My previous experience with spinning was scary. The world was changing fast, but I knew nothing about sustainability and social impact. I knew these were crucial skills to acquire, but I didn’t know where to start. Should I go back to school and take a sustainability course? How do I break into this strange new world?
Once I identified a few strategies, it was easier than I thought. I sought out groups in areas where I needed to fill my knowledge gaps and joined them. Once I got to grips with the basics, I offered my services as a technology advisor to great startups, became a mentor for some incubators, and even a judge for some sustainability competitions. Immersing myself in this world of sustainable business was a way of absorbing information, experimenting with it and developing my own insights and ideas on how to become part of it. Whether it was a Slack channel or a club or group, I slowly started breathing the air of the space where I wanted to find myself.
I am also a big believer in manifestation and kept repeating a phrase to myself: “I want to get involved in technology for good and social impact.” Gradually, I began to surround myself with like-minded people, a journey that ironically took me back to someone I had worked with for nine years. She was further ahead than I was on sustainability and was someone I could connect with deeply about social impact.
These days when I mentor young people, I encourage them to dabble – often and as early as possible. Just like launching a new product, you need to experiment, experiment and learn as you perfect it. Keep shortening the feedback cycles, learning from the failures and emphasizing the wins. Don’t think too much – just start doing.
The role of playfulness and imagination is a very underrated and ignored practice among CEOs, but this is precisely the domain in which many great things have happened throughout history. I recently spoke to a woman who is building a thousand-story mall in the metaverse; the only limiting factor in today’s exciting world of technology is people’s imagination. The metaverse is a simulated digital environment that uses augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), blockchain, and social media concepts to create spaces for rich user interaction that mimic the real world. For companies struggling to create a new business model around sustainability, these new tools offer a perfect solution: you can start from scratch by building a sustainable version of what you could become in the metaverse, risk-free.
Imagination is one of the most underrated opportunities for CEOs today. However, you don’t have to do it alone. The skills needed to reinvent yourself come through collaboration – bringing multiple people, companies and ideas together to achieve your goal. Be creative about how you put these teams together; that in itself is a highly creative act. Our slogan at my new social impact venture, SustainChain, is further, faster, together. I’ve realized that collective action on a large scale is where the new business opportunities lie. Building a network of trust between value-aligned business leaders can create something important. As you grapple with solutions to a business problem, there may be a totally unrelated company ready to scale and have the solution for you. The only way you’ll ever know is if you jump into the solution zone – found among impact entrepreneurs around the world. You never know what you might find. www.SustainChain.world