Sunday, March 28, 2010

Career-change cocktail banter

Yay! My perpetual state of career transition over the past couple of years has ended. I am now firmly in the saddle at Evolutionize.It, a new social enterprise I have started in Belgium. I suddenly find that I need to talk about myself differently in social situations. Each time I do, I end up reinventing it just a bit. I guess it depends on my confidence level that day. That's normal, right?

If you and I were face to face over a drink this week and you asked me what I'm up to these days, I might say something like this:
Well... I am basically back at the beginning. I left Uganda after 10 years of community development work and now I'm starting something brand new.

All I really have are some unproven wacky ideas for making an impact how our global development system works, and I am trying to develop a business around them that can actually pay people salaries.
Hmmm... doesn't sound very positive does it? True as those statements may be, on most days I'm actually really excited about what I'm working on. So if I was feeling more confident that day, I might reword myself:
I have just started a new social enterprise that is designing collaboration systems for social changemakers. I'm having lots of fun with it.
If we chatted a bit longer you'd probably ask why I am in Belgium (everyone asks that), and I'd give you the abridged version of our family context. You may or may not get the version that includes the unofficial separation from the husband who has the job that brings us back here. (Summary: we plan our lives collaboratively, we just don't sleep under the same roof.)

When you ask if we are in Belgium to stay, I'd mention (because I am determined to talk this into reality) that our hope is to move on to Asia in about 2 years. The kids and I would love to go to Thailand, if I can work that out somehow. A colleague of mine is thinking about going back to Uganda at around the same time, and we have some ideas for a project we'd like to start in multiple countries, to create a system for changemakers in under-connected parts of the world to collaborate with each other. If their dad can find a job within a 2 hour flight radius, our family can function well. It's worked well like that before.

If you seemed interested in my line of work, I might tell you that while in Belgium for these two years I am learning alot about social enterprise in Europe, experimenting with the design of online and offline collaboration events, and getting to build on what I learned from some of the mistakes I made starting my first social enterprise back in Uganda.

You might be curious about what happened to that when I left Uganda. If so, I would probably share something about new management structures taking over, and that it's been very hard for me to walk the fine line between supporting them and letting go of control.

After a long process, Life in Africa USA's 501(c)3 charity status in the USA has finally been granted (Yay!) The Ugandan management team have recently realized (on their own) that the new structure in place upon my departure from Uganda just isn't working for them. They have defined the structure they would like to have and are already embarked upon administrative changes that they feel will better enable the work they would like to do. Just last week, they constructed a darkroom for a community mushroom growing project to help finance the LiA center's expenses and raise start-up funding for additional community based projects. That's exciting for me to see.

Now mind you, it's rare that we would manage to cover all of these things over drinks - I tend to prefer asking questions to talking about myself in social situations. Not because I have anything to hide, but because I enjoy learning about all sorts of people and their view of the world.

In fact.... now that you already know the career and life-change skinny on me, let's just skip that part of the banter when you and I get a chance to see each other and get to the good part. You!

3 comments:

茂一 said...
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jyoti said...
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christina said...

The 2 posts removed above were spam. Please do feel welcome to comment, most especially if we met at #OxfordJam!