Uncharted Insider - October 2019

Uncharted Insider - October 2019

Hi everyone,

Welcome to the October edition of the Uncharted Insider.

Uncharted Update:

  • We selected 18 child-focused ventures for Futurebound Acceleration Lab, which will provide this cohort with the tools they need to succeed in Colorado over eight months.
  • We’ve been hiring for 2020. Currently, we have three roles open. Do you know our next hire? Share the applications directly with them or refer them through this short survey.
  • This year we launched an internal startup/new revenue-line inside Uncharted that licenses our curriculum around the world to nascent accelerators that are seeking our playbook to run high-quality programs for local social entrepreneurs in their region. We’re in month eight of this experiment, and we’re seeing some sales traction. Big shout out to Caitlin Ferguson on our team who deserves all of the credit.

Ideas on my mind:

Scale versus leverage. If I can generalize, the social enterprise / impact investing space focuses more on scale, while the social justice / activism space focuses more on leverage. This makes sense: social enterprises are rewarded when they grow in size, and the capital in impact investing pipes is intended to beget more capital. In the social justice / advocacy space, there is more focus on creating impact through systems, and therefore organizations must create leverage to influence that system. Rarely will one organization — through its sheer size — tip a system, but if it works through its leverage points, and in concert with other organizations working through leverage points, then a coordinated effort might be more successful. Embracing the idea of leverage (instead of just scale) will likely mean smaller organizations, less opportunities for follow-on rounds of impact investments, and maybe less directly-attributable impact...all of which would challenge the vogue notions of scale, proof, and credit. But in exchange, you might begin to work further upstream on issues whose downstream consequences necessitate big social enterprises and lots of impact investing capital. Scale and leverage are not mutually exclusive, and I’m curious how these spaces might further cross-pollinate.

Monthly Rant

Proclamations versus invitations. I attended an impact investing / social impact conference this month, and I was struck by how much of the overarching discourse and conference structure was designed around promotional marketing and self-congratulation. Lots of organizational horn-tooting. I get it...organizations need to market themselves, bring in funding, secure press, receive accolades, and burnish their cultivated images (all things that we do too; we’re not above this). But I am annoyed by the panels that are happy to operate within the familiar, acronymed grooves of industry platitudes and feigned vulnerability. Where is the hearty debate? Where is the honest disagreement on approach? Where is the airtime for those willing to talk about their biggest actual mistakes in the last year? I don’t think we’re incapable of it; we simply aren’t co-inviting each other into spaces of perceived safety where such topics can be exchanged with courage and full-throated honesty. Time to replace proclamations with invitations, time to exchange our sanctimony with curiosity.

Can you help?

  • I’m looking to connect with someone who steered a fast-growing social enterprise/non-profit about how they grew their business development team and built a revenue/funding machine. A few archetypal examples are someone in leadership at New Story or Scott Harrison from Charity Water.
  • I am looking to connect with funders targeting climate activism, climate justice, and climate innovations. Ping me, and I can share more details.
  • Who runs or is on a world-class board of directors? Can you introduce me?

What I’m reading:

  • Four of the top 48 executives at Amazon are women. Plus other insights into the inner-workings of Amazon and Bezos. Here. Another article underscores the challenges facing Amazon and its impending confrontation with antitrust regulators. Here.
  • How the wilderness and backcountry might be the best incubator of leadership. The impressive number of leaders who are also NOLS graduates. Here.
  • This seven-part series by the Harvard Business Review on gender equality, women, power, and influence. First article by Melinda Gates.
  • The tension between the hyperbole of a CEO and the financial supremacy of their investors. When investors strike back. Here.

Something personal:

I'm spending more time working on my house these days. Turns out I love interior design and the way that different textures, spaces, lighting, and permutations of art and furniture can create a sense of belonging and rest, of energy and inspiration, of confidence and possibility. I’m also curious how our physical spaces tell a story and serve as a kind of three-dimensional tapestry of expression. In what ways is our art telling a story of justice? How is our living space inviting belonging of a guest? What feeling do we have when we walk in the door after a long day? The private spaces we create and curate for ourselves are profoundly powerful in the formation of our outlook and sense of self.


From snowy Denver,