Uncharted Insider - June 2019

Uncharted Insider - June 2019

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the June edition of the Uncharted Insider.

Uncharted Update:

  • Launching Futurebound Acceleration Lab: We launched a new initiative in partnership with Gary Community Investments called Futurebound that is focused on early childhood ventures looking to land and expand in Colorado. Spread the word!
  • Visible Connect Interviews: Our team is in the middle of selecting our next cohort of Visible Connect ventures using mobile tech to create impact in communities across the US. We will be announcing selected ventures later this summer.

Ideas on my mind:

Physical space: We just moved into a new office space, and it’s made me consider the impact that physical space has on our human psychology: the physical spaces we occupy shape our sense of self and what we’re capable of. They have a bearing on our confidence, creativity, courage, and belonging. I’m learning that if those concepts play centrally into an organization’s culture and collective identity, then our physical work spaces are worth serious design and consideration. I know this isn’t a new idea, but it’s been an exciting intention that we’ve brought into working with an architect, an interior designer, and our team to explore how our new Uncharted HQ can be a place of creativity, a place of shared belonging, a place with gravitational pull for our network and community. We just moved in three weeks ago, so I’m curious what kinds of stories this space will invite us to tell about our vision, our impact, and ourselves. Come find us at 3532 Franklin St, Denver, CO.

Donor Advised Funds: We’ve spent considerable time in the last six months researching the Donor Advised Fund (DAF) market and how Uncharted might better partner with DAFs to drive funding to our portfolio of social ventures. It’s becoming clear that a DAF renaissance is afoot: the assets in DAFs have more than doubled in the last five years to $110 billion, the number of DAFs outnumbers foundations 5:1 (460,000 DAFs in the US), and the largest charity in the United States is not the Red Cross or another household name; it’s Fidelity Charitable, the DAF-provider arm of Fidelity. But even with such a meteoric rise, DAFs are still vastly unknown, misunderstood, and underutilized. Money is being aggregated into DAFs at a staggering rate, but once deposited inside, there is little incentive (and some disincentives) for dollars to be put to work creating impact in communities.

Before you can mobilize capital, you need to mobilize humans. Underneath strategies and behind bank accounts, there are humans making decisions. DAFs have the potential to be one of the most powerful financial vehicles available to create impact, but ultimately everything hinges on a fundamental human behavior question: how might we compel people to take full advantage of their DAF and use it more actively?

Can you help?

  • We created a case-study about ourselves that we want to share with people who can advise us on designing our growing business development department. Let me know if you (or someone else) can be helpful in exploring the future of Uncharted’s business development strategy, and I’ll send over the case-study.
  • Does anyone have a good contact at the Heron Foundation who is managing their impact investing strategy?

What I’m reading:

  • The end of expertise and the rise of “fluid intelligence.” How the Navy is shifting its staffing model and what the future of work looks like in the 21st century. Here.
  • The peculiar culture of a company trying to sell culture. The story of WeWork (and its founder). Here.
  • By 2030, “care workers” (nannies and health aids) will be the biggest workforce in the US. The rising movement to protect and advocate for the rights of domestic workers. Here.
  • The boom of Sikh truck-drivers in the US. Discrimination, faith, Indian food, and the truck-driver shortage along US highways. Here.

Something personal:

I was in the Portland airport this month, which happens to be the place where one of the most extraordinary stories in my life began. Here’s what happened:

Seven and a half years ago, I sat in the airport atrium annoyed that I wasn’t able to fly standby on an earlier flight back to Denver. I had flown up to Portland for a job interview that hadn’t gone well, and I was hoping to get home earlier. The gate agent had acknowledged available seats, but some technicality with my ticket didn’t provide the opportunity to get onboard.

Angry at the gate agent and frustrated with my luck, I took a seat on a bench in the airport atrium and defaulted to my phone to entertain me for the six hours until the next flight. I rarely used Twitter back then, but I had a lot of time to kill, so I found myself mindlessly scrolling through Twitter. Somewhere in those six hours, there was a tweet posted from the Unreasonable Institute (what is now Uncharted) seeking a 10-hour per week unpaid intern to lend a hand for five weeks. I was coming off another unsuccessful job interview, and I was feeling insecure; a 10-hour per week unpaid internship for five weeks wasn’t my idea of a career opportunity, but I kept getting rejected from every job I applied to, so on the flight home, I updated my resume and drafted a cover letter. One month later I was hired, and seven and half years later I am still here with the privilege of serving as the CEO.

If I had been able to board that earlier flight, I wouldn’t have ever come across that tweet looking for an internship. But something kept me off that flight and in the airport. The last 7.5 years have been the greatest adventure of my life and Unreasonable Institute/Uncharted has presented a career opportunity bigger than my wildest dreams. I had no idea when I came across that tweet, in the throes of my frustration and boredom, that it would lead to such a beautiful, unfolding journey ahead.

When I pause to think about it, many of the biggest leaps in my life have happened at unexpected, liminal moments. They have not entered through the front door with great fanfare and expectation, but instead happened when I’m least expecting it, when I’m most resisting it, when the last place to look is the place I’m most trying to escape from. Cheryl Strayed says: “There are some things you can’t understand yet. Your life will be a great and continuous unfolding.” So here’s to more long layovers, more frustration, more boredom. Here’s to letting this wondrous life continue to unfold.


High fives,