One of the things often said about small business owners is that they don't take the time to celebrate. Earlier this month we did manage to celebrate with some of the business owners from the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses US, 10,000 Small Businesses UK, and 10,000 Women. It was the first time we had alumni together from each of the programs - and that in itself was cause for celebration.
However, the real excitement was about the event and the theme. We were participating in the Aspen Leaders Action Forum and our goal was to learn and share about creating social value through business models. We held two sessions and a true celebration. For the first event, we held an action workshop in which, Jason Horne, 10KSB US/New Orleans, Payal Kamdar, 10KSB US/Long Beach and Sun Bo, 10KWomen, each had the opportunity to individually present to all the other session participants about the current state of their businesses and their primary challenges to growth. I think I counted that each one of the business owners received at least four good ideas or opportunities to pursue.
For our second event, we held a panel featuring Madhu Uday, 10,000 Women, Rhys Powell, 10KSB US/LaGuardia Community College, NY, Diane Burridge, 10KSB UK and Angel Cabrera, President of George Mason University. Our theme was the ways in which a business model can support a social mission. For Madhu - that is about how to provide employment for women in India. For Rhys - that is how to provide healthy lunches to children in school. For Diane - it's about providing access to financial services to the most disadvantaged members of society. For all, it was our theme of applying an entrepreneurial mindset and skillset to creating multiple types of value. Angel Cabrera was an early partner in the 10KW program and helped us weave the themes together from a global educational perspective.
Our celebration was with a new award being given to two of our alumni: Madhu Uday and Mike Biladeau. The award is the Goldman Sachs - Aspen Institute Global Leaders Award and recognizes participants of our programs who are action-oriented leaders in their community who demonstrate their commitment to using their own business training, interest in social impact and entrepreneurship to drive social change through specific projects.
While we were in Aspen we decided to practice what we preached and tried something new (at least for us) as well. We took a few iPhone videos and are sharing them with everyone we can get to watch.
So it was a week of celebration, learning, and pledging to try and do even better in creating value - both economic and social. It does not have to be one or the other.
Patricia G. Greene is the National Academic Director of Goldman Sachs' 10,000 Small Businesses program. Goldman Sachs is a partner of the What Is Working: Small Businesses section.