This week’s interviewee is Viv Slack, co-founder of Street Support, a central platform around homelessness in cities, making it easier to access services and to find out what to DO to help. She also offers freelance digital advice for social impact projects.
1. Biggest mistake you made in the last year & how you fixed it?
My biggest mistake is one I am afraid I have repeated more than once – I say yes when what I need to say is no!
If there is an opportunity to go to meet someone, be part of something, or help out in some way, my instinct is to say yes. This has led to some wonderful experiences and outcomes, but it also has a dark side. I often fill up my time to such an extent that there isn’t enough space to think smart or to get through tasks, and I find myself feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, and generally not feeling very calm or wise.
The way I am ‘fixing this’ is by reflecting on the effect it has on me, listening to when my heart says no, and being more strategic. I try to have a clear list of priorities and pause to reflect when something else comes up that is outside of those. I love the freedom to shape my week at will, but am experimenting with two days a week free of meetings – one I spend at home working through things quietly, and another in the office with my team. It feels like progress!
2. A lightbulb moment
I’ve noticed that often these aha moments come when we take a break from our routine – work in a different space or spend some time with paper and pens away from computers. We decided to work outside the city for a half day thinking about our strategy, and it was while sketching out some ideas it hit me – what we are doing with streetsupport.net isn’t about software, it is about systems change. Digital is a great way to reach more people and communicate in an effective way, but what we are trying to do is change how people think about our world – there is far more to this than technology.
3. Tip for tomorrow
For anyone working in social impact or systems change, I absolutely recommend looking into TheoryU and the ULab course. I learned plenty and gained new skills, but more than that I had a chance to experience ‘work’ in a very different way. It showed me a way to bring in elements that are very much part of my personal life – values, empathy and mindfulness. I have been around human-centered design for many years, and co-production is really important for Street Support and Manchester Homelessness Charter, but this approach seemed to go deeper – approaching change with curiosity, compassion and courage, looking for a new understanding of how the world is for other people, valuing feeling as much as thinking and action, and allowing radically different solutions to emerge. If you would like to approach what you do with an open mind, heart and will, I recommend checking out ULab!
Want to share your advice?
NWB confessional style interviews are posted every Monday from people in the business community. They are not self-promoting, or carefully selected quotes to make you sound good. They are full of useful, actionable insights from experience, not egos or bravado. If you like NWB’s style and have something useful to say, we’d love to interview you. Tweet @nowankybollocks or email katie [at] subjectconsulting.com.