All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make it possible. This I did.
― T.E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom: A Triumph
You each have done some pretty great things so far. No matter where you are coming from professionally, you made an important decision to start developing your project. In any potential endeavor, starting is the hardest part. Conceiving of an actionable plan to create a new company, a new film, or a new creative career is one thing. Doing the work to execute that plan is entirely another thing. The first steps are what separates you from many of your peers. Not everybody can transform a plan or an idea into reality. Congratulations on your first steps.
Social innovation and entrepreneurship are hard. Even with the best intentions, building an organization with scarce financial resources is not always feasible, no matter how noble the idea may be. You have to be part politician, part salesperson, part educator and part evangelist.
Starting a nonprofit – or running an existing nonprofit – is very tough. There are many constituencies to manage, funds to raise, and audience and donor base to build, branding, marketing, budgeting, board development, the list is endless. You have to wear many hats, wear them all well, and make it look effortless. (This reminds me of the old saying. To paraphrase: an apprentice can do difficult things, but a master does difficult things and makes them look easy).
Building a successful career in the creative industries is very tough. It’s certainly not for the timid. Financial stability may be elusive. You will experience rejection at seemingly every turn. You may have more “traditional” alternative careers available to you. Societal norms that others believe in can create family or peer expectations from those close to you that don’t “get” what you are all about.
In all three of those categories: Social Innovators/Entrepreneurs, Creators, and Nonprofit Organization leaders, there are myriad forces aligned against you to slow you down or thwart you from achieving your objectives. My goal is to help you navigate around or through those obstacles and create the life you want for yourself.
One thing that I have learned from starting both for-profit and nonprofit businesses and other creative projects is that you must develop a healthy obsession with your objective. We will talk in future content about this concept. There is a difference between workaholism and a healthy obsession. But for now, suffice it to say that you have to focus very sharply on your objective, tune out the people or forces that tell you “you can’t do that!”, and then work harder than you ever have before.
This is the first step. The content that follows is part self help guide, part desk reference. This is one of the tools that you need to accomplish your objectives whether you are in the creative industries, the nonprofit world, or launching a start up business. This desk book will be frequently updated, enhanced, and improved.
To all the dreamers of the day out there, this book is for you. May the reality we imagine come to life.
risk. create. change.