Atossa Soltani: [00:00:00] Ultimately, I think that when we connect with something greater than ourselves, we find meaning and that ultimately, life is about finding meaning and purpose.

Andy Molinsky: [00:00:18] Welcome to From the Dorm Room to the Board Room, a podcast where we provide insights, tips and inspiration for college students and young professionals. So, they can make a really successful transition from college life to the professional world and beyond. My name is Andy Molinsky and I'm your host. I'm also a professor of organizational behavior and international management at Brandeis University's International Business School, where we record and produce this podcast.

Andy Molinsky: [00:00:55] Today's guest is Atossa Soltani, who's the founder and board president of Amazon Watch and served as the organization's first executive director for 18 years. Currently, she's the Director of Global Strategy for the Amazon Sacred Headwaters Initiative, working to protect one of the most bio-diverse ecosystems on Earth. The initiative is led by an alliance of Amazonian indigenous nations of Ecuador and Peru, with support from Fundacion Pachamama, Amazon Watch and the Pachamama Alliance.

Andy Molinsky: [00:01:28] Atossa is the Hillary Institute 2013 Global Laureate for Climate Leadership and recipient of the 2014 Hillary Step Prize. She's currently producing her first feature-length documentary film, very cool, titled The Flow, about learning from nature's genius. She served on the board of trustees of the Christensen Funds and was board chair of the Christensen Fund for several years. Atossa, I am very happy to welcome you to From the Dorm Room to the Board Room. Thanks so much for being on.

Atossa Soltani: [00:02:03] Thank you, Andy. It's great to be here.

Andy Molinsky: [00:02:05] Great. So, I just sort of read what you do, but tell us about what you do, what your organization's about for just someone who really doesn't know much about it.

Atossa Soltani: [00:02:16] So, Amazon Watch and also, the Sacred Headwaters Initiative works to protect the rain forest in the Amazon basin with indigenous peoples who are the guardians of the forests, the immune system of the forest, and who know best how to protect the forest. So, we work in partnership and work in solidarity, both at the regional, local and global level to basically halt this destruction of the rain forest, to increase levels of protection, to advance land rights and indigenous peoples' rights to their territories and their way of life and their self-determination and human rights.

Atossa Soltani: [00:02:57] And so, we are doing advocacy and campaigns and education and on the ground work all together in a holistic way to safeguard this vital organ. The Amazon rain forest is a vital organ for our planet. It generates rainfall and regulates the global climate and harbors 20 percent of the world's freshwater and a majority of the world's biodiversity. And so, it's an important global treasure. And the survival of humanity depends on the Amazon rain forest. So, our work is really to sound the alarm bells and advance solutions for protecting the forest.

Andy Molinsky: [00:03:43] And then, I'd love to hear your story of how you got interested in this and how you took such a leadership role, but let's actually rewind to college where I know some of our listeners are right now and some others have, you know, fairly recently graduated. Where did you go to college? What did you major in? Let's hear a bit about your story.

Atossa Soltani: [00:04:06] Well, you know, I was an immigrant when I was 13. We had to leave Iran, originally from Iran, and we had to leave in a hurry because of the revolution. And I shipped off to my uncle in Akron, Ohio. And so, while we were waiting for our, you know, family to get reconstituted and get legal status, we just had to stay in Akron, Ohio. And so, I went to University of Akron. I majored initially in computer science because that was, you know, what I thought I wanted to do.

Atossa Soltani: [00:04:41] And I had like, you know, real knack for math and was a little geeky as a kid and liked to read science and math problems, were, you know, inspiring to me. But then, I went to school for computers and realized quickly within a year that that was not for me. Computer science was not for me. I was much more too social and too interested in politics and world affairs and the environment even back then to be in a, you know, programming booth all day.

Atossa Soltani: [00:05:13] And so, I changed my major pretty much towards the end of my first year and moved to public policy management, which is a new discipline then. It was a cross between political science and public administration. And so, I did my degree in public policy management and that was really helpful, I admit. I also worked as a secondary minor in Latin American studies and also, really was interested and fascinated around economics. And so, that kind of led me through that path.

Andy Molinsky: [00:05:47] Interesting. And so, do you remember what it was like as you were graduating college and thinking about the types of jobs that you might try out? What were you thinking? What was it like? And then, what did you eventually do?

Atossa Soltani: [00:06:02] So, what happens when I changed my major from computer science to political science, my first year, end of my first year, I was in the mid-semester and my advisor said, "Well, you know, you can't be a full-time student on a student visa without being, you know, so many credits, so you have to take something else." And the only thing I could take was an internship. So, I decided to intern—well, I'll back up and say in my first year of college, I learned about the Gaia hypothesis, literally almost the first month on campus.

Atossa Soltani: [00:06:33] The Gaia hypothesis being this theory about the Earth being a living system and then, being alive. Gaia, the Earth as a biosphere that's basically, actually interacting to maintain conditions for life over billions of years and its intelligence as a living system. And so, that really like made a huge difference in who I felt I was as a human being. You know, as immigrant from Iran, all of the sudden, I was a part of Gaia, this living Earth and political boundaries didn't matter so much.

Atossa Soltani: [00:07:06] It was an awakening moment. So, right then, that was kind of my passion and moved into something more practical, like political science, public policy. And then, when I changed my major physically, I had no choice but to take something. And the only thing I could do is an internship. So, I interned with basically Ohio Citizen Action, which is a public interest group that worked on local laws and statewide laws and legislations around the environment and public policy issues around consumer rights and labor rights and environmental protection.

Atossa Soltani: [00:07:43] So, I started my first year, end of my first year interning for that organization. And that became where I went for my summer work. And that's where I started to being a canvasser and political activist. And that led to, eventually, the whole time I was in college, I was also working for citizen action. And I did everything from field canvassing and fundraising to political organizing to actually then running a program that I helped design on energy efficiency and for low-income housing.

Atossa Soltani: [00:08:18] So, I worked my way through college and everything that I was learning, school felt like it had some relevance to my work or vice versa. Everything I was learning on my work, I was able to see and learn from in the theoretical sense in the classroom. So, that kind of got me, like my career started kind of instantaneously. It was a big load to do work and being a student full time, but I felt like I wouldn't have traded it for anything else. It made my college work so much more relevant and interesting.

Andy Molinsky: [00:08:54] So, it's interesting. When I hear your story, I hear the passion, you know, in terms of advocacy even early on. But then, even earlier than that, you said that you were thinking of majoring in computer science or computers because you liked math and problem solving and then, you realized you didn't want to be stuck in a cubicle or that you were more social, want to be out there in the world. Where do you think the fire was lit for you, though, in terms of passion about the causes that you were interested in, you know, a little later in college? And then, what's passionate to you right now?

Atossa Soltani: [00:09:34] Well, so, you know, incidentally, the revolution in Iran was a real awakening moment. You know, I was a young kid, 12, 13 years old, and everything seemed normal one day. And then, the next thing I knew, things were in an upheaval and an uprising. And we were caught in political protests and tear gassing and literally, in the middle of a revolution. And that experience, my final six months in Iran was just, you know, basically a constant upheaval. Martial law, school being shut down completely, you know.

Atossa Soltani: [00:10:14] And I was just old enough to be curious about what was happening. And so, I asked a lot of questions and got really curious about kind of the political context of where we were. You know, just even before that, if you go back a couple of years before that, my father loved to travel in Iran. And we were always traveling on weekends and vacations. And we had spent a lot of time in nature. And there's actually a magical rain forest or forest in the mountains of Iran where we have a lot of family gatherings and picnics.

Atossa Soltani: [00:10:47] And it was like my favorite place. It's a place I came alive. So, I would say the seed of loving the forests and loving the Earth and nature, being curious about, you know, the magic and mystery of the natural world started as a young child in the mountains, in the cold forest of northern Iran. And then, the revolution, I think, really sparked my curiosity about the political system. And so, maybe that's why I was curious.

Atossa Soltani: [00:11:17] And of course, I moved to the states at a time where the hostage crisis was happening. And there was, you know, basically a lot of Iranians were not regarded well or popular or even, you know, treated well in places like Akron, Ohio. So, I really connected to the international students and the global issues, as almost a way of making sense of the world. And that attempt to make sense kind of led me to this path of discovering. wow, you know, yes, political boundaries are important, but there is a living system that supports life on this Earth.

Atossa Soltani: [00:11:57] And literally, my first week in college, I met a woman who became my best friend. And her family had roots in Peru, although she was American and she was studying biology. And she's the one who first told me about the Amazon rain forest. And I don't know, it's like a big reveal for me between learning about Gaia and learning about the rain forest, something sparked in me. And I decided, wow, this is like a realm to explore. What a fascinating realm to explore some amazing teachings right here.

Atossa Soltani: [00:12:32] And then, that became, you know, that calling. That became a calling. And I decided to follow that path of my calling. And all along the way, I think, you know, so much of what we see in the world is it defines the kind of life we end up living. And so, for me to see the world as this like living Earth and for me to learn about the living systems of the rain forest was almost a way I discovered that, you know, I could understand something about the Earth and my place in it.

Atossa Soltani: [00:13:09] So, yeah. So, I would say that that's partly where the passion came from. And then, you know, one thing leads to another. I think we meet mentors along the way. I quickly met several people who became my mentors in college. One was Lois Gibbs, who was the hero of Love Canal, who is a mother who had organized her community to stop the worst toxic waste dump in America. And she is a very famous case. And I got to meet her at the age of 17. And she really inspired me.

Atossa Soltani: [00:13:42] I also got to meet an economist on campus at the University of Akron who later became my colleague and roommate. You know, she really taught me a lot about the edge of thought in terms of like quantum physics and the Tao of physics and the books by Fritjof Capra about systems thinking and alternative economies. And so, really, she inspired me in a great way. And she was an economics professor at the University of Akron. So, those early mentors also really helped to provide guidance and coherence about, you know, who I was and what I was meant to do in the world.

Andy Molinsky: [00:14:25] And you founded Amazon Watch. Tell us about the founding.

Atossa Soltani: [00:14:30] Well, you could say it found me. So, between 1982 when I started college and 1990, which when I moved to California after graduating from college, I was doing work in public policy and energy policy, water policy, conservation, resource management. That was my professional work, but I was doing activism on the side and having dreams about the Amazon and working in the rain forest. And so, the rain forest became kind of a little bit of an obsession for me.

Atossa Soltani: [00:15:08] So, people who knew me, basically, would not escape me talking about the importance of this place and how it was being destroyed. Finally, in 1990, I decided I wanted to take a plunge. Actually, a friend of mine, another mentor from the California Water Issues where I was working—I moved to California and started work with the City of Santa Monica in water conservation and doing water conservation programs and policies and changing building codes. And, you know, really, a huge program that I inherited at a very young age in my early 20s.

Atossa Soltani: [00:15:48] And that was really exciting. And I was learning the practical skills of program implementation and public relations and public policy. But on the side, I was, you know, having these dreams about being in the rain forest. And literally, these recurring dreams that I was in the Amazon. And at this time, you know, in 1990, a friend of mine drove me to the Rainforest Action Network. We were in San Francisco for a meeting. And he said, you know, "Get in the car. We have a couple hours off. I want to show you something."

Atossa Soltani: [00:16:19] So, I got in the car. He wouldn't tell me where we're going. Drove across to the East Bay, from East Bay to San Francisco, went to the office of Rainforest Action Network. He opened the door and he said, "Okay. We really love you. You're an amazing person, but we're really kind of sick of you talking about the rain forest all these years. And we think you should do something about it. So, I called up the Rainforest Action Network and got the director to agree to meet with you. So, go in there and tell him you can't stop talking about the rain forest and this is what you want to do with your life."

Atossa Soltani: [00:16:51] And so, I did. And that was another turning point where I was empowered. Started volunteering for its action group and to help lead campaigns, which I did as a volunteer on the side for several years until the Rainforest Action Network saw the value of my skill sets and what I was bringing, organizing in Los Angeles, organizing celebrities and Hollywood people and raising money and getting media attention and putting pressure on companies that we were targeting that were involved in the rain forest destruction, that they decided to hire me.

Atossa Soltani: [00:17:28] And so, literally, I ended up—but it was a big leap because I had the city job, I had really good benefits. In a really young age, I was already making way more, earning so much, like three or four times the amount I would have made in the nonprofit sector. And I didn't even really have a guaranteed job. I just had the director of Rainforest Action Network said to me, "Well, we can hire you for three months, for 20 hours a week, for $13 an hour, but, you know, maybe this will turn into something bigger. We'll give you this opening and then, you can see where you can take it."

Atossa Soltani: [00:18:08] So, I leaped and did this complete leap to this position, this really part-time position out of a completely secure public service job that was guaranteed with benefits and a huge amount of, you know, real influence as well and was loving it as well. But this was my dream moment. So, I jumped and I took the leap of faith into the void. And then, started working for Rainforest Action Network full time.

Atossa Soltani: [00:18:42] And then, six years later, I felt like the Rainforest Action Network was doing great work, but I wanted to get closer to the ground in the Amazon. I was working on rain forest issues all over the world, but it was a desk job. And I really wanted to get into the field and work directly on the Amazon. And so, I started Amazon Watch. And it wasn't something that I like set out to start a new organization. I just wanted to work on the Amazon.

Atossa Soltani: [00:19:06] And I was sort of starting to feel like I needed to move from Rainforest Action Network because they couldn't make space for this Amazon project. And one day, it's kind of a long story, but I'll make it really short, I was invited to an event with the president of Brazil in 1996. He was getting an award at Stanford. But here, I had just done all this research showing how his policies were really detrimental to human rights, indigenous rights, and the forest future of the Amazon.

Atossa Soltani: [00:19:36] He had announced his big plan, had been written up in Time magazine. And it was election-year, so he was at Stanford getting an award with a plane full of journalists. And he'd invited Rainforest Action Network to come and given us front row seats as all other cause would had. And we were obligated to go, but I felt like I couldn't go and just sit there and not take action. And after all, Rainforest Action Network is all about the action.

Atossa Soltani: [00:20:04] But it just didn't seem like it was going to work for Rainforest Action Network to do an action during that big moment for the president of Brazil. So, I went, got a bullhorn, listened to the talk, actually, couldn't take the bullhorn inside the auditorium, then waited for, you know, the talk to end, went outside, got the bullhorn, ran outside, where I noticed there was a bank of cameras, like 30 or 40 journalists lined up with cameras.

Atossa Soltani: [00:20:33] Plain little journalists from Brazil had come to cover this big award ceremony for the president who was up for re-election. And I stood up on top of this little ledge and took out my bullhorn and started, you know, speaking to him as he was walking past the, you know, line of journalists on his way to his limousine. And he actually stopped for a few seconds and looked at me, where I was saying, you know, "Here's what you said. Here's what you're doing."

Atossa Soltani: [00:21:01] And then, he looked at me long enough for the media to capture the shot of me face-to-face with the president of Brazil with the bullhorn. And then, he got in his limousine and drove away, leaving me with an impromptu press conference, which I didn't have even a press release for, just it was a total and spontaneous action. And then, he said to me—I mean, the media asked me, the media said, "So, what is this about and who are you with?" And I was passing frantically the copy of the Time magazine article. And when they said, "Who are you with?" I realized I can't say Rainforest Action Network.

Atossa Soltani: [00:21:33] So, I took a deep breath and I said, Amazon Watch. I just made it up. And the next day, it was pretty much, you know, many cover story in many newspapers, local and global. And then, my friends at the Rainforest Action Network said, "Well, now, you've done it. You've started the Amazon Watch." So then, I went ahead and started Amazon Watch in 1996 with support from many organizations, including Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace and others. And here we are, 23 years later, one of the leading voices in the Amazon working with indigenous peoples.

Andy Molinsky: [00:22:12] It's quite a story. You know, a story I've never heard before. I have to just say that it feels like there's something almost spiritual about all of this.

Atossa Soltani: [00:22:25] It is.

Andy Molinsky: [00:22:27] I feel like I just wrote even a couple of notes of and listened to like these misty mountains in the north of Iran and that guardian angel who sort of brought you in the car and brought you to this meeting, you know, sort of like transitioned you from where you were to where you need to be, sort of like these dreams that you were having, this crazy serendipitous event and moment where you happened to be there with the president. There's a lot of like, I don't know how to even describe it, I guess spiritual is the word I have, but I don't know what you think about all that.

Atossa Soltani: [00:22:59] Well, you know, I told you, see what you mean, I feel like, you know, back to the theory of Gaia, if the Earth is an intelligent living body of this living Earth and we are cells in that living body. And there is literally some function and purpose to cells. So, cells serve the organism. And some of us are hearing that call and some of us aren't. We're all being asked to serve the larger life, you know, conditions conducive for life.

Atossa Soltani: [00:23:36] Our role as humans on this Earth is to continue to perpetuate, be good ancestors to life, to all of life, not just human lives. And I think I saw that. I've felt that. And I think I've been called to that. And maybe there's a—you know, I have this like story I tell myself that the Amazon rain forest sends out a frequency just like a radio station would. And I happened to tune into that frequency and, you know, be guided by it.

Atossa Soltani: [00:24:05] And so, I totally appreciate that, too, that you see that spiritual element because ultimately, I think that when we connect with something greater than ourselves, we find meaning and that ultimately, life is about finding meaning and purpose in our place. And so, I feel like that's been my past. And I'd tell you a story, about 15 years—Amazon Watch was celebrating its 15th anniversary in Los Angeles back in 2010 and I had invited one of my closest indigenous partners from Columbia, an elder named Berito KuwarU'wa, who was U'wa leader from northeastern Columbia.

Atossa Soltani: [00:24:50] It's not even in the Amazon. But when we started the Amazon Watch, the first indigenous people who called out for our support were the U'wa. And we supported them in a seven-year battle to stop Occidental Petroleum from drilling for oil on their territory. And we became very close. We continue to be allies and supporters of the U'wa. And we invited him to come speak at our party on our 15th anniversary.

Atossa Soltani: [00:25:16] And I was translating, he said, "Atossa thinks she created Amazon Watch." And I'm like, "Where is he going with this?" And he's like, "She did not create Amazon Watch. Amazon Watch was born out of the vision of our elders and medicine people who were calling for the formation of, you know, organizations and entities that defend life and defend the web of life. And, you know, this was a dream and a prayer of our elders and our medicine people. She just happened to receive it." I was like-

Andy Molinsky: [00:25:56] You were the chosen one.

Atossa Soltani: [00:25:58] Well, there are many. I mean, there's many. They're calling all of us. And I think it's a question of those who were tuned in. You know, are we tuning into that frequency? And, you know, I had a lot of trepidations when I started Amazon Watch. I was like, I had a lot of fear, like what am I doing as an Iranian immigrant who barely speaks Spanish and Portuguese and who has never lived in the rain forest and, you know, what agency do I have, like who am I to think that I can really make this difference?

Atossa Soltani: [00:26:35] And I sat with it for a long time. I meditated and reflected on this question for a long time because I knew it was going to be another 10 or 20 years of my life or maybe the rest of my life. And so, I really wanted to know that I was, you know, the right person or I could have something to offer and I wasn't getting myself into something impossible. And the answer that came in my meditations was that those of us who are hearing it, hearing the call, those of us who were receiving the transmissions need to act not from a place that we're going to save the world, but from a place that we just do our part.

Atossa Soltani: [00:27:16] And the vision that came to me was almost like a domino, like if I fall, and it's not really the right metaphor, I don't want to fall, but if I topple something, then it will have a, you know, ripple effect and that we cannot know the power of the action. If we're feeling called to it and we're feeling driven in service of something greater, we just take the step and the universe will actually meet us, the web of life, you know, will meet us, conspire to meet us.

Atossa Soltani: [00:27:55] And so, that's been kind of the path. And I think the other thing is that we in the West learn a lot from young age, you know, this motto of make it happen. The idea that we're like driving change as a way of making things happen. You know, our mindset of driving change or dominating change or dominating things is very much the way that we're taught. Success comes from that perseverance and making stuff happen.

Atossa Soltani: [00:28:25] And I am, you know, a student and I've been, you know, more and more a student of this idea of the way, the Tao, this idea of nature's way. And that is actually, you know, embedded in systems science, systems thinking and which is basically saying that we start with just a lot of humble observation. You know, we scan the horizon and we wait for the right action. And then, spontaneously, often, something—you know, we continue to be ready for it and work towards our vision.

Atossa Soltani: [00:29:03] But we don't push towards our vision, we allow it to emerge. And then, in a way, like if you think about a metaphor, you could think of the wave in the ocean. You know, you're riding a wave and the wave comes and then, you re-ride it. And you can't stop the wave, you can't swim against the wave and you can't predict the wave. We just ride it when it comes. And that metaphor for how, you know, we stay ready to the present, to the moment and to our passion and purpose and wait for those opportunities and then, ride them.

Atossa Soltani: [00:29:38] And then, at a certain time, you think, "Okay." You know, I guess for 18 years later, I thought, "Well, I'm really ready to let go of running an organization and being the executive director, but I'm not done with the learning and the purpose of protecting the forests and serving the web of life." And I stayed in this—again, I took a total leap into darkness with no hey, no consultancy, nothing. You know, no income to speak of, just kind of took a step off being the ED and waited for what else is there.

Atossa Soltani: [00:30:13] And the conversations that we started having with indigenous peoples, with the organizations like Amazon Watch and Pachamama led to the creation of an alliance to protect the headwaters, the most amazing, bio-diverse part of the Amazon rain forest. And that's kind of generated into a new role for me, which is really building this alliance and helping to direct the strategy for how we protect the headwaters of the Amazon.

Andy Molinsky: [00:30:41] Such an interesting story. And, you know, we're nearing the end here and I just want to ask you one last question. And then, actually, it's another image or metaphor, you know, as you were talking about the wave, which is a great way of thinking about it. Sort of the lack of control maybe that we have, but the opportunity that we can still seek if we notice, if we watch. I was thinking about that idea that you had about how you were tuned in to, you know, the frequency of your calling, you know, that there is—and I had this image in my head that's, you know, what advice would you give to college students and young professionals?

Andy Molinsky: [00:31:21] Many of whom want a sense of calling, at least a meaning and purpose in their work and in their lives, but, you know, that they don't necessarily hear it, they're not tuned in. You know, the image that popped into my head was like a New Yorker cartoon of all these callings coming down from the heavens of all these potential amazing ways that people could be called, but everyone in the picture is sort of head down looking at their cell phone. And they don't notice it. They don't hear it. They're not attuned to it. And that is just image that popped into my head. But, you know, what advice would you give someone just about discovering a purpose and meaning in their professional lives?

Atossa Soltani: [00:32:07] Well, you know, this is a big story I'm trying to tell, which is the larger story is this story of life, you know, becoming a student of life, a student of the natural world of which we're a part of. I mean, we have such a understanding that we are separate from nature, that we are, men and then, there's, you know, parks and nature, and we're not nature. But actually, you know, modern science is telling us that we're actually continuum, nature is a continuum.

Atossa Soltani: [00:32:39] All the way from the cells and the atoms in our bodies, all the way to the biosphere is one continuum fractal patterns of living systems that are nested in each other and are in symbiosis, in harmony, in community, in connection, and constantly co-resonating and co-evolving. Even within our human body, there's, you know, something like a hundred non-human cells to every human cell. Somewhere between 50 and 100 percent other non-human cells were probiotics and living organisms that make our existence possible.

Atossa Soltani: [00:33:22] So, we are also an ecosystem. And then, we're nested in a bigger ecosystem. And that, you know, when I think about this idea of how humans think with their minds, we can solve all of the world's problems and, you know, when I look at it, nature has all of the answers and that we are nature. So, those answers are also in us. And that if we look to nature for guidance, how does nature distribute goods and nutrients? And how does nature, you know, cooperate and communicate and co-evolve and flourish and grow and become more complex and more adaptive and more resilient?

Atossa Soltani: [00:34:00] Those are, philosophically speaking and metaphorically speaking and scientifically speaking, the teachings that we need to learn to not have an educational system that gives people ecological literacy. By the time you graduate from high school or college, you should know the lessons of how living systems work and how those lessons apply to whether you're, you know, creating goods or services or you're creating a marketing plan or you're developing your, you know, career in medicine?

Atossa Soltani: [00:34:30] How do those lessons from nature influence and inform the way we do our daily work? And so, I think that's where I would say, I would point to, to advice people to be a student of nature, see nature as your teacher, look for metaphors in everything you do as something that nature's already got an elegant solution for and that you can learn from. And that ultimately, we know through science that serving the greater whole and connecting within communities that serve life enriches our lives.

Atossa Soltani: [00:35:09] And staying inspired. I would say stay inspired. What inspires you? Feed that inspiration. Feed what inspires you. And seek mentors and never stop learning. I mean, I feel like most of the learning I did in college were not in my former classes. Most of the learning I did in college and since have been through meeting incredible people who are at the edge of this discovering the secrets and mysteries of the Earth, like Fritjof Capra with The Web of Life and people like, you know, David Korten who wrote Change the Story, Change the Future or Charles Eisenstein, who writes about the climate story and many other, the sacred economics and folks like that who have just-

Atossa Soltani: [00:35:54] Just take a few minutes to say that one of the greatest things about my life the last 25, 30 years has been being close to and learning from indigenous peoples and, well, elders and wisdom keepers and everyday communities when you're in the forest living with indigenous peoples. And also, I travel a lot around the world where indigenous leaders come. We'd learn from them not only how to—we learn from them how to see the world.

Atossa Soltani: [00:36:25] We're here to be good ancestors and all of life has always been in reciprocity. So, humans in reciprocity, that means we give more than we take. And that's just the ethics of being alive and a good ancestor. And that's what we have to teach our kids. And so, I think that it's almost like original instructions for how to live in harmony with each other and with the Earth. And that comes from indigenous wisdom. And I think it's available to us. It's incredibly available to us. And it's life changing when we surrender to that wisdom.

Andy Molinsky: [00:37:01] And I think that's a wise message and a great place to end on. And if people want to learn more about what you do, is there a place we can send them?

Atossa Soltani: [00:37:13] Sure. I would say send them to and also, and on social media.

Andy Molinsky: [00:37:25] Yeah, and we'll include those links in the show notes. And yeah, I wanted to thank you so much. You've caused me to think a lot today. And I know that people listening will have a similar impact. So, thank you again.

Atossa Soltani: [00:37:41] Thank you so much.

Andy Molinsky: [00:37:44] Thank you for listening to From the Dorm Room to the Board Room. If you're interested in learning more about the work that I do in helping people step outside their comfort zones and transition successfully into the professional world, please visit my website, That's And also, feel free to email me directly at with any feedback or ideas for guests for future podcasts.

Andy Molinsky: [00:38:15] This podcast is brought to you by Brandeis University's International Business School. By teaching rigorous business, finance and economics, connecting students to best practices and immersing them in international experiences, Brandeis International Business School prepares exceptional individuals from around the globe to become principled professionals in companies and public institutions worldwide. Thank you so much for listening.