3 Key Takeaways from Social Enterprise Alliance’s 2017 Summit

Last week, the Inflammo team paid a visit to sunny Southern California, in the city of angels, for Summit ‘17, sponsored by the Social Enterprise Alliance. We joined hundreds of social entrepreneurs across the country for two days full of workshops, panels, and new friendships. The Summit hosted a number of distinguished executives and speakers from various industries within the social entrepreneurship spectrum, such as Rod Arnold, founder, and CEO of The Frontier Agency and host of the Leading Good podcast, Amelia Franck Meyer, founder and CEO of Alia Innovations, and Samia Abou-Samra, founder of Whale Wonder.

From social enterprise scaling to branding to leveraging data to public sector partnerships, it was difficult to decide between which breakouts to attend, as every session offered noteworthy speakers and an opportunity to gain insightful and actionable knowledge. To top it all off, the conference came to a close with the Social Good Fest finale in Grand Park. The park transformed into a festival open to the public, featuring some of LA’s popular food trucks, a marketplace for socially-conscious goods from organizations such as Piece by Piece and Babies4Babies, as well as entertainment from local musicians.

Finding myself back in the sweltering heat of Nashville, I was fired up (to say the least) to put together a few takeaways from the ever-enriching Summit ‘17:

Transparency Is Key Throughout An Organization

Buddy Teaster, President and CEO of Soles4Souls, a nonprofit based in Nashville, discussed the importance of transparency within his organization. From sharing monthly financial statements to providing brown-bag talks to employees, being transparent is one of the core values in helping achieve their mission.

Stephan Jacob, co-founder and CEO of Cotopaxi, discussed the use of “innovation tournaments” to make decisions within his organization. Their tournaments would start with a slew of solicited ideas, which would then be filtered down through a voting system. In practice, the company actually used this method to discover an innovative way to include a handwritten note with each customer purchase.

I believe the sharing of information and allowing participation throughout an organization can allow a company to develop a sense of community and become a place where cooperation and collaboration can flourish. Not only are employees able to take ownership in their role as part of the company, they, in turn, will be contributing to something greater than themselves.

To Have Entrepreneurial Resilience, First Embody Resilience

Burnout. We cringe at this phrase, and I’m sure we’ve all felt this way or close to it, at one point. It happens to those who are overworked and overwhelmed. Once at that level, the capacity to think clearly and act rationally diminishes. When we are stressed, our brain shifts into survival, otherwise known as fight-or-flight mode, in which the logical part of our brain cannot function properly. Nkem Ndofo, President of Lumos Transforms, explained the importance of simply taking one minute to ground yourself and turn your thoughts inward to notice what is happening in your head. Is it busy? Turbulent? How does your body feel? This practice might be a quick solution to bring the mind back to a calmer state.

Too often, entrepreneurs only focus on the outward strategy of their business, without paying attention to the inward strategy of their general well-being and conscious state. I know I have been guilty of this at times. Going forward, we need to remember that a relationship exists between the two, and one cannot have the entrepreneurial resilience needed to run a successful venture without first embodying resilience.

Anyone Can Be An Entrepreneur

Must one possess the title of CEO in order to be considered an entrepreneur? Steph Speirs, CEO and co-founder of Solstice, debunked this myth as she spoke of her childhood, living with her immigrant mother who was not an entrepreneur, and who gave up everything for the livelihood of her children. It was through this lens that Speirs learned entrepreneurship– seeing her mother hope and work towards an unforeseen future. Speirs encouraged the Summit attendees that they were all “working for a world that [didn’t] exist yet and that in itself, [was] an entrepreneurial venture.”

When you hear the word, entrepreneurship, it is easy to water down the definition to a mere business activity. But even more than that, being an entrepreneur is a mindset. It is a consistent work ethic to create change for the better.

At Inflammo, our team is empowered to go above and beyond to meet our clients’ financial needs. I help provide visibility and accuracy with better financials, so in turn, the clients I work with can make better decisions to advance their business. So if being an entrepreneur is, at its core, more of an attitude rather than a label we use to describe a role or occupation, then allow me to be the first to consider that box personally checked.