#27 Paul Brest: From smart philanthropy to impact investing

#27 Paul Brest: From smart philanthropy to impact investing

It was both exciting and daunting to speak with Paul Brest who’s come all the way from Stanford University in California. If you don’t know who Paul is, he was previously the Dean of Stanford Law School, he then moved over to head up the Hewlett Foundation where he focussed on philanthropy and began to explore whether investors could contribute to social impact. After 12 years there he returned to Stanford, as Professor Emeritus.

I first came across his work through his writing in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. His definitions and dissection of impact investing helped to strike a path for the sector’s development, but it was also the foundation of my own understanding. And Paul continues to fuel debate with his unapologetic views on what it means to have genuine, enduring impact.

On this episode…

…I wanted to hear if Paul’s views on philanthropy and impact investing had changed since I’d first read his arguments in the Stanford Social Innovation Review so many years ago. He told us about his latest book, he defined “Smart Philanthropy”, and he didn’t hold back in explaining why you can’t have real impact when investing in public markets.

My key takeaway this week…

…Impact Investors distinguish themselves like any other Private Equity investor; and that’s by identifying opportunities that others don’t see.

Good Future’s Good Books

Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century

By: George Packer

I’m reading a totally fascinating book right now. It doesn’t relate to anything we’ve been talking about today, it’s a biography of Richard Holbrook, who negotiated a peace treaty in the former Yugoslavia it’s a biography by George Packar. He was an obnoxious ego-maniac, but essentially, he was responsible for bringing peace to the Balkans. It’s a fascinating read. I would recommend that to anybody.


Stanford Social Innovation Review

Article: Unpacking the impact in impact investing

Perpetual Private

Bridges Funds Management

TPG Rise Fund

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