Posts Tagged "social entrepreneurship"

Finding a career with purpose part 5: ‘What will others think of me?’

 

Book Series 5

 

There are many people living and working in environments every day, where they are exposed to situations and opportunities to create more sustainable and beneficial outcomes for themselves, their families and communities.

In this series of five blog posts, taken from our book ‘The Future Makers’, we look at the key excuses the many social innovators who we interviewed from across the world faced on their journey to creating a better world.

You can find out more about The Future Makers also on our online portal, where we have continued to seek out inspirational social entrepreneurs and tell their stories.

 

Excuse 5: ‘What will others think of me?’

You know what you want to do, but do the people who surround you understand? Taking a different route to career satisfaction to meet your own passions and values can leave other people confused and you feeling misunderstood.

It takes a lot of self-confidence and resilience to pursue a path that sits outside others’ ideas of ‘normal’. Social values and structures have been created around a common goal of fitting in for centuries and change only comes through stepping outside of some of those paradigms and systems designed to provide structure and order in an otherwise chaotic world.

Can you turn around sceptical friends, family and colleagues to at least value your determination and self-worth, or do you have to pursue a lonely path? The answer may be unclear until you actually set out on this new journey. What you will find, is that the people who share similar values or belief in your abilities will more likely come along with you than not.

 

And you care because?

‘Even if it kills me tomorrow, there’s nothing better that I can do with my life’

Says Roma Debabrata, founder of STOP – an organisation dedicated to stopping the tracking and oppression of children and women in India. Roma faced years of misunderstanding. On the path to becoming a prima ballerina, she was the source of her family’s pride. At aged 21, Roma gave that up. She couldn’t see how she could be fulfilled dancing when she was surrounded by wretched dwellings and omnipresent hunger. Why millions had to suffer, as she indulged in a tiny elite.

Her parents were not of the same mindset. She decided to move away and work as an instructor at the University of Delhi – to help students recognise the contradictions that existed in their society – and took part in social projects. For years her family didn’t understand her choices. That didn’t change anything for Roma, she met her future husband and married into a family who supported her ideals. This backing made all of the difference and gave Roma the courage to pursue her passions.

After translating the testimony of a 14-year old abuse victim, sold by her parents at 10 years of age to a ‘better life’. Roma was key in ensuring the girl’s testimony wasn’t falsified – she gave her a voice. During the court case, Roma was attacked by a poison filled needle, meant for the girl. Left partially paralysed and in hospital, she realised that she knew exactly what she woke up for every day. She knew she couldn’t change the world, but she knew she wanted to make the lives of disadvantaged women better.

She still does that today. Putting herself in often dangerous situations and using her university income, through STOP Roma has freed countless women and helped them move on with their lives. The risk and the choices don’t make sense to others. But they do make sense to Roma.

 

Stop procrastinating

If you move in circles with like-minded people, you will always find support. This doesn’t mean you have to uproot your life as you know it, but you do need to see the value in expanding your world, to meet the needs of every part of yourself.

You may lose some people along the way, but you will always gain more. People change and evolve in any situation through life. When you are being true to yourself, you will attract the ones you really need.

Sit down and speak to the people that surround you. Share your ideas and thoughts about what you might want to do. If they do not understand, don’t shut them down. Critical thinking is always useful. The most important thing is to explain your motivations and reasons clearly, along with the fact you would like and will need their support. Then they can choose how they can support you based on the reality of your thinking, not the perception.

Being honest with yourself is the first and most important step, but being honest with your closest relationships is crucial. See where you stand, don’t judge where you might, then act on that in the way that meets your needs and values their opinion. An opinion is only an opinion, after all.

 

No more excuses

So whether you think you are too young, too old, not financially stable, don’t have the right professional background, are already super-successful or you care far too much about what people think – you can make a difference.

At the beginning of this series, we summarised the 5 main excuses. Which applies to you?

If you have the feeling that you can do more with your life and you care more about the world than generating profit or meeting the expectations of your family and social circle, stop making excuses.

Contact us to map where you can offer more. Find the excuse that applies to you and work through the actions to see where you fit. More than all of that, be true to yourself and your values.

Nothing is impossible.

 

Resources to help you

 

Read More

Finding a career with purpose part 4: ‘I’m already successful with what I am doing’

 

Book Series 4

 

There are many people living and working in environments every day, where they are exposed to situations and opportunities to create more sustainable and beneficial outcomes for themselves, their families and communities.

In this series of five blog posts, taken from our book ‘The Future Makers’, we look at the key excuses the many social innovators who we interviewed from across the world faced on their journey to creating a better world.

You can find out more about The Future Makers also on our online portal, where we have continued to seek out inspirational social entrepreneurs and tell their stories.

 

Excuse 4: ‘I am already successful with what I am doing’

You’ve made it. Whether you come from a background of privilege or poverty, your skills, talents and determination to succeed have served you well.

There are many successful people in the world – defined by their accomplishments in their professional or socially influential fields. That is all well and good, but what if that success doesn’t feel like it should? The recognition and material possessions are not the only outcomes you seek to reach in your life?

You can reach that point at 30 as a successful entrepreneur, or aged 65 as an established professional where that thought that always played at the back of your mind becomes stronger: it’s just not enough.

Don’t ignore it. Creating change for the good of others and your own future generations needs people like you. People who know how to make things happen and often have the financial means to dedicate the time and effort to solve real issues and actively shape the future. Are you one of those people? Read on.

 

Making more of your success

Why would you bother making a change in your life now? Because your values and your passions lie beyond what you have already achieved.

Take Erin Keown Ganju. Growing up in a successful family on the west coast of the USA, Erin developed a passion for languages, culture and business which led her to a successful career in investment banking then entrepreneurship. And all that came with that.

At barely 30 years old and in the hub of the Silicon Valley, following an insightful career at Goldman Sachs and Unilever, Erin recognised the power and influence of private business on the lives and cultures of many people worldwide. But how could this be leveraged? Who would be the facilitator that not only cared enough, but had the knowledge and experience to use that influence well?

She wanted more than a life where decisions were driven by pace and profit and were often unconscious due to the pressure of the business environment. She wanted a better world for her own children. So she decided to start a new chapter. She teamed up with a fellow professional and shared stories – they had similar attitudes and questions born out of the world they had occupied for so long.

Together, they embarked on a journey to lower the statistic of 120 million children worldwide who were not able to attend elementary school. They had the experience of how to run successful organisations and had worked across the world extensively, understanding markets and cultures. ‘Room to Read’ was created in 2001 to found schools and bilingual libraries across the world, working closely with the local communities Erin had come to understand in her previous work.

They have opened over 3,600 libraries, built over 280 schools and improved the lives of over 1.2 million children across Asia and Africa.

 

Stop procrastinating

The work you do now serves as part of your journey to create change in the future. Every experience you have is a building block for the next and a foundation for future success.

What have you achieved so far? And how could you use that in an alternative way to create change? Do you have an understanding of how to interact with diverse groups of people to drive projects, know how to influence governmental change or see how to raise finance to fund impact projects?

Look at your background and map your skills and achievements. Then map your values and your passions against it. Use that to see the opportunities where you can add value and create impact. Go beyond the obvious – talk to people working in the impact space and see what interests you the most.

People might not understand why you would make your life more difficult, but these are all of the reasons that you should. The challenge of succeeding is never an easy path – it always took hard work and effort on your part. The difference is, you won’t be doing it for generating revenue for investors and shareholders, but to change the lives of others and satisfy your personal values and goals.

That is true success.

 

Resources to help you

  • For more inspiration and to read the stories of David Bussau (The economy of ‘enough’), Ines Sanguinetti (The wake-up call: uniting passions), Ashok Khosla (The power of temptation) and Jordan Kassalow (Using your own potential) . 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’, part 3, ‘I’m not financially secure’ and look out for part 5 of our blog series: ‘What will others think of me?’ next week.
  • Sign up for our next workshop ‘Career Confidence: Business Model You’ to explore your values and skills and plan your meaningful career (register your enquiry here for the next date),  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.
Read More

Finding a Career with Purpose Part 3: ‘I’m not financially secure’

 

Book Series 3

 

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.

 

Stop procrastinating

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.
Read More

Finding a Career with Purpose Part 2: ‘I’m too young, or too old’

 

Book Series 2

 

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 2: ‘I am too young, or too old’

It’s possible to reset or transform the tracks at every stage of your life. Whether you are young and feel you are lacking skills, local support and experience or nearing the end of your career and not sure what you can offer, there is a place for you in creating impact through your work.

Age does not define what we can do or achieve in life, only your attitude and clarity of vision and thought.

 

Too young?

You have invested in your studies or vocational training and have high hopes for the future. That means earning enough money not only to live, but to show you made the right choices and meet the expectations of your family, friends and peer group – and yourself.

It’s a simple path. For example, taking the corporate route to ensure you have enough strength in your CV or resume and enough money to live the life your friends do.

The problem comes with dissatisfaction. If you already believe strongly in the impact you want to make in the world, can this be achieved through traditional career routes? You’ll have nothing to fall back on. Maybe the people who surround you think you are a dreamer – unrealistic and unable to stick to a sensible plan.

This doesn’t need to hold you back from defining an alternative career that meets your personal values and motivations to have impact. Take Mia Hanak. An art history major with a strong affinity to the environment and now an entrepreneur. Mia founded Millennium Art and the Natural World Museum, following an extended period of travel after her studies.

She saw how our global, growth-driven society impacted on every corner of the globe. She didn’t have a background in environmental science, but she did have a wealth of knowledge and interest in the arts. Mia focused on solutions, not causes and looked at ways to use her passions to create interest in the environment from a different perspective: art. Solutions are a strength of the young.

Creating impact and building relationships can still be tricky. You need to be credible. You don’t have the experience to draw on and the barriers seem much higher than when you have established networks and are already very clear on what you can offer.

Then there are the thoughts of others who have supported you. Mia’s family support her, but often ask when she will settle down. It doesn’t matter. She continues to create impact through her work and raise authentic awareness of environmental issues.

Some might say, only the young have that gift of that all-determined faith in their cause and their adaptable and fast-developing abilities. What are yours?

 

Too old?

Many would say that Dr V might want to enjoy the fruits of his labour a little. Why work on a difficult or a lost cause, when you could be enjoying your retirement – which you worked hard for your whole life? In his own words, ‘What does retirement even mean?’.

People might say that you’re in crisis. Lost. Not sure where to go or what to do next. You need to learn to enjoy your freedom and stop finding distractions to focus on.

But this thinking isn’t for everyone. When you have a wealth of experience, skills and life behind you, you are probably one of the best-placed people to look at an existing situation and see clearly how it needs to change.

Dr V took on a challenge in his later life. An Ophthalmologist and a visionary, he started to use his background to create social change at the age of 58. He saw the suffering all around him in India, people without access to his skills to prevent blindness. Why do 50 million people have to be blind?

He saw retirement only as an opportunity. To make a new life for himself, and for others. He created the Aravind-Hospital in 1976, using his close networks of family and friends who he had supported in their professional growth, to now support his. He didn’t have money, so he re-mortgaged his house. He treats two-thirds of his patients for free to prevent unnecessary blindness.

His challenges were logistical, rather than personal. He was clever enough to use his vision and credibility to inspire his close family and networks. Where are you credible? Where can you build on that? Do you want a relaxing life, or a change to rejuvenate yourself and give something back through creating a whole new chapter?

 

Stop procrastinating

Young people excel at action, innovation and courage. Older people bring in valuable networks and a healthy distance to outcomes.

Both have a lot to offer. Think about where you are now, and what you have done. Or what you want to do. What skills and networks exist? What passions do you have? What’s your character – therefore what really matters to you? What’s your vision for the rest of your life?

Map this against what you need to make your vision become real. Not what you haven’t got, but what you have got. Then surround yourself with people who not only support your vision, but can help you make it happen. Whether that be the younger and more energetic, action-orientated, or the older, more experienced people with the right networks.

The journey is the destination, in the words of Karen Tse. On both sides, it’s just a new adventure. The fact you even set out to create impact through your work is testament to your strength of character and your determination and, therefore, your success.

What do you want to be known for? Start the journey now.

 

Resources to help you

  • For more inspiration and to read the stories of Vicky Colbert de Arboleda (Education, not drugs) and Isaac Shongwe (A lost child of the slums and an African leader). You can purchase The Future Makers book in both English and German.
  • Read part 1 ‘I don’t have the right professional background’ and look out for part 3 of our blog series: ‘I’m not financially secure’ week commencing 17th November.
  • Sign up for our workshop ‘Career Confidence: Business Model You’ in Zurich on 29. November (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.
Read More

Finding a Career with Purpose Part 1: ‘I don’t have the right professional background’

Book Series 1

 

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’.

 

Barrier 1: ‘I don’t have the right professional background’

What skills are really required to create social change? You don’t have to be a doctor, lawyer or finance expert to make things happen. Each individual has a unique set of experiences, values, skills and talents which when utilised in the right way, with the right support, can make the world better and more sustainable.

Almost every professional background has something to contribute. Whether as a support or advisory on projects you care about or as the speer-head of a new concept or organisation. It’s time to address the excuses.

 

Change is scary

You probably know many people who aren’t happy in their work. Or in their life in general. Are you one of them?

You may be struggling to understand how you can contribute, what skills you have to offer others – in addition to the fear of failure, the unknown and lack of control.

Remember – on the journey to a more meaningful career, your professional background and skills are one the strongest assets you have. They are often developed and established in alignment with your personality, a great foundation and sometime a point of return for a plan B.

The triggers to address your career motivation are different for everyone. It could be you are unhappy, frustrated or completely disillusioned with a problem you see again and again. It could be you are completely burnt out, through continued effort with little personal gain. The learning curve might be over, the motivation doesn’t run like it used to.

This is not failure, it’s a sign from yourself that something needs to shift. Where are you at?

 

Finding meaning through your professional background

If you want to make a difference to your own and others’ environments, you have to take responsibility for the role you play. Every person is defined in some respect by a set of values and interests, which sometimes and sometimes not, they use to create a career that fits. Often those values have been influenced by people around you and you may not completely buy into them.

Then what happens is that your career doesn’t fulfil all of those values. But it does build skills in influencing, professional specialisms, practices and business. That is priceless when it comes to taking control of your future direction.

Look at the story of Safia Minney, in the The Future Makers book. Safia was a communication and advertising professional, disturbed by the lack of support for the cottage industries in Asia and the seemingly forgotten homeless society of Tokyo. Safia used her values and outlook, teamed with her creative and communication skills to create Global Village, an NGO focusing on publicising information about socially and ecologically conscious shopping possibilities and People Tree, a global business that has changed the way consumers and industry view the quality of fair-trade products.

 

Tests & challenges

Without her professional background, Safia would not have had the skills to create focused change through communication. She used her background to work on entirely new industry and her creativity to overcome the barriers her organisations faced.

You will come across many challenges – where your excuses will run wild and give you the opportunity to fail conscious-free. Family and peers will question your sanity. Financial uncertainty will rock your world much more regularly than you would have hoped.

But these are just bumps on the road. Change only comes through disruption to some degree, whether that be internal or external. With strong values and skills aligned to the work you want to be part of, the personal and societal impact you have will outweigh your fears.

 

Stop procrastinating

Think about what you have to bring. Then think about what you care about. What is important to you? What, if anything, would you like to change in the world?

Many seemingly too-specific assets are valuable across social innovation projects. Networks, finance knowledge and creativity to name a few.

You can fill gaps in technical knowledge through a number of routes including education, team members and collaborations. An increasing amount of social innovation is done across sectors, industries and functions, therefore experience from multiple perspectives is highly valuable.

Plan accordingly. Where can you start to test your skills? Volunteering, part-time consultancy or even a big move into an established impact organisation with a salaried job.

These are all questions you need to ask yourself and answer honestly. Through that, you can stop using your background as an excuse and use it as an enabler. What will be your story?

 

Resources to help you

  • For inspiration and to read the stories of Albina Ruiz Rios (From Jungle Girl to Refuse Queen), Chris Eyre (A very different kind of venture capital), Maria Emilia Correa (From critiquing business to taking responsibility), you can purchase The Future Makers book in both English and German.
  • Look out for part 2 of our blog series, ‘I’m too young or too old’ on Tuesday next week.
  • Sign up for our workshop ‘Career Confidence: Business Model You’ in Zurich on 29. November (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.
Read More