Here’s a link to my recent article in the Observer that covers an interview I had with Donna Morton — a BC-based social entrepreneur, CEO, Ashoka Fellow, Unreasonable Fellow, Ogunte Fellow, and, most of all, an artist. I talked with Donna about her new alternative education program she launched called SunDrum, which teaches marginalized youth about social entrepreneurship through art, culture, and games.
It really was an inspiring interview, and I may post the audio to the interview after I edit it down a bit (the interview lasted an hour and twenty minutes). We talked about influences, inspirations, life, work, family — everything. She’s an incredibly inspiring person. Here’s an excerpt from the piece about the relationship between art and social entrepreneurship:
Art is an antidote to the travails of the human heart, and when we create or witness true art we achieve a brief respite from our individual struggles, and instead feel, for an instant, connected to something greater than ourselves. As I spoke with Morton, it started to make more sense to me that she so quickly labeled her chief characteristic as “Artist.” Social entrepreneurs are artists. They create entities – businesses – that do not merely seek individual gratification through profits, but have at their core the mission to better the station of their brothers and sisters – of humanity. And in so doing, they, like artists, make us feel connected to something greater than ourselves.
I thank Donna Morton – the artist-social entrepreneur – for making me realize this.
Here’s a quote from Donna Morton on failure:
“[F]ailure is one of the things we talk a lot about in the SunDrum program. We say, ‘if you do really hard things, you will fail.’ Our society teaches that failing is falling down…and that’s actually messed up.” When I asked Morton about her greatest failure she replied, “I think I failed the worst when I didn’t think of failure as lessons, and that failure is a gift if you use it…. Nobody – none of the people I’ve met who have done extraordinary things – they’ve never done any of those big things without monumental failure, as society defines it.”
I hope you read it, enjoy it, and share it!
1) Amazing and soul-stirring dance that is also part social commentary from Britain’s Got Talent
2) Where are the Atheists from Andrew Sullivan’s The Dish
4) Why Facebook CoFounder and Google are Giving Cash Directly to the Poor from Forbes (Oh, how I miss M-Pesa from my time in Kenya.)
5) List of new studies on access to financial services for the poor and list of new studies on whether entrepreneurship can improve the lives of the poor from Chris Blattman (these lists of studies are for my inner nerd.)
Almost every great leader — whether in business, nonprofit, or government — knows about Carnegie and has mastered the skills he outlines. Warren Buffet said Dale Carnegie changed his life. Buffet doesn’t have his college diploma or his Master’s degree from Columbia University pinned up on his wall in his office. The diploma he has pinned up is the one he received when he graduated from Dale Carnegie’s training program.
The first principle is Don’t criticize, condemn, or complain. Here’s a great piece that the book gives to drive this point home. The piece is called “Father Forgets” by W. Livingston Larned (this is the condensed version from Reader’s Digest).
Listen, son: I am saying this as you lie asleep, one little paw crumpled under your cheek and the blond curls stickily wet on your damp forehead. I have stolen into your room alone. Just a few minutes ago, as I sat reading my paper in the library, a stifling wave of remorse swept over me. Guiltily I came to your bedside.
There are the things I was thinking, son: I had been cross to you. I scolded you as you were dressing for school because you gave your face merely a dab with a towel. I took you to task for not cleaning your shoes. I called out angrily when you threw some of your things on the floor.
At breakfast I found fault, too. You spilled things. You gulped down your food. You put your elbows on the table. You spread butter too thick on your bread. And as you started off to play and I made for my train, you turned and waved a hand and called, “Goodbye, Daddy!” and I frowned, and said in reply, “Hold your shoulders back!”
Then it began all over again in the late afternoon. As I came up the road I spied you, down on your knees, playing marbles. There were holes in your stockings. I humiliated you before your boyfriends by marching you ahead of me to the house. Stockings were expensive-and if you had to buy them you would be more careful! Imagine that, son, from a father!
Do you remember, later, when I was reading in the library, how you came in timidly, with a sort of hurt look in your eyes? When I glanced up over my paper, impatient at the interruption, you hesitated at the door. “What is it you want?” I snapped.
You said nothing, but ran across in one tempestuous plunge, and threw your arms around my neck and kissed me, and your small arms tightened with an affection that God had set blooming in your heart and which even neglect could not wither. And then you were gone, pattering up the stairs.
Well, son, it was shortly afterwards that my paper slipped from my hands and a terrible sickening fear came over me. What has habit been doing to me? The habit of finding fault, of reprimanding-this was my reward to you for being a boy. It was not that I did not love you; it was that I expected too much of youth. I was measuring you by the yardstick of my own years.
And there was so much that was good and fine and true in your character. The little heart of you was as big as the dawn itself over the wide hills. This was shown by your spontaneous impulse to rush in and kiss me good night. Nothing else matters tonight, son. I have come to your bedside in the darkness, and I have knelt there, ashamed!
It is feeble atonement; I know you would not understand these things if I told them to you during your waking hours. But tomorrow I will be a real daddy! I will chum with you, and suffer when you suffer, and laugh when you laugh. I will bite my tongue when impatient words come. I will keep saying as if it were a ritual: “He is nothing but a boy-a little boy!”
I am afraid I have visualized you as a man. Yet as I see you now, son, crumpled and weary in your cot, I see that you are still a baby. Yesterday you were in your mother’s arms, your head on her shoulder. I have asked too much, too much.
Carnegie sums up the moral of “Father Forgets”:
Instead of condemning people, let’s try to understand them. Let’s try to figure out why they do what they do. That’s a lot more profitable and intriguing than criticism; and it breeds sympathy, tolerance, and kindness. “To know all is to forgive all.”
Great life lesson.
Here’s a link to my piece in The Vancouver Observer. As I said in my previous blog post, last night I covered DIGNITY 2013 for the Observer. DIGNITY was hosted by Vancouver+Acumen with the aim of raising money for the impact investing initiatives carried out by Acumen. If you don’t already know about Acumen’s work investing in social enterprises, you should start learning, because impact investing and social enterprises are the future of capitalism. And this future is coming soon to a theatre near you.
Here are some excerpts:
[T]he question “What do you do?” doesn’t make sense to a social entrepreneur. This is because it’s not what they do. It’s who they are. They are doers.
…to [social entrepreneurs], this question is personal. It’s probing into their very nature and fundamental identity. To them, I’m not simply asking, “What do you do?” I’m essentially asking, “Who are you?”
And another one:
There were countless stories of action, doing, and inspiration last night at DIGNITY 2013. But the main message was this: the title of social entrepreneur is not exclusive to an elite few. You do not need a certificate or an advanced degree or a million dollar trust fund. You do need to be different. You need to possess the dogged perseverence to find your passion or cause, the audacity to do it, and the ability to tell your story.
To slightly alter a quote from renowned storyteller George Bernard Shaw: “Some men see things as they are and ask why. Social entrepreneurs dream things that never were, and ask why not.” The key is to know when to stop dreaming and start doing. As DIGNITY 2013 showed me, there’s no better time than today.
If you like the article I encourage you to share it via Facebook, Twitter, your blogs, etc…
I hope to interview some Vancouver-based social entrepreneurs that are making a difference in this city, in Canada, and abroad in the upcoming weeks. Stay tuned!
Tonight I’ll be covering DIGNITY Vancouver (Celebrating the Spirit of Entrepreneurship) for The Vancouver Observer. The event is put on by Vancouver+Acumen, a volunteer-run chapter that raises money to support the outstanding work of the impact investment organization, Acumen Fund. I hope you follow me on twitter at @kurtislockhart for live tweets during the event (under #DIGNITY2013).
I’ll write a post about the event soon.
1. Top 5 Regrets of the Dying from justinzoradi.com
2. Stereotyping in Europe from Marginal Revolution
4. 99 Life Hacks to Make Your Life Easier (the most brilliant household tips I’ve ever discovered…you ignore this link at your peril) from tumblr