September was a quiet month. I spent some time with family in Germany and prepared for a big personal move. And I mean that literally. We are moving again! Yes, you read that correctly! After 16 months in Canada, we are returning to the U.S.
Turning yet another page in our lives, this was an excellent opportunity to tie up some loose ends, take stock of a still nascent Social Venturers and figure out which mountain to climb next!
To catch you up, I finished writing and editing 95% of the interviews to date which will carry us into the new year content-wise. With that little peace of mind, I can turn to some bigger questions that have been keeping me up at night. Mostly, how to build a sustainable model for this community so it has capacity and enough oomph! to continuously create value and scale for impact. To help me think through this process, I’m currently leaning on two resources:
1. Lean Impact by Ann Mei Chang.
As the name suggests, this book takes a deep dive into the intersection of using the lean startup model for social impact. For anyone working with purpose-driven startups and even nonprofits looking to create more sustainable approaches to lasting change, I absolutely and whole-heartedly recommend this book! While it’s not fully applicable to Social Venturers, what I have taken away from the book so far (I’m one third in) are three main areas that I want to focus on over the next nine month:
- How can we create deeply practical and valuable content on a regular basis that is driven by data and insights from the field? How should we disseminate and deliver that value to your inboxes, doorstep, phones, breakfast tables and offices?
- How can we scale these efforts to make sure we reach social impact professionals around the world?
- How do we structure and promote online and in-person gatherings that you get so excited you lose sleep at night?
Ohhhh, the evil money conversation. Social Venturers must be built on a solid foundation if we’re going to deliver value at scale. What does that business model look like? Over the next nine months, I want to figure out what the new business models are in ecosystem and community building. I have been scraping by on the backend but feel ready to step it up and invest in more stable structures.
- Social Media has been growing steadily since we launched in early August. We currently have nine interviews on the site and twelve more scheduled. Does that mean we are successful? Making a difference? Moving the needle? I want to stay away from vanity metrics and focus on engagement and actual change. Todd Nuckols and Larkin Garbee (you will meet them in December) always insisted on defining your one success metric that drives your decision making. And I want to figure out what that is.
- I also want to define how Social Venturers fits in with my wider efforts in community building, teaching and storytelling because let me tell you, right now it’s a mouthful trying to explain to my family and friends what exactly it is that I do!
- I know that part of the impact I am aiming for is to raise the profile of social impact professionals both globally (as an emerging professional field) and locally in your communities. I want to figure out a partnership model that allows me to link arms with mission-aligned storytellers on all continents to have a loud and strong voice for social change, and those who make it happen (you!).
- Part of that storytelling impact is getting in front of more people to talk about the work that we are doing to drive social change through the means of purpose-driven entrepreneurship. If you have any speaking opportunities on your radar, sign me up!
2. CO.BUILDERS Fellowship
“I’ve been wanting to bring together a small group of aligned people working on important projects to more intentionally support and promote each other’s work, using the CO.STARTERS network and partnerships to help accelerate awareness and engagement with each individual project across the wider field.”
It’s a small group of ecosystem builders from across the U.S. and I will be meeting some of them for the first time in Chattanooga this first week of October (leaving tomorrow at 6.00 a.m.!). As a solo-founder, I am thrilled to be working with other system-thinkers who are keen to move the needle for their communities through cutting edge initiatives. Yay!
The Fellowship kicks off this week and I am curious to see how this experience helps each of us move forward. Naturally, I want us to get matching rings or – better yet – tattoos and swear a secret oath that will bind this first group of fellows together forever. You know, Tolkien meets Avengers-kind-of-deal. What do you think?
Realistically, I’ll tone it down for the first few weeks and instead focus on how and in what order to tackle the value, revenue and impact model.
I have also been working on a campaign leading up to Christmas and want to make sure it’s in tip top shape by December 1. Keep your ears perked and eyes peeled for #24DaysofGiving. Also, if you have a better name idea, let’s hear it! Titles and heading are not my strong suit in case you hadn’t noticed!
And then there is that minor detail of moving my family to a different country, deciding on a new city (will it be Charlotte, NC, or Raleigh/Durham, NC?), trying to find a new home, furnishing the place, finding daycare (or more likely bribing someone to get us into a daycare), etc. etc.
How you can help
If you know of any social impact professionals in North Carolina (Asheville, Charlotte, Raleigh/Durham), please let me know! I’d love a warm introduction to cool people I can hang out with and pepper with questions about the small things in life. You know, succeeding professionally, creating a better world without losing yourself in the process, that type of hanging out…
Are you hosting a conference in 2020? Are you helping select speakers for an upcoming event? In short, if you have any speaking opportunities on the horizon for an audience that wants to hear more about about building entrepreneurial ecosystems for social change, I would love to know!
Value Creation: I want to know what you need to succeed. I have to assume you don’t need another evening ritual or morning routine or meditation tip for better work life balance. What are the really difficult, grind-your-teeth-type of challenges that you can’t figure out on your own? Let’s hear it!
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