This is the second of a two-part interview with Neal Gorenflo, a co-founder of Shareable.net, a magazine that “tells the story of sharing” and covers “the people, places, and projects that are bringing a shareable world to life.” In part one, Gorenflo explained how the startup magazine began, and he let us in on its business model. Here, he explains the power of sharing and offers insight from his business experiences.
Triple Pundit: What made you take this road?
Neal Gorenflo:I had a strong hunch before this experience that sharing was important, that it was good for people and planet. So I began consulting for Internet startups that helped people share stuff in the real world. I had no experience. I just dove in. I also began a monthly salon for social entrepreneurs interested in sharing. I consciously built a community around the idea of sharing. Through the community I built, I met the people who launched Shareable with me.
3p: What is the absolutely most important thing you want readers to know about your magazine and its philosophy?
Gorenflo: Understand that sharing is the killer app. It builds citizenship and preserves the Earth simultaneously. That a sustainable society is only possible with broadly shared decision making and resources. There’s no central authority that can handle the many challenges we face. To respond effectively to crisis, manage resources for the long-term, and create lives worth living, citizens need the ability to self-organize. The very heart of social enterprise is empowering citizens to solve their own problems. To quote Al Gore, “to solve the global warming problem, we must solve the democracy problem.” In other words, a sustainable society is only possible if it’s Shareable.
3p: What advice would you give to aspiring social entrepreneurs?
Gorenflo: Living for a purpose is the most important thing. Purpose is the foundation. Every benefit has flowed from purpose. When you stand up for something and announce it to the world, the world starts to shift. People and resources show up to join in. New and unexpected possibilities unfold. It sounds sort of mystical, but it’s my experience. But don’t believe me. Try it yourself.
Figure out what you’re passionate about. What is your purpose? What do you stand for? What is your vision? Build an enterprise to make that world real. Basing your work on what you know will energize you and lend moral authority. When you stand up for something and announce it to the world, the world starts to shift. People and resources show up to join in. New and unexpected possibilities unfold. Try it.
And don’t just go after the next big thing. Don’t get seduced by the fetish for scale, impact, and celebrity. That’s the old paradigm. We need social enterprises of every size and that serve every scale of organization, from neighborhoods to the globe. There’s good work to do everywhere. And everyone matters. Derive joy from the substance of your work. Don’t get too fixated on results. Stay at it no matter what.