Can a business owner be a force for positive social change? Lynn Serafinn describes 10 surprising personality traits of powerful, visionary entrepreneurs.
Twelve years ago today, an event happened that shook the world as we all watched the Twin Towers fall in New York City. Since that time, nearly every aspect of our world has changed–in economics, technology, communications and so many other areas (see a recent article I wrote called 7 Catalysts for the New Paradigm in Business and Marketing). But one of the bright lights amidst this tumult has been the emergence of the movement towards social entrepreneurship, and the broader category of what I call ‘new paradigm enterprise’.
The term ‘social entrepreneur’ typically refers to someone who works within the legal entity of a ‘social enterprise’ (the 7 Graces Project, CIC, for example, is a registered social enterprise). Social entrepreneurs are naturally part of the ‘new’ business paradigm in society, as they are actively seeking to create positive social change by inventing alternative, socially-focused business structures.
While not technically a ‘social entrepreneur’, a ‘new paradigm entrepreneur’ runs a traditional business, but operates by many of the same guiding principles the social entrepreneur embraces. For example, many of our participants in the 7 Graces Project training courses are people who fall into this category.
I know from experience that many of these new paradigm entrepreneurs have difficulty finding their place within the bigger business world, primarily because they are surrounded by old-paradigm thinkers and advisors. For that reason, today I thought I’d share some of the personality traits I see most commonly in both the social entrepreneur and the new paradigm business owner–ESSENTIAL qualities that will ultimately lead us into a new era.
As you read below, I ask you to use these 10 qualities as a mirror for your relationship with your own business, and consider how much you have consciously stepped up to the plate as a new paradigm entrepreneur.
Here we go…
Essential Quality #1: Believes that enterprise is part of the SOLUTION
This is one of the major differences between a new paradigm entrepreneur and a social activist or spiritual seeker. The social activist and spiritual seeker are typically driven by powerful, ethical values. However, many of them tend to see ‘business’ as being responsible for most of the problems in the world rather than seeing how it could be the catalyst for its solutions.
But a true new paradigm / social entrepreneur has a broader vision. While they certainly are aware of the plethora of problems big business has brought to the world, they also understand that if the problems originate within business, the solutions must also be found within the business sector. They also understand that changing the way business operates within our society could not only fix many of our economic, social and environmental problems, but it could also open up the door to opportunities we may not have yet considered.
Essential Quality #2: Possesses a powerful drive to serve society
While all new paradigm / social entrepreneurs must have a good head for business, above all they are driven by a deep urge to serve society in some way. What they do is not just about making money or even about empowering individuals at a personal level, but rather about restoring balance and flow to people and planet–socially, economically, emotionally, environmentally, etc.
Essential Quality #3: Is willing to put in the time
Creating a new paradigm business requires a LOT of time. Furthermore, it might require a good couple of years before it starts to generate any real income and become a viable enterprise. I’ve seen a lot of people bail out before they ever get to this point, believing that ‘time is money’. While it’s true that our time is valuable and it would be foolhardy to do anything that would put ourselves into a financially vulnerable state, if we really want to create NEW paradigm businesses, we have to be willing to budget a good chunk of our time–often for no pay–until our enterprise can sustain itself and its employees.
Essential Quality #4: Is a natural ‘giver’
Recently, someone I didn’t know (but who regularly reads my blogs) wrote to me and said, ‘Lynn, I can tell you are a real “giver”.’ She was referring to how much valuable information I give to people in my articles and newsletters. Of course this was a very nice thing for her to say, and it made smile. But it also made me think of how powerful and important generosity of spirit is in the new paradigm.
I can think of nothing that impacts people more than a selfless show of genuine generosity. If you’ve ever seen Les MisÚrables, there’s that beautiful scene in which the priest gives all the gold and silver from the chapel to Jean Valjean, who was originally trying to steal it. Valjean is so moved by this display of generosity that he turns his life around, and starts a business that serves the community by providing employment.
Generosity begets more generosity. Of course, it must be founded upon a moral base to begin with. Most (old paradigm) businesses operate on a ‘take, take, take’ business outlook. But the new paradigm business owner looks for ways to give through their business, whether by giving information, empowering others to lead happier lives, creating scholarship funds, supporting other business owners, engaging in philanthropic work or other activities.
The act of giving is at the foundation of the Grace of Inspiration in the 7 Graces model, and is definitely one of the cornerstones of the new paradigm.
Essential Quality #5: Knows that real change is a collaborative effort
Old paradigm business owners want to put themselves on the map. In other words, their business exists for their own sake; it’s all about them and not about the impact. From this mindset arises the Deadly Sin of Competition, because when we are in it only for ourselves, we become dominated by a compulsion to protect our tiny patch of turf.
But new paradigm entrepreneurs understand the Grace of Collaboration. They understand that social change means of, for and by society. Thus any enterprise that intends to create social change can only come about via the collaborative efforts with others who hold the same perspective. Furthermore, if competition exists within the enterprise itself, it will always impair its effectiveness as a vehicle for social change.
Essential Quality #6: Understands the impact of their role in society
New paradigm entrepreneurs truly understand that they play an important role in society. They know that whatever they do will have an impact upon their community, the economy and the environment. Understanding their role helps them stay on course and focused on their vision as they develop their business. Being aware of their impact guides them to be responsible for their actions within their business and marketing.
Essential Quality #7: Is more interested in the legacy than immediate gain
A true new paradigm entrepreneur seeks to create something that will create change that lasts long after their own involvement within the enterprise. While they should (and must) make a living at what they do, their motivation is driven by the desire to leave something behind for the future, not just take something for themselves right now.
Essential Quality #8: Notices things about the world that many others cannot
So many people approach problems in one of two ways: 1) they are either ‘fire-fighters’ who are looking for quick solutions to immediate problems; or 2) they are radicals/revolutionaries who want to sweep away the everything within the old system and start over again with a clean slate.
But true new paradigm entrepreneurs are neither of these. Rather, they are visionaries. They know that finding real solutions requires slowing down, stepping back and taking a meta-view of the bigger picture. And from that perspective, they can see patterns in society, history, the economy or the environment that others often miss. They can see the long-term and wide-spread effects of decisions and behaviour patterns. They can see leaks in the ‘dam’ of our social structures and can envision creative ways to turn the leaks into something of value to people and planet, rather than tear the dam down or simply plug them up and pretend they aren’t there.
Essential Quality #9: Takes joy in the success of other new paradigm efforts
In the old paradigm, there is great competition even amongst non-profit organisations (e.g. for funding). But true new paradigm / social entrepreneurs see themselves as part of a bigger movement for change. Therefore, every ‘success’ made by another new paradigm business owner is part of the ‘success’ for society and the planet at large.
This quality has its roots in the Grace of Connection in the 7 Graces model; only by feeling connected to the whole can we support change across the board, rather than seeing it as something separate from ourselves.
Essential Quality #10: Is abundantly resilient
I’m continually inspired by many of my new paradigm colleagues who have learned how to be flexible and shift gears as things are thrown at them while they grow their enterprise. After all, the very nature of ‘new paradigm’ is that it is embryonic; it does not yet have a fixed, stable form. We are inventing the new paradigm at every moment, so of course sometimes we won’t get it right.
Understanding this fully, the true new paradigm entrepreneur keeps on going–bending, morphing, reshaping, bouncing back–but never, ever stopping. When others would have said, ‘This isn’t working; I quit’ the new paradigm entrepreneur says, ‘This isn’t working; how else can we do it?’
The old paradigm thinker will look at the new paradigm entrepreneur and think they’re crazy to persist with their venture–until 20 years down the line and they finally see what the visionary saw a generation earlier.
I am sure (and I truly hope) that many of you reading this can see yourselves within these 10 qualities. Perhaps you never thought of these traits as being ‘qualities’ at all. You might even have thought of them as weaknesses or vulnerabilities, as you have faced the hard-edged old-paradigm business world around you. But let me assure you that all of these 10 qualities are strengths to be cultivated, nurtured and appreciated.
If you ever under-valued these qualities within yourself, I ask you to stop doing it right now! Instead, consider that perhaps the reason you did not recognise your strengths is because you have been surrounding yourself with old-paradigm thinkers, instead of entering into the ‘tribe’ of new paradigm entrepreneurs.
SIDEBAR NOTE: You’ll meet hundreds of new paradigm thinkers in the 7 Graces community on Facebook..
Through these qualities–or I might even call them ‘virtues’–you have the power to enter and build the new paradigm. It doesn’t matter if you are a social entrepreneur or new paradigm business owner; both will be crucial to the formation of the new business paradigm that will define the coming generation.
I believe in you. I hope YOU believe in you.
I really, REALLY hope you’ll leave your comments on this one. And if you can think of any other essential qualities of the new paradigm social entrepreneur, please share them too.
Here’s to the future!
11 September 2013
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The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell, by Lynn Serafinn, where you can learn how the 7 Deadly Sins and the 7 Graces impact the world through media and marketing.
Brit Writers Awards Finalist
eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian & Ecological Social Issues
Tweep-e-licious: 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market Their Business Ethically, by Lynn Serafinn, which can help you learn how to create meaningful collaborations through Twitter and other social media.
eLit Book Awards Bronze Medal in Business and Sales
Get instant access to a free 90-minute Twitter marketing class at http://tweepelicious.com
LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
(not just for Londoners, as we meet also on Skype)