Pay it Forward: What have you done for your community lately?

This article is written by Peri Kadaster

My brother has a favorite question, which I’ll paraphrase roughly as, “What have you done to change the world today?”. It’s a source of daily inspiration for him, and for me it’s sometimes a reminder that there’s always room to do more.

As many of Startup Turkey’s entrepreneurs and mentors are well aware, this past week was a holiday – Kurban Bayrami, or the Sacrifice Festival – which is centered around charity, and community. While the celebrations can vary widely, the core concept is about reconnecting with friends and family, providing rare opportunities to bond with people we may not always be able to see in daily life, and giving to those in need.

For many individuals and companies who operate in regions where this holiday is celebrated, this week is all about spending time out of the office. But to me it was also a reminder – why not look at some of these principles through the lens of not only personal, but also professional, lives?

“Community” is a term that’s lately used as much in reference to startups than it is to local neighborhoods. I won’t repeat my past thoughts on the importance of collaboration among startups, and between startups and corporations, but in short these anecdotal (as well as empirical) data show the benefits to all parties through collaboration.

Indeed, providing mentorship – or just an outlet for brainstorming – can provide not only new ideas or new perspectives to a start-up, but can also stimulate creativity and new ideas for the mentor themselves. Take a step back and think of yourself – a month ago, a year ago, a decade ago – when you first had an itch to do “something” with a startup. Most likely the first few weeks were spent consulting with friends, family, domain experts, connections of connections, etc.

These conversations may have provided the foundation for what your venture does – or doesn’t – do today. A gentle reminder, then, to “pay it forward,” and continue to share your insights, experiences, and wisdom with others. You’d be surprised at the scale and impact some of these conversations can make across your startup community. From accepting an invitation to a brief coffee chat, to taking the initiative to organizing a forum yourself (e.g., “Women in Analytics,” “iOS Developers in Izmir”, “Aspiring Entrepreneurs”), there are countless ways to connect and contribute to likeminded people. Importantly, identify a topic that you are truly passionate about, that you’re excited to spend time and effort on.

As many of us enjoy these days off, I encourage taking a moment for self-assessment on this idea of “paying it forward” in our startup communities – have we made time to help those great teams coming up, or to link great technical talent looking for the right product to build? Are we creating new opportunities for bonds to forge? Are we contributing what we have – experience, ideas, network, capital – to partners in need? Overall – are we giving to others as much as we have received, and will continue to?

As summer stretches its lazy paws for a few more weeks, before the hectic grind of Q4 planning and year-end goals become all-consuming, take a few moments to reconnect with your community; Let’s see if there are more ways to change the world today – starting with ourselves.

─ September 12, 2018