We talk with Frederico Fezas-Vital about the social innovation methodology to solve problems and Social Entrepreneurship.
He started his professional career as a lawyer, then worked in private banking and became a serial entrepreneur with diverse social success projects. Discover in this ATLAK:
Nowadays, we face several challenges, from climate threats to social challenges related to this climate emergency. These challenges can only be solved through collaboration and through systemic change.
Know in this ATLAK what are the critical aspects of this systemic change to happen.
Joana Alves, Co- Founder at APLANET, interviewed Frederico Fezas for this ATALK. You can find the full transcript of their conversation below.
|Welcome to ATALKS where sustainability has a voice. We have created this space at APLANET so that we can discuss the most important sustainability hot topics. And for that we interview relevant sustainability professionals from different sectors and different geographies so that they can share their experience with us. And today, we are delighted to have Frederico Fezas-Vital from Portugal with us as a guest.|
And to introduce our guest speaker, Frederico started his professional career by being a lawyer, then worked in private banking and became a serial entrepreneur. In 2009, Federico received the Citizenship Award due to his social entrepreneurship project, Terra dos Soños and he was recognized as a high potential social entrepreneurship project. In 2016, he created a shocker in Portugal where he was a responsible for education programs and the director of Changemaker skills for Portugal. In the end of 2017, he became CEO of Junior Achievement Portugal, which is the biggest organization in the world in entrepreneurial education. And additionally, he has been an adjunct professor of social entrepreneurship and social innovation at Catholic Lisbon School for the past five years, and he’s now the executive director of the Yunus Social Innovation Center. He describes himself as being passionate and obsessed in a good way, with impact and positive change. Fredrico, thank you so much for being with us here today. It’s a pleasure to have you here.
|Frederico Fezas||Thank you, thank you. Thank you so much for having invited me, and I hope this is going to be a very good and useful conversation for everyone who’s listening.|
|Joana||I’m sure, I’m sure it will. And Frederico, I want to start our conversation by the beginning so we have something in common because you also started your professional journey by becoming a lawyer. So my first question is what has made you want to become a lawyer in the 1st place and what were the main reasons that made you want to make this big shifts to become a serial entrepreneur?|
|Frederico||Well, that’s a big question actually. I think that this is one of the dramas that we all, as young people have when we’re deciding what we want to be as we grow up.|
Not all of us. I mean, not the majority of us, at least I think has very defined in their heads what they want to be when they’re adults, right? So I didn’t actually remember wanting to be a lawyer. But of course, there are a lot of circumstances and variables that have influence on those critical decisions that you have to make in your teenage stage of life.
And for me, what worked in my, you know, my decision process was one hand, of course, the family background. I had a very strong family background on law. So I have a great grandfather, he was the author of one of the Portuguese constitutions.
I had another one who was a very famous ambassador. He was ambassador in London during the Second World War and my grandfather was also had a degree in law. The other grandfather was an ambassador in the United Nations. So you see, I had a very strong background in law and that of course we’ve had what are the chances that in the future I have to have be successful in whatever I choose the decision of law was one of them, but there was a part of the decision that was based on who I am really, and not the circumstance where I grew. It has to do with my personality, I think, and the traits that somehow define my personality. And there’s one part of my personality that was always really strong and that was the sense of justice, at least in a relative way, because the justice is a relative concept, of course, what’s just for me. It’s not necessarily just for you, but it’s justice for you. But I had a very strong sense of justice, and I really thought that through, you know, exercising law and learning and using law to bring justice to the world would be something that would be viable for me and that would somehow be gratifying.
What really happens? And I’m, you know, I’m going to elaborate a bit on this. What really happened was that I had the degree in law and it was actually very interesting path because I think that the way that law people think and the tools that are given to you are of course applicable in very different set of circumstances and contexts in life, namely the way that you know on the course of law, they know how to discuss struck reality and then construct it again in a different creative way that brings a new reality into what you had before. And when you talk about sustainability and changing social, social change, that kind of reasoning, it’s very useful and I think it was very useful. But then when I started practicing them, I was a business law and there was one thing of being a business law that was really hard for me because when you are a business law, it’s not about, you know, bringing justice to the world. It’s about defending domestic and the interests of your clients. And that’s nothing wrong with it. It’s just not what I wanted, you know. So I started to feel a bit delusion about my chances to change, to change the world through law. Although I think now that I’m an adult that I’ve very and very, you know, a very wide set of choices of using law as it changed, changing to in society. But at that time I thought no way I’m going to be a lawyer all my life because that’s not what I want. This is not the way I want to change the world. So after I was a lawyer I worked in something much more much more inspiring, which was banking.
Not inspired me at all, but at least to me, but it was very useful as well. I worked in the private banking service where I had the opportunity to understand how big corporations and very wealthy people functions. And this was very useful in my future as a social change member, if you want to call me that way.
So this was key for my future actually as an entrepreneur. And what I think is interesting to analyze in my path and to give us a testimony to someone that you know may feel the same or think the same way is that, you know, change, change is really hard. Always either it’s in a personal context or in a professional context because we tend to feel more secure with things that we understand, even if they’re worse for us, which seems to be a bit, you know, a paradox, but actually it’s level humans work many times.
And my main reasons to change is one: I stopped being alive because basically I understood this is not the way I would bring justice to the world with my personality.
And that the way I left the bank after that and started being an entrepreneur and the reason I did it was basically lack of cultural alignment within the organization. And it means that the values of the organization and the way it worked and I’m not going to mention names, but the way it worked, it was not aligned with my values, my personal values. So I started to feel uncomfortable with the way they did things but basically with the way they treated the stakeholders and it was really hard for me to work in an environment where I feel, I felt once more that it was very unproductive and very unequal system of working. Although they had wonderful conditions, they were a great company and that wonderful performance and great results. But in the end of the day, I’m not saying that they’re wrong. I’m saying that I wasn’t aligned and because I wasn’t aligned, I got off and I decided to move on and in both cases I think my inner drive for change, either to be an entrepreneur when I left the bank or to go to banking when I left stop being a lawyer is always to you know, to follow what my inner knowledge tells me, my intuition, but also with some reading on it and try to understand how my skills and my experience and my past experience can be used the construction of a new way of doing things in your life. I’m sorry I took an eternity answering this question.
|Joana||But it’s great because you mentioned some very important aspects because your purpose of wanting to generate a positive impact in the world has always been there, is aligned with your way of being. And you wanted to do that by practicing law, but then you realize in practice that’s law and justice not always coincides.|
So realizing that and and and making a shift in your profession is very difficult because normally people are afraid of leaving their comfort zones and there’s this concept of sunk costs where when you invested many years in studying a career or a professional is, it’s very difficult then to be brave enough to change. And you have, besides the intention of wanting to make a positive impact in the world, you have what we call transferable skills, which you can adapt your characteristics very easily. So you so that’s why you change to private banking and then you become a social entrepreneur and I know you very well and I know your professional path and you are one of the main figures not just in Portugal but internationally of being a very successful social entrepreneur and you started in one of your main projects was Terra dos Soños, so you found Terra dos Soños and this project was recognized as a high potential social entrepreneurship project in Portugal, which is amazing. So you generated a lot of concrete and positive impact. So can you tell us a bit more how did you found this project and what was the main work that you did here?
Yeah, yeah, sure. I mean, but before I do that and because now I teach, I wasn’t a teacher before, but now I teach. Let, let me just, you know, challenge and something you said there that you said I was one of the most successful social entrepreneurs you met. That was very kind. Thank you, by the way. And but depends, it depends on how you measure success, right? So on one point of view, I feel very successful because I had the opportunity to bill, you know, the impact of the possibility of changing your life.
And I say that because it’s only when you have that you know, that feeling, that feeling that with your own resources you can positively change a certain status quo or a certain, you know, condition in people’s lives that you feel empowered to grow on impact. And that’s why being an entrepreneur is so important, right? So, and for me, my, you know, my success or my salvation was Terra dos Soños actually, which in English means land of dreams. And but that changed once again was at first a reflection of my own inner beliefs and I started thinking about how my entrepreneurial adventures had been before that had been very rich in the variety of experiences it gave me because I had very evident and and disgraceful failures, and I had very great successes and it was a great path through it all. But in the end, after seven years of being an entrepreneur, after I left the bank. And there was still something missing because at the end of the day when I woke up in the morning and was still not feeling quite fulfilled and I started to try to understand why. Because I had tried, you know, so many approaches, so many business ventures and so many different areas. I was struggling to find what I what you called before purpose, which you know it has. It doesn’t have a very clear definition of what it is, but it’s probably an alignment between what you think, what you feel, what you say, and what you do. I think this is the most tangible way of explaining what purpose means to me. It’s an alignment between all your minutes, the way you manifest yourself.
And in the end of the day, I wasn’t feeling that purpose. So I thought, why don’t I invert this? And instead of creating, you know, models of business or ideas or developed ideas to find ways to satisfy myself or to bring something to myself, let me try to get that as a reflection of the positive changes I bring to others. Meaning let’s change my focus from the kind of the value I’m going to capture for myself or for my, you know, context, or for my inner circle and focus on the value I can create to certain, you know, underserved segments or to people that are going through real, you know, and true problems and in different ways and see if that way I can somehow find a grasp of what work is maybe in my life. And that’s what I did with electronics. And the strong belief behind that showing is, is that when you talk about health, you can’t… You can’t only be concerned about, you know, the clinical health, the physical part of it. You must take care of or of your emotional. Now you know we are in 2023 and after the pandemic this seems obvious, but back in 2006, even talking in things like mental health.
It was not well seen by many people because it was a very strong, we people had a very strong stigma about this concept of mental health and emotional health. Some thoughts that you know, blocking about dreams and emotional well-being and all that was, you know, a fluffy approach to life and not very adult approach to life. You know, it’s like being wishful thinking and all, you know, Disney way of living life.
And on the other side, there were those who were really afraid of what lack of mental health meant, and they preferred not to talk about it, try to pretend that it doesn’t.
So deadly shootings are created with the main goal to, you know, to create this awareness in society that this mental, emotional health, whatever you call it, are really important in our lives. Not only because of your clinical health as a whole, but also about your functionality, the way you fulfill your goals, the way you express yourself and manifest yourself in the world. It’s all dependent on that emotional mental health process and how you deal with it.
And, it was a huge success. We decided to focus first on children with, you know, very, no… Sickness is with the severe consequences for their well-being, with life threatening situations for them. And of course that affected the emotional well-being of the families as well. And we decided to start that way with this little segment with several experiences designing emotional experiences that would somehow focus them from the process of you know, degradation that comes with the disease to a process where they could see the hope that there still is when you have a child in your hands that has a very severe disease. So it was a huge experience. But most of all what it told me was during 10 years I was in front of the, you know, of the this boat I was in charge of piloting this huge part of changing the lives of these families who were living such dramatic situations. What I learned is that when you’re focused, when you are able to communicate persuasively, when you are passionate about what you do enough to be persistent in front of adversity and then keep on going, keep on driving, you know, and piloting the boat or the car or whatever you want to call it.
And through those bad moments then you feel that the true sensation of being forward to do it. And then what magically happens is that you feel that nothing is impossible anymore. And that’s that. That’s where you know I always go and try to get my, my basic life force if you want to, if you want to call it as in that feeling I had in the beginning when I started changing peoples lives. So I used to say that Terra sos Soños, I normally say that Terra dos Soños was a project that built brands with a huge team with partners. But really I think I am the project of the project I built because it changed me absolutely and the way I look at life since Terra dos Soños is has not been the same anymore.
|Joana||Yeah, for sure, because you basically… You looked at a problem that hasn’t wasn’t looked at the moment back in Portugal, which is mental health and sickness of children and the support of the families of these children’s that are passing through dreadful situations, it’s something that…|
There’s still the stigma around this issue and so you were a visionary and you were… You had a lot of courage to focus on such problems and I imagine that it has been very rewarding for you to see impacts every day and to see the smiles in this children’s face then and all the support that you could give to these families so and imagine how it has changed you also as a person and so after so you were you were Terra dos Soños for almost a decade right?
|Frederico||Yes, 10 years I was the executive director President.|
|Joana||And then so basically it’s already a project of everyone, right? It’s like it began to be your baby, but then it’s like it’s gaining life itself, right? So…|
|Frederico||When I decided to leave Terra dos Soños. You started to interrupt Joana because of what you just said. When I left Terra dos Soños I asked me, why did you leave? I mean you were there for 10 years, were there in the beginning. It’s your baby, like you said. And I told them, well, it’s my baby, but it’s it has grown up and like every baby it grows up and it has its own life and it needs its own, you know, challenges to overcome. So I think that other people coming and other teams coming are going to make Terra dos Soños grow in different way and that’s why I left basically.|
|Joana||Yeah. And that’s also because you are a serial entrepreneur, so and you are a doer, so and that’s why you changed and you built another very important project in Portugal that is recognized worldwide, which is Ashoka.|
So you brought, you created Ashoka in Portugal, where you were the director of Changemaker skills. I love this idea, this concept of change maker skills. So for those of you, I think that everyone knows what Ashoka is. But for those of you who don’t know, can you explain us a bit more what is their work and what is for you this concept of change maker skills?
|Frederico||OK, that’s a great question. I love Ashoka. Ashoka is a very inspiring organization. Built by Bill Drayton in the United States. But before that, just one thing. Yes, I brought the shortcut to Portugal, but together with Miguel Lépz Martínez. He is now working at Nova SBE which is a Business School, another Business School not Catholic policemen where I teach but we’re very good friends and we brought together the shocker and he was effective director and was I was the Director of Change making skills and of course Ashoka was also a very important step because it was the first time I started before I explain what Ashoka it’s important. I think that for people who are listening to understand how this works because normally social entrepreneurs, you know, they start with very small projects very focused on a specific context and then they if they are fortunate enough and they are able to get an economic model that is sustainable in time, they make it grow, they scale it a bit and then they start to have an impact with different level. But in my case I just gave it a different step which was to go from a local and community based organization I created myself. Although I stayed, you know, I stayed somehow connected to the organization. I still connected to the organization today, but I left any executive role on the organization.|
And then I went to this multinational organization, which is Ashoka, and give us a, you know, an helicopter view about the ecosystem and what social media is doing all around the world. Because Ashoka is the biggest organization leveraging the work of, you know, the more impactful social trends in the world, either by inspiring them or by, you know, communicating their work in a creative and mobilizing way or by training and changing experiences between them or by giving them access to resources and funding through initiatives that involve you know, other economic agents who are interested in the impact that it’s being generated mostly corporations and of course they they also have very strong and firm foot on education because they think that education is part of the systemic change the world needs at the base that we implement this systemic change, which means it’s urgent to have change and you knows. You know that… Joanna, you know better than I do. Universe is always talking about, you know the the urgency of this change of system. I heard the talk the other day that you know some Portuguese students and not only Portuguese students, but also girls from everywhere in the world in a webinar we had with go move and he told us that, you know, he challenged the students saying that we want to include you systems we have. We wanted to create your own system, OK, it’s not a matter of including in the system where we have because that would be reasonable to include in the system that’s already not working for us.
So why would we want to do that? Right. So this system change is Ashoka tries to do through what they call the weave, the movement which is fighting these impactful initiatives connected them, connecting them all around the world and you know, giving them more impact and more scale. And this way through inspiration, they want to create a world of change makers.
And what are these changemakers skills where education is key? Well, it’s something that we have. We know we’ve been listening for the last five to 10 years a lot. It’s it’s a lot related with what we call soft skills. But I would say that if I would have to name them, I would say that first, the main skill would be empathy, or if you want to call it emotional literacy.
I mean, you need to care. You need to care about something more than just yourself, your life, your family, your neighborhood. I mean, you need to be conscious that you’re part of a collective that needs you and that you have a little and that empathy, that ability that you know, and that’s something that we can build on. So it’s something that you can develop, not something that I know that you have some marginal situations where he had clinical situations of lack of empathy but that’s a very small much you know they have this clinical condition. The majority of us can work on our empathy skills and there are a lot of tools to do it. So empathy is the core skill. The second I think is critical thinking, critical thinking, I mean being able to ask the right questions. I always say this and social innovation the methodology that we use to solve problems, either there are, you know, big and impossible problems like climate change or more located and contextualized problems is start thinking about the problem, start thinking about the problems, go deeper in the causes, go deep on the cause of the problem and in order for that you need to look at reality. With a critical lens would be being able to question yourself on a lot of assumptions that you have and you don’t even notice that you do. So you have a lot of blind spots in the way you live life because we need that to feel safety and it’s almost natural that you don’t want to mess up your life a lot. So you don’t ask yourself a lot of questions because it’s comfortable to have your routine and not question everything all the time. And of course you need to be happy. But it’s it’s a hard balance between, you know having critical thinking and finding their the peace and the serenity enough and the acceptance of some things that you can’t change and so it’sa hard balance and everyone has a different way to get there.
But it’s another yes, Joanna, you were going to say something.
|Joana||Just say that I I totally agree. And I think first of all you really need to know yourself. There are many people that prefer to be in their comfort zone and work for a company and follow the rules. But I think that there are other people that have this entrepreneurship, spirit and I totally agree with you that they have to be people that have empathy and want to change things and don’t think just about themselves but also the positive impact in their organizations in the world. And these people have to be courageous and be curious and question the status quo because there are so many challenges in the world. We are facing so many social environmental challenges and you need this kind of agility in the way of thinking and problem solving that has to become through this set of skills, right?|
|Frederico||Yeah I mean in the talk we’ll talk a lot about this future worlds you know this volatile uncertain complex and ambiguous and it’s it’s you know a good a good way to summarize what we’re living. It’s very volatile, very uncertain of course and we need more and more to hope one hour inner ability to create and Co create and to be something, the masters of our destiny, OK, not only have it critical thinking, but also creative problem solving, team building, and the capacity of social, socially engaging people and bringing them to, you know, to some causes that are needing to be addressed, but also to have effective and persuasive communication skills. You know, most of the projects die because they’re not communicated properly. Either it’s a matter of the right channel or the right you know, the way to the message. The way you convey the message or the message itself, but the lack of communication on effective communication.|
We cut boards to like an effective communication with the agency, you know, so we have to be strategic and on target more and more. And this is a lot of pressure, OK? So we can’t do this alone. We need to help each other. We need to collaborate or else we’ll break. And that’s what we’ve been seeing the first half of social entrepreneurship in this century. I would say that was amazingly inspiring to start seeing social components all over the world doing this amazing stuff.
What we don’t know, and the story behind it is that there were many, many burnouts if people breaking down because they couldn’t do it alone. They were, you know, they were trying to on their own because they felt they were not supported. Thankfully now we started to have the support of an ecosystem that is more and more saying, you were right 20 years ago. And by the way, here are the resources to do it, and we’re with you and we’re supporting you, let’s work together. Andthis is why I think that this is a very scary moment we’re living in history, but it’s also probably because of that the the ultimate opportunity and there’s a wide range and created as we speak.
|Joana||Totally agree. And I think that in our times when we were studying, there were some, there weren’t so many options like career options to become a social entrepreneur. There was no support. Either you would work for an NGO or it would be very difficult to have a purposeful work and impact in concrete causes unless you were part of the big organization that has all this support. So I think that now things are changing and but I think that education has a crucial role.|
So that these new generations can understand that there are different paths, that they don’t have to choose the traditional career of becoming a lawyer and engineer etcetera, which is also very important, but that they can create their own projects, they can through agility and through innovation and through collaboration joined forces together with other entrepreneurs and have a contribution to this systemic change, so passing to my next question, because then you were in 2017, the CEO of Junior Achievement in Portugal, which is the biggest organization in the world in entrepreneurial education. And for the past years you have been an adjunct professor of social entrepreneurship and social innovation at Catholic Lisbon. So I want to ask you what is for you the role of education in social entrepreneurship?
|Frederico||Well, the first just tell you that there is a nexus between the world I had in Ashoka, which was a change maker, skills I worked with, schools as well change makes, which means schools that were already teaching in a different way with a different paradigm wearing a human centric design, every student is a student and there’s this focus on soft skills and entrepreneurial skills. And there I had this opportunity of junior children which is amazing because then I have you know the 7th NGO in the world and being having the opportunity to run it in Portugal and having contact with all great stuff they’re doing, it was amazing and why do I think education?|
Basically because if you think about systemic causes, meaning causes that are, you know, on the roots of many of the societal problems we have. I think the lack of education, either you’re talking about lack of access or, you know, lack of quality or no education at all. The problems related with education are probably present in every societal problem that we analyze. I honestly can’t remember what societal problem, which includes social and environmental problems as well, where education is not key for the solution. It’s a part of the problem, but it’s also key for the solution because there’s always, you know, the two sides of the question.
So if you think about, you know, the education being the root for the solution. And you know, in order to eliminate like communication as a cause, what you need to do is to find design solutions that provide education. And once you do that, you are contributing to strengthen the positive roots of a healthy dream for every societal problem. And this is one of the things that I love in education, is this inherent potential to lever positive transformation across you know, different contexts, different nations, age groups, different cultures, whatever you find and that and an educated person or a person that needs education, there is room to create impact by creating the conditions for, you know, for future generations to fill in the gap.
And the other reason why I love education is because I’m constantly learning. I’m currently learning with the new ideas and visions that I share with my students, my memories, my colleagues. OK, when I teach, I try to challenge more than I tried to say people what they should do or how they should think. I try to create situations where we think together and this is a process that is you know always 2 sided process. So and and this is very, very rewarding for me and it’s you know we talk about long life learning all the time now. And I think this is one of the things that is very very important for our mental health as well by the way and this is another another point I really love in irrigation. It’s the what I get, I give and I give.
And also finally, as I would say that education is probably the most powerful framework to help someone to grow, to be responsible and to be a productive human being and to fulfill their own dreams in anonymous way, telling, you know, freedom of choice into more than just a cliche. So it’s the most powerful life changing tool I know knowledge is power and responsible and conscious knowledge is both for good, so I think this is why I think education is absolutely key.
|Joana||Totally agree. Knowledge is power and it can change societies from their roots and it can give some hope and for new paths for these younger generations to follow their dreams or building their projects that actually can solve these challenging problems that we are facing in the world and that there are alternatives of working for big corporations, for example, that they can start by thinking of an idea of solving a cause that is subjective to them and I think that the world is changing in terms of supporting these kind of projects from funding until putting the plan in action, and I think that as you, we all know professor Yunus, which is the Nobel Peace Prize and he for those of you who don’t know, he’s the Bangladesh is social entrepreneur. He’s the creator of the concept of microcredit and he helped millions of people out of poverty. And he’s the great ambassador of this concept of social entrepreneurship, especially in Bangladesh because this is the country of young people and there are no jobs for everyone. So he believes that everyone is an entrepreneur, everyone has an entrepreneur inside and you can use this entrepreneurship skills to solve some of the biggest challenges that we are facing. And now you have.|
I think a great challenge and there’s an honor for you because it’s very recent, but you’ve just, were appointed as the Executive director of the Yunus Social Business Innovation Center in Portugal. And so this is a very exciting project and is a pioneer project in Portugal, so, What are the main objectives of the center and what initiatives are you planning to conciliate these concepts of social entrepreneurship and to solve specific problems in our society?
|Frederico||OK well yes but there’s yes it is an honor to be you know in this role but I must give credits to you as well as you know because this center wouldn’t exist if it wouldn’t be for you. So people don’t know what you want. It was you know probably the reason why this center exists. She was the bridge that initially allowed this to happen. So thank you Joana as well for this honor.|
|Frederico||It’s an honor because Yunus is probably, you know, one of the most cited social trends in the world because of the success of the model microcredit he had. But not only because of that, because of everything he did after that. OK, so once again, I go back to the example of terrible things. I’m not comparing myself to Yunus, believe me. But what I felt when I did Terra dos Soños was probably what you felt when he did the microcredit. But he in a big scale. I did it in a very small scale and he did it in a huge scale which is I can change the world by you know, implementing a model which, which by the way is a business model and that can totally change the status quo with all you know the positive spillover that account with it without with empowering and giving people the opportunity to earn money, to give, to live their lives and which is amazing. So it’s an honor and social innovation which is the topic of the center was also something that we would we’ve been exploring in politicalism for a long time you know Felipe Santos are routine is one of the biggest experts in the world in social innovation as you know and he’s a very inspiring person as well and I can call him friend and I’m grateful for that. So he created this you know strategy for the Business School to have impact and social innovation and in the epicenter of of this strategy and so social innovation as a methodology is very inspiring because it can be born everywhere. I mean it’s a process to generate positive transformation on societal problems that can be used resources coming from governments, companies, civil society, you know empower them self motivated individuals through social organization, they all can develop processes that can change problems. So one of the things that the central one wants to do which basically there are four points that we want to focus on. The first because we are basically where an education institution, we want to do research to know more about the models, how you know what successes have they achieved. Where you know the flaws and how can we somehow apply these models and these processes to accelerate the, you know, the transformation that we need to do in so many areas.|
The second point is of course linked to this, to create content, programs and formats, educational contents, programs and formats that can develop the capacity that we need to in order to use social innovation as a tool for change.
The Third Point is sharing, creating awareness and disseminating these frameworks and models and building the capacity to implement in society as a whole so people understand that this is a new paradigm because social innovation is the process of designing project. So society problem as it is a change of mindset, understanding that it’s possible to do business and have positive impact, environmental or social at the same time. It’s possible and we are trying to, you know systematize several ways to do it and inspire people through action. So inspiring through action, I think it’s the most effective way to inspire. So I’m not going to give inspiration the rational evolved to that you know the power of, you know, being good only. But I’m also going to show this model, this model really works. And this model changed the life. There’s many people, and by the way, it increases the business. OK, so this is what the center aims to do a bit, of course, creating collaboration platforms between different agents within the logic of systemic change, which is, you know, working together with corporations, mainly corporations, to understand how we can create open social innovation models that can bring social innovation into the core of the strategies of innovation of companies, but also how can you we help companies to create innovation within the company through social entrepreneurship or even to explain how they can work their value chains in order to bring, you know, more positive impact through core of the business. And so that there are several ways we can work and of course within this big network of knowledge and you know inspiring people then is within the Yunus Center network and we expect to have the collaboration of the very, very good, very available team units which you know very well trained and I I’ve known for not so not such a long time, but I’m already inspired by what they do.
|Joana||Well, thank you, Frederico. Uh, well, basically I think that’s, uh, as you said, both you and Filipe Santos, who is the team of Catholic Lisbon. I think that you are both the references in Portugal of social entrepreneurs. So I think that this had to happen in Catholic Lisbon because Yunus is such a big model to look up to and and and the concepts that he created are completely aligned with everything that you do at Catolica. So I’m sure that the center will create a lot of impact and you mentioned very important aspects because first it needs to start with creating awareness and educating this new generation on these tools, because you can align effectively entrepreneurial tools with social impact. It’s not something separated and but also you mentioned I think the most important aspect if we need a change which is the change has to be systemic. Right? So we are facing several different challenges, from climate threats to social challenges that come from this climate emergency as well, and this can only be solved through collaboration and through a systemic change. So what if for you the key aspects of this systemic change to happen?|
|Frederico||OK. So systemic changes is, as the name says, the name is very scary, right. When you talk about system and we say the problem is the system and then we think how do we change the system? The problem is that we can’t pick, we have to, we have to, you know, once again going back to the beginning of this conversation when I said that law people have this very good approach to reasoning is this construction reality. That’s exactly what we need to do here. We need to understand the parts of the problem in order to have this, the change we need. |
So system change is basically an approach that I would summarize as something that brings us from collaboration to collective to collective action. You know, collaboration is when you partnership with someone or a company or someone in order to have a specific goal that makes you both grow. And so you want to collaborate because that’s good for you.
Collective action is a different field. I think passing from collaboration actually is very difficult because you have yourself interest and it’s very difficult to, you know, to balance yourself interest and the collective interest. And mainly when we’re talking about big changes in social, social problems, I would say that there are between basic steps.
The first is focus on building solutions and not obstacles or problems and I think that critical thinking is OK looking with this lens of questioning yourself. But there comes a point when you need to start thinking about solutions. OK let’s start, let’s stop thinking about obstacles and how can we show someone that we’re better than them because we we have all the flaws on your way you thinking and that it’s something that is very human that has to stop.
The second point is engaging in corresponding engaging Co responsible agents through collaboration. And the keyword here is co-responsible agent is to build on the responsibility sense of every agent in the system. So every agent has to understand that the system doesn’t work not because of the others, but because of themselves as well. And this is this subconscious about you know the responsibility. The collective status of the system is key.
And of course the Third Point and which is I think it’s the really motivating one is to start deploying little examples of collaborative collective action measuring them and by you know, assessing that change is possible in small scale, feeling motivated to grow in a different scale within the system. And never forget that every system is a system we can’t apply the same to…
We can’t understand the system of, you know, a city in Portugal the same way we understand the system of the different city in Portugal just because they’re both in Portugal, you know? And we tend to propagate elements to make it easy for us to think and to be functional. But in the case of system change is exactly the opposite. You have to consider each system as a system the same way that you can say you consider your body spirit and mind system different from what your girlfriend or wife is, right? So you need to understand that you are responsible for this system. OK and but you’re also responsible for the system of other peoples. But the one you can change is where you are living and that’s… I would say that would be 3 points.
Then if you want to pass from system change to system practice, I think, you know, I would say I don’t want to take long. So I would say basically the points, I think they’re fundamental.
First, the collective conscience that some of the existing systems are unhealthy and this seems obvious. This seems obvious, but most of the times we forget about the office. So in order to have a system practice that works, we need to understand what systems are healthy. And sometimes they’re really blind. We don’t want to see.
2nd we need to we have the individual conscience of being part of those systems once again, and therefore responsible for itself and beneficiary of this success and improvements, as well as affected by their own society itself. So this is also key.
And 3rd the conscience about the power of individual action. OK, once again I go back to Terra dos Soños, you just try to do something at an individual level and gain the motivation and then scale from this point.
4. Is it access to usable, simple to use tools that allow us to create all changes in specific contexts. Either it is your neighborhood, your building, your family, your group of friends, and it seems to be something useful, but it’s not. You know, if you think about our body as a system, it’s it only takes one cell to go in a different way and degenerate to take your life. OK, it only takes one cell the same way, the good thing about this is it can be the other way. So positive cell can bring a big big positive change to your system and so it is the same way in societies and the communities and the context where you live, right?
Then, 5. Easy access to shared resources, shared resources is key that I needed to make the change and the willingness to share your own resources. And this is seems obvious, it’s not. People are very attached to their resources as they are to their ideas as they are to everything that they think they own. OK,
6. Stay focus on effectively communicating the change that you achieve once again this weak movement of inspiring you do change. You effectively communicate and inspire others to do this is the kind of a ripple effect or like a spider that is building, you know, a different network of inspiring change.
7. I think it’s seven, right? I think I don’t want to be lost in numbers, but, cultivate this culture of innovation and you know, which implies being ready to listen and observe, willing to share, and open to the touch from the you know the spot from the spotlight and what do you think? It’s more evident not necessarily evidence for others and to finalize it I would say that be conscious that in order to effectively change you need to be constantly aware of the system. That like the same way you need to be aware of your body because it’s changing all the time.
The systems where we live in, we’re all societies living, are always changing. So it’s something that it will never go. The need to take care of it, it will never go. But I think the good news is, you know, our emotional ability to learn as we go will make it a normal routine once we get this into the system and we start thinking of our societies as systems where we are responsible and that we can affect positively by our our individual action. And, and this is, I think, the key for change.
|Joana||Fredrico I think that was a great note to end on. So systemic change is, I believe, the secrets that we can effectively solve the biggest challenges that we are facing and generate a positive impact in the world. But it starts with our own responsibility and only and own awareness of what is our role in society and how we can make a change but we cannot do it without the collaboration of everyone, of course. |
So that was wonderful note went on. Uh, wonderful inputs and to finish my questions. We always make this question to our guests at ATALKS. Who would you like to see interviewed here at ATALKS?
|Frederico||Well, a lot of people. I know a lot of interesting people.|
The first I would like to say that I think you should aim to the stars. I mean you should aim to have, you know, the most inspiring people in the world and not be content with less than that. So, so more and more ambitious about who you have here, this is the way to grow in inspiration. And also because as Walt Disney said, impossible is the market where I want to operate because you know, competition is lower there and I like impossible, so I would say first because of my maybe my tradition, my own tradition I would like to be to see Pope Francis being. You know, there’s a lot going on about the economy of Francis and there’s a lot to be said about the religion and how religion can be a drive force for good. And I want to understand, I would like to understand how what, what’s the vision for the next 500 years? How would Pope Francis see the role of religion in this drive, drive this force is the drive for good.
The second one is a personal, you know, the personal reference for me, which is Oprah Winfrey. I don’t know if you know Oprah Winfrey has the dream network and it’s a very good example of how communication can change the world and how consistent, clever and strategic communication can be this powerful transformation to what she applied. You know, like with, with, with there’s no comments. I mean she, she’s the pinnacle of communication.
And because I like, you know, I like people that have people thinking, especially if they generate some kind of discomfort. Because I love you know feeling challenged and I would love to see an interview Jordan Peterson I would love to see interview because you know regardless of liking or agreeing with his points of view which is what the point I really admire someone who is loyal to their own truth and who’s not afraid to say it and also because I think that he makes this ability is of one of the schools that in many a lot nowadays it is critical and informed.
He’s not guessing. He knows about everything he talks about and well, any one of these three I would pay a lot to see. So if you want to make an economic model of this and make this a business, I think one of these three would be amazing.
|Joana||Yeah, that we love provocative recommendations. I think these ones were the best. So at APLANET, we also believe that nothing is impossible and we want to reach for the stars. So for sure, let’s try to bring both, both three. That would be amazing. And we are believers that nothing is impossible. So let’s go for it. Frederico, thank you so much.|
|Frederico||If you get the partner, if you need a partner to put this in the running, call me. I would love to do.|
|Joana||To yeah, I mean for sure, for sure. I know I can count on you. So thank you so much. It was great to have you here today. Thank you so much for sharing your experiences and for your most valuable inputs and for everyone who’s listening. I hope you have enjoyed it and see you with the next day ATALK. Bye, bye.|
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