Written by Evan Coller, Social Venture Network
The 2nd annual TEDxPresidio, co-hosted by Deb Nelson of Social Venture Network, and William Shutkin and Jennifer Taylor of Presidio Graduate School, attracted over 700 attendees eager to hear from an array of inspiring speakers on their vision of capitalism, reinvented. SVN members were well-represented as their innovative entrepreneurship, activism for social justice and business leadership found a fitting arena to collaborate on a vision of a better world through business.
Van Jones, former Green Jobs Advisor for the Obama White House, and longtime member of the SVN community, kicked off the event by exposing the ‘trapdoors’ of poverty that are preventing the growth and expansion of the middle class. Van told the story of his father whose college education was an opportunity for social mobility. Jones said, “The ladders that were once pathways out of poverty are now trapdoors back into it.” His most valuable lesson was that this isn’t a fight between “us and them”, but rather how can we work together to overcome the isolated self-consumption that prevents our collective progress.
Gary Erickson of Clif Bar stressed the importance of removing yourself from your work in order to get a clear picture of the values and motives that are driving the success and identity of your business. Playing with the idea of being 120 million dollars richer, Gary shared that the most critical action he took before deciding not to sign away his company was stepping away from his desk to take a walk outside. Reconnection to the outside world helped him realize the risks of selling his social enterprise to a company that doesn’t look beyond profit to find its core values.
Van and Gary’s innovative thinking inspired the crowd to ask how we can empower ourselves to be better leaders and better citizens. As SVN Hall of Fame Honorees, their successes over the past three decades show that creating new social, environmental, and economic paradigms will lead us to a more just and sustainable economy.
Just as important as the big ideas are the small steps we can take to create change. Session two at TEDxPresidio focused on the qualities that define a values-driven entrepreneur and how reinventing ourselves is a key step in reinventing capitalism. SVN Member and former member of the Board, Marc Lesser, shared the stage with Google’s Jolly Good Fellow, Chade-Meng Tan. The mission of their venture, Search Inside Yourself Leadership Institute (SIYLI), is to help business executives and employees incorporate meditation into their decision making process. Marc and Chade-Meng are strong advocates for patience and the value it brings to the business world. In their talk they offered important steps toward a better world: start with ME, make meditation a field of science and align meditation with leadership. For more their work click here.
2012 marking SVN’s 25-year anniversary, we are well down the line in the creation of a more just and sustainable economy. In today’s financial distress we are facing an opportunity to continue to push boundaries in the business arena to scale up the social impact of business. The SVN members at TEDxPresidio spoke not only of ideas that will reinvent capitalism, but action we can take to direct a successful social enterprise. SVN members Marc Finser of RSF Social Finance, and Alejando Velez and Nikhil Arora of Back to the Roots took the stage in afternoon sessions to be an example for emerging social entrepreneurs and capitalists that want to become leaders of socially responsible business.
For more on the 2nd annual TEDxPresidio event visit www.tedxpresidio.org.
Special thanks to TEDx, Presidio Graduate School and all of the viewers in attendance and online for sharing the ideas that will help reinvent capitalism.