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It’s 2015. A Year to Innovate, Ask, and Create.

Dear Innov8Social Readers,Happy 2015! It is exciting to look up at the potential and possibility of the new year.In reflecting on 2014—it was one rich with experience and growth.

What’s Ahead for the Blog

As the new year starts I am excited to jump back into writing with renewed energy. I look forward to inviting new guest bloggers to submit articles, for posting shorter posts– ‘bloglets’ if you will :). I also look forward to doing more audio interviews, and finding a few efficiencies in the process!

Book Update and What’s Ahead

 

card mailing project
sending out thank you cards!

The social innovation book project was an incredible opportunity to deepen learning—about not only social innovation but indie publishing too. And it was very special to garner support from a broad range of contributors. As the project progressed, we began to realize it would make sense to find new paths and independent articulations—that could do justice to our diverse experiences and visions in this space. The work continues ahead!

The Art of Asking

I had a chance to listen to the audiobook version of The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer–an artist, musician, and TED speaker. To be honest, I hadn’t heard her band Dresden Dolls nor had I watched her TED talk. But, in listening to her tell her story, I was struck by her unambiguous message told with honesty, vulnerability, and humor—Ask. often, honestly, and authentically.

You can watch her TED talk here:

I don’t know if this makes total sense, but asking for your help in our joint book project has made me more of a book author than having actually published the book without it. Though the book remains to be realized, the intent has been deeply seeded and that desire is so clear that it has made the path much clearer too.

I leave you with a quote from a favorite book that has been illuminating over the past few months—

And when the shadow fades and is no more, the light that lingers becomes a shadow to another light.
And thus your freedom when it loses its fetters becomes itself the fetter of a greater freedom.

– Khalil Gibran, The Prophet

 

Always,
Neetal

 

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2013 Summer in Review: Book, Crowdfunding, and Design [PHOTOS]

As we begin to notice a familiar crispness in the air—the characteristic calling card of fall, it seems like the right time to reflect on the summer and what is ahead. The bundle of traditionally warm months was momentous in a number of ways for Innov8Social and for my connection with the social innovation movement.

Explorer to Contributor

In a number of ways, the summer signified a move from explorer to contributor. The past two years have been a humble exploration of social innovation through covering events, interviews, trying out new types of content on the blog, and connecting with thinkers in the field. And now there is a new pull and push to create something useful, valuable and accessible.
The urge manifested in a campaign to write a book to map and guide a broader audience through social innovation and emerging best practices. Meeting Shivani gave the project wings to soar higher and with better vantage points, and our decision to crowdfund the book on Indiegogo gave us an automatic litmus test to validate our idea.

The Book, Beyond Crowdfunding

In the month since the campaign ended, we have been transitioning from ‘fundraising mode’ to ‘author prep’ mode. Shivani has been traveling to Africa and South Asia for a social enterprise consulting assignment—forcing our hand in creative, innovative remote collaboration. Just before her latest trip we met, outlined on Google docs (using an Apple TV and LCD to project and edit our outlining document on the big screen) and pitched each other chapter headings, workflows, and headlining organizations to interview and feature.
Where much of my work has focused on social innovators with a “Silicon Valley” mindset—utilizing tech, considering scale, and concerned with issues such as formation, funding, and business models—Shivani continually challenged and pushed my ideas of social innovation with what she has seen, heard, and read about of vital work happening abroad.
As she embarked on her latest trip to Bangladesh, we devised an intense reading list for each other featuring works ranging from Stanford Social Innovation Review to Jugaad.  As with any project—having been at this one for the past few months together—we now have a better idea of timeline. We know a few things: 1) we will have to write the book together, at the same time (remote writing will inhibit the collaboration process and writing chapters separately could create disparate voices and perspectives) and 2) we are focused on quality first and timeline second.  What that means for you: it may be better to think of this book as one for the new year rather than a holiday gift!

Hearting Design

 

Another element that wove itself into summer was design. I participated with a team in the first ever Human Centered Design for Social Innovation online course by +Acumen and IDEO.org. It was illuminating in a number of ways and has made me more aware of design—i.e. considering the end-user and whether the design really meets the need and use, and what (if anything) would be a better fit.
The process underscored my love for design. I also re-designed my business cards (using half-cards plus photos I took and edited) and am working with GoodJoe to launch a design contest re-envision the Innov8Social logo. More to come!

Photo Essay

As you may suspect from my posts here and on Flickr, I have an amateur’s fascination with photography. Here are a few photos from random, compelling events from the summer. Enjoy!
small airplane propellers

 

cappuccino dove peace
human-centered design for social innovation
Japanese garden
japanese garden
recycled, reused, repurposed
classic cars in downtown
kids at play in summer
golden gate bridge
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Crowdfunding and Beyond

Tomorrow will be mark a week since we concluded our Indiegogo campaign to fundraise for our social innovation book project.

How did it go?

Thanks to your efforts, we successfully raised (and exceeded) our goal of $7100. Co-author Shivani Khanna was catching a flight to Africa on the day before the crowdfunding campaign concluded. We caught each other just as she boarded the plane and wished each other (and the book project) the best as it headed into its final sprint.

Sunset, Sunrise

We acknowledged that either way, we were heading into a new phase of the book project. What started as a personal goal, morphed to a partnership, became an active project (complete with shared documents, expansive spreadsheets, and a talented videographer), had become a public project. And now, for the next few weeks it would descend back into the deep waters of quiet as we both respectively gather knowledge, perspective, and negotiate distance as we continue working on the project.

Shivani heads abroad on consulting assignment which will bring her in direct contact with social enterprises, officials, and constituents at the forefront of initiatives to provide financial services to the base of the pyramid.

While we are in touch through the means available, much of our exploration and knowledge gathering over the next few weeks will happen independently. The sun setting on our crowdfunding campaign only means an upcoming sunrise for the next phase.

Reading again

Though a voracious reader growing up, since attending law school books have taken a backseat to different deliveries of information such as blogs, podcasts, and documentaries. To transition back into book-reading mode, I have set a personal challenge to read 10-15 books over the next 4-6 weeks. Additionally, there are a number of very exciting interviews that will be posted to Innov8Social which will serve to simultaneously deepen and broaden the conversation on social innovation.

To you

Though we have written a number of love letters to you all, our supporters (including the one below sent out to all of the contributors), it deserves mention again here. From a firsthand view there is something very real and humbling about a crowdfunding campaign. For weeks, days, hours, seconds as you refresh the campaign page and wonder. How will reach our goal.

For us, once the first supporters logged in their contributions we knew one thing for sure—this book was happening.

You have carried the race to this point, and handed the baton back to us. We look forward to digging deep and finishing strong.  For the encouragement and opportunity to create this resource, we express our heartfelt gratitude.

 

Posted from our Indiegogo page updates

 

Together, we did it!
The past 34 days have been a tremendous, humbling journey. Thank you for not only acknowledging this book project, but for making it happen. With the support of 118 people we achieved our goal of over $7100—and exceeded it. And, along the way, we have been honored to be featured in notable publications such as GOOD and Women 2.0.
We are beyond excited to move to the next phase of this journey—immersing ourselves deeper in the study and ecosystem of social innovation.
Shivani will be meeting social entrepreneurs, government officials, and the underrepresented in Africa and South Asia in the coming month on a consulting assignment. Her perspective will help keep our work and ideas about social innovation grounded and will inform how we map and evaluate social enterprises.
Neetal has already begun diving deeper into reading—both to gain learnings and begin brainstorming the elements of an effective book in today’s hectic landscape. She has some great interviews and posts lined up for Innov8Social this month, which will also provide a deeper look into social innovation.
As we count down the final hours, feel free to let anyone who may be interested in pre-ordering know before the campaign sunsets Friday evening. Any additional funding received will go toward a small print run of the book and marketing efforts.
For all who have supported—you will receive occasional updates, be invited to participate in polls, etc.. And, in case you have been following this campaign passively & want to be connected to our efforts, you can join here: http://i8s.us/19B3oYN
A heartfelt thank you to you all—and looking forward to the next stage of the adventure!
All the best,
Neetal & Shivani
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What You Don’t Expect When Crowdfunding

We have about fewer than five days left on the clock for our Indiegogo campaign, and the journey has been incredibly revealing, in ways expected and unexpected. Crowdfunding has been a humbling way to tempt fate and meet truth—all in the same handshake.Prior to launching, co-author Shivani Khanna and I interviewed a few individuals who have written books and/or conducted crowdfunding campaigns.

Store open sign

They reiterated that managing a crowdfunding campaign is nearly a full-time job. There is choosing a platform, no easy task considering the wealth of options available. There is writing copy for the crowdfunding page, which is essentially like forming the backbone of the book, i.e. the book proposal. There is creating rewards that make sense and are compelling and, well, rewarding. There is spreading the word about the campaign—doing so to cast a wide net, without annoying those you want to inspire. There is following up, to express gratitude for each show of support.  There is planning updates, so your supporters feel included in the progress of the campaign.

I became mentally ready for all of those things, and budgeted time and mind space to stay on top of our grand crowdfunding undertaking.

What I wasn’t completely prepared for was how vulnerable the experience is. And, how incredibly igniting and motivating that can be.

Take a dream that you hold close for a long time, quietly tucked away between your outward persona and your inward self. And then imagine releasing it for everyone to see, judge, and participate in. That has been a version of this experience. The dream of writing a book for me was seeded a long time ago—and to make the bold decision, that yes, now is the time to act on it and this is the topic to address—is like standing in front of a crowd of people who can read your thoughts. Exposed in the most personal way.

It can’t be denied that when you visit a crowdfunding page, there is a certain tendency to view it with a fair dose of skepticism. Like when your friend, the one who is always dreaming up increasingly far-fetched startup ideas, paints you the picture of another questionable endeavor. You sometimes inadvertently want her to fail so that she gets a dose of reality. Stop living in the clouds, you want to yell, try walking on the ground like the rest of us. When you launch a crowdfunding campaign, that is a reaction that might ensue—though you quickly learn that anticipating that flavor of reaction is not your burden to carry.

You need to focus on those who will pick up pen and write along side you. And, you will find them—the people who believe. With their contributions, shares, and encouragement toward your efforts, you are refueled and shielded again. And, then the focus shifts.

As I write this, we have raised over two-thirds of our goal of $7,100. In more telling terms, 87 funders have joined our team. They have picked up their proverbial pens, ready to write alongside us. And, from someone who grew up playing team sports, this simple fact has literally changed the game. There is a whole new motivation to not let the team down.

I feel a new drive beyond the campaign. There is a new urgency to create something useful and relevant. We aren’t the only ones who are deeply interested in the nuanced intersections of value and impact—we are joined by dozens of others—and our message has amplified be even more. Our focus now is not only to deliver the book to our supporters, but to validate their support.

Would we do this again? Ask us again at the end of the week, and then again in six months. Right now, I can say that the dream lived silently is now set free to fly—and today it flies with the support and strength of a flock. And crowdfunding has given it wings.

 

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#SocinnBook Project Twitter Chat 7/14/13: Recap

In case you missed our Twitter chat covering topics of social innovation and our social innovation book project, here’s a Storify recap!
[View the story “#SocinnBook Twitter Chat 7/14/13: Recap” on Storify]

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#SocinnBook Twitter Chat Sunday 7/14 6:30PM PST!

Shivani delivers
our latest update:
http://i8s.us/1blVRfl

We are 24 days away from the close of our Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign for our social innovation book project. And we have updates!

#SocinnBook Twitter Chat Sunday 7/14 6:30PM PST

Join co-authors Shivani and Neetal for a Tweet Chat on Sunday 7/14 at 6:30PM PST/9:30PM EST!! Use #SocInnBook to follow and participate in the conversation!

Feel free to ask us questions about the book as well as share insights and suggestions you have.

The Crowdfunding Update

We have raised over $800 by 15 funders. To make our goal of $7100, we need you (and you, and you too) to be part of this! Don’t miss the opportunity to be memorialized for eternity by a public thank you in the book plus an early release copy of it. There are lots of great rewards for social innovation
enthusiasts including networking opportunities, institutional awards, and the big cahuna—being the sole angel investor!

 

http://igg.me/at/socentbook/x/3492348
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#SocinnBookProject: Update #1!

It has been 5 days since Shivani and I launched an Indiegogo campaign to help fund our social innovation book project!

And, we have a few updates.
First off, we are grateful and encouraged by the votes of confidence, support, offers of expertise, and contributions made so far. It makes the project so much more meaningful knowing that there are people who are as excited as we are to make this happen.
Read the full update here, and see our latest update video below:

Can a crowdfunding campaign create impact?

One of the things Shivani and I spent some time discussing was whether we could create impact as we crowdfund. An idea we arrived on was to pledge one volunteer hour per $100 raised.A nonprofit I respect tremendously and volunteer at when possible is Second Harvest Food Bank of Santa Clara County. SHFB works on projects to eradicate local hunger. Whether I have volunteered solo or with a team, I am always struck by how efficiently operations are run—and the dignity with which food sorting and distribution is handled.I look forward to logging in volunteer hours powered by your goodwill and contributions. Be sure to check back often and contribute when the time is right!

 

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Big News!

After launching and creating content for Innov8Social for the past two years—including 33 interviews (and counting!), over 200 blog posts, and coverage of dozens of events,  I have partnered with Shivani Khanna, a business strategy consultant in the space and we are excited to announce that we are co-authoring a book on social innovation! Check it out:

The book

Our book will present a framework for understanding social innovation through first-hand interviews with leaders, entrepreneurs and changemakers in the space. It analyzes breakthrough innovations to identify a set of best practices that create both economic and social value.
We are excited to use our lenses of law, business, writing, and entrepreneurship to better understand how existing social enterprises are forming (i.e. legal structures), what kinds of business models they are using, how they measure impact, and what they would have done differently.
Hear us explain more…

 

How you can help

Our vision for the book is for it to be user-friendly, with visuals and graphics to walk through concepts and data. This is a book aimed for the entrepreneur with an idea, the leader trying to implement social impact within the framework of creating business value, and anyone trying to adopt a mindset for social innovation.
To do this book right we want to find the best possible graphic artists, copy editors, and support team.

 

1. give & receive

Contribute to the campaign and receive perks, such as the book (early release eBook and/or signed paperback), as well as opportunities to meet thought leaders, and/or have us present our findings to your company or organization.
Not only will you receive the book—but as one of the supporters who make it possible, you’ll be in it! See your name in print on our thank you page.
Contributions can be made until Friday, August 2nd at 11:59PM PST.

2. share & find

You can also support through sharing with your network and over social media.
Here are a few sample tweets:
Social Innovation Book Project: Creating Value-Based Ventures  by     
Check out the social innovation book project!  by     
You can also can share on Facebook, Twitter, and G+ directly on the campaign page: http://igg.me/at/socentbook/x/3492348

3. suggest & connect

Do you know of any networks, groups, listservs, or organizations that this book would appeal to?

Let us know below…

We are excited for this project and look forward to keeping you posted on its progress!

Learn more + support the efforts!
http://igg.me/at/socentbook/x/3492348