Purpose Drives This CEO to Tackle Her Fears

Everyone is afraid of failure – no matter your accomplishments.

However, when you’re fighting for something bigger than yourself, the fear of failure becomes a little easier to deal with. The focus is less on you.

Personally, this approach has helped me overcome countless roadblocks, from lack of confidence to fear of negotiating a salary.  

Because I understand how far purpose can take us, I was thrilled to interview Christine Mendonca, CEO and Co-Founder of Humans on the Move, an organization which addresses the tactical and practical challenges of the refugee and migration crisis.  

Christine is purpose-driven, fighting for something bigger than herself, and as a result, has learned to take risks and overcome challenges that show up in her day to day.

The result?

Growth. Success. Joy. Focus. Impact. She’s changing the world and the lives of refugees.

Meet Christine, and learn how she leverages purpose to change the world.

Christine LeViseur Mendonça , CEO of a purpose-driven organization

Give us some background. Where are you from, and where did you start out?

I was born, raised, and still live in New Port Richey which is a part of the greater Tampa Bay area on the West Coast of Florida. I keep trying to leave, but I get pulled back because it’s really hard to move away from the beach.

After college, I worked in corporate finance for a multinational steel company here in Tampa for 5 years, and then in 2009, I was laid off. I was lucky because I was in an executive MBA program and had something to fall back on.

Over the next year, I decided I want to start my own business. I was given the opportunity to get involved in impact investing and decided to start my own firm.

As an evolution of that work, I co-founded and now run a company called Humans on the Move, which leverages the impact investment community, the rise of social entrepreneurship and the broader private sector to ethically address some of the tactical and practical challenges of the refugee and migration crisis.  

I get to wake up every day and really think about how to have a positive impact on a global challenge.

What is your mission, the work you want to do?

My personal motto is do something beyond prayer. I have never been one who sits on the sidelines and prays, especially if I can take action.

What led you there? Can you recall any experiences you had that pushed you to your mission?

The town I live in and grew up in has always been a place where refugees and asylum seekers were resettled. We welcome families and classmates from all over the world. When I graduated from high school there were 20 languages represented in my area, and more recently I heard the number is 30.

After doing this work I also realized I thrive when working on complicated and heavily nuanced work. Working with refugees and migrants is that kind of work. It pushes your emotional, intellectual, and physical limits. It’s when you’re not afraid to feel these emotions that doors open.

What challenges did you face along the way, and how did you overcome these challenges?

Getting out of my own way, and taking risks.

For example, I received an email to apply for special accreditation for the UN Global Compact on Migration. This is a two-year process. We’re also a for-profit social enterprise so we had to apply through Global Compact (which mainly consists of multinational corporations).

I thought there was no way we would get in, but I applied anyway.

We got in, and we’re 1 of 8 private sector companies given special accreditation.

Another challenge I’ve faced is learning when I should say “YES” versus “NO” when it comes to opportunities.

Saying no is difficult for many people. How do you know what to say no to?

I focus on the opportunities that are in alignment with my goals and values.

For example, this month I’m speaking at the Girls 20 Summit in Munich. Their mission speaks to me on a deep level, but it’s also an opportunity to further the Humans on the Move mission. As opportunities like this come up, I ask myself if I can genuinely have an impact on the audience.

I also ask myself if the opportunity will lead to new learning and growth.

At Work Bigger, one of our goals is to build creativity among readers and community members. We know this is a key skill required to thrive in the future of work. Can you share your definition of creativity?

Creativity is when you hit a wall, but you don’t see it as a dead end. Rather, you see it as an opportunity to find an alternative route, whether it’s through, under, around or a completely new path.

When are you most creative?

When I’m not sitting in front of my computer, which is why I always carry notebooks and pens with me.

What are your favorite go-to resources or experiences to help you build your creativity?

I knit, go for a walk without my headphones, or hit the beach, just to get away from technology. If I’m really working on a problem and need to get unstuck, sometimes I’ll give myself a spa night – so I know I’ll sleep well. Rest boosts my creativity.  

What advice do you have for 20 to 30-somethings who want to make an impact through their work but are currently feeling stuck?

Volunteer your professional skills to a nonprofit that’s addressing a cause you care about. Nonprofit organizations need the same skills that companies do, and if more of us donated our skills through time, they can reallocate dollars to better impact those in need.

Leverage that time to build your network so you can expand your opportunities.

To learn more, you can follow Christine’s work on Twitter. In the meantime, share with us in the comments – what’s the greatest insight you’ve learned from this interview? What’s one area of your work that gives you more purpose? Can you leverage that to overcome a particular fear or roadblock?