Got Impact?


With that simple four word mantra outlined in an amazing PopTech! talk (below) and a life mission dedicated to living it, Kevin Starr recently joined the ranks of my personal superheroes.

A physician turned managing director of the Mulago Foundation, Kevin has been driven by his passion to carry forward the superb legacy of his medical school mentor Rainer Arnhold. Arnhold, a pediatrician by training, and a humanitarian by choice, spent much of his life working hard to improve the lives of children mired in poverty.

The mission statement is simple, yet immensely powerful:

” Mulago looks for the best solutions to the biggest problems in the poorest countries.”

What made Starr’s talk so – well, impactful (pun intended) – were his ideas around measuring the real impact that various social change ideas eventually have on any given problem. He reveals surprising follow-ups to the failures of highly touted and award winning projects such as LifeStraw and the $100 Laptop among others.

Watch as he outlines the four compelling questions that he feels must be answered to ensure a big idea makes it from drawing board to changing lives in real life.

I’m reminded of the advice a physician-mentor friend once gave me, as I was charting my life path away from the traditional practice of medicine. He urged me to follow the same steps as scientists in a lab, drafting the next big experiment:

  • Identify your key ASSETS (what are your unique qualities/talents to give to the world?)
  • Clarify your target POPULATION (who will benefit from this experiment a.k.a your life work?)
  • What will the INTERVENTION be (specific action plan for the project)
  • Set the CONTEXT of the experiment (background research & information that highlights the need for your intervention)
  • Lay out a clear OUTCOME (what are the specific end-points that will determine the success or failure of your intervention)
  • What will your SECONDARY GAIN be (be honest about your motivations to engage in the project)

All that’s left then is tons of hard work and an amazing impact on the world!