Longer story: I founded CareerVillage.org with my wife in 2011 as a side project in my living room. The idea for it came to me during a conversation we were having about a career speed networking event I was helping organize for a nonprofit in New York City called The Opportunity Network (amazing organization that does awesome work -- look it up!). At the same time that I was organizing that event, both my wife and I were learning computer programming. I ended up spending a lot of time on the Q&A site StackOverflow.com, which is where you go when you need help with a software bug or a complicated piece of code or some other type of software advice. StackOverflow uses crowdsourcing to generate the answers and I was so inspired by the high quality and breadth of the information. We connected the dots between these two things one day, tested the idea with some educators we knew, and the rest is history (a slow and difficult history at the start and then eventually through a lot of persistence, increasing success :)
Why do I care so much about this mission that I would risk my career and devote my life to it? When I was a young student I became very sensitive to money (my family was struggling with money at the time) and very focused on how I was going to get a high paying job when I finished my education. In high school I founded the stock club (without any knowledge whatsoever about stocks) and told myself that I would grow up to be a stock broker (without any knowledge of what a stock broker really does). I ended up getting lucky to have a mentor who helped me learn a lot about the finance industry and helped steer me in the right direction. But most of my peers didn't get that kind of guidance. So when I finished my education and started my career in business, I started volunteering to help young people prepare for careers. Leaving a high paying and rewarding career in consulting to start a nonprofit in my living room was a really risky move, and I wouldn't have done it if I weren't extremely passionate about democratizing access to career advice, and if I didn't have a really supportive family and enough savings to take a risk. As I've learned more about myself over the years, I've come to realize that at the root of all of this is a deep desire that I have for fairness in all aspects of life. I can't stand unfairness. Seeing something that appears unfair makes me viscerally uncomfortable. I go out of my way to play by the rules and maintain fairness in my life. So I think when I first realized that not everyone was leaving their education on the same playing field for jobs, and that their position could have huge effects on their life-long happiness and success, it felt really unfair to me and I've been drawn to correcting the imbalance ever since.
If you are asking this question, I wonder: are you thinking about starting something of your own? Do you have an idea for how to make the world a better place that you would want to put into action? I'd love to hear it!
Source: I'm one of the founders of CareerVillage.org