Some amazing expeditions begin with a dream and inspiration. My journey began in jest.
Three years into my job, I had managed to build a very successful business from scratch within a major mobile tech company and was knee-deep in starting up my second. It had been a transformational ride from boot-strap social entrepreneur to corporate manager jet-setting Asia and Europe in the name of product and profit.
I no longer saw corporations as evil entities to fight against. Rather, working in corporate had taught me that meaning and social impact could not only be found, but abundantly so through the mechanism of moving major resources around the world. A co-worker laughingly told me, “You’re not fighting The Man, you now are The Man!” And with it came the responsibilities and opportunities to drastically affect decisions that affect lives. From executives in our Los Angeles headquarters, to Shenzhen factory workers who painstakingly assembled our products, to how we pitched our products to the world’s largest retailers.
But in conversation one night at dinner in early spring with a mentor, I realized that my aspirations simply didn’t look like the typical corporate fast-track. I had broken off an engagement with a long-term boyfriend a few months before, and was just starting to realize that my goals no longer made sense in light of the change. It was as if a dozen balloons tethering me to the stability of corporate life were suddenly cut. It wasn’t that the corporate ladder didn’t have meaning to it- certainly with more responsibility and resources to build larger businesses came with it greater leverage to influence change and create impact. I was good at what I did, but somehow it didn’t feel like me. And that incongruity between career and calling made me feel disingenuous about pursuing the next step of leadership at work.
In fact, by the night of that dinner, I was pretty convinced my grand life goal was to become a nun! Pretty much no one took me seriously, but it was a fantasy that sparked my imagination. And since I had no goals anyways due to the recent change in relationship status, it made sense to make the nun path more credible, especially to my rather pragmatically-gifted mentor.
5 years to becoming a contemplative nun and ‘leaving the world behind’ meant I had to finish up everything I still wanted to do in society. There were still countries I hadn’t visited. My travels thus far had taught me how to adopt different viewpoints and challenge underlying assumptions on how society and businesses could operate. And I wanted to write, to write and tell stories about people everywhere – the common thread of humanity transcending language, culture and tradition. And after that, I would join the Redwoods Abbey on the Lost Coast of California, take over their Monastery Creamed Honey business and do what I do best – scale-up operations.
This whole 5-year roadmap was meant as a joke, a cheeky play on the traditional MBA gameplan. But something about it was just crazy and grand enough to make a juicy goal placeholder. Little did I know that by summer, a perfect storm of corporate politics and shakeout left me free of job, full of severance checks and a treasure trove of accumulated airline miles from months bouncing between Asia and Europe on business. I packed my bags the next morning, left for New Camaldoli Hermitage in Big Sur, got yelled at by a silent monk, and within the week was lead to partner with a Silicon Valley think tank with an amazing opportunity to travel the world and write stories of how indigenous businesses are transforming their communities.
Today’s the first day of LeeandLo, and I’m excited about the journey ahead of us. Because I’ve come to realize that social entrepreneurship is both a mindset and a lifestyle. Everyday we make decisions through our work, our studies and our consumer choices that impact societies and how business is done. You don’t have to start up a social venture off the map somewhere to create impact. You don’t have to have a degree in the subject or stacked internships in developing nations. Or… you could. You could just do it. And more than that, you can be it. Our goal at LeeandLo is to inspire you with the people, trends, businesses, ideas and products from around the world so you can find the social entrepreneur inside you. Because…
…this is about Social Adventures.
…this is about Meaningful Business.
…this is about making Impactful Decisions.
This is Socient Life.
The Social Entrepreneur Lifestyle.