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!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Memo: Joy

Photo Credit: Alice Popkorn

Dear faithful (I hope) readers,

I hope you will indulge me in my new favored approach to conveying ideas: the memo.  I know, memos conjure up images of paper-pushers in faceless bureaucracies, but I promise these will be different!  I view these as an opportunity to concisely share my thinking and, I hope, get your feedback. So here goes:

I remember the first time I flew Virgin Atlantic, I couldn’t help but think that the people in charge of the airline a) actually gave a shit about its customers and b) weren’t boring people in suits.  Compared to other airlines, the colors were different, as were the attitudes of the staff, the music, even the rote passenger safety video.  And yet this zaniness in no way made me question my safety, even though flying is, at its core, a life-and-death business: stick a bunch of people in an aluminum (or carbon fibre) tube, fire up some engines, and get them somewhere else on the planet (ideally an airport).

I bring this up because I think the nonprofit and government sectors in general (and most of the for-profit sector, too), and Capital Good Fund in particular, are sorely lacking in joy.  We take ourselves so seriously, and turn everything into a process, or a policy, or a curriculum, or a flowchart, that we forget our fundamental humanity: we all want to laugh, to cry, to love, to live. 

What if we brought joy to the fore of how we thought about everything we do, and indeed used it as a competitive advantage?  Our Coaching shouldn’t be about the chore of doing a budget and a debt management plan; it should be about a connection between the client and the Coach, about understanding the financial system so as to rig it in your favor, about elucidating dreams. 

What if, from the moment a client had her first interaction with us, she felt like I did when I flew Virgin Atlantic?  We all have expectations about what happens when we call the IRS, or the United Way, or B of A’s customer service line.  So let’s blow that out of the water.  Let’s create a culture among staff where laughter and smiles and creativity are more valued than how many hours they work.  Where we do the unexpected—why not include trivia questions at the end of Coaching sessions?  Include a fun quote as part of a loan closing?  Take wacky photos with clients, instead of the usual, formal handshake pose?

In short, who doesn’t want to feel joy?  No one, obviously.  So let’s bring joy to anyone involved in Capital Good Fund—Board members, staff, Fellows, volunteers, clients, donors, supporters, etc.  We are human beings, after all, not faceless players in the game of social change.

1 comment:

  1. I love this! Joy (and fun) is infectious. Shaking up business-as-usual can create those memorable moments that really stick with us. I'm thinking of a high school graduation commencement I went to. No one in our group remembered the valedictorian's speech but everyone raved about the salutatorian's ukulele rendition of 'Somewhere Over the Rainbow'.

    If you haven't already, check out Seth Godin's books. Purple Cow (back in 2003) speaks to this.