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Ellenore’s Note!
 

     Meet People Where They Are If You Want to Impact Real and Lasting Change
 
     In recent reflection, I realized a key theme through out my life is navigating huge differences between myself and those around me.  It started with my parents who are both immigrants.  I grew up American and they had grown up Dutch.  When I married another immigrant, this time from Greece, I came to understand my grandmother’s words well, “They are not like us.”  In our case, she could not have been more right.  It wasn’t just the Greek, it was also our approach to leadership and problem solving.  I am a creative collaborator; he is a linear thinker who leads from the front or by example.  When my boys arrived after having all sisters, I had no idea how their world view, as a different generation and gender, would stretch and grow mine.  When our daughter arrived from another country, culture and race, I thought I was ready but again was humbled to realize there was so much I had yet fully explored.  The examples continue in my professional life.  Throughout my career, I sought out new whether it be geography or discipline or challenge.  And with each one, I gained a more a holistic perspective and was constantly reminded how little I really understood.  The learning was intense the more I moved out of what was familiar and comfortable.  When I started Open Hearts Big Dreams, I intentionally surrounded myself with people I admired and respected but who were also varying degrees of difference from me because I learned well the power of harnessing these differences for impact.
     What I learned, and continue to relearn, is that to be effective in pushing forward progress and change, you have to meet people where they are and go from there.  I didn’t understand my immigrant parents growing up.  It wasn’t until I tried to put myself in their shoes and could see how far they had come rather than how far away they were from my ideal did I gain a deeper adult relationship.  Same for my husband and boys, unless I can imagine what it must have been like to immigrate as an adult and start over without your family or what how it is to navigate today's world as young adult, we can’t find common ground and only experience the friction of mis-understanding. It is similar in the professional world.  Working on diversity issues, it was so easy to judge those who “don’t get it” or those “with privilege.”  But in doing so, I removed any chance to work with them as part of the solution.  When I advise people who are struggling working with those who are not "like them", I encourage them to try to view the situation from the other's perspective with true empathy.  It is consistently eye-opting.
     Meeting people where they are is hard.  You may have to give up some unrealistic expectations and ideals, for now at least.  You have to take a good hard honest look in the mirror.  And you have to listen, truly, deeply and even when what you hear hurts.  When I started this work, I received some hard feedback on positioning and partnering, what worked and what didn’t for a community.  I realized I had not taken the time to listen enough before moving forward.  I needed to pause, learn, meet them where they were, and when we both were ready, then move forward together.  It stung but was totally necessary and helpful.  And it is gratifying now after that investment to see OHBD effectively collaborating with so many disparate organizations and leaders both in the US and Ethiopia as well as other parts of the world.

                                                                                                            ~ Ellenore      

Consistent Invention Requires Customer Obsession
and Ideas from Everyone

     I had the pleasure of speaking at the President’s Conference recently.  The audience were all business owners or leaders focused in the printing industry.  I spent some time with the conference organizer developing a topic that would be interesting and more importantly useful for the audience.  We came up with “Five Effective Strategies to Build a Consistently Innovative Culture.” It is interesting to me to see the theme of innovation at the forefront of so much of what I do these days, whether it be in an established industry like printing in the US or the brand-new efforts we are piloting in Ethiopia or the work I led at Amazon.  Our #ReadySetGo book project was an innovative approach to solving the literacy issues in Ethiopia.  We are working to pilot Innovation Center elements this year as a key focus.  During my 13 years at Amazon, invention was always a necessary part of success. 
     Working on this talk drew from those experiences and reminded me how key concepts and insights are applicable in multiple areas whether business or personal; corporations or NGOs; US or Ethiopia.  However, these principles only work when applied consistently even when it is hard. Take customer obsession which was one of the strategies you need for an innovative culture; start with the customer and working backwards.  Every company or industry has a professed customer focus.  The difference between those obsessed and those paying lip service is what choices are made when leaders need to choose between taking care of the customer and company profits.  Those hard decisions define a culture.
     In addition, innovation requires an environment where everyone’s ideas can be heard.  Again, it sounds simple.  But it is much easier to let the loud or senior voices be heard.  You need to be intentional to create mechanisms to bring ideas forward for serious consideration from each person within an organization or industry.  This is what we are working to achieve through Open Hearts Big Dreams efforts.  We want ideas from all members of our team including writers, illustrators, translators, other NGOs and organizations working with kids in Ethiopia, the Diaspora around the globe interested in giving back, community leaders, and the academics preparing the leaders of the future.  And the response has been overwhelmingly positive as evidenced by the people we will meet as present and future collaborators in Ethiopia who hail from universities, government, industry, the arts, and communities of all kinds.  In engaging and learning from all, we plan inspire and leverage invention to benefit current and future generations in Ethiopia, the US and beyond. 
     At Amazon, it is always Day One, the first day of a start-up.  "Day One" means you are “obsessed with the customer; focus on results over process; make high quality decisions quickly; and embrace external trends quickly.”  For Open Hearts Big Dreams Fund, we are embracing this Day One philosophy to consistently innovate on behalf of Ethiopia children and their communities.  Join us!
 

American Space Center, by Worku Mulat - OHBD Innovation Center Lead

     At a workshop launched from March 5-7, 2019 in Addis Ababa by U.S. Embassy and Ministry of Science and Higher Education (MoSHE), Ambassador Michael Raynor said: “We want our universities to prepare young people to fill the jobs we need to keep our economy running, and to innovate and bring the next big ideas to fruition.” The conference aims to draw a roadmap for building capacity of Ethiopian institutions to attract and develop the talent that can prepare Ethiopia’s students for the challenges they will face in the future.
     Opportunities are lining up to implement projects that will improve literacy and innovation ecosystems among kids in Ethiopia. OHBD would like to leverage these opportunities and has keen interest to forge a strong partnership with the American Space Centers in Ethiopia. Currently, there are five centers: Satchmo Center is in the Public Affairs Section, U.S. Embassy Addis Ababa).  Col. John C. Robinson American Center is in downtown Addis Ababa, National Archives and Library Agency (NALA).
     The remaining three are in Bahir Dar (Aba Geneme Mengesha Public Library), Jimma, (Jimma American Corner, Public Library), and Dire Dawa (Rosa Parks American Corner, Public Library).
All these centers are well equipped with Internet access, the latest desktop video conferencing facility, laptop computers and 4K television screens.  Thus, they are ideal to serve as effective engagement platforms where Americans and Ethiopians can exchange culture of innovation, skills, and knowledge transfer ideas.
     Seattle is home to Microsoft and Amazon where many technology professionals of Ethiopian origin live and work. OHBD has also access to a database about Ethiopian Americans working in institutions of higher learning throughout the United States. This diaspora population has recently shown strong interest to support young population of Ethiopia in shaping their future. OHBD is well positioned to coordinate and implement skill and knowledge transfer projects between the two countries.
     Founder and Board President, Ellenore Angelidis, is scheduled to be in Addis at the end of this month. She is scheduled to hold a meeting with American Spaces Director, Tefera Teklemichael, on April 5, 2019 and explore areas of collaboration that will connect the two sister institutions for maximum impact.
Shop Our "Ready Set Go" Books!

Ready Set Go Books Now Available in Ethiopian Markets in Seattle and Washington D.C.
 
     OHBD is exploring a strategy of distributing Ready Set Go books in Ethiopian retail shops in DC and Seattle areas. This strategy has a number of obvious advantages:  1) Selling more books helps us supplement the fund required to distribute free books in Ethiopia. 2) Creating awareness about OHBD #ReadySetGo project to increase literacy and promote a love of reading culture in Ethiopia. 3) Connecting kids born in the United States to their cultural roots. 4) Attracting more illustrators. 5) Promoting small Ethiopian run businesses and places to get Ethiopian goods in the US

     As an initial test, a couple of our OHBD team members, Worku in Seattle and Daniel in Washington DC, contacted the four Ethiopian stores.  We are thrilled that each immediately agreed to carry our great little books in their shops: 
  1. Tana Supermarket (ጣና ገበያ) 
     Tana Super market, in downtown Seattle, serves Ethiopian communities by importing cereals, spices and beverages directly from Ethiopia. Tana Supermarket, 2518 E Cherry St Seattle, Washington 98122, Phone (206) 322-3835
  1. Mana Market (መና ገበያ)
     Mana Market serves Ethiopian communities in the SeaTac area. Like. Any other Ethiopian retail shops, Mana supermarket has a many varieties of spices, coffee, and cereals imported from Ethiopia. Teff, the ancient and the next super grain is also available in this store.
15205 Military Rd S, SeaTac, WA 98188, Phone: (206) 242-0702
  1. Nazret Market (ናዝሬት ባልትና)
     Nazret Market provides a great variety of spices and food stuff imported from Ethiopia in Alexandria.
656 S Pickett St, Alexandria, VA 22304, Phone, (703) 212-8909
  1. Alem Gebeya is an Ethiopian retail workshop serving communities in the DC area.  Alem Gebeya (Market): 640 S Pickett St, Alexandria, VA 22304, Phone: (571) 251-6715 
     We would like to thank all of these great stores for generously agreeing to sell RSG books. With our books soon available for purchase in these Ethiopian shops, we will provide take away brochures in store to educate people on OHBD and the book project: 
     In phase one of this test, OHBD will strive to establish effective working relationships with the store owners. If successful, which we expect, phase two will expand to make our books available in other similar stores both in DC area, Seattle and other cities with large Ethiopian origin populations.
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Open Hearts Big Dreams Fund · Editor - Sabrina L. Matson · 3518 241st Ave SE · Issaquah, WA 98029 · USA

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