Ann Mei Chang is the Executive Director of Lean Impact at Lean Startup Co., a company that encourages all organizations, especially ones seeking solutions to social problems, to think like startups. She is also the author of the new book LEAN IMPACT: How to Innovate for Radically Greater Social Good, which takes a closer look at the idea of applying entrepreneurial thinking to social problem solving and explores examples of how these theories have played out in advocacy organizations around the world. Ann Mei came to this work through a winding path of both social and technological innovation. After graduating from Stanford with a degree in Computer Science, she went to work in Silicon Valley as a software engineer, and quickly climbed her way up the management ladder as she moved between tech startups including at Google where she spent 8 years. But after 20+ years in fast-paced Palo Alto, Ann Mei decided it was time to use her skills as an engineer and innovator to truly make the world a better place. More specifically, she set out to try to help end global poverty. She began a career in government work serving in the US Department of State as Senior Advisor for Women and Technology in the Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues. She then went to work at a global humanitarian and development organization, Mercy Corps, as Chief Innovation Officer. And most recently, became the Chief Innovation Officer at USAID and the first Executive Director of the US Global Development Lab. Today, Ann Mei combines the skills she’s honed over the last couple decades to bring a new approach to solving global social issues at Lean Startup Co.
WHAT YOU’LL LEARN ABOUT IN THIS EPISODE:
- How to merge what you’re passionate about and what you’re good at to create a successful and unique career path
- Why slowing down and taking time to learn in college is valuable in the long run
- How to think about social problems through an entrepreneurial lens
- How a change in perspective can provide a career opportunity
- Why it’s okay to start something you don’t know much about halfway through your career
- What qualities will help you move into management positions more quickly