Unlocking Your Potential in 2024
Finding the courage, community and clarity to solve some of the world’s most complex problems
“Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail” Ralph Waldo Emerson
With the beginning of a New Year, thoughts often turn to what is next. How much boldness and how much courage do we hold when we think about the next stretch of our path, or indeed the next best version of ourselves, in the year to come. The human potential movement would say we all have an ideal self, an image of who it is that we want to be and, to live our best lives, we must live and act in a way that is congruent with that image. New Year can often pull this kind of thinking into focus, giving it a new urgency: How do we unlock our own potential to do more in 2024?
Firstly, we don’t do it alone.
At Zinc, we know the story of our mission impact starts with our people. How we find talent, how we develop it and how we support it in the forming and performing of teams, is central to the change in our mission areas that we are here to create. We need to unlock the potential of exceptional Founders who are going to go onto build the ventures that will solve the biggest societal problems around health, the environment and financial resilience. But this potential is only unlocked by being human-first, and the potential is only realised relationally.
In truth we know that start-up ventures will fail for one of three reasons: lack of runway, lack of product/market fit, or the team (and the humans that make up that team) won’t last the course. As Chief People Officer at Zinc, this last one for me is everything. Founders must be prepared to take risks, navigate uncertainty and complexity, back themselves authentically, listen and evolve, and continually reconnect to their purpose. So much of any success in fulfilling potential is rooted in our relationships, our mindsets, and our openness to change.
To be most effective we must iterate, prototype and pivot ourselves and our relationships as much as we do the products and services we are building.
It’s easy to see why a human-first approach is the direction of travel for many of the most successful VCs, venture builders and incubators. Building a movement around how we support people effectively when they’re doing something new, brave, bold, different, gives these ventures and these people the best chance of maximum impact. (Here are some examples from the teams at Kindred or Octopus)
Secondly we accept that it’s hard. But hard is good.
Doing new, ambitious things is hard. But sometimes taking the easy route is harder. At Zinc we don’t underestimate the challenges and pressure of building and growing a category-defining mission-first company from scratch. Talking to any of our Founders over the last seven years, there are certainly easier life choices. But it’s also true that stretch is growth. And certainly the longer we stay in our comfort zone, the smaller it gets.
As James Clear, author of Atomic Habits writes:
“Strangely, life gets harder when you try to make it easy. Exercising might be hard, but never moving makes life harder. Uncomfortable conversations are hard, but avoiding every conflict is harder. Mastering your craft is hard, but having no skills is harder. Easy has a cost.”
Maybe 2024 is the time for you to be uncomfortably alive.
Thirdly, we know it’s about creating the conditions for courage.
Ambitious goals are important, but more important still are the conditions, connections and systems we put in place to achieve them. Maslow would say we have to feel supported, connected, physically and psychologically safe, only then can we take risks. And building a mission-first venture is certainly risky.
Being around the right people is a pivotal part of the platform of Zinc. Not only in the cohort of other Founders who are just as driven and determined to create change, in the Zinc team and the network of exceptional Fellows, but also in the dedicated space created by our network of Executive Coaches.
This engaged community of over 100 coaches are motivated to use their expertise for the missions that matter. Zinc coaches continually enable the unlocking of potential within our Founders, offering a time to think, a partner to navigate and sense-make, a space where Founders and teams can grow through challenge and support, and an accountability anchor for their purpose.
“Founders focus all their energies on developing the product and the business, whilst neglecting their own development. The gap gets wider and wider between the business needs and the founder until eventually the founder falls in” David Clutterbuck
In the process of unlocking Founder potential, coaching allows the time to voice and challenge emotions that often arise in transition: the battling of imposter syndrome, the creation of new, fundamentally important relationships, the managing of uncertainty.
For this reason, the space to explore topics such as courageous conversations and conflict, confidence and self-esteem, building a team, investor dynamics, and navigating uncertainty and risk, are built into the Zinc experience as masterclasses, and are led by our community of leadership experts and coaches. We’ll be sharing more on these topics in future posts.
When we are talking about human potential in 2024 we are talking about growth. And growth demands self-reflection and awareness, that will then allow us to respond differently and be that next best version of ourselves and shed what is no longer working. Awareness, as they say, is curative, and helps us unlock what is next.
“As human beings we are not problems waiting to be solved, but potential waiting to unfold.” Frederic Laloux
Is 2024 the year you unlock YOUR true potential? If you are an innovator, entrepreneur or academic looking to tackle challenges in health and environment, our next venture builder is open for applications.
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Impact Report 2023
We started Zinc with the hypothesis that missions are an effective way to attract highly ambitious, talented and experienced groups of innovators, who might not recognise themselves as “classic entrepreneurs” but are ready and able to start a new commercial and successful venture to tackle some of our most pressing societal issues.
The world has overcome the sorts of challenges we face today when it has adopted a mission-based approach to the biggest problems and brought together world-class talent to invent and innovate, e.g: NASA and landing a man on the moon, the LSE blueprinting the British welfare state, or the Gates Foundation aiming to eradicate diseases.
On this basis and assumption, we designed Zinc as a new mission-based Venture Builder — a place where global talent, ‘impact makers’, can join to experiment and develop new solutions to our most pressing societal issues.
To Eliminate Environmental Threats to Our Health
Environmental health threats pose a grave danger to human health and well-being, causing suffering to individuals and communities worldwide. These threats, which include chemical pollution, climate change, and biological hazards, cause acute and chronic diseases and exacerbate existing health conditions.
To protect those we care about, we must tackle the causes of environmental degradation, shield people from the consequences of environmental harm, and, where protection fails, we must mitigate the health impacts they suffer.
This demands action to improve all aspects of our environment: soil, food, air, water, and the built environment. It requires us to focus on every aspect of human health to reduce suffering.
Entrepreneurship and technology are powerful means to tackle these challenges. That’s why we are backing 70 founders to build innovative companies addressing this mission.