While April and May were all about travel, I kept my feet firmly planted on Toronto ground throughout June. In a country where winters and long and dark, we take summer seriously! Despite the tempting outdoors, I got a number of great interviews in this last month.
I spoke to Danielle Olson from Portland, Oregon, who recently took over a co-working space for social entrepreneurs. I caught up with one of the first ecosystem builders I ever met — Enoch Elwell of Co.Starters — in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Enoch and I talked about the emotional weight that comes with leading teams in growing organizations, nurturing a great culture and building entrepreneurial communities. Rob Lalka and I first met when he was still with Propeller in New Orleans. He has since followed his call to Tulane University where he works with student entrepreneurs and weaves connections between the local business community and Tulane university.
Digitally hopping across the pond, I had a chance to talk to Leon Reiner, co-founder at Impact Hub Berlin (their latest newsletter sent me straight into FOMO!), and I chatted with Matt Zieger at Village Capitalin D.C. about the impact accelerator space, our need for collaboration over competition and the next big thing in the world of social impact (a hell of a tease, eh!?).
I finished up my 2-day interview marathon by talking to my very first Social Venturer in Africa: Danielle Anderson of Step and Stone and the Afri-Love Connection Club for female founders. To say that she has completely overhauled her life since I first met her in London, UK, five years ago, is an understatement. Wait for her upcoming feature to hear the whole story!
With 16 (!) interviews under my belt, I am beginning to see some patterns:
Archetypes of Social Venturers: I am recognizing some lone wolves having to kill what they eat (figuratively speaking), systems thinkers who are deeply concerned with the state of the impact space, and therefore the world, and program insiders who work deep in the trenches with their entrepreneurs.
Afew topics that keep popping up are:
- Succession planning and building an organization that can function without you
- The work-life conundrum of working parents
- Leading and building up teams, walking the line between being understanding and demanding
- Consulting for social impact
… to name just a few.
Mysecond insight came from wanting the first version of the website to be so absolutely perfect that I — you guessed it — stalled completely! I called on a web designer through one of my networks; she sat me down for half an hour and helped me work through some of my hang-ups. After those thirty minutes, I finally agreed with myself to just put SOMETHING out there. After all:
Imperfectly done is better than perfectly undone.
We tell entrepreneurs this all the time, and sometimes you gotta drink your own kool aid. I was getting caught up in ideas for a big-reveal-type of launch when the truth is: All I need is to ship a first version that is 80% perfect, so I can start working off of that draft and tinker my way to 95%.
Over the coming four weeks, here’s what else is on my docket:
- Create the first online features including visuals, external links to additional resources and social media
- Publish version 1.0 of the new website celebrating the first Social Venturers (confetti please!), including some original blog content and [logbook]’s to date
- Launch social media campaign (Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn) highlighting — you guessed it — YOU (pop the champagne!)
- Draft literature review of ecosystem building for social change
- Recruit interviewees from Richmond, Virginia, and Asheville, North Carolina (realistic?! We shall see.) where I’ll be spending the next four weeks.
If you know someone who falls into the category of “exceptional individual saving the world through creating social impact’ I’d love to chat to them! Thanks for reading along!