It’s been two weeks since I posted my 2012 “holiday blog” and emailed my holiday greetings.
It started off as just an email, but nothing puts a person off more than a long email. So I turned it into a blog post so that people can opt to click to it or not.
However, I had a niggle. I tried to put the main highlights of the year in the blog post, but truth be told, my 2012 recap is actually five pages long. Even at five pages it falls short to truly capture what the year has been like for me and the development of Pique Ventures. And this is the dilemma that we face, particularly for social entrepreneurs and businesses in the impact investing space. How do we communicate a complex experience? For that is what impact is – a complex experience. What we end up doing is trying to measure impact or tell a story about impact. Better yet, if you can experience impact.
The past year, developing Pique Ventures has been a journey of self-discovery as I figured out what I enjoyed doing, who I wanted to serve, who trusts me, what they trust me to do, and what sets me apart from others. My biggest advice to entrepreneurs, job-seekers, advisors, anyone really – reflect on what people will trust you to do and what sets you apart – then go and do it.
I experienced quite a few “no’s” and a few “you should do x“. I received enough positive feedback and “you’re onto something” to keep moving forward and seek out the right business model and discover my customers: from a peer due diligence model (à la Village Capital) to advisor to women investors to investor network to consultant to workshop deliverer to registered portfolio manager to venture capital fund and back again. Everytime I got a “no”, I took it in as feedback – no, not that over there, but maybe this over here.
I thought people didn’t want an advisor for angel investments. What I learned is that it depended upon who I asked and it depended from where I asked. Ask from the beginning place of nothing and it’s easier for people to say no or maybe. Ask from the place of a network of investors and entrepreneurs and people might say yes.
In July 2012, I sketched out the investment ecosystem I’m in, to help me focus on the part of the ecosystem Pique Ventures represents, whilst being mindful of the other parts. Other parts require relationships with collaborators or are things for me to work towards building in the future. I would mention “a fund, but that’s later”. By the end of 2012, later might be now.
The biggest changes in my life and career path have happened because I did things that I believed were things other people did. But I believed that only for a split second. Move to London, England after graduating from university? That was something other people did. I did it in 1999. Become an investment banker? Something other people did. I did that in 2003 until 2007. Do a ski instructors’ course and be a seasonnaire? Again, something other people did. Done and done in Argentina’s winter of 2008 and the French Alps in their winter of 2009. Start an investor network and a fund for women investors, investing in women, in an integrated way? Er, something other people do? You can see where this one is likely to go…
I was asked many times along the way, “why are you doing what you’re doing?” I don’t have one answer. I don’t have a “right answer” (I answered this question recently and someone actually told me I was so close, but wrong (??)) I’m doing this because my parents took a huge risk immigrating to Canada in the late 1960s, with very little money and barely speaking English. They took the risk because they had a vision for a better future for themselves and the family they went on to create. Everytime I think about this it makes me cry. In my mind, my parents epitomize the idea of serving others. They sacrificed so much, rarely thinking about themselves. Everything they did, they did for me and my older sister so that we could get a good education and get good jobs (funnily enough, I don’t have a job and am building a business and my sister is a full-time parent. Still, I think we both turned out okay and my parents can be proud). Now it is my turn to take a big risk to act on a vision for a better future for myself, my family, my neighbours, and my community.
Why else am I doing this? I want to create a place where people are rewarded for taking a more relationship-focused human approach to investing. I want people to be recognized and rewarded for building good relationships with colleagues and members of the community. I want to create a place where people don’t treat investing, business, and life in general like a game. Because it is not. If you treat it like a game you will get things like human rights infringements and environmental degradation because in the game, you forget that you’re dealing with real people and a living planet on which you’re dependent. Treat it like a game and you will get conflict, vanity metrics, and increasing inequality. I am approaching investing with gender lens and am creating a place where investing is like taking care of the village.