Book Review: How to Change the World

By | April 26, 2015

I book I decided to read for this assignment was “How to Change the World“. The author of the book is David Bornstein, an author as well as a journalist who mainly focuses on social innovation. Oxford University Press published this book in 2003 and David Borstein copyrighted it in 2007. To learn more about the publishers go to The ISBN belonging to this book is 978-0-19-533476-0.

This book describes many stories of social entrepreneurship. For example it tells the stories of a teacher named Gloria de Souza, a nurse named Florence Nightingale, and the story of Bill Drayton. It also gives detailed information to the qualities that people who are social entrepreneurs posses but that aren’t required to be one. This book explains the values and practices of successful organizations and entrepreneurs. “How to Change the World” creates an insight of how people’s view are completely different but diversity is good when it is for a cause you believe in. Bernstein writes about how one little spark can turn an idea into a reality. He tells about all of the hardships all of these people had to overcome that made them stronger and more passionate about their ventures. 

One of Borstein’s main points is that anyone no matter what kind of background, education, and amount of economic opportunity someone has they can still achieve their goals if they are inspired enough. One example of this is an elementary teacher from India named Gloria de Souza. She was a teacher at a small grade school who wanted to change the way the kids were taught. De Souza believed that students should be taught with real life, local materials. She took her students on field trips around the city and showed them physical objects of the curriculum they had. By giving them visuals of the projects her students tested in the higher ranges of the school. Gloria tried to spread this way of teaching to her fellow colleagues yet all of them turned her down many times saying “It wasn’t right for them right now”. Yet she never gave up hope nor did her passion for this way of teaching ever quiver. After years of proposing her teaching style the other teachers finally gave in and they noticed an increase in test scores and learning progress. In a few years this small idea turned into a massive educational change. Soon after, de Souza’s Environmental Education became the standard curriculum in all Indian schools.

The second main point is that the author is trying to prove is that the biggest difference between average and highly successful entrepreneurs is the amount of motivation they possess. Bornstein explains that there is six qualities that help make the entrepreneurs successful. The first is the willingness to correct themselves, he says that without having high levels of motivation they would not be able to tell themselves the way they chose is not working and that they need to start over. The second quality is being willing to share the credit they receive. The author’s opinion is that if the person is motivated enough to focus on making the change they won’t care who gets what credit, as long as the change occurs. Also, successful entrepreneurs are willing to break the established structures. They need high motivation to integrate changes into their lesson plans even if they face opposition. The next one is having a willingness to challenge disciplinary boundaries. These people need to create new ways to bring others ideas, skills and resources together in different ways than socially acceptable. Another quality is working quietly for your change, meaning that it could take years to be recognized after the fact and they just have to be motivated enough to just keep pushing through. Lastly, they need to have a strong ethical strength to create the movement. This takes the most motivation because the entrepreneur doesn’t always have a clear way to start their project but they just have to push through to get it going.

Bornstein I think had insights of many of the particular topics that we studied this semester. Most of them fall into the topic of standards of living, including but not limited to: electricity for the poor, education, and cutting back on factory pollution (of course there were more but these really stood out to me as big in this topic). The author also lightly touched on healthcare as well as intergenerational issues such as discrimination of african americans. Bornstein told the story of Florence Nightingale, a women who grew up in a rich and prestige family who looked down on nursing as a profession. Nightingale’s father would not allow her to become a nurse until after the many years of her passionately bugging him to let her train. Finally he permitted her to go to training school to be a nurse, after that she accepted an administration position for a hospital where she was well recognized. During the British war one of her friends wrote to her asking if she could round up some nurses to come help take care of the British soldiers wounded in battle. The rest of the story i’ll leave for you to read! The author helped me understand some of these topics more by demonstrating that it takes tons of time, huge effort, and a strong commitment to make the change.

I didn’t really know what a social entrepreneur was until I read this book. I learned that they have to pretty much dedicate their whole lives to making a change. I also thought they the person had to have money to fund the change in order for it to happen. I also found out that there are businesses like Ashoka that go out in search for the next upcoming entrepreneur and that they pay the person to be part of there huge company to change the world.

I wish that the other would have like almost have provided after the story details. Like where these people were five or ten years later. I feel like that would have added a lot more to the big picture. What if these people were not successful? Did they have to change anything about their approach to change? Were they successful, but still have to keep changing along the way? To me it would have made the story a lot better.

This book has taught me that there are social entrepreneurs everywhere around me in the world. I had no clue that so many people did this kind of stuff. It has changed my mind set to if i want to make a change I need to fully jump into it, I can’t just half believe in something. It blows my mind that people can take the smallest idea/want and turn it into a huge, worldwide change, thats just crazy! To all of my classmates, if I can leave you one thing it is; If you feel the need for a change, go after it no matter who says you can’t!



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