Finding People to Make a Living With: Some More Thoughts

A few people whose opinions I value highly have told me they’re disappointed with the model I proposed yesterday for finding people to make a living with. Their concerns fall into three categories:

  1. The model doesn’t accommodate people who have already done their homework and research and identified a solution (a product or service) that satisfies a deep unmet human need, and now are looking for partners to help them bring it to fruition.
  2. The model doesn’t work for simple businesses that are needed to provide an unmet need for a commodity (like quality local organic food or a local community-based renewable energy co-op).
  3. The model may actually discourage people from following their passion and trusting their instincts, no matter what the obstacles. There is a lot to be said for intentionality.

These are very valid criticisms, and they explain why the model I propose hasn’t received more traction already, and why a lot of us are still pursuing our passion alone. Let’s look at each of these in turn.

  1. Suppose the show was on the other foot, and you were to read about someone else’s entrepreneurial venture that had already been spec’d out carefully, and where the ‘owner’ was looking for partners with particular talents or resources s/he lacked. You’d probably think the ‘owner’ was really looking for employees, junior partners, passive investors. It’s an unequal partnership. It’s also one where the ‘owner’ is likely to be resistant to changes and new ideas. 
So what should you do if you’ve done all this work? How about this:

  • From the list of unmet needs that have been identified, find one that matches the one you think you have a solution for. Keep your solution under your hat.
  • At stages 1-2 of the model, providing the research you’ve already done, and listen to those who share your purpose with an open mind.
  • If the stage 3 invitation engages you, get to know the stage 4 participants and proffer your solution during stage 5. You are likely to find that the additional knowledge, perspectives and creativity will make your solution even better, or perhaps reveal it to be seriously flawed. Either way, you win.
  • And you’ve identified a group of people who have pride of ownership in the solutions you’ve collaborated on, so you don’t have to convince them to join you, they have full partner potential.
  1. The essence of successful Natural Enterprise is finding and filling an unmet need. Things are the way they are for a reason, especially when it comes to commodities. If your plan is to sell organic food to people in your community, or start a local renewable energy co-op, ask yourself why someone isn’t doing it already. It can’t be that easy. Whether the need is unrecognized, or the solution is unaffordable, or there are technical obstacles, or supply problems, you need more research, or innovation to resolve the problem. You need help. Following this model can give it to you.
  1. OK, so your passion is to be a singer-songwriter, and you play the bassoon pretty well too. All you’ve ever wanted to do is perform, to create music. What possible use is this model to you? Well, if you believe in the Hollywood myth of people being discovered and making it big, nothing. 
Or suppose your passion is to find a cure (or the cause) for some chronic, perplexing disease. You’re going to stick to this task, even if you have to do it in your basement, burning the midnight oil. This one’s a little easier to see, isn’t it? The truth is that things get done when a group of people with a shared sense of purpose and passion, who between them have the gift to make it happen, get together and make it happen. That’s not to say you don’t need to hone your craft, and make time to practice your gift until you truly do it better than anyone else. That’s a necessary condition, but not a sufficient one. There’s always a need for great art, and great science, but collaboration, using a model like this, is far more likely to being that genius to light than waiting for serendipity.

An issue I haven’t spoken about is: Where and how do we collect the needs? I’ve already said that an online database isn’t enough, that we need to engage the majority who are on the other side of the digital divide, and that we need to facilitate a million conversations to surface, articulate, qualify, and refine the needs.

On this issue, I’m stumped. Maybe we need more than one place to collect, and more than one mechanism to discuss, these needs. How can we reach everyone, on a regular basis, often enough and long enough to get them sync’d up with people who share their purpose, and their passion, so that they can discover if they were destined to makea living together?

What do you think?

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3 Responses to Finding People to Make a Living With: Some More Thoughts

  1. Kay Dayss says:

    Number 1 is manipulation, which is much less appealing than being an employee. At least as an employee, I know where I stand. The other two points don’t “stick” to me, so I can’t comment on them. I think that employee situations may actually be a good way to bridge the gap between the old ways and the new ways. At least the regular person on the street totally understands the concept of employment. By coming into your “great idea” organization as an employee, I have a chance to see what this thing is all about and whether I really want to “make partner” in it. Also, by having it start out as an employment situation you open up the opportunities to attract people who might be worried about how to support their families. Finally, by making it an employment situation, you open up an entire current world of attraction. It is in fact EASY to attract your partners if they know that their survival needs are going to be met. When I enter a new venture, I want to have a bridge to walk on because it is so much easier than swimming the divide without a bridge. -Kay

  2. steve black says:

    you’ve identified an need – a systemyou’ve made an invitation – what do you thinknow you just need some people and a collaborative space. I’ve got some ideas under my hat and would be interested in meeting with some others in this space. Now if only I had some time or money…

  3. Xan says:

    I like your model, and believe it should work. In some ways, it presupposes community and regular meeting places for people. I believe that sort of commons is what is really missing these days — the town square. Yes, we have town meetings, fraternal organizations, and churches. Those places work to some degree, but they are usually self-sorting by some attribute — religious belief, intensity of interest in land use planning, political views, etc. Somehow, to assemble the type of creative venture you describe will require a spectrum of diverse people, with varying gifts, to function best. It seems to me that these fora should be place-based, and attractive enough or fun enough that busy folks would want to participate. Some of this type of energy occurs around festivals — juggling fests, dance festivals, big events like Burning Man and rainbow gatherings. How do we integrate that sort of energy into daily life?

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