Superpowers for Good
Superpowers for Good: Empowering Changemakers for Social Impact via Regulated Investment Crowdfunding from the SuperCrowd.
Shutting Down and Rising Up: Lessons from a 10-Year Journey - s11 ep25

Shutting Down and Rising Up: Lessons from a 10-Year Journey - s11 ep25

Author Nell Derick Debevoise Shares the Takeaways From Her Experience Leading and Closing a Social Enterprise to Help Changemakers Find and Celebrate Impact

Remember, you can watch the Superpowers for Good show on e360tv. To watch the episode, download the #e360tv channel app to your streaming device–Roku, AppleTV or AmazonFireTV–or your mobile device. You can even watch it on the web.

When you purchase an item after clicking a link here, we may earn a commission. It’s an easy way to support our work.

Devin: What do you see as your superpower?

Nell: I love this question and framing. I consider my superpower to be connecting dots.

Author Nell Derick Debevoise wrote Going First to share the lessons learned over ten years of leading a social enterprise, Inspiring Capital, that she ultimately shuttered. Having found a path forward to continue her mission of creating a better world, she wants other changemakers to benefit.

She notes that the work we do can be difficult on us: 

The purpose-driven among us, the changemakers out there, are the hardest on ourselves. We see the problems in our world so vividly. They hurt us, right? Whether that's around climate or social issues and human rights or racism or a very specific local issue in our communities, or the way that our employees are treated, whatever that thing is really sits in our hearts and is heavy.

She wants to help change agents find a sense of accomplishment in their progress.

My point with the book and with the work is to help people take a breath, take stock of everything they're doing and just recognize all the ways that we do already have impact through our work, but also our lives holistically. That's what the spheres of impact do. That's what this playbook is, a kind of guided journal for people to work through on their own or in a group, at their workplace or in their community, take credit for what they're already doing that has impact.

Nell achieves success using her superpower, connecting dots.

AI Episode Summary

  • Devin Thorpe welcomes guest Nell Derek Debevoise to the show

  • Debevoise has been working in the impact space for many years

  • She has recently written a book called Going First: Find the Courage to Lead Purposefully and Inspire Action

  • The book is a guided journal that helps individuals recognize the impact they already have and find ways to increase it

  • Debevoise believes that purpose-driven individuals are often too hard on themselves and need to take a breath and appreciate their current impact

  • Her superpower is connecting dots, gathering diverse ideas and people, and finding connections between them

  • Debevoise shares the challenging experience of shutting down her company after ten years

  • She emphasizes the importance of mindfulness in developing the skill of connecting dots

  • To connect with Debevoise and learn more about her work, visit her LinkedIn page or the website of her company, 3D Performance Group

  • Debevoise is hosting two events in November; one focused on one-on-one coaching and equine-assisted learning and the other on group work and energy tools for collaboration and performance improvement

How to Develop Connecting Dots As a Superpower

Nell explains how she uses her dot-connecting superpower in three ways:

  1. Collecting and gathering ideas

  2. Recalling them spontaneously

  3. Seeing potential connections and acting on them

Nell shared the story of the end of her business and how she emerged from that experience, leveraging her ability to connect dots:

Covid, of course, made us all look harder in the mirror and think about what we were doing. It changed some of the business dynamics. That December 2020, I said, “This isn't vibing, and I have to change. My superpower is my superpower. My purpose is my purpose. I am still who I am, and I will continue doing that. But it has to be in a different form. And so I'm going to close down the company.”

It meant saying, telling some investors that they were not ever going to get their money back. Not a total surprise because they had been getting quarterly updates since they wrote checks five-ish years earlier. Um, and it meant me shutting down my baby or my identity. It was really hard. It was very difficult. 

The way that my superpower emerged was to build what was next and to, first of all, just envision what was next. I was able to have this big repository of ideas and people that I have gathered over the years and to see connections between some of them. 

I didn't leap immediately from one lily pad to the next, but I understood there could and would be some connections there. I was able to see that my impact was going to be much greater if I wasn't bogged down by things that are not my superpower, like managing teams and managing projects.

So, I shut down the company, and two years later, it has revolved, revealing all these fabulous things and this portfolio that I'm so much more aligned with the superpower in.

Nell says the key to learning to make connections is a mindfulness practice. She did Transcendental Meditation training. She suggests things as simple as cooking or rubbing a dog's belly can provide similar benefits.

By following Nell’s example and advice, you can learn to make connections. With practice, this could become a superpower that enables you to do more good in the world. 

Guest Profile

Nell Derick Debevoise (she/her):

Coach, Facilitator, Advisor, and Inspiring Cowgirl, 3D Performance

About 3D Performance: We coach high-performing, impact-seeking leaders to co-create a world in which work is healthy, fair, and inspiring. Our approach is simple: we guide leaders to be the people their dogs (or grandkids) think they are! We are 3D Performance, because we work in the Me, We, and World dimensions, engaging with individual leaders; teams, organizations, and communities; and in the broader lens of social change.

3D was founded in 2022, in recognition and celebration of the threshold moment that we are living through:
- innovation and destruction;
- opportunity and injustice;
- progress and regress;
- growth and contraction;
- despair and joy...

And this enables the paradigm shifts we need, but to achieve that transformation, we each need rest, care, guidance, allies, and new tools. Those ingredients of transformation are the resources that 3D endeavors to create and offer. They come in free, public, and private varieties, all with the common vision of work as a dignified, fulfilling, and essential part of our lives.

Specifically, our work takes the form of one-on-one coaching, group facilitation, speaking and advisory engagements, and immersive retreats.



Biographical Information: I'm Nell, founder of 3D Performance and, also known as the Inspiring Cowgirl.

I see a world in which work is a source of dignity and fulfillment for all of us.

Toward that end, my purpose is to lovingly wrangle people, ideas, and horses to make work fairer, healthier, and more inspiring. To achieve that purpose, I coach, guide, facilitate, think, and write about leadership.

I have been intentional and lucky to have honed my craft of purposeful leadership with people on four continents, across sectors, industries, ages, races, genders, and backgrounds. I studied leadership, adult learning, organizational behavior, innovation, and intercultural dialog at Harvard, Cambridge, Universita di Roma, and Columbia and London Business Schools. Now, I also study horse and dog culture, as well as horseback riding, cooking, travel, relationships, and golf in more casual settings.

I am a catalyst of learning, growth, and joy. For myself and others. I metabolize knowledge, experiences, and reflection to co-create new thoughts, feelings, insights, and ways of being, doing, and leading.

My 3D approach is complex, inclusive, and integrative, underpinned by a deep faith in people’s goodness and the possibility of a brighter future. Finally, I thrive when laughing and bringing laughter to others, thanks to, not in spite of, the difficulty, heartbreak, and tragedy that are also always present.


Instagram Handle: @nelldd

Superpowers for Good
Superpowers for Good: Empowering Changemakers for Social Impact via Regulated Investment Crowdfunding from the SuperCrowd.
We host changemakers who are using regulated investment crowdfunding for social impact--impact crowdfunding--as impact investors or social entrepreneurs, catalyzing change with leadership skills we call superpowers.