August 6, 2013

The Value of Fun

by Alexander Hadik

Alexander Hadik '15 is a Starr Fellow living in Providence working on A Better World by Design

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Entrepreneurship is a famously demanding career, which is why for successful entrepreneurs, it’s not a career, it’s a life style. For social entrepreneurs, this life style stands to be even more all-consuming. After all, your minimum viable product isn’t just defined by how much a user likes it, but also by its social impact. That’s a hefty call to action and the reason that social entrepreneurship isn’t a 9 to 5 summer job. It’s a 24/7 initiative for your entire team.

It takes a true team that’s worth more than the sum of its parts to keep up the 24/7 pace. No matter how productive each individual is, there’s no match for a team with a sense of empathy and compassion for each other. The Better World by Design committee has learned that first hand since its beginning six years ago. This year, we took care to make sure that beyond the meetings, emails and phone calls, there was a common bond; a friendship with a social mission. Now, with our committee spread around the world, our smaller groups in Providence and New York City are getting together, hitting the town and hitting the road. We’re keeping the social impact fresh with a little good old fashioned fun. For the crew here in Providence, we decided to get out of the city and head north, to my family’s house in Maine for a weekend.

I never thought I’d see a ZipCar with Rhode Island plates parked in my driveway at home, but there it was on a Friday night after a three hour drive. Saturday, we adventured to Monhegan Island, 12 miles off the coast of Maine, for a day of hiking and exploring the tallest cliffs in Maine. We capped it off with a swim in a hidden glacial pond and a lobster bake over a roaring fire in our back yard. In a single 48 hour ZipCar rental, we covered good ground and had a quintessential Maine weekend. But the travel dairy isn’t the important part.

The real benefit of the getaway is obvious in the picture of our group smiling on the front stoop with my mother and our loving dog Lady. For the Better World by Design Providence Outpost, we had a 48 hour long trust fall. We trusted Jeff with the road trip playlist (good choice) and Keela with her first lobster. More importantly, we returned to Providence a team forged in the fires of Boston traffic and refreshed by the ocean air of the Vacation State. We came back ready to pick up where we left off with renewed enthusiasm, having spent a weekend actively avoiding email and our To-Do lists. I have no doubt the progress we’ve made since then is in part thanks to the smiles seen on our front stoop, and the bag of freshly picked peas stuck under Keela’s arm.

As important as full commitment to your mission is, the value of a balanced lifestyle and cliche team bonding can’t be over estimated. As Richard Branson of Virgin Group advises, take a break and put business to the back of our mind - but not out of it. Be it while riding the downward swell of an Atlantic wave, or jumping ten feet down into a lake, vacations serve as more than a break from work. They serve to refocus the mind and place problems in a new light. Taking a breather along with your team only magnifies the benefits. So give it a try. Gather the group; set those vacation responders; push off into the summer. Inspiration won’t be far behind.

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