Los Angeles was our last city before we all gathered in New York. Flying to Alaska was a very long journey, and from Alaska to LA was also long! And not because of the distance, but because the engine did not work. A small detail which they luckily noticed before we took off! And this time landing in my fancy dress and high heels was appropriate for LA! LA is huge and spread out so driving to places was a challenge, but UBER became my friend. April and Taleen were our city coordinators, and they put a fascinating programme together that focused on social entrepreneurship.  This everlasting sense of community in addressing significant challenges such as housing homeless people, education for youth in low-income families and advancing social justice was again admirable. LA was not what I expected. I was expecting Hollywood, but instead was introduced to the challenging and sobering reality many people face in a country where once the American dream prevailed. LA had many highlights, and I enjoyed every moment, including getting dropped off at a wrong beach and miss what would have been my first ever surfing experience only to be part of a bathing photo shoot with some of my fellows. And yes, I did ask the coast guard to take a picture with me, and no, I will not share! Getting a tour at The Culver Studios by their President, even if I missed out on meeting anyone famous. The hosted dinner with GMFMMF Alumni Marcus and his wife Stacie, and Colleen. What a fun, inspiring, emotional and great evening on their terras. Thank you, an evening I will remember for a long time! And finally, I had a first class LA R&B experience with Kelly and Taleen. That too was something I will not forget!

Social Entrepreneurship in downtown LA

Despite a very long travel the day before and being exhausted, all of the meetings were fascinating and inspiring. We started off in the publicly managed Martin Luther King Jr. hospital where we met with the president and several doctors. The hospital core values represented those of a political leader who put everything on the line; his commitment was public, and he chose to say that this is a community he stands for. The hospital’s culture is built from the ground up, and everyone who works in the hospital is mission and value driven; which is essential to ensure that all communities are represented in getting quality healthcare with no discrimination nor exception.

Over lunch, we met with two inspiring individuals who gave up their business-focused career to pursue social enterprise charity with poor profits in hope to provide the younger generation a brighter future. Especially in Los Angeles where Hollywood is perpetuating the illusion of continuous success, money, and fame, the battle between a collective power of social enterprise versus individual capitalism is challenging to say the least. In the afternoon we visited LA downtown center for women. So many women homeless, in mental states I cannot even begin to describe..women who were just like me. Women with a home, family, a job and women who lost everything because they got sick or lost their income. We toured the facility which provides a haven for these women and place where some of their dignity is treasured and restored. Next time I feel like complaining about how much I have to manage at home while keeping up my performance at work, I think of how lucky and grateful I am. And so should you, don ’t let the little things get to you. Life is bigger than that and life can change in an instant.

My last meeting on social entrepreneurship at the LA Chamber of Commerce with L.A. Compact was also a highlight and gave me a lot of energy to come up with ideas how to change the way we look at education. We discussed several initiatives in place that help youth from low-income families prepare at the outset for a successful career based on equal opportunities for all. The L.A. Compact stands for Collective Input, Collective Action, and Collective Impact. It is a bold commitment by Los Angeles leaders from the education, business, government, labor and nonprofit sectors to improve education outcomes from cradle to career, ensuring that today’s youth have the skills necessary to succeed in a 21st-century global workforce. Imagine the limitless opportunities for both economic development and social impact across the transatlantic communities if more leaders make a similar pledge. Building a brighter and inclusive future for all is not charity, but our duty.

Next generation tech innovation

Visiting Dogtown media and meeting with their diverse and young team members was like pumping adrenaline into my blood. I had no idea I could get so excited about tech innovation. Especially seeing young women and men demonstrate the cool user testing applications and mobile apps that are recreating digital future was very cool. I asked so many questions and made so many connections in mind that one hour was not enough. For someone working in the defense and security sector, I saw so many opportunities in working with startups and entrepreneurs that are developing next-generation technology. Traditional security is in the past, whether we acknowledge it or not. The world is changing where digital transformation is defined through groundbreaking technology, technology no sector should miss out on, including the defense and security sector. It requires a cultural and mindset change which unfortunately we are not ready for yet as became apparent with Google and the Pentagon story. That’s why creating these forums where all stakeholders come together and address in all frankness and transparency the concerns, the biases, and assumptions  is so important in breaking glass ceilings. If policymakers and others could only see the potential of next-generation tech innovation and how it helps solve their problems, staying behind the technology curve will be part of the past. Thank you Lauren and to your team for a great morning! Keep pushing boundaries in the tech world while creating the mobile future!

Last stretch

LA came to an end, and we all traveled on a Sunday to New York to meet the rest of the group. Visiting LA was a dream even if it was nothing like I thought it would be. The level of poverty and homeless people in a city that defined media and entertainment on a global scale, was hard to grasp. This was something I pondered for a long time during my flight to New York and inspired me to write my final piece for GMF. New York was another experience which will be my last blog in #GMFMMF series. Stay tuned!

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