Over the last few months, I’ve attended some seriously stellar events and conferences that have rejuvenated my heart and mind. Here’s a quick recap:
The NX Creative Lab: Essentially, a real-time crowd-funding event where young entrepreneurs have the opportunity to pitch ideas and earn the generosity of the audience. The team also works to bring in some relatively more established entrepreneurs to share ideas and experiences in the name of supporting new(er) entrepreneurs in more effectively navigating the social enterprise landscape.
Image by: Sash Strelcova
One of the panelists that got me thinking was Rhiannon from AltGen who spoke of her experience setting up a co-operative business as a means to not only earn a living after graduation but also as an avenue to actively engage in redefining the current socio-economic system we live in. While the predominant culture is one of competition predicated on what may be a myth of scarcity, co-operative business models aim (and in reality sometimes fall short) to represent a more collective and creative approach to generating value.
A little later on, I had the privilege of attending the +Social Good Summit - a conference hosted by the UN Foundation and Mashable that examines the impact of technology and new media on social good initiatives around the world. The conference affirmed my growing interest in tech policy and practice while further leaving me with some big questions related to youth unemployment, why it exists, and what we’re doing about it. I’ve written here about the conference in more detail.
The big question to me – entrepreneurship and creativity involve risk and uncertainty; the social safety net is (often) relatively non-existent. So, what (if any) is the social cost of innovation?
I usually have more questions than answers and this proves to be the case yet again. But what I can tell you -
The Creative Lab will be hosting their next event on June 17th - check out their page on Facebook to keep up to date on the details.
In March 2015, I had the privilege of attending the +Social Good Summit as a delegate with Young European Leadership (YEL) – a team dedicated to ensuring young leaders have a voice at international conferences. Below is a post I wrote for YEL that captures a few of the +Social Good conversations that got me thinking.
Meaningful work & authentic interaction
How do we make sense of tough economic times and navigate what is increasingly, an era of information anxiety? – A glimpse into conversations from the +Social Good Summit on social enterprise and the vital role of off-line connection.
High youth unemployment rates among a number of European economies are no secret. In the UK, some suggest this is due to structural skills mismatches. Others point to a lack of workplace training. And still others suggest it’s a combination of the two. While formulating any cohesive policy response stems from building consensus as to what the issue is and why it exists, one thing is clear: thousands of young people have been and continue to leverage economic uncertainty as an opportunity to step outside convention.
Here are a 2 pieces of the #2030NOW conversation that stood out to me in particular:
1. The #ValuesRevolution is gaining traction.
“More and more, people expect all aspects of their lives – from their careers to their purchasing decisions to the way they spend their spare time – to have a positive impact on the world. This is not a trend. It’s a profound societal shift and it’s happening everywhere.”
-Rosie Warin, CEO of Global Tolerance drawing from “The Values Revolution Report”
And here’s the thing. Millennials, while in want of meaningful work, are not simply waiting for jobs of this nature to appear. More interestingly, they’re creating them. In response to what can increasingly be seen as a movement, policy practitioners are working to meet the demand for social good through facilitating collaborative knowledge-networks and structuring financing mechanisms that together, help build a robust market for social good. Ms. Claire Michelet of the UK Cabinet Office for example, shared the government’s approach to social investment and the policy measures taken to build an enabling environment for social finance to thrive. Ms. Michelet was accompanied on the Social Investment panel by Rodney Schwartz – a once upon a time Lehman Brothers employee who translated his expertise in generating capital for traditional firms to firms with a social purpose at heart. As young entrepreneurs and creative agents committed to social good, I believe we have an incredible opportunity to push forward inter-generational conversations that allow us to leverage the skill and talent of those who have walked before us. As we work to redefine the markets and systems we want to see today, we must be more proactive in this regard.
2. The “third sector” (once again) stepping up. From Little Miss Geek to Brothers for All, a number of non-profit organizations are working to fill in the training gaps evident in our workforce. In addition to equipping targeted groups with a specific tech skill set, these organizations are also engaged with the important work of recalibrating traditional conceptions (and misconceptions) of who does what in society. In the UK for example, revitalizing the image of science and technology among girls proves to be of utmost importance.
While many of these programs target primary school-aged gals, ladies…let’s remind ourselves that it’s never too late to start. Learning to code is like learning a new language – it’s an opportunity to build intellectual agility and adaptability – the latter are skills that do not go to waste in the complex and continuously evolving landscape we find ourselves within.
So what does the future hold as we work to navigate a fractured labor market and an increasingly digitized world? While I wrap up this post, I’m fairly certain someone is on to some form of an answer! While I myself am not quite sure, my time at the conference reminded me of one important truth:
Information exists to support us in our pursuit of justice, creativity, and connection. So we have to stop and ask: “Are we being driven by technology or do we use technology to drive our needs?”
There is enormous power in tech to expand the scope and scale of our online conversations but we must equally work to ensure a space for authentic off-line interaction. After all, there is nothing quite like a room waiting to be filled with a diversity of perspectives. What are you working to impact and how can you translate your on-line conversations to off-line actions?
Until next time,
Finally. A working draft of our toolkit – a compilation of the ideas and principles that inspire and guide the work we do at The Passion Project.
Enjoy – (and help us out by getting in touch if you spot any errors or areas for improvement)!