“The fact is, we have much more in common than we ever stop to think about. As a generation that predominantly grew up in the wake of 9/11, we all – from the Army Ranger to the Peace Corps volunteer to the college student – have a story about where we were and how we were affected by the events that day. In the decade since, many have set out to accomplish great acts of service, all over the country and around the world; to be a part of something greater than ourselves, whether as a result of 9/11 or a different call to serve. Until we work to bypass our preconceived notions toward people and groups about whom we know very little, we will continue to lose out on a critical opportunity to connect with one another and find common ground. So, fellow millennials: Take a moment to think about what service means to you.”

Julia Stern, from NY Times, “Millennials, in Uniform or Not, Come of Age in the 9/11 Decade.” Check out http://servicestories.org/.

“Everybody wants to be in the education space but almost all of them are trying to replicate an existing model rather than understanding the fundamentals of learning in a new setting. We want to make a difference and we haven’t even scratched the surface yet. The biggest opportunity is in India. If you can make it work here then it definitely becomes competitive and the model can be definitely used anywhere else. I encourage people go out there and have fun.”

Vaidyanatha, CEO & Founder, Classle in YourStory.in

“A startup is not a business. It exists for a different reason. A business exists to serve the long-term blended needs and desires of the founding team, the community for which it creates solutions, experiences and delights and, increasingly, the larger community and ecosystem in which it exists. A startup, on the other hand, exists for one sole purpose – to prove or disprove the viability of an idea for a business and, if possible, do what’s necessary to evolve invalidated ideas into viable ones then build them into sustainable entities.”

Jonathan Fields asks: Do you want to build a startup or a business?

“In the private sector, you innovate or you die. You have to bring new ideas, new approaches, new products, more efficient services to the marketplace, or you don’t thrive. There’s nothing analogous to this in the social marketplace. That’s why social entrepreneurship is so promising: it brings together the systems, the methods, the reach, of both the public and private sectors to tackle these very difficult problems. We’ve learned the role of NGOs should increasingly be as facilitators and innovators. For Mercy Corps, we wanted to be among the world’s leaders in bringing different approaches, new ideas, new partnerships and new methodologies to development that potentially could be breakthroughs. To that end, we created a dedicated social innovations team that looks for interventions with the potential to leverage markets, benefit large numbers of people and achieve financial sustainability. This team serves as internal consultants to help with a brand new idea that’s just forming, with designing a pilot program or developing a business model, as well as with thinking through investment, partnership and fund-raising strategies for initiatives that meet our “breakthrough” criteria. Along the way, one of the important things we’ve learned is that you have to have constant mechanisms for feedback and learning internally and with partners.”

Interview with Mercy Corps CEO on NextBillion.net

Rather than trying to maximize the value of their I.P.O.’s, start-ups should align themselves with capital partners who are builders themselves, interested in sustainable growth and wary of unrealistic valuations. They should select board members committed to the long-term success of the company, compensating their directors with restricted stock. Founders should accept lower valuations in order to attract the right investors – financial partners who will invest in the brand, research and development and operational engine to create sustainable competitive advantage.

Harvard professor Bill George on The Long-Term Value of Internet Companies (via collaborativefund)

“But social entrepreneurs alone cannot change the world.They need artists, volunteers, development directors, communications specialists, donors, and advocates across all sectors to turn their groundbreaking ideas into reality. They need fundraisers, supporters who can change policies, someone to create a brochure describing their work. If everyone wants to start a new organization, who is going to do all the work?……….In order to harness this generation’s desire to create change, we must move away from the antiquated concept of vocation, which emphasizes what’s in it for the individual: whether it will sustain their interest or bring them fame or fortune. Instead, we need to help young people start their professional lives by asking questions. What issues, ideas, people, and projects move them deeply? What problems are theirs to own? How can they combine their heads and hearts to address those problems? What is their unique genius and how can it be of use to the world beyond themselves? They needn’t be founders of new organizations to have an impact on the world. But they should be founders of their careers.”

From Not Everyone Should Be a Social Entrepreneur in HBR

“Truly powerful people have great humility. They do not try to impress, they do not try to be influential. They simply are. People are magnetically drawn to them. They are most often very silent and focused, aware of their core selves. … They never persuade, nor do they use manipulation or aggressiveness to get their way. They listen. If there is anything they can offer to assist you, they offer it; if not, they are silent.”

Sanaya Roman, Living with Joy: Keys to Personal Power and Spiritual Transformation (via monamade)

“I actually think its collaboration and mentorship. It would be really great to see more organizations/SEs working together. I feel like in some ways we still work in isolation and a lot of times we are reinventing products and services – rather than working together to improve existing products and services. I also think personally that we need mentors or leaders in this space who can break down their own successful best practices and how they’ve been successful specifically at implementation.”

Shivani Siroya of InVenture on what is still lacking in the social enterprise space.

“But India’s social enterprises are struggling to scale, communicate, and share their ideas, and they still lack support from the country’s leading businesses. Social enterprise in India remains a messy, unregulated, chaotic venture. India’s social space has been defined by thousands of community-based nonprofits that lack the capital to become regional or national catalysts for change.”

From How to Upgrade India’s Social Enterprise Ecosystem (GOOD.is). The article points to the ever increasing need for collaboration and capacity building. I am looking forward to spending time in the social enterprise space in India working on these issues.

We live in an age where deep-specialization is highly encouraged — the era of what tech analyst Vinnie Mirchandani calls the ‘monomath.’ Doctors specialize, lawyers specialize, academics specialize, mechanics specialize … just about everyone professionally specializes. The more deeply you specialize, the more money you’re likely to make. And that’s fine. Except when it’s not. The problem with deep specialization is that specialists tend to get stuck in their own points of view. They’ve been taught to focus so narrowly that they can’t look at a problem from different angles. And in the modern workscape we desperately need people with the ability to see big picture solutions. That’s where being a polymath has certain advantages. Was Steve Jobs a better product designer than Apple’s lead designer Jonathan Ive? ‘No,’ says author, entrepreneur, and popular blogger Tim Ferriss. ‘But [Jobs] has a broad range of skills and sees the unseen interconnectedness. As technology becomes a commodity with the democratization of information, it’s the big-picture generalists who will predict, innovate, and rise to power fastest.’

From In Defense of Polymaths

All organizations are merely conceptual embodiments of a very old, very basic idea — the idea of community. They can be no more or less than the sum of the beliefs of the people drawn to them; of their character, judgments, acts, and efforts. An organization’s success has enormously more to do with clarity of a shared purpose, common principles and strength of belief in them than to assets, expertise, operating ability, or management competence, important as they may be.

Dee Hock on organizations