Intelligence and Compassion in Action: The 7 Pillars for Social Entrepreneurs
by Lauren Speeth MBA, DBA, DMin
Elfenworks Productions LLC

"It is time to alter the way we operate. I consider it important and possible to be both rational and systematic in making a transformational difference on large-scale problems."

Basing her idealistic view of social entrepreneurship on lessons learned from President Jimmy Carter, non-profit business activist Lauren Speeth has created a methodology that she believes can change the way businesses are initiated, run, and maintained. Carter, noted for his involvement in charitable initiatives, offered her seven suggestions for selecting among a variety of projects: (1) keep your vision, (2) use your special skills, (3) fill a gap, (4) cultivate partnerships, (5) share credit, (6) create a feedback loop, and (7) look at the long term from the beginning. The author decided the term "pillars" usefully symbolized these seven principles; in this step-by-step overview, she demonstrates the broader meaning and practicality within each pillar. Pillar Three, for example, centers on "non-duplication"—if someone is already successfully doing what you wanted to do, look for another way to fill a need instead of merely copying others. Partnerships and sharing the credit go hand in hand; feedback keeps you alert and honest, as well open to making needed adjustments. Going forward to sustainability may mean being prepared for "bumps" on the road.

The author has organized her guidebook well, combining wisdom from The Carter Center, small non-profit organizations, and religious sources including Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity. In a later portion of the book, she makes a lengthy parallel between President Carter's seven suggestions and the eight Beatitudes delivered by Jesus, while making it clear that Carter did not intend such a comparison. Speeth supplies links to the charities cited in the book. She urges those for whom her ideas may seem too difficult to incorporate them gradually: "With total commitment, I have found it is possible to really be effective using the Seven Pillar Methodology." Those contemplating start-up of projects designed to help others will be heartened by Speeth's manual.

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