Sunday, 29 April 2007

Jeff Skoll

Jeff Skoll speaking to the 2007 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship — photo Fruchterman

• Jeff Skoll himself is a stunning example of Charles Handy’s observation that we are seeing a new breed of young philanthropist who wants to be pro-actively involved in social change activities. He is not only the founder the Skoll Foundation, but also the co-founder of eBay (the source of his wealth) and also the Los Angeles-based media company Participant Productions. It’s his latest successful venture with Participant Productions that tells you something of his own driving passion to be a social entrepreneur, and why he is backing major conferences such as this Oxford Forum.

Jeff Skoll passionately believes that the world needs to hear many more stories about people who are making a difference. He had himself been influenced by great films that had highlighted social injustice, or told stories of people who had dedicated their lives to righting wrongs ( films such as Ghandi, Schindler’s List, Erin Brockovich). His company Participant Productions started with producing a series of short documentaries on Social Entrepreneurs (The New Heroes, hosted by Robert Redford), and more recently has produced a series of mainstream award-winning feature films including Syriana, North Country, Good Night and Good Luck, Fast Food Nation and the Al Gore documentary An Inconvenient Truth.

• Speaking at this Forum Opening, Jeff Skoll said his main drive is to work to make social entrepreneurs much more well-known in mainstream society, and to see that this particular variety of leadership and creativity is better valued. He paid tribute to 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner Muhammad Yunus, and the fact that his gaining this prize has lifted the profile of social entrepreneurship everywhere.
“ Social entrepreneurs have two kinds of power. The first is the power to make change happen. And the second is the power to show what is possible and to inspire. Today, wherever you find a social challenge at its worst, you will find a social entrepreneur. They are everywhere where social problems call for innovation, inspiration and an inability to take failure as an option. In the process, social entrepreneurs are replacing cynicism with hope, optimism, energy and love ...” — Jeff Skoll.
• Skoll also told the story of the spectacular success over the last year of the work of one of this year’s nominees for the Nobel Peace Prize — former US Vice President Al Gore. The film An Inconvenient Truth has been a great example of what can happen when an inspiring story reaches a critical mass of people.

The documentary has very quickly contributed to changing the debate about climate change around the world. It has won two Academy Awards, and become mandatory viewing in schools in England, Scotland and throughout Scandinavia. Six legislative Bills relating to climate change are now before the US House of Congress ... and on July 7th this year, there will be a series of concerts on seven continents, called Live Earth, which will bring the climate crisis message to a much more widespread audience.
— YouTube video of Jeff Skoll’s speech at Exeter College to welcome Skoll Award recipients
— YouTube video of Jeff Skoll’s Opening Speech at the 2007 Skoll World Forum
— YouTube video of Jeff Skoll’s speech at the 2007 Skoll Awards
— YouTube video of Jeff Skoll video: Imagine the Headlines of the Future
— Jeff Skoll is featured in a chapter in Charles Handy’s book “The New Philanthropists”
“Moving Pictures” — profile of Jeff Skoll by Anya Kamenetz, in Fast Company Issue 108 September 2006
Participant Productions
The New Heroes — PBS Documentary Series hosted by Robert Redford tells 12 dramatic stories of social entrepreneurs who bring innovative, empowering solutions to intractable social problems around the world.

Jeff Skoll’s Opening Speech at the 2007 Skoll World Forum

Jeff Skoll video: Imagine the Headlines of the Future