Career Profile: Betsy Teutsch

Career Profiles
Betsy headshot microphone Great-Dames 8 x 10

The last profile in this series is here! Meet Betsy Teutsch, author of “100 under $100″ 

 

 

WHAT DO YOU DO?

My day job is as a Judaica artist specializing in Hebrew wedding contracts. Running my own art business made me excited about the potential of microfinance to help women earn better livelihoods. For the last dozen years, I have branched out into a wide variety of interests, focusing on sustainability and women’s empowerment. I now see that we can accomplish both goals at once. Helping women gain access to sustainable green tech will help them improve their lives, health, and financial bottom line. It will liberate a lot of their time for more productive pursuits and it will also decrease carbon emissions and increase forest cover! 

HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE?

I started blogging and writing a monthly column on greening our lives and community. I live in Mt. Airy, a very socially conscious, lefty neighborhood in Philadelphia, USA where these ideas resonate. I eventually decided to launch a second career working in sustainability. For a time I served as Director of Communications for greenmicrofinance.com – their vision was to utilize microfinance to help disseminate green technology. When I learned the impact just one solar panel or improved cookstove can have on a household – literally jumping from the 19th century (cooking over a campfire and utilizing kerosene lamps for lighting) into the 21st century with tech like solar LED lights and cellphone charging – I couldn’t believe people were not talking about this. 

I also noticed, over time, that women were insufficiently involved in the whole process of rolling out clean tech – absent from the design process, the market analysis, the financing, and the supply chain straight through to sales. Hence, the products were not well-aligned with what women wanted and needed. I set out to research this disconnect and discovered an incredible array of great tools for low-resource areas, with fabulous female engineers, designers, and social entrepreneurs working to bridge this gap. I began posting images (there’s the artist in me!) on a Pinterest Board and within weeks, I had dozens and dozens. I was wowed by this whole new look at development: women taking charge of their lives. I decided more people need to know all the good work being done, and set out to curate 100 tools under $100 in book form, illustrated with these beautiful full-color photos featuring women at work. And I did!

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHERS WHO ASPIRE TO BE IN YOUR FIELD?

There are many paths in. I say, look around and go through the open door. If one approach doesn’t work, try another. Think broadly. There are 2 billion people living lives devoid of the modern infrastructures we take for granted: electricity, sanitation, health, education, transportation. You can’t solve it, but you can make your own difference!

WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO WRITE 100 UNDER $100?

book cover smaller

I wanted to share all the cool things I was discovering!  The collection is varied and each entry has suggested actionable activities. It is a great resource for:

  • Students and educators
  • Donors – from microphilanthropists to foundations
  • Practitioners, those in a position to implement and tinker with the tools directly
  • Activists/do-gooders – people who want to do something beyond financial contribution. That could be volunteering, advocating, doing a collection drive.

Find out more about the book and purchase it here

WHAT DO YOU WANT READERS TO TAKE AWAY FROM YOUR BOOK?

Hope! We know so many ways to help end extreme poverty, and empowering women is a very effective strategy for implementing these solutions.

You can read more about Betsy’s current work at www.100under100.org. You can also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

 

Career Profile: Brendan Rigby

Career Profiles
Brendan Rigby

Brendan Rigby

WHAT DO YOU DO?
I currently juggle a number of different global developments balls. At the University of Melbourne’s Graduate School of Education, I’m a PhD candidate in the Language and Literacy Education department. I’m trying to understand the literacy practices of out-of-school children in northern Ghana from the perspective of ten children and their communities. I invited these children to document their literacy through digital photography, and they produced an amazing 4,000 images, which I will use to explore questions of education service provision, complementary education and literacy. In addition, I act as an independent education specialist and consultant for organisations including Plan International, UNICEF, DFID and Victorian Curriculum & Assessment Authority. I’ve provided technical support to projects ranging from education in emergencies and safe schools in Indonesia to the digital assessment of languages in primary schools. Last, I’m the co-founder and Managing Director of WhyDev, an Australian non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting individuals and communities who want to get development right.
HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE?
Similar to most development professionals, I started in a volunteer role. Going back before volunteering, I studied as an archaeologist, working on dig sites in Australia and Uzbekistan. I followed this by entering the teaching profession, acting as a primary and secondary school teacher in China and Australia. While completing a Masters in Development Studies at the University of NSW, I took on volunteer roles at Centre for Refugee Research and ActionAid Australia, while working as a researcher and project manager at Macquarie University. I moved back to China, worked in a microfinance NGO and picked up consulting work on World Bank grant applications. Next, I took on a role as an education officer with UNICEF Ghana, in their field office in Tamale. My support of an education intervention for out-of-school children inspired me to pursue a PhD.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHERS WHO ASPIRE TO BE IN YOUR FIELD?
If you want to work in education, study education. It can be in teaching, research or policy. A firm foundation is a technical one. Then, build on this foundation. Pursue volunteer opportunities that will expose you not only to education, but also to how organisations operate. Find opportunities to build your management skills and experiences. A technical background combined with management experience is a strong resume. This can be complemented through international (field) experience, which can best be gained by a willingness to go where others will not. Last, build an online presence through LinkedIn, Twitter and other platforms.

Career Profile: Tobias Denskus

Career Profiles
Tobias Denskus

Tobias Denskus

WHAT DO YOU DO?

The official answer is: I am a teacher, researcher and academic manager for our Communication for Development MA program at Malmö University in Sweden where we are currently celebrating the 15th anniversary of our program!

The less formal answer is: I am a passionate advocate for critical engagement with international development and of how people, media and organizations communicate about development in the digital age.

HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE?

This could be a perfect space for a catchy Richard Branson quote or one of these quotes that can be attributed to basically everyone from Bill Gates to Mother Theresa…but all jokes aside: It was a healthy mix of traditional education, pro-active self-promotion and, well, a bit of luck.

I have had a passion for development since my undergraduate days and a good ten years later graduated with a PhD in the subject. I also launched my social media profile, linked development blogging to my research, extended networking from traditional spaces to the virtual sphere and was finally offered a great position in Sweden!

I would not describe myself as a radical, but I have a, however small, critical voice and like to raise it here and there. My blog has proven to be a very good outlet for that critical engagement. Not everybody agrees with my research, but if everybody is still your friend after a few years in a project or organization you are doing something wrong!

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHERS WHO ASPIRE TO BE IN YOUR FIELD?

It depends to some extent what you mean by ‘your field’. The academic industry is and will continue to be a very difficult space for sustainable long-term opportunities. Any linear thinking along the lines of ‘I enjoy teaching and research, so I should get a PhD and then apply for an academic position’ will most likely not yield satisfactory results.

I am a bit more optimistic about the ‘field’ of ComDev or C4D. No matter where you will be working in the aid industry, you will dedicate a substantial amount of time telling people what you are doing and why you are doing it. Even if your work is technical, bureaucratic or seemingly self-evident, e.g. humanitarian aid, you will have to explain, defend and be authentic about your and your organization’s work. The development organization of the future will likely be a mix between a technical agency, a public education institution and a media outlet. Communication for Development is an important crosscutting subject.

Good work may not automatically speak for ‘itself’, but doing good work unnoticed for a while is better than looking for shortcuts that may look good on your CV but cannot be backed up by substance and sustainable work! The aid industry is small and you never know who may contact your references.

In a recent interview with my colleagues at Örecomm I concluded:

“At the end of the day, when all ‘white Land Cruiser’ jokes are told, all ‘white elephant’ projects are evaluated and all voluntouristic photos by white people are uploaded to Instagram, development in general and development communication in particular will continue to have an important role as witness to injustice and marginalization, as an amplifier of dissent and as a connector between cultures, stories and those who need a virtual or physical hand that reminds them of humanity.”

If this reflects the sector you want to be engaged with-welcome aboard!

Geek Heresy by Kentaro Toyama

Career Profiles, Geek Heresy
Kentaro Toyama Portrait

Kentaro Toyama

Kentaro Toyama is the author of Geek Heresy: Rescuing Social Change from the Cult of Technology, a new book that aims to challenge our over-dependence on using technology to solve global problems. While technology has improved the world in many ways, Toyama argues that it is human capacity that can produce the social change we need.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am originally a computer scientist and former researcher at Microsoft Research in India. Prior to founding the team in India, I found myself getting bored of my job. It was intellectually challenging but I wanted to do something that contributed to society in some way. I was aware I had a privileged background, and that a lot of people in the world didn’t have what I had. I tried volunteering for non-profits and I liked it. When I got to India, I was able to do something that merged all of these things professionally.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHERS WHO ASPIRE TO BE IN YOUR FIELD?

Get international field experience. In the absence of that you can do a lot of great work but without on-the-ground experience it will be disconnected from reality. Field work gives you a feeling for the real challenges and the realization that no amount of planning can really anticipate reality on the ground.

For those interested in ICT4D it’s important to remember that technology amplifies social forces. It helps where human forces are already working in the right direction. Find organizations doing what you believe in and that are also doing their work well. Doing work well means being managed well and meeting goals on the ground.

WHAT WAS THE MOST SURPRISING THING YOU LEARNED WHILE RESEARCHING?

What still surprises me is that while everyone agrees with the saying, “if you give a person a fish, they eat for a day; if you teach them how to fish, they eat for a lifetime,” so few people spend their time and resources on teaching.

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BOOKS?

Fiction: The Child in Time by Ian McEwan.

Non-fiction: The Better Angels of Our Nature by Steven Pinker


Geek Heresy is our book for the month of June. Stay tuned for discussion questions and check out geekheresy.org for more info on Kentaro Toyama and what he deems a “misunderstanding about technology’s role in society.”

Career Profile: Gina Cosentino

Career Profiles
Gina Cosentino and UN Special Rapporteur Jim Anaya

Gina Cosentino and UN Special Rapporteur Jim Anaya.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am a visiting scholar at the Institute for the Study of Human Rights at Columbia University. I am currently working on a paper assessing the study on extractive industries by Professor James Anayas, the former UN Special Rapporteur of the Indigenous Peoples Rights. I argue the regulatory framework he’s advanced should also be applied to the conservation sector. Conservation NGOs, like businesses, should have clear guidelines and principles that outline their responsibilities to respect the human rights of Indigenous peoples when working with, on, or near their territories.

I’ve been a conservation and human development practitioner for a while, so now I am taking time to get back to writing which is essential for advancing what I’ve learned and applying it more broadly.  Being able to publish allows me to use my years of experience to contribute to shaping practices and ideas in this field. It’s a time to reflect on my work with Indigenous peoples, the various international and regional policy forums I’ve participated in, and other trends, opportunities and challenges.

My career and interests lie at the intersection of human rights, global development and conservation. My focus is on the questions we should be asking about how to ensure alignment with theory and practice for better compliance, accountability and inclusion.  Over the last few years, I’ve been increasingly interested in how we can advance environmental conservation in a way which meets the needs of people such as achieving health goals, poverty alleviation, gender equity and so on. How do we put these goals together with innovative conservation programs that protect the environment and include people in a meaningful way too so we can help tackle some of the world’s most vexing global challenges?

Governments need to provide services for people and we need to demonstrate that by safeguarding and conserving forests or investing in wetlands, you can provide water for an entire city.  As many of the world’s biologically important places are on Indigenous territories, it is essential to work with Indigenous peoples in a way that respects their rights to their lands, territories and natural resources and ensures tangible benefits of conservation that they want. In other words, going beyond environmental outcomes to benefit people as well.

This includes respecting and promoting the human rights of Indigenous peoples. They should be in the driver’s seat of conservation and development programs and not be merely responsive to what others want.  Conservation and development organizations must invest in capacity-development, among other things, so Indigenous peoples can lead and be included at the decision-making table as equals with industry, global financial institutions, governments, conservation or development organizations.

HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE?

I have always been interested in questions regarding citizenship.  That is, how do we build a more inclusive society? How can a diversity of voices not only get to the table, but be heard and effect change?  As a result, I studied constitutionalism and federalism and looked at ways in which different societies structure and organize diversity, respect human rights, and govern complex societies. Indigenous peoples in Canada as in other places in the world were excluded from nation-building. Their ways of life were either destroyed or devalued, they were pushed off their lands, etc. Indigenous peoples need to be included in decision-making and their inclusion is essential to good governance, sustainable livelihoods, and conflict reduction.

Throughout university I participated in events where I was exposed to Indigenous politics, which intersect with the very issues I work on today: global poverty reduction, environmentalism, equity, and social justice. I got to know key players and kept in touch. I also did a lot of volunteering, and pro bono work as the President of my own public affairs company. During graduate school, I became a course instructor as a way to earn extra money for my research and gain extra experience. Part of my studies took me to the United Nations when the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples was being drafted. I first went as a researcher and then as part of Indigenous delegations when I was working with Indigenous organizations. Same thing goes for field research in Aotearoa/New Zealand and Australia where living in other countries allowed me to expand my network and my thinking. My graduate work really shaped how I think and work and had a profound impact on my career development and trajectory. I’m very lucky to be doing what I’ve studied and what I’m most passionate about. I have experience in different levels from community, to national, regional and international.

I worked for two national Indigenous organizations. First for the President of the Metis National Council and then for the National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations. That catalyzed my work within Canada at the national and international levels and yet, I had to remain rooted on the ground and remember that it is about creating positive and tangible change in the lives of people and communities and they need to be at the center of what we were doing nationally and internationally. Moving to Washington, DC from Canada to work at a leading international conservation NGO as a global leader in Indigenous conservation was a natural progression. I’m now more focused on combining conservation, human development and human rights. Of course, I’ve missed a few steps but those are some of my career highlights!

I also built an expansive and very diverse professional network. Networks are so important and help you bring a series of relationships wherever you go. It is important to respect your relationships by being trustworthy, keeping your word, and having integrity.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHERS WHO ASPIRE TO BE IN YOUR FIELD?
  1. Be willing to take some risks outside your comfort zone… Students or young professionals often want go abroad to learn from communities in order to become an expert back home.  Remember that you need to be humble; you will not have the answers. You need to check in on your opinions and be willing to let them go so new ones can be formed.

For example when working with Indigenous peoples, you have to EARN trust.  They often see academics, scientists, development practitioners come in, they share their intellectual knowledge and then the specialists leave. Very little benefit is accrued to the community. Spend time in more than one country and in communities around you. Interning at various institutions in other countries can be good in this respect as you’ll be able to broaden your networks and gain valuable experience in working in different work cultures and styles.

2. Mix up your intellectual background ie political science, sociology, economics, biology, anthropology, etc.  Multilinear thinking is essential in this business. No field has any one answer.  You need to also think about how to ‘sell’ ideas – how to use new communication platforms effectively, how to influence for change and so on and this requires thinking about multiple strategies and tactics at once. In many respects, it’s extremely creative work.

3. Be thoughtful about the kind of conservation or development program you are developing. Spend time learning how the international system works, not just a specific regional or community focus. Look at all the things that could impact what you are doing -for example economic development, food security, and the environment. Understand your policy world in an integrated way.  This goes back to multi-linear thinking. I can’t stress that enough!

4. Relationships take time and are based on trust. There’s no quick fix. It’s about getting to know others. Offer something that can be helpful to others but recognize when they are saying “no”.  Also, it’s essential to not get caught up in the politics. Be trustworthy, honour your word, and deliver on your promises.  The key to relationships is keeping them included and informed.

5. It’s not enough to work in a community. Know relevant international human rights norms and law before you go to a community. Know also where the government stands and the gap between international and national laws.  It’s your obligation to ensure that what you do and how you do it is consistent with the highest standards and good practices in international law.

6. Ideally your time should be spent 1/3 in books, 1/3 in the field, and 1/3 to uniting those things together.

7. Read interesting news articles, documentaries, and academic scholarship so you can see how things are changing.  Stay updated. Also read for pleasure.  It’s amazing how you pick up new ideas and ways of thinking merely by picking up a book and allowing your mind to enter another universe!

This is an abridged version of an interview with Gina Cosentino.

Career Profile: Samy Tshimanga

Career Profiles
Samy Tshimanga

Samy Tshimanga

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am a columnist for Dunia Magazine; my column is titled “Young Africans on the Move.” The purpose of the column is to showcase exceptional young adults making a difference in their local communities, here in the US and abroad. I am also a Congolese ambassador for the Music Unites Africa/Empowering African Women Initiative and I am an advocate for girls and young women in a campaign to end child marriage and education inequality.  

HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE?

To be honest, Twitter is where I got most of my opportunities. For example, a friend of mine who I was doing freelance analyst work with one day called and asked, “How far are you from Atlanta?” He knew someone he thought would be perfect for me to meet. So he passed along my contact information and she contacted me. We found we had the same passion and dedication for Africa. We were both tired of people telling African stories not from the actual source -Africans. Right there, Young Africans on the Move was born.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHERS WHO ASPIRE TO BE IN YOUR FIELD?

My advice is that you have to create opportunities for yourself and do not wait for someone to email or tweet that they want to work with you. If you are very passionate about something, go for it! Make people see your vision.

Also, networking is key! Whether you attend conferences, forums, and any other type of event. Be prepared to speak about your current interests. Even on social media, like I mentioned, Twitter has connected me with people that I otherwise would not have met just sitting in a classroom. Your presence online is just as important as off-line.

Final piece of advice, love what you do.

CAREER PROFILE: Gloria Jimenez

Career Profiles
DSC_0550

Gloria Jiménez

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am an international development professional with a lot of passion for demanding justice with and for the voiceless and powerless around the world. I have worked with local and international organizations in Latin America, South East Asia and East Africa on program areas including extractive industries and youth.

HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE?

I knew that to be successful in international development, I needed to have two important things: a Master’s degree and international experience. I started with a Master’s but knew that without the international experience, I would eventually hit a ceiling -plus I am a field person at heart. After graduate school, I looked around for ways to gain on the ground experience and ended up in Thailand intending to volunteer but instead I found a paid opportunity. I think there are three things that helped me acquire my experiences up to this point: (1) being prepared, (2) taking risks (as in picking up and moving across the world), and (3) luck!

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHERS WHO ASPIRE TO BE IN YOUR FIELD?

1. Get field experience sooner than later.
2. Build genuine relationships always.
3. Get a Master’s degree but work a few years first to get the most out of your program
4. At the start if your career, don’t sweat the long-term plan–follow your passion, do things you know would be more challenging to do when you are “more stable” or “settled”. Travel and take time to enjoy life. As a young professional, start thinking about where you want to develop your expertise–is it a specific role? Is it a program area? Generally, you will have more opportunities once you have a few years of experience in an area versus being a generalist who has jumped around from one “unrelated” role or program area to another, although, in the world of development, much is intertwined.

Connect with Gloria on Linkedin or Twitter

Career Profile: Kirsty Newman

Career Profiles
Dr. Kirsty Newman

Dr. Kirsty Newman

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I work for the UK Department for International Development (DFID) – which is a UK Government Department. I lead a team of around 20 people called the ‘Evidence into Action’ team. The team sits within the Research and Evidence Division. The aim of the team is to increase the use of research evidence to inform decision making for development. The team works on two strands:

1.       We support DFID itself to get better at using evidence. We do this by providing evidence synthesis products, improving research communication internally and providing training and guidance on using evidence.

2.       We support policy makers in developing countries to get better at using evidence. We do this by funding a range of programmes which synthesise and communicate research evidence – and programmes which work directly with policy makers to increase their capacity to find, appraise and use research evidence.

My work involves quite a lot of people management – I directly line-manage four people and each of them manages between 3 and 5 people so I spend quite a bit of time working with each of them on how to best manage the team to make sure everyone is happy and productive. I am also responsible for the team budget so have to make sure I am on top of budgets and forecasts and spending profiles. I spend quite a bit of my time attending meetings with senior management and/or other team leaders across the division. And finally I do try to spend some time getting involved in actual ‘work’ (so that I don’t forget how to actually do stuff!). So for example, in recent months I have been leading on discussions with a number of funders about providing funds to a programme called the Think Tank Initiative and I have also been writing a literature review on evidence in international development.

 HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE?

Read Kirsty’s career history and stay updated on research & development on her blog: Kirsty Evidence.

 WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHERS WHO ASPIRE TO BE IN YOUR FIELD?

On getting into development work – my advice would be not to start out by focusing on ‘development’. I think it is usually better to get experience and/or qualifications in a subject area – education, management, public policy or whatever – and then bring that expertise into the development realm. There is a risk that if you dive straight into development that you won’t have that much real expertise to draw upon.

On doing research – my advice, if you want to have a career in research, is that like it or not, your reputation will be built on your publications – so if you want to be successful, make sure you do your PhD with a supervisor who publishes well. It almost never happens that a PhD student publishes well if their supervisor does not.

On writing a blog – I didn’t really set out to write a blog – it just kind of happened because I kept getting annoyed with things I heard people say or stuff I read and so I wanted to put down my perspective on those issues. I find that writing stuff down is the best way to figure out what I actually think!

Career Profile: Neema Iyer

Career Profiles
Neema Iyer

Neema Iyer

WHAT DO YOU DO?
I currently work for a social enterprise called Text to Change in Kampala, Uganda. TTC develops custom mobile-phone solutions with a focus on feature phones to interact with participants in developing countries. This includes interactive two way SMS and voice features for behavior change, health, education, agriculture, transparency, data collection etc. Our largest project which is currently based in Tanzania has reached over 300,000 participants with over 25 million text messages on pregnancy tips for mothers and their supporters.
HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE?
I started out as a pre-med student in college, but started to gravitate more towards public health after shadowing some physicians. I then started a Master in Public Health program in Global Epidemiology at Emory University. Following my masters degree, I worked as a research analyst at the RAND Corporation in Washington DC working on health policy issues with clients such as the Center for Medicare and Medicaid and the Department of Defense. During this time, I began to work on a project looking at the use of technology to support veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. This ignited my interest in the integration of technology for public health.

At the same time, I started to feel strongly about returning closer to home, having grown up in Nigeria to Indian and Tanzanian parents. I began to apply jobs for through out Africa, looking into organizations that focused on mhealth or ehealth and I got quite lucky with the offer from Text to Change. I love my job and I love living in Kampala. A big help for me in finding this job was networking, both in person and online. It’s interesting the people you meet on twitter who can end up being such a source of support and encouragement. I’ve met friends on twitter and we went from complete strangers to partners working together on a start-up.

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHERS WHO ASPIRE TO BE IN YOUR FIELD?
My advice is to not be scared to go for what you want. This might sound cliche, but one day I just quit my comfortable, well-paying job in DC and moved to Uganda to do what I really want to do and I absolutely love it.

Networking is key, as daunting as it sounds. You need to put yourself out there and ask for advice or help when you need it. I love being around people and feeding off their energy to create things together. This is one of the reasons that I am aiming to work on girl empowerment because the energy of the women I meet at tech or networking events is exhilarating and I wish to somehow help other girls experience this collective passion and energy. This is what keeps me going on all my different side projects.

Career Profile: Paola Gianturco

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paolagianturco.com/

Paola Gianturco (Photo by CTTV-America)

Paola is the author of Grandmother Power and Women Who Light the Dark.  She advocates for development using her creative talents.
WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am an author and photographer who has documented women’s lives in 55 countries, all working to create a better future for their families and communities.

HOW DID YOU GET TO WHERE YOU ARE?

My story is unique. I was originally neither a professional writer nor photographer and I never studied either discipline.

I spent 35 years in business, mostly as a communications strategist or working to win clients for advertising agencies. That last year, I also taught summer executive institutes at Stanford University.

After that year, I was exhausted; I had earned a million United Airlines Frequent Flyer award miles (so I could go—and stay—virtually anywhere free); and I had earned two years worth of money in one year (I’d bought myself a year).

I decided to take a year off and do only what I loved most (photography and travel) and what I wanted to learn next (about women’s lives in the developing world).

That year, I created a photographic book. I had so much fun doing that book that I never went back to business.  In 2012, my fifth book was published. So much for “a year off!”

WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO OTHERS WHO ASPIRE TO BE IN YOUR FIELD?

First: if you learn fast enough and work hard enough, you can do what other people believe is “impossible.” Focus, work like crazy, and disregard the nay-sayers.

Second: forget everything you hear about what you’re “supposed to do” at a specific age.  I started my second career at age 55; I am now 75 and starting book number six. (I’m also convinced that “amazing” work can be done when you are supposedly too young to do it.)

Third: the book industry is changing faster than you can read this sentence. Stay current or you may discover that what you’re creating has no market.

Fourth: do your best to change the world. Future generations are relying on you.