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Larry Kesslin Q&A

Posted by SDSVP


1) How did you get involved with SVP? Larry KesslinI was introduced to SVP by Aaron Controrer, whom I met at a conference called Opportunity Collaboration. OppCollab is an event held each October in Mexico that brings together 350 people from around the world all focused on making the world a better place. I have attended the past two years and it is one of the most amazing weeks of my year!

2) What social issue are you most passionate about?

I am most passionate about how technology and capitalism can be used to effect social change. I am a technologist who has worked in the IT community for over 30 years and most people in our industry only care about how technology can make them more money, but in the end, technology is a tool that can change peoples’ lives. Technology is especially powerful when you give people access to the greatest library in the world, the Internet!

In addition, I am passionate about the use of capitalism to effect social change. Over the past few decades the word capitalism has become synonymous with Greed, but they are two different things. Capitalism is all about the creation of free cash flow and greed is a belief by the founder of the business to keep all of that cash flow for themselves. That free cash flow has the ability to change so many lives, yet those that are greedy don’t see it that way. I am working with numerous organizations that are using traditional business models to fund social causes, I believe this is a key component to creating long-term sustainable change.

Finally, I believe that investing in brilliant individuals can make a huge impact in disadvantaged communities around the world. When we were in Uganda about 2 years ago volunteering for a non-profit called U-TOUCH (www.U-TOUCH.org) where we were installing computer labs in rural villages in Northern Uganda. On our travels we met a young man named Armstrong. Armstrong’s purpose in life is to become a commercial airline pilot, but he comes from abject poverty and there was no possible way that his family could afford to pay for his training. Armstrong proved his determination to our family and we have brought him to San Diego to get his training. We are in the process of raising the money for him to succeed. When he is done he is committed to returning to his homeland and becoming an aviation entrepreneur. Together we are changing the trajectory of not only Armstrong’s life, but of thousands of people he will impact over the coming decades. At 26 Armstrong has an amazing future and he continues to impress everyone he meets. You can learn more about Armstrong at www.pilotarmstrong.com.

3) What is your favorite part about being involved with SVP?

The network of amazing people. I moved to San Diego in 2010 and my business is already established across the US, so I had no need to build a business network in the SD market. With that said, I love meeting new people and networking, so I have focused all of my efforts over the past 2 years around building my social change network in the San Diego area. I have met some amazing people and believe that together we can do so much more than any of us can alone!

4) What advice would you give to someone just starting out in the philanthropy world?

Focus on what you know and use your network in the areas that you are not certain about. I have often said that most people that I meet would rather be the answer than solve the problem. Our culture teaches us to be the answer, but sometimes solving the problem is much easier but it might not stroke our ego enough. Make sure when you get involved in social change you know who you are trying to help, it can’t be all self-serving.

Just for Fun Questions

5) What is your favorite activity in San Diego?

Riding our waverunner in SD Bay. Just being around all the big ships and flying over the wakes of the big boats is a blast. We don’t do that enough.

6) Do you have any secret talents?

I am a networking machine. My talents are very tactical and I am not afraid of anything.

7) What is your favorite indulgence food?

My favorite food has to be burritos. I moved here 4 years ago and have gone to more taco shops than any other type of restaurant in the area. I also love BBQ, but burritos win out.

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