TDi’s Reading Guide

Annie, CEO – Annie is a perfectly primed systems-challenger, with experience in starting businesses, community leadership, impact-investing, and commercial business.

I have many favourite reading resources.  I’m thankful that we live in a time where information and ideas can be so freely shared.  I’ve chosen Reinventing Organisations by Frederic Laloux. I remember when I first read this about 2.5 years ago it awakened and gave language to a stack of idea I’d been playing with.  I remember thinking “this is great, but is it really possible?”

TDi has begun its ‘teal journey’ and we have a long way to go, but I now not only believe it is possible but it is the future. We’ll be left behind without this type of thinking and practice.

  

Liv, Principal – Liv leads TDI’s Australian business, bringing an entrepreneurial ‘hack’ and spiritual lens to everything she does, and has an ability to instantly connect with our partners.

How to Lead a Quest: a handbook for pioneering executives by Jason Fox – this book combines entrepreneurial Hutzpah with big systems thinking.  I love that it enables genuine delivery around new strategic thinking.  So often great ideas fail to translate properly to the management plan.

 

 

 

 

Anna, Principal – Anna leads TDi’s business in the Pacific, approaching everything she does with curiosity, generosity and professionalism which means she takes our partners to thoughtful, impactful, long-lasting solutions.

Ripples from the Zambezi was recommended to Annie and I by an Australian farmer, living and working in Vanuatu.  We were sitting under the shade of his verandah trying to translate our work into his context, when he interjected and asked if we’d read Ernesto Sirolli’s book.  Turns out we shared a lot more in common than we’d thought.  Since that time, I’ve recommended this book to everyone who is curious about good development and unintended consequences in social change.

 

 

Isaac, Senior Consultant – as our ‘facilitator extraordinaire’, Isaac has a metaphor, case study, quote, or book reference for any situation an entrepreneur is facing.

Mine is The War of Art by Steven Pressfield.

A lot of my favourite authors said that this was their favourite book, and they weren’t kidding – it’s a gem.  This book will make you uncomfortable in a good way, and teaches you how to get difficult things done.  When people start to lose momentum in their startup, this is the book I buy them.

 

 

Carlo, Senior Consultant – with a varied history in human resources and operations, Carlo is equal parts passion and profession, and he works closely and genuinely with our partners.

My favourite reading resource at the moment is the Stanford Social Innovation Review – an incredible magazine and blog rather, than a book.  Given my masters, I tend to struggle to sit down with a book at the moment, and so the SSIR is my go to source for cross-sector solutions to global problems and an inspiring world view of the social impact ecosystem.

At TDi we make a conscious decision to see the strengths in systems rather than focusing on the deficiencies and viewing them as challenges or problems. We refer to this as an assets approach. What some people might see as ‘problems’ we view as opportunities to design more creatively and innovatively.

This latest article from SSIR is a wonderful example of why this approach is so powerful for our international and local work:  https://ssir.org/articles/entry/cocreating_with_the_base_of_the_pyramid#

 

Shannon, Platforms Manager – the whole world could be collapsing, and Shannon would keep her cool, which is why she keeps the TDi ship running tight.

Mine is Brene Brown’s Dare to Lead… no surprises there probably!  I’ve been following Brene Brown and her various books and talks for some years now, mainly from a personal perspective post having children. I apply her techniques and learnings everyday at home as well as at work.

When her latest book, Dare to Lead came out, I was quick to grab it. Her tips around vulnerability in the workplace, ‘Paint Done’ and giving and receiving feedback are so practical and useful. We are now implementing them as common practise at TDi.

 

 

Erin, Consultant – with a natural inclination to understand ‘why’ and connect with people, Erin is good at getting to the root cause of problem or finding lateral opportunities.

I’ve had to narrow it down to a top two.  Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahnerman and Deep Work by Cal Newport.

Thinking Fast and Slow is about how our brain works when we make decisions, which is both interesting to understand, and has also been SO helpful in my work.  Navigating human behaviour is the hardest part of any job, but especially when trying to understand why more people aren’t socially and environmentally conscious.  I believe that this book is key to helping unlock social and environmental change at scale, through change in behaviour at scale.

 

I like Deep Work because it presents a work practice that resonates with me in our increasingly distracting world.  I have implemented the tips in this book to great benefit of my work output.

 

Ash, Associate – a proud Aboriginal woman and passionate about working for her people and country, Ash is our cultural conduit and an incredibly passionate program manager.

A Short History of Progress by Ronald Wright. It was a lecture series on societal collapse that travelled across 5 Canadian cities. I know from my own personal experience that when you make the same mistake more than once, you start to look at new ways to do business, this applies to life as well. This book is a great example of how we should learn from history and ensure our society doesn’t meet the same fates.  It asks us questions that I face every day working in social enterprises and Indigenous Affairs – Where do we come from? What are we? and most importantly, where are we going?

 

 

Elisa, Bookkeeper and Executive Assistant – Elisa uses equal parts heart and mind in her work which make her a grounding force for the TDi team.

I first read Utopian Man many years ago, but it sticks in my mind still today.  It’s a fictional telling of the life of E.W. Cole, the mind behind Melbourne’s famous Cole’s Book Arcade (which operated from 1883-1929).  I think he is a great example of ‘Do good and make money’.

His arcade sounds like a place of wonder, with a fernery, musical band, confectionery stalls, monkeys and over two million books all offered at fair prices because he wanted to create an inviting place that everyone could access, not just the wealthy.  However, as a practical man, he made his money from his printing press (which he also used to print thought leadership pieces).

 

I’ve read elsewhere about how he was able to connect to people through emotion and sincerity which is why he was able to influence. So, I like that he influenced people to think differently through wonderment.  If I had a time machine, I would love to go back and see the arcade!

Flexible and responsive coaching is key to sustaining women’s economic empowerment during a crisis

While each business owner faces their own set of challenges in response to the uncertainty and upheaval of COVID-19, we are observing a series of consistent coaching requirements emerge.

When life gives you lemons… pivot your business model

Nemika Brunton is based in Alotau, Papua New Guinea.  We met her during the YuMi Tourism Partners Pilot program.  The program addressed starting small, testing and learning, and how to adapt and respond to market needs.  These lessons have certainly helped Nemika shift her business focus in response to COVID-19. Tourism is a key industry for the town and many of the local businesses were tourism based.  So, the impact of COVID-19 hit the town hard.  Many locals – including Nemika – have adapted quickly to totally new businesses and customers.

Supporting Social Enterprise during COVID-19

Following a tumultuous year of bushfires, COVID-19 and recent floods in Southern NSW, lots of small businesses and the families and communities they serve, are doing it tough.  One way we’ve seen people showing their support for these local businesses is through the #shoplocal #shopvictoria and #buyfromthebush movements.  We’ve been inspired by this and wanted to share a #shopsocialenterprise guide based on some of the businesses we’ve been working with over the last 18 months.

Resilience, at what cost?

Over the past six months we as a team have navigated our own business and helped hundreds of others to do the same. We went from having a clear business model and ready to write our best year ever to having nothing as certain and many parts of our own business model under threat.

Finding motivation to continue business during COVID-19

As the current economic climate evolves with COVID-19, we have been sharing some perspective from both our own work and the continual conversations and support we’re offering others. Initially, we shared a metaphor about what this first felt like – like our house was...

Pivoting during COVID: responses from Fiji

Recently, we caught up with Deb Sadranu at Essence of Fiji to see how things are going for her, her business, and Fiji in the face of COVID-19.  Tourism is a key industry for Fiji, and Essence of Fiji usually serves the tourists. As a result of COVID-19, Deb’s whole business model has pivoted from predominantly local, in-store sales, to predominantly international, online sales.

A letter to my daughter about Black Lives Matter and racial inequality

Dear Willow,  I’m writing to you because I want to share some rumblings in my gut that have troubled me.  You are at an age now, where it is time for you to step into a conversation that for us as Australians is long overdue. I have tried to teach you about love,...

Why mindset matters to women’s entrepreneurship and why we should invest in it, especially now

At The Difference Incubator (TDi) we’ve been supporting social entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses for over a decade. In 2019 we partnered with PNG Women’s Business Resource Centre and Kate Wilson from Kamaji Tree Consulting and Coaching, with the support...

Customer Empathy Interviewing

When was the last time you asked your customers what they thought? We use Customer Empathy Interviews to help businesses deeply understand their customers and design competitive products and services. It’s also been one of our top coaching tips for business owners...

Pivoting your business model during a crisis

A conversation with Geert from FarmWallGeert Hendrix founded FarmWall in 2016. Farmwall is an agrifood-tech startup that designs urban farming technology and experiences to enhance fresh produce accessibility in the city. In our constantly developing world, the need...