A New Bio + Updates from my Week

I’m grateful for this long weekend and the changing weather. During a long swim this afternoon, I noticed my mind and body getting a chance to gradually catch up (re-align) to so much that’s been emerging and unfolding recently. As I was putting my son to bed tonight, I started drafting a new bio. It attempts to capture the transition I’m in the middle of, while also pointing to some of what feels like it’s begun unfolding.

Longer version (first draft)

Felipe Witchger founded and served as Executive Director of the Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA) between 2013 and 2021. He co-founded the Community Cooperative to continue supporting the growth and development of CPA and other similarly inspired social-purpose co-ops. Felipe currently consults with The Industrial Commons — a network of co-ops and social enterprises with hundreds of textile workers in western North Carolina. Felipe also collaborates closely with Metro IAF, Apis & Heritage Capital Partners, and Start.coop.

Felipe believes in the need for more connective tissue between different parts of the shared ownership movement ecology. Inspired by Pope Francis’ call to young economists and entrepreneurs, Felipe began convening the US Economy of Francesco. In 2020, he launched two workshops (Spiritual Community Building for the New Economy and Setting a New Shared Ownership Agenda) aimed at unleashing more productive capacity from our top leaders, while also weaving together new sets of relationships. The hope of integrating the power of the established co-op, organizing, and religious movements (i.e. NCBA, CCHD) with new frontiers (like the New Economy Coalition, Zebras Unite, and Exit to Community) animates his work.

Let’s try to flip it and shorten it now:

Felipe is animated by power of the established co-op, organizing, and religious movements (i.e. NCBA, Metro IAF, CCHD), when integrated with their emerging frontiers (i.e. folks like the New Economy Coalition, Ayni Institute, Zebras Unite, Exit to Community, and the Economy of Francesco). Felipe weaves together his decade-long project at the Community Purchasing Alliance, with new partnerships (such as with The Industrial Commons), through workshops (i.e. Setting a New Shared Ownership Agenda) that unleash more productive capacity from our top leaders, and catalyze new culture-changing possibilities. Inspired by Pope Francis’ call to young economists and entrepreneurs, Felipe believes in the need for more connective tissue between different parts of the shared ownership movement ecology. Felipe also collaborates closely with Metro IAF, Apis & Heritage Capital Partners, and Start.coop.

Okay, 3 sentences this time:

Felipe weaves together his decade-long project at Metro IAF and the Community Purchasing Alliance, with new partnerships (such as with The Industrial Commons, and Apis & Heritage Capital Partners), in hopes of creating more connective tissue between different parts of our broader movement ecology. Felipe is animated by the power of the established co-op, organizing, and religious movements, when integrated with their emerging frontiers (i.e. New Economy Coalition, Ayni Institute, Zebras Unite, Exit to Community, US Economy of Francesco, CCHD). Felipe organizes special workshops (i.e. Setting a New Shared Ownership Agenda) to unleash more productive capacity from our top leaders and catalyze new culture-changing possibilities.

Now without parentheses (final draft):

Felipe weaves together his decade-long project at Metro IAF and the Community Purchasing Alliance, with new partnerships in hopes of creating more connective tissue between different parts of our broader movement ecology. Felipe is animated by the power of the established co-op, religious, and impact investing movements, when integrated with their emerging frontiers. Felipe organizes special workshops to unleash more productive capacity from our top leaders and catalyze new culture-changing possibilities.


Links I want to be able to reference

as I think more about my evolving work and how I show up in the world:


What happened this week:

  • I had a great deep-dive conversation with Blake Jones to better understand (and make meaningful investment in joining the co-op) with Kachuwa Impact Fund
  • Elizabeth Garlow and I talked about a vision for a US Economy of Francesco project that uses human centered design processes (something I still don’t have close first-hand experience with, but always sounds interesting) — or some “Future Economy Lab” process (like AStrid / Zebras Unite described to us) — where we bring together interested and aligned and creative investors and co-create something that responds to their needs, while also being deeply aligned

-Kayoko Williams (Cabrini)
– Ryan Strode/John Oshaughnassy (FSM)
– Cindy Kroll (CAC)
– David Lynn (mission driven finance)
– Umar Moghul
– Rev Sidney Williams – https://crossingcapitalgroup.com/– Maybe Christian Peele?

  • I went to Morganton NC, and spend the day (and a couple follow up conversations) with Molly Hemstreet from The Industrial Commons. I was humbled. The creativity, innovation, persistence, grounded-ness, focus on the concrete realities and needs of and coming alongside to build the capacity of their worker-stewards…I was also in awe of the scale of their vision and their track record. They really could become the Mondragon of the US in 10-20 years…Check out this quick video I made about them: https://youtu.be/4pZoiO8JR4o:

Seeking your advice on masks + 4 things I’ve found helpful

My family and I are finally starting to figure out our mask protocols. One basket has the clean masks, another one has the dirty ones. We wash the dirty ones a couple times per week. Each of us has our preferred mask for when we’re going to be talking to somebody. My wife has to attend worship services with lots of other people, so she wears a KN-95, which is safer, but more expensive and less helpful if you’re having to talk a lot.

 
What have you been learning about your mask preferences? 
I ask sincerely because the core of our work at the Community Purchasing Alliance Co-op is to learn as much as we can from folks we trust and respect, and then try to synthesize and distill it for others.

4 things I’ve found helpful or just learned: 

  1. What makes for an effective non-medical mask?  A 3-pager from Stop the Spread that describes the different dimensions you may want to be thinking about when buying and using cloth masks.
  2. Clear masks can help convey so much more than standard masks obscure. When we met my son’s new teacher this week, he was wearing a clear mask and it made it so much easier to read his facial expressions.
  3. Some masks significantly muffle/mute your voice. Others hardly do. My daughter had been given this really pretty mask that she loved the look of, but when talking to her new teacher yesterday, we all realized how much it muffled her voice, which made us sad because she’s so soft spoken anyway.
  4. There’s so much I still don’t know & am learning. Just these two anecdotes have reminded me how much I still don’t know about how to help my organization and my family stay safe while practically trying to figure out how to go about our work and our lives, given our new circumstances.
I share this in an effort to sincerely share what I’ve been learning.

Are there any recent insights you’ve gleaned that you can share with me that might be helpful to others in similar situations to you?

We work with church and synagogue leaders, school and college administrators, and many other community leaders.
The more you share with me, the more we can help share with others and help aggregate and build market intelligence, so that we all can be more thoughtful as we navigate this unchartered territory together.
If you’re looking to buy masks, wipes, plexiglass, signage, hand sanitizer or other PPE, we’ve been facilitating group bulk purchases these past few months and have learned a lot on how to make the process easy and help you source from Black-owned business, worker-owned co-ops, and suppliers that are offering good products at affordable prices.
My colleague Juan Francisco Hidalgo has been leading up these efforts and has been heroic in how many folks he’s given personalized consultations to — to help them figure out what makes the most sense for them, given that many Chlorox wipes and other products are still expected to be backlogged for a long time.
He’s happy to talk to you (email him at juan@cpa.coop), if you need help, especially if you’re going to submit a meaningfully sized order as part of our bulk PPE co-op purchase — with the deadline of tomorrow, Friday. August 21
That said, we’re not perfect. We’re not experts, we’re just trying to help.
This might be our last co-op PPE bulk purchase.
Submit your order by tomorrow, Friday, August 21, 2020 if there are products on the list that might be helpful.
My personal favorite, and the mask I wear the most often, is made by Carolina Textile District.  (It’s the first item on the left in the 3rd-to-last row on our e-commerce website.)
Carolina Textile District is a group of small NC textile manufacturers that have banned together and saved 60 jobs in the process, thanks in part to more than 45,000 masks CPA Co-op members and partners have sourced from them. You can read their story on their website here and also see the other ethical essentials their Latinx worker-owned coop makes in their Collection line up.
Here’s a picture of me wearing their “Pedestrian Mask”:
IMG_8493
Can you tell I’m trying to smile for you?
It’s the most breathable, easy-to-talk through mask, while being made from an antimicrobial BioSmart Fabric (also used to make scrubs) made by Miliken in South Carolina. It’s a bit of a premium product, but you know you’re sourcing from domestic manufacturers who’ve been paying living wages — and been able to keep their jobs because of our work together.
It truly is a success story that I’m really proud of.
Or skip straight to the ecommerce platform, and add your order to the hundreds of others by buying together to get the group volume discounts.
And, if you’re able, I’m genuinely interested to learn what you’re learning about masks — so don’t hesitate to just respond with a quick couple insights that have emerged from your past couple months of buying, wearing, and figuring out what makes the most sense for your organization and your family.

Cooperative Capital: Re-launching

One of the things I’ve been most interested in supporting is more local direct investment opportunities… especially ones that are open to non-Accredited investors.

Cooperative Capital has an approach to make it work (however they were blocked by the state of Michigan…).

The challenges they’ve come up against and the ways regulators have thwarted their efforts highlights how our current regulatory regime around capital is designed around screening out bad actors (and is racist in that it continues to perpetuate (& exacerbate) racial wealth inequality). We need a new (state and federal) regulatory regime to unleash community capital.

Cooperative Capital describes themselves as “a cooperative private equity fund that empowers citizens to pool their money to make promising investments within their community.”

Kwaku Osei, in his founding role, has been at the frontlines of this movement. Here is a 90 second video overview of what they originally set out to do: https://youtu.be/oek6riTVdnY

Cooperative Capital is formally re-launching http://www.cooperativecap.com – they will be having a virtual “party” today at 630-730p EST if you’re able to join! https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIpd-usqDoiGdVQlJ9yLdnAATchjEsWKicQ

1 min intro from Kwaku:

For more on the broader movement, here’s the National Coalition for Community Capital (NC3): https://comcapcoalition.org/

Why draw maps?

I’ve been awakening to the power of visuals to help teams with decision-making.

Too often, we don’t have a common mental model and end up talking past each other. This is where I’ve found myself inside my own organization more often than I’d like to admit recently.

Today, Max Harper came to our Shared Ownership workshop and started illuminating a path forward. I put together this 10 min recap video covering a few topics:

+ Why think about power?
+ Why mapping and visualization tools might help?
+ How might it help you with group decision-making?

Screen Shot 2020-08-10 at 5.43.58 PM

So grateful

Here’s Max in our Workshop today:

Here is the google doc that gives an outline of the session Max gave today.

 

Here’s some of what it’s helping me with:

Image from iOS (2)
Here’s what I’m feeling most interested in working on. It’s an example of how I’m trying to draw more of where I’m at to help develop a common mental model with my colleagues.

Here’s the 10-min recap video:

Screen Shot 2020-08-10 at 5.45.15 PM

 

 

Thanks to all of our Shared Ownership Workshop participants for helping bring this into life. Shared Ownership Workshop - New Economy Imagination Praxis session

​I Sold My Entire Investment Portfolio One Hour Ago​

Okay, actually I didn’t…. yet. But this guy Tim Denning said he just did. 

As I read his post, I remembered how I felt when I was in  one of Marco Vangelisti’s workshops. The feeling of desperation to have my money be working for a more livable future.

So, I’m writing this post here to give myself the push to divest from the stock market and reinvest as much as I reasonably can before the end of September (giving me enough time to talk with my partner and others about it… :).

I’ve been thinking about and wanting to take my money out of the stock market for a few years (mostly for ethical reasons).

I started to get more serious when my smartest wealth management friend Jack told me he exited the stock market because he felt it was “frothy”. He instead decided to start buying down and paying off his mortgage.

I’ve taken about 1/2 of what I had in index funds out… (like Vanguard’s S&P 500 index fund — which is what my smartest friends told me I should do 3, 5, 10 15 years ago when I first started thinking about this when an employer made me put away retirement money…)

but now, I’m considering going all the way and taking a bunch more out of the S&P 500 and the stock market.
I’m probably not going to go to all cash like this guy suggests — but rather split the rest between a few places I really believe in:
  1. Kachuwa Impact Fund — founded by Blake Jones — one of the top co-op entrepreneurs of our time. He started Namaste Solar — a worker-owned co-op that has done phenomenally well. Amicus Solar — a purchasing co-op. A Clean Energy Credit Union — and now he leads (on a volunteer basis) Kachuwa Impact fund — which is invested about half in real estate and the other half in cooperatives or perpetual trusts — or social impact focused ventures —  https://www.kachuwaimpactfund.com/about   (Side note, they just agreed to a $15,000 investment in CPA Co-op which pays  5% interest for 10 years).   Because I’ve been talking to Blake, I know he’s raising money right now — let me know if you’re interested.
  2. CNotehttps://mycnote.com/ — 2.5% –  this invests in community development and women-led & women-owned enterprises.
  3. RSF Social finance – 1% – https://rsfsocialfinance.org/
  4. Other start-up co-ops and social enterprises that have big chances to change the world…
Here’s the post that prompted me to write this:

I Sold My Entire Investment Portfolio One Hour Ago​ by Tim Denning

Do you agree with Tim’s analysis about the stress it causes?

Usually I don’t think about it, so I don’t feel stressed. But when I do look at it and think about it — I feel intense turmoil (as I wrote about in My investing Turmoil).

What are you thinking?

What have you invested in recently that felt much more aligned with your values?

Am I crazy? If so, I’d love to hear.

The Core of the Workshop Experience

I’m hearing some folks who couldn’t join the Q&A ask this question:
What parts of the workshop do I need to commit to?
The current schedule / Weekly Cycle for the Shared Ownership workshop is this:
    1. Sunday: Prompt for the week released by 7:30am ET

    2. Monday: Large Group Gathering, likely 12pm ET / 9am PT

    3. Tuesday: Post is due

    4. Wednesday: Learning Group Meeting, 9am ET or 12 ET or 8pm ET (alternate time may be available)

    5. Thursday: Comments are due

    6. Saturday: Reflection Scripts are due

CPA - Shared Ownership Workshop - Weekly Cadence (1)
We’d like everybody to commit to joining the “Learning Group” (five people) meeting times on Wednesdays (choosing the time they can commit to for the 4 weeks of the workshop).
The large group sessions (on Mondays, final time will be determined tomorrow July 22 and shared in a welcome email) are optional.
In other words, we’d love you to join the workshop, if you are committed to showing up and doing the main bodies of work:
  • 1. Writing a post each week
  • 2. Showing up to your learning group meetings ready & eager to learn & grow & develop the posture of shared leadership & change-making
  • 3. Comment on at least 4 other peers work each week
If you are ready to show up and do those three pieces each week — we’d love to have you.
The other parts of the workshop (your reflection script which seals the learning; the large group sessions which help you build relationships across the workshop) are less essential to the core of the workshop experience… though we very much encourage them to get the most out of the experience.
Apply by June 21 at midnight local time.
And to be clear… this workshop is about advancing your own work — whatever project(s) you’re working on right now. The hope is to give you space to write about that work in response to our weekly prompts — and receive (and give) generous feedback.

Exhilarated by This Workshop Cohort

It’s hard to describe how exhilarated I feel right now.

The cohort for this Shared Ownership workshop is bringing together some of the most powerful & influential people I’ve met this past decade.
The workshop format integrates insights from some of the most influential experiences and learning spaces I’ve ever been a part of.
The deadline for applications to join us is tomorrow, July 21.
Screen Shot 2020-07-20 at 12.46.24 PM
The cohort includes:
  • leading shared ownership practitioners (i.e. Molly & Sarah co-founders of The Industrial Commons)
  • top influential US cooperative movement leaders (i.e. Doug O’Brien, Paul Hazen, Nathan Schneider)
  • investors that are re-shaping the way we think about risk & return as well as impact, legacy & a livable future (i.e. Marco Vangelisti, Essential Knowledge 4 Transition)
  • cutting edge community development & community ownership leaders (i.e. Jennifer Bryant, Alison Powers, )
We’re also drawing in:
  • young entrepreneurs taking the tools of private equity and applying it tackling the racial wealth gap through employee ownership (i.e. Phil & Todd from Apis & Heritage Capital Partners)
  • movement leaders from Zebras Unite, who are countering existing startup and venture capital culture by creating alternatives.
  • wise leaders from spiritual & religious traditions who are thinking on time horizons and scale of impact — that most of us are just starting to dream of (Myra Jackson, Sr. Corinne Floreck; Ryan Strode, Fr. Seamus Finn, Elizabeth Garlow)

The workshop brings together frameworks from movement organizing, cooperative economics, finance, leadership science & change-making & what’s at stake in this moment.

 

The Workshop Format

 
The format for this Shared Ownership workshop creates space to advance your own project and get feedback from generous peers reflecting back to you what they see.
We introduce frameworks for leadership & movements for change; but flip the traditional format. The vast majority of your time is interacting with peers and/or doing your most important work.
If you’re hungry to know how shared ownership companies work, legal structures, investment vehicles…. We will have prompts and reading lists that will point you towards those resources. However, the focus will be on creating an environment where you can interact with peers — who are some of the top leaders in their respective fields.  In other words, the workshop isn’t about what technical knowledge you’ll obtain, but a deeper self-awareness of how the culture changes and what you need to learn next. It’s about how ideas spread and how change happens. We focus on how you can develop what you have to offer for even more transformative impact — because of the relationships & community we’re bringing together in this cohort.
Applications are due, tomorrow, July 21 by midnight.
Workshop runs August 1 through 29, 2020
Details here and here. Q&A video here or here.
Detailed invitation document

My invitation to you

Friends, as we face pandemics and economic crises, we also face an opportunity to do the work that could shape this decade and this century.
I believe you are the kind of leader we need at the center of this work.
Do you believe in yourself enough to take the leap and commit to your most important work?
We’re here for you when you’re ready.

List of Confirmed Workshop Participants

  1. Doug O’Brien, CEO, National Cooperative Business Association
  2. Paul Hazen, Executive Director, US Overseas Cooperative Development Council, former CEO, NCBA CLUSA
  3. Sarah Clark McBroom, Equity Officer at Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
  4. Sr. Corinne Floreck, former Portfolio Director, Religious Sisters Impact Fund
  5. Myra Jackson, United Nations Representative, Biosphere consultant
  6. Ryan Strode, Franciscan Sisters of Mary, formerly Arabella Advisors
  7. Marco Vangelisti, Impact Investor, Slow Money, EK4T
  8. Molly Hemstreet, Co-Executive Director, Opportunity Threads, Carolina Textile District
  9. Kevin Jones, Co-founder SOCAP, Co-founder, Faith+Finance
  10. Eli Andrews, Accelerate Change 
  11. Fr. Seamus Finn, President, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
  12. Elias Crim, Solidary Hall, & US Economy of Francesco
  13. Kyle Johnson, Business Services Collective
  14. Alison Power, Capital Impact Partners
  15. Sara Chester, Co-Executive Director, The Industrial Commons
  16. Dr. Tina Facca-Miess, Inspired Foresight 
  17. Jennifer Bryant, Washington Area Community Investment Fund
  18. Elizabeth Garlow, Deputy Director, New America’s New Practice Lab
  19. Phil Reeves, Partner, A&H Capital Partners, Board Member, DC Black Chamber of Commerce
  20. Todd Leverette, Democracy At Work Institute, Partner, A&H Capital Partners

 “As a result of the authenticity and skill of the facilitation, I and every group member were surprised by how quickly we were able to drop into high-trust sharing and collaboration. The amount that we got “figured out” in a short amount of time was remarkable, life changing for many of us, and potentially world transforming.”

~ Sam Hummel, former CEO, Sustainable Purchasing Leadership Council (Participant in April 2020 Workshop)

You can buy masks from black-owned businesses here

I think this is a moment where we can make good decisions for our own institutions and build a vehicle to tackle systemic racism in our economics.
You can choose who you buy from.
Kerma Medical, a black-owned business in Virginia is offering 3-ply surgical masks for $0.53.
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Carolina Textile District PPE, a person-of-color worker-owned co-op, is making and selling high quality cloth masks with medical grade antimicrobial fabric for $4.12 — or if we get enough volume for $3.86 per mask.
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You can place an order here from these and other vendors.
154 organizations have come together.
We vetted 11 suppliers across 20 items. These businesses rose to the top for a variety of reasons – quality, price, terms and more.
You can see the price list on page 2 of this background document or below.
We invite you to join us by submitting an order as part of this cooperative effort before June 9 at 12 noon ET.
By placing an order through our co-op order form by June 9, we’ll be able to get volume discounts because of the large number of organizations buying together.
Place your Order Here before Tuesday at 12 noon
If you’re interested, but not ready to order, you can complete this simple interest form and we’ll keep you in the loop. We’ll organize another group purchase in July.
Please spread the word.
Once again:
  1. Express interest here.
  2. Submit your Order here
  3. Read more background here.
Please spread the word.
=========
PS – Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA) is member-owned cooperative (www.cpa.coop). We help educational, religious, coop, and community institutions lower the cost of their largest contracts while being more effective with the performance they get from their vendors.
In response to our members and others, we started organizing this cooperative buying group for PPE with organizations looking to help share information, market insight, and facilitate group purchasing in this time of need, supply chain challenges, and uncertainty.

Additional Details & Price Lists here.

Have you been thinking about masks?

If you’ve been thinking about how to buy masks, disinfectant supplies, PPE…
Perhaps our co-op effort to find suppliers that can deliver may be of help…

 

  1. Curious how others are thinking through re-opening and estimating PPE supply needs?
  2. Curious what co-op pricing looks like for masks?   Or “no contact” thermometers? (coop price: $50… vs $85)
  3. Worried about making sure you get what you need on time?
  4. Interested in buying from a worker-owned coop?     A local NC person-of-color-owned manufacturer?
If one of these 4 questions resonates with you, read on…
 
Our Process 
  1. Complete this interest form  (takes 2 minutes — simply estimate what you think you might need)
  2. Review initial Pricing, Terms, potential Suppliers — Q&A on May 26 at 9am ET & Update Call on June 2 at 10am
  3. Make your order with pre-negotiated terms, pricing & more — June 3-10
Deadline to Submit 2-min Interest Form: Sunday, May 24, 2020 

 

What do folks say about working with CPA? 
 
“The process was exceptionally transparent and well-run. Thank you for the hard work and dedication to providing an optimum result for everyone.”
Bill Casson, Building & Grounds Team Chair, St. Luke’s Episcopal Church-Bethesda
 
“Pricing for some items was 30-40% lower with CPA.”
~DC School Administrator who purchased $50,000 of masks and thermometers with CPA last week
Want to stay in the loop? 
Just fill out the 2-min interest form (ideally before Sunday) and we’ll keep you posted.
Feel free to share this with others & spread the word far and wide: https://bit.ly/coop4ppe
We’ll be in touch with more soon.
How do I estimate how much I might need? 
Here is a profile of a school we worked with & how they thought about estimating their needs.

Who are our suppliers? 

  • We’ve been in conversations with 23 suppliers over the past 8 weeks and my colleague Juan Francisco Hidalgo is in the process of pre-qualifying more. We plan to release an RFP and so we expect to have a wide range of options.
  • We’ve executed a few transactions with 5 primary companies that we’ve found to be very reliable and so we’ll likely have a variety of options to suit different needs.
  • One of our favorite suppliers is Carolina Textile District PPE — Take 10 seconds to check out their website right now.  – “In response to COVID-19, a consortium of 60 American manufacturers, The Carolina Textile District has come together to help produce medical supplies in response to a request from local healthcare providers.”
  • Read this story about how the group of US manufacturers (including worker-owned co-op — Opportunity Threads) came together in response to the pandemic: https://nonprofitquarterly.org/masks-mutual-aid-and-our-broken-supply-chains-a-north-carolina-story/

Who is CPA?

Community Purchasing Alliance (CPA) is a social-purpose cooperative that leverages the buying power of community institutions to help lower operating costs, while also making investments in sustainability, worker equity, and community organizing. As a cooperative, CPA is wholly owned by its members, creating a business that serves their needs first. Through aggregation and group procurement of services, CPA helps its members save money and get better service, while also holding vendors to high standards in terms of environmental and worker practices.

In 2019 CPA worked with over 120 organizations across 10 product/services areas to facilitate $17 million in purchasing. CPA offers expertise and competitive group procurement for services including energy (electricity and gas supply), waste pick-up, HVAC maintenance, solar development, janitorial, security, copier, and landscaping.

Check out CPA’s latest videos, including this member testimonial.

Do you cancel? Or do you move it online?

Screen Shot 2020-03-13 at 10.40.38 PM

Might this be an opportunity for you to re-imagine the quality and depth possible through better virtual spaces?

  • For me, most of the past 6 years I’ve built my organization while living at home in another city.
  • I’ve also built many of my deepest, most meaningful friendships, and communities online.
  • I’ve joined spirituality groups that only meet online.
  • I’ve started organizing 150+ gatherings online and made them meaningful for participants by using Zoom’s Breakout Rooms features — allowing us to have 1-on-1 networking and small group time.
  • I’ve also been using Zoom for enlisting my friends to help me make some of my hardest decisions, by facilitating virtual Clearness Committees.
  • Meaningful check-ins with friends from around the globe have made life easier in the hard times.

You can relate generously and in profound ways… all online. 

What I really want to tell you is — I think you would be surprised how much depth and quality you can find from the right kind social interaction online.

  • Seth Godin offers some of the most helpful advice. I highly recommend this post, and the Akimbo Workshops:
    • Here are two of the four leaps Seth says we need to make:
    • Leap 2: There’s a difference between asynchronous and synchronous interaction. We know this intuitively in the real world (a letter is different from a phone call) but online, it’s profound. A discussion board isn’t the same as a Zoom call. It turns out that we can create rich and layered conversations with async communication, but we also have to be just a bit more patient.

      Leap 3: More than one person can ‘talk’ at a time. In the real world, that’s impossible. At a table for six, we take turns talking. But in a chat room, we can all talk at the same time. Use it well and you can dramatically increase information exchange. (But if you try to follow all the threads, or you miss what you need, then it’s actually less effective.)

    • It’s possible, with effort, to transform business communications (and schooling) away from the top-down, synchronized, compliance-focused, off-the-record, hierarchical and slow status quo to something significantly more fluid and powerful. But we’ll need to do it on purpose.

 

Here’s what my experience has been:

  • Two years ago, I took the altMBA — a 4 week intensive workshop that was 100% online.
  • What I didn’t expect is that it transformed my perspective on how powerful virtual spaces could be. When the expectations are set for you to do your most important work and to embrace the emotional labor… and dance with your fear, I found myself being more vulnerable with the 3-4 others in my peer learning group. I found myself being more honest and real than I had been with some of my closest friends. My altMBA peers and I were together 3 days a week for 14 hours, so it was a lot of time together… but we also shipped 3 projects each week, commented on each other’s projects and wrote 3 reflections each week. Screen Shot 2019-12-10 at 2.36.26 PM
  • We got a LOT of work done together. I learned to give written feedback in a way that just mirrors back what I’m seeing. The every 3 day practice of writing a dozen set of comments taught me to ask better questions. The practice of writing and publishing online my reflection and synthesized learnings from reading other’s comments has led me to take more strategic risks. My peers in the learning groups taught me to create tension in a way that created change. The whole experience showed me that we can create a culture of reciprocity, where everyone actually does give generously, because they see how wonderful and liberating the culture can be.

The problem is, many of us interact online in crappy ways, and so we judge ourselves because some spaces are a bastion of negativity and distraction.

Take the leap. You, too, can create a culture of generosity, deep relating — all online. 

My hope in this time where we increase our social distance and stop our large gatherings, that you might see this moment as an opportunity to leap. An opportunity to take a risk, try something new — and collaboratively create online spaces that build the culture of reciprocity, gift, and mutuality. You can create the kind of culture that we most want to see.

In the next few days, I’m going to share the frameworks and strategies for how the online communities I’ve been part of have completely re-shaped my thinking for what’s possible online.

I hope you’ll join me in taking a leap to try re-thinking the possibilities when you bring the right tools together. With Zoom, Slack other similar tools, I think you may find the transition easier than you thought.

But there are a few critical elements…

Let me know if you’re ready for the leap, I’d love to talk.

I also have a live Q&A, best practices sharing, and more intensive spiritual community workshop that I’m leading coming up.