Sunday, September 02, 2007

Social entrepreneurship and Values-based business

I am very encouraged with the many statements I see from reputed individuals in business, and their awareness of something more in life than just the pursuit of money.

The recent AeA/Stanford Executive Institute was one such experience. At first during the course, it appeared as if I was the only one interested in such issues. Then when I made a comment on the need to address the "Digital Divide", several participants came up to me to share their interests in this as well. I also had great discussions with some of the professors on the issues of social entrepreneurship.

Then we had some very inspiring keynote speakers. Mr Tim Guertin, CEO of Varian Medical spoke about the key elements of leaders, being someone you can 1) TRUST their judgement, 2) TRUST them with people, 3) TRUST them with resources, 4) TRUST them to get things done and 5) TRUST them to be dependable. Interestingly he also spoke about how important it was to work with people who will root for you. This element "TRUST" is needed for success.

Eric Benhamou, Founder of Benhamou Global Ventures, also stressed the need for integrity. He spoke about how his fund actually refused funding from a suspect source. His fund focuses on social entrepreneurship, communication technologies that impacts humanity, and also has a philantrophic arm e.g. assisting basic literacy skills. He stressed that values discussion should NOT be divorced from strategy discussions. It is the basis of reality and will be used to make decisions in grey zone times. Ultimately he says "listen to your guts not to just analysis".

Nancy Schoendorf, a well seasoned VC and Managing Partner of MDV-Mohr.Davidow Ventures, impressed me also with such discussions during the New Venture Lab discussions. She counselled startups not to just look for the valuation price offered, but also the value of the VC and more importantly the VALUES of the VC. She said that investment is like a marriage, and should be considered wisely.

I was just totally encouraged by all these conversations. In fact even before this, I met Prof Tom Kosnik from Stanford Venture Labs Program who has started the GLEAN network (Global Leaders, Entrepreneurs and Altruist Network. He believes that a values based strategy will help bring a better world and world peace, and so is rallying people of likemind and also academic programs to nurture such thinking. At the recent TIECON'07 as well, the CEO of sales and CEO of eBay, talked about values and social entrepreneurship. One of the TIECON keynoters this year, was also a "teacher" or "sathguru" from India. He stressed us not to forget to have JOY in our lives. I loved that so much it was probably the most memorable TIECON for me.

All encouraging developments and I hope to connect with more such people and do something together. Thought I would share this in case you feel inspired to do the same.


Post a Comment

<< Home