The FEAST

July 28, 2009 § 1 Comment

“The Feast” is a cross-disciplinary series of programs addressing social innovation and new ways to make the world a better place. Last night alldaybuffet.org hosted their second Feast Salon including leaders in the field of social change, high-impact entrepreneurship, and social product development.

Ami Dar // Idealist
Ami Dar is the founder and executive director of Action Without Borders, the organization that maintains Idealist.org. Launched in 1996, Idealist is one of the most popular nonprofit resources on the Web, with information posted by 55,000 organizations around the world, and over 40,000 visitors every day. Ami was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Peru and Mexico, and worked as a waiter, translator, and marketing manager at a software company before starting AWB.

Ari’s presentation focused on the idea of realizing the gap between our ‘good intentions’ and ‘our actions’. He referenced the ease of commercial ventures that have successfully closed the loop between having money and buying something. For example Amazon closes this loop with it’s one click purchases. So why can’t we do that? Especially with all that is available to us today, we should be able to do more. Sometimes we have a conflict between our gut and our head. His advice is to trust your gut – define a goal, agree on the goal, and work together. We need to align ‘what we feel is possible’ closer to ‘what we think is possible’. In order to do this he suggests changing the terms of our debates, “don’t focus on issues, focus on closing the gap (between our ‘good intentions’ and ‘our actions’).” He mentioned Freud’s narcissism of small differences where people tend to take pride from the “small differences” that distinguish us from others that closely resemble us. He used an example of a group of women rights advocates who come together and might get distracted on the differences among their particular missions. Our problems are connected but we aren’t connected and we need to change this.

Elmira Bayrasli // Endeavor
Elmira Bayrasli is the Director of Corporate Partnerships and Outreach at Endeavor, a New York-based non-profit supporting high-impact entrepreneurship in emerging markets. Before joining Endeavor, Elmira was the Chief Spokesperson and Director of Press and Public Information at the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina in Sarajevo. In 1994 she joined the U.S. Mission to the United Nations, working for then Ambassador Madeleine K. Albright.

Elmira started her talk with a simple request. When meeting someone for the first time don’t ask, “what do you do.” Instead ask “what do you like to do or what do you care about?” She challenged the group and said, “What do you do to make people happy? If you don’t – do something else!” She gave a personal talk about her efforts in trying to do good. She recounted stories about her days in Sarajevo where she found herself discovering a divide between what she thought was helpful and what the people of Sarajevo considered helpful. We think we are helping, but are we really? Her solution to this was to listen to the people you want to help.

Ben Kaufman // Quirky
Ben Kaufman is the 22 year old founder of Quirky, a newly launched web-based collaboration and decision-making platform. Born of simpler roots – Mophie, an iPod accessory company relying heavily on its customer base in the design and development process – and Kluster. He seeks to foster the same principals in these projects by engaging consumers to conceive, design, brand, and launch new products.

Ben Kaufman began his presentation with the statement that Quirky is the result of five years of failure. He pushed the idea that a lot of good things can come out of failure. One good thing he realized was that collaborative decision making was key to his new idea, Quirky.

5 lessons
Lesson 1: You need a lot of eyeballs. Consult as many people as you can with your idea/product development.
Lesson 2: Do what you want not what your investors want.
Lesson 3: People have ideas.
Lesson 4: People will pay for good ideas.
Lesson 5: Influence comes from a lot of places.

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