After a few years of learning about the social economy it has become evident to me that telling stories is critical to the success of this burgeoning industry. There are so many people doing amazing things, but our culture seems to be more excited about bad news and drama than about those making a difference. How do we help people to feel like there is a light at the end of the tunnel when all they hear is bad news over and over again? This needs to change.
I delivered my first keynote address outside of the IT industry yesterday. I was invited to speak at the EDPA (Exhibitors, Displays and Producers Association) annual conference on Marco Island. The Executive Director of the EDPA, Jeff Provost, knew about some of the work I have been focusing on around the world, trying to apply my entrepreneurship skills to individuals trying to change the world. So, Jeff asked me to talk about the book we published, BreakPoints, and then talk about my journey that I am now calling “From Success to Significance.” I was able to spend 40 minutes talking about BreakPoints and 20 minutes about Success to Significance.
When people came up to me after the speech by the dozens I realized that I had hit a cord. People enjoyed the business conversation, but they really wanted to hear about the work I was doing around social change. I started the last 20 minutes of my keynote with a story about a conversation I had with Michael Gerber, the author of the E-Myth, back in early 2011. Michael had read BreakPoints and asked me what we were going to do with it. I said that I had recently moved to San Diego and wasn’t going to do much with it, I was just going to enjoy my life and play more golf and tennis. Michael then said, “no your not!” I asked him what he meant and he told me that we knew too much and needed to share it with the world.
My first comment was that that sounds like a lot of work, and his next comment was it’s not about you. He told me that I needed to find others that will help our clients and do the work through them. It was no more than 3 months later that a number of extremely talented people started to approach us to join our team. Now, 3 years later we have an amazing team of people working with our clients and I have freed up some time to focus on changing the world. But the piece that I spoke about yesterday was Michael’s comment to me about redefining success.
For the past 20 years I have always defined success as the ability to do what I want when I want to do it. I have always loved that definition and when he asked me to redefine it I struggled. It wasn’t until I was standing in JFK after spending a month in Africa 18 months later that I realized that I didn’t need to redefine success, I had already achieved success. What I needed was to focus on being significant. I went on to share the stories of a number of amazing people that are changing the world, and now I am realizing that this is part of my journey.
I believe that I can build a vehicle that brings the stories of these change agents to life. The first thing that I want to do is to start to work on a few book concepts that have been in my head for a while and start to document the work of these amazing change makers. I want to partner with Journalism students who are interested in social change to begin to write these stories and I want to work with movie makers and others that are experts in story telling. I want to combine e-books and online video to create a new version of storytelling that is in line with the next generation. I am not sure where this will all lead, but these stories need to be told.
I will keep you posted on my progress 🙂
‘Til next time ……
This entry was posted in Social Change.