By Ginelle Skerritt, October 18, 2021
The Greater Good: Social Entrepreneurship for Everyday People Who Want to Change the World, Madeleine Shaw, Wonderwell, October 15, 2021, $30.64
(October 18, 2021) In the context of unprecedented shifts in our collective conscience, The Greater Good is a timely, introspective account that addresses the need for a fundamental shift in the way we think about business start-up, innovation, profit- making and the premise for doing business.
As you sit back to read The Greater Good, get ready to dig deep to find a new way of doing business. The Greater Good is for “everyday people” who aspire to be bold and to express a new vision through entrepreneur ship. Within the first few pages, you will realise that this is not your daddy’s guide to small business development. It is a much-needed critique of that model, with viable solutions that don’t flout making money, but simply and most importantly, question the “why” of making money. As COVID has forced us all to get clear on what we value, and how our lives relate to what we value, this book guides the reader, and potential entrepreneur in all of us, through a journey that starts with a reckoning of our business values versus how we have been living.
The ‘how to’ narrative authored by the BC based “Lunapads” social entrepreneur, Madeleine Shaw, tells readers about her own business development process along the way, walking us through the haze of self-doubt, crazy ideas, vision quests curiosity, and authentic, meaningful relationship-building not as rote steps to success nor as meaningless trial and error processes, but as acceptable and essential elements of the creative journey to find the right fit for your business and forge a new, more caring economy.
Entrepreneurs are encouraged to dance with the emotional side of this journey – embracing the emotions in a tango with the “touchy feely” vibe that most business advice books and columns used to encourage leaders to sidestep. Personal reflection, dreams and gut feelings are all valid twists, turns and dips as we learn more about our own connections and build relationships that allow us to move in harmony with what is good for humanity and the planet.
The book’s win-win proposition signals that now is a good time to do good. Social entrepreneurs will lead the transformation to an economy that rewards solving a problem that exists in the real world as well as making a profit. There are a few gems that I found particularly valuable.
I hope you will enjoy the Chart on page 101 as much as I did. It provides a summary of the founders 2017 manifesto Zebras Fix What Unicorns Break that crystallizes the points made in the first 6 chapters. The author encourages you to put the book aside for a moment to reflect or to Google its many real-world references and come back to its pages more enlightened and inspired. There are exercises, featured in the first part of the book that help readers to bring their values, vision and ideas about business to the forefront. I found the section that talked about the importance of relationships and wisdom harvesting to be broadly appealing whether for good business development practice or just good living.
She writes on page 90-91:
“Note that help is not only going to look like roll-up-your sleeves physical work. More often it’s about asking for information, contacts, social sharing, and so on… Wisdom harvesting is my personal reframing of the common concept of brain-picking, an activity which while extremely useful can have a dark side if not executed respectfully. Which is not to say that I have never brain- picked– I totally have. It’s a quick and inexpensive way to get the benefit of a more experienced person’s “pickings”: contacts, information, trade secrets, whatever magic is the currency in your field. It can be a gold mine … I had the astonishing realization that business wasn’t just about having the right contacts or information it was about quality relationships.”
In chapter 9, you will find one of the best practical guides to understanding business financing that I have come across in years of searching for resources that are easy to read and easy to demonstrate to people who don’t have an MBA or CPA designation. It provides clear, simple yet comprehensive descriptions. The last few pages contain a section titled “Next Steps and Resources” that is loaded with connections and web references of businesses and business supports for social entrepreneurs.
Whether you have considered social entrepreneurship, or you just want to gain an understanding of what a new economic model can look like, The Greater Good will take you there. It’s also a very good way to get clear on your personal vision and how to turn what seem like self- defeating emotions and fears into productive learning tools that can feed your success.
Ginelle Skerritt is a leader and influencer in the non-profit sector and is currently CEO of the York Children’s Aid Society.
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