How many of you think the world can be a better place? How many of you have an idea about how to do that but have not implemented it? Wokie Nwabueze asked these questions to kick off October’s Emerging Women Live panel Movement Makers: Amplifying Vision, Voice and Influence to Change the World, and was answered by a room full of raised hands.
When we live with our ears to the ground, Wokie said, we get ideas that would absolutely improve quality of life for a group, a community, the planet. But we get afraid of that idea, thinking “Who am I to start a movement?”
We at Emerging Women have a favorite quote, from Move The Crowd founder Rha Goddess: “We are moving out of the age of the celebrity and into the age of the citizen.” That means we don’t have to wait for Angelina Jolie to start a movement. We can do it ourselves. We must – now more than ever.
To dig into the how, Wokie interviewed Joan Blades, founder of MoveOn.org and MomsRising.org, and Vicki Saunders, founder of SheEO and #radicalgenerosity. What did we learn?
1. Put it out there.
In 1998, Joan Blades sent a one sentence political petition to less than 100 friends, and it went viral. Within days the petition had hundreds of thousands of signatures. For the first time in history, an online petition broke into and helped transform the national conversation. Joan realized that online organizing had the potential to disrupt and fundamentally alter the course of our democracy. The signers of Joan’s petition became MoveOn’s first members, and a powerful movement of millions was born.
Vicki Saunders believes in socializing ideas. At a networking event, she’ll say, “I have this super crazy idea. Imagine this. Would you do it?” When she applied this tactic to SheEO, she realized it resonated in a big way. Though she had been running from the idea for 20 years, she couldn’t ignore the response she got when she put it out there. In 2013, she launced the website and quickly raised $500,000 to invest in women-led businesses.
2. No more guru.
Echoing Rha Goddess, Vicki pointed out that we’re living in a post-hero world. “It’s going to take all of us to change this world,” she said, “so don’t follow a guru. Follow the energy. If there’s something resonant in your idea, it becomes an uncontollable force. Don’t try to control it. Let it go, and that’s when you’ll really see it take off.” Vicki allows SheEO Activators to invest directly in businesses they feel passionate about. By giving women the power to invest in ideas they personally believe in, SheEO emboldens everyone involved – no guru necessary.
Joan embodied the no-guru rule by cultivating an agile team with outstanding ability to listen to and serve MoveOn’s membership. “They don’t need me – they’re incredible,” Joan said. She surrounded herself with good people she loved and respected, and who were aligned with a shared purpose. That gave the movement great collective power to grow and prosper, in service to the community and not just the leadership. She now serves on the MoveOn’s Board of Directors, and is free to found new movements like the much needed MomsRising and the especially timely Living Room Conversations.
3. Start with relationship.
“Design an experience for people to be in relationship together,” said Vicki. In SheEO’s model, women fall in love with the kinds of things they want to put their capital towards as a kind of gateway for falling in love with investing itself. Without that relationship, SheEO wouldn’t have the magic that makes it work.
“People are ready to pay for what they value,” Joan said. The key is deep listening to what the people want, and the ability to serve and facilitiate those desires. “We’d just say, ‘Do you want to do this?’ And they’d say yes and we’d have the money to do it!” When you allow people to choose what they’re passionate about and how they want to be involved, they will happily supply the resources you need to take action.
A final thought from Wokie to sum it all up? “You allowed the idea to be surrendered to community,” igniting the alchemy that transforms good ideas into massive movements. “We don’t have to take a hero’s journey. We can take a heroine’s journey and do it with community.”
Are you a Movement Maker? We’d love to hear about your expereince in the comments. And if you want to make deep connections with other women ready to make waves in the world, join us at Emerging Women Live 2017 in Denver, CO.