Mark Brand is an Entrepreneur, Educator, Facilitator & Chef that brings a unique kind of energy to the room and is a master problem-solver who applies the principles of design thinking to come up with innovative solutions for ending homelessness within his own community. Over the last few years, he has helped to serve over 2.4 million meals to those in need.
In this episode, we unpack all the components that have made him successful and allowed him to pursue a life of impact. What emerges from this conversation is that true love and care for those in need involves far more than sponsoring a turkey on Thanksgiving or Christmas: it is about consistently showing up — especially on those days when no one else is around. The best way to solve this problem, Mark says, is to build your outreach into your business and to make a long-term commitment to a well-researched and well-designed project. Tune in at one of the links below for more of this exceptional conversation:
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Key Points From This Episode:
Biases around giving money to the homeless
Mark found through research and conversation that the reason people didn’t want to give money to the homeless was an issue of trust. What would it be spent on? He crafted a solution in the form of a token. People could purchase these and give them to those in need to redeem for one of five different types of sandwiches. What he thought would start small has yielded over 170,000 free sandwiches for those in need. NowThis got wind of the story and made a video that has over 12M views.
The importance of long-term commitment
Solving big issues does not happen overnight or with a one-time donation on holidays. When looking for partners, especially corporate, the minimum commitment Mark requires is 24 months.
The secret to converting partners into advocates
One of the types of events Mark has created is one in which partners/donors learn to cook. The 3-course meal they create is then served (by them) to 75–100 food-insecure guests. The conversations held at these events naturally create advocates who amplify the efforts of the organization through their individual actions and votes.
Advocacy actions beyond just making a statement
With so many people jumping on board to make statements about Black Lives Matter and other initiatives, Mark wanted to ensure he was doing something with lasting impact. He is offering an event space, food, and advertising for organizations looking to make a difference so that they can have a free space to raise money.
“I understand that everything I design is because I want people to feel safe and seen; I want them to have a community.” — @eastvanbrand [0:04:20]
“The common misconception is nobody cares and that is just simply untrue. Nobody knows how to help is the truth of the matter.” — @eastvanbrand [0:08:24]
“What if you could intrinsically build the care and love into every single thing you did including your businesses that are constantly giving as much as they possibly can to caring for other people?” — @eastvanbrand [0:11:46]
“Finding that resource, that skillset, that place where you feel activated, is really important for when you do something.” — @eastvanbrand [0:18:45]
“Don’t ever waste your time chasing somebody. Of course, you have to be resilient but if that person or that organization has digested your information and they are not super excited about you, move on!” — @eastvanbrand [0:24:02]
“Once you start to get comfortable with holding pain and power at the same time, you are absolutely unstoppable. Those two energies together combined are a superpower.” — @eastvanbrand [0:37:31]
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Mark Brand on LinkedIn
Mark Brand on Twitter
Mark Brand on Instagram
Street Soccer USA
Save on Meats
A Better Life Foundation
Vancouver Convention Centre
Stanford School of Design
Twenty One Toys
Benjamin Von Wong
Coming Up Next:
Next week on Impact Everywhere we’ll hear from Ilana Ben-Ari, a toy designer and social entrepreneur. She founded Twenty One Toys and has created an Empathy Toy and a Failure Toy to restructure children’s play. Be sure to subscribe here to ensure you don’t miss it.