I’m excited to announce that I have officially joined LIFT Economy! LIFT is an impact consulting firm that is helping to create, model, and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life.
So why did I make this decision? Here are five reasons I am joining the LIFT team:
1. LIFT's Mission / Vision
LIFT’s broader mission is “to create, model and share a locally self-reliant economy that works for the benefit of all life--one that meets the needs for all people everywhere while enhancing and regenerating the ecosystems that surround us and within which we abide.”
This larger mission is incredibly inspiring and aligned with my intention to benefit all life. However, what differentiated LIFT from other companies with an inspiring mission/vision is how LIFT plans to bring about the change they wish to see in the world. For example, LIFT has a timeline with several specific “Phases of Development” to help guide their operations. For example:
LIFT 1.0 (2010 - now): Help existing high-impact businesses grow and scale to become models of impact for other organizations.
LIFT 1.5 (2014 - now): Focus on impact investors and connecting social enterprises to growth capital.
LIFT 2.0 (next one to five years): Create an “impact accelerator” and incubate 6-10 regionally replicable, next economy organizations.
LIFT 2.5 (next five to twenty-five years): Self-funded Incubator. Create a self renewing revolving loan fund for capitalization.
LIFT 3.0 (next fifteen to thirty years): Emphasis on transactions between regional social enterprises. Broker relationships to stimulate a robust, replicable regional economy. Local stock exchange could be feature. Work on replicating in other regions.
2. Community / Accountability
Being a solo practitioner had a lot of freedom and autonomy. It also had a lot of downsides. For example, I didn’t have anyone to bounce ideas off of, ask for a second opinion, or hold me accountable to achieving my goals. It was difficult to develop expertise outside of my core service offerings. I found that networking at events was less effective (as opposed to having several teammates present).
I realized that I needed partners to help increase our collective social and environmental impact. LIFT provides me with a group of friends who are like minded, mission-aligned, and want to change the world through business. In addition, we hold each other accountable for moving our respective projects forward. This is an invaluable benefit of being part of a larger team.
3. Permaculture Influence
All three existing LIFT partners--Kevin, Shawn, and Erin--have a deep understanding of permaculture. For those of you who don’t know, permaculture is a framework for using locally available resources, observation, prototyping, and adaptation to help natural systems thrive in a particular location.
While permaculture has traditionally been applied to gardens or farms, LIFT’s partners have used the principles behind permaculture to help entrepreneurs design their businesses for the “Next Economy.” For example, here is a subjective set of criteria that LIFT uses to find examples of Next Economy enterprises:
Need-oriented - goods/services that meet human needs first (i.e., food and shelter before jewelry and entertainment)
Accessible - affordable, or available to as many as possible
Transparent - clear about supply chain, practices, finances, benefits, cost (e.g., true cost accounting)
Equitable/democratic culture/workplace - could be coops; employees involved in some practice of self-determination
Surplus reinvestment - profits are shared or redistributed
Support of local alternative economy ecosystem (local supply chain)
Ecosystem integration - whole systems thinking (e.g., stormwater investment, habitat for birds, etc.)
Whole system finances (how they bank, where they received growth capital if any, do they support alternative currencies)
Living wage, Culture (balance, benefits)
Open Source / Growth by Replication
Education embedded into product service - put yourself out of business
These Next Economy criteria are incredibly fascinating. Kevin even teaches permaculture on an ongoing basis. I am excited to take his class in 2016.
4. Self-Managing, Teal Organization
My decision to close down my independent consulting practice did not come easily. I had planned on being a solo consultant for the rest of my life. As I mentioned earlier, there were so many benefits to being on my own: complete freedom of the types of projects I chose, no accountability to a boss, no communication requirements with a team, and the ability to play any role in the company (e.g., marketer, decision-maker, networker, project implementer, etc.).
However, what if you could have all the benefits of being solo--speed, freedom, variety--but also have the collaboration, shared accountability, and collective potential of a team in one organizational structure?
That’s what I found in the book Reinventing Organizations by Frederic Laloux. Laloux describes how a radical shift in organizational consciousness is currently changing the way that businesses operate.
For instance, Laloux describes how some organizations have started to operate effectively, even at a large scale, with a system based on peer relationships (rather than top-down hierarchies). These companies set up structures and practices in which people have high autonomy in their domain, and are accountable for coordinating with others. Power and control are deeply embedded throughout the organizations, no longer tied to the specific positions of a few top leaders.
The LIFT partnership is designed to allow each partner to pursue any opportunity they see fit (as long as it aligns with the larger LIFT mission and vision). This meant that my fears about losing my independence and autonomy were not applicable within LIFTs flexible mode of operating. Joining LIFT had allowed me to retain my freedom while enhancing the value I could provide to clients.
5. A+ Players I Can Trust
Steve Jobs famously said that you should only work with “A players,” (or people that are better than you in some important way). I would refine Jobs’s aphorism to say that you should only work with A players you can trust. This is why I feel comfortable with my decision. All of the LIFT partners are deeply trustworthy high-performers that bring an incredible amount of knowledge, skills, and experiences to the table.
For example, Kevin started and helped grow several technology companies, raised millions in venture capital, and currently teaches permaculture. Shawn studied nuclear physics, ran a worker-owned cooperative for 13 years, and has a deep understanding of documenting systems and processes to help organizations scale. Erin worked for years as a coordinator for Daily Acts, regularly speaks at conferences, and worked with the Fibershed Project as a contributing author for an economic feasibility study for implementing a bioregional-scale regenerative textile mill in California.
In sum, I’m extremely excited to have joined the LIFT team. If you would like to learn more about our work, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.lifteconomy.com. You can also click here to sign up for our monthly newsletter and get a free copy of LIFT’s 60 Point Business Design Checklist.