Rainforest Makers Network
Last week I was deeply honored to have been invited to serve as a founding member of the Board of Trustees of the Rainforest Makers Network by Greg Horowitt, co-founder and Managing Director of T2 Venture Capital and co-author of a great book, The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley.
My last face-to-face conversation with Greg was at the Global Innovation Summit in Silicon Valley in February of this year. I was invited to participate in a panel discussion on ‘Ecosystems from Scratch,’ addressing the issues of building innovation ecosystems in challenging places. As an international development professional focused on technological and business model innovation, I have lived and worked in a lot of challenging environments. I gravitate to foreign places; ‘other’ peoples that are often maligned, misunderstood.
Over the weekend I was reflecting on the idea that ecosystems depend upon people connecting with one another and building trusting relationships. Weaker ties – when strengthened – are often the ones that can be most valuable because there is more potential for new ideas and opportunities to nucleate. My career, which started with business engagements in the USSR and then its successor states, and brought me to the Arab world now, has been all about forging such ties of trust. The Rainforest Axiom #10 reads:
“The greater the diversity in human specialization, the greater the potential value of exchanges in a system.”
As human beings we are not naturally drawn to the people with which, we have little in common – those ‘weaker links.’ However, the message here is that there is much more to be gained by extending ourselves and building bridges of trust that stretch our character.
I look forward to meeting new people and catalyzing the formation of the Rainforest Makers Network. I hope to contribute to thought leadership on how this network can be leveraged to address critical problems like the water and food scarcity, gender inequality and de-carbonization of the global economy. With a healthy diversity of participants united on the common ground of The Rainforest social contract I am sure that this movement will be impactful with respect to global development challenges.
Hwang, Victor and Gregory Horowitt; The Rainforest: The Secret to Building the Next Silicon Valley. Regenwald (February, 2012)
“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” Ralph Waldo Emerson