October gave me a lot of time and space for introspection. Between long road trips and decompressing in the mountains of North Carolina, I’ve had ample opportunity to read and listen and figure out what I want 2020 to look like.

Here are three things I learned in October:

Everything is Figureoutable, Marie Forleo

Taking your own advice is hard. The phrase I have used the most when working with purpose-driven entrepreneurs over the years has been “Stop thinking. Start Doing.” One entrepreneur even put it on her whiteboard and sent me a picture. Over the last year, I’ve spent so much time in preparation and getting-ready mode that it’s become a little terrifying to actually put something out there that requires interaction with the target audience, ecosystem builders for social change. 

  • Will they even respond? 
  • Is this problem I’m trying to solve important enough?
  • Do they even know it’s a problem?
  • And if they do, are they willing to take action? I mean, some of them can barely keep up with their emails. 
  • And who am I to be driving this anyway? Ahhhhhh…

But, mama Marie says everything is figureoutable and sometimes we just have to get out of our own way. I sent out the first invites and held my breath. For two hours. Then both ecosystem builders replied YES and I could breathe again. So we are starting to test our first digital event format called Fireside Chats to see if it provides any value.

Lesson: If you’re afraid of doing something, then the fear itself is a pretty good sign that it’s worth pursuing. It means you’re leaving your comfort zone, the only place in which we can  grow. In that sense, fear is your ally! An alarm system for growth so to speak. Feeling afraid? March on!

The Infinite Game, Simon Sinek

Do you ever pick up a book and a few pages in you start looking around you suspiciously to see whether anyone is pulling a prank on you? Because you feel like this book was written entirely for you? Because every word makes more sense than the last and before you know it you are convinced that you just found the holy grail that holds all the answers to the secrets of the universe? The bible by which you shall live your life from here on out?

The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek was that for me. I saw him on Marie TV and bought the audiobook in hopes of soaking up wisdom while driving hundreds of miles between Virginia and North Carolina. I grew so annoyed with not being able to take notes that I then ordered a copy and began furiously highlighting and taking notes. The outcome of which you can read in my latest post The Infinite Game of Ecosystem Building.

Lesson: Our efforts to create lasting social change are an Infinite Game. There is no winning or losing. The game goes on. It is us – the players – whose time runs out or who drop out of the game because we’ve run out of resources (e.g. funding, revenue, etc.) or the will (our intrinsic motivation) to keep playing. Intrigued? Check out The Infinite Game of Ecosystem Building.

Community over Competition, Rebelle Con

In mid-October I attended Rebelle Con in Richmond, Virginia. Rebelle Con is a conference for women creatives, freelancers, entrepreneurs, professionals. Everything was simply gorgeous – the venue, catering, swag – all around a great experience. Ten seconds within Shannon Siriano opening the event, I was hectically wiping away tears when she talked about how Rebelle Con had started at her kitchen table two years earlier – with me pregnant and Shannon bouncing her newborn in her lap. It felt good to be surrounded by this community. 

Throughout the entire event, I could feel this deep bond among attendees. I was part of genuine conversations; I experienced their willingness to share and learn, to be vulnerable and unpretentious in a room of women who could be either one: competitors or allies. I was affirmed in my experience when I overheard one of the speakers say to another one “You know, I attend a lot of these types of events in New York City. And I just know that at the end of the conversation there is going to be a pitch, an ask or some sort of sale. I’ve stopped going. But here, it feels like everyone is asking instead ‘How can I help you? What do you need?’”

Lesson: Community beats competition. Natalie Franke closed the day by sharing her personal journey and what led to her founding Rising Tide Society. Not only did she give a killer talk but she was a living and breathing model for her message: community over competition. 

What’s next

  • After the first 25 (!) interviews, I revamped the interview guide to dig up even more advice and insights that help our readers lead fulfilling lives and purpose-driven careers. After a two-months interview hiatus, I am excited to start interviewing again with our first self-nominated Social Venturer and our first impact investor.
  • We are testing the first digital event format: Fireside Chats. Once I overcame my paralysis, my ideas for what I want to test out in 2020 just kept coming! I am lining up a lot of pilots for 2020!
  • I am testing a first version of our partnership model. I have four potential partners in mind to help us create relevant content and meet unsung ecosystem builders from around the world.

How you can help

You’ve done a lot this year and as we are heading into the holiday season, I’m not going to ask for anything other than for you to take care of yourselves and your teams and organizations.

If you find yourself craving some inspiration and remind yourselves why you’re doing this work, follow our hashtag #impactecosystems on social media (Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn) and give The Infinite Game of Ecosystem Building a read. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section.