Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Day Two from the Schwab Summit

The second day at the summit was also a great experience. I've met up with and been inspired by so many amazing people.

It's amazing to think a year ago I was watching a documentary about entrepreneurs like Nick Moon, Martin Fisher, and David Green, and now I'm chatting with them over coffee. I don't mean this in a namedropping sense, but more as a 'spread the love' message -- as Martin Yan (who was not here, but I love his cooking show - cut-em-up-cut-em-up-cut-em-up) says, "If Yan can cook, so can you!".

This theme, which Bill Drayton (founder of Ashoka) describes as 'everyone a changemaker', has been quite prevalent over the entire conference. Today, the panels were about how social entrepreneurs can interact with governments and with industry.

The overall theme of the government panel was that the social entrepreneurs happen to make great government workers as well by not changing their methodology or passions, and that with the right partnerships and innovative thinking, a lot can actually be done within the system.

The corporate panel (with representatives from DeutcheBank, Swiss Re, Boston Consulting Group, Ernst & Young, salesforce,com, and Microsoft) talked mostly about employee involvement programs, and how mobilizing employees toward social change helped retention. Salesforce.com has a bit more involvement, with a commitment to donate 1% of profits, 1% of product, and 1% of employee time to social causes. Overall, I was happy that it has moved a bit beyond Corporate Social Responsibility, but I don't quite see momentum in incorporating social goals into mainstream business yet.

I think the framework is there, and now that we are looking at business models within the DV fellowship, I can challenge myself to quantify social and financial returns in my model, whether that means teaching youth to create and then sell video IP or a consulting service, or some new model that will come to me in the car some morning.

Anyway, Guten Nacht from Zurich for now, and more blogging about the rest of my trip and some photos will be following soon.

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