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Making the first great leap –

A dispatch from Courage Day

Is there such thing as an entrepreneurial gene? A part of your DNA that makes you more intrepid, optimistic, and willing to embrace risk? So it would seem—according to countless thinkpieces from all corners of the internet, at least. But we at the DO School have spent some time thinking about entrepreneurship, too. And while we haven’t exactly analysed the chromosomes of our participants and Fellows, we can say for sure that to be a successful entrepreneur, you need the right set of skills—skills that can be learnt. Yet, there is something else you need; something both vital and elusive: Courage.

On the 15th of June, it was finally time for the Fellows of our Future of Work Challenge to gather up their courage regarding their venture plans. What was maybe only a fledging social business idea a few weeks back has now matured into a fully-formed pitch—one that was ready to be put “out there.” So it was with much excitement and a little bit of nervousness that our Fellows embarked on Courage Day, during which they presented their pitches to renowned experts from fields as diverse as brand strategy, sustainability, leadership training, and the arts. To make sure that each Fellow got the most out of their three scheduled sessions, Venture Lab Director Phillip worked his magic behind the scenes, making sure that each Fellow got to speak to someone from a relevant field.

Predictably, our Fellows got a lot of practical, hands-on advice. Experts helped them refine their value propositions, tackle tricky logistics questions or identify and patch up holes in their brand and product stories. But there was more, too: Courage Day is always a great opportunity for experts and Fellows to build lasting relationships, and to profit from inspiration that works both ways. And sometimes, it turns out, the best advice on how to push your venture to the next level isn’t always about something “practical.” Like courage itself, sometimes the advice you need resides in the domain of emotion.

“One of the experts I sat with, Kim, really got to the point within seconds,” says Alifiya, a Fellow from Sri Lanka who is in the process of building an online hub for creatives and designers from Colombo. “She put her finger right at the issue that I’ve been struggling with—that I’ve been thinking about my venture only with my head. But Kim saw immediately that I needed to start thinking with my heart again in order to build a vision that has the potential to inspire people and to make a difference.” With courage and such great advice, we’re confident that Alifiye and her fellow Fellows are poised and ready to get their ventures off the ground!