Goodness Report

AI, Adventure & Alignment: A Conversation With Erin Michelson

March 9, 2023
alignment letters

For this week’s Goodness Report, Idea Hall’s Chance Patterson interviewed Erin Michelson, founder of Summery & author of “Adventure Philanthropist.” Erin talks about leaving her career in banking to volunteer all over the world and how it inspired the creation of Summery.

Above, you’ll find the full conversation between Chance and Erin. Below, you’ll find short bios as well as a summary of their conversation.


Erin Michelson is a Forbes #Next1000 entrepreneur and recognized as a 2022 AI for Good ESG / AI Innovator by Women in AI North America. She’s the founder of Summery and the author of the newly reissued book “Adventure Philanthropist: Great Adventures Volunteering Abroad.” 

Chance Patterson is Idea Hall’s Strategic DEI&B Partner and has worked for organizations like SiriusXM, Oprah, and The King Center. He helps organizations demystify DEI by creating clarity of purpose for an organization, helping them establish a strategic roadmap and providing the support for effective implementation.

The Adventure Philanthropist

Chance asks Erin about her book, “Adventure Philanthropist: Great Adventures Volunteering Abroad” and asks her why she’s reissuing the book with new content. Erin shares how she quit her job as VP for a global bank and sold everything she had to travel the world for two years with the sole purpose of volunteering. She explains how she found ways to volunteer all over the world and talks about the importance of giving back. She touches on reissuing the book with new content because she wanted to address the topic of the white savior complex. She would encourage anyone to find ways to live the adventure philanthropist life in any way they can.

Inspiration For Summery

After she came back from her trip, Erin wrote a book and went on a speaking tour promoting her book. Her goal was to inspire people to dive into philanthropy. However, she found that people felt overwhelmed by the amount of choices they had to give back and ended up not doing anything. This inspired her to create Summery, an AI-driven data analytics company. 

Solo Female Founder

Erin also discusses the experiences of being a female entrepreneur. Erin is a solo female founder. She talks about how tough it is to be an entrepreneur, especially in technology, as a woman and as a solo founder. She declined funding offered to her organization and instead self-funded it. This allowed her the freedom and flexibility to ensure that Summery is a privacy-first ethical data company that always protects the individual. She believes that embracing empathy and disruption has been instrumental to her as a female entrepreneur.

What Summery Does

The core function of Summery is a survey tool, the KindQ, that measures the values of employees in an organization and compares them to the values the company aspires to. The survey data is rolled up into a summary report that analyzes the levels of empathy, integrity, innovation, and engagement preferences of the aggregate stakeholders. The organization’s job descriptions, sustainability reports, social media, press releases, and any other publicly available information are then used to understand who the company says they are and their aspirational values. The tool measures the delta between aspirational values and actual values and provides personalized activities that appeal to an individual’s values. The framework is dynamic, and the shifts in behavior and values over time are monitored on a monthly basis. 

Doing Good And Making A Living

Erin and Chance explore how people can reconcile the desire to make an impact in the world with the need to pay their bills and earn a living. Erin says that what she did is not a realistic model for most people but she emphasizes the importance of finding what resonates with you and incorporating it into your work, social life, or leisure activities. Chance shares his own experience of using his skills and experience to further causes that he cares about. The speakers suggest that there are myriad ways to help, and finding what resonates with you is the key to making a difference. Chance and Erin encourage listeners to find ways to incorporate doing good into their lives, whether through micro-giving, volunteer work, or finding ways to apply their skills and experience to causes they care about.

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