For Impact


My Success/Opportunity Journey

For Impact Ideas | | Tom Suddes

Thirteen years ago I won a Trip Around the World in the only ‘contest’ I’d ever entered. The challenge was to submit five ideas to ‘FIGHT GLOBAL POVERTY WITH ENTREPRENEURSHIP’.

Three months after submitting my ideas on the back of a Bob Evan’s Restaurant Placemat, I was on a plane reading my Success magazine and saw the page titled ‘CONGRATULATIONS, REVOLUTIONARIES!’ As I read over the announcement, I saw that the winner of the grand prize was ‘Thomas J. Suddes‘. I thought, “Holy Criminy, there’s another Thomas J. Suddes!?”

It was me… and 32,000 miles, 11 countries, 9 all-night planes or trains later… I had completed one of those ‘life-altering experiences’.

I got to work with Micro-Entrepreneurs, almost all women, in Poland, Russia, India, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. I was able to visit the Holy Cross Missions in Bangladesh to see the work that had been sponsored by the Notre Boxing Program and the Bengal Bouts (which I’ve been involved in for the last 44 years). I spent the last three days of the trip in Australia, which is obviously not a Third World Country, but the headquarters of Opportunity International.

As I told the Opportunity leadership and the editors of Success magazine afterwards, I didn’t meet a lot of ‘dignitaries‘; but, I met a lot of people with dignity.

I’m spending 30% of my time in this ‘Social Entrepreneur’ space. In thinking back, I was in this ‘space‘ long before it was even a category or sector. I’ve watched it grow from Micro-Finance to Micro-Enterprise to Social Enterprise to Social Entrepreneurship… and soon to Social Capital and Social Investment.

I’ve been with these young Social Entrepreneurs at Sparkseed, the Unreasonable Institute and StartingBloc, and I am convinced that they are going to change the way we deal with social challenges and social problems… and change the world.

I thought you might enjoy seeing the Announcement of my trip and the Success Article that came out a few months afterward. (Full Disclosure: Although the article has my name on it, it was re-written and edited by some lady at Success. Not always my points or lessons but, in general, should give you an idea of the trip.)

Special Note: I just remembered one of the funniest parts about this whole experience. After I won, I didn’t hear from Success magazine for a long time. Come to find out, they were having some ‘financial challenges‘. In effect, this meant they didn’t have any money for the trip. So I asked for a list of some of their potential advertisers and got on the phone with STS out of Los Angeles. Convinced them to trade a full-page ad in Success magazine for underwriting the trip. (And got myself bumped up to Business Class.!)

And now you know, “The rest of the story…”