Latest Project Launch: “In Times of Terror, Wage Beauty” by Mark Gonzales

Think Disrupt, though a company, is my canvas, something blank to be my stress reliever in the world, an outlet that I could express myself in a way I couldn’t anywhere else. The small magazine evolved into a new media company for social change, a business close to my heart and one whose sole purpose it is to serve the creative maladjustment of the non-conforming minority.

I have the pleasure of announcing a collaboration between Mark Gonzales and Think DisruptMelissa Athina and I  -to release acclaimed poet Mark Gonzales’ first book.Screen Shot 2014-12-30 at 2.13.12 PM (1)

It’s been a one year collaboration in the making and Think Disrupt’s first major project of 2015.

What’s the book about:

In Times of Terror, Wage Beauty”, is a meticulously crafted series of ideas in tweet sized digestible prose. It serves as a personal guide to social change makers in the 21st century navigating complex social systems by highlighting advanced approaches to healing and global wellness.

It’s a personal guide for social good, healing wounds, navigating your identity, your narrative and changing the world – all written in prose format.

This is a book that was a labour of love, and would love if you share, buy and spread the love to all those who you know.

Available here on Amazon: http://amzn.to/1zFMoIJ

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Where am I?

For all my beautiful readers, you’re probably wondering: where is she? I don’t showcase my life on Instagram or Facebook but would rather write, as people years ago would have written about their lives and reminisce with deep thought about their experiences through introspection that can only come with the slow pace writing and thinking out your thoughts. A week ago you could have caught me in East Harlem or in a beautiful Italian pizzeria in Soho in New York. No matter where my travels take me, they always leave me recharged and help me re-organize my priorities in life. For 2014, I’ve made a commitment to pursuit of a life as a nomadic, independent entrepreneurship – to essentially work and live from anywhere. Anyone who knows Somalis(and me) know that I am as nomadic as they come. I have an insatiable urge for seeing new things, meeting new people and creating things. One part of my trip that stood out to me was Times Square. Walking down Times Square was walking through the heart of capitalism and, in the most odd way possible, brought about some philosophical and existential questions about life.

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Times Square

A few things first:

There are no places to sit in Times Square. You are forced to consume until you quite literally feel like falling on the floor. It’s been so masterfully engineered to keep you moving, consuming, dazed by the distractions all around you. It’s capitalism in a nutshell and not a place I could ever go back to.

To use to the washroom, you need to buy something.  There are special codes at the bottom of receipts that you punch into washroom doors.

I think to myself: Is capital what runs our lives? Is there ever an end to consumption? Do you consume until one day, you consume yourself? Until there is nothing left by a hollowness inside of you.

The truth is, most of our lives have been wrapped around the idea of capital. The  idea of no longer living your life in pursue of money and the acquisition of it can scare any human living in our modern world.

What do you do after that?

But I didn’t go to ruminate over the socio-political aspects of our society. I did it to recharge, which is so important to entrepreneurs. All top performers(and those aspiring to do so) understand that taking breaks is a crucial part of productivity.

But back to travel, Amy from WhereverWriter said something about travel that puts into complete perspective why I love it so much and why it’s such an integral part of my life:

“Travel that puts you in uncomfortable places, makes you cross paths with incredible people, forces you to see the world through new eyes. I want to get out of my comfort zone; I want to learn from people around the world; I want to know their struggles, their joys, their worries, their hopes.”

It forces you to take a birdeye view of your life and ask yourself if you are doing things out of habit or if you are truly pushing yourself to the highest level.

In a nutshell, NEW YORK IS LIVE! I look forward to connecting with more entrepreneurs from that place.  

What am I working on

I started my online marketing business, FWD MVMNT, about 3 months ago and I am blessed to say that it has been successful Alhamdulilah and I am working with some incredible people/organizations.

One of those organizations is run by a friend/mentor of mine and his team, called UmmahHub. What went from a sales pitch on a project spunned off into a startup of it’s own and I am so grateful and proud to be working with Oak Computing and UmmahHub on this.

In a nutshell, UmmahHub is a community building platform for Muslim projects.

The Muslim Inc, is the #1 online community for Muslim entrepreneurs. The Muslim Inc is a  global online community dedicated to supporting entrepreneurship, innovation and business development for Muslims worldwide by providing the best of Islamic thinking combined with modern business practices. We provide relevant discussions and solutions to help emerging & established Muslim business leaders succeed while helping Muslim entrepreneurs and corporations understand how to better serve the largest growing consumer niche market- the $170 billion Muslim market.

We want to revive entrepreneurial culture and help strengthen Islamic economies worldwide.

What is so exciting about this start up is that it’s about focusing on economic and entrepreneurial development in the Muslim world, which is a dear topic to me.

Through out all my startups, the main theme is helping build proper infrastructure for social innovators and entrepreneurs. What I love is that I get to combine digital media, technology and solving social issues I am passionate about!

The Muslim world is essentially the newest, most lucrative frontier in marketing right now and is worth over a trillion dollars. At the Muslim Inc, we want to help others benefit and tap into that.

Talk soon!

Is Social Entrepreneurship the Rich Saving the Poor?

In a piece by Martin Montero, “Is Social Entrepreneurship the Rich Saving the Poor? ” he says

“Social entrepreneurship is not about elitist fellowships, conferences, summits, accelerators, coworking spaces, or contests. Social entrepreneurship is not about charity or even about philanthropy, and it’s certainly not about wealth redistribution. Social entrepreneurship is about opportunity and power distribution. ”

Social Entrepreneurship is inherently a question of power and politics. Poverty is political. Law is political. Health care and education reform are political questions. In that, doing social good is not neutral. You can’t be neutral about about social issues and that often times means not being afraid to say who is in the wrong, morally, ethnically and socially.

What does that means? Ideas that don’t enhance the overall sustainability of the planet need to go. But on a deeper level, this means reconciling that changing the world is messy, dirty, it’s no different than politics…except the goal is seeing the world change for the better, not for worse. Its’ not the glamorous story of Steve Jobs or Mother Teresa impact on the world. There is a lot more to it than that.

And this is what I believe activists get right–they say what needs to be said without any pretense. They, unfortunately, stop short in the creations of new social systems but they are completely realistic about how the narrative of change should be told.

What this also means that is feel good conversations about disruptive innovations and making the world a better place maybe the refuge of those who don’t really want change. Would it be, perhaps, that social entrepreneurship can accomplish what great revolutions of the past have…without violence?

What is the great social transformation we are looking towards? Can we accept that in that process
of change often leads to chaos and changes far beyond what we would have ever imagined?

The reason I strongly urge people from marginalized and underrepresented communities to seek out
and learns ways to be entrepreneurs is this:

if you don’t solve your problems, people will solve them for you.

Often times people with no real understanding of what it is to be in your own position are the ones with the loudest voice at the table. If you don’t take a lead in showing people the historical and personal consequences and trauma brought upon your community through the oppressive actions of others, it might happen again: people enforcing upon you solutions and ideas that are not yours.

There is a real danger of making social entrepreneurship as another arm of neo-colonialism. It isn’t about believing anyone really has the answers. It’s understanding that even if you have the answers to solving the world’s toughest issues,  you may not be the best person to solve it.

In my quest to democratize the field of social innovation and make the tools of social change accessible to all, it is my sincere hope that this powerful idea be understood for what it truly is: a way to bring opportunity to others and not take it away from those who need it most. And of the many ways to take power, asking permission is not one of them. May that be the lesson to underpresented peoples of the world.

Review: Can the Muslim World Be Rebranded?

Review: Can the Muslim World Be Re-branded?

In a old yet good article, the New York Times covers the Islamic Economic Forum.

There are some key ideas this piece touched upon that is quite relevant to helping grow innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship in the Muslim world. I wanted to go through each and give some commentary on it from a young Muslim based here in the West.

1. Muslims need a new PR agent: Reshaping the image of Islamic Countries– According to business leaders and policy makers from around the Muslim world during the Islamic Economic Forum, the image of the Muslim world needs to be changed collectively, from one of violence and poverty to vibrancy and prosperity.

Rather than focusing on the multitude of socio-economic problems “they talked about job creation, streamlining bureaucracy and strengthening intellectual property rights”. I think it’s important to focus on these issues but you can’t have a solution without focusing on solving the problem. Public relations can be a good method of reputation management but people will realize the focus should be on infrastructure development and educating the masses rather than superficially trying to develop an exterior that perhaps can not mask the interior problems entirely.

Rhethoric, not Action

The lack of education across the Muslim  world also comes up as an issue.  The piece notes how many of these influential thought leaders believe in investing in education so as to not make their populations vulnerable to misinformation and propaganda.

Education in the 21st century is shifting, and so must the methods with which Muslim countries educate their society.

Universities, 800 year old institutions, are slowly moving away from corportized, credentialism predicated on an industrial model towards the democratized model based on self-initiated learning and growth.  More people are realizing the flaws in the current education model that has, unfortunately, been adopted by most of the industrialized world, including the Islamic world. The future of education in the Muslim world is one where education is FREE and enabled by technology. One where we accept that there are multiple methods of educating oneself whether that  would be distance education, homeschooling, unschooling and other methods. The acceptance of alternative education methods in Muslim countries is virtually non existent as public school is seen as necessary and often time required by law.

Lack  Islamic Training along side Science, Technology and the Humanities 

This is also mentioned as a crucial point of change needed. In many ways, the Muslim population represents their leaders. There are a lot of university-trained scholars. Not many of them are classically trained in Islam or have any rigorous scholastic methodology-based training. This is also reflective in the Muslim community.Inevitably, it’s these people that end up taking on leadership roles and stay confined to discussions around the parameters of Islam alone.

Very few scholars, and there are many great examples, are trained academically or professional in topics other than Islam. And the consequences are not being about to practically engaged with the world around you and adding to discussions on how to solve 21st century issues from a scriptural perspective is a main reason holding us from progress.

Muslim Community doesn’t really exist

 

Here, I must make a differentiation between the Muslim world and the Muslim community. In theory, there is an organized and  united faith that brings all Muslims together but the Muslim “world” is largely fictitious. In reality, there is a realm of Muslim countries, but communities are localized and rarely does support extend beyond helping the poor in one’s own homeland. This might be different from people from the diaspora who don’t identify with a country, but only their faith. However a lot of people are unfortunately still connected based only ethnic, tribal lines.

Cultural, social and intellectual insulation can be a form of death for society. And we’re already succeeding well at one–economic isolation. Rather than Muslims trading with one another, we are effectively insulating ourselves from one another. The article explains  that “Muslim countries send 51.5 percent of their exports to industrialized countries, compared with just 13.5 percent to fellow Muslims nations, according to the …Islamic Development Bank”. What’s surprising that is 2/3 of the world’s energy come from the Muslim world and we have many powerful resources along with faith to make us successful, such as commodities, relatively young population, strong multi-ethnic and strategic land etc

Need to Critically Examine What Passes for Scholarship

Faith is not defined by rituals and ceremonies, as they are so prevalent now, as the Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi of Malaysia says.

Going beyond dogmatic rhetoric, often is tied to addressing the true purpose of Islamic scholars in our community. They hold a great deal of importance but I do feel they’re real role and results of their work needs thorough neutral critical analysis.

As the piece says, the Muslim world needs to move  away from rhetoric and dogmatism. But how are we to do that and who are the ones at the forefront of this?

Islamic scholarship can be some sort of awe-inspiring position. We give so much attention to these individuals that it has come at price. The price is not being about to properly train, educate and vet the types of people responsible for guiding our communities. And in this process, we’ve accepted less from them. There is less rigidity  for what we accept in our community that passes for a community leader. Like a celebrity that gets a slap on the wrist for a crime or a DUI, we accept what scholars tell us without a rigorous examination of whether we believe in what they are telling us and whether it is in fact correct. Quite frankly, most scholarship is quite lazy.

The idea of work as worship is ingrained in our faith. But few people associate working as worship. In others, many people believe our worldly life and afterlife are completely separate. You need to realize that both are integrated and what you do in your daily life counts. What you do on earth is something you are rewarded with later on. There is no separation.

The solution is to start looking beyond ourselves. We’ve shriveled away, confidence stripped from us  although we have everything we need to make ourselves successful in the world. A sign of a society’s decay is when it no longer interacts with the world around them and leads through a binary world construct. We’re hindering ourselves economically, socially, culturally and it’s going to need more of a makeover to get ourselves to be taken seriously in the world.

The Muslim Women Doesn’t Need To Be Empowered- She Empowers Herself.

Possibly the best quote in the entire piece said: “”We are Muslims and we are women,” she Khalida Azbane Belkady, director of Groupe Azbane, a cosmetics company also based in Morocco,. “But maybe we should stop talking about Muslim this-and-that and just get to work.”

It’s not a surprise that it’s women who have to make this point. The place of women in Islamic is one of strength, power and honour. I hate to make this a discussion of talking points generally set by Western feminists who have no idea of what it is to be a Muslim women, but Women in Islam have been empowered in many ways.  And the ability to lead and given respect for that leadership is one of them. One, they don’t have to spend a dime of their own money when earning anything. It’s the man’s job to be a breadwinner and pay the bill. Two, the men generally turn over their paychecks to women and they handle the family finances. The perspective is that women are always having their hands out begging, but I’m afraid that’s not the case in most Muslim homes. The Western response has been to equate women working outside the home with power but in all honesty, there is more power in the latter.

I have no doubt that Muslim women will be the one’s leading our community through the innovation and creative processes needed to change our condition but it will have to be an active women. One this blog, I call for more Muslim entrepreneurs to arise, sorta of a reverse answer to the West’s women’s liberation movement. Living in your home, working there and taking care of your children seems to be the way of the future for Muslim women, one that I will continue to advocate for.

These are some thoughts after reading this piece. If you had any other ideas to add, I’d love to hear from you!

Don’t forget to subscribe
Follow me on Twitter @HouseofAssouan

Disrupt Magazine // Volume I Issue 02 // Exclusive Look.

Hey, you’re fabulous.

And I really want you to know that. The support that Disrupt Magazine received after coming out with it’s first issue on August 15 was humbling. I really didn’t know that many people would really understand what my team and I were trying to do. We’ve received an outpouring of support from all over the world and a simple “we get what you are trying to do” affirmations that helped let us know that we were on the path to creating something amazing that people benefited from.

Thank you sincerely for everyone who has supported!

We’re proud to present Disrupt Magazine Volume I Issue 02. It is available for purchase here: http://disruptmgzn.com/products-page or here: http://bit.ly/19U61AE

SURPRISE Launch

We’re putting out a series of designs called: “Design and Dissent”. They are limited edition original art work crafted by us through pain, love and inspiration to make the world a better place. We hope they will rouse the same enthusiasm it did in us.

They will be available for sale for a limited time only via our digital pop up shop on December 22nd 2013 until December 28th. We’ll be giving free product away and reducing prices during this time. Subscribe at signup.disruptmgzn.com to get first notice!

So, what’s in this issue?
  • Dope cover by Damien Tauchert
  • Native American Code of Ethics received with much gratitude from Shaman Cloud and the Firebear
  • Behind Disruptive Brands: Interview with Nana Osei, Founder and CEO of Bohten
  • Context: For Today and For The Future by Skinner Layne, CEO and Chairman of Exosphere, based in Santiago, Chile
  • The Philosophy of Deep Ecology by Sean Anderson is a philosopher, educator and musician living in Ottawa. This was his incredible PHD thesis
  • Start Up Cities Infographic
  • First Look at Design and Dissent, original art work by Disrupt
  • #Disruptive Thoughts Spread
  • Heart Diaspora by Ali Alikhan, Ottawa-based writer and poet
Want more?
Read our amazing new website  or say hi. I’d love to hear from you.

Disrupt Magazine Subscription Page- Sneak Peek!

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I’m so proud of my team. We are on our way to launch our second magazine issue. We publish all 4 season issues into 1 volume. So this issue will be called Volume I Issue 02, just in case you were wondering.

So what’s this issues theme?

Looking back into ourselves. What do we see? Destruction? Creation? Rebellion? Our inner urge to want to be bad, for good? Whatever it is, we all have this nagging feeling that something isn’t right, that something should be done. We’re never sure how to go about it. If we say something, we get marginalized. If we don’t, we feel guilty.

There is no “out there”. Whatever strength to disrupt comes from within. Just like no one can love you, if you don’t love yourself. You can’t fight for anything until you fix what’s within you. That’s where disruption starts. You see that girl at the bottom of this page? How does she feel? What kind of courage does she need? Who is she hiding from?

Herself.

Because she knows, she can’t save anyone but herself.

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How Money Works 101 for Black People(And Anyone The System Was Designed To Work Against)

This is something I need people to understand.

If you are from a colored, marginalized, underrepresented or from any minority group, “the system”, that is to say, the infrastructure that society is based on wasn’t designed to work for you. These infrastructures or institutions are Law, Education, Media, Political systems etc.

You can make them work for you once you understand it(otherwise known as working within the system) but the functions of these institutions weren’t meant to help you excel. They serve the upper class doctrines and values.

One great example of this is education, more specifically how we understand money.

The education system doesn’t teach you about finances for a reason. It’s not understanding the basics of economy or how to do you taxes but something much deeper– how does money actually work?

Once you understand this, you will be free.

I had a nice conversation with a friend about what makes someone who makes $24, 000 a year different from someone who makes $42 million dollars a year?

Your answer might be one of the following:

“They have rich parents”
“They are celebrities”
“They own a lot of business”

Rarely do we say, they “work harder”. Because we all have 24 hours in the day. Why can some produce more than others? Hint: I just used a key word.

The reason is: They leverage their time.

And the most important word: value

They create value(and yes, I wrote that in neon green because I need you to pay attention). These people create lot of value for a lot of people.

How do you create value? Be a producer! Make shit. Do stuff. Create SOMETHING!

You can’t do this trading time for money, doing things you hate or slaving away for someone else. You need to invest in yourself.

There are the laws and rules that govern money and we need to detach ourselves from these emotional and psychological triggers that we feel towards money because they were socially engineered within us.

So no, no one “deserves” to earn money. That doesn’t mean you don’t deserve basic human rights such water, food and shelter but this isn’t connected to the idea of money and the idea that we deserve it.

So long as you are creating value, then you are allowed to make how ever much you want. Whether that’s $1000 or $1 million a month. Reality is based on your perception. If you think that is impossible, think again.

No one needs to “work hard” for their money. Do you know why most of us champion the individual who wakes up at 5am and works all day for their employers? Do you know why society makes you feel like shit when you don’t have a job and you feel empty? These are socially engineered ideas. These are ideas passed down from a Puritanical Christian outlook on life. These guys, who lived in the 16th-17th century in England equated “work” with “virtue”. So many of us living from their legacy.

Here is a great article called The Busy Trap in the New York Times on this topics.

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Let me take a moment to say though, that for many of us, it’s not in our culture to be poor. Mali, for example, located in West Africa is one of the top 10 resource rich countries in the world but is one of the worlds poorest. Have you heard of Mansa Musa, the Great African Emperor of the Mali empire? Probably not. He turned Timbuktu into an intellectual powerhouse and inflated so much wealth into Africa that so much of the financial support he gave out could be trace in helping fund the Italian Renaissance indirectly.

Once you understand who your ancestors were, then we will start to understand that economic, spiritual and cultural poverty that has afflicted many of us “minority” groups starts in the mind. Because history is telling us otherwise. Our ancestors weere kings, queens, and wealthy people–mind, body and soul. Never forget that it’s not in our culture, financially, socially or spiritual to be poor.

It’s starts with the way we think of the world and the way we think of ourselves. And that is where we need to start.

DISRUPT Magazine LAUNCHED!

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Fear has never brought life into this world. Liberation
can only be found when you choose to embark on the path to free yourself.

We stand on earth as our own liberators

DISRUPTMGZN.COM

From the bottom of my heart, thank you for supporting and joining this tribe of ruthless visionaries, entrepreneurs, artists and dreamers, of which you all are! I’m looking forward to connecting with each of you personally, and producing products that inspire and empower you to change the world. 
 
On our website, you can find Issue 01, a beautifully curated interactive magazine, available for purchase and to refer to anytime you need that boost of energy, confidence and inspiration for your journey.
 
You can also find free exclusive content from our magazine, videos, special features by contributors in addition to our complimentary manifesto.

 with love,

Hodan

[New Ebook] Guide to Entrepreneurship in Islam

Hey Everyone!

Just wanted to let my beautiful readers know where I am at and what awesome stuff you can expect from me that is going to make your life amazing!

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I will be having my second e book for purchase on Sunday August 11th 2013 at 11:59pm EST!

I’ve sorted through and compiled the best materials on entrepreneurship in Islam and created a Quick Start Guide to Entrepreneurship in Islam. In this easy-to-read guide, I want to make the case that entrepreneurship, and the creative and innovative mind-set that it produces is what is needed in our community, and Muslim communities around the world. We need to start believing in ourselves again, being producers, artists and creators. We need to teach entrepreneurship and cultivate a culture of creativity and innovation. My intention is to instill inspiration and empowerment into anyone who considers themselves an innovator, creator, artist and entrepreneur. Anyone who is committed to creating things. We get lost in our Islamic History as Muslims and live in the past glory of what Islam was able to accomplish rather than taking a painful look at ourselves and saying “how can we be better?”

In the e-book, I’ve cited issues we need to deal with their possible solutions, that can be implements in the home, schools, high education institutions and at a government level.

Sincerely, thank you for all the support you all have given me.

The E book will be available on Saturday August 11 2013 at 11:59pm EST. Click here to see the link to purchase.

10 Lessons in Movement Building

I’ve had the blessing to have been able to be at the start of 2 movements in my 22 years of life. I tend to gravitate towards things I love and believe in regardless of what anyone has to say. Consequently, the people I meet are of the same nature–big thinking game-changers. What drives things from a passion amongst a few people to a movement is sharing that passion with others until it starts to grow into something that no one could ever have predicted. Derek Sivers affirms many of the ideas and experiences I’ve had with movement building.  In this powerful yet simple TED video, Derek Sivers, talks about how to start a movement. You can watch it below. I’ve laid out the entire talk in the following 6 steps:

1) A leader has to have the guts to stand out and be ridiculed.
2) The first follower shows other people how to  follow. The leader embraces the first follower as an equal. It’s important to nurture your first few followers as equals.
3) The first follower is an underestimated form of leadership. The first follower is what translates a lone nut into a leader, which then creates a movement.
4) Movement must be public. New followers imitate the followers, not the leader.
5) As most people join, it’s less risky. Those who were sitting on the fence before have no reason not to. They won’t stand out or be ridiculed. But they will be a part of the in crowd if they hurry.
6) The most important lesson: Leadership is over glorified. Real leadership is showing others how to follow. 


In the law of diffusion of innovation, in it’s simplest form, talks about how an idea spreads. What path does an idea follow from conception to critical mass? It points out the types of people that help an idea along the way and their percentage within the population. The first 2.5% of society are innovators, 13.5% are early adopters, early majority and late majority are 34%(the tipping point or when something becomes popular) and laggards are 16%(the ones who resist change until they have to change).

I’ve, like many of my readers, would categorized themselves as innovators and early adopters. We gain pleasure from finding an idea before anyone else does–in fact, we generally avoid jumping on the bandwagon. We prefer to be at the fringes.

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In 2008, spoken word was something on the fringes. It was one of the 5 elements of hip hop but didn’t have the visibility and familiarity that others elements, such as DJing or BBoying did. From what I remember, it was just a group of passionate people who had something to say coming together to share our ideas, our struggles and the most poignant things on our mind. At the core of it: we loved it, and there was nothing else to it.

And remember, this was just one city, my home city.Other cities were also growing , creating and sharing but eventually that growth hits a critical mass. Now spoken word is everywhere. It has hit mainstream culture.

Another movement I found myself in was the Occupy Wallstreet movement. The conversations that needed to be had about seriously deconstructing some destructive systems in our society was finally being had–and now in PUBLIC.

It was a fantastic experiment in direct democracy and an expression of people being fed up with their current situation. It demonstrated the power people had when they decided to mobilize and figure out ways to discuss ideas that needed to be changed. The most important thing is that it got people TALKING.  But it was also a spectacular failure in many ways. It brought out the many serious issues people face when trying to construct global movements to tackle global problems.

Now, I want to share my top 10 lessons from my time within movements and what you can learn from them and apply to your own movements(or causes your passionate about) so the same mistakes don’t happen. I’m always looking for the next thing to join while in its infancy. Let me know what out there!

Top 10 Lessons in Movement Building

1) Critical mass is hit when your passion is shared and it’s open. It must be public.

2) The first few followers (or the  seeds of a movement) must LOVE , TRUST and RESPECT each other. It’s not enough that you are drawn together by a common goal or belief–that is secondary. There needs to be cohesion of personalities and mutual respect between people. Just like you can not achieve profits in a business without building business relationships, you can not achieve the goals of a movements without building strong relationships between the core of movement leaders. In my experience  spoken word in Ottawa went viral because the core 10-15 people loved and respected each other. Occupy Wallstreet, or more specifically, Occupy Ottawa, couldn’t sustain long lasting momentum because the core group was brought together through a common goal but no real respect, love or trust because no one knew each other.

3) Structures, and systems are as important as the bigger picture but don’t get caught up in them. Processes and procedures are necessary -they tell people what to do and how to do it. If you focus too much on it and not the real important stuff at hand, it’s the easiest way to create animosity and kill momentum.

4) There is an urgent need for open spaces for debate and discussion. It used to be that in rural settings people would sit around the fire or in urban areas, people would have town hall meetings, but this doesn’t exist as much as it use to. In both movements, I was able to see the dire need for people to want to come together to discuss and debate ideas that were important to them and their communities. Many of these types of spaces are popping up, like The Hub, and even Second Cup(national coffee franchise) are trying to transform their spaces into places where people who have something to say can connect. For this to really take off, it needs to resemble something like 18th Century London Coffeehouses where anyone can step in and have a voice, not just those who are predisposed to being innovators or social entrepreneurs.

Conversations are how problems get solved and creating open space concepts are the next logical step.

5) You will be questioned, rejected, laughed at, and credibility will be attacked. This is true with both experiences. The Occupy experience is an example that’s global. It’s really hard to find people who are willing to bet their reputation on something they believe in and truly act on what they believe to be true. The complexities of our society has reduced people to a state of passivity because things are so hard to understand these days, it’s easier to not do anything. Our schooling system doesn’t do much in the way of deconstructing society, but rather reinforcing the status quo. People WILL try to sabotage you. Many local authorities in Ottawa made it their duty to try to destroy the credibility of Occupy. Again, that is normal. You need to see every argument from your opponents eyes. This makes total sense to them. In order to preserve themselves, they needed to destroy the movement.

Getting people to truly understand that change is needed is to try to not convince them at all. The best way to convince someone that something is important is to do it yourself and let them see your passion.

That leads me to my next point(if and when you decide to try to convince anybody about your convictions):

6) Speak to people in a language they understand. A wise person said, it’s not what you say that matters but what people hear. In spoken word, no matter how abstract or esoteric your art was, you need to be able to convey your overall message in a clear and effective manner. One thing that was effective about my time in competitive spoken word(slam) was that you needed to learn how to boil your message down to 3 minutes. If you couldn’t say it in 3 minutes, it didn’t matter. This was a cutthroat underground scene at the time. Everyone had to come with their best. Therefore, you really had to use your time effectively.

Ask yourself: What are you trying to say? How can you say it in 1 or 2 sentences? Why are you saying it? Why should anyone care?

Trying to get people to care is an emotional process, not a logical one. You can get someone to logically understand why a genocide should stop, why we must campaign against corruption or why we must focus on creating safe spaces for people to express themselves, but that doesn’t mean they are going to do anything.

This is why being human is important. We really need to bring the human element back to business, arts, politics and economics.
This may come off as not being professional or “put together” but that’s the only way to get people to respond and the way to inspire them to do anything worth doing.

7) Ideas change with context. It’s important to re appropriate global issues to fit your context. Occupy was a global movement that then had to figure out how to fit itself into a local and regional context. The mistake a lot of activist made was trying to make global demands in a local city. That doesn’t work out.

What you should do is this: If you have an global idea(economic policy, for example) that you are not happy with, try to find specific examples on a local context and tie that to the bigger context(the economy). If you are building a political movement somewhere in Europe, don’t try to do the exact same thing New York tried to do. Localize the global issues and then people will listen. Be specific.

8) IMAGE AND PR is EVERYTHING. Whether you are creating an arts movement or global political movement, it doesn’t matter. The way people perceive you matters. The way you dress, the way you talk, how you present your cause  etc.We are humans, for God’s sake, we will attack anything we don’t like on the most trivial matter. In the Occupy movement, a key element was a camp space. It represented the physical occupation of a space. It was a symbol for the Occupy movement. But that place looked like a ’60s communal space for hippies. Not attractive. It was ugly. And that was a problem. It served a purpose but it could have been done without. Many, many people attacked the movement based on this idea alone, even though we had great people involved and other alternative spaces that worked great. They didn’t see the other stuff, they just saw an ugly headquarters. This type of carelessness for maintaining a flawless image of a movement lead many people to reject the movement all together.

People judge you on what the see first and what you say second. Keep that in mind.

9)Decentralization of power is likely to end up with the centralized power. Everyone likes the idea of decentralization of power–it connotes the idea that “everyone is a leader”. But the truth is, to lead anything, you need a leader. Whether it’s in a company, organization or project, someone needs to take the reins and delegate. I’m no political scientist, but I can probably deconstruct the idea of decentralization to an emotional level. Most people are used to being told what to do all their lives and the chance they get to truly lead themselves to a better outcome, they will run with it.

In my experience, decentralization works so long as there is a commitment to a goal. Just like the idea of democracy, it’s very susceptible to degenerate.  Leadership is not a BAD thing. It’s natural that leaders form within a large group of people. Not everyone wants to have to make decisions and figure out the next step. I would argue that centralization of power works when everyone is on the same page and has the same goal. Although both can degenerate into either mob rule or dictatorship, it’s much easier to take control away from 1 person than to take control away from a group of people, who will use any reason to hold on to their power. I think a lot of people turn away from centralization of power because it takes the form of picture (1) at the top rather picture (2) at the bottom.

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10) Do what you believe is right. Things will always work out. Movement building hard. Sometimes you don’t know what the hell you are doing. That’s okay. When are doing something you believe and are passionate about, your perseverance will always end up opening doors. Just keep pushing and keep at it. Regardless of which direction things took, I always stayed true to what I loved. And that’s an important point. If you stay close to WHY you are doing it, you need to be detached yourself from HOW you do it. In the long term, variables change and that means you need to pivot. Even in building any type of momentum for a cause, those who can not turn left when the sign says “TURN LEFT” are those who stagnant. Even for the change maker , change can be a difficult thing. Always be prepared to change course .

If the root of what you are passionate about doesn’t change then the means of achieving it shouldn’t matter.

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-with love, Hodan