Uncharted Insider - August 2019
Welcome to the August edition of the Uncharted Insider.
- We are hiring two (senior) roles to join our team: Director of Business Development and Director of Accelerators. Forward this email to spread the word or share this link.
- We completed a three-month participatory strategic planning process where we engaged over 100 community members in the creation of the National Western Center future programming strategy.
- We’re busy interviewing and vetting entrepreneurs for our Futurebound Acceleration Lab, and the Terner Center’s Housing Lab.
- The Uncharted volleyball team is in the playoffs (after an undefeated season).
Ideas on my mind:
Take your own advice. I serve on the board of a company that had its two-day board retreat in August. I found myself giving out a lot of advice during those two days, and I decided to use my journal to note down the advice that I was dispensing: what I was recommending to do, not to do, the mindset the CEO should be in, etc.. Every piece of advice I gave to this company’s leadership was advice I needed to hear myself. I don’t think my advice was offbase for the context of this company, but somehow my subconscious mind had chosen to select and then speak the advice that it, itself, was most needing. It was both profoundly eerie and revelatory, and it made me realize that sometimes the only way we can effectively speak to ourselves is to boomerang advice out, and be open to receiving when it comes back. In some ways, giving advice is not an arrogant act that is rooted in believing yourself to be an expert, but rather an act of humble, self-aware selfishness: what I share with you I also might need myself.
Non-profits distort markets. Many tech accelerators (think Techstars and Y-combinator) employ the business model where the accelerator invests and takes equity in the startup. Most startups see this as a fair trade. But in the social impact accelerator / social entrepreneur “fellowship” market, there are many free accelerators and fellowships that don’t take any equity (while still giving out philanthropic grants), so social impact startups get to compare programs that charge with those that don’t. Back in the day, we tried to charge our startups, but as more free programs popped up, we were undercut and struggled to attract the best entrepreneurs because the perceived return on investment for a free accelerator was almost infinitely better than the perceived return on investment for a paid accelerator (simply because the investment was only a founder’s time versus their time and their equity). The social impact accelerator / fellowship market has been distorted by awards, prizes, and free programs and fellowships, and that is changing our customer’s perception of what ought to be paid for. Consequently, accelerators are abandoning potential revenue streams that should be available to them if they operated in more efficient markets. Now, like any good market-responsive company, accelerators (Uncharted being one of them) are identifying new customers and seeking alternative revenue streams (like corporate-sponsored programs), but the irony is not lost on me that programs that espouse the principles of social enterprise, charging for value, focusing on earned revenue, treating people as customers not beneficiaries, and avoiding the non-profit charity models, are themselves somehow caught in this downward cycle where their weird non-profit behavior is making the market evaporate underneath them.
Can you help?
- See the roles we’re hiring above. Research says that often the best hires come from referrals, so if you refer someone for one of these roles, I’ll pay special attention (and buy you a drink next time I see you, even if we don’t hire them).
What I’m reading:
- A powerful journalistic series on the sweeping societal consequences of racism and our history of slavery. The relationship between our history and the stories we tell about ourselves. Here. You can also listen to the podcast.
- Only 5% of men pursue outpatient mental health services like therapy. The culture of emotionally-suppressed toxic masculinity and how men without male friends are turning to women and burdening them with emotional dependency. Here.
- Should companies have a purpose beyond maximizing value for shareholders? The right-leaning Economist isn’t willing to agree. Here (requires registering for a free account).
- Millennials care about issues, not institutions. The 10-year longitudinal study on how millennials engage with social issues. Here.
Someone gave me the advice recently that I should look for small, daily opportunities to tell myself that I am worth prioritizing. I’m a person more focused on productivity than self-indulgence (and I’ve also been in a particularly busy season), which is why this advice was extended my direction. “Be a little indulgent with yourself,” this person said. So I’ve been trying it out. I’ve discovered there are two ways to approach this: First, you can identify an opportunity to do something out of the ordinary as a way to show yourself that you’re worth it. For example, doing the unusual act of leaving my house after dinner to go to Dairy Queen for a blizzard, or stopping everything I’m doing to really listen to a song I love. The other opportunity is to dignify the routinized actions that you are already, instinctually doing and ascribe holy intentions and meaning to them. For example, going to the gym and branding it not as just a pre-planned step taken on Tuesdays, but as a 60-minute demonstration of self-love/self-care.
Call your mom*,
*advice to you (but for myself)!