemakers far more numerous than any might have imagined
+ many levels of changemaker
+ charaqcterized by first-hand active engagement in reality
+ individuals driven to understand, and driven to remove shackles from others with shared knowledge (e.g. kids learning to fix pumps and spreading knowledge across villages with a speed and energy only quick-witten children could apply)
+ social entrepreneurship network now has sensors everywhere, millions of changemarkers, tens of thousands of organizations
+ far better mechanism to respond to needed than we have ever had before
+ decentralized and emergent force

- not yet properly financed
- lacking holistic public intelligence for voluntary harmonization against the ten threats, with the twelve policies, with a special focus on the eight challengers. (Learn more at Earth Intelligence Network)
+ emphasis on metrics slows down the needed pace of funding for innovation

Core principles for social excellence (chapter twelve):
+ Putting Children in Charge
+ Enlisting "Barefoot" Professionals
+ Designing New Legal Frameworks for Environmental Reform
+ Helping Small Producers Capture Greater Profits
+ Linking Economic Development and Environmental Protection
+ Unleashing Resources in the Community You Are Serving
+ Linking the Citizen, Government, and Business Sectors for Comprehensive Solutions (this is where shared public intelligence and a shared Range of Gifts Table can harmonize disparate capabilities with a common interest in stabilization, reconstruction, humanitarian assistance, and relief)

The book ends with a superb resource section including the following headings for lists of one-line access points:
+ Resources for People Seeking Jobs and Volunteer Opportunities
+ Organizations that Identify and/or Support (or Invest in) Social Entrepreneurs
+ Management, Funding, and Networking Resources for Citizen Organizations
+ Academic-Based Resources
+ Resources for Funders
+ Resources for Businesspeople

The notes and index are totally professional.

I put this book down with one final note: WOW!!!

This is an Earth-changing book, an utterly brilliant, timely, ethical, wonderful piece of scholarship, journalism, vision and information sharing. I actually have tears in my eyes. This book is Ref A for saving the Earth seven generations into the future and beyond.

Other books that support this one, but this one is unique:
A Power Governments Cannot Suppress
The Tao of Democracy: Using Co-Intelligence to Create a World That Works for All
The Change Handbook: The Definitive Resource on Today's Best Methods for Engaging Whole Systems
The World Cafe: Shaping Our Futures Through Conversations That Matter
Leadership and the New Science: Discovering Order in a Chaotic World
Escaping the Matrix: How We the People can change the world
Society's Breakthrough!: Releasing Essential Wisdom and Virtue in All the People
Collective Intelligence: Mankind's Emerging World in Cyberspace
The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom
The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid: Eradicating Poverty Through Profits (Wharton School Publishing Paperbacks)

See also the books I have written, helped edit, or published, including our forthcoming COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE: Creating a Prosperous World at Peace, edited by Mark Tovey with 55 contributors. It will be on Amazon 1 March 2008, and is offered free online at Earth Intelligence Network.

In addition, I recommend the "52 Tough Questions" with transpartisan answers at Earth Intelligence Network, that address the ten high-level threats to humanity as identified by the UN study on "Creating a More Secure world" (free online and also sold via Amazon), the twelve policies that must be harmonized, and the eight challengers whom we must help avoid our mistakes of the past 100 years.

This book by David Bornstein could not have come into my life at a better time--the New York Times calls it a bible in the field, I consider it to be my inspiration for my encore career. Simply spectacular. AMAZING--not just the book, but every person and organization the book names and discusses. WOW!!!
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on January 23, 2011
For anyone starting off in the social entrepreneurship field this book can serve as a good starting guideline. Here the author, Bornstein, presents various stories of individuals whose passions have led them to address varied social causes. The subjects presented are different and my personal favorite was, "This country has to change" by Javed Abidi, India: Disability rights. Mr. Abidi describes the social stigma associated with disabled individuals living in India and the work he has undertaken to change this. The numerous stories on various subjects ensure that individuals will see "their" cause addressed in one form or another.
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on January 23, 2011
In Bornstein's "How to Change the World," a dynamic collection of compelling stories of social change, his selections illustrate the most creative passionate, driven and visionary individuals from around the world who boldly take on extraordinary challenges in efforts to create long term change for their communities.

As a student new to the study of social entrepreneurship, Bornstein's compilation allowed me to vividly envision the people, the place, the need, and the struggles, to the glorious outcomes accomplished by the earnest work of the social entrepreneurs. "How to Change the World" is a great read for those interested in learning more about the concept of social entrepreneurship and referencing success models of social entrepreneurs.

I was particularly moved by Fabio Rosa's lifelong and committed work, beginning as a young man in Brazil, who married his passions to ensure that every household in the rural communities would have electricity to circumvent the ills of poverty. Through his connections, organizing and his childhood experience growing up on farmlands, he was certain he had to and could do something. From Florence Nightingale's story of helping provide clean and attentive care to injured and often forgotten war soldiers, to Erzebet Szekeres' unconditional love for her son to use his disability to reform the attitude of individuals - all are poignant examples of passion, sacrifice, perseverance and vision that effected real change, not only for their loved ones, but for those throughout the world.
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on January 24, 2011
David Bornstein's How to Change the World is a book that both gives you hope for humankind and forces you to ask yourself "so, what can I do to help?" While some may be bothered by the lack of conclusion or handy textbook guide explaining how to become an impactful changemaker, I think the stories speak from themselves and illustrate that there is no "right" path or specific academic or professional skill set required to impart positive social change within a community.

I read this book from three perspectives and each provided a unique but constant insight. As a working woman, I admired the strength, tenacity and unwavering determination of each of the profiled social entrepreneur. As a graduate student, I analyzed each individual's techniques and searched for the common thread and motivation among social entrepreneurs. And as a compassionate person, my immediate reaction is to find my place in social entrepreneurship and start doing my part.

The profiles are written in a way that is factual and informative but also possess an underlying emotional component that sucks you in like a good fiction novel. By the end of each chapter I had a newfound respect for social entrepreneurship and organizations like Ashoka who seek to help bright social entrepreneurs take the steps needed to make change happen. I highly recommend this book to anyone in the field, interested in the field, or simply looking for an inspirational read.
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on February 9, 2011
Bornstein is a compelling and thorough storyteller. As a master's student studying social entrepreneurship, I would have to agree with the New York Times' accolades; this book can be considered a bible in the field. After the first reading of this book, I have a better grasp on the critical characteristics required for aspiring change makers. More importantly, I recognize that the power of new ideas deserves the attention of anyone who has ever dreamed of anything new before.

True, this book title will most likely attract the already altruistic, but Bornstein makes a convincing case for anyone teetering on the edge of action. Rather than a traditional "how-to" guide with specific instructions, How to Change the World reads more like a documentary. Bornstein entices his audience with inspirational stories about seemingly ordinary folks jostled so deeply by a world's need that they felt no other choice to but to devote their entirety to bringing about a better future. It is about people whose tonics are their pivotal and innovative ideas. Foundational principles that undergird these social entrepreneurs and their ventures are woven throughout the stories and later clarified in several chapters. Researched for over five years, this book boils down countless interviews with Ashoka fellows and Bill Drayton himself.

While it is difficult to articulate a single definition to capture a social entrepreneur, Bornstein was able to describe he or she as an "obsessive individual who takes the initiative to act on that vision, who gathers resources and builds organizations to protect and market that vision, who provides the energy and sustained forces to overcome the inevitable resistance, and who--decade after decade--keeps improving, strengthening, and broadening that vision until what was once a marginal idea has become a new norm" (p. 3).

The author retraces how he came to this conclusion by meandering through the critical landscape of social entrepreneurship today. If you find Malcolm Gladwell's insights on innovation fascinating, you should enjoy Bornstein's take on the phenomenon of social ideas and their tipping points.
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on January 24, 2011
David Bornstein's book "How to Change the World: Social Entrepreneurs and the Power of New Ideas" is a handbook not for revolutionaries so much as evolutionaries-individuals who are committed to social change, and are willing to work within the system, and at times changing and redefining the parameters of that system to effect lasting, sustainable change. These people such as Rodrigo Baggio, a social entrepreneur who works to provide access to technology for slum areas in Brazil-along with 33 other inspiring change agents featured in the book-offer compelling case studies that explore everything from driving passion and root causes of injustice, to obstacles and pragmatism required in the creation of effective social change programs. Bornstein provides a historical context and lays out a common thread amongst change makers to provide a realistic context and insight about the process of social change through innovative entrepreneurship. Bornstein takes an important step in defining this emerging sector, or as he calls it "citizen sector," for those of us who are interested in legitimizing this field in academia, business, and activism work.
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on January 30, 2011
The stories of individuals told in Bornstein's "How to Change the World" showcased the unbelievably adaptive and responsive spirit social entrepreneurs possess, changing what could have been a tiresome "how-to" (as the title might imply) into a very inspiring and compelling read. Fabio Rosa was one story in particular that I found both fascinating and encouraging. Rosa's parents both came from farming families, and Rosa grew up listening to the stories. As someone who took a long and winding road to not only bring electricity to poverty-stricken Brazil, but to also single-handedly bring farming into the 21st century and improve the lives of the lower class, his connection to those farmers struggling to make a living with no electricity and outdated farming methods seemed to be a very large part of what kept him focused and motivated through all the difficulties he encountered. For those interested in entering the social entrepreneurship field this book is both inspiring and motivating. As social entrepreneurs, we all need to find that one reason to keep us focused, keep us motivated, and keep us working.
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