Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Action > Awareness

Some classes at Darden are dangerous.

Some of my fellow students would argue that it's DAO (Data Analysis and Optimization) or Valuations that are the dangerous classes. I've found that another class is dangerous: Creative Capitalism.

When I left the not-for-profit world to go into business school some six years ago, I thought I had left the social space. The reality is that I never truly escaped it. Concern for others is in my blood. It was in my blood when I ran day camps for two summers between my years of undergraduate studies (and if you've ever spent a summer recruiting 150 volunteers and then indirectly managing a whole handful of kids, you probably know that it's a lot more work than interning in an office somewhere). It was in my blood when I was enlisted to run our workplace United Way campaign.

So I don't know why I thought I could escape it and dream of a career earning tonnes of money and purchasing my heart's content worth of Jimmy Choos and Cole Haans. (shoes, for the uninformed in women's fashion)

In reality, if I wanted to escape my social conscience, I should have avoided Creative Capitalism. I thought that I could satisfy my social conscience by making people "aware" of the problems in the world and then maybe throwing some of my 10% tithe at them. (the problems, not the people)

But I'm finding that awareness is relatively useless. Yay, so I'm aware that there is an insanely high rate of AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa. I can tell you, and you would be aware, too. Yippee. Now we both know and can tell other people who will also know. How does that help the orphaned child in Swaziland?

Taking a class on Creative Capitalism is offering opportunities for action. All entrepreneurship comes from the examination of "pains". Tonight I'm going to order my groceries online for pick-up tomorrow afternoon in my school parking lot. That effort was a result of someone getting frustrated about driving around picking up groceries.

In the same way, social entrepreneurship comes from social pains. I haven't figured it out yet, but there's a way to solve the AIDS problem if we think carefully. In fact, the inventors of the female condom have found one way to halt the spread of AIDS. Going beyond AIDS to poverty in general, I have a classmate who invests in farms in sub-Saharan Africa which create jobs and get the economy flowing.

I will never be content simply running discounted cash flows and nursing my designer shoe budget. The more I sit in Creative Capitalism, the more of an impetus I feel for leaving my mark on society. Jon Foreman "tweeted" this quote today: "Lives, like money, are spent. What are you buying with yours?" - Roy H. Williams


Metal said...

I fail to understand why people focus on issues like Global Warming, when there are people on this planet who don't get potable water and basic healthcare. Long live simplicity.

John.B.Buckner said...

People focus on global warming because it most negatively affects the poor, causing droughts, famines, the spread of disease (increasing the 'mosquito zone' and thus malaria), etc. But I understand where you're coming from Metal. So Julie, how are your plans going for changing the world. Do you think you will work with AIDS relief after finishing school?

Raffy said...

Hi Julie. I'm a prospective Darden MBA student and I plan on becoming a social entrepreneur in the agriculture sector in the Philippines after taking my MBA. I'd like to hear more about your thoughts on Professor Freeman's workshop on Creative Capitalism. Were there any great ideas from the class that you can share? What did you end up doing as a final project? Also, did you attend any other similar classes such as the Markets in Human Hope class of Professor Warnock?