Cathryn L. Dhanatya, Ph.D., co-founder and CEO of Growing Good Inc., a professional services firm specializing in the nonprofit and startup sectors, will speak on the top takeaways business leaders can learn from the nonprofit sector, as part of the Masterminds speaking series by Asian-American storyteller and keynote speaker Jerry Won.
The talk, which will be held on August 18 at Century City, Los Angeles, will be in front of a live audience, and will later be released online at the end of September.
In her role leading Growing Good, Dhanatya acts as a strategic advisor that teaches nonprofits about the things they can learn from the business sector, such as creating a robust organizational structure and ensuring the financial capacity in order to be able to produce long-term and sustainable positive impacts. However, for the Masterminds series, she flips the idea around, imparting business leaders with lessons from her extensive work with the nonprofit sector and how businesses can harness these in response to evolving market needs.
In the Masterminds series, Won works with women and people from Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) backgrounds to make the field of keynote speaking more diverse. He also founded Just Like Media, a company that seeks to make Asian-American voices more heard in the media.
According to Dhanatya, nonprofit organizations are more open to working in partnership with each other, while companies are more siloed because of proprietary issues. However, she wants to encourage businesses to become more collaborative across various areas, such as research, which could actually create new forms of business and drive innovation.
“The renowned physician and anthropologist Dr. Paul Farmer once said, ‘With rare exceptions, all of your most important achievements on this planet will come from working with others – or, in a word, partnership.’ I believe this is something businesses should adopt more, as partnerships can create solutions that not only have positive social impact, but are mutually profitable, as well,” she says.
Dhanatya will share her philosophy of pragmatic optimism, which involves believing that things can be better, and that things can be changed for the better, while having the realistic outlook and pragmatic approach to get things done. She believes that this is important because true change and disruption can’t happen if people don’t believe that it’s possible.
She also believes that businesses should want to do things that are good for the world but are profitable at the same time. This is especially important in today’s social climate, where younger consumers from Generations Z and Alpha are more conscious about social and environmental issues, such as working conditions, carbon footprints, and diversity and inclusion.
“I think that the business community has to change if they’re going to continue to sell to younger people who view the world differently, and care about different things. They have to understand that it’s not the same playing field, and they’re going to get left behind if they continue doing things in the same old way,” she says.
However, she stresses the importance of making changes that are merely performative, as consumers are incredibly astute and media-savvy, and that they will quickly find out if companies are not being sincere in their efforts.
“It seems like we’re at a flashpoint of how society is going to view products and marketing, and I also feel that the true majority of people are becoming more pluralistic rather than being insular. More and more people are concerned with the environmental impacts of the products that they’re using. I believe that there’s room for learning from both sides – businesses and nonprofits. We are building bridges and identifying the positive things organizations should learn, as well as identifying negative things that should be avoided, because we should absolutely learn from our failures and mistakes.”
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