I attended an impact investing / social impact conference this month, and I was struck by how much of the overarching discourse and conference structure was designed around promotional marketing and self-congratulation. Lots of organizational horn-tooting.
I get it...organizations need to market themselves, bring in funding, secure press, receive accolades, and burnish their cultivated images (all things that we do too; we’re not above this). But I am annoyed by the panels that are happy to operate within the familiar, acronymed grooves of industry platitudes and feigned vulnerability. Where is the hearty debate? Where is the honest disagreement on approach? Where is the airtime for those willing to talk about their biggest actual mistakes in the last year?
I don’t think we’re incapable of it; we simply aren’t co-inviting each other into spaces of perceived safety where such topics can be exchanged with courage and full-throated honesty. Time to replace proclamations with invitations, time to exchange our sanctimony with curiosity.