In this series of Group Thinkers podcast episodes, our focus is on leadership. Throughout each episode, we’ll chat with leaders in the nonprofit and commercial space to learn more about their careers and the unique journeys that led them to where they are today.
On this episode, we sit down with Carrie Rich, Co-Founder and CEO of The Global Good Fund, to discuss:
- Her journey and the people who have been formative along the way (7:07)
- How she came to co-author her first book (11:10)
- Behind the formation of The Global Good Fund (13:17)
- More about The Global Good Fund and the services they provide (19:00)
- What drives her to push forward with social impact work (24:36)
- Leadership lessons she’s learned along the way (27:25)
Meet our guest
Co-Founder and CEO, The Global Good Fund
“I think it’s a very uncomfortable thing to do, to spend money on yourself. Especially when you’re in the social impact sector … Realizing that if you never help yourself, you’re not going to be able to benefit others. That was a very important lesson for me to learn.”
Justin McCord: Welcome to Group Thinkers, the podcast from RKD Group. I'm your host, Justin McCord. And with me is Ronnie “I hate broccoli” Richard. And you'll learn more about that on this episode.
Each and every episode of Group Thinkers, we have someone from the nonprofit marketing space that is thinking about things differently, approaching things differently. And in our current series of conversations, where we've really tried to delve into is leadership, and what leadership looks like, and how people are impacted and who they have been impacted by.
So, Ronnie, why don’t you tell us a little bit about our guest today, Carrie Rich.
Ronnie Richard: Yeah, so Carrie has a pretty incredible story, I think. She started out in health care administration. And, you know, as you'll hear in the episode, she kind of just got on this path toward doing something different. And that something different is now, she's the co-founder and CEO of The Global Good Fund, which is an organization that helps people across the globe invest in themselves and as entrepreneurs in their business.
And she's impacted, you know, hundreds of people across the globe in underserved communities. And I just think it's just a pretty incredible story.
Justin: Yeah, you want to talk about how impact can and purpose can almost become popcorn. And, you know, you're going to hear Carrie talking about her journey. But just to tease it out for our listeners, there's actually, it's really kind of a beautiful, reflective moment in the conversation where we tied together her story and the work that she's doing today. And it just dawns on me, Ronnie, of how beautiful and impactful and addictive purpose can be. And that Carrie has benefited from it and now continues to foster that for people, especially from underserved communities.
Ronnie: Yeah, I mean, you hear the term, ‘Pay it forward,’ and it's, like, literally what she's doing right now, you know? Somebody invested in her, and now she's paying it forward to others.
One of the things that really stood out for me was when she was talking about investing in yourself before you can help others. And that sometimes we, you know, we forget to do that. We forget to take that time to invest in ourselves. And, you know, could really amplify it further by starting with yourself and then pushing it outward.
Justin: Yeah. So, it's a really cool chat. I hope you guys all enjoy it. And, and so, yeah. So, here's the chat with Carrie Rich on Group Thinkers.
OK, so now we have to talk about broccoli because we said that we’re going to talk about broccoli. Carrie, you want to talk about broccoli now, or do you want to wait and talk about broccoli in a minute? I'm going to give you the choice.
Carrie Rich: I want to talk about broccoli right now.
Justin: OK, so here's the idea. Here's where this came up is there are certain wishes, hopes, prayers, thoughts that can be like broccoli. They're good for you. Like, there's all sorts of goodness. But have you ever noticed that broccoli seems to expand when you put it in your mouth and start chewing it?
Carrie: It's just so good.
Justin: It is. It's good for you. But you didn't realize that it was going to take up so much of your space. So, like, sometimes we need to be careful about broccoli wishes, right? Because it's going to expand, and we may not be ready for all that it's going to bring our way. So that's the broccoli wish.
Ronnie: That's broccoli.
Carrie: You’re not kidding. I did happen to eat broccoli last night for dinner. So this is giving new meaning to my dinner menu from last night.
But yeah, no, when I think about the way you're describing broccoli, I was thinking about how that's what social impact work for me is like. You dive in and then realize there's nothing I wouldn't do to, you know, within legal and ethical bounds, to try to make the world better.
And you just, once you get started, you can’t stop eating that broccoli.
Justin: True. It is good. It is. Ronnie, you got a fun fact for us about broccoli?
Ronnie: I don’t know if it’s good, that's my … like I, I don't like broccoli.
Ronnie: And my fun fact was going to be, prior to about maybe 10 years ago, I didn't eat any green vegetables at all. And I've slowly come around to some green beans and some peas and, you know, like some zucchini and stuff like that. But I still can't stand the broccoli. Can't do it.
Justin: That means that you haven't had broccoli prepared. That’s all that that means.
Ronnie: Perhaps. Some seasoning ...
Carrie: Add some peppers in the mix. Those are pretty ...
Ronnie: Cheese on top or something. Anything to hide the flavor, right?
Justin: Oh, no. It's good for you. It's good.
Ronnie: Sure, I don't deny that.
Justin: And Carrie, I agree. It's, it can expand, and it can fill all the space that you give it. Just like social impact work. And it can be, when you have it prepared well, it can be addictive.
Carrie: Yeah, and it can be all consuming, right? You could be off and say you can't stop it. It's a good kind of addiction.
Justin: It is a good, yeah, it is a good kind of addiction.
Carrie Rich, thank you for being a part of our conversation today. And welcome to Group Thinkers.
Carrie: Thank you for having me.
Justin: Did you think that when you woke up this morning that you would spend this much time talking about broccoli?
Carrie: I'm honestly really thrilled about it because I was trying to convince our kids last night to eat the broccoli, and now I have a whole new strategy to bring.
Justin: There you go. Yeah, try it. Let's see.
Carrie: I’m getting ideas to add to my parenting repertoire here, too.
Justin: No, that's OK. We're going to cover all dimensions of Carrie today. So, listen, we appreciate you setting aside this time. You know, one of the things that we try to accomplish as a part of our show is, one, unpacking someone's path and so understanding your path. And our current series, talking, you know, about the formative moments and how those are inspiring, you know, the work that you're doing now, but then also just the people who have been instrumental. And so, I would love for you to give us a little bit of your journey, Carrie, and then, you know, some of the people who have been formative along the way.
Carrie: Yeah, thank you. You know, I guess the first thing I would say is, I think it's super possible for ordinary people to strive to have extraordinary impact. And I would consider myself one of those people.
I had a pretty average upbringing, really stable. I think the most adventurous part of my life was we moved next door when I turned a year old and not a lot of risk taking. My parents at the same job, between both of them for 30 years each, you know, and then retired. So, it's just hard work and prioritization around the people in their lives who matter is what I grew up with and a really stable sense of community.
And I moved to Washington D.C. for graduate school, and there I had to do an internship as part of grad school, and I was paying all this money to go to school. And I got jobs in the hospital setting, which is what I was training for, was hospital administration. I got jobs like pushing the snack carts, mopping the floor and folding laundry. And my takeaway was to try to do the best job I could possibly do, no matter what the task at hand. So, if it was folding the laundry, like, I was having a ball doing the best folding of laundry I could possibly do; pushing the snack bar, like, let's come with the best attitude I possibly could to serve the cookies and juice and make it the best experience it could possibly be for the people. Very overly zealous for. Yeah, lots of that, you know.
And so, the best job I got was taking attendance because when you do that task, everyone who walks in the meeting has to introduce themselves to you, and who should walk in the meeting but the CEO of this whole health system with dollar company. And you know, when the CEO walks in, it was, it's up a little straighter. And so, I recognize this is someone important. And it turns out it was the CEO. And I went ahead and researched him and figured out that while he had been growing this multibillion-dollar health care organization, he was simultaneously growing community infrastructure in Haiti for 25 years, which was wildly inspiring to me. And he had become the CEO at a really young age of 35.
And so, I looked at him, and I said, wow, this is someone I want to learn from. This is someone who has phenomenal business acumen and skills. And he also lives a life of purpose and is making the world a better place. Like, I want to emulate that. And so, I couldn't figure out how I would get the CEO of a multibillion-dollar company to take a meeting with me when I was the person, you know, mopping the floor and taking attendance and pushing the snack cart.
So, I asked his assistant if he would have a meeting with me about living a life of purpose. Because I figure everyone asked the CEO of a health care organization to talk about health care, and this was an opportunity to talk about something different. And we had a fabulous conversation that ultimately resulted in a job opportunity where he took a lot of interest in supporting my personal development and my professional development to be the best health administrator I could possibly be.
And as a result of growing me professionally in terms of leadership development, I in turn grew the business, which positively impacted the community because it’s a health care organization, at the end of the day. And the premise became, how do we replicate this model where the medium is the message; where you have a high potential leader who has a heart of gold and a really strong work ethic, with a business executive who has a strong moral compass and wants to turn that professional success into social significance. How can we put those two groups together as a catalyst for social good? And that became The Global Good Fund.
Justin: That's incredible. And by the way, let's not jump over that you also co-authored your first idea, or first book, like, somewhere in between there, right at the, you know, as a part of the formative ideas for The Global Good Fund.
Carrie: Yeah, so no, I didn't know ... I really wanted to spend my time around him because I wanted to learn from him. But I know he knows a multibillion-dollar company and to be busy, and you know, what I wanted to learn from him about was impact, which is not necessarily part of his business day to day. And so, I got, you know, our first meeting. I was so excited to talk about living a life of purpose. I got all dressed up. I got in my suit jacket, and I pulled my hair back, and I’m type A, and I had my closed-toe pumps. I was all ready, and I was very corporate and composed, and we got in the meeting. It was a fabulous conversation. And at the end of the meeting, you know, I just didn't want it to end. The conversation was so meaningful. It was so impactful for my life. I was learning so much, and I think he was also learning from having a different perspective that was super relevant to the younger generation and early career, and what the current issues of the time were.
And so, at the end of the meeting, not knowing how to continue the conversation, I blurted out, would you write a book with me? And he said, well, you know, sure, yeah, sure. What do we write a book about? And I just completely lost all composure. I jumped up out of my chair. I was so happy and was, I don't know what I'll write a book about, but you said yes! This means you get to collaborate, and I'm going to keep learning from you.
And so for a year, he and I and one other co-author would write. And he would... we would come in with structured questions, and he would pontificate and answer the question, and we would structure it into a book and really translate his vision. And that exercise is what ultimately resulted in this job opportunity to become a vision translator for his vision for the future of health in the local community.
Ronnie: At that point, as you're writing the book with him, you know, post meeting, did the idea start to come to you to try something different? And what ultimately became The Global Good Fund? Like, you mentioned your background, your parents, not, you know, you come from not taking risks and just kind of, you know, plugging away in your job. How did that idea form, to do this thing that's so different? At what point did it kind of come about?
Carrie: Yeah, I had no inclination of starting a nonprofit, actually, ever. That was not something that was materially important to me. And I would say that, actually, growing up in such a stable environment made me feel like I could take risks, that I did have a safety net, that I had this stable support system behind me because I figured I would fail a good chunk of the time from taking risks, but I would have a support system to catch me.
And what I recognized from the opportunities that resulted was that a lot of people don't necessarily have that safety net, that support system, that ability to take risks and not completely slash their futures. And that became more evident to me once the book was completed. And once I was actually working―and I was working somewhere else at the time―and once the book was done, that was when the job offer was extended.
And I realized from directly working for a boss who invested in my leadership that there are so few people … It's hard work to be a mentor and to sponsor and grow people. It’s really hard to grow other people's leadership development. And we have to make it easy for people who have hearts of gold and resources, who don't have a lot of time to make a difference for the world. How do you make it easy for people to make a difference?
And that's where the idea of what made it easy for him was that I was very eager to learn. I wanted the input because it's hard to get feedback, it's hard to be told, it's hard to be critiqued or it's hard to be told what you're not good at and try to do something about it. It's hard to set up a young person for success in terms of social impact. It's much easier to make a dollar. It's much harder to make a difference, as other mentors have taught me.
And so, making it easy to put high potential leaders who have a very strong work ethic, who are hungry to improve professionally from a leadership and personal growth standpoint, with people who are seasoned business executives. That was my personal experience, was working, was what made that very realistic for me as, gosh, we can make this easy for people who have professional success to convert that into social significance. Then I think everyone here wins. The mentors win. When the mentees win, the world wins. Like, well, why wouldn't we pursue this path forward?
But Ronnie, honestly, it didn't dawn on me at that point to start a nonprofit.
Justin: It's such an interesting, like, life-imitates-art kind of moment. I mean, you―whether or not it was just great improv skills or if it was in your subconscious to―one, asked the question that you asked of the assistant to the teacher. Two, your closer at the meeting is: Can we write a book, right?
Like, you're displaying this high capacity and interest in doing something bigger or something more meaningful that then spawns into something that is a training ground for people to do something that is more meaningful. Like, it … that's so, so unique.
Carrie: Well, Justin, you know, when you … and I hear you say this because I'm not sure I've really honestly reflected on it that much. One of the things that I talk to emerging professionals about now is how to be memorable in a good way. Because there's lots of ways to be memorable, but it's not always in a good way. And, you know, you can be memorable in how you present yourself. You can, you know, what clothes you wear. That's one way to be memorable. You can be memorable in what you say. You can be memorable in the questions you raise. You can be memorable in the way you ask those questions. And so, you can be memorable in what you decide to talk about.
And I think what I realized is that we all … I have yet to meet a person who doesn't want to be, underneath it all, part of something greater than themselves. Everyone wants to be part of something purposeful and greater than themselves if they've done any level of self-reflection. And that's no different whether you're an emerging professional or a seasoned CEO of a multibillion-dollar company.
And recognizing that was sort of like, how can I help myself on this journey? And it was a pretty selfish act because I wanted to learn from someone who I saw as one of the best at having social impact, using what we have, right? We can only use all we have to try to make a difference in the world. And I think that I had nothing to lose from asking.
Justin: It's a great story. It's a great moment. And obviously, it's propelled you into territory that you were thinking was ahead of you, as you mentioned. Tell us a little bit about, you know, about The Global Good Fund and the scope of the work and services that you all provide as a part of the work that you do.
Carrie: Sure, thank you for the opportunity. So Global Good Fund is really an ecosystem. We were started as a nonprofit organization. We've been around 10 years. And we get thousands of applicants from all over the world who want to be a Global Good Fund Fellow. And these are entrepreneurs who are typically two to five years into their business, meaning they've taken a dive out of the hypothetical airplane. They're building a parachute on the way down. It seems to be working. Either they have an MVP that's, you know, a valuable product that is looking like the market's responding to it and they're ready to go hard to market. Or maybe this product or service is going really well in a local market, and they want to scale the distribution.
All of the companies that we support are social impact businesses, meaning you can't remove the social impact from the business and still have a solid business. And we're interested in businesses that are financially viable. So often, those are a mixture of both for profit and nonprofit companies, but they have to be financially scalable.
And the differentiator for Global Good Fund is we're really interested in the individual. Our hypothesis is that when we invest in the individual’s leadership development, if we pick the right people, that person in turn grows the business and positively impacts the world. And that's how individuals have a positive ripple effect.
Once Global Good Fund was around for a few years, what we started to see, there was a process where it takes us six months to diligence thousands of applicants. Then we choose global good fund Fellows, and then we provide coaching, mentoring from a CEO of a very impressive company, $40 million to $60 billion company, one-on-one mentor to each entrepreneur. We provide a stipend to support leadership development that the entrepreneur sets for themselves, quarterly goals, and then we measure on a quarterly basis. How are the entrepreneurs performing on a leadership basis? Social impact business case? And we have a summit, which is upcoming here, where we bring all the entrepreneurs together to learn from each other and network.
What started happening was that the model started working, and so some of these companies not only became quite socially impactful, but also financially profitable. And VCs started coming in and cherry picking the most profitable businesses. And they would ask us, they would ask Global Good Fund as a nonprofit, which are the best companies for us to invest in? Which was really frustrating because we've done all this work, typically and then hand it off to opportunity to make a financial benefit to someone else.
And so, seven years ago, we started Global Impact Fund, which is a sister venture capital fund, exclusively invests in social impact companies for financial returns. On the nonprofit side, two-thirds of our companies are Black or Brown led, and half are women led. And on the venture capital side, 80% of our companies are Black, Brown or women led.
And the beauty here is that the people who are closest to the issues are the people often leading the companies that have the best likelihood of addressing the greatest issues of our time. And so, it's serving a lot of underserved entrepreneurs. But again, the whole point of the venture capital fund is to make money for our investors. And half of our investor base is Black, Brown or women led as well. So, it reflects the diversity of the entrepreneurs we're invested in. And then a portion of the GP of the general partnership goes back to the nonprofit as a revenue stream.
And then, in addition, a third leg of the stool here is that other entities started coming to the Global Good Fund and sort of asking if they could pick our brain, which is code for ‘take your intellectual property and not pay for it,’ you know? You know, it's, like, lovely if you're an individual, but as a nonprofit, it's sort of expected that you're just going to give away things for free. And, you know, we have people’s livelihoods to support and a mission to fulfill.
And so, this year, 10 years to the day of the founding of Global Good Fund, we launched a subsidiary that consults to companies and nonprofits that are interested in social impact and scaling our social impact. And we’ve worked with organizations that are super small and some of our entrepreneurs that come out and want more support and as big as Microsoft, who are interested in sales for social impact globally. And so, it's been a beautiful way to support philanthropy with a revenue stream that's consistent with our mission.
So, all to say, we're an ecosystem for investing in leadership for social impact.
Justin: And investing in people. And you know, before we hit ‘Record,’ Carrie, one of the things that we were talking about is how purpose can become addictive in a good way. Right?
Carrie: Can you tell?
Justin: Right, but, like, you think about ... I mean, that's just one stat, and you can offer multiple others, but just one stat of the world that the Global Good Fund itself has done in creating more than 4,000 jobs in underserved communities. This is delivering impact which can and should be contagious and push forward for greater impact and push forward for greater impact. And that's super unique. Like, that, that should be celebrated. And so, you know, obviously, kudos to you and the team. Is the addiction what keeps you hungry? To continue the impact? Like, what keeps that drive going to just push further with this thing?
Carrie: Thank you. And, you know, our marketing team would not be too pleased with me now, but … so it's been 10 years. We supported 200 entrepreneurs, and they've impacted 10 million, 10.2 million lives around the globe in 40 plus countries. They've raised over $120 million in capital in the year that they were doing the fellowship program. And again, these are people who typically get 0.8% of the venture capital market. And so, it's wildly impressive what these entrepreneurs have done. And it's meaningful, very meaningful, to be a tiny part of their journeys.
The addictive part is that it's working, and there's a market opportunity. You know, as much as it's a mission―it is a nonprofit mission―it's also an opportunity for our country and world to generate economic and social benefit in a way that's currently largely untapped. Everybody wins. Why wouldn't we want to pursue those avenues?
And what I've learned from visiting our entrepreneurs around the world, which really feeds my, you know, feeds my soul―and the longer we go on, the farther removed I personally get in my day to day from the people we're serving―and so for me, it's very meaningful to get to witness firsthand the work that the entrepreneurs are doing. And what I see firsthand is that we all want the same things no matter where we are in our lives, no matter where we live geographically, no matter what our surroundings, where we are, we all want clean air to breathe. We all want quality access to education for our children. We all want our elderly relatives to be cared for. We all want the opportunity to work and earn good wages, have a decent lifestyle and way to live. We all want access to quality, you know, health.
And so, no matter where you are in the world, we all want … there's so much that brings us together, so much commonality. And using entrepreneurship as a vehicle to address that requires leadership. It requires investing in people who may not be the loudest, who may not have a network or platform or might, but most don't. And if we can give a network platform and some capital and mentoring, get out of the way! These entrepreneurs have already demonstrated that they'll change the world.
Ronnie: Carrie, I'm curious, in the 10 years of work that you've done so far, what are some lessons that you've learned that maybe you could share with our audience in terms of leadership?
Carrie: One that's challenging for me is to first invest in myself before we ask other people to invest in us. And what that looks like, I'll give you a personal example here.
Justin: Broccoli. Are you gonna say broccoli? Broccoli is definitely the answer.
Carrie: Yeah, broccoli. I really wanted to learn how to serve on a board, you know, as a nonprofit leader you know? I have a board, and I'm managing a board, but I wanted to learn how to serve on a board. And to do that, I wanted to not only shadow people but eventually do some training on how to serve on a board. And those programs cost money.
And, you know, I approached my board chair at one point and said, here's the governance training program I want to do. It's expensive by my standards. You know, will you cover half, and I'll put my own skin in the game for the other half of this, which was still a lot, you know, by my standards. And he agreed. And it demonstrated that it was a time commitment and a money commitment. I put skin in the game and then naturally, I wanted to do something with that. And so, when there then became an opportunity to join boards, you know, I was the first in line to submit a board bio and to interview. And, you know, now I'm really proud to say that I'm serving on a corporate board of a very large, $21 billion nonprofit organization that distributes over a billion dollars every year, 1.4 billion to a charity called Trinity Health.
But the point was, I never would have had that opportunity had I not put my own skin in the game and invested the time and money in my own leadership. How could I possibly expect someone else to take a bet on me if I didn't first do it myself? And I think it's a very uncomfortable thing to do to spend money on yourself, especially when you're in the social impact sector, but I think it's necessary to do.
Ronnie: And to ask for money.
Carrie: Say it again?
Ronnie: And to ask for money, that can be uncomfortable for some people. Even fundraisers.
Carrie: Asking for money is so hard. Even 10 years in, and it's still hard.
But I think it's really so much easier to ask for money for benefiting other people, at least for me, than it is to ask for money for myself. And then realizing that, listen, if you never help yourself, you're not going to be able to benefit others. So, that was a very important lesson for me to learn that I'd share that, you know, you have to first invest in yourself before you can expect other people to invest in you.
Justin: And making that time, you know, you were referencing earlier just that the more senior the role sometimes you're further removed from some day-to-day parts and the busier the calendar gets. So not only can it be challenging to invest dollars, it can be really challenging to make the time to invest in yourself.
Carrie: Yeah, I've learned I do whatever the calendar says, and I'm now learning to just block time on the calendar for thinking time, and reading time and reflection time, you know, otherwise there's always something else that can take up the time.
Justin: Yeah. Carrie, in the last year, your fourth book was published. So, “Impact the World,” just as we kind of land the plane on our conversation in time together, tell us a little bit about this, this term, this book, “Impact the World” and the message that you're sharing in this book.
Carrie: Sure, thank you. So, this was an incredible, very fun project with my co-author, Dean Fealk. And we met in China, exploring as part of the Eisenhower fellowships. And the goal here was to put ourselves in a position of leadership development so that we're practicing for, at least for me, practice what I'm preaching here and make sure I'm investing in myself and making the time to do that.
And, you know, we came out of that experience recognizing that a lot of people are distrustful of big institutions. And maybe some people take to the streets to protest, or some people go out and lead their own organizations or businesses. But perhaps there's a way to collaborate with governments, institutions, organizations, corporations and bring value; add from the standpoint of making the world a better place.
And we often think of states people as diplomats. But what if we brought that to everyday life? What would it look like to be a citizen states person to impact the world? And so, we've been able to share our learnings and also profile on citizens states people who are making a difference all over the planet.
Justin: Super cool. Carrie, you're continuing to find ways to create the itch and scratch the itch around impact. So, we appreciate you doing that.
Carrie: Thank you. I'm really excited to go eat some broccoli personally.
Ronnie: I think I'll pass.
Justin: No, come on.
Carrie: Put some cheese on it for you, Ronnie?
Justin: Yeah, just a little bit of cheese. I think it's all in the prep. I think it's all in the prep of how you've had it. Like, if you're boiling it and then just try and eat it straight boiled, then obviously. You're a child of the eighties, but there are better ways to have it now.
Ronnie: It's still broccoli at the end of the day, though. I don't know.
Justin: It's good for you. I'm sorry, Carrie. I apologize to you and to my fellow broccoli lovers everywhere for my colleague’s disdain of such good things.
Carrie, we appreciate, like, honestly, your time for sure. And we know that you're super busy, but let me just encourage the work that you're doing. And, you know, it truly does make a difference whenever you're leaning into people, and you've been the beneficiary of that sort of thing. But now you're doing it in a really unique way that is worthy of both celebrating and then shining a light on. And so, we're glad that we're going to get to help do that in our own little way.
Carrie: Thank you so much for having me and for shining the light. We are really grateful.
Justin: Group Thinkers is a production of RKD Group. For more information, visit rkdgroup.com/podcast. Special thanks to our production team, including the talented Ryan Mellinger for his work on mixing every episode. Also, a shout out to the content team that helps pull together research and guests and puts the marketing efforts behind Group Thinkers, Suzanne, Ronnie and others, for their work on this and every episode of Group Thinkers.
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