Monday, June 29, 2009

create (value) every day

As some of you may have noticed, I did not attend this year's SNAG conference.  But I did have one of my friends pick up some information from the Professional Development Seminar for me.  I was curious to know how the information was similar or different from what I had presented the previous year.

One of the handouts was basically an advertisement for services the speaker's company provided.  One of the those services was a kind of social media set-up - basically the company would build you a Facebook or MySpace page and then spend 2-3 hours teaching you "best practices."  The cost for this service - $750!

My first reaction was, "I've got to get in on that. I could make bank!"  And in fact, I've toyed with the idea of doing web and social media consulting before, particularly after I presented at the PDS in Savannah.  But, at this point in my life, I can't decide if its something that I would want to do.  

You see, I've become increasingly concerned about what I do providing value to the world around me.  Its taken me a while to get there, but I think I've come to appreciate that the things I make and design do add value to people's lives.  (At least I hope they do.)  And I certainly believe that all my bike advocacy and education activities help improve the community around me.  (If I didn't, I wouldn't be doing them.)  But setting up someone's Facebook page?  I just don't see the value in that.  As a friend recently pointed out to me, apparently this makes me "an entrepreneur, but not a capitalist."  

I couldn't agree more that I'm an entrepreneur.  I come up with a new business idea practically every week.  (And I swear I'm going to do a better job of writing them down.)  But most of them have a greater purpose than just to make as much money as humanly possible.  I just don't believe that is the be all, end all in life.

On Thursday, I went to Ignite Baltimore and one of the speakers was Jim Kucher, who heads the Entrepreneurship Program at the University of Baltimore.  Jim spoke about businesses that fall under the rough banner of Social Entrepreneurship.  For-profit companies that are using their profits to generate real change.  These businesses are the future of activism in America.  In fact, Jim went so far as to say that "charity cannot fund systemic change".  I was truly inspired by his talk.

So, where am I going with all of this?  Well, while riding my bike today, I was thinking about the best ways to help encourage more people to bike.  In the past, I've always thought about starting a non-profit of my own.  But today I wondered, why does it have to be a non-profit?  Why can't I create programs or services that help fund other programs and services?  What if I became a bicycle consultant?  (For lack of a better term - and I seriously need to come up with a better term.)  Perhaps I couldn't charge $750.  But for certain things (say, services to other businesses) maybe I could.  The point is that I'd be doing something I believe in.  I'm not quite sure what any of this would look like yet, but I think its an idea worth pursuing further.  Any suggestions?

Oh, and if you're still reading at this point in the post, the little journal (which I'm planning on using to write down more of my business ideas) is from Compendium Incorporated.  They were giving them away at the National Stationary Show.  Which, in my mind, is a pretty good way to create a fan for life.


aumantm said...

God, you depress me because I contribute absolutely nothing to this world (and that includes rent).

Unemployed, out of shape, and earning 0$ in income.

Thanks sis.

megan said...

oh no, it wasn't meant to be depressing! i was going for inspiring.

besides - you're creative. you totally contribute stuff!

(and in case you were wondering, being unemployed is the perfect time to get back in shape!)

aumantm said...

You're just more involved than i am. It's hard to be that determined, especially when everything you do costs money and you're not making any.

I just don't have the want to work out anymore, even though I need to.

megan said...

sounds like you need a pep talk! this is totally the conversation to have over beers at the beach

aumantm said...

PS. Tell future employers I contribute because no one in Indiana, PA wants to hire me.

And the one company that does want to hire me isn't in the position to be hiring right now.

Catherine Chandler said...

wow. someone charging $750 to set up social media? That's ridiculous. Really. It's so user friendly now. But anyway...I find you inspiring. I find your drive, dedication, and integrity inspiring.

and to your bro...exercise helps combat depression :) I know, trust me. Even if I can't make it to the gym during the week, I at least try to take a few good walks and get out of the house.

Skylark Studio said...

"You are not here to merely make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand" -Woodrow Wilson

This is taped to the wall above my workbench. I stare at it as I think of how I can create expensive jewelry for rich people. meh.

a friend of our family started this bike project in Lancaster:

he carried my brother in law's aids quilt panel across the country on his bike - speaking to groups, raising awareness, being overall inspiring.

maybe we're more prone to think like this because of all the amish/menno's around?!

Laura Crawford said...

Hey Megan - Geez, I am so behind on all my blog reading, so I'm just coming across this now - I think this is such a wonderful and noble and inspiring idea!

The City of Long Beach recently hired a man named Charlie Gandy as the Mobility Coordinator. He's been in bike advocacy for years and is now working with the city to create a more "bike friendly" environment here. He's been hired on for 3 years, to the tune of $300,000 (fully funded by grants) - so I'd say it's definitely a possibility to become a bicycle consultant! If you want, I can get his contact info from Russ and you could pick his brain about how he got started - super friendly man - just drop me a note.

Good luck!! :)

megan said...

karen - thanks for the great quote! so funny, i actually know mike of dreamrides - he's a really good guy, and has been giving me some feedback

laura - i would love charlie's contact info - the more people's brains i can pick, the better!