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March 1, 2022
Margaret Laws
Addressing Big Social Problems and Finding Solutions Through Philanthropy with Hopelab CEO Margaret Laws

Addressing Big Social Problems and Finding Solutions Through Philanthropy with Hopelab CEO Margaret Laws

Show Notes:

Margaret worked for healthcare organizations and started two different programs that dealt with policies and the underserved community. She later started a social venture fund and has now found her home as the CEO at Hopelab. 

Hopelab is a mission investor and a social innovation lab that develops health technology products. Hopelab was founded on the premise of building a video game for kids with cancer. Through diligent effort, Hopelab is working toward a significant increase in mental health providers reaching young people, especially those who are underserved. Hopelab aims to see youth co-creating solutions that support their aspirations, and they are building a youth lab right now to accomplish that. On a bigger scale, Hopelab wants to see increased funding in adoption of mental health interventions that benefit youth. 

“We envision a future where all young people, particularly young people of color, LGBTQ + young people and others in traditionally under-invested communities are thriving, free from barriers to their mental health and well-being.”

Margaret has learned that if she is not designing products with youth in the communities she is seeking to serve, she is not going to get it right. Youth in the community understand how their environment works and what their community needs. She has found that respecting the community and its dynamics is crucial, especially when working with health. Respecting the community builds trust, and Margaret believes trust to be vital to success.  

Margaret has experienced funding and being funded. This has given her a unique perspective of the process. There is an art to funding and as a steward over funds that are donated, she takes it very seriously. She seeks to always have some kind of impact target she is shooting for. 

“Here is a problem that this organization was created to help impact. Hopefully I have a network that can help me direct those resources effectively.” 

Some investments will fail. This is easier for people to accept from the venture side but when it comes to philanthropy people feel immense pressure and struggle to admit failure. Margaret takes advantage of the learning that comes from failure. She testified that it’s important to have the discipline and humility to take a step back, admit failure, learn, then move forward. 

Before investing into or starting a project, Margaret looks at the social return the company is striving to achieve. Along with Hopelab, Margaret is teaching a course at Stanford that deals with startups in the business world. She seeks to teach her students that every business has a social impact. After identifying a social impact goal, the students then need to create a business model that will help them hold to the values and goals they set. 

Through her years of experience, Margaret says there are two key principles in creating a nonprofit organization. First, there must be a patient centered approach, and second there needs to be a real solution to a real problem. One of Margaret’s greatest joys has been to meet people and then connect them to others. In looking back at her career Margaret wants to be able to say this:

“I played a role in really defining and demonstrating what impact investing could be, and what value it could bring. And that I’ve created a pathway for people that work with me to launch and support organizations in the same way.” 

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Margaret (00:00:03):

People working in the philanthropic sector or in nonprofits feel a lot of pressure to not admit failure. And in some ways what's so sad about that is that there's so much learning and dynamism in failure. And I think the way that what we have to be able to do is when we fail at things really have the discipline and the ability to step back and say, okay, that was, it was a reasonable bet to make at the time, but what would I have done differently? And what did I learn from that, that I'm not gonna do again?

Mike (00:00:38):

Welcome to Cause and Purpose, the show about leader innovators and change agents working on the front lines to solve some of the world's greatest social challenges. I'm Mike Spear and today's guest is social impact investor university professor, and the president and CEO of Hopelab, Margaret Laws. This was a cool episode for me. Producing Cause and Purpose has provided some unique opportunities to get to know old friends and colleagues in a deeper context, to meet some amazing new people and learn from them and to do some planned old networking. When I first spoke with Margaret about a month ago, I felt a unique connection and understood pretty quickly that she was a kindred spirit with a similar outlook on business life and the impact sector in general. I finally got to meet up with Margaret at the Hopelab office in San Francisco to record the show. And the minute we hit record, we were off to the races. I hope you enjoy listening to our conversation as much as we enjoyed having it. Our topics range pretty widely, but Margaret offers some amazing insights has great stories to share.

Mike (00:01:37):

Let's dive in. Tell me how you grew up, what you like a younger person, you know,

Margaret (00:01:42):

So I grew up in a small town called Rochester, Minnesota and Rochester is, uh, famous for being the place where the Mayo Clinic is. And it's interesting when I think about this question and growing up in that place, particularly working in healthcare because the Mayo clinic is really this iconic place when you work in healthcare. And it's in a really small, it's a, just a town of now 75,000 when I was growing up about 55,000 people in the middle of farming communities and about an hour and a half from Minneapolis St. Paul, the next biggest city. And what's interesting about it as a place to be from or a place to grow up. Is that really what it's about is healthcare. And so when you think about, you know, what it's like to grow up in San Francisco or New York or Chicago, and you've got all kinds of things going, there's finance and there's venture, and there's, you know, there's these other big industries banking, um, in Rochester, it was really about healthcare and about, um, this whole sort of ethos of create a place, um, where you really were focused on getting people the best possible care you could and bringing innovation in, but, but very, in a very human way, focusing on, um, the delivery of that care as kind of the epitome of what you might do.

Margaret (00:03:03):

And I think that's sort of an interesting place to grow up as a kid, even if you don't become a doctor or nurse or other healthcare provider, there's just something kind of in the water about growing up in a place that's about that. So that was where I grew up. Parents are both so alive. My father's a doctor, my mom on was a nurse and then taught nursing. We kind of were, were in this every day, we would hear about the work that they did. And that was really the environment in which I grew up. You know, I think I thought as my three sisters, did we all thought at one point or another, we might go on and become doctors, but it just wasn't the path I took. I ended up going to college thinking I was gonna be an English professor.

Mike (00:03:40):

I saw that. I was going to ask about that.

Margaret (00:03:41):

Yeah, what was that all about? The summer before I graduated, um, from college, I actually went, uh, on a fluke. I went and worked in Africa and I was in Abidjan and Cote d'Ivoire and I was teaching in a school, but I was really, I think, exposed to a, a broad, uh, sort of look at, um, at social challenges. And I think that just really caught my imagination and the, you know, one way I'd thought about, about being in a helping or a service profession was by being a teacher. Um, and I think I just realized somewhere along the way that there was probably a different way that I might go about that. But I think I had kind of this ethos of wanting to be dealing with big social problems and helping to be part of the solution.

Mike (00:04:28):

I'm, I'm just trying to track back to like, if there was a moment for myself, I don't, I can't remember anything in particular where it sort of switched on. And I was like, all right, the world's biggest problems is where we need to put our attention. Was there a moment like that for you or it sort of evolve organically?

Margaret (00:04:39):

You know, I think it evolved it's. I mean, we could probably spend the whole rest of this podcast talking about that and unpacking it. Maybe we get, get some coaches and therapists in here, but I think it just was something that evolved for me to your, the way you say it evolved organically. And I just started to see pathways in front of me. And I think we also started to, at least in my case, I can say I did started to realized some things that I was good at. And I think one of the things I realized that I was good at, and I remember having this conversation when I was doing an internship right after college that I really loved to and could connect really disparate parts of systems. So I loved working as a social. I was working as a social worker with home homeless families when I first graduated from college with no training, but just, you know, desire to help solve problems.

Margaret (00:05:27):

But then I also really loved working at a systems level. I then went and worked. I was working in state government at the time and thought about how are these different communities across the state of Massachusetts organizing their homeless programs and organizing their employment training programs. And I think what carried on throughout the next several years of my career was this ability and excitement about spanning different sectors and about really having my days be, you know, live some of it in a meeting room, thinking at a systems level and some of it on the ground working with people directly. And that feels, it was funny. I had an experience, uh, this morning, actually on a call where I feel like, you know, you sort of talk about to the extent that any of us have superpowers as smaller, big as they might be. I think finding those connections and then helping people make them is really where I get lit up.

Margaret (00:06:20):

And it's just, it's so gratifying and so exciting when you can be having a conversation in this case, it was with an entrepreneur often for me, it's with an entrepreneur where you can see something out there that can be really helpful to them or a person that can be really helpful to them and not a connection they would've made themselves or seen themselves, but really can be powerful. Yeah. And I think if we're gonna work on complex systems issues, that role, at least I like to tell myself, cuz it gives me something to do that role's an important role. It's important to be able to make those connections and, and hopefully have, uh, it be more than the sum of the parts.

Mike (00:06:58):

You mentioned some travel, uh, some work with the Commonwealth in Massachusetts and WHO?

Margaret (00:07:03):

Yeah. I went to Geneva then and worked in the global program on aids actually very early on. This is gonna date me, but it was 1990. Oh, wow. Early. So then did some international health work very early in and really fascinating period in, in the aids epidemic. Um, then I came and I went to do a degree in public policy at Harvard at the Kennedy school, but continued to work with the people that I'd worked with in w O they had come over to Harvard as well, and then came out of graduate school. And what I loved about doing that public policy degree was that I could take classes in my, this is, I guess, a theme we're gonna hear about, I could take classes at the business school. I could to take classes at the law school at the public health school and the public policy school.

Margaret (00:07:42):

So the theme for me, again, was trying to knit together the pieces of these different disciplines and these different communities that I thought could be helpful. So I did that. And then I went to management consulting for a while. Great experience learned a huge amount really quickly about I worked in both. Uh, I was Accenture. I was at both the government, uh, practice and the healthcare strategy practice. So, um, went really deep in strategy and government, um, and, and was really interested in working with underserved populations. So I learned a lot about Medicaid and a lot that I could carry into this next, which was how do we really think simultaneously about strategy and innovation and about using public resources to help people, particularly underserved people get, get good care. So did that for a while. Um, and then I, uh, actually went to an organization called the California healthcare foundation, where I spent many, many years in a few different capacities first starting and running the policy program.

Margaret (00:08:44):

Then starting a program called innovations for the underserved, which focused on bringing innovations in healthcare services and technology to Medicaid and other underserved populations. And then in 2010 there, I started the CHF health innovation fund, which is a social venture fund that is running, uh, and my dear friend and, and co-conspirator, and putting it together. Melissa Buckley now runs it investing in digital health companies, but coming in as a strategic investor with networks in and knowledge about Medicaid and public hospitals, community health centers, to try to help these companies that were working on things like diabetes and asthma and heart disease, really, as they innovated and reached more affluent popula populations also reach low income populations and do that, um, you know, develop the capacities they needed as a company and the features that their products needed to really, really be relevant to, um, underserved populations. What

Mike (00:09:38):

Is the role and the dynamic between the grassroots organizations and, and the larger funders?

Margaret (00:09:43):

Yeah. It's a great question. And it's a really, it's a great question in this moment. You know, when I think about, I don't go go through this catalog of companies and organizations I've been talking to over the past couple weeks, but I think one of the realizations that at that the healthcare system and we as a society are coming to, and, you know, some of it is, is sort of a product of what's been going on during COVID and black lives matter movement. And all of these things that have been going on, we've sort of been like hit on the head with this two by four to, to, to realize that if we're not designing with people in communities and the communities that we're, that we're trying to serve or help or create a better opportunities for, we're not gonna get it right. And so I think that this notion of not thinking that we are gonna save other people or solve problems for people, but, but actually working together with people in community who understand their communities, they understand the dynamic of the community.

Margaret (00:10:40):

They understand how things work, they have trust. Um, and you know, we play this out here at hope lab, as we work with young people, all of the work we do on anything that we hope will help move us towards better wellbeing for young people, we co-design with young people. And I think that that theme of really respecting community and people in community and the dynamics of community, especially when you're talking about something like health, which is a really personal intimate and sort of universal challenge. And so recognizing the sort of humanity of person and a community is a really important piece of it. And, you know, as we get into mental health, which is where we're more focused right now becomes even more important and trust becomes even more important. So I would say a lot of it is about, and I love thinking about this, that you took me back to, like, what did I learn when I was being a, so social worker with homeless families when I was 21 or 22, I think I learned about trust,

Mike (00:11:45):

You know, as you enter some of these projects, you're being very direct, very hands on very grassroots, but it, it seems like there's more of a wraparound partnership approach there that's required.

Margaret (00:11:55):

Yeah. You know, I think one of the things that we, um, that we've always done that hope lab did before my time and that, that during my time at hope lab, we've been really deep in, is sort of the principles around human center design and, and thinking about what is most important when you're trying to design something that's gonna work or that's gonna be adopted, or that's gonna be accepted. And one of the adoption, and one of the biggest problems in health is adoption. So you can build something fantastic. You can be paternalistic and build something that you think can really help people. You can build something super cool that you think people are gonna love, but if people don't see it, and those people might be healthcare providers, they might be people with a condition like diabetes or asthma. They might be a person struggling with mental health challenges if they don't see themselves in it.

Margaret (00:12:43):

And they don't see it as something that really, really meets a need, they have, they're not gonna adopt it. And you're gonna spend a lot of money and you're not gonna achieve impact. And I think that, you know, the through line of all of this, you know, we do this work instead of doing other things that might be more lucrative, um, because we hope we're gonna have impact in the world. And so if you, you know, I don't wanna be at a foundation or a, you know, anybody else who has resources to put out there in the world and create things that people don't use that, you know, none of us want that. And so I think you have to be really human centered and you have to be really honest and you have to be, it's hard sometimes when you have put resources and time and effort and, and your soul into something to actually see it not working, and then be able to step back and say, okay, K how do I do the next thing?

Margaret (00:13:37):

Or how do I iterate this? So I think there's just this piece of this work that is, we're, we're sort of aiming at this target. That's a little bit nebulous, and we don't know exactly what, what, you know, at a systems level. It can be difficult sometimes to know what exactly is causing the change. And we have to try to be as honest as we can about are people actually using and loving and benefiting from these things that we work on and create. And sometimes they do. And sometimes they don't and often they're appreciative of us and they're appreciative of the effort, but they don't use it. And so I think one of the things have to be careful about in these kind of social sector roles is not to stop it feeling good about people, appreciating things, but to push ourselves, to make sure that the things are actually having an impact and people are getting better access to care, or they're getting care that's more relevant to them, or they're, they're getting the thing they need to actually take the next step that they're trying to take.

Mike (00:14:39):

With scarce resources, how do you take the time required?

Margaret (00:14:44):

Yeah. And I mean, I'll say we're in a fairly, I I'm gonna take this out one rung from hope lab because at hope lab, we're in a fairly privileged situation where we have a funder, um, we're funded by the Omidyar Group. And so we by definition, um, have a little bit more ability than your average nonprofit or innovation lab to be able to take that time and to be able to, you know, be what sometimes people refer to as patient capital or to just have a little bit more flexibility in a time for experimentation. So we're lucky. And I think that's a really important role that social sector funders can play to give organizations the space, to do some more experimentation and really take the time to work with people, to make sure that what they're doing is meeting their needs. But if I sort of go at out a rung from that, and I think about the question of, you know, going fast, going slow, um, I think that is kind of an art in creating an innovation, especially.

Margaret (00:15:42):

I mean, I'll go to the fact that everything we work on at hope lab is for young people. And as you know, the market and the, the, especially the digital world of teens and young adults moves really fast. So you can't sit around for three years working on something that is a digital platform or a digital tool or an app, or any of those things, because everything will have changed a game by the time you get three years down the road. So there, I think part of the art of this is figuring out where you can, you know, where you need to go slow and be methodical and where you can actually move quickly and rapidly and nimbly and be really nimble in your experimentation. So in some ways it's kind of a fun and interesting constraint that gets put on us at hope lab, because we're working in a very dynamic quickly moving. We can't sit around and do a three year long trial. We'll do randomized controlled trials or pretty rigorous clinical testing of pretty much everything we work on as do many of the companies we invest in, but they have to be much faster trials. So we're just finishing one right now with one of the products that we're working on focused on LGBTQ plus young people, an identity affirmation called IME, and we're just completing an R C T with some partners. A process will be start to finish more like six months than three years.

Mike (00:17:03):

How do you go about evaluating a good company or a good project, a good team. And, and how do you decide what you want to be working on? Both from an impact perspective, as well as like the structure of the organization, their approach, the idea of the team.

Margaret (00:17:15):

That's probably a good entree for me to give a, the very quickest little spiel about hope labs.

Mike (00:17:19):

Oh, give, give us the background.

Margaret (00:17:20):

Absolutely. So what are we hope lab's a mission investor and a social innovation lab, and all of our work supports the wellbeing of young people we're founded by and are funded by the Omidyars, founders of eBay. And we've been around for actually a couple of decades. Hope lab's started to build a video game for kids with cancer. That's sort of the Genesis and the history of hope lab. And we've evolved. I've been at hope lab for a little over six years now. And we did some work this past year and identified sort of a new direction and a guiding star. And, and so we, we envision a future where all young people, particularly young people of color, LGBTQ plus young people and others in traditionally underinvested communities are thriving free from barriers to their mental health and wellbeing. So that's both a narrow mandate and a pretty broad mandate and a very timely mandate.

Margaret (00:18:09):

Absolutely. You know, this past couple of years has really shown a light on the mental wellbeing challenges that young people are facing. So we've been busy and there's been a lot of things that have felt really urgent and needing a lot of attention. When we think about that guiding star. And we think about the work we're trying to do, we've laid out some things that we're working towards. So we really wanna see a significant increase in mental health providers, reaching young people, access, especially underserved young people. And we wanna see that at scale, we wanna see youth co-creating solutions that support their aspirations and their mental health needs. So youth co-creation and working with youth is a really important part of what we're doing. And we're kind of building out now, uh, a youth lab. That's gonna kind of support that. Um, and then kind of in the bigger systems world, we really wanna see increased funding and adoption of mental health interventions that benefit youth and particularly benefit under invested youth.

Margaret (00:19:04):

And so all the work that we're doing, whether it's something we're building in our own lab, like IME the, the tool that we'll be releasing in June in companies we're investing in. Um, so we have six companies in our portfolio now at hope lab ventures and five for profits, one nonprofit that work on everything from really upstream, mental health support and prevention to specific conditions like eating disorders and my moderate to severe depression and anxiety. Um, everything we're doing, we, we kind of bring a lens of how is this scalable, how passionate, um, are we, and are the co-founders we work with in making sure these solutions, getting to people who might not otherwise benefit from them or for whom there are big disparities in now, and then where do we think we can as a relatively small player in a big space find leverage. So where might we find places where other funders in this space like pivotal ventures, Melinda Gates' family office, and, um, Chan Zuckerberg initiative, and, you know, other foundations come together and eight bigger impact. Where can we work with, um, with folks in government, we're exploring a couple of pretty big partnerships now. And what we're looking for is scale, leverage a really strong, shared value around co-creation with young people and a really strong, shared value around making sure that the things we build are reaching, um, young people who often don't get resources directed towards them.

Mike (00:20:36):

What's the role of big philanthropy these days, you know, in the mix of --

Margaret (00:20:40):

That's a small question.

Mike (00:20:42):


Margaret (00:20:42):

It's no, it's a good, no, it's a great thing to talk about. I mean, it's, I think it's complex and there is a pretty big debate going on about it as there has been over the past several years. And again, like a lot of things over the past few years, the influence of the COVID epidemic of racial equity coming to the fore has pushed big philanthropy in a way that I think is really good. I think that, and it gets us back to the conversation we were having before about, I would say I've sort of been spent most of my career in small philanthropy, not big philanthropy. So most of my, and, and there's even smaller philanthropy. I work for an organization and for a, a family office or a philanthropist who I think is so committed to, um, trying to provide resources, both that in impact areas.

Margaret (00:21:35):

And in the way we work that really, um, is trying to be attentive to what some of the challenges have historically been with philanthropy. And so there's a very strong ethos in our funders around community engagement, in really understanding solutions that can emanate from, or at least be very inclusive of the communities that we're trying to support. And so that's actually something that really drives us. I, and I think what you're seeing there are different things coming out of these different organizations. So Mackenzie Scott, for example, and I work very closely with a few organizations on boards of, and, and advisors to organizations that have just gotten significant grants from her and having big grants come into an organization that are unrestricted has been one of the things that has been one of the biggest criticisms or the lack thereof has been one of the biggest criticisms of philanthropy for as long as I've been in it. And I think that this move, that, that she and the folks she's working with have made to actually, um, create more of an opportunity for organizations, whether they're historically black colleges and universities or nonprofits, or, uh, advocacy organizations to have unrestricted funds yeah. Is a really significant move in this direction of being less just to use the word being less paternalistic and more, um, trusting in the organization and the people closer to the ground to really understand how to deploy resources effectively. And I think that's a good thing.

Mike (00:23:11):

How do you deal with the agenda of the funder wanting to accomplish a certain number of things and then finding the right organization to house that yeah. And the potential for incentivizing the organization, that's gonna benefit to stray from their mission and do things that may well be counterproductive. Right. But they need the dollars,

Margaret (00:23:27):

Right? No, I mean, that's a, this is a whole other podcast. So someday, if you wanna have that conversation, I'm happy have it with you. You know, I was a funder at a philanthropic organization for many years and we were actually a very participatory collaborative hands on funder. And I like to believe, and I think, you know, if you asked people who worked with me, they would generally say this, that we were, that we were really collaborative in the way that we did it. And that we weren't sort of saying, you know, you've gotta check this box and cross this, you know, this, this is what you are doing. I think what, what I would say if we were having a longer conversation about this is that there's a real, um, there is an art to it. I mean, it's not easy. And I think what I will say for myself as somebody in the position of being a steward or a holder of these funds and having the, the position of making decisions about where they go and where they don't go, is that, you know, I take that stewardship responsible really, really seriously.

Margaret (00:24:26):

And so one of the things about taking the stewardship responsibility seriously, is that you have to have some impact targets that you are shooting for. Right? And, and so once you introduce that and you say, okay, we're trying to at a very high level improve at access to needed care for people from these particular neighborhoods or these demographic groups or whatever it is. And you're measuring that, which is a really challenging thing to do. And I think one of the other things that's happening now in this new era of, you know, that we're in is really, and we're doing it really rethinking, what are we measuring? Why are we measuring that? How are we measuring it? When do we know or believe we're having impact is the right thing to measure. So all of that is really it's part of what makes this harder than I think sometimes people think it is because it's not like, you know, you're sitting here with sacks of cash and you're throwing them around.

Margaret (00:25:25):

And you, you know, you were really are thinking about, here's a problem that, that this organization was created to try to help impact. And I've been doing this work for 35 years or however long it's been. So hopefully I have both a network and a set of things I've learned that can help me direct that those resources effectively. But I think you can only do that. Apropo the point you were just making, we have to stay open to what we're learning. And I think the pressure on the commercial sector. So I work as we've talked about, I work both in the for-profit commercial sector, as well as in this nonprofit sector, like every day. And I think the pressures in the commercial sector, um, to evolve or die are really strong. The pressures in the philanthropic sector to evolve or die have not been as strong.

Margaret (00:26:18):

And so you can persist without evolving and without necessarily responding to what's happening in the market. And there's positive sides to not being completely at the mercy of the market as well. So I think that, like this role that I sit in and what's interesting about it is I try to think about what are the things that are happening in the commercial sector, in the market that are really positive, and that that are innovative and that are, that are responding to things that are happening now. And then how do we bring some of those things into a system where you might have a slightly longer cycle than the market, or a quarterly earnings would give you to actually test something and try it out. And I think that balance of going back and and forth between the two sectors, hopefully can be really beneficial. It can also be maddening sometimes because, you know, when you're on this side, you want things to go faster. And when you're on this side, you want time to actually prove something out. So that's the juggling, that's sort of like the balancing act we're often trying to do.

Mike (00:27:20):

I think one of my favorite descriptions of it the non profit sector that I've ever heard is that it sort of occupies that space between what the government can accomplish and what the private sector is capable of doing.

Margaret (00:27:30):

I was having a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday about philosophy and about how do we think today about who are the philosophers of today and how do we think today about philosophy? And I think, you know, the role that government plays or should play, or we believe leave that it should play is a big political and philosophical hot potato in this country right now sparks

Mike (00:27:50):

Plenty of controversy,

Margaret (00:27:51):

Controversy, and, um, the role that the market plays is as well. And I think is coming under more scrutiny, um, in this last couple of years. Um, and so it, you just made a point that I think it's quite interesting, which it creates a really interesting opportunity for this middle place, which is the nonprofit sector where, um, you know, we're not doing things perfectly on either side. You know, the, the capitalist market side of the economy is not deliver. There's a lot of market failure. And on the government side, we're also not serving people as well as we, he could be. And, and a lot of people in this country are displeased by, um, government. And so it does create this opportunity in the nonprofit sector, particularly in the more, uh, in the nonprofit sector where you can flex both directions, um, to try to respond maybe to some of the C challenges in each of those sectors.

Mike (00:28:46):

Well, and it brings up an interesting conflict, especially, you know, as we say, as we sort of flesh out this marketplace and end to end, you know, we're sort of, I think what we're getting to is the nonprofit sector is sort of forced to innovate and forced to experiment. Right. But at the same time, there's this moralistic like can't, can't waste money, can't fail, you know, other there's this judgment. Yeah.

Margaret (00:29:07):

Well, and the failure question is such an interesting one because, um, it's one of the things that we we think about. And I, I talk about a lot, which is one of the, one of the interesting things about working on the venture side, the venture capital side, or the venture finance side, as well as working in this nonprofit world is that there's a or expectation that some of the things you invest in are gonna fail. And it's not like you just throw a little money in them and, you know, maybe they succeed and maybe they fail often you work with them for years. Yeah. And you're, and you're as smart as you are. And you work really hard and they're smart and they're dedicated. And, and a lot of times it just doesn't work and there's all sorts of reasons why things fail, but you accept that some percentage of the things you invest in your time and your money are gonna fail.

Margaret (00:29:54):

I think that's a much harder thing for people in, at least as I've known at the philanthropic sector to do. And I wish it were different. I mean it, but I think it, we tend to equate and it's not wrong to do this failure with learning. We say, you know, okay, what did we learn from that particular failure? Um, and we get to do that, right? We get to say, oh, we put this money out there. We learn from the failure. And now had, we still have more money to go do the next thing. Whereas if you're the entrepreneur and your thing failed, you, you know, you write it off and, and you might start again, but you've gotta go out and raise the money and you gotta get people to invest in you again. And so I think that that often to the point you were making people working in the film drop sector, or in nonprofits feel a lot of pressure to not admit failure.

Margaret (00:30:48):

And in some ways what's so sad about that is that there's so much learning in dynamism in failure. And I think the way that what we have to be able to do is when we fail at things really have the discipline and, and the, um, I don't know what the other things are humility to step back and say, okay, that was, it was a reasonable bet to make at the time, but what would I have done differently? And what did I learn from that, that I'm not gonna do again, you go into any of these philanthropies or social sector organizations, and one of the biggest topics, both for just how the organization thinks strategically and training of and professional growth of people in the organization is around failure. We haven't figured out a great way to help people. You know, you, you probably go in Harvard business review and I'm sure there's, you know, thousands of articles about how to help people learn from failure, capitalized failure have failure, be, you know, the engine of growth and, and, you know, that's just a very human thing.

Margaret (00:31:49):

I think it's hard, it's hard, particularly for people who have less social and political capital in the system, whatever that system is, the nonprofit, the, the philanthropy to, it feels too threatening to their career growth. And so, I mean, I've heard all sorts of ways that people have created forums for rewarding people for talking about failure. But what I will say is the only ones that I've heard about that I think have been particularly powerful, have been when the leaders are, yes, really it, the ones talking about it. And I've heard some good military people about, you know, military leaders being, you know, talking about it. But I think expecting people at lower more junior levels of the organization to step up with their failure, like, gosh, that would be the most amazing thing for us. And for them, if we could cultivate a culture and we try to do that here where people can do it, it's just, it's hu.

Margaret (00:32:43):

It's a hard thing as a human. I think the other piece of it that makes it challenging is we talked a little bit about measurement and definition before. I don't think we have a great, if you really get into hard science failure and success are very empirical and knowable when you're in a system and you're in a more ambiguous, do you, do you know, you there's, there isn't as clear a signal that you've succeeded or that you failed. There's not binary. Yep. And when you're in a situation where that isn't binary, it gets much harder to have a conversation. You, then you have to actually break down the nuance of this. This part of it was great. This part didn't work so well. And, and what I often say when we talk about go getting back to sort of solutions in healthcare innovations in healthcare is that you test in the lab, whether something works right, that's a, that's sort of in a controlled situ in a lab, right?

Margaret (00:33:41):

Does this intervention work? The intervention could be, you know, something for kids with cancer or something for kids in VA. It could be any of these things and tested in the controlled circumstances of a lab. You may actually get statistical significance and show that it worked, but there's all these other dimensions, something working. And until you get those things out in the wild, you actually don't know if they work. Of course, you know, that they work in the lab, but you don't know if people who aren't being paid as test subjects will actually use them. Yep. You don't know if it will work in this particular circumstance where people don't actually have food or there's all of the, as things that are contextual that are so important for any of these things related to health that, um, without that contextual, those contextual elements of whether something works, we don't really know.

Mike (00:34:35):

How do you define impact investing and what's the role of that, uh, relative to more traditional philanthropies?

Margaret (00:34:42):

Yeah, sure. Well, a more traditional philanthropy or more traditional investing probably on both sides. Yeah, of course. Yeah. Correct. There's lots of things that are called impact investing. And on the, if I'm like looking at a continuum on one end of the continuum and people call double, double, bottom line investing or triple bottom line investing on one side of it, it is an agreement by whomever, the source of the money is the LPs or the, the funder, whoever it is that they are actually explicitly looking for social returns, either as well as financial returns or they're looking for social returns. And if they're financial returns great, but there's no requirement that this thing have financial returns. Now, what I always say about that is if you don't have any financial return, um, means you don't have a business model and you can't scale whatever the thing is that you're trying to do.

Margaret (00:35:34):

So I think you can say, all we care about is social impact. We don't care about returns, but I think, you know, it's the no, you know, no, it's, it's, if you don't have a viable business model, it will be a short lived experiment, not a scalable enterprise. And so when I think about in mission investing or impact investing, I think typically you've got an investor or a syndicate of investors who are trying to create some, you know, predefined, measurable, social, good, improving access to healthcare, reducing carbon emissions, improving reading levels for third grade kids, whatever those things are. And the companies that they're investing in, in addition to being companies, they think can have a viable business model, maybe a super profitable viable business model, maybe just a barely viable business model might be a viable nonprofit business model that that company can deliver both of those things that they have a strong hypothesis going in when they're doing their due diligence.

Margaret (00:36:32):

I mean, maybe that's a good way to think about it when you're doing your due diligence on the company. You're not just doing D intelligence on, do I think this company can be financially successful? You're also looking at what is the social return that this company is going after. And what do I think based upon my experience and my understanding of the market, the likelihood of that happening is, and then I'll invest in that company. And then I think most importantly in personal definition of impact investing, uh, which isn't everybody's, but you try to behave as a strategic investor. So what you bring to the company is you're now just like any venture investor would, if I'm gonna be, you know, I remember a very, very large venture fund who we co-invested with when I was at CHCF the CEO real, they wanted us in the round and the person who was the head of the very, very, very big venture fund said, we'll have them in the round.

Margaret (00:37:27):

But my expectation is that they will work for the company the same way we're gonna work for the company. And so that Margaret will come in and she'll be introducing you, her contacts in Medicaid and helping you think through, you know, how to reach these community health center populations. And so I think from my perspective, there's a really, really important piece of this, which is that you are bringing a set of assets to the organizations you're investing in that are gonna help increase the likelihood that they're gonna have the, this desired social impact. And so that, that isn't a definition, but that's an assumption on my part of how you're much more likely to be successful. And then I guess I would also say that, um, you are often also looking at, you know, how does this become an example for something that helps make a market, if there's market failure that helps push systems change if there's a system that needs to change.

Margaret (00:38:25):

So a lot of times when, you know, when I talk to some of my colleagues at the other Omid R group impact investment groups, they'll be looking at things like, how can these investments we make tip the market, or how can these investments, we make crowd in new money, or how can these investments that we make clear the way for others to come in? So I think that's another piece of it, which is sort of using this capital to try to bring other resources, whether those are resources, you know, human resources, cap, human capital it, or whether they're more financial capital.

Mike (00:38:57):

Yeah. And I think tied up what you're saying too, is potentially, you know, some of these investments can be made without a direct financial return, but maybe creating a financially viable market, right. For a for-profit later on.

Margaret (00:39:08):


Mike (00:39:09):

I think the same way about philanthropic dollars too. I mean, the idea that donations can't be used to fund growth or brand or marketing like is crazy to me,

Margaret (00:39:17):

You're a hypothesis about what it's gonna take to build a business in this market. So it's actually interesting. You were talking about Stanford. Um, and I teach in this course called startup garage and startup garage is a business school course that is teams of students, mostly from the business school. But also there's also lots of engineering, lots of students from different schools who take the course and they form teams and they build businesses and the businesses can be nonprofits. They can be for-profits, it can be, you know, really anything. So there's some in the areas that I focus on health and education, but I also work with, you know, super Sonic jets and cannabis beverages and you name it there, there are, you know, there's all different companies coming out of there. And one of the things that we've talked a lot about as a teaching team over the last several years is how do we think about and support the teams that have social impact goals?

Margaret (00:40:10):

And one of the things that's changed over the past couple of years is that we're not saying, you know, you're a social impact team, or you're not a impact team we're trying to help the students see that every business has some sort of a social impact. So thinking about that a little bit and thinking about the consequences, negative and positive, um, that your company is gonna create is really important. And that if you do have a social impact, a business with a social impact aspiration, one of the things we help them do is think about the question you just asked, which is how do you actually create and articulate your hypothesis about how this business is gonna create social value. And then how do you create a business model that will help you hold to the values and the practices that you think you need to create that social value while you are actually creating a viable business. And it's not easy, but a lot, lots and lots of people are now doing it. And it's just incredibly, I mean, it's an incredibly gratifying part of the work that I do there and here at hope lab to get, to spend time with so many entrepreneurs who really come to these challenges and come to their decisions about what they wanna work on based upon the social value they wanna create or contribute to.

Mike (00:41:31):

Yeah. I'd love to dive a little bit deeper who are some notables that stand out in your mind as very promising or just, uh, special for whatever reason. So

Margaret (00:41:39):

Let's just talk about some of the things we're working out at hope lab right now, cuz they're sort of our, this recently developed portfolio. One of the companies that I think is just a fascinating company and it is an interesting story because it's company called Koko. And Koko was started, uh, by it Rob Morris. He had come out of MIT media lab and it's a fascinating story. Look it up. Um, Koko Cares or and Rob basically built, uh, natural language processing, AI and algorithm. That's the way I describe it. He might, he might describe it a little bit differently, but I think I get it pretty right where it sit it's on top of social network, social spaces. So it could be things like TikTok or Tumblr or Twitch and basically using AI and natural language processing, detects distress, and then roots the people to a peer supporter, somebody to offer them emotional support or a crisis line.

Margaret (00:42:34):

Um, and it was such, it was basically something that he started as a for-profit company raised venture money for and then because the algorithm was so good, the company started wanting to use it to moderate online forums and for, for purposes, other than what his initial passion was about, which was suicide prevention and, and man and helping people who are feeling distress feel supported. And so the company was bought by Airbnb and Rob relaunched, um, cocoa as a nonprofit, he came and was an entrepreneur residence at hope lab. And during that period of time worked on a couple of things, but, but really his passion, he and his co-founder, um, decided to relaunch it as a nonprofit it, and so it's now working on, um, a number of prominent, uh, social platforms in this moment where, you know, you read the news over the past several months, there have been scathing, uh, reports of how unsupport, um, these social platforms can be as spaces for people and how there's a lot of, as we know in the world right now, a lot of mental and emotional distress and a lot of the places where that's playing out is on social platforms.

Margaret (00:43:44):

So one of the things I'm most excited about is thinking about how it's think of it almost as a utility that can be across all of these spaces, but really, um, creates this opera opportunity for people to give and get support. And one of the other things that's, that's cool about it because we study, you know, we do, we have a science and, and discovery science piece of what we do at hope lab. And we know that for people who are suffering with, um, mental health challenges or emotional wellbeing, challenges that the opportunity to help other people and be really beneficial to you. And so the, the platform also a lot of people get a huge amount of support for themselves by being supporters for other people. Yeah. So that's an interesting one that, you know, currently exists as a nonprofit, but as a revenue generating nonprofit, we've got a really interesting company called Hazel health in our portfolio.

Margaret (00:44:38):

Hazel provides, um, physical and mental health services in K12 schools. And I mean the stories, we start every one of the Hazel board meetings with stories from superintendents and from, you know, parents and users. And it is just incredible what a resource it's become. You can thank COVID that telehealth and being able to bring those resources into schools via telehealth has become acceptable in kind of the norm, but the stories of sort of thinking about how to distribute resources around the country, to places that have the least access to mental health professionals. Um, it's just magical. It's like an incredible thing that they're doing. They're in 80 plus school districts around the country now. So quite quite successful. And, and I, one of the things I'll say about it is it's exciting for me because in my whole career, trying to think about how do you help get lower income kids access to healthcare services? The thing that always felt logical was that it had would happen at school and, and what was missing was a business model that could make that happen. And so I think one of the things that, that this company Hazel has really done is taken the really hard to ask of combining education financing and resources with healthcare financing resources in a delivery model that can show really incredible impact for young people. So I can keep going. Those are a couple,

Mike (00:46:05):

No, those that's great. What is Hazel's funding model? Are they being paid directly by the schools as customers or

Margaret (00:46:10):

So both schools and then healthcare payers, commercial and Medicaid. So, but the school districts provide some of the funding. And again, keep in mind, we're in a period over this past couple of years where there has been COVID specific funding coming through, right. A lot of the states. And so one of the things about creating a great company is being in the right place at the right time, being there with your idea, like one of the other things I've learned in now, you know, a couple decades, a few decades of this is there have been people with amazing ideas and the timing just wasn't, right? Yeah. And you see companies being really successful. We all see this five or 10 years later and it wasn't that the idea was a bad idea. It's just that the context and the time and the pressures of the moment have to be aligned. Sure. Uh, so that's kind of an interesting one.

Mike (00:47:00):

I think Tesla's a great example of that. Yeah. You know, I mean, they benefited hugely from these subsidies and then they had to go couple years on figure out how to make it a business model.

Margaret (00:47:06):

Right and that's, and, and, and by the way, that's kind of what separates, you know, a robust and good company and a, any that will, that will persevere because you often, you do have to be flexible enough to say, okay, this gave us a few years of runway to build a business model and to really understand how to do this, um, affordably and, uh, and efficiently. And now we need to be able to do it affordable, efficient. And one of the things I've loved about investing in and working with companies that have Medicaid as a market is they by definition have to go in and try to be low cost inefficient. So they, they, they have to be from the very beginning thinking about how do we make this not only, you know, viable and efficacious, but how do we make it affordable? And if you can make it affordable and good, then you have lots of places to go in the market. Um, so it's, you know, it's hard, but it's actually one of the interesting challenges of, of that. How

Mike (00:48:05):

Does a company like Hazel navigate the trust issue?

Margaret (00:48:09):

It's so funny that that question sounds like a plant.

Mike (00:48:12):

No, it's not, I'm honestly curious.

Margaret (00:48:13):

So let me tell you why. So, um, and it's a great way for me to describe kind of how we work at hope lab. So we made an investment in the company and we have our group hope lab ventures that looks for companies and does investment. And then we have hope lab studio. And in hope lab studio, we have a team of scientists, designers and kind of tech product people at digital product experts and what we try to do with not everyone, but a lot of the companies we invest in is figure out how the team, mid hope lab studio. We also have the youth lab and, and youth participation through that can actually come together with the company and do a project that can help that company either serve a particular group of underserved young people, or do a better job, um, you know, create a feature of functionality.

Margaret (00:48:59):

And so one of the questions that we had with Hazel that Hazel had was exactly the question you asked, which is, gosh, you're gonna provide mental health services in schools for young people. How do we actually understand what it will take for us, how we come to young people with a value proposition that they will trust, how do we establish trust with those young people? And so that was actually an engagement that we did that our team did with the Hazel health team was to really explore this question of trust and of trust around on mental health services, by teenagers, for teenagers in schools. So that's an example of where we try to bring this, these assets that we have beyond just the financial assets. We try to bring assets that can actually really help a company that's, you know, going a million miles an hour, you know, growing and serving all these places is to actually have a moment to drill down and look at a question like that.

Margaret (00:49:55):

We just were having a conversation today with an amazing company in our portfolio equip, which provides, uh, eating disorder services and just raised a series B round and equip, you know, the founders of equip are really incredibly passionate about eating disorders, affect the, you know, demographic racial, ethnic populations pretty, um, consistently. And yet we think about eating disorders, being a problem of, you know, white teenage girls. And so they're really passionate about making sure that their services reach young people on Medicaid, uh, LGBTQ plus young people, young people of color. And so we were exploring today with them. What are some of the things we might do together? Um, particularly in Medicaid and with lower income populations to make sure that they get access to these services. So it really, you know, stuff. And I think one of the things that is most important is that we have alignment with, you know, we're, we, we wanna work with founders for whom these are really important pieces of, to them of what they're doing. And for most founders, you know, they're, they're very mission focused, but they're the alignment around young people and engagement of young people and working with young people from underinvested communities just needs to be a point of alignment. And the good news is we're finding lots of really amazing companies and founders who share those values.

Mike (00:51:22):

What are, what are some, some of the main attributes that you you've sort of observed among the more successful teams, more successful founders, you know, or to put it another way? Like what should some founders be doing to maximize their chances of success?

Margaret (00:51:34):

I think it, you know, in healthcare, I, I, I work more in health and education than anywhere else and more in healthcare really than anywhere. But I would say, you know, there's, there's a handful of 'em. So the first one is, um, I've talked a lot about it and it's a person centered or patient centered approach. So how clear have you been in everything that you've done, that you've put the user, we're gonna call 'em a person instead of a user, but you've put the user at the center and really understand and care about what they care about. That's the first one. Um, and you know, that can be tricky when someone has a great idea and they haven't. So it's their great idea, but they haven't really yet tested it out to see whether it's other people's great idea, too. So that's an important one.

Margaret (00:52:19):

I think the second one is, you know, it has to be a real solution to a real problem. And so we were doing, um, elevator pitches at start garage yesterday. I was a guest in, in the class. And you know, one of the things you look for in an elevator pitch is what's problem and is how is this solving that problem? And sometimes you get, here's a solution and you're like, I'm not actually sure what the problem is. Right. And so I think really understanding this is a real problem. This is at least potentially or hypothetically a real solution to that problem. But you're clear about what the problem is. Yeah. And it's not sort of, I built this really cool thing and it could do lots of different things. Let me go look for a problem to apply it to so start with the problem.

Margaret (00:53:01):

I think that there's a big one, which is kind of the systems one, which is you have to think a lot about integration. So one of the things I think that can be hard per two for younger entrepreneurs, especially when they're going into healthcare or education, as opposed to maybe the, the social platform things we were talking about this yesterday, particularly for very young entrepreneurs, the complexities of integrating into systems that are like healthcare and education and have, you know, huge technology challenges they've got, they've got government engagement, funding, regulatory thinking about how your thing integrates seamlessly enough, or doesn't need to integrate. And then still delivers value, I think is, is one of the com complexities. And it's one of the reasons why having people with lots of experience, whether they're, you know, in the venture investor community or in the advisor and board part of a venture is just so important, cuz those are things that, you know, take some time to learn.

Margaret (00:54:02):

Um, and then I think we've talked about this one, um, which is a business model and in the space in which we work, um, you can think about it as the right business model or even a viable business model. One of the things that we're often helping companies with early stage companies, um, especially if they're trying to enter health or education is to really understand what's the business model, how are you going to actually make enough money to pay, to do the thing you're trying to do and get and get somebody to pay for it. And it's amazing how challenging it can be when an entrepreneur feels like they've got something that's valuable. It hasn't demonstrated that it's valuable enough to any one and party that that party is willing or able to pay for it. And so that business model piece is a really crucial one. I know that's getting a little dry and boring, but those are, those are four of the things that that I think about.

Mike (00:54:57):

No, that's a, that's a great list. The other thing that I think it's sort of in what you're saying is, is your secret sauce, your uniqueness, you know, how, how, how defensible unique is your value proposition and versus like, let's go work for somebody else's already doing it. Yeah.

Margaret (00:55:09):

Well, and that's an interesting, um, that kind of goes a little bit to what we were talking about a few minutes ago, which is, you know, we see a lot of me too things and we're right now, for instance, um, there's a lot, you know, there's a hu there's a huge amount of funding going out to mental health companies. And many of them are trying to do roughly the same thing. And that's not necessarily a bad thing because there's a huge amount of unmet need and there's not gonna be one company, only one company that's gonna serve K12 schools or that's gonna do mental health for teenagers. Um, so then you get to the other really important thing, which is, do you believe that this is a team or an entrepreneur or leader who has what it takes to execute really effectively, um, in this really complex, rapidly changing environment.

Margaret (00:55:55):

And that's, again, that's something that it's a double edged sword because it's a pattern recognition thing that often gets the same entrepreneurs funded over and over again and leaves out others, um, women in people of color. But it's also what I think we need to do a better job. Of all of us is finding people from historically underinvested communities to invest in and help them develop the, um, you know, the capacities and the networks that they need to execute effectively in the market. And not just say the only people who are gonna be able to do this are the people who've done it three times. We need to be constantly bringing in new talent. And so one of the things we have been thinking about, and we do a lot of in conjunction with some other partners we're working with is think about what kinds of support we can provide for less traditional underinvested founders, who we think really do bring a unique lens to the problem, whether that's, cuz they're young and they're designing for people in their own age cohort, or they come from a lower, um, income community and they really deeply on understand and have trust of people in that community.

Mike (00:57:05):

I'm curious for you personally, you know, what's, what's the path not taken if you didn't follow this line in your career, what might you be doing?

Margaret (00:57:12):

I love that question because I haven't actually thought about that question for a while, but it came up for a reason, not worth going into the other day, which is at one point I thought I really wanted to produce, I wanted to work on make documentary films and produce films. And I think one of the things I've thought about is that prob probably a lot of what I do now is like being a producer. Right. And I, I just think film as a medium is so fascinating. And so I think that's probably something in, you know, again sort of more social cause probably documentary film, but thinking about using, I think what I have as pretty good production skills that, that I'm, that I'm using in this kind of work in that sort of work and having the benefit of the creative process of making films and, and, and telling stories.

Mike (00:58:04):

Yeah, we do have a lot in common. That was my first career.

Margaret (00:58:07):

When you said that earlier and it was, and it just, it hit me yesterday. Actually. It was funny. The reason it hit me was cuz I was going through my email and it was this report about, there was a wall street journal forum on women in entertainment. And I thought, God, what in another career might I have been a woman in entertainment? And if I was a woman in enter, what, what would I be doing? So that got me thinking about that. That again,

Mike (00:58:29):

I still, my, my, my inner child really still wants a job with Participant Media or Soul Pancake or something.

Margaret (00:58:34):

Yeah. Well I just wanna, I, we, you know, we have connections and so first look is, is the one, the Omidyar support and then participant Jeff Skull. But, um, I, you know, I get excited when I go to Sundance and I see our, our sort of sister organizations with amazing films. Yeah,

Mike (00:58:51):

Yeah, absolutely. Outside of children and young adults, uh, what, what's the most important cause, uh, right now for humanity to tackle,

Margaret (00:58:59):

Oh my God, that's climate change. I mean, I think it, and you know, we're thinking a lot right now about as lots of, of people are about the mental health and mental wellbeing effects of climate change, particularly on gen Z and the generation behind that these two things are coming together. But I think that it so much is encompassed in climate change, whether it's animals and, um, you know, water, all, all of these things are just, it just is such a huge, you know, moment to put some attention there for all sorts of reasons.

Mike (00:59:32):

You know, when you're ready to sort of just go travel for travel's sake and, you know, do whatever you want to do in retirement, what would you like to, uh, look back on, you know, what, what are one or two things for your career that you'd like to be able to say, like we really accomplished something here.

Margaret (00:59:47):

If I think about it sort of at the more macro level, I would like to believe that I played a role you asked earlier about impact investing, that I played a role, at least in the sector I work in, in healthcare in really defining and demonstrating what impact investing could be and what value it could bring. Um, so that, I think, you know, I hope I'm on my way to doing that. I'm trying. And, uh, and that, that, that I've created a pathway for more people, the people who are working here with me and people who work with me and other organization and to actually launch and support organizations in the same way that that really brings to them, you know, the best of philanthropy along with some of the, the exciting and things about, um, about venture investing.

Mike (01:00:36):

Yeah. I, I love that answer. I mean, outside of what specific cause areas or programs you're working on there is the, the potential to push the industry and change culture. So most people don't, I think, think in those terms or at least articulate it, love that answer. Um, what's next for you and what's next for Hopelab?

Margaret (01:00:54):

Wow. It's great. Well,

Mike (01:00:57):

This is where we get into the softball questions.

Margaret (01:00:58):

Yeah. Well, what's next for me? I'm going to celebrate my mom's 80 it birthday next week. Wow. So that's, what's immediately next for me, which is really exciting. Get to spend time with family. Um, I what's next for me professionally, you know, one of the things we've done at hope lab that I'll combine them this past year at hope lab, we've done, we've reorganized around this concept of investing in companies and in supporting, not for profits and have the power of our discovery science, translational science team and our lab, our studio team really try to amplify the impact of both the companies we invest in and the nonprofits. And so what's next for us is to really double down on that and see what we can learn and see, you know, whether we can punch above our weight by working in the, this way.

Margaret (01:01:44):

And I think what's next for me is that because we now have, um, we've worked hard over the past several years to build programs and build competencies and capabilities. We have amazing people leading the different parts of what we're doing. And it's letting me spend a little bit more of my time on pieces of systems change, policy change, putting together big partnerships, which is one of the great joys of my life is, is partnering up and, and creating partnerships. And so what I'm hoping over this next year is that a few of the partnerships that we're working on now can really, again, help us as a relatively small player in this space, have an outside impact and give other people, other funders and other players, the opportunity to get involved and get engaged in the, the things that we've started. And, you know, behind all of that obviously is, you know, we to make an appreciable, you know, measurable dent in or contribution to young people's wellbeing, improving, um, and sort of see, not doing a survey a year from now or two years from now that shows that line declining, but really thinking about what are the things that we can contribute to that are bright spots.

Margaret (01:02:58):

The, that will help us see a reversal in these trends. We're seeing in the mental wellbeing of young people, and that's a pretty, you know, audacious and ambitious goal. And I don't know exactly how we're gonna do it, but I think we're trying to, to use our resources towards that end.

Mike (01:03:15):

Yeah. Great. Uh, final, final question. Um,

Margaret (01:03:19):

What is this final question gonna be?

Mike (01:03:21):

If, if, uh, you know, people out there want to support hope lab financially become a funder, a donor, or, you know, if they've got a program that seems connected, um, and they might want to, you know, work with you on a partnership level. Yeah. How can they get in touch?

Margaret (01:03:35):

We'd love to talk with them. So this is one of the things that my, my staff will all, I love to, of talk to people who are passionate about the things I am passionate about and we're passionate about. So I, um, I love having those conversations and you can reach out to us at, you know, visit our site and reach out to us. And, um, you know, we are interested in funders who wanna get engaged in the things that we're working on. We're interested in people who have, um, exciting entrepreneurial ventures who wanna get, 'em get 'em in front of us and, and knock our heads together. And sometimes it'll be like, oh my God, this is great. It's something we can fund. And sometimes it'll be, I have a bunch of ideas about other people who are doing work in this area, who I can introduce you to.

Margaret (01:04:18):

So, you know, I feel I I've gotten to this point in my career. And one of the biggest joys for me is to be, is to be able to, um, meet with people and get them connected, meet with great people who have great ideas and get them connected to places that can help them realize those ideas. So we love that incoming, you know, we're pretty small. We can't work with very many organizations a year, but we like to be in the orbit with others. And we like to try to share what we've learned and learned from others. So come on out and pay us a visit.

Mike (01:04:52):

Awesome. Well, this has been incredible. Thanks so much for all the time. And, uh, the thought sharing your insights with us. We could go on for hours. I think it will do another one of these, uh, before two, but, uh, thank you so much for, for everything. And,

Margaret (01:05:04):

Well, thanks for having me great conversation. And, uh, like I said, I feel like we could have gone off in a million directions. So thank you for next time, the great questions and the opportunity to talk about all this stuff. Really exciting to meet a fellow traveler and someone who's as passionate about some of these things as I am.

Mike (01:05:19):


Mike (01:05:22):

That's our show for this week. Thanks for listening. Please join us next time. When our guest will be a true pioneer in the nonprofit fundraising space, those of us involved in this kind of work talk frequently about the importance of not just securing more funding for the organizations we support, but increasing the overall amount of resources going to social causes in general. Our next guest is doing just that as co-founder of the giving block, Alex Wilson and his team are making it easy for nonprofit organizations to begin accepting cryptocurrency, not just Bitcoin or Ethereum, but nearly a hundred different coins and NFTs opening up a whole revenue channel for nonprofit organizations from a previously untapped community of donors. We'll talk about the future of crypto it's place in the social sector as both a revenue driver and how crypto currency and other blockchain technologies unlock new opportunities for impact, especially in areas not served by traditional banking. Hope you can join us until then causing purposes of production of on behalf of myself, Margaret, and our entire team. Thank you for listening and look forward to speak with you again soon.

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Cause & Purpose is a production of Altruous, an impact discovery and management platform for the next generation of philanthropists. Learn more about our work by visiting

This episode was edited by Worthfull Media. Original music composed by Justin Klump of Podcast Music and Sound.

Copyright 2024, all rights reserved.

People in this episode

Mike Spear

Social entrepreneur, consultant, and podcast producer, Spear has been a member and critic of the impact sector since 2006. His work spans product, innovation, impact advising, storytelling, and go-to-market strategies. Part of the founding team at, specializing in helping social good organizations build amazing products, increase their impact, and scale.

Margaret Laws

Margaret Laws has distinguished herself as a catalytic leader in health care, forging cross-sector partnerships that drive positive social impact. At Hopelab Margaret leads a multidisciplinary team with expertise in healthcare, academic research, and design to create science-based technologies to improve the health and well-being of teens and young adults. She is passionate about bringing together government, nonprofit and private-sector stakeholders interested in advancing the role technology can play in supporting and improving health outcomes, with a particular focus on improving care for underserved populations.


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