The end of the status quo
By Shelley Kuipers
March 31, 2017

A small, personal journey towards a larger Better world.

It’s hard to explain, the mission you have in you as an entrepreneur. It’s raw, organic and all-consuming. You honestly believe that you have a purpose to bring to your teammates, to those who you collaborate and partner with, to the general public to, really, anyone who will listen. You take all necessary risks to push your journey forward… and with that comes new allies, new enemies (of course) and new lands to explore. We’ve always said there was a better way, and, finally, we’ve found that here at Better Ventures.

We believe participation is better business, and we believe that with our hearts and our minds. Our team members are infected, empowered and supported so they can be their own participation missionaries both with our clients and out in the larger world. We work tirelessly at the business opportunity and case for participation while simultaneously challenging our own inherent biases. That means amazing experiences wherever we happen to create them, wild ass road trips, late nights, early mornings, late nights followed by early mornings, and of course performance-enhancing ‘whatever’ in all of those moments.

I am proud to call Better Ventures my home. I am proud of our team and have deep admiration for the relationships we’ve built and continue to build around the world.

As I’ve traveled the last few years, I’ve seen small signs of change in my friends, in my colleagues and in every industry we’ve come across. At one time, these signs were barely perceptible but as they’ve gathered in number, they’ve taken on a larger, unmistakable form.

A storm is coming

2017 is the year the scales tilt in the other direction.


I can feel it. You can too. The status quo is no longer acceptable. Bullshit is being called out in politics around the world. Bullshit is being called on ‘business as usual’. Bullshit is being called on our systematic lack of empathy for wide swaths of humanity.

We are going to see a grand upending and it is our responsibility to play a part in it – to lead and support organisations, both for profit and not-for-profit, that want to be better global citizens and contributors to all the commercial and social models in which we participate. And to find the best versions of ourselves.

What does that mean?

For me, it’s about looking at where we are and where we could go.

Here are four ideas that have taken hold in my mind lately, both tiny and large acts of rebellion and hope.

1. Delete Uber from your phone today

I had to do it. How can we support a business model that exploits its drivers and is underpinned by a systemic misogynistic culture? That’s not the promise of technology. That’s a regression.

Alternative: Can someone start an Uber that is a fair, sustainable cooperative? Where the drivers truly share in the value that is created. Where they aren’t commoditized, disposable pieces of the gig economy.

2. Stop clicking on populist political stories

They distract us from what positive things we can do each and every day. The micro-moments that, in aggregate, add up to a better way for us all to live. In the west, we are often taught that you are supposed to fend for yourself. No matter what. That it’s the highest badge of honour to pull yourself up by your bootstraps. In some parts of the world, self-reliance has become a cult-like attribute.

But in the final analysis, who really makes it on their own?


Alternative: We need to be active participants in our personal and professional communities. We can be the counterbalance to the ugliness by promoting and living out cooperation, mutualism and sharing. We can make these our core values for living.

That means giving back to our communities and embracing the young, challenging and wickedly smart young people all around us. We do that by amplifying their potential through leadership and empowerment rather than management and authority.

That means offering our support, not just to our friends and neighbours but to strangers, including the refugees who desperately need our help and the immigrants who have always unlocked the economic potential of our countries.

3. Protect your privacy

Don’t share one more article on Facebook, or reveal one more thing about yourself – anywhere – without knowing what will happen with that information. Better yet – own your information outright.

Alternative: Think twice before you answer that survey, post that post, send that message, retweet that comment. Choose your platforms carefully. Make conscious choices about your digital life and be aware of your value.

4. Be a missionary

This isn’t judgment. This isn’t coming from the ivory tower. I have fucked up as much as the next person, and now, while I stare down the barrel at 50 it’s more urgent for me to put everything I’m still learning into practice. This is a rally cry for myself, and for others, to just be better, every single day.

What do we have to gain? Everything.

So create a new beginning today, one where you stand for the things that you’ve always known you should. Make it count every day.

Inspired by my history, my future, water under the bridge and my friend Laura Harris.