Impact Is Not An Industry
I meet a lot of young people who are inspired by social enterprise – the idea that you can do good and make money at the same time.
Interestingly, they usually say one of two things – either they feel the need to join the “impact industry”, or they’re disappointed that their skillset doesn’t fit with the “impact industry”.
There’s good news for both groups:
Impact in not an industry – it’s a part of every industry.
If you’re in Melbourne, you might have heard of Nas Sobhani – or as he’s better known, The Streets Barber.
Nas is a former drug addict and an incredible barber, with a passion for bringing people joy and sharing the stories of the homeless.
Have a look at his work – clearly positive social impact, and in the field of hairdressing of all things.
Impact is a mindset
It’s a way of looking at the world that asks “How can I use my skills to help people?”
It might be in product design – have a look at Ability Mate using 3D printing to make mobility equipment for children.
It might be through music -look at what the Choir Of Hard Knocks does for its members and its audience.
It might be through the law, like how Justice Connect offer legal assistance to those in need.
One of the mixed blessings we have is that there’s no shortage of problems to tackle.
Our task is to find our cause, our skills, then think creatively about how we can combine the two.
Elon Musk is doing it, he’ll probably do more for renewable energy than anyone else in our lifetime, and without the label of social entrepreneur.
NFL Players do it, JJ Watt recently used his platform to raise over $40 million for emergency relief after Hurricane Harvey.
Even the bible talks about it; Romans 12 says “We have different gifts…if it is serving then serve; if it is teaching then teach; if it is to encourage then give encouragement; if it is to give then give generously; if it is to lead, do it diligently; if it is to show mercy, do it cheerfully”
Irrespective of your religious views, it’s really good career advice.
Causes need action
Let’s say you work in social media.
Maybe you feel like you’re promoting crap brands to an audience who doesn’t care.
You probably wonder if you should have done your masters in international politics instead, in order to make a difference.
Right now, I’d bet most charities would rather recruit an incredible social media manager than someone who studies international politics.
That’s because those skills will raise their brand profile, engage donors, lift income and ultimately change lives.
More than you will if you write dull reports that nobody reads.
“My mother said to me, ‘if you are a soldier, you will become a general. If you are a monk, you will become the Pope.’ Instead, I was a painter, and became Picasso”
If you want to make a meaningful difference in the world, start by using the skills you already have.
We need good teachers, good graphic designers, good accountants, good lawyers, good filmmakers.
You aren't limited by your day job; this can be something you do on nights and weekends.
It’s so low risk - you get to do fulfilling work and build your talents.
You don't need permission either; pick someone you can help, see what was useful, do it again but a little better, repeat.
Better yet, something small and creative that you’ve started will look much better on your CV than a crap role at a stodgy old charity.
But more than that, it’s downright satisfying to help people.