This is our Path to Purpose series, in which we share a personal story from people we find inspiring. Because sometimes, a story from one person, can move many.
As an eleven-year-old boy, Justin Van Saghi would look at the photos of glaciers and polar bears in National Geographic magazine, and run to his mom to ask her if he still had enough time to see it all before it was melted. Today, protecting his childhood dreams is his day-to-day business. Every day, he helps company leaders move the needle on climate change. “Businesses need to take action. It’s going to help their businesses all around,” said Van Saghi.
“I was that annoying child that would always ask my parents ‘why’ about everything. And, I was fascinated by snow and ice. The combination of those two things probably led me to where I am now."
From working in the mountains as a ski bum, serving in the military, and getting a degree in geography and hydrology, to eventually working for one of the most active climate change nonprofits POW (Protect Our Winters) of our nation, VanSaghi followed a path, encouraged by his parents, to do what made him happy.
“Global warming was happening. Climate change was happening. What could I add to all this work?”
“Working as a Ski Bum in Colorado, I saw the winters change before my very own eyes,” said Van Saghi. “It was directly impacting my world. That’s when I realized I had to do something. After graduating from college, I worked in climate change science at an antarctic and alpine research institute. At that point, I was somewhat lost. Global warming was happening. Climate change was happening. What scientific research could I add to all this evidence already out there? I randomly looked at the POW website to discover they were hiring. It felt like the universe was screaming at me: this is what you are supposed to do!
“As an organization, make sure that collectively we can make a bigger difference and voices are heard. As a business leader, your voice is disproportionately powerful, especially when it comes to politics. That is what is going to help move the needle more than anything else. If business leaders tell politicians that climate change will affect their bottom line, and it will affect our GDP, this will force politicians to take action.”
“Finding a purpose is as simple as finding something you’re passionate about and letting it fill you up. Follow what you feel is right.”
“Hearing stories of progressive company leaders on how they’re becoming an activist for climate change and seeing how excited they are, that makes me happier than anything else.
“I guess I’ve always been lucky to have parents that encouraged me to follow my passion. My dad’s parents were first-generation Americans and came from Italy. He worked incredibly hard his whole life to give his children a better future, but always by telling me to do what I really wanted to do. At the end of the day, I want to see more people do what they’re passionate about. Our lives would be more fulfilled if we would go out and do more good in the world.”