Bill Young, of Social Capital Partners, shares his best advice

Bill Young shares the inspiration behind Social Capital Partners, the best advice he ever received, what he hopes for the future and practical advice to anyone looking to make a difference. 

Bill is the founder and President of Social Capital Partners (SCP), a nonprofit that began by helping people who face employment barriers, find meaningful employment. Prior to SCP, Bill was running and growing million dollar tech companies. Bill’s story is a reminder that if you want to make a difference- to just start – at any time or stage of your career. Bill is an extraordinary leader and social entrepreneur, known for his generosity and big ideas. He was appointed as a member of the Order of Canada in 2013 for his achievements as a social entrepreneur and philanthropist. Bill’s continual commitment to bettering society is inspiring – read on for more of Bill’s story and hear his best advice.

I started Social Capital Partners (SCP) because…

it seemed pretty obvious in 2001 when SCP started, and frankly seems even more obvious today, that this notion that governments write cheques and we solve social problems didn’t look either very effective or sustainable. We needed to find new models that combined market forces and doing good, rather than assuming they couldn’t be combined, which is what our regulatory framework assumes. So the idea behind SCP was to pick a structural social challenge – which in our case was how to find meaningful employment for people who face employment barriers- and prove more effective and sustainable ways to solve that.

The best piece of advice I ever received was…

I have been lucky enough to receive plenty of good advice along the way but two that I have tried very hard to take to heart are:  1) Be a light not a judge. I think this came from Steven Covey. I am not always successful at doing this but I think it’s a great way to try to live a life.

And 2): Pick  the battles you want to win and forget about the rest. This was my mother’s marriage advice and not only is it good marriage advice it’s great life advice. We spend way too much time trying to win unimportant battles, sometimes simply to prove how smart we are. It’s not a good use of time and isn’t a good way to be “human”.

Most people don’t know that I…

basically dislike technology. I was in the tech world before coming to the nonprofit world, so most people assume I love it and understand it. Nothing could be further from the truth. While I found the strategic issues in the tech world fascinating, I have never been enthralled with the products and always seemingly in an adversarial relationship with them. And it’s not just computers. I only have to look at a photocopier and it breaks.

My hope for the future is…

that in the not too distant future, combining profit and purpose will be seamless and natural for all sorts of organizations including corporations instead of the oxymoron that it has been until very recently. I actually am optimistic about this!

My best advice for people who want to make a difference is…

to just start; Too often we want to come up with the perfect plan or find the perfect opportunity. I think it was the Dalai Lama who when asked, perhaps somewhat facetiously, “What is the meaning of life” answered by saying: “Be Useful”. You can be useful by helping someone cross the street. It’s always possible to get started at something and there is plenty of time to get better at it;

and second, find kindred spirits and hang out with them. If you find a community of people who want to make a difference and spend time with them, you will get plenty of ideas.

Like what Bill has to say? SCP is hiring! They’re looking for an in-house Journalist. Apply by June 6. 


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Amanda Minuk

Amanda Minuk

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