A Spotlight on Agent of Change Devesh Tilokani
Today’s youth are the leaders of tomorrow. They’re filled with passion, drive, and aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty to create a more sustainable, prosperous, and equitable world for all.
We’re profiling five participants from Agents of Change: Sustainable Development Goals — an 8-week, impact-driven course that taught 100 youth how to use the tools and tactics of social entrepreneurship to work towards the achievement of the SDGs. Devesh’s work touches on a number of Sustainable Development Goals, namely SDG 3: Good Health & Well-being and SDG 4: Quality Education.
The Devesh Tilokani you see today is outgoing, friendly, and well-spoken.
He has come a long way in the past five years. In high school, he struggled with social anxiety and self-image, sending him into a spiral of depression.
“The way things were going, [I felt like] whether I was 16 or 60, I might as well not be around,” he explained. “When those sorts of thoughts come into your head, you realize you’ve hit rock bottom. And there was only one way for me: up.”
For Devesh, that meant challenging himself to speak to new people constantly. There’s no harm in trying something out, he thought. If worse comes to worst, I’ll just fail.
Soon enough, saying “hello” to new people became a habit. Devesh’s fear evolved into excitement and genuine curiosity.
“You come across a wide range of people, so you come across a range of responses: some good, some bad,” he explained. “It’s kind of a move into the unknown, which is uncomfortable, but can be really rewarding.”
In 2019, Devesh blended his new love for people with his longtime passion for personal growth into the first iteration of Progressholic: a self-development podcast.
When he joined CSI’s Agents of Change: Sustainable Development Goals program in 2020, Devesh learned about Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle. It’s a tool for identifying your “why” — and how you can achieve it.
“I looked back on my own life. My ‘why’ is to constantly develop myself while reducing human suffering. How can I align Progressholic to that personal vision?”
Reducing human suffering, to Devesh, meant creating a balance of the internal — the self — and the external — society. So during the course of the Agents of Change program, he began to experiment and launch this new iteration of the podcast: one focused on progress of self and society.
The timing was perfect. As COVID-19 threw our world into chaos, individuals and groups alike developed community responses. Progressholic offered a platform for these folks to share what they’re doing and garner support.
As he was planning for upcoming episodes, Devesh ended up in a breakout room with one of the other Agents of Change participants, Kathy Huang. He told her about his vision, and she ended up connecting him to two or three different COVID-19 response initiatives — who ended up on the podcast!
Devesh described this pivot as existential flexibility: the ability of a leader to initiate a disruption in business strategy to advance a just cause.
“Right now, COVID-19 is happening. [If we bring] on similar guests to speak about a topic that I’m sure would be great, but wouldn’t be relevant to the times we’re in right now, are we really advancing the cause?”
“We decided to donate $1 for each listen, and we wanted to hit 100 plays [in 5 days]. We’d never hit 100 plays before, so there was always that doubt, whether we’d be able to hit it or not, but we hit it just two hours before the deadline, and we were able to donate the money. I know it’s a small amount, but more than that, it was raising awareness for an incredible Canadian initiative.”
Since then, Devesh has continued to bring on guests that inspire growth and encourage taking action for impact. If you want to hear tips for self-development and stories about the leaders working hard to change our world, check out Progressholic, streaming anywhere you listen to podcasts.
Our Agents of Change: Sustainable Development Goals program is designed to equip the next generation of changemakers with the skills, resources, and coaching they need to make an impact. Check out other stories from program participants here!
Agents of Change: Sustainable Development Goals is made possible with the support of the Government of Canada.