Hi! Welcome to The Lean Volunteer, where you can learn how to create your very own adventure of a lifetime, one that will change how you know the world, do your work, and live your life.

In 2014-2015, I decided to take a trip around the world for a year, 28 countries, all by myself (since I couldn’t persuade anyone to join me for that kind of open ended adventure).  My name is Dave Meader, a business professor, business consultant, and nonprofit donor.  Having reached a place in my life where I had some leeway with my obligations, and fortunate enough to have some time and money on my side, I pointed West from San Francisco and started my journey.  Not wanting to live as just a tourist, I had an idea to get beneath the “tourist layer” of hotels, tour guides, and monuments, to meet and really get to know locals and their way of living.  It occurred to me that one of the quickest and easiest ways to connect with and make friends of new people is to work with them towards a shared goal.  And given my background and experience in business, I realized I could pull this off by helping small social enterprises (both for profit and nonprofit) in some of the countries I visited.  So I offered my business consulting services for free, as a volunteer, to work with the staffs of 7 very different kinds of organizations, in return for a place to sleep.  No money passed between us.  (For more on how I decided all this crazy stuff out, check out my blog post “How I Decided to Travel The world For  A Year“)

Upon returning home I looked around for something to do with this experience and was struck by how many business professionals asked me how I did it.  That yearning question popped up so often  that I realized this might be a classic “market opportunity”.  So I started writing a how-to book, which is nearing completion: The Lean Volunteer: How to Travel the World and Do Good with Your Business Expertise (sign up for a discounted copy when it’s available).   My ambition is simple:  give business professionals the knowledge, ability, and mindset to travel to far off countries and help improve the business operations of solid social enterprises that are serving lower income communities.  In essence, use their business expertise to help that organization deliver on their noble missions more effectively.  And to do such a project as part of a life changing adventure where they can return to their world with new skills, insights, world views, and even self -confidence and peace.

In addition to the book, The Lean Volunteer is a teaching organization, offering workshops, online courses, and coaching to people who want to create their own adventure.  Stay tuned for more on that. If you can’t wait, and want to get going right now, email me and we’ll set something up!

For now, enjoy the site as I build it out, sign up for the book, and send me any questions you have about doing your own Lean Volunteer project in a country that fascinates you!  Also, please tell me what you want to see on this site, or with The Lean Volunteer education mission.


Dave Meader