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Fast Company Piece on Jeff Skoll


Jeff Skoll On How He Uses The Power Of Storytelling To Push For Change

For his whole philanthropic career, the eBay co-founder has harnessed compelling narrative to help inform and inspire a better future.

Jeff Skoll, the first full-time employee and former president of eBay, believes in a good story. Through the power of storytelling and community, Skoll hopes to inspire people to help solve the world’s problems as well as provide opportunities for individuals to make a difference.

“If you can find ways to give people hope that they can achieve something or make a difference, then there’s an opportunity for something good to happen,” Skoll says.

Growing up in a middle class family in Montreal, Canada, Skoll never thought much about philanthropy. His family spent summers in upstate New York camping, where each week he loaded a box with books at the local library to entertain himself. He was struck then “that the world was heading into some pretty perilous times where there would be a huge explosion in population, big demand on resources, terrible new weapons, potential terrible new wars and plagues.”

Skoll envisioned his future as a writer crafting stories that would get people interested in and engaged in these issues that were shaping us all. He quickly surmised that writing was not the best way for him to make a living and therefore have an impact.

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Participant MediaAbout Participant Media

Founded in 2004 by Jeff Skoll, Participant Media’s (www.participantmedia.com) content combines the power of a good story well told with opportunities for real world impact and awareness around the most pressing global issues of our time. As an industry content leader, Participant annually produces up to six narrative feature films, five documentary films, three episodic television series, and more than 40 hours of digital short form programming, through its digital subsidiary SoulPancake—all aimed at entertainment that inspires social awareness and engaging audiences to participate in positive social change. Participant’s content and social impact mandate speaks directly to the rise of today’s “conscious consumer,” representing over 2 billion consumers who are compelled to make impactful content a priority focus. Through its worldwide network of traditional and digital distribution, aligned with partnerships with key non-profit and NGO organizations, Participant is positioned uniquely within the industry to engage a rapidly growing audience while bringing global awareness and action to today’s most vital issues.

Participant’s more than 80 films, including Spotlight, Contagion, Lincoln, The Help, He Named Me Malala, The Look of Silence, CITIZENFOUR, Food, Inc. and An Inconvenient Truth, have collectively earned 56 Academy Award® nominations and 12 wins, including Best Picture for Spotlight and Best Foreign Language Film for A Fantastic Woman. Participant’s digital entertainment division, SoulPancake (www.soulpancake.com), is an award-winning provider of thought-provoking, joyful, and uplifting digital content including such widely popular series as Kid President and The Science of Happiness and reaches an audience of nearly 9 million fans. Follow Participant Media on Twitter and on Facebook and Instagram. Follow SoulPancake on Twitter and on Facebook and Instagram.