Several months ago I felt honored to be invited to mentor a 17 year old high school senior. As a requirement for graduation, each student chose a year long community service project, which culminated in an awards program. Yesterday, I had the privilege of attending the presentations and came away with an optimism about our future leaders.
Naturally, some of the students thought the project was “lame” and did only the required work with little enthusiasm. But what delighted me was seeing the pride on the faces of many others who were so inspired by the work that they far exceeded the obligatory hours. Their Power Point presentations, story boards, scrapbooks, oral or written reports showed they’d put far more time and energy into the project than was required.
I’m aware that young people often do volunteer community service because their churches encourage benevolence or they know it looks good on a college resume, but whatever their initial motivation, some of these kids discover empathy and purpose that hopefully will give their lives direction. Of course they feel the satisfaction of helping others but they also learn that goodwill and philanthropy isn’t just about volunteering and making charitable donations. That beneficence can be a way of life and a livelihood.
A proponent of socially responsible business, I found it encouraging that these young people gained an appreciation for and interest in environmental, elder care and youth services careers. As a life-long entrepreneur and self employment advocate, I was elated that they not only volunteered in civic and social service agencies but also witnessed adults gleefully earning their livelihood as proprietors of private recycling services and sports camps for disabled children. They discovered that they could be self employed elder advocates, or environmental lobbyists in the private sector. One young man exuberantly reported on his work with a rock band who did a playground improvement project in each town they performed on tour. Another student, a pitcher on the high school baseball team, when asked if he hoped to play professionally, said his project coaching an inner city basketball team inspired him to maybe start a baseball camp for less privileged kids. A girl whose project was testing river water for impurities, when asked if she wanted to be a researcher said, “No, I’m going to be an author. I’ve already started writing fictional stories that teach a lesson about our precious natural resources.”
Sure, many of these kids will be job seekers but I’m ecstatic that some are already thinking like entrepreneurs. They know that they don’t have to have a job to do well financially and that volunteering or check writing aren’t the only ways to do good. These grads are heading out into the world knowing that they can make a difference by making a living as a social entrepreneur. I’m still smiling.
Can you imagine making a great living sampling home made pasta, tiramisu and gelato, schmoozing with the proprietors and then snuggling up in a cozy bed and breakfast overlooking Lake Como? And knowing you’re improving lives of thousands?
Note that he says he enjoys visiting these people who have found their niche.
While he isn’t directly solving world hunger or righting an injustice, consider the ways his business is improving lives. He’s not only making a living doing what he loves but making a difference in the lives of thousands of entrepreneurs by recommending their establishments. He’s also enriching the lives of all his readers and viewers who might never experience foreign cultures if he didn’t show them how they can do it in style on a budget.
Your own business may not change the world tomorrow but how can you improve the lives of a group of people by sharing what you know and love?
If you know you want to find more meaning in your livelihood doing what you love and making a difference in a few lives, your community or the world, March is the time to step up and get started.
Are you having trouble figuring out how doing what you love can improve lives and earn the income you need?
In honor of what my friend Alice Barry ( “Entertaining the Idea”) calls the Month of More Meaning, I’ve bundled my “Idea Generating”sessions and you can now sign up for a package of 3 Private One-to-One Phone Sessions with me for $270. My single session rate is $185 an hour but because NOW is the TIME to TAKE ACTION, I’m opening up a limited number of session hours to a select few who are ready to MARCH.
This month only, until the slots fill, you can purchase a
3 Session Package for $270 ( less than half the usual hourly rate.)
STOP beating yourself up for not accomplishing what you planned to earlier this year. Forget those New Years resolutions. January and February are hibernation months in nature for a reason. But, March is time to SPRING into action!
According to Rob Carpenter , CEO of Friendgiftr.com, being a social entrepreneur is about more than solving a global problem.
An article in youngupstarts.com quotes Carpenter: “It’s not just the fact that you are your own boss, but it’s the notion that you have a profound opportunity to create new jobs, new industries, and re-make society,” says Carpenter. ”There’s nothing better than to introduce innovations that allow people to live better, more convenient lives – whether you’re offering them a product or service or trying to save the world.”
The biggest lesson he’s learnt as an entrepreneur is to be patient and persistent. “If you want to be an entrepreneur, run a company or nonprofit, make bold changes, and do all of the other incredibly difficult and challenging things that entrepreneurs do on a daily basis, you have to have the tenacity to hold on to your hope until one day your time arrives,” he shares. ”If you believe strongly enough in yourself, other people will start to believe in you, too.”
Carpenter advises other young startups to “Dream big, work hard, learn everyday, be true to yourself, and never give in. If you follow some variation of these themes, you will one day get to where you want to be and achieve your wildest dreams.”
If trying to change the world feels like an overwhelming goal for you right now, how can your business or your dreams create new jobs, new industries or impact positive change in your own community? As always, we’d love to hear our comments.
Anthony Tjan, in a post in the Harvard Business Review sites the Movie “Slumdog Millionaire” as a must-see film for entrepreneurs. “Slumdog” is about how you can create your own luck. According to Tjan, so many successful entrepreneurs talk about the role of luck in their careers, but it is equally true that they put themselves in the pathway of opportunity. Tan compares the film to “Forrest Gump” saying that in both films “the protagonists, like great entrepreneurs, have a boundless optimism and openness that allow luck to come to them.”
When successful entrepreneurs site the “luck” of “being in the right place at the right time” and knowing the right people, what are they really saying? Do you think any of these people would have a success story to tell if they had stayed in their office in front of the computer waiting for their “luck” rather than being out there with optimism and open to meet the right people? I believe it’s about creating your own luck by getting yourself out where you will be in the path of those opportunities because you can’t catch the train if you are nowhere near the tracks.
What’s on YOUR calendar this week that could put YOU in the pathway of opportunity?
In a blog post earlier this week, titled ‘The Natural Habitat of Winners’ Barbara Winter said, “When you are willing to spend your time and money to expose yourself to new ideas, new techniques for doing things, and new people who can add their enthusiasm to your dreams, you’re also sending a strong message to your subconscious mind about your own worth.”
The past couple of weeks, I’ve been receiving emails from readers saying they’d love to attend the Inspired Livelihood Workshop in Sedona but don’t have (or think they should spend) the money right now.
When I had my last retail business, my friends with neighboring shops used to complain about how slow business was and when they asked why I was doing so well, I cited advertising as one reason I had more customers and better sales. Of course, these merchants would complain that they didn’t have enough money to spend on advertising because business was slow. They also didn’t have fresh, timely merchandise because they wouldn’t spend the money to attend trade shows and keep up on current trends. This thinking made no sense to me as I watched many of them go out of business. When things are slow, that’s when it’s most important to spend money to make them better.
“In times of change,” said Eric Hoffer, “learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.“
The *Early Bird price of the workshop is $397. That’s for 2 days of focus on your business in a small group with three entrepreneurs who’ve made a career of making a living without a job by investing time and money in lifelong learning. While those who use lack of funds as a reason to not invest in themselves are still stuck in unsatisfying careers, even in what the media calls a weak economy, weekend workshops with price tags of $3000. are full with hundreds of attendees. I’ve met entrepreneurs at those workshops who “couldn’t afford the tuition but couldn’t afford NOT to attend.” It’s no coincidence that the following year, those same entrepreneurs who knew they were worth the investment were back with stories of prosperity and satisfaction.
Not investing this way also sends a strong message. As Sondra Ray says, “When you say, ‘I don’t have enough money to go to that self-improvement seminar or buy that book, it’s almost like saying, ‘I am not a good investment.’ The best way to make money is to invest in yourself.
Are you worth it?
Barbara knows, “If you truly want to join the winner’s circle, take advantage of every resource you can find. You never know what might happen if you do.
You could be sitting in a roomful of strangers and suddenly meet yourself.”
Read Barbara’s full article here
Thanks for caring about the planet we share.
PS *After March 15, the price of the workshop goes up to $497
learn more about the event HERE
At a Summit on Social Entrepreneurship at Yale University last week, “Sandbox” community members were asked to share their thoughts on “Fearless Leadership”. Interestingly, the young change agents argued that if you wish to change the status quo you must fear something.
Sandbox members identified three fears necessary to drive change:
1. The fear of not having an impact.
2. The fear of doing something they are not genuinely passionate about.
3. The fear of being ‘normal’.
Had I been asked the same question, I’d have cited discontent or anger at an injustice, but this got me thinking about what is at the core of my own drive to want to make a difference. Does it really stem from my fear of leaving this earth without having made an impact? Is it the fear of not doing something more meaningful. Is it a fear of mediocrity? Maybe. Probably. What about you? What fuels your need to create change? As always, you are invited to share your views here.
There are reports nearly every day of social entrepreneurship programs being added at major universities worldwide. After decades of business schools turning out MBAs focused on corporate management, it’s refreshing to see the new entrepreneurs with goals of driving social change and making a difference. But most of these graduates are starting up non-profits funded with large grants from government organizations, private alumni foundations or corporations.
You don’t need a business degree, non-profit status or massive start-up capital to make a living and a difference in your community or the world. Sometimes starting small with just your knowledge and strong desire to drive change can make a significant impact in your own neighborhood and eventually you or those you influence will continue the momentum. You may dream of making change on a universal scale but even starting in your own community you’ll set an example and create a template that can be duplicated throughout the world.
Do you have an idea for a product or service that could change lives on your block or in your town? What tiny step can you take now with the knowledge, equipment or resources you already have, that would make a difference to a few people? Can you get those first few people excited enough to each show a few others whatever it is you teach them? Some of the most successful businesses that had a wide impact were born as a dream in someone’s basement or garage.
Do artists and writers have an obligation to take responsibility for the effect their art has on society?
Just days after viewing the 1994 Oliver Stone film “Natural Born Killers”, written by Quentin Tarantino, young newlyweds went on a random killing spree. When arrested, they gave the names Mickey and Mallroy, the Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis characters who’s killing rampages were glorified by the media. We all recall the “Taxi Driver” connection when John Hinkley attempted to assassinate Ronald Regan, to get the attention of Jody Foster. These are just a few examples of the copy-cat syndrome that occurs when already disturbed people are exposed to horribly violent art. And Catherine Ryan Hyde’s “Pay it Forward” had the opposite effect on the public and was the impetus for a whole movement of doing good for the sake of spreading good. There are endless examples of how specific books, films and music have directly and profoundly impacted society and how responsible writing has had a positive effect on individuals. In defense of freedom of expression, there are times when violence or a disturbing story line has a vital role in creative work. And it is of course a parent’s role, not the artists, to control what children are exposed to. The question is, what responsibility do you think an artists, writer, etc has to influence the reading or viewing public? And, is it possible for someone to make a living in the arts if they are committed to only turning out socially conscious material? Last year in a hot tub overlooking the Pacific, I was fortunate enough to strike up a conversation on this topic with Catherine Ann Jones, an award-winning writer for television and film who is committed to socially responsible writing. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Catherine about her writing and teaching and the role artists play in making a difference in society. To listen to this interview now, CLICK HERE Just days after viewing the 1994 Oliver Stone film “Natural Born Killers”, written by Quentin Tarantino, young newlyweds went on a random killing spree. When arrested, they gave the names Mickey and Mallroy, the Woody Harrelson and Juliette Lewis characters who’s killing rampages were glorified by the media. We all recall the “Taxi Driver” connection when John Hinkley attempted to assassinate Ronald Regan, to get the attention of Jody Foster. These are just a few examples of the copy-cat syndrome that occurs when already disturbed people are exposed to horribly violent art. And Catherine Ryan Hyde’s “Pay it Forward” had the opposite effect on the public and was the impetus for a whole movement of doing good for the sake of spreading good. There are endless examples of how specific books, films and music have directly and profoundly impacted society and how responsible writing has had a positive effect on individuals.
In defense of freedom of expression, there are times when violence or a disturbing story line has a vital role in creative work. And it is of course a parent’s role, not the artists, to control what children are exposed to. The question is, what responsibility do you think an artists, writer, etc has to influence the reading or viewing public? And, is it possible for someone to make a living in the arts if they are committed to only turning out socially conscious material?
Last year in a hot tub overlooking the Pacific, I was fortunate enough to strike up a conversation on this topic with Catherine Ann Jones, an award-winning writer for television and film who is committed to socially responsible writing. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Catherine about her writing and teaching and the role artists play in making a difference in society. To listen to this interview now,
My friend Alice Barry (www.entertainingtheidea.com) calls March the Month of More Meaning. Throughout the month of March she’ll be focusing on and exploring the many ways we can contribute to the world in meaningful ways through our businesses. As you know, the mission of “Inspired Livelihood” is to support, inspire and encourage artists, musicians, authors and aspiring entrepreneurs to make a living while making a difference in their community or the world.
As Barbara Winter, author of ”Making a Living Without a Job” said in her recent Joyfully Jobless newsletter the “search for meaningful work that makes a positive impact in the world is a huge motivator” of the successfully self employed. If you are ready to activate your inner activist and add the meaning/purpose piece to your bottom line, the “Inspired Livelihood Workshop” is for you. .
Join Alice, Barbara and me f in Sedona, Arizona on April 16 & 17. With this exquisite community as our backdrop, we’ll explore what it means to create a business that is both profitable and meaningful. Read about this exciting event HERE