Top Ten Ways To Change The World
(from a new social entrepreneurship Honors Symposium, “How To Change The World,” Fall, 2009 at Marquette University)
- Have a big, audacious goal. Often, these are defined as the social impact you want to have. Specific enough to be actionable, but BIG. A recent visitor to Marquette, Jane Leu, had a social enterprise whose goal was to eradicate underemployment among immigrants! That’s BIG.
- Build a great team. Get others committed to your enterprise on the team with you. Reach for those who are passionate about the change you want – need – to make in the world.
- Know what you need to do well. This often is called “core competences” but it really means understand the skills, abilities and experiences you need on your team to succeed. Third world lighting? Solar powered water pumps? Human powered medical equipment? You may need medical knowledge, engineering skill, marketing people. Plan for how to get them.
- Learn the market. Why isn’t this here now? What are the political barriers? Distribution challenges? If you intend to improve literacy around the world with a web application, do the markets most in need have broadband access? How would you get it to them? Or are you targeting markets with access first?
- Test, test, test. Make no assumptions. Everything you are using to build your social enterprise is either a fact or a hypothesis. Document facts; test hypotheses.
- Reduce donor risk and raise effectiveness of committed capital. How? Testing. Never attempt to roll out until you have tested. Read “Three Cups of Tea,” about Greg Mortenson who tested every idea along the way to the incredible success he has generated.
- Gain wisdom by learning from the experience of others. Not the opinion of others, but the hard-won knowledge born of trying to climb the mountain. A pearl of great price.
- Understand finance. Never, ever “let Mikey do it.” Know, yourself, how your venture is financed, what the alternatives are, and when you will know it is time to execute them. And remember, there is always another way. Giving up for lack of funding for plan A just means you haven’t thought about it deeply enough.
- Engage the hearts and minds of others. Take every opportunity to enlist, recruit, persuade. And listen. Incorporate this feedback. Learn to sell and to revise.
- For us at Marquette, remember Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, 28th general of the Society of Jesus: “ Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in a love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the mornings, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.” I had met Fr. Arrupe in his first year as general when he visited Marquette. His words can change your life.