The Blue Sweater

The Blue SweaterSeth Godin sent me this book by Jacqueline Novogratz to read and review.  I’m finally doing so and am sorry I took so long.  Novogratz is the founder and CEO of Acumen Fund, built on a belief in using entrepreneurial approaches to solve the problems of global poverty.

“The Blue Sweater” is a hero’s journey of the best kind.  It follows Novogratz on her journey through Africa, Stanford, DC, and the American South.  The experiences in Africa are at its core.  Beginning as an unwanted white woman telling locals what to do, she becomes a valued member of the community, especially in Kigali, Rwanda.  Her experiences are myriad and serve as a colourful reason to read the book.  You’ll have moments of wanting to book a flight straight away and moments of complete confusion and of disgust.  Especially when she recounts the events of 1994’s genocide in Rwanda.

The genocide hangs heavily over Novogratz’s journey, but also contains the greatest lessons.  In revisiting the women she had met earlier, she is confronted by the reality of human reactions to negative situations.  When we see something wrong we have three choices.  Do the right thing despite risk, do nothing, or join in.  Will we be hero, bystander, or villain?  The women she worked with before those events serve as examples of each choice.

“Monsters will always exist.  There’s one inside each of us.  But an angel lives there, too.  There is no more important agenda than figuring out how to slay one and nurture the other.”

At the completion of her journey, Novogratz assumes the mantel of “Master of Two Worlds”.  Using the knowledge she gained from her journey, she begins to change the world.  Acumen Fund is the tool she creates to enact that change.  A true hero, she has changed the lives of millions of people.  And like the best kind of heroes, she continues her new journey without seeking the plaudits and often, without the people she’s helped knowing she did anything at all.

But of the best leaders,

when the job is done,

the task accomplished,

the people will say:

“We have done it ourselves.”  – Lao Tzu

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One Response to The Blue Sweater

  1. Whitney May 15, 2009 at 11:05 am #

    Matt-Based on your recommendation, I bought the book and coincidentally started reading last night. Loved your review, and already love the book. You’ve got me pegged.
    Whitney