Young People Changing The World is a biweekly series featuring the world's changemakers. Every other Monday, I publish an interview with a young entrepreneur with questions regarding their journey. They tell us their definition of success, their desired impact on the world and share their single most important lesson.
My goal with this series is to inspire young leaders to take action. Be bold. Go after your dreams. Make a positive change in the world.
I can't express how excited I am to share the story of Sonam Swarup.
Sonam is from Vancouver, Canada, and is the co-founder of Fusion Kitchen, a social venture which provides opportunities for struggling immigrants to share their talents with the community.
I've known Sonam for about seven years. Back then, we were both in our high school's student council. While keeping ourselves busy planning events for our peers, I got to know her and was always in such awe of Sonam. Apart from her drive and desire to selflessly help others, she's also one of the most down-to-earth people I've met.
In her interview, she shares about her social venture and gives a tip on how you can stay accountable to your goals.
What is your name and organization?
Sonam Swarup, Fusion Kitchen.
What are you up to these days?
I just finished a 9-month co-op term at TELUS, a Canadian telecommunications company. Now, I've returned back to school as a full-time student at Simon Fraser University (SFU) finishing the last stretch of my undergrad. In addition, for the last 2 years, I co-founded a social venture called Fusion Kitchen. However, after giving it our best, in late September, we decided that it was time to end the venture.
Where did the idea of your organization come from?
I took a social entrepreneurship class at SFU in Fall 2011. The objective of the class was to create our own social business and launch it by the end of the semester. My co-founder and I came up with the idea of Fusion Kitchen as we both had a passion for travelling, eating ethnic foods, and saw own family members struggle to find employment opportunities in Canada. Therefore, combining all three areas, we saw an opportunity for immigrants to showcase their unique cooking skills while developing confidence and work experience to food enthusiasts across Greater Vancouver.
How do you define success?
To me success, in its simplest form is about overcoming adversity and/or failure in any given situation.
How do you want to make an impact on the world?
I went to a conference a while ago and I remember this question being asked to one of the speakers, and his response sums up how I feel about making an impact. He said, “don’t ask how to make an impact. Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because the biggest impacts in the world comes from people who have come alive with passion.” In other words, once you have found something you are passionate about there is nothing stopping you from changing the world. That said, I don’t think I've yet discovered what makes me come alive yet. Therefore, I've been situating myself in new experiences so I can uncover and learn what I’m passionate about.
How do you come up with ideas?
I usually come up with “good” ideas when I am with someone or a group of people. I have found that when I am with other people, I am able to bounce off ideas that are not fully developed to get their perspectives and see if I can build upon it.
How do you keep yourself aligned to your goals?
I took the time recently to sit down and figure “my values” and started to make goals and decisions that aligned with it. I know that no value is ever set in stone, but it’s helped me to make decisions not based on fear but rather, what feels right. Before that, I would spread myself too thin and wouldn't understand why I was taking part in something. Therefore, understanding what my values were, helped me make stay aligned to my goals and made decisions that feel good.
Name one strength and one weakness.
As a young leader, what is the single activity or habit you do, that you recommend everyone else does?
Develop your own personal board of directors – a group of people you can access often to get advice and feedback. The individuals on your board should know more or be better than you at something, offer different perspectives and guidance and share similar core values. Although, there is no formal board meeting, these people are there to help you find creative alternatives to life’s dilemmas and help you stay accountable to your goals.
What is the last book you read?
The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri.
Which tools, apps or resources do you live by?
Pen and a notebook.
I've had this habit since high school, where I would carry a pen and a blank notebook (not specific to anything) and I would write everything in there. For example, I would write my to do lists, interesting facts, observations, reflections, new ideas, etc. It acts like my second brain. I have yet found a good enough app that can replace that.
What is the strangest thing about you?
Strangest thing? I don’t know. Um, maybe that I still collect coins. I have a small coin collection that I have been collecting since I was 9 years old. I like to collect coins from different parts of the world.
What is the single most important lesson you can share with our readers?
From the words of Brad Meltzer, “Dream big, work hard, and stay humble”
How can people get in touch with you?
Tweet me at @sonamswarup.
The Young People Changing The World series asks young entrepreneurs to share their definitions of success, desired impact on the world and share their single most important lesson.
My goal with this series is to inspire young leaders and entrepreneurs to take action. Be bold. Go after your dreams. Make a positive change in the world.
Every other Monday, I'll feature a new guest and their story. Have someone you'd love to see featured or have suggestions on questions I should ask? Send me an email.