For the past year or so, I’ve been attending a local meeting of the Woodstock Business Conference. I was excited to meet Peter Lorenzi, professor of management at Loyola, not only because he was from Buffalo-but because like me, he was passionate about Social Entrepreneurship.
Peter teaches a Social Entrepreneurship class to mostly graduating seniors at Loyola. A few months ago Peter asked me if I’d be interested in coming in to talk to his classes about my experiences. Of course I said yes! One of the big reasons I became a Social Entrepreneur was because of an entrepreneurship class I took at Loyola as part of my MBA program. Taught by Jeffrey Robinson, the entrepreneurship class was a practical class where teams wrote and pitched businesses plans. My team chose my idea to pursue-Dulces Vegan Bakery. It was a great, confidence building experience that helped me realize some important things: 1) Business can do a lot of good (social entrepreneurship) 2) I wanted to be in control of my own destiny 3) I had the drive and skills to become a business owner. Each of these realizations was somewhat shocking to me-shocking but also totally exciting!
I headed over to Sellinger Hall on Tuesday morning to talk to the students about my path to Social Entrepreneurship. I know there are stories of entrepreneurs starting out in their bedrooms/garages when they were teenagers (or earlier). There are folks that say they never thought of doing anything else but owning their own business. That wasn’t me. Clearly. I came to Social Entrepreneurship slowly….unexpectedly. Lots of experiences in my first 35 years in life set me up for it when I look back-a childhood where service and commitment to your community was expected, becoming vegetarian, a Jesuit education which emphasized service for others, a stint in the JVC, years working and living in low income communities in San Francisco, an MBA from Loyola, a desire to make a difference and a desire to to my own thing. Funny how all of those things prepared me for LoCoFlo.
The classes went well. A few students spoke with me after class. One student, who’s boyfriend owned a floral shop in NYC was excited to call him after the class to tell him about the talk and “make him stop using floral foam” (we’re converting people everywhere!). Another student was on the board of the environmental club on campus and was interested in having us come talk to their group.
I hope the students took from my talk that anyone can become a social entrepreneur. You just need an idea you love and the drive to pursue it.