I Did It For My Future Self
Some years ago, I was asked to help do a talk on social entrepreneurship for a group of international students on a summit held in the Philippines. The task was to talk about how my journey in social entrepreneurship started and it occurred to me then how different my path was to the other speakers that were there.
My jump into the world of social entrepreneurship didn't involve a great realization or turning point. I knew about it from classes in school, from exposure to business like Human Nature, and from friends that had decided to go on that route. Instead, it was more like a slow burn, and a nagging thought at the back of my mind, an opportunity that finally told me that this is just something that I had to do.
Trish and John had approached me about the marketing challenges of Woven early on. At that time, I was working full time with Trish in a digital agency, a field very different from social entrepreneurship. But what I learned in advertising was also what showed me the potential of what Woven could do. John told me about the different materials and the products that the weavers could create. But what actually caught my eye was the laptop sleeve he was using. It was the first time I had ever seen the banig used in that way and I told him so. While we could certainly go the same route as many other brands that took existing products and marketed them, the bigger opportunity lay in creating new products that could change the way Filpinos saw banig. Back then, I didn't know exactly how I could help Woven - but I just knew I wanted to help.
By the time I got back to Trish, I had already decided to essentially put my money where my mouth is -- I invested into Woven because I believed in it. The beauty of Woven is that you can see and touch the product. From a seed of an idea, you can actually watch it take hold and grow into an actual piece you can use. More than that, it was the impact on the weavers that was inspiring - to see them enjoy the craft, become open to trying new things, and to hear them talk about how proud they were to be able to create from banig is priceless.
So when I was asked during that summit to tell them my story, I told them the truth - that each person's path to social entrepreneurship is different. Mine started with an encounter I just couldn't shake off. Since then, there are many days when we don't know exactly how to do things, but we are very clear about why we're doing them. When asked what advice I would give to them, I told them the same things I told myself: It's scary but try it anyway. Do it for your future self - you know she'd be disappointed if you sat by and didn't even try. After all, the worst that could happen is that you could screw up fail. And even then, failure isn't fatal and figuring things out can actually be a lot of fun.