If I Were Running A Company…Accelerating Social Entrepreneurship


(Disclaimer: My company, Tran Recruiting, was a sponsor at the Accelerating Social Entrepreneurship Conference)

Last week, I attended the fourth Accelerating Social Entrepreneurship (ASE) Conference (they didn’t have the conference last year) where 300 attendees from academic, government, public, and private sectors to discuss the role of social entrepreneurship in the age of austerity. This was a lively, transparent discussions throughout the day and am amazed by the brute honestly from speakers, especially Senator Mark Warner. Here are some highlights at the ASE Conference:

  • Managing Director of the Mason Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Greg Werkheiser, mention the ASE Conference is to make you happy.
  • From Sen. Warner, “85% of the 2011 federal budget cuts came from 14% of the budget came from discretionary domestic spending.” Basically, they cut out education, transportation, lunch meals, etc.
  • “Nonprofits not only need to collaborate, but compete.” – Bill Shore
  • Nearly everyone agrees collaboration between social entrepreneurs and public policy is a must.
  • “We need more ‘creative destruction’ in the nonprofit world.” – Sen. Warner
  • It is alright to fail, but don’t go rock bottom if you have to borrow money from your parents’ retirement fund.
  • According to Michael Chodos of the Small Business Administration, rural and under-served communities are the fastest growing businesses in the U.S.
  • Three plans you need: spiritual, financial, and a business plan.
  • Most important thing to go into social entrepreneurship: Start!
  • “I drop ‘run like a business’ because it doesn’t make sense. You just have to be a good executive.” – Mario Morino
  • “There is no difference between social entrepreneurs and entrepreneurs in general. It’s about execution” – Morino.
  • “It’s a great moment in the world that people are challenging cultures that have been held for a long time.” –Muslim Lakhani.
  • “Leaders need a new social contract when they hold the position.” – Lakhani.
  • “Social Entrepreneurship isn’t about creating a nonprofit, but businesses that do good for society.” – Paul Carttar.
  • “If you own a Kindle, you’re adding to the trade deficit.” – Terry McAuliffe.

There are hundreds of themes, but the one main thing I want to take away is actually a quote from Mitt Romney from his campaign telling that “corporations are people.” In hindsight, that was kind of true when Occupy Wall Street happened because protesters, in my opinion, wanted jobs in the corporate world and are getting the shaft, hence all this attention. Fast forward to this conference, Senator Warner mention that colleges need to do a better job on creating better social entrepreneurs, for which he hasn’t seen any good program, yet. This is where institutions need to do a better job to change the mindset of people.

If Occupy Wall Street is about getting an opportunity, a natural-minded entrepreneur would be surrounding him/herself in a gold of potential workers locally. There are only a few cases of this, but if, for example, the Mason Center of Social Entrepreneurship educate people who want to good, the Center has to educate on the choices that are out there. Some people want to be social entrepreneurs, some want to work within a nonprofit, or some want to be a consultant to work for numerous nonprofits. Institutions need to give these “do-gooders” options instead of one mindset that after college, they have to go to the “corporate” world to learn. Universities have to step to the plate to make a smooth transition for students going into the real world and that’s giving them options.

If there is one thing that I would improve about the conference, it’s not about the conference but more about timing, is put this a day before the DCWeek core conference and do something with “Give To The Max” Day. You would see the inner workings of a wonderful conference even better.

I might sound bias since I’m a George Mason alum and a sponsor, but if you want an honest, lively, engaging, and transparent conversation on social entrepreneurs, nonprofits and how the public and private sector can help, this conference is meant for you. If you’re a nonprofiteer, social entrepreneur, nonprofit of setting up your conference schedule next year in the DC area, this is a must.

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