The new generation of founders are just as concerned with social causes and making a difference as they are with making money and building wealth. Today, more and more companies are started by founders who leverage their passions and aim to make a social impact. It’s a beautiful thing to see, and I am proud to call myself one of those founders.
I am a CODA (child of deaf adults) and, with both of my parents being deaf, American Sign Language is my first language. I am fortunate to consider the deaf community my family, my home and the culture in which I feel most like myself. This is what led to TCS Interpreting, the company I co-founded with my mom in 2015 and where I currently serve as CEO.
I live my passion on a daily basis and know without a doubt that my company makes a positive impact on society. A social cause can be an extremely powerful source of motivation for several reasons, which I’ve outlined below. It can also allow other social entrepreneurs to successfully tap into their own passions.
It provides you with an unparalleled source of inspiration.
I saw firsthand the difficulty my parents had communicating with their hearing peers, and I became their interpreter at a young age. My parents were also business owners, and I witnessed them grow and run their business in a time when being deaf was not (and it still isn’t) an easy journey. When they experienced personnel issues in 2008, I was called in to help source a replacement, as my background was in HR at the time. Ultimately, I became that replacement.
At the time, the company had five employees, was doing $800,000 in annual revenue and was focused on retail computer and assistive technology services. I was motivated by what I had seen and experienced throughout my life with my parents and wanted to make an impact. So, I restructured the company from the ground up, changed the name and by 2015 we were a sign language interpreting agency with 62 employees and $6.5 million in revenue.
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My source of inspiration and motivation played a key role in the transition and growth. Watching my parents succeed, after seeing the obstacles and challenges they constantly faced, was incredibly motivating. I wake up every day motivated to make a positive impact in our community.
If there are entrepreneurs looking to find their own personal source of inspiration, I suggest focusing on a purpose that drives them and an area that they are passionate about. Start by identifying common problems and/or frustrating issues that those in that industry or community face on a daily basis.
It brings you joy and happiness.
As cliché as it may sound, when you do something you truly love, it doesn’t feel like work. Granted, as a founder there are always going to be stressful days and difficult situations, but they are more manageable when you do what makes you happy.
When you do come face to face with a stressful situation, press pause, take a deep breath and think about your “why” — your reason for doing what you are doing. Think of your purpose, your passion, your impact on the communities you are serving or the last customer interaction you had that made you smile. You know that you have found your calling when those thoughts and memories give you the strength to continue.
Being able to focus on your passion breeds personal satisfaction, enabling you to make any difficult situation manageable because you become committed to finding a solution.
It creates a mission-first culture.
I co-founded my company with the goal of providing language access and I am motivated by people and their success, not by money. When you lead with this type of passion and motivation, the money often follows. The other way around — focusing on money first — does not guarantee customers will follow.
When you have a social cause as your motivation, providing access and resources to your consumers and those in need becomes your obsession. This is how truly remarkable and impactful companies are built. As you put in the hard work and provide value, your passion increases and your team experiences it alongside you. Don’t force the “mission over profit” mentality; it should be a natural byproduct of the work and value.
It gives you a fulfilling life purpose.
I truly believe my life purpose is to help unite two cultures by breaking down the language barrier, and I’m not afraid to fail while pursuing my calling. To me, this is a lifelong journey that I’ve embarked on, and I’m willing to do what it takes to make a significant impact on the deaf community.
Aside from TCS Interpreting, I launched two additional businesses in the accessibility and social space and mentor hearing and deaf entrepreneurs. I have a growing family: three children — two biological and an adopted daughter from India who was born deaf — with possibly another adoption in the near future.
One of the most fulfilling aspects of my journey thus far has been giving back, and it’s something that I encourage all social entrepreneurs experience, whether it’s through mentoring directly or working with a local community organization that aligns with your expertise.
There isn’t a better feeling than what you experience when you take your life purpose and create a company that contributes to society and has a positive impact on peoples’ lives. It’s the true definition of being a social entrepreneur.