Creating Social Value Blog / Social Innovation

My Friday Morning Routine

By Irene Laochaisri, Babson Undergraduate Student and Intern at The Lewis Institute.

The typical Babson student doesn’t have any classes on a Friday morning. As a result, Thursday evenings have become our equivalent of Friday nights, and our Friday mornings are usually dedicated to a deliciously satisfying amount of sleeping in. Many students take advantage of an extra day in their weekend by taking Zumba classes or going into Boston for a stroll down Newbury Street, but there are some students who bring their Dunkin’ Donut bagels over to Reynolds Global Lounge at noon. These students, along with various staff and faculty members, meet every Friday for about an hour and a half to talk about what it takes and what it means to do good business. These conversations are known as Good Business Fridays, a weekly program powered by The Lewis Institute, Babson’s GPS for navigating social innovation. The fireside-style conversations are led by leading experts in the field of social impact and social value creation, ranging from the Executive Vice President of Human Resources at Target to the much-loved Professor of Philosophy here at Babson. They are open to every member of the Babson community, as well as anyone who is interested in learning more about or taking part in redefining expectations for business by moving from social responsibility to social relevance.

Good Business Fridays have become a staple in my Friday morning routine. Before coming to Babson, my understanding of how much power businesses possess in impacting society and the environment was very limited. My understanding of what doing business means to me as an individual, let alone good business, was even less defined. But the hour and a half I have invested each week immersing myself in a diversity of perspectives has showed me that there are infinite ways of doing meaningful business while maximizing monetary gain. While it is true that businesses exist to generate income and drive economies, the way these businesses go about doing so can be crafted in order to impact people and the environment positively and sustainably. It is a choice that business leaders and entrepreneurs can make, and the best way to learn how these choices can be made is by learning from experts who make them on a regular basis.

In this past Friday’s session (February 21st, 2014) on Value, Values and Ethical Business, I was able to learn about The Container Store’s focus on customer service and their desire to create valuable and memorable experiences for anyone who needs to redecorate their closets or furnish their dorm rooms. Gael O’Brien, the founder and president of Strategic Opportunities Group, brought her own experiences with The Container Store and shared them with the group. In order to stimulate the conversation, Professor Rosa Slegers, a professor of philosophy at Babson, encouraged us to assess the culture the business tries to create through the eyes of Aristotle. The discussion was driven by the students’ own assessment of how they personally define success and failure, and what this means in the context of the Babson education and lifestyle. Through interacting with the guests within a comfortable yet stimulating environment, I gained a better awareness and understanding of myself and how I wanted to contribute to society by using business as a tool. Since I have been at Babson, I have had this growing urge to go out into the world and do as much as I can to enrich it. I now know that it is possible to go about doing so from the interests and passions I already have, be it theater, music or baked goods. My task is now to learn and strategize what this journey will look like, and simply start doing it.

It is within our community’s best interests to educate entrepreneurial leaders who create great economic and social value everywhere. The students at Babson College are driven and passionate connoisseurs of possibility: we strive to expand and defy the limits of what business can do on a daily basis, starting from our very first days at this college through what we experience in FME. In an environment where our peers and mentors are constantly looking for ways to do more and be more, we become hungry for means to enrich our perspectives and grow as an individual. My consistent participation in Good Business Fridays is what has allowed me to do just this.

Every Friday morning, I learn more about the business leader I want to be while expanding my understanding of the potential business has to create impact and change within any context. Every Friday morning, how I see myself contributing to and enriching the lives of those around me becomes closer to a reality. I am enabled to act on my vision for the world I want to create, and I leave each conversation with the intention of doing everything I can to make this happen.