• August 2012

The Power of Unreasonable People

Playwright George Bernard Shaw once said: “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself.
Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man.”

“By this definition, some of today’s leading entrepreneurs are decidedly unreasonable—and a fair few have even been dubbed crazy,” insists Pamela Hartigan, our August Entrepreneur of the Month (pictured above).

The director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship at Oxford University’s Saïd Business School. honored us with an interview earlier this summer when she was in NYC on her way to a conference in Brazil. Scroll down for our Q&A to learn more the new generation of entrepreneurs whose are changing the world.

Also in This Issue:

  • Rippling, by Beverly Schwartz, teaches us how social entrepreneurs are spreading innovation throughout the world. Click here for the review.
  • Ashoka founder Bill Drayton, chairman of the international social entrepreneurial organization, believes everyone can be a changemaker. Are you ready?
  • Two Truly Amazing Women inspire us this month: Tara Palacios, director of the BizLaunch program at Arlington Economic Development; and Annette Giacomazzi, whose daughter broke a bone—for the sixth time—prompting her to launch the cool California company, CastCoverZ!.

We leave you with this parting thought from the immortal Viktor Frankl, author of Man’s Search for Meaning: “Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life to carry out a concrete assignment which demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated. Thus, everyone’s task is as unique as is his specific opportunity to implement it.”

Here’s to your unique and important success. — Hope Gibbs
publisher, Be Inkandescent • president, InkandescentPR • founder, InkandescentNetworking.new! InkandescentSpeakers.com
Photo of Hartigan, above, courtesy of DumboFeather.com

Oxford's Pamela Hartigan on the Future of Social Entrepreneurship

AUGUST 2012:

OXFORD’S PAMELA HARTIGAN TEACHES US
HOW TO CHANGE THE WORLD

By Hope Gibbs
Be Inkandescent

Entrepreneurial phenom Pamela Hartigan has been the director of the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship since January 2009. She has worked with many well-known members of the social entrepreneurial community—including micro-finance guru Muhammad Yunus (pictured above with Hartigan).

Of course, Hartigan is no stranger to running high-profile organizations. In 2008, she helped launch Volans Ventures, an organization focused on building innovative scalable solutions to challenges affecting our future.

Prior to that, she spent eight years as the first managing director of the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship, (2000-2008), a sister organization of the World Economic Forum, where she was also on the Forum Managing Board. It is focused on advancing the practice of social entrepreneurship globally, building and supporting its community of practitioners whose efforts have achieved transformational social change.

In fact, the foreword of her book, “The Power of Unreasonable People,” is by World Economic Forum chairman Klaus Schwab.

He gives us perspective on the history of social entrepreneurship, and how far the idea has come in the last four decades, explaining:

“No one did more to open our eyes to the the potential [of social entrepreneurship] than Muhammad Yunus. In the early 1970s, he began his tireless work to prove that poor women are creditworthy. How many more ‘unreasonable’ people like Yunus are out there? Hundreds, perhaps thousands.”

Knowing the potential of social entrepreneurship, supporting those who understand the concept, and promoting them, has been Hartigan’s lifelong mission.

Throughout her career, she has held varied leadership positions in multilateral health organizations and educational institutions, as well as in entrepreneurial nonprofits. A graduate of Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service in Washington, DC, she also holds masters’ degrees in Economics and Public Health and a PhD in Cognitive Psychology. Her book was co-written by John Elkington, director of the international consulting firm SustainAbility, and published by Harvard Business Review Press.

Earlier this summer, we had the privilege of interviewing Dr. Hartigan when she stopped in at Oxford’s New York City office, before heading off to Brazil to speak at conference there.

Be Inkandescent: You are a frequent lecturer on social entrepreneurship and innovation at graduate schools of business in the USA, Europe, and Asia, and an adjunct professor at the Columbia Business School. Can you explain to us exactly what is social entrepreneurism?

Pamela Hartigan: Social entrepreneurship is a new word for something that has been around since people first came together in communities. It really is about applying innovation, creativity, and resourcefulness to create new approaches, new ways of doing things, and it seeks improved ways to do things that aren’t functional or aren’t working. It its essence, it is a mindset about how you approach an opportunity.

Be Inkandescent: You have been quoted as saying that entrepreneurs are an interesting breed, for they tend to see opportunities where the rest of us see major risks, and they go after those opportunities because they understand that there is a possibility of completely creating something new.

Pamela Hartigan: Indeed. And I find it a fascinating mindset, for most of us do not have that. Most people run away from things that we think are impossible. But entrepreneurs are drawn to it like a moth to a flame.

Be Inkandescent: So you don’t believe there are many real entrepreneurs in the world?

Pamela Hartigan: No. But there are an awful lot of entrepreneurial wannabes, and that is one of the reasons we have this buzzword now—everyone wants to be an “entrepreneur.” But true social entrepreneurs are people who have a vision for combining purpose with sustainability. The important thing to recognize is that we all have the capacity to contribute to the kind of world we want to see.

This is new, because for the longest time entrepreneurs have tried to be successful in a world fragmented by an either-or choice: making money versus doing good. This has gotten us to a completely dysfunctional situation. Going forward, I believe that many of us will be part of a growing ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs—either from the financing perspective, legal perspective, or any type of other industry that the financial world has at its disposal. What’s important is that we need to be able to find financial sustainability for these big ideas.

Be Inkandescent: What are some of these new businesses that you see emerging?

Pamela Hartigan: There are so many! For example, in the area of technology, there are new tools being released that provide e-banking for the poor. And Jane Chen, who co-founded a company called Embrace, used her business and engineering savvy to come up with an innovative, low-tech baby warmer. Her product is saving millions of premature babies around the world who would not otherwise have access to incubators.

These aren’t charities, or short-term solutions to problems that will continue forever. These are solutions that are forever changing ancient systems and eradicating age-old problems.

That is what is really exciting about disruptive companies, because they are creating massive improvements—and not just because there are financial rewards waiting for them when they do. These social entrepreneurs are creating new models for survival and success in markets that no one else is looking at. It’s wonderful.

Don’t stop now! Click here to learn more from Pamela Hartigan.

How to Become a Social Entrepreneur

What does it take to become a company that is more focused on societal change than financial reward?

That is but one of the questions we asked Pamela Hartigan, the director of Oxford’s Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship, which is named for eBay billionaire Jeff Skoll—one of the world’s best known “philanthroactivists.”

Married to an Australian for 40 years, Hartigan was recently featured in an article published in Australia’s Dumbo Feather.com that describes her as talking with rage and energy.

“She also talks no bullshit,” insists reporter Patrick Pittman, adding that Hartigan has “spent a career working to disrupt and change systems from within and from without. She builds bridges.”

We had the privilege of interviewing this petite powerhouse in New York City earlier this summer, and found that Pittman’s observations were spot-on. Scroll down to see for yourself.

Be Inkandescent: You been quoted as saying that the new term “social entrepreneurialism” doesn’t exactly explain the true nature of this growing phenomenon. How would you redefine it?

Pamela Hartigan: I think of this business model as “sustainable entrepreneurship,” because it has to be socially sustainable, financially sustainable, and environmentally sustainable. For years, “social entrepreneur” has served as a useful term, but I think that people confuse it with charity—and it is not about charity. It is about really rebooting the entire system in an entrepreneurial way so that we really are responding to what we call wicked problems—intractable problems that we are having a terrible time trying to solve.

It is really interesting, but sometimes I think we live in the “age of stupid,” where solutions are so obvious. People don’t know the simple things and they want to over-complicate things. Many of the entrepreneurs I work with aren’t held back by this thinking. They find a very simple solution to a complex problem that has eluded so many for so long; and then people see what they are doing and say, “but that’s so easy.”

Be Inkandescent: In your book, you write about Andrea and Barry Coleman, founders of Riders For Health as a good example of this phenomenon.

Pamela Hartigan: Yes, they are the perfect example, because these two motorcycle fanatics went to Africa to race motorcycles, and found that all the vehicles used by the ministries and big NGOs delivering health services were nonfunctional. They realized that it was simply because no one knew how to repair these vehicles, and there were no parts available to repair them.

They saw that the solution was to create a transportation maintenance system, and so they built an organization that trains people in the community to do the day-to-day maintenance and repair of the vehicles. They have also developed a very simple, effective procurement process to buy the parts that are needed. It is so simple.

When you ask Barry Coleman about it, he says, “We change the oil filters, and we teach people.” But what he’s doing in rural Africa is actually quite profound because about 60 percent of the people in the rural areas have precarious living conditions, and transportation is really important.

Be Inkandescent: Can you give us another example of highly effective social entrepreneur?

Pamela Hartigan: That would be Marc Koska, who came up with what we call “the self-destructible syringe.” The idea came to him after reading a newspaper article in 1984 predicting the transmission of HIV through the reuse of needles and syringes. He vowed to do something about it, and he studied how drug addicts used syringes in the UK, went to Geneva to learn about Public Health Policy, visited several syringe factories, studied plastic injection molding, and read everything available on the transmission of viruses like HIV.

After a year of studying the problem, he concluded that syringe manufacture was the key to the problem. Koska designed a syringe, called the K1, which could be made on existing equipment with a small modification. It was made from the same materials and could be used in the same way as a normal syringe so that health-care professionals would not have to retrain. K1 syringes cannot be used again, ensuring that the next patient will also have a sterile and safe injection. He also realized he needed to teach the public about the dangers of reusing needles. In 2005, he founded The SafePoint Trust, a registered charity dedicated to educating children about this issue.

The best news is that now the World Health Organization is stepping in and ensuring that all syringe manufactures make self-destructing syringes.

Be Inkandescent: It is incredibly hard to get a product to this point, isn’t it?

Pamela Hartigan: It is—but then, life is not easy as an entrepreneur. They change the rules of the game, because they see something that none of the rest of us sees. They are visionaries who put out the idea and inspire people. But they can’t do it alone. If they don’t have a team behind them—others who can operationalize their vision—their ideas will go nowhere. I think we over-emphasis the superhero ideal of the entrepreneur, and under-emphasize the team.

Consider Bo Peabody’s research. In his wonderful book, Lucky or Smart: Secrets to an Entrepreneurial Life, he talks about how he was a B-student and how that’s what made him a great entrepreneur. He explains that he doesn’t just function in terms of really going deep on one particular aspect, the way A-students tend to do. He just knows a little bit of everything, and has what he considers good “peripheral vision.” I recognize that in myself. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, so on my team I place people who are super detail-oriented, because that’s not my strength.

Be Inkandescent: In your book, you name the 10 Characteristics of Successful Social Entrepreneurs. Can you share those with us?

Pamela Hartigan: Of course. Keep in mind that capturing the common characteristics of such extraordinary, diverse people is tough. But there are some especially noteworthy qualities that they all seem to possess.

Among other things, social entrepreneurs:

1. Try to shrug off the constraints of ideology or discipline.

2. Identify and apply practical solutions to social problems, combining innovation, resourcefulness, and opportunity.

3. Innovate by finding a new product, service, or approach to a social problem.

4. Focus—first and foremost—on social value creation and, in that spirit, are willing to share their innovations and insights for others to replicate.

5. Jump in before ensuring they are fully resourced.

6. Have an unwavering belief in everyone’s innate capacity, often regardless of education, to contribute meaningfully to economic and social development.

7. Show a dogged determination that pushes them to take risks that others wouldn’t dare.

8. Balance their passion for change with a zeal to measure and monitor their impact.

9. Have a great deal to teach change-makers in other sectors.

10. Display a healthy impatience, and do not do well in bureaucracies, which can raise succession issues as their organizations grow and almost inevitably become more bureaucratic.

Be Inkandescent: We can’t thank you enough for your time, and look forward to staying in touch with the work you are doing at the Skoll Centre.

Pamela Hartigan: It was my pleasure. Please continue to check out our website for details about social entrepreneurship, www.sbs.ox.ac.uk.

Save the date for the 2013 Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship. It’s our 10th anniversary, and since 2004, the Skoll Foundation and its partners at the Skoll Centre at Oxford University have convened this invitational event, which hosts more than 800 delegates from more than 65 countries for three remarkable days of sharing, learning, and inspiration.

Delegates represent the best and brightest thinkers and practitioners from the social, academic, finance, private, and policy sectors. We invite you to participate in this 10th Skoll World Forum as we engage in collaborative discussion around innovating, accelerating, and scaling solutions to the world’s most pressing social issues.

Past contributors include: Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, Former US President Jimmy Carter, Former US Vice President Al Gore, and Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan. Click here for a complete list of speakers and highlights from this year’s event that was held in March 2012.

Click here to buy your copy of The Power of Unreasonable People.

Nothing is a mistake. There’s no win and no fail. There’s only make.”

– Corita Kent

Always be on the lookout for the presence of wonder.”

– E.B. White

What is the point of having free will if one cannot occasionally spit in the eye of destiny?”

– Jim Butcher, White Night

The true entrepreneur is a doer, not a dreamer.”

– Nolan Bushnell, founder, Chuck E. Cheese's

Think of yourself as on the threshold of unparalleled success. A whole, clear, glorious life lies before you. Achieve! Achieve!”

– Andrew Carnegie

Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

– Anais Nin

The man who acquires the ability to take full possession of his own mind may take possession of anything else to which he is justly entitled.”

– Andrew Carnegie

Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt

That man is richest whose pleasures are the cheapest.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Ripeness is all.”

– William Shakespeare

You don’t go into a field that requires cracking people’s heads open or operating on something as delicate as the spinal cord unless you are comfortable with taking risks.”

– Dr. Ben Carson

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently.”

– Steve Jobs, Apple, Inc.

Ambition is the germ from which all growth of nobleness proceeds.”

– Thomas Dunn

Challenge is a dragon with a gift in its mouth. Tame the dragon and the gift is yours.”

– Noela Evans

To find what you seek in the road of life, leave no stone unturned.”

– Edward Bulwer Lytton

A truly forgiving person is someone who experiences all the anger merited by injustice and still acts with fairness and compassion.”

– Martha Beck

We are not meant to resolve all contradictions, but to live with them and rise above them.”

– William Blake

Why am I whispering when I have something to say?”

– Eve Ensler

Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value.”

– Albert Einstein

You’ve got to be willing to crash and burn. If you’re afraid of failing, you won’t get very far.”

– Steve Jobs

We are perfectionists. We are hungry to work all the time. We are entertained by every aspect of business and we never want to stop working.”

– Suzy Welch

Success is about finding a livelihood that brings joy, self-sufficiency, and a sense of contributing.”

– Anita Roddick

Once you find something you love to do, be the best at doing it.”

– Debbi Fields, Mrs. Fields Cookies

I’m not afraid of storms,
for I’m learning to sail my ship.”

– Louisa May Alcott

The world I believed in, back in my most innocent, uninformed, childish mind—is real.”

– Martha Beck

To be what we are, and to become what we are capable of becoming, is the only end of life.”

– Robert Louis Stevenson

Be bold and mighty forces will come to your aid.”

– Basil King

When we speak we are afraid our words will not be heard or welcomed. But when we are silent, we are still afraid. So it is better to speak.”

– Audre Lorde

I may not be able to change what takes place, but I can always choose to change my thinking.”

– Michelle Sedas

The awakening to the mystery of life is a revolutionary event; in it an old world is destroyed so that a new and better one may take its place.”

– J.J. Van Der Leeuw, The Conquest of Illusion

Everyone is a mirror image of yourself—your own thinking coming back at you.”

– Byron Katie

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love.”

– Jalaluddin Rumi

Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence.”

– Robert Frost

Promise me you’ll always remember: You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

– Christopher Robin to Pooh

How do you stay resilient? It’s about momentum. Like riding a bicycle. If you stop you fall over. So I keep pedaling.”

– Diane Lane

When you are asked if you can do a job, tell ‘em, ‘Certainly I can!’ Then get busy and find out how to do it.”

– Theodore Roosevelt

If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. 
Now put foundations under them.”

– Henry David Thoreau

Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.”

– Groucho Marx

You have enemies? Good. That means you’ve stood up for something, sometime in your life.”

– Winston Churchill

Nurture your mind with great thoughts; to believe in the heroic makes heroes.”

– Benjamin Disraeli

An entrepreneur tends to bite off a little more than he can chew hoping he’ll quickly learn how to chew it.“


– Roy Ash, co-founder of Litton Industries

No one is useless in this world who lightens the burden of another.”

– Charles Dickens

We are all of us born with a letter inside us, and that only if we are true to ourselves, may we be allowed to read it before we die.”

– Douglas Coupland

As each woman realizes her power, she transforms the world.”

– Patrice Wynne, WomanSpirit Sourcebook

It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”

– William Shakespeare

There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction.”

– JFK

Education is an admirable thing to have, but it is well to remember that nothing worth knowing can be taught.”

– Oscar Wilde

Most people never pick up the phone and call. Most people never ask, and that’s what separates the people who do things from the people who just dream about them.”

– Steve Jobs

‎The biggest flaw in our existing theory of capitalism lies in its misrepresentation of human nature.”

– Muhammad Yunus

Sometimes the dreams that come true are the dreams you never even knew you had.”

– Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones

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