Devin: What is your superpower?
Paul: I’m a super-connector.
Paul Zelizer is a coach and consultant to social entrepreneurs who also hosts the Awarepreneurs podcast. With hundreds of episodes under his belt, his show is one of the longest-running in the social enterprise space.
“Awarepreneurs is the ‘How I Built This’ of social entrepreneurship,” Paul says, referring to the popular podcast by Guy Raz. “I wanted to get into the nuts and bolts of how the real-world social enterprise leaders, who are doing well at scale—how’d they get there—and share that and give it away for free.”
Paul Zelizer is a consultant and coach for social entrepreneurs and impact founders.
He helps these individuals achieve product-market fit, which involves understanding their customers’ needs.
Therapy Notebooks, a social enterprise, found success by listening to what its target audience wanted and needed.
Paul emphasizes the importance of market research and product-market fit for successful social enterprises.
He highlights the value of building relationships and networks in social entrepreneurship.
Paul encourages individuals to cultivate relational intelligence.
Paul offers tips for building relationships and connecting with others in social entrepreneurship.
He emphasizes the need to listen to customers’ needs and stay true to personal values and purpose.
Paul provides information on how to access his consulting and coaching services.
The episode concludes with a call to action for listeners to use their superpowers for good and make a positive impact in the world.
As someone who has helped many social entrepreneurs succeed and talked to countless more about their success, Paul sees a major key to success: product market fit.
“Once you have product market fit, your ride as a social entrepreneur is way better than somebody who doesn’t have it,” he says.
Paul shared an example. He recently spoke with Varshil Patel of Therapy Notebooks about the company’s early success. Noting that we are experiencing a global mental health crisis exacerbated by covid, Paul says, “The research tells us that entrepreneurs deal with those issues more than the average population. I will out myself. I include myself in that.”
[Long-time readers of Superpowers for Good know that I include myself in that group.]
The founders of what is now Therapy Notebooks came out of the tech world and expected to find solutions or aids to help people heal from mental health challenges in technology. Early feedback convinced them that people didn’t want more screen time.
Paul shares the story:
They did over 50 market research interviews, and you can listen to the episode. But they spent a year just doing really deep market research and even know the problem. Everybody agreed.
Then they were like, “Well, we'll do like this cool kind of coffee shop slash therapy office, kind of mash-up and make it safer and cooler to go to therapy.” But how do you scale that? That didn't work.
So they went through several iterations and ultimately, it was talking through people. They landed on an analog journal—totally surprised by that. But when they were like, “Okay, what's needed and what's wanted?”
Right now, they're 18 months in. They have 200,000 plus customers in 18 months.
Paul’s work is enabled by his superpower—super connecting.
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Paul will be speaking at SuperCrowd23. “Listeners, you should come to SuperCrowd23. It’s going to be awesome.” He’ll be moderating a panel discussion about networking for capital. It will be a can’t-miss session for social entrepreneurs and diverse founders looking to raise money.
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How to Develop Super Connecting As a Superpower
Paul shared an example of the impact that comes from connecting people:
There's an entrepreneur, a founder of color, a social entrepreneur, who's working to do a redevelopment—economic redevelopment—in what we would call an opportunity zone.
So a founder of color who's got a great economic development and affordable housing initiative in an opportunity zone; he has a great idea, but he doesn't have as much access to investors who would understand what he was doing. I was able to introduce him to somebody. The two of them went and talked.
The person I introduced him to is the leader of a very large impact network in the region that this founder lives in and where the project is located. The two of them talked. They had a fabulous conversation. And it looks like they're going to sign a deal.
Some pretty exciting things are going to happen for that entrepreneur with a network that has a lot of resources, let's just say that.
Paul notes that strengthening your relational intelligence is essential for success as a social entrepreneur. “The research is off the charts about the difference between somebody who approaches business from that individualistic perspective compared to a relational intelligence and an ecosystem mindset. The person who has that mindset is going to do much better.”
“It’s one of the reasons that women leaders tend to create outsized value as leaders, because women, in general, think more about relationships than men do,” he adds.
Paul offers two keys for developing the ability to be a connector.
First, know you can. “You can do it,” he says. “All humans have this capacity to be relational, and we’ve just got to fire up those pathways in our nervous systems as opposed to, ‘I can’t do that,’ or ‘I’m terrible at it.’ No, you just haven’t practiced. It’s time to practice. You got this. That’s the first step.
“The second step is to really listen,” Paul says. He encourages you to listen for two things: value and impact goals or purpose. “I’m listening in the conversation, both for your values and also for the impact you want to have.”
By following Paul’s example and counsel, you can develop your ability to be a super-connector, perhaps making it a superpower that enables you to do more good in the world.
Paul Zelizer (he/him):
Social Entrepreneur Coach and podcast host., Awarepreneurs and Zelizer Consulting
About Awarepreneurs and Zelizer Consulting: Paul Zelizer is one of the first business coaches to focus on the needs of social entrepreneurs and impact founders. He’s also the host of one of the world’s longest-running social entrepreneur podcasts, Awarepreneurs.
Website: www.paulzelizer.com and www.awarepreneurs.com
Company Facebook Page: fb.com/PaulZelizerBusinessCoach
Biographical Information: Since 1993, Paul Zelizer has worked with and led programs for over 30,000 leaders working for positive change in their organizations and their lives. He’s one of the first business coaches to focus on the needs of social entrepreneurs and impact business leaders. As the former Director of Social Media for Wisdom 2.0, a world-renowned conscious business brand, he helped grow the yearly conference from 650 to 1800 attendees in one year. In 2017, he founded Awarepreneurs - two of the things the company is known for our leading social entrepreneur podcast and the Awarepreneurs Community, a global network of 250 social entrepreneurs who support each other in growing their positive impact and their revenue.
Twitter Handle: @paulzelizer
Instagram Handle: @paulzelizer