Want to Do Good? Don't Go Looking for Problems
The best fixes for social ills come from reluctant innovators.
By reluctance, he doesn't mean a lack of enthusiasm. In his new book, The Rise of the Reluctant Innovator, Banks gathers ten first-person stories from people who unexpectedly—and, he argues, reluctantly—felt compelled to solve problems they never expected to encounter. An American doctor with a comfortable U.S. practice ended up bringing solar power to Nigerian maternity clinics; an Indian Ph.D. student in New York launched a literacy-boosting effort to add same-language subtitles to Indian TV shows; a suburban mother became a pioneer in health advocacy and helped discover the gene responsible for a rare disease afflicting her own children.
In all these cases, Banks says, the problems found the people, not the other way around. Embracing the search for solutions