Episode 45: Chase happiness with entrepreneur and civil rights activist, Michael Skolnik

The co-founder of The Soze Agency discusses happiness, equity, and white privilege

Michael Skolnik was recently profiled in the NY Times and identified as “the man you go to if you want to leverage the power of celebrity and the reach of digital media to soften the ground for social change.” But, besides all of that, he is most proud to be the father of Mateo Ali, a rambunctious four year old.

In his day job, he is the CEO of The Soze Agency, a social impact agency that partners with companies, non-profits, foundations and movements to create campaigns that uplift compassion, authenticity and equity. The Soze Agency is a worker’s owned cooperative.

He is a respected leader in the new social justice movement, and has helped ignite conversations around America’s relationship with race, the deaths of TrayvonMartin, Mike Brown and Eric Garner, and the Obama and Trump presidencies.

He is a prolific voice on social media with more than 350,000 followers, and a regular commentator on outlets such as CNN, MSNBC and Fox News.

Earlier in his career, Michael spent over a decade as an award-winning film director and producer.

Michael serves on the Board of Directors for Rock The Vote, The Trayvon Martin Foundation, Policy Link, The Gathering For Justice and The Young Partners Board of The Public Theater.


  1.  Michael Shares why he decided to make Soze Agency a workers owned cooperation and reveals the steps they’ve taken to become a “triple bottom line” organization.
  2. As a straight, white man, Michael understands that he was born with white privilege.  Some choose to exploit their white privilege, while Michael decided at a young age to use his privilege for the greater good. 
  3. Michael almost lost his young son to a febrile seizure and highly recommends parents learn more about this condition.


  • Michael shares how do you create a work environment where people love coming in to work everyday?  
  • What does it mean to be triple bottom line organization?
    • Maintain a focus on revenue and profits
    • Take care of people throughout the organization- internally and externally
    • Become carbon neutral
  • We teach our kids to share but what happens once we become adults?
  • When you give you receive love, friendship, and happiness.
  • Money can’t buy you happiness but happiness can buy you money.
    • Chase happiness not money
  • Michael shares why a client gave The Soze Agency  an extra $25,000 out of the blue.
  • When discussing white privilege Michael  shares that he recognized at a young age that that the color of his skin mattered
    • “It affected me in a very positive way in terms of opportunities that I was given”
    • “I am consistently welcomed, appreciated, thanked since I was a child.”
    • “I decided at a very young age that I would use that privilege for the greater good.”
  • Michael explains how the systems of support  in place for white communities don’t exist in others
    • As an example he breaks down the difference in response between crack cocaine and the opioid epidemic.
    • “When we see the pain and suffering of white people we immediately bring in systems of support to uplift them, and black people we do not.”
  • Michael shares why he named his son Mateo Ali
  • Michael describes how almost losing his son has helped him better connect to families that have gone through such a tragedy 
    • “I pain with you!  I don’t want anyone to experience any kind of pain with their child.”
  • Stories connect us- storytelling moves culture
  • Michael’s  advice to millennials – “You are who you surround yourself with  so surround yourself with people who are going to inspire you.”
  • Discover the number one question he would love to ask Coretta Scott King
  • “I’m prolific on twitter!” 
  • Stay to the end and hear Michael’s “WHY.”




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