My conversation with Pushpa Basnet in Kathmandu, Nepal

Posted by on Dec 16, 2014 in non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Written by Keith Campbell)

Yesterday, I had the pleasure of talking through Skype with Pushpa Basnet, who is the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year. She is a powerful young person who is helping children who live with their parents in a Kathmandu prison. (Nepal allows parents in prison to raise their children in the prison if there is no other adult to care for the children.)

Pushpa and I have been in contact for over a year, and my conversation with her yesterday was an interview in which I asked her to describe the difficulties she has had with her social entrepreneurship project. It is understandable that publicity on highly successful projects to help others focuses on the positives of the project – what works. But I have a deep interest in learning about the problems within these successful projects.

It’s not that I am a negative person. That’s not why I want to focus on problems. It is because we have so much to learn from difficulties faced and that are eventually overcome. In my capacity as a teacher of social entrepreneurship courses, I want to bring to my students not only the shiny, beautiful side of successful projects, but also the darker side that involves difficulties. Unfortunately, when media profile these successful social entrepreneurs and their projects, we are exposed to little information about difficulties faced.

My interview with Pushpa is the first of several interviews I have planned with CNN Heroes. In all of these interviews, I will be focusing on problems faced, and how those problems were overcome. I will share some of the content of these interviews in this blog, as well on the eventual web site of the Global Community of Social Entrepreneurs, with which I am associated.

We will begin transcribing Pushpa’s interview soon, and I will later share more information about what Pushpa shared with us yesterday. But I want to mention a couple points now. Pushpa said she was strongly discouraged from starting a project to help the children being raised by their incarcerated parents. Her father, especially, thought she was making a big mistake. Another fascinating point she shared was that she was not a good university student. She said her test scores were very bad.

A part of the point she was making by sharing this information was that regardless of the discouragement we may receive from others, and regardless of how unsuccessful we might be in some parts of our lives (for her, it was her university performance), we can be big successes if we follow our hearts, if our work becomes a reflection of the passion within us.

Pushpa is the 2012 CNN Hero of the Year. (This means she was selected as the number 1 hero among all CNN Heroes nominated in that year – a huge honor.) But she didn’t start her project to receive any award. She started helping children being raised in prison because she felt that she had to step forward and help.

There are tens of thousands of other heroes in our world about whom we will never hear, people who have started small projects to help others in need. They will receive no formal awards or recognition. Pushpa is a true hero, one of a few who has received the recognition she deserves. I salute her. But I also salute the many other people around our world who are social entrepreneurs and whose names and projects will never be known to most of us. True heroes do not seek or need recognition.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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How I am intimidated – and other thoughts

Posted by on Dec 9, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 1 comment

(Written by Keith Campbell)

I subscribe to a monthly magazine named Foreign Policy. This magazine helps me keep informed about what is happening in our world. (Fully staying informed is, I think, impossible, because so much is happening so quickly!) The latest issue of Foreign Policy includes a section on some prominent U.S. university professors.

As I read the profiles of some of the most impressive U.S. university professors involved in global affairs, I was amazed at what these people have accomplished. I was most impressed with the relatively young professors, those who appeared to be in their 30s and 40s… heads of institutes working in other nations, high positions on United Nations initiatives, consultants to world leaders, lead researchers on 25 million dollar grant-funded, cutting-edge projects.  

Wow. I am so small.

I am so “nothing” compared to these people.

In this post, I am sharing my emotional response to reading about university professors who have done, and are doing, so much more than I am doing. I also want to share some of my additional thinking.

Everything has a context. I am small, and I am almost nothing compared to these amazing university professors I read about. They are at the forefront on the world stage, and I am just a common professor at a small university.

If you have been reading this blog for a while, I suspect you know what I am about to say.

Because there are different contexts – that include our local communities as well as the world stage – there is a place for each of us to make a difference in the world.

On the emotional level, I am intimidated by what some other people have accomplished. But then I realize that no matter how unbelievably impressive other people are, there is a place for me to make a difference. That place is right where I am.

I look around me. I see needs not being met. In “this world” I am looking at right now, my community, the impressiveness of other people working on the world stage is almost irrelevant. What is relevant in this “local world” is the people who step forward to help right here.

We don’t need to be worthy of an article in a national publication to make a difference. All we need to be is us, exactly what we are right now. Everyday people who start small projects to help just a few people in need are true heroes of this world. And when hundreds or thousands of everyday people from various parts of the world start these small projects, we are collectively on the “big world” stage.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Transformational Leadership and Diversity for Your Organization

Posted by on Dec 2, 2014 in non profit organization | 0 comments

(Written by Kevin Wilson)

The world around us is becoming increasingly diverse as technology brings us closer than ever to the differences around the globe. This diversity that once was far away is now part of our everyday life. The people who work for us and the people we serve are becoming increasingly more diverse as well. Most people interested in management and enterprise leadership are familiar with the importance of diversity within an organization. 

There are many reasons for a more diversified work environment. One of the main reasons is to improve workplace performance. It is believed that a diverse work environment improves performance by connecting multiple ways of thinking, while at the same time creating a work environment that is open to differences. This has been the dominating paradigm for public administrators (Sabharwal, 2014).

Creating a more diverse work environment includes many actions on the part of an agency or organization. From the hiring process to the annual training, integrating diversity into the philosophy and culture of an organization is a process. The results of this process depend on the leadership strengths of an organization.

I would like to discuss some emerging ideas regarding leadership and diversity within organizations. Implementing diversity measures within public and private organizations has been happening for a while now with mixed results. Expectations of improved workplace performance were met with disappointment for many organizations. A recent study in Public Personal Management found that diversity integration by itself did not guarantee an effective contribution to workplace performance (Sabharwal, 2014).

While diversity integration is a necessary component to improving workplace performance, research has shown the integration of diversity is only part of the picture. Organizations need to utilize this diversity among employees and foster more inclusion within the work environment (Sabharwal, 2014).This will allow and encourage employees to use their diversity to the advantage of the organization. I believe this is part of the Transformational Leadership process for successful organizations. Leaders use the diverse skills of their workforce and empower employees to be leaders.

The Transformational Leadership model works to empower each employee to be a leader in what they do. Diversity integration into a work culture is only part of the process. Organizations need to continue working on diversity within an organization by using this diversity to empower employees.

I discuss this because I believe that the concept of Transformational Leadership is beneficial for social enterprise.  Often these types of businesses don’t have the extra resources that some bigger businesses have. Instilling leadership qualities in all employees will provide a better opportunity for the success of the organization. Integrating diversity into this leadership model can create even more potential for success.

Kevin Wilson
Doctoral Student
Capella University

Sabharwal, M. (2014) Is Diversity Management Sufficient: Organizational Inclusion to Further Performance, Public Personal Management, Jun2014, Vol. 43 Issue 2, p197-217. 21p.

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Social entrepreneurship – Not a road to happiness for us?

Posted by on Nov 18, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Posted by Keith Campbell)

In my last post, while highlighting a street ministry in Minnesota, I referred to a distinction between happiness and meaning in life. This issue is a prominent point in an article a friend of mine shared with me a few years ago. I would like to discuss the suggested distinction between happiness and meaning here, because it relates to social entrepreneurship work. I regret that I do not recall the author or the title of the article.

The title of this post includes a question. Might social entrepreneurship work not be a path to happiness for us?

Of course the answer partly depends on how we define our terms, and I would like to share my recollections from the article I mentioned above. This article referred to happiness as the elimination of stress. The idea is that stress causes a feeling of being uncomfortable, and happiness is eliminating those uncomfortable feelings.

That makes sense. That is one perspective on happiness.

The article went on to also discuss meaning in life, which the author suggests involves commitment to a cause that is greater than the self.

This also makes sense. This is one perspective on meaning.

What intrigued me about this article was the point that what brings meaning to our lives may not bring happiness. (Recall that their definition of happiness was elimination of stress.) Their point was that what brings meaning to our lives may actually reduce happiness – in that meaningful activities often bring stress!

One of the underlying points to the article is that if we live a meaningful life (follow a cause bigger than the self) then we will add stress (unhappiness) to our life.

Wow. This seems logical.

By engaging in meaningful acts, we are adding stress to our lives.

By focusing on reduction of stress, we are decreasing meaning in our lives.

Of course, it doesn’t need to be “either or.” Most humans seem to mix their attempts for happiness with their attempts to engage in meaningful acts.

These points help me. I feel a fair amount of stress in parts of my life, and it is comforting to view some of that stress as resulting from intentional decisions I make in life. My involvement in social entrepreneurship projects adds much stress to my life. I choose this work, and I accept the consequences.

To repeat the title of this post: Social entrepreneurship – Not a road to happiness for us?

Maybe it is not a road to happiness. Maybe there is more to life than being happy.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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A mobile street ministry with calzones in St. Paul, MN

Posted by on Nov 11, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

(Posted by Keith Campbell)

Innovation to help others in need takes many forms, and an innovator in Minnesota has integrated calzones and church worship for some. Margaret Kelly, an ordained Lutheran minister, is collaborating with a bricks and mortar Lutheran church in St. Paul, to provide an outreach ministry to people in some poorer communities.

I was recently watching a PBS (Public Broadcasting System) news hour, and there was a very brief story on this street ministry. I went to the PBS web site to get the information I am reporting here. I am fascinated by this project’s simplicity and beauty.   

Ms. Kelly, the minister and leader of this outreach project, sees a need for her church to adapt and become more relevant. Through her food truck and calzones, she hopes to help people both physically (with food) and spiritually. Unlike some street ministries that provide food only after people have participated in the religious service, Ms. Kelly hands out the food first, and then conducts her service. She comments, “People are hungry, and I’m not trying to hold people hostage with the Bible.” The PBS web report says, “Of the dozens of people who pick up the meal, only a handful sticks around for the service that follows.”

I admire Ms. Kelly’s commitment to helping others, and I also like her creativity. Calzones? This is an attention-getter.

We don’t need to be an ordained minister to help people in need. Opportunity is all around us, although sometimes that opportunity is difficult to see. In any direction we turn, there is need. Most people try to hide their need, which often makes seeing the need difficult. And most of the time, we may prefer not to see the need because we are so busy.

Regarding us maybe being so busy and not wanting to see the need around us, we are often trying to reduce stress in our lives. I am reminded of an article a friend gave me about 3 years ago that discusses a meaningful life compared to a happy life. The suggestion was that happiness involves freedom from stress, while meaning involves commitment to a worthy cause (that almost always includes some stress.) I think I would like to comment more on this later.

The key points in this post are 1) to celebrate the work of Ms. Kelly, and 2) to suggest that we, as everyday people, have similar opportunities to help others in need.

Although your idea to help a category of people in need may not include an attention-getter like free calzones, I hope you will consider starting one small project at some time in your life.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards.  – Keith

(The information about the calzone street ministry comes from the PBS web site at the following address: http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/pastor-brings-food-prayer-sense-community-homeless/  )

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The planned Global Community of Social Entrepreneurs – a few more ideas

Posted by on Nov 5, 2014 in social entrepreneurship | 1 comment

Hello. In the last blog post, I shared a few ideas about the plan to start a Global Community of Social Entrepreneurs. That seems like a good name for this community, even though I hope most of the people who become a part of this community are not yet social entrepreneurs. We are most interested in people who are NOT social entrepreneurs, but who want to learn more about how to help people in need.

The core purpose of this planned Global Community is to help spawn small projects all around the world to help people in need.

Through our web site, we want to:

- be cheerleaders, saying, “You can do it!”

- share “how to” information on starting projects to help others in need.

- provide opportunities for people from around the world to interact with one another to share ideas and collaborate on projects.

- profile normal, everyday people from around the world who have started successful projects.

- provide links to many other helpful web sites in some way related to helping others in need.

 - provide experienced mentors who help guide new social entrepreneurs.

- hold an annual “virtual” conference that hosts highly respected social entrepreneurs from around the world.

Our focus will be on “small.” We want everyday people to consider starting a small project to help a small number of people in need. Small projects are easier than large projects to start and manage. When many small projects doing good exist, then big good is being done.

I have been thinking about this idea for over a year, and a small team of people from several nations has been establishing the foundation for this idea for several months. We are now awaiting technical assistance from a web designer at my university who has been assigned to this project.

I hope that we are within a month or so from beginning to load content onto a newly developed web site through my university (Fort Hays State University). But life has taught me that many projects take more time than it seems that they should. So I am trying to be very patient.  

I have much hope for this idea. Maybe it can make a contribution to some communities within our world.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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Our changing world, and a Global Community to help others in need

Posted by on Oct 29, 2014 in non profit organization, social entrepreneurship | 0 comments

I have had an idea for a year or so. It is to try to build a team of people and delivery systems (such as web sites) to help spawn small projects to help others in need. The global stage is where I want to take this idea. I would like to be a part of the building of a Global Community of Social Entrepreneurs.

Our world is changing, as we all know. People are connected by technology, and we can be in quick contact from almost anywhere in the world. Being able to easily and cheaply interact brings many opportunities, for example, sharing information and collaborations. Sharing information about how to start projects to help others in need is a part of my idea regarding this possible Global Community of Social Entrepreneurs.

Another world event is a growing middle class in developing nations. This world change has amazing impact on the life situations and mindsets of millions of people. When people are in poverty, they have little time or reason to think about how to help others in need. But when people move into the middle class, they have discretionary income, and free time to think and look around their community and world. Many middle class people see people in need when they look around their community and world, and some build an interest in helping.

So increasing connectivity and a growing middle class in our world are two significant events that encourage me to predict an explosion of social entrepreneurship projects in the next two decades. The CNN Heroes web site is an illustration of the work that is being done around our world right now. I believe there will be many more innovative small, local, grassroots projects in the coming decades, and I would like to help these projects emerge.

Early steps are being taken at my university to build the foundation for this possible Global Community of Social Entrepreneurs, the purpose of which will be to help spawn small innovative projects that help others in need anywhere in the world. Although there is great opportunity for innovative projects in the U.S. and other technologically advanced nations, the greatest growth of social entrepreneurship projects will be in nations where economic growth has recently been spread across the nation and the middle class is growing. Thus, I hope that this possible Global Community will be able to have a special focus on these nations.

In this blog post, I want to share that my university, Fort Hays State University, plans to collaborate with a nonprofit I am associated with to build this Global Community of Social Entrepreneurs. Although the launch of a web site to share free information and build this Global Community may still be months away, I want to share that we have a steering committee composed of people from the following nations: China, India, South Africa, Egypt, Cameroon, Uganda, and the United States. This steering committee is building content for the web site and working with technicians at my university to help make the web site a reality.

Starting a Global Community is a big dream. Most dreams don’t become reality. Although this dream still might not become reality, I think it will. We are moving slowly and hopefully carefully. Within the next 12 months, I am very hopeful of having a university-sponsored web site that will provide free information to anyone in the world on how to start projects to help others in need. I would like to share more about our ideas for this Global Community in my next post.

Thank you for reading our small blog.

Best regards. – Keith

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