Beginner’s Pluck: Build Your Life of Purpose and Impact Now

(light upbeat music) – My name is Liz Forkin Bohannon and I am the author of Beginner’s Pluck. I’m also, my day job, is that
I am the CEO and co-founder of a socially conscious fashion
brand called Sseko Designs. About 10 years ago, after finishing my Master’s
degree in journalism, I moved to Uganda because
I wanted to learn more about the issues that were
facing women and girls living in extreme poverty and in conflict and post-conflict zones. Long story short, for the
purposes of this interview, you can read more about
this story in the book, I ended up meeting an
incredible group of young women in between high school and university that were academically
qualified to go onto college but couldn’t afford to do so. And so I started a charity
and then I shut that down and then I started a
chicken farm and that failed and I ended up designing
a pair of these funky, strappy sandals and I went to the school and hired three young women,
Mary, Mercy, and Rebecca, and promised these young women
that if they made sandals for the next nine months,
for their gap year during high school and university, that they would go to college in the fall. And they were like, okay. And I was like, okay! And came back home to the US
and started selling sandals out of the back of my
car, which is, you know, definitely what your
parents want you doing with your Master’s degree in journalism. And basically for the last 10 years, I have been building out best in class vertically integrated
manufacturing company in East Africa. We’ve enabled hundreds of female scholars to continue on to university. We’ve created full-time,
fair wage, dignified jobs for thousands of artisans
across the globe. And most recently we
have enabled thousands of primarily female entrepreneurs
here in the United States to start and grow and run
their own social enterprises. And through that process,
I have learned a lot about what it means and what it takes to build a life of purpose
and passion and impact that aligns with your deepest values but I’ve also become really hyper-aware of the ways in which our current culture, the kind of inspirational
Instagram motivation about dreaming big and
finding your passion and like you’re so special,
you just have to believe that and tap into it, is actually affecting us and I really believe that it’s creating a lot of fear and anxiety and
serious analysis paralysis. And so I wrote Beginner’s Pluck. I used kind of my story of
starting and growing this company as kind of the narrative
framework but it’s really about the 14 principles that I’ve
identified over the last decade that I believe are infinitely more helpful than kind of the standard
pop culture narrative that we’re getting right
now to help propel us into building really meaningful lives of purpose, and passion, and impact. (light upbeat music) Well, I open up the book,
principal number one is to own your average, which is pretty contrary to a
lot of the existing messages about you know like you’re super special, you’re probably smarter
than you think you are and you just have to realize
that and be confident. And I really challenge people that like the truth of the matter is,
like statistically speaking, this is how averages work, you’re probably pretty average, somewhere kind of in the
middle of the Bell curve. And that’s actually a remarkable thing to not only be able to
recognize but fully own. Because when we believe that
we’re probably pretty average, and this isn’t just from me
learning and seeing other people grow and be successful. There’s actually really solid
social science behind it. It actually allows us, we take more risks, we take on more challenging assignments, it really propels us more
towards a growth mentality than this really fragile
kind of protective ego space where we make a lot of our
decisions based off of fear and based off of protecting
our identity as you know very special achievers. And so I really encourage
people to own their average. We talk about dreaming small
and how important that is in a world that is constantly telling us like go dream big! That it’s actually the
way that we get big dreams in the first place is by
allowing ourselves to dream small and then actually doing something
about those small dreams and that in that process of
kind of momentum and creation and iterating and pivoting
that that is where we don’t find our passion
but we can build our passion, which is another principal of the book. That, it may sound like
just kind of semantics the difference between
finding and building but when you believe in
this idea that maybe someday you’ll find your passion,
there’s a bit of mystery and kind of luck that’s
involved with that. Like maybe I’ll have
the right conversation at the right time, open the right door, make the right decision and then I’ll kind of discover my passion. And what that does is that puts people in a really passive state. It’s a lot of kind of many reasons that I named
the book Beginner’s Pluck. But one of the reasons is because I think the notion of luck in
general is really harmful because it really kind
of puts us in this place where we think we need, we need to wait for lightning to strike as opposed to having a much more empowered and proactive stance
that literally everyone can build a meaningful life that aligns with their deepest values and that creates a beautiful
impact in the world. But you can only do that if
you believe that you can. And the other principles
are really teaching you exactly how to go about doing that. (light upbeat music) My core focus, frankly, is
still on running my company, on growing it, on growing the network
of impact entrepreneurs across the United States who
are running alongside of us to really run and scale our company. And so my hope is that this book really inspires a movement. We call them, it’s our, it’s
been really fun, actually, you know, the book just
launched a couple of weeks ago and we’ve already got
this community of people that refer to themselves as Pluckies. So we’ve got this community of Pluckies who are finding one another. We’ve got a Facebook
group that you can join that are sharing stories, sharing tips, really encouraging and
supporting one another kind of banding around these principles. And so my core goal, frankly, is continuing to like
run my company, grow it, build my own life of purpose
and passion and impact and invite people into that. And then through the book and the community that surrounds that really become a place
where other entrepreneurs, other artists, other dreamer-doers, and I’m really passionate
about the fact that this book isn’t just for entrepreneurs. I think it’s very
helpful for entrepreneurs who are just starting out or who, like me, are you know a decade into their career and needing kind of a
boost of like a fresh way to think about things. If you need people, I think
that this is going to be an incredibly helpful book for you but I also think it’s
really helpful for anybody who happens to be in a time of transition, so a recent college
graduate who’s like facing the kind of angst of like
oh, my gosh, what’s next? A stay at home mom who’s
like you know thinking about maybe transitioning
back into the workplace. As I mentioned, definitely a
leader who’s leading a team whether that’s at a
start-up or a corporation. And so my hope is, I’m going
to keep doing my thing, but I hope that the community
that surrounds the book, the book itself, really creates
a community of encouragement and inspiration for people
to run their own races. (light upbeat music)

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