9 Days to 2018 – Social Enterprises vs. Capitalism

It’s not a cage match. It’s way more subtle. And it’s the core focus of my work in 2018, and it shoudl be yours too.

Some workplaces close down between Christmas and New Year’s. This year, the idiocies of the calendar lead to that being just a 3 day shutdown [because Boxing Day is a thing in Canada].

Far more offices merely have skeleton staffs working because those with more seniority and sufficient vacation days just take late December off.

Now that about only 50% of Canadians work full-time, the previous 2 paragraphs are increasingly meaningless to an increasing number of people. They’ll be working a lot over the next 2 weeks. And generally we’re still assuming they get time off, or something. And here I am, writing 18 reflections leading into 2018 because I DON’T have the have 3 jobs to get more than 1 present under the tree for each kid.

We need to be thinking that more and more people are becoming the precariat, the precarious proletariat. The underemployed, the sub-minimum wage workers. The struggling, those with too many jobs. Those who can’t afford to live in the cities they work in, so they waste an extra 350-700 hours a year commuting because they don’t earn enough to have just one job and walk to work. What couldn’t YOU do if someone too just 300 hours a year from you for extra commuting time?

Who are these people?

They’re not teens looking for spending money. They’re increasingly not just Millennials but Echos, and Gen Xers and yes, Boomers. And I’ll add this, yes they’re older than the Boomers, often called the Traditionalists, but the poorest group of them: the people who have no workplace pension and they’ll work until the illness or decay that will eventually end their life, initially prevents them from going to work one day. Then it’s all downhill from there.

Social enterprises, including B corps and co-ops, are a secret revolutionary device. Some neoliberal 1% folk are already targeting these do-gooders as undermining free market, deregulated capitalism. They’re not wrong. But we need to pick a side. But which side!

Capitalism started with Adam Smith when he published the Wealth of Nations in 1776, a year you likely remember for another kind of revolution, a political one.

But economics, trade, commerce…Smith didn’t invent these. He helped usher in an era of deep economic greed, exploitation and maximizing shareholder wealth. Period. He’s largely why Karl Marx is famous.

We can’t reform capitalism. Why? Maximizing shareholder wealth. Period.

Co-ops dream, through their Principle 6, to create a new global economy among co-operative enterprises, where workplace democracy is the starting point.

When your entire economic model is entrenched in a bunch of things, none of which is maximizing shareholder wealth, then we can create a new economic not based on Adam Smith and the economic tyrants whose 1% ways led to them having as much wealth as the poorest 50% of all humans.

Income inequality. The Occupy Wall Street movement was all over that, including the term, the 1%. A massive international hegemonic action quashed Occupy, but we’re left with everyone talking about the 1%, including deep, committed city-states of neoliberal capitalism: the WTO, the OECD and the IMF. They’re not stupid. They know that increased income inequality leads to global revolution. Then it’s Dr. Zhivago. They don’t want that, so now their playing with valves and optics to try to release some pressure before the volcano blows.

Be suspicious when the hyper-wealthy, and their think tanks and international economic organizations start to champion the plight of the poor and precarious. They can’t maximize shareholder wealth inside a global political, social and economic revolution.

But social enterprises are different. Sure, some of them have as much integrity as a lima bean. But they’re usually easy to spot. They’re all about the optics and promoting their massive CSR.

The rest of them know that everything they’re doing accomplishes one or more social goods relating to economic, social, environmental or political justice.

To celebrate the start of 2018 I’ll be receiving a starter pack of goodies from Capuli Club, a Seattle social enterprise that ticks quite a few boxes of awesome. And when I go see my Ottawa people next month, I’m sharing another Capuli Club pack. Along with some ChopValue coasters, the ones with the Vancouver skyline on them. ChopValue is awesome in so many ways, but beyond actually being carbon neutral, they are a negative carbon solution.

Once upon a time, we started recycling paper. Then we started separating paper from recyclable plastics, compost and [sadly] landfill trash. Then we embraced taking our own hot beverage mug to coffee shops, which themselves never used to exist. And we started going with fair trade and organic coffee. And we took cloth bags to grocery stores when civil society astonishingly forced the stores to charge a nickel for every plastic bag we used. Then came Nada, where we level up again. And we’re all skipping drinking straws for 2018, right? Including in the remain days of 2017.

You see this trend. It’s the do-gooder thing on small scales. Being more intentional and aware of our impact. Now, we need to embrace the co-ops’ Principle 6 by stopping having economic relationships with companies that aren’t social enterprises.

You can’t accomplish it all in 2018, but there are SOOOOO many low hanging fruit. One a month is probably easy to do. That means pick 12 social enterprises and use them to replace less constructive relationships. And when you switch, do it forever. And drag your friends along. I’m not yet know as the ” no more drinking straws” guy, but I’m close I think.

Stephen Colbert Calls for Boycott on Amazon on Behalf of Hachette Authors - IGNAnd while Whole Foods wasn’t perfect, Amazon gobbled it up. They’re no social enterprise. And we’ll see traditional capitalist companies confronting their own shame buy undermining social enterprises.

Organic-chart-Jan-2016Just think about organic food companies. Who owns them now? Are any still independent, or did a non-organic [or even anti-organic] company buy them. Sure, maybe we can reform capitalists by injecting righteousness into them because it’s profitable. But leopards, spots and maximizing shareholder wealth may endure longer than reform efforts. We’ll see.

But here’s what I think we need to see.

We need to remember who’s working their asses off over the next 9 days to finish off this year. We need to tip them more, smile at them more, be patient with their workload more, we need to wish them a better 2018. We need to ask them if they have any hope that 2018 will be better.

Beyond switching our personal and corporate supply chains from capitalist to social enterprises, we need to do more than just give people a higher tip at Christmastime. We need to start 2018 tipping not 10-15%, but a flat 20%. And if your jurisdiction has embraced a $15 minimum wage, keep tipping 20%. And if you aren’t at $15, phone your political leaders and shame them.

Then figure out how to convert your company into a worker co-op, or a B corp, or a living wage employer. And if that just can’t happen, maybe you and a few folks should quit and do that yourselves. You’re pretty talented. Remember how everyone is talking about a side hustle; make yours spectacular!

Find all the social enterprises around you, particularly in sectors that aren’t yours and ask them for mentorship and support. And build your Principle 6 bridges early.

But really, I’m mostly joking. Capitalists busy exploiting your labour to maximize shareholder wealth will not, WILL NOT, find ways of helping you undermine their profitability by spawning a social enterprise and converting themselves into that. It starts on the ground with people who care.

And you care. You’re here.

So make 2018 a year where your economic activity cultivates justice, opportunity and hope for others. It used to be harder, but it’s pretty easy today. And it’s only going to get easier, so get in on it.

Most of what I’m doing in 2018 will be about enhancing the potential of social enterprises to wedge out the 1% for the sake of the 99% and the planet.

We’re all in this together!

10 Days to 2018 – 2018 Is Your Social Enterprise Year

I don’t need you to start one, but I want you to spend the last 10 days of 2017 exploring all the social enterprises among you, so you can spend next year supporting the movement better.

There are lots of ways to be/become a social enterprise. I went into some pretty serious detail in this month’s Renfrew-Collingwood Community News, which is itself a social enterprise of the Renfrew-Collingwood Neighbourhood House in East Vancouver.

I also write about them on my blog quite a bit.

Many people are justifiably cynical about corporations that claim to be awesome because they support various charities, yet destroy the world or people. Social entrepreneurs are sick of that too.

So the criteria matters. See my link above.

And YOUR job, if you’re not already a social enterprise, is to first support those around you. Increasingly, and again in 2019.

And along the way you’ll find ways that your organization isn’t a social enterprise, but could be. From transforming your mission, to becoming a B corp, to your hiring/promotion practices to altering your legal structure.

But you don’t need to do that all before the end of January or anything. But if you aren’t thinking about radical changes to improve your credibility as an entity, you’ll soon start being wedged out by those who do.

And then there are the millennials. They care about caring, vision, values, social consequences of action. That kind of thing. Not that previous generations didn’t, but we didn’t…at least compared to them.

Millennials are already the largest workforce cohort today and soon they’ll be over 50% of the working world. If we aren’t thinking about how to exist in a world they’ll soon transform, that’s on us. And I’ll tell you right now, I’m looking forward to a 2018 with far more of a focus on the social side of enterprise.

4 Days to 2018 – Consolidate Your Brand and Posture in 4 Days

The last few days of 2017 is a good time to consolidate all the things you do into WHAT you are for people. Your brand is your identity, values, passion, and posture…all braided into the what of what you do. Let 2018 be a year where you work your brand through the things you do.

Why? Well, when I talk with people and their organizations about their often dreaded mission, vision and values, we get caught up in the muskeg of actions over existence. They want to do things and make things, not live on abstract clouds of organizational design jargon. But we are human beings, not human doings. And while many in the world are overwhelmed with or outright offended by brand ubiquity, we fail if we cannot communicate our existence to others. Beyond the things we make and do.

So, I often use the word posture. Our posture is how we stand, boldly and resolutely, to assert who we are. Our brand, our posture is The Thing that makes us do what we do. We cannot accomplish anything if our stance isn’t credible, strong, confident and facing the right way to do and say the right things.

Along with posture is intentionality. Too often we are caught up generating revenue, meaning, Likes, followers, and various other KPIs that we forget that the theme of it all is who we are and what we want to accomplish in the world, for the world.

It doesn’t matter if you’re a teacher, volunteer, employee, SMB, social enterprise, person who comes up with more ideas in a year than you could possibly pursue, student, in career transition–we all want to make meaning. If we get lost in the things we do instead of investing in self-awareness and converting that into an intentional posture, or brand, we’ll be more scattered than we should be. And more scattered than others are. And they will defeat us.

Emma Watson has moved from Hermione Potter to incredibly deep and meaningful films like The Perks of Being a Wallflower, to helping launch the UN’s He for She program [frankly, if you’re a man and haven’t signed on to this, why are you still reading this?]. And she picked up a university degree somewhere too. And she runs an online feminist book club with over 200,000 members.

She’s got a pretty clear sense of herself, her intentionality and her posture. Her brand is pretty coherent. It’s also pretty reflective of her public values.

Everyone has role models we respect and sometimes try to emulate. Consolidating our understanding of the values and coherent intentionality in our role models helps us define for ourselves what we stand for and what we want the world to look like when we’re finished with it.

Path Consulting is all about optimizing [not maximizing anything] our work-life-vocation-volunteering balance. There is no room to optimize if we are not consolidated, not intentional, not self-aware, and not firm in our posture. Basically: if we have a scattered brand.

Your products and services are supposed to manifest your mission and vision and values. And if you’re lucky they always will. But if your brand and posture are shaky and scattered, you won’t be aligned well enough to really succeed and making the world richer because of your existence.

We have 4 days left to 2018. Many of the pieces I’ve posted in my 18 day countdown to 2018 start with the premise that if we wait 4 more days to start new things, we’ll get hip-checked by the minutia and intensity of the day to day to day of 2018.

Spend some time in these last few days having a hot chocolate [with or without Baileys] with someone who knows you, either really well, or just well enough to see at least a little bit of WHO you are.

And get all self-indulgent and have a chat about your brand or posture. We aren’t all Emma Watson or Nelson Mandala or Malala Yousafzai or Terry Fox. But if you give yourself some time to dig into what you really want to change in the world through your vocations, you will certainly have devotions and passions as significant as theirs.

And I will not say you can’t be as significant as those 4 people. Why would I. We all can. And 2018 is the year to start accelerating that.

But don’t wait 4 more days to get into it.

Book time with yourself and your people and create your posture for January 1.

6 Days to 2018 – What Could Boxing Day Mean?

I recently saw Give Back Box‘s website. It’s not available in Canada, unlike Boxing Day being a stat for many people, along with many other Commonwealth countries.

While Boxing Day/Week sales seem to be precursor to Black Friday blowout sales, the origins of Boxing Day were about some kind of charity from the 1% to the servant class. Not necessarily as simplistic as taking the boxes left over from Christmas presents and packaging things for the help, I think about the box invasion of Christmas.

Give Back Box isn’t tied to Christmas, but refers to using various boxes that come from online retailers, then filling them with items of value for donating to charity, then getting free shipping to send them off.

But here’s a mission for you, if you choose to accept it as we wind down 2017 and set up for 2018.

https://www.mamasmiles.com/cardboard-boxes-will-make-creative/

If you have a box, fill it with things others could use: clothes you don’t wear much, household items you aren’t using, things you like but could also be called clutter by a dispassionate observer. Step 2: send to charity.

Decluttering your home has profound mental health benefits, and ensures that on your way to a more minimalist lifestyle, you share what you don’t need with those who simply need.

Without using Give Back Box’s model necessarily, all of us could be inspired by any box that enters our home with a mission to pay them forward with what we can fill them. And as a social enterprise, Give Back Box provides IT and logistics services to charities, using box re-purposing as a social good. Sorry for the groan, but you can also think outside of the box by appending a social purpose/activity to your organization, regardless of what you do.

Meanwhile, spend some time in days remaining in 2017 to do a purge. And next year, whenever you flip over your calendar month [if you still have those paper calendar things we hang on walls], look around for the lonely boxes in your life, to re-purpose them.

Make 2018 a year of more intentionality with your “stuff,” as George Carlin puts it.

 

You don't have to be alone on your journey!

18 Days Until 2018 – Not Really Closing the Books

There are some nights, it’s like being in a cabin in the woods. Lots of snow, fireplace, and when you open the door there’s the silence and peace except for the sound of each snowflake landing on the already soft, white ground.
Almost imperceptible, but more certain when you close your eyes.
It’s in moments like this when we get the visions.
We are gifted with clarity.
We see that sometimes, tomorrow is just a blur from today. It’s not a distinct new day, but a continuation of today with just a different digit in the date.
Moving into 2018 shouldn’t be a beginning, or an end of this current year.

Not to rant against New Year’s Resolutions, but in my life now I’m feeling how important it is to note the continuity we carry with ourselves.
In 18 days we’ll be in a new year, but the progress we’ve made this year should merely keep flowing on January 1.
We don’t need to expect some grand change that by January 3, we feel the malaise of nothing PROFOUNDLY NEW engulfing us.
So join me in my slow snowy stroll into the new year.
I’m not ending a chapter or closing the books. I’m a going concern. So are you, and your paid work, and your vocation, and your volunteering and community involved, and your family [by blood and choice] and friends, and hopes and plans, and your awesome organization, non-profit, company or Grand Scheme, and your grander imaginings of far-away greatness that is really far less hypothetical than you think.

Over the next 18 days I’m going to be talking about how to stroll into the new year. With a strong light to guide the path.

And how my Path Consulting will manifest in the new year.
And my increasing obsession with geothermal energy. 🙂
And my Health and Wellness for Teachers workshops that have spawned the Health and Wellness for Male Feminist Teachers workshop, because…well, you’ve been paying attention too.
And the million metres I’m running before 2020, because Terry Fox.
And my work with social enterprises.
Sometimes, New Year’s Eve feels like an imminent car crash. A crash that doesn’t happen. We’re just waiting for it.
And that’s a distraction.

Don’t get caught up in all that.

Elsewhere I’ve written, “You’re walking across stones through a stream. The fog rolls in and it’s hard to see the Path. I’m here to help you continue. We blow away the fog, together.”

Let’s stroll into 2018 with focus and intentionality, as free of distraction and inflated expectations as we can, so we can notice those around us who need to lean on us. Because they’re out there. And you and I have lots to give.

Just say “No Straws, Please” [There, That Wasn’t So Hard!]

With apologies to the companies around the world that make straws, we need to break up. Let me explain:

Plastic Oceans gets it. There are Texas-sized gyres of garbage floating around our oceans. That’s our fault. They’re not entirely comprised of straws, but just like sorting our recycling, saying “no straw please” when in restaurants may literally be the least we can do to combat our unhealthy relationship with plastic.

Do you know who gets it beyond Plastic Oceans? Vancouver’s new amazing, inspired social enterprise, Zero Waste Market.

The get it so much that they’re promoting tonight’s screening of A Plastic Ocean in Vancouver. And they’re demonstrating what makes them awesome as a market.

You can RSVP here, it’s free!

Ultimately, when people are harmonizing and optimizing their work-life-vocation-volunteering balance, which is the core of Path Consulting, it’s easy to skip the straws. It’s easy to align our working lives with our values.

And organizationally, when we have a pretty high bar for progressive values that improve the world, through a social enterprise or otherwise, it can be pretty simple to ensure our activities and our broad stakeholder relationships do more than just ensure sustainable economic activity!

It’s easy to be impressed with Zero Waste Market. I was last month. And you will be too.

Go see the screening tonight. And begin the trend among your people to make “no straw please” go viral!

I’m at ebStrategy.org.

Social Innovation Hub Inspiration, 5/5

GRAINWelcome to part 5 of 5!

Last Wednesday I spent the evening being rather impressed with a number of social enterprise groups at the Social Innovation Hub, run by UBC and Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

In a world where it’s hard to pin down a non-cynical definition of “social enterprise,” Wednesday night was refreshingly simple. Each enterprise was deeply personable. Each had their story, a compelling narrative that resonated with the audience. Each knows that in the 21st century, we are increasingly more aware of the values inherent in our consumption. We gravitate towards those who share our values and away from those incapable of expressing values.

This week, I’m going to share with you the 5 groups who presented last week. I love what each of them is doing. And you likely will too!

Fifth up on Wednesday night was…

Who: EatGrain
What: Dry Goods For Fresh People. We bring a fresh approach to dry goods. All Canadian.
Web: https://www.eatgrain.ca/
Contact/Mailing List: https://www.eatgrain.ca/pages/contact
Twitter: https://twitter.com/eatgrain

Promo: Grain sources, sells and mills 100 per cent Canadian grains and beans, aiming to reconnect customers with the sources of their dry goods. GRAIN rejects conventional practices of processing, storage and distribution.

  1. Because family farms matter and it’s hard for us to individually get direct connection to those making our staples.
  2. We can’t raise the bar on improving the ingredients in our life without knowing more about sourcing, processing, storage and distribution.
  3. Because learning the stories of individual farmers expands our interconnected narratives.

I’m at ebStrategy.org.

Social Innovation Hub Inspiration, 4/5

Welcome to part 4 of 5!

Last Wednesday I spent the evening being rather impressed with a number of social enterprise groups at the Social Innovation Hub, run by UBC and Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

In a world where it’s hard to pin down a non-cynical definition of “social enterprise,” Wednesday night was refreshingly simple. Each enterprise was deeply personable. Each had their story, a compelling narrative that resonated with the audience. Each knows that in the 21st century, we are increasingly more aware of the values inherent in our consumption. We gravitate towards those who share our values and away from those incapable of expressing values.

This week, I’m going to share with you the 5 groups who presented last week. I love what each of them is doing. And you likely will too!

Fourth up on Wednesday night was…

Who: ChopValue
What: Because someone DID figure out what to do with all those used chopsticks!
Web: https://chopvalue.ca/
Contact/Mailing List: https://chopvalue.ca/contact/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ChopValue

Promo: ChopValue Manufacturing creates innovative composite materials using recycled chopsticks. Developed by Felix Böck a UBC PhD student in the Faculty of Forestry, ChopValue aims to remove more than 100,000 disposable chopsticks that are sent to Vancouver’s landfill every day in order to give urban waste a second chance.

  1. Clever replacements for waste are too rare. When one comes around, we need to embrace it.
  2. I’m not vain, but a custom-engraved, recycled chopstick yoga block sounds good to me, and as a gift too for my fellow yoga freaks.
  3. Their team is as creatively diverse as their ideas. I’ve always been a sucker for supporting BC’s value-added wood sector. This is just too easy! 🙂

I’m at ebStrategy.org.

Social Innovation Hub Inspiration, 3/5

Welcome to part 3 of 5!

Last Wednesday I spent the evening being rather impressed with a number of social enterprise groups at the Social Innovation Hub, run by UBC and Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

In a world where it’s hard to pin down a non-cynical definition of “social enterprise,” Wednesday night was refreshingly simple. Each enterprise was deeply personable. Each had their story, a compelling narrative that resonated with the audience. Each knows that in the 21st century, we are increasingly more aware of the values inherent in our consumption. We gravitate towards those who share our values and away from those incapable of expressing values.

This week, I’m going to share with you the 5 groups who presented last week. I love what each of them is doing. And you likely will too!

Third up on Wednesday night was…

Who: Quupe
What: Item lending? Life is better when you share it
Web: https://quupe.com
Contact/Mailing List: https://quupe.com/FAQ.html
Twitter: https://twitter.com/quupe_inc

Promo: Quupe (“koop”) is an online rental platform that provides users a way to rent things from their neighbours. Founded by four master’s students from the Centre for Digital Media, Quupe started with the realization that people have valuable things in their homes that sit around gathering dust, and now they want to get stuff out of storage and into the world, for everybody to own it.

  1. The iconic kayak bought one summer, used 8 times, then…dust, guilt, calculating how much you lose when you put it on Craigslist? This.
  2. For me, socializing the logistics and creating a structure to protect owners from damage…this is critical.
  3. Landfill, ugh.

I’m at ebStrategy.org.

Social Innovation Hub Inspiration, 2/5

Welcome to part 2 of 5!

Last Wednesday I spent the evening being rather impressed with a number of social enterprise groups at the Social Innovation Hub, run by UBC and Coast Capital Savings Credit Union.

In a world where it’s hard to pin down a non-cynical definition of “social enterprise,” Wednesday night was refreshingly simple. Each enterprise was deeply personable. Each had their story, a compelling narrative that resonated with the audience. Each knows that in the 21st century, we are increasingly more aware of the values inherent in our consumption. We gravitate towards those who share our values and away from those incapable of expressing values.

This week, I’m going to share with you the 5 groups who presented last week. I love what each of them is doing. And you likely will too!

Second up on Wednesday night was…

Who: Meatme
What: Meat…farm to table made easy
Web: https://www.meatme.ca/
Contact/Mailing List: https://www.meatme.ca/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MeatmeCA

PromoMeatme is an online marketplace for consumers to connect with local farmers for healthy and honest meat. The company crowdfunds whole animals, then works with local butchers and logistic partners to deliver meat straight to customers’ doors.

  1. One of the best lines of the night: “the Tinder for farm-to-table meat consumption.”
  2. Cow/chicken/hog shares are a great idea, but if you don’t have one of those really big freezers, Meatme crowdsources the meat shares.
  3. If you have been wanting to develop deeper relationships with those who provide our food, it just got so much more logistically easier.

I’m at ebStrategy.org.