Juan David Aristizabal Ospina: A Colombian Social Entrepreneur With A Vision To Change The World


Juan David Aristizabal Ospina is a 24 year-old social entrepreneur who was increasingly fed up with how the Colombian media sensationalized violence and corruption instead of highlighting the positive things Colombians were doing. He then created Buena Nota which is a platform that highlights social entrepreneurs and Colombian citizens doing positive things and raising awareness about social problems that need to be fixed. He is essentially creating a movement for positive change in his country. He has also been recognized by Forbes as one of the top 30 under 30 year old social entrepreneurs. He has a pretty fascinating story as you can see below:

Tayo Rockson: What is your story? How did you get to where you are today? 

Juan David Aristizabal Ospina: Three experiences greatly influenced me to become a difference maker. The first experience occurred when I visited my grandfather's farm as a boy. I used to ask him why I could go to school but others couldn't remembering the time I had spent with farmers and their families growing up. I asked because I did not understand what the difference between me and the farmers was. So as a seven-year-old boy, I decided that I wanted to tell their stories. I jotted down notes, recorded their stories, and then took them to my school to be published in the school newspaper. My proposal was rejected, but I did not give up. Since my plan with the school did not work, I got a group of students in my school to gather stories of other workers in the community and we eventually managed to successfully publish 30 stories in the school newspaper, including those about the farmers I had written earlier.

The second influential experience came from lessons that my parents taught me. My mother is an artist and my father is an engineer —a very strange mix— but they each instilled in me different, but valuable perspectives and skills. They always asked me one particular question that stuck in my mind for good and that was "how are you going to serve the world?” This question has driven me to not be content with the status quo in society. As a result of this, I do not see being young as a weakness, and I told myself that I would not stop until real, widespread change has occurred.

The third experience that shaped who I am occurred when I was 13 years old. At school one day, the principal called me down to his office to tell me that one of my best friends was tragically killed by a gang. This event had an enormous impact on my life. When things like this happen, I believe that everyone has three possible ways to react. They can put on their headphones and block out the world, seek revenge, or use the experience to be a difference maker. What I decided to do was turn my fear into hope and strive to do that for others as well by helping them make a positive impact in their communities.

TR: Wow! Quite the story. I especially love how you turned that negative event into a positive experience for yourself. 

JDAO: Thank you. I really appreciate your kind words.

TR: You are very welcome. Your experiences obviously led you to venture out on your own and start Buena Nota. I am curious; when you hear the word entrepreneurship, what do you think of?

JDAO: Doing something that shakes and changes the world.

TR: You know I have been posing that question to other entrepreneurs for a while now and I have to say that I have never heard that response before. I love it! 

JDAO: Thank you Tayo!

TR: So with your journey as an entrepreneur, what are the essential skills you have found crucial to know?

JDAO: Three things.

Listening: It is very important to listen, you have to  be able to listen to communities, sponsors, and customers. Also you have to be able to listen for problems. An entrepreneur/leader has to be able to connect with people and a great way to do so is by listening.

Do! Be a go getter. You have to follow your dreams. “Dreams without actions are delusions”

Surround yourself with a team and by that I mean create and have a team of people that are better/more skilled than you in several areas.

TR: Why do you think it is important to give back?

JDAO: I believe that the world and life should be about seeing the best in others, when you see the best in other people, you see the best in yourself. I believe when you give back, you are giving the best of yourself. You are sharing your talents, and for me that is a necessary ingredient to having a successful life. 

TR: What advice do you have for other fellow young entrepreneurs out there?

JDAO: Just be yourself, work hard everyday and be grateful.

You can also follow Juan on Twitter.

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Tayo Rockson

Tayo Rockson is a storyteller, cultural translator, and brand strategist for change-makers on a mission to use his difference to make a difference.  He is a 4x TEDx speaker, the CEO of UYD Management, and the host of the As Told by Nomads podcast. In addition to that, he's been named a "Top 40 Millennial Influencer" by New Theory magazine. His book Use Your Difference To Make A Difference is based on how to connect and communicate in a cross-cultural world.

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