Entrepreneurship and Innovating an Estblished Product

When I started on my journey over a year ago, my goal was very clear.  Or, so I thought.  At the time, with great determination (and a little trepidation), I stepped away from well known territory and embarked into the land of “What Will I Do Now With My Career?” I quit my well-paying job of 19 years, took a little time to relax and began to compile my list of thoughts and potential “destinations.”  It was in these moments of personal brainstorming, that I decided (drum rolls please) I would become an entrepreneur and create and run my own business. I wanted it to be a business that had a positive impact on the world, but not sure exactly how. Nonetheless, it was energizing to think of all the possibilities.

Then reality hit.  I was impatient with myself and wanted to just start on my “what.”  But I soon discovered that my original goal was somewhat misguided and was only causing me frustration.  I shouldn’t have been focused solely on what I would “do,” but also on who it is that I “am” or wanted to “be.”    And, in fact, this more accurately reflects how the voyage unfolded from there.

This coming Monday, October 7, is my birthday and always a time for reflection.  Wow, how my life has changed in a year.  Back then, I had a few ideas, some money in my savings account and a bit of time on my hands. But, truth be told, I had no real direction or focus on how to move forward.  And, that irritated me. So, I started to do something that is not typical for me.  I began putting my rudimentary ideas and thoughts out to people that I knew or came across in my everyday life.  In the past, I would have kept working on the ideas on my own, trying to get them to a state of perfection, until I would then feel comfortable talking about them.  This was a different, more vulnerable approach.

At the same time, I started to proactively work on getting a better understanding of my core strengths and who I really was authentically.  Talk about vulnerability.  I won’t bore you with all the details, but I found myself exploring this more deeply through everything from Chinese Astrology to Meyers-Briggs.

And then, through a bit of serendipity, I met my friend Carol.  On a lovely hike organized by a mutual friend one Sunday morning, we were introduced.  She had just moved to Singapore with her family, but happened to also be from the San Francisco Bay Area.  We connected right away.  The conversation we had that day trekking through the trails of Bukit Timah Nature Reserve set the wheels in motion for what would become a fabulous ride.  As we hiked the trails, I blabbered on about my current state of searching for my next, the unformed ideas that I had for starting a business and the things that I was learning about myself in the process. In the midst of our conversation, almost nonchalantly, Carol turned to me and said, “I’ve had this idea rattling around in my brain for a while.  Wouldn’t it be great to put together a group of people that are in a similar situation as you (and soon I discovered, her, as well) – that are going through a re-invention of themselves to find their next?  It would be a group that supports, guides and holds each other accountable.”

I absolutely loved the idea and hounded her for a couple weeks to drive this idea to fruition.  Probably sick of my pestering, she finally agreed to meet and discuss how we could make this “Reinvention Group” a reality.  And we did.  We put some ideas to paper on what the group would be, brainstormed an eclectic list of people that we knew and made it happen.  Turns out it was one of the best things that we could have done.

It was through this group that I was connected with the first investment in a social enterprise that I am currently working with – ShiftRunner.  That investment led to my second investment in Mozaik Learning.  And, through both companies and in the weekly work that we do as a Reinvention Group, I came to have much clearer understanding of my passion and purpose in social entrepreneurship and in developing TOSO.

Still a journey, the obstacles in the road have lessened greatly over the past year, and the destination is in sight.  I am confident, however, none of this would have happened if it weren’t for the internal work that went alongside the external desires.  It requires a melding of heart and brain while also seeking the support of others, as I reinvent my path forward.   Thank you to all who have been there along the way.

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