The Tragic Story of Bail in America

The bail system in American is nothing short of criminal, a tragic story of incarceration for those who lack the funds to get back on the street while awaiting trial. It means being separated from your spouse & children, maybe missing work, and potentially losing your job. It means being guilty until proven innocent, which is about as un-American as it gets.

In an attempt to turn the tide on this tragedy of justice, Robin Steinberg and her husband, both public defenders, founded the Bronx Freedom Fund, and in doing so, attempt to change the story of thousands caught up in an immoral system.

The Bronx Freedom Fund envisions a society that humanizes instead of criminalizes. We restore the presumption of innocence by keeping clients with their families, at their jobs, and out of jail while they await trial. We work tirelessly to fight mass incarceration and the criminalization of race and poverty, and to end the cash bail system as it exists.

A decade later Robin took the stage at TED2018 to talk about The Bail Project, taking the idea to a national level as part of TED’s newly launched Audacious Project.

The Bail Project, by bailing out 160,000 people over the next five years, will become one of the largest non-governmental decarcerations of Americans in history.

What if we ended the injustice of bail? by Robin Steinberg at TED2018

Find Your Bliss, Your Passion, Your Ikigai

“Follow your bliss,” said Joseph Campbell
“Follow your passion,” said everybody else on the planet

I’ve heard these phrases mentioned since I was born, or at least it feels like it’s been that long. So I find it interesting that millennials are, to a large degree, pushing back on this approach to life, and they have a point.

The point being, “how do I know what my bliss/passion is? and if I don’t know, how the hell can I follow it?”. Well said, and I know what they mean.

While most of my friends jumped from high school to college, then dove into their career the moment they graduated, I had no idea what I wanted to do after high school, which may explain why I found myself building helicopter landing pads in Augusta, Georgia at the age of 18, and why I’ve bounced from one discipline to another, from VP of Ops, to CIO, CMO and CEO in the decades that followed.

It’s only by looking back at this point in my life that I’ve come to see how I was, in fact, following my passion. But as it turns out, that passion was for learning, not for a specific career.

The reason I took on so many different roles was that I was fascinated by the process of acquiring new skills, of challenging my mind to discover procedures and processes as a way to understand how things worked.

And I see that same trait in a lot of millennials. They’re hungry for learning, and will jump from one job to the next, decide to become an entrepreneur, or adopt the life of a freelancer, rather than pursuing a “career”, as is often expected of them. New gets them excited.

But that doesn’t mean we should ignore the idea of bliss, or passion. It just means we should look at our life a bit differently, which is what I found myself doing as last year was coming to a close.

I’m not one for new year’s resolutions, but as each new year comes around I do take some time to reflect on the last twelve months gone by, and the next twelve months on the horizon.

It was in the waning moments of 2017 that I discovered an article on Medium by Remo Giuffré. Remo is something of a savant when it comes to people, and in this post he talked about finding one’s purpose.

He brought forth a new term (well, new to me) to describe the intersection of many factors that lead to discovering our purpose – Ikigai. According to Wikipedia, Ikigai is a Japanese concept which means “a reason for being”, and according to Japanese culture, everyone has an Ikigai, though we often have to search for it.

Ikigai Toronto Star Graphic

I invite you, as I did, to take some time and examine this visual concept. I admit it’s a bit complicated, especially the empty sections surrounding your Ikigai, but I think you’ll come to realize that Ikigai is far more than passion – it’s service, it’s fulfillment, it’s the gift that only you can share with the world.

For me, it represents the work that I’m doing now, which is storytelling, by way of storylistening. Passion + Mission + Profession + Vocation. And it took decades to discover. So to those who buck the trend of being defined by their career, who have this unbridled thirst for knowledge, and experience, and service, you’re doing just fine. While some will find their Ikigai early on, don’t worry if it takes a lifetime to discover. Enjoy the ride, and remember that each day you’re writing your life story.

Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative Sharing Ideas in San Diego

Whenever I get an email from the San Diego Diplomacy Council, I know something interesting is afoot. In this case, it was a group of entrepreneurs with the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative coming to San Diego, and they wanted to know if I could develop a storytelling workshop for them. How could I possibly resist.

San Diego Diplomacy Council Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative

The Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative (YLAI) builds linkages between younger leaders across the hemisphere and address the opportunity gap for youth, especially women, by empowering entrepreneurs and civil society leaders with the training, tools, networks and resources they need to transform their societies and contribute more fully to economic development and prosperity, security, human rights and good governance in the hemisphere.

On October 20th I had the pleasure of meeting a dozen entrepreneurs from a dozen Latin America and Caribbean countries who had founded a dozen very cool companies, each with a different focus.

Aarón Bendfeldt, founder & executive director of Grønn (Guatemala)

Aarón Bendfeldt Young Leaders of the Americas InitiativeGrønn upcycles glass bottles collected from Guatemala City, then makes and sells new glasses, pots, vases, and other products, all handmade by local women.

He previously participated in SPOR, an exchange program between Guatemala and Norway. Aarón is studying Chemical Engineering at the Universidad de San Carlos de Guatemala.

 

 

Altagrace M. Maignan, founder of Belle Créole (Haiti)

Alatagrace Maignan Young Leaders of the Americas InitiativeBelle Créole is a micro-enterprise program that empowers people, particularly young women, who are living with HIV and AIDS to rise above their circumstances through learning a skill and creating and selling their work.

She currently serves as a Manager at Fondation Esther Boucicault Stanislas. Altagrace holds a Master’s Degree in medicine from the Universidad Autonoma de Santo Domingo.

 

Andrea Baltodano, founder of Maracao Beachwear (Costa Rica)

Andrea Baltodano Young Leaders of the Americas InitiativeMaracao Beachwear designs swimwear that promotes women’s confidence and empowerment, while helping at-risk women from marginalized neighborhoods by offering ethical employment practices and fair wages to its employees.

Andrea holds an Associate’s Degree in Fashion Design from the Universidad Creativa of Costa Rica.

 

 

Carolina Ramos, founder & COO, Natural Pop (Ecuador)

Carolina Ramos Young Leaders of the Americas InitiativeNatural Pop produces natural snacks out of local grains from Ecuador in order to provide affordable and healthy snacks to the local community.

Carolina has a degree in Food Engineering from the Universidad San Francisco de Quito and attended graduate school for French and Social Skills at the Institute de la Providence de Herve in Belgium.

 

 

Christine Daley, founder of DoodleSurprize (Jamaica)

Christine Daley Young Leaders of the Americas InitiativeDoodleSurprize provides monthly subscription activity boxes for children ages 4-12 in order to help kids discover themselves and their passion through art, crafts, and science.

Christine has previously worked in Accounting, Marketing, and Project Management at Digicel Jamaica, Zinergy International, and Black Ink Marketing. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting with a minor in Marketing from the University of Technology Jamaica.

 

Jau Ramírez, co-founder & president of Movimiento SOMOS (Venezuela)

Jau Ramírez Young Leaders of the Americas InitiativeMovimiento SOMOS is dedicated to defending the rights of LGBTQ people through legal counseling and legislative projects, as well as educational and cultural initiatives.

He also works as a Communications Coordinator for Grupo Social CESEAP, and has led communications trainings for a human rights program on the border of Colombia and Venezuela. He is pursuing his BA in Philosophy at the Universidad Católica Cecilio Acosta.

 

Junieth Machado, founder of Cousy (Nicaragua)

Junieth Machado Young Leaders of the Americas InitiativeCousy seeks to increase the self-esteem of housewives and single mothers by developing their business and communication skills. as well as inform women of their rights and train them on violence prevention.

Junieth previously worked for DeHumoTV as a journalist and producer, Imaginarte Films/Abre Tus Ojos as a trainer. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Communication from the Universidad Centroamericana UCA.

 

Miguel Ángeles, co-founder of CIRSYS (Peru)

Miguel Ángeles Young Leaders of the Americas InitiativeCIRSYS provides technological solutions to recycling and waste management with IRBin, a social robot that automatically classifies solid waste.

Miguel previously worked as a production manager at Corporación Ingelsa S.A.C. and as a junior project engineer at Gloria S.A. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechatronics Engineering from the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú.

 

Pedro Young Parietti, co-founder & GM of Huerta en Casa (Uruguay)

Pedro Young Parietti Young Leaders of the Americas InitiativeHuerta en Casa supports urban homeowners so that they can produce vegetables organically by providing all the tools necessary to start a home vegetable garden and advises on maintenance and production.

Pedro has previously worked at Estero S.A., a seed production company, where he managed the experimental field. He received his Agronomics Engineering degree from the Universidad de la República.

 

Roniel Guzmán Toribio, CEO of Hub Makerspace (Dominican Republic)

Roniel Guzmán Toribio Young Leaders of the Americas InitiativeHub Makerspace gives members access to workspaces, tools, and machinery – from sewing machines to 3D printers – allowing them to develop their projects and work with the guidance of mentors.

Roniel previously worked as a Project Manager at Domotics Dominicana, and he holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Instituto Tecnológico de Santo Domingo.

 

Shamiro Anita, founder & CEO of Bizness Success (Curaçao)

Shamiro Anita Young Leaders of the Americas InitiativeBizness Success provides growing businesses with help and services to expand, such as training, courses, software, and other tools.Before this, Shamiro worked at his family’s video store and eventually became the manager. He started his own fire safety, security, and automation contracting company in 2012. Shamiro holds a Bachelor’s in Business Administration and a Master’s in Business Management and Organizational Control from the University of Curacao.

 

Stephanie Hong, co-founder of Garateá (Brazil)

Stephanie Hong Young Leaders of the Americas InitiativeGarateá tackles the inefficiency in emergency public services by empowering communities with first-aid training and certification, as well as alerting first-aid-qualified volunteers through an app, victims can be helped before ambulances arrive, even in rural communities.

Stephanie is currently a Lawyer at Pinheiro Neto Advogados, and has interned at BlackRock and the Court of Justice of São Paulo.

 

After going through the basics of personal storytelling, and a session on brand storytelling, many of the entrepreneurs got up and gave the audience a two minute overview of their company, and the ways in which their product or service would changes lives.

That’s the reward I get when working with entrepreneurs, especially from outside the United States – so passionate and dedicated – focused on the the critical issues that millions face in everyday life.

Hats off the the San Diego Diplomacy Council and the Young Leaders of the Americas Initiative for allowing entrepreneurs to share ideas, wisdom, and best practices, across countries and continents.