Unlocking Radical Collaboration

COMMON is now seven years old. In 2017 our community extended to 21 countries, with members working in 27 industries and businesses ranging in size from those that generate $100s of millions in annual revenue, to the first time solo entrepreneur attempting to validate an idea.

To this day however, social entrepreneurs too often experience material scarcity, and a slow detachment from the social purpose that inspired their vision. Too often we feel we must hold back our support for others in our community, people we love, who are working on social businesses we care deeply about. We believe we are being prudent by “putting on our own oxygen mask before helping others.” And yet, we don’t realize we are breathing just fine without the mask.

As business people, we have been brainwashed by the success of Silicon Valley, which focuses on the quest for venture capital and unicorn-level “exits” for investors. We are hamstrung by a financial-legal system which makes it quasi-illegal to put social benefit and the wellbeing of the planet above the interests of shareholders.

Like the cobbler’s shoeless children, the irony is not lost on us. Legendary venture investor, Brad Feld, made an observation which we feel holds the keys to our path forward: 

“In Boulder, people are willing to work harder and devote a greater amount of time to help startups succeed with no expectations for reward. Boulder caught fire because a few dozen entrepreneurs believed in their hearts that a rising tide lifts all boats and they derived great pleasure from helping make that happen.” -- Brad Feld, Startup Communities: Building an Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Your City

Feld’s Boulder experience reflects the DNA strands that were infused into COMMON: shared purpose, shared goals, shared means, and shared values predicated on the belief that instead of remaining purely independent and isolated — social businesses gain incalculable strength-in-numbers, and strength in brand.

Through Brad’s words, we recognize that to effect the change we wish to in the world, we, the COMMON community must first be the change. To that end we have dedicated the 2018 UNSUMMIT to: Unlocking Radical Collaboration.