Darrell Kopke is a man who uses the word “audacious” a lot. The word describes him to a T – bold, brazen, unrestrained, cheeky, original, ballsy. A stocky 40-something guy in sneakers, distressed jeans, a well-worn t-shirt and an unbuttoned shirt, he hardly looks the part of a powerhouse game changer, but that’s exactly what he is. He’s on mission is to redefine capitalism, and he’s doing it from the inside out.
Kopke is the man behind Vancouver-based Institute B, a wildly unconventional accelerator for social enterprises and corporations with heart. But don’t let that fool you. He is first and foremost a capitalist, and makes no apologies for it. “If we’re going to change the world, being righteous about it is not going to work”, he says. “You have to speak the right currency.”
I met Kopke at the 2013 Toronto SociaLIGHT conference, where he effortlessly held a crowd of 1,000 in the palm of his hand. When he speaks he delivers raw, white-hot, truth. Listening to him is like a hit of cayenne pepper. He passionately talks about reshaping corporate culture. “A culture is a series of conversations that exist in the work environment”, he says. “Flawed corporate cultures are actually manifestations of the unresolved issues of the leadership team.” Chew on that for a minute. Corporate culture just got deep.
Youinc.com calls the SociaLIGHT conference “a mecca for emerging entrepreneurs”. A killer conference like this is a good investment for any budding entrepreneur. It is the brainchild of spitfire Founder, Theresa Laurico, who envisioned a conference where entrepreneurs could rally together for inspired action. In its first year, Laurico and sold her condo to make it happen. Talk about committing to your vision.
Heavyweight speakers have included Richard Branson, Seth Godin, Tony Hsieh, and Mastin Kipp. One of this year’s all stars was Natalie Sisson, the woman behind The Suitcase Entrepreneur. Sisson calls herself a “digital nomad” and has created a portal for business freedom through mobility. “Basically,” she says, “I try to get people who have a business to feel happy and feel free.” Now there’s a refreshing approach to entrepreneurship – audacious, even.
Sisson is a self-made success, a major force of power and influence, and an Amazonian bombshell, to boot….and she couldn’t be more approachable and endearing. She held a stick of fluffy pink cotton candy when we were first introduced. Later, over a chocolate chip muffin, we chatted about the difference between men and women in entrepreneurship.
“Guys are laser focused on the one thing that they want to do, and women try to be everything to everybody. And if you want to build a successful business, you can’t be everything to everybody,” she says. “I would love for more women to build teams and free up more of their time so they can enjoy their life.”
Both Sisson and Kopke say they deal with a lot of founders who have “founder’s syndrome”, which boils down to an inability to delegate and relinquish some control over time. They both agree that it can be the kiss of death for a business.
“I think a lot of entrepreneurs – women and men – tend to try and do everything themselves,” says Sisson. “And that’s where it goes wrong.” She says strategic outsourcing is the key, and speaks from experience. Once bogged down in with a lot of administrative and tech work, she realized she had to get out of her own way. “You need to start outsourcing the stuff that is not your core competency, so you can actually work on the stuff that is. Otherwise you’re putting your gifts to the side.”
If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur you MUST check out The Suitcase Entrepreneur for easy and affordable bizhacks, from tech tips to marketing tools. Since starting my business, Sisson’s book and blog have helped move me forward in countless ways. And if you’re looking for an empowered entrepreneurial tribe, check out the SociaLIGHT Conference.