Writings by a younger, less handsome man who shares my name

I’m writing from Warsaw, Poland just one hour before leading a “masterclass” on missioneurship at the European Creative Cities Conference.

I’m surrounded by young social entrepreneurs from places like Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Poland, Denmark, Sweden, England, Ireland, Thailand and, yes, the good old United States — although I’m one of only two Americans here.

The social entrepreneurs here get missioneurship, they really do. It’s intuitive to them to put mission at the center of their universe and to treat entrepreneurship as a means to that end. They get the importance of driving revenue from their core services, even though they don’t know how to do it. They understand that by building mission enterprises, they can revolutionize their communities, even when governments and established institutions aren’t willing to help (or actively oppose them).

What don’t they understand? Above all, me! Sometimes they ask me to repeat myself because they can’t understand my English or I talk too fast. I adjusted my presentation slides to make up for this, with lots of text slides so that they can follow along when they have trouble understanding me.

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[Image of famous Love Park. Click 'Show Images' to view.]

UPDATE (1/25/2010 @ 4:30pm): Rumor has it that Philadelphia is now going to be included in the Fast Company list of top startup cities! Here’s what Brad Feld writes below in the comments:

“I predict you will see Philly in the Fast Company series. I’ve already made intos for them there for an interview. They’ve expanded the list of cities beyond the original five (Boulder, NY, Seattle, Boston, and Austin). Philly is in the next batch.”

This is an amazing conclusion: You spoke and, with Brad’s help, Fast Company listened!

Most entrepreneurs have no idea about the magical things happening in Philadelphia.

Fast Company is doing a five-part series on great startup cities outside of Silicon Valley. It’s likely that Philadelphia is not one of them.

They have already featured New York City and Boulder, and Fred Wilson says Seattle is also on the list. That leaves two more, and I haven’t heard about them interviewing anyone from Philly.

Let’s change that.

If you were interviewed by Fast Company, how would you answer the question, “Why should you start a company in Philly?” Read more…

As I announced earlier this week, I quit a great job at TicketLeap, one of Philadelphia’s most promising young companies, without any idea of what I would do next. I hadn’t even started the search.
Jumping without a parachute
It’s either brave or foolish
, depending on who you ask. It’s also hard to understand, especially for my mother. I think she worries that I’m too proud to move in with her — that she will see me on the news one day holding a sign that says, “Will bring you customers for food.”

So I want to share the story of why I left and why I did it without a parachute. I also want to give you some ammunition in case you find yourself in a similar situation. After all, it’s hard to explain your apparent insanity to everyone you know. It’s also hard to ignore that voice inside your head that will say anything to talk you out of it.

The million dollar question

Before we go any further, let’s acknowledge the elephant in the room: it seems insane to jump without a parachute, especially in a recession. It seems insane for one simple reason. Read more…