10 Questions with Marc Khoo: Changemaker and Global ONEWorld Summit Director

Changemaker. Social entrepreneur. These are two words that seem to be banded around so frequently these days. But how many people really know what either of them mean? Or what it takes to be one? Well if you don’t know, here’s someone that might change that for you – introducing Marc Khoo.

Driven by the power of youth and the lasting change that we can make in all aspects of the world; Khoo has been working tirelessly on projects that harness precisely those two things. One of the key people behind Onely, an ecosystem of businesses and communities which collaborate towards social impact, he is busy launching ONEWorld Summit in 6 cities this year, a youth event that aims to create the most transformational 2-day experience for young social changemakers and entrepreneurs. We fire some questions at him and feel ready to make the world a better place!

1. Where do you find your inspiration?

I find my inspiration within my own life. I believe that inspiration is self-curated as the opportunities to be amazed and to learn are all around us- we just have to start seeing instead of looking, listening instead of hearing, and feeling instead of touching. I am also motivated to keep going on this journey because I know that in my own unique way, I can be a role model to others through the experiences that are specific to me.

2. What’s the worst piece of advice you’ve been given?

I have learnt to believe that there isn’t a necessarily bad piece of advice but rather, an inappropriate piece of advice. Advice from people stems from either their perspective on the situation or due to a lack of information regarding the situation. Either way, there is some relevance, and the applicability of the given advice really comes down to the attitude in which we receive it.

. It seems everybody wants to be a social entrepreneur, but what does it take to be a changemaker?

I believe that to be a changemaker, one really needs a heart capable of feeling both happiness and sadness, and that really comes from taking stock of your myriad of positive and negative experiences. It is essential to understand what memory pained you the most and what brought you the most joy and then how you can draw from those memories and affect change within your community. It is key to remember that change does not need to be on a large scale, everyone has his or her individual scope of change. 

4. When you are asked the question how do you change the world your answer is…

I believe I am on a mission to facilitate people’s discovery of their true life story and how they can make it an impactful one, no matter what their background or current circumstance. We are so focused on drawing the perfect picture of our future but we need to understand that there is a lot of benefit to be derived from completing the image by using a simpler, easier manner of connecting the dots (stories) in our lives.

5. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

I would like to have the power to grant wishes to people like the genie in Aladdin as I find joy in being able to give to others the gifts that they need the most! The right gift can bring so much joy to people and all it takes is really asking them what they need most.

6. What makes you angry?

I get frustrated or disappointed when people tell me they don’t know what they are passionate about or when they think that passion is solely about their ‘love’ for an activity instead of an affinity to a mindset. I believe that if we start to put more focus on living right by ourselves, we are all capable of being even more self-aware and asking ourselves the appropriate questions to find what truly excites us.

7. You’re about to meet Barrack Obama and you can only ask one question. What do you ask?

Wow. I have never ever entertained the idea of meeting Barack Obama. I probably would ask him where he derives his energy from every time he speaks to the public and what was the best lesson he has received from the local community.

8. What are 3 pieces of advice you would give to budding social entrepreneurs?

  • Network with a purpose: Networking is a necessary behaviour for entrepreneurs but it is essential that both parties (or at least, the entrepreneur) state their purpose or vision early on in the conversation.
  • Be passionate: Passion is the greatest tool a changemaker can possess! It will flow out of everything you say, every gesture you make and every emotion you portray on your face. It eyes were the window to one’s soul, passion is the image that someone sees when peering in.
  • Exude Authenticity: Yes, this is cliché but in actual fact, I have found out there are so many ways to be authentic which has not been mentioned in popular literature. Be authentic in what you feel and don’t hide behind society’s notions of how we need to portray ourselves to protect our image and reputation.

9. Where do you see social entrepreneurship being in 10 years time?

Collaboration! Right now, I see many social enterprises being created and many companies developing a strong social focus so in a decade’s time, there will be an abundance of social enterprises and social leaders. With all the innovation that exists and the ideas that are being implemented, opportunities to accelerate positive social change will come about through collaboration. When everyone starts connecting based on a common vision, these opportunities will constantly come knocking and we will embrace it with total unselfishness.

10. The future is….

The future is in the hands and minds of the next generation, always. With our current resources, let’s continue to strive to build a society that we will be proud to entrust to our younger siblings and our children.

You can find out more about ONEWorld Summit here. To find out more about Mark Khoo and his personal projects check out his blog here.


Chief Editor

Emily heads the editorial team on City Nomads by being a stickler for details, a grammar Nazi, and a really picky eater. Born and bred in Singapore, she loves cats, the written word, and exploring new places. Can be bribed with quality booze across the board.

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