I am the Founder and CEO of FINNEGANS beer company and when I applied for the Bush Fellowship in 2014 my plan was to create a social innovation lab to help other social entrepreneurs get started. My vision was to create an inspiring work environment and a gathering space for innovators to network and socialize. I had been working on this project for almost 2 years prior to my applying for the Bush Fellowship. The challenging part is that my project is a part of a larger real estate development project, so that the location of where my lab would be was contingent on the entire project going through.
As I was about to officially begin my Fellowship in August 2014 – I had two major setbacks occur. One was that the space we had worked on for over a year had fallen through and the second setback was that another group had announced that they were opening a similar facility with a very similar concept to what I was setting out to do. It was a very tough way to start my Fellowship. During this period, for some days the wind was totally out of my sails. I was basically going to have to start over and reconfigure my social innovation lab concept so as to not duplicate was already being offered in the marketplace.
The smartest thing I did was that I immediately put together a Board of Advisors for the social innovation lab- this group of intelligent, passionate and aligned individuals has helped me to move forward and challenged me to think big. I also hired a coach whose job it is to make sure that I maximize my learning and leadership development opportunities with the Bush Fellowship grant. I took the CDR (Character, Drivers and Risk assessment) and my coach and I began our work from the findings in that assessment. My coach and I met for 6 hours and charted out a road map of development areas for my leadership skills and also for my life balance. It feels fantastic to be working a development plan alongside working on my social innovation lab project.
My coach is also a very successful business person so I kind of get a 2fer – she provides me with personal development coaching and business consulting! My coach advises me on how to get the most out of working with my board, she assists with the project strategy and keeps a running list of priorities so nothing falls through the cracks – not sure where I would be without her!
It is clear to me that I am going to need to remain very conscious in keeping in step with the priorities for the lab project and at the same time pursuing my leadership development plan and also juggling running the beer company and the FINNEGANS Community Fund. In the past 2 weeks we have had a huge breakthrough on the real estate development project and it appears that we are very close to locking in a location. With this flurry of activity it has been very challenging to keep focus and to prioritize how I am spending my time on a daily basis. My coach has followed up with me to make sure I am keeping and eye on my leadership map and it seems that was the first thing to drop in the past two weeks. I find it hard to be self focused when there are exciting developments on the project front – this is something I am going to need to continue to work on.
As a part of my leadership development plan I will be walking 100 miles of the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain in June. I will be going with the Prouty Project (Jeff Prouty is on one of my boards and is a huge inspiration to me), this will be a physically challenging experience and it will also make me disconnect and get some distance from things. I plan to keep a journal and I am hopeful that this type of adventure will challenge me to be present. I have also started taking Pilate’s classes, which are also great at making one be present.
I have been amazed how hard it can be to stay positive when it seems like everything is falling apart. I am an off the chart optimist but I can honestly share that I have had moments where I just didn’t think I was going to be able to get this project done – that my idea was a bridge to far now that there was another group already doing a similar concept. I have had to do a great deal of positive self talk and have consciously sought out those positive folks in my life that provide me ongoing positive feedback and support. I have learned that having a tough mind is very important and having a strong will to see something through is what gets one through on the tough days. I am full of so much gratitude to all of those folks that have been working with me on my project, supporting me, in many cases, on a daily basis. I have found the Bush Fellowship staff to be super supportive and I so appreciate their genuine care and concern for me and for my dreams.
I will be looking forward to sharing my second learning log after the next 6 months. I am hopeful that I will have some exciting updates to share!! I am going to get this project done!!