"How do I get started?"
Many people have told me how much they like the ideas presented with A Bigger Voice. My theory is that once individuals achieve a level of competence in their careers, gotten that promotion, created a reputation and earned a decent salary, they look for meaning. So it's no wonder that the idea of applying their professional skills to achieve social good is appealing.
Quite honestly, it's one thing to like the idea of being a wisdom entrepreneur. It's another to start on the path. And the first step can often be the hardest one to take. If that sounds like you, keep reading. This post is about inspiring you to take the first step by seeing those who are further down the road.
Here are a few wisdom entrepreneurs that I know who are actively applying their professional skills and experience to do good and do well in the world:
Wisdom Entrepreneur: Herb Morreale, the founder of Topplers, is a serial entrepreneur and a techie with a strategic bent. His wisdom comes from a combination of hitting mid-life and all of the questions about meaning that comes with it and having built companies with a rigorous business mind (e.g., points of leverage, metrics.)
Wisdom: Great things can be achieved with small, purposeful actions. Topplers' tagline is "Setting Big Things in Motion."
Question for the Community: What's possible when the pay-it-forward concept becomes both goal-oriented and trackable? Can a collection of strangers achieve stunning results, just by "doing their part?"
Find out more: Join the Topplers Facebook page.
Wisdom Entrepreneur: Dr. Sally-Spencer Thomas, the Executive Director of the Carson J. Spencer Foundation, is a trained clinical psychologist and an expert on suicide prevention and workplace violence prevention. Her wisdom comes from the convergence of her academic interests with the real-life experience of having her brother commit suicide, a successful entrepreneur who was described by the Rocky Mountain News as "a bright star that burned out too quickly."
Wisdom: Most people who complete suicides are of working age. Therefore, workplaces can be a vehicle for education and support, to prevent suicides. Carson J. Spencer Foundation's tagline is "Sustaining a Passion for Life."
Question for the Community: What do you do with employees who are no longer productive due to mental health issues?
Find out more: Denver-area breakfast seminar, Promoting Resiliency and Preventing Distress at Work, from 7-8:30 am on November 10, 2009.
Wisdom Entrepreneur: Grant Hunter, founder of Microfranchise Solutions, LLC, has been a corporate trainer as well as a franchise broker. His experience with both showed that the quality of the training and support is a critical success factor for any franchise owner. He also saw how the franchise model could help individuals who lacked the "entrepreneurial instinct" to become successful business owners.
Wisdom: Micro-franchises in the developing world hold the key to eradicating poverty and ensuring sustainable livelihoods for millions at the base of the economic pyramid.
Question for the Community: What are all the ways the franchise model can be used in developing countries to help lift people out of poverty?
Find out more: Grant's LinkedIn profile
Wisdom Entrepreneur: Lisa Dworkin, founder of Money Masters Foundation, has been a successful futures trader as well as a passionate teacher of grades K-12 and adults. In her work with adults, she saw how the basics of personal finance were not known by many otherwise competent working professionals. As a school teacher for a wide age range, she found the ideal age to target learning about financial literacy.
Wisdom: The best time to teach financial literacy is during the middle school years, when kids can see the impact of their financial decisions and before bad decisions create situations that are hard to recover from.
Question for the Community: How can financial literacy be taught in a way that invites in and engages middle-schoolers?
Find out more: Lisa's LinkedIn profile
Wisdom Entrepreneur: Ben Hafele, founder of Haute, spent time in the Peace Corps in Guinea, a developing country in Africa, before doing graduate work at London School of Economics and becoming a forecast analyst at Caterpillar. He saw in Guinea the type of poverty that doesn't just leave people hungry, but ends up literally killing them. And with his business background, he could see how entrepreneurship could lift entire communities out of poverty.
Wisdom: Not everyone is cut out to be an entrepreneur. Focus on those individuals who were already choosing to be entrepreneurs in developing countries and give them basic business training (e.g., accounting) to help them be more successful.
Question for the Community: What does it mean to believe in the African entrepreneur?
Find out more: Peoria-area newspaper article about Hafele and Haute.
So, if you are still on the sidelines, thinking this wisdom entrepreneur thing is a good idea, I challenge you to contact any of the above role models. Ask them for advice on getting started. They'll all tell you that it hasn't been easy and that there are times of discouragement (maybe even yesterday.) But you'll also hear what it's like to get a little closer every day to "doing good and doing well."