Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Believers, Part 1

A group of us met Tuesday night at Thunder-Sky, Inc. to brainstorm, kvetch, swap stories, and strategize about how to make things happen for people we're all trying to help, especially around the concept of "employment."  I jotted down some notes.  Still thinking about all of it and very happy we're doing this.

  • Networks versus jobs
  • Investment in people for the long haul
  • Having a vision for both the person and the business
  • Wealth creation -- not food, filth and flowers
  • Discovery as the primary way of doing business
  • Thinking long-term instead of "closure"
  • Congregation prevents imagination
  • How do we figure out how to increase the likelihood of being able to help people get careers and not just jobs?

We got into a really great discussion about how hard it is to break away from "old-school" notions like "enclaves," because an opportunity is an opportunity...  You don't want to pass up possibilities, even though they seem like the old way of doing business, and even though you kind of know that people would benefit from just having some money, even if it's not long-term.  It's really a fine line, a sort of dance that we'll have to do, even while we try to keep our eyes on the prize.

We told stories about people who have found unconventional ways of getting employed and staying employed, using Customized Employment as a mode of operation, and not thinking of JOB, as much as what businesses need and what the people we're supporting are interested in and have to offer. 

One of the main themes that kept coming up:  Entrepreneurial versus Social-Work.  Thinking about how to make money, not just how to get a job.  Venture capitalism as opposed to Bussing Tables.

How do we incentivize hiring people with disabilities?

One story that kind of sticks out in my head:  a guy in Canada who sponsors/curates community sing-alongs at local bars, 5 bucks a person -- if you do the math, that simple, creative idea might yield 40,000.00 a year.

On Friday, Tamie and I met with a local business-owner/CEO at Starbucks.  He was more than helpful.  And Tamie and I went at it in that "informational interview" format we've discussed.  Not asking for help, but how can we partner?  He seemed almost like he had been waiting for us to ask.  He offered up all kinds of insight and assistance in a fifteen minute meeting that was way more productive than any 7-hour in-service could be.  What came out of it:  a job possibility for one of the folks I'm trying to help, access to a skills matrix he uses in his business (that we can appropriate and use in order to develop a resume/skills listing of people who want employment), an introduction to the West Chester Chamber of Commerce, and access as well to an ongoing conversation with him, and other local business leaders he knows who might be interested in being a part of this.

Next Believers meeting:  September 17, 2013, 6:30 pm, at Thunder-Sky, Inc.

Please feel free to add/comment on these notes...  I know I've missed some of the great stuff that was said...

Thanks to everyone who showed up...