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Anika Horn

Are you ambitious?

Published about 2 months ago • 5 min read

Welcome to the 81st issue of Impact Curator! I curate this fortnightly newsletter for all of you who believe in transforming their community by amplifying the impact of the change makers around them.
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"You're not ambitious.", my husband says as we're driving to Charleston. It's the last week of March and we are a few hours into our first family vacation (ehem... ever). For someone who took on 'ambition' to be her middle name since first grade, that was a bitter pill to swallow.

Debbie Irwin, former executive director at SCCF, took a new role and several people approached me about stepping into her shoes. While this would have been the logical next step on my career ladder (my husband's point), I knew instinctively that I had zero interest in more grant reporting, Board management, nights and conferences away from my family.

April Rinne's book Flux: 8 Superpowers for thriving in constant change and the occasional conversation with her (listen in here!) keep me honest when temptation knocks to try tell me that more is better. More is not always better.

I've long given up on the idea of climbing any career ladder. When it comes to building community and ecosystems, we're playing an Infinite Game. That doesn't mean we don't also want to get ahead. But, to me, this outdated script is not helpful as I try to design ecosystems for social change. Instead of chasing the next pay raise (though that would be nice) or bigger title, I want to be the BEST ecosystem builder I can be. There's so much more to learn about how to develop a thriving entrepreneurial ecosystem in the Shenandoah Valley.

It wasn't that long ago that I couldn't have told you what I do for fun. I had tied my self worth so deeply to my work that I couldn't bring myself to take more than a weekend of, even when I had no clients, during a pandemic. I was terrified of who I would become if I didn't work diligently every day.

Since taking my current role and our organization shifting to a four-day work week (highly recommend it!), I have found joy in things outside of work again. Reading, cooking, going to events with new friends, hiking, and even taking a one-week family vacation over my daughter's spring break.

I agree that "enjoying life" doesn't scream AMBITION! and I, for one, am proud of how far I've come in separating my self from my work. And don't get me wrong, I genuinely believe I have the best job in the world, but finding joy in other things outside of work also allows me to show up fully present and motivated (dare I say ambitious!?) in my day job.

My ambition has spread out into my personal life. It shows up in wanting to be a present mother who shows up for my daughter's spring recital (9.30 a.m. on a Thursday, seriously!?), who takes ten minutes between work and school pick-up to talk to my husband, who carves out some time for herself and who can show up for her community.

What does ambition look like for you these days? Has COVID shifted anything for you? And for those of you who are self-employed, what does ambition mean to you?

Between my ears

Life, most recently: Things I'm excited about, pondering and trying out:

  • While on vacation, I devoured The Women by Kristin Hannah. I'm a devoted Kristin Hannah and this one did not disappoint. If you're into historical fiction and strong female characters, put this on your reading list this year!
  • I've been binging the Finlay Donovan series by Elle Cosimano. After reading Finlay Donovan Jumps the Gun I'm now halfway through Finlay Donovan Rolls the Dice.
  • Charleston, South Carolina. We spent a week in a lovely AirBnB exploring the Children's Museum, picnicking by the beach, strolling through a very picturesque downtown and enjoying some excellent food. Worth a visit!
  • Bike season is back! It's been more than five months that I could ride my bike into town comfortably, but as I type this, I still feel a thin film of sweat on my back from riding downtown and it feels SO GOOD!
  • My sister is arriving this weekend! She is just crazy enough to jump on a plane for a three-day-visit from Ireland and I JUST.CAN'T. WAIT!

On my desk

What I'm working on right now:

  • Each month, I our Ecosystem team at SCCF authors a blogpost about what we're hearing in the ecosystem. As my colleague Nick (hi Nick!) pointed out, these field notes have turned into a field REPORT these days because we have SO MUCH going on. As I look at our events calendar, partnership conversations and working groups within the ecosystem, I am filled with pride to see that it is, indeed, thriving!
  • Every six months, I convene a regional coalition of entrepreneurship supporters from across the Shenandoah Valley to highlight the events opportunities each of us have coming up for local entrepreneurs, to discuss what gaps and challenges local business owners are facing, and figure out how we can help bridge those gaps. Is there a better feeling than spending three hours in a room workshopping solutions with people who all care about the same thing - see entrepreneurs in rural America thrive? If you're curious to see what the work of an ecosystem builder looks like, here's what we worked on.
  • Only three weeks to go until Startup Champions Network Summit here in the Valley! I am incredibly excited to show off our ecosystem to my peers, shine a light on the local challenges and create an unforgettable un-conference experience for everyone!

Featured Episode

Toss out the old script

... and write your own! In season 2, April Rinne and I talked about finding success and happiness in a world of constant change and ambiguity.


On my radar

I come across a lot of resources that I want to share with fellow ecosystem builders and changemakers. If we're connected on LinkedIn or Instagram, they might already show up in your feed! In case you missed any, here's my curated list from the last two weeks:

I was sad to hear that Zebras Unite is shutting down their co-op entity. From day 1, I was in awe of their commitment to experimenting in public so that we might all learn about this mutualistic culture experiment in real time. I know that neither the staff nor Board of Zebras Unite came to this conclusion lightly; on the other hand, what has emerged over the last seven years was a lot of social capital and a new kind of solidary culture that will persist even beyond the official structure of the co-op. I'm excited to see what the next chapter holds.

Mark your calendars for 2024:


I will be back in your inbox in two weeks!

In camaraderie,

Anika

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Anika Horn

I'm an ecosystem builder for social change. I love telling the stories of systemic changemakers around the world who make their communities a better place to live, work and play.

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