How to Identify Your Own Message

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

Sounds nice, but how do you identify what your message even is.

The first thing is to understand what a message is, know why it’s important and what kinds of messages there are.

Then you need to do some inner reflection. The questions below are meant to help you with that.

This is all a new idea for me, this idea of marketing your message, but here are my initial thoughts on how you identify your message.

I strongly recommend that you do this both on your own but also with a friend who’s willing to interview you on each of these questions. I’d recommend they ask you each question at least five times to go deeper and deeper into what’s true for you. 

1. Directional Messages – What You Should Do: 

Fill in the blanks: “The best way to achieve ______ (goal) is _________ (approach).”

What matters most when working to achieve the result your clients are craving?

If you could just say three words to the people you most want to help and they’d instantly ‘get it’ – what would those three words be?

2. Messages of Possibility:

What do you see as possible that others don’t? What do your people see as impossible that isn’t?

__________ can be ____________ (e.g. niching can be easy, marketing can be warm and honest)

__________ doesn’t need to be ____________ (it doesn’t need to be this way, relationships don’t need to painful)

3. Messages of Reality:

What’s the tough love, ‘real talk’, wake up call that your people need to hear to snap them out of it?

Where are you people’s expectations wildly out of whack with reality? What are the expectations they should just let go of entirely.

What are your people missing that prevents them from succeeding?

4. Messages of Necessity: “We need to . . .”

What do you think is required of your people, or the world, to really create what we want?

What’s the work that hasn’t been done that needs to be done?

5. New Idea Messages:

What’s the new, contrarian, out of the box idea you have that might blow people’s minds if they heard it?

6. Reframing Messages:

What’s something that your people are most ashamed of that you actually see as a potential strength or resource for them?

7. Other questions to ask yourself to identify your message:

If you could go back in time, what’s the message you want to give the earlier version of yourself – what’s the message that would have made the biggest difference for you to hear?

What do you know about being human that, once you really understood it, made it easier?

What are you daring your clients to try?

Having lived through your story, and knowing the issues you most want to help these people with – what is the one message you MOST want the world to hear?

What are your favourite proverbs, maxims and aphorisms and quotes? Which ones do you keep coming back to that most deeply resonate with you? Might these hold a key to your message?

What’s the truth about the nature of the problems they currently face?

What’s the truth about what it will take to get what they want?

Nine Reasons Why Having a Message Matters

your-message-hereIn my last post, I spoke about what it means to have a message in your business.

The core idea of that post?

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

In this post, I want to lay out eight reasons I think it’s increasingly vital.

REASON #1: Speaking about your message is more comfortable and inspiring for everyone than being pitched to.

If I were to put you up on a stage to speak to thousands of your ideal clients and my instructions to you were, ‘Go and sell them on why to hire you.’ my guess is that you’d feel very awkward about that. Most people would. Trying to get other people to do something and ‘sell’ people is not a natural act. And it feels even more unnatural when what you’re trying to sell them is you.

When I see people trying to ‘be confident’ and ‘believe in their value’ on stage on in a group – it usually comes across as them seeming arrogant and puffed up.

I recall one party I hosted where I got us all in a circle and invited people to share who they were and what they were up to for 30 seconds. We went around the circle and people were so charming, lovely and humble. Until it got to one lady who stepped forward and, in a very heavy, sombre tone spoke about how she was a spiritual master teacher. And it seemed so incredibly pretentious. Especially in contrast to the humility of everyone else’s sharing.

But this is what happens when we believe that we need to promote ourselves.

A radical notion: what if you stopped focusing so much on ‘believing in your worth’ and started enjoying sharing a message you found worthy?

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

But what if, instead of telling you go up and sell them on you, I told you to go up and share with them the message you are most passionate to share with them? 

Don’t you notice an instant shift in how that feels? A relief. An exhale. And likely even excitement. 

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

And put yourself in the audiences shoes. Which would you prefer? 

Option A: To sit through an hour of painful transparent attempts to sell you without appearing to sell you (which now feel even more gross because they’re trying to hide it). 

Option B: To sit through an hour of someone sharing a powerful message that you need to hear at this point in your life – a message that both affirms and uplifts. 

I can’t think of anyone that would want to be in Option A – on stage or in the audience.

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

REASON #2: Your message is relevant to people.

People might not see how your product or service is relevant to them immediately – but it’s hard to miss the relevance of a message.

When people are struggling with something in their life, or craving something badly, they are very open to hearing a message that can affirm, clarify and encourage them.

REASONS #3: People are more likely to share (and discuss) a message than a product or a service.

Imagine you sit through that hour long presentation where the person is selling, selling, selling. And then you go for lunch with some friends. What do you talk about? Do you talk about all the features and benefits of their wares? 

Unlikely. 

There’s a better chance that you talk about how gross it felt, or you pick apart their presentation for what you liked and what you didn’t like in it. 

But what if you sat through someone talking about a message they were passionate about and that was meaningful to you?

My guess is that you’d keep talking about that same message and how you see that it relates to your life. And that you might keep talking about it over the coming days. “You know, I went to this talk and the speaker had this really powerful notion that I’d never really considered . . .”

And that, months later, when a conversation wound itself around to the same topic you might bring up that same speaker you saw. And people might just say, “What was the name of that speaker? I’d love to check out their work.” and write it down to check out later.

Word of mouth is the dominant engine of marketing. It’s how most of us hear about things and decide which things to buy – recommendations from friends.

So, it makes sense that we’d want to make as much of our marketing word of mouth friendly as possible. And few things are as sharable as a simple, easy to understand message.

REASON #4: It builds trust.

Few things are as unattractive as someone who is constantly, shamelessly promoting themselves. No one trusts the used car salesman.

Few things are more attractive than those working selflessly to change the world – people who are about something bigger than their own success.

People with hustle and shameless self promotion might gains status – but people who live to promote a message gain stature.

REASON #5: It gives you more attractive things to share.

If your agenda is to promote yourself then all of your social media posts and emails to your list will be that. They’ll be some iteration of ‘hire me! buy from me!’. And people will, more quickly than you’d think, tune that out. And, there’s a good chance you’ll only share your original work because you only want people to buy your stuff.

But, if what you’re really passionate about is a message then you’ll have so much more to share. You’ll share anything that could help boost that message in the world. You’ll share TED Talks on the theme, cartoons and images you find, articles & interviews you come across. Anything. You go from seeing yourself as just a content creator to also a curator. 

Suddenly, you’ve become a hub for other people who are passionate about that message.

People share what you put out which leads more people back to you.

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

REASON #6: Your message is a good ‘client filter’.

If people don’t agree with your core message, if it doesn’t light them up then there’s no point in talking further. If you share your core message that lights you up and they sit their blank eyed . . . there’s a good chance that they’re not your ideal client. There’s a good chance that they will be trouble down the road.

On the other hand, some people’s eyes will widen and they’ll burst out in smiles when you share your message. They’ll say, ‘Yes! I’ve always thought that! That’s been my experience too! Thank you for saying that!’

Having a clear message attracts clients who are a fit

REASON #7: A message will get you invited to speak.

No one wants to invite you to pitch yourself.

But many people might want to hear you share your unique message with the world. 

REASON #8: A message is something you can become known for.

Perhaps the most important reason of all. 

A message is something you can develop a reputation around. Being known for an inspiring idea that uplifts people is powerful. 

Imagine you meet someone at a party who’s struggling in a particular way who you can tell really needs to hear a particular message. As you’re talking you can see how discouraged they are and then you remember seeing a TED Talk all about that message. You whip out a piece of paper and write down the name of the person so they can check that TED Talk out. The person thanks you, goes home, watches it and feels some hope for the first time in years. And then buys the persons book and maybe joins their email list or goes to a workshop of theirs.

REASON #9: A clear message makes you more flexible.

My colleague and friend Rebecca Tracey of The Uncaged Life had this to say about the importance of developing a clear message.

“I see it so often – people starting businesses but having no idea what their purpose is, other than that they want to work for themselves and travel the world. Which clearly is not a good enough reason to start a business. Being connected to your message is so key for building a business that’s a right fit for you.

I also see a lot of people who started with great intentions, but have totally lost touch with why they’re doing it in the first place. So business starts to feel hard and unmotivating. So I’d add that not only is it a good way to connect with your audience, but it’s the only way for you to build a business that will feel sustainable in the long run for you. Something you won’t get bored of next month. Your message gives you something to connect back to when things are feeling hard or stuck or not quite right.

Being super clear on your message also gives you the flexibility to change what you do in your business fairly seamlessly. I think of it as being like a flower, where the center of the flower is your purpose/message/WHY, and each petal is a different way that you would bring that message to the world. So the petals might be different services you offer (coaching, workshops, retreats etc), OR they might be different business ideas.

If your message is about empowering women to step into their power, you might do that through adventure retreats.. or thought dance classes.. or through coaching.. or through copywriting… when your message is clear and consistent, it gives you the ability to offer different things in your business, and the power to change your business up as you go without totally confusing people. Building your business around your message is so important!”

 

Here’s another message to consider: Clarity before resolution. 

Before trying to crack out some half baked message, really sit with it to get clear.

You will likely, through this process, discover that you have many messages. 

What I want to invite you to dig for is your core message. 

It’s the one thing you wish everyone got. It’s the idea that would make the biggest difference in your industry, the lives of your clients and the world.

If you get this, you’ll be amazed at how much easier and more exciting everything in your business gets.

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

Don’t Market Yourself, Market Your Message

bg-homeDon’t market yourself, market your message. 

This is the theme I want to explore in what promises to an epic post. I’ve been wanting to write this post for at least half a year and have been slowly collecting ideas and inspirations for it. At this point, I need to put out what I’ve got and I would love to get your honest reflections on it.

Here’s the starting point: if you have a business, you are going to be known for something. It’s inevitable. The question is this: will you be known for the right things? Will your reputation bring you the kinds of clients you want?

This is something I’ve explored extensively in my blog posts about identifying your platform and articulating it in a page.

Up until now, I’ve seen that there are six things you can be known for – but over the past few months, I’ve felt drawn to add a seventh – your message. I’ve realized that your message to the world can actually be one of the most powerful things you can be known for.

Don’t market yourself, market your message.

That was a phrase I heard from my colleague Morgana Rae (who’s message is: ‘make money by putting love first’) that got me thinking about it. Something in it made sense to me. 

And then I was looking at my colleague Mark Silver’s website where it stated his core message so clearly: ‘every act of business can be an act of love.’ So clear. So evocative. So meaningful.

For the past year, I’ve been beginning to talk about the message of ‘slow marketing movement’ (in the same vein as the slow food movement) and noticing the resonance that has with people far beyond talking about marketing tactics and tools. 

I’ve noticed that when I share the message that ‘marketing is a vital part of doing good in the world’ it resonates with people. When people understand that marketing can actually feel wonderful, warm and be a force for building community and expression of our values that people light up. 

I’ve noticed that the businesses I’m most drawn to tend to have some sort of a message they’re promoting. 

So, I want to explore this theme here and welcome your feedback on it.

I am writing this not being totally clear on what my own core message is but knowing it’s an important conversation to have.

 

What it is?

So, what is a message?

This is, honestly, the part that still feels a bit fuzzy to me and where I could use your help. 

Here are my thoughts so far . . .

Your message is like the words on a coat of arms, a motto, a slogan or tagline. It takes your whole platform and distills it down to the essence. It’s the thing you can’t help but talk about and steer every conversation towards. 

It’s an idea that you are so passionate about and find yourself reading about, listening to TED Talks about it but . . . you feel like there’s still something missing that you want to see brought out into the world.

It’s the drum you beat. It’s your core thesis you want to prove. It’s an idea you know that, if it were embraced on a mass level, would change the world. If this message were really ‘gotten’ there’d be so much less suffering. It’s the way things oughta be.

It’s often the words you wish you’d really understood when you were younger and struggling. It’s the words you really want a particular group of people to hear.

Your message is likely the answer to this question: ‘What would your TED Talk be about?’ Every TED Talk is about an idea. Some might feature projects – but they all have a crystal clear message in them. Something simple, direct, easy to understand and uplifting.

A message is not a promise of a result. It’s not empathy for their struggles. It’s not a full blown point of view. And it’s not just a statement of values. There’s a point to it.  

Standing up at the front of a room and pitching people is just saying, ‘buy from me!’ But sharing a message is saying, ‘Whether or not you buy from me, I want you to know _______ because it will make your life and the world a better place’. And that’s attractive. It’s coming from a place of giving, not trying to get anything.

Don’t market yourself, market your message. 

 

Seven Criteria of a Good Message:

Again, this idea is new enough that I’m not even sure what the criteria is but here’s what makes sense to me right now.

  1. A New Idea: A compelling message usually isn’t a trite platitude (though it could be). Ideally it’s a new idea or an old idea said in a provocative new way. It’s an idea that’s been missing from a larger conversation. It’s something that no one else is saying it or saying in quite the same way you are.
  2. Short: It can be summed up briefly. Like ten words max. It’s a simple idea.
  3. Provocative: It’s a statement that makes sense but provokes further questions and deeper inquiry. 
  4. Repeatable: It’s something you could say it repeatedly throughout a keynote talk and it would make sense. It’s like the chorus to a song. Think, ‘I have a dream’. It’s the kind of idea you could base a keynote talk around entirely. Don’t market yourself. Market your message.
  5. Simple: Not a crazy, complicated idea. A simple idea with profound implications.
  6. Well Crafted: Crafting matters here. The exact right words. Bust out your thesaurus. Toss it by people. See which version seems to land the best with others and which feel best to you. 
  7. You: your message should somehow reflect or be an authentic expression of you. It fits you perfectly. It isn’t just said to sound good or used as a marketing tactic. It means something to you personally. It excites you. You love the idea of being known for this message and spending years (if not a lifetime) exploring it.

 

What a message will do and won’t do:

A message won’t sell your product on its own.

No one will read a nice slogan or tagline and say, ‘yep. I want to spend $1000 with that company. What a great message.’

But a message does give your business a center of gravity.

A message becomes a core idea that you can keep spiraling around and weaving everything back to so that, over time, they come to appreciate the depth and complexity behind the idea more and more. 

A message is something you can become known for. 

A message is something that will help attract the right people (who are also passionate about that message).

A message will help you find hubs (who also work to promote that message).

But a message alone won’t sell anything. You can’t just print it on your business cards and your website.

For a message to be alive you need to find constantly new ways to express and explore it.

Expression without a message is just noise.

A message without expression is just an idea.

But not just expressed by talking about it – expressed in the design of your website, in the names you give to products and services, in how you dress, your logo, your pricing. Ideally, though likely impossibly, everything you do should be expressing your message.

I’d welcome any thoughts , wisdom and reflections you have on this at this point in the comment box below. 

is your partner addicted to this?

I never thought I’d hear the words ‘porn addiction’ on one of my coaching calls.

I just hosted a coaching call all about identifying your hubs called “Seven Places to Find Your Perfect Clients”. We had five folks gathered who I was personally working with to help them sort out where they could find people. It’s often the biggest question folks have: ‘where should I advertise? where do I find people?’

And here’s the first lesson: when it’s a struggle to find clients, don’t try harder – get clearer.

When you can’t find any clients it’s usually a chance to step back and get even more clear about who is it you’re trying to reach. Doesn’t it always come back to the niche thing?

On the call there was a woman from France named Rosine Caplot who shared that she wanted to work with “Men, 20-40, computer type of guys: programmers, computer scientists, physicists, left-brained technical geeks, and more generally guys who are into computers, who work on the computer, socialize online, even spend their free time in front of the computer.”

Their problem: Porn addiction or related sexual issues: excessive mental focus on sex, compulsive unwanted fantasies or fetishes that turn them on but also make them feel bad and that they don’t really want to have, sexual dysfunctions, sex drive and/or erection problems, or just plain never getting laid. They are ashamed of it and want to stop, but can’t.

Her offer: healing sessions to help them heal these issues and create the kind of sex life they really want to have.

I’ll let Rosine (pictured here)  tell you what happened from here with my commentary interspersed.

 

My problem: I didn’t know where to find those people nor how to reach them. I know they hang out on technical blogs, in technical forums, or in MMORPG’s, but I don’t hang out in these places, and doing so just to promote my business is out of question because it’s insincere. Plus, it’s not the appropriate place to talk about sexual issues. “I bought a cool ethernet shield for my bf’s microprocessor. Btw, are you addicted to porn?”  . . . that would be just weird.

My perfect clients are rather introverted. Relationships don’t come to them that easily and they tend to not open up quickly. Plus, there is a lot of shame and guilt attached to these sexual issues. They are not likely to talk about it with strangers nor to join support groups. Science guys also usually aren’t into spiritual healing. So I really had no clue where and how I could meet them. Google is already flooded with stuff about overcoming porn addiction, I thought I’d have no chance of ranking high enough there. Finding enough clients seemed impossible.

You get the idea.

Sometimes the core, underlying problem you see in the people you want to serve is not something they want to look at yet.  There’s too much shame attached to it.

You think that men want to look at their addiction to porn? You think they want to go to a public workshop about it and out themselves? You think they want to ‘share’ it on social media?

Wrong.

So, what do you do if you are passionate about reaching people in this kind of boat?

My experience on the Call:

I signed up for the call partly because I was clueless about where to find clients, and partly simply because my intuition was telling me Tad was the right person for me to engage with at this time.

I liked the call very much. So much great input! I liked the nice atmosphere and friendly sharing with others. It was interesting to listen to Tad working with the other participants. I got a lot out of it even though they were working with completely different niches.

I especially like his structured, strategic, precise and clear way of thinking. I hate the guts of marketing but he made it look really simple and easy and explained everything exactly. I so appreciate that. :-)

We clarified my niche and refined it a bit, which was helpful. I also decided for myself that the long list of symptoms including erection problems, lack of sex drive or never getting laid was too broad. Although my sessions definitely can help with that, I silently decided to focus just on porn addiction, excessive mental focus on sex and unwanted, compulsive fantasies or fetishes.

It’s easy to think of narrowing one’s focus as limiting – but the truth is that it’s liberating. Once you make a decision of a target market to focus on (even if you have more than one) all sorts of ideas for hubs and offers and events etc. start to appear.

Toward the end of the call, I started to feel anxious. I now knew how to manage and approach hubs and how to build relationships with them, but I still had no idea which hubs to approach and how to reach my perfect clients.

Fortunately I said it, and that’s when another participant on the call suggested I find them through their wives or girlfriends.

Porn addiction and shameful fantasies usually put a strain on the relationship, so I could find unhappy partners through support groups for partners of porn addicts.

Lightbulb!

This realization is kind of the key point in this blog.

Sometimes you can’t sell to the person directly. Sometimes to reach them you need to reach out the people most affected.

You think a heroine addict is going to sponsor their own intervention? Think again. But – his friends and family would.

You think a stressed out bride is going to buy a relaxation CD for ‘bridezillas’? Unlikely. But her bridesmaids and mom might love having something to give to her to help her relax.

And, in fact, then the affected party might just become a new target market.

In this case, the headline: “are you addicted to porn?” might or might not be more successful than, “is your boyfriend addicted to porn?”.

It’s worth testing. My gut says there would be a strong response from women on this.

Also, consider the word of mouth marketing implications. Do you think men talk to other men about their porn addictions?

Hell no.

Perhaps women share this with their friends a bit more readily? Worth exploring and I’d guess that, while there’s still shame, it’s more likely.

What if Rosine developed materials for the partners like videos or ebooks on . . .

– 5 ways to know if your man is addicted to porn and what to do about it.
– three phrases to never say when talking to you partner about their addiction
– how to get your partner to seek help and face his porn addiction
– when to end the relationship and walk away

Etc.

If she did this she might just become a hub for women around the world who are passionate about having their men back and seeing men living more fulfilling lives. This also speaks to the whole theme I’ve been exploring lately about exploring the deeper cause of your business.

There are a lot of possibilities here.

There was a short brainstorming session and within just a couple minutes Tad and the ladies on the call came up with more ideas. Relationship coaches! Couple therapy counselors! And for the single guys, online dating websites or pick up and dating coaches, sexual health counsellors, women’s groups.

It was so awesome! So many ideas suddenly coming in! Genius. I would never have thought of these myself. I was so thankful.

The Impact it Had on Me:

Before the call, I thought it would be impossible to find clients in that niche.

This is just one project out of six, so I thought it didn’t matter that much whether it was successful or not. I thought it would simply be the smallest and least successful of my endeavours. I love computer type of guys very much and I really want to help them, so I was planning on going for it anyway regardless of the money, but I was counting on, like, one session a month in that project. I thought even if I help just one person in that area, it would already be worth it.

Now after the call, I think it could actually work! Even pretty well! Which also means I could actually help lots of people to heal their sex life! How wonderful is that?! I’m soooo excited about it now. :-)

It’s like a whole bunch of doors suddenly burst wide open.

Feeling very happy.

If you know of anybody I could talk to, like relationship coaches, couple therapists, support groups for partners of porn addicts, ‘pick up’ teachers, David Deida style manliness coaches for men or online dating website owners, would you please let me know? That would be so cool. <3 You can email me at rosine (at) rosinecaplot (dot) com or check out my website here: www.rosinecaplot.com

 

If you’d like get cool posts like this in your inbox every few days CLICK HERE to subscribe to my blog and you’ll also get a free copy of my fancy new ebook “Marketing for Hippies” when it’s done.

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Want Help? If you’d like some more direct guidance and hand holding on figuring out your niche then go and check out my Niching for Hippies coaching program http://marketingforhippies.com/niching-for-hippies/

 

 

 

case study: thrive calgary becomes a hub

This Spring I presented at an event called The Meaningful Work Retreat. One of the co-presenters, Brenna Atnikov was working with a cool Calgary group called Thrive.

It was the perfect example of becoming a hub that I talk about so much. It’s in the non-profit context but I thought you might be inspired by the example.

Other lessons from this have to do with the power of being about something bigger (and how that can attract people who are also into those causes).

A notion: sometimes we start with the niche/target market – yang. and other times we start with really honing and developing what we’re offering – clarifying our point of view and what we’re about – YIN. the yin path has us develop and then ask, ‘who out there would love this?’ and find our target markets from THAT. And then proceed to be delighted when those don’t work but some other group mysteriously shows up and loves it unexpectedly.

If you become about a bigger cause – watch support come out of the woodwork.

The thing that caught me were the networking events that they hold.

As you read this, ask yourself, what are you about as a business? What’s the bigger cause? Could you bring people together around it?

Remember: word of mouth spreads within a community. The tighter a community is – the faster word of mouth spreads. Everyone wins. Including you. And if you’re seen as a host to the network – you definitely win by gaining stature in your community.

And there’s a difference to be held up here between building an empire and building a village. If you want to build your organization or business to be an empire, that takes a lot of work and control. But to support a network and community in thriving? Less so. You just need to ask yourself which one you want. Brenna gives us four important distinctions about networks vs. organizations below.

*

What’s the story of how this came about? What was the need you saw in the community that it emerged from?

I want to live in a city that has a strong, vibrant economy thats good for people and planet.

Thrive works towards this goal by asking: What is the economy for and how can it create meaningful economic opportunities for people living on low-incomes? How are we all better off when nobody lives in poverty?

Thrive is a collaborative network, which began in 2006.

It cultivates an environment in which transformation of our economy can occur because we bring together folks who often don’t get to meet but who all play an important role in economic development strategies: local business, government and non-profit organizations.

We provide a space for people to connect, learn, dream and act to create a resilient economy that combines social goals with business outcomes.

Can you tell me more about the events YOU host and who’s invited?

Thrive hosts between 4 and 6 events a year.

Starting this year (2011) they closely correlate to our 4 strategic directions/pathways/strategic directions which guide our work. We host learning events, facilitate conversations and advocate for more helpful public policy along all four paths.

Our trailheads are:

1. Neighbourhood Revitalization – working with all community members to establish neighbourhoods that provide a high quality of life for all residents

2. Local Business Development – Growing the number of local, social and environmentally responsible businesses that are either privately owned, cooperatives or social enterprise

3. Meaningful Employment – Contributing to workforce development initiatives that help create living wage jobs that also contribute to ecological sustainability

4. Innovative Social Finance – Stimulating conversation about how we can use local capital to invest in local economic development strategies.

Being that we think of ourselves as a ‘learning network’ that aims to catalyze action through information, we host events that introduce people to new and/or promising practices in the broad world of community economic development that they can then apply to their own work.

We might bring in a guest speaker, and then provide a local example of where CED is happening in Calgary. Or, we put an ‘ask’ out to the community to see who can take the lead on moving an initiative forward.

Many of our events have been a kind of ‘lunch and learn’ style, averaging about 80 people per event. Our audience is the public, private and non-profit sectors and individuals interested in transforming the economy to better work for people and planet.

Tell me about the difference between operating as an organization vs. a network?

In my own reading/learning, I’ve discovered that there are quite a few differences between operating as a network vs. an organization (a little different than the question you pose). They are:

1. Everyone is welcome to participate in a network. In an organization, you have to be hired.

2. People can contribute what they can, when they can, even if it’s only 1 idea EVER (in a network). In an organization, your job is to show up every day and contribute.

3. Networks facilitate two way communication with their community; most organizations simply ‘push’ information out.

4. Networks tend to be more emergent and adaptable, whereas organizations can be rigid.

And why do these events when there are no immediate tangible benefits?

We host our events because there are both immediate and long term benefits.

Most immediately, people are building strong, working relationships across sectors that don’t typically interact with one another. Exposure to new thinking, promising ideas and exciting possibilities are the ingredients of inspiration that eventually move innovative projects forward.

Over the long-term, these events are important because of their ability to bring people together and illuminate just what is possible in Calgary. As you’ll see below, tangible projects, initiatives and organizations also spring up.

What are the participants saying about them? What results are you noticing coming from them?

Overall, we get very positive feedback from guests at our events. Our satisfaction with events is often well above 95%. People often say that they were exposed to new ideas, met interesting people, tapped into a network of resources they didn’t know existed, etc.

The results include new initiatives and organizations emerging that help to strengthen our local economy and reduce poverty. Two great examples:

1. The launch of Enterprising Non-Profits Alberta came into being because of a variety of different players. We feel that Thrive played a role by: (1) hosting several events in 2006 and 2007 around social enterprise, which led to 3 funders being interested in the concept. The funders commissioned a study, and (2) the final report was presented at a Thrive event in 2009. One funder (The Calgary Foundation) was particularly interested in following this further, and Enterprising Non-Profits Alberta was launched in February 2011. It is now funded by The Trico Charitable Foundation. We have begun to co-host several events with them now and they are an important partner.

2. In February 2011, Thrive, Conscious Brands and Green Calgary brought Woody Tasch to Calgary. He is the founder of Slow Money. We just recently received an email from one of the guests at that event, telling us that (in part )as a result of the Slow Money event and getting to meet Woody Tasch, some folks from Leduc have started Slow Money Alberta. This is incredibly exciting for us to hear!

In summary, we are catalyzing action and inspiring different groups/people to take a necessaryleadership role on a specific area of interest, while Thrive can continue to be the incubator space for new ideas and possibilities.

What are the downsides of hosting a network?

Hmmm, honestly, I cannot think of any. We’ve had nothing but great experiences and involvement with the community since we formally launched this governance structure in February.

What are the three biggest lessons you’ve learned along the way?

1. Naming what we care about and putting that out in the world inspires people to get involved

2. Collaboration (vs. competition) is way more fun, productive and stimulates innovation.

3. When nobody lives in poverty, we are all better off. We are all responsible for ending poverty.

Can you give a few examples of the first lesson?

The ‘things’ we’ve named and put out in the world as what we care about are our 4 pathways.

Since naming them, we’ve had people approach us with opportunities because they now know where our time/energy/resources are focused.

For example, we were invited to co-hosted Community Capital Networks with REAP and are part of some initial conversations about how to mobilize local capital for our community.

For more info go to: www.thrivecalgary.org