Social Entrepreneurship

Lesson #1: Time with Intention

 Lesson #1 from Our Series: 13 Countries, 13 Lessons at Sea

As we departed from San Diego back on January 7th, amidst the excitement and energy surrounding what was to come, Taylor and I both set about settling into our life on the ship, in the wonderful 5th deck cabin we now call home.

One of the very first challenges we encountered, and have still been struggling with for the entire journey, has been time management.

Time passes very differently when you’re living on a ship. There are no weeks or weekends here, just A days and B days, which allow for alternating schedules day to day.  Meal times are constant, and everyone is present all the time (since we’re all stuck on a ship together), yet it is often impossible to find people.

Working conditions can be difficult; because as a team we don’t have any “off” time, and the second we step out of our room both Taylor and I are usually bombarded with logistics and operations questions.

In addition, with connectivity ranging from “I can’t believe we can skype in the middle of the Pacific Ocean!” to hours spent on a single email or transaction, time required for any task has been incredibly unpredictable.


Given these challenges and new perspectives of time as it passes on the ship, Taylor and I have learned a HUGE lesson for how to value time for ourselves and for each other:

LESSON #1: Time Valued comes with intention

>>  Learn how to ASK FOR TIME

In our opinion, time is the most valuable resource everyone has, and when you live in a completely blended work/life environment, you have to evaluate time commitments on a totally different level.

For example, we learned early on that waking up and diving right into an intense work/team conversation in our room was not the best way to start our day. Instead, we learned to put on different “hats” for different times. Sometimes we’re wearing a work hat, other times we’re wearing a friend hat, and yet other times a roommate hat. And for each one, we need to clearly communicate what hat we want to wear, and what we need from others to share time effectively.

Over the course of this voyage, by setting time with intention and putting on different hats, we’re learning how to easily switch between a teammate cranking out gyshido time, an operations resource for our community, and a friend offering a shoulder to cry on.


So our takeaway lesson #1 sailing from San Diego  (& our brief stop in Ensenada) was:


Wear different hats,

(Clearly communicate what kind of time you are in,

And ASK for time, 

And the kind of time you need from those around you.)


Thanks for reading through, more lessons learned coming soon!

From our “office” on the high seas,

Taylor Rowe & Shira B

Categories: ALL Entries, Life Lessons, Social Entrepreneurship, Unreasonable At Sea | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

13 Countries, 13 Lessons at Sea (A New Project)

13 countries. 109 days. 1 ship. 10 ventures. 20 mentors.
1 belief that entrepreneurship will change the world.
Working from the MV Explorer, Unreasonable at Sea

Working from the MV Explorer, Unreasonable at Sea

As we’ve sailed across the globe on the team for Unreasonable at Sea, my roommate Taylor and I wonder whether our greatest lessons have been about the world outside or about ourselves.

Working, living, and travelling together has challenged us in more ways than we could ever have anticipated, and now that the finish line is in sight, we think it’s time to start reflecting on the biggest lessons learned from the voyage, particularly those at the intersection of self, team, and community.

So we’re about to embark on a new writing project. 13 posts, 13 lessons, one for each country visited along the way.

Feel free to follow our journey, share your own insights, and help us learn as much as we can from this incredible adventure.

From our “office” on the high seas,

Taylor Rowe & Shira B

Categories: ALL Entries, Life Lessons, Social Entrepreneurship, Unreasonable At Sea | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

Designing a Message: User > Need > Insight

In the very first content workshop for Unreasonable at Sea, we heard from Inc Magazine’s most creative person in education, George Kembel about how to truly design your message, and get back to the core purpose of  your company’.

George described a three-part process:

1. USER:

The target of your business activity that must be reframed as a PERSON, not a demographic. They must be addressed as human being through emotional connection and empathy.

“The end user isn’t always the person we tend to call end user, it’s the person who is absolutely delighted that your product exists.” – GEORGE KEMBEL

Lesson 1: Think about the user in terms of a human being facing a challenge, a person with fears, hopes, and a lack of options at their immediate disposal.

2. NEED:

 Too often we believe we are discussing the need, when in fact we are talking about the solution. For example, when a girl wants to pick an apple from a tree, we would say that she NEEDs a ladder. But the ladder is actually the solution. The NEED is for the apple because she is hungry. Or for height in order to reach food.


It is only in the last stage of the process that we finally gain insight to a solution. And even this solution should be what George calls an “agnostic solution.” Because once you realize that the need is separate from the single solution you’ve developed, when things don’t work out, when you need to pivot or completely revamp your entire product, you still have the same core basis for existence and the flexibility to go back to the drawing board to choose a new solution.

While these of course are extremely valuable lessons in business, perhaps most impressive is how much this thought process can change the way we live our lives in all spheres.

If we dig deep enough to understand  (1) that we are human beings, imperfect and in need and (2) what the need actually is, we can continue to develop solutions, test their resilience, and revert back to the drawing board in a process of continual growth. Solutions need no longer be permanent, but rather a process of rapid ideation.

As Herbert Otto famously states,

Change and growth take place when a person has risked himself and dares to become involved with experimenting with his own life.

As long as your core WHY, your personhood and your need are clarified, the rest becomes a creative pathway  leading you to continuous personal growth.

Until Next Time,


A now sea-fairing ShiraBee

Categories: ALL Entries, Social Entrepreneurship, Unreasonable At Sea | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

3 Steps to Intentional Space

Open space.

Last month while visiting the BOLD Academy out in Boulder, Colorado, I participated in a group activity of Open Space, in which people signed up for sessions of learning, sharing, and discussion. But what I found most intriguing wasn’t the content itself, but the design of the exercise.

The guidelines are as follows:

Whoever shows up are the right people.
Whenever it starts is the right time.
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have happened.
Whenever it’s over it’s over.

And the only rule is the Law of two feet: whenever you feel it is right, you are free to get up, move around, choose wherever it is that you want to be. If you’re not getting or giving, move yourself!

This is just one exercise that embodies many of the concepts that I have seen in designed spaces over the past few months. Organizations specializing in this area are growing in number: Bold Academy, StartingBloc, Summit Series, Sandbox, The New American Tavern, The Village, Memento’s Factory 0 , and so many more.

Groups that exist with the intention of creating a space. A space for connection, for open collaboration, for self-discovery through connection to others, and for personal and business growth based on life-long relationships.

They all have different words for it, they design, curate, facilitate; but in the end they’re all talking about the same thing:

Intentional Space.


By developing expertise in creating an intentional space, these organizations provide an experience that allows people to be 100% present in the moment, 100% authentic to their core, and to connect with a community of other people looking for the same thing. From the Summit team’s ability to connect high-profile individuals making very visible waves in the world, to StartingBloc’s approach of incubating future innovators just beginning to bring their ideas to action, each organization creates an insanely powerful “wow” experience for members of their community.


How do they do this? How do they create such powerful intentional spaces?


1. They set intention through values.

What I’ve noticed is that these organizations spend a lot of time curating/designing their own foundation. They don’t just put up company values for the sake of having them, they spend unheard of amounts of time on the minute details of their core values and mission statement.


2. They ACTUALLY live their values. They make themselves participants in the space.

These organizations and the people who run them put actions behind their words, both in their business actions and in their individual life choices. They create a degree of openness and consciousness where every employee, every volunteer, every staff member becomes an integral part of the community, a necessary component to the space.

For example, in calling itself a “people incubator,” StartingBloc organizers treat each other and all volunteers with the same degree of respect and consideration that they do each candidate and fellow. Volunteers and mentors are going through a process of learning just as valuable and life-changing as candidates themselves. The leaders of the organization understand that if you are going to create a space for others to connect authentically, you have to set the tone through your own actions first.


3. They’re in it for the long haul. They follow up, turn interactions to relationships.

These organizations all have an incredible talent for emphasizing the need for accountability and the supportive nature of relationships as opposed to surface level, routine interactions that provide little value and large amounts of stress.

Instead of feeling like you “have to keep in touch,” as a member of these communities you follow up with other members through shared experience that can be either social or business.

You start ventures together, become partners, go out for coffee or drinks, meetup in cities across the world. You create lasting, learning relationships that help you grow upwards instead of tying you down with obligation.

Perhaps the most powerful benefit of all, these groups design circumstances that facilitate taking the intention of the event into relationships and interactions far beyond.


It is because of these intentional spaces (and the wonderful organizations that created them) that I have learned the value of adding a higher degree of intention and mindful design to my own life, and I look forward to learning more and more about these communities as they grow and develop.

Please post a comment or message me about any other examples of intentional spaces that you know and love!


Until next time,


Shira Bee

Categories: ALL Entries, Life Lessons, Social Entrepreneurship, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

10 Lessons Learned & Shared

One week ago, I have had the insanely amazing experience of volunteering at the StartingBloc Institute for Social Innovation in Boston. StartingBloc is a self-described “people incubator,” that builds skills and relationships amongst young innovators who value social impact. After becoming an LA ’12 fellow back in February I decided that Memorial Day weekend would be the perfect opportunity for me to tap back into some StartingBloc inspiration, clarity of purpose, and connection.

A significant contributor to our connectedness at StartingBloc is our mutual learning and sharing over the course of the institute. So here is my list of the 10 best lessons learned and shared amongst a group of exceptionally connected people.

1. We are all grasping for guidance.

Whether we are recent graduates venturing into the unfamiliar “real world,” or many years wiser and exploring the ideas and actions that really make us tick, we are all constantly looking for answers, for solutions, for meaning. And it’s difficult, because there is “no road map to our lives”, no clear direction we can follow (Rachel Weeks, see below). The best we can do is embrace the ambiguity, open ourselves to a constant state of curiosity and learning, and trust in our ability to navigate.

2. Place yourself in a “intellectual powerhouse environment.”

This is exactly the environment that exists at StartingBloc, and one that we all hope to maintain as we return to our homes and work places. An environment where creativity is mandatory, hustle is key,  ideas are welcomed with no fear of character judgement, and collaboration is inspired by  a constant “Yes, and” attitude. By surrounding ourselves with others who value open and creative intellectual exploration, we can build the perfect setting to create impact.

3. You already know everything you need to know to start.

Impostor syndrome is experienced by all of us at some point in our lives. You will never know as much as you “should” know, you will never be prepared enough. Jump in anyway. Start now.

4. First, do no harm.

I know I just said to jump in anyway, but the one caveat to this is that if you’re about to jump, you have to remember that context is everything. Every action that you take in this world impacts another being, and it is absolutely essential that we are in the a mindset of awareness before we take action. This doesn’t mean having all of the answers, it simply means realizing that we don’t. Be mindful and intentional, especially when your plans are big and the stakes are high. Identify your assumptions going in, and be flexible to incorporate the new learning points as you move forward.

5. “Sunlight is the best disinfectant.”  

– Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis reiterated by Scott Sherman

I find this equally relevant to broader issues in society and to our own personal lives: shine a light on the areas that need disinfecting. Bring them to attention. Embrace the faults and open yourself to change. As a good friend at Summit Series, Achille Tako, once shared with me, it is our faults that make us human after all. Bring them to light.

6. Radical honesty can be an incredible tool.

With yourself and with others. Being able to honestly separate the ideas from the person, from the identity, allows for unimaginable growth and forward thinking. However, radical honesty must be approached with benevolent intention, and deep-set respect for all parties.

7. Ask WHY, get to the heart, and embrace the “we.” 

A concept put into practice at StartingBloc with the guidance of Scott Sherman & Mitchell Wade

It is so easy to fall into the “us” versus “them” mentality. In negotiation, in the workplace, in the home, in friendships, in cultural exchange. We focus so strongly on creating our own foundation, on solidifying our argument, our pitch. Those of us in the business world have been trained to do so, however we are untrained in how to use the pitch effectively. It isn’t always about presenting your point right of the bat. It’s about starting with questions and finding out who your audience is, seeking out their “why”, and then transforming your pitch to embrace a collaborative movement forward.  Too often we forget the importance of holding back our opinions, our pitches, and opening our eyes and ears to the multitude of truths and lessons available to us.

8. No Job Too Big, No Job Too Small.

(first heard from David Denberg @ Summit Series)

Sometimes in life we will be flying high in the air, in a first-class arrangement of circumstance whereas other times we will be sweeping the floors and cleaning up messes. Our work will not always be glamorous. But if it  leads to the change we want to create and provides benefit to others, to humanity as a whole, it is worthwhile.

9. FEAR is your fuel. Use it wisely.

FEAR can either be Forget Everything And Run or Face Everything And Rejoice. It’s your choice. Far too often we focus on eliminating our fears, eradicating them from our lives. As if that is possible. The reality is that our fears often reveal what is truly important to us. As Ted Gonder so powerfully presented, “Fear can also be a compass that points true north.”  Those of us who fear being unnoticed often strive for attention. Those of us who fear being alone often yearn for connection and relationships. By using the concepts of Aikido, and redirecting the energy of our fears, we can channel them to help us grow.  If we stop trying to eliminate fear, and instead use it to reveal what it is that we love and value, it can become an incredible  source of energy and direction.

10. “How you spend your days is, of course, how you spend your life.” – Annie Dillard

My personal “life tagline,” this quote is constantly reinforced by my fellow StartingBloc-ers. The Boston ’12 speaker Rachel Weeks frames it as “You’ve got to love the journey as much as the success point.” The way I see it, the destination cannot be the sole determinant of your success; you can’t just plan to retire or celebrate at the end. Especially if the most important change actually happens after you leave, it seems quite ridiculous to celebrate an “end” or “success point”. Instead you have to love the journey, celebrate each step towards lasting change, and derive fulfillment and satisfaction from how you spend your time.

A HUGE and heart felt thank you to my tribe at StartingBloc for providing this connetion, for inspiring me to grow and to be, and for weaving me into the beautiful lives that you lead.

Until next time,


Shira Bee

Our Biggest Fear is not that we are inadequate. Our biggest fear is being powerful beyond measure.

Categories: ALL Entries, Life Lessons, Social Entrepreneurship | 6 Comments

Tribes: An Issue of High Security

Tribe: A Definition

A tribe is any group of people, large or small, who are connected to one another, a leader, and an idea. For millions of years, humans have been seeking out tribes, be they religious, ethnic, economic, political, or even musical (think of the Deadheads). It’s our nature.

Tribes are what make things change.-Seth Godin


There’s something different about the StartingBloc community. Something that really earns the definition of a “tribe,” which seems to be the latest buzz word in the business and entrepreneurial community.

According to vetted StartingBloc speaker, Mitchell Wade, tribes are communities which:

“when you haven’t talked for 10 years they will still take you in because you are wired the same way.”

One of the most beautiful aspects of the StartingBloc tribe is that you feel so incredibly connected. The coordinators of the Institute for Social Innovation set the tone for a space that is open, honest, and inspiring. The events comprise the perfect combination of the traditional business conference segments: public speaking & pitches, network building, skill development, mentorship, and teamwork, with the less traditional topics that are so integral to innovation: inquiry, vulnerability, benevolence, honesty, love, mindfulness, and authentic connection.

As a StartingBloc fellow, you don’t know every face in the room, but you greet each person with love and respect.
You don’t just pitch your point and try to get people to think you’re interesting, instead you ask questions.
You don’t have to be at every second of every event, but when you attend, you are fully present.

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