When you were in college, what did you spend most of your time doing? Socializing? Stop waiting for someone else to change the world. 

Today’s guests are Jeff Sorensen and Jeff Pituch from optiMize, a student-led organization at the University of Michigan. The program supports and funds self-directed student projects that make a positive social impact. Go blue!

Episode Highlights

  • 2:34 What is optiMize, and why is it unique? Makes the world more just and sustainable.
  • 5:45 Busy Work: Stop waiting for someone else to change the world.
  • 7:15 Risks and Responsibilities: Try early on while you have time, not past your prime. 
  • 10:25 Let students define what success looks like, not what society says it should be.
  • 11:03 Basic Education: Learning well-established information is important.
  • 12:35 optiMize Taglines: Why not me? Call to action for inclusivity and social innovation.
  • 17:00 Easy Sell: Students want more out of their education than what they’re getting.
  • 24:48 Entrepreneurial Energy: Dedication and pure luck to work together, not in silos.
  • 31:00 Programmatic Design Perspective: Students understand what students need.
  • 32:31 What entrepreneurial skills lead to success? Persistence and perseverance.
  • 36:05 Self-Awareness Skills: Passion for solving problems from personal experience. 
  • 40:25 Tangible Skills: Shameless outreach and communication to talk about ideas.
  • 45:48 Human vs. Artificial Intelligence: Science will solve everything; it knows a lot.
  • 49:21 What role will education play in the future? No grades; co-curricular experience.
  • 57:27 Learn to Adapt: Save yourself or serve others by saving the world?
  • 1:02:00 Success Defined: 
    • Self-satisfaction and peace of mind knowing that you did your best.
    • Reflect on values by focusing on relationships, respect, and responsibility.
  • 1:03:36 Self-Doubt: Able to help without all the answers and still make an impact?
  • 1:06:45 Lasting Lessons from Failures: Don’t panic, and practice what you preach.
  • 1:09:14 Easiest and Hardest Startup Parts: 
    • Hard to take care of yourself and get money from the university for the students.
    • Easy to do purpose-driven work and let others make their own decisions.

Links and Resources:


Jeff Sorensen’s Email

Jeff Pituch’s Email

An Inconvenient Truth (Movie)—Al Gore

Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)

Mark Zuckerberg

Michigan Prison Doula Initiative 


Noam Chomsky


Gary Vaynerchuk

John Wooden

Rusted Root – Send Me On My Way 

Episode 13: Fake It Till You Make It Applies to Those with Morals with Joe Malcoun

Huck Finch

Life On Brand Webpage

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