Thursday, April 30, 2009
This could clearly be seen in the pitches and the presentations. Those pitches, such as Out Against Abuse, which strove to accomplish so much (campus awareness, rape kit production, web resource, computer literacy training etc.) ended up not developing each idea to its fullest extent because it wanted to accomplish too much too soon. Other organizations, such as Public Stuff, which had a very narrow focus, was able to develop a strong well-rounded and confident idea because resources where funneled into developing one product and one service.
I believe this is an issue of utmost importance for anybody considering an investment in anything. In order to ensure that the absolute best decision it taken, an investor, or more specifically a social investor, must attempt to see the idea from as many different viewpoints as possible. Having this opportunity allows them to see what is present in every opinion, and what is ultimately just opinion. This will allow anybody to get to the heart of the idea which they are investing in, something which is clearly of utmost importance.
This is just another example of how being open to as many new and different ideas is very important regardless of what you are doing in life. It will allow you to work infinitely better with different people and cultures and will ultimately allow you to have a much thorough understanding of the world that we live in.
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Clearly that skepticism was unfounded. Not only was it beneficial to add a personal element to each nomination, but indeed I think every group learned much more about each nomination, and gained valuable insight into the endeavors. Beyond learning about the initiatives, the entire exercise was beneficial and informative for us as Student Directors of FFF, and gave us a first-hand look at another part of the process.
Though Climate Change and Energy only heard from one of our nominations, it was a great experience for all. I encourage you all to check out Girl Guides USA.
Our last class, the FFF pitch session, was as important and educational as only a youth group meeting can be. I believe that all of us gained a lot in terms of new ideas and plans of action from the guests. I did not only enjoy the session, but I also learnt how young people can motivate other young individuals achieve their goals, dreams and ideas. The Q&A part was immensely helpful for our portfolio decisions, but at the same time it contributed to our better understanding of each project.
My take away memo from the pitch session was that everyone, especially young people, has their own personal ideas for which they live, dream and make plans. Natalia's interactive question that made us all stand up for having ideas and sit down for not being able to fund them is a vivid example that funding is a major obstacle. Quoting Buddha by his words that “An idea that is developed and put into action is more important than an idea that exists only as an idea" tells us that no matter how interesting and fascinating an idea could be, if it is not put into action, it is not as important as it could be with a little more action, i.e. investing.
All I am trying to say is that Yes, we all have ideas and Yes, we all need money to make those ideas true. However, finding those money is the hardest part. I appreciate the fact that we, the FFF students directors, had the chance to meet with other young individuals that showed us their ideas and inspired us even more. Even though I am part of the health portfolio group I would like to see not only the health projects put into action. I would love to see ALL of them come true. But how??? All of us were deeply interested in the pitch session and that was proven by our questions, participation and interviews. On the other side of the story is the truth that none of us can practically (meaning financially) help those motivated individuals. I want to take an action, but I can't invest with money in all those great projects. It seems like our next step should be finding a way to make other people interested into those projects, people with money and a little more power. We, the FFF students and youth directors, might not be able to be the real investors, but we can take the initiative to involve other people into this great activity.
To me the pitch session was a meeting for youth to inspire other youth. Let's make youth inspire investors and thus invest in the success of others' great ideas. Funding should not be the reason why we should sit down, but the reason we would stand up and fight for.
Having had a chance to go through the investor pitch last week, I feel obliged to share my feelings on how one’s initial criticism toward an organization can be so effectively defeated by the ability of its representative to be capable of defending itself, while organizations that are well prepared for presenting yet do not offer the expertise to answer criticism, or are even offered criticism, frequently appear lackluster and disappointing.
It should come as no surprise that our group, when asked to consider Girl Guides USA, was nonplussed by the wide range of similarities the group seemed to have to the ages old and familiar Girl Scouts, including the very fact that they both shared funding in some respects. However, our criticism and skepticism proved valuable insofar as we never reached the point of completely dismissing the organization in our minds. Thus, when the presenter was asked to defend her organization in regards to the heavy criticisms we had been able to find, she was able to answer very harsh questions and prove her organization’s ideals to be resilient both in the face of close competition and investor criticism. We were, to say the least, impressed with her answers and all commended her for being so involved with her organizations goals.
Yet in another presentation that was not aimed to our group, I felt the a negative experience emanating. The presentation was given in a very wooden manner with well prepared, but static, responses that did not convey a feeling of actual belief on the part of the presenter. The questions asked were detailed, but not critical, and the answers given on the part of the presenter were accordingly free to just regurgitate more statistics and promises. I would have appreciated both harsher questioning on the part of my fellow directors, and an increased degree of personal input on the part of the presenter. The negative combination we saw in this incident had me imagining that we could have replaced the speaker with a computer with voice recognition software to read off parts of the website to the directors when questioned.
I feel that these investor pitch events are ideal situations in which we can put good potential projects on the defensive through our heated questions. When we demand answers to real criticism that is inherent in any organizational structure, we get farther as an organization and come to trust the people who are selling the idea to us more.
All the initiatives that were presented last week clearly reflected the passion, energy and consideration that their architects had already invested in them. Taken as a whole, they were diverse, and separately, all ideas were original and well-suited. Somebody had a plan to improve health primary health care in Mali, and somebody else was helping underprivileged Indian women to achieve higher education. What’s more, all entrepreneurs were young! Not only did they display confidence and ability, but also great potential for future growth. Before, the general mindset was to timidly wait for those more experienced to come up with solutions. Now, if you have an idea, you have the responsibility to take action yourself!
As a student director for the poverty alleviation portfolio I was very excited for the two projects we are considering, Illume and Early Earners. The pitch session provided us the opportunity not only to clarify some aspects of the proposals, but also to meet the people behind the ideas. Talking to the entrepreneurs gave me a better understanding of how the experience is for them as well, and I trust that we are now better equipped to evaluate the challenges and strengths of our investment choices.