How Entrepreneur Ann Davis Visited 40 Countries in Her 20s, Founded a Company and Made an Impact 348

How Entrepreneur Ann Davis Visited 40 Countries in Her 20s, Founded a Company and Made an Impact

This is an interview-style post with Ann Davis.

Q: Hey, Ann. How would you introduce yourself and what you do in a few sentences?

A: I am the founder of Venture with Impact. I am many things: a teacher, a cancer survivor, a female entrepreneur, a woman with a serious case of wanderlust, and most importantly, a dreamer.

After surviving cancer and subsequently traveling to over 40 countries in my 20’s, I found my most valuable and fulfilling travel experiences to be the instances when I stayed in one place, and worked with the local population.

At the same time, I saw friends and colleagues struggle between the desire to maintain careers that provide financial security and the desire to travel and work for the social good. Life is too short not to have it all, so I founded Venture with Impact with the dream that working professionals could share in these same experiences while still working from their jobs.

Prior to founding Venture with Impact, I worked for 4 years as a teacher in the New Orleans and New York school systems, initially through Teach for America. Additionally, the age of 18, I founded Swim for Success, a nonprofit dedicated providing free swimming lessons and water safety skills to New Orleans Youth.

Q: What were the biggest challenges you had in your 20s and how did you overcome them?

A: The greatest difficulty I have overcome in my life thus far took place five years ago, at age 23. 

While working as a teacher in New Orleans I was on a run with friends one day, and felt an electric shock run up the side of my leg, like I had stuck my foot into a toaster.  Bam!  I was on the ground, body in convulsions, and was rushed to the hospital.  Two weeks later after a 12-hour craniotomy, I was diagnosed with brain cancer and my life forever changed.  

After undergoing chemo and radiation treatment, I made a full recovery and have been in remission for five years.  

Without this mind-boggling, terrifying, looney life event, I would probably never have had the guts to quit my full-time job and follow my dream.

Q: What were your most fulfilling travel experiences and why?

3 Things to Consider Before You Go to South East Asia for The First Time

A: I have done a lot of traveling over the last ten years, and have been lucky enough to visit over 40 countries in 5 continents. My most valuable and fulfilling travel experiences have been when working in international development, and working with the local population – forming relationships and learning about their culture in the process.   

In 2010 I lived with a family in Valparaiso, Chile. My host father, a local radio talk show host taught me Spanish through songs by Violetta Parra. And we enjoyed discussing our thoughts on spiritualism and religion in Chile and throughout the world. Near the end of my stay, he surprised me with an interview (in Spanish!) on his colleague’s daily broadcast.  As nervous as I was about the interview, I couldn’t help but think, ‘I feel like a Chilean today’.

In 2011 I spent a summer in the Gran Sabana of Venezuela working with a local NGO, and living in an indigenous area.  My experience working with the locals to implement workshops on sexual education and public health was incredibly enlightening.  I worked closely with the organization’s Venezuelan staff and local doctor, and we exchanged information and experiences on life and culture in the U.S. and Latin America. 

These are just a few examples of the ways in which interacting with local populations has allowed me to have a greater understanding and empathy for cultures outside of my own.

Q: What made you start Venture with Impact?

venture with impact

A: I started Venture with Impact because I, like many professionals, was torn between the desire to travel and make a social impact, while at the same time, maintaining a professional career.

I found that many people of all ages have the same desires, but also don’t want to forego financial stability and professional development.  

Venture with Impact solves the problem by allowing people to work remotely from their jobs in a foreign country for one or two months.  

We organize the accommodation, workspace, and 24/7 support for professionals that work remotely for their current positions.  In their free time they have the opportunity to dive into a new culture through local events a individualized pro-bono projects.  

Q: What’s the mission of the organization?

A: The mission of Venture with Impact is to expose professionals to new cultures, people and ideas so that they may be more informed and empathetic world citizens, and in the process, provide a positive social impact.   

Q: You’re allowing people to combine travel and volunteering. What programs do you have for them?

A: Venture with Impact plans co-working retreats for professional that travel abroad for a month, and work remotely for their job back home.  We have a variety of professionals that join us each month including software developers, marketing managers, educators, lawyers, etc. 

In addition to providing accommodations, workspace and local support, we offer a social impact component in which each Venturer is matched with an individualized pro-bono project with a local partner organization.

Although there are a few existing programs that plan travel experiences for remote workers, there are no organizations that so thoroughly integrate and emphasize the community relationships and cultural experience like Venture with Impact.  We are the only program of its kind that includes a social impact component.

Each Venturer works on an individualized project that aligns with their skills and interests as well as the needs of our partner organizations. We have had professionals with backgrounds in marketing consult on marketing plans and create social media calendars, software developers build websites, project managers consult on improving systems, and much more. 

Q: What’s your advice for those just starting to follow their dreams?

A: I tell others what I tell myself every day:

Take risks, be positive and optimistic, don’t be afraid to ask for help, and use your network.

Don’t be hesitant to tell people about your idea and spread the word. We are so afraid of failure and what others think…but most people don’t spend time thinking about what that you failed at, but if you succeed, it’s something that they notice.

Q: What’s next for VWI?

venture with impact expanding to chiang mai

A: In 2018 we are expanding to two new locations: Chiang Mai, Thailand and Lisbon Portugal. 

In the past, we have primarily worked with professionals that have applied individually for our programs, and received permission from their employer.  Moving forward we are partnering with many more companies that are including a VWI experience as part of their employee benefits and perks package.

Q: Aside from that, what do you want to achieve personally in the following year(s)?

A: I am almost fluent in Spanish. However, I have great improvements to make with Portuguese, and I would also like to learn Thai, as Portugal and Thailand are two of our upcoming locations. 

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Hunt Down Your Goals and Become Fearless Like a Lion 14

Hunt Down Your Goals and Become Fearless Like a Lion

To be fearless is to dare yourself to think new thoughts, take risks, fail and find the courage to start again.

In order to change, you must face the uncomfortable, because fear is not supposed to run you. Instead, it is a call to action.

We all have fear and we must never let it paralyze our dreams. If 2017 was an unsuccessful year, hopefully, this article will inspire you to take action.

I know how it feels when you are tired of listening to those inner voices of doubt. Slowly, the anger builds up inside. Despite those feelings, you can channel fear and anger in the right way and start to hunt for your dreams. Throughout my life, I felt a renewed hunger and drive to succeed when I simply let go of denial, accepted full responsibility and took affirmative action.

“Everybody wants to eat but a few are willing to hunt”

In today’s cold reality humans do not like to see anyone other than themselves succeed. Most will never take the next step to improve their life or the lives of their future generations to come. We are pushing towards survival of the fittest.

Tell me, when a lion hunts does it care what is in its way? No. The lion is in pursuit because it is relentless.

You must become the king of the jungle. All the things that make up our lives are in intricate balance and you must fight to protect your dreams.

1. Be fearless like a lion.

A lion has no fear of any challenge, so how do I become fearless?

My simple answer to overcoming fear is that I wake up with the burning desire in my heart. The burning desire is created by repeating positive affirmations like I CAN and I WILL.

Hidden somewhere deep down within you, there is that courage to dare yourself.

Ask yourself who is really stopping you? Go out there and let loose and you will learn what great lengths you are capable of going to.

Your first job before you start hunting is to find the fighter within you.

2. Know your limits and then defy them.

You’ve reached a certain limit but just can’t seem to go that extra mile. Once you become fearless, you become limitless.

A mind that is fearless has the urge to take more action and that is where you become defiant. Try your best to understand what you are doing wrong as sometimes it is easy to give up hope. So focus your attention on studying the obstacle in detail.

As you achieve one goal, you have the mental capacity, maturity and experience to face a new challenge. Therefore, your hunger and appetite for more success increase. Keep pushing no matter what and you will eventually break through.

I know for sure it is difficult at first, but now you’ve successfully defied the odds.

3. Think of a plan, visualize it and execute it.

A lion stalks its prey from a distance and seldom charges as it grows closer and closer displaying deadly predatory behaviour.

Never rush to execute a plan as it takes careful selection. Be clear what you want just as the lion calculates timing. 

Visualization is a vital tool to programme your subconscious mind in order to create that bridge of what is non-existent into reality, which is capturing your goal.

4. Be willing to accept failure.

Failures are what propel anyone forward their current success. We can certainly learn from our failures, but our intentions should be to succeed in accomplishing our goals! Failure is then a learning process, not a reason to accept defeat. You are the king, show no remorse!!!

Motivation from Will Smith is perhaps one of my favorites. Here’s one speech:

5. Have a winning attitude every day.

To keep the cycle of motivation in constant momentum you must work hard too.

The winning attitude is created by approaching your life with discipline and putting in the hours of practice.

I like to perform a reflective practice and personal development, which enables me to identify areas where I am falling down and thus need to pay more attention to.

6. Don’t allow criticism to defeat you.

We are afraid what others think of us, what we have or what we are going to do. It is you that must make that self-promise to finish what you started.

Every once in a while, a lion must remind everyone what he is capable of.

You are the king of the jungle. Own it!


This article was written by Usman Mahmood. Besides working in the field of science helping patients through genetic testing, his purpose is to empower and inspire people in life with motivational videos, messages, articles, and stories from around the world. He loves to engage creative and ambitious minds on his Facebook page.