Sarah Avenir has been interested in the web since she was a teenager, building websites for friends and family before the web was “social.” After having kids and wanting more flexibility in her 20s, she started her own agency.
In 2013, she was approached by a digital agency called &yet to help them build community around one of their projects. &yet’s culture as a “people-first” company drew her in with their philosophy that caring for people and being profitable do not have to be mutually exclusive.
This inspired her to write a book, now in its 2nd edition, called Gather the People: A human approach to marketing for people who would rather make what they love than persuade people to buy it. She now leads &yet as CEO and is working on her second book, People-First Growth.
CONSCIOUS ENTREPRENEURSHIP — What meaning do you give this term?
There are so many ways to describe doing business in a more caring way, and at &yet we’re focused on an approach to growth that puts people first. We are a company that cares for people over profit, but we need profit to care for people. Conscious entrepreneurship, for us, is about living and thriving in that tension.
MENTORS — We all need a little help along the journey. Who has been an invaluable mentor for you? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
I love to read, so my mentors are often authors. Right now I’m learning a lot from adrienne maree brown’s Emergent Strategy, as well as David Whyte’s The Heart Aroused.
THE FUTURE — How do you see the face of entrepreneurship in 5 years? How do companies /brands need to adapt to secure their place in the future?
The world is changing right now, and so many seeds that have been planted for long-term conscious change are germinating. Business is a challenging area for that change to penetrate, simply because capitalism and competition are so deeply engrained in culture (particularly western culture). The desire is there, but the skills are not. We have to be careful not to co-opt kindness and compassion and friendship and community and other sacred values as one other thing we can extract value from. And at the same time, we need to deeply change our entire perspective to be rooted in those values. It’s a difficult task.
ADVICE — What kind of advice would you like to give to an aspiring entrepreneur who feels limited due to their background or lack of resources?
The things you see as weaknesses are the flipside of your strengths. You may not have access to a large pool of resources or attention, but you have the ability to connect deeply on a human level that most larger companies simply do not have. Start there.
CHALLENGES — Entrepreneurship is very challenging. We each have our own coping mechanism. Mine is humor. What is yours? Can you share a story?
My biggest challenge is anxiety, and I cope by trying to be aware of my body and the present moment as much as I can. It’s old advice, but it’s so effective. I also listen to The Needy Podcast and am very grateful to Mara Glatzel’s work on learning to tend to your human needs. Learning about my humanness (and accepting myself in that) has taught me the most about taking a people-first approach to growth than anything else.
Demee Koch about the MEDIUM interview series on CONSCIOUS ENTREPRENEURSHIP:
Conscious entrepreneurship for me is about building a sustainable business that values and respects the resources used and makes an effort of giving back to society.
I believe we need entrepreneurs to really get involved in the causes close to their heart.
This is why I reach out to entrepreneurs that aim for more than generating profit. With this interview, I aim to share entrepreneurial purpose-led passion to inspire others.
Looking forward to learn from you. Reach out to me via LinkedIn.