The Startup Leadership Program (SLP) is a highly selective,
global, not-for-profit education programme and lifelong network for the next
generation of entrepreneurs who want to become the best startup CEOs. Classes
are held on evenings or weekends. No equity is taken, just a small fee on
admission to cover costs such as materials, food, drink and venue hire.
On Monday 27th January 2020 we held the "Give
Back/Social Impact" class, led by myself.
This session guided fellows through the first two stages of
an accelerated Design Sprint focused on key issues felt by SLP itself.
Fellows used learning from past SLP sessions in conjunction
with our personal and professional experiences to develop new solutions for SLP
to take forward and test in their community.
SLP faces key challenges both in London and globally; Beyond
small local, personal bonds, SLP lacks a “platform-wide” incentive and reward
system to facilitate fellows to keep returning to the community (no equity, no
physical location, fluid team, no structure, voluntary, low brand awareness).
The voluntary nature of SLP means there is no structured resource. The program
is entirely dependent on fellows and volunteers. How do you build on this
organisation to develop meaningful value to current and prospective fellows?
This was the Challenge put to my class. Full class notes and
structure can be viewed here.
We kicked off the session in the usual way; a chance for
Fellows to update us on anything notable that happened in the past week (good
or bad), and then onto my book recommendations.
My first recommendation is a classic; ‘How to Win Friends
and Influence People’ (the top ten lessons have been summarised at the bottom of the page, below)
Next, was an unusual but highly entertaining book my partner
introduced me to; ‘The Tao of Pooh and the Te of Piglet’.
Winnie the Pooh's way of doing things seems strangely close
to the ancient principle of Taoist philosophy, while Piglet exhibits the very
important principle in Taoism of the Te, meaning Virtue of the Small. The
author's explanations of Taoism and Te through Pooh and Piglet show that this
is not an ancient and remote philosophy but something that you can use, here
This brought us onto the Design Challenge itself. To kick
off it was crucial fellows had a deep understanding of challenges faced by SLP
and were able to ask clarifying questions to get as much info as possible
before they started brainstorming solutions (or solutionising as I like to call
it, but was reminded several times…this is not a word!).
Anupendra Sharma, the Founder and US Chapter Lead, was
connected in via Skype to share his reasons for establishing SLP in 2006 and
his understanding of the key challenges. Steven Hess, UK Chapter Lead, also
shared his thoughts on the key challenges and both answered questions from
We kicked off by dividing fellows into small groups of 3-4,
followed by rapid post-it note brainstorming, narrowing down ideas, grouping,
Next we gave fellows time to plan and present their solution
back to the group.
Based on the feedback received it seems fellows thoroughly
enjoyed this class. I found it exhausting to fit the first two stages of an
accelerated design sprint into a 3-hour period but am incredibly impressed with
what the fellows came up with. It also felt good to give back to an
organisation that has given me, in such a short space of time, so much, not
least a new group of friends that I can rely on to support me through my
We will work with SLP to implement aspects of fellow’s ideas
and report back in due course!