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

Sometimes it takes a cowboy to put them social entrepreneurs in their place.

Thanks to the social entrepreneurs at Good Company Ventures for an awesome summer. My title was entrepreneur-in-residence but I’m convinced that I learned way more from them than they did from me.

If this list sounds familiar, you belong in next year’s class.

The Top 10 Reasons “You Might Be a Social Entrepreneur if…”

#10: Your bottom lines have bottom lines
#9: VCs think you’re a hippie and non-profits think you’re a capitalist
#8: Your products are more sustainable than your cash flow
#7: Your pitch made a grown man cry
#6: You invited Al Gore to join your advisory board
#5: You’d sleep at Whole Foods if it was closer to the office
#4: You have more interns than customers
#3: You are going to impact a billion people…even if it takes you a year
#2: You have more ex-developers than ex-girlfriends
#1: Your friends wonder when you’re going to get a real job. Your parents flat out ask you

Forgive the crickets and tumbleweeds on this blog during the last few weeks. I’ve been pulled every which way in the rest of my life and have sorely missed you all while I’ve been away. This community keeps me smiling and thinking, and I’m looking forward to sharing a life update soon to reignite things on the blog.

In the meantime, here’s an update on the Missioneurs Movement, one of the many things I’ve been working on. Building movements is hard, and one of the hardest parts of this movement has been agreeing on answers to tough existential questions about what we believe and what we hope to accomplish together.

I’m just one voice in this conversation. Here’s my most recent take on missioneurship from a presentation I gave at the Philadelphia kickoff event for Good Company Ventures.

You’ll notice that I try to be funny with my slides. This is new for me, as I’m sure you can tell. They say that comedians have to try out a new joke at least a dozen times in front of audiences before they nail it. We can only guess where that leaves me!

Presentation Video

Read more…

This is the first post in a five-part series on missioneurs, a new community of startup and social entrepreneurs.

The premise is that startup entrepreneurs and social entrepreneurs need each other. Alone, too many of their great ideas are struggling and failing. Together, they can fill in each other’s blind spots, build stronger companies and make greater change.[Missioneurship image]

A new post in this series will be published every day this week. Blog subscribers will receive them one day early by email or RSS.


Great startups and non-profits are dying needlessly, and it’s time for those of us who care to do something about it.

The obituaries look so familiar that they start to run together.

Here lies Anthillz, a tech startup that failed for lack of traction, inability to attract investors and too much time and money spent building the right tech team.

Here lies Great Intentions, a (barely) fictitious non-profit that died the non-profit version of this same death. It lost its foundation funding, laid off most of its staff, sought help in vain from its indifferent board – most of whom missed that board meeting, just like the ones before it – and forced its founders to look for other work because they couldn’t afford to pay themselves a salary, not even the peanuts they were making before.

If you’re a startup or social entrepreneur, one of these two stories should sound familiar. You probably hear versions of them again and again. 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…