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Gifts of Knowledge

 Dec 11, 2018 2:30 PM
by Debra Yearwood

Happy holidays! In keeping with the season we’ve got some great resources for you, but first a bit on how we came across them. In December Helen and I graduated from Impact Academy, Citymaker Edition. This is a 3-month immersive and experiential learning program for creative and entrepreneurial change-makers. The academy is delivered by The Hub Ottawa, Synapcity and the City of Ottawa. The organizers were well informed, very helpful and full of great insights. We recommend the Impact Hub if you are looking for a shared space to work and an opportunity to engage other entrepreneurs and social innovators. You should also check out Synapcity if you want to build connections among city makers. To learn more about Synapcity you may want to attend their free (though donations are always welcome) gathering the third Tuesday of every month. Now, onto great resources.

During our three months, we had the pleasure of learning with a diverse group of creative city makers, people who are using their ability to be innovative to develop a stronger, more caring city. We not only got to learn from the other participants, but we got to explore the many different assets available to Ottawa’s social enterprises, non-profits and for-profit businesses. Below we have shared some of those great resources. You may be familiar with many, but sometimes it’s useful to take a look again with fresh eyes.

Makewell Executive Coaching: Our very first workshop was with Jeffrey Edwards and Cathy Malcolm Edwards of Makewell Executive Coaching and they were a great start. Jeffrey takes a systems approach to executive training. He focuses on all of you, not just the part that shows up at work. They extend that thinking to how they suggest building great products or services. In our workshop, we explored design thinking, always a powerful tool when developing ideas and solving problems. To assist our efforts in this area they provided two great free resources you may find useful, the IBM Design Thinking Field Guide and The Field Guide to Human Centred Design from IDEO.org.  We also watched an excellent video on empathy by Brené Brown you can find HERE.

Funding & Market Info - Ottawa Community Foundation (OCF): If you’re thinking I’m a for-profit entrepreneur so they don’t matter to me, think again. Among the many things the OCF does, it collects and organizes tons of information on Ottawa.  Information good marketers would find useful and its free. They do this on a site called Ottawa Insights. You can learn about everything from Ottawa’s economic diversity (or the lack thereof) to demographic information on our residents; facts such as 36% of Ottawa’s population is over fifty and 15% are over sixty-five.

For the not-for-profits or soon to be not for profits, you can apply for grants through OCF by partnering with a charitable association. If you are a charitable organization then there are several options available. You can learn more by visiting OCF.

Equity (Yumi Kotani) & Business Modelling (Impact Hub’s Gina Babinec): In this session, we explored what it means to create an equitable organization and develop a business model that reflects your objectives. Yumi helped us to explore the true meaning of equity and some of the equity pitfalls we might inadvertently, fall into, notably confusing equity with equality. Equality assumes that everyone starts off with the same benefits or assets and equity reflects that different people have different requirements. One of the tools Yumi used in the workshop that you may find useful is the diversity wheel. The City of Ottawa has developed a free Equity & Inclusion Lens Handbook you may find useful. The lens can be used to incorporate diverse perspectives in order to strengthen the capacity of work teams, to create a positive and respectful work environment or to address systemic barriers among other things. Yumi also shared a link to the Project Implicit website from Harvard where you can get an evaluation of your implicit associations about race, gender, sexual orientation, and other topics.

In the second half of this session, we looked at business models and the importance of building and adjusting our model to be responsive to markets. We also looked at various hybrid models and the flexibility they allow. One of the resources you may want to check out is an Entrepreneur 101 course offered online by MaRS for a price that will fit most budgets.

Social Enterprise Consulting - Social Delta: If you are part of or are thinking of creating a social enterprise and feeling stuck, then you might want to consider talking to Jonathan Wade at Social Delta. Social Delta provides consulting services to individuals and organizations wishing to conceive, design, launch or expand a social enterprise. We found his insights useful and Jonathan is friendly and most importantly, he knows his stuff. You should take a look at their free downloadable business tips and tools here.   

Telling Your Story - Adrian Harwood and Mohammed Shaheen: Many of you may be familiar with Adrian Harwood, host of CBC News Ottawa. Adrian provided great insight into how to tell your story and while I can't capture everything he had to say, the concept that stood out for me was the importance of keeping your story simple. Each word should be needed or get rid of it. It's an idea that is a lot easier in theory but so important to clarity in storytelling.

Mohammed Shaheen, founder of the Silk Road Institute also spoke about the power of stories and prompted us to 1) clearly identify our audience and 2) reflect on where we are trying to take our audience. What emotions are we trying to achieve, negative, positive weak or strong? It's important that we know what we are trying to achieve before starting or we may inadvertently misdirect or lose our audience altogether.

There were many more tools and insights, more than we can list here. As you consider the year ahead and make your plans for an engaging and purposeful 2019, I hope you find these links useful and you take advantage of the many opportunities to which we all have access. All the best!



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