Jan
14
2011

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Fellows Friday is a weekly series on the TED Blog that profiles one TED Fellow each week. We have asked the Fellows to answer our question below to share their knowledge and advice with other social entrepreneurs, innovators, and changemakers who are coming up with big ideas that can change the world.

Jessica Mayberry is the founder of Video Volunteers, which trains rural Indians to use filmmaking to drive social change in their communities. The films have fostered some remarkable improvements in the villages, but according to Jessica, some of the most impressive changes are in the filmmakers themselves.

Stephanie: There are many aspiring social entrepreneurs out there who are trying to take their passion and ideas to the next level. What is one piece of advice you would give to them based on your own experiences and successes?

Jessica: To keep working at it. Don’t give up. It takes a lot of persistence. I’ve been doing this for seven years. That’s a really, really long time. I’ve been my own boss since I was 25 years old. There’s so much that I have to teach myself, or try to suss out from mentors. And I think it’s a lot about persistence.

When young people wanting to do social entrepreneurial ventures come to me looking for advice, I try to assess how thick-skinned the person seems. Do they seem like they can put up with the loneliness of this? The feeling of being so insignificant? The feeling of going every single day to ask other people for help, money, contacts? It’s really exhausting, when you could be having quite a clear, straight-forward job. So persistence is something that’s really important.

And the other thing is to really go out there and do it yourself. Especially if we’re talking about people doing stuff in the developing world, I think there’s a big difference between the people sitting in New York and trying to get their project off the ground in Africa, and the ones who are going out to Africa and just doing it. You’ve got to be out in the field. And that’s the important thing. Even if your venture fails, it’s still been an incredible life experience for you. You’ve still learned a huge amount.

Read the rest of Jessica's Fellows Friday interview here.

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