If you are one of the increasing number of people who think about pursuing a career with real impact and benefit to society, beyond money and power – then you will also know that it’s not that easy. You might find you have very good reasons not to pursue a path of values in your work – time, age, money, and background. Or are they just excuses?
Based on hundreds of career profiles and interviews, we worked out the main reasons why people avoid the transition toward a more meaningful career. Here is one of five with reference to our book, The Future Makers.
Excuse 3: ‘I’m not financially secure
So you have a family you want to provide for. A mortgage. Your kids should have everything their peers have. You now love holidays in exotic places and restaurants are just so much easier than cooking.
Risking all that for a meaningful and uncertain career is a tough call.
But how much money do you actually need? And what for? When is enough truly enough?
The saying goes, ‘money can’t buy happiness’. You can work all day, to pay for the car you drive to work in, to pay for the apartment you don’t spend much time in as you are out at work. Make sure you differentiate between needs and compensation.
When you are happy in your work and it meets your values and passions, then it’s amazing how much less money you really need. Your contentment is made up of your achievements and goals at work, rather than the need to pay for a lifestyle and compensate for lack of sense.
As a social entrepreneur or employee, you might not have the salary you are used to – although increasingly there are opportunities where it´s possible. So where does that fit your values? Do you value living or do you value lifestyle?
Taking the risk
The barriers to financial freedom seem many. But many of us have the capacity to not only create our own financial freedom but also to enjoy the risk that comes with it.
Take Florian Kraemer. Growing up in Germany, he had an idyllic life. In 1994, he travelled to central Africa. The war he witnessed there not only changed his outlook on financial means, but on life. Infected with Dengue fever, Florian and his friend experienced first-hand the lack of financial infrastructure in a region that desperately needed medical care on a massive scale.
So he set out on his personal journey. One driven by determination over financial means. He returned to Africa with 50,000 Euros, thinking this would help the dire situation. But he soon learnt that good will and influence didn’t have much influence in Africa, so he had to look beyond the obvious – money – which is ever present in Europe as the main route to solutions and happiness.
Florian worked hard to build relationships and find projects where he could have an impact in Africa. The important point being, that is was the relationships that ultimately drove his success in eventually finding a day care centre, working with children with HIV and Aids. Donated money has helped in the path to making the centre a success, but that came much later. Money was part of the solution, but was far from the key driver.
So maybe you won’t be travelling to Africa to meet your values. But think about what you can do and what you really need day-to-day.
There are many opportunities for careers with purpose across all sectors – you can be employed full or part time with a social organisation, work in the sustainability department of a large company or become an entrepreneur yourself. If you have a family to support, think how you can split your time and have income security while maybe mixing multiple options.
If you want to take the risk to follow your passion or develop your impact idea, look at where you can draw support from family members and re-adjust your outgoings and expenses. It’s a long and often difficult journey where the risk is high, so see how you can set yourself up as well as possible to ride the wave. Living how you did before may not be an option. Ensure that your support network understands why you are choosing this path and what it means to you.
In some respects, money does make the world go around. But what makes the world thrive is people. Care, respect and strong relationships with a common cause go a long way. Then, the money will come. It always does.
Resources to help you
- For more inspiration and to read the stories of Mariana Galarza (Promoting health instead of curing illness), Njogu Kahare (Live your own values) and Karen Tse (The journey is the destination). You can purchase The Future Makers book in both English and German.
- Read part 1 ‘I don’t have the right professional background’, part 2 ‘I’m too young, or too old’ and look out for part 4 of our blog series: ‘I am already successful with what I’m doing’ next week.
- Sign up for our workshop ‘Career Confidence: Business Model You’ in Zurich on 29. November (Tomorrow – in German) to explore your values and skills and plan your meaningful career, or contact us for one to one consultation on how you can create a more meaningful career
- Visit the Impact Hub Network – a global network of collaborators focused on making a positive impact in the world.
- Read about Social Intraprenuership to learn more about how to create social value from inside your current or future organisation.
Impact HUB Geneva, Summer 2014…
… And 70 highly engaged individuals were gathered to better understand what Social Intrapreneurship is and what role they have to play.
The term is becoming more and more familiar in business circles, education and social innovation. But is it just thrown around? What does it mean in practice and reality?
To help embed thinking, active intrapreneurs shared first-hand experience, advising aspiring ones and HR and CSR/Sustainability professionals on how to best go forward and make social intrapreneurship core to business-done-well. Speakers included:
- Joanna Hafenmayer, Managing Director, MyImpact, former intrapreneur at Microsoft, Aspen First Movers Fellow, coach and expert on meaningful careers, fostering Impact Intrapreneurship out of Switzerland and beyond on Tools and opportunities for impact intrapreneurs
You can see some pictures from the session here.
An individual is great, but we need an eco-system
What is becoming very clear is that, as great as an individual can be, it is a whole “ecosystem” that really makes success on a greater scale possible.
It all starts with a long-term outlook or, in fact, with another external trigger such as change in technology or regulation, increased pressure on sustainability issues, new demands or competitors, interest in moving beyond traditional markets,….
Then an intrapreneur comes into play with a set of individual characteristics such as tenacity, creativity and ability to deal with ambiguity.
Only when such an individual is supported by an enabling internal environment such as executive godfathers, development opportunities, resources and trust can his venture thrive. Read more about this here.
External partners such as field-experienced advisors, co-founders of a new venture or even co-creators will play a major role in driving the initial intrapreneurial idea, to become an innovation within the company that will have a lasting impact. Not only on the business, but on society and on all individuals involved in the process.
Who needs to be on board for Intrapreneurs to thrive Source: Heiko Spitzeck – Fundação Dom Cabral
A great example of this type of eco-system was highlighted by Gib Bulloch during his journey as an intrapreneur, heading Accenture Development Partnerships. After 10 years of existence, Accenture Development Partnerships has delivered 640+ projects with 140+ organisations – engaging 1,000+ employees from Accenture in delivering consulting services for the international development sector.
Before that happened, there was an important first step – gathering of a team of individuals with different mind-sets who were motivated by the same goal. Then, engaging the support of top executives within the company to let the idea progress and demonstrate the overall benefits – both in terms of social impact and positive outcomes for the hosting company.
Finally, securing the inputs of external partners – in this particular case, executives from leading international development organizations and private corporations – who helped Accenture Development Partnerships to refine its concept and relevance to their activities.
The future of social intrapreneurs
The diverse participants of the Geneva “Coming out” demonstrated in reality the various roles of the eco-system. This created the perfect opportunity to define specific actions to help foster intrapreneurs acting out of Switzerland. And indeed the world.
- Address the culture of complaining
- Teach and foster design thinking as a business approach
- Find the right people to influence internally and externally
- Collaborate and share skills and experiences to solve problems
- Above all, create strong business cases as core to any successful intrapreneurial venture
The participants felt that the opportunities for co-creation for organizations are necessary and these opportunities are here today, if the right systems are in place to maximise those opportunities.
The future of business?
Social intrapreneurs prototype the way business can be done in the 21st century – with collaboration, empathy and design thinking – and the way real careers can be lived out – combining performance and a sense of meaning.
But helping them develop ‘shared value’ innovations aligning business strategy with societal needs is a shared responsibility. This is the landscape that our speakers were trying to build through tools, programmes and incubators in order to help both intrapreneurial individuals and corporate leaders to see the potential. The stage is clearly open to a wider group of key supporters to define the future of business with social impact, not just adapt it out of necessity.
This post was made possible with a contribution from Lionel Bodin, a senior manager from Accenture Development Partnerships. He drives Accenture’s Social Intrapreneurship initiative supporting the League of Intrapreneurs, the Intrapreneur Labs and helping intrapreneurs within corporations to incubate and accelerate their ideas.Read More
Following our RECOL Forum guest post by Dr Katrin Muff, we are delighted to welcome Gerhard Fehr, CEO FehrAdvice & Partners AG. Gerhard discussed ‘The right incentives for balancing short- and long-term behaviour of leaders’ at the Forum.
Today he reflects on his discussion in line with Katrin Muff’s Four Dimensions of Responsible Leadership model, developed as part of the 50+20 Vision.
A behavioral economist’s model of responsible leadership – Gerhard Fehr
Responsible leadership is about making business decisions that, aside from the interests of the shareholders, also take all the other stakeholders, such as workers, clients, suppliers, the environment, the community, and future generations into account. (source: RECOL Circle)Read More
What really shifts leadership behaviour to embrace responsibility?
Close to 30 participants from 15 companies were looking to answer that on 24. April in Zurich, at the second annual RECOL Forum hosted by RECOL Circle, supported by Credit Suisse & Swisscom and initiated by MyImpact.
As an incubator of organisational change, RECOL aims to develop responsible corporate leadership as core to business, within business. But what does that mean in practice? Joanna Hafenmayer Stefanska looked to demystify as an opening session. It’s all about decision making.Read More
The topic of “Responsible Leadership” is becoming more and more common across the global corporate community. But it comes in many different guises; responsibility, employee engagement, CSR, resilience, compliance or similar. Of course, it is a label and labels are there to serve a purpose: to help categorise or understand.
What is Responsible Leadership in your organisation?
Whatever the label in your organisation, Responsible Leadership is starting to stir. It’s growing through different channels (labelled or not) and is front of mind for many leaders.Read More
Everyone is familiar with Plan A – how we do things now in business.
What about Plan B?
Initiated by these two respected and authoritative global leaders, The B TEAM brings together 14 leaders from around the world to drive transformational change in the business sector. Their aim?
To show long-term business success can be only built from prioritising people and planet over profit.
Some say, it’s nothing new and just a billionaires’ club pretending to do good, others admire their courage and promise support. The first real difference is their pledge – that everything they do will come from inside their corporations, including Unilever, Natura, Tata and Kering.Read More