A “life of immersion” involves the willingness to make sacrifices for the greater good. Jacqueline Novogratz, founder of Acumen, a patient capital investment firm, believes immersion for a cause is essential to confront grave and complex issues such as poverty, climate change and widespread disenfranchisement. In this inspiring talk, Novogratz shares a series of anecdotes that convey her observations on leadership and spotlight the magnificent change makers she’s met in her work around the world.


It takes courage to live a “life of immersion” – that is, opting to undertake personal sacrifice in order to foment change because the cost of inertia is greater. 

People often yearn to contribute to the greater good and do meaningful work, yet they’re afraid it will compromise their ability to earn a good wage, own a home or start a family. They’re reluctant to make the sacrifices that altruism demands. In a story by American author Tillie Olsen, a white mother worries when her daughter befriends an African-American child. She concludes, “Better immersion than to live untouched”; the costs of avoiding risk often outweigh the sacrifice required.

Exceptional change makers choose lives of immersion. Ingrid Washinawotok described how the elders of the Menominee tribe picture the faces of the children of future generations when making important decisions. Sadly, Colombian FARC gorillas tortured and killed Washinawotok in 1999, but she left...

About the Speaker

Jacqueline Novogratz is the founder and CEO of Acumen, a nonprofit venture capital fund that applies entrepreneurial approaches to addressing global poverty. She wrote The Blue Sweater and is a former microfinance consultant for the World Bank.

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