Uncharted Insider - February 2019

Uncharted Insider - February 2019

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the February edition of the Uncharted Insider.

Uncharted Update:

  • Affordable Housing Accelerator: In February Uncharted launched an affordable housing accelerator (in partnership with the Affordable Housing Institute, Gary Community Investments, and Boulder Housing Partners). The accelerator isn’t oriented around entrepreneurs (like most accelerators), but is targeted at affordable housing practitioners, investors/foundations, and businesses to identify new models of financing affordable housing initiatives.
  • Impact Measurement: Every year at this time, we collect impact data to evaluate the efficacy of our work. Our impact team is chasing entrepreneurs to submit data and crunching numbers in our CRM.

Idea on my mind:

Getting out of the way: We are doing more community mobilizing work as we connect organizations and people in one place to collectively create impact (see Hypothesis #2 here). I was in a meeting recently with a resident of one of these neighborhoods, and the language I was using and the way I was showing up were met with resistance. This person’s lived experience had justifiably made them suspicious of anyone who was trying to come in and “fix” their neighborhood (particularly when that person might be a white, male CEO of a non-profit). Fortunately, we have people on our team who are far more skilled in community relationship-building than I am. One of those people had joined me and her connection with this person was far better. She used different language, expressed herself differently, and altogether built a stronger relationship.

Later that same day, our COO gave me the permission to step back from leadership responsibilities that I wasn’t particularly good at. She is far better at these responsibilities than I am, so I gladly accepted. As Uncharted grows, my role is becoming more narrow. I’ve always seen myself as a generalist, and the generalist skill-set has been valuable for me since I joined Uncharted in 2012. But I’m brushing up against instances where my attempts at generalist-leadership are sub-optimal. I am realizing the path forward is one where I surrender areas of work I once owned and hand more leadership to the people I stand beside (it’s not hard to do with our badass team).

Monthly Rant

Redefining Innovation: For a word as ubiquitous as innovation, it is poorly defined. I attended an “Innovation conference” this month and people were slinging the word around with such impressive velocity that either I was on the outside of a secret innovation club, or it’s our sector’s equivalent to saying “um” or “like.” When you don’t know what else to say, sprinkle the word “innovation” and “innovative” throughout your vocabulary and you’ll quickly establish yourself as a club member. But instead of writing off innovation as another hackneyed concept in the impact zeitgeist, we need to press in. Keeping it in the realm of ambiguity only makes it more inaccessible. What is innovative is often less of a leap from the status quo than we think. The word conjures vague notions of new ideas, 3D-printed products, and futuristic business models. But some of the best innovations are often just slight tweaks on existing models. Innovation is more about borrowing than it is about inventing, more about adapting existing approaches to new markets and customers. Fast Company just came out with its list of the 50 most innovative companies for 2018, and a striking number of them are “innovative” through adaptation, evolution, and tweaking versus through novelty, invention, and lab-based R&D.

Can you help?

What are the best ways to speed up a hiring process while not sacrificing quality?

What I’m reading:

  • A $1 increase in the minimum wage reduces child neglect reports by 10%. How increases in the minimum wage have positive implications on the social determinants of health. Here.
  • Philanthropists like Lisa Chan and Mark Zuckerberg, Pierre Omidyar, and Laurene Powell Jobs are converting their foundations to LLCs. Why? Here.
  • Estonia has built the world’s first “data embassy” and is running its government like a tech company. Here.
  • The LGBT renaissance in the trucking community. How two stats are connected: 70% of all goods shipped in the US are driven by truckers, and in 31 states, you can still be fired for being LGBTQ.

Something personal:

There’s this coffee shop one block from my house that’s owned by this couple, Desiree and Mike. They pull one of the best espresso shots outside of Australia, where my love of coffee bloomed into existence when I lived there in 2011. Anyway, as you can tell, Desiree, Mike, and I are on a first-name basis, and despite me being just one of their many patrons, they remember specifics about my life. I wouldn’t consider them friends, but we’ve transcended the chasm of transactional strangerhood and entered this rare and comforting solidarity of people who are loosely known to one another and whose lives afford opportunities to regularly, but not deeply, intersect. There is a satisfaction often under-appreciated in the low-touch relationships in our lives that sustain themselves without any pressure for them to be anything more or less than they are.


United in the common work,