The Learning Log – an introduction

Picture by Zitona

I’m subscribed to newsletters and blog feeds from at least 10 different sources – Seth Godin’s blog, SmartBrief on Social Media, Reel Chicago,, SGEntrepreneurs, Daily Worth and PSFK are just some of them. I love the process of learning and discovery, and often wish I could spare the time to read them all, but I sometimes find myself overwhelmed with the battle to keep a somewhat organized inbox.

Maybe it’s my insatiable hunger for more knowledge, or maybe it’s that sense of satisfaction from knowing I just did something to better my life. Either way, I see the same pattern emerge when it comes to books. A peek on my shelf will reveal a good mix of marketing, social behavior, entrepreneurship and green books, half of which I’ve not read. (it’s like that queue that just keeps growing)

I’m a slow reader. No wait, scratch that. I read at an average speed, but my mind wanders every time a line in the book sparks an idea or gives me inspiration. I often find myself trying to imagine a way to apply that brilliant last line I’d just read to my life, and get carried away. And even though I wouldn’t call that a bad thing, it’s the difficulty I face trying to recall that great lesson I learned the day before that irks me. I think idea journals were made for people with very adventurous minds but short-term memories, like me.

And then I thought… why not share these crazy thoughts in my head? Pen them down, so I don’t forget, and share them. They might serve as a catalyst for even more ideas! (Oh, the power of collaboration.) And so I’ve decided to start The Learning Log, a weekly reflection on something I learned through reading newsletters/blogs/books.

I’m hoping these will touch something within you, and maybe even send your mind running wild too! We’ll share and discuss, and laugh and learn. Oh, what fun there is to come! Stay tuned. :)

The 2009 SVN Innovation Awards

If you were the founder of a socially responsible business that’s still in its early years, what would some of the most valuable resources to you be?

Would it be having an experienced mentor to guide you through building that strong foundation and avoiding common mistakes?

Would it be getting prominent promotion on a website that’ll be viewed by many other leaders of social ventures for increased recognition?

Would it be gaining access to a network of like-minded individuals where you gain tremendous opportunity for collaboration?

How about all of the above? Sound good to you? That’s what the winners of the SVN Innovation Awards 2009 received. Take a peek at how things went at the ceremony where we celebrated the next generation of inspiring leaders.

Produced by Conscious Planet Media

So here’s the good news. You have the opportunity to be a part of it all next year. Details on applying for the 2010 awards will go up on the SVN website. I don’t qualify for them yet, but if you do, it’s definitely worth a shot. I don’t work for the Social Venture Network, but the time I spent at their last conference was a truly positive experience for me. And well, good things should be shared! :)

To read more about this year’s winners, click here.

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Filming at the Social Venture Network Conference

My trip to La Jolla, CA last week to film at the Social Venture Network Conference was both tiring svnlogoand inspiring. Thanks to Conscious Planet Media, who were visionary sponsors of the event, my fellow filmmaker Karl and I had the chance to fly there to cover the event. I knew, from editing footage of their last conference back in Spring, that it was going to be an extraordinary experience brimming with opportunities to talk to and learn from some of the accomplished people in the world of socially responsible business. I was simply bursting with excitement!

We hopped onto the 5.30am flight from O’Hare and hit the ground running bright and early as soon as we touched down in San Diego. I was blown away by the beauty of the Estancia, La Jolla as our cab pulled up in front of the lobby and we were greeted by their friendly staff. And yes, hello 70-degree weather! ;) But as much as I’d have loved to enjoy the resort, we had a lot of setting up to do. We whipped out our lights, set up both cameras – one on a riser, the other on a spiderpod – and ran a sound check. All set and ready to go!

evan shapiroSpeaking at the opening address that night was Evan Shapiro, president of IFC tv and the Sundance Channel, who spoke of why diversity in the workplace is essential for sustainability. I like how he takes this challenge on by working with students. “When you are hungry you can’t go plant a seed,” said Evan, indicating that we can’t wait till we post job openings to start looking. The key is to start instilling an interest in your future workforce when they’re still young. When we had the opportunity to tell him about how we wanna create positive social change with our media and asked how we might extend our reach, his advice was that we needed to make our stuff entertaining. Entertain your audience first, then feed them the socially conscious message second. Hmm. Shall keep that in mind for future projects.

The breakout session with Amy Goodman, news journalist and host of the award winning news amy goodmanoutlet Democracy Now!, was also very relevant to what we do. She spoke about the importance of having independent media because we are too often denied the truth when we watch media funded by oil companies or other big corporations that play gatekeepers for what gets reported. True that, Amy! Independent media companies like CPM, who’s extremely careful about the message we put out and what kind of companies sponsor our events to make sure we stick to the mission. All in all a great session! Glad her new book, Breaking the Sound Barrier, came free in our goodie bags. Shall look forward to learning from it. Even though i was able to get in close proximity to her because i hadta put a lavalier mic on her, she couldn’t stop to chat as she was whisked away quickly outside to avoid the big crowd jostling to meet her.

arianna huffingtonThe keynote speaker for the event was Arianna Huffington, the co-founder of The Huffington Post, who’s also written 12 books. She was a lady of intelligence and grace, and spoke with a fiery passion against what bothered her most about things going on in the mainstream media. She ridiculed the amount of coverage that was given to balloon boy, saying “create a giant balloon & put all the homeless children in there. Then, the media will care.” She stayed on briefly after the speech to talk to people, but politely turned down my interview request, saying that she had to leave soon because her daughter was sick. I respect that though… with a schedule like hers where she’s speaking in a different state at different events almost everyday, it’s no wonder she had to rush off. When i asked an SVN organizer how early they had to book Arianna to come speak, she said it was more than a year in advance. Woah.

Also pretty awesome was the SVN Innovation Award Ceremony where 5 winners were selected from a pool of emerging enterprise leaders for their great work. Read more about the winners here.

All in all, it was a tremendous learning experience for me. It’s incredibly humbling just being in the same room as 300 of the world’s movers and shakers. I cannot wait to edit a great video from the footage we’ve gathered. And I definitely hope for the opportunity to return to the next SVN Conference! :)