Listening a Foundational Element in any Endeavor

As I have been reviewing Paul Polak and his ideas one of his simple concepts that he says is one of the most overlooked is listening.  It doesn’t really matter what type of organization you build or run this is one of the most important disciplines you can develop.  How did Paul and IDE help 17 million out of poverty?  Here is a foundational key you should listen to.  Don’t miss this!  Who is your business, social enterprise or charity serving?  Go now and listen.  Ask the right questions and listen.

Why listening is foundational?

It is absolutely essential to our limited time, human, and financial resources that we don’t waist our time with enterprises that are wasteful and ineffective.  If you run a business or charity one of the worst feelings you can have is to invest your heart and soul into something that fails to meet the needs of your customer.   You work and strive and fail your customer even though you have invested so much of your heart.  When your goal is to meet a need by organizing and creating value that serves life then wisdom says, “humble yourself and learn to listen”.

Listen to Paul in his own words:

Full Video Here

Envision Good . tv

Check out They are following some great organizations and sharing ideas that empower real people.   Here is a sample video for you to try on.

iPhone app for Good the Give Work app by Samasource

Samasource and Crowdflower has given you another way to help people come out of poverty.  I downloaded the app a while back and am amazed at the forward thinking of people like Leila.  If you have a minute do simple tasks to give.  How does it work?

Samasource and Crowdflower present Give Work, their new iPhone application. Give Work lets you support refugees in Dadaab, Kenya—the world’s largest refugee site—in minutes by completing short, on-screen tasks. The refugees are training to complete these same tasks and, by volunteering to tag a video or trace a road, you will generate money to support their training as well as valuable data to help focus future training programs.  (

“We are witnessing a tremendous surge in human potential” (Leila Jara).

Hear Leila in her own words at TEDxSV

More on Outsourcing good or bad?

I have recently found a social enterprise that seeks to serve small to medium sized outsourcing companies in places like India and Africa.  They look specifically for organizations that can also claim to create some social benefit.   So in doing some research on what is out there I came across this interesting youtube video.  What do you think?

Leila Chirayath Janah of Samasource brings a fresh vision to outsourcing

Leila is the founder of Samasource a non profit social enterprise that is seeking to identify and promote small to medium outsourcing companies in Uganda, Kenya and India.  The idea is that Samasource utilize due diligence in screening smaller but deserving companies and give them a platform.  Samasource also seeks to work with organizations that can define a social benefit.

Visit the  Samasource web site and view how it works presentation.

Some overlapping information in the following videos but they are short.  I am impressed with Leila’s communication skills and her ability to convey what the organization is trying to accomplish.  Watch the videos and let me know what you think.

Ponderings — Respect in business relationships?

faceartRight now everyone is clamoring for the newest the latest and the greatest.  How can we make it big?  The more I look forward the more I remember the tried and true.  You want to build and grow you need to remember the basics.  One of the foundational principles of commerce and trade is respect.  The fruit of respect is listening hearing and learning.  To be a great leader you need to have this down.  It must be at the front of your mind or you will have blind spots and be a less effective leader in your company and in life.

I value respect because it is a platform to build real relationships on and business is all about relationships and trust and respect.  So I am reminding myself to be open to learn from those around me.

So how do I succeed and how do I fail?

Interview with a young Social Entrepreneur Diana Mao of Nomi Network

fireshot-capture-2-nomi-network-www_nominetwork_orgThere are some things in this world that we try to hide from.  We just can’t seem to emotionally cope with certain realities.   Does that make them any less true?  Diana Mao is the type of person who can handle facing a harsh reality and instead of hiding her eyes she embraces those who are suffering.  She is weeping with those who weep.   Diana is seeking to harness the power of market forces to empower those who are survivors of sexual trafficking and slavery.  I know you were going to try to have  a good time today and now your thinking about something sad.  Well, you can be happy when you are a part of solutions.  In our own small part we can be a part of the solution.  I don’t know Diana all that well, but I can say one thing about her – she is joyful.  What’s not to be joyful about knowing that you are giving yourself fully to be a part of the solution to a horrific issue?  So I thank Diana for helping me to see more clearly what it means to be a human being.

The following is  a short interview with Diana Mao the founder of Nomi Network.

S E What would you like to share about your journey in establishing Nomi network.

D M The journey has been a amazing! I have met some of the most amazing people who truly believe that slavery can be eradicated in our generation! I am humbled by their efforts and excited that Nomi Network is a part of the solution. Although the journey has not been easy, my passion for God and the eradication of slavery has fueled my efforts and the late nights I spend working on the Nomi Network dream.

S E How did you decide to start Nomi network?

D M I have always had a heart for this issue but encountered it first hand where I conducted research for FINCA International and interviewed micro-finance clients who make less than $1 a day. During my visit to a remote village a father tried to offer me his daughter because he could not provide for his other children.  Desperation is the breeding ground for human trafficking. When I got back from Cambodia, I decided that I needed to take action. First, I started a “prayer for the nations” meeting, where I and other like-minded individuals prayed for Cambodia as well as other countries. Then, I decided that it was time to take action.  There was already a pool of individuals who were just as passionate as me to start Nomi Network.

S E What kinds of organization and people are you looking to partner with?

DM  1 – people who are passionate about ending human trafficking and who possess skills in marketing, product design, business development, finance and international development. 2 –  companies that aim to produce a line of slave free products – social enterprises that have the capacity and potential to produce high quality products and currently employ survivors or vulnerable women 3- non-profits that have the same vision of a world without slavery

new-picture1S E What would you like to share with other young visionaries considering taking a similar step?

D M Be ready to sacrifice – Try your best and God will do the rest – Do not take “no” for an answer – You might not see immediate results, but be faithful with your efforts and it will make a difference – Collaboration and information is necessary if we want to see systematic change – I read an article from a business school that said, “vision is what drives an organization”. You already have the hard part down: it’s the vision, so now it is just about taking action.

Evan Williams at TED talks speaks about Twitter

I love it when you talk to someone about twitter and you get that blank stare.  It’s funny because I think most of us can relate to feeling that way when we first heard about Twitter.   It’s still an evolving entity, but is becoming more mainstream everyday.  We don’t know how it will evolve in the future months, but it is being used in new ways every day.

After watching the video I think it’s safe to say Evan, like the rest of us, feels  a little disoriented by this new beast.

What I use twitter for:

I use twitter to distribute my blog post and to stay connected with friends.  I also try to follow people with common interests.  I have met some really interesting people who have quickly become resources for my personal growth and developing my core interests.

My Twitter account.

Interview with Drew Harding of Senai

I valued enterprise and organizations that produce valuable products before, but my three week trip to Ethiopia changed the way I look at business forever.  In the United States we talk about how we take things for granted.  Is it even possible for us to be conscious of all that we have?  Many in our country actually despise business owners.  Yes, there is greed and many other negative symptoms, but what do we have?  Going to another country and seeing needs that we are not used to seeing helps us begin to understand what we lack and what we have.  At the same time that there is a great need in Ethiopia there is also a great challenge and a great opportunity.   On returning from Ethiopia, I began looking for ways to connect back.  Through a friend I met Drew Harding ,the founder of Senai.  I was beside myself at how I could connect so quickly with Drew’s vision.  I look forward to you having the chance to learn more about the inspiring work of Senai.

The following is an interview with Drew the founder of Senai

SE  What was your favorite thing about growing up in Ethiopia?

DH  The people and the language:  there isn’t another country I have been to where the people are so radiant and hospitable.  They literally will give you their last meal if you come to visit them.  In America, we tend to  give if we have abundance, rather than giving/sharing as a part of who we are as individuals and families.  Being able to connect to the people in their native language of Amharic instantly creates friendships and breaks down any walls of communication.  This continues to draw me back to help the people of Ethiopia.

SE  Was there anything in particular that set you on the path of building Senai?

DH  Seeing the impact of water on the communities in Ethiopia from the time I was 5 years old had a huge impact on why I started Senai.  But being able to empower indigenous business, and provide safe water for communities really launched Senai, creating a non-profit that uses Social Enterprise to meet the needs of the poor.

SE  Where did the idea for Senai come from?

DH  The name came from the Amharic word “Senai” that means “charitable and blessed”  It also was  one of a few words that could be pronounce in the Western Hemisphere!  Senai was birthed out of a passion to empower people through creating and supporting economic engines to lift people out of poverty.  I have witnessed many forms of “aid”.  Empowering people to help themselves always proved to be the most sustainable, thus Senai focuses on being the impetus to creating sustainable economic growth.

SE  What kind of people and organizations are you looking to partner with?

DH  This is a great question.  One of the other reasons for creating Senai, was to not do things on our own, but through partnerships with other businesses and non-profits.  We are currently wanting to launch a Micro-Finance division of Senai, so I am looking for people interested in MFI’s and also people to help fund the creation of communities banks in developing countries.  I want to engage businessmen and businesses to partner with Senai to empower indigenous businesses in the developing world –  tracking their impact, creating sustainable change.
SE  Is there anything that you would want to share with others who are considering starting an organization or social enterprise?

DH  Start serving or volunteering where you are at, whether in school, work, or retirement.  Then as opportunities come up, connect with existing non-profits that need your expertise and help.  If a niche market develops for your own non-profit, go ahead and incorporate, but be ready for a long road of paperwork and fund raising!

For more information visit

Get Real! It’s time to evaluate.

womenface2In times of crisis we want to circle the wagons and hide ourselves from adversity.  We try to protect ourselves to make ourselves feel like everything is going to be OK.  That’s all great except your business needs you to take a hard dispassionate look at it’s position and then to take decisive action.  You can’t lead the same way you do in good times.

I am not saying that I have mastered this yet, but I see clearly the need for this.  The longer it takes you to see, the more damage is done.  No, it’s not fair.  No one is going to make it fair for you or consider your past accomplishments.  You better get after it.  Is your business worth fighting for?

So how are you going to fight this fight of your life?  Start with you, the leader.  Who are you?  What are you doing well and where can you improve?  Do you believe in your organization and your product?  You better.  If you don’t you better continue to develop and find ways to stand out.  You better make the corrective actions that are necessary.  Make the most of this new environment.

How is any company going to survive?  By allowing this season to make you and your product better.  By fighting and reaching deep down to find courage that you didn’t know was there.  The biggest threat to the United States is affluence, comfort and apathy.  In times of affluence and peace we can trade passion for something bigger than ourselves for lusts and fear.  It’s time to shed our own personal fears and work to create great products and services for ourselves and our customers.  It’s time for new models that will sustain our passion to create and invent.

Get hungry again.  Get real and take action.  This is a different time and this new market demands our attention.  It’s time to brush yourself off and get to work creating something great.