I have been researching local non-profit organizations to support throughout the summer. This week, I was blessed to attend Plywood Presents at the Buckhead Theater on Wednesday and Thursday in Atlanta, GA. I first learned of the Plywood People while visiting one of my new favorite local shops in the Castleberry Hill area, The Boxcar Grocer. I was instantly intrigued and in my normal nosy way, I took to Google and did my research on the organization. Instantly, I wanted to be a part of Plywood People as a volunteer.
Plywood People, is a local 501(c)3 that supports social entrepreneurs¹ and provide relief to the poor and underprivileged through education and implementation. Plywood hosts events, conferences, and retreats to help social entrepreneurs pursue their ideas. On Wednesday, Plywood Presents welcomed over 400 people to Atlanta for a two day conference that featured 12 presenters like Brad Montague, the Creator of the YouTube sensation, Kid President and Father Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries.
The entire experience was a life changing one for me. I met some of the most creative innovators, entrepreneurs and supporters of social change that inspired and motivated me! I admit, I’ve struggled with my true purpose in life over the past three years. I cannot say that I have all the answers, but I can say that I’m in a more concise state now, then I have been in the past few years. I’m a constant work in progress and that’s okay. Here are a few of my takeaways from the conference:
1. How do we do more with what we have? – A question posed by Grace Kim, Director of Partnership at GOOD/Corps
GOOD is a social networking website for “People who give a damn.” Grace presented this question and it was explosive! I don’t know about you but I have some pretty awesome resources within myself. I have a strong network, a great personality, excellent business skills (if I do say so myself) and a heart to change the world. What if we took a few of our many skills and used it for good? Imagine how much we could impact our city, state and world.
2. Speaker Nathan Williams, Founder of Kinfolk Magazine listed 8 things that were a success for his start-up business.
I won’t list them all but my favorites were (a) Try Not to Please Everyone, (b) Create “the master list” Time Yourself and (c) Swim in Wild Water.
(a) Try not to please everyone. I am so guilty of this! I over commit to many things and have a hard time saying no. This is no bueno! In business, everyone isn’t going to like your idea, attend your events, or like your designs and that’s okay. What you do isn’t for everyone. Once you realize that, you will be much better off. Don’t take it personal, just stick to your guns and politely move on.
(b) Create “the master list” will hold you accountable. My mother used to tell me to write things down and I, of course, ignored her but NOW I find it to be mandatory. Create a master list and within the list create categories like Immediate or Delegate. A key point that Nathan Williams also mentioned was to “Time Yourself.” Consider that for a moment. We can easily get distracted by the world when we have a list of tasks to complete. Use your smart phone or a mini timer to sit in your office from time to time. Turn it on when you have a pressing task to complete and it will hold you accountable to get ish done!
(c) Swim in Wild Waters. This was the speakers way of saying take time to unwind in your own way. I don’t swim but I love the water. Take a 24 hour time-out to float down the Chattahoochee, get a hotel in the city and let your cell phone battery die on purpose or send the day at the spa. Work hard but also play hard. Take mental days off to rejuvenate yourself so that you can be better at what you do.
3. Think Big, Start Small and Keep Moving – Charles Lee, CEO of Ideation
Don’t let your dreams die. If you have a crazy idea, don’t think negatively like “I can never pull this off!” Take your amazing ideas and start small to make them a reality. Make a list. Do your research. Ask the right questions and take action steps. Charles Lee said, “Brainstorming meetings are neat but they are also unproductive!” Sometimes we talk and talk and talk about an idea but we spend so much time talking that it never gets done. Keep moving! Don’t take amazing ideas to your grave, leave your mark on the world!
Here are a few images that sum up my experience at the conference. Please, click on each link in this post, learn more about the businesses and how you can become involved with one or more of these organizations!
Cheers to changing lives!
¹A Social Entrepreneurs adopt a mission to create and sustain social value. They pursue opportunities to serve this mission, while continuously adapting and learning. (reference- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_entrepreneurship)