Uncharted Insider - August 2018
Welcome to the August edition of the Uncharted Insider.
- We kicked off our 9-month mobile tech accelerator, called Visible Connect, with our partner Visible. Nine entrepreneurs joined us in Denver for a 5-day bootcamp. One entrepreneur said: “I have been through a handful of accelerator programs like this, but this program sets itself apart and differentiates itself from the rest by how authentic and honest and vulnerable it is. No other program does this."
- We announced a new partnership with Chipotle on the future of food with integrity. We will be selecting ventures working in Farming & Agriculture Technology, Alternative Farming & Growing Systems, Food Waste & Recovery, and Plant & Alternative Products. It’s called the Alluminaries Project...get it?
- We released our Annual Report. We tried something different this year by launching a series of resources chronicling our last year: from failures to quantitative impact data to a practical guide for organizations going through transition.
- New Hire: We are delighted to welcome Adrienne Russman to our team, as our new Director of Collective Impact. Adrienne will lead up programs that combine collective impact (bringing organizations together to tackle an issue) with acceleration (helping organizations scale). We’re coining it “collective acceleration.”
Ideas on my mind:
The loneliness of leadership. I often feel lonely as the CEO of Uncharted, and I don’t talk about that loneliness enough. It shouldn’t be a surprise, but it’s always comforting to meet other folks who say “me too” when it comes to the psychological rollercoaster of leading a growing organization. In one day (and sometimes in one hour) I can feel both confident and validated in my work, and then, in the next moment, feel like an imposter. So much conversation is around the technical dimensions of growing impact-driven organizations and what it takes to scale (things like marketing, operations, impact measurement, hiring, systems, etc.), but the interior psychological landscape of leadership is often neither explored nor mapped. Before a leader can do any leading externally, they need to be a leader to themselves. Sometimes this means whispering: “I forgive you... and keep going” in those moments after a big mistake, and sometimes it means “I’m proud of you” after a big win.
Overhead is a four-letter word. Uncharted is a non-profit social enterprise, and in 2018, only 29% of our budget will come from philanthropic funding at the organization-wide level. The remaining 71% will come from earned revenue and funding from partnerships with Chipotle, Visible, and others. While we’re working hard to build a strong economic engine within our non-profit legal structure, we still encounter the backwards thinking that any philanthropic investment (from a foundation, individual, etc.) should not go to overhead (or only a small fraction should go to overhead). This is dumb. Like any organization, non-profits need resources to invest in their future growth: from business development and partnership building, to leadership training, to hiring exceptional people in all roles and paying them competitive salaries so the organization can deliver excellent results.
A study reported that donors “ranked overhead ratio and financial transparency to be more important attributes in determining their willingness to give to an organization than the success of the organization’s programs.” This is stunning: people would rather know how their money was used ineffectively than not know how their money was used effectively. The focus on intermediate organizational metrics (like overhead ratio) should not blind philanthropic investors to their end goal: impact outcomes.
What I’m reading:
- 80% of people who try heroin today started on prescription painkillers. In the time it takes you to read this riveting and devastating account of the company behind the opioid crisis, 6 people will have fatally overdosed on opioids.
- The average American spends 95% of their lives indoors, but there is a growing body of evidence pointing to the healthy benefits of spending time in nature.
- Arianna Huffington wrote an open letter to Elon Musk about how he’s demonstrating poor leadership. It’s worth reading.
- Over the years, we have found that the greatest strength of the leader is the greatest weakness of the organization. How the curse of knowledge is often invisible and needs attention.
Therapy. I regularly go to see a therapist, and it’s one of the best investments of my time and money. I’ve been seeing someone for over two years now, and I’ve noticed a few breakthroughs in my relationship to myself: from growing in my own self-worthiness to increased self-forgiveness to debunking some of the unhealthy narratives I have lived by.
United in the common work,