It is with great joy that I have been again a guest speaker at the London Business School CSR/Ethics class with Prof. Roger Steare. We had amazing engagement and super interactive students who asked all sorts of questions, which I enjoyed a lot.
The lecture went from what started the whole Pi Slice journey, the partnerships and hurdles along the way and finally the commercial pitch we developed to approach private corporates to partner up with, aligning with their social mission.
Maybe the best part for me, was learning yet a new framework that completely described the process I went through while launching Pi Slice:
Once we have self-awareness, we then define our purpose. Our purpose makes us define our core values – in the case of Pi Slice, it was helping others, being a transparent platform and becoming the best at what we do; so our core values are Empathy, Honesty and Excellence. Our values define our decision-making process – in the case of Pi Slice, it started coming from an intuition level which is beyond logic and emotion. So we listen to intuition and then we take it down to emotion to check how we feel about it, then check it with logic to see how feasible, and practical it is. Finally, the decision-making process defines our behavior – so in the case of Pi Slice it means more than just being empathic or honest only in my work, it has to be part of my every day life.
Some of the questions I really enjoyed are:
What motivates you every day?
Well, entrepreneurship is a roller-coaster journey! From uncertainty of paycheck, steady income and funding, to managing crazy schedules and unpredictability; or maybe hearing about a well-funded competitor launching the same product/service as you, and an expert claiming your industry is dead; then come the challenges of getting the first customers or even keep them coming not to mention that at the first problem you might go into a twirling self-doubt and all you want is to quit when sometimes you’ve gone too far to quit.. So what keeps motivating me is to remember what made us go into this journey in the first place, what and who motivated us then and reminding ourselves of the big picture. The more faith and knowing you have in yourself and your vision the more motivation you will have to face anything. Also important to remember that sometimes self-doubt can actually be a great opportunity to revisit some decisions and be flexible. Entrepreneurs are generally stubborn by default and sometimes can be stuck in initial decisions – self-doubt can then become a great tool for reassessment and reevaluation.
Does doing what you love make you go to work happy every day?
Of course not! Many of the day to day tasks of running a company require a mindset of problem solving and other tactics, so it is not like we are aware and conscious all the time that we are doing what we really love to be happy about it. However it is the moments when we meet someone, exchange ideas, see the impact we made, attend a talk etc. that remind me how rewarding all this is and how truly happy I am about it. It is those moments that give the impetus to have the energy to do take things to higher levels. In the end, true happiness is maybe about finding harmony and balance between what we are doing and who we are inside.
How do you reconcile social entrepreneurship with being for profit and meeting shareholders expectations?
First of all, I chose shareholders who understand what a social business is, and recognize Pi Slice as part of their own social investment portfolio. By social business, i mean a business in which we re-invest part of the profits back into the company to assure its continuous growth. At early stages, it all comes down to finding the right partners, which will ultimately result in an organization that will not only be prosperous but also profitable.
Isn’t it better to pitch the Born Story of Pi Slice in a more marketing way so to affect more people?
Of course marketing is important. However I need to pitch the Born Story as I feel it in the moment – that’s what speaking from the core is all about! In my experience, people will either resonate with the story or not. This is how I have achieved the best interactions and have formed the strongest partnerships.
At the end of the lecture, Prof. Roger Steare presented me with his new book “Ethicability: how to decide what’s right and find the courage to do it”. The book is exactly that, it gives a model and framework to decide what’s right, have the courage to do it and then test our decision in practice. The book is also a great tool for those who want to do business with soul, providing a framework for your own personal approach to ethics and doing what’s right.
As with Pi Slice, ethicability starts at the personal level.