Introducing Groundswell V: unlikely entrepreneurs unite

Groundswell V member Selma dreams big. Photo by  Sarah Weisz,   

Groundswell V member Selma dreams big.
Photo by Sarah Weisz, 

My name is Selma, I am part of Groundswell V, the fifth cohort to enter the Groundswell community bright eyed and ready to learn, hopefully to come out at the other end with a viable social venture, ready to take on the world. Now how are we going to get there, you ask? I don’t know either. But we’re three weeks into the 6 month social venture program, so I can try to explain to you what we’re doing, as I try to make sense of it all myself.

Purpose economy

I’ve been raised, like so many in my generation, to see altruism and effort towards societal change as something you do outside of your ‘real’ job. You work for money, and whatever else it is you’re actually passionate about, or could make a difference in the world, is what you do in those two days a week that are not taken up by your job. I’m no longer willing to accept that. I believe there is a way to make a living by making the world a better place and in Groundswell I am handed the tools to help me with finding my way.

Find your purpose in life. Source:

Find your purpose in life.

Groundswell operates within the ‘trend’ that is currently taking off all across the world called the Purpose Economy; the phase in which we decide to integrate business with purpose. The term purpose economy was coined by social entrepreneur and author Aaron Hurst. He says on the subject: “Purpose is not a noun, it is a verb. It is about how we work. We experience purpose when we do something that’s greater than ourselves. We experience purpose when we push ourselves and grow. We experience purpose as part of a community.” “When it comes to purpose at work, there are three core drivers that will determine whether we feel fulfilled in what we’re doing: who we serve, how we serve them, and why we serve them.”

Unlikely entrepreneurs

The word ‘Entrepreneur’ does interesting things in my brain. It makes me think of suits. Money. Ego-driven ideas. Selling people something they don’t really need. Finding the oh so mysterious Gap in the Market, with that one Brilliant Idea. But I also found that I’m coming to the point where I fully realize that a traditional career of finding a lifelong full-time employer is not going to be for me. It is my goal to find a way to make a positive impact on my community, and on society as a whole, while also making a living off ‘me’.

I’ve always been a person with ideas, but only in the last couple of years I’ve felt comfortable and confident enough to start expressing them and letting them take more coherent shape. Within the purpose economy we no longer look at the gap in the market. We try to find the gap in society, or the gap inside you. Maximum profit is replaced by the goal of maximum impact. It is no longer about “What do I want to make?” but about “What do I want to fix?”.

I won’t go into the specifics of my Passion or my Idea in this post. You can find an introduction to all of us current “Groundswellians” here. Please check us out, we’re pretty rad. What I will talk about here is our process. How on earth are we supposed to get from the realization that business and passion and making the world a better place can (and should) all be combined, to actually walking away in six months as business owners?

Our process

How can you get very far,
If you don’t know Who You Are?
How can you do what you ought,
If you don’t know What You’ve Got?
And if you don’t know Which To Do
Of all the things in front of you,
Then what you’ll have when you are through
Is just a mess without a clue
Of all the best that can come true
If you know What and Which and Who.

Let me use a brilliant philosopher, one we’re all acquainted with, to help show you what we’re doing at Groundswell: Winnie the Pooh. Benjamin Hoff wrote a beautiful little book called the Tao of Pooh, which illustrates quite nicely what we’re trying to do.

Groundswell cohorts take time to take a close look at themselves and the world around them. (can you spot the hummingbird?)

Groundswell cohorts take time to take a close look at themselves and the world around them. (can you spot the hummingbird?)

Pooh bear is all about seeing the things As They Are. Our first couple months at Groundswell are about just that. Taking the time to look at yourself, your passions, ambitions, frustrations, and possibilities with openness, honesty, and patience, and seeing what bubbles to the surface.

Who: Look inside yourself.

What are you passionate about? What is your history? Where are you coming from? Who are you? One tool that is helping us with this process is the purpose diagram, based on the Japanese concept of Ikigai, meaning "a reason for being”. This tool lets you identify larger themes in your life, and connect some pretty interesting dots in your quest to finding purposeful employment. Take a blank sheet of paper and a set of circles and let your mind wander.

What: What have I got to work with?

Skills, experience, network, opportunities. We’re challenged to not only answer these questions for ourselves, but reach out to the people closest to us for feedback.

Our family, friends, (ex)coworkers, (ex)partners, have been accosted this last week to give us some straight answers to questions like: What are my biggest weaknesses? But also: What are my biggest strengths? Try it. As much as it’s scary, it will make your heart grow five sizes.

Which: So many ideas, so little time.

We haven’t reached the Which stage just yet, but we know it’ll involve magic-sounding concepts like Ideation and Validation. It will give us a chance to interact with you; our future clients, purpose economy enthusiasts, our target audience. Basically, we will be trying to look closely and honestly at all the ideas for ventures that are floating around in a cloud surrounding our brains, and pulling the most viable ones down to the ground, to build them up.

What does Groundswell mean to you?

What does Groundswell mean to you?

You’re invited to join us for the ride: we will be blogging our progress, thoughts, random experiences, all for your enjoyment (and our process).

Also: every Tuesday evening we invite speakers to share their stories with us on our Groundswell SocialS. Check out our scheduled events here, and come join us for a session.

On November 1st, it’s our time to formally introduce ourselves to you. We will be hosting an event to showcase the diversity that has been created from the local Downtown Eastside community and the wider network that Groundswell has and is building. The purpose of this event is to raise awareness of the positive social impacts that this community is creating, with the intention of raising funds to be invested back into committed social projects.

Keep an eye on the Groundswell website and Facebook page for more information on all of the above.

Be inspired! And come to see us. We’d love to meet you.