10 Lessons Learned in 2018

Some learning themes that showed up for me throughout the past year. Maybe they resonate or perk some new reflections on your 2018 experience as well.

When it comes to your health, one drop too much (of stress of any kind) can spill the entire bucket. (Related: Is Taking On Too Much Compromising Your Impact?)

There’s a wealth of new information and resources for changemakers. Five years in and I feel more than ever we are very much still in the beginning of the ‘new normal’ coming our way.

You don’t need to do it all (at once).

A strong team is everything. Doing your best challenges others to step up and vice versa.

It’s subtle, but it feels different when the response to a new idea is more “I really need this” than “this is really great”. I’m now realizing I used to sometimes think this was the same thing.

Effort spent without space for reflection and integration leaves change on the table (literally and figuratively).

We are the stories we tell ourselves. We alone have the power to let them persist, or to change them. (Related: 5 Ways to Tell Your Impact Brand Story with Authenticity (like a Human))

We don’t give ourselves enough credit for what we naturally do well.

My words mean more when I say less.

Tapping into outside perspective is invaluable in illuminating blind spots and moving you forward (a theme as always… with peers, while coaching, and while being coached).

10 Favorite Articles Penned

I wrote more in 2018 than any year before (and possibly all those years put together!) I didn’t add everything up but I estimate that I wrote an average of ~2k works a week in 2018.

Here are some of my favorite articles written for +Acumen and published on their website:

Transforming a Fishing Community In Mexico through Systems Thinking

Liliana Gutierrez, Executive Director of Noroeste Sustentable (NOS) shares how one fishing village set out to restore a declining clam population and ended up restoring the entire community in the process.


How to Invest in Branding When You Have No Money to Spare.


Leverage branding to build connection, galvanize movements, inspire action, and connect people to something bigger than themselves.


From the $1,000,000 Hult Prize Competition to Accelerator Demo Days, See Social Entrepreneurs on Stage Winning Audiences Over One Pitch at a Time.


Shawn Askinosie, author of Meaningful Work, A Quest to Do Great Business, Find Your Calling, and Feed Your Soul, shares how he has leveraged a chocolate supply chain to create social impact and offers advice for finding work that helps you come alive.


Prototyping to Bring Your Concept to Life Without Wasting Time, Money, and Energy Building Products and Services that No One Wants.


Human-Centered Design: How to Embrace Failing Fast

6 Ideas to Get More Comfortable with Failure So You Can Design Better Solutions, Faster.


How social entrepreneurs can use the Business Model Canvas to find new ways to create, deliver, and capture value.


Creative Social Enterprise Business Model Ideas: 10 Ways to Address Affordability

Social enterprise business models for inspiration. If your customers’ limited ability to pay is limiting your impact, take a look at these examples. 


Are you a social entrepreneur, social innovator or change-maker looking for an intensive education program or learning experience? If you’re indifferent about which letters appear behind your name, one of these opportunities may be for you.


10 Favorite Books Read

Between discovering audiobooks on Audible and joining a fabulous book club for leaders (led by messaging strategists Jessi and Marie at North Star Messaging) I suspect I plowed through more books than usual this year.

Here are some of my favorite reads in 2018, in no particular order:

Clockwork, Mike Michalowicz

Clockwork: Design Your Business to Run Itself

In his usual lighthearted and entertaining way, Mike outlines straightforward strategies to design your business so that it doesn’t live and die by your involvement. Designing a business that you can lead without trading your time to keep it afloat is critical, not only for your own sanity and work-life balance but also in case of unexpected situations like illness.

Being Boss, Kathleen Shannon and Emily Thompson

Being Boss: Take Control of Your Work and Live Life on Your Own TermsI’ve followed the Being Boss podcast for a while now and always enjoyed listening to Kathleen and Emily’s take on business. Being part of a collaborative duo myself (with Solène building Changemakers Association) I loved hearing their own journey growing Being Boss while running separate other companies. So much so that I bought a pre-order copy of this book to send to Solène for her birthday last year. It was on my list for my own bookshelf but a chance meeting with Emily in the Chattanooga airport (and shared Uber ride) sealed the deal. It’s a beautiful book. Perfect for browsing over coffee and a journal.

Building a Story Brand, Donald Miller

Building a StoryBrand: Clarify Your Message So Customers Will Listen

A quick read that re-frames marketing in a whole new light. I found a lot of the exercises and frameworks in this book increadibly useful and hands on.

This is Marketing, Seth Godin

This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to SeeThis one doesn’t need an introduction. If you love Seth, you’ll love this book. And if you don’t read Seth yet, try this book out and you’ll likely be hooked. He has a way of getting to the root of a topic and sharing ideas concisely in a way that sticks. More pages earmarked in this book than any other on my shelf. A read well worth your time!

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Greg McKeown

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

For an overachiever like me, this book was exactly what I needed to hear in one of my most hectic years so far. The core concept is simple: do less, but better. Making that core concept a reality in your life is a little more complicated but Greg does a great job of breaking it down and telling stories to illustrate why and how you can adopt essentialism in your own life.

You Are a Badass, Jen Sincero

You Are a Badass®: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

An entertaining and funny ‘kick in the pants’ to get on creating and living the life you truly want. I listened to this book on Audible and enjoyed listening to Jen read it with quirkiness and energy.

Profit First, Mike Michalowicz

Profit First: Transform Your Business from a Cash-Eating Monster to a Money-Making Machine

The title doesn’t sound like one a social enterprise strategist would be going on about but this was probably my top recommended read in 2018. Nearly every conversation about money and financial sustainability that came up in one-on-one coaching this year could be addressed (at least partially) but principles Mike teaches in this book. With money being the primary restraint on your social enterprise’s impact, this book is an absolute must-read for any impact entrepreneur.

The Blue Sweater, Jacqueline Novogratz

The Blue Sweater: Bridging the Gap Between Rich and Poor in an Interconnected World

Having volunteered with +Acumen for several years, I was already familiar with Jacqueline Novogratz and this book, but (shhhh!) I hadn’t actually read it before this year. It is an amazingly colorful and engaging read that paints a vivid picture of Jacqueline’s journey before the creation of Acumen.

Art of Possibility, Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander

The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life

A wonderfully inspiring book for both life and business. If you want to expand your understanding of what is possible and enjoy some amazing stories along the way, read this book.

Show Your Work, Austin Kleon

Show Your Work!

This is a quick, fun, read that makes an excellent case for why you need to, and how to, well… show your work. Sharing the behind-the-scenes and messy process along the way is something all of us can do better, myself included!