Interview with Michael Lin

Hello blog tribe! I hope you had a joy-filled Easter. This is the final installment of interviews with the brilliant brains behind Step of P...

Hello blog tribe! I hope you had a joy-filled Easter. This is the final installment of interviews with the brilliant brains behind Step of Poverty. You can read the first installment here and the second here.
Michael Lin, Executive Director of Step on Poverty, is perhaps the most inspiring-quote-able teen. Usually I bold the points that my interviewees make that are especially powerful, but I literally wanted bold Michael's entire interview. Let me know if you feel the same.

Can you tell me a bit about what Step on Poverty is to you?
Step On Poverty is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that began as a shoe charity; since its creation,
Step On Poverty has grown to address multiple facets of local and international community development. Two seniors from Troy Athens High School, a current freshman from University of
Michigan, and I co-founded Step On Poverty in August 2016- we had all met through previous experience in other nonprofits in Troy.

While we exposed to the potential of non-profit work, we saw that no non-profit in Troy was tailored to the ability and skills of students. Our organization now functions in three different initiatives: Shoe Initiative, Environmental Initiative, and Business Consulting Initiative. In the long run, we hope to empower the youth, enact charitable acts with economic pragmatism, and reveal the potential of nonprofit organizations.

What about you? What's something unique about you?
As for myself, I am a junior at Troy High School who has an almost obsessive affinity for making French macaroons. Last year, I won a school-wide male beauty pageant by dancing Beyonce's Single Ladies and was crowned "Mr. Troy High". This shows two things: I enjoy dancing, and you can never go wrong with Beyonce! It took me two nights of watching Single Ladies in slow motion to learn the dance. (Michael you can come over anytime and make macaroons and jam to Beyonce with me. Like seriously. Any time.)

What's the hardest lesson you've learned running SOP?
People will react differently to your message and purpose no matter how passionate you are or how strong of a conviction you carry.

What's one quality that's key to being a successful young social entrepreneur?
Organization is key. Even for routine and more mundane activities like general member meetings, creating an organized schedule and filing it for future reference helps create order and efficiency.

What's the most common mistake people make when they are trying to be philanthropic?
Our organization actually functions to combat common mistakes with many other shoe charities. Other charities contribute to “economic dumping”- while free shoes are given to people in underdeveloped countries, local businesses attempting to make and sell shoes are put out of business and people lose their jobs. The benevolent intent of the act is good, but the outcome is less than expected. With these charities, long-term effects are not properly investigated with a pragmatic perspective.

SOP seems amazing, but I'm sure there are funny moments. What's one that you've had?
Storing over 4,610 pairs of shoes in my basement is evidently something I’ve never had to do (nor thought of having to do). I will occasionally wash out the smell with air freshener.

What's one tip you'd like prospective teen entrepreneurs to have?
Find capable, competent, and caring people to depend on and reach out to; people are willing to offer help and guidance where needed.

I don't know about you, but this interview made me want to get up and change the world ASAP. Also, I'm so glad he mentioned finding your tribe to offer help and guidance- you guys who read this blog are my tribe and I'm so grateful for ya'all.

Keep being epic,

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  1. That was truly inspiring. Can't wait to try on of those macaroons Michael!