Eric Dawson: When You Ask Young People How to Change the World, They Step Up and Lead!

This might be one of my favorite podcast interviews ever. Not just because I got to interview a dear high school friend who has positively impacted the world, but because of one word: HOPE.

Today, I speak with Eric Dawson, CEO and founder of Peace First and co-founder of Rivet, about empathy for today’s young changemakers, whether younger people are more or less empathetic than prior generations, and how we can empower them to impact change in their communities and the world now, not someday off in the future. We discuss what brands need to prove to young consumers today, and how they can leverage their influence and dollars to meet their business goals while supporting and delighting young changemakers and consumers – a virtuous cycle that leads to genuine goodness and real impact.

Key Takeaways:

  • Young people are the only group of humans that are talked about, almost exclusively, as potential. This is not true – young people, right now, are building the world.
  • Those closest to the problems are also often the ones closest to the solutions. You cannot solve the problems of the world for others, only with them. 
  • As of 2020, young people control about $3 trillion in spending. They have choices – they no longer want to be consumers, they want to be citizens. 

“It is our small acts that make a difference. Think about what are those proximal things that you can do – who and how you hire, where you send your kids to school, voting. These are the things that are going to make a difference in the future of our lives and our country. And those are the things that, at the end of the day, matter.” —  Eric Dawson


About Eric Dawson:

Eric Dawson, CEO/Co-Founder, Rivet; Founder of Peace First

Eric is CEO and Founder of RIVET, a new social impact venture that funds and amplifies youth-led social change through co-branded partnerships with leading brands and influencers. Previously, he was founder and CEO of Peace First, an organization he helped launch at 18 which now works in over 150 countries preparing young people to lead positive social action through compassion and courage.  Through a digital platform Peace First provides design tools, money and mentorship for youth to imagine and implement impactful social innovations.  A globally recognized expert on youth culture and movement-building, Eric received his degrees from Harvard University: a specialized B.A. in economics, sociology, philosophy, anthropology, and political science; M.Ed in human development psychology; and M.Div. in pastoral care and counseling. He is an Ashoka, Echoing Green, and Pop!Tech Fellow.  Besides the odd jobs of bartending, electron microscopy, TV commercials, and serving as the driver for the author of Curious George, Eric got his professional start directing a summer camp in Boston’s public housing complexes.  His book for young readers, Putting Peace First: Seven Commitments to Change the World was recently published by Viking.

Connect with Eric Dawson


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