Chile, California and the Future of Collaborative Innovation

chile california council event photo

What is innovation? How best to create the conditions in which innovation thrives? How might this work in Chilean companies?

These are big questions, and we had the great privilege to discuss them all last night at an event organized by the Chile California Council.

Ivan Vera’s Club de Innovacion brought 28 Chilean executives to Silicon Valley to explore possibilities for intrapreneurship and innovation. Along with visits to Google, SRI and a biotechnology incubator, the group stopped at the Stanford Graduate School of Business for a collaborative conversation with Stanford d.School students, Chileans based in Silicon Valley, academics from the Universidad de Concepcion in the south of Chile, and a few Californians with ties to Chile (like me!)

Juan Eduardo Ibanez leads the Chile California Council. A lawyer by profession, Juan is passionate about fostering real dialogue between Chile and California to design new solutions to shared challenges. Chile and California are quite similar in geography, and this collaboration spans many different topics and industries, such as technology, wine and renewable energy. Last fall he organized the Chile California Conference, during which academics from both countries shared their perspectives on topics like inequality, water politics, and the growth mindset in education. These discussions go far deeper than the typical happy hour, and last night’s was no exception.

The event began with presentations about design thinking, Stanford’s international reach, and how educators must move from teaching problem-solving to problem-finding to prepare tomorrow’s leaders to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

Next we started small-group discussions. My table included Chile’s most influential advocate for innovation and entrepreneurship, a pharmacist who leads scientific innovation programs at a top university in the south of Chile, a professor of corporate governance, an American winemaker making premium wines on her family’s land in Chile’s Casablanca Valley, a Chilean academic/entrepreneur who teaches at Berkeley (Go Bears!), a Chilean Googler, a Stanford d.School fellow focused on renewable energy in emerging markets, and me.

I loved sharing what we’re building here at Bridgecrest Medical (including mobile and wearable technology solutions to prevent fatigue-related accidents on mining sites. There’s a huge need for this in Chile, where mining is the main industry.)

The big question: How best to encourage innovation within Chilean companies?

We began with a long list of problems: risk aversion, lack of collaboration, hierarchy, obedience, fear of offending people, mistrust, a culture that places tremendous shame and secrecy around failure, tradition, fixed mindset, lack of incentives (many of Chile’s most powerful companies gained their market share through structural and regulatory changes and these incumbents understandably fear radical change), etc.

Soon we stopped complaining and began to talk about the good news. Chile is changing. All it takes is a few positive leaders to create a movement. Young leaders, especially “outsiders” (from outside Santiago, outside the most prestigious neighborhoods, outside the traditional networks…) have the energy and motivation to build new possibilities. We must empower these leaders with one-on-one mentoring and by sharing their stories and experiences.

More specifically, what could corporate leaders do in the short-to-medium term to foster innovation?

Our initial answers focused on hiring. What if there were more incentives to hire immigrants and talented people from unconventional backgrounds? How might that impact the corporate culture?

Overall, I learned a ton and questioned my own biases on many of these topics. And I got to reconnect with Chile, a country where I lived for four wonderful years. Thank you for the invitation!

Images via @Chile_CA on Twitter. Originally posted on LinkedIn.

How Start-Up Chile is Influencing Entrepreneurial Behavior in Chile and Beyond

jean back and cheyre at StartUpChile inaugurationParticipating in Start-Up Chile has been one of the most inspiring and eye-opening experiences of my professional life. As part of a solar energy startup team, I participated in the program’s first generation in 2011.

Start-Up Chile is an entrepreneurship initiative backed by Chile’s Ministry of Economy that invites entrepreneurs from all over the world to bootstrap their businesses in Chile, with the support of a $40,000 grant, a gorgeous office in central Santiago, and endless opportunities to network and collaborate with a dynamic community of entrepreneurs.

I stumbled across Michael Leatherbee and Charles E. Eesley’s academic study of the impact of this program, Boulevard of Broken Behaviors: Socio-Psychological Mechanisms of Entrepreneurial Policies and decided to share the most fascinating parts of this study with you (especially if you don’t have time to read all the methodological details and statistical regressions that led to these conclusions).

Leatherbee and Eesley’s study focuses on how Start-Up Chile is “changing the entrepreneurial environment by altering the sociological and psychological attributes of its participants.”

It focuses on two core aspects: Entrepreneurial Self-Efficacy (ESE) and Opportunity Discovering Behaviors (ODB).

Leatherbee and Eesley define Entrepreneurial Self-Efficacy in this way:

ESE is a measure of an individual’s belief in their abilities to perform entrepreneurial tasks successfully. Individuals with higher levels of ESE are more likely to pursue more audacious ventures.

The authors define Opportunity Discovering Behaviors like this:

ODB is a measure of the extent to which individuals behave in ways that favor the discovery of high-value, innovative entrepreneurial opportunities. Through the process of socialization (Berger & Luckmann, 1967), we argue that entrepreneurs assimilate those behaviors embedded in their social environments which are perceived as useful for the entrepreneurial process.

For the purposes of this paper, we call questioning, observing, experimenting and networking the opportunity discovery behaviors (ODB).

The study compares ESE and ODB of three groups: non-Chilean entrepreneurs that participated in Start-Up Chile, Chilean entrepreneurs that participated in the program, and Chilean entrepreneurs that applied but were not selected.

The results are striking:

The regression results suggest that domestic entrepreneurs who participated in the Start-Up Chile develop higher ODB than domestic entrepreneurs who did not participate in the program.

Moreover, it is striking to find that 45% of domestic entrepreneurs stated that peer learning was the most valuable aspect of the program. This difference stands in stark contrast when compared against the response of foreign participants. Of these only 16% considered peer learning a valuable aspect of the program. In other words, domestic entrepreneurs (who as a group have lower ODB and ESE than foreign entrepreneurs) are more likely than foreign entrepreneurs to perceive knowledge from their peers as a valuable resource that is being transferred through the public policy.

So yes, the program has been successful in increasing the entrepreneurial potential of its domestic participants.

A broader goal of Start-Up Chile is to strengthen Chile’s entrepreneurial ecosystem as a whole. I think this has been quite successful as well.

Following my participation in Start-Up Chile, I stayed in Chile to teach entrepreneurship classes at Chilean universities and collaborate with local entrepreneurs.

In Emprendimiento y Liderazgo, an entrepreneurship course for first-year students at the Universidad del Desarrollo, we specifically trained students in ODB. They worked in groups to discover opportunities and create prototypes of new toys to address problems they observed in the world around them. One group in my class noticed that mothers don’t exercise as much as they’d like, and they created a board game that involved push-ups, sit-ups, and jumping jacks for the whole family.

I think it’s important to train students in these behaviors, whether or not they immediately launch these ideas as actual businesses.

The paper also mentions the role of peers in the way people approach entrepreneurship.

Social comparison theory argues that when an individual comes to the realization that another person—who is similar to the former in some distinct way—can achieve something that is considered challenging, that individual starts believing that the challenge is more achievable than originally thought.

In other words, an initial perception that something is very difficult or impossible to achieve can be relaxed when individuals observe other similar individuals achieving that something.

I can definitely attest to this. I come from a family of entrepreneurs (my parents and brother have all run businesses, and have all participated in Start-Up Chile). Working alongside many entrepreneurs, both in Start-Up Chile and at Co-Work, has given me plenty of ideas for current and future endeavors.

I’m glad to see that Michael Leatherbee and Charles E. Eesley have emphasized the social and psychological aspects of entrepreneurial ecosystems (which is apparently unusual among academic studies on this topic) and I’m glad to see that Start-Up Chile is being recognized for its focus on peer learning and collaboration. Good work!

Here’s another link to the paper’s abstract. From this page you can download the whole paper.

Mike Leatherbee also wrote about the study in Spanish for El Mercurio, Chile’s leading newspaper.

This post originally appeared on LinkedIn. 

Dispatch from the Rollercoaster Career (a look back inside my brain)

This morning I opened a notebook filled with scribbles from 2012 — ideas that overflowed from my brain while I had way too many things going on at once. As I read through these notes, I snapped pictures of a few of them to share with you.

I wrote down these quotes while reading the book Thinkertoys, by Michael Michalko.
"The brain that doesn't feed itself eats itself" — Gore Vidal via Michael Michalko. Look sharply after your thoughts. They come unlooked for, like a new bird seen in your trees, and, if you turn to your usual task, they disappear." —Ralph Waldo Emerson via Michael Michalko
This is me, feeding thoughts into my brain and the collective brain of the internet, looking after them and not letting them disappear, despite the usual tasks to do. I wrote those words during this trip to Valparaiso, while fighting a stress-induced, not-yet-diagnosed, nasty case of bronchitis.

I attempted to define a broader theme around all these random thoughts.

I'm always connecting poeple and big ideas beyond established boundaries

One of the books I found most helpful and validating: Mash Up! How to Use Your Multiple Skills to Give You an Edge, Make Money and Be Happier, by Ian Sanders and David Sloly (which I reviewed here on Amazon). My notes:

notes from MASH UP!

Along with notes from books and events and my students’ assignments, this is a common theme: stress.


And I’m continually reassuring myself that I do have the answer, I don’t need anyone else to magically fix me. It’s all in my power.

BUT I don't have to live like this

A part of me feels like this is way too personal to post on the internet — and I probably wouldn’t be posting unpolished scribbles from this month, about unresolved doubts and questions that are currently keeping me up at night. But I do love the intimacy of handwriting, and I do like to share books and ideas that have influenced me.

What about you?

  • Do you write down quotes from books?
  • Do you scribble through frustration?
  • Do you prefer handwriting?
  • Would you post something like this on the internet?

Linked to the My Global Life Link-Up at

How you (yes, you!) can study abroad. A Student’s Guide to Study Abroad [review]

I studied abroad in Chile for all of 2005. It was half of my junior year and half of my senior year at UC Berkeley, and it changed my life. Yes, that may sound a bit cliché, but it really did change my perspective on education, history, politics, and my place in the world.

These pictures are from my year abroad. With my host parents, Latife and Jaime. In front of the library in the Toma de Peñalolen, where I volunteered. With my montañismo classmates at the top of a snowy mountain we climbed together.

These pictures are from my year abroad. With my host parents, Latife and Jaime. In front of the library in the Toma de Peñalolen, where I volunteered. With my montañismo classmates at the top of a snowy mountain we climbed together.

I thought back to that year as I read A Student Guide to Study Abroad, a new book by Stacie Berdan, Dr. Allan Goodman, and Sir Cyril Taylor. This is the book I should have received for my 19th or 20th birthday, before that year in Chile (when I was 21).

Special thanks to Stacie Berdan for sending me a copy!

It’s a practical guide that covers just about everything a student needs to know about study abroad. The authors have taken special care to include the perspectives of a diverse array of students, including a student with muscular dystrophy who studied abroad in Tanzania, a gay student who lived with a family in Buenos Aires, a black student who had amusing encounters with Chinese cab drivers (at first the driver didn’t believe she was American, but then he had “a complete moment of clarity” and said “Oooooo I know! Barack Obama daughter!!!” Her response? “Yes, sir. You are right.”)

The book lists lots of different scholarship programs (like the FulbrightGilman and Boren scholarships) and includes anecdotes from dozens of students from a wide range of socioeconomic and academic backgrounds, who describe their experiences studying in just about every country you can imagine.

The book covers the entire experience: why study abroad is so important in this globalized era, how to decide if it’s right for you, how to choose the right program, how to figure out the financials, how to prepare, how to immerse yourself in the local culture, how to stay safe and healthy, how to make the most of your time, how to transition back into life at “home,” how to highlight your study abroad experience on a resumé… and more.

Reading this book reminded me of how much support  I had when I studied abroad. My parents were both super-supportive, both in terms of their own histories (Dad studied in Brazil in high school, Mom studied in Germany in college) and the finances (though I think it cost about the same as normal tuition. Many people think study abroad is expensive, but it can be affordable, especially if you pick the right program and apply for scholarships.)

My parents even came to visit me in Chile that year!

My parents even came to visit me in Chile that year!

I also had support from other people. A high school English teacher told us that the University of California was especially good for study abroad, with plenty of options for academic credit and financial aid. Cal was incredibly supportive — I had some registration problems while I was abroad, and my advisor stood in line on my behalf to get it resolved. If I hadn’t had all that support, studying abroad would have been much harder! This book would have been an especially useful resource.

The last two chapters, about what happens after study abroad, would have been most helpful to me when I was in college.

As I told Cate Brubaker when she interviewed me for her Re-Entry Reality podcast, going back to Berkeley after my year in Chile was hard!

… when I left Chile at the end of 2005, I started preparing to go home basically as I was packing; I’ve never been one to plan really far ahead. As I was organizing my stuff and giving things away and saying farewell, I tried to summarize my experience in one sentence. The sentence I came up with was: “Chile’s a country of contrast between rich and poor, traditional and modern, liberal and conservative, city and country side and as an international student, I was able to see the extremes of all of these different contrasts often in the same day.” And so I was trying to mentally process this year that had been amazing that had totally changed my life, changed my perspective and I really had grown up a lot in one year. I was 21 at the time. And then I left Chilean summer in December and landed in California winter and spent Christmas with my parents in the snow.

But then the reverse culture shock really hit me when I went back to college. I was living in the same sorority where I had lived before I had gone abroad and the rules and the drama really got to me. It felt so petty after having worked on international micro-enterprise training projects and having seen all these enormous peaks and mountains to come back and deal with drama.

Another thing that really stressed me out was that I overcommitted myself. I was in my final semester and I had this fear of missing out on the opportunities I’d only have access to in college. I needed two classes to graduate, but I signed up for five, because I was like ‘oh! I want to learn more about social enterprise’, ‘oh! I want to take this student-taught women’s leadership class’.

But about a month into that semester, I got really burned out. I just didn’t have the energy to deal with it all; I was just like ‘why did I do this to myself?’

I’m glad the book gives tips for dealing with re-entry, especially how to frame your study abroad experiences as you move forward and apply for jobs.

The book motivated me to search for opportunities to study abroad again. A masters’ degree in Europe could be fascinating! (Shhh…) 

In short, this book is a must-read for every college student and their parents. It’s inspiring, practical, and vivid. It’s $14.95 (paperback) / $5.95 (Kindle) on Amazon. 

P.S. Should More Americans Study Abroad? This is the topic of a recent New York Times Room for Debate section that features many of the contributors to this book. The debate is lively; feel free to add your opinion.

Working Abroad? How to Give a Presentation in the Local Language

This post originally appeared on The Daily Muse.

Even if you’ve been working abroad for a while, and you feel comfortable getting around the city and chatting with colleagues, there’s something incredibly intimidating about being invited to give a formal presentation in your second (or third) language.

I used this process to create to develop a recent keynote speech at Universidad Arturo Prat in Iquique, Chile. The topic was Silicon Valley's entrepreneurial ecosystem and how to build stronger support for innovation in Iquique. My parents flew in from Ghana for the event. They both spoke in English and I translated everything into Spanish. This article was published on The Daily Muse the same day as the event!

I used this process to create a recent keynote speech at Universidad Arturo Prat in Iquique, Chile. The topic: Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurial ecosystem and how to build a similar ecosystem in Iquique. My parents flew in from Ghana for the event. They both spoke English and I translated everything into Spanish.

Take it from me: The first week I landed in Chile as part of a government-backed entrepreneurship program, a professor invited me to a faculty meeting to speak about Silicon Valley and how academics could participate in entrepreneurship through technology transfer programs. Though I grew up in the heart of Silicon Valley, was familiar with the entrepreneurship scene, and spoke fluent Spanish, I wasn’t sure how to start creating a presentation for a totally foreign audience from scratch.

But, I did it, and since then I’ve given dozens of presentations in Spanish as well as coached friends and colleagues as they’ve prepared to speak in formal, cross-cultural situations. If you’re panicking about your international presentation, here are a few pointers based on what’s worked for us.


Pick the Best Format

Before doing anything else, think about the goals of the event. Are you teaching something? Are you inviting everyone to participate in an upcoming program? Are you competing against others for the audience’s backing?

Once you have a strong sense of these goals, ask yourself if your language skills are strong enough to really move them forward. Be honest: If your vocabulary and fluency aren’t up to par, it might be more effective to present in English and team up with a translator. And that’s totally OK.

If your language skills are solid, go for it, but don’t think you can wing it the way you might in your home country. It’s still important to give yourself enough time to plan a well thought out, culturally appropriate presentation and practice far more than you usually would.


Design Your Message to Fit the Local Culture

As you’re putting together your presentation, remember that the stories, anecdotes, and persuasion techniques that you’ve used in your home country might not always resonate abroad. For example, sports references like “batting average” or “home run” won’t work in a place where baseball isn’t popular. Or, if most people live with their families throughout college, they might not understand anecdotes about dorms or roommates.

Instead, think about what might help you connect with your international audience. If you’re in a place with a strong tradition of family businesses, like most countries in Latin America, and you come from a four-generation legacy in the same industry, be sure to mention this history, because it will establish common ground. You might even want to include family photos if they support your core message. When I spoke about Silicon Valley at the faculty meeting, I started with a picture of myself at age five, playing on our family’s Apple Macintosh II. With this image, I illustrated that technology has always been an important part of my life, and it could play a similar role in the audience members’ lives, too.

How could I mention this picture without showing it? Photo courtesy of Dad.


When in Doubt, Use Visuals & Examples

Last week, I attended an event that featured a German manager from a well-known tech company. He’s based in Barcelona and speaks excellent Spanish, and during his presentation he told a story about a taladro. He mentioned this word at least 10 times, and it seemed essential to the point he was trying to make. However, a significant percentage of the international audience did not understand this word and started whispering to neighbors or looking up taladro on their phones.

The situation illustrated an important point: When there’s a language barrier of any kind, photos, charts, graphs, and visuals can be a great way to help get your point across. If the presenter at my event had shown a picture of the object—a drill—he would have been much more successful in holding everyone’s attention and getting his key point across.

This is especially important when you’re introducing a new concept to your audience. For example, say you’re pitching an energy efficiency app to a panel of foreign investors. When explaining this brand-new concept, you might want to show a picture of something they already know and understand: the energy guide sticker that’s typically found on refrigerators, for example. Explain how this information helps users save energy and money, then extend the analogy to your own product.

Refine and Practice!

As you prepare the content for your presentation, write it all in complete sentences. Share your written draft with at least two or three locals, and incorporate their feedback. Then, read it out loud, and record yourself on a webcam. Watch the recording, notice where you stumble or make awkward faces, and edit out any phrases that are tough to say.

When you’ve finalized the presentation, put the entire script on an iPad or notecards. You don’t want to read it word-for-word—it’s more important to engage with the audience than to get everything 100% right—but having the full text on hand can build your confidence day-of.

Then, practice—as much as you possibly can. Practice in front of a mirror. Practice with your language tutor if you have one. Practice in front of at least two or three native speakers. Make a list of the questions your audience might ask, and practice answering them. The more confident you feel with what you’re going to say, the more you’ll be able to relax and connect with your audience—and that’s what’s bound to make a great impression.


Thinking back to that first faculty meeting, it turned out to be smaller and less formal than I’d anticipated. About 12 faculty members and a few students sat around a big table. I shared my presentation about Silicon Valley, learned about their research, and then fielded questions about a forthcoming grant competition. I enjoyed the experience so much that I’ve gone on to give similar speeches all over the country.

That day also taught me that, as an outsider, you’ll stand out from the crowd. But if you prepare, personalize your presentation, and rehearse your message, you’ll be remembered for more than just your foreign face—you’ll be remembered for introducing a new world of possibilities.

This post is part of the #MyGlobalLife linkup. 

photos from Chile, dispatches from Ghana, the “gymnastic intellectual training” of multiculturals (an update)

Fall Stroll in Santiago, Chile. May 2013. Leslie Forman
I’ve been neglecting this blog for the past few months, so I’m making up for it now, with pictures, links, and more. That first collage is from a stroll through the neighborhood on a pretty fall day here in Santiago. The past few months have been busy! Here are a few snapshots, in no particular order.

I traveled to Iquique to lead a workshop for UnoCrea‘s MEC Universitario on how to formulate a pitch that resonates.
I used similar techniques to map big ideas about energy efficiency at Co-Work.

Marcelo and I enjoyed a gorgeous weekend in the south of Chile, exploring Puerto Varas, Puerto Montt, and the Carretera Austral.
M and L in Puerto Varas
My parents moved to Ghana to serve as business coaches for Stanford’s pioneering SEED program. I invite you to read their blog, which is filled with stories of African businesses, inspiring educators, and their adventures on the road.
Partners in Adventure
I taught a first-year course on Entrepreneurship and Leadership last semester, and we’ve just started a new semester. Now I’m teaching Social Entrepreneurship for the second time. Teaching this course is so much easier with a year of experience under my belt. I feel more ownership over the material and more confident in answering the students’ excellent questions. Here’s how I define Social Entrepreneurship.
I define social entrepreneurship as the intersection between business and changing the world.
I’ve been collecting hearts for my friend Jennifer Massoni Pardini’s Chain Link Heart Project. So far she has collected more than 1600 hearts from 11% of the countries in the world. I know that many of you are reading this from countries that are not yet represented, so I hope you’ll send hearts too. When you start thinking about Jenn’s story, you might start seeing hearts everywhere. Here are a few that I’ve found.

One reason I’ve been so quiet on this blog is that I’m in the process of completely redesigning it. I just finished an online course on Empathy Marketing with Abby Kerr and Tami Smith (which isn’t yet advertised online but is similar in content to this offer) and that has really helped me clarify how I can serve people in this space. Here’s a preview of what it might look like. Design and photo by the fabulous Priscilla Radebach at Recheck.

And since one of my goals is to help independently-minded global citizens build international careers, here are a few fabulous resources on this topic.

Sebastian Salinas Claro has launched Balloon Chile, a program that brings young professionals from around the world to an impoverished region in the south of Chile, to build new entrepreneurial opportunities together, using the Business Model Canvas and other tools.
Balloon Chile

Susan Munroe is the master organizer behind Rios to Rivers. Rios to Rivers brought a group of American students to kayak the Baker River in the deep south of Chile, and a group of Chilean kayakers to kayak the Colorado River. These trips have fostered a multifaceted dialogue about culture, hydropower, and global citizenship. When the American students met with HidroAysén CEO Daniel Fernandez, I had the opportunity to translate the meeting and witness this dialogue in action.

– And last but not least, “Multiculturals have a kind of gymnastic intellectual training…” This article by Yves Doz from INSEAD outlines how multicultural experience can benefit companies, by:

    1. Making creative associations and drawing analogies between geographical markets, allowing L’Oreal to develop global products and build global brands while remaining sensitive to local market differences.
    2. Interpreting complex knowledge – i.e. tacit, collective and culture-dependent, hence impossible to simply “explain”_ across cultures and contextsan essential skill when marketing products like cosmetics, where much of understanding is tacit and culture-dependent.
    3. Anticipating cross-cultural conflicts, and addressing them, something critical to the effectiveness of global teams.
    4. Integrating new team members from different cultures into teams that quickly develop their own norms of interaction and a strong “in or out” identity, making joining the team once it has been in existence for a while particularly difficult.
    5. Mediating the relationship between global teams, with a high level of cultural diversity among their members, and the senior executives they report to, or their interaction with local subsidiary staff they collaborate with, who are usually monocultural.[more]

This marks the end of this insanely long blog post. Thanks for reading. I’d love to hear what you’ve been up to!

“A mi me encantaría ser emprendedor para ayudar a mi familia.” How do you suggest that this aspiring entrepreneur get started?

photo of a bicycle on the coast, via photopin, to illustrate a question from an aspiring entrepreneur in coastal Southern Chile, whose father repairs bikes. This week a student who attended a talk I gave in 2011 in a small city on the coast in the south of Chile sent me the following email. English translation follows.

hola te escribo este correo porque estuviste en una charla de emprendimiento y a mi me encantaría ser emprendedor para ayudar a mi familia en especial a mi hermana que es sorda, pero no se como, no tengo los recursos necesarios, por eso necesito que me aconsejes de que podría hacer???

tengo algo en mente mi padre sabe arreglar bicicletas y tiene un taller pequeño y las ganancias le sirven para puro comer y no para comprar materiales y crecer.

seria como una meta poder tener una empresa no un sueño, una meta que se haga realidad.

le agradecería su expuesta.


Hi, I’m writing this email because you were at an event about entrepreneurship and I would love to be an entrepreneur to help my family, especially my sister who is deaf, but I don’t know how, I don’t have the necessary resources, and that’s why I need you to advise me on what I could do.

I have something in mind. My father knows how to fix bicycles and has a small workshop. From the earnings he can eat but he can’t buy materials or grow the business.

It would be like a goal to be able to have a company not a dream, a goal that comes true.

I’d appreciate your reply.

I’ve been in conversation with this writer, and I’ve already shared some initial ideas with him, but I’d like to open up his question to a broader audience. What do you suggest that he do?

photo credit: Mark J P via photopin cc

A Versa-Letter from Valparaiso

My Versa-Letter from a recent trip to Valparaiso is up on the Revolution Apparel blog.

Shannon and Kristin launched Revolution Apparel with a Kickstarter campaign to fund the first run of Versalettes. The Versalette can be worn in dozens of different ways, as demonstrated in this video.

The fabric is recycled, the Versalettes are sustainably and ethically made in the USA  (which isn’t common in the fashion industry) and these girls have taken great care to source thread, buttons, drawstrings, and everything else from the very best suppliers. It’s the ideal piece for a woman with minimalist sensibilities who doesn’t want to wear the same thing all the time! I’m a huge fan.

When Tara Gentile asked on Twitter: “Which three companies have most shaped the way you think about business?” (I don’t remember the exact words, but that was the idea.) Revolution Apparel was first on my list. I love their approach: transparent, positive, sustainable, and multifunctional.

For the record, the other two companies on my list were Starbucks — for the way it’s consistent in all its locations, but also customized for each culture and each customer — and Patagonia — for its commitment to long-term, practical, high-quality products for loyal “dirtbags” (yes that is the word Patagonia uses to describe its people. I learned this in Let My People Go Surfing, Yvon Chuinard’s inspiring memoir.)

Back to Revolution Apparel. Here’s a collage I made when my Versalette arrived here in Chile. Thanks Mom for the special delivery!

If you want one, subscribe to their updates, since they occasionally put a limited number of Versalettes on sale — and they sell out within hours.

How to Illustrate a Business Model {No real art skill required!}

Following yesterday’s post about the Business Model Canvas workshop, a few people commented that they don’t know how to draw.

I don’t consider myself much of an artist either, but I’d like to share some more sketches anyways, because I think they might be useful for anyone trying to explain a complex concept to a new audience (especially one with a short attention span… that means just about everyone!)

Erik showed us step-by-step how to draw people, as well as revenue sources (price tags), income sources (bags of money), buildings (boxes filled with right-angle 7s) and more.

Then he offered to sketch out the business models of people in the room.

One participant said that his company offers a benchmarking service for CIOs. Here is an illustration of his service. At first, the CIO is confused and thinking about how to help his company make money. Then four kinds of benchmarks land in his computer, for a monthly subscription. This makes him happy.

happy CIO and other sketches

It looks like I was sketching so fast that I forgot the letter e at the end of the word database.

Next we did a group exercise, in which one person described his or her business model, and everyone else sketched it, using the techniques we’d just learned.

I drew this picture to describe the work of a woman named Daniela, whose consultancy develops projects to connect citizens with government agencies and provide meaningful feedback on what citizens think of public services. I sketched Chilean flags, both on the building and in the citizen’s hand, to show that this is a national project. The 101010101010 combinations represent data. The magnifying glass represents research, and the smiles mean satisfaction. I drew the sun to represent the future, and the Santa hat and gift after she compared her work to nicely-wrapped Christmas presents for the government employees who are working on improving these services.

el modelo de negocios de la red de ciudadanos

Soon I’ll write more about the Business Model Canvas and how to use it. Stay tuned.