Relationships – Trust in your instincts & capabilities

Devin Hibbard – Relationships – Trust in your instincts & capabilities.

Bead for Life is based almost entirely on relationships. It’s our relationship with the women in Uganda, but it’s also really about relationships with the women who buy the beads and share the stories and our whole staff is predominantly women, not entirely.

So building relationships is really important to us, and it feels like it’s not only a strategy, but it’s an authentic exchange. I can’t go in and convince someone to bring us into their shop, or to host a big event where they’re selling beads. If I’m not truly engaging with them as a person, as a human being.

So our team that does all of our external reaching out, which might be called a sales team in most organizations, is an engagement team. Because it truly is about sharing the story and building a connection with someone. And even though we are obviously trying to have people support our work by buying our products, we actually really care about that relationship and they come away feeling good about it, and that they came kind of feeling inspired.

It’s not hard to do, to tell other people about our story. It’s interesting working with the women. A women’s centric organization, because there is a lot more focus on process. As women, we want everyone else to feel good and to take care of each other. Sometimes I think we’re less efficient, we’re less or sort of, you know, running by the books.

At the end of the day, though, I think that building the networks and focusing on how does everybody feel to get the same result builds stronger and longer lasting teams and results, because we’ve done the time to understand what different people need out of the process. So we are very process focused, we constantly are looking at, could our meetings be half an hour instead of an hour? But there’s also just something about working in an environment that’s all women that is about sharing what’s going with our lives, and sharing what’s happening with the women, and sharing what’s happening with our broader circle.

We love to work with men. We invite men in. it’s interesting, sometimes men just don’t get it. I have one consultant that I work with, and he is like, you are running a cult! This business model where people come and sell your beads for free?! Nobody has this business model! He’s like, what you do is insane! No one has the profit margins you have because you have it built on volunteers.

The thing is, they get paid by meaning. People feel like they’re changing lives, and that’s why they do it. We don’t pay people who sell our beads a commission. We don’t give them any special gifts. They know that they’re doing this work because it changes the lives of women in Uganda. Sometimes I think men look at that and they just don’t get it. They’re like, how is this sustainable? How did they sell millions of dollar of beads without a heavy distribution strategy. So it’s really interesting, whereas women come in and they’re like, oh, of course.