Social Innovation Articles of the Week: Restoring the Soul of Politics, Forbes 30 under 30, Ugly Sweaters, and What’s Your Story
The setting is politics, but the lessons are larger — the diminished role of “experts” and the erosion of top-down messaging. Good lessons for a young entrepreneur in any field. The money excerpt:
But the outstanding fact of the 2012 election is that the pollsters, consultants, advisors, and political gatekeepers who guarded the old way of doing politics lost bigger than Mitt Romney or the Republican Party itself. There is perhaps no human activity where power is so jealously protected as it is in professional politics. The old guard will try to demonstrate its usefulness for a few more elections, and some will doubtless adapt. But its dominance has passed.
30 under 30
Forbes is out with its list of 30 under 30, including the categories of Social Entrepreneurs, Education, Energy, Law/Policy, Science/Healthcare, and more.
Great idea to use the fun of ugly sweaters to raise money. Routine activities are important (that’s why they become routines). But that also means they become less noteworthy and that’s a challenge when it comes to things like end of year fundraising. I’m always a big believer of applying the creative to the routine. That’s how to break through the noise and get attention.
Some wear ugly sweaters. Others don’t wear shoes. Some grow mustaches. One company is selling a mundane product with a hilarious video (7.7 million views!). And a new advocacy campaign convinced its elder leader (and former Senator) to dance Gangnam Style (coverage in CNN, USA Today, NPR, and 170k video views).
Pitching a potential investor or coalition member is very similar to a job interview. They are sizing you up as much, if not more, than the organization or the cause. After all, as a leader/founder you and the organization are pretty much the same thing.
That’s why I found this interview with with, Karl Heiselman, CEO of a big brand consulting firm, so interesting. To the question: How do you hire? What qualities are you look for? He answered:
The first thing I always ask is, “What’s your story?” The way somebody answers that is a pretty good indication of what they’re all about. If they’re just talking about the job, I find that really unattractive. If I feel like they’re being sincere and honest about what it is that they want to do with their life, even if it doesn’t line up exactly with what we want in our position, I find that far more attractive. When you ask people, “What’s your story?” they can answer that a million ways, and where somebody goes with the answer is a pretty good indication of who they are.
In a meeting with potential donors, of course outlining the need, progress, model, and strategic plan all matter a great deal. But as Alan Khazei taught me, “People give to people.” Your story of self matters a lot. It’s not a distraction or self-centered to tell it. It can be the difference between a new donor, advocate, coalition member, or ally — or not.
For inspiration, do yourself a favor and watch Jim Gilliam’s “The Internet is my Religion” — so moving.