Today was a perfect fall day in NYC—sunny, 60’s, an infusion of iconic urban energy. Danielle and I spent the day at Columbia University, admiring (critiquing) Tschumi’s architecture; observing the scale, materiality, and majesty of the quad; and participating in the ICCC 2016 Conference. Inner City Capital Connections is dedicated to revitalizing urban communities through its city small businesses, offering ambitious owners access to an accelerated MBA program, networking opportunities, mentorship, and capital resource connections. ICCC is national, but has a strong Philly presence, and is currently particularly dedicated to revitalizing its manufacturing community. ICCC also has a sustainability imperative and is especially considerate of those of us fortunate (?) enough to be officially WBE, MBE, DBE certified businesses. There are opportunities out there for hard working and innovative minority-owned businesses to grow BIG!
This year’s conference was focused on empowering employees to make a business meet its optimal success in the marketplace. Growing a business means increasing workforce, which grows a thriving community. Employment makes the biggest impact on the local economy. Participants made “shark tank” style pitches to a panel of investors.
All sorts of advice was offered by successful entrepreneurs, consultants, investors, and fellow participants on what it means to grow and how to do it well. The program’s forty hours of training have reinforced a few guidelines in particular: know your core competencies, distinguish yourself in your market, have a solid corporate culture, don’t just manage—but lead, have relevant advisors, and find the right capital resources for your particular growth strategy.
All that is fine, but we realized one major take-away from today’s conference:
The greatest lesson is to FAIL —and to do it well! Our favorite presenter of the day was John Danner, co-author of “The Other F-Word” who spoke inspirationally about how to fail RIGHT! To me, it had a bit of the yogic tenet of non-resistance. Failure is the inevitable outcome of risk. Taking risk is the only real way to grow. Resisting failure will prevent growth. Embracing failure will, ironically, both improve morale and increase success.
So what is our growth plan? Fail.
Locus Partners 2.0 is in the projections. To get there we will go through LP 0.5, 0.8, 1.37: trials, re-sets, reflection, new efforts, tweaking, new code. We are making a commitment to recognizing our failures, speaking them, sharing them with our staff internally and communicating them with our colleagues to help build that community too. We think it might be like the morning cup ‘o joe or evening happy hour—wake up time and roll with the punches. What lessons will we learn, now that we are ready to listen? What paths will we take (or design?) once we really open up to what we are hearing?