So I was with The Shortcut since August 2016 and while I was committed, I wasn’t sure what my level of involvement would be. And boy little did I know what would unfold for the following 2.5 years to come. I try of remembering what I actually did during this time and it is hard to summarize but I have chosen to share 5 of the highlights of this journey. Bear with me, it may be long, it may feel personal, but this is a glance of how I saw things through this time.
1. Visiting R-Labs in Cape Town.
In March 2017 Anne, Kati, Keith, Mia, Renato and I met at Helsinki’s airport with Cape Town as our destination. Depending on our areas of contribution at The Shortcut we had different learning goals but in a nutshell we were there for their best practices and inspiration. And I dare you being at RLabs or meeting one of their team members and walking out untouched. Their motto is “Making hope contagious”. I am not going to lie, I am a bit cynical so at first it seemed a bit corny. Very soon after stepping in their facilities though, YOU ARE INFECTED of the hope and vision that people leading and people participating share. It is truly inspiring to see how entrepreneurship changes lives. In their own words, RLabs’ mission is to create systems and environments where the lives of many can be impacted, where individuals may find empowerment and transformation can occur through hope, technology, innovation, training and economic opportunities. Check out the impact that RLabs has had in youth and people in risk of marginalization.
2. Opening The Lab.
According to the records, I was the first officially employed person at The Shortcut and my mission during the summer of 2017 was to get things ready for the grand opening of our Learning Lab. It was a summer where a lot of people participated to make the birth of The Lab possible (including my husband and kids coming to help me drag furniture around!). To finally have our open collaborative space ready to the public was a dream come true, a dream that I didn’t start or originally envisioned, to be fair, (it was Anne’s –wink wink-) but one that I was happy to share. For the occasion we had Marlon Parker (my personal example of how to be a leader) and Clinton Liederman all the way from South Africa to kick off with the one week long program Be Your Own Boss.
On a separate but not different note, The Lab is one of the things that makes me the proudest. There are many of us who built it together and I was happy to be part of it and of its upcoming expansion.
3. Being part of the Maria 01 community.
I can’t explain why but for me it was very exciting to work in a place that had a ‘Not a hospital sign’ in the entrance. It is possible that it is because my dad used to encourage me to become a doctor so I found it hilarious that I would end up working in a place that made that specific remark!
But about more profound things, on why I enjoyed being part of Maria 01 I reflect it was the people and particularly the female role models there. I have to say that I was raised by my personal superhero. The most courageous and fierce woman that I’ve and will ever come across, my mother. Because of that, I have never actively looked for female role models, she, Mrs Chávez, without even finishing elementary school taught me that working is not enough but imperative to reach where you want to go. She taught me that if you are going to do something, you do it with all you’ve got or you neither waste nor make others waste their time. So I was raised believing that I could do anything if I only really tried. I was oblivious to the external factors that actually hinder us from achieving things but I argue that it is a good thing because then you don’t stop before at least giving it a go. I wish I will have the same impact in Luna and Max, but in case they need other tangible examples of strong and focused people I am confident that people who I met in Maria and are now my friends will serve that role too.
4. Working for and with a community.
Working for a community is, hands down, the most rewarding experience professionally speaking. And while it can be at times very energy draining, it does come with a flow of ideas and inspiration that you want to be ready for. Already by the beginning of my times at The Shortcut Anne gave me the “title”, acknowledgement or responsibility of being “the voice of The Shortcut”. I assumed it happily since I really didn’t have to try to sound like anything, I was merely communicating a message in which I believed and using my own words. Easiest thing ever! But community work goes way deeper than that and I am afraid words will fail me in describing it. So I will keep it short and say Thank You all who contributed to my learning and to whom I may have done the same. I am happy for sharing my two cents whether it was in creating actual processes and philosophies or creating silly activities to keep the spirit going.
5. Building a team.
I will close with the thing that made me the proudest of all: Building a team. I learned a lot from others and from myself by having the opportunity of leading the efforts of all the talented people who were once part of my team. I am happy that I got to participate in designing the recruitment processes and practices and on letting team members create. It was enjoyable to work with teams that required very little from me since they had their own ambitions and ways to make things happen. I’d say that my biggest contribution to their work was to trust them fully and blindly in what they were good at. There’s no better way to achieve something as a team than having trust and recognizing each others strengths and weaknesses. I won’t say names but you all know who you are. THANK YOU for the learned lessons, for your patience and for your trust. All the hard work is worth it when it is about building teams and nice things together.
I shall observe, now from outside, where the organization leads from now
and I will always celebrate that achievements of the amazing individuals that are part of it. You guys are onto something!
By Yesmith Sanchez – March 11, 2019