#216 - Pursuing Purposeful + Meaningful Work on the We Can Do This Podcast with Sean Pritzkau

March 15, 2022

#216 - Pursuing Purposeful + Meaningful Work on the We Can Do This Podcast with Sean Pritzkau
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Sean Pritzkau and host Cory Ames come together over their shared passions for purpose-driven business and podcasting. Join the conversation as they share the journeys that have led them to where they are today, the driving forces behind the work they do, and how they hope to see the world change for the better as a result.


Sean Pritzkau and host Cory Ames come from different backgrounds — his in ministry and Cory’s in marketing — but their paths have converged as a result of their shared passions for purpose-driven business and podcasting

In today’s conversation, they both share the journeys that have led them to where they are today, the driving forces behind the work they do, and how they hope to see the world change for the better as a result. 

Sean and Cory also delve into the importance of self-care, collaboration, and being curious. 

Sean is the host of We Can Do This, a podcast that aims to inspire people and provide them with the tools to start or grow their own social enterprises or initiatives, so be sure to check it out after this episode!

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🗣 TOPICS DISCUSSED:

  • Sean explains the purpose behind his podcast, We Can Do This, and what drove him to start it
  • What Sean loves about working in the podcasting space
  • Cory’s inspiration for starting The Grow Ensemble podcast, and the work that he was doing before
  • Experiences that have made them feel disillusioned with the world of business
  • What it means to them to run a purpose-driven business
  • Examples of how to determine whether a company is operating ethically and sustainably – or not
  • Where Sean’s interest in purpose-driven work originated
  • The first project Sean was involved in when he left the ministry
  • People in Sean’s life who have opened his eyes to injustice in the world 
  • How Sean hopes to expand upon the work he is currently doing to make an even greater impact in the future
  • Differences between the ways in which Sean and Cory process things
  • Why self-care practices are so important for entrepreneurs and leaders
  • The value of collaborating with people whose skill sets complement your own 
  • Advice for anyone looking to get involved in the social impact space 
  • Sean’s least favorite book, and why he reads it once a year
  • A book that Cory has found very valuable on his journey as a purpose-driven entrepreneur
  • Sean and Cory share some of their (almost) daily routines and practices
 

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Transcript

Sean Pritzkau  0:00  
You know, what are the decisions that are worth spending the limited amount of time I have, you know, on the planet, right? And do I want those decisions I make to be beneficial to others towards the planet towards communities do I want to make decisions that leave, you know, sort of a legacy for others to follow and continue to move. I think that's really, really important.

Cory Ames  0:25  
Hey y'all, it's Cory here with the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcast, as always so grateful to have you listening in. Today, I am joined by another podcast hosts in this space of purpose driven business, meaningful and impactful work, Sean Pritzkau.

Sean is the host of the We Can Do This podcast, which connects people looking to create meaningful change with the tools, skills and community they need to stay the course and make an impact. Sean and I talk about the impetus for starting a podcast I share the origin story of mine, he does his we talk about what's driven us each to work that has meaning that serves a purpose that ideally leaves the world a better place than we found it. And we talked about this spectrum of sustainability, mission driven business purpose driven business leaders, a really excellent conversation, Sean is a joy to speak with. I always enjoy talking with other podcast hosts too. It's it's a different dynamic than the one way interview. So I share a little bit more of the background grow ensemble and this podcast in particular, and you get an inside look at a friend of mine here, Sean, and the work that he does over at we can do this in the clients that he works with in his consulting work. So I hope you'll enjoy this episode. I really had a pleasure chatting with Sean. But before we dive in, as always, I want to invite you to sign up for my better world weekly newsletter if you haven't yet. This is my weekly discussion with our community of changemakers and innovators from all sectors all over the globe here at grow ensemble grow ensemble.com backslash newsletter that's growensemble.com backslash newsletter. Alright, so without further ado, here is Sean Pritzkau.

Sean Pritzkau  2:28  
So hey, my name is Sean Pritzkau. I'm based here in Rochester, New York, I am the founder and host of we can do this, which is a podcast for social entrepreneurs as well helping people, inspire them, equip them and give them the tools to go out in either start or grow their own social enterprise or initiative. And in some of my other work, I work as a marketing consultant and an advisor. And while my background is in communications, and the podcast is really a way for me to kind of share some of my experience, from my, my work as well as bring on guests for people who are out there, you know, doing the work and sharing about what they're up to and hoping that inspires listeners. So yeah, really excited to be here.

Cory Ames  3:12  
I love it. Let's start with that podcast, perhaps. What was the impetus for starting it, Sean?

Sean Pritzkau  3:19  
Yeah, so I started my own, you know, freelance business or kind of consultancy about five years ago. And my desire and kind of the backstory of that was like, I did want to go out and make an impact out beyond my professional work that I was doing before. And get things started. And I found that I ended up working with like a real diverse client base, I was working with small businesses, solopreneurs, nonprofits, the whole gambit, really. And all along, I was really just saying, Hey, this is good. I enjoyed this work. But I really want to kind of fully dive into work that I feel is meaningful, and is doing, you know, a larger work beyond just growing profit, right, actually growing purpose. And so for years, I actually had thought about the podcast, I put together artwork, put together some concepts, and then there was something someone really one of my best friends said, Hey, go out and do it. Like, I know you want to do this, just go and record your first episode right now. And I went over to the microphone and recorded the first episode. That was the the being the show open. And that was in April, April 1, ironically, is when we launched and no jokes. And yeah, the impetus is it was really for, you know, diving in and having conversations with like minded people that were passionate about the projects that they were working on the initiatives and really taking like an innovative approach to business as well as you know, engaging their business with impact in mind.

Cory Ames  4:56  
I know we've shared a few guests now: Nivi Achanta with Soapbox, Brandon Harvey with Good, Good, Good. And maybe Dale Wilkinson as well. I'm curious what you have over 20 episodes out so far, right? What do you feel like? Are some learnings or understandings that you're taking with you thus far, maybe into just generally the podcast production process, as well, as you know, the substance of the conversations that you're having with these folks?

Sean Pritzkau  5:29  
Yeah, podcasting, I've learned as a whole thing, right. It's a lot of work. It's really fulfilling when you have like, conversations are just like, you know, bull's eye conversation, you know, and everyone that you just mentioned, both I've really saw it is just outside of recording an interview together, right? We're just like, they were people that it just seemed like an intersection where we're like, hey, the things that we're both passionate about the things that we're up to, there's just, we need to talk and just encourage one another and learn from one another. So, you know, Brandon, Dale, Nivi, yourself is I feel really strongly about that. And ironically, everyone you just mentioned, also has an experience with podcasting. So there's a lot to learn there, right. And I think, you know, to be a podcast host, I think you have to be curious about other people's stories and other people's journeys and what they want to achieve. And so I think, you know, having two podcast hosts talking to one another, I think, is really cool thing. And I think through those conversations, I just learned that, you know, you can jump on someone's website, or follow them on social media and see what they're up to. But it's really when you have this two way dialogue, that you see what is really motivating them. And you can really clearly see if they're motivated strictly by profit and growing a business or growing a brand or an image, or they're truly want to use that as a vehicle to make a strong impact in the world and into the lives of other people. So yeah, I think through podcasting, I think I've only had a handful of solo episodes, which I like doing, I have a background in public speaking, but talking to a microphone is way different than talking to a room full of people. So I think the conversations have been really, really encouraging and fulfilling for me. And I think, from what I hear other people enjoy kind of being a part of the conversation as well.

Cory Ames  7:21  
Yeah, I resonate with a lot. You mentioned there, I think podcasting is a unique opportunity, it seems to like build something of a community in the space that you're part of, or even just want to be a part of. I mean, that was the inspiration for why I started this podcast over three years ago. It's funny, likewise, I don't even think about the point in which you why I started it, like my wife and I talked about this, she's like, it's incredible that your 200 plus episodes, and I think right now is recording this publish, like 205, or six or whatever. And it's really incredible. And it feels to me at this point, just because it's kind of like the water that you're swimming in, you know, you don't really even notice it's the water around you so much. You're like, oh, I don't know, it's just it is what it is at this point. Yeah. And it's nice to remember that like, okay, that is something of accomplishment itself, it feels good. But at the same time, what actually inspired your journey to start, I was like, I don't know, like I don't I don't even know, inside of like, it was a vague curiosity, first and foremost to like, connect with this type of business community.

First, attending the conference for the certified B Corp community, I felt a bit disillusioned with entrepreneurship and business in general, after a previous experience, I had been attending this community, I connected with a lot of business leaders, businesses, where I was like, Oh, that, you know, these are more so my people who are using business as a tool, it's their vehicle for how they see, you know, their ability, their capacities best suited to make an impact in the world. And so with that is like, alright, you know, start reaching out to people who, who seem, you know, very active, engaged in this space to learn about what's just going on. But all share the same sentiment, too, it's the more digging that you start to do, the more that you start to see the broad spectrum of what it means to be, you know, a social entrepreneur, if we want to use that word of purpose driven business, sustainable business, you know, these are all terms and I get a bit obsessed with definitions, because I think there's some value into it, at least to have the discussion around it. Yeah. But there's a wide spectrum of really what that means. And we get pitched for podcast guests constantly for this podcast, I've now finally had to put on the contact page. Like, we don't accept any pitches. Yeah. Because I know for, you know, 99% of them. They're just kind of templated for the most part, but it's interesting. You mentioned that like the digging that you do when you really start to research who's out there, what kind of companies are out there, you can really see who is like walking the walk, you know, as well. It's just interesting to me that that you shared the same experience. 

Sean Pritzkau  9:54  
Yeah, it's really interesting. And I just the thing that kind of stuck out to what you said is, you know, it's even tap into why you started, which I think is probably evidence that it's something that's just kind of really deep within you, that kind of just comes out when you talk and engage in the world and do your work. And not to poke at any past experience. But you did mention kind of that there might have been a previous experience that may have left you a little bit disheartened or letdown about maybe engaging in work that's not purpose driven, or not purposeful, right? I know for sure, I had a very experience like that, where I was going full on into another direction, and then really was kind of woke up and decided, hey, this isn't aligned with what I think I'm really created to do. We're kind of wired to do with this mindset of purpose. Yeah. But yeah, I mean, before the podcast, like, what were what were you up to?

Cory Ames  10:48  
Well, before starting Grow Ensemble and then the podcast, I worked for a digital marketing agency that serves dental practices all over the US and Canada. So kind of an odd space to be in. But it was a full service digital marketing agency. And it was one of the reasons which, you know, I'm very grateful to have learned all the skill set that I've developed now, content marketing, digital marketing, just broadly speaking, but that the purpose behind that company was explicitly to make a profit. So I got in kind of at the ground level of fourth employee there, and still very small business, it was a small business until the day that I was finished, but really kind of hustled and got this very close mentorship from one of the co-owners, an entrepreneur, himself, who made this promise, like, you know, come work for me, and I'll teach you everything I know about marketing, sales and entrepreneurship generally. And so I, at the time, I was 19 years old, so I really kind of like, jumped at the opportunity. I was like, Yeah, it sounds great. I always had an interest in entrepreneurship and thought that that would ultimately be my path forward. And so a few years of you mentoring very closely with him, ultimately promoted me to the CEO position of this company after a couple years. And so was the CEO of this marketing agency, still quite small, 25 employees a couple million dollars in revenue a year, and I was in this position was still essentially the two owners being my boss's as the CEO. So they were sort of the board, I guess, in a very small business scenario. And there were a lot of these issues, a lot of personnel issues, one of which I was probably in a position without the proper leadership capacity and skill set. You know, there's one thing to be said about just kind of jumping into it and learning as you go, there's another thing to be said that you have maybe some experience is warranted. So I was 22, when I had that position. And you know, there's professionals with decades of experience, who were, you know, working, quote, unquote, underneath me? Sure. And that caused some strain that was difficult to really build good relationships in that way.

And especially, you know, every single day after that experience reflecting on it was like, Yeah, of course, why the hell would people trust me to run that company, but there's also issues with pay range benefits that were available, just the work culture that was there, workstyle. And getting into that position, I thought that I'd have a lot of strategic control and things like that of like, okay, this company, by all means, as far as small business was even in doing at its peak, when I was there, like two and a half million dollars, there's a lot of profit that runs in and out of a business like that, if it is quite successful, and has really appropriate margins, a lot of money moves in and out of that, even for a business of just that size. And so to have these conversations with people about like, hey, you know, we're leaving, because there's better pay here, there's benefits here, you know, we're working really hard, we would love to continue working here, but I just can't, you know, afford to work this way and support my family, and like looking at their work wrong at all about, you know, where pay and stuff ranged on what was, you know, competitive in a market landscape. But the owners were a little hesitant to start making such drastic changes, you know, in shifts, it's this feeling of where it really started to switch for me of like, the exchange that can happen in businesses or entrepreneurship generally, where there's almost this sense that like, if you're not getting a good deal, or if you're not taking complete advantage of someone else, or something else in this situation, then, you know, you're not really doing enough. Like, if you're not getting the most absolute work and effort out of someone for the lowest amount of compensation and pay or cost as they saw it, then, you know, you're not doing it right. And I'm not saying that the voters were evil people, I think that they just have a much more conventional understanding of what business is for and what the purpose of it is. And so with limited sort of control of like, Oh, I'd love to pay these people more, you know, I'd love to, let's get us all benefits, that kind of thing. But feeling like whoa, you know, there's some reins on me a little bit as to the degree to which I could affect it and change those sorts of things, because they still had expectations of you know, what sort of profit was going to be distributed into their personal bank accounts every quarter, you know, and so I ended up resigning from the CEO position.

The mentor I was very close to I still have a good relationship with. He left. He didn't have a great relationship with other co owners. So there's a lot of kind of cultural issues and stuff there from the very beginning. But I left that, and I then had this very, you know, early existential crisis in my life of like, wow, I invested so much effort into learning, digital marketing, sales, entrepreneurship. And I thought in that experience, like, is there a way in which it can be done ethical, because it felt inherently and implicitly that that was an unequal exchange, that there was like information that we're withholding from, you know, staff members and team members, like, oh, it was a closed book, you know, as far as the finances go. And that's a whole different perspective on that as well just kind of complete transparency as much as possible. But it's like, there were things that were withheld for the sake of like, Oh, if they knew that, then they wouldn't agree to work for us in the situation that they're working in, if that makes sense. And so I spent a lot of time walking the dog drinking a lot of coffee, thinking about, you know, what it was that I was to do next, my life, kind of like, Oh, my God, because I dropped out of college, ultimately, to take that position at that company. So I really, you know, burn the ships and jumped in with two feet. But my wife, who had been familiar with social entrepreneurship, for another reason, thought that I should check that out and recommended it to me.

And so enough books and things and Google searches, I ultimately came across the certified B Corp community. And I found, you know, in a month, away from the point which I was doing that search, they're hosting a conference in New Orleans, which is like an eight hour drive from San Antonio. So I reached out to the organizers, I was like, Do you need any volunteers? You know, for the conference, they said, Yes, drove over, I have a cousin who was living there, and med school, slept on her couch and went to this conference for a couple days. And I had the opportunity to connect with folks who I'm close to, to this day, good friends with now, I work with now, which is very cool, who just really, like, unlocked it for me that whole there are different ways in which business can be done. So long answer to your question there. But that was the experience that really ultimately, you know, brought me around to and I still I still question a lot of different ways, because the spectrum is still very wide in, you know how to properly and ethically operate a supply chain, to you know, employee compensation, there's a lot of these questions. And what I do enjoy is that businesses in this space, and the business people behind it, are very open to having those discussions, you know, in that the way in which business has been done is perhaps not the way in which business should and can look like are really what the core purpose of it is. There's a lot of these things that we're still kind of like wired to think about, you know, in the sense of like, well, sustainability is something is that is currently like a market differentiator right now, as opposed to like, no, it's literally, you know, the bare minimum, right, it should be the standard for us, you know, being at the table, so to speak, especially given the context of like, if we're not doing that, then we are putting ourselves we are on a track, you know, to complete climate devastation. So, long winded I know, but I hope that gives you an inside look as to to where I came from.

Sean Pritzkau  18:05  
Yeah, thanks for sharing that it's so interesting to me, because I think, you know, experiences like that frame, the way that you see business, see the world see, operating with people, you know, like, employees aren't just employees, they're people. And so I think it's really, really important. And especially like you said, you know, to take this specific role, you made life decisions that you can't go back and change. Right. And, you know, once you kind of pour yourself into a specific thing, then there's costs that are associated with that. And I think that's, you know, kind of a little bit at the heart of, you know, like a purpose driven business is, you know, what are the decisions that are worth spending the limited amount of time I have, you know, on the planet, right? And do I want those decisions I make to be beneficial to others towards the planet towards communities? Do I want to make decisions that leave, you know, sort of a legacy for others to follow and continue to move? I think that's really, really important. So, yeah, it, I don't know, on a bittersweet sight word, but it's, you know, those experiences, they really transform you, right, like, into what you're going to do for the next he said, You were 23. Right. And when you were in that role, so you know, by 30, by 40, like, you're much different person than if you didn't have those experiences, right?

Cory Ames  19:25  
Certainly. And it's like a matrix type thing of like, once you see it and come to this understanding that like, you can never go back to the way in which it was, you know, and so similarly, to understand what's possible with business or as well, I think just what kind of from the the negative lens of like, what kind of exploitation is possible and is there like you can't unsee that those things exist in the world and that there are actual while that was a small business, and maybe this stakes seemed to lower in some ways, you know, is, I don't know we weren't working with people. internationally or something like that, it's like, there's still implications to that behavior on a much wider scale. You know, it's like, if that's acceptable behavior in one business, it's acceptable behavior in the entire lens of the business community, you know, and that's the thing that feels most frustrating at times. To me, like, it's weird, the ways in which we feel comfortable with some of these levels of one exploitation or extraction, that it's like, oh, sustainability is a nice to have, you know, equity is a nice to have diversity is a nice to have, you know, and if some sort of financial constraint, you know, comes into contact with that, like, well, we have to make sure that the dollars and cents make, you know, that have, those are appropriately aligned, before we fully address the other things, you know, as opposed to like thinking about it differently, which I do see business folks in this space do to where, you know, you can't compromise on the other, because there's some sort of belief that it's like, well, if a business can't address those particular components, then or very aggressively have plans in place to continue to improve, you know, on those different markers, then perhaps they just shouldn't exist. Like, ultimately, that's the outcome, you know, if they continue to operate unsustainably, in one aspect of, you know, people or planet, maybe ultimately, they just shouldn't, you know, have a license to operate, essentially.

Sean Pritzkau  21:19  
Yeah. And then to your point of transparency, even if they're not necessarily, you know, hitting the mark and every bucket to know that there's a plan, and I want to, you know, we want to communicate on behalf of the company, right, that, hey, we are halfway there, but not all the way there. And this is what we're doing to solve that is really important.

Cory Ames  21:38  
Yeah, and those are things, as you mentioned, the research and digging deep too often get questions like how am I supposed to know that a company is sustainable, or you know, who I'm purchasing from? It's a company worth supporting? Like, well, you know, just look at their website and see how much they tell you about the degree of how sustainable they are not in the sense of like, you know, marketing, messaging and communication, but like what degree of documentation exists there, like I always bring up a friend of mine, Anders Ankarlid at the company, A Good Company, which is a sustainable ecommerce company based in Sweden, they literally have an interactive map with their supply chain of where they're getting raw materials, from the products, photos of the factory, all that kind of stuff, who are the people in, you know, accountabilities, there, to where those products that go with factory like, it's extraordinarily detailed, they have, like, the designs of their products and everything laid out, for the sake of you know, what he believes he's like, we're gonna be sustainable from absolutely day one, and be 100% transparent with it the whole way through. So I really admire and there's other great examples of that, to have people who show you their supply chain. You know, they they know, the specific factories, they visit them frequently. You know, they know what materials they're using. And there's definitely a different degree of transparency and documentation with that. But Shawn, I'm curious to know, because this answer quite varies. Are there influences external, like friends or family or otherwise, outside some of those earlier work experiences that have made you be a bit more inclined to pursue work that has a greater purpose with it something that that ideally, you know, leaves the world a better place than you found it? Like, I'm always interested to know what makes someone have an interest in pursuing this direction of work?

Sean Pritzkau  23:23  
Yeah, it's a great question. I'm inspired, but a whole loads of people, sometimes it's hard in the moment to think of who to bring up. But yeah, I mean, I heard this phrase the other day, you've probably heard the study of the follow your curiosity, and not necessarily your passions. I heard someone bring this up. And I just think through like, really, my entire life, I was passionate about things, but I never knew, like, if I have to pick one thing, like what is it that I am so passionate about that I want to make that a career, right? And I grew up in like a public school setting, and I had a really good experience, but wasn't necessarily, you know, exposed to the whole range of opportunities for your career, right. And specifically, like entrepreneurship wasn't something that was really brought up just wasn't a traditional career path. And so I really struggled with thinking what I wanted to do for a career. And, you know, my background is actually in ministry. So I, I had a lot of friends that grew up with like a faith, background religion, and I didn't really have that until like later in high school. And when I was exposed to religious community ended up, you know, being part of like a evangelical mega church for a while. And at that point, you know, this was something that was the first thing that was exposed to that I was like, I think this is something that feels like I'm doing something beyond myself, that kind of thing and decided to kind of like, go 100% in that direction, and end up doing the undergrad degree religion. In philosophy of doing a master's degree in and working in a large, you know, Christian mega churches, my career, and I think it was that experience that, you know, I did see a lot of good things. But I also saw things that were aligned with what I thought was where I wanted to make an impact. Specifically, it was very surrounded by bringing people to like a specific place and communicating or talking at them in a certain way. And I really kind of from my gut, and I think probably a lot of people can resonate in maybe your audience, my audience, or people that usually listen to like, their gut, like, how does this made me feel in use that along with, you know, logic.

And so my gut was saying, hey, I want to make, I think the impact I need to make is outside of the walls. And a lot of that was to my own, like, worldview shifting and changing over time, you know, over 10 years. And so, and so, I mean, my transition was really quick from that world, I think I resigned from my role as on a communications team in a large, large church. And if you're familiar with that world, it's kind of like running an agency, but all your clients are internal. So when you're hosting 3, 5, 10,000 person events, you have creative media teams that are really doing a lot of that work. So I was in that role, resigned on a Friday, and then ended up on a plane to Haiti that following Monday, I just was invited on a trip that ended up being my first client there was, you know, kind of through a mutual friend. And I was honestly kind of turned off to the idea of Christian missions at that point. But I did see this organization that was doing a really good work in Haiti that was kind of centrally jumpstarting, like entrepreneurship on the ground in Haiti. And it just opened my eyes to another way to do nonprofit work. And that really kind of opened my eyes to kind of how I can use my skills for good, you know, that first project, we, in a relatively quick time, you know, came up with a brand identity for this organization, we went down and did some documentary work in Haiti and ultimately did a fundraising event here, when 3 to 4000 people come to an event. And it kind of opened my eyes to I guess, I have, like some sort of skill set that is, you know, valuable to folks that are looking to create change. And so that set me on a journey, I think of saying, Well, how can I empower more people to do good, using the skill sets I have been using?

You know, I know, you have a background in marketing communications, right. And I think what we're seeing now is, you know, modern nonprofits, you mentioned B corps, for profit companies that just have like a component of, they want to see an impact made through their business or organization or to their profits, as well as just, you know, managing and running their business in an ethical way. I think just being exposed to these businesses and organizations that were out there doing business differently, or doing nonprofit work differently. And some of those people were people in my life that I went to college with, or were in family, but I just never understood it. It didn't click for me that the work that they were doing, environmentally, the work that they were doing, and serving under represented people groups and things that never clicked me that that was worth, you know, dedicating your life to. And so I think it I had those relationships all along, but there was my specific career journey experience to kind of, you know, I found myself in a spot that is like, Well, how do I make an impact? Who out there is, is making an impact? And how can I jump in and use my skills for good. And I think I have a lot of, you know, close friends, colleagues, people that work that are designers, videographers, creatives, who have that same desire to like make an impact with the creative skills that they have. And more and more, I think we're seeing opportunities for those people to use their skill sets for good.

Cory Ames  29:10  
And so in that sorting, of - I love, the inquiry in this is something that's been ever present for me, especially over the last few years of, I've won this baseline of I want to do something that like I want to use my skills, my energy, my capacity, the hours that I have here, because ideally, leave the world better off like as you whatever broadly, that means. First kind of part of it is even figuring out like what exactly does that mean in different contexts and scenarios, you start to realize that you're like, oh, it makes sense that people dedicate their lives to very specific ways in impact, environmental, social, or otherwise, because it takes a lifetime to understand, in some cases, like what the world really needs. Sometimes probably less than, you know, we have this this impetus to to get involved and take action, but I'm wondering for you, what does that process says look like that and create how has it historically looked of? Like, how do you do that sorting? How have you figured out? Like, where's the sweet spot of your skills? You know, your interests, your curiosities, and where you can make an impact? And then following that, like, do you feel like you're in the sweet spot right now? Like, where do you feel on that journey of that personal inquiry?

Sean Pritzkau  30:21  
Yeah, that's a great question. Yeah, I think it is. I mean, I think relationships are a huge part of it. There were specific people in my life, who just through hearing their own experiences, made me open my eyes to some injustice that's in the world, specifically, you know, like, I was always in like, diverse settings. Growing up, like the extra the church that I just mentioned, was a, like a diverse congregation, school I grew up going to was extremely diverse, but never really understood the concept of racial injustice. And it wasn't until I really developed close relationships with people, that I could have conversations around race and dialogue around those things. And then learning to see like, okay, in my own workplace, how does that issue? How does that come up? Then? How is it being dealt with? And then I had a conversation over zoom, just, you know, a year or two ago, someone asking, how are you taking steps in your own business and organization to make sure that you're creating opportunities for all people? And those are hard questions that, you know, from a level, like, we just talked about transparency. It's like, what am I doing, you know, to make sure that I'm creating opportunities for all people. So I think that's one scenario, or one example of, I think, relationships, looking at who's around you what is in front of me? And how can I just be responsible with what I know, I think, like I said, study of following your curiosity instead of your passions. I think, the interesting thing about that as your curiosity changes, I think that's kind of like how I had this weird kind of career journey. And I think it's, I hope things change over the next 2, 5, 10 years. Because I think like, that's an evidence that my curiosity is growing and moving in different directions. So I'm excited that I'm specifically working and aiming to work with, you know, organizations and businesses that are driven by purpose. But I hope, you know, in the next two 510 years that I can, you know, you can get more clarity around, how can I make the best impact with my work, when that might be through further narrowing down the causes that I support? You know, the specific kinds of companies that I work with? Or when it relates to the podcast? What are specific topics we're talking about? Or what is beyond the podcast? You know, is it communities? Is it services? Is it, you know, opposed to just having conversations around things? Like, what are ways that I can extend beyond those conversations and, you know, do concrete things that make an impact? I think talking about things is really, really good. But I think, you know, acting in executing on some of these challenges, that's even better.

Cory Ames  33:04  
Certainly, and, at least in my experience, to now having, you know, a good few of these conversations over the last couple years, right? It's been a balance of that, thinking about exactly where I can take action, but likewise, thinking about like, what's the greater community as a whole, you know, the ecosystem of like, who's very good, I think, like Nivi Achanta, as an example of someone we've already brought up, and both had the pleasure to interview. She's so action oriented, and like very specific in tangible actions that she can prescribe and work through with her community at Soapbox. So it's nice to start to think like, okay, my impact is not just constrained to myself, and what grown saw what can do and what this podcast can do, but like, who are some of the friends that I'm making here in this space? And what are some of their strengths and skill sets? And that's just a good example for me, because not just, you know, having conversations, we've started to figure out other ways her, her and I can collaborate together in our communities and platforms can come together. It's I think it's funny, though, the way in which I would answer that question that I asked you about how you're going through this inquiry, totally opposite, like the first thing that you said, right? It's the people and the relationships. And I was I like, kind of my brain sort of misfiring of like, my thought was, like, he's gonna say journaling, and like, you know, some deep introspection, because that's kind of like, where I go. It's like, it's, you know, my wife and I will have conversations and she's very, like, she process things audibly. In verbally, and I'm like, Hold on, I need to process this and you think through this, and our brains just don't hers is working like 10 times the speed that mine is like, I just need the world slow down, like go through those things, take experience in, you know, meet people and connect with people. But it's so weird, like, I just don't process in the same way of like, I need a paper or whatever pen and paper to sort that out. So it's just funny. Like, I like the contrasting sort of, Oh, yeah. approaches to that. Yeah.

Sean Pritzkau  34:54  
I'm entirely a verbal processor. So I don't really know. I don't know what I think until I'd say you know, like And then I'm like, do I agree with what I just said? Let me go ahead and talk more about that. That's super, super interesting how we kind of like, process these things. And I think when it comes to like, how do you will say, like, you're a founder, right? And you want to nurture and grow the direction of your business, really make sure it's in line with what you want to do. I think, you know, we're like a social enterprise or business that's grounded in purpose. I mean, that own internal work is so important, where I think of a probably generalizing, but like, you know, this traditional, often masculine idea of like, corporate CEOs and things working 6080 hours a week and putting their personal life or their internal development, right, whether it be personal or whatever, on the backburner. I think it's caring for your soul. Caring for your, your body, caring for your self is extremely important, because that affects how you treat others and, you know, lead your teams and all those kind of things.

Cory Ames  35:56  
100% I think that that baseline self awareness is so key, and helps you save a lot of hours and mistakes, of which, like, just, I think last year was was very, there's a lot of experiments in the way in, which was determining how growing sounds like what, you were two years in trying to build the vision of what's the five year 10 year trajectory, what sort of things can we sustain and do and, you know, ultimately get better and better at over time, one of the things we experimented with was like actually launching a grow ensemble community, getting set up on on circle, and starting with some of the initial ideas and everything in it early on with the community, we did like pre launch all this kind of stuff, I realized just how that was just not in my skill-- like being a community manager and like kind of leading a community in that way. It's like, not my skill set at all. That Nivi keeps coming up here, and now I'm gonna have to share this episode with her make sure she listens. But that's why we ended up partnering with her and Soapbox and moves our, you know, whatever kind of baby grow ensemble community that we started, merged into Soapbox, and that's now-- I often recommend hers as a place to go. Nivi's very active, she's got a very good skill set for building an online community, you know, with a real with actually a capital C community attached to it, you know, like a real sense of community, and she's very good at it. So you know what that is like, Oh, I had that as an idea. That is just something that I could do for whatever reason, I was like, oh, no, this is absolutely just not, not me, and not where I think that, you know, if I have these desires to sustain what I'm doing and make an impact in doing so, it's not going to be in doing things that like I feel a lot of resistance towards personally, you know, just with what my aptitudes are skill sets, and grow ensemble is not at a place to hire a community manager full time. So that would have been on me.

But yeah, it's just I think that self awareness is really critical. And that's come up with these hundreds of conversations I've had with other social entrepreneurs is likewise, like, they really had to figure out, you know, who they were, what their strengths were, as well, their weaknesses, the shortcomings, and either get partners or mentors or investors or, you know, just strategic partners elsewhere to help them kind of account for the things that, you know, they may not be too good at, or just even like doing because it's like if like, it's about the long term trajectory of what you can sustain, and what you can do, because first you got to get good at what you're doing, you know, in our context here of podcasting, creating content media, it's like, you have to do it for a long time, you know, to really get an aptitude with it, just inherently you're not going to be good at it from the start. So if it's not something that whatever it is that you feel like you're very driven to do for a decade, I'm very into that kind of long term thinking, like, you know, I just don't buy anybody or like, I'm gonna do this for a few years, see, you know, and then like, either I'll sell out this business, or whatever it is, it's like, just expect it's gonna take a lot more effort and time, you know, so hopefully, which like, the thing of, you know, is it passions or curiosities or whatever that you follow? There's a whole bunch of different advice for that. It's like, you have to love it in one way, you know, there's gonna be crap and anything that you do, it's not always easy to podcast, you know, it's like we blog, newsletter, all this kind of stuff, those things aren't easy in a different way. And so you have to be willing to put up with the bad things of like, you know, what is the pursuit that you're choosing, and I think, you know, be able to sustain for the longest period of time, just hanging around, you know,

Sean Pritzkau  39:14  
I like what you said specifically about really playing into your strengths and supporting other people and their strengths. That was sort of, you know, in the initial thoughts of we can do this was to seeing a lot of people working in silos, and how, if we actually did have dialogue with one another, we learned that, hey, we're actually doing a lot of the same work, but I think we can make a bigger impact if we do it together and collaboration with one another in some fashion, supporting one another, I think is a super, is really important and can lead to more impact and less burnout, right? If you're able to kind of, you know, link arms with one another. One of the things that, you know, I really wanted to ask you because specifically in we can do this, there's a lot of people that you know, probably have idea are aspiring towards maybe working towards some sort of cause or even maybe starting their own purpose driven community your business in at this point. I mean, you've been at grow ensemble for quite a while now, right? When did you start?

Cory Ames  40:12  
It's about three and a half years, 

Sean Pritzkau  40:16  
Three and a half? Yeah. So if you were, you know, where you were three and a half years ago with this idea in mind of starting building a platform around social good, you know, what would you tell yourself now, given the experiences, you've had the hundreds of interviews under your belt, you know, really working towards this, like, what would you say to someone who's in your shoes, right now?

Cory Ames  40:37  
A lot of things, because a lot of mistakes have been been made most certainly, but I think one would be probably to start sooner, you know, I think that everything kind of happens at its appropriate time. But that's always the thing of like, probably to have just taken action sooner than I was comfortable with, you know, I'm very much so someone who, you know, my personalities, I'm very in my head, I can get very existential and think, like, I think too much. Think myself into in all sorts of problems. And so I get just in abundance of growth in value out of taking action, seeking meaningful experiences out, like the conferences, an example that I volunteered at, you know, or any other coffees or anything that I've set up with people, you know, COVID is a big Asterix on that. But doing those things that may feel a little bit, you know, like, oh, I don't know if that even makes sense, necessarily. It's like the conference, I was like, I have no idea what I'm going to get out of this. But I made relationships at that conference that, you know, I'm working with those people, right now, you know, on under very important collaborations. And thanks for grow ensemble, it was just so informative, you know, and it really fueled what it was my internal processing anyway. So to seek out those things and take I have that bias towards action, as soon as you possibly can. And I think the thing that I really liked in retrospect, things that I think were very good for me was to create some sense of public accountability to keep you to it, because it's not easy. And certainly, as I'm sure you experienced, just, you know, 20 episodes is significant amount of episodes, to where there's been different periods of time where you're probably like, even though you may enjoy it, you're like, why am I doing this? You know, there is a podcasting is kind of a black box, oddly, that, like, you don't get a lot of analytics and data on who's listening, you know, and who's engaging with the podcast? So there's periods where like, what am I doing this for? What is this actually leading to, especially when, like sustainability and perhaps the monetization of like, what makes us a business? You know, in a way? How does that make sense?

I'm glad that I've had the public accountability of publishing these episodes, starting to get some sort of sense of community around it, the people who I've interviewed who are like, hey, you know, it's cool to see the growth of the podcast. And, you know, I've been building a newsletter for the last few years of, you know, writing more detailed takeaways on that. It's like, people expect things from me in some way, you know, they're not going to be devastated, maybe fight, it's not gonna ruin their lives. But it's nice for me to know that, like, there's some sort of public thing that people will be like, Oh, what happened to the the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcasts, you know, and that took some time, because they're in those difficult moments is like, Oh, I still have to put out a newsletter every Monday, I still have to put out a podcast every Tuesday. And not only that, there is still a little bit of like, well, it can't just be the same, I have to be getting better over time, just like incrementally, you know. So I think that two of those things, you know, both to take action and, and likewise, like, the benefit of having some public accountability, and I will say support as well in there, it's not just about like holding your feet to the fire. Yeah, but those were really valuable for me. And I think that the third thing I would say, is to be more patient with myself and do more of fewer things. And so, you know, especially in the early days of any sort of idea, or business, you want to do everything in anything to make it work, as opposed to paying attention to the few things that are working well, and having the patience and discipline to be like, alright, you know, whatever it is, I want to do XYZ start a YouTube channel, whatever, you know, as a means to grow your I want to launch new products, or you know, I need to do trade show, whatever it is the type of business you're starting, you think you have to do all of it at once, as opposed to it's okay to be like, No, I'm not going to do that right now. We can do that at some point. And trust that, you know, investing deeper both in the effort and just time to get better at the things that are going well for you. I think that will be a quicker path. And this is constantly I constantly don't follow my own advice on this. I think I'm getting progressively better at it just by like, you know, like terrible mistakes that cost me a lot of time where I'm like, it comes back to the same lesson. I'm like, alright, what am I going to learn this and like I learned a little bit more each time, you know, like, I catch myself a bit sooner, but that would be the third thing is to have that patience to focus more deeply on fewer things.

Sean Pritzkau  44:43  
Yeah, it's an incredible response. I 100% agree with everything you just said. I think I'm a big fan of the 80/20 rule. I think I saw that you referenced it in a recent newsletter and really following through with that really forces you to slow down and if you don't slow down enough to really see like, hey, you know where the The percent results coming from. And, you know, for listeners, like, you know, 20% of your work is usually leading to 80% of the results you're seeing. And, yeah, if you don't slow down, especially, like, you can do that first thing before you get busy. But if you're like, definitely like me, it takes five, six years to realize, hey, let me look back and see like, where are the results kicking in? Oh, it's done the 20% of the stuff that I do really well, or I really enjoy doing or just necessary, really important.

Cory Ames  45:30  
Absolutely. Well, Sean, I am sure this will be the first of many conversations to come. But let's wrap this one up. And I'd like to do something a little bit different. So usually, what I asked guests on the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcasts are a couple rapid fire questions. Perhaps let's go through a couple and I don't normally answer them myself. But all following answers after you How does that sound?

Sean Pritzkau  45:52  
I love it. Let's do it. 

Cory Ames  45:53  
Alright, so first one, what's maybe a book or as well, a film or something that you either always come back to or impacted you recently, maybe something that you've been reading or something you watched recently that you'd like to share?

Sean Pritzkau  46:05  
Yeah, it's my least favorite book is Essentialism. Because if you're familiar with Essentialism, by Greg McKeown, you know, it's asking this question of, if you can only do one thing, or you can only do a few things, you know, what are those things? And how do you stop doing the things that don't fall into those essential things? I joke around but I hate the book so much, because it leads me to make decisions. I don't really want to make but I should make what are the things that are occupying my time, but are leading me to say no, by my actions, right? From saying yes to one thing, I'm saying no to another. Yeah, that book is like a challenging read for me. And I try to pick it up once a year, because it leads me to make decisions that are ultimately healthy. What about you, 

Cory Ames  46:51  
I like that one. Well, I'll share this book that I have on my desk right now for people watching a video how to take smart notes. So this book is basically breaking down the workflow of like this German sociologist, lived in the early mid 1900s, of having this incredible workflow for producing nonfiction writing. He was an active academic. And another professor is like breaking down what he did and how he consumed and retained information to produce such like, hundreds of articles over his career 40 Some books over his career, it's felt more important for me, just because what I've come to realize over the course of doing this podcast in the work with grow ensemble is that I come across so much information. And it's like, it's where I want to be I absolutely love, just like learning and taking in information. Sometimes I don't do anything with it. I just like have that fascination with like, oh, I learned an interesting thing. And someone's like, so what, you know, like, yeah, I guess it doesn't, you know, have the same experience for everyone else. But building out a good workflow, both in the sense of what I learned from the podcasts and what sort of research and stuff comes out of that, because I really see the podcast as both an opportunity to build community both with the folks on the show and listening to the show. But I consider it research for like, what are some of the hypotheses and things that I'm working through my my own head in the space of sustainability and social impact. So to help myself, you know, increase the ratio of consumption to output, Writing, Publishing, in all, you know, video, audio text, I really like what this book is saying, as to how to digest I will dig into the substance. That's not what these conversations for. But it's been a really good book for anyone who comes across a lot of information in their lives for one way or another, you know, and has an interest in publishing more, you know, whatever that might be, you know, podcasting, writing, or even, you know, video. So I've really enjoyed that one. 

Next question for you, Sean. What's a daily routine or daily habit that you absolutely are morning routine that you absolutely have to stick to, if any? 

Sean Pritzkau  48:57  
That's good. Yeah, there's a book that I read a while ago that is about routines and the idea of creating like a morning routine and a morning ritual, I think in the evening, the tool and then like a work they started up routine and at work, they shut down routine. So I try my best to do these. I guess if I was to pick one thing in the morning, I mean, I'm obsessive with coffee.

Cory Ames  49:16  
I've seen photos. I think on Twitter. 

Sean Pritzkau  49:20  
Yeah, I think on the coffee, some of my best friends are coffee roasters, so it's almost like a hobby. So yeah, I start every day with coffee for sure. Probably one of the things that is more of an aspirational thing. I don't stick to as much as I want but just like not checking my phone first thing in the morning. A few years ago, I made the decision to put my phone across the room. And I think this is Matt D Avella. I think this is a tip I heard from him but put your phone across the room and to put a glass of water there. So every morning you have to literally get up, shut off your alarm, and then drink a glass of water. And then that kind of like gets you up wakes you up if you crawl back in the bed. You probably have to get up pretty soon to go the bathroom. But yeah, that idea of just like not having my phone be near the bed, you know, my anxiety doesn't creep in, and then I roll over and check an email, or check a to do list for the next day, it just kind of separates, you know, my phone from my mind and allows sleep and rest to be sleep and rest. And then, yeah, I try not to check, you know, the incoming messages and things until I sit down at the desk and time to work and actually time to consider those things. I don't always follow through with it, because like, the temptation is pretty big. And when you pick up your phone, even for an alarm to see things swipe across that are important. But when I do follow through with that, I find it valuable for my own mental health.

Cory Ames  50:44  
I'm with you. And that that's definitely been something that I've tried to adopt myself like, likewise, it's easier said than done. Seems like kind of the greater that you build the resistance into actually messing with it and checking with it, the easier it is. Yeah, but yeah, I'm with you on that 100% I guess for me, is a smattering things I like to do some journaling course coffees a big part of it for me to reading. But all those things are not necessarily stuff that like I can commit and do every single day the exact same way. I think the number one thing for me is that my wife and I take the dogs to the park and throw the ball from their big on fetch. So it's this routine. It's like no matter where we are, no matter where we wake up, we go to the park, and like whether we're back home are in Washington visiting my family. It's a nice routine. It gets us outside, like we're here in Boston, and like there's four feet of snow or whatever, like last weekend went and did it lost a whole bunch of tennis balls because the dogs lost them. But so there's something about it that we absolutely have to stick to. It's just a nice, you know, thing that we do together and good for the dogs makes us feel like better dog owners for whatever reason. Yeah. 

Sean Pritzkau  51:54  
yeah, I love that. And I could we do a similar thing, like, well, we'll bring our dogs to the park most every day to get energy out. And my favorite thing is it's like utterly unproductive in the grand scheme of things like, what do you think of work? So to really start your day with something that is not, hey, I'm pushing some thing forward. You know, it's just purely out of care for your dog, you know, showing being with your family and the outdoors. That's awesome.

Cory Ames  52:18  
Well, Sean, I really, really appreciate the time. Last one for us, which should be easy. Where's the best place for folks to keep up with you? And we can do this podcast? Where should they go check out?

Sean Pritzkau  52:30  
Yeah, so the podcast is I strive to do a weekly show. So if you like podcasts, like listening to folks talk about what they're working on, or what inspires them, then, yeah, the best places to hopefully see me once a week over there. And then I'm active online. But primarily Twitter is where I try to be active, listen, have conversations with people, I found that's one most beneficial places to meet people online right now, too. So if you do stop over and make sure to say, hey, they love to connect. 

Cory Ames  53:03  
Yeah, that's where we connected as well. Yeah, take theirs. Yeah. Not a good reasoning for that. And then for folks on our end, if they're curious and checking out the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcast, we have our full archive at socialentrepreneurship.fm, which is a new website we launched this year. And then all things grow ensemble, our newsletter, all that good stuff is at growensemble.com and in likewise, I'm on LinkedIn and Twitter decently, so, awesome. All right, Sean. Well, I appreciate it. Thank you so much for taking the time and getting this opportunity to chat.

Sean Pritzkau  53:35  
Yeah, it was really great talking with you. I've really enjoyed chatting and yeah, again, you know, folks listening today, We Can Do This, you know, definitely go out and check out grow ensemble, go say hello to Cory on Twitter. And, yeah, that was really great chatting today.

Cory Ames  53:50  
Alright, y'all, that's a wrap on another episode of the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcast as always so grateful to have you listening in. If you love the show, please leave us a review on Apple podcasts or hit subscribe wherever it is that you get yours. And as well. I want to invite you to sign up for our Better World weekly newsletter. This is our weekly discussion with our community of social entrepreneurs and changemakers on all things building a better world is a newsletter I write and publish send out myself every single Monday go to growensemble.com backslash newsletter, to join in on that discussion, all things building a better world. Go to growensemble.com backslash newsletter to get the next one in your inbox. And finally, if you know of a company work within a company or run a company that might be interested in sponsoring the social entrepreneurship and innovation podcasts, we always love starting conversations with potential partners who share our vision of building a better world together, go to socialentrepreneurship.fm backslash contact there you can fill out a quick form, start that conversation with us. These sorts of partnerships fuel our mission to build a better world together. Alright y'all until next time

Sean Pritzkau Profile Photo

Sean Pritzkau

Host, We Can Do This

Sean Pritzkau is the host of We Can Do This, a podcast that connects people looking to create meaningful change with the tools, skills, and community they need to stay the course and make an impact. For those looking to start or grow their own social-impact businesses or initiative, the podcast offers stories, lessons, and practical advice from social entrepreneurs as well as experts on topics such as marketing, branding, and more.

As a marketing strategist and speaker, Sean is focused on helping passionate teams overcome obstacles and do more work that matters.

When not podcasting or keeping up with the latest no-code tools, you'll find Sean sampling specialty coffees, working on home renovation projects, or exploring around Rochester, NY with his wife and two dogs.