By Olga Heifets, SVP Boulder County Education & Communications Director
Boulder County was well represented in Austin at this year’s “Audacious Philanthropy” conference, the SVP global network’s annual gathering for staff, partners, investees, and others. In addition to networking with dynamic folks from across the globe, the Boulder County contingent got the opportunity to think bigger picture, and smaller scale.
Reflecting on SVP Boulder County’s recent the changes, Partner Heather Winner noted “One of the sessions said ‘Momentum is the driving characteristic of success’. I liked that in context of the important changes that SVP Boulder has gone through over the last 12 months…[we’re] building tremendous momentum to create a path for new projects and growth.”
Some reflections from the daily “Staff Track” that ran across the conference have stuck with me since getting home:
- Chris Block of the American Leadership Forum Silicon Valley described how mindfulness, and the experience of truly being present, is not extra. Though often not prioritized, mindfulness when working with allies is something that’s core to doing SVP’s capacity building work.
- Heather McLeod Grant, author of the well-known Forces for Good: Six Practices of High-Impact Nonprofits, described the power inherent in consciously operating as an organization, and as a network. Often the default, organizational leadership celebrates small successes and focuses on specific tasks and projects. In contrast, network leadership intentionally thinks bigger, collaboratively, and across players with a higher tolerance for innovation/risk; “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” For those SVP helps in tackling VUCA (Volatile Uncertain Complex Ambiguous) problems (i.e. problems one entity can’t move the needle on alone), network leadership is a more effective approach.
- And finally, the power of having a “relationship orientation” – which I’ll leave to SVP Boulder County Executive Director Jennie Arbogash to ruminate on, here.
SVP Seattle founder and SVP network “key connector” Paul Shoemaker challenged the gathered to find our “Can’t Not Do”. He described this as the thing that best sparks for you, asking, “What are you a determined optimist about? Who are you at your core? What are you willing to go to hard places for?” He challenged us to determine our personal ‘can’t not do’, and doggedly pursue it.
Deloitte’s William Eggers described what he’s dubbed the “solution economy” in his book The Solution Revolution. He talked about the power of collaboration to solve the world’s toughest challenges – something very much aligned with what all SVPs do daily.
SVP Boulder County’s own Board Vice Chair – and newly elected Member-at-Large for the Social Venture Partners Network Board – Emily Davis ran a session on the need to focus on the next generation of philanthropists for the sustainability. She described Next Gen Donor’s higher tolerance for learning, failure, and risks, suggesting that growth is their orientation, “…stability is a lower priority.” We’re thrilled to have Emily’s voice representing Boulder County globally!
It was a truly juicy week there in Austin. Attendee and SVP Boulder County Board Member-at-Large Dan Catlin commented, “Another fantastic SVPI conference in Austin, TX. Always an incredible opportunity to connect with the amazing people, learn about our valuable work, and revitalize my enthusiasm for improving my community. Already looking forward to the gathering in Seattle in 2015!”
We hope you’ll join us as well.