Exchanging value for value

Dores invited all of us at Adelante for a staff lunch at her house. We had delicious, home-cooked food of fried plantains, papaya, seafood curry, flowered radishes, and much more. It was nice to sit down with my co-workers for a meal—and not talk about work.

When Jordan and I left she mentioned how it’s interesting when we gather like this outside of work. She said she sometimes struggles to find a balance between being professional with us while also being a normal and getting to know each other—especially when most of us are more introverted. I mentioned the value I find in building a personal relationship with people—while still holding professional standards in order to get our jobs done, of course. There’s a balance with everything, but I think it’s important we don’t overlook the fact that we’re all human beings with emotions and life outside of simply doing our jobs. We should acknowledge and respect that with each other. Rather than treat people as Meat-Bots, we need to treat each other as fellow human beings with compassion, appreciation and empathy…

This afternoon Jeff and I met with a few people in regards to an incubator startup in Alamosa. Mario and Conner were able to come along as well. (They are two students from Adams State we recruited after speaking in their class last week. It really fires me up to see how energized and passionate they are about helping us with seed me and they’ve given us a lot of great feedback so far. We’ll be meeting with them again tomorrow to discuss in more detail how they’ll be able to help us out—while getting an incredible, real-life experience at the same time…)

Anyway, we met with David from the Southwest Bank, and Finance Professor Zaro from Adams State. They are looking to create an opportunity for small business owners to utilize storefronts in vacant buildings, while providing them with mentoring and an advisory board to move their business forward and become successful. It sounds like there program would be an 18-month commitment, with a strict screening process and requirements from their clients.

In some ways, it’s pretty similar to what we’re hoping to do with seed me—we’re just looking at a smaller level of micro-businesses.

When we exchanged ideas and gave each other feedback and support, a few things seemed really clear to me:

That we need to have partners and mentors from people who have many years of experience running a business. There are some basic principles that need to be taught such as a business plan, budgeting, bookkeeping, etc…

At the same time, we need to utilize the fresh, young, entrepreneurial spirit of college students.

When it comes to funding, connecting with the older generations may be better because they’re likely to have more disposable income than someone trying to tackle their student loans…But when it comes to spreading the word and networking—social media is HUGE. And the best people to target in that sense are the younger generations—people who live on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest most of their day, and rely on these platforms to retrieve and share information…

After speaking with David and Professor Yaro, we pitched seed me to Mike and Ronnie. They work with micro-lending to small businesses. Mike had a lot of great points, along with some wonderful sayings and big-picture thinking.

A few highlights from my notes:

-Write things down. Daily. Your weakest graphite is better than your strongest memory. Don’t just rely on  your memory. Document everything.

-We should be documenting the path which we are heading down. If we want seed me to be a model for other areas around the world, we need to document how we got to where we’re at… (Blog, journal, notes etc.—funny, I’m already doing a lot of that here…)

-If I learn, I will teach…

-Develop the knowledge of your customers and their psyche. Build off of that!

-Utilize “Palettes of Keuka Lake” idea from back home…have local artists’ work displayed across the Valley with a map people can pick up and follow along to all the various locations/businesses etc. Connect and work with everyone you can…

-Take anything anyone can do and add value to it.

-Start utilizing the power of monthly giving. Payroll withdrawal. If you ask someone to donate $10 a month for a year, they simply hear it as $10. Lock them into a longer-term commitment for donations.

-Look into potential clients within the local Guatemalan community to help them out…

-Get people involved beyond monetary donations. Start a movement. Like a potluck, we can all share our successes. Make it a value-to-value exchange.

On another note, this morning I read an article about micro-loans and the future.

“I encourage people to write social fiction: imagine society where all our present problems remain totally unknown. All the impossible things of today’s world are routine there. At this moment that society looks impossible. It seems there is no way we will ever get there. But our minds will open. If we can imagine, it will happen. If we cannot imagine, it will never happen.”

Read the entire article here: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/04/17/beyond-profit-a-talk-with-muhammad-yunus/

I also watched a TED today. Joshua Prager told the story of finding a driver who caused him to be hemiplegic years after the accident. And how just a moment in time can completely change and determine your life. How you respond to adversity…If you are mindful of what you don’t have, you may be truly mindful of what you do have.
Choose an attitude and choose how you react to the good or bad fortune. Hold onto friendship. Community. Love. And contrast.
It’s a great message and we hear it being told quite often, but the biggest takeaway I got from the talk was his choice of one word in describing what we need in life: contrast.
I really like thinking about that word—contrast—and encourage you to chew on it for a while…



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