This interview is part of a new series where leaders in influential positions share their leadership journey – how they got to where they are today. I believe we all have a lot to learn from our stories of where we started, our successes and struggles, and important lessons learned on the way.
This interview is with Mark Horoszowski. He is the CEO and co-founder of MovingWorlds – which is an award-winning social enterprise that helps individuals scale world-changing ideas. He is also an adjunct faculty and lecturer at the University of Washington on Corporate Social Responsibility, and a fellow at the RSA. He also contributes to Huffington Post Impact and serves on the American Cancer Society’s National Relay For Life Leadership Team. You can find Mark on LinkedIn here.
Share your backstory and how you got where you are today. Can you share one or two events (positive or negative) in life that shaped who you are as a person and leader?
My parents immigrated to the states from Slovenia and Poland with next to nothing, so we’re used to simultaneously helping those in need and receiving help in return. With that volunteering gene firmly ingrained, I went on to join the Boy Scouts. In college, I volunteered with The American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life program and even helped start one at his school.
I ended up accepting a position with a prestigious accounting firm but quickly discovered something strange: Though my volunteer work helped me land the job, they didn’t want me to continue it once I was part of the company. In 2010, I packed my bags and set out on a yearlong journey around the world that would change my life. As the journey was coming to an end, I met my soon-to-be co-founder, Derek Norde.
What do you like about the work you do? What do you find most challenging?
What I like most is learning so much about a wide variety of topics AND that this learning is being directly applied to solve the most pressing challenges of our time.
In my role, I have the level of intellectual stimulation that energizes me every day, I get to work with a wonderful team from around the world, and with the knowledge that our work is creating meaningful impact.
What are you passionate about? (or what dreams keep you up at night?)
Fairness. I believe that people everywhere should be able to live without environmental, financial and social stress and inequities. Creating a fair and sustainable planet means we need to tackle the biggest system challenges of our time, and I’m passionate about using my time and skills to do that.
How do you manage pressure and overwhelm?
This continues to evolve for me as I learn more about myself, my body, and my relationships with others. A common theme is to engage in an activity that enables me to be physically active, but in a way that lets my mind wander and approach the issue from different perspectives – long-distance trail running, hiking, backcountry skiing, and cross-country skiing tend to be my go-to activities for this.
Who has had the most influence on your leadership? Share a story to illustrate your point.
I can’t think of one person. Leadership is a challenging skill that takes a lot of practice, introspection, and training. I have many people that I look to for inspiration – Sachi Shenoy who founded Upaya Social Ventures because of her commitment and dedication to solving that hardest funding gap that exists for businesses. Jacqueline Novogratz for her steadfast commitment to morals and principles.
And while unpopular in the social impact space, Jeff Bezos for his singular focus on doing the right thing for customers and sticking to his audacious strategy for over such a long duration of time. On a more personal note, my parents both model quiet, community-based giving with an emphasis on staying principles and doing the right thing for others.
What are your goals or aspirations for this year?
MovingWorlds is growing our revenues, team, and impact. Growth stages are exciting for social enterprises because of the potential for impact, but scaling also creates real operational challenges. My goal is to keep building a better team and improving our culture as we grow so that we remain an award-winning employer.