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Own Your Impact: Beyond Profit, Towards Transformation

Back in the early 2000s, "impact" wasn't a buzzword plastered across every business website. Back then, we called it "sustainability," an audacious concept championed by a handful of trailblazers amidst a skeptical landscape. I was one of those pioneers, fueled by a deep-seated desire to build a business and leave a positive mark on the world. TILT Studio Inc. (TILT) was born from this yearning, a design and communication agency with a mission to transform corporations from the inside out.

Remember Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth"? That film wasn't just a documentary; it was a clarion call. We were early supporters of Green Drinks, fostering environmentally conscious conversations over pints. In Baltimore, we established a haven for community: a garden intertwined with an art gallery, a vibrant green space in the heart of the city.

Our London expansion saw us take root in the Impact Hub Kings Cross, and later, in a revolutionary 360º vertical farm in Dalston Kingston by our friends Something & Son. Chickens clucked, bees buzzed, and lush greenery cascaded down the building façade – a living testament to our dedication to sustainable practices.

But our ambitions stretched beyond brick-and-mortar. We dreamed of influencing the behemoths – the multinationals with the power to truly shift paradigms. 

We started with communication and design, crafting sustainability plans, and executing bold projects for clients like Compass Group, Kwik Trip Stores, and many major restaurant groups from Darden to Starbucks. Mighty Leaf Tea tapped us for their school strategy to bring tea to the masses, and International Paper found in us a collaborator for their community-building initiative PaperRep.

Yet, amidst these successes, a profound realization emerged: impact thrives on community. Our single product was a custom strategic growth effort to "Foster Experience" to Create Change™ (yes, we even trademarked it), and it couldn't flourish in isolation. It needed a fertile ground of shared interest, collaboration, and collective action. This realization became the cornerstone of our philosophy – the "nucleus approach." Just as an atom finds stability through its nucleus, so too impact finds its true power within a community.

The Foundation, TILT's non-profit sister, embodied this belief. Their collaboration with the Time Square Alliance Urban Forest Project birthed a six-week city-wide event series in Baltimore, transforming an overlooked space into a vibrant hub of engagement. As author Simon Sinek aptly remarks, "People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it." For us, "why" meant fostering community, and community meant impact amplified. We still use parts of this method in our Growth Plan, but we have also evolved thanks to our partners and friends at The Sunday Afternoon Project and Pete Sena to ask the question, "who are you?"

But we weren't just tree huggers. We understood the critical role of financial sustainability. Every project was approached with profitability in mind, ensuring our own longevity and the ability to reinvest in further impact. We championed net profitability, a philosophy that prioritizes both financial health and social responsibility. This allowed us to create a haven for our employees, fostering their growth and well-being. Their smiles and dedication were testaments to the impact we made within our own walls.

But here's the truth: impact doesn't blossom in a vacuum. As Simon Sinek so aptly puts it, "Without community, a business is just a business. With community, a business has soul." We discovered this firsthand. While the impact we created for clients was phenomenal, the frustration of limited reach gnawed at me. Being "on the outside looking in" wasn't enough. The needle needed to move further, faster.

After a decade of intense work, TILT evolved. We had an impactful exit, spawning three spin-off ventures, each carrying the torch of impact forward. But for me, it was time for a new chapter.

My journey continued, leading me to diverse roles: researcher at Cornell, project manager at City Harvest, and even a stint at Chobani during their exceptional growth phase. I landed in Venture Capital in FoodTech when everyone else was, but I was constantly challenged with the overall contextual landscape of the industry and the difference between acceleration and market adoption. I landed in economic development post-pandemic which scored me the greatest adventure of my career to date; Private Credit and Business Advisory Services with a partner that believes in positive sum mindset.

Each experience broadened my perspective, honing my skills as a founder and operator. 

Remember, every journey ultimately ends, but its legacy can live on.

Looking back, I realize the most profound lesson wasn't in the impact we created for clients, but in the power of community-driven transformation. TILT's legacy wasn't just in the projects we did, but in the movement we ignited.

This is why I'm thrilled to be part of reSET, an impact accelerator in Connecticut. We're hosting our 2024 Spring Accelerator. This is your chance to join a community of passionate entrepreneurs committed to solving social, environmental, cultural, and economic problems.

Remember, impact isn't just about profit; it's about leaving the world better than you found it. It's about building something bigger than yourself, something rooted in purpose and shared passion.

So, are you ready to own your impact? Join reSET, join the movement, and let's create a future where profit and purpose dance hand-in-hand.

Spread the love, share this post, and apply before February 14th! We can't wait to welcome you to our community.

P.S. This is just the beginning. I have much more to share on this journey, on building businesses with soul and creating impact that transcends the bottom line. Stay tuned for more blog posts and insights!

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