I had the opportunity to speak at Digital Footprint 2016 last weekend. One of my talks was about social entrepreneurship. I give a general overview in this video.
Hey there, it’s Dave Conklin, thank you so much for stopping by and hanging out with me for a few minutes. I just got back from Digital Footprint 2016 in Philadelphia and had an amazing time interacting with hundreds of amazing, unbelievable business people and philanthropists and just people that are all about change in the world. I wanted to take a moment to share one of the presentations that I did called “Inspire.” It all started off with a video, so here it is.
That was a cell phone commercial. A cell phone commercial! As I was presenting this there were quite literally people that were in the audience who were in tears. The gentleman featured in that video, the man who owned the restaurant and the store, unequivocally without a doubt, was a philanthropist in his own right and I believe with all my heart that if we can get all the bright business leaders and people that know how to create revenue and wealth, to all give to a cause that inspires and motivates them, I believe that we could have a completely changed world.
Now, almost 90% of the time when I speak, I speak about marketing. While there is a lesson to be learned about this ad and how much notoriety it got because of the story that it tells and how it inspires people, there is a bigger marketing message because, within social entrepreneurship companies get coverage because of what they are doing for the local communities and for the world. They are not using their product to necessarily make the world a better place, but they are using their money to be placed into the hands of people that know how to make it a better place, or in some cases, they’re using their product.
I went into talking about what inspires you. I asked everyone to think and dig dig within themselves a little bit and think about what truly inspires them. What have other people done that inspires them; what have they seen in God’s creation that inspires them? You know, what really gets them going? I am going to ask you now. What gets you going, like what really, really gets you excited? It could be sports, your faith or it could be your children. There are many different things that it could be. More importantly what motivates you? What things would make you almost run out in front of a bus? What would make you get all fired up so that in the morning you wake up and you get out of bed and you’re like, “Wow, this like, ‘I just gotta go, I gotta do this’.”
I think that those are two very important questions that we need to ask because, when we’re driven by something that’s bigger than ourselves, we stay strong. When we’re driven by something bigger than ourselves, we stay strong. See, it’s easy to wake up every morning and to want to make a dollar, to pay our bills, but we get really tired. Like, “We gotta grind man. We gotta get up and go.” We gotta get up and be excited and thrilled and motivated everyday to do the same activity over and over and over again that creates revenue for ourselves or our businesses. If it’s not something bigger than ourselves we can very quickly just lose steam and we can get tired and it can really, really truly overcome us.
This is a great exercise that I’ve seen many times by many, many different people on finding your true purpose. This is just, I think, one of the most incredible things ever. If you start at the top and you look at, you know, what do you love, what do you really love? On the right, what does the world really need, what can you be paid for, at the bottom and what are you really great at, on the left. The thing like if you great at it and you love it, it’s your passion, right? If you love it and the world needs it, it’s your mission, if you get paid for it and the world needs it, it’s a vocation. If you’re great at it and you’re paid for it, it’s profession. What if you can find something that you love, the world needs, you can get paid for it and you’re great at it, that becomes your purpose?
For me, it took a while to really find my purpose and my drive but I knew that I am great at marketing. I love marketing, the world needs marketing and I am paid for marketing but at the same time the world needs it, the word need there I think is a little bit different than what we may be thinking about right in this moment, but I encourage you to do this exercise, just write stuff own and go out and sit by a lake or something and really get all fired up and excited about the stuff. To have never ending endurance, we must transition from making money to making meaning.
I think it’s obvious what that kind of means but we can still make money. Money isn’t bad or anything like that, but when we can transition from the idea of making a lot of money to making meaning, with our money, now all the sudden we can just run forever, we can keep going because we know again, that we’re going after something that’s much bigger than ourselves. I want to talk about my transition from making money to making meaning but first, what I want to do is, I want to show you something. [Video form iPad] We’re going to pause on the philanthropic stuff for just a second and we’re going to talk about how social entrepreneur-ism and incorporating things that create meaning in your business. We’re going to talk for a minute about what that actually does from a marketing angle.
I talk about this all the time. If this is your website and your home page is here and you have these other pages. Maybe this is “about”, and this one is your products and this one is your contact page and maybe this one specifically talks about… Maybe it’s an info. request page, with like a form on it or something that people can fill out. That’s your website. Now, over here, when people go to Google and they’re searching for stuff inside of the search box and they click that and they end up on a page that has a bunch of results on it. If you’re in a chocolate cake making business or the wedding cake making business, and someone sitting in your geographical area and they type in “wedding cakes,” and you want to come up in the spot to the top, then there are a couple of things that have to happen. Just having a great website doesn’t do that as you probably know. You can make the greatest website in the world but it doesn’t rank in Google automatically.
The way that that actually happens is through something called Link Building or Digital Outreach. You can all it many different things. Over here let’s say we have these other websites and these three different websites are in different places on the Internet and they have pages as well, so let’s say they have these pages here. On those pages, are a bunch of text, this is there home page, so there is text there, there is pictures and stuff. On these different pages, there is text and within that text are actually something called links, which you may or may not know. Those links here, are things that you click on, words and phrases you click on and it takes you somewhere. If those links link back to your product pages, or your info pages, that tells Google that these pages are actually worthy of being talked about. It’s almost like a vote that they can lift those websites up in Google and make them higher.
Now, to get other websites to mention your website, you have to have something worthy of being talked about. If you call a reporter up at Inc. magazine or Bridal magazine and you say, “Hey, I want to get a link to my site,” but there is nothing worth linking to, you’re going to have a much more difficult time. Social entrepreneurship actually creates that opportunity, it actually makes it so that you can get people to talk about you and link to you. There is a bit of a selfish angle to this as well.
Now, getting back to the presentation. I was very fortunate when I was younger and I started a business at the right time with a couple of business partners and it grew incredibly fast and we ended up … This was our office building after a couple of years. We actually even won an Inc. 500 award. We were the 386 fastest growing company in the country which, out of the hundreds of thousands of companies, was pretty exciting. We actually won that award two years in a row. My motivation and what I woke up to every single day was my family. Sure, that’s noble and that’s my responsibility to take care of my family, of course, but the problem is, that wasn’t actually bigger than me, it wasn’t big enough. There wasn’t like a world purpose that helped people.
One day I got a suggestion from a friend and that suggestion was that I go to Haiti. Now, I had no desire to go to Haiti. I wanted nothing at all to do with Haiti. It was just crazy to even think about the fact that I would go to Haiti. Now, my wife, on the other hand she had done some trips and things like that and it was interesting to see her reactions coming back and it was very crazy for her just to experience some of the things that she saw. Going to Haiti didn’t mean going on vacation in resort. Going to Haiti meant that I was going to fly in to a horrible airport with broken out windows. My luggage was going to be thrown on a giant pile and there was going to be a bunch of people there who I didn’t know, that didn’t speak my language and it was going to be crazy and I wasn’t looking forward to it.
I decided to go just because it’s very rare that a friend comes to me and suggests that I actually do something like that. We were told when we landed at the airport, that we need to look for someone, a Haitian person holding a sign that said “Ken R” because he was our group leader. Well, in Haiti at the airport if you can help someone with their bags you get paid. We had a group of fifteen when we went. We had this horrible experience of landing in a horrible airport, we’re going through customs, we’re all kind of nervous and whatever, and we see our luggage over there in a giant pile.
Again, we’re told to look for the sign that says “Ken R.” But when we looked around there were many, many, many people there with the sign that said “Ken R.” Here a bunch of Haitian people had gone out and they saw the sign “Ken R” outside, they went and wrote their own sign and brought it in to the airport so that they can help us with the luggage and get paid. It was just absolutely crazy how this thing worked. Here we ended up having to pay all these different people because they had a hand on or luggage as they are taking us out and we were told if someone came up to talk to us, to just look at them and say, “No, I am good. I don’t need help with my luggage,” but we thought, “Well, they are Ken R; you know, they have the sign.” That was pretty crazy.
We made our way out thought the tunnels to actually get out and talk to people. We drove on what are called the roads in Haiti This is an actual road. [Image] We’re going down through driving on this road and it’s bumpy and the smells are horrible and just the scenery that we were passing was horrible. [Image] This gentleman was an armed guard that was with us because people tend to get robbed in Haiti. So we had armed guards with us. Just the housing and things that we were passing was just … It was so crazy. I felt really bad but I felt like I was angry too, I just didn’t want to be there, I felt out of my comfort zone. It was really rough.[Image] We passed a Haitian 7/11/liquor store where they sold all kinds of thing like that. I went to bed the night that we got there I was just like, “This is crazy.” I was put in a basement area to sleep and there was a generator outside, so as I was going to sleep, I was convinced that the carbon monoxide that was coming off of this generator was actually going to kill me while I was sleeping. Would have been peaceful, I guess, but it didn’t fortunately. I woke up in the morning, and it was Sunday morning, and we had to drive to this village, which was actually like an hour and half away. The roads were really wet because it had been raining. As you saw earlier, the roads are not roads they are mud and dirt and rock and whatever. I am holding onto this bar in the tap tap. A tap tap is a large pick up truck that a bunch of people go in and it has a covering on it, so there is kind of handle bars and stuff.
We were bumping up and down in this thing and we have to go on the side of a cliff on a mountain, and there is … I am talking a foot on the one side and no guard rail. I am holding on a tier and I am looking over the side and my friend says, “I just keep on thinking that we’re going to fall off of this thing and you’re all gonna be dead and I am gonna be the only one alive and it’s freaking me out,” which I thought was pretty funny. We get around and we go to this church and a boy walks up to me and was really mean saying “Buy me candy. Buy me candy.” I was like, “No, no, no,” because, again, I am still frustrated and upset. I went to this church and they were singing in creole, their local language, a song that I recognized by the tune, that we sing in our church. For some reason when that happened I just completely lost it, I completely broke down.
I started to cry so I had to walk out, so I walked out of the church, walked around back and I sat down. [Image] When I did this young guy in the left poked his head around as I was just back there and he said, “Hey, hey.” I looked at him and I kind of waved him over and he sat down beside me and we played tic-tac-toe. The language barrier didn’t matter. He actually had a Santa Claus hat on, which was interesting and funny, too. If you look closer in his shirt here it actually says “Good girls are bad girls that don’t get caught,” which obviously he doesn’t know what that means. That moment when that kid came to me, was a moment where I was like, “Oh my goodness, this is really incredible.”
Now, the church is also the school and in the back of this building. [Image] This was the woman who was cooking food. She is the cafeteria lady for the school, and this is her kitchen. While we were at the school, there were these two twin boys. [Image] Now, these boys are about my boys’ age and these two boys were looking through the windows. I asked why they couldn’t come in and be in the school and they said, “Well, it costs money to come to school and they don’t have any money.” All these other kids got food to eat and these boys didn’t get any food at all. It was really rough and it bothered me quite a bit.
I got to play with them and hang out with them a little bit more and actually got to sit down and meet their grandmother and talk to her about, through a translator, of course, how we can arrange for them to get into school and things like that. I think the important thing that I learned throughout that whole entire trip though was that, water, food, education, and job opportunities are the things that are really, really, really important within philanthropy, if you’re going to do stuff in other countries. Giving money can really hurt, just handing things to people can really hurt. You want to try and do things that are building people up.[Image] As my wife went and I went to different places, and this is in Honduras where a couple of the kids that we sponsored through Compassion International. [Image] We brought the girls back to Haiti to that same village. This is upstairs at the school where they make these beads. They sell these beads on necklaces and bracelets and things like that to support the school, and sell them in America. [Image] Then I took Matt and Mark, my boys, and we did magic tricks. This is in Dominican Republic and did some really amazing things there. [Image] You know in Dominican I went to a trash dump which is where this is. This is a kid running after a truck that just came in to the trash dump because he wants to make sure he can get the first of the pickings in the trash truck. This was on a trip with Humankind Water. [Image] Here are my boys fearlessly walking through the trash dump to hand soup out to the people that are working in the dump, that’s actually TJ there in the back left. [Image] These are people eating the strawberry daiquiri juice that was obviously expired and thrown out and they are sucking it out of trash bags in the dump. [Image] This is Tracy, my assistant who went with us on this trip. She was handing out soup to some of the people that were there. [Image] This is an entrepreneurship program that we did with Humankind Water while we were there and we’re teaching people how to do good. [Image] This is T.J. the founder of Humankind Water, just having a good time. [Image] T.J. at Humankind actually, filled up a bucket with the water that has sewage and everything else in it and then ran it through the filter and actually handed it out to people. [Image] This is one of the women who actually got her first water filter for her house, it’s likely that she never had water in her house her entire life.
Now, I have to say, it’s important that you take logic over emotion when you’re considering what kind of a philanthropic endeavor you want to bring into your business. One of the things that I pick on T.J. about sometimes is that when he built his business to sell bottled water, he didn’t build in administrative costs, because he really wanted to give 100% to charity. He felt like every retailer in the world would just pick the stuff up, which obviously is not necessarily true. We have to make sure that we’re smart so that we can sustain and grow and things like that.
There are a couple of challenges when you’re pulling philanthropy into your business and one of them is focus, because you become not only focused. “How do I grow my business?” but you also become focused on “How the heck do I get this philanthropy product out.” Multi-channel issues, kind of the same. You have to separate everything that you’re doing into these channels of philanthropy and then business. You have to make sure if you’re helping someone, if you’re helping women that are making jewelry in an area, you can’t have another part of your business buying jewelry from China that’s made by child labor, for example.
You have to get legal and financial advice on how to structure things. The benefits of PR are huge. When you’re doing something in your organization that’s truly good, you can get publicity for free by just communicating and outreaching to writers. You can have top of mind awareness. Just as an example, if there is an attorney who handled personal injury cases. Let’s say that the attorney took 10% of everything that he made and it went into creating a rehab facility for people that, either didn’t have insurance or couldn’t afford help. Can you imagine? Who would you go to if you had a a personal injury issue? You’d go right to this person that was doing this, because it’s top of mind, they are doing good.
There is a company called DAS, that does some team building, and I am not sure if I’m getting this exactly right but basically they give money to all their employees. Their employees then have to take that money out and turn it into even more money. Well, when they turn that into even more money, they then take that money and give it to the charity of their choice. It’s a team building event because they’re learning how to do something and make it more. It’s a great business lesson, and they are doing it together and they’re obviously supporting a cause then. It makes people trust you more when they know that you’re a good company and that you’re truly trying to do something better in the world.
You can utilize a couple of different ways to integrate. At TGC for example, we actually take a percentage of our revenue and it goes to charity. Humankind Water just builds it right in. They are actually selling a bottled water product where all the money that is made goes to fund water projects to help people get clean water. You can do partnerships where you team up with different people as well. [Image] This is Today’sGrowth’s if you ever wanted to check that out. You can go down below at this page attodaysgrowthconsultant.org to learn more about that. I would ask, “What motivates you? What gets you all excited?” Whatever that is, is what you can integrate into your business to get free publicity and to grow your company and actually use it to completely change the world.