By Carlo Diy (LA ’11)
The more time I spend in the social innovation space, the more I see that creation is a constant process of getting stuck and unstuck, stuck again and unstuck. Again.
Sometimes, getting unstuck is as simple as going for a run or bouncing some ideas off of friends and family. But on other occasions, the rut can seem much more permanent. A day of indecisiveness can drag on for an entire week. A week of sub-par productivity can turn into an entire month. At least that’s been the case for me.
In getting my startup social enterprise off the ground, 7 books have been indispensable during the most severe and most frustrating times of stuck-ness. I find myself returning to them often. Most of these titles would appear in a bookstore’s Business/Professional Development section. And that, we’d say, is respectable. But for at least 2 of them, you would definitely have to duck into the “Self Help” aisle. And this, we often think, carries some kind of stigma with it. Like: “Mmm Hmm…And how does that make you feeeeeel?”
Nonsense. I have no idea how or why self-improvement has gotten a bad rap. If you’re serious about doing meaningful work and being great for the people in your life, doesn’t all reading boil down to improving yourself?
I think it does. And I know these books have paid for themselves hundreds of times over in different situations. If you’re feeling stuck for similar reasons, I’d encourage you to check them out!
When you want to take the leap but need a push…
Linchpin: Are You Indispensable? (by Seth Godin)
Every time I recommend this book to someone I say, “Be careful – you just might quit that job you don’t love.”
When you’re not sure where to start with your new big thing…
The Lean Startup: How Today’s Entrepreneurs Use Continuous Innovation to Create Radically Successful Businesses (by Eric Ries)
Lean methodology doesn’t only apply to tech companies. Anyone trying to solve a problem for any group will get at least a dozen actionable and hugely important next steps from reading this. Plus, check out the book’s cameo in the hilarious and brilliant viral video from the Dollar Shave Club.
When you think you don’t have enough connections…
Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship At A Time (by Keith Ferrazzi)
I used to think of “networking” as a skill set among those who did it right and, at its worst, a slick act among those who did it wrong. Keith’s book not only humanizes “networking,” it made me genuinely excited to meet new people and take care of the people already in my life. You’ll start seeing the help you need everywhere.
When there are too many loose ends…
Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity (by David Allen)
Millions of people have read this one and it doesn’t disappoint. Implementing just 2 of the practices David Allen recommended made my work manageable again and spared me from countless future ruts. If anyone can make a labeler sexy, it’s this guy.
When your idea just can’t get traction…
Made To Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die (by Chip Heath, Dan Heath)
There’s a science to designing an idea and communicating it to others. The Heath brothers take you through that science in a lively, entertaining read. The case studies alone will give you several concrete ways to make your idea more memorable and spreadable. If you do what Chip and Dan say and still get no attention, it may be time for a new idea – and that’s fine. Either way, you’re unstuck!
When there are too many unknowns…
Uncertainty: Turning Fear and Doubt Into Fuel For Brilliance (by Jonathan Fields)
When friends and family ask me how it’s been to start a business, I tell them it’s been the most fun thing I’ve ever done WHEN I haven’t been terrified. And that’s a big qualifier – because I’m terrified much of the time. This book teaches you to build a scaffolding of “practices and structures around the way you work and how you live in the world that allow you to cultivate enough head space and baseline calm to keep pushing the envelope of creation without losing your mind.”
When you’re too tired…
The Power of Full Engagement: Managing Energy, Not Time, Is the Key to High Performance and Personal Renewal (by Tony Schwartz)
It’s easy to stop moving because you’ve run yourself into the ground. If there’s no shortage of ideas and clear next steps to work on but you can’t muster the energy to do them well, it may be time for an energy audit. After reading this one I didn’t just do more work, I felt more joy in my work and more joy in my downtime as well.
There you have it. 7 powerful un-sticking agents. Try them out – your projects will thank you! Your life will thank you! And I thank you! I’m continually awestruck and inspired by the amazing Fellows in our tribe and the work you all do.
Here’s to moving that work forward!
Carlo Diy (LA ’11) is the founder of HaitiHub (www.haitihub.com) which is devoted to creating more individuals and organizations that are fluent in Haitian Creole. Aid in Haiti needs to be different. Speak Creole. Connect. Do more.
StartingBloc is pleased to be a syndicated partner of Blended Profit‘s new program, GAMECHANGERS. Each week, Blended Profit interviews new thought leaders focused on a variety of perspectives one could engage in when interacting with good business (the consumer, the investor, the entrepreneur, the student, etc). The conversation is designed to push a constructive dialogue forward on how the good economy will reach scale in the coming years. They seek to provide the venue to reflect, challenge, and inspire our community members to think critically, uncover unmet needs/gaps, and ultimately change the way business is done.
Tune-in TODAY, Friday, July 27th at 12:30pm EST for GAMECHANGERS Episode # 5: Live Interview with Jonathan Lewis by clicking-on this link.
Jonathan Lewis bio:
Jonathan C. Lewis is the Host of iOnPoverty which produces online videos for young professionals and students pursuing economic opportunity and justice careers. He is also President of the Opportunity Collaboration – a strategic business retreat and networking summit for 300 senior level anti-poverty leaders occurring annually on World Poverty Day and Board Chair of MicroCredit Enterprises –- an innovative social venture leveraging private capital to make tiny business loans to deeply impoverished people, mostly women, in 22 developing countries on 5 continents. Contact him at www.JonathanCLewis.me.
For more information, check out: www.blendedprofit.com/
One week ago, I have had the insanely amazing experience of volunteering at the StartingBloc Institute for Social Innovation in Boston. StartingBloc is a self-described "people incubator," that builds skills and relationships amongst young innovators who value social impact. After becoming an LA '12 fellow back in February I decided that Memorial Day weekend would be the perfect opportunity for me to tap back into some StartingBloc…