Partner Profile: Kevin Shaw
Partner Profile: Kevin Shaw
We got in touch with seven-year Partner Kevin Shaw to hear about his experience at the 2010 Social Venture Partners International Conference: Beyond Boundaries - Tomorrow's SVP. Kevin, an SVPI board member, thrives on the peer learning and idea sharing at the conference each year, and shared with us his biggest take-aways.
So, are you learning anything new these days? I often would ask this question to my children at dinner. They never liked it much, but I think it was the most interesting question I had to ask.
It still is.
It is pretty easy to have something to say when you are in school. But as the years go by, I find it more challenging. Maybe it is because the weight of my experiences has begun to overwhelm even the most novel experience. Answering this question got tougher when I immersed myself in the work-a-day world and when my days flew by, deadline following deadline. Today, it is tougher still. Now, it is tempting to draw exclusively on past experiences, rather than looking anew at the activity that swirls around me.
The challenge of continuing to learn is one reason why I like CSVP. I like being around other people who are eager to learn and finding others with deep knowledge. And, while I have not perfected the Vulcan mind meld, it is not for a lack of effort. Usually I have more questions than I have time.
The SVPI Conference
Recently, I had an opportunity to learn at the Annual SVPI Conference in Long Beach. This conference of Partners from around the network was designed for exchanging ideas. We enjoyed breakout sessions that paired partners with one another to discuss their approaches to shared challenges. Whether you are part of the Investment team, a lead volunteer, or in the middle of your ambassador assignment, there were people on whose experiences you could draw.
We also had three plenary sessions led by David Lee Haskell, Sean Stannard-Stockton and SVPI Idol. I want to share a couple of ideas that I heard.
David Lee Haskell
David spoke beautifully on how important it is to have a worthy Dream. He made an important distinction between a Dream and a good idea. Would we remember Martin Luther King if he had begun his speech, “I have a good idea?”
For a Dream to be worthy, it has to inspire. It has to be beyond your immediate reach; it has to invite others; it has to excite those who are “last in line” or those who it aims to help.
These hurdles are not easy. But, our time here is short and we all have to have goals. David asked, “Why not attach your goals to a Dream, worthy of all your best efforts?”
Challenge > Resources
Next, David turned to reality that every challenge faced by non-profits is greater than the resources that are available to solve it. Always.
He argued that this makes it essential to take your organization out of the center of your planning. Instead, the issue that you hope to address MUST be the focus. Once a non-profit thinks first about the issue and secondarily about itself, collaboration becomes possible. Partners emerge; resources expand and possibilities become realized.
Sean’s main point was making a distinction between traditional power and “soft power”. Traditional power is bringing force to bear in order to achieve a result. He likened it to the sledgehammer ringing the bell at the carnival: swing hard enough and you get results.
He contrasted this power with the power of Knowledge. Knowledge is more like light going through a prism. Regular light passing through a prism emerges as a rainbow. This is how Knowledge, when directed well, can magnify an organization’s success. This soft power does not tire; it is the ultimate leverage when we touch peoples’ lives with our knowledge and experiences.
This is what we at CSVP do.
SVPI Idol was amazing. This was a competition between sites to present the best SVP story. We were entertained by a high-energy presentation; we enjoyed three moving stories and we benefited by the expert analysis of three judges. I had a couple of takeaways:
1. SVP is doing great work. These stories were moving. They should make all of us proud to be Partners.
2. The “winning” story was personal. We are inspired and moved by stories that are animated by human drama.
3. The “gifts” that SVP delivers are often one-on-one. We touch lives.
Thank you for letting me share these ideas with you. If you ever have the time to attend an SVPI Conference, I think you would find it inspiring and you would enjoy the great learning opportunities. In the meantime, if you have a good source for learning, I hope you will give me a call.
All the Best,