As an entrepreneur, you are going to have tough days. Breathe and remember why you created your business. Focus on the impact you want to make and try not to stress out. Celebrate the tiny wins! You have the opportunity to inspire and empower people to change the world.
In recent years, Big Tech has gotten a bad rep. But of course many tech companies are doing important work making monumental positive changes to society, health, and the environment. To highlight these, we started a new interview series about “Technology Making An Important Positive Social Impact”. We are interviewing leaders of tech companies who are creating or have created a tech product that is helping to make a positive change in people’s lives or the environment. As a part of this series, I had the pleasure of interviewing Amy & Scott Malin.
Married dynamic duo, Amy and Scott Malin, are Hollywood’s social impact experts. They are partners in the cause agency Trueheart, where they connect celebrities and purpose-driven brands to raise millions of dollars for charity. Amy and Scott are also Co-Founders of the Trueheart social impact search engine, a new social good platform that allows people to change the world with every search.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a bit about your childhood backstory and how you grew up?
Scott: I grew up in the Valley, but I was blessed to travel with my family as a kid. Traveling opened up my eyes to the world. It engrained a sense of adventure in me and taught me that we should celebrate and honor all of our beautiful cultures.
Amy: My childhood experience was very different from Scott’s upbringing. I did not have the opportunity to travel with my family as a child. I longed to explore other countries, meet new people and experience other cultures. Growing up, every night I would wish upon a star that someday, I would visit Paris. I had imagined Paris to be a magical and romantic city. I heard tales from my Nema and Tata (my grandparents) who loved their time there. My dream came true when I was able to visit The City Of Lights for the first time in my early twenties and it was even better than I hoped! Once it is safe, I can’t wait to travel with our family and have tons of adventures together.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
Amy: I moved to New York City at 19 years old with a few hundred dollars to my name and no place to live, escaping a situation of domestic violence and human trafficking. Starting over in a brand new city with no support system and no place to live was one of the hardest things I have ever done. It was winter and I didn’t have a coat, so I was cold all the time. Coming from Florida, I had never experienced a real winter before, so this was a big change for me.
I was fortunate to have benefitted from the kindness of strangers who let me couch surf at their places or treated me to a meal. There were so many days when I didn’t have enough to eat. I learned from this experience that I am unbreakable! I rose from the ashes, like a phoenix, with a dream in my heart to start my own business. Through hard work, determination and my fighting spirit, I was able to create a fulfilling career that has lasted for over two decades.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Amy: I’m so grateful to be on this amazing journey with my wonderful husband as my business partner. We make a great team and our talents and strengths beautifully compliment each other. We share the same passion for wanting to make the world a better place and there is no one else I’d rather be doing this all with than Scott.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Scott: Oscar Wilde once said, “Be yourself; everyone else is taken.” It’s so easy to get lost in this world and lose touch with what really matters. Life is a long, winding journey, but I always try to keep three things in my back pocket… a childlike sense of adventure, a deep and grateful love for my family, friends and life, and a rock solid sense of humor. Adventure, love and laughter are a potent combination for a life well lived.
You are a successful business leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
We pride ourselves on being kind, tenacious and scrappy. Kindness is one of the most important values we practice every day. We make an effort to be kind in all of our interactions with others. Being kind creates a powerful ripple effect of goodness in the world.
We’re also tenacious and we never give up! Quitting is not an option, especially when it comes to helping our favorite charities. When someone tells us something is impossible, it just makes us work harder to make it happen.
We believe being scrappy is one of our superpowers. It means we can be successful doing more with less and that we can make quick decisions when we need to move forward.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion about the tech tools that you are helping to create that can make a positive social impact on our society. To begin, what problems are you aiming to solve?
There are billions of people in the world who have big hearts and want to give back, but they don’t have money to donate to charity, and so they have been largely excluded from philanthropy. We want to democratize philanthropy and help make it more inclusive so that people all over the world are empowered to transform their local communities.
A few big companies make hundreds of billions of dollars every year from the search industry. Together, we can divert some of those funds to charities who work tirelessly every day to save lives, feed the hungry, protect the planet, promote animal welfare, fight for equality and support our youth. The wealth that can help solve some of humanity’s biggest problems is already being generated. The big companies aren’t distributing a meaningful portion of that wealth to make a difference, so it is up to us to take our power back and commit to having our searches online make a social and environmental impact.
How do you think your technology can address this?
Billions of people are searching the web every day looking for cute puppy videos, checking the weather, buying a gift or booking a vacation. Now, they can search with Trueheart.com and their searches will power donations to our six charity partners: Smile Train, Action Against Hunger, Global Green, PFLAG National, Variety Boys & Girls Club and 4 Paws For Ability. At Trueheart, we donate 80% of our net profits to our charity partners and we help make their Fund A Dream projects a reality.
Our Trueheart community members are heroes, whose searches are helping to create real change. Smile Train is able to provide 100% free cleft surgeries and essential treatment to kids in need and Action Against Hunger provides meals and services to families in over 46 countries. Global Green is working with local indigenous farmers in Brazil to plant trees in the Amazon Rainforest which will help save one of our most precious eco-systems. PFLAG National provides life-saving support for LGBTQ+ people. Variety Boys & Girls Club awards college scholarships for under-served youth and 4 Paws For Ability places service dogs with people with disabilities.
We came up with a free and easy way for people to use the power of tech for good and we’re inviting everyone to join our movement. The more people that search with us, the more deserving charities we can support and the bigger impact we can make together. We have so many amazing new features of our website and ways to disrupt philanthropy that we can’t wait to share soon.
Can you tell us the backstory about what inspired you to originally feel passionate about this cause?
We’re always thinking about how we can best use our time, talents and expertise to maximize our impact. Technology is an incredible tool that we can harness for good. Humans are more digitally connected then we have ever been and yet we’re so disconnected in real life. We wanted to find a way to bring us together in service of humanity. We’re passionate about leaving the world better than we found it for our kids and every child.
When you’re searching for anything online, you have to be wary of misinformation and know how to find reliable sources and how to spot fake news. Someone’s personal blog is not the place to go for trusted medical, legal or financial advice. A Facebook group is not an accredited media outlet and shouldn’t be the place you get your world news. The documentary “The Social Dilemma” brilliantly portrays how the technology that connects us can also control, distract, polarize and manipulate us if we’re not careful.
Here is the main question for our discussion. Based on your experience and success, can you please share “Five things you need to know to successfully create technology that can make a positive social impact”? (Please share a story or an example, for each.)
#1. Don’t focus on the problem, celebrate the solution. Most people are bombarded with messages about the world’s biggest problems that need fixing. As a society, we’ve become desensitized when we see suffering around us. That is why we’re big believers in making our users the hero of the story, and showcasing the measurable impact that is created when people come together to rally around good causes. Don’t focus on the problem you’re trying to solve. Instead, celebrate the solution and invite others to join you in making it a reality. People want to contribute and see a positive outcome from their efforts.
#2. Be patient. As a tech entrepreneur you need to be prepared for delays. When you’re working with a development team to make your vision a reality, it takes time. Tech is definitely a hurry up and wait game, so pad in extra time in your rollout schedule.
You are constantly testing what works, finding bugs and fixing them. Technical difficulties are par for the course. Tech giants like Instagram and Facebook have had their sites crash or bugs that they needed to fix. It happens to companies of all sizes.
#3. Build community. To use the power of tech for good, you need to build community and that takes time. It’s a marathon and not a sprint, but if you believe in what you’re doing and the power you have to make an impact, then it is all worth it. You’re changing the hearts and minds of people and that doesn’t happen overnight. Make your movement interactive and social and people will be attracted to join up with like-minded individuals. We’re all looking for our tribe!
#4. Listen. Feedback is so important in building a business. Really listen to the constructive comments from your users, strategic partners and colleagues. Ask them questions and get their opinions on new features. People look at things from different vantage points which is incredibly valuable to help you grow and scale your business.
#5. Never give up! As an entrepreneur, you are going to have tough days. Breathe and remember why you created your business. Focus on the impact you want to make and try not to stress out. Celebrate the tiny wins! You have the opportunity to inspire and empower people to change the world.
If you could tell other young people one thing about why they should consider making a positive impact on our environment or society, like you, what would you tell them?
We only have one home, and it is up to us to come together and save our beautiful Earth. We have to live responsibly and in harmony with the incredible wildlife and ecosystems that we share this planet with. Young people today, are the most passionate activists that humanity has ever seen. Eco-warriors like Greta Thunberg, Yola Mgogwana and Rocco Da Silva are speaking truth to power and challenging the status-quo. We need every young person to follow their lead, register to vote and let your voices be heard. We need to create a global movement of young changemakers who will take up this cause, march in the streets and demand change.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂
We’d love to have lunch with President Biden and thank him for everything he is doing to protect our planet and to urge him to do more. We don’t have any more time to waste and there is so much work to be done. Scientists have warned us that we’re on the verge of a cataclysmic event. We need bold and fearless leadership to save our planet. We need to move to clean energy and stop polluting our Earth. Swift legislation needs to be passed that puts the planet before profits. There will be pushback, but this is the most important fight of our lives and we must not give up. Our kids are counting on us and we cannot fail them. We hope President Biden will listen to the scientists and environmentalists who have the plan to help and that he will have the strength to implement everything that needs to be done.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
We’d love to have you join our community and search with us at Trueheart.com and you can keep up with our social impact campaigns @WeAreTrueheart on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational, and we wish you continued success in your important work.