To Move the World, Show, Don't Tell

Rexy Josh Dorado is changing the world by living stories, and then telling them.  Here's his story - with lessons for the C-Suite to the street.  Please read, listen and do - and tell that story.
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As a child, all I wanted to do was build things: Lego buildings, clay monsters, web forums, video games.  At the core was a hunger for new possibilities that came alive with each new thing I dreamt up.

In middle school, this drive manifested in writing.  Among the first lessons that stuck with me was the classical literary rule: Show, don’t tell.”

It’s a simple maxim, yet powerful in its consequence.  “Show, don’t tell” means focusing on vivid experience over exposition.  It recognizes a deep power in unspoken things.

It thrills me to see the social sector embrace the importance of storytelling.  And yet: as much as the field has learned to tell its story better, we’re still a long way away from harnessing the principles of storytelling not only to talk about change, but enact it.

What can we - in attempting to change society’s lived stories - learn from the art of telling stories?  What can social change learn from “show, don’t tell”?

1. How to connect the dots.

I’m the founder of Kaya Collaborative, a youth initiative to transform the global Filipino community into a support network for social innovation in the Philippines.  We run a summer fellowship that immerses young diaspora leaders in Manila’s social sector - then launches them back into their global communities to engineer this reconnection at scale.

Our program is part of the service learning field, which is in midway through a quiet but significant shift in identity.  Service learning often translated to communities being the backdrop of privileged volunteers’ savior narratives - marginal benefit at the cost of one’s dignity.  It doesn’t have to be this way.  

When done respectfully - when the goal is listening and partnering - service learning has the power to build empathic relationships and empower both sides.  To give light to communities who have been historically effaced.

Nadinne Cruz, a “recovering angry critic”, describes service learning as a path to a world where “the moral brilliance of communities everywhere... becomes central.”

At Kaya Co, we try to tell a new narrative of the Philippines that’s defined by strength and potential.  Great sentiment - but it never sticks until people see it shown, then learn to tell it to themselves.

Our world has never been so equally divided and interconnected.  Courses and texts that promote “global citizenship” only do so much.  Vivid, sensory, shown experience tells what cannot be told: in the moments between facts, in the textures of hands, and the sights that stick better than text.

2. How to unlock potential.

The Future Project is a movement to eliminate apathy in American schools by recruiting and mobilizing Dream Directors: intrapreneurs working full time to turn the dreams of students into reality - and inspire the entire school to do the same.

According to Andrew Mangino, TFP’s founder: “If we start asking young people (about their dreams and passions) and getting them to answer in the form of action, that’s what’s needed most.”

Andrew Mangino is an Ashoka fellow, part of the world’s oldest and largest network of social entrepreneurs. Over time, we at Ashoka have observed a common element in the lives of these pioneers: at some point in their youth, they realized that they had the power to make change.

This is what Brazilian educator Paulo Freire called conscientização, or critical consciousness: an understanding of the forces that shape the world, and the power that one has to play a role in that shaping.

This only happens through practice.  To build changemakers, let them build and make change.

Today, we’re inundated with messaging that tells us, yes, we can follow our dreams.  That only goes so far. One of the gravest injustices of the world is that too few have the opportunity to show themselves - not just be told - their true power.

3. How to lead the way.

At the start, Ashoka’s goal was to accelerate our fellows’ impact to the largest possible scale.  But the biggest mark we’ve left is more collective.  Over time, our fellows have shown the world so vividly the power of social entrepreneurship that the idea took on a life of its own.  A sector has emerged from so many imaginations sparked.

At Kaya Co, we turn our transnational goal into something that feels tangible by accelerating people, communities, and programs that have made it happen.

The Future Project’s Dream Directors act as role models to their students, and take on a project to change school culture as they guide kids through their own projects.  Collectively, they build a new picture of what American education can be.

Call it modeling, prototyping, “breaking ground.”  In the end, it boils down to showing, not telling, what is possible.  The world will follow.

Rexy Josh Dorado is a 2014 graduate of Brown University and a believer in the power of identity to spark change.  He is a Search Associate at Ashoka, the world's largest and oldest network of social entrepreneurs, and moonlights as the founder and leader of Kaya Collaborative: a social venture that aims to inspire, educate, and activate the young Filipino diaspora as a support network for citizen leadership in the Philippines.

Digital TMI: The Killer of Your Second First Impression

This is a guest post by Mark Babbitt, who I just spent 3 days with at #BIF10, who also founded YouTern, one ofTHE best sites for career info. Read, enjoy and apply!!!! And get his book (with Ted Coiné) "A World Gone Social".
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You are a Social Age job seeker. A digital native.

Your value proposition is clear. Your resume is immaculate; the LinkedIn Profile: perfect. Your cover letter could have been written by Shakespeare (well, except for the use of “thou” and “leadeth”). Based on these points alone, every recruiter in the universe should want to interview you.

So why aren’t you getting any calls?

We all know it’s important to make a good first impression. Few, however – despite all the advice to the contrary – have grasped the importance of passing another test: the “Second First Impression”.

As we discuss at length in A World Gone Social: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn – even Instagram and Pinterest and the very blog you created to showcase your talent – are being thoroughly reviewed by recruiters, hiring managers and HR.

What you may still not know is: these filters are engaged long before the recruiter contacts you. You will never know you were ever seriously considered; you’ll never receive any feedback.

Just silence.

Sadly only 50% of entry-level talent will make the cut. Not due to those red solo cup pictures. And not because you are human and like to have fun once in a while. Except for the social puritans, most recruiters, when they see this stuff, think, “Who doesn’t like to have fun?”

No, those candidates that go from “Wow, this candidate looks really good” to “Um, no… Next!” fail due to one problem: Digital TMI.

Most recruiters define the digital version of TMI as any tweet or post that includes:

  • References to excessive partying or illegal drug use (or the after-effects)
  • A post that portrays you as an immature high school student (including remarks of a sexual nature)
  • Racially-motivated comments (even when directed at your own race)
  • Content that denigrates either gender (and “jk” and “lol” does not make this okay)
  • Excessive swearing (only the hottest celebrities and most successful bloggers can pull that off)
  • Any negative comment about your previous employers
  • Entries that display a lack of passion at work (including the all-too-common and innocent-enough sounding “God, I can’t wait for Friday!”)
  • Public venting just to make yourself feel better
  • Excessive whining, troll statements or diva-like comments
  • Victim statements of any kind

Depending on the recruiter, you may get away with one or two of these TMI mistakes. In the long run, however, recruiters are ultimately looking for someone who not only meets minimum qualifications –  but is also a fit for the company culture.

And a party-animal whiner who never chose to grow up and then blames everyone else for their insensitive outlook on life is typically NOT a good fit.

(Okay, that’s a harsh example – although I would submit that those entering the workforce leave recruiters with this impression far too often.)

Self-assess your current online brand. Work just as hard on that as you did your resume, LinkedIn profile and cover letter. Then take a look at the culture of the companies where you’ll be submitting an application, and ask yourself:

Would my current online presence create a positive “second first impression”?

The original version of this post was published on January 25, 2013 on YouTern.com by Mark Babbitt.

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Mark Babbitt is the CEO and Founder of YouTern, a talent community that enables college students, recent graduates and young careerists to become highly employable by connecting them to high-impact internships, mentors and contemporary career advice. Mark has been featured as a keynote speaker and workshop director by the Tiger Woods Foundation, Smithsonian Institute and National Association of Colleges and Employers. He is an in-demand speaker at colleges and fraternities, including UCLA, the California State University system, New York University, Delta Sigma Pi and Alpha Kappa Psi.

Together with Ted Coiné, they will be releasing their book A World Gone Social on September 22, 2014.

 

Every Business Is Social (Like it or not)

Mali HealthGiven the great comments on last week’s post and a Huffington Post article on the subject by Matt Murrie, I thought a follow-up was in order.   The comments centered on two themes:

  • Investment funding’s acceptance of “Social” as a viable type of business
  • Business Modeling – social vs. regular

Investment:

Venture capitalists have traditionally funded for-profit businesses with a strong focus on ROI – Return on Investment vs. ROIm – Return on Impact (ROIm will be a forthcoming blog post).  To most, the two ROIs are either incompatible or irrelevant.  Foundations and other philanthropies have traditionally funded non-profits with a strong focus on the ROIm.  Slowly investors are realizing this is an artificial distinction. 

  • No matter what your business, if it’s not having an impact on the customer in a way that delights the customer, you won’t need to worry for long – thank you Darwinism. 
  • The number of investors focused on maximizing both ROI and ROIis increasing.  For instance, FSG and New Profit come to mind, with returns some ‘regular’ VCs would love.  Accelerators for social enterprises are helping fledging ventures sustainably scale, such as the SE Greenhouse
  • The assumption that you have to be a non-profit to ‘do good’ is slowly becoming arcane.  While there are good reasons for some companies to remain non-profits, there is no reason that a socially-impact minded business cannot be for-profit.  The corporate designation B-Corp allows a company to blend doing well and doing good in a for-profit structure.  Examples include Method Products, Patagonia, Ben & Jerry’s and two of my favorites, Runa and Susty Party.

Business Model:

As an early adopter and co-creator of Alex Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas (BMC), I use it the most.  A Social Business Model Canvas had been created specifically for social ventures, and there is a lot of value to looking at a business from this perspective.  The reason I prefer the BMC is its flexibility.  You can change the labels on the boxes and use colors to highlight differences. The BMC impels you to think about the sustainability of the business and the compelling value to the customer in a way traditional social businesses haven’t – as a real live business that has to compete for customers’ attention and resources just like everything else – including two of the biggest competitors – “Doing Nothing” and “Good Enough”.   Take a look at a canvas for Pencils of Promise.  Instead of Revenue, the box is labeled Outcomes & Outputs.  Outputs are things like revenue and profit. Outcomes are the difference you make for your customers – the real value you are delivering for them.  In the case of Pencils for Promise, both are important – if they are not having the impact they want – changing lives, educating kids, then what are they doing? Doesn't this also apply to any business - ultimately?

While the Social Business Model Canvas has a box for surplus – what you are doing with what’s left over, I posit that’s a question every company has to answer.  Any business hopefully has a surplus – at least eventually.  If some of that surplus is not reinvested in the company to support, enhance, add to their compelling value proposition, then the shareholders won’t be getting anything back either.  Perhaps a social business will choose to reinvest all of it’s surplus directly into the business while a for-profit may choose to give dividends, but that’s not a hard and fast rule for either type of company.  Reinvesting a surplus can be in all sorts of resources – equipment, material and perhaps most importantly, people. 

This is not an either/or issue – it’s an ‘and’.  Hopefully, over time, the distinctions between social and ‘regular’ businesses can fade, because I truly believe, any business of any sort that doesn’t focus on it’s impact on its customers, communities and the world, on it’s ROI eventually won’t have any ROI anyway.

 

Intangible Benefit of Networking

So honored to co-author a post in Switch and Shift with my friend Vala Afshar - What is the benefit of networking? It may surprise you

"We are both pretty passionate about networking.  Being insatiably curious, we love meeting new people from different backgrounds with different experiences, viewpoints, and stories.  Throughout our individual careers, we’ve seen how networking is a means of learning and growing, both personally and professionally."  Continue reading....