The Why Behind the SVI

By Ajax Greene

We have met the enemy and they are us. Oftentimes the biggest challenges a business owner or nonprofit leader faces is the “stuff” we all have that prevents us from acting in our own or our organization’s best interest. For social entrepreneurs who are working toward inventing a new economy this can be even more pronounced.

Personally I am not Buddhist enough to pray for adversity. Yet as you could learn at the upcoming Social Venture Institute / Hudson Valley (May 9-11) from our two keynote True Confession speakers, failure is integral to success.

On Friday evening we have Amanda Steinberg, the founder and CEO of DailyWorth, a website rocking the world of personal finance for women. I have known Amanda since she was about 22 (she’s now 36). She was part a team that built the second website I ever built. Amanda is living proof that after several failed attempts she discovered the right “business model” and found the right mentors. With significant amounts of venture capital raised (many millions) — including from a Google founder — she is on a rocket ship. Be prepared to be inspired by a young single mom who is choosing to overcome her challenges.

The Saturday night True Confessions speaker is Dal LaMagna. I don’t want to give away all the details, but on his way to becoming “Tweezerman” and now CEO of the Brooklyn-based recycled counter tops manufacturer IceStone, Dal will recount how many credit cards he maxed out (a lot) and how many failures he had (a lot) before becoming the amazing “overnight” success he is today. Maybe he will even talk about his failed attempts to run for Congress.

If you cannot attend the entire conference, but want to hear Dal and connect with full conference participants then you can attend the public “Keynote + Cocktails” event. Dal will be providing everyone a free copy of his book.

The idea behind the SVI is to not only inspire you but give you actionable tools to maintain your business on a sustainable path to the success you have defined for yourself. This is not meant to be a quick crack high. It is a safe place to learn and grow with your peers and gather the specific tools you need to minimize your failures and maximize your dreams.

Consider applying to be a Case Study presenter. These are the core of the SVI model, where the greatest learning happens. A presenter poses a specific business problem to a panel of “expert” respondents. Panelists and retreat participants alike offer advice based on their experience and expertise. My co-producer Scott Tillitt likes to call it, “’Shark Tank’ without the snark.” Whether as a participant or a member of the audience the learning is deep and real..

We have four amazing panelists: Mike Oates works with local investor and politician Sean Eldridge as CEO of Hudson River Ventures. It takes a keen business eye to find a business that will repay a loan or give a return on an equity investment here in the Hudson Valley, and that’s Mike’s role. Heather Jassy is a VP at Etsy. A former entrepreneur and therapist she now spends her days designing programs to help Etsy sellers all over the globe to be more effective business people. Raphael Bemporad is a partner at BBMG, a Brooklyn-based branding consultancy that has done extensive research into why customers are so drawn to values-led companies. I’ve referenced before in this column Raphael’s work on “in me, on me, around me.” Learn data-driven ways to more effectively communicate your message. Through her “ecopreneur”-focused coworking space Green Spaces (soon becoming Impact Hub NY), Marissa Feinberg is at the center of all the cool, hip innovative socially responsible companies in NYC.

We will end on a high note with Accord-based Jeffery Davis, a nationally recognized expert on how how creatives flourish in times of challenge and change. Not a simple task, but maybe the most important.

We want nothing less than the weekend at SVI Hudson Valley to empower you to make the internal changes that will drive your organization’s success. Remember that as social entrepreneurs we are working to solve both local and global challenges with a new way of doing business.

Finally, something all conference producers know, but many will not admit: As cool as all these speakers are, the real magic usually happens late at night or over a sumptuous meal with your fellow attendees. We’re blessed to host this at the Omega Institute, a place conducive to such magic. SVIs have produced new lifelong friends, profitable business collaborations ,and intense moments of connection.

Please join us May 9-11. Details at www.svihudsonvalley.com.

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