Set a timer. Think back to the last time you listened to an absolutely fantastic, engaging and insightful panel. What was the topic of the conversation? What did you learn? How did you implement what you learned?

This exercise might take a minute.

Now I want you to think back to the last three to five conferences you attended, possibly online, and list how many of the panel discussions you listened to made you grab your phone and start scrolling, doodle on your notebook and do whatever else it took to keep you from sliding off your chair as your eyes roll back in your head and a long groan escapes you on the way down. …

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Kansas City, cradle of the ESHIP Summit


“Storytelling plays a noble and historic role in society. Stories can give us a narrative to guide and instruct us. They are crucial in our knowing who we are; they provide a sense of identity. Some stories, however, become the limitation to creating anything new… We need to distinguish between the stories that give meaning to our lives and help us find our voice, and those that limit our responsibility.” (Block, 2018, p. 35)

Until I picked up “Community. The structure for belonging” by Peter Block, storytelling was merely my way of contributing: something I was good at and really enjoyed doing. It is my way of processing, so on the page it goes. With the insights from Peter Block, I gained a whole new appreciation for storytelling not just as a way of communicating, but as the foundation for building identity in an emerging movement of what we have come to call entrepreneurial ecosystem building. …

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With every interview I run, every book I read, every conversation I have about entrepreneurial ecosystem building — the puzzle pieces before me take on a life of their own. What seemed in order and matter-of-fact begins to change color, shape and form, to levitate. So I write. I force the pieces onto the page to keep them in place. Just long enough to connect to one another, make a new kind of sense to build a different type of narrative. A New narrative for a New Majority*.

Our language of ecosystem building does not sit well with some of the antiquated speak of competition, corporate attraction and business retention. I am well aware. And I don’t care. With all due respect. Old schoolers have held the rusty chains of economic development long enough. …


Ecosystem builder for social change. Founder at www.socialventurers.com Meet me over at www.anikahorn.com for all things social enterprise!

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