Host Christian Pearson and Cambodia enthusiast Shane Harrison take a closer look at the critical role of non-profits (such as the Cambodian Job Foundation) in developing economies. Shane shares key experiences from his time living in Cambodia and offers relevant insights concerning the project’s implementation and reception there. They wrap things up with an interesting discourse on Cambodia’s tragic history and its hopeful future.

Inside the Cambodia Project Episode 8 Podcast Transcript: Outsider Perspective

with Shane Harrison

[00:00:00.410] – Christian Pearson
Hello, I’m Christian, and you’re listening to inside the Cambodia Project, an educational podcast where we discuss cutting edge research on sustainable business in an emerging market. So in our last episode, I talked with Ben Beck, an assistant professor of marketing and director of the Cambodia Project at Brigham Young University. In that episode, Ben and I discussed the Better marketing for a better world initiative and its implications for current research. Ben also shared three notable academic papers on pro social marketing, and we got to really dive deep into their respective research designs. Like the Better marketing for a Better World academic initiative. There are many nonprofits that are doing wonderful work in lifting the world today. I’m so excited because I get to interview someone with a lot of experience with nonprofit social good projects. Our guest today is Shane Harrison, an adjunct professor at BYU’s Ballard center for the Social Impact and a man who has also served on the board of the Cambodian Job foundation for years before he volunteered as the US based executive director of that foundation. Shane has a passion for helping individuals and organizations achieve great performance. In particular, he aims to help mission driven organizations improve themselves and to achieve a greater impact for good.

[00:01:32.450] – Christian Pearson
He has a wealth of experience working with tons of amazing people all over the world, but particularly in Southeast Asia. Thank you so much for joining us today, Shane, it’s awesome to have you on the podcast.

[00:01:44.270] – Shane Harrison
Oh, it’s a pleasure to be here.

[00:01:47.090] – Christian Pearson
I like to begin every podcast, Shane, with a meaningful quote. And today’s quote comes from the american comedian and actor Milton Burl. I don’t know if you’ve heard of him. He famously once said, if opportunity doesn’t come knocking, build a door. It’s kind of short and sweet. But what do you think about this quote? What does it mean to you?

[00:02:06.840] – Shane Harrison
Well, I think back to the five years that I worked and lived in Cambodia, many people who were struggling and there weren’t jobs available in the market, and there weren’t opportunities for people. They had to go out and they had to create their own opportunity. They had to learn entrepreneurial skills and make their own businesses.

[00:02:26.500] – Christian Pearson
Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I think we have it pretty good here in America. There’s lots of jobs just out there. Right. But it’s crazy in Cambodia, is it common for someone to just kind of create their own job or create their own business? Is that normal? Would you see that?

[00:02:46.920] – Shane Harrison
Well, things have changed over time, but if you look at a lot of countries that have less developed market systems, education systems, there’s not a ready pipeline leading from education to the workforce. And so you get a lot of small scale markets, people opening roadsides stalls, selling things and such like that, not just in Cambodia, but many, many countries around the world.

[00:03:12.910] – Christian Pearson
Yeah, that’s super. So, like, if you were to define what building a door looks like for people in developing markets, what would you know? Going back to the quote, how do you build a door?

[00:03:27.410] – Shane Harrison
Well, I think it’s driven by being hungry to create the door and going out and seeking opportunity. It’s just taking the initiative to do something to improve your own life and improve the lives of your family.

[00:03:42.360] – Christian Pearson
So it takes a little ambition to get started, for sure.

[00:03:45.220] – Shane Harrison
Yes. And a little bravery.

[00:03:47.010] – Christian Pearson
Yeah. I mean, you got to be a risk taker if you’re going to be an entrepreneur, right? Yes, that’s the name of the game. We’re already talking a little bit about Cambodia, and I love that. But you said you’ve done a lot of work there. Were you in any way involved in, I guess, building those metaphorical doors and helping Cambodians expose themselves and take risks and discover opportunities they didn’t know existed?

[00:04:17.490] – Shane Harrison
Well, I have kind of a long history with Cambodia. I initially went to Cambodia doing human rights and democracy building just after they had ended their civil war a long time ago, 20 plus years ago. Wow. That kind of then evolved. We had created here in the US, created a small, socially responsible investment fund to pilot social enterprises in Cambodians. So we went over and launched four or five different small businesses as kind of a pilot of how can you create a small business that’s profitable but also provides benefits and profits to the employees? And so, yeah, we piloted an upscale beauty salon, electronics repair facility, a restaurant, a few different things like that. So that was a pilot project where actually we were trying to see if somebody was to invest in these small businesses, what works, what doesn’t work, what some of the methodologies and things. And at the time, there wasn’t a lot written on that. There’s been a lot of work done in the last 20 years on this topic, but we were kind of like an early pioneer piloting some of these initiatives in Cambodia.

[00:05:29.870] – Christian Pearson
You did that in Cambodia 20 years ago?

[00:05:32.280] – Shane Harrison

[00:05:32.760] – Christian Pearson
That’s fantastic. I didn’t even know how long has the Cambodian Job foundation been around.

[00:05:38.110] – Shane Harrison
So I worked for a total of 13 years in Southeast Asia, five in Cambodia, in the nonprofit social enterprise space, did a lot of consulting work with dozens and dozens of local and international nonprofits in Cambodia. But then I got sucked into bloodthirsty capitalism for another eight years in Vietnam. So I spent eight years on the for profit side in Vietnam and then came back, moved back to the US. Cambodia Job foundation was started by some senior missionaries who’d returned, I believe, about 2009 from Cambodia and wanted to, they fell in love with the country and the people and wanted to find a way to help a young adult who didn’t have any opportunities, have more opportunities before them in terms of providing job skills training and helping them provide for their families. Fast forward a few years. David Moon was the mission president of Cambodia. When he came back from his mission about, I believe about 2015, he kind of took over and spearheaded and he’s been the driving force behind the Cambodia Job foundation from 2015 until just a few months ago, 2023.

[00:06:54.660] – Christian Pearson

[00:06:55.080] – Shane Harrison
So had kind of an eight year history there. Lots of great work done. A lot of businesses helping a lot of people start small businesses. A number of larger businesses were spun off, including one very large private school design international school of Phenom Pen.

[00:07:10.760] – Christian Pearson
Wow, that’s really cool.

[00:07:12.400] – Shane Harrison
They have like an eleven story building just being finished right now. So that kind of spun off started as a project of the Cambodia Job foundation. Now its own self sustaining, not for profit private school dang in the country.

[00:07:25.580] – Christian Pearson
That’s a measurable impact right there.

[00:07:27.310] – Shane Harrison
That’s really, you know, and along the way, thousands of people have gone through entrepreneurship training, job skills, know other things that have hopefully helped improve their lives.

[00:07:40.210] – Christian Pearson
That’s really interesting. I wonder if you could tell me more about your role specifically in the cambodian Job foundation because it sounds like it was a really successful nonprofit and still is. But I want to know what was your part to play like, what did that look like in your day to day? You got to live in Cambodia. I understand.

[00:07:59.370] – Shane Harrison
So when I lived in Cambodia, it was when I was doing consulting work in the past. From 2014 onwards, I was working here at BYU on a full time basis. Cambodia Job foundation actually had two organizations. One US based 501 C, three which is a nonprofit classification based here in Alpine, Utah. And that was just the voluntary board doing a lot of fundraising, networking, collaboration. But the actual organization itself was a nonprofit registered in Cambodia and they had, depending on the projects and what was going on, 35 plus staff running all of the programs and projects directly in Cambodia. The model was basically fundraise in the US and all of the activity was.

[00:08:45.610] – Christian Pearson
Executed in Cambodia on the ground. So what did you do as executive director?

[00:08:50.070] – Shane Harrison
Well, I volunteered on the board for like seven years with a team of really smart, capable, experienced people providing guidance, leadership, fundraising support to the Cambodia Job foundation. It was just this last year that I took on a fundraising role took on the title executive director, so it would help clarify expectations in talking with potential donors and made some trips over to Cambodia, working with the staff, looking, doing analysis of their programs, their impact, the measurements, the tools they use to get things done, and helping provide guidance. So most of my time with the Cambodia Job foundation was as a volunteer board member, just helping provide guidance and strategy. One of the things that was really interesting, maybe from an academic perspective and an impact perspective, was realizing that the Cambodia job Foundation was doing some good stuff, helping specific demographics learn skills and improve their ability to provide income for their families. But there was another Utah based organization with the same mission, working with the same demographic, doing fairly similar things. And so we initiated a conversation between these two organizations, like, hey, why are we paying for two offices in the country?

[00:10:16.380] – Shane Harrison
Why are we duplicating? We have very similar programs. Is there a way that we can combine and merge these two together? So about a year ago, Cambodia Job foundation was as an NGO, a nonprofit working just in Cambodia, a much larger organization called enterprise mentors. They work in, I think, 13 countries. Don’t quote me on that.

[00:10:37.440] – Christian Pearson
Yeah, they’re called mentors international. Mentors international being a global force for good.

[00:10:43.020] – Shane Harrison
Yeah. So it’s a great organization, very well run. Started conversations with them. And so over the course of this last year, we have phased out Cambodia Job foundation as a legal entity, still kind of in process, and merged the two organizations, the two staff, the two operations. So hopefully now we have one better economies of scale. We’ve brought together the best of both organizations. We purposely tried not to lay any staff off. Now we have more staff, more capability to do more good for more people.

[00:11:16.250] – Christian Pearson
That’s fantastic. I’m so glad. It sounds like it’s been changes for know, post merge. So that’s really good. I want you to tell me more about your experiences. Just working in, like, I can’t tell you how jealous I am. You’ve been there for years on end. What was it like living in Cambodia for multiple years? What did you learn?

[00:11:39.230] – Shane Harrison
Well, it’s hard to answer that because my first experiences go back a quarter century, and life was very, very different there at that time. They’d just come out of a civil war. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie the killing fields.

[00:11:56.480] – Christian Pearson
I haven’t, no. Yeah.

[00:11:57.590] – Shane Harrison
So there’d been the, the Khmer Rouge had come to power at the, when the, at the fall of Vietnam, the week before Vietnam fell to the communists, Cambodia fell to the communist rebels right around 1970. 519, 75, they abolished money, they abolished cities. They said, we’re going to have a pure agrarian society. Everybody’s going to be equal. If you wore glasses, if you were educated, if you had ever spoken to a foreigner, you were executed.

[00:12:26.820] – Christian Pearson
Yeah. I read a book called Cambodia’s curse by a really great journalist from the New York Times. But he talks about how basically the whole doctrine of the Khmeiruge was just a departure from the influence of western civilization. And that included technology, that included teachers and doctors and all these forces of modernism. They really wanted to go back to what they saw as the golden years of Cambodia, which was encore Watuat empire. Right. That colonial kind of ancient.

[00:12:59.930] – Shane Harrison
Pre colonial.

[00:13:00.810] – Christian Pearson
Exactly. Pre colonial, really. So did you, were you able to see any effects of that while you were there?

[00:13:06.700] – Shane Harrison
Oh, absolutely. When I first landed in Cambodia in 1995, they just finished a UN sponsored elections two years previous. At the time, there was one working stoplight in the entire country. Half of the streets of the capital city was still dirt. I was working at a human rights democracy building organization. We’d have to lock ourselves in our homes by 07:00 at night, because by 08:00 p.m. There were raging gun battles up and down the streets of the capital city. I mean, it was a crazy place.

[00:13:38.040] – Christian Pearson
You’re kidding.

[00:13:38.640] – Shane Harrison
And then the next day, we’d try to figure out, all right, who was shooting whom. Our HR reports.

[00:13:43.950] – Christian Pearson
Right. From what I read, I don’t think they even knew necessarily who was shooting whom. There was a lot of confusion just in general, because after a civil war like that, it’s kind of hard to know whose side anyone’s on. Right. And then to have the UN sponsor elections like that and give them a second chance was unprecedented. They took a huge risk.

[00:14:07.730] – Shane Harrison
It was the largest UN project ever. UNTAC, United Nations Transitional Authority for Cambodia. It was a two year project, tens of thousands of people hired to basically ensure the peace and the monitoring mechanisms for the elections.

[00:14:22.970] – Christian Pearson
Right. And then I believe it was Hun Sen. Right. That came into power and kind of held on until recently. Right. Like last year.

[00:14:32.870] – Shane Harrison
Well, he actually lost that election for UNTAC, the UNTAC election, 1993. But he said, well, he thought he’d win. And he said, well, you either give me power or I’ll continue the civil war. And the United nations acquiesced and made co prime ministers for several years battlefield enemies. They tried to make two prime ministers think how good a country runs with one prime minister. Now picture two who hate each other. Oh, man. It was a rough time. And then in 1997, he rolled tanks into the capital city and took out the prince. The royalist party tanks blew up their palace, executed all the generals on the other side, and he retained power.

[00:15:19.910] – Christian Pearson
Were you there for all of that?

[00:15:24.630] – Shane Harrison
I was rolled out of bed a few times from tanks rumbling through the streets in front of our house.

[00:15:30.200] – Christian Pearson
Oh, my gosh. I can’t imagine what that must have been like.

[00:15:33.020] – Shane Harrison
So I actually did a paper in 1998 at the Rocky Mountain association of Asian Studies, where I did a character analysis of Hun Sen, the prime minister. I said, he will do anything he can to stay into power until his son will get of age, and then he can create a generational dynasty, which is a thing that happens in Asia. I mean, look at north Korea. His son was a student at West Point at the time.

[00:15:59.940] – Christian Pearson
Yeah. He came to us, USA, for his graduate study.

[00:16:03.960] – Shane Harrison
And I’m kind of sad my prediction turned out true because just this past summer, six months ago, that actually happened 23 years later. Yeah, exactly as I predicted.

[00:16:16.190] – Christian Pearson
Yeah, he’s the new, is it prime minister?

[00:16:18.100] – Shane Harrison
He’s the prime minister. His son is the new prime minister. And Hun Sen has retired as know emeritus prime minister. He still holds all the power.

[00:16:27.840] – Christian Pearson
But of course. So, Shane, in reading and doing a lot of research on Cambodia and also just hearing their tragic history, a common, I guess, narrative or dialog you will hear is that Cambodia is cursed, that there’s not really any hope left for them, that they follow this pattern of almost self degradation. And I personally don’t believe in that. I think that they still have hope. But I wonder what you think. Is there still hope for Cambodia? And if so, why? What have you seen in years living there, being with those people that would tell you one way or the other if they have a chance, if they can come back from a truly devastating history in the last 50 years.

[00:17:13.960] – Shane Harrison
Yeah, I’d never heard of that book.

[00:17:16.650] – Christian Pearson
Cambodian’s curse.

[00:17:17.750] – Shane Harrison
Cambodian’s curse. When I first went to Cambodia, I would hear a phrase very commonly, it means like, it was kind of an aspirational term, but it was ingrained in the collective psyche of the population. Is like, we’ve come through this traumatic thing, but we want to improve, to become like others, like other countries that have peace, have democracy, have these things. So there was a lot of hope at that time, the younger generation rising up. There was a tremendous hope when CNN came in. I would walk down the streets when first international tv stations were coming in, CNN. You’d see kids writing CNN on the sidewalk because it was such a powerful force. To actually get news and information and visual images of the outside world and see how other people lived became very aspirational. So to answer your question, I think there’s a lot of hope. I think there’s been setbacks politically as there’s been a retrenchment into authoritarianism. Embracing China’s been driving a lot of this, pushing the authoritarian model. Democracy doesn’t work anymore in Cambodia, but the people are incredibly hopeful. If you look at the last visit I made to Cambodia 14 months ago, I was surprised at the embrace of technology, how it had changed things.

[00:18:49.130] – Shane Harrison
Let me just share one example.

[00:18:50.800] – Christian Pearson

[00:18:51.200] – Shane Harrison
Cambodia Job foundation. There was one young lady. She had two little kids. She had worked in a garment shop making dresses, high end dresses, like for weddings and things. Very intricate with know one dress would have hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of sequins and sparkly things sewn into them. So a lot of work went into these things, very high end. She decided, well, I’m going to start on my own. Historically, if you wanted to open a shop, you had to be on a busy street. She’s like, well, I have Facebook. So she was out in a back road, back corner of Penang Penh, way off the beaten path. But she got onto Facebook and she marketed through Facebook these beautiful dresses. And she had just a line of people wanting to buy her dresses.

[00:19:36.560] – Christian Pearson
That’s fantastic.

[00:19:37.760] – Shane Harrison
So much so she had to hire one additional seamstress and a second additional seamstress. She could be home with her kids working on sewing these dresses. Then she was providing employment to a couple other young ladies. She’d received these skills on how she should grow this business. Through the Cambodia Job Foundation’s training, then she’s able to use technology to leverage her impact economically for her family and economically for the employees that she was hiring.

[00:20:06.610] – Christian Pearson
That’s so inspiring. And I think one of the biggest goals that we have is to see if investing in small businesses will have an impact in communities in Cambodia as a whole. And from what you’ve been saying, that sounds know it gives me hope that it will have an impact, that it will make a difference.

[00:20:26.340] – Shane Harrison
Yeah. So for that case, particularly, I think Cambodia job Foundation, after she completed the training, she’d created a business plan. Here’s what I’m going to do to grow my business. I think she was given, if I recall, maybe like $700 to start her business.

[00:20:40.160] – Christian Pearson
Wow. And that’s probably a large sum of money in Cambodia.

[00:20:44.570] – Shane Harrison
Well, that was enough seed money to kick start the process.

[00:20:47.950] – Christian Pearson
Well, going off of that, I really want to know? Could you just tell us, what’s your favorite thing about Cambodia now? We’ve talked about it a lot, and we’ve talked about the good and the bad. I know it’s probably hard to pick one thing, but for our listeners and for know, we haven’t been there. What is it about Cambodia that you fell in love?

[00:21:09.990] – Shane Harrison
Know, if you talk to people that visit Cambodia, I often hear the same thing that people fall in love with. It is a culture of caring and compassion. It’s the people sometimes there’s a book, I think, called the Land of smiles.

[00:21:27.850] – Christian Pearson
I don’t think I’ve heard of that.

[00:21:32.830] – Shane Harrison
It analyzes the good and bad of that, but there’s a lot of happiness, friendliness, people wanting to in some ways find the good in life. I’ve talked with my wife many times in the past that the different mental state. If you’re in Cambodia and historically, if you had $20 in your pocket, you are king of the world. You’re happy. It’s like life was not that complicated. You had enough to provide for the day, provide for the week, provide for the month. You could go out with your friends and have some street side food and enjoy the sunset and just enjoy life. Meanwhile, in the US, if you have $20 in your pocket, you’re thinking, well, I’ve got this bill due. I’ve got that bill due. I’ve got this interest rate on this line of all, all these things. The complexity creates a lot of stress and anxiety. But in Cambodia, people live more mean. That’s a very broad generalization. Things are obviously changing and becoming more complicated. But still, I think that ethos still exists even as modernity has crept in.

[00:22:41.860] – Christian Pearson
That’s really cool. I love that. It sounds like they’re making the most of what they have. And more than that, I think for those of us who might have the chance to travel there, we can learn something from them, from a simpler, more humble way of life. Right? Yeah.

[00:22:58.880] – Shane Harrison
And when I say simpler and humbler, I’m talking at all ends of the economic spectrum. So you have, like, the small time shop owners. But I spent some time on my last visit also at the jewelry store owner that built like their own huge, big building with a swimming pool on the roof. I’m sitting there at dinner, all of a sudden one of the advisors to the prime minister shows up and we’re all having dinner together. It’s kind of this elite level. And then one of the super rich oligarch wives comes in, like the next day and she’s buying. She’s like, oh, this is only $10,000. She just drops $10,000 on some earring or something. But their ethos and their approach to enjoying life, it’s the same as those that are making $300 a month.

[00:23:52.780] – Christian Pearson
It’s almost like I have a quote, actually, for 2024 that I’m trying to live by, and it’s live every moment, and I feel like that kind of sounds like their ethos. Right. It’s just getting the most out of.

[00:24:03.970] – Shane Harrison
The lot of Cambodia is an interesting mix. The predominant religion is Buddhism. It’s where it promotes not having attachments to things. So people are still striving to improve themselves, but at a deep, subconscious level. There is kind of this detachment is like, well, life is life. That’s just how things are going to happen. Good, bad. We’re just going to keep going through and do the best we can and have fun along the way.

[00:24:34.660] – Christian Pearson
Yeah, I love that. I feel like we could all use a little more of that, I guess. Hope that optimism in our lives. I want to talk with you before we wrap up just a little bit about the Cambodia project. As you know, we’re looking at trying to make a difference and working in this developing economy. But you’ve already been there, done that. So I wanted you to tell me, if you could just tell us what difficulties we might face, try and help us in advance, anticipate, what would you see as some of the possible obstacles we’re going to have to overcome in order to go into a developing economy and try to make a positive change in Cambodia?

[00:25:20.470] – Shane Harrison
That’s a good question. There’s been a lot of things done over the years. The years I was doing consulting work, I did a couple of projects for the Asian Development bank and also the International Labor Organization. Those are big multilateral agencies. They had projects either looking at combating trafficking, creating income generation that would combat trafficking, or supporting the garment industry, which provided large amounts of employment. It was like the largest employment sector in the country. But the question at the time was like, so what? These things are happening? Are they actually making a change? Are they actually helping improve the lives of people? For the two projects I did with the garment sector through the Asian Development bank, there was like 250,000 young women working in these garment factories. But was it changing their lives? Well, the first study came back and said, well, economically, no, because they’re sending all of everything that they can save back to the home village. So then we did a second study going back into the villages that were sending these young women. The young women were working at very low wages, but they were living as economically as possible to send everything back to support the whole family back on the farm, in the countryside and going back into the countryside, talking to these families, having this small injection of cash did make life a little bit better, but not dramatically.

[00:26:55.240] – Shane Harrison
That was kind of the results I was finding. And so from that, looking at some of the lessons learned from that is measurement. How are you going to measure the changes that are happening? How are you going to measure where people are currently? And if economics is the measuring tool, what are people’s income now? And then at the end of the project, halfway through the project, end of the project, six months, a year, two years later, how has their income changed? You have to have a measuring rubric.

[00:27:25.930] – Christian Pearson
In place that can be follow the money. Right. Trying to figure out where it’s actually going.

[00:27:31.970] – Shane Harrison
Yeah. So that’s going to be one of the biggest challenges is saying, well, it’s easy to say, yeah, we had 20 at the Ballard center. We talk a lot about in the do good, better class, caring about the impact. And how do you measure that? You can’t just measure, did you send 20 people to training? Well, yeah, you sent 20 people to training, but that wasn’t really an outcome. If you send them to training, did they learn the skills? That’s the next level. And then did it have results?

[00:28:05.090] – Christian Pearson
Yeah. So going beyond surface level numbers and results, it sounds like, is going to be one of the obstacles, but also opportunities that we might have as we go abroad and work with Cambodians. Going along with that, one of the, I guess, social topics that we are planning on digging a little deeper into in Cambodia is curbing domestic abuse. It’s in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number five, which is about gender equality. And so we’re trying to work, I guess, towards that in Cambodia through these small businesses. But from what you know about cambodian culture, do you think this is an endeavor worth tackling and what problems might come along as we’re trying to educate and promote gender equality in Cambodia?

[00:28:55.170] – Shane Harrison
Well, that’s a big topic. How much time do you have? So let me just hit one or two kind of high level things. Linguistically. In Cambodian, it’s a matriarchal language. If you say village chief, you say Meipung, which is the mother of the village.

[00:29:11.190] – Christian Pearson

[00:29:11.760] – Shane Harrison
And the commune, which is like county chief, is Macum, which is mother of the commune. So ingrained linguistically, it’s a matriarchal society. But then you see, on the actual power structures, there’s a lot of male dominance historically. There’s the way of expectations for how you are a man leading your home. How do you educate your children or educate your wife? There’s a euphemism for, like, let’s say, your children. Operam gon, you teach your children. That’s a euphemism for, like, you smack your children around till they do what you tell them to do. And sometimes people use that. Men will use that with their wife also, as like operam proponent, like you teach your wife, it means your euphemism. You’re smacking them around. There’s been a lot of social efforts to try to curb this over time. Different ngos have done resources for women that battered women and children try to do some resources. I don’t know the current status of these projects, but I think there’s a lot of, I would suspect there’s still a lot of need in that space.

[00:30:24.460] – Christian Pearson
Yeah. So you’re talking about some really deeply ingrained, almost cultural aspects that we’re looking at at least addressing, maybe not changing necessarily, but we want to change behavior at the very least, if not the culture itself. But could you tell me more about maybe, what kind of problems could you see us facing as we’re trying to work on the ground through small businesses to promote gender equality? Do you see any issues with that? Would there be any societal pushback? And do you have any suggestions on how we go about it? I guess I’m just kind of fishing for ideas, for advice as we try to implement this on the ground.

[00:31:10.470] – Shane Harrison
My perception is you wouldn’t really receive pushback promoting something like this because I think there’s been a lot of organizations who’ve tried to do similar things in similar spaces.

[00:31:19.440] – Christian Pearson
So it’s not like it would be a new idea or something.

[00:31:23.150] – Shane Harrison
No, but I think it would be beneficial as you’re going into kind of do a sector survey. I don’t know if that’s the right word, but just kind of a survey of like, all right, who’s done what over the last ten years in this space? So then you can look at lessons learned. Say there’s 20 projects different organizations have done. What did they do? What worked well, what didn’t work well. So then you know the pitfalls to avoid, and you can kind of use that to leapfrog the refinement and evolution of your project.

[00:31:53.670] – Christian Pearson
Okay. Yeah, that’s awesome. That’s really good advice. And I do hope that as we try to implement these measures, we’re being respectful. That’s something we talked about a lot. It’s like trying to be respectful of the culture, of existing, whatever it is, hidden biases, and knowing that we’re not perfect either. And coming in from a western country and trying to push our own morals or our own ideas onto this culture is not what we’re after. Right. It’s more like we just want to raise awareness, and hopefully we can all be on the same page. As far as gender equality is something good, it really lifts a whole economy, it lifts a community, and it’s good for everyone, women and men alike.

[00:32:42.870] – Shane Harrison
So both for my time in Cambodia and also my time in Vietnam, some of the most powerful managers and organizations I met were women. When I was working in Vietnam, I had a friend or a visitor from overseas, and he was seeing the managers for the company I was managing. Working. And he’s like, man, they’re like iron and silk. It’s like iron fist and a silk glove.

[00:33:11.790] – Christian Pearson
I love that. That’s some cool imagery. Yeah.

[00:33:14.370] – Shane Harrison
So he gets a very competent, capable women leading organizations. Cambodia job foundation is led by Ms. Kanaka. She’s an exceptional leader. Exceptional manager.

[00:33:27.410] – Christian Pearson
That’s awesome. I think you’re giving me a lot of hope for our project. I hope that we’re able to work with these women and really just kind of get the word out there that we can embrace, I guess, a gender neutral society. Just everyone has something to contribute. I’ve been dying to ask just one last question, I guess since you speak Kamai, right, the cambodian language? Yes. Would you be willing to. Okay. Don’t we all right. Would you be willing to share something you learned? It can know just a piece of advice or a saying from Cambodia for our listeners, something that you heard or learned in Cambodia, and could you share it in Kamai so we can all hear the language? And then in English, just like some kind of advice.

[00:34:21.570] – Shane Harrison
I had a whole book where I collected aphorisms and sayings.

[00:34:25.490] – Christian Pearson
Okay, perfect.

[00:34:26.280] – Shane Harrison
Over time in Kamai, so I wouldn’t even know where to start. Common saying, jill stung dambat. Which man? My pronunciation sounds terrible. I haven’t been speaking much, but I can hear myself. But it’s basically, enter the river, go with the flow. And the english version of that is like, when in Rome, do as the Romans.

[00:34:49.780] – Christian Pearson

[00:34:50.620] – Shane Harrison
But it’s basically saying when things are flowing a certain way in life, you just jump in and then you go with it.

[00:34:57.630] – Christian Pearson

[00:34:58.420] – Shane Harrison
Jolstung damba.

[00:34:59.960] – Christian Pearson
That’s really cool. Would you say that your time in Cambodia has changed you as a person since being there, did you say you see life a little differently?

[00:35:11.420] – Shane Harrison
Well, most of my early career years were in Cambodia. Had a profound influence on me. I didn’t realize how profound until some years later. I was at an embassy function in Vietnam, and there was some guy there. Nobody will say he’s with the CIA, but he was with the CIA. I was talking to him for two minutes, and he said, I can tell you have lived in a buddhist country, haven’t you? Because he could just read my body mannerisms. I still had these cambodian mannerisms in the way you carry yourself, the way you interact, lean into conversations and stuff. He could read those subtle body cues and could tell I had lived in Cambodia. And I thought, he’s absolutely right. I still have these mannerisms that I had developed over time, just the way that you interact with other human beings. You greet Cambodians very respectfully, you raise your hands up to your nose. Chumburypsua. And just very respectful greetings. Similar to Thailand.

[00:36:12.710] – Christian Pearson
That’s just so cool. I’m so glad that you had the opportunity to go there and live with them, and I’m also glad that you had the opportunity to come in and speak on our podcast today. Shane, it’s been a pleasure just talking with you and hearing all of your, I guess, your outsider insights. And I guess just a word to all of our listeners out there. Thank you for listening. Thank you for following inside the Cambodia project. And I hope that as you go out, wherever you are in the world, you can remember that everyone has power to make a difference. Everyone has something in them that they can give. And whatever that is for you, whether it’s a minute of your time or a smile or a wave, just remember to lift for you. Dan.