Living and Giving

Moving from Entrepreneur to Social Entrepreneur

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As you saw from my last story, and \”Pam\’s Place,\”  I\’d always been very entrepreneurial.   I loved to create little businesses.   But there is a time when we move from being an entrepreneur, to being a social entrepreneur.  Peter Samuelson, film director and founder of Starlight Children\’s Foundation, encapsulated that pivotal moment for me.   I first met Peter through the Leadership Institute, started by management guru Warren Bennis at USC Business School.

The continuous thread in my life was about helping.  At the time, I was in graduate school, heading into broadcast journalism with the goal of changing the tenor of media news.  I wanted to see a world where we could emphasize positive developments in our world. It\’s not that we ignore the tough situations; it\’s just that any entrepreneur knows you focus on building towards a new vision of a better world. If you build towards it, you will realize it. You focus on solutions.  If you focus only on the negative, you\’ll stay there.  Move into the new world you envision. 

But Peter got up and spoke about \”entrepreneurial philanthropy\” or \”social entrepreneurship.\”  \”We need to make a difference in a strategic, business-like way, while serving our communities!\” he proclaimed.  He essentially galvanized us with his relentless passion. I\’ve never seen anyone speak like that.

My heart dropped. Tears filled my eyes. At that point I was going through my mid-life crisis at age 25 —  4 jobs in three years. And in an inkling, I knew what I wanted to do.  I wanted to be a social entrepreneur.   Peter brought my vision of how I wanted to serve – with compassion and business principles  – to life.

The relief, the joy, the glory…to know… that I was made to be a social entrepreneur.

I left the Leadership Conference and ran to a payphone (yes, a payphone) and called my Dad, \”Dad, Dad, I know what I want to do!\” I excitedly explained. He listened with joy and support as he always does.  \”That\’s great, honey!  And… how do you get paid?\”

That was another journey…