Episode 21 – Dealing with Setbacks

People welcome setbacks like they would a trip to the dentist or a flat tire. In other words, they do not. Setbacks are understandably viewed as impediments to progress and dream crushers. Yet they are an inevitable part of life. We cannot all be perfect one hundred percent of the time, can we?

On this week’s episode of Teaching Change, Jerrid and Courtney talk the good, the bad and the ugly of setbacks. Setbacks are awful by their very nature and are often accompanied by feelings of disappointment and failure. Yes, setbacks suck! This is something most of us know from life experience. Due to the negative connotations of setbacks, we try to brush them off as quickly as possible and move on with our lives. However, as Jerrid and Courtney discuss in this episode, it is vitally important to acknowledge the setback and to embrace the emotions it solicits. On the surface, this may make people uncomfortable. No one likes to feel down in the dumps if they can help it. Nevertheless, confronting the emotions head on allows you to process what happened and to forge a clearer path forward.

Courtney divulges that she is not above a good, old-fashioned pity party. Darken the room, pop in a sad movie and she is all set. This is Courtney’s cathartic way of working through her emotions so that she can gear up again and tackle the issue at hand from a more wizened, informed perspective.  

 

In their discussion of setbacks, Jerrid shares Thomas Edison’s quote, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” This quote highlights the silver lining in weathering a setback. Jerrid explains that we will all eventually fail at something in our lives but it is how we react to those failures that make all the difference. Jerrid recalls an interview he conducted while working on his dissertation. An entrepreneur depended heavily on a government grant for his business operations. The grant was rescinded, and he was forced to lay off a sizeable portion of his work force. This experience taught the entrepreneur that more diversification was needed in his funding sources to prevent the same situation from happening in the future.  

This is where the ability to reflect becomes an essential business and life skill. Both Jerrid and Courtney believe reflection is an important component of achieving success: review what happened, analyze cause and effect, and devise a plan of action. Courtney mentions the traditional business reflection tool SWOT which stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Jerrid mentions the point system which derives from the creative design philosophy. He also discusses the traffic light activity. After a program or project, Jerrid and his team place their observations into three categories: green, yellow and red. Anything that went fantastically well goes in the green column. Things that were okay but could be improved are reserved for the yellow column. The red column is for items that need to be totally rethought or reworked.  

Ultimately, an organization that presses pause and allows time for reflection will build resiliency in its system. Thus, mistakes and setbacks will be viewed as part of the process and not the end.

Episode 20 – Change

Change is afoot on this episode of Teaching Change as Jerrid and Courtney tackle the effect of social entrepreneurship on society. By their very nature, social entrepreneurs are disruptors of the status quo as they work to solve the issues that plague the world. Thus, change is a colossal horizon that looms in the minds of social entrepreneurs and provides plenty of fodder for conversations on how to make it happen.

One of the underlying missions of most social enterprises is to create positive social change which will assist in the overall advancement of society. Therefore, burgeoning social entrepreneurs are observant and inquisitive as they assess their surrounding environments. As a result, these innovators can firmly grasp perennial issues such as income equality or harmful environmental practices and chip away at these problems.

As we may be all too aware, change does not happen overnight nor may it be well received. For this reason, change may be difficult to measure and its value challenging to quantify. The seeds of change that are being planted today through social enterprises such as Clean the World and Downtown Credo may not bloom until many years from now. While the incremental change in their respective fields has most certainly been achieved, eradication of the issues being addressed may not happen within our lifetimes. The evolutional change of our culture and attitudes typically takes a long time.

Added to the challenge of change taking a long time is that people, at some level, are resistant to change. Sure there are always those few who are early adopters that may enjoy the chaos of rapid change, but for the most part, we tend to be comfortable in our routines and beliefs as human beings. To overcome this innate resistance, change makers should move slowly and deliberately towards their goals. For if they move too fast, they run the risk of the change not being permanent and the situation boomeranging back to where it was at the start.

Ultimately, social entrepreneurs are held to a higher standard—ethically and morally. Sound change is a result of growth. As long as social entrepreneurs plan purposefully, reflect on their progress and adjust accordingly, the journey towards change will be a steady one.

 

Episode 19 – Mentorship

Mentorship is an excellent combination of hindsight being 20/20 and paying it forward. As we traverse our professional lives and interests, we learn the lay of the land through stumbles and hopefully even more successes. Finding someone to show you the ropes is an invaluable connection that helps minimize pitfalls and anxiety-induced moments.

Courtney and Jerrid have both been lucky to be on the receiving end of the mentor-mentee relationship. For Courtney, one of her mentors was her supervisor at her very first job out of library school. This supervisor went above and beyond the typical call of duty. Having been in the profession for quite some time, her mentor knew essential milestones Courtney needed to achieve to make herself marketable to a broader audience.

Jerrid attributes his academic and career trajectories to a whole team of mentors. He counts off a sizable list of names to demonstrate that mentorship can take all shapes and forms. It does not necessarily have to be the whole shebang from just one person. Along the way, Jerrid has picked up pieces of wisdom that cater to specific talents of each mentor. In turn, he was able to forge an informed path that led him to reach his goals.

A mentorship is a vital tool in social entrepreneurship where stakes are high, and there is little room for error. Finding a mentor may mean checking your ego at the door and putting yourself out there. All too often we like to go it alone and not ask for help, but in the business world, a mentor may save you time and money. The hosts encourage you to humble yourself. If you ask for advice and guidance, most people are willing to give it to you. A good start would be to look for people who are doing something similar to you and see what you can learn from them.

Although the mentor-mentee relationship may be established through a formal process to fit your needs and interests, more often than not it happens naturally. As Jerrid reflects on his mentors, he realizes that he may not have thought of them as mentors at the time. However as he reflects back upon those interactions, he understands how these associations have benefited his life.  

The hosts then flip the coin to talk about the times they have been in the role of mentor. Jerrid was involved in the creation of the Leadership Ally program at Rollins College. Students in this program attend conferences related to leadership and devise projects based on this topic. Upon their return, students are paired with faculty so that faculty may help them develop an action plan. Jerrid recalls that these pairings increased student productivity and follow-through.  

Jerrid and Courtney wrap up the show with a discussion of the teacher-student relationship and how closely (or not so closely) it may parallel that of the mentor-mentee relationship.

Episode 18 – Responsibility

The word responsibility may not incite visions of carefree, fun-filled days but it is an important term that we all face throughout our daily lives. Whether it is taking care of your family, work, or paying bills, responsibility guides our decision-making process. The same can be said of the professional world where businesses and organizations strive to reach their goals and earn a profit. Along the way, these entities will formulate plans and operating philosophies that may have a profound impact on society and the planet. In this regard, are considerations such as the three Ps (e.g., people, planet, profit) tangential or integral in the running of the business?

Determining the responsibility of businesses to their communities, employees, and customers is a major concern in social entrepreneurship. After all, these are major avenues towards social value creation—a bedrock of the field. Still, there are some schools of thought that say a business’s number one responsibility is to its shareholders and that there should be no added impetus to better society.

Jerrid brings up Starbucks as an example of a business that is generally on the right side of the responsibility debate. Starbucks has generated goodwill through its fair trade programs that pay coffee growers a living wage. Arguably, the wages could be more, but Star Bucks is on the right track. Starbucks also pays for part-time employees to have health insurance and have partnered with Arizona State University to offer its employees the opportunity to earn a Bachelor’s degree. While Starbucks is not a social enterprise, its actions show strives to be socially responsible.

The question is why. Why do companies such as Starbucks invest time and money in their employees and societal betterment when others do not? There is no responsibility overlord dictating what must be done so what gives them the onus?  For one, today’s consumers even more so than previous generations are more concerned with the planet, treatment of people, and the well-being of their communities. Therefore, it makes business sense for companies to be mindful of issues that are important to their customer base. Courtney, for one, would pay an extra buck or two for a drink Starbucks to support the company’s social value endeavors.

 

With that being said, not all companies have made the shift to social responsibility. This may be a matter of short-term versus long-term business goals. If a business is focused on the short term, the treatment of its labor force may not be as paramount as long as profits are good.

However, this type of philosophy has a shelf life. Eventually, fissures will appear as morale declines and outside forces such as the environment and economy come to the forefront. At this point, external pressure may force the company to reevaluate its responsibilities.

In the end, it is society’s responsibility to look after society’s needs. If we, the people, place value on the three Ps of people, profit, and the planet, businesses will ultimately follow our lead.

Episode 17 – The “ASK”

In this episode, Jerrid and Courtney tackle the topic of the “ASK”.  It is the moment when you finally speak up and ask for what you feel you deserve whether it’s a loan, partnership, raise, or promotion.  The ASK is one of the most stressful and anxiety causing things that social entrepreneurs have to conquer to gain success.  In any situation in which there are two or more parties, there is an underlining ask waiting to happen.

Sometimes we are too afraid or too shy to get to the ask, and thus we lose out, and other times we do not structure the ask probably and lose out as well.  In many cases, though the ask gets us exactly what we were hoping for and more.  All social entrepreneurs have to master the art of the ask to move their enterprise forward and toward success.

The ASK could come in all different forms from asking for a new partnership with sales to collaboration to gaining a loan or a million other types that a social entrepreneur may need it to take on.  The more developed the ASK and the confident and comfortable you are in asking the easier it is for the other party to give you what you want.

When was the last time you struggled with an ASK?

Have you ever missed out on something because you didn’t ASK?

When has your ASK gotten you what you wanted?

Episode 16 – Being an Outsider

Whether you have started a new job, moved to a different town, or created a social enterprise, at one time or another we have all felt some sense of being an outsider. In this week’s episode, Jerrid and Courtney embrace the role of the outsider and discuss how this position provides the perfect opportunity for innovation. As Jerrid defines it, outsiders in the social entrepreneurship world are people who are not of their industries before their social enterprise endeavors.

“I get a kick out of being an outsider constantly. It allows me to be creative.” – Bill Hicks

A significant benefit of being an outsider is the potential for outside-the-box thinking. Outsiders tend not to have the preconceived notions that more experienced people in the field may possess. Industry insiders are by nature close to their professions and have an intimate view of the inner workings of their jobs. While this closeness reaps its rewards, it may also limit their ability to approach issues within their perspective fields from a fresh point of view. Thus, the need for the outsider.  

In the social entrepreneurship world, the outsider is typically met with praise, but sometimes confusion may occur as well. On the one hand, outsiders may generate excitement as they disrupt the status quo and seek to remedy a social ill. On the other hand, the industry insiders may not take them as seriously due to the outsiders’ newness to the field. However, as outsiders become successful in their missions and generate profits, they become more respected by those who may have questioned their capabilities.

So, does it take an outsider to solve lofty problems? Maybe not always, but this was certainly the case in social entrepreneurial success stories Clean the World founded by Shawn Siepler and Recycle Across America founded by Mitch Hedlund. The owners of these social enterprises were very much outsiders when they started their respective businesses which may have given them the distance needed to bring their innovative solutions to life.

 

Episode 15 – Fear of Failure

 

The old saying goes “there’s nothing to fear but fear itself,” but how true is this when it comes to failure? Failure is often seen in a negative light instead of a valuable learning tool. This week Courtney and Jerrid discuss their failures, and the role failure plays in the field of social entrepreneurship.

For Courtney, failure isn’t a dirty word. Whether it is an opportunity for growth and self-reflection. This was indeed the case when she offered a staff book discussion. Courtney was super excited to share her love of reading with her coworkers and put a lot of thought into writing discussion questions, bringing snacks, and securing a room. When the time came for people to arrive, she began to watch the clock. As the minutes continued to pass, she came to the realization that no one was coming. Of course, Courtney was disappointed, but her unsuccessful event provided a teachable moment.

Jerrid believes that nothing good comes from staying within your comfort zone. That is why when the time came to start his own business, he leaped. Sure, staring into an uncertain future was frightening–especially when he had a family to consider. All the same, Jerrid did not let this fear hold him back even when he was not quite sure how specific bills might be paid. Luckily, Jerrid found success in his measured leap of faith, but he also had to be willing to accept the possibility that he might fail.

“Fear has the potential to prevent them from living a full life and starting entrepreneurial ventures that could positively impact people’s lives”

In his work with students, Jerrid understands why they fear failure. After all, no one wants to disappoint their family, friends, or themselves. However, this fear has the potential to prevent them from living a full life and starting entrepreneurial ventures that could positively impact people’s lives.

When discussing failure, Jerrid looks towards serial social entrepreneurs for inspiration. These business owners have created more than one enterprise and have had some measure of success. Jerrid believes that there must have been failures along the way that served as building blocks for them to be successful. This becomes important for students to know. Failure is indeed a part of the process. As students go on to become part of various professional communities, they can look to successful companies for best practices and how to avoid pitfalls.

“The fear of failure is much scarier than the actual fear. It is human nature to amplify all the bad things that could happen. But what about the awesome things that may happen if you succeed?”

Moral of the story? If you’ve never failed, then you’ve never done anything of great significance.

 

**Credit: The theme music for Teaching Change is provided by bensound.com.**

Episode 14 – Empathy

What role does empathy play in social entrepreneurship? Is it important that practitioners in this field understand the experiences of those they help? These are the big questions that Jerrid and Courtney tackle in this week’s episode of Teaching Change.

Not to be confused with sympathy, empathy is the ability to feel what others are feeling in a given situation. Empathy diverges from sympathy because while you may understand a person’s perspective, you are not necessarily endorsing or condoning it.

One school of thought in social entrepreneurship is that fostering more empathy in society will lead to more social entrepreneurs. When you are in the business of changing people’s lives for the better, it is paramount that, to some extent, you understand their journeys and can identify why they feel the way they feel. Without empathy, the motivation to solve some of the society’s greatest issues, such as homelessness, income inequality, and drug abuse, may not be as strong.

Still, Jerrid receives mixed reviews when he talks about empathy in his social entrepreneurship class. While some students are receptive and embrace empathy, others are more ambivalent. For these students, empathy is another word for emotional and has no place in business. They believe that social entrepreneurs do not need to feel. They just need to do.

Jerrid and Courtney reflect upon how much empathy plays a role in their jobs and life in general. Jerrid recounted a frustrating experience he had recently when he suffered a tire blowout on his car. As he went to various auto stores to remedy the situation, he was met with an indifference which made a bad situation worse. Luckily, Jerrid continued his search and found someone who understood his frustration. This was the store that ultimately received his business.

“Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?” – Henry David Thoreau

Sure, empathy is a good practice. Both Jerrid and Courtney agree that it could solve a lot of conflicts that we see in the world today. However, could there ever be too much empathy? Courtney offers up a cautionary tale about an encounter in a Publix parking lot. A stranger approached her and asked her for money to pay for a car repair with the promise to pay it back. At the time, all Courtney could think about was what if the shoe was on the other foot and she needed financial assistance. Courtney gave the stranger the money and never heard from her again. Jerrid counters that it was not empathy that compelled Courtney to give the stranger money. At the point, Courtney modified her behavior and “gave the money to the universe,” sympathy became the motivating factor.

Conversations on empathy in social entrepreneurship often end with how to build it—which is easier said than done. The necessity exists. The ability to empathize broadens people’s perspectives and allows them, metaphorically, to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Seeing a social ill from the person’s point of view that it affects the most has the potential to galvanize more people to seek innovative solutions. In essence, it will make the world a better place.

 

**Credit: The theme music for Teaching Change is provided by bensound.com.**

 

Episode 13 – Purpose

Teaching Change takes a philosophical turn in this week’s episode when Jerrid and Courtney ponder their purpose in life. As educators, they find that this is an area where students have difficulty articulating a clear-cut answer—and so do Jerrid and Courtney! Finding one’s purpose remains an important part of the decisions and careers their students will undertake.

This is also the case in the world of social entrepreneurship where the purpose is a major talking point. Of the two essential components of social entrepreneurship, wealth, and value, value has long been the more complicated one to decipher. In the process of creating social value, social entrepreneurs are changing people’s lives for the better. This type of value creation is often closely tied to their missions in life. Therefore, when social entrepreneurs are presenting their ideas and talking about their organizations, the conversations are often framed by purpose.

“Efforts and courage are not enough without purpose and direction” – John F. Kennedy

Jerrid’s ultimate purpose is to leave the world better than he found it. However, for him, the tangibles of this purpose continue to evolve and can take on many shapes and forms. Jerrid recounts how he started to put his purpose into action in the music field where he helped up and coming bands put on concerts. The gratification he experienced from this morphed into his desire to help people on a broader scale.

Courtney’s purpose stems from her determination to savor life and to enjoy every moment. Lifelong learning is an important part of this. She wants to improve and broaden her horizons each day because life is way too short. In doing so, she motivates others to do the same.

“Education’s purpose is to replace an empty mind with an open one” – Malcolm Forbes

Is following one’s purpose selfish or selfless? Or is it a little bit of both? One of Courtney’s pieces of advice for students is to be selfish in their studies. If they find a way to make each assignment about themselves, they will be more motivated and interested in completing their work. The same could be said of social entrepreneurs. If their own life’s purpose drives their work and business practices, they are likely to be more invested in the success and prosperity of their organizations.  

 

**Credit: The theme music for Teaching Change is provided by bensound.com.**