Thursday, March 19, 2015, 11:46 AM

Impact Blog - The Launch and the Half-Full Glass

Authored by Pam Rothenberg

After months of investigation, learning, networking and analysis (lawyers never do anything simply), I am excited to announce that we recently established a new practice at our firm focused on the Impact Economy.  With this inaugural post, we are launching our Womble Carlyle Has Impact Blog. 

The Impact Economy is a new force enabling businesses to both generate profit and achieve social benefit – where market-driven solutions can sometimes be even more effective than philanthropy in addressing certain social problems.  The Impact Economy also is where the private, public and philanthropic sectors are coming together to collaborate in new creative ways to address overwhelming and seemingly insoluble local, national and global societal problems.

For the Impact Economy to reach its greatest potential, it requires support from many different segments of the business community, including the legal profession.  Our hypothesis in establishing this practice (á la The Lean Startup) is that businesses operating in Impact will be more effective when they work with lawyers that “get” Impact – lawyers who are both credentialed and whose hearts are in the game.  (We invite you to help us validate this assumption.)

With this in mind, we have assembled a cohort of our dedicated attorneys (who have collective experience in virtually all of the sectors of Impact) into an Impact team (I-Team) that is using an Impact lens to customize offerings to address the unique needs and objectives of businesses striving for Impact.  Check out our new video:


Why Impact at Womble Carlyle?  (Yes, Simon Sinek, we agree that you must “start with why.”)  Let me try to explain with this story.

Recently, Mia, my ten-year-old, and youngest, daughter, asked me one of those challenging kid questions. The kind that requires you to pause and take care in responding because of the power your answer can yield.  “Mom, what does it mean when people ask if your glass is half-full or half-empty?”  As many possible responses ran through my head, I gathered myself to answer.

First, I asked Mia to envision her life as though it were a canvas that was half-finished yet filled with limitless possibilities.  “You have endless supplies to paint the rest of your life picture any way you choose.  Does that fill your head with ideas? Do you feel powerful? Can you paint an awesome picture?”  Next, I asked her how she would feel if her “life canvas” was half-finished but that she had no supplies to complete it – as though she had to operate in a deficit mode and without opportunities or energy.  “Is your spirit lifted?  Do you feel creative, positive and in control?”  I concluded with my view that people who have a “glass is half-full” approach are more confident about the future.  They believe, even when they face obstacles and experience losses (as everyone does), that they have the power, resources and spirit to surmount them.  “So always do your best to visualize that your glass (and believe that your life) is half-full.”
Later as I pondered this conversation, I reminded myself that the points I conveyed to Mia are equally relevant for me despite the years and life experiences that separate us.  No doubt, I want all three of my daughters to have faith in the possibilities – to believe they have power, strength and personal efficacy.  So, why do I have trouble maintaining that same perspective for myself?  How do we, as adults, keep the faith that the glass we hold is half-full? Sustaining a positive outlook becomes even more difficult when you consider these queries in the context of today’s ongoing economic and societal challenges.  How do we sustain our convictions that we can leverage resources, maximize opportunities and creatively take action to help ourselves and others solve problems and overcome huge challenges?  

Enter the Impact Economy. I sincerely believe that some of the answers to these questions can be found within the Impact-focused paradigm shift we are now experiencing.  When I think about the possibilities now emerging by virtue of this new Impact Economy, I feel that the world is shifting on its axis and transforming from a glass that is “half-empty” to one that is “half-full.”  The Impact Economy amazes me, invigorates me and fills me with hope.  And these feelings are shared by many of my colleagues at our firm.  We are genuinely compelled to be a part of this growing phenomenon.  We are passionate about using our legal expertise to help solve endemic social problems and to champion our clients that are tenaciously striving to achieve these outcomes.  And, by doing so, we are “filling our glasses.”  This is our “why.”
In this Womble Carlyle Has Impact Blog, we plan to showcase the pioneering businesses, philanthropists, policy-makers, and individuals that are leading the way in Impact and to explore in detail the deal structures, capital sources and tools they are using to do so.  We look forward to joining with you to help foster the growth of the Impact Economy.

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