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Speaking Human-First with Mary Knox Miller

EP 2.2 Ami Dar

Stubbornness, Authenticity, and the Power of Starting with Yes

Original Air Date

April 18, 2024

Can you be a leader of an organization and publically share your personal views? Ami Dar, Executive Director of, is currently threading that needle after going viral for his commentary on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  

Driven by a long-held desire to create positive change and inspired by the possibilities of the nascent web, Ami Dar launched in 1995 to bring together nonprofits and social impact professionals to maximize their potential to do good.

Over the last thirty years, has grown from a directory of links to become an essential resource for social impact professionals and 150,000 nonprofit organizations worldwide.

Listen to the full episode to hear:

  • How Ami’s multinational childhood and experiences in the Israeli army drove his desire to create change

  • How his post-military travel and the dawn of the internet inspired the eventual creation of

  • Why Ami says it’s vital for leaders to recognize mistakes, learn from them, and course-correct 

  • How going viral surprised him and why he says that commenting on the Israel-Palestine war wasn’t a choice

  • How Ami sees Idealist Days as bridging the gap between connecting online and connecting with your community to make a real-life difference 

  • Why saying yes and getting started, even imperfectly, is how we make change


Learn more about Ami Dar:

Learn more about Mary Knox Miller:


EP 2.2 Ami Dar

Founder & Executive Director,


Ami Dar:

When was the last time that you risked something for your principles? And there may be a price to pay for that decision, but in the end, I have to live with myself, you have to live with yourself, we have to live with ourselves. And the only thing I know in this sense is that until I lose consciousness for a final time, I'm stuck with myself. I don't want to be ashamed of the person I'm stuck with. I think we all recognize when we're not being authentic, when we're holding back.

Mary Knox Miller:

In 1995, during the early days of the internet, Ami Dar launched, a website designed to help social impact professionals find jobs and maximize their potential to do good. Over the past three decades, has grown to become one of the most popular online nonprofit resources for social impact jobs and internships, professional development, volunteer opportunities, community projects and more, with information provided by 150,000 organizations worldwide.

As founder and executive director of, Ami Dar has been recognized many times for his contributions to social impact in the nonprofit space, including as Time Magazine's Philanthropy Innovator, Nonprofit Pros, Nonprofit Professional of the year, and one of the Nonprofit Times 50 most influential people.

Ami, it is a pleasure to be in conversation with you. Thank you so much for being here today.


Thank you for having me.


Ami, you have spent three decades at the helm of an organization whose mission is to help build a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives by inviting people everywhere to imagine, connect, and act. We'll get to in just a bit, but for now let's start all the way at the beginning. Where did this fire in your belly come from to create a world where all people can lead free and dignified lives?


It started weirdly early for me. I think I was born in Jerusalem, Israel, a long time ago. And when I was three my family went to Peru for three years. My father wanted to do a PhD there for some reason. Then went back to Israel for a year, and then we went to Mexico and basically I was in Mexico from second grade through ninth grade. My whole childhood essentially was in Mexico City.

And when I was about eight I think, I started looking around as we were in the streets driving or walking, and I started noticing that there were kids my age begging in the streets. And I didn't understand why and I asked my parents. I remember asking my parents, why are they outside begging and clearly hungry. This very strong feeling that this is not right and that it shouldn't be this way?

So that's when it started and then went on. By the time I was 10 or 11, I was fantasizing with going off to the hills and starting guerrilla movement to sort of overthrow the government and create a better society. No one took me seriously when I was 11, I didn't understand why. When I was 15, went back to Israel for high school, had to serve in the army for three years back in the early '80s.

And that was the next sort of experience that I think made me feel... Three years of Army, which included the last six months were a war in Lebanon that started in '92. When I finished the Army, I was pretty angry by things that I'd seen. And so that feeling of things not being right and that I should do something about it, that was there I guess my whole life.

As much as being male, I guess it's just who I am. I'm someone who feels that things could and should be better, that I'm lucky I had enough to eat. And a sense that we can all do more for each other if possible. So it was a very, very early on.


I think a lot of people who want to do good, however they define that in the world, feel like it is part of their being. That it is literally the air that they breathe, it's in their body, it's who they are, it's in their makeup. So I can completely understand that.

So you're going throughout life, you have all of these experiences. And after your service in the army, it's time to get a job, it's time to make a living and support yourself and you have this idea to create a platform. Tell us about It is many things, it's an online tech platform which you can talk about in just a moment. But I'm really curious as to why of all things you chose technology to bring this vision of yours to life.


I have to go back just a couple of years, when I finished the Army I didn't know what to do with my life. And I went traveling and I went off to South America as many people do after the Army, to travel for a bit. It was a little bit different for me in that I was fluent in Spanish. I had grown up there. I'm basically native in Spanish. In English I have this funny accent, in Spanish I don't, I sort of completely just meld in. And so I sort of disappeared in South America for a couple of years on my own. And I started meeting lots of people, both locals and travelers and international people who wanted to do something about things they were seeing but didn't know where to start or what to do. And this is the mid '80s.

It's hard today to convey to younger people that there was once a world without a web, there was once a world where your mom couldn't find you. There was once a world where you would meet somebody in a youth hostel and you spend the night talking and then you would seriously literally say, "Have a good life." Because there was no... What are we going to do, exchange mailing addresses? You knew you would never see that person again, and there was no way to keep in touch. And so after a while, I realized I had a sense that the world is full of these wonderful people who when I meet them I feel immediately connected to them. There's a moral point of view that's similar. I started thinking, these are the people that I would take with me to a small island if I had to spend a couple of years on a small island.

These are the 20, 30, 40 people I would take with me, kind people who make me laugh basically. This is the way I was thinking about this. So then I was thinking literally, what do I do with my life? I had deeply hated school since I was three or four years old, so I dropped out of high school when I was in 11th grade. And so college was not going to happen, that was simply not an option for me. So the question is what do I do? I was already 23, 24. And so I thought, huh, is there a way of connecting all these good people with each other and with some way to do good? I had no money, no knowledge, no nothing, and there was no internet. So how do I do this?

I don't know, but there has to be a way. So I went back to Israel, got a job as a waiter for a while, as a translator. Then a friend of mine started a computer company, a software company in those days, and he hired me to be his international marketing manager because I could spell in English. This was a big asset at the time. There were no spell checkers and I could write his correspondence in English without making any sort of errors. So I became his international marketing manager, spent some time with him, learned a bit about business. And then in '92, I came to the US and basically opened his subsidiary here with this dream of still somehow doing something. I kept obsessing about this, but there was no real way. And then in '93, the web basically was launched, '92 I think it was invented and I saw it for the first time in '94. A friend came to my house and said, "There's this thing called the web."

And he went to my phone junk and he sort of messed with this, and so she got me online. At the time, the web was just green words and one of the words was glinting. And when he clicked on it, it was a link, I didn't know, it went somewhere else. And the moment that it went somewhere else, I thought, oh my God, this thing was created just for me.

My advantage was that I've been obsessing about something 10 years before the web came to me. And when it came, I recognized the potential and I thought, there are all these nonprofits, at the time just a few 100 nonprofits. The first one's Amnesty, Greenpeace, we're building these very simple websites. And I thought there should be a place we could just find all of them. That would be good, that would be useful. So I got a couple of friends from Colombia and I sat them down and we went and we looked, there was no Google, there were no search engines. So we somehow spent a couple of months finding every nonprofit on the web at the time.

And we launched this initial website that just linked to every nonprofit we could find arranged by location and by issue. And then that started leading to a whole bunch of other search engine later on, et cetera. But that was the genesis of it, this impulse to create a place where all these good people could gather and find something good to do.


I think you must have been then essentially creating one of the first representations of being a platform, like the middleman. You're essentially creating a space online to bring people together, both from the nonprofit side but also those who are interested in connecting with them. Facebook, before there was a Facebook, an Instagram before there was an Instagram, a TikTok. So plenty of people are sitting on these really big ideas. Plenty of people are thinking, this is in my DNA. With 30 years in your rear view mirror, what have you discovered about the power and limitations of technology to kind of bridge this gap between people's intention and the action that they want to take and often don't?


Yes, I think there was this obsession of how do you connect people? And my initial idea before I saw the web was that it was very neighborhood based. It was this idea that, you know how when you want to buy coffee and milk, you don't have to go to coffee farm or a dairy, you go to the local grocery store. And the grocery stores buy milk from different places and buy coffee from different places. They give you choices.

And so I thought, here are all these big nonprofits that don't have the wherewithal to reach your neighborhood. What if there was a place in your neighborhood that you could go and find information from every way for you to get involved in your community and also find other people?

And so I came to New York with that dream in '92, and I started talking to the nonprofits telling them, "What if there was a place in the neighborhood where you could have your stuff?"

And they said, "Well, sure, if you find such a place we'll give you the stuff." So I was thinking about this idea of a place where you would find things, and then when the web came up, I thought, oh, well, we can start here. And that's a very easy way to have one place where everyone can go to.

So that was why I think tech just made it an easy place to begin, at least. I think technology like we all know, at this point so many people have access to it. Also, people prioritize it. We know that even poor people will prioritize connectivity over even food in some cases, that people still want I think to be in touch with human beings. And so I think it's a conduit. And in that sense, we're maybe similar to a dating site or even a place to find an apartment where the site is a conduit. What you really want is the apartment, what you really want is the house, what you really want is the date and the person to be with and technology is just a conduit to that.

So it's good for that. It also has all the other things that we know today that it's isolating and that it certainly has magnified polarization.


If you reverse the tape and could do it all over again, would you still go with technology? Would you still have this be the primary mechanism for helping your vision come to life?


Yes, in the sense that I think that at the time there was really no other way to do this. And I think that it's still... The fact that a relatively small team, there's just 30 of us, that 30 people can serve 60,000 people every day who come to our site. There's no way that a storefront could serve 60,000 people. It's just not possible. So in that sense, that was the way to do it.

I still see it as only a path to getting more people to actually do things together face to face, which in the end really the only thing that anything changes is by actually changing the world. Not by wishing or talking or signing a petition or those things that really move the cheese. You actually have to go and pick up the cheese and move it. There were many, many, many mistakes I would've made along the way that I wish I could go back and not make.


Any setbacks or any things that you wish you had done differently that you would like to share?


No, my God, there are so many. I think that you can go back and try to be harsh on yourself on things that you... For many, many years we were very poor. We had no money. And scarcity makes you make mistakes. You try to cut all kinds of corners. You try to get grants for things you don't really want to do, but so you do them.

One of the things is that like any nonprofit or any organization, we're also just simply an organization. We're a business, an entity. And so you learn the basic things about management, about hiring, about who you want to hire, you'll make hiring mistakes. And the key I think, is to correct them relatively quickly. The main thing I think is to try to learn as you go. If you're going to make a mistake once or twice, don't make the same mistake three times. At some point stop.


I'm seeing lots of layers here. I'm seeing this layer of technology as a means by which you're connecting people. Then I see you building this organization on top of that platform with now 30 employees. And now you have to have the skills not only of technology and how things work, but how to manage people and how to inspire them to hopefully move the organization in the right direction. And then you have your personal feelings or takes on things, perhaps sometimes frustrated that the world isn't moving faster or in the right direction.

And I want to kind of pivot to that if that's okay. So on October 10th of 2023, three days after the Hamas led terrorist attacks in Israel, you took to X and said, "I am an Israeli Jew. This is probably the worst week of my life. And yet today of all days, it bears repeating. The only way to end this cycle is by working for freedom and dignity for all, for all on all sides. Our blood is the same color and our tears taste the same."

The post was seen by 1.4 million people, 30,000 people liked it, 544 commented. So clearly you struck a nerve in the best possible sense. But I'm curious, you are this leader of an organization, you are at heart a technologist. Why did you decide to cross the threshold into public commentary, and what does your discernment process continue to look and more importantly feel like?


So it's really interesting, so thank you for the question. It's interesting that you asked me how did I decide? I did not really decide. Essentially what happened was that I had been on Twitter... For all kinds of reasons I don't like calling it X so you can call it X. I call it Twitter, I don't accept the name change. I had been on this platform as a user since 2007, I think. And by 2023 I had 5,000 what they call followers on the platform. And I found the platform to be basically useless. I would go there once in a while and I would say something, last episode of Succession was great. And I would get two likes and it would reach eight people. And so it was really just a place where once in a while I would say something. This thing is basically okay for following some news and so understanding some people.

What I loved about it always was that it allowed me to... So for example, for some reason I was interested in what was happening in Pakistani politics. I could read as much about Pakistan as I wanted, whereas the New York Times doesn't give it to me. You can follow people in every corner that you want to become an expert in and that's wonderful. So I love that.

And so I was basically a reader of Twitter, and so I had zero expectations. And that Saturday, October 7th, was a horrible day for me and for many other people. And so three days later I was frustrated, I was sad, I was angry. And so I went on the platform and I said what you read with the expectation that two people would like it? That was literally my experience for 15 years. And so I guess it's sort of a black swan event as defined by the author of that book, where basically you do something day after day expecting the same thing to happen and then suddenly something very different happens.

And I literally went from two or three likes, suddenly one got 30,000. And so I thought, okay, I guess I should say something else. And so the following day, I think it was I made a little video of one minute where I spoke and that then reached people. What then happened was that I continued posting two or three times a day for a couple of months. Really in the end from my own sanity, the whole war, everything in Israel, Gaza has been horrible.

The thing about Twitter is that your posts reach all kinds of people. It's not Facebook where you reach your friends, it's all kinds of people. So authors that I've read my whole life, actors, directors, journalists suddenly get in touch with me. I open my DMs, my messages are open to the world. I haven't received one negative message ever. It's all positive stuff, very affirming.

I don't really understand, I say this honestly, it's not false modesty, is that I get a message from people who... The head of Nameless International writes me and says, "Hey, I really get some hope from your tweets." And I'm like, you have to come to me. You run a whole... Go get better friends kind of thing. Why do you have to come to me for this? But that has happened sort of again and again, and lots of messages from the Muslim world, from the Arab world, Palestinians across the board. And so if my goal was to try to keep myself sane, I guess I'm still somewhat sane four months later.

I have to say I kept things to a very separate in that in these four months, I think in all these tweets I have never mentioned Idealist. Idealist is in my bio, someone clicks, but I'm not posting as head of Idealist. I'm posting as Ami.

Most people reading me have no idea that I'm part of that. And certainly on Idealist I don't mention this at all because we don't get into specific issues. But I felt that I had to say something and I don't regret it. I can't imagine these four months without saying something or trying to do what I could. For example, it led to Chris Anderson from Ted reaching out a couple of months ago and saying, "Hey, I'm reading what you're writing." And so that led to this interview yesterday with a peace activist from Bethlehem. I'm glad I'm speaking, but I'm still doing it primarily for myself.


I just want to circle back on this distinction that you made between you as a human being, showing up as Ami and having these personal views of a very tense situation and ongoing strife. But you are not in any way, shape or form trying to show up as a representative or leader of Idealist. These are two very distinct and separate things.

So one, I applaud you for being successful at this because we are all human beings. We are all complete entities that have lots of thoughts and feelings and all the things. I believe that you are reflecting all of that. You are holding multiple identities at once.

But most people think, oh my gosh, if I say something, plenty of people have received backlash. Do you think it's because you are the leader of the organization and so you don't have to worry and so you can just say what you want to say? Or what do you think is going on here?


Well, a couple of things. One is I have chosen not to mention Idealist, and Idealist itself doesn't take positions on specific issues. We work all over the world, and so if we took a position on one issue we have a position on 3000 issues and we just can't. We do have a position on no violence, no action against anyone based on identity, no hate essentially on our platform. Yeah, so far that separation has been maintained.

I think that at some point you may get people... To give you a very specific example, if Ted publishes this interview and it goes out to many more people, some people may make the crossover and say, "Oh, if he thinks this way, then I'm no longer using Idealist." Or vice versa. But that's life.

I can't not be me, I don't think you can separate who we are in the end.

And also I'll say something else, and I'm being public with this too. I think that we're in a situation where I am from Israel, even though I've been here for 30 years, given everything that's happening, I think that someone dealing with me in any capacity has almost a right to know what I think. In other words, given everything, I think that if you're a Palestinian, if you are an Arab, if you're even a Muslim and you're working with me or dealing with me, I think it's okay for you to ask where I stand. It's perfectly fine for you to ask that. I think that just as someone could ask someone else, do you stand with Hamas or are you opposed to what Hamas did? I think it's a fair question to someone from Gaza and I think it's a fair question to ask me. So plus it wasn't really a choice. I wasn't going to hold back, so it's fine.


This phrase that you keep saying, it wasn't a choice, there is no choice but to post because I want to make sure that this message gets out there. And yours is one of hope and peace and encouragement of recognition of the dignity of everybody involved in both sides of the conflict.

Do you think we're kind of past the point where leaders of organizations, thought leaders, anybody who is trying to influence the conversation or encourage people to take action, are we kind of past the point where you can just be the title or the name of the book? Are we to the point where it's also about our own personal humanity and when did that happen?


I don't know. I think we all choose. I'm not sure if I'm answering your question, but I think that one of the pernicious things I think in social media in general with the whole news world right now is that everyone feels a need or is compelled to comment on everything. We must all have a take on everything. And I think that many more people, I wish more people would more often say, I don't know. I don't have a clue. I'm not an expert on that. I don't know. I don't know enough about that, which is why to me this matter because I am from there. My family's there. This touched me. And so I'm sort of expressing an opinion on this, but I'm not going to become one of those people who has a take on everything. No, I'm not a columnist for The New York Times.

I don't know. I think we each have our limits, which I think it's a basic right to put limits. It's a basic right to say, "I don't want to talk about my family or I don't want to talk about..." You have zero rights to know anything about me beyond what I choose to tell you.


There's two things going through my mind right now. First, it's very comforting to hear you say, I can be very vocal about this particular issue, and that's all I'm going to be vocal about. I'm going to put up the guardrails and I'm going to decide we'll go here but we're not going to go there, that you can still be an advocate and yet not get railroaded. So that's comforting.

And the second thought I'm thinking of is going all the way back to the idea to originally create this platform and technology, but you are thinking about it first in terms of local communities. And one of the things a lot of people say about comments online is, "Oh, it's so much easier to comment than it is to say that face-to-face to a person."

I would love to talk about Idealist days for a minute if that's okay, because I feel like you're still using the technology platform to bring people together on one day a month, and I'll let you explain it. But it seems to me as though it is an effort to try to reconnect each other, yes, around the world but also try to find people local in your community so that you can pair up and try to make a difference.


So it's almost like the original vision of a Idealist, how do you connect good people with each other and good things to do? And so with using technology, it's not enough I think. You see it in extreme cases, now in a place like New York where you can have a big apartment building and everyone in the building has Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, LinkedIn, and they still don't know who their neighbor is.

The idea here is to basically grab one day a month, calling it Idealist Day arbitrarily. That is the day in which it's okay to go to your neighborhood neighbor, knock on the door, introduce yourself and say, "Hey, it's Idealist Day. I have some cookies." That day at work raise your hand and propose something. That day invite a speaker from a nonprofit to speak at your company.

And that by doing this across the board and across the world, the more you do it, the easier it becomes. Because if you declare in Boston that 7/7 is Idealist Day, and people know this and the mayor hopefully helps out, et cetera, then if you and your company want to propose to your local principal in the school to bring some people in to work with the kids, the school will be more amenable to it because it's Idealist Day and they're looking for something to do with the kids. So the mayor can close some streets that day so that kids can play outside because it's Idealist Day and then companies can... So of course if it's global, then it's even more interesting, all under this umbrella of more dignity and more freedom for more people in a certain spirit of generosity.

I think we can do things that are just for the fun of it, just for the community of it. And the more we do, the easier it'll be to do and to talk about and to show.


There's this underlying theme throughout literally everything you do, which is trying to bring people together. And not even just bring people together, it's more like see each other as human beings as opposed to all the labels that we put ourselves on. And connect so that we can understand even if we think in different ways, we are both human beings and therefore both deserve equality and dignity.

So Ami, you've held a revered and respected place in the nonprofit sector for decades, and this does not come by chance. And there are plenty of people who are aspiring to the heights that you have reached. What do you account for your success? Are there key levers that you pulled? Are there any hard-won lessons about balancing what you did as an individual versus collaborating? Anything that you would like to share as you look back on the last 30 years?


My God, 30 years sounds like such a long time. It is a very long time. I've been doing this one thing my whole [inaudible 00:28:07] in the sense of very boring... People have these long resumes with all these career moves and stuff, and I've been doing the same thing for 30 years in the same city. Showing up in the morning, going to Idealist and try to do my job, I've done sort of nothing else in many ways.

So I'll give you the answer, I think the most important answer but it's a tricky answer. So the answer is that I'm just stubborn, I'm extremely stubborn. I do not know how to give up basically. If you told me in advance that things would take the time it took, I maybe wouldn't have done them. I don't know. I believed in this from the very beginning that this was possible, and so I just don't give up. I don't know how.

Now, the problem with that, the reason why I'm saying it's tricky is that people will say, "Oh, when you have an idea, don't give up. Go for it." Well, yes, as long as it's not a terrible idea. The problem is that when it's a bad idea, and who knows who will tell you that, when it's a bad idea you should give it up as soon as possible and find a better one. It's terrible advice to tell someone, don't give up. You need to find among all your acquaintances when you have any kind of idea, Airbnb, whatever, find one or two people who think it's a good idea. If you find no one, I don't know, hard. So find at least a couple of people and then sure, go for it. Also, and you can't advise this, this happens or not.

For many years I was single, I had no kids. I was responsible only to myself. I could work any hours that I wanted. I could literally go hungry and nobody else would suffer because I was going hungry. Whereas now I'm married, I have two daughters and I'm not going to work the hours that I worked. I'm not going to pull all-nighters, I'm responsible, there has to be food on the table.

So I think finding the right biographical moment to obsess about something is also important. It's easier and better when you can just do it or have a partner that will support you doing it. Otherwise, it's hard. I don't know, stubbornness and feeling that it was important and that this is just who I was. It wasn't really a choice. It wasn't a job. Asking a successful writer why do you keep writing? What do you want me to do? It's not a job. It's who I am.


I appreciate your acknowledgement of both the personal passion, stubbornness, determination, but also the recognition of life circumstances. And what phase of life you're in and being responsible when you need to be responsible versus telling somebody with five children, "Oh sure, this sounds like a great idea. Go forth and work on it." So perhaps it's a matter of deciding if we want to make an impact and an income? What does that look like now in this particular phase of life? How do I navigate everything that I'm going through at the moment to see how I can make the most difference with whatever skills align with what I've got naturally?


And to add one thing to that, which I think sometimes people... On the positive side of this, people sometimes have good ideas and they stop themselves from beginning. Unless I raise X dollars, I shouldn't start this. Or unless I... And usually you can actually start.

In other words, if you are big idea is a program for mentoring high school girls in Boston. And you imagine success as being 1000 mentors with 1000 girls, and that would require a staff of X and money Y and you're not starting until someone gives you a big grant. No, no, no, you mentor one girl tomorrow and convince your neighbor to mentor the other one. And suddenly there are two people who are mentoring girls who were not mentoring before. Nothing is stronger than starting, just go and then stuff happens. It took me a long time to understand this.

One of the reasons why the world does not change as fast as I think many of us would like is that stopping change is so easy, saying no is so easy. The world consists of hierarchies, universities have presidents, schools of principals, companies have CEOs, and one of the easiest things for someone in power to do is to say no. Saying no is so easy. It is so easy to say no to an employee's suggestion in a big company. I think one of the secrets that people don't know is that implementing change even for the CEO is hard. An employee in a big company will make a brilliant suggestion, the CEO thinks it's brilliant, driving that is actually going to be hard. Saying no is so easy and so wonderful things get shut down all the time because saying no is so easy. Saying no to yourself is also really easy. And so we end up not even beginning to realize our dreams because we say no to ourselves because it's just the easiest path.

And so if you want something say yes to yourself. Say yes to yourself and go for it because you started this podcast and you wanted to have listeners, otherwise why do it? But the first episode wasn't going to have 10,000 listeners because it's the first episode, but you'll never get to episode 15 without going through episode two. That's how life works and there's no shortcut in that sense.

And then lastly and maybe this is also for both of us, find things to do that you will enjoy doing regardless of their success, regardless of things like numerical success. It's a much, I think, healthier place for you, Mary Knox to be that you enjoy a conversation with someone like me, regardless of the number of listeners later. If you tie your happiness to the number of listeners, probably not healthy for you, probably better if you just enjoy this. And then if you do, then maybe other people will too.


It's so interesting, I don't do this podcast for listeners. I do this podcast because I'm incredibly curious about human beings and I want to have conversations and I want to be able to share. It happens to just be the format and the medium by which I can share these conversations that I'm having with remarkable leaders. That's what this is about. This isn't about sponsors or numbers or anything like that, and that's how I knew it was the right time to do it.

So what advice do you have for people who are doing mission-based work to stay motivated, to maintain their health, mental, physical, or otherwise? And you could even answer it going back to this concept of knowing what you know now, what you wish somebody had told you about trying to change the world with your ideas.


Oh, cliches exist for a reason, I think as much as you can be true to yourself. I think we all recognize when someone else is being authentic or not, and the least we can do is try to be authentic ourselves. I think we all recognize when we're not being authentic, when we're holding back. And yeah, there's a price to pay. If you open your mouth in some situations you will maybe not be invited again to some places. I don't know.

But there's this thing where there's a certain kind of responsible adult who tells you, oh, you should pick your fights. And the funny thing about those people who say that kind of thing, you should pick your fights is if you ask them, oh, that sounds great. What was the last fight you picked? Very often the answer is that they pick zero fights. Very often pick your fights means pick no fights, that's actually what it means.

When was the last time that you risked something for your principles? And it doesn't have to be something big, and there may be a price to pay for that decision. But in the end, I have to live with myself, you have to live with yourself, we have to live with ourselves. And the only thing I know, and thank you for making me think, I've never put this in words this way, the only thing I know in this sense is that until I lose consciousness for a final time, I'm stuck with myself. I don't want to be ashamed of the person I'm stuck with. I want to be authentic to my self.

It's interesting. I think people are both too careful and not careful enough these days. In other words, people are like, oh my God, if I say that I'll be canceled or something. At the same time, oh, I must have a take on this. And actually both things are not true. You can actually be true to yourself about something and say it if that's what you believe.

At the same time, you can say, "No, I don't want to actually have an opinion, or I don't have an opinion on that and I don't want to talk about it." There's this weird thing where people feel entitled to your opinion. It's like, no, you're not actually.


Yes, absolutely. I think I'm more intrigued with the opposite side of this, which is what is it that keeps spurring people to speak up or to not? Do you feel like you need to be in the conversation in order to be relative, to have your voice out there, to be seen, to be heard, to want to be part of this conversation?

I think you are a man very clearly who walks with a lot of humility and who walks with indifference to what people think because you're stubborn and you're going to keep moving forward and you're going to do your thing regardless of what other people think. It's very easy to get caught in that mind game of, oh, should I post or should I not? Or what are people are going to think? What if somebody comes after me? What if somebody cancels me? But what if this is the thing that gets me out there?

It's just this chaos in your head that just swirls and swirls and swirls. I don't know what you think, but I find just taking a breath, calming down for a minute and thinking, is this something that is coming from me? Because if it comes from me, if this is something that needs to come out that is naturally in me and I don't really have a choice, then it's time to speak up. If it's, I'm just doing this to get attention or to have my name out there, probably not a good idea to open the mouth. What do you think?


Exactly. I think the motivation matters a lot. I think is this something that you simply, if I literally can't not say it then I'm going to say it because I would just feel terrible not saying it. If you feel that you're just doing it for attention, that's probably not a good idea. The thing is about humility.

I think that two thoughts that are, I think important to hold at the same time if possible is that, we matter. And everything we're doing every day is very important, certainly to us and maybe to those who surround us. It's what we do. It's important. And at the same time, we and everything we're doing doesn't matter one bit. We will all be forgotten with maybe two or three exceptions per generation.

Something really important you said earlier, if what you say is something that matters to you truly and you lose a friend over that, that friend should have been lost over that. In other words, if because you say something really important to you someone stops talking to you, that person was not a worthy friend to start with. So whatever, you be yourself and other people will show up. And in the end, we have to live with ourselves, not with anybody else.


What does the future hold for you? What is it that you still want to accomplish? What is it that you just keep feeling in your bones has to get done?


I think that there is a solvable problem here, and maybe I'm wrong, obviously. I think that if two people living, studying, working relatively close to each other have a similar idea that they would like to do, whatever that thing is, there should be a mechanism for them to connect around that idea and do it.

About 10 years ago, I spent 10 days in Iceland with my sister and her family. And Iceland is now completely covered by cell phone coverage basically, and it's a big country with very few people. And over many centuries, many farmers remain single. You are a farmer on your farm somewhere in the boonies, and you basically resign yourself to never finding, you will not have a family, you'll be single. And now they have solved that problem. They have dating sites for isolated farmers, and if you don't find a spouse, it's because you don't want to. And the problem of the single isolated farmer has been solved.

And so we can solve such things I think with a combination of technology, desire, events, whatever. But we can actually make advances in that thing that I think are great, and so why not?


Thank you so much, Ami. It has been a pleasure. Thank you so much for your time.


Thanks for having me.


Wow, what a wonderful conversation. I love how Ami uses technology as a conduit for connection. And how he's figured out that in order to get people to take action, a gentle push like Idealist Days can make it easier to put yourself out there.

What's more, a big part of creating real change, Ami says, is speaking up and communicating effectively, sharing ideas and motives so that those receiving your message can understand what you're trying to say and be inspired to support your cause. At the same time, he reminds us to be wary of over communication. We don't need to have a public stance on everything, nor do we need to be well-versed in all topics. What a relief. In fact, not knowing shows humility. And despite what anyone says, no one is entitled to your opinion, no matter if they think they know you or how much they might want to hear it.

Follow Ami on X @AmiDar, and visit to learn more about how you can take action for good on Idealist Days or any other day of the year.

Speaking Human First is a production of Thought Leader Media, a visual communications agency, helping leaders increase their influence by connecting deeper with their audience.

To hear or read more conversations with leaders on the front lines of social change, visit A big thank you to Yellow House Media for helping produce this episode and to Emily Patrick for her tenacious research. Until next time.

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