Hard Lesson In Life: Fail Often, Fail Early

1 year, 5 months ago Comments Off
Posted in: Blog

In a small office on Main Street in downtown Cincinnati, with a laptop, hot spot and white board, Charitable Words was created in the fall of 2012. I had an idea of what it might be but no clue how to do it.

As a graduate student, I studied the concepts behind entrepreneurship and social innovation.

But my work experience was as a corporate guy, working for other people.

As I embarked on building Charitable Words, I lived the concepts of what small business builders do every day. My mantra: “Fail often, fail early.” But keep trying new “iterations” on the idea.

I hope I have found the idea.

It’s been six months since this blog, resource links and training modules were created and I began the journey to become a consultant, combining my writing and editing experience with a desire to help others change the world. But the need for marketing and self-promotion repelled me. Invoicing, even at discounted rates for nonprofits, felt sleazy. It just was not me. Begging my friends for “testimonials” was humiliating, although they generously offered kind words. And I was frustrated that the initiative was not getting traction.

So, in organization development jargon, I “re-vectored.”

I concentrated more on an arm of the project called “Charitable Words Scholars,” which matches and funds students interested in humanitarian work with nonprofits in need of help.

The scarce demand for my consulting expertise was humbling. The response to Charitable Words Scholars has been exhilarating. The idea fits nicely between a soccer-team generation that values teamwork and collaboration and nonprofit sector that represents nearly 7 percent of the U.S. workforce but always in need of more help.

As soon as the first three Charitable Words Scholars were announced, I was contacted by dozens of students and nonprofits. Three more were quickly added, funded through our family fund. At least six more are planned in 2013 and the goal is to see that number grow exponentially in coming years as Charitable Words attains nonprofit status and may raise foundation and donor funds to sustain and grow. The plan: Charitable Words Scholars will become an entity unto itself – a network with reunions, celebrations, recognition and service opportunities.

The web site is being designed so that content will primarily be reports from the field from the Scholars about the work they are doing and spotlights on the nonprofits and non-government organizations they may be assigned to globally.

So if you look at the archives and see advice from a would-be consultant on storytelling, crowdfunding or other issues relevant to the nonprofit world, take what you may find of value and ignore the rest.

My only advice now: Fail often. Fail early. But hold on to your dream.

Charitable Words,

Tom Callinan

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