Oct 19, 2018
Samantha Jones gave the last word at the Aotearoa Social
Enterprise Forum held on 19 October 2018 in Wellington. The
full transcript is typed below. She brought some truths to
the table that deserve to be heard such as "Leave ego behind.
If you really want to influence people let your actions speak
for themselves." This is a challenge for change and
action over complacency and not focussing on the image without the
substance to back it up. She also talks about how hard the
journey actually is which is something we don't do enough of.
I am releasing this less than 24 hours after she gave the
talk because I think it is important for all those who could not
make it to the conference to also hear this message and the many
challenges it contains. If you agree then consider sharing it
with others who would appreciate it.
Samantha is a previous podcast guest and her full journey is in
that episode here: http://seeds.libsyn.com/samantha-jones-on-sustainable-fashion-and-founding-little-yello-bird
More on Little Yellow Bird: https://www.littleyellowbird.co.nz
Here is the full transcript of what she said:
Tena tatou te whanau
As today draws to a close I hope that everyone here has
had the opportunity to learn, connect and be inspired by all the
amazing entrepreneurs and change makers that we have here in
But the challenge that I want to lay down now is for us
not to just talk about social enterprise but to focus on growing
effective organisations that are actually addressing and preventing
those issues that are so critical to our very survival.
As you might know social enterprises are all the rage at
the moment and it is tempting to try and apply social enterprise
thinking to almost any idea. But as we become more
sophisticated as a sector it is becoming increasingly important
that we not only understand who we are, but who we are not.
We need to understand which social enterprise solutions
actually make sense and are needed - what are the boundaries of
social enterprise - and how can we foster a culture that encourages
us all to learn from our own and each others mistakes. More
than ever before we need to move beyond that mythical and invisible
impact both in our personal lives and in the organisations we are
running. More of us should be asking, is this actually adding
value, or does it just spin a good story. Do we want
stainless steel straw companies with a side of social enterprise.
Or do we want organisations that are genuinely committed to
ending ocean plastic not just the tiny percentage that straws
The practise of social enterprise is often very different
from the stories that we tell and the truth is it is often hard
work. You are often judged not only on your business acumen
but also on the impact that you are making. Often by people
that don’t have much of an understanding on either of those things
themselves. I think most people expect it to be hard, and I
definitely don’t want to put anyone off - but what no one tells you
is that it continues to get harder. I kept thinking that when
Little Yellow Bird got to a certain size or a particular level of
turnover or reached a specific milestone that things would get
easier but they don’t. They do just keep getting harder.
But building a social enterprise teaches you a lot of
things. Most of all you learn about perseverance and how to
keep summoning that last iota of inspiration that carries you and
your team through each day. Things never get easier but you
do get better at dealing with it. So I hope today has been
filled with learning, inspiration and opportunities to scale your
impact whether this is in your own business, a corporate
organisation that you work for or in your own life. Each and
every one of us in this room has the power and the privilege to
scale their impact. So if you are just starting out on your
journey look at the small wins and easy transitions that can be
made immediately to start living more impactfully. Look at
those serial offenders and slowly start to remove each one from
your life. It might be disposable coffee cups this week,
plastic bags next week. Achievable goals so that the habit
But if this is already your normal how can you challenge
yourself and others to do more. Are you willing to transition
to a predominantly plant based diet, or utilise public transport
more or refuse all single use plastics? How many of us are
willing to stand here today that we care about climate change but
then drive home for a steak, or fly home across the country and
drink coffee from a disposable Air New Zealand cup. An even
easier solution is just to be more aware about what you are
consuming and how much waste we generate daily, weekly or even
yearly. Before buying things when did you last stop to think
whether you really needed it? If you don’t need it, don’t buy
it. This is the single most impactful thing that individuals
can do. It stops waste before it begins and it places
importance on quality products that will really last. Fast
moving consumer culture won’t exist in a sustainable world.
And society is running late to that train as the UN has
recently reminded us.
I’m not perfect at all of this and you don’t have to be
either. But it is just about continuous improvement. We
have talked a lot about social enterprise today. But it is
going to be completely meaningless if we do not transition from
talking about it to actually doing it. If we genuinely want
to solve some of these pressing issues - and I think everyone in
this room does - then we need to create the conditions in which
social enterprise and social enterprise thinking becomes the norm,
and fast. But I am likely preaching to the converted here and
so in order to achieve these changes at the scale and pace that we
so desperately need, we are going to have to take this conversation
beyond these walls. The mindset shift that is especially
needed in more traditional businesses. Imagine if everyone
attending this conference played a pivotal role in transforming one
existing business that they touch. How might this grow the
sector, and shape the future of Aotearoa for good?
There is much to do in order to achieve this and as social
enterprise leaders we need to be able to set good examples and
carve the path for others to follow in our footsteps. We need
to ensure that those painful roads that we have travelled are
easier journeys for those travelling along behind us. And we
have a duty to create the conditions whereby competitors can become
collaborators when we are working towards the same end goal.
To conclude I wanted to share some key pieces of advice
that I am lucky enough to have been given on my own social
Identify what winning looks like. To maximise impact
and minimise wasted effort you have to identify and understand
exactly where you are going and make sure that the people on your
journey understand it too.
Find the best people and set them free. Don’t work
with people that think like you. And ideally work with people
that think better than you.
Always set a clear vision but create the environment in
which others can dictate the path to get there and then celebrate
Leave ego behind. If you really want to influence
people let your actions speak for themselves. It is a
timeless adage and it still holds true today - if you are awesome
at something then you don’t need to tell everyone about it, because
they already know.
We all need to stop competing and telling the world about
the thing that we are doing so we can focus on the thing.
Speak up. People need to know two things - where you
stand on a topic, and where they stand with you.
Trust your gut, it is almost always right.
And finally, never underestimate the power a few committed
people to change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that