When we see, feel, and experience our beliefs in action, it’s an energizing experience.

I recently returned from a trip to Colombia where I had the privilege of meeting people and organizations leading positive change in the face of extraordinary challenges.

They included:


Run by amazing visionary leader Maria Adelaida Lopez and a passionate team, aeioTU‘s early childhood learning centers have provided millions of children with quality education, regardless of their socio-economic status. In the process they’ve created entrepreneurship opportunities for women, who can run aeioTU approved childcare services from their homes.

Cacao Hunters

Cacao Hunters develops high quality cacao plants in indigenous and post-conflict regions of Colombia. It is the first Colombian company to locally source and produce premium chocolate in the region, thereby generating greater income for local small-scale farmers.

Gaia Amazonas

Gaia Amazonas collaborates with and supports indigenous peoples to protect their land. This matters for several reasons – including the fact that deforestation rates in Resguardos Indígenas (indigenous managed area) were ten times lower than in other areas of the Colombian Amazon between 2000 and 2012.

These are small organizations making an outsized impact on giant problems. At the other end of the spectrum, Countdown – a Leaders’ Quest/TED partnership – recently launched the TED Future Forum, which convenes large multinational organizations with a mission to transform the global economy and create a healthy prosperous future for all.

TED Future Forum will tell stories about the successes and challenges that global companies face in stepping up to tackle climate change. The goal is to use these stories to inspire more businesses across the economy, and of all shapes and sizes, to take action.

Each of the companies involved and their leaders know that they are part of the problem, and are working on advancing climate solutions, often at scale. But ultimately no one person or company can solve this alone, no matter their size. It can often feel like an uphill battle.

Brave and humble leadership

What unites the organizations I met in Colombia and those involved in the TED Future Forum is that they are working on complex, multigenerational challenges to which there are no easy solutions: access to quality childcare, post conflict economic development, indigenous rights, and climate change. They require brave leaders to see a wicked problem and try to tackle it knowing that they alone cannot fix it.  

We all often feel small and insignificant relative to the challenges we face – I certainly do. These small examples of progress make me believe that change is not only possible, but happening. And they inspire me to ask the question – how do we make more positive change happen, faster?