I have the pleasure of spending April 4-6 in Long Beach, California with some dynamic people in the community development space. Before I begin, I must say that Charles Lee and his team has done a great job putting this first !deation conference together, pulling from some phenomenal minds in the field. I’m pretty sure I have enough article ideas to last me through the end of the summer.
Setting the Pace: Morning
First, I started off my day this morning by having breakfast with the leaders of A Glimmer of Hope Foundation. This organization does a plethora of things in Ethiopia. You should be expecting an article from me about these folks. They do work in health, education, microfinance, and clean water. We talked about the work of leaders like Dan Morrison and The Citizen Effect as well as how they are building a model that is rooted in partnership. Like I said, an article is coming.
From there, we started the first morning session. We heard powerful stories from Jake Harriman, CEO of Nuru International, Eugene Cho, social media guru and founder of One Day’s Wages, and Andy Bales of the Union Rescue Mission, who was appropriately introduced by Mark Horvath of InvisiblePeople.tv. Before the break we also listened as Idris Al-Oboudi sang us a bit of his story and reminded us that “Parks Make Life Better” (Note: This one was a bit of a surprise-something that Charles Lee intentionally planned) and Keith Page from Global Sticky Network. Yes. This was all before the break. Each representative shared for about 15 minutes about their work and what they are learning or have learned in the process.
After a short break, we came back to hear from Beth Kanter, who shared a bit about the importance of strategically leveraging networks, Hannah Song, Executive Director of LiNK (another organization I’ll be writing about soon), Ben Keesey, CEO of the famous Invisible Children, as well as others.
And then it was time for lunch.
I had the pleasure of having lunch with Keith Kall from World Vision. We discussed some pretty hard core issues of the non-profit world and the role that the private sector has in community development. Here are a couple of thoughts that I took away from our conversation:
- What is Social Entrepreneurship? In my mind, it is an innovative means by which to address a specific cause-typically ones associated with the non-profit sector.
- The United States Millennial Generation, while we are passionate and well-educated, need a dose of reality. Learning how to follow makes you a better leader. Sometimes it pays to heed this advise “Don’t just do something, stand there.” Just because you have a Master’s degree does not give you the right to be a project manager.
- We so often talk about lifting people out of poverty, but why don’t we talk about making entrepreneurs wealthy? It’s almost as if it wouldn’t be a social need if we began talking about making the people we serve financially well off?
After lunch, there were several break-out sessions. You can check out #theideation tag for more insights and quotes from these meetings. I ducked into Ben Keesey’s talk about movement building where he advised us to 1) be as focused and authentic as you can, 2) get away with leading with the statistics that talk about how bad it is and 3) have the confidence in what you do and who you are. I also had the chance to connect with some of the folks from Love146. What a solid creative team.
Dinner and a Fashion Show
I was privileged to go to dinner with some awesome folks including representatives from Nuru International, Project 7, and Inventure. It was pretty awesome to talk with this group about their different organizations, how to juggle all of your projects, roll out plans, our first concerts (some included Michael Jackson, KISS, and the OC Supertones), and even relationship advice from Nuru’s development director, Don Jorgenson.
We returned for a high-energy evening session with speakers like Nathan George from Trade as One, Jonathan Olinger, and my personal favorite, Isak Pretorius from JAM International (article coming). We then had the opportunity for an open question and answer session with Keith Kall, Lee Fox, Ben Keesey, Nisa Islam Mohammed, and Scott Harrison from charity:water.
And then, to end the evening- as if this wasn’t enough- we had a super charged fashion show from Jedidiah Clothing- a group that has a tag line “Fashioning Hope.”
A lot of processing is yet to come after a day like this. But one thing is for sure, the folks in this room are eager and ready to do work- and do it well. And whatever work they end up doing, they will “Love Human. Do Good.”