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#192 - How to Become a Social Entrepreneur with Madeleine Shaw

October 05, 2021

#192 - How to Become a Social Entrepreneur with Madeleine Shaw
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Madeleine Shaw joins Cory for a second time as they discuss the journey to becoming a social entrepreneur.  She is the Co-founder and Director of Partnership and Impact of Aisle, a B Corp focussed on commercializing reusable menstrual products, the founder of G Day, a national event series for tween girls, and Nestworks, a family-friendly co-working community. She has also just published her first book, The Greater Good: Social Entrepreneurship for Everyday People Who Want to Change the World.


For this episode of the Social Entrepreneurship and Innovation Podcast, Madeleine Shaw joins Cory for a second time as they discuss the journey to becoming a social entrepreneur. 

Madeleine is an incredibly accomplished social entrepreneur herself. She is the Co-founder and Director of Partnership and Impact of Aisle, a B Corp focused on commercializing reusable menstrual products, the founder of G Day, a national event series for tween girls, and Nestworks, a family-friendly co-working community.

She has also just published her first book, The Greater Good: Social Entrepreneurship for Everyday People Who Want to Change the World.

📄 Full Show Notes & Episode Bonuses:

https://growensemble.com/how-to-become-a-social-entrepreneur/

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Transcript

Madeleine Shaw  0:00  
Don't be afraid, I would say to anybody who's considering doing this, like it's kind of almost like baking something in your kitchen, you know, you need the ingredients. This is a recipe I will give you the recipe for doing it. It's about believing that you can and be willing to ask for help if you need it.

Cory Ames  0:21  
Hey, y'all, it's Cory here with the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcasts. As always, so grateful to have you here. Today's episode, we are talking about how to become a social entrepreneur. And to do so I am joined by someone who's who's most certainly in the expert on the subject, Madeline Shaw, who's a co founder and director of partnership and impact at IO, formerly known as Luna Pat. They're a founding Canadian B Corp, and one of the first groundbreaking companies in the world to commercialize reusable menstrual products, which is now a rapidly growing industry. Madeline is also the founder of G day, which is a National Event series for tween girls and networks, which is a family friendly co working community. And out now today, the publication of this episode out now is her first book, the greater good social entrepreneurship for everyday people who want to change the world. We had Madeline on the show back a while ago, and so grateful to have her back, are walking through much of what she shares in her really excellent book on how to become a social entrepreneur. And this might not be the advice that you would expect. So it's really excellent book, go to www dot greatergood dot work to learn more about the book, check it out, see where you can pick it up. But likewise, this episode is chock full with advice, strategies and tactics to move along the social entrepreneurial journey. Whether or not you're certain you are a social entrepreneur. It's a really excellent episode in conversation with Madeline Shaw. I'm very grateful to have her back. But before we dive into that, if you haven't yet I want to invite you to sign up for the better world weekly newsletter. This is a weekly newsletter that I write, curate and publish myself every single Monday go to grow ensembl.com backslash newsletter, to join the other 3126 change makers and innovators from all sectors all over the globe who get that email every single Monday. Again, that's grow ensemble.com backslash newsletter join in on that discussion with us. All right, Joe. Without further ado, here's Madeline Shaw, the author of the greater good.

Madeleine Shaw  2:52  
I am a social entrepreneur. hailing from the Coast Salish territories, unseeded traditional ancestral lands on the west coast of Canada, British Columbia, near Vancouver, BC and that's my hometown, where I live and work and I am best known as the founder of oil formerly known as Luna pads. It was one of the first ventures in the entire world to commercialize reusable menstrual products, which nowadays is becoming a kind of a big deal, which is very exciting. And I've also founded a couple of other organizations and events series and a family friendly co working community. And I as he said, I've just written a book. So I serve on various nonprofit boards as well and just been Yeah, really interested in this space for almost 30 years.

Cory Ames  3:38  
Wonderful. And for folks who are watching this on video, because we will have this episode on video, I'm holding the book physically here, the greater good, had the wonderful pleasure of reading this a little bit ago and digesting all the substance. So thank you for the opportunity. First and foremost, I really enjoyed it. And this is called the greater good social entrepreneurship for everyday people who want to change the world. And so of course, we'll have all things greater good linked up at our show post at grow ensemble comm I'd love to start because I think when this episodes releasing, it will be corresponding with your book launch day on October 5 2021. So I'd love to know, how does it feel to have this book coming out?

Madeleine Shaw  4:21  
Okay, scary. Well, it's actually not unlike, I don't mean like a birth process like you, you know, I've created something and you know, something big, something that's really meaningful to me. And that was a huge effort. Wow. I did not foresee just kind of how hard it was going to be. But now that I'm here I feel elated and curious and relieved and happy and proud and excited, excited to have conversations with people like you who've read the book and to sort of get their feedback and see what they learned or see what they were inspired by or maybe see what I could do next time.

Cory Ames  4:55  
And what was the most challenging or different Record sing to getting this book to completion for you. You know, I

Madeleine Shaw  5:04  
think it's like anything else like patience, persistence, like just sticking with it. Like, I think we sort of have the idea that these things sort of happen in a blinding flash of inspiration. But whereas in fact, it's just kind of plugging away at it. And so there was that, but also me, I remember one day saying to my daughter, I'm a writer. And that was really big, like, I'd never identified, I'd never said that about myself, I said, I think I said, I'm a writer now. And it really, it's one of the things I discussed in the book is just this idea of identity and sort of claiming the identity of being an entrepreneur, and how hard that can be for a lot of people. Or it can feel kind of strange or like a stretch. And for me doing that about being a writer was very similar. Like, I really had to kind of reinvent myself in a way and also claim that and go, yeah, I am a writer, because I'm writing a book. And here we go. So I'd say with that,

Cory Ames  5:54  
hmm, it's interesting to think about what the balances between some sort of arbitrary or maybe irrationally created milestone that's gonna have, you know, all of a sudden define you as this different thing, as opposed to, maybe it's just the actions of, you know, you're probably writing and working on it to, you know, some degree every single day, and you know, what, whatever capacity or at a minimum thinking about it. So at some point, if you read enough, you're probably a writer, right?

Madeleine Shaw  6:24  
Yeah, I think it's possible to get a little bit too hung up on labels and titles and that kind of thing. And there's some real truth to that. But there's also some real power in claiming it when it's true for you. And it feels empowering and positive. So for me, going from being an entrepreneur to being a writer, felt great, but it's still Boy Boy, like, it's hard work that much, I will say it's like, it's not a small thing.

Cory Ames  6:50  
Congratulations, then well deserved, because it is it's a very daunting project, not just writing one article, or writing one email, or whatever it might be, but the assembly of all these things, which are to construction of so many independent ideas, and you somehow have to make them all connected, which is quite the feat.

Madeleine Shaw  7:09  
Yeah, having an editor I so another thing I highly recommend in the book is getting help and you know, you think you're gonna have to do this all by yourself, or you should do it all by yourself, like running adventure, not a good idea to do entirely on your own, in my opinion. The other piece, too, is so much of what I drew on for the book is just my own lived experience. And so it wasn't like I'm, you know, researching something external to me, or that I don't know anything about or It's never happened to me, or whatever it's like this is just telling stories about things that I've actually done and lived through, and people I know. And so in a sense, it was just kind of cataloguing things that I already knew, as opposed to kind of digging them out of, you know, trying to learn about them, or research them.

Cory Ames  7:52  
Right, that can make a major difference, most certainly. And sometimes it feels like you've already written something before you have if you know it well enough. And so that's as well kind of a trick, I don't know, you need to pick which side you want to take of something that needs to be really deeply researched if you're investigating something new, as opposed to like sharing more of your lived experience, pros and cons to either side. But nonetheless, we're here and the book is done. It'll be officially published here soon. And I'm very excited to have you here to talk about it. And really more So talk about a social entrepreneurship generally, obviously, in the title of this podcast. So it's a pretty important topic for us around here. Even though we can get caught up on the labels. I would love to start perhaps, Madeline, if you could define for us, in your words. What is social entrepreneurship? And who is a social entrepreneur?

Madeleine Shaw  8:46  
Yeah, thanks. I love that question. And and obviously, it's subjective. Like I'm not positing sort of an absolute definition. And in fact, my definition is being very expansive and very democratic. So just for starters, let's break it down. So the word entrepreneur is a very long word with lots of vowels. It's derived from the French verb to undertake. So to me, by definition, an entrepreneur is somebody who undertakes something and action and initiative, it can be for profit, it could be nonprofit, it doesn't need to be incorporated at all, actually, it could just be a project or something that you love. But the point is you taking action, the social part, which precedes the word entrepreneur, importantly, it comes first, right? So social is kind of shorthand for some form of positive social or environmental impact. That can be anything, honestly, whatever matters to the entrepreneur. But the point is that it's what motivates and inspires. It's, it's the central purpose of why the undertaking is being undertaken. Like it's why you do what you do, right. It's what gets you out of bed in the morning. So as opposed to traditional notions, you know, in a traditional business sense, people are looking to make a profit or capture a certain market segment or do something like that. But it's not necessarily coming from a place of primary desire or motivation to make the world a better place in some way.

Cory Ames  10:09  
I think what really sticks out to me there is perhaps at the top is that you use this word as your definition is an expansive one. And perhaps it's a bit more broad, I guess. So, you know, contrasting that, if it's a bit more narrow and specific, why have you leaned to your definition of social entrepreneurship being something that's much more broad and perhaps inclusive,

Madeleine Shaw  10:32  
to encourage more people to see themselves in that kind of construct or profile because I feel like until now, like, and this happens all the time, Cory, when I do speaking gigs, one of the things I'll do is, I'll ask the audience, when I say the word entrepreneur, like, tell me who you think of like who's the first person who pops into your mind? And invariably, it is Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, Ilan Musk, Richard Branson, you know, and it's those guys with their big, massive scalable tech, blow it up, disrupt things, Silicon Valley, spaceship, whatever things, right. And that's a really hard kind of paradigm to relate to. If you don't look like that, if your project if your idea is not that big, and that kind of unicorn sort of thing, it's pretty easy to kind of go, I don't think I'm that. And the reason for wanting to broaden that is because I want more people who, from diverse backgrounds with really amazing social change ideas, to feel that they too, can take action and should be celebrated for doing that. Because the more people that do that, like in so many ways, like I feel like we're waiting, like, look at the times that we're in Korea, like you, you know, at the beginning of the conversation, you know, when we first talked, it was before COVID. Now the world has changed, climate change is accelerated, we've got you know, the urgent need to achieve racial justice, we've got so many things going on, just really urgent, not to mention COVID, everything, it really is an all hands on deck kind of situation. So what the book is really, therefore is to encourage all those hands of whatever size, wherever they're from, whatever they look like to feel that their ideas are needed, and that they're empowered and resourced to take action on any scale. They don't need to be the next Jeff Bezos to do that.

Cory Ames  12:28  
I'm really loving it, it connects all the way back to I think our very first conversation were thematically, things that you shared as well, were just abundantly layered throughout the book that challenged me, I think, in my moments of like, feeling the greatest sense of scarcity, even in this face of impact oriented business, social entrepreneurship, sometimes you can get consumed with the labels, as you mentioned, or also trying to find things in a sense of like, Oh, well, that's a social entrepreneur, that's not you, maybe that's just a socially responsible business leader, you know, and then at the end of the day, it all kind of doesn't really so much matter more. So what does is the intent and I think that that, that you really seem to stress is that there is there is an urgent need for, you know, for all people who are interested in in doing some sort of good for the world to do that, and really be encouraged and enabled and given the tools and resources and community to do so. So I found that throughout the book as well, kind of challenging, what is something of this very trigger kind of grow sense of being like, Well, you know, we have to call things, one thing or another, as opposed to like, well, let's keep it very open, inviting in encouraging, you know, something of the collaboration versus competition, you stress in the book as well, Madeline even still. And you provide some wonderful examples here throughout the book, but just some examples that might encompass an overlap with this broad definition of yours. What are some examples of social entrepreneurs or social entrepreneurship in action out in the world, part of the book

Madeleine Shaw  14:05  
for folks new to it, I share the stories of about two dozen of my colleagues. So I really didn't want this to sort of monopolize the conversation and say, Well, I started these four ventures and I really wanted to bring in diversity of voices and experiences and backgrounds and that type of thing. So one of the groups of people that really struck me the most are people that I called lemonade makers in the book, and they're folks who have drawn on experiences of adversity, frankly, to create change in the world. So a friend of mine, for example, was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago and had a rough ride and you know, this is a very familiar journey to all to many of us and but really found that through her experience, having the benefit of kind of community supportive like this sort of extra things and getting a bit of you know, massage therapy or getting somebody to come and cut her hair or getting, you know, various forms of nutritional support. That type of really made a huge difference in her healing journey. And so when she came out of it out the other end, and she's a lifelong fitness fanatic, she started a community distance swim in the ocean. So it's an island to raise funds for other folks on the island going through cancer treatment and needing that type of community support. So it was it was just born of a personal experience where something made a difference to her that she wanted other people to have and started a project. And, you know, I believe it's a registered nonprofit society, but I don't think it really matters at the point is that it was somebody who had something hard that touched their lives that then kind of bounced back and saw to make a difference for others based on her own experience. So there were a lot of those, you know, my friend via link who came up with the linker walking bike is a really fascinating example of someone who so the linker is basically an alternative to a wheelchair for lots of people who have difficulty walking and with their mobility, and basically her mother said to her, I'll be damned if I'm gonna spend, you know, my elder years in a wheelchair. And here was the daughter who had an experience, she was an architect by training and a builder, an industrial designer, and she came up with this idea of this amazing it's basically like a, like an elevated, grownup design savvy tricycle that someone can walk. So when you speak to them, they're at eye level, like most people in wheelchairs can actually walk. But the wheelchair design is what actually disables the person from walking. So to me, these are examples of like, people are just drawing on their personal experience Thing number one, and Thing number two, they're going outside, like my friend, Mary, in the first example, you know, she was a personal fitness trainer, she wasn't an entrepreneur, she, you know, think of herself. That way, if someone I'm going to start this big event series, whatever she did it, and same with my friend be like, they weren't an entrepreneur, they were a designer, they were an architect. But you know, now B leads this wonderful business, it's a B Corp that with this really innovative product. So those are a couple of examples of try to think of sort of even smaller ones, like, you know, people have done creative things with trying to there's the nela project that I talked about in the book, where it's a woman in Portland, Oregon, who's creating reusable coffee mugs that are going into cafes, instead of single use paper, or plastic cups, that type of thing. Like, it's like people see something that bugs them, or whatever, and they, they do something, they start something.

Cory Ames  17:30  
And there's certainly far more examples in the book that can help people to crystallize it. And then you start to see it everywhere out in the world, you hear a few of those anecdotes, you start to see projects and people and organizations in businesses that are doing just that, as you mentioned there. Of course, those are the great manifestation of social entrepreneurship in action metal, and but what I was excited to walk through with you today is sort of the step by step or the overview of, of someone who thinks that they may be interested in this path of social entrepreneurship, of exactly how they themselves can become a social entrepreneur. So I'd be curious. And of course, you do outline this in great detail throughout the book. So I don't want you to force you to sit here for four or five, six hours to read your book back to me. But I'd love to start maybe with those examples in hand, where do people like that begin, you think to putting a project an initiative or a business out into the world like they had,

Madeleine Shaw  18:31  
I'm a big fan of kind of kinesthetic types of ideas like you can write your ideas down. That's great. I like personally assembling sort of objects, and making collages, anything that kind of helps us drop into more of our unconscious mind and a kind of creative space. So I think sometimes we sort of jump ahead and think I've got to write a business plan. And it's like, that can be a little overwhelming and probably more than is really necessary for somebody just to kind of wrap their minds around a what their idea like going from, say, having a feeling about something to trying to create a product or a service that would be marketable or otherwise shareable with others. So I recommend really starting from a deeply sort of introspective, personal place of and whether that's journaling or even meditation exercises, like one of the things I recommend is for folks to do like a regression sort of meditation exercise. So when you go back and kind of revisit the things that matter to you, and that you really loved when you were a youth, right, or an adolescent, like, what were those things because sometimes we sort of shut those things down. And in fact, they can provide insight into what I would see as our calling really to put it a bit grandly but like what are we here for you know, so let's, if that's not immediately clear to you, and it's hard in this world, you know, we're funneled through sort of a capitalist lens on everything. And those labels again of like, what are you going to do who are Are you in the world to really go back and find a very authentic expression of that can be done in a lot of ways. The other one I love is just talking to people, have conversations with your friends with the people you love about how you're feeling about what's going on about, like, just share it, because I find that I don't know if you've ever had this experience where you say something out loud, and it was like you're always listening to someone else. When you say it for the first time, you're like, Whoa, did I say that just make space to kind of start telling the story. Because storytelling is something that I discuss at length in the book is, you know, and the value of doing that, because ultimately, that will be one of your greatest assets, as you come to develop whatever, you know, initiative that you choose to undertake, is that storytelling ability. So the sooner you can sort of start doing it without and I'm not talking about pitching, I'm just talking about articulating what's going on with you. And what you're sort of process is what you're thinking about what you're noticing, I think it's a useful exercise to kind of take yourself outside yourself in a way, like go walk around a neighborhood that you don't normally visit, go to an art gallery go like, just make space for things to come to you. Because I do believe that as much as you know, agency is a real thing. And that we need to be we are the authors and the creators of the things that we come up with. I think sometimes ideas in a way come through us. And so making space for that just to happen. And whether that's through meditation, or being in nature, or whatever that looks like for you, I think is a wonderful place to start. So way before you get to writing a plan, just drop into that inner space into your intuitive space. Again, not something here a lot about business books, but see what's there for you. Because I think for many of us, there's often something that is that is literally waiting for us. We don't need to sort of fight for or generate or unearth like, it's just kind of like, if we come into a silent place, it'll show itself to us. Hmm,

Cory Ames  21:58  
that was something that really struck me as I was working my way through your book is that that is really I think maybe the first three or four ish chapters are really that sort of foundational component of identifying and establishing what would be cohesion, which with what is the project or you know, business model, or whatever it is that you decide and determined to start putting out into the world because there are a few like truus in this scenario that this is not a particularly easy thing well, and I love your approach to is that everyone can tackle this challenge of becoming a social entrepreneur. And being that it's still a thing that is a bit rigorous, and requires a lot of determination, and resourcefulness and creativity. And it's nice to feel very, I guess, in alignment with what it is that you're doing. Because even still, if you're going down this road of seeking social impact and doing good, there's a lot of different ways to do it. And so you want to find the right fit the center of the Venn diagram for all things that you communicate of like what's mostly you and as well, what is something that will be useful, impactful out in the world? Yeah,

Madeleine Shaw  23:14  
absolutely.

Cory Ames  23:15  
I'm curious Malik, because I've always felt like you've had a really great perspective on this. And I think that it's incorporated really nicely into this first section of the book. How much do you think being a social entrepreneur and perhaps seeking that as what it is that you do? And how you you spend your time? How much of that do you see relates to purely just finding meaningful and purposeful work?

Madeleine Shaw  23:39  
Yeah, well, I don't necessarily think they have to be the same thing. Like if you are already, you know, engaged in some form of career pursuit that is, you know, in line with your values and is working for you, like, not everybody needs to be an entrepreneur, like, that's absolutely not the case. And you certainly don't need to do that, in order to be making a difference. That's not what I'm saying. Like lots of folks are super happy with what they're doing and working for organizations that are doing good work in the world. And I think that's amazing. But the entrepreneurship part, I don't know I think it's something that sort of starts tugging at people or a certain kind of person like and it's a calling is how I think about it. And whether it comes from a place of wanting to pursue a social change agenda or just wanting a sense of independence is another thing that I see in a lot of profiles of like folks like I knew even before I got done with post secondary education that I was never going to be able to work in a mainstream kind of corporate environment like it just wasn't gonna happen. But that said, I think it's entirely possible to do both like I think there's a lot of people out there who were undertaking you know, yeah, they've got their you know, some people would call it a side hustle, but which is fine, but any sort of form of initiative like let's say you you decide to undertake to build a life library or community fridge in your neighborhood like that is an act of social entrepreneurship, like, you're not getting paid, you have a job, you whatever, and you're just doing this thing, the point is taking action, and being a role model to others and putting it out there. And because you can, so I really want people to get the message that there is no act too small to fall under this umbrella. Because all of this in aggregate, you know, if you think about it, if everybody did what they could with what they had, where they were, like, ask yourself what that would look like, you know, like anybody who's sitting on a little Lego, but you know, and this is, again, to go back to what I was saying earlier about the Silicon Valley entrepreneur thing. There's lots of people out there who feel like, well, I've got this idea, but I don't think it's scalable. We're obsessed with scale. And I know I'm digressing from your question at this point. But it's like, that's not the point. Like in the book, I talk about this thing called radiance, that is about kind of a multi dimensional form of scale, it isn't just this endless up into the right hockey stick trajectory, like this is another myth that needs to be deconstructed that, you know, you need to have a wildly commercial successful enterprise in order to be free, your idea to be considered valuable.

Cory Ames  26:17  
These are incredibly important distinctions to make, I mean, first and foremost, that the social entrepreneurship can look a lot of different ways. And inevitably, many of the exercises in thought processes that you suggest people go through in those first foundational chapters are, I think, extremely important for someone to see anyways, how that might look for them personally, exactly. Like you say, it could be something that it's it's a project that they do on the side doesn't have to be their career. There's also organizations that are, especially now in the B Corp community as an example, you know, there's a lot more businesses in this this category, that are very interested in supporting people who have won the, you know, the social inclination to in the way in which they use their creative and cognitive capacities, and to very encouraging of people's independence, creative independence and, and initiative. So it can be within an organization can be on the side of your existing career. Or of course, it could be your, you know, a venture that you decide to start as your career but doesn't have to look one way.

Madeleine Shaw  27:20  
It doesn't. And actually, there was one more thing on the list that I want to add there and that you could partner with someone like not everybody's a visionary, right? Not everybody's like, Whoa, it's kind of an overhyped idea, actually, in many ways, visionary and not necessarily accessible. But one of the dynamics that I talked about in the book is partnership. And that's centered on the idea that it's wildly unrealistic for any one individual to feel like they have to do all the things that it requires to you know, start, conceptualize, start, run, launch an enterprise really of any scale. And not everybody has that part. Like some people are the operational parts, right. They're, they're more on the details, the financial end, the kind of implementation folks who are often called integrators, and there's this visionary integrator model that I discuss in the book. So that's the other thing like if a friend of yours, or a colleague or a neighbor, whatever has an idea, and then you love their idea, and they need help, then help them with that like, and because you're still being like an essential part of the project. Because visionaries and I can tell you as a visionary visionaries without integrators really kind of don't get anywhere. Like they're just people with lots of dreams, that don't actually happen for the most part. So being in relationship with others who's whose skills, complement yours is one of the most successful and satisfying ways of bringing a project to fruition.

Cory Ames  28:49  
It comes back to really understanding yourself, your skill sets, those sorts of values, and qualities, I think I share that tendency with you. And I can time after time after time when I go through reflection of like, Alright, what's made particular projects or initiatives successful, every single one is like, Oh, I got really good people involved around me to help take this, this strategy into execution. Because I, I'm with you, I have lots of dreams and ideas. But far more of them do not exist in the world than do. But it is still the exercise that I really do enjoy. So I'm with you on that. And I would stress that that's, you know, it's absolutely essential to understand, you know, where you might fit and it doesn't, you can kind of get caught up in the fact that a social entrepreneur has to look one way. So I think that's really important that you've stressed that here. And then next model and one of the sections that I think is extremely critical to kind of bridge off of exactly what we're talking about right now. Before you even dive into the business plan. You talk about the importance of seeking out important key relationships and building community. I'd be interested If you could share a few of you know, the strategies, approaches or tactics as to what someone might do, if they're interested in pursuing a social entrepreneurial venture, what are they looking for? What are they thinking about? And how might they go about manifesting that, that you're sharing,

Madeleine Shaw  30:15  
there is a pretty extensive resources section at the end of the book that is also online at my website, Alan shaw.ca. And I would start and just observe, like, wow, like, since in the last 30 years since I've been doing this, like social entrepreneurship wasn't even coined until I think it was the Acumen Fund. And this is the sort of mid early mid 80s. And even the name social entrepreneur didn't really exist until that, and there were very few role models, and certainly very few organizations that supported the practice, which is now very, very different. So okay, but how do you start, right, and I think it goes back to query to what I was saying earlier about that story that we tell, because you can't build anything without it. Like if it's inside you, then somebody can't hear it, they can't know it, and they can't attach. And this is the most important thing, attach themselves to it emotionally. It's when they hear that story. And you've probably you know, this because you're like a master of listening to stories and telling stories and sharing stories, there's a quality of emotional resonance, that happens that just there's a light bulb that goes on for people, whether a group is the right group, or whatever it is, it's like, you're going to have to tell your story, you're going to have to, you know, come up with this. So I'd say that is probably Thing number one thing number two is trust. I think that we're our culture sort of teaches us not to trust people like In fact, don't tell your business idea because somebody might steal it, for goodness sake, or that there's this really, and this is a real thing, like an adversarial competitive construct that is very much part of mainstream business practice, and in fact, is very much part of, you know, pretty much everything that we need to really pay attention to and desist, I think very actively. And so I think sometimes we can feel very guarded, there's a perspective kind of, of scarcity. And that's like, well, there's only going to be so many reasonable menstrual pad ventures in the world, in my case, whereas in fact, I can't think of a more abundant market, actually, then, you know, for reasonable menstrual products, as one example. So I think it's kind of about mindset and knowing, and also just your own expectations. Like I think sometimes we feel like we'll go into these situations with something to prove or something to sell, as opposed to going in and saying, hey, I need help, or I'm not 100% sure about this. So when we tell that story, I'm not suggesting that you tell it from Oh, this has got to be my perfect elevator pitch. And I've got to convince somebody of something and I've got to whatever, win the prize, it's more about establishing a quality of emotional resonance with somebody else. And maybe that's what they relate to is like that expression of vulnerability of like, Oh, I'm, you know, I'm really struggling with trying to figure out how to raise money, you know, or I don't know how to solve this supply chain problem, or I'm just not sure if I'm a good leader, or you know, whatever, whatever's going on, like, be transparent, because that's part of how people are going to find the way to help you and support you, right. Whereas if you're just this kind of super cool together, bulletproof I got it all, you know, that it ended up by my thing, I'm the coolest, I got it all going on, you know, people don't relate to that. It's kind of scary. It's kind of especially in the social impact space, like I you know, it's a place that should be of you know, where people are coming from a place of authenticity and compassion, and the values led space, right, because of that, those are the types of enterprises that they're pursuing. So I would start there and then do a big old intranet, search and see who comes up. But my favorite groups, the ones that have personally and I talked about them at length in the book are in Canada, she O, which is a network that funds and celebrates women entrepreneurs and non binary entrepreneurs. In fact, it's international now and spread to the United States and Australia, New Zealand and Europe. And of course, the social venture Institute, which is happening starting today at hollyhock. On Cortez Island, and SBI is kind of a it's a two conferences that take place annually for changemakers who are using business tools to create social change. And finally, B Corp for people who are going this is what's over my shoulder folks going the for profit route, who have ambitions of scaling their impact through scaling their enterprises, and really want people to to know that they are adhering to World Class standards for social and ethical and environmental impacts with their enterprises then B Corp is the place to go for that. So I would say those are my primary ones. But also I would be remiss if I didn't mention sleepers unite, which to me is like that which should be really your first port of call I think because they just they don't care how big you are. They don't care. Like none of that matters. zebras is sort of a contrast to the unicorn construct of this billion dollar amazing sort of fantastical thing. zebras are far more abundant and down to earth, and realistic and sustainable, and friendly. So, so that's in secrecy, you know, Co Op, and I'm a huge fan. So I would say, go there first. And then and just be real about where you're at. And what you need

Cory Ames  35:27  
a couple of wonderful recommendations exactly to your point. And we've mentioned this a few different times throughout these podcasts is that it's a particularly open and generous community of folks, it would seem contradictory to the pursuits of leaving the world a better place that if others have that same appetite and desire, that you wouldn't want to support and encourage what it is that they're doing to. And that's not to say to, you know, bombard people with unsolicited communication. But if it's coming from a very authentic, genuine place, as you're mentioning, people are going to, you know, be there to offer support and advice and direction. And likewise, where you start with your pitch or your challenges, it's not where you're going to end up the place, that's very important to start. It's just wherever you are, and start to feed that to people and see what feedback they get back to you. reiterating, those are some wonderful communities, too. I think one of the first ways I got plugged into this sector was volunteering at a B Corp, annual retreat. And so that's a great way to go to conferences, typically for free, you know, you put some shifts in and get to connect with people, I always recommend that to people interested in exploring a sector. And as well, I started a podcast as a means to connect with people a bit of an endeavor. So if that's not, you know, for you to pursue it, but a lot of really good recommendations and others that you have in the book, as well. So we're getting to the point of where perhaps we're bringing some sort of concept into a business model, perhaps something that can seem like an intimidating and overwhelming effort. But you do provide some really good tactical guides in the book, and I don't need you to go step by step through those right here. But I'd be curious to hear from you. What are some of the highest level things that you think people need to get right in that phase, if they're taking a concept and putting it down into some sort of structural model, you know, to then start putting it out into the world?

Madeleine Shaw  37:19  
I'm a big fan of using the business Canvas model for folks just to see like, what are the boxes that need to be sort of effectively ticked from an operational perspective? Like, you know, yes, you do need to understand how if money's involved here, you need to understand how that's going to work? Where is it coming from? Where's it going, you know, what's the sort of mechanism for all those things? And how are you keeping track of it? What's your product? Who are you serving? Who like, who's going to be your beneficiary? Who are you going to impact? And how? And even as importantly, how are you going to measure that that's actually successful? And that's something I know I'm jumping ahead a little bit, I talk about it at the end of the book, because I think sometimes folks sort of assume, like mission doesn't solve everything is what I would say is like, people sort of think, Okay, well, I have good intentions I want to help sell and so and therefore, everything I do to support that is good and makes sense. And it's like, Yeah, not always, you really do need to have some rigor in terms of operational. So that's why I do recommend the business campus. And anybody can just Google that. And there if you don't like the term, business Canvas, there's social venture Canvas, there's a million layers of feminist business Canvas, there's all my goodness, there's all the good things, regenerative business, Canvas, or even just canvas. So really thinking hard about what your role is going to be, I think, is important, because again, there's this assumption that you sort of like, Oh, it's all on me, I need to even things I have no idea, I'm going to code the website, I'm gonna it's like, no, no stop. So kind of becoming boundaries and self aware around what your role is, I think is, is really important, because that makes it clearer, where you're going to need to look elsewhere to get other folks. And obviously, you know what's develop a working prototype of your product or service and then test it incredibly important, get feedback from people because and don't be obsessed with perfection, either. Because I think some people again, they think they need to have something, that's exactly the perfect thing in their mind, that may not be what their user is in mind or may not have the impact that they plan. So doing a lot of testing coming from a very place of deep humility is extremely helpful and let your users tell you, sometimes people think that they've got, they've got to know everything, and they've got to whatever, but be diligent around understanding the blanks of what is required. And so there needs to be a sound financial model, there needs to be an understanding of what the leadership model is going to be there needs to be an understanding of how you're going to deliver your product or service and to whom and how are they going to know that you exist, you know, all of those sort of basic things. And I go through all of that in the book in a very, very light, don't be afraid, I would say to anybody who's considering doing this, like, it's kind of almost like baking something in your kitchen, you know, you need the ingredients, this is a recipe, I will give you the recipe for doing it. It's about believing that you can and be willing to ask for help if you need it.

Cory Ames  40:18  
Some action has to be complemented with the planning and the research and the strategy. Because you can learn so much by doing you know, even if it is just kind of going out in the world and talking about what you're doing with other people. Three years in here, right now to grow ensemble, there are points that you mentioned on that Canvas. And I'm like, man, I never even thought about that was good, good for me to go through the exercises, as well for something that you know, has existed for a couple of years now. So it's very foundational, holistic, and comprehensive. But likewise, there's so much that you gain from as well kind of starting to get something out there and receiving feedback and actually listening to it. And taking those items in.

Madeleine Shaw  40:57  
Yeah, depending on the scale and the nature of the project involved. Like when I was writing, I was trying to think as like, Okay, what if it's a huge for profit thing? What if it's, like a project that nobody's incorporating anything? There's not even a bank account involved here. There's so for some, like starting a podcast, like a lot of stuff in there. It's kind of overkill, for sure. And but I was really trying to be trying to think of all the possibilities and what might be relevant to as many people as possible.

Cory Ames  41:25  
I mean, that's a very important point. You mentioned that destructuring there. Are there any quick considerations that people should have between for profit nonprofit being a benefit corporation? Or what might you recommend just right off the bat,

Madeleine Shaw  41:39  
there's got to be alignment between the desired outcome like what is somebody trying to achieve? Like, do you and my business partner, Suzanne weighs in on this really beautifully in the book, I thought, as well. And basically, what is the best alignment? What is the shoe that will fit the foot, if you will, because I think some people are caught up in sort of a false dichotomy, believing that they can only achieve social impact through a nonprofit or charitable model. And I do not personally believe that at all, I think that you can achieve positive social and environmental impact in many, many ways. And the for profit nonprofit part of it, it's kind of a false distinction. But nevertheless, if you are going to undertake anything of any sort of size and scale, then you are going to need to choose a legal structure to kind of be the scaffolding for what you're doing. But high level if you want to own something that you will ultimately be selling to someone else, I mean that as an entity, then you will need to incorporate and similarly if you want to go from being a proprietorship, which is just you to assuming like having employees and you know, just something that's bigger than that, then you will need to incorporate legally, at that point, you can think about becoming a B Corp or seeking to become a B Corp, because it's better if you I don't think you can just become a B Corp straight out of the gate like you've got actually have some bit of a track record that you can point to in terms of what you've done and how you've done it. And I would encourage people picking up the book here, sort of assuming that it's going to be a nonprofit or charitable entity that they kind of keep an open mind about that. I mean, I've seen it go the other way, as well. But not as often it's typically sort of changemakers who are sort of assuming that they need to be in the nonprofit charitable sector and then realize that they in fact, a conversation I was having about this just the other day, a group of young students here at UBC are working on an app related to menstrual health. And they have a nonprofit society, and that I sit on the board of and they were in a pitch competition for social impact. And the judges basically said you have a marketable product. And it would make more sense for you financially. And it would also allow you to access more markets if it was a for profit venture. And so they were like, you know, Mind blown, really, you know, we're allowed to do that. And, like, yo, yeah, you totally could do that. And so there's an elegance to it, too. And I think also if you do want to scale then and I mean, when I say scale, I mean along growth, financial market, that type of thing, traditional notion of it, then going the for profit route just typically opens you up to more people and to can kind of buy in literally,

Cory Ames  44:23  
yeah, speaking a bit more to the financing. I know we've skimmed on it a little bit of at least knowing how much you need and where it's going to come from, at least some initial considerations on that of seeking some sort of investment or bootstrapping, any sort of quick overview,

Madeleine Shaw  44:38  
what I'll call the Shark Tank model, what we call Dragon's Den here in Canada, where there's this very hyped adversarial Gladiator in the arena kind of drama associated with raising money in the entrepreneurial venture capital space is something that is I would suggest largely overdramatized and that is not a reality, I think it's a reality for less than 5% of all companies in the world ever raise venture capital. So to kind of let go of that, or feeling like you necessarily have to do that in order to be successful, because it feels like we're living in a media climate where that in and of itself, like forget having a quality product that delivers good value to your customers, it makes the world a better place. It's like just being able to say, hey, they raised $30 million. And, you know, isn't that amazing, and it's like, well, show me a business model that works. And we're caught up in that drama. So I'd encourage people to, to kind of let go of that. So bootstrapping to your point, I think is a is a wonderful way to go if that's available for you. So if you can be self funded, then congratulations and awesome, like being able to sort of be in greater control of your enterprise, I think is very desirable. But that said, there's so many great options like you will need money, like if this is going to go somewhere, if it's really going to scale in terms of human beings, and you know, you're manufacturing products or whatever, that have costs associated with doing that, unless you happen to have access to lots of capital, which most everyday people to go back to the title of the book do not, that's going to have to come through debt, or equity, or, you know, just doing something or getting grants, which I discuss at length in the book. And again, I would say don't be afraid of it. Like we're seeing an amazing proliferation now of funds for social impact ventures, for underestimated founders. So we're seeing for people of color for women, for folks of diverse abilities, indigenous people, like there's a whole emerging segment of funding for these ventures that is not just kept from the classic sort of adversarial model of a hostile investor who just wants their money and the harried entrepreneur who's, you know, under this financial pressure, like, yes, that happens. But in my experience, we do have some investors and they invested in the company, because they believe in us, they believe in our products, their impact investors, there's a growing segment that I discuss in the book, and there are some incredible leaders and you can also get a lot of help from investors, like here's the interesting thing is when they've got skin in the game, they want you to succeed. And so assuming that everybody's happy with that, like these are people who want to help you, they don't want to just kind of get in there and pillage your company and you know, go running off to the bank. And or at least that's not the world that I live in. And I don't think that that's where the the markets going. So it's interesting now because even since I've, you know, written the book, there are so many more players emerging in that space and innovation being made with respect to even the notion of debt, and what that looks like in equity, and what that looks like, those things are changing right now through a social impact, you know, thanks to the social impact lens.

Cory Ames  47:54  
I mean, as we mentioned before, it kind of stresses or reiterates the the importance of getting connected with those various communities that we we brought up because people in those communities are like yourself are going to have lots of different recommendations then kind of be on the cutting edge of What's New in the availability of financing and funds, but it's definitely something to not rush into very much. So be patient with I mean, what we've been doing here gr ensemble has been completely bootstrapped and can look a lot of different ways, like different arms of your business. And so I got this off the ground with doing like consulting and services and stuff like that, that I previously had experience with. And so that funded a lot of the startup costs for the podcast and all the media that we created. So it can look a lot of different ways in part of it. There are a lot of it certainly relates to how it you know, how the concepts of it feel to you, you know, as an individual as well, because bootstrapping is very appealing for a lot of different reasons, but I'm sure that there's stuff that you know, I haven't opened us up yet to consider anything else external at the moment, you know, there's just a world of opportunity and different directions you can take.

Madeleine Shaw  49:02  
Yeah, and and I think my observation for you would be like, you'll know, and, you know, you probably have relationships with people already. You've certainly developed a really strong case, like, just the strength of business is impressive, right? Yeah, feeling like you need to raise a whole bunch of capital right out of the gate is something that I think is largely a product of television.

Cory Ames  49:25  
And I think the patience with it is incredibly important. So much of what I was doing to start here is exploratory, you know, that's why I was kind of creating a lot of the content, stuff like that, because part of it is a learning experience, first and foremost. So to take on money, there needs to be a good reason to do so. And so if that's, you know, just not tightly articulated, it's it's fine to be patient until That is, until the opportunity really makes sense. But Matt on this is a really comprehensive, comprehensive dive into someone taking the task of becoming a social entrepreneur themself. Before we start to wrap up here. One more open ended one for you to kind of dive out of the tactics a bit. What do you think are some of the just highest level, maybe emotional or interpersonal challenges that someone might encounter on this this journey that you've articulated here in the greater good?

Madeleine Shaw  50:18  
You know, I think it really starts with a sense of self. And you know, we talked a little bit earlier about self definition and how we think about ourselves. And you know, just that self belief that like, I can do this, my ideas matter, my experience matters. And that can be really hard for everyday, everyday is basically code for folks who have been largely left out of this big money, big tech, swaggering, disruptive, huskily kind of culture where it's like, how do women and non binary people situate themselves? How do people of color indigenous people situate themselves like, it's just this kind of dissonant sort of thing. But if you don't feel like you deserve to be there, or you don't feel like you deserve to take up space, or be heard, like, that's what I'm seeking to really encourage and empower people to really think differently about that. Because these are the systems you know, like it or not, like, you can hate capitalism, and that's fine, and it makes sense. But if we want it to be different than we need to get in there and do it, like we need to try and create change from within that system, because we simply cannot be outside it, unfortunately. So I really want to see more people challenging, it isn't just about their individual ventures, like as beautiful and noble and amazing as that is like, what I'm ultimately looking for is is to create systemic change through many people doing this. And that's why I stress developing community because if you feel alone, or you feel like nobody's going to support you, or nobody's going to pay attention, or your ideas don't matter, it's not going to happen. And that would be tragic, because the world needs it, because it's a mess. And so I think that we need in particular the voices and the ideas and the experience of folks who have been marginalized, in this to feel like they belong and to feel empowered and encouraged. So it really is starting from that place of the internal identity and fortifying that and then fortifying, like, let's do this together. Like it's scary to do things by yourself sometimes, like, I just really want to have that spirit almost of like, you know, holding hands with someone when you jump into the swimming pool or that type of thing. So you don't feel like you've got to be this the best or the smartest, or the fastest or the you know, whatever. You just got to be a person who has something to offer and this book is a way to help you do that.

Cory Ames  52:44  
I would certainly agree. That's a wonderful, wonderful bit for us to end on here. Madeline, I appreciate you taking the time, so much to divulge so much the information here that that's in this this book that I think folks should really check out the greater good social entrepreneurship for everyday people who want to change the world, which is being released on October 5 2021. So we'll make sure and have all things the greater good linked up. Madeline, what's next for us? Where do you want to recommend people go specifically to keep up with you and whatever chapters next.

Madeleine Shaw  53:18  
So greatergood dot work is the URL, it'll ultimately take you to my website, which is great, we've got stuff going in all major social channels somewhere that I would encourage people to go or to explore the profiles and resources pages of my website, because they'll see profiles of all kinds of like these people who didn't even appear in the book because there are so many of them with all kinds of really fascinating and inspiring they're sort of like quick hit profiles of people and then the resources so people can appreciate and really feel supported and get curious about what else is out there for them to support them in their journey of doing this and so those would be my two picks of course the Bruce unite and then Cory your podcast is amazing and just hearing people's stories and voices is is so powerful so I would go right back to you to be

Cory Ames  54:09  
well thank you so much. It's It's a wonderful compliment. Yeah, we'll have all things greater good. linked up at the show post com Madeline thank you so much once more for taking the time.

Madeleine Shaw  54:19  
My absolute pleasure, Cory Thank you.

Cory Ames  54:22  
Okay, that is a wrap another episode of the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcast in the books. I hope you enjoyed it as always your host your Cory Ames. I always really enjoyed knowing that you're you're out there and listen to this episode engaging with the content, perhaps the folks that we featured doing this exceptional work in the world. If you enjoyed the show and you haven't already please leave us a review wherever it is that you get your podcasts and hit the subscribe button if you haven't already that really helps other folks like yourself, discover the show and live If you have not yet, sign up for the better world weekly newsletter This is our weekly discussion of building a better world with our global community of changemakers and innovators from all sectors all walks of life. So go to grow ensemble comm backslash newsletter to get the next Better World weekly hitting your inbox. Alright y'all, we'll talk next time

Madeleine Shaw

Social Entrepreneur, Author, & Speaker

Madeleine Shaw is a social entrepreneur hailing from the Coast Salish territories, unseated traditional ancestral lands on the west coast of Canada, British Columbia, near Vancouver, BC. She is best known as the founder of Aisle, formerly known as Lunapads.

It was one of the first ventures in the entire world to commercialize reusable menstrual products. Madeleine also founded a G Day in 2014, a registered charity that produces rite of passage events for tween girls across Canada. She also launched Nestworks, a family-friendly co-working space.

Madeleine’s served on numerous nonprofit boards and has been in the space of social entrepreneurship for over 30 years. Finally, she’s put her experiences and lessons learned into her book, The Greater Good: Social Entrepreneurship for Everyday People Who Want to Change the World.