This post was written by Sarah Healey ’18.
Marilia Bezerra spoke recently to The Sustainable Innovation MBA cohort as the third Innovator in Residence for the year. She is the Managing Partner at CARE Enterprises, CARE’s social enterprise venture that links producers in the world’s poorest communities with the formal markets necessary for those producers to sell their products and services. It focuses on business ventures with the potential for exponential growth and to become game-changers in the fight against poverty.
Marilia’s life has led her on a career path full of sharp turns and road blocks that created her story.
In telling her story she offered nine lessons and pieces of advice to
- Figure out how to become the connective tissue for the problems we need to solve. A fundamental ingredient for all of us stepping into the world is to figure out how to connect people to each other to solve problems.
- Telling your story can be limiting.
- Be keenly aware of your privilege –- Bezerra talked about how she won the privilege lottery. She grew up during a relatively stable time in Brazil and was raised in a middle-class family that afforded her opportunities in life, but gave her a sense of value of the most basic things.
- If you are going to say something, know what it means. When using metrics, many of the numbers mean nothing. For example, the calculation of how many lives a program touched. What Bezerra learned was to ask yourself what it means three time when stating metrics and figures. If at any point you cannot answer, then the metric likely does not have meaning.
- Sometimes you will need to take sharp turns to figure out what you are doing, and you need to just go for it! Life takes weird turns, close your eyes and say, ‘Mom & Dad, I got this.’
- Fundraising is like running a marathon — it is going to be uncomfortable, but you just keep running through it until it gets better.
- How you feel now is not going to last — Bezerra talked about the importance of needing to detach yourself from your story for a point in time. This powerful mechanism allows you to step outside and detach from life to get past the disruption.
- Take time off & really take it! –- it is tempting to think about what is next, but Bezerra talked about the importance of taking a real break when you are burnt out.
- After doing cool things, the expectation of what is next can be limiting. When you are taking a break and looking for the next steps, people will ask what is next, but do not let that limit your story.
…And One Question
Bezerra finished with a question for aspiring entrepreneurs: How are you going to get really good at working at the edge of chaos?