Choosing Change
Choosing Change

Alex Budak is a social entrepreneur, professional faculty at UC Berkeley, and an advocate that each of us can lead positive change from wherever we are. He co-founded and now advises, which has helped 1,000+ social impact organisations in 50+ countries to raise USD 10M+.

At UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Alex developed and teaches the “Becoming a Changemaker” course, which is the first university course created specifically for changemakers to learn mindsets and leadership skills for positive change across sectors and disciplines.

Before joining UC Berkeley, he helped lead's Series D fundraising round, raising USD 30M from world-renowned investors including Bill Gates, Richard Branson, and Sam Altman.


I’ve been an iPhone guy since the very first model.

I remember watching Steve Jobs’ iPhone keynote on repeat – “it’s an iPod, a phone, an internet communicator; an iPod, a phone, an internet communicator!”  – over and over. I listen to Apple-centric podcasts and I read Apple rumour blogs.

So it came as quite a shock to my family and friends when they saw me pop up with a green SMS bubble when I texted them from my new Android phone.

Why did I switch to Android after 10 years of iOS, they all asked?

It certainly wasn’t because I stopped liking iPhones.

Sure, the camera on the Pixel was a big motivator. And the cheaper price tag was nice. But there was one real reason I switched.



I wanted to force myself to proactively seek out and adapt to change. To get myself comfortable with the discomfort that change can bring – to escape the safe and secure walled garden of iOS. I wanted to push myself to figure out a new operating system; to get off of auto-pilot; to persevere in the face of confusion, uncertainty, and inconstancy; to consciously and proactively introduce more change into my life – even in a form as trivial as a mobile phone.

A world that is changing faster than ever requires leaders and individuals who can not only adapt to change, but who are so comfortable in the face of it that they can leverage, steer, and shape change to create a more just world.

But it isn’t easy and it certainly isn’t automatic. It’s helpful to practise adapting to change in smaller ways so that we can be ready for the bigger, more consequential change we seek to create.

Success in the 21st century will be determined by which of two groups you join. Will you be someone who simply reacts to change as it occurs around you? Or will you choose to become a changemaker? 

A changemaker is a leader who is resilient, creative, collaborative, and optimistic; a leader who can work across sectors and hierarchies and defies stereotypes, and courageously questions the status quo; a leader ready and able to create the future. 

In the scheme of the change facing our world today – global warming, technological innovation, workforce automation – the choice of a mobile phone is hilariously quaint. But it’s not about the scale of the change itself – it’s about practising the changemaker mindset which embraces and chooses to change rather than avoiding or dreading it.



We all want and need to develop our changemaking muscles. To train ourselves to adapt to change, we should start by practising overcoming smaller slices of change: micro changes. Here are some opportunities for you to start practising today.

  • On your evening walk, take a different path each night of the week.
  • Communicate only using Snapchat  –  no email –  for an entire day (like travel start-up HotelTonight did!)
  • Eat evening meal foods for breakfast and breakfast foods for in the evening.
  • Switch sides of the bed with your spouse.
  • If you normally drink coffee in the morning, drink tea instead.
  • Let a friend choose all the music you listen to for a week.

Does considering this make you uncomfortable? Great! That’s a sign you should absolutely give it a shot. Plus, I’m sure you can think of many examples of your own. These small acts of change will help you prepare to face a world in which change is the only constant.

Choosing change over stability in your daily life will give you the confidence, agility, and courage to be someone who doesn’t back away from big change, but who thrives in the face of it. Conquer enough micro changes and you will be ready to handle all of the larger changes to come.


Learn more from Alex Budak on how to be a changemaker at the MERIT Annual Summit in Seville on 5-6 February 2020.