SOCAP 2011 explored the intersection of money and meaning. What role does spirituality play in ‘meaning?’ And how does it manifest itself in business? One panel at SOCAP specifically explored spirituality as a manifestation of meaning in business. The panel was titled Spirituality & Social Enterprise: What’s Your Motivation?
In this interview, the panel moderator Alex Hofmann gives us a summary of the discussion. Hofmann is the CEO of Changents.com, which helps social entrepreneurs, also known as change agents, broadcast their work through social media. Companies can sponsor the work of change agents through Changents.com. In his work, Hofmann notes that change agents often reveal aspects of their spiritual life in their story, which often makes the story more compelling. In this panel, he explored how spirituality plays a role in business. Panelists included representations from the Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islamic faiths. The panelists were:
- Alex Hofmann, Changents.com, moderator
- Lisa Lepson – Joshua Venture Group
- Matt Flannery – Kiva.org
- Sal Giambanco – Omidyar Network
- Ashwini Narayanan – Microplace
While religious labels can come with baggage and agenda, spirituality is a common ground that connects many people. So the balance is delicate in using spirituality to guide a business. There are great risks. By revealing spirituality, a leader can throw up barriers and alienate customers or constituencies. But with great risks comes great opportunity to become more transparent, tap into a deeper part of the leader, and discover common values with followers. The secret is to draw on common ground between different religions to resonate across groups. Words such as “Values, Relationships and Compassion” are all secular words that resonate with people’s sense of right, no matter their religion or spiritual affiliation. Using these guiding lights for a business can create deeper meaning in one’s everyday work.
Connie Kwan is a SocialEntrepreneur based in Silicon Valley, CA. She holds an MBA in Sustainable Management from Presidio Graduate School, and covers stories about triple bottom line businesses and projects. Follow her on Twitter @ConnieMKwan and check back for more video interviews from SOCAP 2011.