Lisa Tarver

Don’t be afraid to go for it and take risks, and don’t forget about work-life balance. It’s so important to get out and play, and self care is vital to success, both in business and in life.


Lisa Tarver is co-founder and chief impact officer of One World Play Project, a social-impact company that creates ultra-durable products to enable play for all. The company’s flagship product, the One World Futbol, is a soccer ball that never needs a pump and never goes flat, even when punctured. The company provides opportunity for play by providing One World Futbols to organizations worldwide to help under served and at-risk youth recover from trauma, build community, and find hope. Collaborating with sponsors, organizations and individuals, the company has delivered play to an estimated 60 million youth in 185 countries.

As chief impact officer, Lisa provides direction to the overall mission of the company and leads the global giving and impact team to identify and partner with organizations working with youth in disadvantaged communities’ worldwide. Prior to launching One World Play Project, Lisa was involved in 2 other start-ups. In addition, she has 30 years experience in the nonprofit sector focused primarily in the areas of international solidarity, global social justice and education. Her international experience includes five years living and working in El Salvador, as well as extensive travel and consulting on grassroots projects throughout Latin America.

In her play time, Lisa enjoys hiking, backpacking, gardening, skiing, cooking and spending time with family and friends.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

My co-founder had the idea for the One World Futbol while watching a report on children in Darfur that talked about the importance of play in recovery from trauma. Combined with my background in the nonprofit world and first-hand experience of working in the developing world, we launched One World Play Project with the idea of providing unpoppable balls to underserved communities so kids can play.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

A typical day for me can include researching and talking with prospective impact partners, organizing donations of balls to partners, working with our team on strategy or problem solving, as well as the usual responding to emails, reviewing financials and such. Since my role requires a lot of juggling, prioritizing what’s urgent and what can wait or be delegated makes me the most productive.

How do you bring ideas to life?

Collaboration, creativity, hard work, a little fairy dust and a lot of perseverance.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m thrilled to see more and more businesses moving towards combining purpose and profit and using business as a force for good in the world. The benefit corporation model, where companies are required to consider both the interest of their shareholders AND their impact on their communities and the world brings together the best of the for profit and nonprofit worlds.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Taking breaks to go outside, going for a quick walk or even just a few minutes of fresh air helps me stay clear and focussed.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be afraid to go for it and take risks, and don’t forget about work-life balance. It’s so important to get out and play, and self care is vital to success, both in business and in life.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Spicy food sucks.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Listen, listen, listen. Listen to what your team thinks, ask for ideas, build on ideas together. Ask all of your stakeholders for their ideas. You can’t have true collaboration if you aren’t willing to really listen and accept that others may have ideas just as valuable than your own.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

A key strategy for us has been hiring people who are passionate about our mission and are a good cultural fit with our team. Of course they have to also have the skills and experience to carry out their responsibilities, but without the passion and collaborative approach, it just doesn’t work. So all potential hires go through a lengthy interview process with multiple members of our team, both management and peers, to ensure a good fit.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

In a prior business venture I didn’t want to take in investors, didn’t want to give away equity. As a result, even though the business was a great idea, we couldn’t sustain it long enough to get to cash positive. Sometimes the best lesson is actually failing at something so that the next time around you don’t make the same mistake.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

I wish someone would start a grocery store (or better yet, a chain) that uses no plastics for packaging. There’s no reason why we can’t eliminate plastic bags, styrofoam containers, plastic straws and other items that aren’t biodegradable from our stores and markets.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I spent about $100 to go backpacking for the weekend. Getting out in nature and off the grid always helps me to clear my mind and relax.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?

Evernote. I use it to keep track of everything! To do lists, meeting notes, receipts, recipes, meeting agendas, wines I like, even handwritten notes and photos. Evernote can read labels, handwriting, pictures, so it’s all searchable.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

My newest favorite is “The Magic of Tiny Business” by Sharon Rowe. So often entrepreneurs are led to believe that we have to dedicate 24/7 to building our businesses if we want to be successful. Through personal stories, valuable insights and concrete suggestions, Sharon shows us it’s possible to balance life and business while building a successful social impact company.

What is your favorite quote?

“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”-George Bernard Shaw

Key learnings:

  • Listen to all your stakeholders – it’s one of the most important skills of an entrepreneur.
  • Take time to hire people that are the right fit your company culture. It’s key to building a strong and effective team.
  • A healthy work-life balance is vital to being in it for the long haul – we all need time to play!
  • Being an entrepreneur is not for the faint of heart!