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Last month I used the word “energy” to sum up RTP 180. This month I’m going with “passion.” Not that this month didn’t have energy because it certainly did, but passion fits perfectly this time. You could feel the passion pouring out of the speakers as they talked about their businesses and initiatives. From cooking the most mouth-watering burger to brewing the area’s best cup of joe, these business owners not only have passion for their craft, but they also possess the passion for giving back.

Everyone that spoke at November’s RTP 180 runs a company that fits the mold of a growing trend called social entrepreneurship. The traditional 8-5 corporations are disappearing while socially conscious companies focused on giving back and changing the world are popping up left and right. “We just want to make people smile,” said Leon Barrera de Grodski, owner of Cocoa Cinnamon, a local coffee shop that uses part of its profits to support local organizations and efforts that align with their mission.

Throughout the night, it became clear that companies don’t have to be a full on non-profit or charity to give back. Giving back comes in many forms; from being conscious as to how much waste you are producing to donating a percentage of sales to a local organization in need. “It’s the small things,” said Joshua Kolling-Perin from Waste Zero, who thinks about trash when it comes to his business. Yes. Trash.

Kolling-Perin goes on to explain, “You take a large system and make a small change to it and you’ll end up with a large impact.” What a great way of thinking. So often we get caught up in the idea that we all must do GREAT and BIG things to make a difference, but we overlook making a small change to a large problem in order to make a significant impact. How many times have you passed up on donating or contributing to a cause because you think “I have so little to give, it won’t even make a difference?” It’s certainly something to think about. I know I’m guilty.

At the end of the day, it’s not about profit. It’s not about whether or not you can cruise the streets in a six-figure car or afford a beachfront property. It’s about making a difference. These speakers didn’t start businesses to be wealthy. They started them out of a passion for their craft and the idea that they could make a difference in the world, even if it’s only a small difference.

Have I inspired you in some way? Are you ready to make a social impact through business? Well, you’re in luck! Early next year at The Frontier you can participate in Startup Weekend’s Social Impact! You can find more information here:

And, if you’re still looking for more, tickets for December’s RTP 180 will go live on December 1. Next month’s topic is focused on food, and will take place on Thursday, December 17.

Until next time…we’ve got speaker videos to hold you over.