DC Recap: Changemaker Chat with Sonal Shah

Changemaker Chats explored all things PIVOT, the theme for January’s chats, with Sonal Shah, Executive Director & Professor of Practice at Georgetown University’s Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation in Washington DC. By delving into her major life pivots, Sonal helped women in the room appreciate the value in leaps of faith and reflection are in personal and professional life. At a time when collaboration and resiliency are top of mind, Sonal provided useful tools to help carve our individual and collective paths. Here are a few of our favorite takeaways Sonal shared during the chat:

  • Be confident in chaos. Sonal learned early in her career that you have to put yourself out there, sometimes not knowing what is next. In her twenties, Sonal went to Sarajevo following the war to set up an international bank. It was no small feat, and she was, admittedly, uncomfortable a lot of the time. She would tell herself, “you’ll figure it out.”
  • Don’t worry about finding a seat at ‘the’ table…create your own table. Instead of trying to find a place at a table structured by men, Sonal advised women to make their own table and select who they want seated at it. If we don’t–and we wait for a spot at a man’s table–when a seat does open up, there will be 50 women competing for that single space! Create opportunities for yourself and for others, by setting your own rules– and your own tables.
  • Change may be tough, but don’t stop fighting. At a time when there is much to fight for, Sonal shared her recommendations for developing a community and making an impact: 1) Organize topic- themed dinner parties where you can focus your discussion on issues you can tackle as a community; 2) donate and vote for female candidates; and, 3) volunteer during midterm elections, it is the next opportunity for our voices to really be heard.
  • Favorite Reads from Sonal: Good to Great by Jim Collins is one she’s found herself consistently referring to in her career. Additionally, she recommended author, Ta-Nehisi Coates and books: When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and The Five Dysfunctions of Team by Patrick Lencioni.