Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is

I am a huge advocate for living a life with passion. Heck, if you aren’t passionate about something, why do it? Why just ‘go through the motions’ in life? When you are passionate and enthusiastic about all that you do, it shows and everyone involved gets more out of the deal.

My new ‘bling" for a student fundraiser.

This semester, I’m teaching my freshmen about social entrepreneurship. This is the idea of using entrepreneurial principles to create and manage a venture in order to achieve social change. I love this concept and often think of Blake  of TOMS Shoes as the poster child for this new way of doing business. In an effort to bring some ‘flavor’ to my class and get students to ‘learn by doing’ I decided to add this element to my course this year.

I thought about Muhammad Y and this 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner’s incredible work with micro-lending in Bangladesh.  Why couldn’t my students follow in Mr. M and Dr. Y’s footsteps on a smaller scale?  Why not?!  That is exactly what they are doing.  They have formed small entrepreneurial teams.  Those teams are creating and selling products and services in order to fund micro-loans.  They are developing lending criteria and montoring procedures.  They are journaling about their experiences as they go and incorporating those reflections into a paper and class presentation.

The experience is incredible!  The ‘lightbulbs’ are going off and they see the connection between their entrepreneurial entities and the finance they read about in their textbooks.  One group decided to make bracelets as part of their project.  They researched the material cost, conducted a break-even analysis, generated a marketing plan and have begun to execute it.  In just a week they have recovered their cost and are well on their way to making a real difference in an emerging nation.

I just had to support my students.  I bought a bracelet and applauded their effort. At the same time, I encouraged the other students to bring in their baked goods and other products so that I could support them too.  I’m not one to play ‘favorites’!  Perhaps one day I’ll start a more formal social entrepreneurship and/or micro-lending group on our campus so that I can get more students involved.  I’m not one to shy away from using new tools to tackle old problems.  The problems I’m addressing here are those such as:

  • How do I make finance interesting?
  • How do I help attract and retain students?
  • How do I make sure that they are really learning?
  • How can students (and others) give back to our local and global community?
  • How can students (and others) give in a way that is sustainable — throughout good and bad economic climates?
  • How do we learn and give and still have FUN?

I don’t know if I’ve found the answers to all of the problems, but as long as they are learning, having fun and helping others, I think I’m making progress.  On top of that, I’m having fun too, so clearly I’m doing something right.

Have YOU ever thought about how to do your job in a way that you reach your goals AND have fun doing it?  I’m fortunate to have a career with so much flexibility, but I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t put my own special brand of excitement in what I do by living my passion every day and showing my sincerity in all that I do.  I guess that’s just a part of who I am.

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