Social change work is hard and frustrating and wonderful and terrible; it is also, at times, funny, quirky and just plain fascinating. With this blog we hope to capture all that goes into what we do at Capital Good Fund, and we invite you to join the conversation!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

An Idea For Sharing Ideas

As someone that comes up with ideas a mile a minute (of which a small percentage are worth pursuing), I've noticed a dynamic that I don't like: when I discuss the idea, I put myself in the position of defending it, even if the questions posed are valid!  Stepping back for a moment, it's obvious to me how pernicious this is: shouldn't the goal be to objectively evaluate the idea rather than take sides for the sake of it?  To take the actions that most effectively move us toward our mission?  And I'm the worst offender!

So here's an idea for sharing ideas.  Start by presenting the concept, and then take a moment to present the barriers to implementation, the reasons why it might make sense to wait, and so on. Next, listen to the other people in the room talk about what's good about the idea, as well as what concerns they have.  And once all of this is on the table, the best course of action can be taken.

Now I just have to put my money where my mouth is!

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Make That Investment Now!

Your Dream Scenario
Imagine it is the day before Google officially incorporates and their co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, approach you to ask for an investment in the inchoate company.  And let's further suppose that, though you can't possibly imagine how profitable Google will eventually become, you do know a few things: the co-founders are geniuses and have a brilliant idea; the Internet is going to see exponential growth over the next decade; searching for content online is currently painstaking; and Google's search algorithm is so powerful that people are going to prefer it, use it frequently, and therefore enable the company to sell a lot of ads.

Knowing all this, you'd be insane not to make that investment right then and there, no?  After all, the return on your investment would be so large as to be a waste of time for me to calculate!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

It Can't Be That Easy

No, change is not easy, but what never ceases to amaze me is the difference between the most and least effective programs--something well designed seems to unlock potential in a way that almost, kinda, sorta, makes thing look easy.  And often, the product or service that works best is counter-intuitive or so obvious as to be overlooked.

A recent NPR story, A Chat With the Doctor Can Help Kids Resist Smoking, illustrates the point.  We are all so familiar with the numerous, costly, and complicated initiatives to reduce teenage smoking--ad campaigns, taxes, rules and regulations, and so on--that simple interventions can seen inane.  For example, what would you say to the assertion that simply having a doctor talk to a teen about smoking can actually reduce the likelihood that they will pick up this addictive, dangerous and expensive habit?  I imagine your reaction would be similar to mine: 'isn't that going to be as ineffective as having teachers or parents lectures teens about the issue?  No, we need a more sophisticated approach!'

Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Allure of Justice

The idea of romantic love, so pervasive in our lifes as to appear to be a fundamental part of the human existence, is actually just that: an idea.  According to the theologian C.S. Lewis, the notion of romantic love first appeared in the 12th and 13th centures among the troubadors, who were nomadic musicians and poets.  He says, "The troubadours effected a change which has left no corner of our ethics, our imagination, or our daily life untouched...Compared with this revolution, the Renaissance is a mere ripple on the surface of literature."

Can you imagine a time when romantic love was as alien as electricity to our ancestors?  Or that it came into existence in the Western world thanks to the voices and pens of a small group of people living centuries ago?  The answer, of course, is that you can't.  The reason for yoru inability to do so is best captured by Victor Hugo, who said "There is one thing stronger than all the armies of the world, and that is an idea whose time has come."

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Poverty as a Disease

Apples and Oranges?
Dr. Muhammad Yunus, one of my heroes and the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize winner, describes poverty in stark and succinct words as "the absence of all human rights."  Poverty is also something we think of as endemic to the "third world," conjuring up images of malnourished children, war-torn countries and slums and shanty-towns.  Yet poverty in America is real and pernicious.  Just consider this: one out of three Americans is at 150% of the federal poverty line or below...for a family of four that's  just $35,325 or less.  Even then, I can almost guarantee that most of us, when we think about America, say something like this: "Well, there's poverty in America, but it's completely different...we don't have children starving in the streets.  Apples and oranges!"