A week of generosity, with each sunrise bringing a new day of connection, collaboration and inspiration.

Written by Richard Eason, Founder at CycleFox

In February 2016 I spent a week in India with a group of 20 people from around the world, joining together to share ideas and help each other maximise our impact as we each work on building purposeful businesses.

Based between Chennai and Pondicherry, on the East coast of India, we embarked on a week without an agenda. We shared stories, held pop-up workshops, danced bollywood style and enjoyed delicious food. This event, organised by The Happy Start-Up School, was called Ashram.

Sharing

Apu’s breathtaking story of his part in the quest to stop an Indian cotton farmer committing suicide every 30 minutes was something else. It’s a relief to know that I’ll be able to continue to support the cause in a small way by buying cool clothes from the No Nasties brand (they ship worldwide).

As well as sharing stories and challenges, people also shared insights into the ways and means in which they’re extending the impact of their own businesses.  Perhaps what struck me most was learning from those who were working away building their own communities. Really smart people like Stephanie at Helpings, Jo from Make Do Co, Meredith with Food at Heart and Dipna at Love The World Today.

Their commitment and dedication to creating something special was inspiring. But it wasn’t just learning from those who were already on the community building journey. Seeing Dawn’s passion for providing creative opportunities for her children, and translating this into the launch of a new Dream Exploreres movement during the Ashram week, proved to be pretty motivating too.

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Pop-up workshop by the brilliant Richard Alderson from Career Shifters (with some future young entrepreneurs getting in on the act)

Impact

Before I went on Ashram I had recently read an article about collaboration in the craft brewing industry. It was all about how new craft beer start-ups were supported by those who were more established. Rather than see each other as competition, they shared ideas, experiences and even resources. As a result of this, they were collectively increasing their impact, with craft beer taking chunks of market share from the ‘big beer’ brands.

It was this kind of collaboration that was happening at Ashram. Here there was a mixture of different businesses and ventures. People from different countries and backgrounds, ranging from highly successful CEOs to those still exploring what might be their future purposeful path. But what united the group was a generosity of spirit. A willingness to share ideas, to be open and honest and alive to opportunities for future collaboration. As Seth Godin says:

“All of us are smarter than any of us”

 

Community

During my week in India I realised that to be able to create the most amount of impact – to help more people make cycling a bigger part of their London life – I should work more on connecting an inner community, who are able to help support a wider community. The idea is it would look a bit like this:

CycleFox Community

London for now, but who knows where the community will grow…

Action

So inspired by my fellow Ashramers and armed with new ideas and smart ways of working, it’s time for me to crack on and take action. Here are 3 things at the top of my list:

  • Reach out to more cycling people & places in London, share their story on CycleFox and help connect them with their own local communities.
  • Provide a space for collaboration between those working on bicycle related projects across London, by hosting a series of open Ideas on a Bike events*.
  • Creating & share content that provides value and inspires more people to make cycling a bigger part of their daily lives.

Focusing on these things will help me deliver on my mission of helping more people enjoy the fun and freedom of cycling. I believe the bicycle has a big role to play in building happier, more vibrant and connected communities. There are many others in London who think the same. Through collaboration we’ll be able to maximise our impact, working together to help create happier places to live.

*(visit www.ideasonabike.com to find out more about these events).

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