How to Show up as a Social Investor: Key Takeaways with Servane Mouazan

In today’s episode of Be and Think in the House of Trust, I am reflecting on the themes, patterns and ideas Social Investors shared in this first series

We learned about the complexity and the necessity of pausing, building meaningful relationships, and challenging our blindspots. 

My guests thought about how they intuitively and technically create the financial conditions that serve communities to do better and more for others, and in an unharmful way.

I am curious to discover the freshest thoughts and perspectives you have on these various topics!


(4:26) Blind spots have an impact on ideas, innovation, and design

(6:48) Give a gracious space

(11:05) Power with, not power over

(17:57) A Brazilian swing



Hello, friends. Today's episode is a little bit different. I wouldn't be a learning specialist if I didn't pause to check in with you about the themes, the patterns, and the ideas that we've discovered during the first series of Be and Think in the House of Trust in this first series, the people sitting and thinking around the table are all. leaders Who love to invest in social and environmental change each in their own way. Each conversation provided us with the same contemplation around the complexity and the necessity of pausing, building meaningful relationships, and challenging our blind spots. It's been about the love and the curiosity of the guests to discover more about one another. They share their view on how to create the conditions that serve communities to do better and more for others. In a way that is not harmful. So today I will extract some of the key takeaways and questions that my guests have generously donated. You can leave them here in this house, or you can share them and explore them with your team or your peers. I'm curious to discover where they take you and maybe the new perspective they trigger for you. My name is Servane Mouazan, founder of Conscious Innovation. And for now, I'll invite you to look back at what we've learned from people who love to invest in social. In the first season of Be and Think in the house of Trust. One thing I hold dear, and that's at the heart of the work I do and in this very podcast, is that love and trust are key to growing, uh, capacity to make decisions that influence and change people's worlds. Think about it. Why should people who invest in social and environmental change not talk about love and trust? It's about respect, empathy, and positive values, especially when these are put into action. These thoughts, beliefs and behaviors are the glue that holds everything together. They embody an organization's values in real life, and they're the litmus test. Whether you are strategy can be delivered and your mission. A large chunk of what the guests in the first series have shared is in fact about how to think differently about the challenges we face and to develop a vocabulary that helps us connect and bond with our teams and, and with the people we invest in. In episode two, Maria Tinelli explored the quote by Nelson Mandela. It always seems impossible until it's done, and sometimes depending on the week you have or uh, on the day you wake up. The, the task of changing the status quo might seem very daunting, and the difficulties to admit this first when everybody looks at you as the check writer. With your financial power. And to remedy that Maria looks at catalytic circles of power in her surroundings and the responsibility and hope that come with them what she learned through many years of trying to change the status quo around thorny issues, for instance, gender inequality, is that it doesn't matter how impossible the task seems, and it does many times, but you need to start with breaking it into little pieces and start pulling from one thread that is closer to you to affect change. And yes, it might mean changing the way you do something in your day-to-day. Like instead of throwing the rubbish all in the same bin, you start separating items. And as small as that might seem that this will have an impact eventually. Likewise, in your professional life, we can start effective change through the circles of power that we all operate in. So the action here, break down the daunting tasks into small parts. Identify your different circles of power and start pulling the threads slowly. Notice what changes. In episode three, Tara Sabre Collier encourages us to find the time to explore and find our blind spots. Blind spots have an impact on ideas, innovation, and design. In the same way you drive a car or ride your bike, if your head or your eyes stay in the same position, you won't notice anything different. So what happens when you move your neck and your eyeballs? Change the lighting and observe who are the people that never seem to meet? What are the financial products that never seem to support, particularly group? What if you are creating harm when you are convinced you're creating good? Tara gives the example of the sustainable development goals. Some SDGs automatically accelerate SDGs and some SDGs suck life away from other SDGs. For example, if you're pursuing poverty alleviation, depending on the path on which you pursue it, you could accelerate climate change. Equally, private capital markets are correlated with greater rates of inequality, and we are trying to solve SDG number 10 around equality with finance, an instrument that is known to have done its fair share of harm. Well, Tara's challenge for you, trying to find ways to do impact finance significantly differently than the way conventional finance has done it before. So what would that mean in your setting? Shantel Wilkins from the Kronkoski Foundation in Texas, Chris West from Sumerian Partners and Matt Smith at the Key Fund in the uk. Take us on the discovery of trust-based relationships each in their own way. They break apart the recipe for trust. First, you need to create a space of equality. The ones who write the checks trigger an imbalanced power dynamic. So you need to forget about the checks for a moment. You need to build mutual understanding. There are different narratives and stories to tell, and for each situation, people who are telling the stories are different as well. Um, everybody's changing and the context of the story might look the same, but actually they never. Who's listening to the story from which system, with which bias and which power do people have really? So let's reduce the belief that as investors, we already know what the story is going to be about, who the storytellers are, and what our response to the story will be or should be. Shantel suggests that in return you could give a gracious space. She doesn't like to say safe space because safe means different things to everyone. Giving the grace to experience failure, learn from failure, learn from people, and get or provide timely, tailored support beyond. For Matt Smith, it's about giving a gracious space for investees to speak, for themselves, to articulate their struggle or the struggle of the communities they serve. Give a gracious space for people to gain control of their narrative. The question here, inspired by Shantel's gracious space and that you can ask your investee, what can I do now that is going to make the work less daunting for. What can I do right now to set the stage for you? And Matt Smith from the Key Fund introduces the component of ease in the relationship between investors and social entrepreneurs. There's a world, of course, of restriction out there about how investors can do things, but ultimately at the Key fund, their belief. It's their job to take the complexity of various funders and hide the wiring as much as they possibly can, and make it as simple as possible at the front. So Matt's question to you is how do you make it as simple as possible? What are we doing or what could we be doing that's helpful? Matt adds, it's actually both. It is helpful, but also who are the best people to help us do this? In episode 13, Chris West from Sumerian Partners and Sumerian Foundation sums up this relationship building with a punch date before you marry. And that involves getting all parties to know each other and understand each other's world much more in depth. In this first series, we also talked about ambition. Kevin Withane, the founder of Diversity -X VC supports underestimated founders with a meaningful, generous community and access to finance. In episode five, Kevin looks at your ambitions. Are you here to build small sheds that don't change anything? Or are you interested in building true ecosystems of value in which communities, uh, participate and contribute to growing over a long time, something of value, and then they pass it on to the next generation in a better shape than how they might have. We compare this to the way people have built cathedrals in the past or pyramid, um, generations of contributors who all have a transcending goal in common, sharing knowledge over a long time, believing in collective power. The bottom line, if as a C E O, you are going to get your rewards quarterly and you don't see that as a problem, you are unlikely to shift your thinking system. So Kevin, asks you, asks us, what is your big, hairy, ambitious goal, and then what small steps do you need to take to build the foundation of that goal? Like cathedrals weren't erected in one day, they needed to lay on deep foundations. He continues. How will you take care of all the stakeholders who are involved in that journey? So according to Kevin, uh, that requires shifting from system one, thinking to system two, thinking the system one is the rushing, they're interrupting. System two is about pausing more often, slowing down for a minute, investing in an extra stretch of time that allows you to see and think differently. Are you happy to do this? Moving on. The next key theme I've noticed in this podcast, um, that there is, uh, a lot of talk around empathy, openness and self-compassion that needs revisiting when we move money for good. And this is not just about the relationship between investors and I investees, but also the way we see and activate governance. And the theme that seems to emerge here is power with not power. Shall we talk about a component of equality? It feels like we are quick to jump into power over actually, despite our best intentions, but there's a value in letting go and letting come, and here are the shows that help us do that. In episode seven, Emilie Goodall explored empathy and ally. As Emilie recalls a group, uh, discussion around an individual's experience of racism in responsible finance, uh, she noticed that amongst the attendees there was a very human desire from, some people had not experienced racism directly to empathize with that experience, but they did so by bringing their own experiences, perhaps around other forms of discrimination that they may have been on the receiving end. And this detail can crush the original thinker For them, it feels like you minimize their experience or seek to co-opt their experience. So the lesson for, uh, Emily about being of service was to actively listen, not listen to reply, but to listen and be a supportive ally by not adding to the. And for her empathy is about being present to support someone else's thinking, without having to come up with answers, without having to propose the next plan of action. This can come from the thinker themselves naturally. If and only we stretch that time and allow, uh, better thinking. In episode six, our friend Soraya Shaw, who's an applied neuroscientist, uh, shed some light on the science behind empathy and trust to, uh, help us understand what we could do in practical terms within our teams. Uh, because this is at the heart of governance, it's about allowing the other to be seen and heard, and that increases. So when you create a thinking environment that understands that brains are all wired differently by helping your brain feeling engaged and focused, she says it appears you can increase your team engagement by about 300% through the power of pauses and a connected purpose. Again, your team is dancing the same dance, and that is powerful and reward. In episode nine helped us understand how openness helps finance professionals move money for good. RO is passionate about breaking down the barriers which are stopping people from building trust, and to her empathy is proportional to your appetite for openness. She says if we want to move money to do good, we're going to have to let go of maybe something that we are doing now, um, or we need to bring in something new from a different area as well, because no one person or areas all the answers. If we had all the answers, there wouldn't be an industry in sustainable finance. A key and an encouragement for Roshana is to see people move between. When you have a variety of people around the table, and particularly those specialists generalists outside your bubble, they are the people who can connect the dots. Roshana believes this breaks down some of the barriers of fear when you have people who can connect the dots around you. You are also in a position to create a space for reciprocity and mutual service, which in turn helps build trust and more empathy. So the question. Will you be open to recruiting specialist generalists on your team or investment committee next? Following upon this openness, we looked at governance again, the G in E s G and Karen Leigh Anderson in episode 11 gave us a Swiss knife, uh, by talking about strengths, leadership, and attitudes. And she gave us some thought-provoking observations. And that episode on governance was equally useful for entrepreneurs as for funders and members of investment committees, did you know that you get the board, you plan? In that episode, Karen stressed that intentionally intentionality starts at the board level, not just as strategy. And she challenged us, she said, experienced and competent people who've been serving on other boards might actually not be the people you want to have around your table. Wow. So what are your investment processes? How do they connect with a so-called disruptive change you want to support? She. Using the same people and having the same strategy will not lead you to change. I feel it's circling back to Roshana's episode about openness and, and diversity and variety. The question Karen asked for us is, how do you help the board of the organizations you investing in and your own board do governance differently to open everybody's eyes to the fact that you're doing something different. One of the keys is to be bold and brave and have differences between the board members who sit around your table. Connected to this. One of the other big themes in the House of Trust is blind spots. Our guest in episode 12 is the health tech entrepreneur turned VC Zoe Peden. Together. In that episode, we explored social mobility, a key blind spot in the investment world. Today with this issue, there's a risk of perpetuating a stale monoculture that hasn't moved much in the past 50. And Zoe advocates for more than just lived experiences around the table. She wants social mobility to be spoken about and tracked. She wishes for more favorable conditions to welcome people from working class backgrounds, poor backgrounds around the investing table. She wants ladders to be pulled upwards, and the hiring base broadened. For Zoe, it feels like it's an area a lot of people don't want to go and dive. What I heard Zoe say is that the quiet revolution will come from these very discreet conversations where actually people listen to each other more and say, actually, yes, it's fine. I see you, I hear you, and I come from this place too. "Oh, I've got that accent too. Now let's do great work together and pull these letters up. In our last episode of the series, Daniela Barone Suares from Snowball Impact Management reflects on openness as well, transparency and reflective practice, and the necessity for the sector to go the extra mile there. And with her unique Brazilian swing, she reminds us that in these times of urgency, you shouldn't be spending your time rearranging the chairs on the deck, on the Titanic. Will boldness, relationship building skills and empathy be the salvation of people who love to invest in social change? Time will tell. So this is it for this first series of Be and Think in the House of Trust. This series is available wherever you love to listen to your favorite podcast. You can connect with me through and get regular conscious innovation updates to help you navigate the mental models needed to collectively and individually ignite positive social and environmental change with your teams, your investees, and the community.. My name is Servane Mouazan. I'm the Chief Purpose Officer at Conscious Innovation, and I look forward to welcoming you onto the second series in the House of Trust, shortly. Be well.

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