Tag Archive for 'social media'

(un)Question Time for social entrepreneurs

OK – first bit of live blogging. Am sitting in a session with a panel of four social entrepreneurs, chaired by our own David Dimbleby, Cliff Prior (CEO, UnLtd). The intention is to share learning, real experiences (successes and failures) and genuinely interrogate these practitioners.

First up is Ben Ramsden from Pants to Poverty, whose organisation started on the back of Make Poverty History and has grown from there. Interesting (already) that none of them are comfortable with being called “successful”. Sold 3,000 pairs of pants first up, and then went from there. [Shock news: Cliff owns some]

Second up is Davina Roberts of Punch and Juicy, who runs a healthy-living / drinks organisation. She has overcome homelessness, and chalenging illness, to do this work. She emphasised the importance of networking and “smiling while pushing business cards at people”. Punch and Juicy is a great name; + she has “juice masters” who make and create new drinks.

Third up is Annys Darkwa of Vision Housing which supports ex-offenders to access accommodation. Very interesting model (check the website)….and she felt that service user involvement and empowerment was at the heart of her success (alongside having the boxes ticked: policies and procedures).

Finally, Ben Matthews of Bright One, which provides PR to charities and social enterprises. I met Ben last year, and he is one of our excellent social reporters, and Bright One is cool. Going very well: too well, because they’ve had to put a stop to charities etc coming with more projects.

—————————————
Into the discussion, which is (I’m going to be honest here) sliding straight into definitions, much to a fair amount of tedium in the room…but Cliff has put a stop to it (through asking us to vote on whether social enterprise is charity 2.0 or business 2.0; most thought the latter, though I would say both….).

Now talking about how you can effectively marry your product with your social mission. Soc ents feel it is largely about relationships and interweaving them as much as possible.

Q: what skills do you need? Partners, partnerships (being able to identify the right partners) are key. Be clear about your core idea, and innovate within it. Communicate with wide range of people. Choose whatever structure is fit to your mission, finance and governance (not structure first). Also about characteristics and traits, not skills. Get them to learn by doing.

Q: Did you ever consider giving up? And what kept you going? Lack of holiday, lack of sleep, constant stream of e-mails, personal investment etc. all coming across as challenges. Career-changing a challenge. Need to stick at it (“survive enough until you get lucky” to paraphrase Kiva founder). Scale of ambition can depress you, but relationships sustain you through. Joy, passion, impact that work creates. + turn a challenge into an opportunity.

Q: We all go on a big learning journey? Who’s given you support….leading to ‘social entrepreneurs’ are most similar to offenders: “they see something and they go after it”; interesting answer from Davina; Cricklewood Homeless Concern, Brent Housing, Groundswell, Nigel Kershaw, Shine 09, Bright Ideas Trust, and weaving her way through the network….+ family! Quote of the session: “my gran said, ‘finally, you’ve got a good idea’”

Q: Question about plagiarism of your idea; all had some experience of it at different levels…or at least as they interpret it. One had competition set up, another had staff poached, etc. Importance of retaining core value. Need to take it as compliment + tools to protect yourself.

If I’m being honest, this session hasn’t really caught light for me. Nuggets of gold, and good honesty and openness, but crowd seem a little subdued. Maybe they are just taking it all in!

———————–
Summary: synergy between social and business is key; learning and going, not teaching / formal learning; belief and motivation (support + thing that reminds you why); use your support network: easier to be brave in company; using the people who say no to you.

One line advice: take holidays; time for yourself; JFDI management (just ‘*!@ing do it!) and learn how to drive! Don’t wait till you’re ready. Recognition reminders.

Insights and wedding dances

Just attended a great session led by Servane Mouazan of Ogunte about different ways of gaining insights into dilemmas, obstacles and situations. Introductions via the senses (i.e. less what’s your name, and more what’s your favourite colour, smell, sound etc.) were remarkably illuminating, and there were some interesting connections from those first thoughts alone.

Then we had to choose a dilemma (mine was worrying about the first dance at my forthcoming wedding (considering my two left feet), then utilising thinking cards and cross-pollination cards to think about it in new ways. So, for me, that was thinking about ‘how my superhero would do it?’ and then a few ‘what would happen if?’ questions to prompt answers. Whilst I didn’t arrive this morning thinking about how Superman would approach a first dance at a wedding, it was interesting to do so….and certainly brought about some new insights: about the ability to use an alter ego to gain confidence, about everyone having insecurities / anxieties (re. Lois Lane / Clark Kent), and about the possible use of pants outside the trousers as a distraction tactic.

Nice methods to gain insights, and approaching problems in creative ways. Check out Servane’s site (link above) for more.

Mapping connections at Shine

The Shine unconference is very much about connecting people: acknowledging the value that comes from one-to-one connections, intimate conversations, personal advice, peer-to-peer learning and so forth. This did make it difficult at times to pitch to funders: so mapping those connections, trying to track them, and start to measure the value of them, is really important.

And that’s why we’re excited by the conversations we’ve been having with The Social Network Company, who are going to experiment with using their graphical mapping tool at the event….which (as with much at the event) is very much an experiment and a trial, but could have interesting results. Particularly if we can go back to those people after (say) six months, and see how such relationships have developed over time.

Day 2, people…..

So, with only a mild hangover and a desperate need of coffee, we begin day 2 of the inaugural Shine Unconference. As Nelly once memorably said, it’s hot in here: hoefully the beautiful weather will inspire people to come to the SouthBank, rather than head to the great outdoors…..

Already bumped into the impromptu social reporting team (Darragh, Ben, Dave) this morning; you can check out what they’re writing throughout the day here and at their own blogs (http://darraghdoyle.blogspot.com/ , http://puddingrelations.blogspot.com/ ); also met with Siobhan Edwards from Nesta, who are one of our kind, generous and pioneering sponsors. David McQueen has just welcomed everyone in the Marketplace, and people have now gone off to their various sessions in the snugs and nooks and crannies of this amazing building.

Do check out some of the video clips from yesterday (see link to the right), and watch out for the live twittering, posting etc from today’s day at Shine….

First day round-up

Ok, sitting here in the Marketplace listening to Steve Moore (I think) discussing the announcement of a new fund related to Channel 4 and digital media. It’s been a great first day here at Shine: really in line with what I and SSE and the other organisers hoped for when we first sat down to discuss this event. Practical, relevant, full of networks and inspiring, interesting conversations; no long tedious speeches; genuine interaction and engagement. I’ve seen all of that, and more, today, and I hope more tomorrow and Sunday.

OK, not everything’s worked: we had problems at reception with ticketing, and a few sessions had patchy attendance, but generally really positive. And great to see some real value emerging from 1:1s as well.

Roll on tomorrow.

Shine begins: things are happening….

So, things are off and running here at Shine. After what might diplomatically be called ‘teething troubles’ at the front desk, everyone is in and sessions kicked off virtually on time. There’s a real buzz currently in the Future Cafe where Nick Jankel-Elliott of Disruptive Social Innovators is holding court….and here in the Marketplace, We Inspire Others are doing a leaders workshop touching on emotional intelligence and different types of leadership skills (and traits).

Some people made it about as far as the Snug on the first floor and sat down to have a chat and a read, while others were most keen to “find the coffee”. These are my kind of people, and I’m joining them where the caffeine takes me.

Next up, I’m running a session on ‘how and why to blog’ in the Pharmacy. It’s web 2.0 medicine, people. Here’s the slideshow for you: