Nancy Lublin is the CEO and "Chief Old Person" of DoSomething.org, which uses technology and pop culture to help young people "rock causes they care about." Previously, she was founder and CEO of Dress for Success, which she started at age twenty-three. She's a contributing columnist for Fast Company and an adjunct faculty member at New York University and Yale School of Management. Nancy is also the author of "Zilch: The Power of Zero in Business" and "Do Something!: A Handbook for Young Activists" (ed: check out our giveaway section to win a copy of this book!) She lives with her family in New York City. Find her on Twitter: @nancylublin and @dosomething
1. Can you tell us a little bit about how you came to Do Something?
I came to Do Something in 2003 because I believe that young people rock. It’s that simple.
2. How can parents help get their kids (ages 9 & up) involved in "doing something?"
Listen to your kids. What makes them mad? What kinds of issues do they care about? The whole first section of the book is about helping kids find their "thing."
3. If a teen has a good idea for a volunteer program in their community, how do you recommend they get started implementing their idea?
Start by with math: what is a measurable thing you could do to alter this thing? Will you collect three bags of trash from the park? Will you feed 20 homeless families? Create a goal that has a number in it.
4. Do you notice differences in the personalities of children/young adults who are active in social change/volunteering vs. those who are not? In other words, have you seen activism change lives (not just of those being helped, but of those helping)?
Being active in the community is good for you (better grades, new friends, etc) and its also good for the community.
5. Growing up, what was your first volunteer gig?
My first experience as a social change agent was in pre-school. Seth Kosto (I will never forget his name) declared purple to be a boy color. [Purple] was my favorite color. It was my grandmother's favorite color. And I didn't think it was right to discriminate against us female purple-lovers! So I grabbed two fistfuls of magenta, lavender, mauve, aubergine, and lilac and raised those clenched fists over my head, running around the classroom screaming, "I've got the purple!" I guess I was a Crayola Warrior.
6. Your kids are clearly growing up in a home where volunteerism plays a big role in their daily lives. What little things are you doing to prepare your young children for futures as activists/volunteers?
My five year old is in charge of household recycling. We talk about where things come from and where they go. We frequently purge old toys and clothes and talk about how other people need them more than us. My three year old likes to talk about how the Onsler (from The Lorax) needs to stop cutting down the trees.
7. Are there similarities between parenting and running a not-for-profit?
Yes: lack of sleep.
8. How do you manage to balance work/home life, since both are so all encompassing?
I actually feel more balanced now that I have both parts of my life in full swing. When I was in my twenties I founded Dress for Success–and I'd pull all-nighters, work 7 days a week, and once went nearly two years without even kissing anyone. I was way out of balance. (And lonely!) Now, I love my weekends in the park or at birthday parties, but I also love getting to the office on Monday morning.
9. If you could go back in time and give some words of advice to your 12-year-old self, what would it be?
Asymmetrical hair is not a good look. Even in 1986.
10. Lastly, what are two quick and easy ways families can get involved in making a difference?
You can't go wrong with animals and homeless. These are two evergreen causes that all kids care about. Go to a local animal shelter and bathe the dogs. Serve food at a homeless shelter. You'll be helping someone else, bonding as a family, and getting your kids hooked on being active citizens.