Social Impact Leaders — Interview w/ Ash Beckham
Ash Beckham was living her life in Colorado and presumed that her “outness” was the extent of her activism. She believed finding a safe place to live, being yourself and staying in your lane was enough. But then kids started coming into her life. Not her own yet, but kids of people she loved very much. This sparked a passion to begin hard conversations with vulnerability and humor as a means of making taboo topics approachable.
Now Ash continues to be a serial entrepreneur and adds author and highly sought-after diversity, inclusion and leadership speaker to the plates she spins. Her most challenging yet most rewarding role yet is that of Mama to her 4-year-old and 1-year-old sons. Ash is married to her incredible wife who is the glue that keeps it all together.
Ash has always had many plates spinning in the air and this has inspired her to see leadership as an integral part of who we are rather than something we just do when we take on certain roles.
Social Impact — What meaning do you personally associate with this term?
Social impact refers to the influence for change you can have in your community. The definition of community can be as broad or as narrow as you want. But the critical component is that your influence results in action. Change in behavior, change in mindset, change in policy. Without change, there is not impact.
Social Responsibility — What is your best practice to integrate it into your daily life?
Mindfulness. We must be aware that every choice we make has meaning for others. That weight can be initially debilitating but once we are aware of our power, we can consciously evaluate our decisions and decide what we want our impact to be. It is not black and white. It isn’t mindless consumerism or a boycott of capitalism and you have to pick a side. We all live in the gray. Social responsibility is knowing where you are in that gray and deciding consciously if that is where you want to be. If not, what changes do you need to make to be the person you want to be?
Purchasing Power — What is it all about, and why is it real power?
I think it has multiple powers. First, obviously, where we spend our money matters. Organizations have a multitude of priorities, but at the end of the day they have to pay the bills, so our money has impact. When we choose to spend locally or support businesses with sustainable practices, we are reinforcing the principles those organizations stand for. By the same token, when we mindlessly spend money without an awareness of the impact of an organization, we are inherently supporting their actions as well. When we embrace our own purchasing power, it makes us a more intentional and impactful consumer.
Conscious Living — Why is it important to live our life consciously? And how do our actions influence and affect each other, and therefore connect us?
It is important because our choices impact others. Our decisions affect our neighbors, our community and our environment. It starts with awareness. When you are made aware of the impact of a brand, good or bad, you then empowered to live consciously. Without the knowledge, there is no power. Spreading that knowledge to empower others to make their own mindful decisions (not the decisions you think they should make) is part of your responsibility of living consciously.
Conscious Consumerism — Why, now more than ever, it is important to reflect on our buying habits, and research the brands we are consuming?
Where we spend our money matters. It matters to the brands and it matters to us. Sticking our head in the sand for convenience or because the alternative is too overwhelming gives our power away. You don’t have to change every decision you make. Change just one. See how you feel. Then change another. The steps can be incremental but the movement is inevitable. It is less about how an individual decision affect an organization and more about how it affects our future decisions. The cumulative effect is where the biggest impact comes from.
Commercial — From your point of view, what are the commercial practices that are unhealthy to humanity?
Mindless consumerism. Decreasing life expectancy of the products we buy. Convenience as a paramount concern. Arbitrarily created fashion trends that exist only to change the following season. We have to realize that as consumers we are the ones with the power. Brands should be there to serve us not the other way around. When we are mindful about who we support we begin to flip the dynamic back in our favor.
The Future — What is your personal outlook on the future?
I am hopeful that younger consumers value and prioritize socially conscious brands. Those brands are now using social responsibility as a competitive asset. Most brands don’t set trends, they flow with the current and as that current continues to be pushed by younger consumer, brands will fall in line.
Change — What do you personally think needs to change — from a consumer perspective and within the corporate world?
From a consumer perspective — more awareness. You don’t know what you don’t know. But then once you know, you can’t plead ignorance. You have to take responsibility for the power you have. Know who you are supporting and own it — the good and the bad. If you don’t like the way the bad feels, you have the power to change that. From a corporate perspective, more ways to measure impact. What gets measured, gets changed. Once organizations quantify their impact, both good and bad, they are empowered to make change toward good. Again, it comes down to knowledge.
Is there anything you would like to share that we have not asked you here?
Everyone can make one change today. What makes a difference is a change, no matter how significant the change is. It doesn’t matter where you are entering the picture. Maybe you are buying your first reusable water bottle or maybe you are collecting the water that runs in your shower while it is warming up to water your plants. Where you are is where you are. There is no judgement but you have to own it. If you don’t like where you are, what can you do differently today? Change doesn’t have to be monumental. It can be just one small step because it is not the size of the step but actually taking it that matters.
Connect with Ash Beckham on Instagram.
Demee Koch about the MEDIUM interview series on Social Impact:
Hello! I am a serial entrepreneur practising conscious entrepreneurship. This is an interview series about social responsibility and the best practices in incorporating it into our daily lives.
Every day, we make an impact consciously and subconsciously. It is implemented through our actions.
A great example of this is the practice of our Purchasing Power where we can actually direct our impact by consciously deciding which brands and companies we nourish.
I interview change advocates about best practices for incorporating social consciousness into our daily lives, and practices in the business world that need to change for the benefit of social responsibility.
With this interview, we invite the reader to reflect their every day actions. We all have an impact, and if we are consciously aware of that, we can be empowered to start the change for a better future.
Thank you for being the change. I’m looking forward to learn from each one of you. Reach out to me via LinkedIn.