Friday, June 25, 2010

Is this Unreasonable?

Two weeks ago I met Nikhil Dandavati (an incredible social entrepreneur!) at the Denver Linchpin Meetup. Here, he told me about a project he was working on called the Unreasonable Institute . I haven't stopped thinking about it since that night, and am addicted to the Unreasonable TV episodes. So, I am compelled to pass this along.

Twenty-two Social Entrepreneurs from around the globe are gathered in the start-up rich valley of Boulder, CO for 10 weeks this summer to be mentored, stretched, encouraged, and to collaborate on ideas that will impact the world in the coming years. This social venture incubator has attracted mentors and guides from a variety of organizations including Gregory Miller, former Managing Director at, Coca-Cola, Foundry Group , and a slew of other venture capital firms.

This Unreasonable Institute is the culmination of the hard work put in by 6 recent CU Grads who have not been deterred by the faltering economy. They are an inspiration to all of us who have dreams of changing the world. In a short 12 months they have put together an incredible pool of individuals, both innovative social entrepreneurs AND folks who can provide the direction and capital to ensure success.

My favorite venture is Kito International which, in the words of Kito's founder Maria Springer of L.A.,

"partners with street youth to harness their entrepreneurial spirit, providing the training and tools they need to launch their own microenterprise, become self-sufficient and move off the streets forever."

Thank you to the six founders of the Unreasonable Institute for your work to inspire and encourage not only the 22 social entrepreneurs that are a part of the inaugural Unreasonable Global Summit, but myself and the many others who dream to impact the world in these ways.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to his environment.
The unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt his environment to himself.
Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man [and woman]."

- George Bernard Shaw

***Updates*** Other articles or blogs written about Unreasonable Institute
WhatGives365 (365 days of giving supports UI this month)
inc. Magazine What Happens When 25 Unreasonable Fellows Get Together?
Entrepreneur The Unreasonable Institute

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Poker & Raves Change the World by Delivering Happiness -- Zappos

Poker winnings and late night raves led Tony Hsieh to head a $928 million tribe (by the time he joined forces with Amazon in 2009).

His book (released today) Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose is the continuation of the movement Tony started more than 10 years ago with Zappos . It is now about far more than shoes – it is about changing the world.

This is not your typical run-of-the mill internet start-up story. Instead, Tony's fledgling shoe company started a revolution. It was (and is) a movement away from the normalcy of corporate governance, the mystery of management curtains , and the leverage of corporate power plays.

In describing his company he said,

“I…[made] sure I never lost sight of the value of a tribe where people truly felt connected, and cared about the well-being of one another.”

Tony employed business practices that many in his position would have been terrified to do. His transparency with employees and customers, the local paper and the world-wide-web (in a public company blog) was "risky," but in perfect alignment with the values of his tribe.

This approach alone challenged the status quo of corporate communications, and fit perfectly into the tribe he was creating; a company and tribal culture where people cared about more than just company profits, they cared about the happiness of each other and recognized the humanity of every person.

Tony isn’t a “shoe guy,” rather he is a people guy, a culture guy, a tribal leader. The culture of Tony’s tribe now extends far beyond Zappos “employees” to include its vendors, applicants, customers, unexpected tourists (yes tourists!), other company’s CEOs, Amazon execs, and even me!

Tony is more than a CEO, he’s more than a tribal leader; Tony is an ordinary person just like you and me – he challenged the status quo, committed to a tribe, and started a movement. A movement of which even Seth Godin, author of the bestseller Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us, would be proud.

Tribes are what change the world. What tribe will you lead?