What’s krackin’? I hope you’ve been having a swell day, and are ready to rock your Friday with some words of wisdom about social change. Before we break into today’s lesson on social entrepreneurship, I wanted to apologize that I haven’t put out a ‘best of’ episode of the podcast here in a bit. That’s my bad, and I’ll work to get it rolling again soon. The reason is exciting - our new podcast has been a blast and taking up good chunks of our time, but still, no reason we can’t get some best of episodes in your earbuds. I’ll work on that this weekend and get those rolling again.
Alright, ’nuff said on that…You’ll remember last week in social entre 101 we chatted about crafting your why (remember, if you’re still having trouble on that, hit ‘reply’ and I’ll help you). So, I’m assuming you’ve started that up (don’t worry if it’s far from perfect - the key is, you’ve started!). Anyway, today, let’s build off your why and start talking about your people…
Any cause based movement must start with people at its core. There are the people you will serve through your social mission, the people you draw into your movement who will become your customers, and the people you’ll build partnerships with along the way. In my upcoming book I’ll chat more about all of this, but for the purposes of social entre 101, let’s just chat about the people you serve:
The story of the people you serve needs to define everything you do. The people you serve are your ‘why’ and they are what makes your whole movement tick. The people you serve will help you build every other piece of your business: they will define your brand, they will draw in your customers, and they will become woven into the story of your products and services. This is why you must get clear about the people you are called to serve. I say this because it is only a highly personified ‘why’ that will keep you engaged through the trials and tribulations that will inevitably come. A deeply personalized ‘why’ is also the only way I’ve found to truly galvanize a movement and bring people into your cause.
Let’s look to an example of this.
Bridget and Joe of LSTN on a service trip. Photo credit: LSTN Headphones
LSTN Headphones is a cause based business that is devoted to helping the world hear. LSTN’s founder, Bridget Hilton (in above pic, on right), has a deeply genuine and personal reason for serving people who are hard of hearing. Bridget is a lover of music. She was born into it and it has been what she’s lived and breathed ever since. From record companies, to bands, to musical instruments, she’s been in on it all. So, you can imagine how dramatically Bridget was impacted by a YouTube video of a 39 year old woman who was hearing for the first time. Bridget was deeply moved by the video, and it caused her to ask uncomfortable questions of herself. Where would her life be without beautiful music? Why did so many people lack access to technology that would give them the gift of hearing? How was it fair that she could hear and build a career around music when so many could not?
It was at this moment of deep personal reflection that Bridget created LSTN Headphones. The company’s mission is a beautiful blending of Bridget’s passions with her desire to serve others. LSTN Headphones are premium headphones constructed from repurposed wood. The sound quality is as beautiful as the headphones themselves. But it is their purpose that makes them truly stand out: for each pair of headphones sold, LSTN donates a hearing exam and hearing aids via the Starkey Foundation. I want you to focus on the way that Bridget defined her why: She was impacted by a deep emotional moment, a moment that struck Bridget to the very core of who she is. Bridget was so deeply moved by the woman in the YouTube video that she had no choice but to act. If you want to be a social entrepreneur you have to have Bridget’s passion for the people you will serve. You have to be so moved by a social problem that you have no choice but to act.
Remember that the people you serve are your why. They are the story you need to tell everyone as you build your cause based movement. As you grow, the people you serve will come to define your brand. LSTN’s retail website is filled with videos and pictures of people receiving the gift of hearing. The packaging for each pair of headphones sold features the story of LSTN’s people and cause. And finally, LSTN’s customers literally wear LSTN’s story, creating conversations that grow LSTNs movement and impact exponentially.
I hope you now see why finding clarity about the people you serve will be a critical first step you take in creating your cause based business. It is their story that will weave into everything else you do. And it is their story that we will use to help you do all the things you will need to do to build, brand, structure, and grow your business.
Take it easy out there change nation, catch you on the flipside.